BLT Tacos

Why have I never thought of making a BLT taco before? Genius.

This quick and delicious weeknight dinner recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I cooked the bacon at a lower temperature, increasing the cooking time. I think that this method isn’t as messy. 🙂 I added avocado slices, used corn-flour hybrid tortillas, a Serrano instead of jalapeño chile, increased the lime juice, and used chipotle Tabasco in the mayonnaise. I also warmed the tortillas with steam in the microwave.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon, about 10 slices
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered (mixed colors are pretty here)
  • 1 small Serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded or not, finely chopped
  • 2-3 T cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Cholula or other hot sauce, or to taste, plus more for serving (I used Chipotle Tabasco)
  • 8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas (I used corn-flour hybrid tortillas)
  • Romaine lettuce leaves, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 avocado, sliced into eighths
  • refried beans and rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Lay bacon in an even layer in 2 9-13″ glass pyrex dishes or on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until browned and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plates and let cool. (Keep rendered fat for another use.)
  2. While bacon is cooking, toss together tomatoes, chopped chile, cilantro, lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Taste and add more lime juice and salt, if needed.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and hot sauce.
  4. Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer or medium bowl. Top with a damp paper towel and seal with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for 1 minute to warm.  (Alternatively, the tortillas can be warmed on the stove top: Lay a clean kitchen towel in a medium bowl. Using the open flame from a stovetop gas burner (or in a skillet placed on an electric burner), warm and lightly char tortillas, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer warmed tortillas to a towel-lined bowl, and cover with towel to keep warm while you finish remaining tortillas.)
  5. Serve, letting people make their own tacos by layering bacon, salsa, lettuce, spicy mayonnaise and avocado, on tortillas. Top with more hot sauce, if desired.
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Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

My daughter is obsessed with donuts- specifically donuts with pink icing and sprinkles. Her new bicycle bell is a life-size pink frosted donut with sprinkles! 🙂

I must say that she was quite pleased with this cinnamon sugar variation. When we debated over whether or not they were too heavily coated with cinnamon sugar, both of my kids informed me that such a problem was not even possible. 😉

This recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Using my mini donut pans, this recipe made 12 donuts. I substituted 1/2 cup of buttermilk instead of a combination of yogurt and milk and I reduced the amount of butter in the topping. They made a very special breakfast.

Yield: 8 standard size donuts or 12 mini donuts

For the Donuts:

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (65g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk (or skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk, almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) yogurt or sour cream (nonfat, low-fat, vanilla, plain, Greek or regular yogurt), at room temperature (I used another 1/4 cup of buttermilk)
  • 2 T (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Coating:

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4-5 T unsalted butter, melted

To Make the Donuts:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C), preferably on convection. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the egg, brown sugar, milk, and yogurt together until smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla, whisking until fully combined.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick.
  5. Spoon the batter into the donut cavities—I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag for ease. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool for about two minutes and transfer to a wire rack set on a large piece of parchment paper or on a large baking sheet.
  7. Bake the remaining donut batter and transfer to the wire rack. Allow donuts to cool down until you can handle them.

To Coat with Cinnamon Sugar:

  1. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  2. Brush the melted butter, on the top or on the top and bottom, as desired; dunk into the cinnamon sugar mixture coating all sides.
  3. Donuts are best served immediately.

Notes:

  • Leftovers keep well covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  • You can freeze the donuts for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up to your liking in the microwave, usually a few seconds.

Chicken with Vinegar

I have made this simple and full-flavored dish a couple of times recently. It’s a crowd pleaser in my house.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. According to the article, Jean-Georges Vongerichten learned how to make this recipe from the chef Paul Bocuse, who popularized it at La Mère Brazier in Lyon, France.

I decreased the oven temperature, used shallots in the sauce and scallions as a garnish. I kept all of the drippings to make the sauce and omitted the water and butter in the finished sauce. The extra sauce was wonderful drizzled over roasted potatoes and sautéed greens.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 3-pound chicken, cut up for sautéing
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
  • 1 cup good red-wine vinegar (preferably with 5% acidity)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, optional
  • fresh parsley, thyme, or tarragon for garnish
  • sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Set a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; when it is hot, place chicken in the skillet, skin side down. Cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is nicely browned. Turn and cook 3 minutes on the other side. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place skillet in the oven. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until almost done, about 165 degrees (juices will run clear, and there will be just a trace of pink near the bone). Remove chicken to an ovenproof platter. Place it in the oven and turn off the heat, and leave the door slightly ajar; alternatively place in a warming drawer tented with foil.
  4. Place skillet over medium-high heat, and add shallots; sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add vinegar, and raise the heat to high. Cook a minute or two, or until the powerful acid smell has subsided somewhat. Add 1/2 cup water if using vinegar with >5% acidity (I omitted the water), and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring, until the mixture is slightly reduced and somewhat thickened.
  6. Stir in butter, if desired.
  7. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet, and turn the chicken in the sauce. Garnish with herbs and scallions, as desired. Serve immediately.

Note: Most wine vinegar sold in the United States has an acidity level of 7%; many French vinegars are just 5% acidity. So it’s best to cut strong vinegar with some water.

Easy Fridge Dill Pickles

This is the easiest recipe I’ve ever posted- and I’ve posted my favorite garlic bread recipe. 😉

Now that I’ve made them twice, I have to share the method because they were absolutely delicious. This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I listed the ingredients needed for each 24-ounce (3 cup) jar. I bought an enormous bag of Kirby cucumbers at a farm stand and just kept making pickles until they were all sliced. TONS of pickles! I filled an assortment of recycled jars, lining the top with saran wrap to keep the lid from absorbing the pickle scent.

