Category Archives: Snacks & Appetizers


Ecuadorian Potato Cakes (Llapingachos)

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Ingredients (Potato Pancakes):

  • 6 medium potatoes, such as Yukon gold, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet Sazon with coriander and annatto
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Tropical Queso Ecuatoriano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients (Fresh Salsa):

  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup prepared Peanut Sauce

Prepare Potato Pancakes:
Fill large saucepan ¾ full of water. Add potatoes; over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain well. Mash potatoes. You should have about 3 cups.

Meanwhile, in small skillet over medium heat, in 1 tablespoon hot oil, cook onion until just tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. In large bowl combine mashed potatoes, sautéed onion, flour, Sazon, salt and pepper until combined. Stir in shredded Queso until well mixed. Shape ¼ cupful potato mixture into sixteen 3-inch-round patties, each about ½-inch thick.

Prepare Salsa:
In medium bowl combine tomato, red onion, cilantro, olive oil and red wine vinegar to mix well. Set aside.

In 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, in 1tablespoon olive oil, cook half of potato pancakes until well browned on both sides. Remove to plate. Repeat with remaining potato pancakes and olive oil. Serve with fresh salsa and peanut sauce. Makes 16.


Queso de Freir Stuffed with Ropa Vieja

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Ingredients (Ropa Vieja):

  • 1 pound flank steak
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup sofrito
  • 1 Sazon packet with coriander and annatto
  • ½ cup sliced pimento-stuffed olives
  • ¼ cup capers

Ingredients (Appetizer Cups):

  • 1 16-ounce package Tropical Queso de Freir
  • Vegetable oil For Frying
  • ½ cup Tropical Crema Mexicana
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo
  • Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Prepare Ropa Vieja:
Sprinkle flank steak with salt and pepper; cut steak into 4” by 3” pieces. In 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, in 1 tablespoon hot oil, brown beef on both sides; remove to plate. In drippings remaining in saucepan over medium heat, in remaining tablespoon oil, cook onion, pepper and garlic, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water, tomato sauce, sofrito and sazon and flank steak. Over high heat, heat mixture to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in olives and capers. Simmer 1 hour longer or until meat shreds easily with a fork, adding more water if necessary. Remove meat to large plate. Shred with 2 forks; return to saucepan.

Prepare Appetizer Cups:
Place Queso Freir on cutting board. Cut into 16 equal cubes, each about 1 ¼ by 1/1/4-inches. With small melon baller or scoop, cut a small scoop out of each square of cheese. Heat 2 inches oil to 350°F. in deep-fryer or in deep saucepan. Fry cheese cubes about 2 minutes or until browned. With slotted spoon, remove to paper towel lined plate.

In small bowl combine crema and chipotle peppers to mix well.
To serve, place appetizer cups on serving platter. Fill with Ropa Vieja. Drizzle with Chipotle Crema. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serves 8.


Southwestern Oaxaca Egg Rolls

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Ingredients (Filling):

  • 3 Tropical Mexican Chorizos (Or your favorite Tropical chorizo)
  • 1 cup canned sweet corn
  • 1 cup canned black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded Tropical Oaxaca cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Tropical Queso Fresco
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 16 egg roll wraps
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Ingredients (Avocado Crema):

  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and well mashed
  • ½ cup Tropical Crema Mexicana
  • 1 ounce package dry Ranch dressing and salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Remove casing from chorizos; crumble chorizo. In 10-inch skillet over medium heat, cook chorizo until well browned and cooked through on all sides, stirring frequently. Remove to bowl. Add corn, black beans, Qaxaca, Queso Fresco, scallions and cilantro. Toss to mix well.

Place one egg roll wrap on work surface. Top with ¼ cup black bean filling. Fold bottom corner over filling, then fold in side corners. Brush top with water and roll up wrap tightly to enclose filling, sealing roll with top flap. Repeat with remaining filling and wraps. Place end-side down on large greased cookie sheet.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush rolls lightly with olive oil. Bake rolls about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare Avocado Crema: In small bowl, combine mashed avocado, Crema, ranch dressing and cilantro to mix well. Serve rolls with Avocado Crema. Makes 16 egg rolls.


Salvadoran Quesadilla

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  • ¼ cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup Tropical Crema Centroamericana
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces Tropical Fresco Centroamericano, shredded (2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl with mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs, milk, and crema; beat until well blended.

In small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Beat into egg mixture until well blended. Stir in shredded Queso Fresco until blended.

Grease two 8-inch round pans. Spoon batter into pans. Sprinkle top of each loaf with sesame seeds. Bake 40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 2.


