Tag Archives: cheese

Queso Fundido

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Tortillas are a staple in my kitchen.  Between making chicken burritos, breakfast burritos , tortilla chips and soft tacos as a quick meal I make sure I always have tortillas on hand.  I was searching for a new way to use tortillas when I just happen to come across a delicious looking Mexican dish that included tortillas.  I had never heard of Queso Fundido which means “melted cheese”.  I discovered that Queso Fundido is actually a very popular dish even in the states.

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In most areas Queso Fundido is made as an appetizer but my research showed some folks like to turn it into a sandwich.  Since I was new to making the recipe I thought I had better stick to making it an appetizer.  There were so many different recipes out in the cooking sphere I decided to find a basic recipe then add my own little twist.  The standard ingredients for any Queso Fundido is spicy sausage, tomatoes and cheese.  After that you can add whatever seasonings you like.  Chorizo is the sausage of choice in most recipes because of the level of heat and spice.  If you are not into spicy sausage, you can still make this dish but use a milder Italian sausage.  Nobody will care.  Use whatever makes you happy.  But if you want the Queso Fundido to be authenic, use the chorizo.

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Be prepared for this dish to disappear quickly.  If you have cheese lovers in your house, they will definitely love Queso Fundido.  Serve it up while it is hot and bubbly along with warm tortillas.  Talk about Yummy!

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Queso Fundido

Ingredients:

1 pkg ground chorizo or spicy Italian sausage

6 flour tortillas

1 jalapeno seeded and chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

2 plum tomatoes seeded and chopped

2 cups mozzarella or Mexican cheese

¼ cup diced onion or scallions

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp cilantro chopped

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp ground cumin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat olive oil in medium sized skillet. Brown chorizo until cooked and slightly crisp. Remove sausage from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add garlic, onions, jalapeno tomatoes and seasonings to the skillet. Stir to mix well. Reduce heat and cook for 3 – 5 minutes until veggies are soft. Add sausage to the mixture and stir to combine.

Spray a pie dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ of the cheese in the bottom of the dish. Layer ½ of the chorizo and vegetable mixture over cheese. Sprinkle a little more cheese over the chorizo mixture then top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until cheese melts and dish is slightly browned and bubbly. Serve with warmed tortillas.

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Salad (Italian Sub Style)

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I was eating a small Italian sub the other day and started thinking about my promise to cut back on eating bread. As we all know, eating too many carbs is not good for you. I was feeling guilty since I had already eaten a bagel for breakfast and I was trying to limit my bread intake to once per day if at all.

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While eating my sandwich I was thinking of ways I could ditch the roll and just eat what was inside the roll. Then I thought why not turn my sandwich into a salad. Viola! I could still have the ingredients of an Italian sub but no bread. I decided to create a Salad (Italian Sub Style) with lots of romaine lettuce and a sprinkling of meats, cheeses, tomatoes and Italian seasonings. This salad can be either a nice small portioned start to a meal or a meal unto itself. Either way I think you will enjoy it.

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Salad (Italian Sub Style)
Ingredients:
1 bunch romaine lettuce chopped
½ cup pepperoni sliced into strips
½ cup capicola sliced into strips
½ cup salami sliced into strips
½ cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
½ cup provolone cheese sliced into strips
¼ cup sweet peppers (optional)
½ tbsp parsley chopped
½ tbsp red onion chopped small (optional)
¼ cup black olives sliced
¼ cup olive oil

Seasonings:
2 tbsp Italian salad dressing
½ tbsp lemon zest
½ tbsp oregano
½ tsp onion powder
½ tbsp dill
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salad dressing, salt, black pepper, oregano and dill. Set aside.

Combine romaine, tomatoes, red onion, black olives, sweet peppers, meats and cheeses in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil dressing then drizzle over salad. Toss gently. Enjoy!

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Bizza (Pizza Buns)

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The other day I was watching one of my favorite cooking shows that featured cinnamon buns. I like cinnamon buns but sometimes they are a bit too sweet for me. I am not a big sweet eater even though I love chocolate but it has to be dark chocolate which is more bitter than sweet. Anyway, I though it would be nice to come up with a bun recipe that was more savory than sweet like a pizza bun. The idea was to use the same method of building a cinnamon bun but with different ingredients.

