Loaded Summer Nachos with Grilled Corn and Bourbon BBQ Chicken

Loaded Summer Nachos with Grilled Corn and Bourbon BBQ Chicken

We take what we love about most about nachos (crunchy chips and an unapologetic amount of cheese) and loaded them up with the best flavors of summer. Grilled corn, fresh tomatoes, avocado, pickled radishes and shredded chicken with bourbon-brown sugar BBQ sauce. 

I don’t know about you, but spring was something of a damp squib. It seemed to rain pretty solidly throughout April and May (you know the old rhyme: “April showers, May even more showers, let’s just forget about June entirely”) and while the garden is now as lush as it’s been in years (“July – finally! – flowers”), we hadn’t had much of a chance before the outset of summer to get out there and enjoy it. Now, at last, the heat is on, the tees and shorts are in rotation, and we’re fully into the swing of the season.

So we wanted to celebrate with something that represented all the things we love about summer eating. The flavors of outdoor grilling and BBQ. The fresh seasonal produce like corn and tomatoes. The potential for spending an evening on the deck with friends and easily-shareable finger food. Wasps. (Just kidding, we hate wasps.) And so our mind, as it often does, turns to nachos. Now, there may be many of you for whom nachos are irrevocably twinned with cool weather sports events or movies. And that’s fair enough – you’re in front of the TV, and you want something you can make a meal of without tearing your eyes away from the action. But for us, celebrating summer means taking it outside. (Also, we’re terrible game-night dunces, and only annoy our more sporty friends with idiot questions such as “How do they choose which team has the brightest socks?”)

Note: This recipe is part of our ongoing collaboration with Serious Eats

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Extra Crispy Chilaquiles with Salsa Verde, Chorizo and Egg

Extra Crispy Salsa Verde Chilaquiles with Chorizo and Egg

Tortilla chips don’t get no respect. Most often bought in bag form and dipped into hot cheese, their potential to form part of a tasty meal is overlooked. Combine home-made chips, salsa verde, spicy chorizo and eggs, serve up with fresh radishes and vinegary pickled onions, and you have yourself a chilaquiles dish that’ll make you think twice the next time you’re tempted in the snack aisle.

Note: This recipe is part of our ongoing series with Serious Eats

We’ve been fascinated with tomatillos ever since we first grew them in our deck herb garden a few years back. We bought two seedlings from a farm sale, and watched them grow and develop their papery husks, like hanging lanterns, eventually to get filled out by the fruit within them. Unfortunately, one plant was unceremoniously trampled by a backyard chicken, so we didn’t get quite the yield we would have liked – but fortunately, pollination had already taken place (tomatillos, unlike tomato plants, cannot self-pollinate, so you’ll need more than one to grow fruit). We had enough to make ourselves a really tasty salsa verde – the green cousin of a tomato salsa. Tomatillos share the same growing season as tomatoes, so at the beginning of summer we’re still too early for local varieties, let alone in our backyard, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find them at the grocery store. 

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde
Tomatillos remain geen, even when ripe

Salsa verde is packed with tomatillos, chilis, and love-it-or-hate-it cilantro (guess which way we go?), and you can add as little or as much heat as you like by varying the variety and amount of hot chili peppers. We usually opt for jalapeños, but if you want a little more fire you can look for serrano peppers. This time, we decided to use the sauce, not as a dip, but as a base for chilaquiles – a Mexican dish combining freshly-made tortilla chips with salsa and toppings – kind of like nachos, but saucier and paired with eggs.

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Chorizo Quesadillas With Radish and Fennel Salsa

Chorizo Quesadillas With Radish and Fennel SalsaCrispy tortillas filled with spicy chorizo and gooey cheese, these quesadillas are balanced by the fresh, unusual flavor of a radish and fennel salsa. It’s a sophisticated pairing that elevates a familiar comfort food.

Note: this recipe also appears on Serious Eats!

