Tag Archives: jalapeno

Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Seasoned to Taste - Jalapeno and Cheddar Cheese Crackers

The older I get, the more I lean toward savory snacks and treats during the holidays. They seem a welcome reprieve after all of the sweets and sugary drinks. One thing that has become my standby for get-togethers and easy hostess gifts is savory cookies. Next year for Christmas, I will just make a medley of these shortbread crackers/cookies as gifts because they are always popular on table spreads.

Ina Garten first introduced me to her blue cheese and walnut shortbread crackers, which turned me on to savory pastry cooking.

Recently, I saw her prepare these on The Today Show (a recipe from her new cookbook, which of course I own) and knew I had to make them. Not unlike the cheese coins or cheese straws we see everywhere in The South, Ina’s Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Crackers combine sharp cheddar cheese with fresh jalapeno, smoked chipotle chili powder and crunchy fleur de sel on top.

Addictive, the crackers go perfectly with a cold beer.

I make the dough a day ahead and then just slice and bake before I need them.

As seen on The Today Show

Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Ingredients (makes about 34 crackers):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¹⁄8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 14 tablespoons (13/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/2-inch-diced
  • 5 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar, grated
  • 1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
  • Fleur de sel or sea salt

Place the flour, kosher salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cheddar, jalapeño, and chipotle chili powder and pulse again. With the food processor running, add the ice water all at once. Continue pulsing until the mixture begins to form a ball. Dump the dough onto a floured board and roll it into a 14-inch log. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Cut the dough in 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place the crackers on the prepared sheet pan, brush with the egg wash, and sprinkle with the fleur de sel. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown (Note: mine took about 18 minutes). Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. If serving later, cool completely then store in airtight containers.

Seasoned to Taste - Jalapeno and Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Can you see the bits of jalapeno in there? So pretty and festive!

Seasoned to Taste - Jalapeno and Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Jalapeno Beer-Braised Shrimp

Shrimp seared and then braised in a mixture of jalapeno, garlic and stout beer … yet another reason to drink while you’re cooking. I’d like to think that the first person to cook seafood with alcohol really just spilled some of her wine in the pan and went with it. There’s something about the complex flavors of good beer or wine that make certain seafood – notably shrimp – just bloom with flavor.

I’ve adapted this recipe from an old one of Rachael Ray’s – her magazine, not her show – and it’s a popular staple whenever I’m craving shrimp cooked with unique flavors.

This dish truly does taste different – the beer is strong and comes at you fast, along with the pepper, garlic and bay. Yet the shrimp still tastes nice and buttery, served over brown Basmati rice (or any rice).

Jalapeno Beer-Braised Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds prawns or jumbo shrimp—peeled, deveined
  • Grill seasoning, such as McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning (or just salt and pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 bottle of dark stout beer, such as Guinness (we used a dark Indian beer) – about 1 1/2 c.
  • 1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, a palmful
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving

Coat the prawns with the grill seasoning. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the olive oil is very hot, place about half the prawns in the skillet in a single layer and quickly sear them, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate and reserve. Repeat with the remaining prawns.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, then add the chile pepper and the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beer and bay leaf. Boil over high heat to reduce the liquid by half.

Return the prawns to the skillet with the sauce and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and remove the bay leaf. Stir in the butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with cilantro (if you have it) and serve over rice!

Yum, I had my leftovers for a tasty, healthy lunch. Make sure you use a beer that you really love – that means if you don’t like Guinness, my goodness don’t use it! And if you don’t like any stout beer, I’m sure that an equally high-quality amber ale would work, too.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Seared scallops with Christmas risotto

For Christmas Eve dinner, my sister and I prepared a meal perfect for the night before Christmas because it won’t compete with the rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. Scallops seared to a caramel brown sit atop a creamy risotto made with bacon, basil, jalapeno and bright red tomatoes – creating a red and green festive plate.

I’ve made this risotto a couple times before, after seeing it here on We Are Not Martha. However, I’ve had to change a few things. For example, adding the tomatoes at the very-very end to prevent them from dissolving into the risotto. Also, I used more chicken stock than it called for, to add extra creaminess. The only fat you’ll need comes from the smoky bacon, which will blow your family away with the addition of garlic and white wine.

Truly, there’s little to dislike about this dish. The following offers small portions for 4 people, but plenty for 2-3.

