Vegan or Vegetarian or Not – Spicy Beef & Cheese Nachos with Baked Corn Tortilla Chips & and Simple Guacamole

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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vromans front

vromans back

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First of all – a friend sent me this picture today.  It HAS to be ME – right?  Am I not the only cigarette-smoking blonde to ever “kill” Chucky?

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Here I am with Alex Vincent – then & now.

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At any rate – I am very pleased with that illustration!!!

So – this recipe requires two other recipes I posted today – the Purist’s Homemade Guacamole & Baked Corn Tortilla Chips.  OR – you can just buy some ships & use any guacamole you want – or skip the guac entirely.  Your call.

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I used these ingredients – Beyond Meat’s Vegan Beefy Crumbles & a can of hot chiles & a can of Campbell’s Cheddar Soup (so MY version was not vegan) :

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I want to say that Campbell’s has a Feisty Nacho Cheese Soup that would likely work better than my version of nacho cheese resulting from combining that 1 can of soup with that can of chiles & a tsp of sriracha.  I found the texture of the soup “cheese” to be more like a custard & not flavorful enough.  So – either try the Feisty nacho soup or use a can/jar of actual nacho cheese that you get in the chip aisle or – better yet – use REAL or vegan shredded cheese & bake the nachos in the oven the traditional way.  If you use the soupy cheese – you can just heat it stove-top & pour it over the chips.

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I used the Beyond Meat Crumbles but you could use another brand or even real ground beef.

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Spicy Beef

INGREDIENTS

11 oz vegan (or real) ground beef

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

olive oil (not required if you use real meat)

DIRECTIONS

If using vegan meat, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat & add the other ingredients & heat through.  Leave on the lowest flame to keep warm until you are ready to assemble the nachos.  If using real meat, cook it with the spices until it is done.  Keep warm until you are ready to use it.

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NACHOS

INGREDIENTS are really just suggestions. I used:

1 fresh jalapeno – diced

Jarred pickled jalapenos

Chopped tomato

Cilantro

Cheese (see above) – you can use vegan or real grated cheese or a jarred nacho sauce or devise one (as I did with underwhelming results) from a combo of cheese soup, canned chiles & a tsp sriracha.

Chips

Guacamole

OTHER IDEAS that I did not include:  Salsa or pico de gallo, sour cream (or vegan alternative), sliced black olives, black beans, refried beans, corn, diced red onion, shredded cabbage or lettuce etc…

DIRECTIONS

Once you have your chips (homemade or otherwise) & guacamole (ditto) – assemble your nachos.  If you went with a pourable version of cheese – simply heat it & pour it over the chips & add the other toppings.

If you used grated cheese (real or vegan) – layer the ingredients (but not the guacamole or tomato/salsa & jalapenos or sour cream – because those are better added once the nachos come out of the oven) & bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until your cheese is as melted as you desire.

Garnish as you will & shove that shit in your face!  Mmmmmmmmm!

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A Purist’s Homemade Guacamole & Baked Corn Tortilla Chips

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am an absolute purist when it comes to guacamole.  Three ingredients only!  Avocado, lime juice & salt.  I know people add salsa and cilantro or jalapeno or spices etc but if the avocados are perfect, I think it is a crime to fuck with them.

These chips used only cooking spray & 12 minutes in the oven.  So much healthier & just as crunchy.  I hear they keep in an air-tight container for up to 5 days but I ate all mine – so I cannot vouch for that.

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Baked Corn Tortilla Chips

INGREDIENTS

Corn tortillas

Cooking spray

Salt (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the tortillas & spread on parchment paper (or cooking sheet treated with cooking spray) – spread without touching each other so they crisp the most, spray with cooking oil (add salt if you want to) and cook 10-12 minutes or until they are golden & crunchy.  My oven heats unevenly so mine cooking unevenly.  To avoid this – you might want to spin the pan in the oven every few minutes.

Put into a bowl to cool & set aside.

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A Purist’s Homemade Guacamole

INGREDIENTS

2 avocados (keep the pits!)

juice of 1/2 lime (or more to taste)

1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)

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DIRECTIONS

Scoop the avocado out of the skin & chop in a bowl.  Add salt & lime juice & keep mashing until it is as chunky or as smooth as you like.  Put the pits BACK INTO the bowl when you are done & this tricks the avocados into thinking they are still in tact & the guacamole will not brown nearly as quickly.  Serve with the chips & a cold cerveza & get your chow on.

