Shrimp Street Tacos

While this Taco Tuesday recipe is similar to my Spicy Shrimp Taco Lettuce Wraps, it has its own unique taste with the variation in vegetables and the soft flour tortillas.

The cucumbers add a nice chill crunch and the bell peppers bring a wonderful pop of color as well as its distinct flavour.

When I cook, I think in colors.

Why?

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Not only does it make a beautiful presentation, but each color veggie has different nutrients that your body needs for a well-balanced diet.

But cabbage on a street taco? What’s that all about?!

The first time I ate at a taco stand in Mexico, I though cabbage was a very odd choice of toppings; lettuce is what is supposed to go on tacos!

But I was open to trying new things, so I gave it a shot.

And guess what? The crunch of cabbage is much more distinct than that of lettuce.

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Texture is the second thing I think of when I cook; if the texture isn’t appealing, you won’t appreciate the taste in the same way.

Which brings me to the very first thing I think of; FLAVOUR!!!

Yes, the main ingredients play a huge part in a tasty meal, however I keep a fully stocked spice & herb cabinet because that is what (in my opinion) really takes a good meal to the next level.

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We are talking everything from spicy cayenne powder to sweet stevia to mild thyme.

I’m guessing the interesting element spices (and herbs) add is where the expression “the spice of life” came from…

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So let’s get cooking!

Start by thawing your frozen raw shrimp in cold water; this method helps thaw the shrimp more quickly than just setting it out to thaw and prevents it from cooking if you were to microwave it or use hot water.

If you have fresh raw shrimp, it will be that much better!

NOTE: pre-cooked shrimp will not have the ideal flavour or texture, so try to get raw shrimp if at all possible.

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Next, collect all your fresh veggies; cabbage, red onion, yellow bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lemon, lime, and radishes for garnish!

Slice the vegetables in thin slivers (quarter the tomatoes).

Next, prepare the crema sauce by adding 1/4 cup sour cream to a bowl. 

Zest 1/4 of the lime, then juice 1/4 of the lime into the same bowl.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

The crema sauce really makes all the flavours pop, so don’t skip this step!

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By now your shrimp should be thawed; devein and shell them if they are not already prepared this way.

Place in a bowl and juice 1/4 fresh lemon, then add the cayenne, cumin, and paprika.

Mix well, making sure the spices are rubbed into the shrimp well (I use my hands).

Allow to sit for about 5 minutes so the shrimp absorbs as much flavour as possible.

Fry in a pre-heated pan on high heat with butter until just cooked.

You do not want to overcook shrimp; it makes them chewy.

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You can tell they are ready to be flipped when they start turning pink on the bottom. 

Once the second side turns pink and the center is white (and not translucent)you know they are ready.

Plate the tortillas and add the sliced vegetables (reserve the radishes for a garnish at the end).

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For street tacos, you want to use small flour tortillas.

A little bit goes a long way, so don’t overdo the toppings.

Finally, add the shrimp and drizzle with crema sauce.

Garnish with radishes.

If you are a cilantro lover, by all means – sprinkle a few leaves on top!

This tasty recipe is a fun way to switch up Taco Tuesday – so give it a try!

It pairs well with chips and chunky salsa and guacamole dips on the side.

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Recipe

18 large raw shrimp

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 lemon, juiced

6 small flour tortillas

Shredded cabbage, to taste

Thinly sliced red onion, to taste

Thinly cucumber, to taste

Thinly sliced yellow bell pepper, to taste

Cherry tomatoes, quartered

Thinly sliced radishes for garnish

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Crema Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 lime, juiced

1/4 lime zest

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Directions

Devein and shell thawed, raw shrimp and combine with cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, and lemon juice.

Marinate for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice vegetables (quarter the cherry tomatoes).

Make crema sauce by combining sour cream, lime, and lime zest.

Fry shrimp in pre-heated pan on high heat with butter. Do not overcook!

Plate the tortillas, then add vegetables. Place 3 shrimp on each taco and drizzle with crema sauce.

Garnish with radishes and cilantro.

Makes 6 tacos

Enjoy!

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Banana Oatmeal Dog Treats

Here is another favourite homemade dog treat recipe – rated 10/10 by my dogs!

It is so fast and easy to whip up a quick batch, and BOY does it make for some happy pups!

I personally love recipes that have simple ingredients that I typically have on hand, rather than having to make a special trip to the grocery store.

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These treats only take banana, peanut butter, yogurt, egg, and raw oatmeal.

Start by mixing the wet ingredients into an even consistency (smoothing any out any lumps in the batter).

The riper the banana is, the easier it is to get a nice creamy consistency without lumps (frozen bananas work well, too)!

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Then add the raw oatmeal and mix.

The consistency should be dry enough that it is easy to work into balls with your hands, but not so dry that it crumbles apart.

