Perhaps it’s the fond memories of our early salad days, but nothing feels like home to me and my husband like a visit to our favorite restaurant, “El Az” (as it’s known by hip natives) in Lansing/East Lansing. I think we fell in love over those bean burritos, menudo, topopo salad and the original cheese dip.
Since moving to Grand Rapids when we married nearly 20 years ago, we've used every possible excuse to make that hour-long trip for a taste of our favorite Mexican cuisine. Unfortunately, we crave it more often than those few trips allow. So, we scoured the internet for taste-a-like recipes, grilled other MSU alums and recalled the college days when my husband shared a house with one of the restaurant's cooks.
This is the recipe we finally settled on. The real key is letting it sit at least overnight before diving in, so the flavors can blend.
Our friends who've enjoyed the "real thing" say this is very close to the original. It's always a hit at parties and work potlucks, and it's so easy to make!
Serve with the cheese dip, a side of frijoles (refried beans) and your favorite spicy salsa. Layer each chip with beans, dip and a dab of salsa for the perfect experience. Olé!
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate several hours, preferably overnight. Serve with tortilla chips, refried beans and salsa (see note). Use leftovers to spice up plain bean and cheese burritos.
Alternate Recipe: Makes yummy cheesy enchiladas! Fill flour or corn tortillas with cheese dip, roll up, and lay in baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cover with verde enchilada sauce and queso cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes. Serve with rice and/or refried beans.
Play with the ingredients and amounts until you get the flavor and consistency you like. You can also lighten this dish by using low fat (not fat free) sour cream, cottage cheese, etc.