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Vegan Buffalo Falafel Sliders with Smashed Avocado

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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OK.  In the interest of full disclosure – I got the recipe for the buffalo falafel from one of my all-time favorite blogs – the almighty Thug Kitchen!

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(Photo by Thug Kitchen)

This site is just amazing and HERE is their falafel recipe.  I am going to include their actual recipe below – because – if you are unfamiliar with these guys – you need to get familiar.  Read the recipe!  Hilarious!

BUFFALO FALAFEL

FALAFEL:

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 1- 15 ounce can, rinsed

1/3 pound of cauliflower

¼ cup diced onion (yellow, white, red, whatever)

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ teaspoon all-purpose seasoning blend (The no-salt blends are best because you can add that salt shit later in small amounts)

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

BUFFALO SAUCE:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons flour (Whole-wheat flour works here so does brown rice flour. Use whatever)

1 cup cayenne based hot sauce

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon vinegar (Apple cider vinegar is my favorite here but white vinegar would work too. Use what you got)

For the falafel: Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray some oil on a baking sheet. Chopped the cauliflower up into small pieces. Throw it in a food processor and run that shit until the pieces of cauliflower kind of look like rice. If you don’t have a food processor then just chop that shit up as small as you can. Mash the fuck out of the chickpeas in a medium bowl until they form a paste. Chop the garlic up into small pieces. Add the cauliflower, onion, garlic, oil, seasoning blend, and breadcrumbs to the chickpeas and mix that shit up. If your seasoning blend didn’t have salt in it, now you can add a pinch of salt to that motherfucker. The mixture should easily form into balls. If it is too fucking dry, add a little water. No stress. Form the mixture into balls a little bigger than a ping pong ball. Throw the balls on the baking sheet and bake them for 20-25 minutes, flipping them sons of bitches half way through. Remember to set a timer so that you don’t burn the shit out of them. Both sides should be nice and golden. While the falafel bake, make the buffalo sauce.

For the buffalo sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the oil over a medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir constantly until the flour starts to look golden and smell kinda toasted. A few bubbles are cool but this shouldn’t look like it’s boiling. This shit takes about 4 minutes if you got your heat right. Add half the hot sauce and stir until it is all mixed. The flour should make that shit thicken up a bit. Add the rest of the hot sauce, water, and vinegar and stir until it is all mixed up. Turn off the heat.

When the falafel are done cooking, push them gently to the center of the baking sheet and put ¾ of the buffalo sauce on them. Bake that shit for like 5 extra minutes so that the falafel absorbs that sauce. Pour the extra sauce over them when they get out of the oven or whenever you eat them.

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Instead of pita – I used little brioche slider buns – that were not vegan.  Here is proof I made the buffalo sauce.

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This made a boat load of buffalo sauce so I stored the extra in a jar in my fridge.

I made the falafel – but I got all lazy & just mashed the bejesus out of the ingredients in my food processor.

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A word about chick peas.  And lentils.  And rice.  Did you know you can make these kinds of things in large batches – like chick peas from the dried version rather than canned – and then measure out a cup or two of them & put them in Ziplock baggies & freeze them?  I made a whole bag of chick peas & froze them up & now – I can just grab what I need from the freezer in small increments.  SO MUCH CHEAPER!  And easy!  Do it!  I used some of those chick peas here & I will in my post tomorrow, too.

Anyway – I recommend prepping the falafel as Thug Kitchen suggested.  The processed version were very soft & fragile.  I lost a lot just trying to flip them.  So – touche, Thug Kitchen!

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Now – smashed avocado is really just guacamole.  Shhhhhh!  I just smashed up some avocado with a few pinches of salt & a squeeze of lime.

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So – yeah.  Make the falafel “dough” and create little patties.  Bake them maybe 15 minutes longer than the recipe suggests as these are a bit bigger.  Or – at least – mine we so soft that they required a bit more time.

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Then just assemble those bad boys as you like.  Eat them.  Drink up.  Belch.  FTW!

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Ahi Sushi Tower with Mango Salsa & Avocado, Spicy Mayo and Baked Wonton Crackers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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Isn’t that pretty?  Tasted even better!  Like most of my recipes, there is nothing difficult about this beyond the fact that it requires a few ingredients some might find a bit exotic & it takes several steps to accomplish.  Still, once you have made the rice & the salsa & the sashimi & the guacamole – you have the stuff to make many of these in minutes.  As to the ingredients, I think nearly everything I used can be found in most major supermarkets.  If there is something I use that you cannot find – Google that ingredient followed by the word “substitute.”   Usually – someone out there will have posted a simple solution to your dilemma.

