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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cinco de Mayo & Dia De Los Muertos

RECIPE: Mexican Haystacks

Seeking something fun for Cinco de Mayo?

A food haystack uses a starchy base (tortilla chips, saltines or rice), topped by a protein (beans, grated Cheddar cheese, taco-seasoned meat, and/or a vegetarian meat alternative), and fresh vegetables (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, olives, peppers). It is garnished with condiments (guacamole, sour cream, salsa).

Mexican Haystacks are like a deconstructed tostada. The haystack ingredients are served individually and assembled on the plate by the person who will be eating it. There are other variations, like Hawaiian haystacks with ham and pineapple.

Good for a crowd, the concept been popular for at least 60 years. According to Wikipedia, they are particularly popular among Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites and Latter-Day Saints.

You can assemble the haystacks and bring them to the table, or simply lay out the ingredients and have each person assemble their own haystack, using as little or as much of any particular ingredient.

RECIPE: MEXICAN HAYSTACKS

This recipe courtesy of Ginny Stevenson, adapted by Winner Dinners.
 
Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 package (1 ounce) taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (16-ounces) refried beans
  • 1 bag tortilla chips or cooked, seasoned rice for base*
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • Grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced grape tomatoes
  • Sliced green onions
  • 1 can (2.2-ounces) sliced olives
  • 1 container (8 ounces) sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh salsa
  •  

    mexican-haystack-planet-rice-230

    Mexican Haystacks with a rice base. Photo courtesy Planet Rice.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE all of the cheeses, vegetables, and toppings as directed, placing each item in its own small bowl. Store in the fridge while you prepare the beef and beans.

    2. PLACE the ground beef, taco seasoning mix and the amount of water indicated on the seasoning package into a skillet and cook them all together, until the meat is cooked and tender and most of the water has evaporated. While the beef is cooking…

    3. PLACE the refried beans in a microwave-safe bowl and heat.

    4. BRING ingredients to the table and assemble. Place a thin layer of refried beans on a plate and then sprinkle some tortilla chips over the beans. Add the remaining ingredients in whatever order you wish. A recommended order: beef, lettuce, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, tomatoes, olives, green onions, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.
     
    *Even if you don’t use the tortilla chips for the base, you can serve them on the side.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tomatillo Guacamole

    tomatillo-quacamole-qvc-230

    Guacamole with tomatillos. Recipe and photo
    courtesy QVC.

     

    Plan for Cinco de Mayo with this all-green guacamole recipe, which replaces the red tomatoes with green tomatillos.

    RECIPE: TOMATILLO GUACAMOLE

    Ingredients

  • 4 large tomatillos, peeled, halved, and chopped
  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and quartered
  • 1-1/3 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, stems removed
  • 4 jalapeños, seeded and halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Tortilla chips and/or crudités
  •  

    Preparation

    1. Place the diced tomatillos, avocados, cilantro, jalapeños, garlic, salt, pepper, and lime juice into a food processor, in the order listed. Mix until all ingredients are fully combined and the guacamole is smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    2. To keep the guacamole from browning until you’re ready to serve it, tamp plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent air from oxidizing the avocado.

    Here’s another tomatillo guacamole recipe with roasted corn.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOMATOES & TOMATILLOS

    Tomatillos are not little green tomatoes. They are in the same botanical family, but a different species. Here’s the scoop:
     
    THE TOMATO

    The tomato is an edible red berry*, although some varieties grow in colors that range from brown to green (when ripe), orange, purple-black, purple-blue, white and yellow (see photo below and learn more about tomato colors).

  • Originally tiny in size (like the grape tomato), it was cultivated over centuries to its current “beefsteak” heft.
  • Its botanical family is Solanaceae (the Nightshade family, which includes potatoes and eggplant), species/genus Solanum lycopersicum.
  • The plant is native to Central and South America, from Mexico to Peru.
  • It’s an annual plant with a woody stem that typically grows to 3 to 10 feet in height.
  •  
    THE TOMATILLO

     

    kiwi-cherry-berry-tomatillo-thechefsgarden-230

    Tomatillos (top) and their cousins, cherry tomatoes. Photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden.

