recipe

cheesy nacho nests (or, your family’s new favorite side dish).

 

this post is sponsored by Crystal Farms®, but all the #cheeselove is straight from my own heart. make sure to read to the end for how to enter the giveaway!

i’ve finally found the perfect side dish for chili.

not that chili needs a side dish (because it doesn’t, it’s the perfect meal in a bowl), but there are days when you just need a little something…extra to go with that piping hot bowl of deliciousness. look no further, because i’ve figured out what we were all missing.

nacho nests. aka personal mini nachos. they are the perfect size for accompanying a hot bowl of chili (or soup), and also they satisfy your nacho cravings in an acceptably cheesy way. it can’t be just me that has nacho cravings, right? of course not.

i made these nacho nests to go with the chili we planned for dinner, but these would be perfect as an appetizer for a game day party too. you can make as many as you need, they are insanely quick to throw together, and you can customize your toppings or even let everyone top their own nacho nest once they’ve been baked.

being a good minnesota girl, i used wisconsin cheese for this recipe. Crystal Farms® shredded cheese to be exact. crystal farms is one of the largest cheese brands in the country, and is made in lake mills, wi (which is only like four hours from where i live). i sincerely doubt you need more of a reason to want to eat cheese, but just in case you do, you should know that crystal farms products are natural, with very few preservatives, are high in calcium, and are gluten-free.

i used a mexican 4 cheese blend for this recipe, but you can look in the refrigerated dairy section of your local grocery store to find any crystal farms cheese that speaks to you. pepper jack would be amazing on these!

as always, let me know if you make these, and any awesome ideas you have to make them even better!

nacho nests (makes 4 but is easily multiplied)

  • 24-32 tortilla chips
  • 1 C. Crystal Farms® Mexican 4 Cheese Blend shredded cheese (any flavor will work), divided into 4
  • toppings of choice: black beans, jalapeño slices, chopped tomatoes, black olives, etc.

preheat your oven to 400 F. on a rimmed baking sheet, make four piles of 6-8 tortilla chips. sprinkle each pile (or nest) with half of 1/4 C. crystal farms shredded cheese, then top with whatever toppings you’ve chosen. i used black beans, black olives, chopped tomatoes, and jalapeño slices, but you can use whatever you want or have on hand (or let the family choose their own toppings in a nacho nest bar situation). sprinkle the nests with the remaining cheese, then put into the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the toppings are heated through. serve as a side dish for chili or another hearty soup, or as a game day dish to share.

GIVEAWAY!

i know there are a lot of cheese lovers who read this blog, so i hope you’re all excited about this. crystal farms is letting me pick one winner to receive THREE coupons for free crystal farms products. all you have to do to enter is visit the crystal farms website to learn more about the crystal farms cheese products there, then come back here to leave a comment telling me what cheese you would choose and what recipe you would use it in. i’ll pick a winner at random on november 26th. i can’t wait to see all your ideas, because who doesn’t want some free cheese??

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grandpa’s cream of broccoli soup.

dear everyone: this is one of the easiest recipes in the whole world. and it is so healthy, and so good. so what i’m saying is, you should definitely make it. love, me. p.s. you can totally wait until fall to make it if you cannot imagine eating soup in the summer.

i don’t know if you’ve noticed*, but this here blog has been painfully void of recipe posts lately. summer is just not a very inspirational time in the cooking or baking arena for me. slash i forget to take pictures of the recipes i do make. woops!

this is one of those recipes that i almost didn’t share, because i was like, do people even want to see recipes that are this easy? and then i realized, those are the only types of recipes that i ever want to see, so maybe other people are lazy like me and will be into this sort of thing! like seriously, if i click over to a recipe, and there are more than 8 steps, you can guarantee that i am not making it. it might look amazing and delicious and magical, but it’s just not happening. where you at fellow lazys?

anywho, i hope you enjoy. love and smoochies to you all.

