Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Years ago, when I finally decided to start eating from the produce aisle on a voluntary basis, I’ve been searching for a vegetable-based taco that meets with my admittedly high and exacting taco standards. Which are the following: they must be filling and hefty, no matter what the contents; flavor must be extremely bold and in your face; there must be a touch of heat and spice from chiles of some kind; there must be multiple components that complement each other.

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Vegetarian tacos generally fail at most of these criteria, particularly the last one. It often feels like people, more specifically restaurants and food trucks, think that if the filling is vegetable or bean based, then it might be overkill to top it with a vegetable or bean-based salsa. No!! Not at all! In fact it’s quite necessary to provide that contrast of textures, and that is a bit tougher on a vegetable-based taco.

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

But with this blog post, I’m proving beyond any doubt that it is entirely possible. The key is choosing different textures between the main event filling and the garnish. This taco is, thus far, my hands down favorite meat-free taco ever, and it’s not a stretch to say it’s going in my top ten tacos eaten ever. The zucchini here is chopped and sautéed, so a chopped tomato salsa really wouldn’t work. The textures and shapes would be too similar. Corn kernels are a perfect solution. Then the chipotle crema adds a creamy note that this taco just begs for, plus that heat and spice that I personally require on all tacos.

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Carnivore or vegetarian, I don’t care, just try these. Whatever your eating habits/philosophy, it doesn’t matter – you will NOT be disappointed. Enjoy!

Source: Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:

TACOS:
2 tbs olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cubed zucchini
Salt and black pepper, to taste
8 corn tortillas, warmed

CORN SALSA:
2 ears grilled corn on the cob, kernels cut from cob
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and black pepper, to taste

CHIPOTLE CREMA:
3 tbs plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch each of salt and black pepper

Directions:
For the TACOS: heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, salt, and pepper and stir. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini becomes slightly tender, 5-6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
For the CORN SALSA, combine the corn kernels, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and toss together.
For the CREMA, whisk together yogurt, adobo sauce, lime juice, salt and pepper.
To assemble the tacos, add some zucchini mixture to each warm tortilla and cover it with corn salsa. Drizzle some crema on top. Serve immediately.

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

For whatever reason, I got on something of a blueberry kick earlier this summer, and became determined to find a perfect, foolproof blueberry snacking cake to stow away in my arsenal of simple baking tricks. I’m usually decent at picking good recipes just by reading them, but my skills were lacking this time, alas.

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

This was the third blueberry cake I made and the only one I feel even remotely comfortable sharing here. The first, I had such high anticipation as it had a crumble topping with peanuts, something I’d never seen before. The peanuts, and peanut butter glaze especially, overpowered everything and that was all you tasted.

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

Next I tried a simple whole wheat blueberry cake with a glaze made from pureed blueberries, and the whole thing was very meh. It didn’t go uneaten or anything, but I wouldn’t bother making it again, which says a lot.

By the time I got around to baking this cake here, my expectations were pretty low; one bite in, however, and I knew the only mistake about this cake was the fact that I hadn’t photographed it. So, I had to make it again. Oh darn!

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

This is everything you want in a simple snacking cake perfect for summer. There is no leavening agent and that is NOT a typo. I don’t get it either, but it worked beautifully and earned rave reviews. Get on it while blueberries are still in season!

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

Source: Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs poppy seeds
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs sour cream
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 cup fresh blueberries
Raw sugar, like turbinado, for sprinkling

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 300 F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar with either a hand mixer or the paddle attachment of your stand mixer. Decrease your mixer speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture, then the sour cream, lemon juice and zest, then the last half of the flour. Do not overmix. Fold in the blueberries by hand. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with raw sugar.
Bake the cake 80 to 90 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool the cake completely, then cut out squares and eat!

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

I think that in addition to having a lot going on this summer, one of my other lame excuses for not blogging much has been writer’s block. Like I said, lame. Every professional writer (of which I am certainly not) seems to give the same advice for curing writer’s block: just sit down and write. So, I shall finally take that long-overdue advice to make this post happen at long last!

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

The words aren’t coming to me in any entertaining or sophisticated fashion, but you really need these spareribs in your life. They’re so cute and little! Summers are for pool parties, and these would be perfect to set out at an adults-only one, particularly if said shindig involves copious amounts of bourbon and/or a quasi-legal inhalable substance. Strong Asian flavors and a touch of heat, and it’s really tough to stop eating them. Tender with just the right amount of chew. Utterly delicious. I’ll let the recipe speak for itself. Enjoy!

