Naan, Nachos, & Nuts

I had been itching to do something a little different lately and it has also been a very long time since I had seen Monica. We considered going to Mi Cocina or doing Enchilada Night part 2, but then inspiration struck in the form of….nachos. I can’t remember whether I had the idea first and then found this Ultimate Nacho Generator or 50 inspiring ideas for nachos or if I stumbled across one of these websites and then couldn’t shake my craving for nachos, BUT the idea had taken hold. We had to have a nacho party.

Mons was obviously game for anything that required eating and creativity. Naturally we made your standard Tex-Mex variety (ground beef, lettuce, salsa, black beans, and cheese), but of the 50 varieties to choose from we decided to experiment with something called naan-chos.

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You cut the naan into triangles or strips and toast them until they are browned and crispy (but keep in mind that you are going to bake them again). While those are toasting, mix 1 tbsp curry with 2 tbsp olive oil as you saute an onion. Once the onion is clear and a little browned, add a can of chickpeas, cooking until you can mash them a little. Spread toasted naan on a baking sheet and top with chickpea curry mash and cheese of your choice (we used mozzarella). Monica had leftover basmati rice, so we threw that on there too. Once the cheese is good and melted, top with a chutney of your choice and/or yogurt. I can safely speak for everyone present that naan-chos are a delectable winner. I will most certainly be making these again, but this time with even more toppings. More curry, more peas, more chutney. More everything. The naan was crispy, but still a little chewy and denser than chips.

A few weeks ago I tried making naan myself since the boyfriend has a griddle, but I don’t think they were flat enough. The dough rose a lot more than expected so they were dense and chewy. In an attempt to make light of an utter kitchen failure, we decided that they made very good garlic buns. Or as Justin’s roommate called them, ‘Indian pancakes’. I’ll try it again once the 30 day no-wheat challenge is over (only 26 more days to go….). This recipe looked particularly good and easy.

The party didn’t stop there. Even though we were stuffed, Monica and I value dessert too much to skimp. Plus, the recipe was just too easy. I tossed a bowl of lightly salted tortilla chips with sugar and cinnamon, spread them out on a baking sheet, topped with a mixed berry medley and chocolate chips. Bake until chocolate is melted and berries are bubbling and then serve with creme fraiche. So simple and such a perfect combination of  goopey and crunchy and sweet and salty. Next time I would just buy cinnamon sugar pita chips. A perfect end to a well-needed evening of quiet and friends in between hours of studying.

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Continuing with the alliteration of this post….NUTS. I’ve recently used them in ways I had previously never thought of, but have been more than pleasantly surprised at the results each time.

First up, cashew sweet potato soup. I’ve become a bit of a soup connoisseur these days (not really, I just made different iterations of lentil curry soups and sweet potato coconut milk soups because they cheap, hearty, and the simplest to make) and I have to say…this one might be my favorite. Less than 8 ingredients, all of which are wholesome and inexpensive, is every dabbling budgeter’s dream.

Cashew Soup

And finally, nut bread. I’ve actually made this once before a very long time ago and, in an attempt to satisfy my never-ending craving for a warm piece of toast, I have made it again. I didn’t have any almonds, so I added an extra cup of oats and I think I like it more this time around. A little thicker and fluffier. In other words, more reminiscent of real bread than a granola bar. Topped with creamy sun butter makes for a relaxing damp spring morning or a 3pm pick-me-up on a Friday afternoon.

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Even though I had a very pleasant nacho filled weekend of studying last week, I am incredibly excited for my first weekend since January that I don’t have to worry about Hindi homework. My final was earlier this week and I passed! I wasn’t too concerned. There were only 3 of us in the class, she loved us all because we busted our backs for this class, and this was the kind of institution where people take classes for fun. Not really designed to make you fail unless you really didn’t do the work. Still, the test was 21 pages long because “we were such smart and dedicated students that we deserved a longer test”. Talk about brain-dead. But afterwards Justin and I celebrated by seeing who could eat pizza faster (both as a kick off to a month with no wheat and to settle an outstanding argument…I won) and watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I’ve seen this movie countless times and it is one of my favorites because of how beautifully the story portrays love, opportunity, and old age. And India. Being able to read some of the text that appeared in the movie and understanding some words here and there was very exciting!

But I am glad that Hindi is over. It was challenging and fun and I certainly feel accomplished being able to read in a different script after 10 weeks (I don’t know 98% of the words, but that’s besides the point) but it will feel very nice to not have to worry about homework on top of job applications and my latest endeavor…studying for the GRE! I’m not looking forward to re-learning high school math I never learned in the first place, but I plan on going to grad school sometime in the next 5 years so I figured it would be a wise decision to take that before I leave D.C. And go where, you ask? Well that is still in the works. Final decisions may have to be made by the end of the month (so far things have been moving rather quickly), so I will (hopefully) know soon. Unfortunately, the future doesn’t just happen. So I will have to spend a portion of my weekend writing application essays. But that’s ok. Because I am fully invested in the changes happening in my life and preparing to leave is making me reflect heavily on what I want to happen in the future as well as what I want to do while I am still here.

So speaking of, this weekend I also plan on sleeping, taking advantage of free McDonald’s Coffee, catching up on TV, watching fireworks Saturday evening, celebrating a friend’s birthday, and binge watching Game of Thrones before Sunday’s premiere. I couldn’t be more excited. Have a fabulous weekend and, as always, thank you for reading!

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