Super Yummy Nachos with Avocado and Refried Beans

Hey you guys!  It’s lunchtime, at least here on the East Coast, and since I’m taking a break from writing about Latin America in the 1800’s anyway, I might as well share my nachos with y’all.

Some of you may know about my troubles with refried beans.  Usually I get impatient and don’t soak or cook them nearly long enough, and they end up coming out rather al dente, and not mashing properly.  This weekend I actually cooked them right.  Friday night, after dinner, I put a cup of dry beans in a pot with a bunch of water (roughly 3) cups, and went to bed.

Saturday morning, I drained and rinsed the beans, recovered them in cold water, and brought to a boil before reducing to a simmer, partially covered.  For a good two hours.  And then I shut the heat off, but let them sit on the burner, still kinda covered, all afternoon while I was out and about.  Saturday night, I went through the refrito process, ie. chop some garlic, saute in oil (I used olive oil), add the beans and their water, mash with a masher, and cook down.  Except they didn’t.  The freakin’ beans still didn’t mash.  I brought out my immersion blender to get the job done, and let them thicken up a little bit more.

And they were delicious.  I’m still baffled by my beans.  They really shouldn’t be so hard to get right.  I’m not even posting a recipe to go along with them, because there’s a bunch online, and you’ll probably make them better than I can, with the bad bean luck I’ve been having.  I do have pictures though, which I’m happy to share.  Once you have your refried beans, preheat your oven to 400ºF.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Or not, if you love scrubbing cookie sheets clean.  Put your tortilla chips on the cookie sheet.  I like to keep mine somewhat close together so some chips are full of topping and crunchy, and others are more gooey, but it’s up to you.  The more spread out your chips are, the crunchier they will be.  Slice up some cheddar cheese (or your cheese of choice, I just think nachos need cheddar), or if you’re using shredded cheese, you can skip this step.  Spoon some refried beans over the chips, and top with cheese.  Toast in the oven.  They shouldn’t take that long, maybe 10 minutes.  Longer if you want them more done, but watch them carefully so you don’t end up with charred chips.  When they come out, top with mashed avocado, and enjoy 🙂

I’m thinking these might be dinner again tonight.  What are y’all having for dinner?




Avocado Pesto Linguini with Shrimp and Mushrooms

So last night’s dinner.  So good.  Like really.  I was super full from all of the snacking on mushrooms I did while I was cooking {wow, just realized how that sounded.  Actual mushrooms.  Not ‘shrooms.  Plus, don’t ‘shrooms make people hungry instead of full?  I’m not sure.  Either way, I was snacking on the mushrooms I was cooking, and got full.}, but still found a way to forge ahead and finish my bowl.

My original dinner plan was to make avocado pesto, in keeping with trying to have more vegan meals.  I found this recipe, which looked pretty cool and simple enough.  And then I went to spin class, which I totally rocked out like #cockinasock, and suddenly avocado pesto pasta just didn’t sound like enough.  I stopped at the store on my way home, and picked up some mushrooms on sale {also, more blackberries.  I’m trying, you guys.  Trying to change my berry-hating ways.  It’s an uphill battle.}  Then I wondered around like, what goes with pasta and pesto?  Meat’s out, so, fish?  The salmon was gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous but way too huge.  The smallest piece was almost a pound, and I just wanted to eat some fish, not turn into one.  I grabbed some shrimp instead, already deveined, which was even better.  Around the time I went looking for the pine nuts, I gave up and realized I had some regular pesto in my freezer and decided to make-do with that.

Back home post-shower, I cleaned my mushrooms and cut them into chunks before sauteeing them.  I took my pesto out of the freezer, and mashed up my avocado.  I added the pesto to the avocado, along with a tiny bit more olive oil (a tablespoon or so).  I added the shrimp to the mushrooms, shells on except for the first two that I shelled before I realized they should be cooked with the shells on, and I cooked my pasta.

It was quite good.  The original recipe would have been vegetarian and vegan, with the addition of the pesto and the shrimp, not so much.  I didn’t add any extra cheese though, besides what was already in the pesto, and I’m proud of myself for that.  With the creaminess of the avocado, it really didn’t need anything else.

Avocado Pesto w/ shrimp and mushrooms

  • 1 lb linguini
  • 1 avocado
  • half a container store bought pesto (about 2 ounces)
  • olive oil
  • shrimp
  • 2 ten ounce packages of mushrooms

Clean, slice if desired, and saute mushrooms.  Rinse off and saute shrimp.  Cook pasta.  Mash avocado with fork.  Blend with pesto.  Add oil as needed.  Toss with pasta.  Garnish with mushrooms and shrimp.  Enjoy 🙂





{My pot is clearly too small for a pound of pasta, but I didn’t want to get the big stockpot down from the high shelf.}





{Throw a linguino (that’s what I’m calling the singular of linguini) on the wall/cabinet to see if it’s done.  If it sticks you’re good to go!}



Eggs in a Hat/Hole/Basket

Hey you guys!  This week, I keep writing blog posts but not finishing them, and not posting them, so I wanted to get this one out before it gets stuck.  It will be short, and later I can write all about the fabulous dinner I made last night, when I have more work done for school.

