Jalapeño Bacon Deviled Eggs

I am so excited to share these deviled eggs with y’all! Right before New Year’s Eve, I got a hankerin’ for deviled eggs, pretty much out of nowhere. I’m okay with the regular deviled eggs we’ve all seen at potlucks and parties, but my taste buds really wanted more. Somehow I got the idea to put jalapeños in the mix. Then I thought to myself, “I bet bacon would be delicious with eggs and jalapeños!” A quick Google search showed some recipes with jalapeños, but not too many with bacon. I can fix that! My friends, pull up a chair to my table and bring your deviled egg appetite as I share this most delicious recipe with you. They are freakishly tasty so get to making them soon; I promise you’ll be glad you did!

Jalapeño Bacon Deviled Eggs (inspired by this Southern blogger)

Ingredients
6 hard-boiled eggs
2.5 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1.5 tablespoon diced pickled jalapeños
4 slices cooked bacon – crumbled (6 if you want to garnish with bacon as well)
pinch of salt
Cilantro – for garnish

Steps
1. Cut your eggs in half lengthwise, and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Place whites onto a plate.
2. In your bowl with the yolks, add the mayonnaise, mustard, cumin, diced jalapeños, and crumbled bacon.

3. Using a fork, mash and mix until everything is well incorporated. I did have to switch to a spoon at the very end to get a smoother consistency.
4. Taste and see if it needs a little salt, more cumin, or more heat. If it needs more heat, you could use some juice from the pickled jalapeños. Adjust seasonings as needed.
5. Using a spoon, carefully scoop a large dollop of the mixture back into the egg whites. You’ll have plenty to make a nice mounded top as you’ve just increased the volume of the yolks quite a bit.
6. Garnish with a piece of crumbled bacon if you want additional bacon. (And who doesn’t?)

mmm...bacon

7. If you want to garnish with cilantro, give it a rough chop and sprinkle on top. You could alternatively combine it into the yolk mixture as well.

I’ve made these twice now, and with the exception of folks who don’t like cumin or deviled eggs in general, everyone has been in LOVE with them. They’ve gone like the proverbial hotcakes. I seriously wish I had a reason to make deviled eggs all the time so I could eat them all the time. Maybe that wouldn’t be a healthy or balanced choice, but my taste buds don’t care. If you have friends who are finicky about spice or cumin, you could certainly adjust those amounts. I did that when I made them recently for my friend who doesn’t like spicy foods. I went with just a tablespoon of jalapeños, but even he said he would have been okay with more. So far, every time I’ve made them, I’ve been with my friends who are anti-cilantro so I have yet to mix in the cilantro, but I am keeping my eye out for the opportunity to do so. To date, it’s just been a garnish on top which is still delicious.

More jalapeños, please!?

Here is how I boil my eggs, in case you are on the prowl for the best way to boil eggs. I used to try out a variety of different methods, but finally settled on this method that I now use faithfully. Here goes. It’s quite simple.
1. Put your eggs in a pan, cover them with cold water, put a lid on the pan, and put on the stove.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. I use 6 or 7 out of a 10 dial.
3. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.
4. At the end of 10 minutes, drain off the hot water, and rinse with cold water. I let them sit in cold water, even adding ice to help cool them down and prevent carry-over cooking.


If you wanted your yolks less done, you could and should cook them for less time. Here is a site with a guide on cooking times. However, I have not yet done this. I will soon though, as I plan to make Scotch eggs which call for boiling the eggs, wrapping them in sausage, and then either baking or frying them. Are you drooling yet? Maybe the sausage wrapping keeps them from overcooking in the second round of cooking, but I think I’ll probably medium-boil the eggs in case they cook a little more in the oven. And if they don’t, there is nothing wrong with a slightly runny yolk in my book. I’ll keep y’all posted on how those gems turn out.

Peeling hard-boiled eggs can be tricky. Over the years of trial and error, of experimenting with crazy things like vinegar in the water, blowing in the egg shell (oh, yes I did!), and other craziness, here is what I have determined. Older eggs peel better. If you buy eggs at the store, boil them up them up in the next few days, and go to peel them, you may want to commit eggicide. The egg will stick to the shell as you peel, causing bits and pieces of the egg to break off, leaving you with an egg that is pockmarked like the face of an unfortunate, acne-scarred teen. If you wait a week or so, the story will turn out differently. Start at the large end of the egg because there will likely be a pocket of air, with potentially a little bit of liquid. This will help you get a good start on the peeling. Peel carefully, but nearly every time the shell will just come right off in one or two large pieces. You may feel the heavens open up and egg-peeling angels sing. I understand this feeling. :) My current exception to this rule seems to be eggs from the farmer’s market.

