You Can Never Go Wrong with Nachos

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I am good for whipping up some incredible nachos on the fly. I usually follow my golden rule: use what you have! Sometimes I actually plan and grocery shop with the express intention of making some bomb ass nachos.

Rules of Thumb

  • Spread it wide and low! (No towers of chips over here)
  • Sheet pans, cookout disposable pan, oven safe pan, cast iron skillet, etc.
  • Generous layers
  • CHEESE
  • Condiments (pico, guac, sour cream, cilantro, etc.)

I usually opt for a full sheet pan if I’m sharing but if I’m making it just for me then I’d opt for a cast iron skillet or oven safe pan.

Place aluminum foil in the pain and spread out a good layer of chips.

I always prep everything at once because it makes assembling much easier.

There is no recipe here but I’m going to outline a couple of things.

 

Take Care of Your Bird

When I need some quick and tasty chicken to top nachos, or pizza or whatever, I tend to follow the same steps.

  • I slice my chicken breasts to be 1/2-1″ thick. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Heat your skillet to medium high. Your cast iron should be smoking (I recommend cast iron).
  • Season the chicken to your liking. For this purpose? I’d use kosher salt, coarse pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, a little sazon, cumin, smoked paprika and finish with lime juice. Use what you like. Gently pat the seasoning into the chicken.
  • Use your preferred oil (that can withstand the heat). Add a couple of teaspoons, not a lot of oil. You’re not frying this.
  • Add your chicken to the skillet. You should hear that musical SSSSSSSS immediately. LEAVE IT ALONE. Let it cook unbothered. Because you cut them so thin, you should be able to see the white begin to encroach upon the pink chicken facing you. Around 4-6 minutes. Peak under to check on that Maillard reaction. Your chicken should be pretty brown. If it isn’t, no worries. Flip the chicken and let the other side cook, unbothered. After a few minutes, if your chicken is brown enough for your liking then you can flip it around the pan for a couple of minutes. Don’t do this too long, you don’t want a dry bird. (I have never written out how I get such juicy, yummy chicken breasts using this method. If something doesn’t make sense when you try this, don’t hesitate to message me on IG or using the contact form on the site).
  • Let the chicken rest on your cutting board. Ain’t no cutting to check or to taste. If you wanted to taste you should have cooked a small piece before cooking the whole breasts! (Pro-tip, by the way).

 

While the chicken is resting, start chopping up and preparing the fixins. My personal go-to’s are a LOT of shredded cheese, fresh pico, guacamole, black beans, chopped jalapenos (fresh or pickled, or both!), cilantro, lime juice and zest, red onion, sometimes lime and cilantro rice, corn. What I use is generally determined by what I have, unless it’s a planned nacho night.

If I’m using pork, I use a very similar method. If I use steak, I sous vide first then season and sear. I use chicken 97% of the time, though.

Once everything is ready to go, slice your chicken. Chop, if desired.

Time to Stack

  • Chips
  • Cheese
  • Beans
  • Chicken
  • Corn
  • Jalapenos

Scoonch your chips around to get the cheese and fixins under the chip too. You don’t want everything just sitting on top and a bunch of naked ass chips on the bottom. Spread a bit of cheese on top the finish, if you want.

Bake on 450 until the cheese is all melty.

Top with pico, guac, sour cream, or anything that shouldn’t necessarily be ‘hot’.

I’ve included pictures of my various forays into nachos and tacos. I use the same methods and rules more or less.

 

Happy munching!

 

 

 

Jerk Chicken and Spicy Beef Patties

I did these at the same time. I’m just going to jot down what I recall doing. Follow the techniques, use what you got, use your own spice combos and TASTE TASTE TASTE.

Both dishes started with chopped garlic, red onion, jalapeno and scallions.

I seasoned my chicken breast with just a little salt, pepper, garlic and cumin. I wanted the chicken to taste good on its own. I didn’t want to rely on the sauce.

The ground beef was not seasoned until it was cooked through.

I seared one side of the chicken and then flipped it.

The chicken was then seasoned with some pepper and all spice. I added a tbsp of Grace jerk seasoning, scotch bonnet sauce and Worcestershire sauce. I allowed this to ‘braise’ until the sauce reduced some.

I chopped the chicken and added it back to the pan. I added a bit of water, some scallions and then stirred to combine.

Once the beef was cooked through it was mashed to break down the meat into smaller pieces.

I used spices like curry, cumin, ginger, all spice, garlic, onion and clove. I used a bit of Worcestershire and fish sauce.

I used water to temper the flavors and the moisture lever. Use salt last, you don’t want a salty dish.

