Friday, December 31, 2010

The Art of the Nacho

To nacho, I nacho, she nachos, we nacho, we are “nacho”ing.  We all nacho.  We love to nacho.  I call it the “art of the nacho” and it is a beautiful thing.  I know what you are thinking “Seriously Sara?  It is just chips and cheese on a plate”.  Sure that is all fine and good, and in its own right absolutely delicious, but these are serious nacho times and sometimes we are desperate for serious nacho measures.  Enter ground turkey……..

Yes I said ground turkey.  To most ground turkey can be bland and flavorless but with some special additions and a little love, ground turkey can go from boring to beautiful in mere minutes.  This is my secret recipe that I use for my burritos, my tacos, my enchiladas, and my nachos.  Shhhh don’t tell anyone, no one will ever know they are eating turkey.

The Ultimate Nacho…..


1 pound frozen ground turkey, thawed
2 8 ounce blocks of cheese, grated, I use Colby jack and Cheddar jack
1 packet of taco seasoning
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp salt
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce.  (I just add until it looks like the right color)
El Matador tortilla chips, (you can use what ever chip you would like, you just need to find sturdy ones.
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped avocado
Sour cream
5 hungry people

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Line a large sheet pan with foil                                  
  2. Tumble chips onto pan so there are plenty of surfaces for the cheese to cover.
  3. Sprinkle a good portion of the cheese onto the chips.  Save some of the cheese because there will be layers.
  4. Start browning the turkey meat in a non-stick skillet
  5. Once turkey is browned, or cooked through add enough water to cover the meat.
  6. This is the step you can vary if you would like.  Add the seasonings.  If you like it a little bit spicier, add more chili powder or a pinch of dried chili flakes would work nice as well.
  7. Stir until combined
  8. Simmer the mixture until the liquid is almost evaporated and a nice sauce has formed around the meat.  This should take about 20 minutes.
  9. Immediately spread the meat on the chips that have been waiting patiently.
  10. Sprinkle for cheese on top
  11. Add more chips
  12. Add more cheese
  13. Place in your oven for 6 to 8 minutes.  Don’t leave the kitchen!  Watch the cheese melt and turn oooey and gooey. 
  14. Take out of the oven and place on the table.  Call the people to the table.  They won’t be very far.  Most likely they will be crowding the kitchen begging you to move faster.
  15. Add your toppings and devour.      

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake and a New Year!

First of all, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and many blessings for the upcoming New Year.  Thank you for your continued support and I will continue to do my best to make the New Year even sweeter!  I know I have been on a kick with desserts, but that is the only thing I really have time to take pictures of right now.  Dinner has been getting things on the table as fast as I can, and before I realize it “Oops!  I forgot to get the camera!”   One of my New Year’s resolutions is to take life at a more leisurely pace and enjoy the smells that come from my kitchen along the way.

I do have one fantastic announcement!  I am going to culinary school!  I will be starting classes towards the middle of the year and I hope to take you along with me.  The school requires that some general education course be taken and once I get those under my belt the exciting classes will start.  I am nervous and terrified and excited and anxious at the same time!  I haven’t decided yet if I want to embark on a baking and pastry degree or a culinary degree… both will benefit me, but which one am I more interested in?  Did I mention how excited I am?!!!!!!

The sister's mouth is big enough for the whole thing.  Hehe
Today’s creation, I spent one month searching for.   My mother, sister, and grandmother all took part in a beautiful Christmas celebration at church.  It is annual celebrations called Christmas by Candlelight and it is an opportunity for the women and church to showcase their finest dishes and creativity.  My family has been working on our table arrangements for six months and after all the arranging and measuring the table was a work of art, except for the dessert.  I hadn’t figured that out yet.

It had to be centerpiece worthy.  It had to elegant.  It had to match the table.  It had to be out of this world delicious.  Basically it had to be perfect.  So I buried myself in my books, fussed and fretted over every detail and made myself, my mother, sister and grandmother all crazy because I couldn’t come up with anything.  Seriously, I think they almost kicked me out of the job.  I couldn’t decide on the flavor, anything chocolate would mess with the white theme of the table.  I didn’t want to do anything with nuts, just in cases there was a nut allergy and it needed to be blog worthy.  I gave up on my cookbooks and started looking to the internet for pictures of fancy desserts.  I focused on white desserts, things with sparkle, things that would match the table.  Low and behold after hours of looking, I came across a white chocolate peppermint cheesecake.

It had everything I was looking for!  Elegance, sparkle and the taste of Christmas!  Of course white chocolate, how come I didn’t think of that sooner!  So the baking commenced!  It was creamy, light, and fluffy and it had a refreshing hint of peppermint.  Everything was perfect, except for the fact that it turned pink. 

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake

     8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
     2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
     ½ cup butter, melted
      2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
      1 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
      1 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
      ¾ cups sugar
       ¼ teaspoon salt
       ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  3 eggs
¾ cups finely crushed peppermint candies or candy canes

  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  1. In a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water (double boiler) gently melt the chopped white chocolate until smooth.
  2. Mix the melted butter and the crushed graham crackers and press into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form cake pan.
  3. Bake crust for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar, salt with an electric mixer until combined.
  5. Beat in white chocolate and peppermint
  6. Beat in eggs, one at a time until combined.
  7. Pour batter onto crust.  It should come up to the top of the pan. 
I baked the cheesecake in a water bath to prohibit any cracking on top.  I put the cheesecake in my large roasting pan and filled with water to halfway up the sides of the cheesecake.  Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and until there is a one inch visible ring of doneness.  Let cheesecake cool in pan for half-an-hour and use a knife to run around the pan and the cheesecake.  Gently remove sides of pan and let cheesecake cook completely before storing in the refrigerator for 8 hours.  The cake will set more as it chills. 

For the decoration, I covered the cake with the rest of the white baking chocolate I had.  I melted it and painted the cake.  I needed to hide the pink.  It formed a delicious crust and crunch.  I then sprinkled the cake with silver and clear sprinkles.  It was a success.