The surprising recipes in Cheetos new cookbook

Are you a fan of both junk food and fancy chef-created cuisine? Well in that case, Cheetos has got something you're definitely going to love. Just in time for the holidays, too, so you can expand that tired old Thanksgiving repertoire with some extra added cheesiness (in both senses of the word). Yes, it's here at last! The soon-to-be-bestselling Bon Appe-Cheetos: A Holiday Cookbook by Chester and Friends. Oh, and in case you're a bit dubious about trying recipes created by a cartoon cheetah, TODAY shares the reassuring news that chefs Anne Burrell, Richard Blais, Ronnie Woo, and Casey Webb were all some of the "friends" who lent a helping paw with the cookbooks creation.

The best part about this book? (Besides the recipes, of course.) All proceeds go towards helping to revive the hard-hit restaurant industry. The book isn't for sale through Amazon or other retailers, but instead you get it by donating $35 or more through the Cheetos website to support World Central Kitchen and #ChefsofAmerica COVID-19 Relief. Can't afford to fork over quite that much for a cookbook? They've also made a few of those recipes available online at the Quaker Oats and Frito-Lay More Smiles With Every Bite website. Don't you just love a corporate marriage?

The Cheetos creations dreamed up by chefs

On the More Smiles With Every Bite website, there's a multi-step, surprisingly labor intensive recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes With a Spot of Salad featuring fresh corn, arugula, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes accompanied by panko/polenta/Parmesan/Cheetos-crusted fried green tomatoes with arugula/Parmesan/Cheetos pesto –- sounds pretty over-the-top to us. There are also Flamin' Hot Tamales with lime-pickled onions and lime crema –- here, the Flamin' Hot Cheetos are used to make the masa, which, interestingly enough, is also a technique used to make tamales in jailhouse cuisine. Chester's pals even managed to make their Dangerously Cheesy Mac'n'Cheetos way more complicated and upscale than the Walmart boxed version, calling for three types of cheese (cheddar, fontina, and Parmesan) and two types of Cheetos (Cheddar Jalapeno and White Cheddar Bites), as well as bacon, onions, jalapenos, Dijon mustard, and probably the kitchen sink as well.

For dessert, the Cheetos chefs suggest making the Good, Cheddar, Best Pumpkin Pie. Not only does this recipe incorporate White Cheddar Bites into a graham cracker crust, but it also simmers this same snack in cream and then adds it to the pumpkin filling. My, doesn't that just sound... interesting. Perhaps that's why they suggest it for Friendsgiving, since you might not want to spring it on anyone in your actual family.

Some of the recipes in the Cheetos cookbook are simpler

If you're not willing to go full-on Iron Chef with your basket of Cheetos products, the cookbook does include a few not-so-complex recipes that even a kitchen novice could master. One of these is a twist on a classic retro-style appetizer: the Pawsome Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball takes crushed Cheetos and mixes them into cream cheese and cheddar along with some crumbled bacon, green onions, and ranch seasoning. It replaces the nuts that are more typically used as a cheese ball coating with, you guessed it, more Cheetos. Then if you want to get cute, you're supposed to shape it into a paw. Less cutesy and even simpler to make are Mashed Paw-Tatoes enhanced with cream cheese as well as milk, cream, and butter and, yes, more crushed Cheetos (there are also a few potatoes in there somewhere).

For a quick snack, there's a recipe for Purrfect Popcorn Balls made by mixing Cheetos cheddar popcorn with crunchy Cheetos and then sticking them together with melted marshmallows and caramel bits. We're going to go out on a limb and say that's a recipe Chester probably didn't need too much help with, since it's the kind of thing that anyone over the age of give could throw together in a few minutes — with appropriate parental supervision, of course. Melty marshmallows can get pretty hot!

There's a dubious-sounding drink recipe, too

The one drink recipe included on the website seems just like something a snack food mascot (or perhaps a semi-inebriated frat boy) would come up with: a Cheetos Mountain Dew Mule. So just how, exactly, does one Cheeto-fy (not to mention Mountain Dew-enhance) a Moscow Mule, and — more to the point — should one even do such a thing?

To answer the first question, you use Cheetos to flavor a sugar syrup that the drink probably doesn't need since it already incorporates two types of soda (ginger beer as well as Mountain Dew). Mix the syrup and sodas with vodka and lime juice — fresh-squeezed, of course, since using Rose's lime cordial would probably guarantee instant diabetes when combined with all the other sugar this drink contains. Cheetos also reappear as a garnish, crushed and sprinkled atop the leftover slice of lime placed on the rim. (What, no Skittles?) As for the second question, if this drink doesn't give you a holiday hangover, it's probably because you had the sense not to mix one up in the first place.