Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BLACKENED SHRIMP TACOS WITH AVOCADO CREMA & MANGO SALSA

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

You guys. These tacos. Oh. Em. GEE. Perfectly blackened shrimp layered with sweet mango salsa and zesty avocado crema, these babies are, like, my everything. 

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

You already know that I have a major thing for tacos (I'm still drooling over the Slow Cooker Beef tacos) but you might not know about my shrimp addiction. Because it is a real thing. However, I hardly ever make shrimp since Warren is seafood averse, which is just plain criminal.

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

And yes, Warren did legit refuse to eat these, but I didn't mind one bit since that left all the more for me. Leftovers made a mean salad and I can bet they would go really well with nachos. Or Totchos. Whatever floats your boat!

Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

And this mango salsa is pretty much everything I love about summer--fresh, sweet, with the perfect amount of zest. It's pretty fab all by itself, or heaped on a pile of tortilla chips, and of course, these lovely shrimp tacos.

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

BLACKENED SHRIMP TACOS WITH AVOCADO CREMA & MANGO SALSA

For the blackened shrimp
Adapted from The Wicked Noodle
  • 1 lb. large frozen peeled shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • corn tortillas
Defrost shrimp in a bowl of cold water. Meanwhile, mix the spices. Pat shrimp dry and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the seasoning (save the rest of the seasoning for another meal). In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. When pan is hot enough that water drops sizzle when they hit, add the shrimp in an even layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, until shrimp is pink and slightly browned. Take off the heat and transfer to another bowl so you don't overcook the shrimp.

To assemble the tacos, warm up corn tortillas and top with blackened shrimp, mango salsa and avocado crema (recipes below).

For the Mango Salsa
  • 1 large, ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

For the Avocado Crema
  •  1 ripe avcoado
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender (or you can just mash everything together if you have a really ripe avocado) and blend until smooth. Set aside. 


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

FRESH BLUEBERRY MARSHMALLOWS

Fresh Blueberry Marshmallows | Club Narwhal

Blueberry season is my favorite part of summer. As a child, we used to spend a few weeks in Traverse City picking fresh berries to our hearts' content. Of course, I don't actually remember any of those idyllic summers of yore, but the pictures prove that I was a berry eater of the heroic kind (berry juice splattered all over my smug little face). 

As a grown up, I still can't get enough of fresh berries (Triple Berry Tarts, anyone?). It's one of the most magical parts about living in Michigan--blueberries for miles. I can't wait for the time when we can plant a few rows of blueberry bushes in our backyard. And some cherry trees. And an apple orchard. Dream big, right? Which brings me to these absolutely dreamy Blueberry Marshmallows.

Marshmallow Fluff | Club Narwhal

While I'm not a marshmallow fan generally speaking, if they are homemade I pretty much can't stop stuffing my face. How can you resist fluffy clouds of marshmallows? I had a few pints of blueberries to eat my way through and I sacrificed one to make a gorgeous, vibrant blueberry simple syrup to marble over the gooey marshmallow goodness.

It was a good decision. 

Fresh Blueberries | Club Narwhal
Making Blueberry Marshmallows

The gem-toned blueberries swirled so beautifully with the fluffy marshmallows. I took approximately one million photos of this pan. I would also be really into this if it were fabric. Just think of how cool a marbled skirt would look!

Marshmallows with Marbled Blueberries | Club Narwhal

Yep, just get all up in there. Don't be shy. 

Marshmallows with Marbled Blueberries | Club Narwhal

Marshmallow making can be a bit scary but I promise you that it is so worth it. Powdered sugar will be your new BFF. And it is kind of like magic, watching a bowl of grainy gelatin water become gorgeous pillows of marshmallows. I'm sure there's, like, "science" behind the transformation but seeing it still blows my mind every time. 

Marshmallows with Marbled Blueberries | Club Narwhal

I love that these marshmallows stand tall and proud. And my mind is whirring with possibilities--Nutella marbled marshmallows? Mango curd? Key lime pie marshmallows sprinkled with graham crackers?! Holy cow, I need those in my life so badly. 

Fresh Blueberry Marshmallows | Club Narwhal

Obviously, the best way to eat these lovely blueberry marshmallows is melted with white chocolate and sandwiched between homemade lemon sugar cookies. Fancy S'mores are basically a requirement when it comes to these, right? 

I'm sharing a fun recipe over on Cindy's lovely blog, Hungry Girl Por Vida. She just had her first darling child so I'm pitching in to give her all the time in the world to snuggle with Casper. Hop on over to see how to make these Blueberry and White Chocolate Fancy S'mores!

