Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Nachos with the Works

My bestie Neighbor Girl and I are practically the same age- but I should note that I'm a full 14 days older (and therefore proportionately wiser) than her. We're celebrating our birthdays right around this time of year, and when I say celebrating, I really do mean that we're thrilled about reaching another birthday. None of that moping around about how we're getting older and how we no longer get carded while buying beer at the grocery store. No lying about our age and perpetually saying we're 29. Neighbor Girl and I agree that we're happier with each passing year. We're more comfortable in our own skin and not feeling any pressure to impress anyone. We make it a priority to surround ourselves with kind and loving people. We know for sure that diamonds are not a girl's best friend. Best friends are a girl's best friend.

This weekend we threw each other a birthday bash. A fun little party with cupcakes and a build-your-own-nachos bar in keeping with the post- Cinco Di Mayo mood. Setting up a nachos bar is a good option because depending on how much time you have, you can use all store bought ingredients, or make several of them at home.

There are so many possibilities for a build-your-own-nachos bar:
1. Tortilla chips: 2 to 3 options with different textures, flavors and shapes. You could add soft flour tortillas and hard taco shells for taco options to make it more of a meal.
2. Beans, in the form of chili, cooked beans or refried beans.
3. Vegetable toppings, like minced green onions, cilantro, sliced colorful bell peppers, onions, lettuce, olives, corn kernels, pickled jalapenos, avocados.
4. Dairy toppings, like sour cream and shredded cheese.
5. Salsas: There are endless possibilities for different flavors of salsa. I made a salsa verde with tomatillos and an easy blender salsa with fire roasted tomatoes. I also bought a bottle of good old Tostitos brand salsa con queso. What? Don't look at me like that.

In addition, Neighbor Girl made a giant 7 layer dip. Her motto is "more is more" so it was more of a 17 layer dip, all said. We also had tasty chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. That's a flavor that is utterly predictable but utterly beloved in this home.

Neighbor Girl and I always exchange birthday presents. This year, she's taking me shopping for some summer clothes to celebrate the reappearance of my waist (last year at this time I was too pregnant for my usual summer wardrobe). I was wondering what to get for her when she mentioned that she's looking for a good pancake pan. So I'm putting together a "pancake kit" for her, with a cast iron griddle, pancake spatula, homemade pancake mix, a jar of chocolate almond spread to use as topping for the pancakes, and a crisp red dishcloth folded into the shape of a heart. On my birthday, Neighbor Girl showed up on the doorstep at 6:30 AM with balloons and lilies and a full breakfast- eggs with spinach and mushrooms, mini berry muffins, juice. Now that was the sweetest gift of all.

I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking. If you'd like to know more about the recipes for anything you see here, feel free to ask me in the comments.







On The Bookshelf

I was looking for some lighter reading recently and picked up these two books at the library. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is the unlikely love story between a retired British army officer and a Pakistani woman, set in an English village. It was delightful in parts and a good read overall but there were some parts that bored me and a few that had me gritting my teeth. 

The Forgotten Affairs of Youth is the latest installment in the Isabel Dalhousie series by one of my favorite authors in the light-yet-meaningful genre, Alexander McCall Smith. Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher and brings her musings to the mundane ups and downs of everyday life. These books always make me smile quietly. You know, I just noticed that both these books have garments illustrating the cover. 

My friend Cathy told me about this website What Should I Read Next? where you can plug in the name of a favorite book and author and get recommendations for similar titles. I'm hoping to find some more light and uplifting books to read this summer. Have you read anything good lately?


74 comments:

  1. What a fun idea. I've done something similar with a baked potato bar.

    I played a little bit with "What Should I Read Next?" and it's lots of fun.

    I'm mostly reading for school for a couple of more weeks but also reading M. F. K. Fisher's "The Gastronomical Me" and loving it.

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    1. I tasted a baked potato bar at a work lunch recently and it was lots of fun: baked Idaho potatoes, sour cream, cheese, green onions, broccoli etc.
      Thanks for suggestions The Gastronomical Me- I just requested it from the library.

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  2. Nacho bar seems like a great idea! I love all those toppings and would probably load up everything! And am also excited about the website "what should I read next". Looking forward to playing around with that.

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    1. I loaded up on everything too! :)

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  3. Nacho bar sounds like a fun idea!Having it for my next party :)And belated birthday wishes to both of you. May God bless you always.

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    1. Yep- definitely a great party idea and easy on the hostess too ;)
      Thank you SO much for your wishes, Madhuli. Appreciate it very much.

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  4. Happy Birthday Nupur, wishing you a year of wonderful things ahead... sounds like a super birthday was had... much love

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    1. Thank you sweet Arundati! Much love to you too.

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  5. Lovely post and drool worthy pics. And you are lucky to have such a sweet neighbor as is she. And your taste in books matches mine! And oh yes belated birthday greetings.

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    1. Thanks! Neighbor Girl has that nickname because she used to be my downstairs neighbor years ago. We're no longer neighbors but remain the best of friends.

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  6. I wish I was your neighbor girl....-:)

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    1. :) I'm sure you have plenty of neighbors you could be friends with though!