If you have a cute cookie cutter, you can roll the dough out and cut into shapes.

For a faster option with less clean-up, I usually form the treats into balls by hand (about the size of golf balls).

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Bake at 350º for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool fully and let your pup enjoy the tasty treat!

As with any treat, you don’t want to give your dog too many at a time; I don’t give my dogs more than one or two of these a day.

And of course they have to do a trick to earn their treat!

PRO TIP: I feed these treats outside as they tend to crumble while being eaten.

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Recipe

1 ripe banana

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 egg

1/4 cup plain yogurt

2 cups raw oatmeal

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Instructions

Combine wet ingredients and mix well until there are no lumps.

Add oatmeal and stir until well blended.

Roll out and cut into cookies or form balls by hand.

Bake in pre-heated oven at 350º for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool fully before feeding to your dog.

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What is your dog’s go-to trick to earn their treat? Drop a comment below!

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Carne Asada Tacos

The smell of well marinaded meat sizzling on the grill makes my mouth water – instantly!

While doing a good, long marinade tries my patience, it certainly is worth the flavour and tenderness it gives even a mediocre cut of meat in the end.

Sure, you can spend big bucks on the highest quality meat…

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…but sometimes it is nice to have an option to turn the more affordable cuts into a melt-in-your-mouth delight!

Hence the 24 hour marinade time for my carne asada recipe.

I often buy a bulk cut of round steak to cube for round steak and gravy, slice and tenderize for chicken fried steak or keep a good chunk to use as a slow cooker roast.

However, it also makes for a delicious alternative to skirt, flap or flank steak for carne asada.

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I clean all the fat off and cut long slabs of meat with the grain, about an inch thick.

Then the marinade process begins!

Some people prefer to place meat in a glass pan with a lid, however I tend to simply place the meat in a large zip-lock bag; this method makes it so easy to make sure the marinade is mixed well and equally proportioned across the meat.

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To start this marinade, I zest a lime, then squeeze all the juice into the bag.

The citrus is an amazing tenderizer and adds flavour that makes all the others really pop.

Next, I add cayenne powder (I LOVE a bit of spice), cumin, and garlic.

Spices are what really kick an ordinary recipe up a notch!

So do herbs, hence adding a bunch of chopped cilantro (even if you are not a huge cilantro lover, trust me on this and try it this way at least once!)

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The drizzle of avocado oil helps the steak sizzle on the grill.

The splash of soy sauce, along with my secret weapon – Worcestershire sauce (and no! I did not spell that correctly the first time, but I sure know how to use it in cooking) – come next.

They bring a ZING of WOW!

Sometime I will add a few drops of liquid smoke for that amazing smokiness.

And finally, some brown sugar.

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If you have never marinaded meat before, you might be surprised that there is sugar in this recipe.

The sugar helps give a carmelized finish to the meat as it grills and enhances the flavours.

Have I mentioned that flavour is my #1 focus when cooking? You can probably guess, given how much I mention it!

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Close the bag, leaving as little air as possible. This helps make sure the meat is evenly marinaded.

Then, give it a good mixing by working the marinade into the meat with your hands (make sure you don’t accidentally open the zip-lock – it makes a mess!)

This method is a win-win for me; less dishes to wash is always a win plus it is a fast, easy way to fully mix the marinade.

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Now throw that bad boy in the fridge for 24 hours and try not to drive yourself crazy, thinking about how amazing it is going to taste – TOMORROW!

Sure, if you want to rush things you can get away with marinading it for 4 hours (or even 1 hour if you are in that much of a hurry), but the 24 hours gives it amazing, deep flavour that you just can’t beat – not to mention the tenderness!

Once your countdown has hit about 1 hour left to go, prep time starts!

If you like chips and dip as starters or sides, this is the time to whip up some guacamole and chunky salsa.

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Next, thinly slice the cabbage, red onion, and cucumber.

Add these to the same bowl, drizzle lemon juice over, add salt & pepper to taste, and stir well.

The crunch this “slaw” adds to the tacos makes for great texture (have I mentioned that texture is a big deal in my cooking, too?)

The crema sauce is my easy go-to for Mexican recipes. I almost always have sour cream, lime, and zest on hand!

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Some people prefer variations of an avocado sauce (there are lots of recipes), which is also so tasty!

You take your pick!

If you want to go with crema sauce, mix the sour cream, lime zest, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now that the prep work is done (unless you are going all out and make homemade flour tortillas, too), get that grill going!

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You want it pre-heated and on high heat.

Sear the meat, turning and drizzling additional marinade over it several times.

The length of time you leave it on the grill will depend on how hot your grill is in addition to your preferred “done-ness.”

I personally like a little pink in the centre, however Jake likes his more well-done.

You do you!

