Kristine Kidd

Cabin Life, Cooking, Improving Lives

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Gathering with Neighbors when Snowed In
Abundant Vegetable Nachos




The falling snow was beautiful and magical, but relentless. We alternated shoveling the entrances to our cabin and keeping the driveway open with a snow blower, but it was impossible to keep up. The only way to take our restless dogs outside to stretch their legs was to strap on snowshoes and tromp a path through shoulder high snowbanks to the road. Each time I heard the county’s enormous snow blower and plow approaching, I donned snow pants and rushed cookies out to our heroes. But even their maximum strength equipment couldn’t keep up, and eventually snow drifts closed the main road.

Friends in our alpine community snowshoed up and down the road to help each other and discuss the situation. Then all work came to a halt with the fading light.





We had planned on returning to Topanga for a family lunch, but we were definitely going to be snowbound for a couple more days. The evening was going to be long and dark and a little lonely. Did I have ingredients on hand to make my super nachos for an impromptu gathering? I did. Our neighbors gladly accepted the invitation and made their way down the narrow path in the middle of the road. Eating the colorful dish with them added light to the wintry scene.


These nachos are easy to make, and endlessly adaptable to ingredients on hand. No pinto beans, use black beans or kidney beans or cannellini, or a mixture? I love Manchego cheese or Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar, but use what you like- Mexican blend, for example. I sauté veggies that happen to be in the fridge, sometimes onions and yellow squash, other times a mix of chile peppers. Bottled salsa is an easy sub for the quickly put together Pico de Gallo sauce. You can even crisp up tortillas in the oven to replace the chips. If friends aren’t available to join in, put on your favorite movie or series and dig in with your sweetie. Recreate a snowstorm by watching Togo  struggle through an epic blizzard. The recipe here is the version we gobbled up that night.




Abundant Vegetable Nachos

Kristine Kidd
A festive dish that is easy to customize. Use whatever canned beans and vegetables you have on hand, substitute purchased salsa for the easy Pico de Gallo here, choose the cheese you like best; I especially like Manchego Anejo and Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar. To make this even heartier, sauté sausage or Trader Joe's soy chorizo before adding beans to the skillet.
Servings 4 to 6 servings


Pico de Gallo

  • 1 large tomato, cut in half then juices squeezed out
  • cup chopped red onion
  • cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 small lime or lemon, grated zest and juice
  • teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder or other chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 15.5 ounce can pinto beans, with liquid
  • 1 15.5 ounce can red kidney beans, with liquid
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano

Sautéed Vegetables

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large poblano chile, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut in to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 12 ounces (about) tortilla chips
  • 7 to 8 ounces (about 2½ cups) grated cheese, such as Manchego anejo, Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar, sharp cheddar, Mexican blend
  • Add ons (optional) such as Greek yogurt, diced avocado, thinly sliced cabbage, sliced olives, sliced radishes, pickled peppers


Pico de Gallo

  • Chop the tomato and place in a bowl. Add the onion, cilantro, chile, lime zest and juice. Mix gently to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside while preparing the beans and vegetables.


  • Heat the oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chile powder and cumin and stir until aromatic, about 15 seconds. Add both beans with their liquid. Bring to a brisk simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until thickened to a coarse puree, frequently stirring and mashing some of the beans against the side of the pan, about 10 minutes. Stir in the marjoram, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside while cooking the vegetables. If beans thicken too much, stir in a little water.


  • Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat, Add the poblano and red bell pepper and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes longer.


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread tortilla chips in a generous layer over a sheet pan. Sprinkle about 1 cup of shredded cheese over. Spoon beans in dollops over chips and cheese. Spoon vegetables over. Finally sprinkle about 1½ cups cheese over all.
  • Bake until the cheese melts, 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer the nachos in sections to a large platter. Don't worry if they doesn't transfer in one piece, just arrange sections next to each other to create an attractive presentation. Garnish with add ons of your choice. I like to add spoonfuls of Greek yogurt and top them with avocado, and pass the Pico de Gallo and sliced cabbage separately.
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