Baked Fish Tacos for Two

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We have a few weeks left till the official end of summer on September 22nd. With the current heat wave, it definitely doesn’t feel like fall is upon us. So, here’s one last recipe to savor summer. If you make the salsa and crema ahead of time, these fish tacos are a quick, tasty weeknight meal.

 Baked Fish Tacos for Two

  •  ¾ lb wild-caught white fish (preferably mahi mahi)
  • 4-5 tortillas, warmed

Half Baked Harvest’s Rub

  • 1 ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp chile powder
  • ¾ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Salsa Garnish:

  • 5 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ small red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced

Mexican Crema

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Whisk together crema ingedients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine all salsa ingredients and toss well. Refrigerate both until serving.

In a small bowl, combine paprika, chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder and oregano. Place the fish in a baking dish and rub with olive oil. Then rub the seasoning on both sides.

Bake for 15 minutes or until fish is done (the fish will flake easily with a fork).

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Divide fish among tortillas and top with salsa, crema and any other toppings you fancy (arugula makes a nice, light topping). Serve with guacamole and sangria.

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Boozy Peach Bars

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Baking and I are not friends (unless a box of Funfetti is involved). Specks of flour sneakily inch into every kitchen corner and crevice, or I clumsily drop an entire bottle of vanilla into the batter whenever I bake. Usually more batter is on me than in the pan.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when these boozy peach bars came out quite tasty. Granted I spilled a whole bottle of pure vanilla extract all over the kitchen counter. I went to four grocery stores to find that stuff, FOUR! I also returned to the grocery store yet again, but let’s not talk about that. This decadent, soft dessert with fresh peaches is perfect for the end of summer. Happy baking!

Southern Astorian's Peach Bars

Peach Bars with Caramel-Bourbon Sauce

Makes about 9 squares

Crust

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened & cubed
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 large egg

Peach Filling

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 generous cups of fresh peach chunks

Preheat oven to 350F

Combine 1 cup flour, salt & ½ cup sugar in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a fork into the dry mix until a grainy mixture forms.

Press mixture into a greased 8×8 inch pan to form a crust. (P.S. reserve a little less than ¼ of the mixture to sprinkle on top at the end). Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the best part – the peach filling! Combine egg, ½ cup sugar, Greek yogurt, vanilla, orange juice & flour. Whisk until smooth and stir in peach chunks.

Pour peach mixture over the crust, top with remaining crust crumbles and bake 30-35 minutes until set. Wait until bars are completely cool before serving.

Buzz Feed’s Bourbon Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons bourbon, divided
  • ½ cup heavy cream, heated
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened & cubed
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

While the bars are cooling, make this caramel bourbon sauce from Buzz Feed. It’s amazingly simple and deliciously boozy.

Cut the bars into squares once cool. Top each serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of the caramel sauce.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

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The other weekend I spent Saturday morning at the Socrates Sculpture Park Greenmarket. The market hosts a great selection of El Poblano Farm’s vegetables, bread from Artisan Oven Central Bakery and Red Jacket Orchard’s fresh juices. While browsing the local goods, you’re surrounded by a whimsy of sculptures and installations beneath the Manhattan skyline. It’s absolutely lovely!

I picked up a few poblano chiles and couldn’t wait to make stuffed peppers for dinner. They may look like globby wads, but they’re cheesy, tasty globby wads. I hope you’ll agree!

Cheesy Chicken Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Serves 2-3

  • 3 medium poblano peppers
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 4oz cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp Mexican spice blend (Penzeys ya’ll!)
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • ½ can black beans
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 cup salsa

Roast peppers under broil for 7 – 10 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, cook chicken, dice & add cream cheese & spices. Stir until blended. Mix in onion and black beans, then cover to keep warm.

Slice each poblano pepper, making a slit down the center. Remove core and seeds (keep a few seeds if you like it spicy).

