Festive Guacamole with Cotija and Pomegranate

This Festive Guacamole with Cotija and Pomegranate is just the recipe you need to kick your guacamole up a notch. You’ll never want plain guacamole again!

An overhead shot of Festive Guacamole in a bed of tortilla chips.

Don’t get me wrong – I love me a good traditional guacamole – but when it comes to stepping it up a notch, what better way to do so than with salty, crumbly cotija cheese and tangy pomegranate seeds? (Okay, besides than with kimchi and bacon).

This recipe takes me back to my Napa days, and the one semi-classy Mexican restaurant (now defunct) that we had in our little ol’ town of St. Helena. It was a regular spot for us to take a long work lunch or meet up for an early Happy Hour, and one of the signature dishes was none other than a guacamole sampler, complete with three or so different spins on traditional guacamole. My very favorite spin – that I still think about now, over six years later – was the pomegranate and cotija version. So naturally, I had to try making it myself!

Guacamole is one of those classic party dishes for which you always need to have a good recipe up your sleeve. I’m now in a position where I’ve made it so much that I do it completely off-the-cuff without any sort of reference. BUT, I’ve made an exception for you, and when I whipped up this Festive Guacamole with Cotija and Pomegranate I made sure to write down every portion and ingredient so that you can now have your own go-to guacamole recipe on hand whenever inspiration (or a tailgate, backyard BBQ or 4th of July get-together) comes along.

A wooden mortar filled with Festive Guacamole with Cotija and Pomegranate, surrounded by a platter of tortilla chips.

It is, in most senses, a classic guacamole recipe, it simply gets dressed up with cotija cheese and pomegranate seeds at the very end. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, though, because its flavor meter is through the roof.

Cotija cheese seems to be fairly widely available at grocery stores these days (I found mine at Sprouts), but if you’re having trouble tracking some down, queso fresco would also be a great substitute.

This dish is fantastic as is, but if you’re so inclined you could also add some toasted pepitas at the very end to add a little extra savory crunch. Though it could easily be loaded into tacos, nachos or burritos, I find that Festive Guacamole is best enjoyed simply piled on top of fresh tortilla chips.

An overhead shot of a wooden mortar filled with Festive Guacamole with Cotija and Pomegranate nestled in a bed of tortilla chips.

I hope you’ll give it a try, and let me know how it turns out in the comments!

Festive Guacamole with Cotija and Pomegranate
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

This Festive Guacamole with Cotija and Pomegranate is just the recipe you need to kick your guacamole up a notch. You’ll never want plain guacamole again!

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: appetizer, guacamole, Mexican, pomegranate, side dish, snack
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 147 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
  • 3 medium avocados
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils
Instructions
  1. Combine onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, avocados and lime juice in a medium mixing bowl, using the fork to mash up the avocado as you stir. 

  2. Stir in the salt, add more to taste if necessary.

  3. Scoop guacamole into whatever dish you will be serving it in and top with cotija cheese and pomegranate arils. Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe Notes

DISH DENSITY: Low

Nutrition Facts
Festive Guacamole with Cotija and Pomegranate
Amount Per Serving
Calories 147
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The Most Irresistible Reuben Dip

A cheesy, gooey, delicious dip made from all of the ingredients of a classic Reuben sandwich – Pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing!

This irresistible Reuben dip is the perfect party snack. It's easy to make and everyone will love it!

I’m on my way home from an amazing Bachelorette Weekend in Palm Springs with my gals (more to come on that later) but I queued this up to share with you because, guys, next weekend is Memorial Day weekend already! Can you believe it?

It’s the official kickoff to summer, but I like to look at it as the last weekend to indulge before we have to worry about being concerned with our bikini beach bods for a few months (okay, maybe Fourth of July is another exception, but we won’t worry about that for a couple of weeks.)

It also happens to be my man’s 30th birthday this weekend (that’s right, the big 3-0!) so you KNOW we will be doing plenty of celebrating and eating of all the foods. This here Reuben Dip will definitely be in rotation, as it’s one of our favorite guilty pleasures.

This irresistible Reuben dip is the perfect party snack. It's easy to make and everyone will love it!

So, I have to confess, I actually stole (well, borrowed…“stole” seems like such a harsh word!) this recipe from my gal pal, Stephanie. Stephanie and I worked together in Napa, and this dip would be the most-requested dish of any party she would be attending while we lived there. It is so delicious and, even better, SO simple! She would walk in with the steaming casserole and the crowds would go wild. No, literally, I am not even exaggerating. Ever since I convinced her to share the recipe with me (after we moved to different cities, of course, because no way could I steal her star-of-the-show party dish from her while we were attending all of the same get-togethers), I’ve made this dish more times than I care to admit. It is so good and so addictive and no, you can’t stop at just one dip. I dare you.

Imagine my excitement when Chris returned home from his Bachelor Party with two massive packages of leftover pastrami. We quickly popped said packages in the freezer so we could enjoy Reuben Dip to our little heart’s content for months to come. There will be no shortage of Reuben Dip around these parts for the foreseeable future!