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Well, if you are cooking for the whole family you kind of have to think of them too (in which case, having a couple cuts of meat to cook to different “done-ness” is a great idea!)

Once the meat is cooked as desired, remove from heat and let rest for a couple minutes.

This helps those juices to re-absorb into the meat and keeps it – well – juicy. And tender.

While the meat rests, this is a great time to pull out all the prepped toppings from the fridge and heat the tortillas.

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You want to use small flour tortillas for this recipe.

I put them in a pan (without oil) individually on high heat until they feel hot, then flip them and remove from the heat after they puff up.

Repeat this process with each of the tortillas.

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Once again, this helps bring out the flavour as well as make the tortillas nice and flexible so they don’t break apart.

PRO TIP: you can also do this part on the grill, just make sure the heat has been turned down so the tortillas don’t burn!

Now it the time to slice up that yummy goodness you have waited a full day for!

The key to cutting meat to be as tender as possible is to cut it against the grain – in nice thin strips.

You can also slice the meat into even smaller chunky and fry them in oil like the taco stands in Mexico so.

The choice is yours!

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Plate your tortillas (or serve buffet style) by layering the veggie slaw on the bottom, then the carne asada, then crema sauce.

You can garnish with radishes, pico de gallo, and/or cilantro.

I personally also love an added wedge of lime to squeeze over my carne asada!

YUM! Enjoy!

Oh, and if you happen to have any leftover carne asada (like that’s going to happen!), carne asada nachos and carne asada poutine are totally a thing.

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Recipe

Marinade

2 pounds round steak

1 lime, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

1/2 cup avocado oil

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Salt & pepper

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Toppings

Cabbage, to taste

Red onion, to taste

Cucumber, to taste

1/4 lemon, juiced

Radishes, optional

Cilantro, optional

Pico de gallo, optional

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Crema Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 lime, juiced

1/4 lime zest

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Directions

Remove all fat from round steak and slice into long, thin strips about 1 inch thick, cutting with the grain.

Add all marinade ingredients into a large zip-lock back with the meat.

Mix well, using your hands (make sure you don’t accidentally open the zip-lock during this process).

Marinade in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Slice vegetables and combine in bowl with lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sear meat on pre-heated grill on high heat until desired “done-ness” is reached.

Plate tacos (or serve buffet style) with sliced veggie slaw first, then meat, then crema sauce.

Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Chews

Pet stores have loads of different treats to choose from, but are they all healthy for your pup?

Probably not.

In fact, there are a lot of snack options I would not want to feed my dogs.

I personally like to know what goes into the food that I eat, so why should it be any different for my dogs?

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Homemade treats are not only easy to make, but they also give me a feeling of pampering my dogs a bit more than if I had just gone out and bought a tasty snack for them.

These sweet potato chews are the veggie alternative to rawhide – and the dogs LOVE them!

PSA – just because they are a vegetable doesn’t mean you should feed your dog more than one or two per day; they will still make Fido chubby if he has too many treats!

So just how do you go about making these yummy chews for your dog?

Easy!

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Simply slice the sweet potato into thin strips, then place in the food dehydrator at 140º F for 4 hours.

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If you do not have a food dehydrator, you can bake them at 250º for 3 hours.

You can peel them, however I usually leave the peel on and the dogs eat the whole treat.

If you have more than one dog, you may need to keep an eye on the one who tends to be the “treat snatcher” like Lady is!

Poor Zeus has lost his fair share of treats to her when my back was turned.

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What is your dog’s go-to treat? Drop a comment below!

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The Great Flood of 2013

(note: all photos are from very early stages of cleaning and renovating the acreage)

It was a peaceful, sunny late-April afternoon on the acreage.

Jake and I were contentedly working on framing the floor for my long-awaited greenhouse after evaluating every possible location on our property before settling on the perfect spot for the build.

The winter had been LONG and COLD and HARD and we were thankful to finally have some real heat in the strengthening spring sun.

The sun felt so good and the air smelled so fresh! Birds chirping in a light breeze… So relaxing…

Little did we know this was the beginning of the Great Flood of 2013!

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Is that the name all the other locals are calling this catastrophe – The Great Flood of 2013?!

Honestly, I have no idea.

But who truly has the right to name events and make that name stick? I feel that the name is more than accurate.

When seasoned farmers tell me that this flood is nothing they have ever seen in their lifetime, nor their parents or grandparents before them, I realize that I have witnessed history – at least local history!

But before I get into the flood, I have to back up about a month to give you an idea of just WHY and HOW everything happened…

In late March we had a monumental blizzard.

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We are not just talking “travel not recommended” – it was more like “impossible to stay on the road!”

For 3 days and 3 nights, with howling wind and continuously mounting drifts of snow on top of glare ice, the blizzard continued to shake the entire house.

