Kid-friendly Cheesy Corny Queso Family FUNdido + Kid-Invented Salsa + Jazzed-Up Savory Chips Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Cheesy Corny Queso Family FUNdido + Kid-Invented Salsa + Jazzed-Up Savory Chips

Family Meal Plan: Cheesy Corny Queso Family FUNdido + Kid-Invented Salsa + Jazzed-Up Savory Chips

Cheesy Corny Queso Family FUNdido + Kid-Invented Salsa + Jazzed-Up Savory Chips

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Natasha McCone and Kate Bezak
prep time
23 minutes
cook time
2 minutes
makes
4-8 servings

Fun Food Story

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Cheesy Corny Queso Family FUNdido

"Queso fundido" (KAY-soh fun-DEE-doh) is one of my all-time favorite food indulgences. It translates to "molten cheese." Its recipe origin can be traced back to the "vaquero" (Spanish for "cowboy") campfire cookouts in Northern Mexico. They would melt cheese, various vegetables, and spices in a cast-iron skillet over a campfire to eat with tortillas. Now, that's my kind of cookout.

Growing up in North San Diego, my family and I would go to our favorite Mexican restaurant along the coast for special occasions: Taco Auctioneers in Del Mar (now long gone). Queso Fundido was always ordered first before we even sat down. I have very fond memories of the ooey-gooey queso fundido wrapped around a fresh tortilla with the juices running down my arm.

This queso fundido recipe is prepared with corn and fresh tomatoes and is super easy to make. It can be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled, depending on the size of your family. You can add almost anything your family likes on top of the Queso Fundido. It's completely customizable. Just use our recipe as a guide. Alongside a basket of Jazzed-Up Savory Chips and Kid-Invented Salsa—this Queso Fundido will please any crowd and is perfect for sharing. Whip up a bowl with your hungriest kids and watch it get devoured. Just make sure to leave time for a siesta afterward!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief
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Shopping List

  • FRESH OR FROZEN
  • 1 tomato **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 tomato, optional for salsa **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1/4 C fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 C fresh or frozen corn kernels, optional for salsa
  • 2 limes
  • 1 bunch cilantro, optional for queso and salsa
  • 4 green onions, optional for queso and salsa
  • 1/3 C fresh or frozen pomegranate seeds, optional for queso and salsa
  • 2 T pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), optional for queso
  • 1 cucumber, optional for salsa
  • 2 tomatillos, optional for salsa **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, optional for salsa **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1/2 jicama
  • 1 avocado, optional for salsa
  • DAIRY
  • 8 oz grated Monterey Jack, fontina, mozzarella, or mild cheddar cheese or a combination **(see allergy subs below)**
  • PANTRY
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 can evaporated milk **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 1/2 tsp chili powder **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar
  • 8 oz bag plain unsalted corn tortilla chips
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil **
  • HAVE ON HAND
  • 1 gallon-sized ziplock bag

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • dice :

    to cut foods into small pieces of equal size so that the food is cooked evenly or looks uniform and pleasant when used in the recipe.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • microwave :

    to heat or cook food or liquid quickly in a microwave oven, which uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the food's water molecules.

  • seal :

    to close tightly, keeping filling inside.

  • shake :

    to rapidly and vigorously move a covered container filled with food up and down and side to side to combine ingredients and create a different consistency, such as shaking whipped cream to make butter.

  • squeeze :

    to firmly press or twist a food with fingers, hands, or a device to remove its liquid, like shredded potatoes, frozen and thawed spinach, or tofu.

  • stir :

    to mix together two or more ingredients with a spoon or spatula, usually in a circle pattern, or figure eight, or in whatever direction you like!

  • toss :

    to lightly lift and drop food items together or coat food items with flour, or a sauce or dressing, as in a salad.

Equipment Checklist

  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe bowl
  • Cutting board
  • Kid-safe knife (a butter knife works great)
  • Paper towel
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Can opener
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Citrus squeezer (optional)
  • Gallon-sized ziplock bag (1)
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Ingredients

Cheesy Corny Queso Family FUNdido

  • 1 tomato **(Omit for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY)**
  • 8 oz grated Monterey Jack, fontina, mozzarella, or mild cheddar cheese or a combination **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free cheese shreds, like Daiya brand)**
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 C evaporated milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 1/4 C corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 squeeze lime juice, optional
  • Optional garnishes:
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 sprinkle chili powder **(for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY sub ground cumin)**
  • 1 sprinkle dried oregano
  • 1 sprinkle pomegranate seeds
  • 2 T pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Kid-Invented Salsa

  • 1 to 2 limes
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder, or to taste **(for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY sub ground cumin)**
  • Kids choose 5 of the following:
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 C corn kernels, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • 1 tomato **(for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY sub 1 peach or 1/2 mango)**
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 tomatillos **(Omit for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY)**
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper **(Omit for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY)**
  • 1/2 jicama (peeled by an adult)
  • 1/4 C pomegranate seeds
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Jazzed-Up Savory Chips

  • 1 T salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder **(for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY sub ground cumin)**
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar
  • 8 oz bag plain unsalted corn tortilla chips
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil **
  • 1 gallon-sized ziplock plastic bag

Food Allergen Substitutions

Cheesy Corny Queso Family FUNdido

  • Nightshade: Omit tomato. Substitute ground cumin for optional chili powder.
  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free cheese, like Daiya brand. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk for evaporated milk.