Recently, I was persuaded to purchase my eggs from one of our local farmer’s markets. To be honest, it took a little bit of talking myself into it because eggs at my grocery cost me about $1.27. These eggs cost me $4. You are a smart cookie and can do the math your ownself to see the difference in cost. However, research had told me that this was a good price for farm eggs in the Austin market and that cage-free eggs from Kansas at HEB (my local grocery store) would run me about $4.25. My father had heart failure upon learning that I paid $4 for my eggs. He is a fortunate enough soul to have a farmer hook-up and only pays $2 a dozen. I won’t tell you where he lives so you can’t picket his home. May we all be so lucky one day. Anyway. I committed the cardinal egg-boiling sin of buying my farm eggs the day prior to making my deviled eggs. I just wasn’t thinking, to be honest. When I realized my mistake, there was nothing to be done, but proceed. When I started peeling, I was so astonished!! These did not peel like store eggs at all! My first egg peeled like it was touched by the peeler gods or something. A few of the eggs did have the bits and pieces problem, but not at all like newly-bought store-bought eggs do. It was simply amazing. I’m not certain yet why there is this difference, but if you know, tell me! Thanks!

The two that gave me trouble.

If you are experimenting with boiling your eggs, or as some websites like to call it – hard-cooking, if you get egg yolks that have a silver or green ring around the yolk, that is typically an indicator you’ve overcooked them. My sister-in-law told me once that the texture of the yolk also was an indicator. If it’s tough or rubbery, then it might be overcooked. However, I’ve also heard that to be an indicator of age, so I’m less sure on what that means. Also, if you boil up a bunch of eggs, but then forget which eggs in the fridge are boiled and which are raw, just give them a spin on the counter. A cooked egg will spin faster and more immediately than a raw egg. Here is a video that will show you. Watch out for the hammer at the end!

I hope you have an opportunity to make these deviled eggs soon. You and your friends will VERY happy! The last time I made them, my boyfriend informed me that we were going to have to start doubling the recipe. That’s a lot of eggs, y’all, but it’s worth it. Happy eating!

Nutritional Information – 1 deviled egg half, including bacon garnish      
Calories: 77
Fat: 6.5 g
Protein: 4.3 g
Potassium: 51.4 mg
Vitamin A: 2.9%

Baked Fig Bites

Dear eaters, I went on an unknown culinary adventure recently. I am going to share with you what I did, what I ate, and my thoughts on the whole thing, but please do let me know your experiences with figs if you have any as I’m a wee bit uncertain about the whole thing. It all started when I realized that my significant other has a fig tree outside his apartment. Well, color me happy! Hello, free produce! The only tricky part is that I am pretty much totally unfamiliar with fresh figs. But when you are handed free produce, you do not shy away simply because you don’t know. Well, at least I don’t think you should – not when you have the World Wide Web at your disposal. So I researched via Google and my friends on Facebook, and I waited for the figs to get ripe. By mid-last week, there were a whole bunch of ripe ones, and I could tell the birds were starting to eat the figs, so Lance and I harvested an overflowing quart bag for me to bring home for experimentation purposes. Here are those experiments for your reading and eating perusal and enjoyment.

Plate o' Deliciousness

Baked Fig Bites

Ingredients – all to taste, depending on how much of each kind of bite you want to eat
Fresh figs
Semi soft cheese – I used plain goat cheese
Bacon
Walnuts
Honey
Prosciutto
Bread – I used ciabatta

Steps
1. Wash the figs, scrubbing as necessary to remove any outdoor detritus from the outside of the fruit. Be gentle as the skin is fragile. I used my handy-dandy produce brush.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan with foil. I recommend placing a cookie cooling rack or small wire rack on the pan if you use bacon on your bites so the bacon grease drips away from your bites.
3. If you are using walnuts, chop them up so they are ready to go when you want them. I chopped up about 4 or 5 halves and had leftovers.
4. If using bacon, slice each long piece in half.
5. Start slicing figs in half. Most of mine I sliced from top to bottom, vertically rather than horizontally, although I did experiment with a few horizontal cuts. I think I prefer the vertical cut (although the horizontal cut seems prettier) because it opens up sort of a wee bit of a pocket in the fruit that is ideal for widening to stuff. I used a cheese spreader (small, dull, round implement) to widen a divot in the fruit.

