(Family Features) While there are many ways to enhance the taste and texture of your family’s favorite dishes, perhaps one of the simplest and most impactful is the addition of cheese. From fish and seafood to veggie-inspired recipes, the dairy delight provides a versatile, flavorful ingredient.
One wholesome option is cheese made with 100% sustainably sourced Real California Milk from dairy farm families, which helps bring out the full flavor of dishes like California Queso Fresco Fish Tacos. Quality, authentic dairy can be part of flavor-driven experiences with your loved ones whether you enjoy the tacos during a “fish Friday” event or simply as an opportunity to share a meal as a family. You can also use queso fresco to elevate the flavor of dishes like chilaquiles, or turn to other varieties like Oaxaca for a capirotada or asadero for quiche.
If a vegetarian-friendly meal suits your style, cheese can also enhance plant-forward dishes like Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers. These red bell peppers are cooked and seeded before being stuffed with onions, mushrooms, cheese and seasonings. Once they’re baked to an ooey-gooey doneness, they’re served with white rice for a filling yet healthful meal.
Visit realcaliforniamilk.com/hispanic-dairy to find more cheesy, delicious recipes.
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: about 1 hour
- 4 red bell peppers
- 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, vegetable oil, divided
- 1 cup white onion (about 1 medium), 1/4-inch diced
- 4 cups cremini or brown mushrooms (about 1 pound), 1/4-inch diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup Real California Oaxaca cheese, shredded
- cooked white rice, for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Rub bell peppers with 1 tablespoon oil then use grill, broiler or gas stovetop burner to cook peppers, turning occasionally, until well charred, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to bowl, cover and set aside until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
- In large skillet over medium heat, warm remaining oil. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, 3-5 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic salt and black pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and liquid is almost entirely evaporated, 7-10 minutes.
- Rub charred skin from bell peppers. Slice off tops and remove seeds. Fill bell peppers with mushroom mixture, top with cheese and arrange in baking dish. Replace bell pepper tops and bake until cheese melts, 8-10 minutes. Serve with cooked rice.
California Queso Fresco Fish Tacos
Servings: 6 (12 tacos)
Avocado Radish Salsa:
- 2 medium avocados, chopped
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 3/4 cup diced radish
- 5 serrano chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 lime, juice only
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 pounds swordfish, or other whitefish, steaks or fillets
- vegetable oil
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 12 corn tortillas
- 6 ounces Real California Queso Fresco cheese, crumbled
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- To make avocado radish salsa: In small bowl, combine avocados, onion, radish, chile peppers, cilantro, garlic and lime juice. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
- Heat grill to medium heat.
- Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Rub oil on both sides to coat; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill fish 6-9 minutes until cooked through; cool slightly. Remove skin and bones; cut fish into 1 1/2-inch strips.
- In medium bowl, toss fish with lime juice and cumin. Warm tortillas in microwave or at 275 F in oven.
- Place equal amounts of fish, cheese, tomatoes, cabbage and salsa in center of each tortilla. Roll up tacos to serve.
Substitution: Use Real California Asadero or Monterey Jack cheese for Queso Fresco.
Source: Real California Milk
(Family Features) Many families constantly search for meal inspiration, and one of the best ways is to look toward trendy tastes for new options to add to the menu.
One of the country’s top Hispanic food brands, Cacique, tapped culinary experts and chefs Aarón Sánchez, Bricia Lopez and Santiago Gomez to curate the third annual “What’s Next in Mexican Cuisine” trends forecast uncovering popular flavors, techniques and dishes to expect in the coming year.
“One way we can all honor the impact of Latin culture in America is through food,” Sánchez said. “One easy step you can take to connect with a culture is by using authentic ingredients, like in this Chorizo Ragu with Cheesy Toast, which uses three staple Mexican ingredients – queso fresco, crema Mexicana and chorizo. It’s inspired by my prediction that Mexican comfort foods and deep, rich sauces made from scratch will rise in popularity.”