Allow these filling to chill.

Preheat oven to 420

To assemble the patties:

Ensure that your filling is cool and not too watery

Take a disc and roll it out to create a larger patty discSpoon the filling onto the disc, do not over fill

Fold over and seal using your fingers and then a fork

(If you want to freeze these for later, this is when you want to do it.)

Bake until patties are crispy and golden brown.

Allow to cool before eating.

 

© 2019 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Beef Patty Pastry Dough

Ingredients:

Dough:

3C AP four

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp jamaican curry powder

2 sticks of unsalted butter, frozen and cut into tabs

3/4C cold water

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 egg, lightly whisked

KEEP EVERYTHING COLD. STICK IT IN THE FREEZER. KEEP EVERYTHING COLD!

  1. In your food processor, pulse together the butter, flour, salt and curry powder
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, water and vinegar
  3. Slowly add the mixture to the food processor
  4. Pulse until the dough forms a ball
  5. Quickly dump the dough onto plastic wrap, wrap it up and stick it in the fridge (1 hr) or freezer (30-45m).

Now here is where it got fun. I had so much energy to transfer that I just took every technique I’ve ever used to try to get that flakey, buttery pastry that I love. I thought I was doing way too much BUT it came out so perfectly. The best I’ve ever made. Flour is your friend. So is the freezer. Do not let your dough get warm. Do not let your dough get soft. Do not let your butter melt. You want to see those big butter chunks. They’re responsible for those flakey layers we melt. When in doubt, stick it in the freezer! 

Prepare your work area with lots of flour. You want it everywhere. I spread flour all over a cookie sheet. One for prep and one for baking the actual beef patty.

I cut my dough into thirds so that I could keep some cool while I worked on the other.

Place one disc on a floured surface and press out into a rectangular shape

Roll it out until you have a long rectangle

Fold like an envelope

Roll it out again

Fold it again into an envelope then fold it on top of itself, so its like a cube?

I know it sounds like a lot but that’s because we’re not following rules anymore. We want flakes! We want flakes!

Press this down and roll it out again

Fold it up the ‘long way’ and roll it up

Keep chilled until it’s time to use it.

Freeze your scraps and any other dough.

Take one ‘roll’ out and roll it out until it’s like 1/4-/1/8 inch thick

Use a round dish to cut your shape

Keep everything floured, freeze discs as your work.

Repeat until you’ve used up your dough.

 

I used this dough to cook Jerk Chicken Patties and Spicy Beef Patties.

Jerk Chicken Plantain Patties

Ingredients:

 

Plantain Dough

Flour

 

2 chicken breasts

Seasoning (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, smoked paprika)

 

½ head of a small green cabbage

1 small red onion

1 small sweet onion

1 serrano pepper

1 red jalapeno pepper

 

1-2 tbsp Grace Jerk Seasoning

Low-sodium Chicken Broth

2-3 tbsp brown sugar

Squeeze lime juice

1 tbsp butter

 

½ cup black beans

1 egg for egg wash

(Yields about 20 medium sized patties)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 420
  2. Butterfly and season chicken breasts (or boneless skinless thighs)
  3. Heat cast iron (or heavy bottom) skillet on medium-medium high, sear chicken on both sides, cook mostly through
  4. Remove from heat
  5. Deglaze pan with ½ cup chicken broth

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  1. Dice onions, slice cabbage, chop peppers, chop cilantro
  2. Set 2 tbsp of red onion to the side
  3. Sautee remaining peppers and onions until softened, season lightly with s&pplantain8
  4. Remove a tbsp of cooked onions and peppers and put in a small bowl
  5. Add cabbage to peppers and onions, add reserved red onion and toss together

 

  1. In the small bowl, mash beans together with the onion and pepper, season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime juiceplantain11

 

  1. Set chicken to the side

 

  1. Bring the deglazed pan to a boil, add jerk seasoning, squeeze of lime juice, butter and brown sugar

 

  1. Stir and taste, adjust seasoning if necessary (I added additional clove to pump up the jerk)

 

  1. Chop chicken and add to the jerk sauce, sprinkle a little corn starch and stir, sauce should thicken

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  1. Toss with cabbage mixture and set aside to cool

 