Divot for Stuffing!

Then I began making decisions. Some I put walnuts in first and then smushed goat cheese on top. Others just got goat cheese smushed in there without any walnuts. It was a bit random. Some got walnuts (no more than ½ teaspoon), and goat cheese,  were wrapped in bacon, and then were secured with a toothpick. Two halves went on the baking sheet plain, just to see.

6. Bake the non-bacon bites for about 12 minutes. They will be quite soft and a little bubbly/juicy at this point. The bacon still wasn’t done, so I gave it 5 more minutes.
7. Drizzle some with honey, as you see fit. Wrap others in pieces of prosciutto as you see fit.
8. Smear some pieces on bread.
9. Eat them all, and be satisfied.

Ready for the oven!

 

As I was preparing my bites, I tasted the raw fruit in minute quantities to have an idea of the fresh fruit flavor. Only once did I sort of squint my eyes and make a face, thinking, “hmmm that wasn’t quite good eats.” But I prepped it anyway. Baked, I thought they all tasted good, although I did get a little burned out by the end of my plate of fig bites. It was a lot of bites, y’all. I liked having the nuts in them as it provided a bit of texture in an otherwise mostly creamy/soft bite. I do like texture in my food. The bacon/prosciutto bites were good also, but I think I liked the prosciutto over the bacon, just by a hair. I’d do either of them again. The salty notes added an edge against the creaminess also. I’ve heard you can use blue cheese instead of goat, and as I do love blue cheese, I will be giving that a try next. I promise to report back. It was a little hard to scrape the fruit out of the skin to spread on the bread, so frequently I just cut the bites into smaller pieces to put on the bread, and it was delicious. I definitely was wanting some fig preserve-type product, so that’s on my mind to figure out as well. I would give all my bites two thumbs up, for sure.

Up close and personal!

 

When I was doing my research online to figure out how to know when the figs were ripe, I learned quite a bit. First of all, there are many different kinds of figs. They are not all dark brown/black/purple, like I thought, nor do they turn that color when they ripen. These figs are green figs, and they turn sort of a yellow/weird light brown/unfortunate pale yucky green color. Appetizing, I know. It’s a tricky color to describe. What would you call those colors below?

Bottom one is ripe.

Left one is ripe.

Anyway. Bright/dark green figs are a no-go. Rock hard figs are a no-go. As the figs ripen, they turn color and get heavier. This will cause them to go from perpendicular to the tree branch to more parallel. As it drops, the skin on the neck may crack a bit. It will also start to drip nectar from the bottom of the fig. They are also soft and kind of squishy. A girlfriend of mine also watches the “bellybutton” at the bottom of the fig.

Bellybuttons on figs

She says when it starts to turn pink, that’s a clue for her to pick them. There was conflicting information out there on whether or not they continue to ripen once picked, so I’m not sure what to tell you about that. My girlfriend who has been figging for years says she picks hers a bit early to keep the birds from getting them and leaves them on the counter to ripen. That’s how she rolls. I found this website to have helpful progression pictures of figs as they ripen. You should check it out!

See how the neck is starting to crack on the right?

 

Let’s talk prosciutto, a quick moment. It is, to be truthful, kind of a pricey ingredient. However, in my opinion, a few slices go quite a long way. For instance, last week I bought six slices at Central Market, and I got three meals/snacks out of those slices, and I believe the six slices cost me $4.25 or so. Plus I got a free “tasting” slice while I was standing at the counter. Bonus! If you are lucky enough to live near a Whole Foods or Central Market, the folks working the counter are often nice and knowledgeable enough to talk to you about what you are eating/serving it with so as to help you make the best choice out of your options. They also usually let you taste them so you can make sure to get one you like. I would use this as a measure of a quality meat counter, wherever you are shopping. If they won’t let you taste it before you pay $22.50/lb, then go elsewhere. Your money is too precious to waste on an ingredient you might not like. And remember, you really don’t need a whole pound. While it depends on the number of people you are feeding, in my opinion, 6 – 12 slices will probably be sufficient. But talk to the meat counter staff person, and they should help you out. It will be cut quite thin, and because of how the meat falls apart, one slice can be used to wrap at least 2 fig bites, most likely. If you are like me, you may want to be prudent and get one more slice than you really think you need for the bites as you may find yourself snacking on the prosciutto while you are preparing the rest of the bites. I’m just saying…it’s a possibility. Stay tuned for more prosciutto education as we continue our fig adventures!