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    2. Yes Nupur, we share recipes. Sometimes, food.... I got to taste some unique recipes like corn roti, ugadi special items from my Kannadiga neighbor.

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  7. What a fun thing to do Nupur! Its a bit like our chaat-bar, isn't it? Mix and match and help yourself :)

    Belated happy birthday to you and Neighbour Girl

    Preeti

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    1. OMG a chaat bar would be much much better IMHO. But this was easier to do with supermarket ingredients. Thanks so much for the wishes!

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  8. This is such a fun post! I did something like this on 25 Apr. Made Kothimbir wadi and Kairi chutney and bought a cake for my friend and met her at the corner of our homes to hand over the hamper to take to work, a breakfast party on her birthday. She was so thrilled and I got to hear shrieks at the other end of telephone like I have not heard in years. It made my day.

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    1. Oh Anjali such a sweet thing to do. And kothimbir wadi and kairi chutney basically sounds like the best breakfast ever.

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  9. Wow this sounds so cool,..:) luv the cupcakes,,.and ya belated birthday wishes..

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  10. Happy Birthday! Nupur and to the neighbor girl.

    I read Major Pettigrew's last stand and felt exactly the same way you did.

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    1. Thanks! Glad to know I was not along in these mixed feelings about Major P.

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  11. Happy birthday to you and the neighbour girl ! Your celebrations with each other and the gifts for each other are just so sweet ! And you are so right...Only best friends are a girl's best friends !! Have a great year ahead !!

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    1. Thank you for the wishes! Yes, real friendship adds so much value to life, much beyond the gift exchanges and stuff.

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  12. Belated Happy Birthday Nupur! :) May all ur dreams come true!

    Your nacho bar reminds me of the chaat party my friend hosted for her daughters birthday, we loved it so much! Having a friend like neighbor girl sure is a blessing and I am sure she thinks the same about u...the breakfast on birthday sounds like a really sweet gesture. I should do something like that for my friends, especially those with babies.

    Thanks for suggesting 'what should I read next?' That sounds just perfect for me. And ur quote 'Diamond's are not a girl's best friend. Best Friends are a girl's Best Friend!' made me smile ear to ear...I believe every word of it. I Love you for saying that...Hugs!

    Priti

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    1. Thank you dear Priti!
      Your friend's chaat party sounds so delicious- I feel like throwing another party right this second.

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    2. :))

      You know, I really appreciate how you reply to each and every comment (which are so many btw) that you receive with SO much love...makes me want to comment everytime I drop by. I know that this simple gesture must take a significant amount of time and I want to tell you how much it matters to a reader. These days blogs are becoming more about professional looking photos, facebooking and contests or giveaways to get most 'likes' on FB and less & less about the initial geniune feelings they started with, you my dear have stayed so true to the soul of One Hot Stove that my love and admiration has only grown in all these years.

      Hugs!
      Priti

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  13. Happy birthday to you and your bestie! I just read your previous post and learned that you are moving to Georgia. That's pure heartbreak for all your pals in St. Louis!!! I hope your move is smooth sailing and that GA is everything you hope for. We're sure going to miss you here.

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    1. I am heartbroken at leaving STL :( SO many wonderful folks here! I hope we get to meet in person before I move, Holly.

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  14. Happy Birthday Nupur! I always read your blog whenever you update it. Your recipes are the best. I love Indian cooking, but nachos sound like an ideal meal sometime soon.

    Cheers!

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    1. Thanks for reading One Hot Stove, Randy! Yes, nachos is a nice change of pace, especially when you crave lighter meals in summer.

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  15. Happy birthday Nupur! My son just had his birthday party this weekend, but our eats weren't half as handsome.

    I did not finish Major Pettigrew...life's too short etc. I'm currently reading Shari Lapena's Happiness Economics, and enjoying it v.much. For light, uplifting but intelligent, I think Rosy Thornton's More than Love Letters would be perfect.

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    1. Happy Birthday to your little boy!
      Thank you so much for the book recommendations. Neither book is available in my local library for some reason but I'll try to find them elsewhere.

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  16. Happy Birthday Nupur! :) Loved the pictures of the nacho bar and those cupcakes look just perfect.

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  17. Happy birthday Nupur and neighbor girl! :)
    I agree! I still feel like a small kid every birthday. I count days till my birthday and the joy on opening presents and receiving bday cards is unmatched! Age after all, is just another number :D
    Love the spread! I had once tried the green salsa recipe you had posted on your blog sometime back. It turned out great!

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    1. Thanks Neha! Yes, age is just an insignificant number and there's every reason to celebrate the gift of one more year in one's life.
      This is the same green salsa, it is easy to make and always turns out tasty.

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  18. Happy Birthday Nupur. What fun you had. Did Lila try the nachos ?

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    1. Thank you :) Lila definitely tried swiping at my plate but luckily I have good reflexes ;) Maybe I should have pureed some nachos in the blender for her.

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  19. Happy birthday, N and friend! Oh, I'm stuck on 29 and for a few more years for sure! :)

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    1. Thanks Vani! Try coming into your 30s ;) it is the best decade ever.