There are days when you absolutely crave a quesadilla that is, in food-marketing parlance, “fully loaded.” But the more ingredients you put in your quesadilla, the more prep work and cooking you have to do, and some nights you just don’t have time for that. To keep this version under 20 minutes, we limited ourselves to two main ingredients in the tortilla itself, and paired it with a tart, crunchy chopped salsa that balances the richness of the quesadilla and elevates it from standard sports-TV fare. It may not be fully loaded with ingredients, but it’s definitely fully loaded with flavor.

Chorizo Quesadillas With Radish and Fennel Salsa
Spicy chorizo, gooey cheese and fresh scallions

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Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken BreastsWith the exception of East Williamsburg, just about every apartment I rented in New York City had at least one bodega on the corner. In fact most blocks had several bodegas, a couple of Korean fruit & vegetable markets and possibly a Whole Foods/Trader Joes.

Now that we live in the Hudson Valley that’s just not the case any more (though now we own a house and have a garden and a dog and a bunch of chickens*, so okay, fair trade). But the truth is that, even three years later, I’m still adjusting to the idea that I can’t yell out my window and have someone throw a jalapeño at me.

*I didn’t include cats in this list because I always had cats in the city.

So the other day, I’m walking around the grocery store and find that organic, thin-sliced chicken cutlets are on sale. “Awesome!” I say to myself, because I am literally that much of a dork.

Now if you follow this blog at all, you might have noticed that I almost always use thighs for baking and roasting because I think they have much more flavor. But the one thing you can’t do (easily) with chicken thighs? Stuff them.

So now I’m imagining some kind of crispy, panko-crusted chicken stuffed with some sort of cheesy, creamy, spicy deliciousness. Sounds good right? I thought so too, until I got home and realized that I had completely forgotten to get jalapeños which, surprisingly enough, happen to be a rather important ingredient in jalapeño-popper stuffed chicken.

I hemmed and hawed about it for about four seconds before I decided that, yup, nothing else would do. Back to the store for three dollars worth of chiles.

I don’t regret a thing.

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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Blood Orange Margaritas

We ring in the new year with blood orange margaritas, combining the winter citrus with tequila, lime and triple sec to create damn tasty cocktails.

Blood Orange Margaritas
This drink is my vacation.

I know it’s a teeny bit late to say this but… Happy New Year’s Nerds! (Insert obligatory “I can’t believe it’s 2015 already and where the hell’s my hovercraft!”)

I think I’ve mentioned before that Matt and I have our New Year’s Eve ritual down to a science. Or an art. An art sounds better, doesn’t it? We make a fancy appetizer, steam lobsters, buy the crispiest french fries we can find and eat it all on a messy table lined with newspapers and butter drips. Heaven.

But this year we wanted to mix it up a little (imagine a middle-aged person doing jazz-hands when I say “mix it up” so you won’t be disappointed by what I mean). We still made lobsters and fries, of course (why mess with perfection?), but we went totally off-script with our beverage (that’s one of Matt’s hated words so I must use it as often as possible).

Blood Orange Margaritas

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde

We put together two different versions of salsa verde with some tomatillos, avocadoes, garlic and spices, and pretended to be into sports just to hang this article on a game theme! Hint: we are not into sports.

I’ve always envied people that were really into watching sports. I would love to care about something (other than nerdy television shows) enough to paint my face, don a kooky costume and brave the cold, just to prove my commitment and loyalty. To feel the agony of defeat in the hopes of, one day, just maybe, getting to experience the glory of ultimate victory.

But nope. Just don’t give a toss. Matt doesn’t follow sports either (with the exception of the occasional World Cup match, of course).

This is a rough approximation of Matt and me watching the news when the sports headlines come on.

SPORTSCASTER [Very excited]: AND THE STEELERS SCORED AN AMAZING SEVENTEEN AND FIFTY-SIX AND A HALF YARD PASSES LESS THAN SIX MINUTES APART IN THE FOURTH QUARTER! UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!

MATT [Pops a chip in his mouth]: What is this? Are they playing shove ha’penny?

EMILY [Rolls eyes]: No, idiot, I’m pretty sure it’s … (squints) …quoits.

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