The process is simple: we combine all of the good things that come on a classic Reuben sandwich (pastrami, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, Swiss cheese), mix them up real good, top them with even more cheese (I never said this dish was healthy) and bake it all in a casserole dish or glass pan until the top layer of cheese is bubbly and golden. We then proceed to dip ALL of the dippers (the classic choice would be Gardetto’s rye chips, but I can never find those at a normal grocery establishment so I’ve been known to substitute pumpernickel pretzels and pita chips) until our Reuben dip is no more. Heck, if you really wanted to be a traditionalist, you could even scoop all of the deliciousness up with hunks of a crusty baguette.

This irresistible Reuben dip is the perfect party snack. It's easy to make and everyone will love it!

Is your mouth watering yet? I hope so, because you definitely NEED to make this Reuben Dip for whatever party or barbecue your attending this Memorial Day weekend. And if you’re banking on leftovers, you might as well just make two batches. One for me, one for you.

Or, you could always make one of these Memorial Day-friendly dishes to bring to your party and keep all of the Reuben dip to yourself!

So what ARE your plans for this weekend? I have been desperately trying to get out of Chris what he wants to do to celebrate his birthday but he’s seriously lacking in the birthday celebration idea department. How do you think we should celebrate? I mean, I wouldn’t be opposed to relaxing on the couch with a big dish of Reuben Dip right in front of us…

This irresistible Reuben dip is the perfect party snack. It's easy to make and everyone will love it!

The Most Irresistible Reuben Dip
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

A cheesy, gooey, delicious dip made from all of the ingredients of a classic Reuben sandwich - Pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing!

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: appetizer, entertaining, hors d'oeuvres, reuben, snacks
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 402 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 pound corned beef/pastrami
  • 2 bags (12 ounces each) shredded Swiss cheese
  • ¾ cup Thousand Island dressing
  • 1 cup rinsed sauerkraut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine meat, one bag (12 ounces) of shredded Swiss cheese, Thousand Island and sauerkraut in a small casserole dish. Mix to combine.
  3. Top mixture with second bag of shredded Swiss cheese. Place in oven and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Turn broiler on high and broil for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until cheese on top is bubbly and golden. Let cool slightly before serving.
Nutrition Facts
The Most Irresistible Reuben Dip
Amount Per Serving
Calories 402
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Kamaboko Dip

Kamaboko dip is a delicious Hawaiian party dip for your next luau or tropical get-together, where Japanese fishcake (kamaboko) is the star along with green onions and dashi. Perfect when served with potato chips!

A classic Hawaiian party dip, serve it as an appetizer or side dish at your next luau or tropical get-together!

Today I am sharing one of my favorite Hawaiian party dips and I couldn’t be more excited. I first have to give credit to Auntie Leona, who has been making Kamaboko Dip for us whenever we visit Oahu for, oh, since I can remember? This dish always has to make an appearance when we’re there, or else my brother would never forgive Auntie.

Now, my kane and wahine, this is so simple to make. The hardest part will be tracking down some of the ingredients, but I’ve included links to buy the tricky ones and easy substitutions for others so you have absolutely no excuse not to go into your kitchen and make Kamaboko Dip right this instant (or in two days when your Amazon Prime order shows up at your door.) Plus, I’m sharing this recipe a full TWO WEEKS before Super Bowl which means it better be making an appearance in front of the TV on game day (along with these Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates, this Caramelized Fennel, White Bean & Gruyere Dip, this Mango Salsa and this Pastrami Pizza.) Just saying.

A classic Hawaiian party dip, serve it as an appetizer or side dish at your next luau or tropical get-together!

Did I mention this dip is also pretty darn healthy? Whoa whoa, let me back up a bit. The original Kamaboko Dip recipe, like “Auntie’s version,” is not exactly what we would classify as “healthy” (hello sour cream and mayonnaise!) And if you could care less about your Super Bowl Sunday being “healthy,” then by all means go for the full-fledged version (which I also tell you how to do here), but this blog is all about balance, right? I took the liberty of taking the original recipe and tweaking it just a leeeetle bit to make us feel slightly less guilty for consuming it all in one sitting using Maui onion potato chips as a vehicle from bowl to mouth. Oh, is that just me? You can tell I really love this dip.

So, although you may not recognize all of the ingredients, the list is short and simple: Greek yogurt, a tiiiiiny bit of mayo, kamaboko (fishcake), dashi powder and green onions. Shred up the kamaboko, chop up the green onions, throw everything together in a bowl and we’re ready before the National Anthem has even been sung.

 

Even though we’ve “healthied” this recipe up a bit, it still tastes absolutely amazing (if the rate at which the fiancé and I ate it is any indication.) You really cannot tell that we’ve used mostly Greek yogurt instead of the standard version of half sour cream and half mayonnaise. There’s a slight sweetness from the kamaboko, the tartness from the yogurt, and the combined flavor of the green onions and dashi that make this Kamaboko Dip the perfectly balanced, healthy party dish. And, although it is delicious with plenty of healthy “dipper” options (vegetables, pretzels, pita bread or chips, etc.) please, please, please do me a favor and at least give the Maui onion potato chips a shot. You won’t be sorry, even if you have to do a few extra lunges the next day.

