Archive | August 2012

2AM Chicken Sausage Nachos

I absolutely love entertaining and planning parties, but no matter how organized I am (insanely organized) there are always little bumps along the way. Like when our oven caught fire before this year’s July 4th celebration or how I often discover an ingredient is missing just as I’m ready to add it to the mixer.

On the controversy, I’m always pleasantly surprised at how relaxing it feels to have a last minute get-together. Throw a few dogs on the grill, pour jarred fix-ins into serving dishes for a toppings station, dump bags of uniquely flavored chips into large bowls and serve some cold beers or chilled glasses of wine. One time this summer a pitcher of iced tea was spontaneously transformed into sangria by adding a bottle of white and tons of frozen fruit I had just happened to have stocked up on. Effortless.

Those are the times when I make ice cream while people are there so it becomes an activity, not a chore, or bake cookies because it’s fun, or in this most recent case, come up with an innovative recipe for nachos.

This Wednesday my good friend was visiting from NY and late afternoon we decided to have some friends over for a mid-week BBQ. It was as simple as listed above, with a few no-fuss tea lights out on the deck, red paper napkins and a serve-yourself kind of meal. Before we knew it, the sun had set and our energy rose, leaving us up talking all night long. Around 2AM hunger struck again, and one of our friends requested nachos. Knowing he had come to the right place, we collaboratively searched through the fridge to see what we could prepare.

Hubby layered a baking dish with black bean chips and lime Tostitos, shredded Mexican cheese, black beans and hot sauce. Another friend sauteed chicken sausage in a pan, (I added a splash of tequila!) before he cleverly crumbled it in a food processor with tomato salsa. I mashed an avocado into guacamole with minced garlic, red onion and spices. We all helped clean up.

While I don’t have exact measurements of too many things, I did take photos (of course!) and have the gist of it spelled out for you. If it’s 2AM and you’re hungry, you too won’t want to bother with measuring devices. I trust that you’ll know just what to do!

Everyone dug into our creation of crunchy chips, flavorful meat, melted cheese, hearty black beans, a very powerful hot sauce and smooth guacamole. A late night snack to top off a comfortable evening of good friends and great times.


Tostitos with lime

Bean chips

1 package roasted red pepper and asiago chicken sausage (or any flavor of your choice)

1 splash of tequila

About 1/4 cup salsa

3/4 package shredded Mexican cheese

14 oz. can black beans

Hot sauce to taste

1 avocado

Minced garlic-about a teaspoon?

Freeze dried red onion-another teaspoon?

Lime juice

Adobe seasoning to taste

Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Layer chips in a baking dish about half way and top with beans, cheese and hot sauce.

Cut chicken sausage in half lengthwise. Sautee until golden, adding a splash of tequila at the very end.

Pour about 1/4 cup salsa into the bottom of a food processor, and add the chicken sausage. Pulse until crumbled.

Mash one avocado with a bit of lime juice, minced garlic, Adobe seasoning, red onion and pepper. Set aside.

Slather chicken sausage, more beans and cheese onto another layer of chips.

Cover nachos with foil, cutting a few slits into the aluminum.

Bake until cheese is melted and top with guacamole.

Eat and enjoy at any hour!

ONLY 1 WEEK LEFT to VOTE for me daily to be named Taste of Home’s Mrs. Holiday! Thanks for your support!


Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

I wish I had a really great story for this dish, a funny anecdote, a meaningful symbolism….but really I was just hungry. As summer comes to a close, it’s only fair to give pasta salad a good sendoff before it’s traded for baked ziti and macaroni and cheese. This version has two varieties of fun shaped noodles, colorful, fresh vegetables, tangy sundried tomatoes and a bright lemony olive oil dressing. The recipe is completely vegan, but you can certainly add shredded parmesan or crumbled feta if you so desire.

Full of texture and crunch, this savory dish serves as an excellent side to your Labor Day burgers and dogs, or a perfect complement to warm chicken and salmon right off the grill.


1 box bowtie pasta with tomatoes and carrots

1 box spiral pasta (I used cellentani)

1 bag mini tri-colored peppers

1 head of broccoli

2 cups shredded carrots

1 small can sliced black olives, drained

About 1 cup julienne sundried tomatoes in oil

The juice of 4 lemons

2/3 cup good olive oil

A few tablespoons olive oil from sundried tomatoes

Garlic salt to taste

Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare pasta according to directions.

Cut broccoli and peppers into bite sized pieces.

Drain sundried tomatoes, saving the olive oil for the dressing.

Whisk together olive oil, sundried tomato oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Mix pasta with broccoli, peppers, carrots, sundried tomatoes and olives.

Toss with dressing and serve cold. Eat and enjoy while wearing white pants for the last time!

ONLY 1 WEEK LEFT to VOTE for me daily to be named Taste of Home’s Mrs. Holiday! Thanks for your support!