6/52 Super Ro-Tel

received_10155081685519090Everyone can thank my friend Nikki for this recipe. I never planned to count this one, just make it for the family because I earned it this past weekend (which included, in no particular order, blood, sweat, AND tears). In a text, I sent Nikki this picture with a message something like “How many times have I yelled at the kids today? Queso dip many times.” She has small (ADORABLE) kids and I never expect a quick reply but this one was immediate: “That’s for the blog, yes?” Soooooo, here you go.

Having grown up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, caring who wins the Super Bowl is not something that I have ever experienced. What I have always known, however, is that Super Bowl Sunday is the great American excuse to eat all the junk food that “we don’t keep in our house.” I’ve never had an alcohol hangover on Super Bowl Monday, but food hangovers reach back to my childhood. Something my mom always made was a Velvet-based dip I always knew as “Ro-Tel”. At some point I learned that this food is actually known as queso dip or any number of names and that Ro-Tel is simply the brand of one of the two ingredients in my mom’s recipe: Mexican Velveeta and … boom.

I’ve toyed with the method over the years, using plain Velveeta when unable to find the Mexican variety (which contains hot peppers), draining the Ro-Tel for a thicker dip, adjusting the block/can ratio, but I never added to it.

Until now.

I found an intriguing recipe for Queso Fundido in a magazine (Cook’s Country, not surprisingly) that used REAL CHEESE instead of pasteurized processed cheese food products. Reading on, I also discovered that it required a tedious choreography of grating, seeding, dicing, chopping, and stirring, and my enthusiasm deflated. However, the promise of a better “Ro-Tel” dip that also included Chorizo was enough to make me consider a compromise.

The Ro-Tel would sub in for a great deal of the chopping, especially the part where gloves are recommended. I already had chorizo (I’m an impulse shopper, the ingredients I have on hand would astound you) and had purchased the Ro-Tel and Velveeta with plans to make mom’s standard dip. I wanted to add some real cheese for a more robust cheese flavor and had (like I almost always do) some shredded sharp cheddar cheese in the fridge. The recipe in Cook’s tossed shredded cheese with cornstarch before incorporating it into the dip. I assumed this was to keep the cheese from clumping, so I tossed a few pinches in with my cheddar before adding it. I suspect the cornstarch had an added benefit of absorbing some of the extra water in the Ro-Tel, as the final dip was much thicker than the original. It was wonderfully oozy rather than runny.

So, here’s the recipe as near as I can remember it. I wasn’t measuring, but I did weigh the chorizo so that I can quantify.

  • 1 16 ounce block Velveeta Our local market didn’t have Mexican Velveeta. It doesn’t have much in the way of standard groceries actually, but it’s one of the few groceries in the county that is licensed to sell alcohol AND the closest market to our house because God wants us to be happy. 
  • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and chilis. Just the regular stuff, not the mild or lime or whatever. I buy the only kind they made in the 80s when I first started eating it. 
  • 12 ounces chorizo
  • about a cup or maybe less (definitely not more) shredded sharp cheddar cheese From the bag, like nature intended.
  • a few pinches of cornstarch One pinch was not enough, I think I ended up using 3 or 4? Enough to lightly coat the cheese.

Remove the casings from the chorizo. I used kitchen scissors. This is the hardest and grossest part of this dish. Brown the chorizo in a medium saucepan, making sure to crumble it into small pieces. Spoon the chorizo onto a paper towel lined plate and wipe out the pot.

Return pot to heat. Dump the Rot-Tel (with all the liquid) into the pot and scrape up any chorizo goodness from the bottom.

Cut the Velveeta into several pieces and add to the pot. Stir occasionally until Velveeta is almost melted.

Toss cheddar with corn starch until lightly and evenly coated. Add to the pot and stir until melted.

Return chorizo to the pot and stir.


I’d love to try this with the Mexican Velveeta or maybe pepper jack in place of the cheddar. If you make any adjustments, tell me about them!

3.5/52 Pao de Quiejo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)


Another gem from Nigella here. No, she is not Brazilian, but this recipe is from a Brazilian friend of hers, according to the forward to this recipe in Simply Nigella.

These little spheres of cheesy goodness are entirely unique and (I’m warning you) highly addictive. Their matte, bland appearance belies the chewy texture within. My first-grader gave them eight yums, and I suspect that’s how many he ate when we served them with dinner.

The Recipe

Makes 50 pieces I halved it. And I’m glad I did because if I had made 50 of these, we would have eaten every single one.


  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup whole milk I used 2% because it’s what was on hand
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil Light olive oil here
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan In the forward, Nigella suggests store-bought shredded parmesan. I used store-bought grated parmesan for more uniformity in texture. I did not buy a green can of Parmesan, I went for the Italian version in the gourmet cheese section of the grocery because I’m fancy like that.

Preheat the oven to 425 and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment, or use one sheet and bake in batches. Or halve the recipe like I did.

In a freestanding mixer, using the flat beater, or with a handheld electric whisk and bowl, combine the tapioca flour and salt. I was not paying attention and used the whisk attachment on my freestanding mixer. Also I mixed in the cheese here as well for some reason. I don’t think the first flub made a difference but adding the cheese did. Don’t add the cheese yet!

In a saucepan, heat the milk and oil, bringing gently to a boil and once it’s bubbling, take the pan off the heat before it becomes a full rolling boil. Pour immediately into the flour mixture and turn on the motor, though not too fast at first, beating until it forms a sticky batter. Even when I started the mixer on the lowest setting, I set off quite the tapioca cloud. It’s a VERY fine flour.

Carry on beating  for at least 5 minutes (as you want it to cool down before you add the eggs) then scrape down and check with your fingers to see if it is still hot to the touch. You need it to cool to about body temperature,which could take up to ten minutes of beating. 

Once you have reached this point, duly whisk in the beaten eggs, spooning them in very gradually, about a tablespoon or so at a time, and make sure that the egg is fully amalgamated before you add the next spoonful. Here’s where I think adding the cheese early messed things up a bit. My batter was SUPER runny, I suspect because the cheese melted from the hot milk. I ended up adding quite a bit more flour before it came close to resembling something scoop-able.

Finally, add – still beating – the Parmesan cheese in 2 batches, and continue to beat until all ingredients are, again, well combined. I added a little additional cheese here anyway because “too much cheese” is not an accepted concept in my kitchen.

Scoop teaspoon-sized balls onto the lined baking sheets. If you are baking in batches then refrigerate the unused batter as it waits. I use a rounded measuring spoon and, if needed, dip the spoon in water every couple of scoops, as the dough then drops out of the spoon more easily. I used a 2-teaspoon disher and didn’t fill it quite full for each scoop. My dough “balls” were more like dough puddles, but they baked beautifully. I think chilling the dough before dishing might be something to try next time.

Put in the oven, then immediately turn the heat down to 375, and bake for 12-15 minutes, until puffed and with a golden tinge. Let the cheese breads cool a little before serving. I think mine took closer to 15 minutes but then they were a little wetter to start. 


The bad news is that once cooked, these don’t keep well. The flavor remains but the texture changes to that of styrofoam. The good news is, you can chill the dough for up to a day or freeze unbaked, scooped breads for up to three months. Scoop, freeze on a sheet pan, then transfer to a storage bag and bake as needed per directions above.