The scenario made me think of “The Little House on the Prairie” books where they had to tie ropes to the barn from the house so they didn’t get lost in the blizzard at night…

We were in hurricane Sandy in 2012, just the year before, and the winds we get here remind me of the strength of a hurricane, but oh-so-much-colder and even more miserable (if that is possible)!

This torment of ripping wind, drifting snow, and extreme cold did not let up until the 4th day.

Thank God the power stayed on and that we had enough food to hunker down during all this!

(The 21st century is a much kinder time for ordeals such as this…)

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Venturing out, we found that the driveway had drifts as tall as ME all the way down the drive!

Now, I’m not overly tall, but at 5′ 5″ to have a snow drift that is above my head – that is ONE. BIG. DRIFT!

At this point I am re-thinking the title of this blog; should I change it to the Great Blizzard AND the Great Flood of 2013?! (drop a comment below and let me know what you think!)

The R.M. (Rural Municipality) grader came along on the 4th day, trying to get all the roads cleared of the deep drifts and were kind enough to try to dig us out.

BUT they themselves almost kept getting stuck and simply couldn’t move that amount of rock-solid, packed snow.

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If you have never lived where drifts form, they can be soft and fluffy sometimes – HOWEVER, in a blizzard, the snow gets packed so violently that it becomes a solid wall of ice-like-consistency.

A friend was able to bring out a front end loader tractor (we live in farm country, so it was a large-scale tractor) and eventually dug us out after a few hours.

NOW, fast-forward back to the Great Flood of 2013!

Our “lakefront property” during the early stages of the flood.

Jake and I took a moment away from the greenhouse build and went for a walk around the property to check our trees and noticed that the 3′ tall culvert was full to the top, flowing fast.

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It has been normal in other years for the culvert to fill to the top during the first melt, however it was already full and still visibly rising!

That was our first warning sign of trouble.

We kept an eye on it for a few minutes and when we saw that it continued to rise AND RISE we knew things were going to get bad fast.

And they did.

Within 1 hour, almost the entirety of our property was under water.

The driveway that once had snow drifts taller than me was now thigh-deep with flood water!

Our boat was floating around in the lake our acreage had become.

Our boat trying to float away in the flood waters.

Mini icebergs were floating through the water, breaking off of the deep snow drifts we still had.

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My poor horse, Stormie, as up to her belly in ice cold water and had to be rescued from her pasture with the help of yet another tractor and more friends.

Friends helping get my horse to safety.

It was all a mind-numbing disaster that happened so quickly and so unexpectedly.

Staying hunkered down in the house during a blizzard for 3 days is one thing, but this? This was STRESSFUL!

I haven’t even mentioned the house yet.

The house has a 1,500 square foot basement with roughly 8 foot ceilings – AND ALL OF IT WAS UNDER WATER!

You could literally see 3 steps into the basement above the waterline.

Thankfully we had realized early on that the power should be turned off at the pole to minimize damage and, also thankfully, the basement didn’t have finishing work done yet.

*sigh* silver linings can sometimes take time to appreciate.

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My brother-in-law joked that we had a lake-front property when I posted pictures later that day and I knew I would laugh at that comment later, but it wasn’t funny at the time.

In the stress of the moment – trying to get sand bags to fortify the house, tromping through either hip-deep snow drifts (yes, we still had HUGE snow drifts) or the thigh-deep ice water, and calling the R.M. for help, I may have become borderline hypothermic to the point that I was shivering uncontrollably while still trying to help.

I got sent to the house to get dry clothes on and warm up while Jake and our friends kept an eye on things.

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With no electricity, and the water showing no sign of receding anytime in the near future, we crossed our fingers and hoped that the deep water in the driveway wouldn’t kill the engine on Jake’s truck as we tried making our way to a friend’s house to stay the night.

The road itself was washed out in at least 2 places that my car would never have made it through!

Thankfully (yes, that word again), we made it out alright and were able to spend the night in a warm house on an air mattress kindly provided for us.

This flood was another “3 days and 3 nights” scenario. We returned to the house to check on things and try to pump out the basement, however had to stay with friends for a while.

The water recessed for about a day, then flooded almost to the initial level again (and filled the basement we had *just* pumped out – again).

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The days following were a blur of trying to drain and dry everything – but more than that – of watching neighbours pull together, of seeing the way that controversy pushes people to work toward a common goal.

Was it still stressful?! YES!

Was it a lot of work?! YES!

Was it an uncertain time?! YES!

But there were so many people working together – so many people who helped us through the difficulties in the ways they could.

Kindness was shown.

Hospitality was shown.

Community was a real thing.

They say that “ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship” and, in retrospect, I can understand why.

Hardship forces people to pull together – or fall apart alone.

Pressure is what forms diamonds.

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WOW! That got deep. But what can I say aside from the fact that looking back on that time brought back a lot of emotion and resolution.

