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Meat marinades + healthy queso for summer grilling nights

April 12th, 2012 1 Comment

Doing the same thing on the grill, using the same rubs, dipping your veg in the same ranch, gets old.  Spice up your summer grillin’ party with these marinades to give your meat new flavor.

Of course, it’s not a party without some indulgent dip, so I’ve included a recipe for queso!

Last weekend I was searching for a “healthy” alternative to using the old faithful Velveeta and Rotel in a crock pot combo for queso and came across the one below.  The chick blogging about it likes college football, grew up with the same Velveta recipe, and enjoys eating healthy.  sSince we have so much in common, I took her word that the “Eating Well” recipe wouldn’t repulse my guests.  She was right.  This queso is smokey and delicious!

Fajita Marinade

I’ve been using this since college :)

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • ½ chopped onion
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ½ tbsp paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, sliced.
  • 2 lbs skirt steak, chicken, pork tenderloin
  • beer
  • large plastic Ziploc bags


1. Mix all ingredients together in the plastic bag.

2. Add beer to taste, you don’t need the whole can, just to dilute and increase amount of marinade.

3. Put meat in bag.

4. Put in refrigerator overnight (or at least 6 hours).

5. Cook on highest heat in pan, or even better on the grill.  Of course don’t forget to cook the onion slices too!

Serve inside warmed tortillas, guacamole, and drizzled with the healthy queso.  If you want to lighten it up, add a little lettuce for a refreshing crunch.

Healthier Queso Dip

Eating Well, Feb ’09 and photo via Culinary Adventures of a New Wife

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup light colored beer
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, divided
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar (I added more)
  • 1 10 oz can Rotel (drained)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup scallions (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro (optional)


  1.  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion & garlic, and saute until beginning to soften and brown.
  3. Add beer and cook until reduced slightly, about 1 minute.
  4. Add 1 cup milk and bring to a simmer.
  5. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to low, add cheese and cook, stirring until melted.
  7. Add tomatoes, lime juice, salt, chili powder and cayenne (if using).

Serve warm, garnished with cilantro & scallions.

If you really want to impress your guests.  Slice up tortillas (flour, corn, or wheat) and fry them in hot EVOO.  Drain the oil by placing hot chips on paper towels before serving with sea salt and other seasonings.


Grilled Pork Chops

From David Burke’s New American Classics (love this book because it also gives you a “second day” recipe)


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
  • 3 leaves fresh sage
  • Zest of lemon
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 6 10-ounce pork chop, fat removed, frenched (I left it all on!)

Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag and let marinate for at least 6 hours.  Grill, turning occasionally so it doesn’t burn for about 14 minutes or until thermometer reads 140 degrees.

This pork tastes even better the second day!  Slice up the leftovers and make a fresh salad with granny smith apples and toasted pecans.  Whisk together a vinaigrette with 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper.



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