*i’m sure you have not noticed and your life has carried on as normal.

cream of broccoli soup (makes enough for about 6 servings)

  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 package frozen broccoli chunks
  • 1/2 C. butter
  • 1/4 C. flour
  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste (i have added chili powder, cumin, and other spices as well)

sauté onion, carrot and frozen broccoli in 1/2 C. butter. add flour, stir well and cook 3 to 4 minutes. add chicken stock, cream and seasonings. heat thoroughly. if desired, blend with an immersion blender (or in a regular blender) for a creamy, smooth soup. serve with townhouse crackers or crusty bread and cheese!

vegetarian substitutes:

  • use vegetable broth or stock instead of chicken stock

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grandpa’s portuguese soup.

and she’s back at it again with the soups!

i have to tell you guys, this is one of those recipes i’m a bit embarrassed to even post. not because this soup is not delicious…it is. but it’s so mindlessly easy to make that it feels like i’m cheating by calling it a recipe. this is one of those soups that you make when you want something homemade, but you don’t want to have to go buy a bunch of ingredients that you won’t ever use again, or that are going to hike up your grocery bill. this is such a good thing to make if you’re looking for an inexpensive but filling recipe that everyone will like. you can just tell your kids that the kielbasa is hot dogs and call it hot dog soup, and you’re all good. (sidebar: in our house, we call breakfast sausage “breakfast hot dogs” so Amelia won’t question why she should eat them…)

 

the cabbage, potatoes and beans in this help to bulk it up and make it really filling, even though there aren’t that many ingredients. it freezes beautifully and makes a huge batch. this would be a great recipe to make if you need to bring a meal to a new mom…no dairy, not spicy, and it takes no time to throw together, plus you can keep half of it for your own dinner that night without having to double the recipe.

i know we’re headed out of soup season, and i really let you guys down in the soup arena this winter, so i’m going to make some of the more “springtime” soups in the cookbook here in the next couple months to make up for it. although it snowed here in minnesota today, so i guess it’s still kind of soup season here in a way. gross.

portuguese soup (makes a large batch without doubling)

  • 6 C. chicken stock or broth
  • 1 lb. smoked kielbasa sausage, diced
  • 1 lb. boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 medium head of green cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

combine all ingredients in a large pot. bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. reduce heat; simmer until thick, stirring occasionally (about 2 hours).

vegetarian substitutes: 

  • use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
  • omit the kielbasa (can also add another can of a different type of bean, like great northern to add more bulk)

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winter spice bourbon cocktail recipe.

well. it’s been almost a month of radio silence from me. there are a lot of reasons for that, the main one being that we are potty training miss Amelia, while also dealing with a not-quite-three month old. i’ve also been a little short on blog post inspiration. so i figured, why not write about something near and dear to my heart? which right now, is this cocktail. or any cocktail really. i mentioned potty training, right?

(plus, it’s been a little baby heavy around here lately, so i figured we could use a change.)

this cocktail was inspired by those simmering potpourris you make on the stove with citrus and mulling spices, the ones that make your house smell like christmas. i had some clementine peels laying around one day during nap time, and after digging through my spice cabinet for the rest of the ingredients, this recipe was born.

drinking this cocktail is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and going out into the fresh snow. the mulling spices make it a bit warm and spicy and the citrus keeps it tasting bright and fresh. it’s perfect for the winter, especially when everything starts to feel a bit dark and you just feel generally blah. or you know, it’s perfect for an evening after a day spent potty training your strong-willed two and a half year old. whatever occasion makes more sense for your life right now.

let me know if you make it, and what you think! bonus: the simple syrup can be used to sweeten coffee or tea for a little seasonal flavor.

winter spice bourbon cocktail (makes one drink, easily multiplied)

  • 1 oz. winter spice simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1/4 clementine
  • 2 maraschino cherries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ice

fill a lowball glass with clementine and cherries, smash together a bit. fill glass with ice. pour simple syrup and bourbon over ice and give it a quick stir with the cinnamon stick. garnish with another cherry and slice of clementine. best enjoyed while curled up with a blanket, a fire and a good movie.