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

Source: ever so slightly adapted from Pure Pork Awesomeness by Kevin Gillespie

Ingredients:
3 ½ lbs. Asian-style (flanken) pork spareribs*
2 tsp kosher salt
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
3 Thai bird chiles
¼ red onion, stem and roots trimmed, cut into chunks
2 tbs sugar
2-inch pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and rough-chopped
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1 lime
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

*Basically flanken spareribs are cut horizontally into thirds; have your butcher do it

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Place a broiler pan or cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet (it must be rimmed). Grease the cooling rack with cooking spray. Season the ribs with 1 tsp salt and place on the cooling rack. Add a ¼-inch depth of boiling water to the baking pan, then wrap the ribs with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and cook until the ribs are pull-apart tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Basically, yes, you’re steaming the ribs.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, lemongrass, chiles, onions, and ginger, and process 30 seconds, until well chopped. Add the sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, and the remaining 1 tsp salt. Continue to process until a coarse paste is formed, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times.

Adjust the rack in the oven to the highest setting and preheat the broiler to HIGH.
Remove the ribs temporarily and pour off the water in the baking sheet. If you don’t do this, the ribs won’t crisp up properly. Arrange the ribs, meat side up, on the rack and smear with some of the paste. Broil the ribs until nicely caramelized, 5 minutes. Flip them, smear the other side with some paste and broil on the bone side for 3 minutes. Flip them again, smear with the remaining paste, and broil a final time to get them nice and crispy on the meat side, about 2 more minutes.

Using tongs, transfer the ribs to a cutting board and cut into single-bone pieces. Squeeze the lime onto the ribs and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately.

Florida, a New Nephew, and Other Reasons for Being a Negligent Blogger This Summer

I know I don’t usually do this, but it’s been so long since I last posted anything that I thought a blog dedicated to explaining my absence might be just a bit appropriate. It’s been a busy but fantastic summer, one I refuse to believe might be actually starting to wind down. I will continue to yell “NOOOOOO!!!!!” every time I see or hear anything about “back to school”, simply as a matter of principle.

Anywho… my summer started with a trip to Texas to visit family and getting to meet the newest baby nephew!!! Preston is the sweetest, snuggliest baby with the most fun and adorable older siblings. We had a blast. A couple weeks later my mom came up to visit us! Her first trip to Hoboken – we showed her the waterfront, introduced her to Bare Burger, and made cherry slab pie. So fun!

Then, insert some boring but busy work stuff, and preparations began for our two-week vacation to Florida! I had the best of serious intentions to schedule some blogs to share during our trip, but I accidentally rescued a stray cat instead. (I thought she lived in our building! I thought she was micro-chipped!)

IMG_20160731_192255

Two days later we left for Florida, with profuse apologies to our cat-sitter, and just got back late Saturday night!

Florida was so awesome. We spent one week in Miami Beach and the second week in Key West.

Here’s a little collage of our stay in Miami.

Honestly the only thing we really did in Miami was visit to the Zoological Wildlife Foundation of Miami. You tour the facilities then interact with some friendly animals, and have the option to play with a baby tiger! We spent the rest of the time at either the resort pool or the beach, including one day seeing dear friends that moved down there about a year ago.

Restaurant recommendations:

Y.U.C.A. – a little more upscale Cuban place with terrific service every time. They tend to overcook fish, but their meat dishes and desserts are amazing.

Cleo South Beach – Mediterranean cuisine, get their tasting menu. Cannot give enough raves about this one.

Beachcraft – Tom Colicchio’s first Miami restaurant, it is absolutely incredible. Fantastic drinks and food.

Yardbird – a place specializing in Southern food, known for fried chicken and bourbon. Best biscuits ever. Go on a very empty stomach! Also has a Las Vegas location.

My Ceviche – tiny hole in the wall place with amazing food. Octopus ceviche was incredible as was the tuna burrito.

Sushi Samba – also has locations in New York and Las Vegas, some of the best sushi outside of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. Spot-on execution of your usual sushi suspects, plus some original creations. Both outstanding. Also, tempura green beans appetizer. Just, yes.