Breakfast today was Eggs in a Hat/Hole/Basket/whatever you’ve grown up calling it, in afghan bread.  It comes in sheets that are maybe 2 feet long by 10 inches wide.  Delicious.  I made it to Marche Lobo for the first time in a while yesterday, and I’d forgotten how delightfully ethnic it is.  It reminded me of one of my favorite places to shop at home, but on a much smaller scale.  It also makes me think of the only bar in Lanford in Roseanne, the Lobo Lounge.  And every time I think of that, even writing this, it makes me giggle.  Of course, this Lobo, smushed between a Spanish Paella place and what honestly looks to be, from the outside at least, a crap store in the McGill Ghetto has much less room than my market back in Jersey.  There’s no whole pigs for sale, no butcher, and everything is on a much smaller scale.  Delightfully charming anyway 🙂

I picked up some tahini, which I was considering writing about for New Food Friday.  What do you think?  Should I try a new food every week and write about it?  (It was delicious, by the way.)  I also grabbed some organic salsa, and the afghan bread.  Yummmmmy!  I forgot the organic chocolate bars, and was going to pick some up after spin, but I forgot.  It was also a balmy 37 degrees and raining by then, and I was wearing shorts, so I was anxious to get back home.

Last night I had some tahini and bread together, but this morning I used the bread to make my eggs in a hat.  I used the free range eggs that I had gotten last week at Jean Talon, and it was delicious.  It’s super easy to make, too.  Just use an upside down glass to make a hole in your bread, melt some butter in your pan, and fry your eggs in the hole.  Everything gets nice and buttery, especially the “hats”.  If you’re feeling really indulgent, some melted cheese on top is a great way to punch this recipe up.  I prefer a nice cheddar, but today I skipped it.

How’s your weekend going?  Any great brunches by you?  Here are pictures of my breakfast/brunch.  Hasta luego!





Super-Easy Very Berry Cobbler

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before on here, but I’m not a berry person.  It’s only recently that I convinced myself that raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries won’t kill me.  I still stay far away from blueberries – they definitely go squish when you eat them, and ain’t nobody got time fo that.  Last week berries were on sale at the store so I picked up a thing of blackberries and a thing of raspberries.  I was beginning to get concerned that I would actually have to eat them in their natural state when, snuggled up and watching the Pioneer Woman the other day, I realized I could turn them into a cobbler.  I definitely could have thrown the berries in the freezer and forgotten about them for a bit longer, but I thought the mature thing to do would be to make something edible.  Covered in ice cream or whipped cream, I might be able to fool myself into eating them.

The recipe I used was super easy.  You can click here for it.  It’s definitely not the most healthy – people who complain about the butter Paula Deen uses have clearly never seen the Pioneer Woman cook.  I cut the butter back a bit – from 1/2 a cup to about a 1/3 of a cup, and my batter was still swimming in butter.  I ended up adding uncooked oats to try and soak up some of the butter, but it’s definitely still moist and decadent.

Here’s the recipe as I made it:

  • 1 cup self-rising flour {if you don’t have self rising, it’s really easy to make; just add 1tsp+1/2tsp baking soda and 1/2tsp salt}
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk (I used almond unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 7 tablespoons (not the measure but the soup spooned size of silverware, probably between a 1/4 and a 1/2 a cup) organic uncooked oats.
  • a generous cup of berries – half blackberries and half raspberries.  The recipe called for twice as many, but I was working with what I had in house.

You mix the flour, sugar and milk together before whisking in your melted butter.  {I find that 30 seconds in the microwave is just about the perfect time for melting butter – anything less than that and you still have chunks; anything more and you really have to be careful that it doesn’t explode everywhere.}  After the butter, I added my oats.  Grease your pan – I used a smallish stoneware oval dish, maybe 10 inches by 7 at the widest part.  Dump the batter in the greased dish.  Sprinkle the berries in.  Then sprinkle some sugar on top to caramelize.  I only used a teaspoon – the 1/4 cup that it calls for seemed absurd.  You’re supposed to bake at 350 for an hour.  I baked it for an hour and fifteen minutes, then shut the oven off and left it inside because I had to go out and it still didn’t look done.  When I came home, I put the oven back on for about 20 minutes because it still didn’t look done.

I let it cool overnight and just cut some off to taste.  Maybe it’s too buttery for breakfast (although I did just have leftover sushi for breakfast, which was delicious), or maybe it’s too summery for a snowy end of March.  I think I’ll bring it to a thing I’m going to tonight and see what other people think.  I might be berry biased.  What did you have for breakfast today?  Anything crazy like sushi, or something more normal?

Here are some berry cobbler pictures.  You can see it step by step.  The last picture is the cobbler flipped over after it was back in the oven, so you can see how golden it got on the bottom.  Let me know if you try it what you think.  I’m thinking it might be a dish that other people like even if it’s not my fave yet.










Lentils Reinvented

Happy Tuesday everyone!

It’s finally warmed up to the twenties here, and it’s super sunny out, which is absolutely glorious.  We’re set to miss the crazy Nor’Easter that’s supposed to hit the East Coast.  I’m not one of those people that complain about the weather – I’m a strong believer in if you hate the winter that much, you should move South and stop complaining to me about it.  I think each season is beautiful in it’s own way, and I’m happy to take what Mother Nature wants to send, but I’m also thrilled by the new-found sun, and if Montreal is supposed to warm up this weekend instead of get snowed in again, I’m okay with that too.

While it’s still a bit chilly out, it’s nice to spend time cooking and coming up with new recipes.  On Sunday I brought back lentils with salmon and roasted veggies, which was delicious.  Since I like to cook in big batches, I usually end up having leftovers that I need to reinvent.  Last night for dinner, I was able to take the leftover lentils and roasted veggies (the salmon was long gone), and serve it over pasta.  Today for lunch, I took the leftover lentils and veggies and pasta and served it with some yogurt on top, which gave it a creamier texture.  I don’t always make it all the way through the leftovers before it’s time to toss them, but by reinventing the recipes even bit by bit, it helps to mix things up and make them more appetizing.  Do you cook in big batches or individual portions?