Blueberry and White Chocolate Fancy S'mores | Club Narwhal

FRESH BLUEBERRY MARSHMALLOWS

Adapted from Ina Garten
  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin (usually found by the Jell-O boxes)
  • 1 cup cold water, divided in half
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • blueberry simple syrup (recipe below)
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
Dump gelatin packets in the bowl of a stand mixer and add 1/2 cup cold water (you can try using a hand mixer but I would halve the recipe so you don't tire your mixer's motor out). Let it sit so the gelatin softens.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and cook over medium-high until the sugar dissolves (this takes about 2-3 minutes). Raise the heat to high and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Your candy thermometer should read 240 degrees. We don't have a candy thermometer so we went by time.

Using the whisk attachment, turn the mixer on low and slowly pour the sugar syrup in the dissolved gelatin. Crank the mixture up to high and whip until mixture is thick and fluffy, about 15 minutes (see above photo of the whisk to get a feel for how things should look). Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper and dust generously with powdered sugar. Pour the marshmallow fluff into the pan and smooth the top. Swirl with 1/2 cup blueberry syrup. To create a marbled look, dot the blueberry syrup across the pan and then drag a knife in vertical zig zags, then horizontal zig zags. Add more blueberry syrup for more marbling. Dust with more powdered sugar and set pan aside, uncovered, over night (or until they marshmallows dry out). 

Lift marshmallows out of the pan and cut into squares (or use cookie cutters dusted with powdered sugar to create shapes). Dust cut sides with powdered sugar so they don't stick together. Enjoy!

For the Blueberry Simple Syrup
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
Put blueberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for 6-7 minutes, until mixture has thickened. Pour into a bowl and bring to room temperature (or refrigerate) until you are ready to marble the marshmallows. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

SNICKERDOODLE CARAMEL TART + NIELSEN MASSEY GIVEAWAY

Snickerdoodle Crust Caramel Tart | Club Narwhal

Snickerdoodles and I go way back. They were the second cookie I learned to make as a kid (after three ingredient peanut butter cookies) and I was always amazed at how consistently good they turned out. Now imagine your favorite snickerdoodle, all warm and toasty straight from the oven, in crust form. Good, yes? 

This idea came to me in the middle of the night and it was all I could do to restrain myself from jumping out of bed to bake it up. Sleep won. But the next afternoon, Warren made snickerdoodle dough and we pressed it into a tart pan. Then came generous sprinkles of cinnamon sugar. Fifteen minutes later, we had a gorgeous crispy crust ready to be filled with awesome. And so the Snickerdoodle Crust Caramel Tart was born. And it was good. 

Snickerdoodle Crust Caramel Tart | Club Narwhal

While it's hard to go wrong with snickerdoodles in any form, I highly recommend putting some parchment paper in the center of your tart and loading it with beans before baking it. Otherwise, it poufs up like crazy (luckily, we were able to tame it into a tart shape but learn from us). 

Snickerdoodle Crust Caramel Tart | Club Narwhal

Let's talk caramel filling for a sec. This one is absolutely amazing. Light, fluffy, and slightly tangy with cream cheese. Ever since my braces-wearing days, I have avoided caramel like the plague. But this is fine for even the worst brace face (though if you have braces, leave off the dulce de leche drizzle--or don't. Since it is awesome). 

Snickerdoodle Crust Caramel Tart | Club Narwhal
Snickerdoodle Crust Caramel Tart | Club Narwhal

So there you have it. My new favorite way to eat snickerdoodles. And I can't stop thinking about other cookies to bake into tart crusts--stuffed Nutella chocolate chip cookie crust with a fluffy Nutella filling? Yes, please!

If you're a baking fiend like me, you are going to love this giveaway a few of my blog pals are doing with the fantastic Nielsen Massey! Thanks so much to the lovely Cate from Chez Catey Lou for organizing this amazing treat! This thing is serious, friends. Just look at all the goodies in that gift basket!

Check out these fun recipes from our giveaway hosts:

Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cheesecake Cake from Chez CateyLou 
Simply Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream from Baking a Moment
Funfetti Hi-Hat Cupcakes from bethcakes 
Coconut Raspberry Rhubarb Ice Cream from Blahnik Baker
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream from Urban Bakes
Culinary Couture
Chelsea's Messy Apron


Snickerdoodle Crust Caramel Tart | Club Narwhal

SNICKERDOODLE CARAMEL TART

  • snickerdoodle dough (we love Lil' Luna's recipe and used about a third of a batch for our crust)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 oz. caramel sauce (we love Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel), plus extra for drizzling
  • 16 oz. whipped topping 
  • 5-6 baked snickerdoodles, chopped for topping
  • 1/2 cup chocolate caramel candies, chopped for topping
Press snickerdoodle dough into a tart pan and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon. Poke a few holes in the bottom with a fork. Put a layer of parchment paper over the dough and weigh down with a cup or two of dry beans to prevent poufing when as it bakes. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Set on a cooling rack. Crust will crisp as it cools. 

While the crust cools, whisk the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and caramel sauce together until light and fluffy. Fold in the whipped topping. Spoon into the snickerdood crust and smooth with the back of a spatula. Sprinkle with chopped snickerdoodles, candies, and drizzle with caramel sauce. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Serves ten.