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!

 

 

 

Chicken Mushroom & Collard Green Stew

I needed some inspiration. I’d been craving some flavorful soup for weeks now. I was flipping through some of my old food magazines. I came across a recipe that looked fairly good. I read through it, went to the grocery store and worked out my gameplan.

I did use the skeleton of this recipe and made some changes as I do. I will include the original recipe from Cooking Light, if you’re interested. I will walk through my process below.

Ingredients:

4-5 slices, thick cut bacon

Olive oil

1-2 chicken breasts, chopped into 1″ chunks

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Onion powder

4 cups sliced preferred mushrooms

1-2 medium carrots, sliced

1-2 stalks of celery, sliced

1 medium onion, diced

4-5 garlic cloves, chopped

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1/3 AP flour

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup 2% milk

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1/2 tsp dry mustard

3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1-2 cups chiffonade collard greens

4 cups wild rice

Mise en place! Chop up everything now. Once the recipe gets going it will make things a lot easier for you. There will be some multi-tasking involved. The measurements above are fairly guesstimated but you can see the amounts.

Render the fat from the bacon (not pictured) and set the bacon to the side to be used later as garnish.

Depending on how much fat you rendered you  may need to add a glug of oil to the pot. Brown the chicken, SEASON THE CHICKEN, it is okay if it is not cooked through completely at this point. Set the chicken aside.

Add the mushrooms and stir. If your pot starts to dry out add another glug of oil.Cook the mushrooms down. Remove the mushrooms and set them aside.Add your mirepoix to the pot plus the garlic and bay leaves. Allow the vegetables to soften, not caramelize. Add vinegar and stir, allow to reduce. Return chicken and mushrooms back into the pot. Turn the heat to low.In a pot, melt butter over med-high heat. Add flour and whisk quickly. Carefully and slowly add the milk/cream/stock, whisking constantly. You want this to be smooth, no flour chunks. After you pour in about half of the liquid and you have a slight thick but smooth sauce, pour in the remaining liquid and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce to low. Season this simply with salt, pepper and dry mustard.

Add the chiffonade collards to the pot, the hot liquid will gently wilt the collards without over cooking them. They’ll keep that pretty green color. At this point you want to stir to combine and TASTE TASTE TASTE. Add what you feel you may need; I wound up adding more salt and pepper plus some garlic and onion powder.Add parsley and remove bay leaves. Make sure you get them all, bite into one and you’ll curse yourself out. I chopped the bacon and some parsley for garnish.

© 2020 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

The recipe from Cooking Light (it’s a good magazine, I recommend it)

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Spinach and Artichoke Chicken Manicotti

I intended on boiling the handy dandy boxed noodles but I felt compelled to make the noodles. The last time I did that I just made some simple pasta noodles. When I went to the Googles to find some inspo I saw a technique that I’d never heard of which meant that I obviously have to try it.

Additionally the supermarket only had an insanely large container of ricotta. The Googles said it was easy so I said ‘what the hell?”

And it was!

I’m not writing up a lengthy post. I think the pictures are largely self explanatory. I didn’t use any precise measurements aside from the manicotti and the ricotta, which I’ll link to if anyone feels adventurous.

Fresh ricotta

Fresh manicotti

I winged this meal. I didn’t know what was happening until I was basically ready to assemble.

The following are the components:

I cooked up ground chicken thighs. I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and a bit of chopped garlic and shallots.

Chopped spinach (frozen) and chopped artichoke hearts

I used a can of crushed tomatoes. I seasoned it up with the usual suspects and my personal tricks. Season your sauce as you like or use your usual.

Shredded mozzarella.

I mixed the ricotta with the spinach and artichokes. I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, parmesan and crushed red pepper.The rest is just assembly. Make sure you place them seam side down. Bake at 350 until nice and bubbly then make sure your cheese gets nice and melty 😍

This was my first time using this crepe-pasta technique. I did an amazing job with the flavors. I think it’s more suitable for a light recipe. This is hearty. I think I would have preferred an ordinary noodle. Either way this was amazingly yummy!

Worth every step!