Here’s a little Key West picture collage, where we also had a lovely time. We rented a little bungalow one block from Duval St. which came with a very friendly cat. We did more stuff in Key West, including their aquarium (worth seeing), Ernest Hemingway’s house, some cool art galleries, and the highlight: a day trip to Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas! A little island about 70 miles from Key West, we took the boat trip, and it is indescribably beautiful. Worth every penny.

20160727_144418

20160728_124019

Restaurant recommendations:

Caroline’s Cafe – dined there twice, they have one of the best fried fish sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. Great key lime pie too.

BO’s Fish Wagon – menu is mostly fried stuff, it’s all delicious.

Dante’s Pool and Bar – we spent part of our last afternoon here, and probably would’ve stayed longer if not for a few conditions: there’s no cover charge, but if you get a covered table or chairs, there’s a $50 minimum on food and drink. So if you are a party of two who aren’t hungry, you have to choose between getting blasted by the sun, or blasted on the alcohol. We ended up choosing neither and went back to the pool that came with our rental. The drinks are quite good though.

Glazed Donuts – a must at least once when in Key West.

Amigos Tortilla Bar – delicious Mexican food. Absolutely delicious.

Blue Macaw Island Eats and Bar – ate breakfast there one day, it is awesome. They have a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar, which is heaven for people unlike me who actually like Bloody Mary’s. The food is wonderful too.

Island Dogs Bar – food is not recommended but drinks are wonderful, especially the Key Lime Pie Martini!

Thank you for your patience, and I’ll be back with actual food and recipes tomorrow!!

Hottest Ever Chicken Chili #SundaySupper

Hottest Ever Chicken Chili

Welcome to Sunday Supper, where we might be featuring my favorite theme yet: Spice is Nice and Some Like it Hot!!! All my readers know I’m a huge spice fiend and chile-head, so this really couldn’t be more perfect for me.

Hottest Ever Chicken Chili

I had so much trouble deciding what to make – so many choices! – but seeing as our Northeast spring weather has been incredibly rainy, overcast, cold, and generally grouch-inducing, I figured this was a great opportunity to make one more pot of chili before the weather (eventually) warms up.

Hottest Ever Chicken Chili

I’d actually made this chili a couple years ago, but didn’t get pictures of it for the blog; I figured today’s theme was an ideal time to share it, seeing as it stands out as one of the hottest things I’ve ever eaten. You know how most chili recipes call for canned tomatoes or tomato sauce? Well, this chili doesn’t. No, you puree two cans of chipotle chiles in adobo, and use that instead of any tomatoes. Yeah. And we’re not stopping there, oh no. In addition to all that chipotle, there’s a quarter cup of cayenne, plus a habanero! As Matt says, “this chili doesn’t mess around.”

Hottest Ever Chicken Chili

He’s right. This is brow-sweating, eyes watering, nose running, fan your mouth and chug your beer chili that you actually can’t stop eating because it’s so delicious and tastes absolutely wonderful. If you like things hot and spicy, this is up your alley – be brave and try it!

Hottest Ever Chicken Chili

Source: ever so slightly adapted from Michael Symon’s Carnivore by Michael Symon

Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil
3 lbs. ground chicken or turkey, make sure it’s NOT extra-lean
Kosher salt, to taste
1 large red onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced or coarsely chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
¼ cup cayenne pepper
¼ cup ground cumin
1 tbs ground coriander
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 tbs tomato paste
2 (12 oz.) bottles of beer, preferably IPA
2 (7 oz.) cans of chipotle in adobo, pureed with sauce
1 habanero chile, slit down the side
Garnishes of your choice: sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro or scallion, etc…

Directions:
Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the ground chicken. Cook, breaking it up with a spoon or potato masher, until browned and no traces of pink remain. Season with a large pinch of salt. Now add the onion, garlic, bell peppers, and another pinch of salt. Cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the cayenne, cumin, coriander, and paprika and cook another 30 seconds or so, stirring to evenly coat the chicken and veggies. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine, cooking another 30 seconds.
Deglaze the pot with the beer, being sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the chipotle puree and habanero, stirring to incorporate. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours, or until it reaches a thick, hearty consistency.
Remove the habanero before serving with garnishes of your choice.

Make sure you check out the rest of my Sunday Supper crew!

