Only a Texas transplant truly appreciates the rarity of good queso north of the homeland.
Though many I know judge – and harshly – the quality of a restaurant based solely on the mastery of its salsa offerings, I tend to lean toward queso as a barometer of success instead. To reach the Tex-Mex ideal of a golden, molten, not-entirely-natural bowl of mildly spicy cheesy heaven, viscosity is key. The mixture should be not so thick as to support a standing chip, but not so thin as to drizzle miserably off a wanly-coated one, either. It should be just spicy enough to light a fire in your mouth, but not so much to make you suffer before your inevitably delayed water refill, and I prefer mine to be festooned with some mixture of south of the border goodies – pico de gallo, cilantro, jalapenos and yes, even more cheese in the form of queso fresco or cotija.
Settle in with a toasty bowl of lightly salted tortilla chips (not from a bag, please and thank you), or better yet, a few hot griddled flour tortillas for dipping, and tell me you’ve never eaten your fill before the entree arrives.
Guys. We have nearly made it through the wilderness of healthy-eating January. Take a moment to congratulate yourself for every hearty pile of kale, every serving of whole grains and every lean protein eaten over the past several weeks – they’ve been doing the Lord’s work, atoning for past indulgence with a cleansing wash of nutrients. I have to say, though, this year it has felt more like a gift than a penance.
With salads and grain bowls, oatmeal and juices, we have been reborn. Maybe I’m just getting old and persnickety, but after a year or two of tweaking my eating habits, I’m actually starting to like such adult concepts as more-vegetables-than-starch on a plate or fruit for dessert. I know, I KNOW.
Somebody take my temperature.
This recipe is one of my favorite fall-back dinners, for when I’m drawing a blank but want something reliably tasty and healthy without reinventing the wheel.
Usually my weekly menu plan looks something like this: one fancy-pants bloggable meal, one salad-plus-protein, one oops-I-forgot-I-needed-to-start-dinner-so-what-can-I-make-fast-’cause-I’m-getting-hangry, and a mix of leftover compilations to fill in the gaps (and in the interest of realness, usually one night of our favorite neighborhood Indian food buffet). We probably eat this dish at least once every couple of weeks, and I’d like to say it’s because of the heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids or wholesome ingredients, but its mostly because of the ease of prep and how quickly everything comes together.
It’s been fish and veggie-centric in our house the past week or two, as we ask our bodies to forgive the horrors visited upon them over the holidays. Bowls of greens such as Abby Salad with smoked salmon, seared tuna with mixed citrus and avocado salad and power greens with prosciutto, ricotta and grapefruit have brought peace and equilibrium to our nutrient-starved forms. With balance restored, it’s time to introduce some heartier fare back into the rotation.
Sometimes there’s just no beating the primal lure of a sizzling hot, juice-drizzling, salted slab of meat. But, worry not, steak night can be done in a way the doesn’t wreck your newly- formed good habits! When indulging with one ingredient in a meal, it always makes sense to counter with healthy, filling accompaniments that won’t tip the scales.
I’m usually a scrounger when it comes to lunch. If I hem and haw at the fridge long enough, eventually I can Iron Chef that situation and come up with something that will sustain me until dinner, however unglamorous. Some days its just an old pear and some cottage cheese with cinnamon and honey, other days its whatever is leftover from the night before.
And some days, you get lucky with a magical combination of bits and bobbles that come together like the most masterfully planned dish.