Kid-Invented Salsa

  • Nightshade: Substitute ground cumin for chili powder. For 1 tomato, substitute 1 peach or 1/2 mango. Omit tomatillos and bell pepper from veggie selection.

Jazzed-Up Savory Chips

  • Nightshade: Substitute ground cumin for chili powder.
  • Soy: Substitute canola oil or other nut-free oil for vegetable oil.

Instructions

Cheesy Corny Queso Family FUNdido

1.
intro

"Queso fundido" (KAY-soh fun-DEE-doh) is Spanish for "molten cheese."

2.
dice + squeeze

Dice 1 tomato into little bits, then wrap the diced tomato into a paper towel and squeeze! We want to get rid as much of the juice as possible. Then, set the diced and squeezed tomato to the side.

3.
measure + toss

Measure and add 8 ounces grated cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch into a microwave-safe bowl. Toss everything together. The cornstarch should evenly coat the cheese.

4.
pour + add

Pour 3/4 cup evaporated milk into the bowl and add the diced tomatoes and the 1/4 cup corn kernels.

5.
cook + stir + cook + stir

Place the bowl in the microwave and cook the cheese mixture for 1 minute. Carefully stir the dip with a wooden spoon and then microwave it for another 30 seconds. Carefully take it out and stir the cheese mixture again. Cook it for 30 seconds more and stir it again. At this point, the queso fundido should be smooth, but if it’s not, continue cooking it for 30-second increments and stirring until it is smooth.

6.
squeeze + garnish + enjoy

We recommend squeezing 1 lime wedge on top of the queso right before serving. Kids can sprinkle on the optional garnishes of their choice: 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro, 1 sprinkle of chili powder, 1 chopped green onion, 2 tablespoons pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), 1 sprinkle of oregano, and 1 sprinkle of pomegranate seeds. Serve chips and salsa, like Kid-Invented Salsa and Jazzed-Up Savory Chips, with the Cheesy Corny Queso Family FUNdido dip, and enjoy!

Kid-Invented Salsa

1.
intro

Kids' creativity is the focus this week. Kid chefs will be making salsa with the ingredients they like best.

2.
chop + measure

Chop, slice, tear, mash, or measure the five ingredients your child chose for their salsa: 3 green onions, 1 cup corn kernels, 2 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 2 tomatillos, 1 bell pepper, 1/2 jicama (peeled by an adult), 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, 1 avocado, 1 handful of fresh cilantro, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano.

3.
squeeze + mix + taste

Transfer all of the prepared ingredients above into a large mixing bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1 to 2 limes into the bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon chili powder to the mixing bowl. Mix carefully with a wooden spoon until the salsa is combined. Taste and add more salt or chili powder if necessary.

Jazzed-Up Savory Chips

1.
intro

Have your kids taste an unsalted tortilla chip. Ask them: "Can we make these taste better, kids?" Respond together: "Yes, we can!"

2.
measure + add + shake

Measure 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 pinch of sugar and add them directly into a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Seal the bag and shake to mix the salt, herbs, and spices together!

3.
pour + seal + shake

Pour 1/2 8 ounce bag of tortilla chips and 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil into the ziplock bag. Seal the ziplock bag again and shake until all the chips are coated with the jazzed-up seasoning.

Surprise Ingredient: Corn!

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Photo by Leon Rafael/Shutterstock.com

Hi, my name is Maizy, and I'm an ear of corn!

“I'm pretty close to my dad—his name's Pop Corn. (I know, my humor can be kind of corny … but, that's me!) I'm great to eat on the cob, either boiled or grilled, especially at summer picnics. If you buy me in a store, make sure my husk is still on and pull it back just a bit. My kernels should look fresh, plump, and juicy! (A kernel might just squirt liquid when poked or eaten!) So, how do you eat corn on the cob? Across, down, or both?"  

History

  • Corn was first cultivated by indigenous people in southern Mexico anywhere from 7 to 10,000 years ago.
  • Corn is unique: most vegetables and fruits we eat today are domesticated versions of wild plants humans discovered long ago. Corn is a human invention and did not exist in the wild first, although it did start from a wild grass called "teosinte." Teosinte didn't look like modern corn on the cob looks today. The kernels were much smaller and further apart.
  • Corn was known as "maize" by Native Americans in South and North America, and they eventually depended upon this crop for food. Over time, maize was selected to have more kernels, bigger cobs, and more kernel rows.
  • Many Native American tribes tell the story of the origin of corn. Tribes preserved their tales and retold them over many generations. They passed down stories through oral tradition, writing down only some of the stories. According to Native American lore, corn came to Earth by various routes.
  • When Spanish explorers arrived in the Americas, they had never seen corn before, among many other things the indigenous people showed them. 
  • Corn is produced on every continent in the world except Antarctica! As a result, corn and cornmeal are staple foods of many regions.
  • Native Americans used to braid corn husks to make masks, moccasins, sleeping mats, baskets, and dolls.
  • Today, corn is in many products we use daily. Cornstarch is used to thicken sauces, to strengthen the fabric used to make clothing, and to bind books. Soft drinks are sweetened with corn syrup, chickens and cows are fed corn, and the ink in pens is made from corn oil. Corn is used to make glue, shoe polish, marshmallows, ice cream, and makeup. Corn is also used to produce ethanol—a liquid biofuel used to power cars.
  • Corn comes in many colors, including black, blue-gray, purple, green, red, white, and yellow. 
  • The six main types of corn are: "Sweet" corn is the kind we eat. "Dent" corn is fed to cows and chickens. Another variety is "Popcorn," a popular snack food. Its hard kernels inflate and burst open when heated. "Flint" or "Indian" corn is multicolored and often used for Thanksgiving decoration, although it's also used to make popcorn and blue and red corn chips and tortillas. "Pod" corn (or wild maize) is a mutated type of corn that grows glumes (leaf structures) around each kernel and is used for ornamental purposes. Finally, "Flour" corn is mainly used to make corn flour (that makes sense!). 
  • The early settlers to North America considered corn so valuable they used it as currency to trade for other products such as meat and furs.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Corn is a tall plant grass that has large ears with many seeds or kernels. 
  • Most corn plants have a single stalk. The stalk grows vertically up from the ground, and the variety of corn and the plant's environment will determine how tall it grows. 
  • Corn plants have both male and female parts—the name for this type of plant is "monoecious." The male part, the tassel, emerges at the top of the plant when all the leaves have formed. The tassel contains many branches that house many small male flowers. The female part of the corn plant is the silk that grows out of the ear. The immature ear consists of a cob, eggs that develop into kernels after pollination, and silks.  
  • One corn plant will produce more than one ear of corn, with the ear at the top of the plant usually growing the largest. 
  • According to the USDA, corn can be used as a grain or a vegetable, depending on when it is harvested. If corn is fully mature and becomes dry, it is considered a grain. It can then be ground into cornmeal or corn masa, which you'll find in corn tortillas, cornbread, etc. Popcorn kernels are also whole grains that are harvested when mature. Corn on the cob and the corn kernels found in frozen or canned corn are picked when the kernels are soft and full of water. In these forms, corn is considered a starchy vegetable. 
  • One ear of corn has, on average, as many as 800 kernels in 16 rows! Corn will always have an even number of rows on each cob. Each kernel can potentially become a new plant!
  • The word for "corn" that is used by most of the world is "maize," which comes from the Spanish word "maiz." 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Fresh corn on the cob is seasonal during July and August. Choose ears of corn with yellow or white niblets and inspect each ear of corn before buying. Avoid any corn that has dark or dried spots. Store fresh corn in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Frozen corn is a great alternative when fresh corn isn't in season. You don't have to thaw frozen corn before adding it to baked recipes, soups, pasta, chili, or risotto! However, if adding frozen corn to sautéed recipes, run a colander of frozen corn under warm water to thaw it out a bit first. 
  • Sauté frozen corn rather than boiling it—boiling will destroy all the flavor! Butter, salt, and pepper are all you need. When sautéing corn, add the salt right at the end. Since salt draws out moisture, salting too soon will dry out your corn.
  • Frozen corn tastes fresher than canned corn. Many grocery stores even sell frozen cobs of corn. Frozen corn will keep for months.

Nutrition

  • Phosphorous is a mineral the body uses to build strong bones. Phosphorus also helps the body to produce energy. Starches in corn also provide you with long-lasting energy.
  • Fiber helps to keep our inner pipelines clean and clear. Drinking plenty of water helps move fiber through our intestines to clean them out! Vegetables, fruit, and grains have the most fiber of any food. Fiber is also important for our hearts! Leaving on the edible peels of vegetables and fruits also helps us to eat more fiber.
  • Potassium helps balance water in the body when eating salty foods by maintaining normal fluid levels inside our cells. Salt or sodium regulates the fluid outside of our cells. It is also necessary for proper muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and better blood pressure.

