Tag Archives: Appetizers

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

As my test anxiety was building this week, I developed a very intense need for nachos.

A need for nachos.  Not just your average, “oh, I want nachos”, but a need for nachos.  You can’t ignore those kind of things.  When your body tells you that chips, beans, cheese, and chili powder must be in your belly in 15 minutes or you might die, you listen.

Just like when my body tells me I need to watch Christmas movies even though it’s the middle of June.  I listen and I listen well–and I’m currently watching The Family Stone.  (Please don’t judge me–times of high stress make me do weird things).

But back to the nachos.  I wanted to use up some more of my cilantro, so I decided to spice up my nachos and then cool it back down with a yogurt sauce.  Sound good?

And if you don’t like yogurt sauce, or if the smell/taste/look of cilantro makes you die a little bit inside (hi Fritz!), then you can just skip it.  Fritz enjoyed the nachos quite nicely without it.

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

  • 8 small corn tortillas, sliced into quarters (or corn chips)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/4-1/2 C jalapeno slices (depending on how much you love your spice!)
  • 1/4-1/2 C Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 lemon (about 2 T lemon juice)
  • 1/4 C plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • small bunch cilantro (about 2-3 T chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and arrange your corn chips.  Since I had tortillas in the freezer, I microwaved them for a few seconds, sliced ’em in quarters with a pizza roller, sprinkled with a little salt, and baked them until they were crispy, about 15 minutes.  Obviously you can skip this step if you have some chips handy.

These were vegetarian chips, so I used an entire can of refried beans, but you could easily use half or less and add some meat to make them more hearty.  Once the chips are crisp, add the beans on top.  (By the way, I’ve made refried beans from scratch before, and they didn’t quite taste as yummy as the good ol’ canned version.  Reason why?  Third ingredient on the canned kind is lard.  Yeah.  Maybe not so good.)

Sprinkle with jalapenos and cheese.  Be generous.  With both.

Sprinkle on the spices and pop in the oven for a few minutes until the beans are warmed and the cheese melted.

Meanwhile, process the yogurt, cilantro, and lemon juice (lime would probably be even better if you had it!) until smooth.  Drizzle over the top and enjoy!

We both love, love, loved this dinner treat of nachos.  I definitely would have eaten these with some spicy salsa on the side, but we didn’t have any and there was no way my tummy was allowing me to hold off on the nachos.

Experiment with the spices–if you are the hot and spicy type, some cayenne might be just the thing you need.  And if you haven’t already jumped on the smoked paprika bandwagon, now is the time.

Really.  That stuff is good.

In other good and exciting news, we got our fourth CSA box yesterday!  Check out the goods for this week:

I’ve had a lot of variety in my green monsters lately–using kale, chard, and beet greens instead of only plain ol’ spinach.  For those new readers, I am a first-time CSA user from Golden Earthworm Organic Farm on Long Island–read more about their CSA program here.

Plan for tomorrow–up early for the gym, then a doctor’s appointment and spending a large majority of the day reading (for pleasure!) and definitely baking!  I feel like I haven’t baked anything in ages and I absolutely miss having it around. 

Have a great night!

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Filed under Appetizers, Snacks, Vegetarian

Vietnamese Spring (Is Near!) Rolls

Wow.  If 54 degrees and sunny isn’t enough to remind me that spring is almost here, than I don’t know what is.  Days like today make it possible for me to trudge through those last few gray, rainy, slushy months without despairing.  Plus, I love being able to crack the windows just a bit so I can breathe in some fresh air throughout the day.

And my recipe for today is spring rolls!  Is that perfect or what?  Fritz and I made these little gems together as part of our Valentine’s day dinner, and I’m so excited to share the recipe.  It’s not nearly as complex as I thought, and by baking them instead of deep-frying, they are good for you as well as delicious.  Perfection.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls (from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid) 

  •  1/2 lb ground pork
  • 4 oz peeled shrimp, finely chopped (about 3/4 C)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 C shredded carrot
  • 1 oz cellophane noodles (a little over 1/2 C)
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T Vietnamese fish sauce
  • spring roll wrappers (we used about 20)

Before starting, take out 1 oz of the cellophane noodles and soak them in warm water for about 20 minutes.  When they’re ready, drain them and cut into 1″ lengths with scissors.

Fritz and I ran out to the grocery store to get all the ingredients, and when we looked at the meat prices, there was a sale on pork chops and not on ground pork.  So what’s a girl to do?

Luckily, this particular girl has parents who recently bought her the meat grinder attachment for her KitchenAid for no reason other than that they love her (I probably would have bought pork chops to grind even if they were more expensive just to try the thing out)!  It’s just an added benefit that it was cheaper and I got to cut off the extra fat and have truly lean ground pork.

Fritz made me promise not to post a picture of the meat grinder in action, because it looks really gross (think: the demon barber of Fleet Street).  It literally took three minutes to set up, grind the meat, and take it back apart.

Anyway, back to the recipe.  Combine the ground pork, shrimp, onion, garlic, shallots, carrot, noodles, pepper, and fish sauce into a bowl and mix.

Now it’s time to set up your rolling station.

You need a dish that can fit the spring roll wrappers, filled with an inch or two of warm water.  Lay a damp dish towel flat on the table, and cover a baking sheet with another damp towel.  You’ll roll the wrappers on the first towel.  The wrappers are very fragile when wet, so you have to move carefully and cover the finished rolls with the second towel while you make more.

With dry hands (you don’t want the others to start sticking together), pick up a spring roll wrapper and hold it under the water until it softens, a few seconds.  Gently lay the wrapper on the damp towel, and spoon a generous tablespoonful of filling in a 2″ line on the side closest you.  Fold the closest edge over the filling, then the right and left sides, and roll it up tightly.

Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and cover with the damp towel.  Repeat until you run out of filling.

Preheat the oven to 350, and bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes, until browned.  Flip over about halfway through.

Arrange these beauties on a plate, and try not to dive in immediately.  If you have some leftover sauces from the last time you had Chinese take-out. this might be a good time to use ’em.

I love cooking on the weekend, because you get beautiful daylight-colored photos…not to mention there’s no rush to get dinner on the table because you just had school and now you have to get to the gym or go grocery shopping or–yes.  Weekend cooking is the best.

Have a beautiful day!  I hope this warm air inspires you as much as it does me.

As a side note, my lovely friend Breanna is running NYC’s Half-Marathon on a Team for Kids fighting childhood obesity.  It’s coming up soon, and if you have any spare cash lying around, she could use the fundraising help.  I am very passionate about this cause myself and whole-heartedly encourage you to donate if you can.  Every dollar helps! Click here to donate on her page.

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Filed under Appetizers