🐷.

 

 

 

© 2020 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

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

Kitchen Dump Thin Crust Pizza

Again, not a precise recipe. I just used what I had in my fridge and freezer. It’s an easily adaptable recipe. Just follow the pizza dough recipe and the crust-cooking-procedure. Easy peasy.

 

I had a ball of my simple pizza dough in the freezer. I had enough to roll out a thin crust. I played it a little fast and loose with the oven so my edges are kinda cajun lol. Be more careful than me. I was hungry.

 

Simple pizza dough

Seasoned ricotta cheese (herbs, garlic, parm, s&p)

Shredded cheese

Parm

Fresh mozzarella

Olive oil with italian herbs and garlic powder (for crust)

Whatever toppings you want (mine are as pictured)

 

Prepare the pizza dough ahead of time so you are ready to go.

Quickest way of attacking this is preheating your cast iron skillet, cast iron griddle, pizza stone, heavy bottomed pan. Whatever. Get it super hot. 475+ hot.

While that is preheating, slice and chop your toppings. You want thin slices, small dices. We want things to heat through evenly.

Prepare all of your cheeses.

Roll out your dough to suit your vehicle

Carefully place your dough in the pan or skillet or stone

Poke fork holes all over save for the ‘crust area’

Brush the ‘crust area’ with some of the seasoned up olive oil

Bake for a few minutes, just consider the thickness of your dough and its edges.

Remove and quickly paint dough with the ricotta.

Shredded cheeses

Spinach.

Parm.

Zucchini and squash slices

Fresh mozzarella dotted around

Sliced onions and peppers

Chicken

Chopped tomatoes

Whatever toppings you’re using

Baked at 475+ until the cheese is bubbling

Broil until there’s a little color on your cheese, mind your crust

Remove

Drizzle with remaining olive oil

Top with chopped herbs, crushed pepper

 

 

As always, use what you got. Any questions you know you can comment or hit me on IG (@nibblesandnom).

 

NOM!

 

 

 

© 2019 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

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

plantain12

  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

plantain13

  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

Cauliflower Chicken Alfredo with Penne

1lb Penne Rigate

1 chicken breast (your preferred cooking method or rotisserie)

2 cup fresh spinach

1 small shallot (of ½ small red onion) finely diced

1 zucchini

1 squash

1 head of garlic

4 tbsp unsalted butter

½ head of cauliflower (cut into florets)

Buttermilk

Heavy Cream*

½ – 1C parmesan

1-2 C shredded Italian cheese

 

Salt

Pepper

Paprika

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Nutmeg (small dash)

 

Olive oil

Worcestershire sauce

 

 

Prepare your chicken. I chose to sous vide mine and began working on the other components.

Cut your garlic head at the top 1/3. Place in foil and cover in olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for about a half hour. It will become very fragrant.

Steam your cauliflower, remove.

Boil and drain your pasta, set aside.

 

I used an immersion blender in a large mixing bowl. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use your food processor or quality blender. You want this as smooth as possible.

 

Add in the butter, the buttermilk (I used both heavy cream and buttermilk because I needed to use up the cream. Feel free to use which ever you like but no lower than whole milk).

Add in the Worcestershire sauce, the spices and roasted garlic.  Blend until very smooth.

Taste and adjust your seasonings as necessary.

In a sauce pan, add olive oil and soften your onion or shallots. Add the spinach, salt and pepper. Add the zucchini and the squash. Cook until fork tender. Remove and set aside.

 

(At this point I had to sear off my chicken for some good ol’ Maillard)

I removed the chicken, add the sauce to the pan and stirred up on the brown bits. I added the cheese at this point. I added the chicken juices to this too.

 

I added the vegetables and the sliced chicken back to the sauce. Heat through.

 

Toss with pasta.

 

Listen.

This is the truth.

 

 

© 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

piz8piz9piz10piz11piz20piz12piz13piz15

 

 

 

© 2018 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Spiced Chicken and Cilantro-Lime Rice

Garlic. Cumin. Smoked paprika. Sazon. Can you really go wrong here? I think not.