Pour salsa on bottom of square baking dish. Scoop cream cheese/chicken mixture into the peppers. Place in the pan and top with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 30 minutes at 350° until hot and bubbly.

New York Dog House

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I’ve wanted to share some love for New York Dog House for a while now. I finally captured a few shots over lunch the other weekend. So, here it is!

It was a sunny Saturday, but Chelsey and I skipped the sunshine in search of a bar to watch the World Cup. We wanted a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere so we settled on New York Dog House.

NYDH offers a thoughtful spin on the classic hot dog. The menu caters to a variety of tastes, from the “Far East Dog” (num pang topped with sesame chili paste, pickled daikon and scallion) to the “Cowboy” (cheddar bratwurst smothered with caramelized onions, crispy bacon, pickled chipotle, and house BBQ sauce). There are also several vegetarian options, including various salads, macaroni and cheese, and a veggie dog made of a farro and market vegetable blend. The restaurant also features an extensive list of seasonal and signature craft cocktails named after your favorite dogs or Astoria spots.

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We started with drinks. I sipped on the “Summer Fling” – a lovely blend of gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and seasonal ingredients. Chelsey enjoyed the rum, whiskey and brandy infused “Pitbull.”

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For lunch, Chelsey ordered the sausage grilled cheese with spicy kielbasa. She noted that the portion was just right for such a robust sandwich. I opted for the “California Dog,” substituting weisswurst for cheddar bratwurst. The topping consisted of a mix of fresh avocado, sliced lettuce and springy red onions. The light toppings and hearty bratwurst were quite delightful.

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Check out NYDH’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for news and events.

More NYDH love:
Astoria Arrivals: New York Dog House – We Heart Astoria
Welcome to the Neighborhood: New York Dog House – Tastoria Queens

Cape Cod Getaway

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It’s summer in New York City, which means beer gardens, ice cream cones dripping in rainbow sprinkles and iconic art exhibitions. Yes, it’s a wonderful season, but it’s SWELTERING. The hot air rises at the hazy subway stops. You sweat so much waiting for the train that you curse yourself for not bringing an extra set of clothes to work. Electric bills spike as window ACs barely withstand the heat wave. It’s hot, y’all. So, let’s go to the beach.

Baalok and I escape to Falmouth on Cape Cod around this time every year. It’s slowly turning into our “spot.” It’s a wonderful getaway: fresh chunks of lobster, salty-sprayed breezes, white picket fences and pebbled beaches. When we first visited, we were not only enamored with all the charms, but also pleasantly surprised to find a somewhat budget-friendly vacation. From bike trails and clay cliffs to fresh clams and outdoor films, here’s what I love about the Cape on a cost-friendly budget.

town-and-beach-motel-falmouthStay: Town & Beach Motel
Cost: $105 per night including tax

This small motel is perfect for a young couple. Restaurants and the beach are steps away and the owner is so nice and welcoming. She’s also hilarious – you’ll feel right at home.
Note: If you check in Sunday, Monday or Tuesday for 3 nights, you receive two free tickets to Martha’s Vineyard.

 

Falmouth-BikeVisit: Cape Cod Shining Sea Bikeway
Cost: Free with your own bike

The trail runs along the coast of Falmouth to Woods Hole. I really enjoyed taking a break and cooling off with a quick dip in the ocean. We then headed to Woods Hole for lobster tacos and cheap beers.
Note: If you need to rent a bike, Corner Cycle offers rentals for $17 ½ day or $25 whole day.

 

aquinnah-cliffsVisit: Aquinnah Cliffs on Martha’s Vineyard
Cost: Okay, okay. So this is not a budget-friendly excursion, but we had so much fun I would be remiss not to include!

You’ll need to pay for the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and the moped rental. Yet once you’re driving along the coast, you’ll feel blissfully content. The route to the Aquinnah Cliffs is breathtaking, and the ridges and brilliant colors of the cliffs are spectacular.

