December 29, 2000

Football Fiesta

Let's face it. Even though the finale of the football season is the perfect excuse to throw a party, it's the food that's often the best part of watching the big game. With this in mind, we've devised a simple, yet flavorful menu with a Mexican flair. Since the whole nine yards can be prepared easily in about an hour-you won't miss a minute of the action.

To satisfy pregame munchies, start with a creamy olive dip (our take on the great flavors of a traditional Caesar salad) topped with Sargento Fancy Shredded Parmesan Cheese and served with corn tortilla chips and a tray of assorted fresh vegetables. Everyone will also cheer for the light and tangy flavors in the Tequila and Lime Fruit Salad. It's quick to prepare and refreshingly different.

You're sure to score big with chili as a main dish-it's a simple, yet filling, cold-weather favorite. This crowd-pleasing recipe gains a fresh outlook with the addition of spicy sausage, tender black beans and the smoky, intriguing flavors of chipotle chiles. Use Frontera Chipotle Salsa, made from fire-roasted tomatillos and chipotle chiles, for a timesaving base. Sargento Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese offers the best of all worlds-with a combination of tangy Cheddar, buttery Monterey Jack, authentic sharp Asadero and creamy melting Queso Quesadilla-it's the perfect finish to our flavorful concoction.

Few hungry armchair quarterbacks will be able to resist a well-made submarine sandwich, so we devised one that's a takeoff on the torta, a beloved Mexican street snack. Traditionally constructed on a crusty, torpedo-shaped individual roll, we use a 2-foot loaf of French bread and layer on sliced cheese, medium-rare roast beef, spicy arugula and rich avocado. The giant torta can be made hours in advance, allowing all the flavors to come together.

Remember, no matter whose team wins or loses-it's what you serve at halftime that your guests will remember. So, fluff up the couch cushions, stir up the chili and get ready for the kickoff!

Touchdown Tips:

Rethink the run-of-the-mill choices on a fresh vegetable platter. Slices of peeled j'cama, sweet red bell pepper, inner spears of Romaine and licorice flavored fennel will please the eye as well as the palate.

Break out of the ordinary and offer beer lovers the drink that's fast becoming a favorite in Mexican beach communities-the michelada. To make this refreshing drink, dip the rim of a frosted beer mug in coarse (kosher) salt. Fill with ice, add the juice of half a lime and a few splashes of a vinegary hot sauce. All that's left to do is add ice-cold Mexican-style beer!

Turn ordinary chocolate cake into a unique Mexican treat. First, frost your favorite 13- by 9-inch chocolate layer cake with a cream cheese frosting (we make ours from equal parts soft cream cheese and soft unsalted butter beaten together with a little fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar to sweeten). Then sprinkle with a generous amount of finely chopped Mexican chocolate (available in the ethnic food section of most large grocery stores) or chopped semi-sweet chocolate mixed with some finely chopped almonds and a little ground cinnamon.

Tequila and Lime Fruit Salad

No fumbles here: fruit salad is easy to prepare and delicious to eat!

Preparation Time: 5 minutes for dressing, 15 minutes for fruit

Serves: 6

1 ripe pineapple
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled, halved
2 cups green seedless grapes
2 to 3 tablespoons tequila
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. sugar

1. Peel and core pineapple; quarter lengthwise and cut each quarter into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

2. Combine pineapple wedges, strawberries and grapes in a large bowl.

3. Combine tequila, lime juice and sugar; drizzle over fruit. Refrigerate up to 2 hours. Serve garnished with lime slices, if desired.


Roast Beef Torta With Spicy Mayonnaise

This Mexican version of the traditional submarine sandwich will liven even a dull game!

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

Serves: 6

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp. hot sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 long loaf (16 oz.) French bread, cut in half horizontally
1 lb. thinly sliced medium-rare roast beef
Salt to taste
1 pkg. (5 oz.) Sargentor Deli Style Sliced Monterey JackCheese, Deli Style Sliced Swiss or Deli Style Sliced Provolone Cheese
1/2 bunch arugula, watercress or leaf lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1 lg. ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

1. Combine the mayonnaise, hot sauce and cilantro in small bowl.

2. Hollow out some of the interior of bread with fingertips. Generously spread spicy mayonnaise mixture on both cut sides of the bread.

3. Layer the roast beef over the bottom half of the bread. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Top with sliced cheese, arugula leaves and avocado slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place top half of bread in place and press lightly to close sandwich. Cut into 2- to 3-inch portions and serve.

Tip: Dip avocado slices in lemon juice to prevent discoloration.


Green Olive Caesar Dip

Set the stage for a nonstop football fiesta with this tangy dip.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes for dip, 20 minutes for vegetables

Makes: 3 1/2 cups

1 pkg. (5 oz.) Sargentor Fancy Parmesan Shredded Cheese, divided
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, reserve small amount for garnish
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup pitted green salad olives with pimiento, rinsed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar

1. Place 4 oz. cheese and remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process with 4 to 6 on/off pulses-just enough to mix everything together and to coarsely chop olives.

2. Spoon into a serving bowl and top with reserved cheese and cilantro.

3. Serve with corn tortilla chips and a fresh vegetable tray of cut jicama, cucumbers, radishes, inner leaves of romaine lettuce and red bell pepper slices.


Spicy Black Bean and Sausage Chili

Hot and spicy scores big at football fiestas-take a look at what you can do to spice up your game plan!

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 lb. cooked sausage (chicken-cilantro, andouille or smoked), thinly sliced
1 jar (16 oz.) Frontera Chipotle Salsa
2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, drained
2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 tsp. crumbled oregano
8 oz. Sargentor Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese, ChefStyle Mild Cheddar Shredded Cheese or Fancy Monterey Jack Shredded Cheese
Optional Toppings:
Chopped fresh cilantro
Chopped green onions
Sour cream
Crumbled corn tortilla chips

1. Pour the oil into a large deep pan and warm over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until slightly tender and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in green pepper and cook 1 minute. Stir in sausage, salsa, beans, tomatoes and oregano.

2. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, for about 30 minutes.

3. Serve in warm bowls topped with cheese and toppings of your choice.

NOTE: If you're hosting a crowd, you can easily double this recipe.


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