Approximations of the Nachos kind

I’ve mentioned the bountifulness of my pantry in a previous post, but what I didn’t mention was that its bountifulness means that I usually forget what’s in it. Sometimes I come home from the shops with 5 packets of pasta, only to find the pantry overflowing with their identical carb-loaded buddies. And then when I think I’ve got something in there, I actually don’t.

I used to flavour my beef for nachos and burritos with little sachets of Mexican seasonings purchased from the supermarket. Of course, one day when I started to cook nachos for dinner, my pantry yielded not even one little yellow packet.

Now Daddyken wasn’t home at the time, so it would have meant I either had to bribe the Cherubs with some lurid-coloured, sugar-infested sweet, or endure the wrath that is the Cherubs being dragged from whatever life-changing thing they were doing, into the car, in order to go to the shops just to buy a $2 sachet of ingredients that was probably more than 50% not natural.

So I rallied up my spices and winged it… and my family didn’t even flinch. Now the reason wasn’t because of my amazing culinary ability to reproduce authentic recipes based on the ingredients in seasoning packets, but because they’re used to me changing recipes on them. And unfortunately, they’ve never been to an actual Mexican restaurant… We have Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and Italian restaurants in the suburbs, but Mexican restaurants aren’t common – they’ve only really started to pop up in the city in the last few years.


I’ve also found out recently that nachos isn’t actually an authentic Mexican dish. It’s Tex-Mex! Reminds me of when I tasted ‘Beef in black bean sauce’ for the first time in a Chinese take-away when I was a teenager. I couldn’t believe I was Chinese and had never come across the dish before! (there’s a reason why of course – it doesn’t actually exist in the dark, salty, gooey-sauce form that’s offered in take-aways). I have also never ordered it since.

Luckily Daddyken loves my approximation of Tex-Mex Nachos. It’s easy to make and the accompaniments make it light and fresh. And I hope that when we do eventually make it to a Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant, they won’t be too startled with the difference in taste!

My Tex-Mex Nachos

Serves 4

Gluten free (if using corn chips)


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 500g minced beef
  • Small bunch of coriander (plus extra for serving)

To serve:

  • Avocado, tomato, lettuce, chopped
  • Coriander
  • Grated cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Lime
  • Corn chips or tortillas (cut into wedges and toasted in oven)


  • Heat olive oil on a medium-high heat and add the onions
  • Cook for 3 minutes and add the capsicum
  • When the onion and capsicum is soft, add the spices and tomato paste, and cook for 2 minutes
  • Turn the heat up to high, add the mince and cook until the mince is cooked through
  • Turn the heat to low and simmer for half an hour
  • Add the coriander and simmer for another 10 minutes

To serve, spoon the meat mixture onto a bowl of corn chips or tortillas, add a spoonful of each of the veges, cheese, sour cream, coriander and a squeeze of lime.



  • The general method is to put the cheese with the meat under the grill for a yummy melted cheese sensation. We don’t – just because we think it’s yummy as it is and it’s also too much effort!
  • Daddyken likes to add store-bought tomato salsa to his nachos, but I think it’s fine without.
  • Eat without the corn chips or tortillas and you’ve got yourself a yummy, filling carb-free meal!

Lemon garlic chicken mid-wings

There are only a few dishes where the Cherub’s palates align – this is one of them.

Unless you’re watching your cholesterol levels, it’s pretty hard to not like chicken mid-wings. They’re little morsels of bite sized yumminess, easy peasy to cook and because of all that skin, half the flavour is already there even before you’ve done anything to them!

I can’t remember which doctor’s, dentist’s or hairdresser’s waiting room magazine I got the original recipe from because it’s just written on a white napkin, but this is my reduced salt version. I love this recipe because the scrumptious fatty chicken skin negates the need to add sugar for flavor and the lemon helps to cut through the fatty feeling some people may experience.

This is one of the dishes the Cherubs usually request when they’ve got friends over for a play and dinner. I’m happy because prep time is a measly 10 mins and I’ve got a meal where no child is hungrily rearranging their food around their plate, desperately waiting for dessert.

Lemon Garlic Chicken Wings

(Gluten free if using rice flour)

Serves: 4 adults or 2 adults and 4 hungry kids


2 kg chicken mid wings

1 cup rice or plain flour (Daddyken is gluten intolerant so we use rice flour)


  • 2 tablespoons grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 1/2 lemons


  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  • Line 2 baking trays with baking paper
  • Mix marinade in a large bowl
  • Mix mid-wings in with the marinade
  • Coat mid-wings in flour
  • Lay mid-wings upside down on baking paper (make sure you leave some space between them)
  • Bake for 20 mins
  • Turn mid-wings over
  • Bake for another 20 mins or until browned on top

The Cherubs eat the wings as is, but I like a little bit of sauce with mine. I have lots of dill in my garden at the moment, so I mixed together greek yoghurt, dill and a pinch of salt.

Serve with rice and salad. Oh, and don’t forget to eat mid-wings with fingers – it’s yummier that way!