 

This is my quick way of whipping up some super yummy, spiced chicken thighs. You can toss these in a salad, make tacos, make burritos or burrito bowls, etc. Great for meal prep and an easy go to when you’re running out of ideas.

 

As a side, I made some lightly scented lime and cilantro rice. It’s mostly hands off and pairs very well with the chicken. Top this with a corn salad and you’ve got a bright and flavorful dinner!

IMG_E5939

 

 

Ingredients

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced

Oil

Salt and pepper

1-2 tbsp of cumin

1 tbsp of chili powder

Tsp (each) garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika

½ packet of sazon

½ tsp of cayenne (optional)

1-2 chipotles in adobo, chopped (optional- more smoke and heat)

Chicken broth

 

Rice:

Rice

Water

Oil

Lime juice and zest

3-4 garilc cloves, chopped

 

  1. Heat your pan over medium- high heat
  2. Slice your chickenIMG_5928
  3. Add oil
  4. Add chicken
  5. Add salt and pepper
  6. Cook until browning and mostly cooked through
  7. Add spices
  8. Stir, toasting the spicesIMG_5930
  9. Add a few splashes of chicken broth to deglaze the pan
  10. StirIMG_5934
  11. Remove from heat

 

Lime and Cilantro Rice:

  1. I cook my rice like pasta so bring water to a boil and pour in however much rice you need
  2. Allow it to boil
  3. Check for doneness and drain
  4. Chop the garlic and cilantro
  5. In the now empty pot, sweat the garlic in a little bit of oil
  6. Turn off heat
  7. Add the rice back to the pot
  8. Add the cilantro, lime zest and juice and salt and pepperIMG_5915
  9. Stir to combine

 

Pile up that rice, top with chicken and this yummy corn salad. Look at what you did. Look at it. It’s good, isn’t it?

IMG_5954IMG_5961IMG_E5937IMG_E5957

 

© 2018 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Mason’s Dragon Noodles

Tonight my kiddo said he wanted spicy, saucy noodles so Mason’s Dragon Noodles became a thing and I will absolutely be duplicating this in the future.

A super easy recipe. Bold flavors make it difficult to mess this up. It’s also easily adjustable to suit your tastes. My family likes food spicy (hello “dragon” noodles), so feel free to tinker with the spice level.

I was gifted a wok for Christmas. Mommy’s first wok. Seasoning it was an adventure but it was successful! So, this was my first time breaking it in.

If you don’t have a wok, use a cast iron skillet because they hold heat really well and they get super hot. If you don’t have either of those, use a pan large enough to hold what you’re working with. High heat is important, so be mindful of that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large chicken breast, or a few boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • ¼-1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2-3 scallions, whites and greens (reserve some greens)
  • Handful of chopped cilantro, (reserve some)
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • ½-1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 habanero pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb angel hair or spaghetti (you can use your preferred Asian noodles but we usually have these in the house and they work just fine)
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/3-1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tbsp Huy Fong sriracha (the REAL kind with the green cap and rooster)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • ~1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/3-1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce

 

  1. Boil and drain your noodles.
  2. Prep your vegdragon3
  3. In a bowl, mix up the garlic, ginger, habanero, sugar, and liquid ingredients and whisk together.dragon4
  4. With your wok or pan on high heat, add some oil and cook your chicken breast. Remove and set to the side.
  5. Working quickly, cook your veggies. You want them to keep some texture so don’t cook them to death. Remove and set to the side.dragon6
  6. Still on high heat, add the liquid to the pan. dragon5Bring to a boil and add your chicken and simmer for a bit then add your veggies. Shortly after, add your drained noodles.
  7. Using tongs, toss your noodles, cilantro and other ingredients. You want to incorporate them all together as well as you can. This can be annoying but toss in different directions to incorporate. Turn off your heat, your noodles will sop up any extra liquid.dragon7
  8. Top with reserved cilantro and scallion.

dragon8dragon10dragon12dragon13dragon14dragon15dragon16dragon18
This can be served hot, warm or cold.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

© 2018 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved