Yes to Yummy

Tag Archive: cheese

Nacho Average Nachos

October 8, 2017 Leave your thoughts Print this page

Hello! I am still alive! And well! And I have a RECIPE to share on the blog?! WHAT?!

Unfortunately, Yes to Yummy has been on the back burner for the past year or so. While I have found time here and there to write about the New York delicacies I was sampling, I could rarely pull together a few hours to get myself to a kitchen, grab my camera, and write about what I was up to.

Oh yeah, and I didn’t have a kitchen in my freshman dorm. That played big role, too.

And this summer, I thought I was going to have time to cook and develop recipes. Yup, good joke. I’m pretty sure I just ate tomatoes with olive oil and salt for dinner when I’d get home at night from my full-time job.

But now I’m back in school. A good friend (and former roommate of mine) and I are living in a lovely upperclassman dorm with a wonderful kitchen. Being able to make dinner in my pajamas again has totally rocked my world.

The past month or so has reminded me why I fell in love with cooking all of those years ago. I love the process of planning, going grocery shopping, perusing the farmer’s market, preparing, eating. I love the sounds, the sights, the smells, the tastes. I love the satisfaction of feeding my friends something delicious. I love having conversations about everything under the sun at my dining table. I love having my passion back. It feels so good.

So, why nachos? There’s a story behind that.

When I was younger, I was never a fan of nachos. It was that goopy artificial cheese. From a can or something. Yuck. And I could never understand why you would purposefully ruin a wonderfully crunchy chip with tons of sub-par dairy. Needless to say nachos were not my snack of choice at the movie theater or bowling alley.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when my perspective changed. One night, a friend of mine and I went out to a local restaurant in the town over from ours, a healthy/vegetarian place called The Lime. I had been going there since childhood, eating their thick, warm slices of whole wheat bread and drinking glasses of carrot juice. But never before had I been there by myself, as a “kind-of-adult” who could drive and order her own food.

“We have to get the nachos,” my friend insisted, glazing over the appetizer list. “They’re amazing.”

For a moment, I resisted. I was Abby, lover of all things crispy, skeptic of sogginess and sour cream. I wasn’t a nacho fan.

But I agreed anyway. I still don’t know why. Perhaps it was because I was seventeen and itching for newness, itching to get out of my small suburban town. Everything felt repetitive and claustrophobically familiar. Maybe nachos would be my first step into the unknown, the rebellious, the reinvented.

Unfortunately, these nachos were not the cure to my teenage angst. But they knocked my socks off nonetheless.

I remember that dark brown dish landing on our table like it was yesterday. Beneath layers of melted cheddar lay succulent black beans and bits of onion. Salsa stood as a punchy sidekick, beckoning us to dip those cheese encrusted chips. We dove in with relish, and from that day forward, I was a nacho lover.

Even though high school is far behind me and that friendship is no longer, I still look back fondly on that chilly evening at The Lime. In a way, it was a small reminder that things could change, that things could get better. And they did.

And now, two years later, I’m standing in my kitchen, making nachos for myself. I’m so much happier, so much more secure in myself and my place in the world. I’ve let go of so many things I needed to put behind me. But I haven’t let go of my desire to make and eat nachos my way.

This recipe is honestly a breeze. If you’re got an oven, a nearby grocery store, and half an hour on your hands, you can get a delicious, inexpensive sheet of goodness on the table for you and several buddies. I got fancy and made my own salsa with heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market; if you’re lazy or short on time, just get some good salsa from the store. I love a combination of cheddar and jack cheese, but feel free to use one or the other. And yes, go ahead and put sour cream on top if you’d really like. (I’m still not a huge fan of sour cream. Some things don’t change, and that’s okay.)

Go forth my friends. Make good food for the people you love.

