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New York Style Jalapeno Pretzels

One thing I can’t resist when I go to the mall are those soft, buttery, pretzels from Auntie Anne’s. You know the ones, the smell hits you way before the pretzels come into view. They’re not the healthiest and covered in butter but they’re my little indulgence to get me through the next couple of hours of shopping. My favorite are the jalapeno pretzels so naturally I had to try my own version!

pretzel-dough3

These are more “New York style” pretzels rather than the chain’s version and much healthier too. No greasy, oily film covering them. I like the mall pretzels but something about making your own feels so much better eating!

pretzel-dough

These pretzels are soft and chewy and have just enough heat to keeps things interesting. They’re best when they’re fresh out of the oven and even better with spicy mustard!

soft-pretzel

You’re probably thinking “oh, I have no time for this”, but really, you do! With just a few simple ingredients to mix, a little time for the dough to rise and another few minutes for baking and voila, a New York style pretzel you didn’t have to travel all the way to city to get! That simple.

Jalapeno Soft Pretzel
makes 6-8 pretzels

adapted from Martha Stewart

1 tsp of dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter, salted
1 jalapeno, stem removed & chopped
2 tbsp baking soda
sea salt

1. Mix the first three ingredients and add warm water until mixture dissolves. Set aside until yeast mixture gets foamy.

2. In separate bowl mix flour and nutmeg then mix butter in with fork until mixture appears like crumble. Use fingers to mix if that’s easier.

3. Slowly add yeast mixture into flour and stir. Add chopped jalapeno peppers and mix with hands until you form a dough. Knead the dough until smooth and not sticky. Cover with plastic and let the dough rise for an hour, or overnight in the refrigerator.

4. Cut dough into 6- 8 pieces and roll out each into a long log. Shape each into your desired shape and place on a oiled baking sheet. Let the dough rise again for another 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 45o. Add baking soda to a pot of water over high heat and let boil. Boil each pretzel, a couple at a time and set a rack to drain.

6. Sprinkle pretzels with sea salt and place back on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until brown.

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St Patrick’s Day Jalapeno and Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

Happy pre – St. Patrick’s Day!! Celebrate with these jalapeno and cheddar cornbread muffins for a spiced up morning. They’re playful, fun, easy to make and would look cute on your breakfast table. During the baking process the jalapeno slices transform into little shamrocks!

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Just slice an extra jalapeno and top each muffin before baking.

muffin_pan

The cornbread muffins will be just a little spicy since the fat in the cheese helps balance the heat.

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Perfect with a mug of coffee!

jalapeno_muffin_coffee

I used regular cornbread mix which works for me! Its quick, it’s easy but if you have your own special corn muffin recipe go ahead and just mix in the jalapenos and the cheddar. Adjust your recipe if you add salt since the cheddar adds it’s own saltiness. Also, adding the cheese makes this recipe much more moist than a traditional cornbread recipe.

Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day and may the road always rise up to meet you!!

St Patrick’s Day Jalapeno & Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
2 jalapenos, 1 diced & the other sliced
1/4 cup white cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl mix all ingredients except the sliced jalapeno.

2. Grease a muffin pan and pour cornbread mix into molds. Top each muffin with a jalapeno slice and bake for 20-25 minutes.

3. For a sweeter option, drizzle a little honey over the tops as they’re cooling.

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Spicy Appetizers for the Superbowl, Some Healthy, Some Not, But All Amazing

Here are six spicy starters for this weekend that I think are just great! These will definitely raise the heat level at your Superbowl party and will keep both sides happy no matter who they’re rooting for. A couple you’ll recognize as Superbowl classics with a different spin and a few others are snack size Ethnic favorites to keep things interesting. Hope you enjoy!

Spicy Roundup 1

1. Roasted jalapeno popper potato skins from Iowa Girl Eats

Spicy Roundup 2

2. Tandoori chicken burgers from Baked Bree   3. Zucchini harissa herb pizza from Om Nom Ally

Spicy Roundup 3

4. Thai pork meatballs and sweet chili sauce from Foodess  5. Sweet and spicy chicken wings from My Baking Addiction  6. Bacon wrapped stuffed jalapenos from I Breath, I’m Hungry

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Healthy Superbowl Snacks – Spicy Quinoa Cakes

This quinoa bites recipe has been on my Pinterest board for over a year now. I’ve made it a couple of times and decided to tweak the recipe for a spicier option. What can I say, I just can’t help myself! Adding a little spice here and there can really elevate a dish, even if it’s just a few pepper flakes.