Eventually, everything was dried up enough for us to move home again and get back to “normal” after the clean-up.

OH! And the greenhouse? Wonder how that all turned out?

It turns out that the base floats. Like a raft. Like a modern day Noah’s Ark in some ways.

And we DID finish it after all the flooding had gone down and have grown lots of nutritious veggies in the greenhouse ever since!

So what do you think? Should I keep the post name as “The Great Flood of 2013” or change it?

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What was your experience during this flood? Drop a comment below!

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Spicy Shrimp Taco Lettuce Wraps (with crema sauce)

Tacos of any kind are always a hit, and with summer weather this light, tasty taco recipe is a favourite! (Not to mention healthy!)

The mixture of creamy avocado, crunchy cabbage, and zesty shrimp are an explosion of flavour, texture, and color!

They are so fast and easy to make that it begs the question why I don’t make them more often!

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One of the other perks is the minimal heat that it adds to the house during a sweltering, summer day.

Start by thawing your frozen raw shrimp in cold water; this method helps thaw the shrimp more quickly than just setting it out to thaw and prevents it from cooking if you were to microwave it or use hot water.

If you have fresh raw shrimp, it will be that much better!

NOTE: pre-cooked shrimp will not have the ideal flavour or texture, so try to get raw shrimp if at all possible.

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Next, collect all your fresh veggies; cabbage, red onion, avocado, jalapeño, lemon, lime and, of course, the butter lettuce to wrap it all up!

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Slice the avocado, jalapeño, red onion, and cabbage into thin slices.

A slightly firmer avocado makes them easier to slice and keep the pieces together, rather than accidentally mashing them in the process.

Prepare the crema sauce by adding 1/4 cup sour cream to a bowl.

Zest 1/4 of the lime, then juice 1/4 of the lime into the same bowl.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

The crema sauce really makes all the flavours pop, so don’t skip this step!

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By now your shrimp should be thawed; devein and shell them if they are not already prepared this way.

Place in a bowl and juice 1/4 fresh lemon, then add the cayenne, cumin, and paprika.

Mix well, making sure the spices are rubbed into the shrimp well (I use my hands).

Allow to sit for about 5 minutes so the shrimp absorbs as much flavour as possible.

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Fry in a pre-heated pan on high heat with butter until just cooked.

You do not want to overcook shrimp; it makes them chewy.

You can tell they are ready to be flipped when they start turning pink on the bottom.

Once the second side turns pink and the center is white (and not translucent) you know they are ready.

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Plate the lettuce, garnishing it with the cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, and sliced avocado.

A little bit goes a long way, so don’t overdo the toppings.

Finally, add the shrimp and drizzle with crema sauce.

If you are a cilantro lover, by all means sprinkle a few leaves on top!

This will be the life of the party next time you host dinner!

It pairs well with chips and chunky salsa and guacamole dips on the side.

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Recipe

24 medium sized raw shrimp

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 lemon, juiced

8 leaves butter lettuce

Shredded cabbage, to taste

Thinly sliced red onion, to taste

Thinly sliced jalapeño, to taste

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

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Crema Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 lime, juiced

1/4 lime zest

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Directions

Devein and shell thawed, raw shrimp and combine with cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, and lemon juice.

Marinate for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, and avocado.

Make crema sauce by combining sour cream, lime, and lime zest.

Fry shrimp in pre-heated pan on high heat with butter. Do not overcook!

Plate the lettuce leaves, then garnishing with cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, and avocado. Place 3 shrimp on each taco and drizzle with crema sauce.

Makes 8 tacos

Enjoy!

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Rhubarb Simple Syrup

Summer is the time for cold, tasty drinks – and what better thing to sip on than a fizzy beverage with homemade rhubarb simple syrup?

This recipe is a yummy way to use the abundant amounts of rhubarb coming out of the garden this time of year – and has a zero-waste sister recipe to use the leftover rhubarb stalks once you have your juice!

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And, as the name indicates, this is so simple to make with minimal time and ingredients.

The first step is obviously harvesting your rhubarb.

The leaves are poisonous, so discard them in a safe place where no little ones or critters will be tempted to try nibbling on them.

You want the stalks to be relatively young so they are nice and dense; old woody stalks will not have the peak flavour you are looking for.

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Wash well, then chop 4 cups into roughly 1 inch pieces; this part does not need to be anything fancy or precise as they will simmer down into a sauce as you cook the rhubarb.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot (if you live in the city and have chlorinated water, you will want to filter it or used bottled water for the best taste).

Add the rhubarb and 1 cup of white sugar.

For a sugar-free option, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of powdered stevia in place of the sugar.

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Return the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, the rhubarb should be very soft and falling apart.

I personally love to add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/4 lemon (juiced) at this point for a bit of extra flavour.

Place a large colander inside a large bowl and line the colander with cheese cloth.

