Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tailgate Time in the Livingroom and a Recipe for Turkey Nachos

We are a football family! We love watching our boys on the football field. We love watching college football on Saturday's. We love watching our favorite teams on Sunday's. We all have our own fantasy football teams. We especially love the Super Bowl. We are equal opportunity football fans. We love football so much we had to make rules about how much we're allowed to watch! So if you are parking your butt in front of a game, it better be a game you want to see! My husband makes a point of seeing every University of Michigan game that he can. He is a big fan. He should come with a warning label. So we thought it would be fun if we threw a maize and blue tailgate party for the first game of the season.

My daughter was dressed in her pink Michigan jersey first thing Saturday morning, The boys walked around humming "Hail to the Victors". Someone even dressed our golden retriever up for the game!

So, for some reason, we love Mexican food for football games. As a kid, we had enchiladas for Super Bowl six years in a row. Why? Because they were so good. And while we do not make Mexican food for every tailgate, nachos seem to show up a lot at our house. I do not usually spend the extra money to make nachos with blue corn chips, but since we wanted a blue and maize theme, why not?

This was not an empty bowl on our tailgate table. It is my super easy Mexican salade. Just take two cans of black beans, rinsed in a strainer, two cans of drained corn, a sprinkle of cumin, and enough of your favorite salsa to moisten the whole thing up. You can serve it chilled or room temp. It is always a big hit at our house.

We dressed up a pitcher of cold 7 Up with some frozen blueberries and frozen lemon slices as ice to fit into our blue and maize color scheme.

Dessert was a pile of Paula Deen's lemon bars and a few blueberry cheese cake bars. Anything with sugar is a hit with the kids and it went with the color theme!

So for our lovely nachos, we need a board of ingredients. You can use equal amounts of beef if you would prefer and you can use any tortilla chip you would like.

To start, you need to cook your turkey. Put it in a dry non stick pan over medium heat. Break up the turkey a bit with a wooden spoon. Then add your salt, pepper, oregano and cumin. Get those on the meat right away. The oregano and cumin only get better as they heat up and release lovely flavor. When the turkey is fully cooked, put it aside in a bowl.

Turkey does not have a lot of fat in it, so when you move the turkey to a bowl, you will be left with a tiny bit of fat in the bottom of your pan. That is perfect. Toss the onion and pepper into that same pan with a pinch of salt. You are not sweating these veggies so much as cooking them like a fajitas veggie. They are not cooked in fat and soggy when you get them in a restaurant. They are just amazing and we are kind of trying to recreate that here. When they are finished cooking add the turkey back into the pan along with the entire can of refried beans and 1/3 cup of water.

I lost my picture of the nacho mixture all mixed up so here is a close up of the mixture on the tortilla chips. It looked the exact same way in the pan, so I was hoping you might forgive me this one time for my mistake. Now after everything is mixed up and your refried have melted into the turkey and veggies, you can cover the mixture and set it aside until you are ready for it or you can keep going.

When you are ready to make nachos, put a layer of tortilla chips down on a cookie sheet.

Add a generous layer of your amazing nacho mixture.

Add a generous layer of cheese. I like to let a bit fall over the chips and onto the cookie sheet. Bake the nachos in a 350° oven for five to ten minutes depending on the temperature of your nacho mixture and how melted you like your cheese to be.

And what you get is...

Now all you have to do is add the toppings that you like. We used finely diced shallot, salsa, sour cream and guacamole, but you can do whatever you like here.

Recipe For Turkey Nachos


1 lb Ground Turkey
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Onion, Diced
1 Bell Pepper, Diced
1 16oz Can Refried Beans
1 lb Shredded Cheese
Tortilla Chips


1. Brown and crumble turkey in a non stick pan over medium heat with the cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook turkey completely and remove from pan.

2. Add onion and bell pepper to the pan and cook until veggies are slightly softened, about 7 minutes.

3. Add turkey back to the pan with veggies. Add can of refried beans and 1/3 cup water. Stir until beans are heated and everything is combined. You can add a bit more water if you want a thinner mixture.

