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A fast, fabulous cold-weather snack (or supper). January 9, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. Here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA, it can get pretty darn cold in the winter. (And the polar vortex certainly hasn’t helped this year!) Between the frigid weather and the early nightfall, we enjoy cheering ourselves up and warming our mental world with the occasional movie night. And since we tend to eat supper quite late, if we start our movie night early, we find a snack is in order—a nice, hot snack for a dark, frigid night.

Popcorn might spring to mind, but I confess, I don’t approve of it. We do have an air-popper, so we’re not popping it in oil. But OFB won’t eat the air-popped corn without a vat of melted butter, which sort of defeats the purpose, and I’ll be the first to agree that dry-popped, unbuttered popcorn sticks in the throat and chokes you. Not my idea of a treat!

Instead, I make a super-fast, simple tortilla chip bake, sort of stripped-down nachos. I like to use the super-thin, crispy Tostitos Cantina Chips for this, but any white tortilla chip will do. To make your nachos, put a layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof baking pan. Cover with a layer of shredded white sharp Cheddar cheese. Thinly slice a plump jalapeno pepper and sprinkle the slices over the cheese. Slice three scallions (green onions) and spread them over the cheese and jalapeno slices. Repeat with the chips, cheese, jalapenos, and scallions. Bake in the oven at 250 degrees F. until the cheese is melted and the chips are hot.

That’s it! Use a spatula to serve up each portion, sit back, and enjoy! If hot peppers aren’t your thing (or your kids’), you can substitute the much-milder poblano peppers or even diced red, yellow, or orange bell peppers. You can also top the nachos with fresh hot salsa, homemade or from the produce section of your grocery.

Okay, so swapping out butter for cheese and adding hot peppers, scallions, and salsa makes this a little healthier than a bowl of nutrient-free, calorie-laden popcorn. But you can crank the health factor way up by converting these nachos into a meal.

How? Easy. Just take a can or two of vegetarian refried beans and heat them up at the same time you’re heating your chips. (I confess, my favorite is Taco Bell’s brand, and mind you, it’s the only Taco Bell product I’ve ever tried, but the other brands are fine as well.) Despite that “refried” name in the label, you won’t find any fat in the ingredients list, just beans and spices. Strange but true!

While the beans and chips are heating up, assemble your toppings: In addition to fresh and jarred salsa, put out lots of shredded lettuce (you can now get both shredded iceberg and shredded romaine, and I like to heap on plenty of both; you could shred your own kale for even more nutrients), sliced olives, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, more sliced jalapenos for chileheads, shredded queso fresco, diced tomato and bell pepper, even an undressed bagged coleslaw mix of shredded cabbage, carrots, and red cabbage. And, of course, more minced scallions, diced sweet onion (such as Vidalia or WallaWalla). Not to mention an assortment of hot sauces, including Tabasco Chipotle and Pickapeppa.

The amount of veggies you mound on your chips will certainly determine how healthy your supper is. But whatever you choose, your hot, delicious snack/supper will be the perfect accompaniment to winter movie watching!

‘Til next time,

Silence

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