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Carefully pour the hot mixture into the colander and allow to drain, then lift the cheese cloth and give it a gentle squeeze to get a bit more of the remaining juice.

NOTE: do not squeeze all of the juice out.

Place the rhubarb pulp back into the original pot to use for rhubarb leather later (this is where the zero-waste comes in!)

Remove the colander; you will be left with beautiful, bright red juice in the bowl!

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Using a funnel, ladle the juice into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a month.

For a fizzy, refreshing summer drink, try mixing 1 part rhubarb simple syrup with 3 parts sparkling water.

Yum!

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Zero Waste

The whole point of pairing rhubarb simple syrup with my rhubarb leather recipe is to make full use of the whole stalk and literally not throw anything away!

So, now you get to go back to that original pot with the rhubarb pulp and get started on the rhubarb leather recipe! (CLICK HERE)

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Recipe

4 cups rhubarb, chopped

4 cups water

1 cup sugar (or 1 teaspoon powdered stevia)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 lemon, juiced

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Directions

Chop 4 cups rhubarb and add to pot with 4 cups boiling water.

Add 1 cup sugar or 1 teaspoon powdered stevia.

Return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and lemon juice.

Strain well.

Ladle into airtight container and store in the fridge up to 1 month.

Enjoy!

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Rhubarb Leather

Ditch the highly processed and sugar-packed snacks with this tasty homemade recipe!

Who wouldn’t like a healthier option than your standard almost-completely-sugar fruit roll-ups?!

Especially when it is so fast and easy to make homemade rhubarb leather?

While this recipe does call for some sugar, there is a sugar-free option to use stevia powder instead.

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If you have already made my rhubarb simple syrup recipe and want to skip right to the rhubarb leather go for it!

If you haven’t made my rhubarb simple syrup, check out the recipe here and continue reading for the full directions to make rhubarb leather.

(These two recipes together use all of the rhubarb, thus creating zero waste!)

The first step is obviously harvesting your rhubarb.

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The leaves are poisonous, so discard them in a safe place where no little ones or critters will be tempted to try nibbling on them.

You want the stalks to be relatively young so they are nice and dense; old woody stalks will not have the peak flavour you are looking for.

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Wash well, then chop 4 cups into roughly 1 inch pieces; this part does not need to be anything fancy or precise as they will simmer down into a sauce as you cook the rhubarb.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot (if you live in the city and have chlorinated water, you will want to filter it or used bottled water for the best taste).

Add the rhubarb and 1 cup of white sugar.

For a sugar-free option, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of powdered stevia in place of the sugar.

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Return the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, the rhubarb should be very soft and falling apart.

I personally love to add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/4 lemon (juiced) at this point for a bit of extra flavour.

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Place a large colander inside a large bowl and line the colander with cheese cloth.

Carefully pour the hot mixture into the colander and allow to drain, then lift the cheese cloth and give it a gentle squeeze to get a bit more of the remaining juice.

NOTE: do not squeeze all of the juice out.

Place the rhubarb pulp back into the original pot.

You will use the juice later to make rhubarb simple syrup (this is where the zero-waste comes in!)

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Using an immersion blender, blend the rhubarb into a fine paste.

(If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender; this just makes for less dishes to wash)

If you left a little juice in the pulp, you shouldn’t have to add any liquids.

The consistency should be a little thicker than apple sauce.

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Spread evenly on the dehydrator fruit leather tray and turn onto about 140º F for 4-5 hours.

(Oh! On a side note; remember that juice we saved earlier in this process? Now that the rhubarb paste is in the dehydrator and working on turning into rhubarb leather, we get to start on rhubarb simple syrup!)

The time will vary depending on how thick the paste is spread and how much liquid you left in the mixture.

You will know it is ready when it is no longer gummy feeling.

Pro tip: use the tip of a knife to work the edge of the rhubarb leather up if it gives you trouble removing it from the tray.

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Roll the rhubarb leather and cut into pieces.

Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for a longer shelf life (if it doesn’t get eaten as soon as it comes off the dehydrator!)

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Recipe

4 cups rhubarb, chopped

4 cups water

1 cup sugar (or 1 teaspoon powdered stevia)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 lemon, juiced

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Directions

Chop 4 cups rhubarb and add to pot with 4 cups boiling water.

Add 1 cup sugar or 1 teaspoon powdered stevia.

Return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and lemon juice.

Strain well, leaving a little juice in the pulp.

Return to the original pot and blend with an immersion blender until it turns into a paste a little thicker than the consistency of apple sauce.

Spread evenly on a dehydrator fruit leather tray and place in dehydrator at 140º F for 4-5 hours or until thoroughly dry.

Roll and cut into pieces.

Enjoy!

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Sourdough Hamburger Buns

Barbecue season is upon us!