There are two sauces on the plate here with this dish.  One would do so if making both overwhelms you – make the one that sounds tastier to you.

I bought two pieces of ahi at Costco yesterday at $14 pound.  They are each about 3/4 of a pound & look like this:

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This same fish is $27 a pound at Gelson’s.  If you buy ahi at a supermarket with a full service seafood department – I recommend having them dice the fish for you.  Tuna has fat running through it that resists cutting & gets all gross & sinewy if you try to cut across the grain or with the grain – whatever way is the wrong way.  I managed to salvage most of this slab but some was beyond repair & was eaten eagerly by my three dogs.  Giving already spoiled dogs sushi grade tuna is outrageous – but cutting the fish incorrectly will leave you in the same situation.  In fact – before I venture into my second slab tonight – I am going to watch one of these tutorials HERE.  Maybe you should, too.

I am going to give the ingredients & directions to each of the levels of this tower individually.  This tower is topped with a pinch of micro arugula which is CRAZY spicy for such a delicate looking little herb but it costs $5 for a small container.  I splurged on it yesterday – rationalizing that I’d save so much on the tuna that I could afford it.  Nobody can afford it.  It is obscene to spend $5 for just a garnish but sometimes you just gotta say “fuck it.”

OK – so – the tower is comprised of a layer of sushi rice, a layer of mango salsa, a layer or avocado & then the ahi sashimi.  The wonton cracker atop was DELICIOUS & so easy to make so I really recommend you make a bunch of these to use as scoops to devour your creation.  I decided to try making them because I couldn’t bring myself to buy a lesser version in the chip aisle at Gelson’s, pay $5 for them & get a bag that, despite weighing 3 ounces, somehow packed 1600 calories.    MAKE THESE.  You won’t regret it!

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Baked Wonton Crackers

INGREDIENTS

Wonton skins

Sesame seeds (black or white)

Egg whites – whisked

DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Swipe some egg white wash on each wonton & sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake about 5 minutes on each side or until they are golden & crisp.

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Spicy Mayo

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup mayo of your choice

2 TBS sriracha

1 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Blend together.  If you have a squeezy bottle to put it in do – because then you can make pretty designs on the plate with the mayo.

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Soy-Mirin Sauce

INGREDIENTS

3 TBS soy sauce

2 TBS mirin

1 TBS rice wine vinegar

1 TBS lemon juice

1 tsp sesame oil

A few drops hot chili oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Blend together.

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Avocado Layer

INGREDIENTS

1 large ripe avocado – diced

1 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS lime juice

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Mix together.

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Mango Salsa

INGREDIENTS

1 ripe mango – chopped

1/2 red onion – minced

2 scallions – minced

1/2 red bell pepper – minced

1 jalapeno (or 2 serranos if you love heat) – minced

S&P to taste

Juice of half a lime

Juice of half a lemon

DIRECTIONS

Mix together.

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Sushi Rice

INGREDIENTS

3 cups Japanese sushi rice

3 1/4 cups water

1/3 cup rice vinegar

3 TBS sugar

1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.  I used a rice cooker here & made the rice with just the water.  Stove top – I imagine you boil the water, add the rice, lower heat, cover & cook as long as the package suggests.

While that cooks, heat the rice vinegar in a small pan.  Add the sugar & salt & dissolve them.  Remove from heat & allow to cool.

Once cooked – cool the rice completely.  Fold in the vinegar without mushing up the rice & set it aside until you are ready to use it.

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Ahi Sashimi

INGREDIENTS

3/4 pound of high grade ahi tuna

2 scallions – chopped

1 tsp sesame oil

1 TBS olive oil

2 tsp black sesame seeds

2 tsp white sesame seeds

1 TBS white truffle oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Watch a Google tutorial on cutting raw tuna for sushi – the cube the ahi up.  Mix with the other ingredients.

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To assemble the tower:

I used a food ring mold.  I love my ring mold & I recommend you get one!  If you do not have one – you can assemble this free form (rice then salsa then avocado then ahi) or in a backward sequence in a bowl (sprayed with cooking spray), ending with the rice, then just flip in onto a plate.  Drizzle with either the spicy mayo or the soy-mirin sauce – or both!  Top with micro arugula, if you are a spendthrift or with more diced scallions and/or avocado or more mango salsa.  Serve with the baked wonton crackers.  Impress yourself as well as your friends!

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