 

What is Queso Fundido?

Photo by Guajillo studio/Shutterstock.com
  • "Queso fundido" (KAY-soh fun-DEE-doh) is Spanish for "molten cheese." This Mexican dish consists of melted cheese, chorizo (spicy pork sausage), onions, and peppers. It is often served as an appetizer or side at steakhouses or barbecues in Mexico with warm tortillas. It is also popular on the other side of the border from Mexico in El Paso, Texas. 
  • If queso fundido has warm brandy or rum added and then lit on fire, it is called "queso flameado" (KAY-soh flah-may-AH-doh), which is Spanish for "flamed cheese."
  • The types of cheese used for queso fundido can be cheddar, Monterey Jack, or "queso Oaxaca," cheese from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, similar to Monterey Jack. It can also be served with tortilla chips.

Let's Learn About Mexico!

Photo by Alena Darmel
  • Officially, Mexico's name is "The United Mexican States." It is one of several countries and territories in North America, including Canada and the United States of America.
  • Spanish is Mexico's national language, and Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexican people didn't always speak Spanish, though. For thousands of years, Native Americans lived there and built great cities. The people had advanced language, education, and calendar systems, and they had very clever ways of raising food. Mexico is also the country with the largest number of native American speakers in North America. 
  • The capital of Mexico is Mexico City. Mexican legend says that Aztec leaders were told to build their great city of Tenochtitlan at the site where they saw an eagle sitting on a nopal cactus with a snake in its beak. That image is in the center of Mexico's flag. The Aztecs built their city on an island in the middle of a lake. The ruins of Tenochtitlan are at the center of Mexico City and still sit on top of a lake! As water is pumped out to serve the needs of the city's growing population, the city has been sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches per year.  
  • Indigenous Mexican people included the Aztecs in the central interior of the country, the Mayans of the Yucatan peninsula, and the Zapotec of the south. Spanish explorers landed in Mexico in the early 1500s, and they ruled Mexico for over 300 years. During this time of colonization, Mexico's Mesoamerican civilizations mixed with European culture.
  • Before the arrival of Spaniards, native Mexican food primarily consisted of corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and herbs. Indigenous people occasionally hunted and added wild turkey, rabbit, deer, and quail to their largely vegetarian diets. Native royalty sipped chocolate drinks. Europeans introduced cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, sugarcane, and wheat to Mexico upon their arrival. 
  • Mexican cuisine uses chili peppers to give it its distinct flavor. Jalapeños, poblanos, and serrano peppers are commonly used in Mexican dishes. Dishes that include mole, a sauce made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions, such as Día de los Muertos. 

What is it like to be a kid in Mexico?

  • Mexican children may live near the ocean or the gulf, in the desert, or in the mountains. 
  • Kids often live with extended family, including grandparents. Their full names include their father's and their mother's.
  • Most kids speak Spanish, but Mexico also recognizes 68 native languages. 
  • They attend school from September through June. Large schools have two shifts—one group in the morning and one in the afternoon. Students are usually required to wear uniforms. 
  • They may play soccer, baseball, and other sports. Jumping rope and other outdoor games are very popular. They might play a game similar to bingo called Lotería. It is played with picture cards and songs. 
  • Corn tortillas are a staple for kids, along with beans and rice. Dishes that include mole, a sauce often made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions. 
  • A popular family holiday is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a celebration to remember and honor a family's ancestors. Family members decorate the graves of their relatives who have passed on. Typical foods served for this holiday include empanadas, tamales, pan de muertos (a sweet bread in which a ring with a tiny plastic skeleton is hidden), and calaveras de azucar (sugar candy skulls). 

THYME for a Laugh

Why didn't anyone laugh at the gardener's jokes?

Because they were too corny!

Lettuce Joke Around

The hot sauce asked the two chili peppers what they were doing.

They answered, "We're just chillin'!"

Lettuce Joke Around

What is the most mythical vegetable?

The uni-CORN.

Lettuce Joke Around

Hot sauce asks a jar of salsa: "You’re really not that extreme are you?"

Salsa replies, “No. I was born to be Mild.”

That's Berry Funny

Which cheese surrounds a medieval castle? 

Moat-zarella!

That's Berry Funny

Why couldn't the pepper play with his friends? 

He was grounded!

That's Berry Funny

What’s a pirate’s favorite cheese?

Chedd-AAARGH!

That's Berry Funny

How do you get a mouse to smile? 

Say "Cheese!"

The Yolk's On You

What type of chips do you eat with your BFF? 

Friendchips!

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