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  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment
  2. Flour surface and roll out plantain dough to about 1/8-1/4”
  3. Using a round container (I used the small soup container from Chinese take out)
  4. Place discs on parchment
  5. Assemble:
    1. Flour surface
    1. Gently elongate disc using rolling pin/tool
    1. Black bean mixture, shredded cheese, chicken and cabbage
    1. Fold shut and press to secure
    1. Gently crimp using a fork
    1. Place complete patties on second lined baking sheetplantain21plantain23plantain24plantain26plantain27
  6. Brush finished patties with egg washplantain28plantain29plantain30plantain31
  7. You can freeze on baking sheet then store in a freezer bag
    • Bake from frozen at 400 on lined baking sheet
  8. If serving right away, bake at 420 until golden brown, edges will be crispy
  9. Store in the fridge in an airtight containerplantain32plantain33plantain34plantain35plantain36

 

 

 

 

© 2019 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Gorgonzola Chicken Pizza with Shaved Brussel Sprouts and Sun-dried Tomatoes

I was craving pizza and I knew it was an activity that my kid would enjoy. So, I grabbed a bunch of ingredients and surprised him after his summer program. He made a pepperoni pizza. I made a pizza topped with chopped chicken, shredded Brussel sprouts, gorgonzola, sun-dried tomatoes and a balsamic reduction. It is SO good.

piz15piz14

I contemplated buying pizza dough but I wound up making the dough as I usually do. I amped it up by seasoning the dough with garlic and herbs. A nice béchamel serves as the perfect anchor for the cheese and toppings.

 

Pizza Dough:

 

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 2 packets of yeast (I use Hodgson Mill Fast Rise Yeast)
  • 1 ½ c warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ olive oil

Pizza:

For a medium (thick) white sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic and Italian herbs

 

Toppings:

  • 2-4 shaved Brussel sprouts (I use a mandolin slicer)
  • 4-6 sliced grape tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 chicken thighs, sautéed and chopped
  • Generous handful (to taste) mozzarella
  • Handful (to taste) italian blend cheese
  • 1/4c to 1/2c of gorgonzola
  • Balsamic
  • Olive oil to coat the crust

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare your dough
  2. Proof your yeast with the warm water
  3. Add the seasonings and oilpiz
  4. Slowly add the flour
  5. The dough will be a little sticky but your fingers should be mostly clean to the touch
  6. Knead once or twice then add to a greased bowl and top with a greased plastic wrappiz2
  7. Allow to rise for about an hourpiz4
  8. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F
  9. Punch it down and knead once or twice
  10. You can use it all or divide, the recipe yields about 2lbs of dough (I used half for my pizza and half for my son’s)
  11. Roll out your dough and spread it in an ungreased cast iron skillet, pizza stone or cast iron griddle
  12. Use a fork to puncture the center of the dough, leave at least ½” space for your “crust”piz3
  13. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the crust starts to rise then remove

 

For pizza:

  1. Slice your chicken and cook it on high heat, season with salt and pepper
  2. Remove from heat to rest
  3. Slice your Brussel sprouts, tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoespizz
  4. In a small pot, melt your butter and add flour
  5. Add milk and whisk to remove lumps
  6. Season to your preference

 

  1. Spread the white sauce on your doughpiz5
  2. Top with some cheese
  3. Top with tomatoes and Brussel sprouts
  4. Top with chicken and sundried tomatoes
  5. Top with cheese
  6. Brush crust with olive oilpiz6piz7
  7. Put back into oven until its bubbling and the crust is brown

 

  1. In a small pot, bring a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to a boil
  2. Add a half tsp of sugar and stir
  3. Bring to a simmer until it coats the back of a spoon
  4. Remove from heat! (Overdone balsamic reduction is no good. Trust me!)
  5. Remove your pizza from the oven
  6. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction

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© 2018 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Chicken and Pork Dumplings

No frills. This is a very easy recipe. Once you get the technique down, you can start playing with different flavors and different fillings.

 

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Ingredients:

 

Wonton wraps

Roughly chopped scallions

¼ c shredded carrots

4-5 oz ground pork

4-5 oz ground chicken thigh

Small splash of sesame oil

1 tsp of oyster sauce

½ tsp of fish sauce

2 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce

 

  1. As you are working, keep your wontons covered with a kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
  2. In a large bowl, combine your ingredients using a spatulawontonwontonnnnjnn3
  3. In a sauce pan, cook a small amount of meat to taste your seasoning. Adjust as you see fit.wonton4
  4. Using a spoon, scoop a small amount of meat on to your wonton wrapper. Don’t over fill.wt5wt7wt8
  5. Dip your finger in water and rub it along the edge
  6. Fold the opposite side of the wontons and seal them
    1. You can totally do a more fancy seal. This is the easiest one in my book.
  7. I steamed these dumplings using a steamer basket
    1. Bring a little bit of water to a boil then reduce to a simmer
    2. Spray basket with cooking spray
    3. Place several dumplings at a time
    4. Steam for 5-6 minuteswt9wt10
  8. I seasoned mine impeccably and they didn’t need a sauce, however, if you want a sauce I whipped one up here

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Super Loaded Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

I was messing around in the kitchen yesterday evening trying to find something quick and easy. I had some bleu cheese leftover from buffalo bacon cheeseburgers (omg) last week. I noticed that I had some mondo-potatoes in my batch. They were obscenely large. If I grow a third ear, we’re going to blame it on the potatoes.

