Tag Archives: jalapeno

Local Box Picnic: Allen Park

Unless you live in the Far West neighborhood of Austin, chances are that you’ve never heard of Allen Memorial Park. This hilly little hiking spot is tucked near an office park west of MoPac near Far West. There are no playgrounds or sports fields at Allen Park; its main draw is the well-kept trail, clean picnic areas, and a real sense of seclusion.

Trail at Allen Memorial Park in Austin, Texas
Nearly a mile of gravel trail twists through the park. Some hills are very steep, while other parts of the trail are relatively flat overlooking the city. Although sounds of MoPac traffic hum throughout the park, a thick layer of foliage helps the trails feel set apart from the surrounding city. My husband and I were the only visitors at the park at dinner time on the Fourth of July.

 

The wide, gravelled trail starts at Allen Park’s parking lot and ascends up a rocky scramble to a large picnic area. Besides this larger picnic spot, there are at least six separate picnic tables near the entrance of the park.  Each table is located in its own paved clearing, and some have a charcoal grill nearby. (As of this post, these grills are covered and unusable because Travis County is under a burn ban.) Although it’s not a long walk from one picnic area to the next, each clearing is separated by dense greenery and windy trails. We chose to dine at this picnic table, which overlooks the Northwest Hills neighborhood to the west.

For dinner I made some easy summer salads with Local Box ingredients from Hillside Farm, Massey Farm and Tecolote Farm.  The highlight of the meal was a spicy corn & black bean salad, studded with Juliet tomatoes and topped with Cotija cheese.  The best part of this recipe– besides the tomatoes– is a spicy jalapeno vinaigrette dressing. To get an even level of high heat throughout the salad, I use a blender to liquify a whole jalapeno pepper and a clove of garlic into the dressing. This technique ensures a high level of heat without worrying about whole jalapeno seeds creating “hot spots” throughout the salad. I also don’t have to bother with wearing gloves as I mince the pepper by hand– a huge plus.

 


 

Spicy Corn & Black Bean Salad (serves 6)

Salad:
3 ears of fresh corn on the cob
1, 15-ounce can black beans
1 medium red onion
1 medium bell pepper
1 pint Juliet tomatoes
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
lime wedges to garnish

Dressing:
1 garlic clove
1 large jalapeno pepper
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring water to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, remove the shucks and silks from the ears of corn. Wash and dry the corn, then cut the kernels off of the cob. Cook the kernels of corn for about three minutes in boiling water, until they are tender-firm. Drain the corn and set aside to cool.

Peel and dice the onion. Remove the ribs and seeds from the bell pepper, and dice the remaining flesh. Slice Juliet tomatoes in half.  Place them in a large salad bowl along with the minced onion, bell pepper and sliced tomatoes. Chop off the tough stems from the bunch of cilantro. Chop the remaining leaves and add to the salad, stirring to combine.

To make the dressing, peel the garlic and slice the top stem off of the jalapeno pepper. Put the whole garlic clove and decapitated pepper– seeds, ribs and all– into the blender along with the remaining ingredients. Pulse on “liquify,” or your blender’s highest speed, for about three minutes, until all the pepper seeds have been obliterated and the dressing is emulsified. No blender? Peel and crush the garlic with a garlic press. Remove the stem, ribs and seeds from the jalapeno and mince it by hand. Whisk the crushed garlic and minced pepper together with the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

Pour the prepared dressing over the salad and mix well. Top with crumbled Cotija cheese and garnish with lime wedges before serving. This salad keeps well in the refrigerator and tastes better the second day, although the tomatoes will not be as vibrant red by then.

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Five-Spice Pork Stew

This post comes to you from the French Quarter, where we are staying for a few nights on a much-needed vacation. We just inhaled lungfuls of powdered sugar at Cafe du Monde, and then ventured back to our hotel as the temperature slowly dropped. It’s supposed to be in the 30s tonight, and a warm stew like this is just what I look forward to on a cold evening.

I needed to use up a bunch of produce before we left and spotted a bag of five-spice powder in the pantry as I was gathering my ingredients. If you’ve never had it, five-spice powder is encompasses flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty and usually contains fennel, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and peppercorns. It is popular in Chinese cuisine, and sounded like just the thing to season my pork stew (I had just dug out a head of bok choy to use, and it just made sense). It’s flavor is pretty prominent here, so cut back on the amount you use if it seems like too much. I cooked this in a slow-cooker, but if you want to do it on the stove, just combine all ingredients, bring to a boil, and cook over low heat for about 2.5 hours, till the meat is tender.

We’re off to find a place to watch tonight’s Saints game. Adieu!

Five-Spice Pork Stew

2 lbs pork tenderloin (or your favorite cut of pork), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
3 bell peppers, chopped (I used two red and one green)
1 bunch bok choy, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
1.5 tsp five-spice powder
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cups chicken broth or water

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir well. Cook over high heat for 5.5 hours (or low heat for 10 hours).

Nacho Pinwheels

In addition to the jalapeno popper dip, these nacho pinwheels are another tasty Super Bowl snack that uses lots of Local Box produce! They’re totally addicting and super easy, making them a great addition to your menu for this Sunday.