     
    The tomatillo is also an edible berry. Small and spherical, it is [erroneously] called a green tomato; and also a husk tomato, a Mexican tomato and other names. But it’s a distant cousin to the tomato. Instead, it is closely related to the cape gooseberry.

  • Like the orange-colored gooseberry, the tomatillo is surrounded by a papery husk. The ripe fruit can be green, purple, red or yellow.
  • The tomatillo’s botanical family is also Solanaceae, but it belongs to a completely different species from the tomato, Physalis. Its botanical name is Physalis ixocarpa.
  • Native to Central America, the tomatillo was a staple of Maya and Aztec cuisine.
  • The tomatillo is also an annual plant, with a semi-woody stem that can grow to a height of 4 to 5 feet. However, it usually grows low to the ground and spreads out instead of up.
  •  
    *Yes, tomatoes are fruits. Here’s the difference between fruits and vegetables.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Baked Potato Nachos

    Today is National Nachos Day. Here’s a twist on nachos from the United States Potato Board, which uses potatoes instead of tortilla chips.

    Prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes.

    RECIPE: BAKED POTATO NACHOS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican seasoning blend (recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Toppings

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, Mexican-flavored cheese (jalapeño, habanero) or pepper jack
  • 1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 3 tablespoons canned diced green chiles
  •  

    SHORTEN-01

    Nachos with a twist: baked potatoes replace tortilla chips. Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

     
    Garnishes

  • Chopped avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Guacamole
  • Enchilada sauce for drizzling
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 425°F.

    2. WASH the potatoes, peel and slice into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Toss and coat with olive oil, garlic salt and Mexican seasoning.

    3. PLACE potato wedges in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, stirring several times, until crisp and golden brown.

    4. REMOVE sheet from oven. Top potatoes with cheese, beans, tomatoes, olives, onions and chiles. Bake for 5 minutes more, until the cheese melts.

    5. SERVE with optional guacamole, salsa, sour cream, etc.
     
    MEXICAN SEASONING BLEND

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND all of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Revisit Nachos For National Nachos Day

    NAKED-NACHOS-230

    Naked Nachos: no cheese! Photo courtesy
    The Better Chip.

     

    November 6th is National Nachos Day, a snack created on the fly in 1943 at a restaurant in Mexico (the history is below).

    Here are three modern takes on the classic: Naked Nachos (without cheese), Cast Iron Nachos and Dessert Nachos.

    The recipes were developed by The Better Chip, whose delicious tortilla chips are round, colorful and a great platform for snacks, Made from double corn masa, 40% fresh veggies and enhanced with a smidgen of sea salt or natural seasoning for a better tasting and better dipping chip.

    The colorful chips include:

    • Beets: red
    • Chipotle: orange
    • Fresh Corn: yellow
    • Jalapeño: yellow
    • Spinach & Kale: green

    RECIPE: NAKED NACHOS

    This interpretation leaves off the cheese, but adds flavor through roasted tomatoes and corn. If you’re pressed for time, you can substitute a can of roasted tomatoes and a tub of fresh corn salsa.

    Ingredients

    • 1 bag (6.4 ounces) tortilla chips
    • 3-4 tomatoes, roasted
    • Fresh corn on the cob, roasted
    • Fresh basil, oregano rosemary or thyme
    • Olive oil

    Preparation

    1. ROAST the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    2. CUT the tomatoes horizontally and remove the stem. Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with olive oil. Place the tomatoes sliced side down; sprinkle with herbs. Bake for 1 hour. Add salt to taste; slice to serve.

    3. ROAST the corn: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the corn on a baking sheet—do not shuck. Roast for 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from the oven and let cool. Shuck corn and cut the kernels from the ear.

    4. HEAT the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the corn kernels and sauté until heated through and golden yellow in color.

    5. LINE a baking sheet with the tortilla chips. Layer with the sliced roasted tomato and sprinkle on the corn. Garnish with fresh herbs. Broil on high for 2 minutes until edge of chips start to turn light brown. Serve.
     
    RECIPE: QUICK & EASY SKILLET NACHOS

    This version of nachos is super easy to make.

    Ingredients

    • 1 bag (6.4 ounces—The Better Chip recommends its Chipotles flavor)
    • 1 can pinto beans
    • Pepperoni, sliced
    • Aged sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. COMBINE the ingredients in cast iron skillet. Place in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.