Who doesn’t love a classic hamburger with chips, fries or potato salad on a hot summer day?

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Of course you can go with the quick-and-easy store-bought option for the buns and patties, but the homemade version is definitely the gourmet choice!

Sourdough hamburger buns quickly became a favourite when I started on my baking journey… They have so much more flavour, wonderful texture, and I know exactly what ingredients have gone into the food I am eating!

As with all sourdough recipes, it does take a little more planning ahead to make sure they have sufficient time to rise (and develop that nice, tangy sourdough flavour).

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But, as I often say, it is all worth it for the superior quality you get by making it yourself!

If you are new to sourdough baking and don’t know how to make your own sourdough starter, check out this easy DIY tutorial for sourdough starter.

The first step in this sourdough hamburger bun recipe is to combine the sourdough starter, water, and 1/2 cup of the flour.

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Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30-60 minutes.

Next, melt the butter and slightly heat the milk to about room temperature and add to the bowl.

Add the sugar, salt, and egg. Combine well.

Mix the remaining flour a little at a time; if you are using a mixer, the dough should begin to clear the bowl when it is the right consistency.

Place in a well oiled bowl and turn over so the dough is oiled on both sides, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

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When the timer goes off, fold the dough into the centre from one side, then repeat with the remaining 3 sides.

Turn the dough upside down, cover it again, and allow to rise in a warm area for another 30 minutes.

Repeat this process and leave for 60 minutes.

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Finally, the process is repeated one more time and another 60 minute rise time.

The dough should be a very elastic consistency at this point and smell nice and tangy.

Cut the dough into 8 equal sized pieces and roll into rounds, then squish them into roughly the diameter you would like for your hamburger buns.

Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, leaving enough room between the bun dough to allow them to rise without sticking to each other.

At this point, I add my sesame seeds and slightly press them into the bun; I find this helps them stick better than if they are added on top of the egg wash after the buns have risen.

Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 60 minutes or until they have doubled in size.

Brush with egg wash; this gives the hamburger buns a beautiful, golden color when they have finished baking.

Place into the pre-heated oven at 400º F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Place on a cooling rack and cover with a tea towel until cool.

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I personally love to toast my hamburger buns in the oven before serving; to do this, I butter them well, then place on a baking sheet open side up – and stand and watch them the entire time they broil!

There have been too many times in my life that multi-tasking has caused burned buns… or garlic toast…

Trust me on this! The few minutes it takes them to broil is well worth keeping a diligent eye on them.

I find that broiling them, rather than grilling or placing them into a frying pan gives more even browning and retains more of the butter (because they are face up, rather than face down).

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Next, add your topping of choice and enjoy!

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Recipe

1 cup sourdough starter

1/4 cup warm water

3 cups white flour, divided

3/4 cup warm milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 egg

Egg wash (1 egg + 1/4 teaspoon water, beaten)

Sesame seeds

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Directions

Combine sourdough starter, 1/2 cup flour, and water.

Cover and let sit in a warm location for 30-60 minutes.

Melt butter and warm the milk to room temperature. Add to bowl with the sourdough mixture along with egg, sugar, and salt and mix well.

Add remaining flour a little at a time, mixing until the dough develops an elastic consistency. If you are using a mixer, the dough should begin to clear the bowl.

Place dough in a well-oiled bowl and flip, so the dough is oiled on all sides.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Fold the dough into itself from 4 sides, turn over the dough over, and cover again.

Allow to rise for another 30 minutes.

Repeat the folding process and allow to rise for 60 minutes.

Finally, fold once more and allow to rise for another 60 minutes.

Place dough onto lightly floured surface and cut into 8 equal sized pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball with your hand, then squish into approximately the diameter you would like for your hamburger buns.

Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, then cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Brush with egg wash.

Place in pre-heated oven at 400º F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Move to cooling rack, cover with a tea towel, and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

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Sourdough Bagels

Growing up in Alaska, our small town was known more for the many coffee shops than it was for fresh bagels.

Really, I had only ever had store-bought bagels for the most part (which are made for mass production and long shelf life) up until I decided to make my own.

This long-shelf-life-concept sacrifices so much flavour and texture to make a buck.

As always, homemade is sooo much better if one is willing to take the time to bake!

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First, start with 2 cups of freshly fed, mature sourdough starter.

Add the water, oil, salt, and flour and mix until all the ingredients are combined.

NOTE: if you are making blueberry or cinnamon raisin bagels, this is the stage you will add the sweet ingredients!

Knead the dough until it develops an elastic consistency; if you are using a mixer this will be about 3-4 minutes on medium speed with a dough hook.

It should not stick to the bowl while being kneaded at this point.

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Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let it sit in a warm place for 4 hours.

Sourdough recipes need longer rise time than yeast recipes; this is not only for the leavening effect, but also to develop that tangy sourdough flavour.

