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Queso Quest


(TMT Photo/Tom Turner)
HOTí QUESO: Tylerite Leigh Vickery developed a business, Leigh Oliverís, which carries three varieties of ďall-naturalĒ white quesos. The business teams with specialty food markets that carry the products, including Whole Foods Market and Central Market, and gives back a percentage of profits to charitable organizations.

Tyler Morning Telegraph
By SHAUNA WONZER, Food Editor
February 6, 2008


Tylerite Leigh Vickery isn't being cheesy when it comes to what really matters in life. She believes in enjoying good food with friends and family. She believes in it so much, it has become a part of her company's mission. Mrs. Vickery created Leigh Oliver's, a food company that creates a line of all-natural white quesos. The quesos are sold at speciality food stores, including Central Market and Whole Foods Market in four states. The product line includes a White Queso with fresh green chiles, White Hot Queso with roasted jalapenos and Spinach Queso with red ripe tomatoes. Her journey, in part, started with the question: "Why can't I find food like that made in my kitchen on store shelves?" "Most cheese dips glow in the dark and have a shelf life longer than your own," she claims. It doesn't have to be that way, she said.

As a child growing up in Mississippi, Mrs. Vickery said her parents gave her "a ton of freedom to explore" different foods in the kitchen. She still makes one of the first recipes she learned, a lemon cake. Her adult taste craved a queso she could buy in a jar that uses natural ingredients, like the ones home cooks use in their own kitchen. She played in her kitchen, using her husband, Ron, and children as taste testers, until she found a satisfying solution. "I love to imagine new wonderful tastes and share them with my friends and family. I like to cook foods that make you smile ..." she states on promotional material. Getting her business from the idea stage to the shelves was an large undertaking, she said. Mrs. Vickery started meeting people in the industry, researching, traveling and cooking. What developed was all-natural alternative to processed varieties found on many store shelves. An Austin-based company manufactures the produce, using her recipe. Aside from the recipe, creating labels and picking containers also had to be considered. After getting advice from grocery employees, food industry professionals and many others, Mrs. Vickery's business was born. She now demonstrates her products at Dallas-area grocery locations that carry her product. Among the lessons she has learned along the way: "The harder you work the better luck you have" and "figure out what you do best, then get help with all the rest. "Her business model includes teaming with markets that sell her products to give back to charitable organizations. At Central Market, for example, half her profits go to the Boys & Girls Clubs. At Whole Foods Market, profits benefit the Whole Planet Foundation. East Texans wanting to take a dip into her queso, can find it at Sweet Gourmet in Tyler. Orders are also taken online. Prices of the jars varies, but online order prices are $21 for a set of three. Shipping costs applies in some areas. To order, visit www.leigholivers.com.

Here is another recipe from Leigh Oliver's:

ULTIMATE WHITE QUESO

1/4 pound extra lean ground beef
1/4 pound natural beef or pork sausage
1 (12 ounce) jar Leigh Oliver's White or White Hot queso
Brown ground beef and sausage together. Drain well. Place browned meats in saucepan and add Leigh Oliver's White queso. Stir occasionally until cheese is melted. Serve warm with corn chips.
These recipes are from Leigh Oliver's:

QUICK, EASY QUESO POLLO SOUP
2 (12 ounce) jars white, white hot or spinach queso
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, shredded
Garnish: cilantro, diced avocado, pico de gallo.
In saucepan, reheat white queso with milk. Stir in chicken and warm. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro, avocado or pico de gallo.

VEGGIE ENCHILADAS WITH SPINACH QUESO
3 cups grated pepper Jack cheese (8 ounces)
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 box (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 box (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed
6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
16 corn tortillas (6 inch)
1 (12 ounce) jar Leigh Oliver's Spinach Queso, warmed
Cayenne pepper, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil two 8-inch square baking dishes. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups cheese, beans, spinach, corn scallion whites and remaining1 teaspoon cumin; season with salt and pepper. Top each tortilla with a heaping 1/3 cup of filling; roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in prepared baking dishes, eight per dish. Stir Leigh Oliver's Spinach Queso and pour over each dish. Sprinkle with remaining one cup of shredded cheese. Sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Serve garnished with scallion greens. Serves 8 people two enchiladas each.

ULTIMATE WHITE QUESO
1/4 pound extra lean ground beef
1/4 pound natural beef or pork sausage
1 (12 ounce) jar Leigh Oliver's White or White Hot Queso
Brown ground beef and sausage together. Drain well. Place browned meats in saucepan and add Leigh Oliver's White Queso. Stir occasionally until cheese is melted. Serve warm with corn chips.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 


 

 
 
 
 
 

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