Yes to Yummy

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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 Macaroni and Cheese

April 24, 2014 Print this page

I wanted to have macaroni and cheese, but I wanted it to be filled with healthy, wholesome ingredients and not leave me feeling groggy, icky, or guilty. This was no easy task, but I think I have accomplished it.

Ingredients

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

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight

5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

1 heaping tablespoon of arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon of red palm oil (or 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric + 1 tablespoon of coconut oil)

1 cup of vegetable broth (preferably homemade)

1 roasted red pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

The juice of 1/2 of a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

The equivalent to 4 servings of gluten-free pasta (I used this one), spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles

Directions

Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Don’t look at it much: remember, a watched pot doesn’t boil!

Soak the cashews in a warm water bath overnight, then strain and put in the blender with the nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder, red palm oil, vegetable broth, roasted red pepper, garlic powder, mustard powder, salt, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, then taste and adjust.

Once the ingredients are all blended up, pour the cashew-cheese-like mixture into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to simmer just to keep warm, and give the sauce a good whisk frequently to prevent it from sticking.

Meanwhile, your water should be boiling. It’s time to add your pasta!

Cook the pasta according to the box’s instructions, then strain in a colander. If you’re using veggies instead, well, let your veggies do their thing.

Toss with the sauce and eat immediately. I’d recommend a side of roasted brussel sprouts or cauliflower.

Oh, one more thing: if you’d like, you can bake your macaroni and cheese, too! Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for half an hour, and sprinkle the top with some almond flour or ground walnuts for extra crunch.


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Macaroni and Cheese (vegan + gluten-free!)

April 24, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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If you had approached me on the street ten, five, even two years ago and asked me what my favorite food was, I would have immediately replied, “Macaroni and cheese.”

And no, not especially the 10,000-cheese-and-truffle-oil macaroni and cheese from fancy restaurants. I was more a fan of the stuff in the blue box.

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It was one of the first things I learned how to “cook,” too, and I do believe I tried next to every shape that was available. Even when I was thirteen, my favorite kind was still the Scooby Doo shapes, perhaps because I ate it nearly every weekend throughout my childhood.

I was a really weird kid–I was obsessed with the presidents, viruses, and outer space, hated anything that involved running, and watched Nova and documentaries on the History Channel (back when it was good) instead of Disney. Naturally, social interactions with peers were difficult, but I somehow managed to always have friends. (I still don’t really know why I have friends now, haha.) But when I would have a friend over for a playdate, my mom would make us macaroni and cheese, slice up some apples and grape tomatoes, and read us a book while we ate our food.

Even though I’ll be turning sixteen in less than a month (!!!!!!!!!!), those are still some of my fondest memories. Even though they’re, er, cheesey, they revolve around happiness.

And macaroni and cheese.

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The blue boxes were some of the first processed food to go after I decided to clean up my eating habits. Into the cupboard and garbage they went, along with the microwave popcorn and frozen Mystic pizzas I enjoyed frequently noshing on.

Fast-forward about two years later, and I can’t remember the last time I ate macaroni and cheese. Even though I wouldn’t deem the stuff in the blue box “enriching” in a million years, it is kinda sad. It was my favorite food for more than a decade, and I don’t think anyone should have to completely give up his or her favorite foods just to be “healthy.”

Physical health is important, but what many nutritionists and experts often glaze over is that eating (and enjoying) food is also a very emotional experience, and what we eat has other outlets besides our internal and external physique.

So, what was a girl to do? I wanted to have macaroni and cheese, but I wanted it to be filled with healthy, wholesome ingredients and not leave me feeling groggy, icky, or guilty. This was no easy task, but I think I have accomplished it.

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While I do enjoy cheese and yogurt on a somewhat-regular basis, I’ve found that I don’t tolerate heavy, dairy-laden foods very well. A little goat cheese with breakfast or in a salad or a small bowl of yogurt is usually fine, but rich cream sauces tend to sit around in my stomach and disrupt traffic. I don’t like that very much.

Thankfully, I love cashews, and they make a wonderful substitute for dairy in everything from ice cream to smoothies. (I tried making cashew yogurt, too, but it was pretty gross. I’ll have to keep working on that.) When soaked overnight, this wonderful nut becomes very soft and blends up into a wonderfully thick, luscious cream that’s just rich enough to be decadent but not heavy enough to be overly-indulgent.

Paired with nutritional yeast, homemade stock, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, cashew cream goes from boring to BAM! The created sauce also keeps well in the fridge, so feel free to double the batch and keep a container around for a quick weeknight dinner.

Ready to see how amazing vegan macaroni and cheese can be? Good. Let’s go.

Adapted slightly from THIS recipe.

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Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Don’t look at it much: remember, a watched pot doesn’t boil!

Soak 1 cup of cashews in a warm water bath overnight, then strain and put in the blender with 5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1 heaping tablespoon of arrowroot powder, 1 tablespoon of red palm oil, 1 cup of vegetable broth (preferably homemade), 1 roasted red pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the juice of 1/2 of a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon). Blend until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, then taste and adjust.

