Yes to Yummy

Tag Archive: summer

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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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

August 2, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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All of those colors can only mean one thing: summer is here! Huzzah!

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Look, I love summer. Don’t get me wrong. I love that it’s light out so late and the farmer’s markets are teeming with fresh fruits and vegetables. I love being able to practice yoga whenever I want and having the time to catch up on all of the pleasure reading I’ve missed over the course of high school. I love singing and playing my ukulele in the grass and listening to Iron & Wine and Bob Dylan in my room. But holy crap I want summer to be over.

As you know from my relentless complaining, senior year kinda sorta really sucked. Nothing really horrendous happened, but so many bad little things piling up one on top of another totally tanked my year. Sometimes, there’s bad energy that settles and you have to wait for it to pass. Life is a balancing act: you have periods of where lots of good things happen, periods where lots of icky things happen. It all evens out in the end, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in a moment of suckitude. And this year was one big moment of suckitude.

I was really ready to go at the end of my junior year, and unfortunately, senior year wound up being sloppy seconds. I made a bunch of mistakes and lost several of my closest friends, which stunk. I know people come and go, for life is an ebb and flow, but it felt like so many people were going this year. I felt disconnected, and the aha moment where everything clicked again never came. I like spending more time alone than with others, but there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. And the latter feels yuck.

I don’t usually get embarrassed about things — hell, I came to school dressed as a giant tomato once — but for some reason, I feel ashamed about this year. I felt the claws of my old anxiety sinking back in as the embarrassment swirled in limitless circles in my head. I feel foolish, and I know I’ve been particularly unkind to myself recently, something I’ve struggled with for years. I want to shake it all away but it stays as I meditate and play my favorite songs by The 1975. I hate it. I thought I had moved on from this!

That’s the thing with anxiety. It’s two steps forward, four steps back. Sometimes it eats you. Sometimes you make sure it gets served. But when you’re in it, it makes you feel insecure, regretful, misunderstood. It pushes people away for you. It makes you think everyone hates you. But still, you soldier on and smile when you can, because you know you are better than your anxiety, and one day, the switch will flip and your thoughts will become rational again. It’s a practice.

I just want to be college Abby already. The Abby who, wearing a leather jacket with a yoga mat slung over her shoulder, runs into someone she knew from high school on the subway and grins because she’s a city girl now. The Abby who goes to concerts on Monday nights in Williamsburg. The Abby who carries a thoughtful little journal in which she writes existential haikus in Washington Square Park. I know that Abby is coming soon — 26 days, to be exact — but it all just seems so far away. And it’s frustrating.

You know what the best way to channel your frustrations is? Gnocchi!

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I find the process of making gnocchi so therapeutic. It might seem tedious to some people, but to me, there’s nothing more relaxing than rolling out potato dumplings.

My dad and I attempted to make gnocchi for the first time when I was in fifth grade. Let’s just say our foray was not exactly successful. All I can remember is that the process was messy and confusing, and when we dropped our “dumplings” in boiling water, they disintegrated. Whoops. My mother, queen of cleaning, vowed that we would never make gnocchi again on account of such a disaster.

Years later, I tried again on my own, and this time, my gnocchi worked. (My mom actually liked them, to her surprise!) Over the past year or so, I’ve gradually been refining my gnocchi technique, learning how to put together the tastiest plate possible with a variety of colors and textures.

Most Italian chefs take a simple approach when it comes to serving gnocchi, usually serving the dish with pesto or a very simple cheese or tomato sauce. While there’s something to be said about showcasing the gnocchi pretty much on its own, I like serving these soft, chewy dumplings with lots of vegetables for some varied flavor and texture. I don’t like dishes that are all soft; rather, I like my meals to be crunchy and smooth and everything in between.

By pairing the gnocchi with roasted tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and basil, you not only get a ton of veggies in your dinner, but also the joy of having a party of flavor in your mouth. While I loved this combo, I look forward to making gnocchi later this summer with eggplant, peppers, and other tasty produce.

Gnocchi might seem intimidating, but don’t be scared! The first time you make it, I highly suggest setting aside an afternoon to conquer your project. You’ll feel much better with extra time on your hands.

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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4-5 servings

For the gnocchi:

2 lb starchy baking potatoes (about 2 large baking potatoes)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the vegetables:

2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 large zucchinis or summer squashes, halved and sliced into half moons

1 head of basil, leaves finely slivered

2 cups of fire-roasted corn or 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels separated

1/4 cup of olive oil, divided, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons of salt, divided

1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

For the gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the potatoes cool for just a few minutes upon removing from the oven, then peel off the skin and discard.

Using a ricer, food mill, or box grater, process the potatoes. Dust a clean workspace with plenty of flour and spread the riced/grated potatoes in a thin, even layer atop the flour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Once the potatoes are cool, form them into a mound and make a small hole in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the hole and, using a large fork or your hands, incorporate the egg into the potato.

Pour flour in, 1/2 cup at a time, until a slightly sticky dough begins to form. (I highly recommend using a dough scraper to incorporate all of the flour!) Towards the end, add the 1/4 cup of cheese. If you feel the dough is too sticky, add more flour — but don’t go overboard!

Remove the dough ball and re-dust the workspace with plenty of flour. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough ball into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball into a log about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the log into 1 inch long rectangles.

