Fan of Latin flavors? 4 recipes plus entertaining tips you will love

Photo Credit: BPT

If nothing excites your taste buds more than Latin-inspired dishes, you’re in luck. Vianney Rodriguez, founder of Sweet Life, and Marisol Chancellor, founder of Marisol Cooks, have created new recipes for entertaining family and friends, along with tried-and-true entertaining tips. Created in partnership with Real California Milk, representing the nation’s leading makers of Hispanic-style cheeses and dairy products with wide distribution in Texas supermarkets, these recipes are a nod to their creator’s cultural connections, family memories and love for cooking. Wondering how to find the dairy products? Look for the Real California Milk seal for sustainably sourced products made with milk from family farms.

The Sweet Life of Vianney Rodriguez

Founder, recipe developer and South Texas foodie Vianney Rodriguez is also the author of “Latin Twist,” a collection of delicious Latin-inspired cocktails, and “The Tex-Mex Slow Cooker,” a cookbook filled with incredible recipes.

Entertaining Tip: “Prep as much as you can for the week leading up to the day you plan to host,” advises Rodriguez. “Marinate your meat, prepare salsa or prep a side dish to store covered in the fridge and bake before guests arrive. I enjoy serving family style – guests can help themselves. I also shake up a pitcher of margaritas and set up the bar away from the kitchen to avoid overcrowding.”

Queso Mac and Cheese

“My Queso Mac and Cheese is a nod to my Tejana roots,” says Rodriguez. “Queso is king in Texas! I can’t think of a better way to highlight queso than adding pasta to the mix.”


1 pound elbow macaroni

6 tablespoon Real California Butter, plus more for baking dish

6 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

2 cups Real California Crema Mexicana

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

3 cups shredded Real California Oaxaca Cheese

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 cup tortilla chips, crushed

2 tablespoons Real California Butter, melted


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter 3-quart baking dish; set aside.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Whisk in milk and crema, continue cooking while whisking constantly 6 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.

Stir in diced tomatoes, salt and pepper and continue cooking an additional 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in cheese until smooth. Stir in cooked pasta, then spoon mac and cheese into prepared baking dish.

In bowl combine cilantro, crushed tortilla chips and melted butter. Sprinkle over pasta.

Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Puffy Tacos

“Puffy Tacos are a true South Texas gem,” Rodriguez explains. “Made from fresh masa, fried until golden and stuffed with ground beef, Tejanos have been enjoying puffy tacos since the ’70s.”


For ground beef:

1 tablespoon oil

1 small onion, diced

1 tomato, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chile sliced, stem removed and finely minced

1 pound ground beef

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

For puffy tacos:

3 cups masa harina

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/4 cups warm water

Vegetable oil for frying

For serving:

Shredded lettuce

Diced tomatoes

Real California Queso Fresco, crumbled

Real California Crema Mexicana


For ground beef: In skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions, sauté until light and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic cloves and serrano chile. Continue cooking an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground beef, breaking up with spoon. Cook until beef is no longer pink and fully cooked. Reduce heat to low. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir to combine and simmer 5 minutes.

For puffy tacos: In bowl combine masa harina and salt. Slowly add warm water while mixing until smooth dough forms, adding more warm water if needed. Pull off pieces of dough and roll into small balls, place on baking sheet covered with damp towel. In Dutch oven or large saucepan heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees.

Cut gallon-size resealable plastic bag open down both sides. Lay one side of plastic over bottom of the press, place ball of dough in center and fold other side of plastic over dough. Shut top of tortilla press firmly down on dough to shape tortilla.

Carefully slide tortilla into the oil. Once tortilla rises to surface, flip, then use metal spoon to carefully press center of tortilla to create taco shell. Allow to fry until taco shape forms, about 10 seconds.

Carefully remove from oil, place on paper towel-lined sheet pan to drain. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Fill puffy tacos with ground beef, top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, crumbled queso and crema.

How Marisol Loves to Cook

Founder of Marisol Cooks, where all eaters are welcome, Marisol Chancellor was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and moved to San Antonio as a teenager. She has had a passion for cooking since she was young.

Entertaining tip: “Always choose recipes that can be prepared ahead. This saves a lot of time you could be spending with your guests,” Chancellor recommends. “Then get your guests involved in the last details – they’ll feel like they were part of the process. Get in the kitchen to not only make food, but also to make memories. Enjoy the process of cooking a homemade meal, because a homemade meal shared with loved ones is always worth it.”

Bean and Cheese Molletes

“Molletes were always on the table for cafecito time with my tias and girlfriends,” says Chancellor. “They’re easy, very delicious and meant to be shared.”


4 bolillo rolls (birote, telera or any other crusty bread)

Olive oil

3-4 cups seasoned, refried beans

10 ounces Real California Asadero, Oaxaca or Quesadilla cheese, coarsely grated

For the pico de gallo:

3 ripe Roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 onion, chopped

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make the pico de gallo: In bowl add diced tomato, chopped onions, chopped jalapeño peppers and chopped fresh cilantro. Mix everything together and add lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.

Cut bread rolls in half and place on baking sheet cut side up. Drizzle bread with olive oil and bake in preheated oven 8 minutes, just until edges start to brown.

Warm refried beans if needed. Top each half of bread with layer of refried beans and shredded cheese.

Turn oven broiler on and bake molletes about 2 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Top with pico de gallo and serve immediately.

Cheese and Chorizo Stuffed Jalapeños

“Cheese and Chorizo Stuffed Jalapeños are my favorite appetizer or side dish for carne asada on Friday nights,” Chancellor shares.


6-8 Jalapeño peppers

Olive oil

5 ounces Mexican chorizo

5 ounces Real California Queso Asadero, Oaxaca or Quesadilla cheese, coarsely grated

6-8 corn tortillas

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Kosher salt to taste


In medium saucepan, add water until half full. Add jalapeño peppers and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, turn heat down and simmer 5 minutes or until peppers change to pale green. Remove sauce pan from heat and let peppers cool in water.

While peppers are cooling, cook chorizo. In skillet add about 1 teaspoon of oil (most chorizos are very fatty and don’t need much oil) and bring to medium heat. Add chorizo and break up with wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, until brown.

Cut small slit in middle of pepper to make pocket, leaving about 1/4 of an inch from the stem and tip of pepper. Use small spoon to remove seeds and veins.

Fill peppers with shredded asadero cheese and top with chorizo. Place peppers on baking sheet and place under broiler just long enough to melt cheese, 2-5 minutes.

Serve peppers over warm tortillas, garnish with chopped cilantro and sprinkle with kosher salt.

NOTE: Wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling peppers. The oil from peppers could irritate your skin if not handled properly. Latex gloves highly recommended.

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