experiments in cooking

Archive for the ‘Hors d’oeuvre’ Category

Chris’s Hot as Hades Queso

For our church’s New Year’s Eve family game night, I planned to make Rotel cheese dip in a small slow cooker. The afternoon of the party, I opened my cabinet and realized I didn’t have any cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles, just a can of plain diced tomatoes.

But I had an idea. After adding the diced tomatoes and a couple dashes of garlic powder to the cubed Velveeta and milk sitting in my slow cooker, I called to Chris, in the living room watching a football game.

“Hey, Chris, do you have any peppers you can chop up for my cheese dip?” I asked.

Chris, who grows container peppers every year and then saves them for the winter, is always thrilled to be asked to add peppers to something. “You bet!” he said, jumping up and running for the freezer.

He came back a few minutes later with a bag full of peppers.

“I only need a couple of peppers,” I said, explaining about not having any Rotel.

“Yeah, I know,” he said.

He chopped up a habanero and put it in with the cheese mixture.

“That’s probably enough,” I said.

“No way!” he said. “One pepper will be totally covered by the taste of the cheese.”

“I don’t know …” I said.

But Chris proceeded to chop up another habanero and five or six cayenne peppers and dump them all into my cheese dip.

We took the dip to the party, and it was the hottest cheese dip I have ever tasted in my life. It looked beautiful, and nearly everyone tried some. Then, as people passed through the serving line and settled down at their tables, all around the room I could hear voices calling for a drink, gasping, and pleas for relief. At one point, I took a bite myself and I think I screamed.

Chris was very, very proud of himself. This is a man who once won a special prize at a chili contest for having made chili so hot that no one was sure what it tasted like, but it sure was hot.

Yes, nothing suits a church party like the dip I am now calling “Chris’s Hot as Hades Queso.”

Rotel Cheese Dip

One can of Rotel tomatoes

½ block of Velveeta

Milk to suit the cook’s taste (approximately ¼ to ½ cup)

Cut the Velveeta into cubes and put the cubes in a microwavable container. Add milk.

Microwave Directions

Microwave in a covered dish for about four minutes. Stir. Microwave in small increments until the cheese is melted. Watch the dish to make sure it doesn’t spill over. After the cheese is melted, stir in the diced tomatoes. You may want to microwave it about one minute more to reheat the mixture after adding the tomatoes.

Slow Cooker Directions

Add all ingredients and turn the slow cooker on low for about two hours, stirring occasionally after the first hour.

Hot Version

Use (1) Rotel or (2) plain diced tomatoes with a couple dashes of garlic powder. Add chopped hot peppers. Know that the more you add, and the hotter the pepper, the hotter your dip will be.

Pineapple Cheese Ball

Pineapple Cheese Ball

This recipe (passed down from my Grandma Tena) is extremely easy to make. Just be sure to chill the cheese and pineapple mixture before you try to roll it in a ball and roll it in the nuts. Otherwise you will have a shapeless lump that absolutely will not roll into a ball.

Also, if you don’t like sticky hands, be warned: your hands will get icky. I had to stifle the usual panic that rises whenever my hands get this icky. When it was all done, I had cream cheese packed under my fingernails—but it was worth it, because this cheese ball is delicious.

I make this cheese ball once or twice a year. This time I served the cheese ball at a football party at my friend Mandy’s house. My husband and some of our friends were watching the Nebraska Huskers play the Texas Longhorns. It was an embarrassing loss for the Huskers, and the mood of the party guests soured as the game went south. On the positive side, we had cheese ball—and lots of other yummy food.

This cheese ball freezes well. My husband wanted leftovers last night, but I had already frozen the cheese ball to save for the next event that just screams “Cheese ball!” to me. Chris wasn’t too happy to hear I’d frozen it, since I also froze the leftover pizza he wanted earlier in the day.

Here’s the recipe.

Pineapple Cheese Ball

1 large package of cream cheese (use fat free if you wish)

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained (or equivalent amount from a larger can)

Mix all ingredients well. Cover in the mixing bowl and chill in the refrigerator. When the mixture is chilled, form it into a ball. You can make two smaller cheese balls by dividing it into two balls at this point. Roll the ball(s) in sliced almonds or crushed pecans or walnuts. Will keep well refrigerated for several days, or you can freeze it wrapped in plastic wrap. Thaw in the refrigerator.

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