Finely minced red onion, jalapeno, or cilantro would also be great additions!

From Pillsbury.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 can crescent rolls
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 tsp. taco seasoning
  • 1/3 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c. fresh corn
  • 1/4 c. red or green bell pepper, minced
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • Salsa, for serving

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Unroll the crescent roll dough and divide each rectangle in half (so you should have 4 smaller rectangles). Press the perforations together.
  • In small bowl, mix the cream cheese and taco seasoning mix together, then stir in the cheddar cheese, corn, peppers and green onions.
  • Spread 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture over each rectangle to within 1/4 inch of edges.
  • Starting with one short side, roll up each rectangle and press the edge to seal. Cut each roll into 6 slices with a serrated knife, then place each roll cut side down on a cookie sheet
  • Bake ~15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Serve warm with salsa.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

With the Super Bowl coming up, I thought I would share some great football snack foods that feature local Texas produce!

I thought it couldn’t get any better than buffalo chicken dip (aka “crack dip,” since it’s just that addictive), but this is fantastic! It’s a riff off of jalapeno poppers, so it’s got those same smoky/spicy flavors, but in a warm, cheesy dip form. The only change I made was to increase the amount of bacon from 4 to 6 strips (that was a no-brainer), and to cook the onion mixture in bacon grease (also a no-brainer).

I should mention that when I’m heading over to someone else’s house, I usually make my goodies in disposable aluminum pans. Though they’re not the sturdiest things out there, they usually come with a lid and there’s no clean-up, making it easier for me and the host. They’re also oven-safe, so you can prepare the dip at home and bake it when you get to your destination.

I think this would also be great with some cilantro or chives sprinkled on top after baking, if you have some!

From Evil Shenanigans

Ingredients:

  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 c. onion, finely diced (I used half of a red onion that came in our Local Box)
  • 2 jalapenos, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 2/3 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 c. pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a skillet, cook the bacon until it’s crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  • Add the onion, jalapenos, garlic, bacon and cumin to the bacon grease and saute until the onions begin to soften. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.
  • In a mixing bowl, blend the cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Add cheddar cheese, 1/2 c. parmesan cheese and chopped pickled jalapenos. Add the sauteed ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Spread the dip into a casserole dish and top with the panko, 1/4 c. parmesan cheese and paprika.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then cool for 5 minutes before eating with tortilla chips.

Local Box Meal Plan: Aug. 31-Sept. 4

I’m a little late with the meal planning post today — sorry!

In our Greenling boxes this week, we’re getting summer squash, yellow onion and red potatoes from Naegelin, basil and lettuce from Bluebonnet Hydroponics, crimini mushrooms from Kitchen Pride, microgreens from Bella Verdi, red long beans from Animal Farm, jalapenos and serranos from Lundgren, okra from Bradshaw or Arnold Farms, and black-eyed or purple hull peas and Texas pears from Lightsey Farms.

So I’m making:

Condiments:

Dinners:

Side Dish:

Dessert:

I’ve never seen Chinese long beans before, let alone cooked with them. How are you using them?

Cantaloupe Salsa

[Printable Recipe]

We had a few friends come over before we went out, so I decided to whip up some pre-bar snacks! Our Greenling box was chock-full of fruit, peppers and onions this week, so everything I needed for this cantaloupe salsa was already in the fridge.

The flavors get much better after the salsa sits for a bit, so I’d allot at least an hour before serving.

From Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole cantaloupe, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped finely
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt to taste (I used much more than I thought I would, ~1 tsp.)

Directions:

  • Combine everything in a bowl and let marinate for 1 hour before serving with chips.

Verdict:
Along the same lines as mango salsa, this cantaloupe salsa is a refreshing change to the typical tomato or tomatillo-based salsas. The sweet-spicy combination would be a great compliment to grilled fish or chicken.

Just remember to chop the jalapenos AFTER putting in your contact lenses (or wear rubber gloves). Ow.

Local Box Meal Plan: August 17-21

It’s that time of week again! We’ll be getting our Greenling Local Box on Thursday and I’ve got to plan for it.

This week, we’re getting chives (or mint) from Pure Luck, squash blossoms from Montesino, blueberries from Berry Best, pea shoots from Bluebonnet Hydroponics or Bella Verde, a pepper mix from Lundgren, okra or eggplant from Tecalote, squash from Naegelin, peaches from Cooper Orchards, lettuce from Bluebonnet, shallots and elephant garlic from Lundgren, and a Canary melon from Tecalote.

So I’m making:

Breakfast:

  • Melon halves with cottage cheese (don’t knock it until you try it! Cottage cheese is a great source of protein in the early morning and it’s great when paired with a sweet melon like this.)

Side dishes:

And if we get mint instead of chives, I’ll be using that in one of the cocktails I’ll be serving at my friend’s lingerie shower this weekend. Champagne, lychee and bruised mint — yummy!

Have you come up with some creative ways to use your lettuce in recipes? I find myself eating it raw most of the time.