Gently roll and squish each rectangle so it’s a decent-looking dumpling. A lot of people roll the gnocchi against a fork to create ridges, but that’s too fussy for me, so I just leave them as is. It saves time in an already labor-intensive recipe.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and place the gnocchi atop them until you’re ready to boil them.

For the veggies:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets with olive oil. On one sheet, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. On the other sheet, toss the zucchini half moons with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast both in the oven until the zucchini is golden-brown and the tomatoes begin to bristle, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, 1/4 of the batch at a time, and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon when each dumpling floats to the top. Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl.

Once all of the gnocchi have finished cooking, add the roasted vegetables, corn, cheese, basil, and a little drizzle of olive oil to taste. Toss together and add a little salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


Here’s to potatoes, vegetables, and letting go to move forward. See you soon, loves. <3

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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

July 25, 2016 Print this page

If I were a food, I’d be gnocchi: a happy potato dumpling! 🙂 While the gnocchi takes some time to prepare, the result is so worth it: fresh, chewy, slightly doughy pasta with fresh notes of basil, the sweetness of corn, and umami zing of roasted tomatoes and zucchini.

Inspired by this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4-5 servings

For the gnocchi:

2 lb starchy baking potatoes (about 2 large baking potatoes)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the vegetables:

2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 large zucchinis or summer squashes, halved and sliced into half moons

1 head of basil, leaves finely slivered

2 cups of fire-roasted corn or 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels separated

1/4 cup of olive oil, divided, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons of salt, divided

1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

For the gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the potatoes cool for just a few minutes upon removing from the oven, then peel off the skin and discard.

Using a ricer, food mill, or box grater, process the potatoes. Dust a clean workspace with plenty of flour and spread the riced/grated potatoes in a thin, even layer atop the flour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Once the potatoes are cool, form them into a mound and make a small hole in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the hole and, using a large fork or your hands, incorporate the egg into the potato.

Pour flour in, 1/2 cup at a time, until a slightly sticky dough begins to form. (I highly recommend using a dough scraper to incorporate all of the flour!) Towards the end, add the 1/4 cup of cheese. If you feel the dough is too sticky, add more flour — but don’t go overboard!

Remove the dough ball and re-dust the workspace with plenty of flour. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough ball into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball into a log about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the log into 1 inch long rectangles.

Gently roll and squish each rectangle so it’s a decent-looking dumpling. A lot of people roll the gnocchi against a fork to create ridges, but that’s too fussy for me, so I just leave them as is. It saves time in an already labor-intensive recipe.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and place the gnocchi atop them until you’re ready to boil them.

For the veggies:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets with olive oil. On one sheet, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. On the other sheet, toss the zucchini half moons with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast both in the oven until the zucchini is golden-brown and the tomatoes begin to bristle, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, 1/4 of the batch at a time, and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon when each dumpling floats to the top. Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl.

Once all of the gnocchi have finished cooking, add the roasted vegetables, corn, cheese, basil, and a little drizzle of olive oil to taste. Toss together and add a little salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


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Roasted Tomato, Pepper + Garlic Soup

October 13, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hi everyone! So it’s t-minus three weeks until my early decision application is submitted (!!!) and boy, am I ready to be done with high school. Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be receiving a big green “ACCEPTED!” when December rolls around! To those of you out there reading this, please send good energy my way…

…and I in turn will send good soup your way. Good trade, right??? 🙂

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Now that the weather is growing cooler, we’re starting to move into soup season. That’s a good move, in my opinion: I love me a good bowl of warm, comforting soup.

Since we’re in the early days of fall, late summer produce like tomatoes and peppers are still available at the farmer’s market. They won’t be here for very much longer, so I thought I should make a soup to honor the last of this season’s nightshades.

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This soup is stupidly simple to put together…but there’s so much flavor it’s unbelievable! It’s all in the ingredients, folks: you really can’t go wrong if you prepare fresh vegetables and fruits in just the right way so their individual flavors sing.

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This really is so easy a kitchen novice could do it. All you do is slice up the tomatoes and peppers…

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…roast them in the oven with some garlic, put them in the blender, and cook on the stove to thicken.

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*Drool*

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Roasted Tomato, Pepper, and Garlic Soup

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 min
Yield 8-10 servings

2 pounds of mixed tomatoes, halved or quartered if on the larger side

4 large bell peppers, sliced into big pieces

1 head of garlic, outer skin removed

1 teaspoon of sea salt

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1-2 teaspoons of unrefined cane sugar (optional)

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease two large baking sheets with olive oil and set aside.

Divide the halved and quartered tomatoes and peppers evenly between the two baking sheets. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Toss to coat and put in the oven.

Put the head of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle it with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap it up into a little bundle and put it in the oven, too.

Roast the tomatoes and peppers in the oven until soft and beginning to brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Once soft, remove the garlic from the oven, too.

When the vegetables have cooled off a bit, transfer the tomatoes and peppers to a large blender. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and put it in there too. Pour in the salt and add a dash of cayenne, then puree until completely smooth.

Dump the contents of the blender into a large pot or dutch oven. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and add a bit of sugar, if necessary. If the soup seems incredibly thick, pour in up to 1 cup of vegetable broth or water.

Serve hot.


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For now, peace out, Girl Scouts. I’ll just be here, thinking of my future college days and hoping this dream becomes a reality very, very soon…


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