 

These are super indulgent and also super easy to make. I didn’t sub any low-fat ingredients this time so this is full of fat ergo perfect and hella delicious.

 

This was an improvised meal so the ingredients are not exact. It’s not so much a recipe as it is a template. Honestly, just use what you have and adjust proportions to suit your taste. It can be easily scaled as well.

Untitled-2

Ingredients:

Potatoes

1-2 c shredded chicken

3-4 strips of crispy bacon

About a tbsp of cream cheese

About ¼ c of bleu cheese

½ cup of shredded cheese, extra for topping

4 scallions, whites and greens

About ¼ c of pickled jalpenos

1 habenero

½ medium red onion, finely chopped

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Chili powder

 

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 425
  2. Clean potatoes
    • Rub with oil and season with s&p
    • Pierce with a fork or knife
  3. Place bacon on baking sheet and place into the oven as well
    • (you can do this on the stove if you prefer).
  4. Bake potatoes for about 45 to 60 minutes
    • Remove the bacon once its crispy
    • DO NOT BURN YOUR BACON. It’s like treason or something.
  5. Meanwhile, you can chop and prep your veg and other fixinsPS
  6. Allow to cool
  7. Chop your bacon, reserve some for topping
  8. Carefully scoop out the insides and place into a bowl
  9. Add cream cheese and bleu cheesePS2
  10. Using a fork incorporate ingredients, add salt and pepper
  11. In large bowl, combine the chicken, seasonings and fixins using a silicon spatula
  12. Fill the potato skins with the fillingPS3
  13. Top with shredded cheese
  14. Place back into the oven until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are warmed through
  15. Top with more bacon and more scallions

ps4ps5ps6

Lazy Buffalo Sauce for a drizzle:

Using a 1:1 ratio, add hot sauce to melted butter and whisk until combined.

Optional: Jazz it up with Worcestershire, granulated garlic, cayenne and a little white vinegar.

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Simple Pizza Dough

When I was younger I lived in Long Island, NY. We had amazing pizzerias. I have fond memories of walking to the pizzeria and asking for a little bit of dough to play with. When I began cooking, I was queen of the Semi Homemade. I’d try store bought dough that came in the canister like biscuits (bleh). I’d tried a certain powder dough mix that came in a bag (also bleh). Occasionally I’ve lucked up on bagged fresh dough at the supermarket and that’s not too bad. I’ve come to prefer homemade dough. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh dough in the kitchen.

 

It’s easy to make and it yields enough for two smedium pizzas or several calzones or a shit ton of garlic knots. You can make this recipe ahead of time and store the dough in the freezer. Simply thaw it overnight in the fridge and you’re ready to go when it’s time to cook. Or you can use it straight away as I did this evening.

 

Ingredients:

 

3-4 Cups of AP flour

1 ½ tsp salt

3 tbsp of olive oil (plus extra for brushing)

1 tbsp of sugar

1 pack of fast rise yeast (2.5 tsp)

1 1/3 cups of very warm water

 

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and turn it off.

 

  1. In the bowl of your mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar and the warm water.
  2. Add the yeast.pizzadough
  3. Allow it to proof for about 10 minutes. It will become frothy and fragrant.
    • If nothing happens, you’re yeast is dead. Scrap it and try again.

 

  1. Combine the flour and salt.

 

  1. In your mixing bowl attach your hook attachment, add the oil and turn the mixer on low.
  2. Carefully add your flour+salt mixture.

 

  1. Mix on low until combined well.

 

  1. If the dough is sticky add flour one tbsp a time. If you touch it, it should spring back without sticking to your fingers.

 

  1. Beat for 5 minutes on medium-low

 

  1. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about a minute.

 

  1. Form into a bowl.

 

  1. Oil a bowl, place ball into bowl. Turn so it is coated in oil.

 

  1. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

pizzadough2

  1. Place in oven (make sure you have turned it off after it preheated to 200). Keep the door ajar.

 

  1. Allow to rise for about 30 minutes then punch it down.pizzadough3
  2. Place back in oven and allow to rise until it is doubled in size.pizzadough4
  1. You can portion this for freezing, use right away or both.
  • If you’re going to freeze, carefully and tightly wrap in plastic wrap and store in a ziplock bag for up to a month.