Aromatic Appetizers

Distinctive Drinks

Daring Desserts

Masterful Mains

Seasoned Sides

Plus Homemade Ginger Ale and Spice is Nice Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Chocolate Muffins #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Chocolate Muffins

So, my regulars here know that my parents were quite insistent about healthy eating for my sister and me growing up, and nowhere was this more present than with breakfast. Skipping it was never an option, there was very little sugar present, and never anything that resembled a dessert. No sugary cereals, no Pop-Tarts, no doughnuts or coffee cakes or sweet muffins, and even when we occasionally got pancakes or French toast, it was of the whole grain variety.

Chocolate Muffins

Suffice it to say, I was well into my teens before finding out that chocolate muffins were a thing. Eating chocolate for breakfast just didn’t happen in our house. Once I reached adulthood, I began sampling them at coffee shops and bakeries, and concluded that I hadn’t really missed out on anything. Most chocolate muffins leave a lot to be desired.

They seem to come in two forms: either they are overly sweet and taste like an unfrosted cupcake – and really, what is sadder than an unfrosted cupcake?; or they are so determined not to be a cupcake and actually sort of be healthy, that they become dense and flavorless. I’ve long since given up on store-bought chocolate muffins, but I’ve been trying different recipes at home to see if a perfect one existed.

Chocolate Muffins

It took quite awhile, but turns out, yes, everything we want in a chocolate muffin does exist. Obviously, it’s what I’m sharing today (duh). These are definitely sweet enough, but not as much as a cupcake would be. They have a firmer muffin texture, but remain incredibly moist and tender. The chocolate tastes more like breakfast than dessert, if that even makes sense, but it really does! In short, I’m done looking. This is my go-to chocolate muffin forevermore. It should be yours too. Enjoy!

Chocolate Muffins

Source: The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
2 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp kosher salt
6 oz. semisweet or dark chocolate chips (your preference)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or them with paper liners.
Stir together the sugar, oil, eggs, milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until well blended. Add the liquids and stir until a smooth batter forms. Stir in the chocolate chips. Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full. I use a regular ice cream scoop for this.
Bake 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned on top and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature (they’re tasty both ways).

BW Logo 2016

BrunchWeek Beverages:

BrunchWeek Breads, Grains and Pastries:

BrunchWeek Fruits, Vegetables and Sides:

BrunchWeek Main Dishes:

BrunchWeek Desserts:

Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

We are waffle people in my house, and these particular waffles are beyond delicious. At least, they are this time. The first time I made them? Not so much. So, the original recipe calls for using a store-bought waffle mix and just adding water. And I thought, “Water?! Water has no flavor! I’ll use buttermilk instead.” It made the batter so ridiculously thick I could barely work with it, and the waffles were so dense and dry we could hardly choke them down (our water intake was noooo problem that morning!). I knew the flavors were spot on, but that texture. Blech!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

I determined to try again, but this time from scratch. I turned to King Arthur Flour, because why wouldn’t I in this situation, right? And I’m incredibly happy to report that this is the way these waffles should be made. Now they are perfect. You can adjust the amount of pancetta here – four ounces is a good amount to know it’s there, but if you want it chock full, I’d go with six to eight ounces.

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

Like I said earlier, the flavor is fantastic. Salty pancetta spikes a slightly sweet batter warmed with a background note of cinnamon, garnished with walnuts for crunch and of course finished off with maple syrup. I hope you enjoy them!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

Sources: adapted from Giada at Home by Giada de Laurentiis and The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:
4-8 oz. pancetta chunks, depending on how much pancetta you want in your waffles
2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbs granulated sugar
2 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:
Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and crisped and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Do not discard the rendered fat!!
Preheat your waffle maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Don’t spray it with cooking spray (we have a plan!)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk just until combined. A few lumps are okay. Use a spatula to fold in the reserved, cooked pancetta.
Pour the now cooled (or at least cooler) rendered pancetta fat into a small bowl. Use a silicone pastry brush to grease your waffle iron with the pancetta fat. Pour the batter into your waffle iron and cook as per manufacturer’s instructions. When waffles are done, remove to a plate and repeat with remaining batter, if necessary, remembering to grease the waffle iron with more pancetta fat between each batch of waffles.
To serve, place a waffle on a dinner plate and garnish with walnuts and drizzle to your heart’s content with maple syrup.

