May 3, 2011

Cinco de Mayo: Parte Dos

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Margaret's Morsels | Cinco de Mayo

A couple of days ago, I shared recipes for Mexican Deep-Dish Pizza and Spanish Rice.  Today, I'm going to share two more recipes; one to serve at the beginning of the meal, the other at the end.

Whenever I fix Mexican food, I serve tortilla chips and salsa.  On Cinco de Mayo, I like to spice things up a bit and serve queso dip.  Queso may sound exotic, but it's actually the Spanish word for cheese.

The cheese dip I make only uses three ingredients -- Velveeta cheese, Ro-Tel, cream cheese -- and is heated in a crock-pot.  Not only does the crock-pot do all the work, it keeps the dip warm during the meal.  If the dip gets too hot, turn the crock-pot off.

Ro-Tel is a canned tomato product that also contains green chilies.  I use mild Ro-Tel, but it also comes in hot.  If you want the dip to have more texture, use chunky Ro-Tel.  I use Neufchatel cream cheese which has 1/3 less fat, but you can use regular cream cheese instead.  You can leave the cream cheese out, but it makes the dip richer and creamier than using Velveeta alone.  

Cube the Velveeta and cream cheese and put in a 1 1/2-quart crock-pot. Add the Ro-Tel, stirring to combine the ingredients.

Margaret's Morsels | Queso Dip
The dip starts out looking like this.

Cover the crock-pot with the lid and heat on low.  Stir the ingredients periodically as the cheeses melt.  It doesn't take the dip long to heat so start it about an hour before you're ready to eat.

Margaret's Morsels | Queso Dip
The dip ends up looking like this.

To end the meal, I serve a batch of Mexican Sugar Cookies.  Normally, I use margarine in recipes, but this is one time I use real butter.

Butter comes in salted and unsalted varieties.  I use unsalted butter for two reasons.  One, it has a fresher flavor.  Two, salted butter has more salt than a recipe needs.  It's easier to control the amount of salt when you use unsalted butter.

The recipe makes a very soft cookie dough.  Even when I've added the additional 1/4 cup flour, the dough has been too soft and sticky to form into balls.  I refrigerate the dough about an hour until it's firmer.  To make sure the dough stays firm, put it back in the refrigerator when it's not in use .

Shape the mixture into balls -- I use a small cookie scoop -- using 1 tablespoon of dough for each.  Place the balls on a greased cookie sheet. The cookies spread during baking so make sure to place them 3-inches apart.

Margaret's Morsels | Mexican Sugar Cookies

Flatten each cookie with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.  If the glass sticks to the dough, lightly spray the bottom of the glass with Pam before dipping it into the sugar.  Be sure to dip the glass in sugar before flattening each cookie.  If the glass starts sticking, lightly spray it again with Pam.

It's always best to make cookies the same size to ensure even baking.  To do this, I use the bottom of the glass as a guide and press the dough until it reaches the edge of the glass.

Margaret's Morsels | Mexican Sugar Cookies
Use the bottom of the glass to flatten the dough.

While the cookies are baking, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.

When the cookies are done, remove the pan from the oven.  The cookies are extremely delicate, so make sure to leave them on the cookie sheet three to four minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Coat the cookies while they're still warm with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Put one cookie at a time in the bowl and use a spoon to cover the top of the cookie with the mixture.

Margaret's Morsels | Mexican Sugar Cookies

After the cookie is thoroughly coated, turn the cookie over and coat the other side the same way.  Place the cookie back on the cooling rack to cool completely.

Margaret's Morsels | Mexican Sugar Cookies

Cinco de Mayo is about more than drinking margaritas and eating Mexican food.  It's a day to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride.  The fifth of May commemorates the Mexican victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  It's also a great time to enjoy the wonderful cuisine from South of the border.

Queso Dip

1 (1 lb.) box Velveeta cheese, cubed
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 (10 oz.) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies (undrained)

Place ingredients in a 1 1/2-quart crock-pot.  Cover and heat on low 60 minutes to combine flavors. 

Mexican Sugar Cookies
39 Servings

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar  (plus extra for flattening cookies)

Beat butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl at medium speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, scraping down side of bowl once.  Gradually add 1 1/2 cups flour and baking powder.  Beat at low speed until well blended, scraping down side of bowl.  Stir in additional flour with spoon if dough is too soft to shape. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour until it's firmer.

Preheat oven to 325°.  Grease cookie sheets and set aside.

Roll a tablespoon of dough into a ball.  Place balls 3-inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.   Flatten each ball into a 2-inch round with bottom of glass dipped in granulated sugar.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden.  Let stand on cookie sheets 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine granulated sugar with remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl.  Transfer cookies, one at a time, to sugar mixture; coat both sides.  Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

© Margaret's Morsels


  1. These recipes sound delicious. Many years ago, I made the queso with only Velveeta and Ro-tel. I'll have to try it with the cream cheese. Sorry I have to post as anonymous since I don't have a URL (I tried earlier thinking it was an e-mail, but it didn't accept it). Brenda

  2. Thanks, Brenda.
    I hope you'll enjoy these recipes as much as we do. Let me know how you like the queso dip with cream cheese.

    Several people have emailed and said they've had trouble posting comments. You don't need an URL to post; ignore that box and you should be able to post a comment under your name. Hope this helps anyone that's having problems leaving a comment.