Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mi Queso es su Queso!

OK my friends, I feel like I've been holding out on you.  I have a confession.  It's been almost a year since I found a really great homemade, real food queso recipe and the only reason I haven't shared it yet is because every time I made it I got lost in my love for queso and forgot to either take pictures at all or finish taking them.  I got myself together and now you too can make killer queso at home.  Here's the thing with me and queso, it's probably one of the more disgusting processed foods I've ever loved.  Nasty, I know, but there was a time (not so super long ago) when I declared my love for orange cheese dust as well.  Lucky for me, the more you stay away from these things (because nothing good can come from them), the more your tastes will change.  Seriously, the last two times I had a Dorito (and they were always my favorite) I was a little put off.  I thought they were way to salty and frankly just not that great.  It surprised me, but rather than keep eating them anyways I stopped and thought "Yay! I won't crave these again or feel bad that I pigged out on them!".  It was a good feeling.  The same hold true for the queso. I've always liked it. It was like a comfort food indulgent snack.  Since I found this recipe though, two things have happened. 1) I can appreciate how gross a jar of store bought queso really is and 2) I don't have it very often (not that I ate it often before but..) because I'm not just opening a jar and turning on the microwave.  I'm chopping and stirring and cooking. Next time you want to put out snacks for the game consider some homemade goodies like salsa, guacamole and this Chile Con Queso from Eating Well.  Did I mention this cuts out a ton of calories and fat from store or restaurant queso's?   That's another bonus.
Like practically every recipe I make it seems, we start with a finely chopped onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic.  I like to get everything prepped first so I'm not scrambling around half way through trying to find some ingredient that's buried in my spice cupboard (Melanie, we'll talk) or what not.  So you heat a couple of teaspoons of oil and cook the onion and garlic until soft and beginning to brown.
Then you add a half a cup of pale ale or other light colored beer and cook until it reduces slightly.
I love this because the smell reminds me of the Brew Pub my brother worked at in Jackson Hole, WY.  Ahhh.
Next you add 1 cup of milk. The recipe calls for low-fat, I usually use whole.  Yes that ups the calories but I usually only have skim milk for drinking and whole on hand for recipes.  I suppose a combo would work. Next time.
While that comes to a simmer, whisk 1/2 cup of milk with 3 Tbs of cornstarch.  Preferably non-GMO.  It sounds like a lot but it really does not have that overly cornstarched taste at all.  Add it to the pan and stir until thickened and bubbling.  The recipe says 1-2 minutes but I always find it to thicken almost instantly.
Next come the cheese.  Oh how I love me some cheese.  With a nice healthy diet and regular exercise, beer and cheese once in a while will not be the end of you.  Living a sedentary lifestyle and eating lots of processed foods and unhealthy restaurant foods?...well, it might be.  OK, so lower the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
Now comes the Ro-Tel.  I am such a fan of this stuff but if sodium is an issue for you,  you can add some diced tomatoes and canned green chilies instead.
Add in some lime juice, a little salt, some chili powder and cayenne if you like it spicy (I add it when the kids...or my Mom won't be having any).
Serve it up with chopped scallions and cilantro if you like.  It adds a little freshness to an already fabulous dip.
I'm not sure there are any perfect chips out there but these seem relatively harmless (all in moderation of course) and they are quite good!
Especially with a little queso.  YUM.  Find the full recipe at Eating Well and feel a little better about having that snack during the game (or whatever.  I've got March Madness on the brain!!).

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