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Nacho Average Nachos

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 15 min
Total Time 30 min
Yield 4-6 servings

FOR THE SALSA:

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped

2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded or not (you decide), finely chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

The juice of 1-2 limes (about 2-3 tbsp)

Salt, to taste

FOR THE NACHOS:

1 15 oz can of black beans, drained

2 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp salt

1-2 tsp chili powder

4-5 cups of sturdy corn tortilla chips

1- 1 1/2 cups of mild cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup of jack cheese, shredded

Directions

FOR THE SALSA:

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Taste and add more salt or citrus, if necessary. Let sit for at least half an hour to let the flavors meld.

FOR THE NACHOS:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the black beans, cumin, salt and chili powder. Cover with a lid and heat over medium. Cook until just beginning to soften, about 10-15 minutes. If the black beans start sticking to the pot, add a tablespoon or two of water to keep things smooth. Set aside.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with a layer of tortilla chips, taking care to make sure the chips aren’t overlapping. Top with about a third of the salsa and half of the black beans. Cover with half of each of the cheeses. Add another layer of chips on top and repeat, finishing with a final layer of cheese.

Bake until the cheese melts and begins to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. If the cheese is melted, but still looking pretty white, turn the broiler on low and watch carefully as the cheese begins to crisp up. (Be careful, though — there’s parchment under those nachos!)

Serve immediately with remaining salsa and guacamole, sour cream and/or fresh cilantro, if you’d like.


We back, ladies and gentlemen.

(What will my next recipe be? Nacho business.)


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Nacho Average Nachos

October 8, 2017 Print this page

A very easy and affordable — yet delicious — dinner. Serve with more salsa and guacamole to take your nacho experience to an ethereal place.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 15 min
Total Time 30 min
Yield 4-6 servings

FOR THE SALSA:

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped

2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded or not (you decide), finely chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

The juice of 1-2 limes (about 2-3 tbsp)

Salt, to taste

FOR THE NACHOS:

1 15 oz can of black beans, drained

2 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp salt

1-2 tsp chili powder

4-5 cups of sturdy corn tortilla chips

1- 1 1/2 cups of mild cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup of jack cheese, shredded

Directions

FOR THE SALSA:

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Taste and add more salt or citrus, if necessary. Let sit for at least half an hour to let the flavors meld.

FOR THE NACHOS:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the black beans, cumin, salt and chili powder. Cover with a lid and heat over medium. Cook until just beginning to soften, about 10-15 minutes. If the black beans start sticking to the pot, add a tablespoon or two of water to keep things smooth. Set aside.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with a layer of tortilla chips, taking care to make sure the chips aren’t overlapping. Top with about a third of the salsa and half of the black beans. Cover with half of each of the cheeses. Add another layer of chips on top and repeat, finishing with a final layer of cheese.

Bake until the cheese melts and begins to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. If the cheese is melted, but still looking pretty white, turn the broiler on low and watch carefully as the cheese begins to crisp up. (Be careful, though — there’s parchment under those nachos!)

Serve immediately with remaining salsa and guacamole, sour cream and/or fresh cilantro, if you’d like.


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Vegan Spinach Cannelloni

July 7, 2014 Print this page

Do you see all of that cheese in there, from the ricotta inside to the mozzarella on top?! There is no way this thing is vegan. But it is. And you don’t miss the dairy or regular pasta at all in this cannelloni: it’s just as cheesy, indulgent, and flavorful as its heavy Italian counterpart.

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 1 hr 30 min
Yield 6 servings

1 recipe of Basic Tomato Sauce, or 2 1/2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

1 recipe of Vegan Ricotta Cheese

2 cups of spinach, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon of olive oil

12 gluten-free lasagna noodles or pieces of thinly-sliced zucchini

1 recipe of Vegan Mozzarella Cheese

Directions

Prepare the tomato sauce and set aside to cool slightly.

Prepare the ricotta cheese.

Rinse and dry off the spinach. If you got big leaves, chop it up a bit–if you got baby spinach, don’t bother.

