A few months ago, I totally lost faith in cooking. Completely. Nothing I made was turning out, and I lost interest in even trying. Making dinner was an exercise in frustration, every single night. There were tears multiple nights, followed by concern from a confused husband and, inevitably, ice cream. Because I am a child who can be soothed by sugar.
I finally got back to basics. When the weather cooled down, I started making all of my childhood favorites. I made chicken and stuffing, one of my mom’s specialties (recipe forthcoming). I instituted Wutz-Varner Mac and Cheese Night, inspired by my best friend’s family, who had mac and cheese every Thursday when I was growing up.
And then I buckled down and made cheese enchiladas. Lisa Fain of Homesick Texan, whom I view as a sort of virtual mentor in the field of Tex-Mex cooking, posted a recipe in 2007 that promised to be the real freaking deal.
Sometimes, I get a craving for Mexican food. Not just any Mexican food, not the stuff I can get at the restaurant down the street, but ooey-gooey Midwest-meets-Texas, not-at-all-authentic Mexican, the kind where things come out of a can and the whole meal is covered in cheese.
My mother has a recipe for something called “Taco Dip” that calls for sour cream, salsa from a jar, cream cheese, canned beans, canned chili and about half a block of cheddar cheese. My sister, my mom and I would eat it for dinner sometimes when my dad worked nights. The flavors, spicy and rich, were so different from what we usually had — the sour cream blended with the salsa just right, the beans reached the kind of texture you can only get in a microwave, and we’d dig in with awful, salty tortilla chips and scarf down the whole plate.
That taco dip was in the back of my head when I decided to make this casserole. Continue reading