 

falmouth-clam-shackEat: Clam Shack of Falmouth
Cost: $18 fried clams plate

$18 is certainly not cheap for one plate. However, the Clam Shack piles their fried clams so high in that one serving that it feeds two. Fries and coleslaw are also included. The charming shack is right by the harbor so it’s also a nice spot to watch the boats come in and out.

 

Monomy-Refuge-Cape-CodVisit:  Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
Cost: Free

Chatham’s 7,600 –acre refuge features stretches of barrier beach islands and marshes. A visit near sunset is a peaceful respite.

 
 
 

Shop: Friends of the Falmouth Public Library Book Sale
Cost: $1-2 per book
Every 4th of July weekend, the Falmouth Public Library has a hugeee book sale on the library’s lawn. The sale features everything from popular New York Times best sellers and beach reads to unique hard cover classic editions and vintage cookbooks.

More places to dine or explore:

  • Outdoor Films – Peg Noonan Park in Falmouth offers free outdoor movie screenings every Wednesday at dusk.
  • Laura’s Home Cooking in Mashpee – Best affordable clam chowder on the Cape (in my humble opinion)
  • Raw Bar in Mashpee – Massive lobster roll is fit for two.
  • Truro Vineyard – $10 wine tastings & complimentary tour

Rockaway Beach

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It’s officially summer! So let’s kick it off with an ode to Rockaway Beach. I headed there for the first time a couple of weekends ago. It’s a nice retreat away from the city. The beach is clean and close to a host of food spots. I can’t wait to explore more this season.

PhotoFirst stop: Rippers at 86th Street. The veggie burger was amazing (and no wonder since the Roberta’s guys are behind this burger shack).
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We then ventured away from the boardwalk to check out Rockaway Surf Club. I couldn’t decide whether I was in Bushwick or Hawaii, but the vibe is chill and the beer selection is on point.
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Last stop: 97th Street concessions

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Baked Chicken Sliders & Radicchio Jalapeno Coleslaw

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It’s almost summer, which brings memories of my family’s backyard – our cherished rope hammock from Nags Head, my mom’s garden of plump red tomatoes or dinner against the evening backdrop of humming insects. My dad would grill hamburgers as my mom whipped up deviled eggs. Summer food magazines always make me long for those sweet, humid Virginia evenings.

One afternoon, I sensed that seasonal pang as I was flipping through Food & Wine’s June issue. There were colorful outdoor essentials, communal cooking spreads and loads of grilled summer staples. Honey-butter-grilled chicken and grilled potato salad danced along the pages, tempting me to leave my backyard-less apartment in search for an expansive yard and cheap grill.

So that night I couldn’t decide what to make Baalok for dinner (I wanted something grilled dangit!). Accepting that a grill was not in our foreseeable future, I opted for baked chicken sliders topped with chipotle ranch and radicchio jalapeno coleslaw. The chicken patties didn’t pack the smokiness of a charcoal-grilled burger. However, the juicy kick of flavor smothered my silly meal complaints. It’s an incredibly simple, yet delicious lunch or dinner for summer. I’m excited to share this recipe so I hope you try it and enjoy!

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Baked Chicken Burgers with Radicchio Jalapeno Coleslaw
Makes about 8-10 sliders

Chicken Patties:

  • 1lb ground chicken
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp, fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground paprika
  • A few dashes of salt & pepper

Garnishes:

  • 1 small head radicchio, shredded
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • A dash of fresh ground pepper
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • A few dollops of chipotle ranch (try Marie’s if you don’t mind store-bought)
  • 8 mini Portuguese buns (or whatever you can find at the market!)

Preheat oven to 350˚F

Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine (I find the best way to do this is with your clean hands!).

Form into small patties and place on foiled baking tray.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Flip at 10 minutes to brown on both sides.

Meanwhile, combine radicchio and jalapeno in small bowl. Fold in lime juice and pepper. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Serve patties on bun and top with chipotle mayo, avocado and coleslaw. I also topped Baalok’s with pepper jack cheese for another spicy kick.