Freir Fruit Skewers

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  • 4 wooden skewers, about 6 inches long
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1 10-ounce package Tropical Queso de Freir
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup watermelon chunks
  • Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Mint Sprigs for Garnish

Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. In large bowl combine honey, chopped mint, orange juice and orange peel. Cut Queso de Freir into 1-inch chunks. Place in honey mixture with pineapple and watermelon chunks. Toss to mix well.

Preheat grill or broiler. Skewer Queso de Freir, pineapple, watermelon chunks and mint leaves. Grill skewers until cheese is golden, turning once. Brush with remaining honey mixture. Garnish with mint sprigs. Serves 4.


Freir Corn Fritters

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  • 1 8.5-ounce package corn muffin mix
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups shredded Tropical Queso de Freir
  • 1 15.25-ounce can corn, drained
  • ½ cup diced red bell peppers
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives or scallions
  • Vegetable Oil for Frying

In large bowl combine corn muffin mix, milk and egg until just combined. Stir in shredded Queso de Freir, corn, red peppers, salt, cayenne pepper and chives.

In deep-fryer or deep saucepan, heat 2 inches oil to 350°F. Spoon 1 tablespoon mixture into hot oil; cook about 2 minutes or until puffed and golden, turning once. With slotted spoon remove to paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining mixture. Serve immediately. Makes 2 dozen.


Colombian Corn Cakes (Envuelto de Maiz)

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  • 3 ears fresh corn-on-cob
  • 1 cup crumbled Tropical Quesito Colombiano, divided
  • ¼ cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Remove husks from corn cobs; set aside. Cut kernels from cobs to make 2 cups. In blender or food processor combine corn kernels, 3/4 cup crumbled cheese, corn meal, egg, butter and salt. Process until smooth.

Place large outer corn husk on work surface; spoon 1 heaping tablespoon corn mixture in center of corn husk. Fold top and sides over to enclose filling. Tie with a thin piece of corn husk. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 12 packages.

Place corn packages in large steamer basket; over high heat, heat water to boiling. Cover steamer and steam corn packages 1 hour.

To serve, open corn package; sprinkle with remaining crumbled cheese. Makes 12.


Baked Panela Dip

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  • 1 12-ounce package Tropical Panela cheese
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6-inch Round Bread Loaf, for Bread Bowl, optional
  • Cucumber slices and baby carrots
  • Crackers


Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut panela cheese into 1-inch cubes. Place in large bowl; toss with garlic, cilantro and olive oil. Cut 1-inch from top of bread loaf; scoop out enough bread to hold cheese mixture. Spoon in cheese mixture; place on cookie sheet. Wrap side of bread with foil to cover. Cut bread top into 1-inch cubes; place on cookie sheet with bread bowl. Or, if not using bread bowl, spoon cheese mixture into a shallow 1-quart casserole.

Bake bread bowl and cubes or casserole 15 to 18 minutes or until cheese is browned and bread is toasted. Serve the dip with veggies, crackers and bread cubes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.


Queso Blanco and Chorizo Mashed Potato Cheese Bites

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  • 1 Tropical chorizo
  • 1 10-ounce package Tropical Queso Blanco
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes (leftover)
  • 1/3 cup chopped chives
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Fresh chives for garnish

Remove casing from chorizo; crumble chorizo. In small skillet over medium-high heat, cook chorizo until well browned, stirring occasionally. Remove to plate.

Shred half of cheese to make 1 ½ cups. Cut remaining half into ½-inch cubes. In large bowl combine mashed potatoes, shredded cheese, chives, salt and pepper; mix well. Shape mixture into 2-inch balls. Press thumb into center of each ball to make an indentation. Add some crumbled cooked chorizo and cube of cheese into indentation. Pinch potato mixture around filling to enclose completely. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Roll each potato ball in flour to cover completely. Then roll in beaten egg; roll in breadcrumbs to coat completely. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Heat oil 2 inches vegetable oil in medium saucepan. Or, heat oil in deep-fryer to 350°F. Fry potato balls, a few at a time, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining potato balls. Garnish with chives. Makes 18.


Queso Blanco and Guava Empanadas

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  • 1 11.6-ounce package puff pastry dough for turnovers
  • 2 cups shredded Tropical Queso Blanco
  • 1 14-ounce package guava paste
  • 1 large egg, beaten


Place one puff pastry dough round on work surface. Top with 2 tablespoons shredded Queso Blanco and 1 tablespoon guava paste. Lightly brush edges of dough rounds with water; fold dough in half, pressing edges together to seal. Press edges with fork to seal tightly. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Brush each empanada with beaten egg.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place empanadas on large greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until puffed and golden. Makes 12 empanadas.