Snappy Veg Toss

Start to finish: 35 minutes
Impresses: 6

Ingredients
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¼ cup sugar
4 large carrots
10 radishes
½ red onion
4 ounces queso fresco

Method
In a large measuring cup, stir together vinegar, salt and sugar until dissolved. Set aside.

Peel carrots and slice in half and then down the middle lengthwise before slicing each piece into thirds. Place into a shallow dish.

Slice radishes into thin rounds and onion into ¼-inch thick slices and add to dish with carrots.

Pour vinegar mixture over veggies and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 15–20 minutes, or until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, arrange on a platter and top with crumbled queso fresco. 

Note: If making in advance, you can pickle veggies separately in jars and store in the fridge.

House Chips & Guac

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Impresses: 4

Ingredients
For the guac:
2    poblano peppers
3    ripe avocados
1     lime
½    small red onion, diced
2    roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1     serrano pepper, seeded and diced
¼    cup cilantro, diced
      salt and pepper
¼    teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
2    ounces queso fresco

For the chips:
12    corn tortillas, cut into wedges
    cooking spray
    salt

Method
Heat oven broiler to high and adjust the top rack to be about 6 inches from the coils. Line a baking sheet with foil and place poblanos on sheet pan on top oven rack. Broil peppers until charred all the way around, about 4–5 minutes per side. Once finished broiling, place peppers into a gallon-sized zip–top freezer bag and seal. Set aside. 

Turn off broiler and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spritz the same baking sheet that was used for the poblanos with cooking spray. Place tortilla wedges in a single layer and spritz with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until chips have started to crisp around the edges. 

While chips bake, cut avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop flesh into a medium-sized bowl. Squeeze lime juice into bowl and, using a fork, gently mash avocado and lime together. Stir in onion, tomatoes, serrano, cilantro, salt, pepper and cumin, if desired.

Remove the poblanos from the bag, peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Roughly chop the peppers.

Place prepared guacamole into a serving bowl and top with roasted poblanos and crumbled queso fresco.

Fiery Steak Chili

Soup-045-chili.jpg

Start to finish: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Impresses: 6

Ingredients
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 pounds sirloin steak, trimmed
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 16-ounce jar salsa verde
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
½ cup masa (corn flour)
3 cups beef broth
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled

Method
Cut trimmed steak into 1-inch cubes. 

Heat a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat. Add in oil, then steak.

Brown steak, creating a caramelized crust on all sides and stirring as needed.

Reduce heat to medium and add in onion, garlic and chipotle peppers. Stir and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until onions become slightly translucent. 

Stir in adobo sauce, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute.

Add in salsa verde, stir and cover. Let stew for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, place masa into a small bowl and slowly pour in 2 cups of beef broth, stirring constantly with a fork until no lumps remain.

Remove lid and add in the remaining ingredients, including masa mixture and remaining 1 cup of beef broth. Stir to combine, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for at least 30 minutes before serving and topping with queso fresco.

Queso Fresco Cheesecake

With crumbles of La Vaquita® Queso Fresco folded into the batter, this cheesecake delivers in texture and depth of flavor. Top with dulce de leche to tie together the sweet and salty profile that makes for a perfect end to a festive meal.

Crust
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar

Filling
3 blocks cream cheese, softened
4 ounces La Vaquita® Queso Fresco, crumbled
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs

Heat oven to 325 F.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar until combined. Press into a 9-inch spring form pan. (If you don’t have a spring form pan, a 9x9 baking dish will work for cheesecake bars.)
In the bowl of a food processor, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs until smooth.
Sprinkle in La Vaquita Queso Fresco and pulse two or three times until combined.
Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake 50–55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool completely before removing spring form ring. Serve as is or with warm dulce de leche or caramel.