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  20. Belated Happy Birthday Nupur :) And it seems so much of Fun .. Awesome snaps :)

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    1. Thank you Kanchan! Yes, it was a lot of fun!

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  21. I would like to know more about this peanut butter chocolate ganache. Those cupcakes look ahh-mazing.

    Also - nacho bar? YUM. :)

    I feel the same way about my birthday most of the time. I never saw the point in having a 29th birthday over and over again.

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    1. Kara- here's how I made the ganache (all quantities are approximate): Take 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 cup peanut butter into a bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 2/3 cup heavy cream until it is bubbling at the edges. Pour it over the choc/PB. Let it sit for a few minutes, then stir until everything melts together. Whip it up and use as frosting. Don't forget to lick the bowl :)

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  22. My best friend and I live down the street from each other and our birthdays are two days apart (I am also the older and wiser one). This year, for our 30th, we did a throw back to when we were eight and did a rollerskating party with ice cream cake at Friendly's!

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    1. OMG HOW sweet is that??!! I love it. Welcome to this side of the 30s :)

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  23. Dear Nupur...
    Congratulations to you, V and Dale on the beautiful addition to your family. Have been not blog hopping and missed the great news!....She is a doll for sure....and i am certain you are loving every minute of it..challenges and all :)

    Rajitha

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    1. Thank you dear Rajitha. Yes, I am truly loving every minute that I spend with my darling daughter. Nice to see you here and hope all is well with you!

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  24. Happy Birthday Nupur! I love Nachos and Cheese with Sour Cream & Guacamole. I am ogling at the cupcakes with honey roasted peanuts. They look yummy!

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    1. Thank you Ashwini! the cupcakes were very easy to make and the taste was great.

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  25. Happy Birthday, Nupur! And Happy Nacho Party! That spread looks to die for. I am very jealous.

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    1. Thanks Kelly, it was certainly a happy party thanks to the nachos!

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  26. Happy birthday Nupur dear, enjoy your birthday and I agree girl friends are girl best friends, blessed are both of you to have share such love and affection for each other.

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    1. Thanks Sreelu- Yes, Neighbor Girl and I feel very lucky to have each other.

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  27. Happy Birthday, Nupur & Neighbor Girl!
    The Nacho Bar idea is fun and 17! layer dip :) it does sound right, too much of a good thing, here, is reallllly good!

    I'm off t What should I read next?

    Love to Lila and a woofy woof to Dalu dada!

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    1. Thanks Manasi! Dalu dada is at the vet today (sigh) so he appreciates your wishes.

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  28. Great idea. Nachos bar makes a fun and easy appetizer. People don't normally use Fritos for nachos but I love that too. Since Fritos are smaller than the regular corn chips, it looks like mexican bhel when you put everything together.

    -Suchi

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    1. Fritos would be a really fun addition to this bar!

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  29. Belated B'day wishes to you and the neighbor girl. I just celebrated my b'day this week, so may be we are the same age too :-)
    Nachos look awesome. Cupcakes are yumm...

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  30. Happy Birthday, Nupur! That is quite a wonderful bash you threw yourselves there - indulgent yet healthy!

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    1. Thank you Anita! Yes, it was super indulgent but with a nice dose of colorful vegetables.

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  31. Happy birthday Nupur, wish i live next to u..yummmm nachos.

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  32. Happy birthday Nupur ! We must meet up before you leave for GA!

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    1. YES! I refuse to leave MO without meeting up with you! Hope all is well.

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  33. Can you please share what the 17 layers were in the 17 layer dip? I am planning a 'Layers' themed party and this sounds just perfect!

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    1. OOh a layers themed party- what fun!

      I don't know exactly what layers my friend put in this dip, but this is what I remember tasting: refried beans, guacamole, black beans, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, chopped green onions, olives, lettuce, salsa, and probably multiple layers of some of these.

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  34. Happy birthday Nupur! And wishes to Neighbor Girl as well. That sounds like such a fun party! I love all your themed-party ideas.

    Happy Mother's Day to you.

    Mamatha

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  35. Belated happy birthday both of you, Nupur! This spread look relish. Everything looks so mouth-watering.

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  36. hey nupur ..happy birthday girl! great post...i so admire the way you manage your time ...with the lil one demanding so much of ur time, u still manage to keep up with ur prebaby lifestyle which is awesome! its really very inspirational.

    whts up with dale? i miss ur dale tales so much! hope u fill me in with his updates too :)

    tk cr
    mauli

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  37. Belated Happy Birthday Nupur!

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  38. Happy birthday - belated - looks like a feast - and I love the isabel dalhousie series too - must check out the latest addition! Just finished a fantastic book on Australian settlement that gave great insight into poverty and race relations - the Secret river by Kate Grenville

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  39. Hi Nupur, I absolutely LOVE your blog! :)
    A fun vacation read that I can recommend is "Skinny Dip" by Carl Hiassen. I don't think it is necessarily uplifting, but it's definitely light and fun.

    Su (from Pune!, settled in Detroit, MI)

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello!