The family parties of my childhood were, like any good gathering, eagerly anticipated for the food as much as the socializing. I can say this without offending family members, because the same was true for them: appetizers were treated like party VIPs, and all of us cousins would ask our moms days in advance, “Will the meatballs be there? How about the taco dip? The blue cheese ball hasn’t shown up for a while; maybe it’ll show up this time?” And for me, nothing was—or is—more exciting than knowing my aunt made the cheesy tortilla roll-ups.
You know a recipe is going to be good when it doesn’t really have much of a name. Green Stuff. Chili Cheese Dip. Peanut Butter Bran Thingies. These roll-ups follow in that tradition, as well as adhering to a number of other tenets of Midwest cuisine: they involve multiple kinds of cheese, yield dozens of servings, and must be made ahead of time so that they have plenty of hours to firm up in the fridge. It all amounts to a one-bite wonder, just zesty enough that kids will still be drawn to the platter. I’m going to set them on the picnic table at a family gathering this weekend, packed on ice in the shade alongside a batch of Scotcheroos. Where will you be setting out your summer appetizer spread?
Cheesy Tortilla Roll-Ups
Makes about 60
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
8 oz. sour cream
4 oz. canned chopped green chiles
6 oz. black olives, chopped
5-6 green onions, minced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5-7 large flour tortillas, 8-inch or 10-inch size
tomato salsa, for serving
Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, green chiles, black olives, green onions, and shredded cheddar together. Spread a not-too-thick layer onto the tortilla, then slowly roll it up as tight as you can, being careful not to tear or squish as you go.
Place the roll seam-side down on a baking tray, then repeat with remaining filling and tortillas. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Remove from the fridge, slice into ¾-inch-thick rounds with a serrated knife, then refrigerate in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat. Serve with a dish of salsa for dipping.