     

    RECIPE: GRANDMA’S CANDY APPLE NACHOS

    Ingredients

    • Tortilla chips (The Better Chip recommends its Fresh Corn or Spinach & Kale flavors)
    • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
    • Caramel sauce
    • Chocolate sauce
    • Walnuts, chopped
    • Mini marshmallows

     
    Preparation

    1. DICE the apple into small pieces. Heat the chocolate and caramel sauces so that they are warm and easy to drizzle over chips.

    2. PLACE the chips on a plate, spoon the diced apples over the chips and drizzle the chocolate and caramel sauces over chips and apples.

    3. SPRINKLE the walnuts over the nachos and garnish with a few marshmallows.

     

    Dessert Nachos-230

    Dessert nachos. Photo courtesy The Better Chip.

     

    THE HISTORY OF NACHOS

    Nachos are an example of necessity being the mother of invention.

    As the story goes, in 1943 a group of Army wives from Fort Duncan, in Eagle Pass, Texas, had gone over the border to Piedras Negros, Mexico, on a shopping trip. By the time they arrived at the Victory Club restaurant, the kitchen was closed.

    But the accommodating maître d’hôtel, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya (Nacho is a nickname for Ignacio), threw together a snack for the ladies from what was available in the kitchen: tortillas and cheese. He cut the tortillas into triangles, added shredded Cheddar cheese, quickly heated them and garnished the dish with sliced jalapeño chiles.

    When asked what the tasty dish was called, he answered, “Nacho’s especiales,” Nacho’s Special.

    In Mexico nachos are also called totopos, the word for tortilla chips. French fries, potato chips and even popcorn are sometimes substituted for the tortilla chips.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Churros With Three Chile Mole Fondue

    Fondue with a south-of-the-border accent.
    Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    For Dia de los Muertos, celebrated today and tomorrow, serve something with a south-of-the-border theme. We’ve got an exciting chile mole fondue; use churros (South American crullers) for dipping.

    This recipe, uses three types of chilies—guajillo, chilies de arbol and chipotle—to give this Mexican-inspired dessert fondue a smoky kick. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, nutty peanut butter and warm cinnamon make it a luscious complement to churros, fresh fruit or assorted cookies. You can also try pumpkin tortilla chips, which have matching spices and a touch of sweetness.

    Here’s a recipe to make your own churros. You can buy them in Latin American grocery stores.

    Note that the serving size in this recipe (which is from McCormick) is 2 tablespoons. If you want a larger portion, double the recipe.

     
    RECIPE: THREE CHILE MOLE FONDUE (SPICY FONDUE)

  • 4 large dried guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 dried chilies de arbol, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap or dark rum
  • 4 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ground chipotle
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seed, toasted
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT a medium saucepan on medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the chiles; toast 30 seconds per side or until they begin to blister and change color slightly.

    2. LET the saucepan cool slightly. Add 2 cups water to cover the chiles and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low; simmer 30 minutes until the chiles soften.

    3. REMOVE the chiles with kitchen tongs to a blender container. Add 1/2 cup chile soaking liquid from the saucepan; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth. Discard the remaining soaking liquid in the saucepan.

    4. STRAIN the chile purée through a large mesh strainer into the saucepan. Stir in the cream and corn syrup. Bring just to boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

    5. ADD the remaining ingredients; stir until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Garnish with toasted sesame seed.

     

    churros-fuegos-melissas-230

    Homemade churros. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    ABOUT EL DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

    Since pre-Colombian times, Mexicans have celebrated El Día de los Muertos, a ritual in which the living remember their departed relatives. From October 31 through November 2, graves are tended and decorated with ofrendas, offerings, and families expect a visit from loved ones who have passed.

    Ofrendas dedicated to the deceased, usually foods and beverages, are also put in homes on elaborately decorated altars with glowing votive candles, photos, chocolate and sugar skull heads (calaveritas).

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pulled Pork Sliders Or Sandwiches With Cabbage Slaw

    Planning to host a group for Labor Day? If you have access to a smoker, Chef David Venable recommends Smoked Mexican Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Cabbage Slaw. Alternatively, you can buy a barbecued pork butt, ready to heat and eat; or make it in a slow cooker.

    You can serve full-size sandwiches or smaller sliders.

    “If you’re having a big party,” says David, “these Mexican Pulled Pork Sandwiches are a great way to really stretch your dollar and it’s easy to double or even triple the recipe. Smoking the large cut of meat packs in incredible flavor.”

    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

    RECIPE: PULLED PORK SANDWICHES

    Ingredients For The Pork Sandwiches

  • 4-5 pounds pork butt (bone-in or boneless)
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 envelope Sazón Adobo seasoning (Goya or other brand)
  • 10-12 of your favorite rolls for sliders or sandwiches
  •  
    Plus Your Favorite Toppings

  • Cheese
  • Cole slaw (recipe below)
  • Pickles
  • Red onion or sweet onion (like Vidalia)
  • Tomatoes
  •    

    pulled-pork-sliders-davidvenableQVC-230

    Top the pulled pork with the cabbage slaw. Photo courtesy QVC.

     
    Pork Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a smoker to 250°F and also prepare the wood chips. Using gloves, rub the taco seasoning and adobo liberally on the pork butt. Smoke for 4-5 hours, or until tender.

    2. REMOVE the pork butt and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. Then shred the meat into a bowl with two forks.

    3. ASSEMBLE the sandwiches: Place the desired amount of pork on the bottom half of a roll and top with the cabbage slaw.

     

    pulled-pork-sliders-davidvenableQVC-horiz-230

    Don’t want the bun? Eat it from the bowl! Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    RECIPE: CABBAGE SLAW (COLE SLAW)

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cabbage, peppers, corn and cilantro in a large bowl.

    2. WHISK together mayo, lime juice, vinegar, honey, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture and toss to coat.

    3. REFRIGERATE until you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches.
     
    WHO INVENTED SLIDERS?

    A slider is a small sandwich, typically around 3 inches in diameter, served in a bun. The term primarily refers to small burgers, but can also include any small sandwich served on a slider roll.

    According to citations in Wikipedia, the name may have originated aboard U.S. Navy ships in the 1940s or 1950s. The name was inspired by the way greasy burgers slid across the galley grill while the ship pitched and rolled. A “slider with a lid” was a cheeseburger. White Castle trademarked the spelling variant “Slyder.”

    Today, gourmet sliders—bison, venison, Wagyu beef, etc.—are served as an hors d’oeuvre, amuse-bouche, or in multiples as an entrée.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Deconstructed Enchilada Salad

    Deconstructed-Enchilada-Salad_davidvenableQVC-230r

    Deconstruct enchiladas into an enchilada
    salad. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    We always enjoy a taco salad, but had never set eyes on an enchilada salad until we received this recipe from QVC’s chef, David Venable.

    Instead of wrapping enchilada fillings in a tortilla, the fillings become part of a crunchy salad, and the tortillas are toasted and cut into crispy strips.

    David sent this recipe for Cinco de Mayo, but it’s also a good choice for a light, flavorful warm weather lunch or light dinner.

    Notes David, “With all of the flavor but half of the prep of regular enchiladas, this is a great recipe to whip up for a weeknight celebration.”

    RECIPE: DECONSTRUCTED ENCHILADA SALAD

    Ingredients

    For The Dressing

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 6 scallions, trimmed and cut in thirds
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  •  

    For The Salad

  • 3 corn tortillas*
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (we used olive oil)
  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen corn, defrosted)
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts, bones/skin removed and shredded
  • 1/2 cup roasted peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup scallions, sliced
  •  
    *You can substitute ready-made tortilla chips. They don’t provide the same flavor and texture as frying your own, but they’re delicious in a different way.

     

    tortilla-strips-annahinmancrunchycreamysweet-230

    Homemade tortilla chips. Photo courtesy Anna Hinman | CrunchyCreamySweet.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing: Add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

    2. TOAST the tortillas: Pour the oil into a 10″ skillet and set the heat to medium. Heat for 5 minutes, add one tortilla, and fry for about 30 seconds, or until crispy. Flip and fry the other side until crispy. Remove the tortilla from the oil and drain it on a paper towel. Prepare the remaining tortillas as directed and when cool, roughly chop into strips.

    3. ASSEMBLE the salad: Place half of the romaine lettuce in a clear glass salad bowl and layer the ingredients in this order: tomatoes, red onion, the remaining romaine, corn, olives, chicken, red peppers, chopped tortillas, queso fresco, and scallions. Serve with the dressing.

