Elements of Food

Individual 7 Layer Dips

How cute are these? This past weekend we had a family celebration to celebrate Brendan’s Inc. Magazine ranking for the Inc. 5000. We are so proud of him! He has worked so hard and deserved recognition for his years of hard work. I put together a fun BBQ with family that included all of his favorite foods. For weeks, he has been wanting this outrageously expensive 7 layer dip that our local grocery store carries…however, they charge 12 bucks for this tiny container of squished together layers of dip. I figured I could make these on my own…put them in individual containers so there is no risk of it turning into a bowl of mixed together dips. I did however, draw the line when he wanted me to include queso dip as one of the layers. Here is the recipe for the dip! Thanks so much to my sister in law Tiffany of Red Velvet Moments for capturing the goodies in photographs!


  • 2 cans of refried beans
  • 2 pounds of guacamole (2 1/2 of the large containers from Whole Foods)
  • 1 container of Daisy light sour cream
  • 1 container of salsa (I love Salsa Lisa)
  • Finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sliced black olives
  • Chopped green onions
  • Jalapenos (optional)
  • Limes for garnish
  • Clear plastic tumblers. My recipe makes about 16 individual dips.


  1. There are two ways to go about this…I have an obsession with using my piping bag for everything…frosting, deviled eggs, you name it, I can find a use for it…including these dips. Obsessive? Maybe. But it sure makes things look good.  I filled each of my piping bags with the beans, guacamole and sour cream. The rest of the ingredients layer nicely without it.
  2. Layer the ingredients (with a piping bag or spoon) in the order listed above and finish off with a slice of lime. So pretty and they were the hottest item at the party!
Photo Credit: Red Velvet Moments

Elements of Food

Pan Fried Polenta with Gorgonzola Sauce

All I can say is that this dish is delightful. I posted this recipe from Cooking Light on my past blog, but couldn’t resist making it again…and writing about it, again. Polenta is always my dad’s favorite. I could never understand why…it always looked like a mushy pile of cornmeal on a plate…so incredibly unappetizing. However, there is no reason why I shouldn’t like it. I love cornmeal. I just needed to find a different way to prepare it, and the answer is pan fry it.  Pan frying Polenta gives it a nice crisp crunch! This recipe is absolutely amazing and is so versatile. It has quickly become one of my favorite dishes to make. It makes a fantastic appetizer, first course or side dish and it can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to fry it. I hope you love it as much as I do, and let’s be honest. What doesn’t taste good covered in Gorgonzola cheese sauce?

You will need about 3 hours to complete this recipe…so plan ahead!

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 3/4 cups of yellow cornmeal. You can use traditional polenta, but it’s a bit coarser. I like the lightness of a finer ground yellow cornmeal.
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter. You can use butter substitutes if needed, but I don’t recommend it.
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • Gorgonzola sauce (recipe to follow)


  • Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan
  • Add the 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Gradually add in the cornmeal, while using a whisk to combine
  • Continue whisking until all the cornmeal has been added
  • Lower the heat to medium/low and continue to stir the polenta until tender (about 15 minutes) You will notice it start to look less grainy and have a more jelly like consistency.
  • After about 15 minutes, add in the 2 tablespoons of butter and stir until combined.
  • Remove the polenta from the heat and spread into a prepared 9×11 glass jelly roll pan
  • Cool in the refrigerator for about 2 hours
  • Cut the cooled polenta into equal squares, and cut again on the diagonal, giving you polenta triangles.

Frying Instructions

  • In a heavy skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil on medium/high heat. Place 4-5 polenta triangles in the pan and fry on each side for 10 minutes. Do not turn the polenta triangles too soon or you will loose the crispiness that is created on each side.
  • Remove the fried polenta from the pan and place on a baking sheet covered with paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
  • If you are making a large batch, you can keep the finished polenta in a warm oven (250 degrees max)

Lighter Gorgonzola Sauce

  • 3 ounces of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 cup of 1% milk
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour


  • Bring the milk to a soft boil and add the butter, whisking until melted
  • Gradually add in the flour, whisking until combined. The mixture should thicken
  • Add the Gorgonzola until melted.
  • You can keep the sauce on low heat until your polenta is finished.

On appetizer sized plates, place two triangles of polenta, slightly overlapping. Place 1/4 cup of Gorgonzola sauce on top of the two pieces. Serve immediately.

Pan Fried Polenta