Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nachos-Two Ways!

I love nachos.  Anytime, anyplace, anywhere….I love ‘em.  I like the orangey fake cheese sauce, grated cheese, topped with chili, topped with jalapenos, you name it….I’ll eat it.  My kids are huge fans of nachos too.  But really, who isn’t? 

When I make nachos at home, I like to make my own cheese sauce.  But I like to make it with freshly grated cheese, not cheese product.  Like I said above, I like a good processed cheese, but nachos with freshly grated cheese sauce is oh so good, and obviously better for you.  And a cheese sauce is so easy to make.  It uses three ingredients and it is quick!  Let me walk you through it.

I start with eight ounces of freshly grated cheddar cheese.  You can use whatever flavor cheese you like, as long as it is a good melting cheese like cheddar, mozzarella, jack or Fontina.  But you must grate it yourself.  This is very important.  The bags of grated cheese sometimes have added stabilizers that will not work in this recipe.

I mix my grated cheese with one tablespoon of corn starch in a small sauce pan that is not on the heat yet.  Once the cheese has been tossed with the corn starch, I stir in a twelve ounce can of evaporated milk and turn the heat on medium low-ish.

The mixture needs to get whisked continuously for about five minutes now over medium heat.  At first nothing will happen, and you will think I’m crazy.  Then, the cheese will start to melt but the mixture will get very stringy, and you will for sure think I’ve lost my mind.  Hang in there.  Finally, after you have cursed my name and decided I shouldn’t ever be allowed to cook….the sauce will come together.  It will thicken and melt into a beautiful, silky cheese sauce.  You will apologize for all the nasty things you’ve said about me.  You just have to be patient!

This sauce is good for nachos, of course, but it is also great over veggies, as a dip for French fries, or straight out of the pot if you are like me.

If you serving adults, and looking for something a bit more fancy pants….I’ve got a version of “grown-up” nachos that you have to try.  These nachos are made with sweet potato chips, topped with a Gruyere and blue cheese sauce, and then drizzled with a balsamic reduction that is too die for.  You may have had a similar version at the Cadillac Ranch that used to be at Legends in Sparks.  I used to be addicted to their version of this and I knew I had to replicate it.

I make this cheese sauce this same way.  I start with four ounces of freshly grated Gruyere cheese.  Gruyere is a nutty cheese that is similar to Swiss cheese.  It is available virtually everywhere.  I mix the Gruyere with four ounces of crumbled blue cheese.  I stir my tablespoon of corn starch in and add a can of evaporated milk just like my basic version.  Same process now….stirring and waiting.

While the cheese sauce cooks, I also reduce balsamic vinegar on the stovetop until it is thick and syrupy.  Open the windows for this….your family might not appreciate the smell, even if they are vinegar lovers.

This cheese sauce gets poured over a layer of sweet potato chips, but thick ruffled potato chips are great with this too.  I drizzle the whole thing with my balsamic syrup, and I also sprinkle more blue cheese over the top.  Heaven on a plate.  A very large plate.  The adults in your life will thank you for this.


Huge news on the Gourmet Rooster front…..my products are now available at all Scolari’s and Sak and Save stores.  Stop by and get some!

Basic Cheese Sauce

8 ounces freshly grated cheese, such as cheddar or Jack

1 tablespoon corn starch

12 ounces evaporated milk (one can)

Toss cheese with corn starch.  Add to small sauce pan.  Whisk in evaporated milk and heat over medium, stirring frequently.

Cook over medium heat for at least 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened and cheese has melted.

Makes 2 cups


Gruyere and Blue Cheese Nachos

4 ounces freshly grated Gruyere Cheese

6 ounces crumbled blue cheese, divided

1 tablespoon corn starch

12 ounces evaporated milk

½ cup balsamic vinegar

6 ounce bag Sweet Potato Chips (Terra brand)

Toss Gruyere and 4 ounces blue cheese with corn starch.  Add to small sauce pan.  Whisk in evaporated milk and heat over medium, stirring frequently.