Heat up the olive oil in a small saucepan, and when hot, add the spinach. Saute just to slightly wilt, only a minute or so, then immediately remove from the heat. Transfer to a bowl or plate and let cool to room temperature–you can speed up the process by putting it in the fridge.

Once your spinach is cool, place it over a fine mesh strainer in the sink and squeeze out as much water as you possibly can. Then, transfer it to a cutting board and chop into smaller pieces. Stir the spinach into the ricotta “cheese” and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once bubbling, add in the lasagna noodles–I used brown rice because I tolerate it well and there are just three ingredients (rice, rice bran, and water). Use whatever noodles float your boat–or substitute thinly sliced zucchini, if you’d like. 

Here’s the trick: cook your pasta for ONLY five minutes. This ensures that it’s pliable but still not cooked on the inside. Your cannelloni will be spending 30 minutes in a hot oven, so you want to leave the pasta very al dente to prevent it from becoming a mushy mess later on.

Once the five minutes are up, strain the pasta and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Prepare the mozzarella cheese.

It’s now time to assemble! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take out a 9 x 13 dish and pour (approximately) 1 cup of your prepared tomato sauce on the bottom. Use a spatula to spread it out.

To roll the cannelloni, take one lasagna noodle and lie it flat on a clean surface. Add a large scoop (about 2-3 tablespoons) of the prepared vegan ricotta “cheese” and use the back of a spoon to spread it out. It should cover 3/4 of the noodle, not the entire thing.

Then, using a good amount of torque, roll up the noodle with the filling inside. Place it seam-side down in the dish with the tomato sauce and repeat with the rest of the lasagna noodles.

The cannelloni should fit snuggly in the dish.  Cover the top with another cup and a half of tomato sauce, then use a small spoon or ice cream scoop to put the vegan mozzarella “cheese” over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is bubbling. To get the cheese on top to be golden-brown, brush it with a little olive oil and put it under the broiler for a few minutes.


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Vegan Ricotta Cheese

July 7, 2014 Print this page

Creamy yet still maintaining some good texture, this vegan ricotta cheese is a delicious compliment to any Italian dish you make. It also tastes great on top of crackers for an afternoon snack! Inspired by this recipe.

Ingredients

Prep Time 5 min (plus soaking overnight)
Cooking Time
Total Time 5 min
Yield Approximately 2 cups

1 3/4 cups of raw cashews, soaked overnight

1/2 cup of water

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, blend the cashews with the water, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt. Pulse until everything is well-blended but NOT smooth, about 1 minute. It should be the texture of “real” ricotta cheese and there should be no big pieces of cashew. (That’s just gross.) 

Set aside until ready to use.


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Spinach Cannelloni (gluten-free + vegan)

July 6, 2014 1 Comment Print this page

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Do you see all of that cheese in there, from the ricotta inside to the mozzarella on top?! There is no way this thing is vegan.

But it is.

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That’s right. I made not one, but two different kinds of vegan cheese for this recipe. Sheer madness. And you don’t miss the dairy or regular pasta at all in this cannelloni: it’s just as cheesy, indulgent, and flavorful as its heavy Italian counterpart. The best part is that after you’re done with dinner, you’ll feel full, but not greasy or sluggish like after sitting down to a decadent ristorante meal. That’s the magic of cashew cheese: tastes great and feels great going down.

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Originally, I wanted to make stuffed shells…but I couldn’t find gluten-free or even whole wheat ones anywhere, and I looked at three different supermarkets! Sure, there were brown rice shells on Amazon, but I wasn’t willing to shell out $11 for a meager box of pasta when it would cost a third as much in the store.

Instead, I re-strategized and picked up a box of brown rice lasagna at Whole Foods and sought out to make cannelloni, one of my mom’s favorites when she and my dad go out for Italian food. I haven’t eaten the “real thing” in years, so I thought it would be fun to try.