The tree of abundant figs!

 

Since the first picking and bite making, I’ve got another quart bag, and still half of the original bag in my fridge. I’m going to have to figure out a preserves recipe or a pie or something, stat! I also should probably try some of them just raw. I might give the blue cheese and prosciutto bites a go. That sounds tasty to me. Perhaps some will find their way into my lunch. Either way, there is a lot of fig-figuring out going on around here. I refuse to let them all go to the birds. I’m a quick learner, so back off, birdies! I’ll keep sharing my adventures. It was recently suggested to me by a Food Network star (via Twitter – how fun!) to try them roasted with a balsamic-garam masala drizzle. So what that I don’t know how to make that? I’ll figure it out and keep you posted! In the meantime, how do you like to eat figs? What are your tips for how to know how they are ripe? I’d love to hear! Happy eating!

 
I’m still working on figuring out nutritional information for my figs. I will report back when I find something out!

Philly by Food, Part 2

My apologies for making you wait, dear readers, to hear all about the other wonderful food encounters I had while I was in Philadelphia. If reading about the deliciousness of the Starr restaurant empire didn’t make you want to hop on a plane or jump in the car and head over to the city of Brotherly Love, then perhaps there will be something here that will push you over the ledge. Or reading about scrapple may be enough to put you off the local diners for good. Try to keep an open mind, though; you just never know. But let’s not start with scrapple. I’m excited to tell you about Reading Terminal Market.

Ladies and Gents, Reading Terminal Market is enough to make me want to move to Philadelphia and work in, if not live near, Center City. Just so you don’t look like the full-blown tourist that I did, it is pronounced “Redding” and not “Reading” (like you would a book). We weren’t corrected until we asked, so clearly they get that mistake often.  I’m sure it identifies you as a tourist more clearly than a neon arrow pointing at your head might so I’m glad to help you out. Reading Terminal Market is pretty much my foodie dreams come true in one building. It is a HUMONGOUS structure devoted entirely to food in various formats. It is laid out in blocks with street signs hanging from the ceiling to help you navigate your way. There are the wee farmer’s markets and the more typical grocery store-type areas of produce and pre-packaged granolas and mixes of that sort. There is an entire Amish section of meats, cheeses, pastries, pickled foods, and bread. There are butchers, fish counters, cheese counters, olive counters, pasta counters, and even a couple of trinket shops. There are a couple of general seating areas, and most of the restaurants have counter seating.

There are restaurants galore: Mediterranean, Cajun, Middle Eastern, Mexican, gyros, coffee, bakeries, crepes, a diner, pretzels, and more. We ate the most amazing pretzel dogs from Miller’s Twist, y’all. Seriously, my mouth just watered a bit thinking about them. The pretzel was soft and chewy, the dog was hot and juicy, and there was melted cheese inside that brought the whole thing together. Mmm…mmm…good! Lunch one day came from Olympic Gyro which was super fast and quite delicious. The fries were a french fry lover’s (as I am!) dream: crispy-crunchy, salty, not overly greasy, but just a bit. They were the good rectangular kind that frequent high school cafeterias or mall food courts. Don’t judge – if they are cooked right, they are quite tasty. The gyro was also really quality. I love a good tzatziki sauce which they had, and they didn’t put too many onions on there, which I don’t love. I give it 2 forks up! Metropolitan Bakery had these cute, little single-serving rolls that I appreciated so I didn’t have to buy a mamajama loaf of bread. I particularly enjoyed the rosemary olive oil roll. Now you try to say that 3 times fast. It’s tricky to get out even once! I may give those a go in my own kitchen. Seriously, friends, it made my heart both happy and sad just to walk the aisles of this place. There was so much food everywhere and so much of the kinds of food I love. Yet, I couldn’t buy it because I was going back to a hotel. Where on earth was I going to put a hunk of salmon, pray tell?? The Market is amazing, and you should be sure to go and go more than once when you visit Philly. Please forgive my lack of photos. I was too “in the moment” to take pictures every time I was in there.

