Beefy Nachos with Guacamole: A Satisfying and Fun Last Minute Dish

Beefy Nachos with Guacamole, Photo by Jason Homa

Beefy Nachos with Guacamole, Photo by Jason Homa

Monday nights a lot of friends go to a NYC Mexican restaurant for “Fajita Night,” but this is not the Mexican food I grew up on in California. Fajitas came later and were more common in the Texas region that was once Mexico (ode to Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo).  I was raised on handmade tortillas, (my friend Amy Sierra’s mom used to make them) with chorizo and eggs, chile relleno, refried beans, tacos, salsa picante and enchiladas.  This is what I considered “real Mexican food.”  Everyone is entitled to their taste.

One of my favorite (and real simple to make) snacks was nachos.  I thought about them last night on our way home and stopped and grabbed a couple of avocados, vine tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, lime and a variety of corn and sweet potato chips and here is what I came up with.

Again, before I let Jason go at them, he took this beautiful photograph.  It was one of our quicker shoots, since, by the time we ate, we were starving. This recipe is for my brothers, my mom and dad and all my friends in Cali!!!  Good eats, good times and good memories!

Oh, and if you’re in the Bay Area of northern California, here were some of my favorite spots:

La Pinata

Tito’s Mexican Restaurant

La Taqueria

Beefy Enchiladas with Guacamole

Preheat Oven to 325

1 Lb. Ground Beef
1 Cup Beef Broth
1 Tbsp. Flour or Cornstarch
1/2 Lb. Sharp Cheddar Grated
1/2 Lb. Monterey Jack with Peppers Grated
1 Yellow Onion Minced
3 Cloves of Garlic chopped
1/8 Tsp. Hot Hungarian Paprika
1/8 Tsp. Smoked Spanish Paprika
1/8 Tsp. Cumin
1/8 Tsp. Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1/2 Small Jalapeno or Serrano Chile (more if you like to sweat a little)
Salt & Pepper

1 Large Haas Avacado
1 Tsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1/2 Small Jalapeno or Serrano Chile
1/2 Juice of Lime
Dash of Cumin
1/4 Yellow Onion Chopped
1 to 1 1/2 Tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Chopped and Seeded Vine Tomato
Salt & Pepper

Final Topping
1 and 1/2 Medium Vine Tomatoes Chopped
1 Tsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Be creative:  Add your favorites at this point.  I have to be careful with how spicy I make it for some guests and others love it when I load on more chile peppers.

In a skillet coat bottom of pan with olive oil.  Saute onions and garlic until caramelized. Brown meat in a separate oiled skillet (I coat the meat with a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch).  Once browned, add to caramelized onion mixture and adding jalapeno, paprikas, cumin, and oregano, mixing well.  Add beef broth, while stirring, add the cilantro and bring to a boil.  Simmer on low while preparing guacamole and chips.

For the guacamole I simply cut my ingredients into quarters and throw into my food processor until the texture is to my liking.  (I prefer a slightly chunky guac).

Assemble chips of your choice in a pyrex baking pan, layer with grated cheeses, repeat and pop in oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted through. Using a slotted spoon, top with beef mixture and put the nachos back in the oven for another 5 or 10 minutes (watch closely).  Take out and top with guacamole and tomatoes.  Serve immediately while catching up on Game of Thrones or The Good Wife!






“The way to his heart is through his stomach.” The Very Best Lasagna Recipe

Photo by Kevin Twomey

This lasagna recipe is one of my favorites. I enjoy taking my time with it, allowing the sauce to cook for several hours in my favorite Le Creuset in the oven so that each of its distinctive spices have time to blend with one another. This is the perfect dish to impress “the one” if its true what they say, “The way to his heart is through his stomach.”


1 pound dried lasagna noodles (I prefer oven-ready)
3 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground Italian sweet sausage
1/4 pound ground Italian spicy sausage
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon dried fennel
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 quart ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 pound of fresh mozerella shredded or sliced
1/2 cup grated Grana Padana

Preheat oven on to 325°.

Coat a large skillet with olive oil, add beef and sausage and brown until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add anchovy paste, fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper. In a food processor, combine the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, basil, parsley, and oregano. Process until pureed, add to the pan with the ground meat and stir to combine. Stir in the flour. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by half. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and add the heavy cream and the cinnamon.

At this point I like to slow things down. The entire apartment smells of fresh herbs, garlic and savory sausage. Boyfriend and friends are growing hungry, but hold on. Anything really good is worth waiting for.

Remove your Le Creuset (or other cast iron oven) from stovetop and place into heated oven covered and cook for 4 – 6 hours on 325°. If you don’t have time for this step, simply cook on medium temperature on stovetop for 1-2 hours.

Preheat Oven to 350°

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta and the parmesan. Stir in the egg and season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the lasagna: Coat the bottom of a deep 13 by 9-inch pan with olive oil. Top with a spoonfull of sauce. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise in a slightly overlapping layer on the sauce. Dollop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta, spread to the edges with a spatula. Spread 1/3 of the sauce/meat mixture over the ricotta. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta. Top with a ladle full of sauce, spread evenly. Repeat with the next 2 layers of noodles, ricotta, sauce, and cheeses. Top last layer with noodles, sauce, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan. Tap the pan to force out air bubbles. Cover top with alluminum foil, removing the last 15 minutes.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Let lasagna rest for 30 minutes so the noodles will settle and cut easily. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.