queso worth the splurge

It was pre-tournament dinner for Carmel Girls Lacrosse tonight and my previously mentioned guacamole was joined by another crowd favorite, queso. I'd like to say I've found some fabulous recipe that doesn't include processed cheese because that really goes against my "eat real food" mantra. But no, the much-maligned Velveeta is a key ingredient here. I'm not feeding Ina Garten, I'm feeding high school and college kids and they love this version adapted from Cooking Light. Last hint: make it in a nice cast-iron pot like my Le Crueset and it will stay warm for serving. If you need portable queso, make it ahead and put the cast iron pot in the fridge overnight and it will stay cold for quite a while too. Tailgating tips, remember them for the fall.

Splurge-worthy Queso

1 medium white or sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8-oz block of light (not fat-free) cream cheese
2 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cumin
one 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes (Muir Glen fire-roasted make it yummy)
one 15-oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles or jalepeno peppers (Trader Joe's makes a fire-roasted version)
8-oz. light Velveeta

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in your 2 to 3 quart saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant or about a minute (never burn your garlic or you should just toss it out and start over). Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the chile powder and the cumin and cook for a minute or two to blend the flavors. Add the two kinds of canned tomatoes and the cheese and cook, stirring frequently until melted. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.


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