Apple, Spinach, and Blue Cheese Nachos

IMG_4245This is not your average nacho and I know a number of readers are going to turn up their nose before they even read the post.  Nachos are typically a fan favorite, but blue cheese is definitely a love it or hate it food.  I never really hated it, but I definitely did not consume it often and really still do not.  However I do think blue cheese works well with certain foods and apples are one of those.

I have a weakness for a couple types of food.  You know the types of foods that no matter what you are willing to eat.  Sort of my own type of comfort foods since I have never been a meatloaf and mashed potato type of girl.  We have already established in previous post my love for pizza, or anything resembling pizza.  If you did not realize that here are a few of my pizza creations BBQ Chicken Pizza, Swiss Chard Naan Bread Pizza, Grilled Peach and goat cheese pizza.

Another love of mine is mexican food.  I have not posted that many mexican type foods aside from tacos and my mention of taco salad that we eat quite often.  We probably eat more mexican food in the winter, but I eat it year round.  I love nachos.  Typically my nachos are classic in nature containing beans or meat for protein, diced onion or pepper, and topped with cheese.  There used to be a favorite local restaurant of mine that served nachos as an appetizer.  Their appetizer nachos were not your typical nacho.  I remember ordering the spinach dip ones multiple times and I think they may have had a thai chicken one as well.  Recently I have thought about that restaurant and how their uniqueness in nachos is not found at many places.  I am not sure I have ever come across another restaurant they put such a twist on the mexican staple chips and dip.

Well my thoughts of that restaurant might have been the inspiration for this dish or maybe it was my yearning to use up the blue cheese I had in the refrigerator and the thought in the back of mind that I really should eat something healthy… fruit.

Nachos are one of those foods that I love because I can give you a recipe, but really you make what you need.  On the particular day I created this dish, I was home alone and it was one of the first cool days so I wanted a warm lunch.  Since then I tried it on Little Miss Mixture for a quick weeknight dinner.  Individualizing and making a plate full, whether a small plate for one or a large one to share with others, nachos are a go to type of food in a pinch.

Apple, Spinach, and Blue Cheese Nachos

White Corn Tortilla Chips

1/2 Cup Fresh Baby Spinach*

1/2 Granny Smith Apple

3 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese

2 oz. Mozzarella cheese

Arrange nachos on a microwave safe plate.  (Note nachos can also be done in the oven, but I chose the microwave to decrease the cooking time for melting the cheese in order to keep the apples crisp.)  Chop the spinach and apples and arrange on top of the tortilla chips.  Sprinkle with blue cheese and top with mozzarella.  Microwave on high 30-45 seconds.  I served Trader Joe’s corn salsa along side for a cool, yet spicy contrast.

* You could substitute arugula or chard for the spinach.

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I am just going to Shake, Shake, I Shake It…

IMG_3925Shake it up that is.  I so wanted to name this salad Shake it Off Kale Salad, but really it just did not seem to make sense.  However since Little Miss Mixture is a Taylor Swift fan, I have heard this song almost as much as Let it Go recently and I cannot seem to get it out of my head.  So as I was standing in the kitchen shaking my salad this is exactly the beat the salad was created to.

I have posted a couple of kale salads now and each one is different.  That is what is so great about kale and some of the other greens. They have versatility.  I have been a fan of spinach for this reason  for a decade or so, but when we began eating kale a couple of years ago I was skeptical.  It took being a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group where week after week I got bunches of greens for me to get comfortable with them and really start to enjoy eating them and cooking with them.  The thing I love most about kale is how it stands up to dressings and marinades.  I find the longer it marinates the better it taste.  Do you know what that allows you to do?  You can literally prepare a kale salad one day and enjoy it off and on throughout the next 3-4 days.

That is exactly what I do with a couple of kale salads that we enjoy.  Here is one that I put together the other day.

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Shaken Kale Salad

1 Bunch of Kale

1 Apple, cut into chunks

1/4 cup Dried Cranberries

4 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Honey

3 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper

Place all ingredients in a glass bowl with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well.  Place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 4 hours.  Remove from refrigerator and shake a few times.  Enjoy.

* Since the dressing includes lemon juice the apples hold up well.  Though I do like to add some for extra crunch by the third day.IMG_3924

 

Similar related salads

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Spinach, Apple, Mushroom Salad

Kale Salad with Walnuts

Kale Salad with Walnuts

Simple Kale Salad

Waldorf Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing

DSC_0606I decided that the perfect fall accompaniment to dinner one night would be waldorf salad. This is a salad that I remember from my childhood. It just made since with a drawer full of apples. The Waldorf Salad was first created by the Maitre’d at the Waldorf hotel in New York City.  So if I had any doubt that Little Miss Mixture would enjoy this I knew I could entice her with the fanciness of being from the Waldorf Hotel and being a New York City food.  Like many little girls she is taken by all things fancy and she absolutely loves the city.

Classic waldorf salad uses mayonnaise as the primary ingredient to bind the salad.  As a southern girl there are things that mayonnaise is definitely needed for and I do enjoy some mayonnaise, but Little Miss Mixture is not a big fan and it is not the healthiest of condiments.  So in an effort to lighten the salad and ensure everyone in the house would enjoy it, I decided to use greek yogurt.  The problem, which is not really a problem depending on your preferred taste is that greek yogurt can be tangy.  I love the tanginess of it but to create this salad and make it more traditional I needed to mask that.  I am happy to say in less than fifteen minutes I had created what I thought was a pretty good version of Waldorf Salad.  Give it a try and see for yourself.  Waldorf salad can be a light meal served atop a bed of lettuce or as a nice side salad.

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Waldorf Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing

1 1/2 cups apples*
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cups walnuts ( chopped )
1/2 cup celery ( diced )
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt ( non-fat )
2-3 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix together the apples and next 3 ingredients in a medium bowl or serving dish.  In a small bowl combine the yogurt, honey, and mayonnaise.  Combine to ensure the honey is evenly distributed in the mixture.  Pour over the apple mixture and stir.  Add lemon juice atop the bowl and stir once then refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Stir lightly before serving.

* I used Jonagold apple, as a sturdy apple holds up best in this dish.

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Other great recipes that include apples and fall flavors.

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Spinach, Apple, & Mushroom Salad in Maple Vinaigrette (Let’s Have Mixture)

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Baked Apple Yogurt Parfait (Let’s Have Mixture)

waldorf

Kale Waldorf Salad (The Fountain Avenue Kitchen)

Apple-Pie-Panini-Recipe

Apple Pie Panini (Just a Taste)

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 Acorn Squash with Red Quinoa, Almond and Apple Salad in Maple Vinaigrette (Caroline Kaufman)

Spinach, Apple & Mushroom Salad with Maple Vinaigrette & What we are Eating

DSC_0606 DSC_0604I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. It is officially time to put away the white pants and linen and begin to enjoy football, apples, and pumpkins. It may not be fall per the calendar as yet, but in the South we have rules.  I just love this that I found while perusing my social media last night. I guess I really am a southern girl as I do in fact live by most of these.  I will admit to continuing to wear strappy sandals and sundresses for another week or so, but really how can you not when the thermometer is inching up to the mid 90’s.  White however is a no and I completely agree with the author of this piece as I struggle with whether or not white jeans work.  Regardless of what the fashion industry said, us southern girls remember what our mom’s taught us.

So to kick our fall off, we went apple picking this weekend.  We had a great time, though I wish it had been a few degrees cooler.  It is hard to enjoy yourself and get ready for fall when you are sweating your way through the apple orchard.  Apple Cider YES please, just make it a cold one.  There is no way to enjoy hot apple cider when it is a blazing 88 on top of a mountain.  Regardless of the weather our family tradition still stands.  We had a picnic lunch, picked a bushel of apples, bought and enjoyed some apple cider, and indulged on apple cider doughnuts.  Not a bad way to enjoy the long weekend.  Now back at home the apples have been sorted and stored.  I prefer to refrigerate most of the apples as they keep for longer.

DSC_0608Tips for Storing Apples

1.  Sort apples by variety, as different varieties ripen at different rates

2.  Make sure to check apples for bruises and punctures as these apples need to be eaten first

3.  Apples will keep best if stored in a cool environment cellar or the refrigerator fruit drawer are good choices.  Most apples will keep 3-5 months when kept this way.

4.  Be sure to keep apples away from onions and potatoes as they hasten the ripening.

We have made apple picking a tradition for the past five years or so.  With about 30lbs of apples in the house  we have learned to enjoy them in a variety of ways.  Little Miss Mixtures lunch included fresh apple slices with peanut butter and honey for dipping.  Sometimes we eat them with a slice of cheese.  I baked them with cinnamon and raisins to enjoy with yogurt.  I mix them into salads, make cakes, and applesauce.  Aside from just biting into them, this is how we enjoyed our fresh Jonagold apples this weekend.

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Spinach & Apple Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

3 cups fresh spinach

2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup red onion, sautéed in the bacon fat

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1 small apple (jonagold, gala, or other sweet variety work best)

Maple Vinaigrette

1 oz Maple Syrup

1 Tbsp Shallots, minced

1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

1 tsp garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients for vinaigrette and whisk together.  Allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until 3/4 of the way done.  Add the sliced red onion and continue sautéing together until bacon is crispy and onion is soft.  In a large salad bowl mix spinach, apple slices, and mushrooms.  Top with bacon and onion mixture.  Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss well.  Serve and enjoy.

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* adapted from Spinach Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette in Cooking Light Magazine

 

What we are Eating (August 24 – August 30)

Sunday – Italian Chicken Sausage Pepper & Onions,  Made from Scratch Sweet Potato Fries, Heirloom Tomatoes

Monday – Better than Take Out Pizza

Tuesday – Nachos with Black Bean Corn Salsa

Wednesday – Taco Salad

Thursday – Cilantro Serrano Pasta with Chicken

Friday – Anytime Salad with Chicken

Saturday – Date Night Out