Kitchen Sink Nachos

Well, here it is.  Another black bean recipe.  I was recently sharing with my neighbor (who may or may not be reading this) what kinds of recipes I liked to post on rhymeswithsmile.  "Beans," I said.  "Oh, and desserts.  Beans and desserts."  So, in keeping with tradition, here you go.  Another way to use beans.

Kitchen Sink Nachos (because, well, they've got everything but the kitchen sink)

In a 9x13" glass baking dish, place a layer of tortilla chips.  (The more chips you use here, the more likely the nachos are to fall apart when you serve them up.  So maybe spread the chips 2-3 thick in the dish, and serve more chips with the finished product.)
Sprinkle 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese over chips.
Sprinkle 1/2 c. cooked rice and 1/2 c. cooked black beans over cheese.
Chop 1/2 small red onion (about 1/2 c.), 2 cloves garlic, 1 c. fresh spinach, 1/2 sweet red or orange pepper, and 1 small tomato.  Layer in the dish.  Throw some meat on there if you have any you want to use.
If you're feeling adventurous, layer these sweet potatoes on top.
Top it all with more cheese (to your liking) and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Cut into servings (dare I say it?  This usually serves the two of us dinner one night, with one lucky person getting leftovers for lunch the next day.  Eek.).  Top with sour cream and chopped avocado.  Serve with more chips, if desired.

Get rid of any preconceived notions of what "nachos" means ... these are as far from the unidentifiable-meat-chili-and-fluorescent-cheese-sauce nachos as you can get.  And the best part - you can layer whatever you want to in there.  We've scrambled eggs, used pork barbecue, chopped up chicken, and substituted lentils for black beans.  It's a pretty forgiving and flexible recipe.  Which is how I prefer my kitchen experiences ...


ten things thursday

OK, so I'm that person who likes lists.  I like to list the things I want to do, the plants I want to grow, the people I need to write, and on and on.  I saw a list on my friend (Cindi's) blog the other day, and started to think - why not make a list on my blog?  So, here goes.  I am sharing ten foods that I absolutely cannot live without in my kitchen.  Ready?  Here they are, in no particular order:

1. cumin: the spice of the gods (and Mexico).
2. olive oil
3. eggs
4. canned tomatoes - crushed, whole, Italian, petite diced with jalapenos ... you name it ...
5. rice
6. black beans
7. chili powder
8. onions
9. oats
10. ice cream (c'mon.  you knew that one was coming)


Asian Fusion Panna Cotta East Meets West Ginger Orange Tiger Celebration.

Ginger Panna Cotta with Mandarin Orange

(Cat "Speedy Gonzales" with the knife, prepping the ginger)

For Panna Cotta:

1 quart heavy cream (or 2 c. heavy cream + 2 c. half and half, for a less rich dessert)
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger, warmed in skillet
2 packets of powdered gelatin (4 1/2 tsp), sprinkled over 6 Tbsp. cold water (let rest 5 minutes)
16 juice glasses, shot glasses, or small glasses of some sort

Heat cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan (do not boil).  When steaming, remove from heat and add the warmed ginger (must be warmed, otherwise it interferes with the gelatin).  Whisk in the gelatin.  Divide evenly between 16 glasses (we tilted our glasses and set them in egg cartons, so the panna cotta would set diagonally).  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

("Fast Hands" Cat scraping ginger skillet into the steaming panna cotta)

(Oh my goodness.  Whisking the gelatin into the steamed milk - again, Cat McSpeederston at work)
(notice the tongue sticking out.  It's a necessity if the panna cotta is going to come out right)
For Mandarin Orange Sauce:

2 (11-oz) cans mandarin oranges, drained (reserve juice)
1 Tbsp. sugar

Puree oranges in small food processor or blender.  Stir in sugar.  Set aside 1/3 c. of the puree and refrigerate it (see below) and place the rest in a small skillet over medium-low heat (if you use the same skillet you warmed the ginger in, you get a nice result).  In a separate bowl, mix 1 Tbsp. corn starch with 2 Tbsp. cold water until smooth.  Add to the saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

(just a bit of small-blender action with the can of mandarin oranges)

For Mandarin Mousse:

2 c. heavy whipping cream
reserved Mandarin Orange puree

Beat whipping cream at high speed in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, until frothy.  Add 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.  Fold in the reserved Mandarin Orange puree until well incorporated.

mandarin orange segments and chocolate shavings to garnish
Layer in a small glass in this order:
Panna Cotta (chill for 2 hours or until set before layering the rest on top)

Mandarin Orange Sauce
Mandarin Mousse
orange segment and chocolate shavings to garnish
Asian Fusion Panna Cotta East Meets West Ginger Orange Tiger Celebration is what happened when my best childhood friend Cat came to visit during the Chinese New Year weekend.  We took it upon ourselves to prepare a dessert worthy of such a momentous holiday.  We nixed our first idea of fortune cookies when we saw that speed, dexterity, and skill were required to get the cookies off the pan, fortune inserted, and folded in the mere 10 seconds before they cooled.  We're good, but not that good. 
So we settled on panna cotta.  Panna cotta is an Italian dessert that means "milk pudding," and it turned out to be perfect and light.  The ginger and mandarin flavors were little nods to Chinese cuisine.  We did orange sauce for the Year of the Tiger, and the chocolate shavings on top just because we needed chocolate in there.  The dessert seems complicated, but it's not.  It's just one of those that uses every spatula and prep bowl you have.
One more thing about Asian Fusion Panna Cotta East Meets West Ginger Orange Tiger Celebration: my friend Cat is awesome.  We are each other's oldest friends.  We met at 6 months of age in North Carolina, grew up across the street from each other in West Africa, roomed together for one year of boarding school (in West Africa, again), saw each other a few times in college in Georgia, North Carolina, or South Carolina, and met up last summer in Spain.  Her visit this weekend marked the last time I'll see her on this side of the ocean for a while (she's moving to Central Europe on Thursday).  That's OK though - we've stuck with each other this long.  No chance that the Czech Republic is going to split us.


spring break

RWQ is going to take a break for the spring.

I'm going to keep things going over at Stitching Hope - I've started a blog there and will be updating shop information and projects there.  

I'll be back, though!  Pretend that I'm just moving to Florida for the winter and will be back with the sunshine in May.


Stitching Hope Shop

The Stitching Hope shop is opening ... soon!

Right now I am looking for donations of items to sell.  All the proceeds from the sales will go to Heifer International's ongoing recovery projects in Haiti.

I ... am ... so ... excited!

Check out the (soon to open) shop at http://stitchinghope.weebly.com and TELL YOUR FRIENDS!



I've been working on this baby boy quilt and finally finished it!  It features a really cute turtle fabric that I had picked up a while ago, some stripes that I love, and fun white-on-orange polka dots.  This quilt pattern I used is a SUPER easy one, and it was the first quilt pattern I ever learned.  The backing is a soft blue flannel.

Sorry, but for some reason I can't get it to rotate.  So stand on your head and check it out.

Close up of a happy turtle, anyone?

This is a matching burp cloth to go with the blanket.  It measures about 17" x 12" and is made of the same soft blue flannel from the quilt back.  This is the first time I've tried a blanket and burp cloth set and I'm really pleased with how they turned out!

Photos taken indoors at night ... I'm learning my lesson.  I don't like the yellowish tint to everything!