Seared scallops with Christmas risotto

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound large sea scallops, rinsed, patted dry, salt and peppered
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced (or 1/2 of large jalapeno) – approx 2 tsp
  • 3/4 c. arborio rice
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
  • 3 c. chicken stock, low-sodium
  • 2-3 tomatoes, seeded and diced (roughly 1 c.)
  • Handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 c. Parmesano Reggiano, grated, plus more for serving

Heat chicken stock in medium saucepan over medium heat on back burner. Keep simmering.

Meanwhile, add bacon to large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, reducing heat to medium-low, until bacon is crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then pour off all but 1 T of the bacon fat.

Return pan to medium-low heat and add garlic and jalapeno (you could also substitute a pinch of red pepper flakes here). Cook for a minute, until foaming.

Stir in rice and cook until translucent around the edges; 1-2 min.

Add wine, scraping up the bacon bits from the bottom. When wine is absorbed, add 1 ladle (1/2 c.) chicken stock. Stir until absorbed, repeating until all the stock is used or the risotto is creamy with just the smallest bite to it. You don’t want it to be grainy in the middle – but slightly al dente. Check for seasonings (I’ve never had to add extra salt and pepper).

While the rice is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium heat with butter and EVOO. When butter is melted and foaming, add scallops and sear until a nice brown crust forms on each side. Reserve to a plate.

When risotto is done, stir in the cheese until melted, then add the basil, tomatoes and reserved bacon.

To serve, spoon risotto onto plates, then top with scallops. Serve with extra cheese to dust on top.

I can’t tell you how delicious this is. Served with more white wine and a salad, my family was sighing with happiness. Please try this – special enough for a holiday, but perfect for any ol’ day. Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Jalapeno-garlic shrimp with mango salsa

I eat shrimp fairly often, yet I haven’t posted about this seafood in a while. Shrimp are the answer to my favorite spring/summer culinary question: What can I make that is fresh and quick? I recently applied this answer to a Martha Stewart recipe that includes a light marinade for shrimp perfect with rice, tacos or over a simple salad.

I paired this mildly spicy shrimp with soy-sesame seared green onions, rice and mango salsa (easy enough to make, but I let Whole Foods do the work for me). I love the combination of shrimp and tropical fruit.

Jalapeno-garlic shrimp

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. shrimp, 15 count, peeled and deveined
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely shopped
  • 1 T fresh lime juice (1 lime)
  • 3 T EVOO
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • Chopped cilantro

Toss together shrimp, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice, 1 T EVOO. Season with salt and pepper. Marinade in fridge for 45 min., or while you are getting the rice started.

(Meanwhile, for the seared onions, heat nonstick skillet over medium-high, add 1 tsp EVOO, then 3-4 green onions, searing until caramelized. Off the heat, add 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil…done!)

Heat 2 T oil in large skillet over medium-high (I just wiped out the green-onion pan). Pour shrimp mixture into skillet and cook through, about 4 min. total. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

To serve, spoon rice on plate, then add shrimp, salsa and finish with green onion ribbons. Leftovers are great the next night!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Jalapeno-cheddar cornbread

IMG_4119

Whenever I think of cornbread, I think of that “Arrested Development” episode with the corn-baller fryer that keeps burning people and when they couldn’t sell it in the U.S., they started selling it on Mexican infomercials.

This cornbread is baked safely in your oven, not deep-fried, but it still has spice that anyone will appreciate.

All you do is buy cornmeal and follow the cornbread directions on the back. Why not? Once you’ve mixed the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, stir in:

1 seeded jalapeno pepper, minced

4 green onions, chopped

3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Sprinkle the last 1/4 c. of cheese over the top of the cornbread and bake it according to the instructions, adding at least 10 more minutes to account for all the cheese in there (at least, mine took an extra 10 minutes). It should be moist but not mushy in the thickest part. As soon as you cut the bread open, you’ll know if you cooked it long enough! And it won’t hurt to go back in for a few minutes, if you need it.

I served this cornbread with Hoppin’ John,  which I’ve made many times, but this time used fresh ingredients in place of canned – I have all this farmers market food to use up!

I used 1 minced jalapeno instead of the canned green chilies, 2 chopped heirloom tomatoes in place of the canned diced, and chicken stock instead of water (increase the water to 1 c. to account for the fresh tomatoes).

We were very pleased with this comforting and satisfying meal. (And yes, that is a big piece of butter oozing out of my slice in the picture. Butter is a must.)

Good luck having only one serving, friends!