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These spicy quinoa mini cakes are a healthy alternative to the numerous fried and cheese laden appetizers that will be consumed during next weekend’s super bowl. If you’re looking for ideas on what to make and want to balance out your menu, this is it! Quinoa is a grain used in many dishes across South America and has gained popularity across the US for it’s high protein content and health benefits. It’s the super food of choice for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. It’s high in fiber, rich in iron and has been known to regulate insulin levels in your body. How could you not want to eat this?!

quinoa_poppers

These are great little snacks you can munch on between meals, as appetizers or just serve up as a side dish. The original recipe called for a sauce but these are moist enough that you don’t need one. If you do want something extra, serve with a salsa. You can also use regular size cupcake pans and serve as a side with vegetables or grilled chicken.

Spicy Quinoa Mini Cakes
adapted from So Very Blessed
yields 48 mini cakes

2 cups quinoa, cooked
2 egg whites
1/4 cup Gouda cheese
1 jalapeno, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. In a small bowl add all the ingredients and mix well.

2. Grease a mini cupcake pan and spoon in the quinoa mix into each mold.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Note: The recipe calls for 2 cups of cooked quinoa. You can cook 1 cup of quinoa in about 1 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock for extra flavor. I used a low sodium chicken stock and boiled quinoa for about 15 minutes. You want the quinoa to crack open and be light and fluffy.

Quinoa has too many health benefits not to include in your diet. Use any leftover cooked quinoa to toss in your salad or add some texture to your smoothies. Enjoy!

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Roasted Shishito Peppers With Habanero Infused Olive Oil

I love a good roasted chile pepper, especially one you can just pop in your mouth for a quick and easy snack! These Japanese Shishito peppers aren’t spicy but sometimes you bite into one that really surprises you. You might get a few out of a bunch that are spicy hot but that’s the interesting part, the flavors balance out and deliver a kick when you least expect it!

The Shishito pepper is bright green and is easily recognized by it’s wrinkled finger-like shape.

Roasted they’re great as an appetizer, just sprinkle a little sea salt! I drizzled a habanero infused olive oil just for more heat but not too much so as to not mask the flavor of the peppers. Pair it with an ice cold Pilsner or Lager for a game day snack.

You can also chop these up and toss with a salad, top a pizza, add to your omelet, so many options!

Roasted Shishito Peppers

Dozen Shishito peppers
Habanero infused olive oil
Sea salt

Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and toss around. Place peppers on aluminum foil or a cookie sheet and broil for a couple minutes each side. Make sure you keep an eye on them since they roast fairly quickly. Sprinkle a dash or two of sea salt and eat right away.

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Spicy Blackened Whiting Bites

Two weeks ago I posted about a little hidden, spicy foods gem down the shore here in Jersey called Ragin’ Cajun. I picked up their cookbook the last time I was there and had to share this recipe for blackened fish bites. If you visit you’ll see the blackened chicken bites on the menu but I had a few filets of Whiting and decided on blackened fish bites. I’m posting this one because it’s one of the recipes posted on their website so not divulging too much from the book, you’ll have to go buy your own copy to get the rest of the goods!

Blackened Whiting with broccoli

Blackened just means you cook it until it looks nice and burnt but it’s not! Actually, you’re cooking at high heat and toasting the seasoning which brings out a wonderful smoky flavor. Also you want to be sure to use a cast iron skillet because of the high temperature but if you don’t have one use a heavy bottom pan instead, that will work just fine. Make sure you have a good Cajun seasoning as well because the only other ingredient is butter so your spice flavors should be well balanced. As an added bonus the book purchase came with a free jar of Ragin Cajun’s very own Cajun seasoning so I was pretty set, no way to mess up this recipe! Check them out and let me know what you think!

Ragin Cajun's Cookbook

Blackened Whiting Fish Bites
Recipe adapted from Sittin’ Bayou Makes Me Hot

2 Whiting Filets, cubed
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
3-4 tbsp unsalted butter

1. In a bowl, toss the fish bites with the seasoning.

2. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet on high heat. When butter melts and add the fish. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side making sure the fish is well coated with butter.

3. Serve as an appetizer or add a side veggie for dinner. I cooked broccoli in a little butter, minced garlic clove and red pepper flakes with a side of spicy remoulade sauce for a nice meal.

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Monday Night Football Spicy BBQ Wings

It’s that time! Time to pull out your favorite football teams’ jersey and start getting your game time recipes in queue. I’m always searching for new and interesting appetizers for game time and one thing that’s always on the menu is spicy wings. It’s a long time until the Superbowl but just think of all the tailgating, parties and gatherings you’ll have until then. Even your Monday night football gatherings deserve a little attention and these spicy wings will be quick and easy option after you get home from work.

Spicy honey BBQ wings

A good way to save time is to season the wings ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use. You can also do as I did and use your own favorite barbeque sauce and spice it up with extra chili. I boiled these wings first for a healthier option. I never fry my wings and boiling the seasoned meat first ensures that they cook all the way through. Then, to obtain a nice brown color and crispy skin, all you’ll have to do is broil the wings after you’ve covered them in sauce. Just be sure to watch them as they can easily burn.

spicy wings

Spicy BBQ Wings

1 lb chicken wings
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried onion
2 tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
juice from 1/2 lemon

Sauce

3/4 cup BBQ sauce
2 tbsp chipotle hot sauce
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp honey

1. In a bowl, mix together the cumin, salt, pepper, onions, oregano, and paprika. In another bowl mix your favorite BBQ sauce with the hot sauce, chili powder and honey and set aside until you’re ready to use it.

2. In a separate bowl add the wings and squeeze the 1/2 lemon until wings are well covered. Add the minced garlic and work into the wings with your hands. Season the wings with the dry season mixture. Let the wings marinate in frig for at least 30 minutes.

3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the wings. Cook for about 15 minutes until the wings are cooked through. Remove from heat.

4. Prepare a large flat pan and line with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Add the wings and slather them with the spiced barbeque sauce.

5. Set oven to broil and cook for a few minutes on each side until they’re browned.

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Thin Healthy Pizza to Enjoy Over and Over Again

Who said pizza can’t be healthy? It’s one thing if you’re ordering it with extra cheese and loading it with various meats but if you’re making it at home you get to control the ingredients and can enjoy the flavors while still watching your waistline. Pizza is my all time favorite fast food, actually it’s my only favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good burger but only if it’s homemade and comes off the grill. Pizza on the other hand is something I’ll never get tired of eating and love that there are more gourmet pizza restaurants sprouting up around the city. Nothing like hot saucy pizza coming out of a brick oven with fresh, quality ingredients. I wish I could have it several times a week but I can really do without all the calories and well you know, gourmet doesn’t come cheap! So every once in a while I make these thin pizzas on flour tortillas or wraps for a perfect low calorie alternative.

I made a salami, cheese and jalapeno mini pie and a prosciutto, baby arugula and shaved parmesan pie. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner and won’t have you feeling extra full and heavy afterwards.

Add a thin layer of sauce on tortilla and just top with ingredients. The less meat and cheese you use the better the other flavors will come through. It’s true especially with the prosciutto and arugula pizza, the mild sweetness of the prosciutto  and the peppery arugula are delicious and the citrus infused chile olive oil bring it all together.

These would also be great for entertaining as well and you won’t be slaving in the kitchen! Just cut the pizzas into quarters for sharing and pair with some wine, maybe a Syrah or a Chianti?

Prosciutto & Baby Arugula Tortilla Pizza
Pizza Sauce, see recipe below
Parmasean Cheese, shaved
Baby Arugula
Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Citrus habanero infused olive oil
Flour tortilla

Salami, Cheese and Jalapeno Tortilla Pizza
Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella, shredded
Hard Salami, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped
crushed red pepper flakes

Pizza Sauce
Tomato sauce
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
Oregano, dried
Basil, dried
red pepper flakes

Season the tomato sauce with all the ingredients to taste. Make as much as you need based on the number of pizzas you want to make. For the two pizzas above all you’ll need is about 1/2 cup of sauce.

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Mini Cheese Steak Tostadas

Would you drive over an hour to Philly after midnight just to get a greasy cheese steak? I did that once with a few folks after watching a special Philly cheese steak episode on TV. We just all looked at each other and said “let’s go”! I rarely have cheese steaks now since I’ve cut down significantly on red meat but every once in a while I’ll get a craving.

I decided to make mini cheese steak tacos made with homemade corn tortillas and sauteed onions and peppers for a lighter version. An unlikely pairing but I didn’t want all that bread from the hoagie either so opted for something a little different. I made a few 4 inch size tortillas and loaded them with steak, onions, peppers and melted cheese. By the time I finished there was no way I could fold them like a taco so had them open faced instead! Is there such a thing as an open face taco? I think not so what we have here is a tostada, yeah, that’s it. Either way, it was hearty and satisfyingly good!

Once you prep your peppers (I used cubanelle for a little spice and because they started to ripen), onions, and garlic, just saute them in a little oil. The onions should caramelize and the peppers should be very tender.

I cooked the beef round strips below then later cut into smaller pieces. These here were a bit too large for the small tortillas I made.

Assemble everything on the tortillas, melt the cheese and add your favorite hot sauce for extra heat if you like.

Spicy Mini Cheese Steak Tostadas

1 lb beef round, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large cubanelle pepper, julienned
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 tsp Adobo, see recipe below
1 tsp sea salt
10 mini (4″) corn tortillas, see recipe below
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp parsley
1-2 tbsp butter
hot sauce

Corn Tortillas

1 1/2 cup Masa corn flour (found in Latin grocer or any large supermarket)
3/4 cup of hot water

1. Heat up about 2 tbsp of oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Season the beef  with the Adobo and add to the hot oil. Saute beef until cooked through and nicely browned. After beef browned add about 1/2 cup of water, stir and let it reduce. The beef should be a bit moist and saucy.

2. While the beef is cooking prep onions, pepper and garlic. In a separate saute pan heat up about 1-2 tbsp of oil on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the peppers and cook until soft, add the garlic and season with a tsp of salt. Once cooked , add to a bowl and set aside.

3. In a bowl, add corn flour then slowly add the hot water and stir until dough forms. If it’s too sticky, add more flour. Knead dough on floured board and divide dough into about 10 golf sized balls. Flatten each in a tortilla press for perfect round tortillas or with a rolling pin between sheets of parchment paper. Cook tortillas in a hot pan with a tbsp of butter for about 1 minute on each side. The thinner the tortilla the less time it needs to cook. Tortillas should be a bit brown on each side.

4. Set oven to broil. Place tortillas on an oven proof dish, top with the steak, then top with the onions and peppers. Top with the mozzarella cheese and place in the broiler only until cheese melts. Top with you favorite hot sauce.

Spicy Adobo Seasoning

Adobo seasoning can be purchased in the Latin aisle of a supermarket but I like making my own. It isn’t a spicy seasoning but I add a little cayenne pepper to mine. You can leave this out if you like. Check out my recipe below.

1 tbsp Himalayan Sea salt
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp hot paprika
2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black ground pepper
1 tsp dried garlic

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Spicy Asian Chicken Skewers

I made these for dinner the other night and really had to stop myself from eating all of it! These Asian inspired skewers are spicy, flavorful, and trust me, you will be licking your fingers.

These are perfect for a week night dinner since it only takes as long as you need to marinate, fire up the grill and cook. You can also save some time by marinating the night before. When I get home late from work I just want something quick, light and satisfying so I don’t feel so weighted down afterwards. Pairing these spicy Asian chicken skewers with a chilled Gruner Veltliner is perfect and one of my go-to wines for spicy foods since it’s fruity and refreshing but not sweet. This really hit the spot!

What spicy dish do you like to make when time is not on your hands?

Spicy Asian Chicken Skewers
yields about 8-10 skewers

1 lb chicken breast or chicken tenders
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp scallions, chopped
skewers

1. Mix all ingredients, except for the chicken, in a bowl and stir well.

2. Cut the chicken breasts into strips or use pre-cut chicken tender and place in a bowl. Add the liquid mixture to chicken and marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

3. Skewer the chicken and grill for about 15 minutes.

I made these in an indoor grill and was able to use some of the drippings to keep the skewers moist. You can reserve some of the liquid also and cook on stove top quickly since its had raw chicken in it and pour the reduced sauce over skewers. Enjoy!

Also, if you want a heavier meal just make a side of white rice or grill some of your favorite veggies.  A side of grilled Chinese broccoli would go well with these. Just be sure to grill them separately since meats and vegetables have different cook times.

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