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Of course when you think of pizza you think of pizza dough, sauce and cheese. Simple ingredients for a simple dish. I have to say that when I first pulled the Bizza (more on the name later) out of the oven it was not the prettiest of sights. Everything looked kind of mushed together but as I pulled each of the buns apart they started to look pretty good. The final test for whether or not I could post the recipe for a Bizza on dmariedining.com was in the taste. My hubby looked hesitant to try it and my youngest son just looked hungry. After my son took a bite he nodded his head (like a cool teenager would) and my hubby said it reminded him of a calzone which he loves. Score one for dmariedining.com!

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Now, you might still be wondering where the name Bizza came from. It was my hubby’s idea. Since I told him the recipe was a take on a cinnamon bun in the style of a pizza he came up with the name Bizza to represent a bun and a pizza. That is how the Bizza was born.  The Bizza has become one of my” go to” quick lunches for the family on the weekends.  Try it.  I bet you’ll become a fan of the Bizza.

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Bizza (Pizza Buns)

Ingredients:
1 pkg pizza crust
1 15 oz jar of pizza sauce
½ cup pepperoni slices
½ cup mozzarella cheese shredded
¼ cup fontina cheese shredded
½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
cooking spray
flour
round cake pan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spray cake pan with cooking spray. Spoon a layer of pizza sauce in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle a little mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Set aside.

Sprinkle flour on a clean flat surface. Place pizza dough on flour and using a floured rolling pin roll out the dough slightly. Spread pizza sauce evenly over the pizza dough leaving a ¼ inch boarder around the edges. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Layer pepperoni over the cheese then sprinkle the fontina cheese over the pepperoni. Start at one end of the pizza dough and begin gently rolling it forward and try to keep it tight to create a log. If the dough is too sticky to handle, pat your hands with flour.

Cut the log into 4 – 5 pieces. Place each bun in the baking pan end side up. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the pizza dough is cooked and browned. Remove from the oven and let the Bizza rest for 5 minutes. Place a plate over the baking pan and then flip the buns onto the plate. You may need to run a butter knife around the edge of the baking pan to loosen the buns before flipping onto the plate. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese while the Bizza is still warm. Gently pull buns apart and serve.

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Macaroni and Cheese

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Macaroni and cheese is one of the best comfort foods ever made. Recipes for mac and cheese have been passed down from generation to generation. My family is no different. My mom passed on her mac and cheese recipe to me when I started learning how to cook. I am sure it is the same recipe my grandmother passed on to my mom and her sisters.

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Tradition is important when it comes to family and cultures. Without traditions our histories would not be as rich and wonderful. We would not know or understand the meaning of true love, sacrifice and success. Yes, traditions are important and each family has at least one tradition that is passed on and on. However, as new families are created so are new traditions.

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Although I have made my mom and grandmother’s mac and cheese for years, I recently decided to try a new recipe. I was inspired by a show on Food Network where Giada  featured a macaroni and cheese dish she loves. Giada’s macaroni and cheese included fontina cheese among other cheeses. I had never considered using fontina cheese in my mac and cheese. Fontina cheese is a semi-soft Italian cheese that has a rich and creamy texture with a slightly nutty flavor. My traditional mac and cheese called for extra sharp and sharp cheddar cheese period.

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New traditions call for new ingredients. My new mac and cheese includes five different cheeses. After all, the main attraction in macaroni and cheese is the cheese. Bringing together several different cheeses raised the flavors to a new level of goodness. Also the various textures of cheese which were hard, soft and semi-soft made the dish extra creamy.

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I will always love my mom’s mac and cheese but with my family I am creating new traditions to pass on to my children and grandchildren.

Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:
2 cups medium pasta shells
5 oz Gruyere cheese grated
3 oz fontina cheese grated
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese grated
¼ cup pepper jack cheese grated
3 tbsp Velveeta cheese cubed
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp pasta water
¾ cup half and half
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare pasta according to package adding 1 tsp of salt to the water. Drain and reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Stir 1 tablespoon of butter into the pasta to coat. Season with black pepper.

Spray a medium casserole dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle a tablespoon of each cheese in the bottom of the casserole dish. Add half of the pasta and half of the cheese. Add remaining pasta and cheese. Pour half and half along with 2 tablespoons of pasta water over cheese and stir to mix cheese into pasta. Make sure cheese is well blended into the dish. Sprinkle a little cheddar cheese and paprika on the top of the dish. Bake for approximately 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

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