 

Crispy Ginger Lime Sticky Wings

Tonight is Saturday night and mama really did not feel like cooking. I was pleased to hear a simple request of “asiany wings with the ginger and stuff”. This is a simple recipe with simple methods that can be applied to any flavor wings you’re going for.

 

This sauce is packed full of flavor and super easy to make. It’s easily adjustable; if it’s too sweet, use less sugar. If it’s not spicy enough, add more sambal (or peppers). More or less ginger? Easy fix.

 

 

Ingredients:

 

For the chicken:

Chicken wings

Water

 

For the sauce:

¼ cup soy Sauce

2 tbsp of oyster sauce

2 tsp sambal oelek

3 cloves of garlic, grated

Thumb of ginger (about 1.5”) grated

3-4 tbsp of light brown sugar

juice and zest of one lime, a pinch of zest reserved

 

For the chicken:

 

  1. Using kitchen shears, cut your wings into flats and drumssw1
  2. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  3. You’re going to boil water like you’re making pasta aka heavily salted and a rolling boil.
  4. Boil the chicken for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Drain thoroughly.
  6. Pat dry with paper towel.sw2
  7. Place the chicken pieces directly onto a cookie sheet (no added oil, no foil).sw3
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes.
  9. While your chicken is in the oven, start your sauce.sauce1
    • Grate the garlic and the ginger
    • In a sauce pan, over medium heat, add all of the ingredients and stir.
    • Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
    • Keep an eye, the sauce will bubble and start to reduce.
    • Taste and adjust as you see fit.
    • When it’s perfect, remove from the heat.
  10. The wings will begin to turn golden brown.sw4
  11. Flip the wings and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  12. Toss the wings in the sauce.sw6
  13. Sprinkle reserved lime zest over sauced chicken.

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One word. BOOM!

 

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries

I wanted a really yummy side for this meal that I’ve been daydreaming about for a week (post coming soon). I wanted something crunchy, but after the holiday, I couldn’t bear the thought of something heavy or deep-fried.

 

Enter crispy, baked zucchini fries. Now, before you raise and eyebrow- these were so delicious I haven’t stopped talking about them. However much you plan to make? Double that. Freeze what’s leftover and thank me later. I bet you you’ll love them and I bet you’ll use these techniques on whatever veggies you have laying around (string beans, peppers- hello!)

 

You want to season the fries generously. You will be doing the three-stop dredge (flour, egg, panko). Instead of frying these, we will line them on a baking rack on top of a cookie sheet and bake them on high heat until crispy and golden brown.

 

These taste so good you will forget that they are good for you! Low-carb, baked vegetables.

 

Insert heart-eye emoji.

Throw in the pig emoji too.


Ingredients:

(This recipe can easily be scaled up or down, there are very few precise ingredients here. This is just what I did for dinner tonight.)

 

1 large green zucchini

1 large yellow zucchini

Flour

Egg

Panko

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Paprika

Cooking spray or olive oil


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425.
  1. Cut the ends off of your zucchini.
  2. Cut the zucchini in half.
  3. Slice them length wise into about four slices ¼” to ½” thick.zucfrieszuchfries2
  4. Slice these into about 3-4 “fries”.
  5. Place your “fries” into a container and season them generally.
  6. Allow them to rest as you continue to prep your dredging station. Flour, panko and egg are not measured. I eyeball it. But always, ALWAYS use less than you think you will need. You can always add more if you need it. However, if you use too much you’re not pouring that flour back or that panko back into the containers. That’s gotta go in the trash. I try to minimize waste where I can. Use less, you can always add more-rule of thumb. Note: Liquid will likely accumulate in the zucchini container due to the salt; if so, simply drain the liquid.zucfries3
  1. A few at a time, place the “fries” into the flour and coat evenly.
  2. Then place them in the egg and coat evenly.
  3. Toss them in the panko and coat evenly. Press the panko gently into the “fries”.
  1. Place them on the baking rack until you are ready to go.zuchfries4
  2. (Note: if you do a large amount, these can be frozen (and kept frozen) until you are ready to use them. If you are baking these from the freezer, simply follow the remaining steps. Do not thaw.)
  1. Before baking, spray generously with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil. Optional: sprinkle with sea salt or coarse kosher salt.zuchfries5-copy
  1. Place the baking rack on top of a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.zuchfries6zuchfries7zuchfries8

These are best fresh, piping hot from the oven.

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved