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Fear not another Cinco de Mayo celebration with substandard chips and taquitos, enjoy Aaron’s “Cinco for Cinco” botanas menu. Botanas, “little snacks” in Mexico, is the auténtico way to start your party. Choose from sweet, savory and spicy dishes guaranteed to spice up your fiesta.
Sweet & Savory Empanadas with Cacique® Queso Fresco
A Latin favorite, these golden delicious empanadas filled with two quesos, spinach and raisins make the perfect passed botanitas for any fiesta!

Servings: 12 Prep Time: 2 hours Cook Time: 25 minutes
1 lb. flour
½ tsp. salt
½ lb. butter, chilled and cut into small cubes, plus 2 tbsp. butter
1 egg
1 cup ice water

½ cup white onion, small dice
1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped
1 package (10 oz.) Cacique® Queso Fresco, crumbled
1 package (10 oz.) Cacique® Queso Cotija, crumbled
½ cup chopped toasted almonds
½ cup golden raisins
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water)
Salt and pepper to taste

For dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the ½ pound of chilled butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg. Slowly add water, as needed, mixing to form the dough, until well blended. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and knead gently until the dough becomes smooth, only a few seconds. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. (Note: Empanada dough can also be found at a Hispanic market in the frozen section or substitute with puff pastry).

For pork filling:
Over medium heat, sauté onion in 2 tablespoons of butter for 5 minutes then add spinach and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Cool and then combine with cheeses, almonds and raisins.

For assembly:
On a lightly floured surface, roll half the chilled dough to 1/8-inch thick (keep the other half refrigerated until ready to use). Cut out 3-inch circles. Spoon about 1 heaping spoonful of the filling into the center of each circle. Brush egg wash around the edges of the dough. Fold the edges up forming a pouch, and seal.

Refrigerate the empanadas on greased or parchment lined baking sheets at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Brush the empanadas with egg wash and bake until golden brown for about 25 minutes.

Savory Tortilla Soup with Crispy Tortillas, Cacique® Queso Fresco & Crema
This easy-to-prepare dish will make your guests taste Mexican tradition in every bowl.   Cacique® Queso Fresco and Crema Mexicana add silkiness to this comforting, homemade recipe.  

Servings: 8 Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 45 minutes

4 oz. Cacique® Queso Fresco, crumbled
2 oz. Cacique® Crema Mexicana
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tomatoes, washed
4 tomatillos, peeled and washed
½ cup yellow onion, small dice
1 Chile Guajillo, seeded and toasted
1 tsp. chipotle chile canned in adobo, minced
1 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. cumin
6 oz. corn tortilla chips
2 qts. chicken stock
1 avocado, diced medium
Cilantro sprigs
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, place olive oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, both chiles, garlic, oregano and cumin. Sauté for 15 minutes until all is very soft and mushy.
Add 5 ounces of the tortilla chips to the pot along with the chicken stock or water and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, turn down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the soup in a blender and blend until very smooth. Add the soup back to the soup pot and bring back to a simmer and check seasonings.

For assembly:
Pour about 6 ounces of soup in a bowl and garnish with the reserved tortilla chips, a drizzle of Cacique® Crema Mexicana, crumbles of Cacique® Queso Fresco, avocado and a sprig of cilantro.

Grilled Cacique® Panela Over Summer Tomato & Melon Salad with Lime-Chile Dressing
Panela, a fresh artisan cheese characterized by basket weave marks, is the star of this refreshing salad. Panela has a delicious fresh milk flavor, slightly salty. It doesn’t melt when heated, so it’s great for grilling.  Combined with mouthwatering fruits and savory dressing, this salad is the perfect starter for spring and summer parties. 

Servings: 8 Prep Time: 30 minutes

1 package (10 oz.) Cacique® Queso Panela, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 tbsp. olive oil or canola oil
4 oz. assorted baby/small multi-colored tomatoes, washed in cold water
1 cup watermelon cut in 1/2-inch cubes or balls using a melon baller
1 cup cantaloupe or other orange melon cut in 1/2-inch cubes or balls using a melon baller
1 cup honeydew melon or other green melon cut in 1/2-inch cubes or balls using a melon baller
½ cup jicama, peeled and julienned
¼ cup fresh basil and cilantro leaves, tossed together
1 bunch watercress or baby arugula, washed in cold water, then dried well

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
½ tsp. chipotle chile canned in adobo, minced fine with some of the sauce in the can
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For dressing:
Add all the ingredients together, mix well and season with salt and pepper. Add more chipotle if more spice is desired.

For cheese:
Preheat the grill or BBQ. Be sure the grill grate is very clean and place it on BBQ to heat up. Once the coals are ready and the grill is smoking hot, lightly oil the grill and the cheese slices. Carefully place the cheese on the grill for about 10 to 15 seconds until the cheese takes some grill marks, and then remove from grill.

For salad:
Lay a bed of watercress or baby arugula on a large platter. Arrange the assorted melons, tomatoes and jicama on the greens. Lay the grilled cheese over the salad, and then drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle basil and cilantro leaves around and a touch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Chicken & Chorizo Enchiladas with Ancho Chile & Cacique® Queso Fresco
The variety of meats and spices in this recipe brings unparalleled flavor to the classic enchilada.  Cacique® Queso Fresco provides a substantial filling to this enchilada dish without melting on the plate like ordinary cheeses. 

Servings: 4 Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 45 minutes

Chile Sauce Chorizo Filling:
1 package (10 oz.) Cacique® Queso Fresco, crumbled
8 oz. boneless and skinless chicken breast
½ cup yellow onion, diced fine
6 oz. Cacique® beef or pork chorizo, removed from casing
1½ cups chicken stock

Ancho Chile Sauce:
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 Ancho Chiles, seeded and stemmed
2 Chile California, seeded and stemmed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf, dry or fresh
1 cup chicken/chorizo cooking liquid (see instructions for chicken/chorizo filling)
¼ tsp. cinnamon

Enchilada Assembly:
16 corn tortillas
2 cups canola oil
¼ lb. fresh chives cut in 1” sticks
1 bunch baby arugula
6 red radishes, sliced thin
½ cup Cacique® Crema Mexicana

For chicken and chorizo filling:
In a small sauce pot, cook the chorizo and onion over medium heat for 5 minutes while crumbling the chorizo with a spoon. Add chicken and chicken stock, bring to a boil, turn down to a slow simmer and cook covered for about 25 minutes. Pour the broth rendered from the cooking into a cup and set aside. Remove and shred the chicken into small pieces, then add back to the chorizo. Season the chicken and chorizo mix, mix well and keep warm.

For Ancho Chile sauce:
In a small saucepot over medium heat, add the oil and all of the chiles, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved chicken/chorizo cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Pour the sauce into a blender and carefully blend until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

For assembly:
Preheat oven to 350F. Heat the oil to 350F (or until lightly smoking) in a shallow sauté pan. One by one, dip a tortilla in oil and fry for 20 seconds. Remove and let excess oil drip onto paper towels. Dip tortilla in Ancho Chile Sauce. Repeat the process with the other tortillas. The tortillas will NOT be crispy, just toasty in flavor. Lay out the tortillas on a clean tabletop. Sprinkle a generous amount of Cacique® Queso Fresco down the middle of each one, followed by the chicken and chorizo mix. Roll up the enchiladas and place on the serving platter. Spoon more Ancho Chile Sauce over the enchiladas followed by a generous sprinkle of Cacique® Queso Fresco and drizzle of Cacique® Crema Mexicana. Place the enchiladas in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

For presentation:
Toss the chive sticks, arugula and radishes and top the enchiladas with the chive/radish/arugula salad.

Capirotada with Cacique® Queso Fresco and Coffee and Toffee Crema
A classic Mexican dessert, this Capirotada will surely delight your guests with its sweet and savory flavors. Cacique® Queso Fresco adds a unique creaminess to this coffee and toffee-infused bread pudding.

Servings: 8-10 Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes
1 cup Cacique® Crema Mexicana
15 oz. evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
1¼ cups packed dark brown sugar or piloncillo plus 3 tbs.
5 cups cubed (1/2-inch) day old French bread
1½ tbsp. orange zest
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup walnuts or pecans, rough chop
1 package (10 oz.) Cacique® Queso Fresco, crumbled
1 ripe banana, sliced (1/2-inch)
Non-stick cooking spray

Coffee & Toffee Crema Sauce:
1 lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
½ cup Cacique® Crema Mexicana
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup coffee-flavored liquor
Pinch of kosher salt

For capirotada:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x9-inch casserole dish. In a medium-sized bowl, combine crema, evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and whisk until blended well. Add brown sugar (reserving 3 tablespoons for the later) and blend until well incorporated. Set aside. In a large bowl place bread cubes, add raisins, nuts, orange zest and Cacique® Queso Fresco and gently mix with a large spoon until blended. Add milk/crema mixture, gently stir and add bananas. Let the bread soak for 10 minutes.

Spoon the bread mixture and all the milk/crema mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar over the bread pudding and place in the oven for 40 minutes until set and the top is golden brown. Remove from oven.

For coffee & toffee crema:
Melt butter in small sauce pan. Add crema and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add vanilla and coffee liquor. Stir until well blended and allow it to thicken for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and drizzle lightly over the bread pudding. Serve immediately.