Nacho Cheesy Rice

I enjoy making dishes like this for work during the week. It stores well and reheats nicely in the microwave, but most importantly, it really is a tasty dish. I can eat it like a dip with tortilla chips or garnish with chili flavored corn chips for texture. The rice helps make this stretch to 3 or 4 servings and only a pound of ground beef is used.

I like to make a cheese sauce in dishes like this because it stays in a more liquid or gravy-like form after it cools. Its much easier to reheat and return to the creamy texture when eating as a left over. Just throwing shredded cheese in a dish like this is great if you're eating it hot, but it clumps back together once it cools. The sauce route is much better if left overs are part of the plan - which is the case for almost everything I make.

Eat well, cook often ...

Nacho Cheesy Rice
1 lb ground beef
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 jalapenos, seeded, diced
1/2 onion, dice (1C)
1 Tbs chile powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 Tbs flour
2 C milk
2 C pepper jack cheese, shredded
2C cooked rice
Chili flavored corn chips for garnish

In a large pan or pot brown ground beef over medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove to paper-towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Add butter to drippings in pan, once melted saute onion and jalepeno until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add spices and garlic, cook until fragrant, a minute or two. Return ground beef to pan, stir into mixture. Add flour, mix in to absorb liquid, stir and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in milk. Bring to simmer and let thicken slightly. Add cheese 2 tbs at a time, stir constantly and let melt completely, then add more cheese. Repeat until cheese is gone. Stir in Rice. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then serve. Garnish with chili corn chips.

Friday Night, Taco Night

Fresh corn tortilla, steak, cilantro and onion with chipotle ranch sauce.

Friday dinner is reserved for tacos.

When I first moved to Austin I set aside Friday nights to hit new taco joints in search of the ultimate taco. I didn't find the ultimate, but I did find the elements to creating one. I'm still searching and creating on my own for that perfect bite, but here is what I learned so far:

Fresh made tortillas are a must!

The protein or meat element must be perfectly cooked and if its seasoned, the seasoning must compliment the sauce.

I'm partial to limited garnish: just a little cilantro and onion go along way. Lettuce, tomato and maybe a little cheese are good, but also in limited quantities and I reserve the latter for just crunchy style tacos. For me it about the tortilla, meat and sauce ...

THE SAUCE -  it makes the taco! Different sauces make for entirely different meals. Mixing and matching the right sauce with the perfect protein is the secret to a great taco experience.

As I write this I can feel the slight burn of the chipotle ranch sauce that adorns the steak taco above. It helped this simple treat become a savory, smoky bite. Its creaminess meshed perfectly with warm tortilla - which I can still feel the masa in the ridges of my finger prints from making them fresh. Call me crazy - but I love that feeling!

The ultimate taco? No. But, a tasty treat indeed.

Eat, well cook often ...

Find the recipe for the chipolte ranch sauce here.

My snack tonight

Fresh made corn tortilla, chorizo, cumin crusted pork, refried beans and red onion — drizzled with a chipotle ranch sauce — a tasty treat indeed!

A little snack thrown together with odds and ends left over from weekend experiments.

Decided to snap a shot. Scrumptious!

The sauce recipe:

1 C buttermilk
1 packed Ranch dressing mix
1/4 C mayo
1/4 C sour cream
3 whole chipotle peppers with some adobo sauce.
1 clove garlic
Handfull of cilantro
S&P to taste

With blades running in a blender, drop clove of garlic in to finely mince. Add the rest of the ingedients, blend until smooth, 5 or 6 minutes. Scrape down sides once halfway through the blending process. Transfer to squeeze bottle or container and refrigerate at least one hour for flavors to meld, then serve.

Eat well, cook often