Re-Entry Nacho Bites

Oh gentle readers. As you know I was away in the woods for two weeks, on an epic road trip to Michigan and back, then I threw Rebel Cupcake (joyfully joined by so many of my friends en route home from Michigan and en route to Baltimore), then I hopped a bus to Baltimore to join the Femme Conference already in progress. I have been on a queer magical utopia high for three weeks and I am having to make adjustments in order to come down from it and get back into my pretty magical day-to-day life.

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At the Femme Conference being unintentionally matchy-matchy with Emma because they picked my outfit that morning.

“Re-entry” as it is called in our circle, “decompression” as it is called in other circles, is really rough. Returning to the “default world” is hard. I used to be the kind of summer camp attendee who cried on the bus coming home (I no longer cry on the way home). I’m a comfortable Earth sign, change can be hard. So I usually build some time into my life for re-entry that usually involves a lot of downtime, watching a series on dvd or something and a shame spiral about cleaning and unpacking. I never know what it is going to take. I also work from home which means I am working to catch-up on being away but also doing the downtime/shame spiral. I’m a mess.

This year I decided to get really decadent when I had a lot of Feelings I didn’t know what to do with and make myself Nacho Bites from scratch. I love tiny food a lot, enjoy a small plates lifestyle even though it’s totally impractical as a bachelorette. Anyone in my immediate circle has heard me proselytizing about Nacho Bites this summer. It’s made by Hot Pockets and is an appetizer in the grocery freezer section and I think has queso, ground beef and salsa. I have been meaning to make them myself with ingredients I liked more that felt less processed and I decided to get into it yesterday.

It took over two hours to prep and then more time to clean-up but I thought it was totally worth it. I usually turn on some kind of inspirational noise (like a talk, sermon or interview) and it’s very meditative. I also felt really grounded and in my space afterward, having felt so odd and not quite at home at home until then.

So, here’s how I cobbled together my Nacho Bites and I am interested to know if folks have better/different/faster dumpling assembly methods than my sort of figure it out on the fly methods. I always love when my favorite bloggers share recipes so here goes.

Ingredients:

Tortilla Dough
(I followed this recipe)
3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or lard
about 1 1/4 cups warm water

Homemade Queso
(I followed this recipe–I just didn’t feel like doing the Velveeta version though it is infinitely faster)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 small onion, diced
1 Serrano chile, diced
2 jalapeños, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1(4-ounce) can RO*TEL (or any can of diced tomatoes with green chiles)
3 cups shredded cheese, cheddar and Jack varieties recommended
1/4 cup sour cream

Nacho Bites Innards
1 recipe Tortilla Dough (or 15 tortilla dough rounds)
1 recipe Homemade Queso (or like 1 1/2 cups of your favorite Queso)
2/3 pounds of ground meat prepared with spice OR some kind of taco seasoning
Try: Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe’s (my fav), chorizo the regular kind, ground turkey/beef/chicken (I think the poultry sucks up the taco seasoning well, maybe even some carnitas if you’re getting fancy
1 diced jalepeno
1 diced tomato
(You could easily sub about 1/2 cup of salsa but since my queso was very involved I skipped the queso)
1/3 bunch diced fresh cilantro
(I suppose cilantro averse could forego it but I am very very very pro cilantro)
Small handful of scallions if your CSA is overabundant with them like mine is.

Prepare the tortilla dough and pull apart fifteen little globs of it, about an inch and a half each round. Set them out to rise a little.

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Prepare the queso. Take a long time because it takes a long time and be really mindful of the roux. I had to throw in some corn starch toward the end. I also only had buttermilk but whatever. I wish it was a little spicier, so I’ll add more chili next time.

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The queso is so flavorful.

Prepare the meat by cooking it all the way through. Also, if you prepare it with taco seasoning, cook all the water out so there are very little juices left.

Dice up the rest of your ingredients and set aside in little bowls or plates or whatever and prepare to make dumplings!

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At this point pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and put the cookie sheet in there to pre-heat as well.

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The cilantro is really so beautiful.

I flattened out each ball of tortilla dough and assembled them like little mini tacos, being sure not to overfill. Putting a spoonful of meat, then a generous drizzle of queso, a couple dices of jalepeno and tomato and a little sprinkle of cilantro. Then I bundled them together. Traditional Nacho Bites have a pyramid shape and I tried making that, which was most effective.

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I accidentally overfilled one batch of them so I’ve learned from that.

Then take the heated cookie sheet out of the oven (be careful, obvs) and lightly grease it with a little olive oil misto action or some butter, and transfer your dumpling babies to the cookie sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Then pull out and let sit a couple of minutes. Enjoy!

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My dumpling assembly skills continue to need work.

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