     
    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Strawberry Margarita Jello Shots

    We celebrated Cinco de Mayo with these Margarita Jell-O shots, created by Good Cocktails.com.

    Mix up some strawberry Margarita Jell-O (yes, with tequila) and pour into hollowed-out strawberry cups.

    Refrigerate, garnish with a small slice of lime, and serve.

    It’s delicious and fun. Here’s the recipe.

     

    strawberry-jello-shot-goodcocktail-230sq

    A strawberry serves as the shot glass. Photo courtesy GoodCocktail.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Tex-Mex Queso Dip

    queso-dip-kraft-230

    A classic queso dip. Photo courtesy Kraft
    Foods.

     

    Unlike turkey for Thanksgiving or ham and lamb for Easter, there are no “traditional” Cinco de Mayo foods. Anything Mexican or Tex-Mex goes.

    What is a regional holiday in Mexico commemorates the 1862 victory of a small and poorly-equipped Mexican militia led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin over the much larger French army at The Battle Of Puebla. It temporarily stopped the French invasion of the country.

    Cinco de Mayo is actually a bigger event in the U.S., thanks to promotions from Mexican restaurants and Americans’ love of Mexican food.

    If you don’t want to go all-out, you can have salsa, chips and a Margarita or a Mexican beer at home. Or, make a warm, creamy queso dip (queso is the Mexican word for cheese), also known as chile con queso.

     
    According to Bobby McGee of Jardine’s, our favorite fine salsa producer, queso dip is a Tex-Mex invention of the 20th century. It can take the form of a spread or a warm dip with tortilla chips.

    Cheese has always been a costly ingredient. To stretch the cheese, some clever cook added chopped vegetables.

    In the best recipes, a semisoft cheese is melted into a smooth mixture with, for example, sour cream and/or butter for a smooth texture and cornstarch for body. Chopped vegetables or salsa are added for “stretch” and flavor.

    Shortcut recipes mix a block of Velveeta or American cheese with a can of Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Diced Green Chilies. Instead of processed cheeses like these—or buying supermarket brands made with them—whip up your own, more flavorful, queso dip with asadero, Cheddar or Jack cheese.

    Asadero is a semisoft cheese often used for melting: a smooth, yellow cheese reminiscent of Provolone, with a bit of zest and tang. It’s often sliced or shredded to use for quesadillas or other sandwiches, and it’s a favorite for nachos and queso dips.

    Check out the different types of Mexican cheeses.

    Here’s a recipe adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Michelle of BrownEyedBaker.com:

     

    RECIPE: QUESO DIP

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeds and stems removed, diced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeds and stems removed, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained (about 1 cup)
  • 12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
  • 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  
    Plus

  • Tortilla chips, raw vegetables or hot flour tortillas for dipping
  •  

    chile-con-queso-browneyedbaker-230

    A delicious, from-scratch queso dip. Photo courtesy BrownEyedBaker.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, serrano chiles and jalapeño; cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

    2. WHISK the flour into the pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Slowly pour the milk into the pan while whisking, and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes.

    3. REDUCE the heat to low, and add the grated cheeses a ¼ cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until it is completely melted. Repeat until all of the cheese has been added. Stir in the sour cream until completely combined. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Leftover queso can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and reheated when you’re ready to serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cinco De Mayo Strawberries

    cinco-de-mayo-chocolate-strawberries-harvardsweetboutique-230b

    Fresh strawberries dressed up for Cinco de
    Mayo. Photo courtesy Harvard Treat
    Boutique.

     

    This Cinco de Mayo treat from Harvard Sweet Boutique inspired today’s tip.

    For snacks or desserts, dip fresh strawberries in melted chocolate and decorate in festive colors: aqua, pink, purple or lavender and yellow, for example.

    Start with this easy recipe for chocolate-dipped fruit.

    Then use decorator icing to pipe squiggles and dots

    You can also tint white chocolate pink with food color, and use colored sanding sugar (recipe).

     

    ROYAL ICING RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • Food color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIFT together sugar and cream of tartar.

    2. BEAT in 4 beaten egg whites with an electric mixer. Beat for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape.

    3. DIVIDE the icing and tint with desired food colors.

      

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