winter spice simple syrup

  • 1 C. water
  • 1 C. sugar
  • peel of 2 clementines
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

in a medium saucepan, bring clementine peel, star anise, cinnamon sticks, sugar, and water to a simmer over medium-high heat. reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 10 minutes. let cool completely, then strain. discard the solids. bonus: syrup can be kept in fridge for 1-2 weeks, and can be used to sweeten coffee or tea with a subtle citrus and warm spice flavor. 

if you need ideas for other cocktails, check out these posts too:

apple cider sangria || cranberry moscow mule || spiked hot cocoa

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gluten-free pumpkin muffins.

oh hey everyone! guess who’s back in the baking game? this pregnant lady.

if you follow me on snapchat (find me at username hooleywithaz) you might have seen some of my gluten and dairy-free baking shenanigans lately. long story short, and which i will be going into in more detail in the future, we’ve been battling some pretty severe eczema with Amelia over here. the good news is that thanks to some dietary changes and some amazing topical treatments (both of which we hope are temporary after some months of working everything out), she is now a happy, itch-free toddler who can wear short sleeves and run around in her birthday suit.

toddler mama picnic

we are starting to slowly transition gluten and dairy back into amelia’s diet, starting with dairy, but because it’s slow, i’m still doing a lot of modified cooking and baking. and while there are a lot of great commercial gluten-free products out there, sometimes you just want to bake something homemade, you know?

enter the savior: mama hools. my mother has a special set of skills, many skills. one of these skills happens to be cooking for people with food allergies. and i’m talking real food allergies, not “i want to lose weight so i’ll tell myself i’m allergic to gluten” allergies. she also happens to know how to adjust recipes to make them taste delicious, even when they’re free of anything seemingly tasty. she’s a magical fairy, i’m telling you.

she has many amazing recipes, but one of our favorites is her gluten-free (and dairy-free) pumpkin muffins. they are moist, flavorful, and freeze beautifully, which makes them the holy grail of gluten-free muffin recipes. she found the original recipe at gluten free goddess, but modified it a lot to accommodate some additional allergies and in my opinion, made it easier and better. i would choose to eat this pumpkin muffin recipe, and i’m not even gluten-free.

i posted a picture of this deliciousness on my instagram and got so many requests for the recipe that i thought i’d share it here. if any of you are gluten-free, or just looking for an awesome pumpkin muffin recipe, i highly suggest that you make these. let me know if you have any questions on the ingredients or the recipe, just leave a comment and i’m happy to help!

gluten-free pumpkin muffins

gluten-free pumpkin muffins (makes 12-16 regular muffins)

dry ingredients

  • 2 C. all-purpose gluten-free flour (w/ xanthan gum added, my flour called for 1 1/2 tsp. for this amount of flour and type of recipe)
  • 1/3 C. organic coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 C. coconut sugar (mix it with enough maple syrup to make it packable)

wet ingredients

  • 1/3 C. olive oil or coconut oil (i used coconut)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 C. almond or coconut milk (i used almond)
  • 1 can pumpkin puree

preheat oven to 350 F. whisk together dry ingredients. add in wet ingredients, mix well by hand or mixer, making sure all dry ingredients are incorporated. if desired, stir in by hand 1/2 C. roughly chopped pecans, walnuts, raisins or chocolate chips.

line a muffin tin (regular or mini) with liners or grease well. spoon batter into tins, filling close to the top. smooth the tops with the back of a wet spoon. bake 15 minutes for mini muffins, 22-25 minutes for regular muffins. let cool and remove gently. store in a tupperware, or freeze. to defrost: 5-10 seconds for mini muffins, 10-20 seconds for regular muffins. keep an eye on them though, i’ve burnt my fair share, they go faster than you think!

ENJOY!

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