30 by 30

On my 27th birthday, I challenged myself to lose 28 pounds by my 28th birthday.

I almost did that. I'm still 9 pounds away, but what's 9 pounds after 19?

Today is my 28th birthday, so it's time for a new challenge.

I'm hopping on the bandwagon of 30 by 30 challenges. That is to say, by the time I turn 30 I will have baked/cooked/made all the following semi-ambitious dishes. 95% of them are fattening, but I'm thinking that by starting with a 2-year lead time, I can make one per month (doubling up closer toward the big 3-0) and consider these fattening, ambitious dishes a monthly treat.

In no particular order, I will attempt:

1. Fresh pasta
2. Lobster rolls
3. Duck (suggestions on how to prepare welcome)
4. Fried calamari
5. Bananas Foster
6. Mozzarella cheese
7. Candied bacon
8. Spanakopita
9. Filled cupcakes
10. Queso fundido
11. Lemon meringue pie
12. Soft pretzels
13. Cured meat (thinking pastrami, salami, or chorizo)
14. Potato chips
15. Guiness chocolate cake (made brownies, same thing).
16. Sticky buns
17. Croissants
18. Graham crackers
19. Flavored margaritas
20. Chocolate pudding
21. Potato bread
22. Crepes
23. A whole fish
24. Naan
25. Beef Wellington
26. Buckeyes
27. Gnocchi
28. Fried yeast donuts
29. Empanadas
30. Clam chowder

Specifying "by 30" may make it sound like I'm freaking out about turning 30. I'm really not - I still have two solid years of my twenties to be a twentysomething, dumb at times if the situation warrants. By 30, I hope to have children, and some of these recipes will be great to have under my belt by then. Needless to say, I'll be blogging along the way in an attempt to hold myself to these challenges.

Cheers to my twenties!

Texas-Style Queso

The past few days, I've been quarrantined at home with the worst cold I've had in years - mainly because I actually haven't even gotten sick in almost 2 years. I knew once it happened it would knock me flat.

So when Josh asked for a "savory snack," my comfort food cravings immediately turned to thoughts of cheese. I whipped it up in minutes, but that's not to say it hadn't taken me several attempts over a few years to get it right the first time. I refused to use Velveeta. Heavy cream just made more of a macaroni and cheese-type sauce. One day I spotted the oft-ignored can of evaporated milk that had been hiding in the pantry since who knows when, and thought I'd give it a shot.

The secret all aloig was the evaporated milk. Who'd have guessed?

You will need:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons flour
1 tablespoon (or more, depending on taste) chopped green chiles
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper (seeded if desired)
2 tablespoons chopped white onions
1 small Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
6 ounces evaporated milk
4 ounces cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
Dash ground cumin
Dash cayenne pepper
Hot sauce to taste
Salt to taste

In a small saucepan, heat vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Once oil is shimmering, add chiles, jalapenos, cilantro and onions, and heat until soft but not browned. Whisk in flour to make a light roux, then pour in evaporated milk. Heat until bubbling, then remove from heat and stir in cheese. Add chopped tomatoes, cumin, cayenne pepper, hot sauce and salt. Serve immediately.