the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nachos: McGuire's Style

i have been cooking up a storm over the last couple of weeks. i don't know what's gotten into me. one day i just caught the cooking bug, and i've been deviating from our usual tacos-spaghetti-pizza-sloppy joes-something from a box or the freezer dinner routine.

it all started a couple of weeks ago when i started itching to make nachos. mcguire's style nachos, that is. for those who aren't from around these parts, mcguire's is a very cool irish pub style restaurant in pensacola and destin, fl. they serve traditional irish foods plus the standard american fare (burgers, steaks, etc) - and there's a brewery right in the restaurant, so that's pretty cool if that's your thing. a lively round of "kiss the moose [crotch, ass, etc]" with the singer in the entertainment/bar area is also quite entertaining on weekend nights.

anyway, back to the point. nachos are one of the features on the appetizer section of mcguire's menu. but don't let that 'appetizer' thing fool you. when you order mcguire's nachos, you are served a veritable tower of food - literally. you get a tower of chips and yummy nacho toppings (meat/beans, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, various peppers, cheese, etc) approximately a foot tall. it takes five hungry 20-somethings to take down a tower of mcguire's nachos. not bad, feeding 5 for the low, low price of $9.99.

i love mcguire's nachos. chad and i frequently order them and nothing else and still take a mountain of leftovers home. well, we haven't been in pcola lately to sample this mountain of chippy, cheesy goodness, so i decided to try this at home. my effort is pictured above. it was pretty good, if i do say so myself. only i decided not to go for the messy tower. instead, i spread out the chips and toppings on a huge serving platter.

following the nacho success (and a few other food-related triumphs), chad coaxed me into making buffalo chicken fajitas for father's day. shortly before this, i had tried my hand at meatloaf. while it was tasty, it took forever, so a week or so later i did the meatloaf thing again, only i made four tiny loaves instead of one big one, which was way better time-wise. while grocery shopping this weekend, i got a wild hair and decided to make a chicken pot pie. it was tasty and quite easy. i have a recipe that calls for frozen veggies, but i wanted to experiment with different fresh veggies, so i just used potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions in the filling, and it was delicious.

oh, but the food madness isn't over yet. last night i was really craving good, homemade mac and cheese. so i made some. now, i have tried the mac and cheese thing before, and it turned out ok but not spectacular. something about the cheese sauce just wasn't quite right. so last night i threw the recipes out the metaphorical window and followed my amazing cooking instincts and made, like, the best mac and cheese ever. well, not mac and cheese, per se. i used penne rigate instead of macaroni, but you get the idea.

i also figured out the problem with my first attempt at the mac and cheese - my roux was too thick. instead of using equal parts butter and flour, i cut down the flour a bit (3 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp flour). after combining that with 1/2 cup half and half, 3/4 cup skim milk, and one 5 oz can of evaporated milk (i was going with what i had, people) then simmering it for about 5 minutes, it made a wonderfully thick (but not too thick) white sauce. then i added three huge handfuls of sharp cheddar, a little garlic salt and pepper, poured it over cooked penne rigate, topped it with more shredded cheddar, and baked it for 20 minutes at 350 deg. you should try it. best fake mac and cheese ever. but next time, i will plan ahead and just buy whole milk for the sauce.


Vanessa Mae said...

I totally understand getting the cooking bug! It's many times cheaper than going out to eat, so why not? I've pretty much mastered the breaded chicken and pasta bit (alfredo or marinara). I've branched out to salmon cakes, mushroom risotto and (most recently) ratatouille. Yes, on my very first try (with a very simple recipe online) I made fabulous ratatouille. I must make this for you guys some time.

latina marie said...

i've also made ratatouille, but it's been a long time. i was also surprised at how easy it was.

i would love for you to make us some whenever we both have time.

Deva said...

Vanessa is fooling you; she is not just mastered the breaded chicken and pasta ... she makes it better than professionals!!! ;)