A classic Hawaiian party dip, serve it as an appetizer or side dish at your next luau or tropical get-together!

Happy Sunday my friends! Aloha!

Kamaboko Dip
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

A classic Hawaiian party dip, serve it as an appetizer or side dish at your next luau or tropical get-together!

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Keyword: appetizer, dip, Hawaiian, kamaboko, luau, party food, side dish
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 175 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 green onions, chopped (both green and white parts)
  • 1 dashi powder packet
  • 8 ounces kamaboko, shredded You can use imitation crabmeat if you can't find kamaboko.
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir to combine. For best results, let dip sit for about a half hour before serving. Serve with crudites, pita chips, tortilla chips or Maui onion potato chips (the best!)

Nutrition Facts
Kamaboko Dip
Amount Per Serving
Calories 175
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Caramelized Fennel, White Bean and Gruyere Dip

This creamy Caramelized Fennel, White Bean and Gruyere dip is lightened up with pureed white beans and crunchy caramelized fennel. It’s the perfect appetizer to kick off a holiday meal or a slightly elevated game-day snack!

This Caramelized Fennel, White Bean and Gruyere Dip is the perfect appetizer for your next cocktail party or serve it as your next game-day snack!

Oh, thank goodness for cheese! Seriously though, I think cheese is one of my favorite food groups (although I try not to get too carried away.) There are some nights when a simple cheese platter sounds like a much more viable dinner option than any other sort of meal, fancy or not. When you get home from a long day at work, put on your PJ’s right away (everyone does this, right?) and finally kick up your heels, sometimes you just don’t even want to think about cooking. Especially in this crazy holiday season, the fiancé and I have barely been home, hence we have no groceries, hence cheese for dinner (because we always have cheese!)

Of course, we always try to keep our cheese platters balanced with some nuts and fruit (dried and/or fresh), but there are times that I say to myself “We should really try and cover more food groups here.” I think I might have solved our problem with this Caramelized Fennel, White Bean & Gruyere Dip!

This Caramelized Fennel and White Bean Dip is a great game-day snack or starter for your next holiday celebration!

 

I can’t exactly remember when I first thought up this recipe (it’s been in my “Ideas” notebook for over a year!) but I’m soooo glad I finally brought it to life. It is sooooo good. Like, seriously, you won’t even be able to stop at any sort of “decent” serving size…You’ll just keep going back for more.

But the good news is, there are veggies AND healthy protein in this dip!! Hurrah! There is a solid base of cheese, but we do our best to make it acceptable by using light cream cheese. It’s the little things, right? We also puree white beans into the cheese, giving the dish some serious heft (and an extra healthy factor!) On top of that, we take fennel (yes, it’s a veggie! Fist pump) and get it nice and caramelized before stirring it in to the ooey-gooey delicious cheese and bean mixture.

After a quick run in the oven and a shot under the broiler, we have a creamy, decadent dip with some secret nutritional powerhouses. Scooped up with crackers, fresh crusty bread or even more veggies (oh, the scandal!) that fondue sitting next to your dip at the holiday cocktail party will most likely go untouched the entire night. Sorry not sorry?

This Caramelized Fennel and White Bean Dip is a great game-day snack or starter for your next holiday celebration!

 

I will definitely be making this Caramelized Fennel, White Bean & Gruyere Dip many more times in the weeks to come. It’s the perfect comfort food snack (er…dinner?) for these cooler winter months and would be appropriate for just about any get-together you attend.

Does anyone else have a favorite veggie-incorporating dip you like to make for this time of year? I’m trying to slowly ease myself into a more veggie-filled world come the New Year (time to get wedding ready!) so any suggestions are more than welcome! Here’s to a fabulous Sunday! XO

Caramelized Fennel, White Bean and Gruyere Dip
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This creamy dip is lightened up with pureed white beans and crunchy caramelized fennel. It's the perfect appetizer to kick off a holiday meal or a slightly elevated game-day snack!

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: appetizer, cheese, dairy, entertaining, fennel, game day, hors d'oeuvres
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 291 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1 15-ounce can Great Northern (or other white) beans
  • 6 ounces (approximately 1 1/2 cups) shredded gruyere
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 ounce grated Parmesan (divided)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of butter. Once butter has melted, add fennel and garlic. Saute until fennel becomes soft and starts to caramelize, about 10-20 minutes. Saute for a shorter period of time if you want the fennel taste to be more pronounced in the dip, or for a longer period of time if you want the taste to be more muted. Remove from heat.

  3. Add cream cheese, gruyere, ½ cup Parmesan and white beans to a food processor. Pulse until smooth.

  4. Transfer cheese and bean mixture into a medium mixing bowl, stir in caramelized fennel and garlic.

  5. Spread mixture into baking dish. Top with additional ounce of Parmesan and bake in oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn on the broiler and broil on high for 5 minutes. Let cool before digging in!

Nutrition Facts
Caramelized Fennel, White Bean and Gruyere Dip
Amount Per Serving
Calories 291
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.