I used fresh dill and crushed garlic cloves to flavor the brine, but sliced white onion, dill seeds or pickling spice were other suggested seasonings. Pickles may be the perfect snack.

Per 24-ounce Jar:

  • 4-5 Kirby (pickling) cucumbers (or enough to fill the jar)
  • 3 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T chopped fresh dill and/or one dill sprig
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  1. Using a mandoline, cut the cucumbers into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place them in a lidded jar, filling the jar to the top.
  2. Add salt, dill, and garlic cloves.
  3. Pour in the white vinegar. The liquid level will be much lower than the height of the cucumbers but will adjust as they wilt.
  4. Close the jar, lining the lid with saran wrap if desired, and shake to distribute the ingredients.
  5. Place the jar in the refrigerator and shake it once or twice over the next few hours.
  6. Pickles are ready to eat in 6 to 8 hours but will keep, submerged in their brine, for up to 3 weeks.

Notes:

  • 1/2 to 1 tsp dill seeds or 1 T of pickling spice can be substituted for the fresh dill.
  • Thinly sliced white onion can be substituted for the garlic cloves.
  • Seedless cucumbers can be substituted for Kirby cucumbers but the pickles may be less crunchy.

Bucatini with Burst Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

My kids are back in school! I can get back to sharing dishes that we enjoyed this summer (and probably last spring as well). I have quite a few to share. 🙂

This is a fabulous, restaurant-indulgent, late summer pasta dish. The real beauty of it is that it could be made in any season to bring back the taste of summer. It was also quick and easy to prepare- the best combination. The cheese adds creaminess to the finished dish but can easily be omitted for a vegan version.

This recipe was adapted from Bringing it Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons with Mindy Fox. I used grape instead of cherry tomatoes, bucatini instead of spaghettini, and modified the proportions. I am definitely going to make this dish year round. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound bucatini, spaghettini, spaghetti, or angel hair pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 small red onion or 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds (about 3 pints) grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed torn basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2-4 T finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted boiling water until al dente. (Simmons recommends 2 T of kosher or fine sea salt in 4 quarts of water.)
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12- or 14-inch skillet or wide, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the red pepper flakes, then stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the tomatoes have burst, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, drain the pasta.
  6. Add the pasta, along with the reserved pasta cooking water, to the pan with the sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the pasta is coated, about 30 seconds, then stir in the basil and parsley.
  7. Divide the pasta among serving plates. Dollop with the ricotta and sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired, and serve immediately.

Festive Sugar Cookie Bars

I hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July celebration. 🙂

We had a very low-key day followed by a delicious meal prepared on the grill, in Fourth of July fashion. This fun dessert was a festive way to end the day! The meringue icing was incredibly thick and fluffy; the pattern could be easily modified to decorate for any occasion.

This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens. The cookies kept well for several days in the refrigerator.

Yield: 24 bars

For the Sugar Cookie Bars:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • Meringue Icing (recipe follows)
  • red and blue paste food colorings

For the Meringue Icing:

  • 3 cups Confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 T meringue powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a half sheet pan (15×10-inch baking pan) with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and coat the parchment with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl beat butter with mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Add sugars; beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Beat in egg and vanilla bean paste.
  6. Beat in flour mixture. (Dough will be crumbly.)
  7. Pat dough firmly and evenly into prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  8. Meanwhile prepare Meringue Icing. In a large bowl beat Confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup water, the meringue powder, and cream of tartar with mixer on high 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and fluffy.
  9. Divide three 1/4-cup portions into small bowls. Cover remaining Meringue Icing to prevent drying out.
  10. Tint 1/4-cup portions with paste food coloring to make red, light blue, and dark blue. Transfer each to a small resealable (sandwich) plastic bag.
  11. Evenly spread remaining Meringue Icing onto cooled cookie.
  12. For firework “burst” design, snip a small corner from each pastry bag. Pipe concentric circles in different sizes with tinted colors. Pull a toothpick from center to outer edge to create the firework pattern; wipe or replace the toothpick between each pull. Repeat as desired.
  13. Chill, uncovered, 2 hours or until icing sets. To store, cover loosely with foil and chill up to 3 days.

 

Baked Shrimp Risotto with Pesto

We’ve had a touch of spring for a couple of days in Long Island. It has been SO sunny, warm and nice. 🙂 It made me think of this dish because the pesto and lemon gave it a lot of brightness. Fortunately, I freeze giant cubes of freshly made pesto made after my final summer basil harvest.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Kay Chun. I added shallots and onions and increased the stock, garlic and the amount of lemon juice. The original recipe doesn’t incorporate white wine, and the dish was lovely without it, but I may consider adding some for extra flavor next time. I also used uncooked shrimp; it cooked very quickly in the hot risotto.

Even though I love making risotto in my pressure cooker, I’m not sure why making risotto on the stove is even necessary when it’s so simple to prepare in the oven! This dish was beyond easy to make, quick, and really delicious.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 7 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of white wine, optional
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 24 shelled shrimp (I used 1 pound of 21-25 count shrimp)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • fresh lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
  • coarse salt
  • pesto sauce, for serving (I used one giant cube of basil pesto, about 2-3 T)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. In an enameled medium cast-iron casserole or pan with a lid, heat the olive oil.
  3. Add the shallots and onion, and cook until soft but not brown.
  4. Add the garlic and rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until very fragrant, 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover and bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  7. Stir in the 1/2 cup of cheese, the shrimp, butter and lemon juice; season with salt. (The shrimp is cooked when it becomes fully pink.)
  8. Serve drizzled or mixed with pesto. Garnish with cheese.

One Year Ago: Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Two Years Ago: Classic Shrimp & Grits

Three Years Ago: Greek Red Lentil Soup

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

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