BW Logo 2016

BrunchWeek Beverages:

BrunchWeek Breads, Grains and Pastries:

BrunchWeek Fruits, Vegetables and Sides:

BrunchWeek Egg Dishes:

BrunchWeek Main Dishes:

BrunchWeek Desserts:

Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

IMG_3846

One of our great sponsors for the week is Red Star Yeast – they generously sent us all a huge packet of their instant yeast for some baking experimentation. I made three recipes with it in the spirit of oh-I-have-to-test-a-bunch-of-yummy-yeasted-goods-nudge-nudge-wink-wink. I successfully made yeasted doughnuts, coffee flavored cinnamon rolls, and of course, these bagels that won out for a space at Brunch Week.

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese

A couple months ago, I decided to be one of those nutso home cooks that uses real lye. In my defense, my husband is a professional scientist who has worked with tons of hazardous chemicals in his career, so I felt okay with him supervising. And I suppose it worked, as no one was harmed in the making of these bagels! They may look a bit rustic, but they are incredible and taste just as advertised – like the love-child of a bagel and a soft pretzel.

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Now we all know that a good bagel needs a good cream cheese spread, and I wanted something savory, and unique. This is Brunch Week, after all. Roasted jalapenos and cilantro mixed with softened cream cheese did the trick beautifully! The spicy-creamy concoction meshed very well with the saltiness of the pretzel bagels – and yet the cream cheese spread is delicious in and of itself too; I think it would be wonderful with plain bagels.

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Give these a try, and yes, you can use baking soda if you’d rather. 🙂 Enjoy!

Sources: Bagels adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion; Cream Cheese Spread from Brunch @ Bobby’s by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

BAGELS:
1 tbs Red Star instant yeast
4 cups bread flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs granulated sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
2 quarts water
2 tsp kitchen-grade lye or baking soda
Coarse pretzel salt
CREAM CHEESE:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbs milk
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 jalapeno chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
For the BAGELS: combine the yeast, bread flour, kosher salt, sugar, and 1 ½ cups lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine, then knead by hand for 10-15 minutes. Place the bowl in a lightly greased bowl and set it aside to rise until noticeably puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Transfer the dough to a work surface the divide into 8 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll it into a smooth, round ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap and let them rest for 30 minutes. They’ll puff up some.
While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath. Pour 2 quarts water into a large stainless steel stockpot. Bring to a boil, THEN add the lye while wearing disposable latex gloves (if you’re using baking soda it doesn’t matter as much when you add it, nor is it important to use stainless steel. Or gloves). The lye will bubble up and look rather menacing for a minute, but it is okay.
Preheat your oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
Working one at a time, use your index finger to poke a nice hole through the center of each ball of dough, then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole to about 2 inches in diameter. Transfer the bagels to the boiling water bath. You’ll likely have to do this in batches – I fit two at a time in there. Cook the bagels 2 minutes, flip, and cook 1 minute more. Using a stainless steel skimmer or strainer, carefully lift the bagels out and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels. Liberally sprinkle the tops of each bagel with the coarse salt.
Now bake the bagels in the oven 20 to 25 minutes. You can flip them after 15 minutes of baking to help keep their shape better, but since I used the lye, I was a little afraid to do so.
Remove the bagels from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the CREAM CHEESE SPREAD: combine the cream cheese, milk, salt, and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth and fluffy. Scrape into a bowl and fold in the jalapenos and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour for best results, then let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving (though I can attest that serving it right away still tastes awesome).
Split the bagels, toast if desired, then spread with the cream cheese and eat!

BW Logo 2016

BrunchWeek Beverages:

BrunchWeek Breads, Grains and Pastries:

BrunchWeek Fruits, Vegetables and Sides:

BrunchWeek Egg Dishes:

BrunchWeek Main Dishes:

BrunchWeek Desserts:

Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Nori Granola #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Nori Granola

Granola has long enjoyed a sturdy yet largely undeserved reputation for being a health food. Kind of like a burrito from Chipotle! Ha! Seriously though, have you read the labels on most store-bought granolas? Yikes, the sugar content! Homemade is far superior and gives you much more control, but I still always think it has more sugar than I usually want for breakfast. I tend to save it for sweet snacks or even a small (unglamorous) dessert.

