Nacho Nirvana

Main Ingredients
banana peppers cheddar ground beef sour cream tomato tortilla chips

NachosApparently, I’ve been hiding inside the box. According to the husband, everything I’ve been preparing for Battle: YUM has been, well, obvious. You know what, though? Sometimes, that’s not a bad thing. If you’re craving something specific, the obvious path might be just what the doctor ordered. And on Superbowl Sunday, there is nothing better than standard-issue nachos.

My problem with nachos is that I never make them correctly. There’s always the lonely chips with no topping. The cheese never melts well and sometimes burns on the chips. I just haven’t reached nacho nirvana with this dish. I decided to give it a try today, though, and took inspiration from this how-to guide from Bon Appetit. The perfect plate of nachos? I’m in! And I’m trusting you, Mr. Knowlton, because I’m very apprehensive to make this finicky snack.

Perfect nachos depend upon personal preference, as described in the article. I checked my cupboard and fridge to determine how I would make mine today… I pulled out ground beef, salsa, cheddar, monterey jack, yellow tomatoes, sour cream, avocado and banana peppers. I had to mix up some guacamole (not a difficult decision) and substitute banana peppers for the jalapenos. I followed the take-home rules from the article:

  1. Use a tray with sides
  2. Make a thin layer of sturdy nachos
  3. Top with a layer of meat (and/or beans, but not for me)
  4. Top with LOTS of cheese
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 three more times to make a huge pile of yum
  6. Bake, then serve with accoutrements

nachos IMG_1404

The results? Looked great, tasted good, but still a disappointment to my biggest critic, me. I think that my mistakes in the past have been skimping on steps 4 and 5. But when you don’t, the chips in the middle get soggy and you need a fork. I should have probably just used the dry ground beef with some spices – and omitted the tomato sauce. My bad. Oh well, back to the drawing board!

Go Ravens! I have no attachment to Baltimore, but I’m rooting for purple for my friend Laurie, who is at the game!


Nacho Nirvana


  • bag of tortilla chips
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • chili spices
  • 2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheeses, like cheddar and monterey jack
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup banana peppers (or jalapenos)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 avocado
  • spices, like garlic, salt, onion, cumin
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • cilantro
  • salsa

Prepare the guacamole by mashing the avocado with spices, cilantro and lime juice. Set aside.

Mix up some chili with ground beef, spices and tomato sauce. Create a thin layer of tortilla chips in a tray. Top with some chili meat, then sprinkle lots of cheese. Repeat two or three more times to create a wall of nachos. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Broil for a minute or two to get the cheese all bubbly hot. Serve hot with sliced tomatoes, sour cream, pepper slices, guacamole and salsa. 

7 comments on “Nacho Nirvana

  1. Suggestion for you with the ground beef (I know right? coming from me?) – use taco seasoning and water, simmer, and add about a TBS or two of tomato paste. I make my own taco seasoning because commercial ones have too much salt for me. If you have the same problem, I’ll pass along my seasoning recipe.

  2. Elyse and Amy — the trick to not having soggy in the middle — start eating from the middle out. Just kidding. One guy told me to make sure all the ingredients were as dry as possible — drain the meat and let it stand for a minimum of 20 mins. Avoid sauce, use paste. For peppers, etc — same as the meat, drain and let stand. He claimed if you ate fast enough, the center wouldn’t be soggy or worst case scenario — not as soggy as the competition’s.

  3. Tofu Tacos
    Freeze extra firm tofu for 24 hrs minimum.
    Defrost, drain, squeeze excess liquid out, crumble.
    Blend 1/4 c water 2 Tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs peanut butter, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Pour over crumbled tofu and mix gently.
    Bake 20 min at 400. Toss and bake until toasted and somewhat dry. Use as “meat” in tacos, chili, etc.

    I have also changed the spices to use this in other dishes. Once I tried 5 spice powder in it to make tofu for lettuce wraps. Excellent!

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