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A word of caution: this recipe does take some time to assemble. There are lots of components, and proper timing is crucial. I recommend making the two vegan cheeses and the tomato sauce beforehand for quick assembly on a weeknight; if it’s a weekend or you have some free time, by all means do this all in one sitting.

But I promise you…the result is so worth it. Yum.

Ready to become an Italian-yet-vegan god/goddess? Let’s get started.

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We’ll first start off with this simple tomato sauce: in a medium saucepan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add 1/2 of an onion, diced finely. Saute until slightly browned, about 5 minutes, then add 1 large clove of crushed garlic. Stir to incorporate and add 1 tablespoon of dried basil, 1 tablespoon of oregano, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of thyme, along with a generous pinch of salt.

To the onion, garlic, and herbs, pour in 1 14 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 1 14 ounce can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, and 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste. I love the combination of regular and fire-roasted because it gives the sauce a little heat without it being overwhelming, and it nicely compliments the tomato flavor.

Bring the tomato sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cook until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes, then taste. Chances are, your sauce might taste a little acidic; I recommend adding a pinch of unrefined cane sugar or coconut sugar just to balance it out. Sounds weird, but it really works!

In the blender or with an immersion blender, blend the sauce until few bits of onion remain. Set aside until ready to use.

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Meanwhile, rinse and dry off the equivalent of approximately two cups of spinach. If you got big leaves, chop it up a bit–if you got baby spinach, don’t bother.

Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan, and when hot, add the spinach. Saute just to slightly wilt, only a minute or so, then immediately remove from the heat. Transfer to a bowl or plate and let cool to room temperature–you can speed up the process by putting it in the fridge.

While the spinach cools, make the ricotta “cheese” inspired by this recipe: in the bowl of a food processor, blend 1 3/4 cups of soaked raw cashews with 1/2 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pulse until everything is well-blended but NOT smooth, about 1 minute. It should be the texture of “real” ricotta cheese and there should be no big pieces of cashew. (That’s just gross.)

Once your spinach is cool, place it over a fine mesh strainer in the sink and squeeze out as much water as you possibly can. Then, transfer it to a cutting board and chop into smaller pieces. Stir the spinach into the ricotta “cheese” and set aside.

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Now is a good time to bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once bubbling, add in 12 gluten-free lasagna noodles–I used brown rice because I tolerate it well and there are just three ingredients (rice, rice bran, and water). Use whatever noodles float your boat–or substitute thinly sliced zucchini, if you’d like.

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Here’s the trick: cook your pasta for ONLY five minutes. This ensures that it’s pliable but still not cooked on the inside. Your cannelloni will be spending 30 minutes in a hot oven, so you want to leave the pasta very al dente to prevent it from becoming a mushy mess later on.

Once the five minutes are up, strain the pasta and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for now.

If you want to, make some vegan mozzarella “cheese.” You can follow my recipe here with step-by-step photos here.

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It’s now time to assemble! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take out a 9 x 13 dish and pour (approximately) 1 cup of your prepared tomato sauce on the bottom. Use a spatula to spread it out.

To roll the cannelloni, take one lasagna noodle and lie it flat on a clean surface. Add a large scoop (about 2-3 tablespoons) of the prepared vegan ricotta “cheese” and use the back of a spoon to spread it out. It should cover 3/4 of the noodle, not the entire thing.

Then, using a good amount of torque, roll up the noodle with the filling inside. Place it seam-side down in the dish with the tomato sauce and repeat with the rest of the lasagna noodles.

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Please ignore the iPad in the back.

The cannelloni should fit snuggly in the dish. That’s what you want! Cover the top with another cup and a half of tomato sauce, then use a small spoon or ice cream scoop to put the vegan mozzarella “cheese” over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is bubbling. To get the cheese on top to be golden-brown, brush it with a little olive oil and put it under the broiler for a few minutes.

Voila! Hard work, but oh my gosh, INCREDIBLE.

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What is your favorite Italian dish? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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