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).

Southern-Astorian-fish-taco

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.

Southern-Astorian-Guacamole

 

Southern-Astorian-Sangria

 

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.

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.

 

Cheesy Taco Bake

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I recently stumbled upon the food blog Half Baked Harvest on Pinterest. The writer Tieghan’s recipes are original and inventive yet manageable for the home chef. Her photographs are gorgeous with pops of juicy color and fresh ingredients. Browse through the recipe box – you will not be disappointed! She has everything from tea oven fried chicken sliders with jalepeno cheddar corn salsa to Rice Krispies Treats pancakes to a cheesy black bean and quinoa taco bake.

Last night I made the taco bake for dinner with Chelsey. Each bite was a healthy yet cheesy and comforting amalgam of flavor. I halved the recipe and baked each portion in a soup ramekin rather than one large dish. I also left out a few ingredients (in part due to my absent mind at the grocery store, oops).

Half Baked Harvest’s Cheesy Black Bean and Quinoa Taco Bake
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Small lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 1/3 cup grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic, onions and peppers. Sauté until tender. Add spices then lime juice and water. Cook for a few more minutes.

Stir in the quinoa, black beans, pepper jack cheese and crushed tortilla chips. Mix well until the cheese is melted.

Transfer the mixture to the ramekins (make sure they’ve been greased!). Top with mixed cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, diced avocado, shreds of spinach and tortilla chips.

Side Note: Millport Dairy at Union Square’s Greenmarket makes fantastic pepper jack cheese. The Pennsylvania-based farmers make raw milk cheese from their grass-fed pastured-raised cows. The pepper jack has a real kick. It’s even Baalok and Chelsey approved.

Ramp Butter

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I hoped to post this recipe for the past couple weeks. However, sometimes (many times) life takes precedence over fun in the kitchen. Anyhow, spring is now in full bloom. And for me, the real delights of the season are fresh spring vegetables. Union Square’s Greenmarket is abundant with plump, purple-tipped asparagus, whimsical fiddlehead ferns and ramps, the lead subject of this post.

Also known as wild leeks or spring onions, ramps are harvested from the wild and typically appear in markets around early April. Their strong garlic-y, onion-ish odor wafts throughout the market stalls – a delightful scent signaling the official end of winter.

Unfortunately, ramps are short lived. The tasty edibles are only available April-May or June. So what’s a simple solution for the fleeting vegetable? Ramp butter! This recipe from Bon Appétit is a simple way to enjoy the treat throughout the summer months. I like it slathered on toast with scrambled eggs or melted on top of grilled vegetables.

Bon Appétit’s Ramp Butter
Original recipe here
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 lb. ramps (mine came from Mountain Sweet Berry in Union Square Greenmarket)
  • Ground sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop the ramps. Cream butter until smooth in a food processor. Add minced ramps, salt and pepper and pulse until well mixed in. Roll into a cylinder with plastic wrap. Wrap tightly in foil and freeze for up to 4 months. Next season I’ll freeze the butter mixture in ice cube trays – perfect proportion to pop out for just one meal

Side Note: Google ramp butter recipes and you’ll find tons! This one is just my favorite. Other methods add hints of lemon or honey or herbs such as thyme.

farmer’s market pizza bites

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Pizza bites – we’ve all done it. They’re simple and good. As a (broke) college student, I loved fixing my own English muffin rendition with Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle, slices of red onion and provolone. Pop it into the toaster oven for a few minutes and voila! Recently I’ve been thinking of ways to reduce costs in the kitchen and these little bites of goodness popped into mind.

As I was browsing Union Square’s Greenmarket yesterday, I came across the soft, olive oil-y Focaccia loaves by Hot Bread Kitchen. My mind went straight to pizza bites. Focaccia works well as a pizza dough substitution so I picked up a few additional ingredients – beets, mushrooms, micro arugula and fresh ricotta.

Focaccia bites are so quick and adaptable; they pair perfectly with a hectic workweek. Below are just a few of my favorite combinations. Each one is made with ingredients from the Greenmarket or my kitchen, making for a stress-free, thrifty – oh, and delicious – dinner.

Farmer’s Market Pizza Bites
Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 loaves of Focaccia bread, sliced horizontally and cut into 8 squares
  • A few mushrooms, sliced and baked for 3-5 minutes
  • About 1 cup Fontina cheese
  • 1 beet, thinly sliced, raw
  • 2 slices of mozzarella
  • A few dollops of ricotta
  • A handful of micro arugula
  • Jar of Vodka sauce
  • Truffle oil (or olive oil – whatever is in your pantry)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-5 basil leaves
  • Fresh chives, chopped

1. Truffle Mushroom Bite – Bake the sliced mushrooms in the oven for about 3-5 minutes. Drizzle truffle oil over two squares. Top with mushrooms, Fontina and repeat. Sprinkle pepper on top

2. Beet Bite – Top two squares with ricotta and thinly sliced beets. Drizzle with olive oil. Before serving, sprinkle fresh chives and pepper on top.

3. Vodka Bite – Vodka sauce serves as the base. Top with mozzarella slices and a crack of pepper. Before serving, place basil leaves on top.

4. Micro Bite – Drizzle bread with truffle oil and top with ricotta and Fontina. Before serving, cover with micro arugula.

Add whatever toppings you like and pop into the oven at 350˚F for about 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Sidenote: The herbs came from my new tiny herb garden. Find some tips for your growing your own here.