Archive | August 2012

Double-Dog-Dare-Ya Pepper Jelly

Okay, so with all my peppers coming in strong in the garden it was time add to my stash of Christmas gift-giving yumminess and stock the pantry with some Jalapeno Pepper Jelly!  My garden is chock full of more jalapenos than I have ever grown before in addition to many pepper newcomers like Anaheim, Thai Chili, wax peppers and pablanos.  I am not really sure what I’ll do with the Thai peppers, but I just took the first batch off the dehydrator.  I’ll probably end up turning them into a powder.  The first few Anaheims made their way into a fabulous enchilada dish just a few days ago and I’ve pickled lots of the wax peppers.  But I hadn’t yet used any of the pablano peppers, until yesterday.  I harvested my very first, gorgeous and um, rather plump pablano the fateful morning I made my first batch of Jalapeno Jelly of the season.

Now I didn’t start out thinking I would add the pablano.  It just sort of happened.

The recipe called for six jalapeno peppers and two cups total of bell peppers, green and red.  Since I didn’t have any fresh red bell peppers on hand I rehydrated a small handful from my pantry stash a few hours before starting the recipe.   I was still a little under the 2 cup mark after I chopped all the bell peppers and put them in the measuring cup, so I went back to the garden and grabbed a couple more smallish bells.  Even after chopping these additional two I was still a bit shy of my 2 cup goal.  Hmmm.  Conundrum.

Out of the corner of my eye I spied the gorgeous green pablano I picked earlier in the morning.  I wonder…

Before I had a chance to ponder it much more I was busy reducing the pepper to so much chopped confetti.  Now, if I had stopped there I think my jelly would have been just fine for the average pepper jelly connoisseur.

But I didn’t.

Remember how I said the recipe called for six jalapeno peppers?  Well, I decided to live a little dangerously and go for seven!  Taking a walk on the wild side and cranking up the heat!

But truth be told, I really don’t think this was the decision that took my jelly from the usual sweet heat to a five alarm fire of the mouth.  No, more likely it would be my next “minor” modification.

I went just one teeny-tiny step further and opted not to devein or deseed any of my jalapeno peppers!  That, my friends, was my last and perhaps biggest mistake!  Normally I devein and deseed at least some of my jalapenos.  I like my pepper jelly to have a little heat so I usually keep some of the veins and seeds to crank it up a notch.  I honestly don’t know what got into me, but the resulting jelly is super stinking hot!  Yowza!

And for a while there I was thinking I would have to pitch the lot.  Even while the stuff was cooking I could just feel the heat in the air and my nose told me this was no ordinary batch of Pepper Jelly.  A tiny taste of the still-hot goo just before processing set my mouth on fire!  And for one small moment in time I considered dumping it all down the drain.

But I did not.

After letting the processed jars chill out on the counter overnight I popped the top on one of the wee jars and dared a tiny taste.  The verdict?  It’s hot!  Dadgum hot!  But maybe, just maybe it’s salvagable.  After all some folks munch on habenaros just for the fun of it, right?  And, though I don’t know quite where this would end up on the Scoville Scale, I daresay my jelly isn’t anywhere near as hot as a habenaro.

So, if you’re not one to let a little heat get in the way of your dining pleasure then try my pepper jelly!  C’mon!  I double dog dare ya!

Double-Dog-Dare-Ya Pepper Jelly Recipe

Ingredients:

1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 pablano pepper, seeded and finely choppped
7 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1-1/2 cups  cider vinegr
6-1/2cups  sugar, measured into separate bowl
1 pouch liquid fruit pectin

Directions:

Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Add peppers, vinegar, and sugar to large pot. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

Add pectin and return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladleimmediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars in water filled canner. Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary. Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

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Strawberry Jalapeno Jam

Well, the Strawberry-Kiwi Jam I made earlier this summer that was my favorite strawberry jam recipe just got knocked into the #2 position!  It’s the kick the jalapenos give in this Strawberry Jalapeno Jam that gave my #1 strawberry jam recipe the boot to the #2 position.

If you’re wrinkling your nose at the notion of adding jalapeno peppers to strawberry jam then I am guessing you’ve never tried Hot Pepper Jelly.  I had the same reaction the first time I heard people raving about pepper jelly, of all things.  But as soon as that first cream cheese and pepper jelly laden cracker hit my mouth all skepticism melted away and a new pepper jelly convert was born!  So when I recently discovered this recipe for Strawberry Jalapeno Jam I just knew instinctively that I was going to love it.

And love it I do!  I love everything about this recipe!  Not only is the jam delightful and versatile, it’s super simple to make, especially if you have a food processor or mini chopper.  I made two nice sized batches in one afternoon.  The fact that I picked up the strawberries for .99 a pint and the jalapenos were free from my garden was just icing on the cake.  With a yield of 8 half pints, each jar cost less than a buck to make!  Nice!

Along with some basic canning supplies, strawberries, jalapenos, pectin, sugar, and lemon juice are all that is necessary for this recipe.

I washed and hulled the strawberries and then pureed them in the food processor.  B.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l, eh?

Using some disposable kitchen gloves I cut the stems off the jalapenos and whirled them in the food processor until they were finely chopped.  (Don’t work with hot peppers without gloves or you’ll be sorry!  I know, I did it once and boy did I pay.)

Then strawberries, peppers, lemon juice and pectin all went into the pot.

With the heat on high I rapidly brought this mixture up to a simmer and then added the sugar.  I continued cooking this on high, stirring frequently until it reached a boil and continued boiling for one minute.

Here’s what it looked like a full boil.

I skimmed off the foam and then I waited about 5 minutes before ladling the jam into the sterilized jars.  This is supposed to help keep the jam from separating and the larger fruit pieces from floating to the top.