Of course I ate cheese steak when I was in Philly. How could I not? Puh-lease! We went to Jim’s Steaks, which is where my friend Bailey felt was the best place to take us. He’s a Philly native so I trust his judgment. Plus when we got there, there was quite the lengthy line out the door and around the corner. That’s a good sign, y’all. People don’t wait in a long line for bad food. When we got inside, there was a little bit of culture shock, I’m not going to lie. I think I just wasn’t mentally prepared for it. There was a long snake line (like you might see at a theme park ride) and at the front, you tell the man at the large grill what you want. But it’s in special code. It goes something like this, “one with provolone, onions and peppers.” You do not tell the man you want a cheese steak because that is all they are serving up behind the glass so you will look silly telling him that. You can change out the cheese or the fillings, but it’s always “one with….” There is a huge, gigantic, enormous pile of beef just cooking away next to an equally large pile of onions, and the chef just scrapes up what he needs from the edge. As he scrapes up, another cook adds to the back of the pile. It was a very fascinating arrangement. I wanted to take a picture, but it was clearly not the time or place for that. I got mine with provolone which was good, but I do wish I’d gotten it with “whiz.” I’m honestly not really a Cheese Whiz fan, but that seems to be the standard, local way to get the sandwich, so when I go back, I will try it that way. It’s good to know the big pile of meat isn’t really seasoned. For some, that’s a plus. For others, it just means additional toppings. It’s your sandwich; you are the boss of it so you get to choose. Do make sure you get a cheese steak though when you go. I’ll judge you if you don’t. And that’s really something to be afraid of, you know. Not. ;)

And last, but definitely not least, we visited South Street Diner. This place can cook some crispy bacon! Can I get an amen, Stacey? Seriously, y’all. I’m a crispy bacon eater so I specified, and boy, howdy, did they deliver. I feel very strongly about this as a positive recommendation. It wasn’t burned which sometimes restaurants think is an acceptable substitute for crispy. Burned and crispy are sooo not the same thing whatsoever. There was much happiness when the crispy bacon arrived.

Check out the crispy bacon!

With the crispy bacon also came…<cue drum roll>…scrapple. Ahh, yes. Let’s talk scrapple, my friends. I’d seen it on several menus, and it was all over this diner menu. I asked Bailey, my Philly native friend, what it is, and he begins to extol the deliciousness of scrapple and how it’s a Philly delicacy and he will be ordering some so that we can all share and partake. Yes, but what is it? Well. Hold on to your plates and forks. Before we get to the nitty-gritty, you should know that the waitress is prohibited from accurately explaining scrapple because then nobody will want to order it. She told us it was a “fried pork product.” Bailey, the truth teller and keeper of no secrets, broke it right on down for us that scrapple is the result of all the formerly unwanted parts of the pig, “from the snout to the tail,” that are cooked and eventually fried.

Well. Okay. Dig in. It looked sort of like sausage. It tasted sort of like sausage with similar seasoning and a similar texture. Yet, there was something fundamentally different. Mostly I tasted pork and sage which isn’t so bad. I admit, I ate more than one bite. It was strangely curious to me. Intellectually, I am sort of grossed out, to be honest. Yet, my mouth wasn’t grossed out by eating it, leaving me conflicted.

Scrapple Bites

I can promise you that a recipe for scrapple will never, ever, ever appear on this blog except by way of a brave guest blogger. I looked up a recipe, and it’s too much for me. I did learn from the recipe that a primary difference between scrapple and sausage is the inclusion of cornmeal. I’m pretty sure if I was with a native Philadelphian in Philly again and it was ordered, I’d probably eat a couple of bites. Here is a whole lot of info on scrapple if you feel like you need way more details than I’ve given you. But, gentle eater, click at your own risk. Once you know, you can’t unknow, trust me.

I ate a few other restaurants that were all really good, and there are still others that I want to try the next time I go. Smokin’ Betty’s was very delicious. Mugshots Coffeeshop had very good food and was quite thematic for being across the street from a prison. Dunkin’ Donuts has QUITE the presence up there, and I had breakfast there many mornings. We don’t have them down here, really, and I’m mostly a Shipley’s gal so DD was an out-of-the-box experience for me. The coffee was good so I feel like it met my expectations there. You may want to skip the sugar or ask them to go lightly on it; they aren’t shy with it. They also have a lot of flavors which I always appreciate. I had no idea when I went that Philadelphia would be such a culinary delight so I was surprised in an enjoyable way. It was happy eating all week long, scrapple included!

Scrapple Eaters!

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