Cinco de Mayo Part II – Queso Fundido, {Cheater’s} Guacamole & Mexican Wedding Cookies

You can't throw a Cinco de Mayo party without serving chips and guacamole.  That would be a major CDM faux paux!  There are a thousand+ recipes out there for homemade guacamole--I'm not going to give you the same avocado~onion~tomato~jalepeno~cilantro song and dance--you can find those recipes anywhere and everywhere.  This recipe is different because it makes a fabulous guacamole dip if you are missing some of those standard ingredients and it can be whipped up in a jiffy even if you haven't planned ahead of time.

I can't tell you how many times I've started to make guacamole [or had friends stop by and I needed to throw together a quick snack or ordered takeout and the person who packed up my order forgot to put in the guac-GASP!] and I didn't have any tomatoes.....or I'd just used up my last onion ....... or the peppers I bought last week were shriveled up like prunes.....  It actually seems like every time I want to make guacamole I'm missing some key ingredient.  It's taught me to improvise though, so that when that {lazy} bag packer forgets to put the guacamole in, I can put this together in half the time it would take me to drive back to the restaurant and scold him!

Most of the ingredients in this are simple things that probably everyone already has in their pantry or refrigerator.  Oh, and did I mention it's packed with spicy deliciousness?!!

The other thing I learned after throwing this avocado mash together is that pickled jalepeno juice will keep your guacamole from turning brown.  Now you can toss that ugly brown seed in the garbage where it belongs!  Here's how I do it....

Ingredients:

4 avocados, skins and seeds removed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
juice of one lemon or two limes
2 tablespoons pickled jalepenos
1 tablespoon pickled jalepeno juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a large bowl and mash together with a fork or mini-masher.   Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Queso Fundido

Queso Fundido is yet another of my favorite Mexican foods.  Truth be told, almost every kind of Mexican food falls into one of my "favorite" categories, with the exception of menudo, which I refuse on principal.   This is a great dish if you're having a party, too, because it can be prepared ahead of time and then put in the oven to melt the cheeses just before guests arrive.

Chorizo can be found in most grocery stores if you want to use the real stuff, which of course is spicy amazingness.  My friend mentioned the other day that she'd stumbled up SoyRizo---chorizo made with soy and swore that it was so delicious that she'd probably never buy real chorizo again.  Of course, any time something is made with soy I am incredibly skeptical.  I like my meat...especially my pork, make no mistake about it, but when the SoyRizo jumped out at me at the market the other day, I decided to give it whirl.

It was insaaaaaaaaaanely delicious!   Not only did it taste precisely like real pork chorizo, it wasn't ladled with the greasiness that most often accompanies the real thing.  I'm very sure that given a blind taste test, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference..... and not that a person scooping up a huge glob of cheese with a corn chip is particularly concerned about calories, but there was a peace of mind that I was consuming a somewhat healthier version of this dish!

Ingredients:

2 poblano chiles
12 oz shredded Mexican cheese blend [should include Asadero & Queso Quesadilla/Chihuahua, and Monterey Jack]
6-8 oz chorizo
1 green onion, green and white parts, thinly sliced
Tortilla chips, to serve

Directions:

For the poblano peppers:
Turn a gas burner on medium-high and lay poblano peppers directly onto the grate over the fire.  Allow peppers to blacken/char evenly on all sides.  Place peppers into a paper bag [or put them in a bowl with a tight fitting lid] so that they can steam and cool down for about 10-15 minutes.  Remove peppers from bag/bowl and gently scrape away the charred skin.  Cut out stem, scrape out seeds and discard.  Slice poblanos into 1/4" strips and set aside.

For the chorizo:
Cook chorizo over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes, stirring often to ensure even cooking.  It can be difficult to gauge when chorizo is done because it is such a soft meat, but you just want to be sure there is no gooey-ness [that's a word, right?] left to the meat and it should piece out and brown a bit when done.

To assemble queso fundido:
Preheat oven to Convection Bake at 425 degrees [Bake at 425 if your oven does not have that feature].  To assemble fundido, place cooked chorizo on the bottom of a small casserole dish.  Place peppers over chorizo and then cover with shredded cheese.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted through and just beginning to brown on the edges.  Pull out of oven, sprinkle with green onions and give it a good stir to evenly incorporate the chorizo and peppers.

 

Serve immediately with your favorite tortilla chips!

 

 

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Recipe adapted from Cookery for Entertaining

When I was a little girl, my favorite store-bought cookies were not Oreos, not Nilla Wafers and not pink and white iced animal cookies, oh NO...  My favorite cookies were pecan sandies and mexican wedding cookies (in the bag).  Pretty much the same thing, just one is coated in powdered sugar.  I guess some things never change considering these days I'd never skip an opportunity for a buttery bite of pecan shortbread.

I have so many Mexican dessert favorites--fried ice cream, tres leches cake and flan top the list--but when planning for company, I like to keep dessert light and easy and these small little cookies are the perfect thing for guests to just grab and enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 cup {2 sticks} unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Powdered sugar

Directions:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and powdered sugar until fluffy.  Add in vanilla, salt and flour and mix until well-incorporated.  Stir in toasted pecans.  Divide dough in half, form a disc with each piece and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes until dough is cold enough to shape.  Preheat oven to Convection Bake setting at 325 degrees [Bake at 325 if your oven does not have that feature].

Remove one dough disc at a time, break off chunks and roll to make 1-1 1/2" inch balls.  Place balls on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake cookies for about 16-18 minutes.  Remove from oven and roll each cookie in powdered sugar immediately.  Allow cookies to cool on a wire rack.

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