If you’re anything like me and grew up in an impoverished family, you have fond memories of eating out a fast food restaurants. I remember while my family was living near Henderson, TX (we moved around a lot) that every other Friday (pay day) my mother would take my sister and I through the McDonald’s drive thru for a chicken nugget Happy Meal and then we’d go visit my great grandmother. Later when we out grow the Happy Meal’s a bit we started going to Taco Bell, although we didn’t go through the drive thru but dined in instead. It was a big deal for us to go to Taco Bell for dinner and I remember being so freaking psyched about getting to choose three things of whatever I wanted off the 59 cent, 79 cent, or 99 cent menus (remember those?). I’d usually go for a nacho, a taco, and the pintos and cheese. Having the freedom of choice was very limited for me growing up and because I got to choose for myself, going to Taco Bell with my family soon became one of my favorite things to do. Subsequently, I developed a severe emotional attachment to the TexMex fast food joint over the years that I don’t think will ever go away.
However, today I practice cleaner eating and avoid fast food all together. I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s in nearly 10 years (save one McMuffin a couple years ago I had while staying with friends who don’t really cook very much. They graciously bought my breakfast and I stuffed my foodie snobbery aside and thanked them for their generosity. I was raised with manners after all. Plus I learned from many mornings sitting on a church pew, no one enjoys being preached at.) McDonald’s has never really been the problem for me though. Taco Bell is. Every time I get stressed out or anxious, every time I feel lonely or upset I crave Taco Bell like a hard core junkie. I’ve proudly been Taco Bell free for a year and a half now but the cravings are still there. Sometimes I browse over pictures online and try to convince myself that a once in a blue moon trip through the drive thru won’t hurt me. Except that it does, every single time. I get really sick for like two days every time I eat there. It’s a war between emotional comfort and logic I frequently have to battle.
Yesterday I spent several hours out at Fair Weather Farm digging up purple potatoes and helping wash and dry them for pick up. They’ll be featured in a dish on Thursday at The Farmer & The Chef event in Wilmington, DE. I’m super excited about going! While we were washing the potatoes around lunch time, I was tired and sore from digging and raking the potato plot and Nancy, the farm owner, was telling me about her previous night’s dinner out. She said they had ordered a plate of nachos to share and the point of her story was about how the nachos weren’t very good and rather disappointing but all I could think was “hmmm, nachos!” By the time I got back home, Amy had already left for the airport and so walking into an empty house (no offense fur-babies!) triggered my Taco Bell cravings. I went about mentally convincing myself how much I deserved a Taco Bell dinner. I’d busted my ass out at the farm after all and cooking for one can be rather depressing for me at times. Amy and I cook together a lot when she’s home and so it does take effort to be in the kitchen without her. Even if she isn’t cooking with me, she’s usually sitting at the kitchen island or on the sofa playing her classical guitar. It get’s me in my feels hard being in the kitchen when she’s gone. But, I sucked it up and decided to cook my own dinner anyway. I compromised with myself though and made nachos supreme with homemade queso and leftover tofu crumble from our taco night. The dish comforted me but was way healthier than the fast food version and tasted a hell of a lot better too!
Vegetarian Nachos Supreme
1 or 2 handfuls organic corn tortilla chips
1/4 cup Cabot Cheddar Queso, recipe below
2 garden fresh tomatoes, chopped
about 3 tablespoons black olives, chopped
1 teaspoon Sour Cream
1/4 cup shredded Savoy cabbage
1/4 cup leftover tofu taco crumble
several pickled jalapenos, optional
Layer your corn tortilla chips on a plate and top with queso, leftover tofu taco crumble, and remaining ingredients. Garnish with pickled jalapenos, green scallions, fresh cilantro, lime wedges or whatever you like.
Cabot Cheddar Queso:
1 teaspoon Coconut oil
1 teaspoon bread or all purpose flour
1 cup shredded Cabot cheddar, or cheese of your choice
1 cup Cashew milk, or milk of choice
1/4 cup Kilby Cream Whole milk
1 cup fresh made salsa, or your favorite salsa
2-3 fresh jalapenos, optional
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, make a roux by stirring the coconut oil and flour together until well combined. Add the chopped jalapeno’s and cook a couple of minutes, if using. Next add in the salsa, Cashew and Whole milk , and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until slightly reduced about 15 minutes. Once reduced, turn off the heat and slowly add in the shredded cheddar a little at a time. Stir in the cheese until it has completely melted then add in a bit more cheese. Repeat until all cheese is used. Serve immediately.
Note: you can adjust the thinness or thickness of the queso to your specific preference by adjusting the milk’s reducing time or adjusting the amount of cheese you add in.