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A word about red palm oil: no, it does not come from red palm trees. It’s simply less-processed palm oil, and full of Vitamins A and E. Unfortunately, palm oil in general is not very sustainable, so make sure you purchase a brand that sources from small farms and makes an effort to support the environment and avoid deforestation. (I really like Nutiva.)

No red palm oil available? No problem: use 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil instead. I used turmeric with my initial recipe, but I prefer the red palm oil instead for its more neutral taste.

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Once the ingredients are all blended up, pour the cashew-cheese-like mixture into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to simmer just to keep warm, and give the sauce a good whisk frequently to prevent it from sticking.

Meanwhile, your water should be boiling. It’s time to add your pasta!

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While I don’t advocate having noodles–even gluten-free ones–every night, I think they’re fine once in a while, especially when balanced out with other healthful foods like fresh vegetables, pasture-raised meat, and good fats for added nutrients.

I used gluten-free elbows made from organic corn and quinoa flour. It’s pretty tasty, but you can definitely tell that it’s not wheat flour. (I don’t mind that, though.) You can also use brown rice pasta, sprouted wheat pasta (if you aren’t eating gluten-free), zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash–be sure to let me know how it turns out if you give any of them a try!

Cook the pasta according to the box’s instructions, then strain in a colander. If you’re using veggies instead, well, let your veggies do their thing.

There’s enough sauce to coat 4 servings of pasta, so either add your 4 servings to the pan with the sauce or pour half of the sauce over 2 servings of noodles, a fourth over 1 serving, and so on and so forth. Sorry, I’m not good at explaining these things. I try.

Eat immediately. I’d recommend a side of roasted brussel sprouts or cauliflower, as my friends in the cabbage family happen to taste amazing with mac and cheese.

Oh, one more thing: if you’d like, you can bake your macaroni and cheese, too! Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for half an hour, and sprinkle the top with some almond flour or ground walnuts for extra crunch. I loved how it tasted after some time in the oven, but the pictures were er, not pretty, so I used the ones I took for the stove-top version instead.

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Om nom nom nom nom nom…

What was your favorite meal or dish as a child? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Poussin Bonaparte

February 24, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Just admit it: this is the cutest, goofiest chicken you have ever seen in your entire life.

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I mean, just look at it! It has a BACON. SASH. This is one classy bird, folks.

When I’m at the butcher, I’m always on the prowl for something new, something intimidating. I love to challenge myself with unfamiliar ingredients and go foraging through books and the internet in attempts to figure out how to cook them. You could call it a bit of an obsession of mine.

Crispy sweet breads. Pig tails. Goose. I’ve tried a lot of “unusual” cuts and animals over the course of the past year. While peeling the membranes off of the sweet breads was far from appealing and removing the entire breast from my goose had me groaning in frustration, almost all of my attempts have turned out deliciously. (Unfortunately, my mom is still a little squeamish about lamb kidneys. I’ll work on her. One day.)

Out of all of the oddies I’ve tried, poussin has to be one of my and my family’s favorites. It’s a rarity at the butcher, but when I see little packages about as big as my hand in the freezer, I snag ’em. Even though poussin are really, yes, just young chicken, they are so freaking adorable that I can never resist the temptation.

Sadly, there aren’t many recipes for poussin online, but if you google recipes for the tiny bird, something called Poussin Bonaparte will pop up right away.  Basically, it’s a poussin, roasted upright with a root vegetable up its posterior and a strip of bacon around its chest. What could be bad?

If you’re a little scared to try preparing a chicken this tiny, don’t be! My recipe is a piece of cake to put together and requires only a handful of ingredients, so you’ll be on your way to a fun, tasty dinner in no time. Just remember, when in doubt, use a thermometer and common sense. They are two of a cook’s best tools.

Ready to give poussin a try? Good. Let’s get started.

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About an hour before you want to eat, take your poussin out of the fridge and pat each one dry with a paper towel. Rub salt all over their skins and in their cavities and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour. (This will really help the flavors develop and tenderize the meat!)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a large roasting pan with a little coconut oil or ghee. Set aside.

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Take out two big, fat, chunky carrots. (They need to be tough to be able to hold up the poussin!) Cut off either end of both and slice in half width-wise, leaving you with four fairly strong pieces of carrot. Set aside.

Get your four salted-and-at-room-temperature poussin ready. Mount each bird on top of each piece of carrot, trimming off an inch or so at the bottom of the carrot until the poussin can stand up on its own. Place all four in the large roasting pan you already greased, and smear them all with 2 tablespoons of melted ghee, butter, or coconut oil.

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If you’re feeling fancy, wrap a strip of bacon from one of the poussin’s shoulders to its opposite hip. This will give each of your birds a little “sash!”

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Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a thermometer in the breast reaches 165 degrees and thigh reaches 175 degrees. The skin (or at least the top half) should be crisped at this point.

Let the poussin cool for at least five minutes before removing the carrots and serving. (You can eat the carrots, too–they’ll have amazing flavor!)

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What is your favorite kind of poultry? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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