Once the 4 hours are up, divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces.

The easiest way to get them all the same size is to cut the dough in half, then cut those balls into 6 pieces.

In the past, I had pinched off chunks of dough, trying to get similar sizing but inevitably getting varying results.

This method of cutting the dough is much faster, easier, and consistent.

If you want to get REALLY particular, you can go so far as weighing each ball of dough and adjusting the amount they have until each of the 12 balls weigh exactly the same.

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On an unfloured surface, roll each of the balls into perfect rounds.

Next, pinch a hole through the centre and use two fingers to “twirl” that gap into a nice round hole.

You want the hole to be about the size of a golf ball (the hole will shrink as the bagel rises) and the dough to be as even as possible all the way around, but some imperfections will be eliminated during the next rise.

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Place the rounds on a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Make sure you leave plenty of room between them so they do not stick together as they rise.

Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda.

Next, add the bagels to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes on either side.

This part of the process is what gives the bagels their signature chewiness.

If you prefer your bagels less chewy, simply reduce the amount of time you boil on each side.

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Of course this means that if you prefer your bagels chewier, you can boil them longer to achieve the desired texture.

NOTE: you want a single layer of bagels; do not stack them in the water. You will need to cook them in batches.

Drain well when you remove them from the water and place them onto the lined baking sheet you used earlier.

A “SPIDER” cooking utensil (basically a large wire spoon) works well for scooping and draining the bagels at the same time.

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The next step is to brush the bagels with egg wash to give them the beautiful golden color once they are baked.

This also helps the toppings stick to the bagels!

Once you have added the egg wash, you get to choose from many varieties of toppings; you can go with the jalapeño cheddar bagels, simple sesame, the famous “Everything Bagel” or of course you can just leave them plain.

As I noted earlier in this post, the sweet bagel varieties will already have those ingredients added during the kneading stage.

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I am a huge fan of all things jalapeño, so the jalapeño cheddar bagels are a solid favourite.

Once you have finished adding the egg wash and toppings, place the baking sheets into the oven, pre-heated to 450º F.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

I have a convection oven, so I did not rotate the baking sheets, however if you have a conventional oven you likely will want to switch them halfway through to ensure even baking.

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Once they have turned that beautiful golden brown color, remove the bagels from the oven and place on a cooling rack and cover with a tea towel.

Now let’s be honest; I would say to allow them to cool fully, but what is better than a homemade bagel fresh out of the oven?!

Treat yourself and “sample” one while it is hot – you know, to make sure they turned out okay! *wink*

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This recipe makes a dozen LARGE bagels.

One Bagel BLT makes an entire meal for me because they are so big!

The texture and flavour is absolutely unparalleled by those dry, store-bought imitations.

If you have never had a homemade bagel, you truly do not know what you are missing out on!

Pro Tip: if you plan to freeze your bagels, cut them first so you can pop them directly into the toaster from frozen!

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RECIPE

2 cups sourdough starter

1 1/4 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 1/2 cups white flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking soda (in the boiling water)

1 egg, beaten (egg wash)

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Directions

Combine sourdough starter, water, oil, flour, and salt.

(If you are making a sweet bagel, add those ingredients now as well)

Knead dough until it develops an elastic texture (3-4 minutes with a dough hook if you are using a mixer).

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest in a warm area for 4 hours.

Divide dough into 12 equal sized pieces and roll into balls on an unfloured surface.

Pinch a hole through each ball and widen the hole using two fingers until it is the size of a golf ball and the dough is fairly even throughout the ring.

Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (leave enough room between them so they do not stick to each other while rising).

Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm area for 1 hour.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda.

Gently place the bagels into the water in batches and cook for 2 minutes on either side (do not stack the bagels; you want a single layer)

Drain well and place back onto the lined baking sheet.

Brush with the egg wash and add toppings of choice (see below for topping options).

Place into oven, pre-heated to 450º F and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. (You may need to rotate baking sheets half way through if you do not have a convection oven to ensure even baking)

Place on cooling rack and cover with a tea towel.

Enjoy!

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Bagel Toppings

For the savoury bagels, the toppings are added to plain bagels just after they have been boiled and brushed with egg wash.

The sweet bagels have the ingredients added while kneading the dough at the beginning on the process.

Jalapeño Cheddar

Place jalapeños as desired, then sprinkle generously with cheddar cheese.

(The cheese helps the jalapeños stick to the bagel)

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Sesame

Sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.

Blueberry

1 cup blueberries

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

NOTE: these ingredients are added while kneading the dough.

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Cinnamon Raisin

1 cup raisins

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

NOTE: these ingredients are added while kneading the dough.

More topping options to come!

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So what do you think? Do you feel inspired to make this tasty treat?

Drop a comment below!

And don’t forget to subscribe to my email list to see new recipes, renovation projects, and gardening tips first!

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