4. Spread tortilla chips on a cookie sheet. Layer nacho meat and bean mixture over chips. Layer cheese on top and bake for five to seven minutes in a 350° oven. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

* Note: One batch of meat and bean mixture is the perfect amount for one bag of tortilla chips and one pound of cheese. So if you put half a bag of chips on the cookie sheet, use half your meat and half the cheese to make the nachos. Just rough estimations are fine. The eyeball measuring system is very important in my kitchen sometimes. I would say this recipe would feed four if you are making it as an entree for dinner and will feed 8 if it is being used as a appetizer or part of a tailgate party like we had. Also, this is a super easy recipe to double and triple, just make sure your pan is large enough to mix everything at the end.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe click here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back To School and a Snack Recipe

New shoes, new clothes, new schedules, new teachers, new subjects, and new school supplies are all part of the excitement of going back to school. I love how hard my kids seem to attack life. I love seeing their passion and intensity when something is important to them. Each of their personalities come out and shine in different ways.

All their excitement and hard work can work up an appetite! Sometimes a granola bar or a banana cuts it in the snack department and sometimes it doesn't! So for the days that the kids come home STARVING I try to serve them something a little more substantial. And since this is one of my favorite lunches, I usually have the ingredients on hand for this snack.

This is a fantastic little super snack or appetizer. I usually use a whole grain French bread, but for the kids I am using a white loaf of soft French bread. The cheese is super mild and contains protein and calcium. And the avocado is not only yummy but a great source of heart healthy omega three's and fiber! So serve this snack with a smile and confidence that you are doing something really good for your kids and yourself.

The board of ingredients is again simple things that will be transformed into something amazing with very little work.

Start with a 3/4 inch slice of bread. Pop it is the toaster and toast it on the highest setting you can get without burning your bread. You want crunchy toasted bread for this snack.

Drizzle a touch of extra virgin olive oil on the bread and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on the bread. At this point, you have got something really yummy, but we are not finished yet.

Add a thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese to the seasoned hot bread. It is not going to melt all the way and you don't want it to. You just want the cheese slightly warmed.

Avocados are so amazing. I love them. I really love them. Now you want to cut your avocado in half by running the knife along the middle of your avocado. See the picture below for a visual guide.

Twist the halves in opposite directions.

Then gently pull the avocado apart. This is a beautiful avocado. Sometimes when you bring them home from the grocery store they still need a bit of time to ripen. A ripe avocado should smell like an avocado and it should have the tiniest bit of give to it when you press gently on the skin.

Run your knife through the avocado to slice it while it is still in the tough skin. It is just easier to slice the fruit before you peel it. Trust me.

To peel the avocado, just run a spoon between the avocado flesh and the skin. Spin the spoon around a few times until everything separated.

Top your fresh mozzarella slices with a few avocado slices. Drizzle a tiny bit of fruity olive oil over the avocado. Finally the tiniest sprinkle of kosher salt finishes this snack.

Avocado Snack Recipe

1 Avocado, Sliced
4 Slices of Bread, Toasted
4 Slices of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over the toasted bread and season with salt and pepper.

2. Put a slice of cheese on each piece of toast.

3. Add three slices of avocado to each piece of toast. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

4. Makes 4 snacks. Enjoy.

***Note, I made a double batch and three of them never even made it to the plate!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Birthday Party Thank You Notes

I hope you are not getting sick of this theme yet! I promise this will be the last post that has anything to do with my daughter's birthday party. You'll have to throw your own party if you want to see more. And if you do, I would love to see your pictures!

I made Thank you notes for Alyssa to give to her friends after her party. I did not get pictures of the invitations or I would show you those too.

This is what I needed to make my cards.

The size of you card should be about an quarter of an inch smaller then the envelope. I am actually not using an envelope since she will just had each of her guests a card with a photo tucked inside. I am using a rectangular piece of brown card stock.

Fold your brown card in half. Now you will need a piece of white card stock that is one quarter inch smaller than the folded card. Let's just say my finished card was 4" X 6". My white insert should then measure 3.75 inches by 5.75 inches.

Tape the four corners of the white card stock.

Tape the white card stock to the inside of your folded card. I am using a light lining for the card so that my daughter can use a pencil to fill out her thank you notes.

Now we are going to work on the cover of the Thank You note.  I cut a small square of white card stock.  I am stamping the card stock on a piece of foam.  The foam helps make the stamped image come out clean and even.  Try it and see what you think of this technique.  


Add a few little flower stamps here and there to fill up the card stock square.  I also like to add a little extra color by running the edges of the card stock over the ink pad.  

Now attach the stamped art to the cover of the card.  I also added a few flower embellishments to the cover.  

Finally, a big ribbon finishes the whole thing off.