Consider these top Mexican food trends for 2021 according to Sánchez, Lopez and Gomez along with findings from a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Cacique:
- The bread baking craze of 2020 will now include homemade corn and flour tortillas with 55% of Americans reaching for masa harina, flour and tortilla presses to make their own.
- Americans have a thirst for dehydrated chiles with varieties ranging from pasillas to anchos set to become more popular in American kitchens.
- Dried chiles, beans and cheeses such as queso fresco will find their way into more American kitchens as people adopt a “from scratch” approach and back-to-basics techniques.
- Coziness, meet Cozumel as Mexican comfort foods reign supreme and people gravitate toward nostalgic “homemade” style favorites like enchiladas.
- Get ready to dive into deep, rich sauces, including mole, which will continue to grow in popularity.
- Salsa macha will share the spotlight thanks to exploration of the breadth of salsa varieties that exist within Mexican cuisine.
- Food exploration will satisfy Americans’ wanderlust as 55% plan to travel less in 2021, and the same percentage report they’re looking to learn the stories behind famous Mexican recipes.
To find more trend-inspired recipes, visit caciqueinc.com.
Chorizo Ragu with Cheesy Toast
Recipe courtesy of chef Aarón Sánchez
- 3 bolillo-style rolls or 1 long baguette
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow or white onion, chopped
- 2-3 carrots, chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 6 cloves garlic, divided
- 8 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1⁄4 pounds ground beef
- 1 package (9 ounces) Cacique Pork Chorizo
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed or pureed tomatoes
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 9 tablespoons Cacique Crema Mexicana, plus additional for serving
- 1 1⁄2 cups crumbled Cacique Ranchero Queso Fresco
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Halve bread lengthwise.
- In heavy-bottomed pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and salt then cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables just start to soften, 3-4 minutes. Mince 2 garlic cloves and add to pot with mushrooms; cook about 3 minutes.
- Use spoon to push vegetables to edges of pan then add tomato paste, oregano and cumin to center of pan; saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Increase heat to high and add beef and pork chorizo. Break meat up with spoon but don’t over-stir. When beef is no longer pink, pour in tomatoes and bring to simmer. Decrease heat to medium-high and let simmer, stirring occasionally.
- While ragu simmers, use fork to mash or whip butter with crema until smooth. Mince or finely grate remaining garlic cloves then stir into crema mixture.
- Spread crema mixture evenly over bread, trying to cover as much area as possible. Sprinkle crumbled queso fresco all over and place bread on rimmed baking sheet, cheese side up. Toast 4-5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling. Finish under broiler 30-60 seconds for deeper browning, if desired. Cut bread into individual portions.
- After about 20 minutes of simmering, ragu should thicken and flavors meld. Swirl in additional crema then serve ragu in bowls with cheesy toast or ladle over pieces of toast.
(Family Features) A distinctive and unexpected ingredient like rice vinegar is an easy way to bring faraway flavors to your favorite summer dishes. This pantry staple adds an Asian-inspired flavor to recipes of all kinds, from marinades to high-end meals.
Explore a new way to enjoy steak this summer with a recipe for zesty, marinated beef paired with crisp broccolini and peppers to give a familiar dish a fresh makeover using flavors from another origin. Give fajitas an Asian makeover with shrimp seared in a decadent hoisin-ginger sauce or try a fresh take on a crunchy salad with this Mexican-meets-Asian layered approach that’s perfect for lunch.
Include seasonal produce like cucumbers, bell peppers and tomatoes to enhance your summer flavor fusions. Pantry staples like black beans and canned corn also offer accessible ways to make elevated summer classics.
Capture Asian flavors with ingredients like NAKANO Rice Vinegar, which has perfected its rice vinegars over eight generations to offer unique and delicious flavors perfect for making mouthwatering Asian-inspired recipes at home.
Pro Flavor-Fusion Tips
- The key to a successful stir-fry is to use high heat to quickly cook meats and vegetables in stages without overcrowding the pan. This ensures that veggies stay slightly crisp, and meats develop a delicious sear instead of steaming.
- Avocado oil has one of the highest smoke points, making it a great choice for high-heat cooking like stir-frying.
- Hoisin sauce, which you can find in the Asian section of most grocery stores, is used frequently in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a salty, fermented soybean paste often combined with garlic, chiles and five-spice powder, which adds a sweet, umami-rich, aromatic flavor to the dish.
- Shishito peppers are slender, mild, green Japanese peppers available in the produce section of well-stocked grocery stores or Asian markets. If shishito peppers are unavailable, substitute with multicolored mini peppers.
- To accommodate those who love a lot of spice and those who prefer less spice, serve mild-to-medium-spicy foods with additional chili sauce on the side.
- Swap out heavy, high-calorie salad dressings for a splash of additional flavor with NAKANO rice vinegar.
Find more flavorful ways to put an Asian twist on your summer dishes at nakanoflavors.com.
Sizzling Shrimp Fajita Stir-Fry
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 1/2 pounds large, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (21-25 shrimp total)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
- 1/4 cup NAKANO Roasted Garlic Rice Vinegar
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 red onion, cut into thin slivers
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 pound shishito peppers, stemmed
- 6 warmed corn or flour tortillas
- 1/2 cup finely shredded red cabbage
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
- In medium bowl, combine shrimp, 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 2 teaspoons cornstarch; let stand 5 minutes to marinate.
- In separate bowl, whisk remaining soy sauce, remaining cornstarch, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce and ginger until blended.
- In large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add half of shrimp; cook 1 minute on each side. Transfer to clean bowl; repeat with remaining shrimp. Wipe out skillet with paper towel.
- In same pan, heat remaining oil until shimmering. Add red onion, bell pepper and shishito peppers. Cook, stirring, 2-4 minutes until peppers begin to blister. Add vinegar mixture; cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. Add shrimp to pan. Cook, tossing well until shrimp and vegetables are coated with sauce.
- Fill tortillas with shrimp mixture, cabbage and green onions.
Spicy Steak and Broccoli
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 beef tenderloin (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 2 cups multicolored, mini sweet peppers, cut into thin rings
- 1/4 pound broccolini, cut into 3-inch sections
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 1/4 cup NAKANO Seasoned Rice Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek (Asian-chili garlic sauce) or sriracha
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- In medium bowl, combine beef, soy sauce, cornstarch, black pepper and garlic powder.
- In large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add peppers, broccolini and shallots; cook 3 minutes, or until tender crisp. Transfer to clean bowl.
- In same skillet over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add half of beef in single layer. Cook undisturbed 2 minutes, or until bottoms are browned. Stir. Cook 1 minute, or until outer surfaces are no longer pink. Transfer to bowl with vegetables. Repeat with remaining oil and beef. Return beef and vegetables to skillet over medium-high heat.
- In small bowl, combine rice vinegar, sugar, sambal oelek, salt and ginger. Add mixture to pan. Cook 2 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened.
Glass Jar Layered Taco Salad
Prep time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/4 teaspoon serrano pepper
- 1 tablespoon cilantro
- 2 tablespoons NAKANO Organic Seasoned Rice Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup corn
- 1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded
- 1/2 cup jicama, diced
- 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
- 1/2 cup shredded green cabbage
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup extra-firm tofu, diced
- 1/2 cup corn chips, crushed
- 1/2 cup spinach
- 1 tablespoon queso fresco
- In bowl, mash avocado and add serrano pepper, cilantro, rice vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice and salt. Stir to combine.
- Build salad in layers of corn, cabbage, jicama, black beans, cabbage, tomatoes, tofu, corn chips, spinach and queso fresco while adding drizzles of dressing between layers.