Tag Archives: Queso Fresco cheese

Fresh Corn & Ripe Peaches = Two Tasty Starters

Two highly anticipated crops are finally available from the local Colorado farmers – sweet corn on the cob from Olathe and juicy, super sweet peaches from Palisade. Sure, you can enjoy both the traditional way – the corn grilled or boiled and slathered with butter, and the peach halved and eaten over the sink so the sun-ripened, sweet juices can run down your chin. But my quest here was to create something different that still made your taste buds zing. How about some Peach Daiquiris to enjoy with a delicious Corn, Jalapeno & Queso Fresco Cheese spread? The Daiquiri is super simple to make with the usual suspects: ice, fruit, sugar and rum – I like the flavor of dark rum but light works just as well. And the cheese spread offers up something refreshing and different with grilled fresh corn, buttery queso fresco cheese and spicy jalapeño.

For those who haven’t tasted queso fresco cheese, it is like the Mexican version of ricotta but with a creamy, salty tang. Made from cow’s milk, it is typically used to finish soups, tacos or enchiladas and is one of my favorite cheeses. Serve the Corn & Queso Fresco Cheese Spread with grilled bread slices, or grilled tortillas (cut into wedges after grilled) or your favorite tortillas chips.

So there you have it, two easy ways to enjoy fresh corn and peaches!
Eat well and share the love!

Peach Daiquiris with Grilled Corn, Jalapeño & Queso Fresco Cheese Spread (print recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Prep Time: 15 minutes

Peach Daiquiris – makes about 5 cups, about 4 cocktails
5 to 6 cups ice
5 small, or 3 large peaches, pits removed and cut into quarters
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
6 oz. (about ¾ cup) dark rum (or light rum)
Garnish: Peach slices on a skewer or toothpick

To the blender, add 3 cups of ice and finely chop. If your blender has an “ice” setting, use it to finely chop the ice.

Add the chopped peaches, 1 tablespoon of sugar, rum and 2 cups of ice. Using the “chop” or “puree” setting, blend until the ice is well chopped and ingredients are well incorporated. Taste and if needed, add more sugar or more ice if mixture is too thin.

Daiquiri’s can be made 1 to 2 hours ahead of time; keep daiquiri mixture cold in the refrigerator or freezer and re-blend before serving.  
Serve with a garnish of peach slices on a skewer or toothpick.

Grilled Corn, Jalapeño & Queso Fresco Cheese Spread – makes about 1 cup
1 corn on the cob (or if out of season, ½ cup frozen corn – defrosted)
Olive oil or vegetable oil
4 oz. queso fresco cheese (either regular or Ranchero style)
2 to 4 tablespoons milk or half & half
1 tablespoon finely diced jalapeño
Pinch of salt of pepper
Grilled bread slices, or grilled tortillas wedges or tortilla chips
2 to 3 thin slices of jalapeño
¼ teaspoon corn kernels
2 teaspoons thinly sliced green onions
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Heat grill to medium. Remove the husk and silk from the corn, brush the cob with olive oil (or vegetable oil) and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place the corn cob directly on the grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, turning corn often, until corn has slightly softened and grill marks appear. Remove from grill and let cool. When cool, remove kernels from cob: place cob lengthwise on cutting board and using a long knife, slice kernels off one side, turn cob 90 degrees and continue.

In a medium bowl, add the cheese and break up with a fork. Add 2 tablespoon milk and mix well until cheese is smooth and mostly lump-free; add more milk if too thick. Add the corn kernels, jalapeño and pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Garnish with a few slices of jalapeño, some corn kernels, sliced green onions and some sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Serve with your choice of grilled or toasted bread slices, grilled tortilla wedges or your favorite tortilla chips.

Veggies Galore: Calabasitas for Dinner

Calabasitas is something I haven’t made in a while – it used to be one of my mainstays.  I guess that happens, you make certain dishes all the time then the recipe fades away for a bit only to be rediscovered later.  Calabasitas is like a Mexican version of ratatouille only it cooks in less time.  My version has fresh zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, (I’m proud to add that all three are Colorado-grown!) onions, Poblano pepper, tomatoes and cheese.  My secret ingredient is a pinch of dried Italian herbs, which brightens up the flavors.  The vegetables are sautéed until tender and it’s finished off with some cherry tomatoes, melted sharp cheddar cheese, queso fresco and cilantro.  Even though it has all vegetables, it’s a hearty and filling meal.

Coloradans like to brag about the good produce that is grown in our state – we are especially proud of the Palisade peaches and the sweet, tender Olathe corn from the Western Slope.  The peaches aren’t available yet but I did see the Olathe corn in the store and snatched some up.  For more flavor I grilled the corn but you don’t have to, in fact this is great with frozen corn kernels when fresh is out of season.  The vegetables take about a half hour to sauté, and I love that there this is melted cheese on top.  It adds a velvety richness and lots of flavor.  I served mine in individual serving dishes but you can serve it directly from the skillet; sprinkle the tomatoes and grated cheese on top of the vegetables and put the skillet under the broiler for a minute or so until the cheese gets nice and bubbly.  Add the garnishes and serve with warm corn tortillas – dinner is ready. 

Eat well and share the love!

Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies

1 ½ cups cubed zucchini (half-inch sized cubes)
1 ½ cups cubed yellow squash (half-inch sized cubes)
½ cup diced Poblano pepper (about half a large pepper)
1 small onion, diced
1/8 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 corn on the cob, kernels removed (or ½ cup frozen corn)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
5 to 6 cherry tomatoes, halved and quartered,
  or 4 tablespoons diced tomato
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons queso fresco cheese, crumbled
fresh cilantro leaves
fresh cracked pepper
2 to 3 warm corn tortillas
Optional: jalapeno rounds, thinly sliced

Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat.  Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.