Nori Granola

This granola changed my mind. It’s mostly savory! Call me sheltered but I’d never before tasted savory granola, and I was a little skeptical. The sugar content is… eh, fairly low, and there’s actual real nutrition from the nori sheets, plus sesame seeds and nuts. A touch of spice, and a really interesting, complex flavor that keeps you doing the whole “hmm, what is that?” routine with each bite.

Nori Granola

Nori Granola

Except… my PSA for the day – this is not cereal. Don’t pour milk over it. OMG, so gross!!

Nori sheets are pretty easy to find these days, but I had to order shichimi togarashi online. If you want to make it yourself, Chowhound has a good recipe. Give this a try, it’s such a unique twist on granola! Enjoy!

Nori Granola

Nori Granola

Source: Food & Wine Magazine, September 2015, recipe submitted by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:
¼ cup honey
¼ cup raw sugar
2 tbs water
3 ½ cups rolled oats, not instant
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped nuts of your choice: walnuts, cashews, pecans, etc.
¼ cup sesame seeds
2 tbs fennel seeds
1 tbs shichimi togarashi
½ tsp black pepper
5 (8-inch) nori sheets (or the equivalent, depending on what size nori sheets you find), torn and crumbled into 1-inch-or-so pieces
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 300 F.
In a small saucepan, combine the honey, sugar and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and bubbles appear at the edge, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
In a large bowl, toss the oats with the nuts, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, shichimi togarashi, black pepper, and nori. Add the honey mixture and salt. Stir to coat the oats, then stir in the olive oil.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Spread the granola in an even layer, getting as close to the edges as possible. Bake about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally (especially at the edges), until the granola is golden brown. Let cool completely before serving – the granola will crisp as it cools.

BW Logo 2016

BrunchWeek Beverages:

BrunchWeek Breads, Grains and Pastries:

BrunchWeek Fruits, Vegetables and Sides:

BrunchWeek Egg Dishes:

BrunchWeek Main Dishes:

BrunchWeek Desserts:

Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

These are some of the best scones I’ve ever tasted, and I hang my head in shame that I’ve been blogging over three years and haven’t ever shared them with you. Brunch Week is the perfect opportunity! (Maybe I should’ve played it off like, oh I didn’t misstep, I was waiting for Brunch Week or something… eh, too late now!).

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

So these scones. They are probably the flakiest I’ve ever tasted, and this is the rare baked good that calls for yellow bananas, not overripe black ones, so when you grocery shop and buy bananas, there’s no waiting for them to blacken so you can bake with them. You can make these scones the same day you buy the friggin’ bananas! That right there is just very exciting.

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

The texture is amazing, and the flavor is so perfect. You’ve got sweet banana complemented by spicy ginger, then a tart-sweet lemon glaze is poured over the tops before you dive in. I have to highlight one of our main sponsors, Dixie Crystals here. They sent us all a huge box each of granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar, both of which were used for these beautiful scones. Thank you to Dixie Crystals! Enjoy!

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2011

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon zest
Generous pinch of kosher salt
6 tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 small barely rip, yellow banana, diced
1 tbs minced candied ginger
¾ cup plus 2 tbs heavy cream, plus more for brushing
¾ cup Dixie Crystals confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ tbs fresh lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt

Directions:
To make the scones, preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or 2 knives to work the butter into the flour mixture until a few pea-size lumps remain. Stir in the banana and ginger. Add the cream and gradually stir until the mixture just comes together. Knead for no more than 1 minute with your hands if you have a few scraggly bits.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and pat gently into a circle about 1 inch high. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Transfer them to the baking sheet, only spacing them about 1 inch apart (this helps them rise tall and not spread out). Brush the tops with heavy cream, and sprinkle some sugar, preferably raw, on the tops if desired. It’s good but not necessary.
Bake until the tops are golden, 19 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool the scones slightly, about 3-4 minutes before applying the glaze.
To make the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and salt together until smooth. Drizzle the warm scones liberally with the glaze. Serve.

BW Logo 2016

BrunchWeek Beverages:

BrunchWeek Breads, Grains and Pastries:

BrunchWeek Fruits, Vegetables and Sides:

BrunchWeek Egg Dishes:

BrunchWeek Main Dishes:

BrunchWeek Desserts:

Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.