Cook over medium heat for at least 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened and cheeses have melted.

For balsamic reduction:

Heat vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium/high heat.  Boil until vinegar has reduced by half, about 3 minutes at a full boil.

Layer potato chips on a large plate.  Top with cheese sauce, remaining blue cheese and balsamic reduction.

Serves 6

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Zucchini Bread-Two Ways


A four pound zucchini.  Yes, you read that right.  My friend gave me a four pound zucchini last week.  She said, “Can you do anything with a really large zucchini?”  I said “of course!”  I figured I could make some roasted zucchini for dinner.  And then I saw it.  I realized I could make roasted zucchini, fried zucchini, zucchini frittata, zucchini pasta….pretty much everything with zucchini.

The first thing I did with my extra-large zucchini was grate half of it.  Now I have zucchini for quick breads, muffins, scrambled eggs, pasta sauce, etc.  Quick tip, if adding it to bread….squeeze it dry in paper towels to get rid of the excess moisture.

My favorite way to use up zucchini is to make quick bread with it and then pass it out to friends and neighbors.  People always like to get baked goods, right?  I think so.  And with a four pound zucchini, pretty much everyone that knows me can be sure that they will receive a loaf of quick bread.

I like to make quick breads because quick breads don’t contain any yeast.  They are very cake like. There is no kneading, no rising, no hard stuff basically.   It is perfect for breakfast, or a quick snack.  You can make quick breads sweet or savory.  Today I am going to show you my two favorite quick breads containing zucchini.  That way, if you happen to have too much zucchini laying around because your backyard just flat out produced too much….you can give friends and neighbors bread.  You don’t have to sneak over to their house in the middle of the night and leave zucchini on their porch (I swear I’ve known people that did that with peaches)…..make bread.

My first bread is a savory bread.  It is a cornbread actually but I bake it in a loaf pan.  I use a package of cornbread mix to start.  Yep, there I go using packages again.  But this won’t taste anything but homemade, I promise.  Beyond the cornbread mix, I also use grated zucchini (duh), gruyere cheese, and thyme.  And whatever else the package calls for.

The zucchini gives this bread a fresh almost sweet flavor.  The gruyere is nutty and works perfectly with the sweet corn flavors.  This bread is perfect with soup, salad, even pasta.  I’ve even caught my husband making sandwiches with it.

My second quick bread happens to be my favorite.  Because it is chocolate.  Chocolate Zucchini Banana to be exact.  I start this one with a box of Banana Bread mix.  I add more grated zucchini, unsweetened cocoa powder, mini chocolate chips and vanilla Greek yogurt to this one.  The Greek yogurt gives this bread great moisture and it adds protein to it.  It also allows be to use half the amount of oil.  To me, that makes it health food.


One of the greatest things about quick bread, besides what I mentioned above, is that you can easily mix your batter together in one bowl, with no mixers.  You basically mix with a spoon until everything is blended.  I swear it is easier to make then cookies.

If you have a surplus of zucchini, you must make one or both of these breads.  You can give them out, you can freeze them, or you can eat them all at one sitting like I do with the chocolate version.  Don’t laugh….there is zucchini in there so it is super good for me.  Right?


Zucchini and Gruyere Cornbread

2 cups Marie Callender’s Cornbread mix

1 cup milk

¼ cup melted butter

1 egg

1 cup zucchini, grated and squeezed dry

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

1 cup gruyere cheese, grated

1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray loaf pan (8x4x2 ½) with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients until just blended.  Pour batter into loaf pan.

Bake at 425 for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown on top a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Serves 8


Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread

14 ounce box Pillsbury Banana Quick Bread Mix

½ cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt

½ cup water

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup zucchini, grated and squeezed dry

2 eggs

1/8 cup vegetable oil

½ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a loaf pan (8x4x2 ½) with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, gently stir together all ingredients.  Pour batter into loaf pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until brown on top and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serves 8