When the oil is warm, add the chopped zucchini, yellow squash and Poblano peppers to the pan; season with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and stir well.  Sauté vegetables for five or six minutes and add the onions.  Add a drizzle of olive oil around the edge of pan along with a good pinch of salt and 1/8 teaspoon Italian herbs.  Sauté for another 20 to 25 minutes until vegetables are soft and tender.  Add the minced garlic and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring often.  Stir in the corn kernels and let heat through, about 2 minutes.  (If the corn is frozen, let cook for 5 or 6 minutes until corn is heated through)

Turn the oven broiler to high.  Sprinkle the tomatoes over the vegetables and follow with the grated cheddar cheese.  Broil for 2 to 3 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Garnish with crumbled queso fresco cheese, fresh cilantro leaves and fresh cracked pepper (optional: thinly sliced jalapeno rounds).  Serve hot with warm corn tortillas.

  • Optional Flavor Boost – Quick Grilled Corn: Heat grill to medium-high. Remove husks and silk from corn.  Lightly coat the corn cob with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Grill corn, turning often, for 5 to 8 minutes until the kernels start to soften and get browned. 
  • Safely remove kernels from corn with chef’s knife lay grilled corn on cutting board and place your hand flat on top, with index finger and thumb in the middle of cob (not hanging over the cutting side).  Slice knife down the side of the cob, parallel to the corn, to remove kernels.  Keep turning corn until all kernels are removed. 

Easy No-Cook Dinner: Chicken Tostadas

It has been so hot up here lately and I haven’t had the energy for much creative action in the kitchen.  This time of year I am all about delicious meals that require minimal preparation and little to no cooking.  Easy to pull together, these chicken tostadas are just the ticket for a hot evening.  The ingredients get simplified by using a rotisserie chicken and tostada shells from my local grocery store.  The prep time was saved for the salsa fresca, which takes minutes to make and adds a bright, fresh flavor (recipe follows).  Yes, you can use your favorite jarred salsa if you don’t have the time or energy.  Layered with sour cream, lettuce, salsa fresca, sliced jalapeños and avocado, the chicken tostadas are a satisfying, light meal.   For a heartier dinner we’ll add some black refried beans to the bottom layer.

I like using a rotisserie chicken because it’s a tasty shortcut and gives me at least two meals.  The meat is always tender, has great flavor and provides me with instant chicken.  To save yourself time later (and room in the fridge), take all the meat off the bird. You’re already messy so why not do it all at once – don some kitchen gloves if you like and use the bag to discard the bones, skin and such.  When done, everything stays in the bag and clean up is a breeze.  Be sure to get the thigh, leg and back meat too.  One bird should yield about 4 cups of shredded meat.  Save the extra meat for another meal – in refrigerator for three to four days, or freeze up to a month.  

Here is another great timesaver that I love:  pre-made tostada shells.  Not just for tostadas, they are perfect for a quick nosh; I add some grated sharp cheddar cheese on top, melt in the toaster oven and season with salt and pepper.  If I’m up for it I’ll add some queso fresco cheese and fresh cilantro, or maybe just some capers and cracked pepper.  With a sliced apple on the side, I am good to go for a few hours.  If you have fresh corn tortillas they can be baked or toasted until crispy. 

There are endless options to building a tostada – use your imagination (and leftovers) to create other tasty combinations.  Add a cold beer, and be sure to toast the foodie next to you (the four-legged ones count too).

Eat well and share the love!

Chicken Tostadas with Salsa Fresca
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies

Salsa Fresca
1 large good tomato or 3 medium Campari tomatoes on-the-vine, chopped
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved and quartered or chopped
2 tablespoons minced onions
1 tablespoon finely diced jalapeño
1 yellow or orange mini sweet pepper, diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice
3 to 4 pre-made tostada shells
1 to 2 tablespoons sour cream
2 cups thinly sliced bibb lettuce (about half of a small head)
4 to 5 tablespoons salsa fresca
1 ½ to 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken meat
1 jalapeño, sliced into thin rounds
6 to 8 slices of avocado

5 to 6 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco cheese
Fresh cracked pepper
Lime wedges

Salsa Fresca
Chop up the vegetables and herbs.  Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl and stir well. 

Rotisserie chicken: remove all the meat from the carcass and shred meat into a medium bowl.
Gather the sour cream and tostada shells, cut the lettuce into thin ribbons, slice the jalapeño rounds and crumble the cheese.

Spread a thin layer of sour cream on the tostada shell, then some lettuce, some salsa fresca, ½ cup of chicken, jalapeno slices, a little more salsa fresca then the avocado slices, crumbled cheese, and cilantro.  Add a small dollop of sour cream on top, a jalapeno slice and  some fresh cracked pepper.  Serve with lime wedges.

  • Dealing with a whole rotisserie chicken: To save yourself time later (and room in the fridge), take all the meat off the bird. You’re already messy so why not do it all at once – don some kitchen gloves if you like and use the bag to discard the bones, skin and such.  When done, everything stays in the bag and clean up is a cinch.  Be sure to get the thigh, leg and back meat too.  One bird should yield about 4 cups shredded meat.
  • Only have corn tortillas on hand?  Heat oven to 375 degrees F; bake in a single layer on a sheet pan in 375 degree oven for 5 – 7 minutes until golden and crispy.  Or toast in toaster oven on low (lay directly on rack) until golden and crispy.
  • If you can find them, cherub tomatoes have the best flavor
  • Substitute your favorite jarred salsa for salsa fresca