Two batches yielded twice the amount of jam as is pictured here.  I just picked up two more pints of strawberries to make more tonight!

I served this jam at a cooking club meeting with a delicate brie-like cheese and table water crackers.  It was devoured in no time flat and the unanimous consensus was that it was spectacular and perfectly paired with the cheese and crackers.  The only thing I think was missing was a glass of champagne!  A glass of dry champagne seems like the perfect accompaniment to the sweet heat of the jam and the delicate, buttery cheese.  And when the cooler weather arrives I am going to make baked brie in a puffed pastry using this jam.  I believe it will be divine!


Strawberry Jalapeno Jam

Ingredients

 4 cups crushed strawberries

1 cup minced jalapeno peppers

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 (2 ounce) package powdered fruit pectin

7 cups white sugar

8 half pint canning jars with lids and rings

Procedure

1. Place the crushed strawberries, minced jalapeno pepper, lemon juice, and pectin into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once simmering, stir in the sugar until dissolved, return to a boil, and cook for 1 minute.

2. Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pack the jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.

3. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.

4. Remove the jars from the stockpot and place onto a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart. Allow to cool overnight Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all). Store in a cool, dark area.

 

Happy Harvesting!

We have officially entered the heat of the harvest here with my square food garden!  Yesterday I harvested lots of tomatoes as well as some cucumbers, beans, and our first few ears of corn.  There are lots of peppers ready for harvesting and I think the edemame should be coming in strong next week. But I only picked what I thought I could handle for one day of canning.

My tomatoes are starting to come in strong, although we have been enjoying them for several weeks.  From the look of my tomato plants I am going to be one very busy girl for the next week or two.  I canned the larger tomatoes, but decided to dehydrate the little ones since I didn’t have time to make some Yellow Pear Tomato & Ginger Jam.

I tried a new recipe with this batch of cucumbers: Fast Favorite Garlic Dill Pickles.  I have made several varieties of pickles this summer and wanted to try something new.  We will give them a try in a few week to see if the recipe is a keeper.  The recipe was a cinch to make so I really hope it turns out to be a family favorite.

I am really disappointed in my green bean harvest for the year.  I really didn’t plant enough and will definitely plan for more next year.  The few bean plants I did put in were ravaged by some kind of bug, most likely cucumber beetles.  Grrrr….  I picked just one jalapeno, but there are lots more on the way.  Can you say Strawberry Jalapeno Jam and Hot Pepper Jelly?   Yum!

My final harvest for the day was the first, and perhaps last of our corn harvest.  I was amazed to see the kernals when I pull back the husks on these undersized ears.  The corn plants took such a beating with the weather.  This was the first time we’ve ever tried growing corn and I was really excited as I watched it grow.  But It quickly went from looking pretty good to really bad.  I think a lot had to do with the very dry conditions we had this summer.  I am encouraged to try again next year and still hold out a little hope for the other small patch I planted a few weeks after this one.

That’s all for today’s update.  Back soon for a post on Strawberry Jalapeno Jam!  Oh yeah!

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

It was decision time.  Either use the oh-so-very, very ripe bananas today or feed ’em to Seymour (our composter).  Sorry, Seymour, you lose.  My littlest helper and I were hungry following our morning run and some healthy muffins seemed like just the ticket to fill our bellies.

I found a yummy looking recipe, but decided to make them a bit healthier by subbing some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat.  The resulting muffins were dynomite!  I hadn’t intended to blog about it so I didn’t take any photos along the way.  But they were so tasty I just had to document it.  I am rather notorious for never making a “slam-dunk dish” again and I didn’t want to forget about this one.

I completely forgot to add in some flax seed this go-round, but I plan to tinker with this recipe a bit and try adding some next time.  I also think this recipe would work well if apples and zucchini were substituted for the bananas.  I’ll have to give that a try for a future post.  This recipe is a keeper and will be useful for some fun experimenting!

(I couldn’t resist messing around in Photoshop.  😉  Now I am thinking about starting a scrapbook with our favorite recipes!)

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients

    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/3 cup butter, melted
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F In medium bowl, stir together the flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, combine the mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla and butter. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  2. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (start watching around 12 minutes; oven temperatures vary) or until toothpick inserted into center muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and let cool on wire rack.

Unfinished Painting Effect in Photoshop

 

One of my favorite things in the world to do is play around in Lightroom and Photoshop.  I love tinkering with photos!  I am not very skilled in the art of photography so I generally have to tinker a whole lot in order to improve the quality of my photos for scrapbooking, etc.

When I first started using Lightroom and Photoshop I was completely clueless.  It was all Greek to me.  I felt so overwhelmed and seriously considered signing up for Photoshop classes, but that really wasn’t in the budget.  So, I did what I always do when I don’t know how to do something but I want to learn.  I Googled it!  I’ve devoured tutorial after tutorial, tinkering and playing all along the way.  I am thrilled with my progress and how much I have learned so far, but I am forever blown away with all that there is yet to learn.  Those classes look just as appealing to me today, perhaps more so, as they did when I first got started. Ah well, maybe someday…

Fortunately, there are about a kajillion Internet tutorials to choose from and this page was the result of a tutorial from one of my favorite digital designers, Katie Pertiet.  I buy most of my digital content from her site, and her blog and tutorials are invaluable!  If you’re just getting started in digital scapbooking with Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you’ll want to make your way through all of the Designer Digitals YouTube tutorials.  They are outstanding!

When I saw Katie’s latest tutorial, In the Studio: Painting in Progress, I had to give it a try!  I grabbed a photo from our recent family vacation and began playing with the technique.  WOW!  I was blown away!  Although I didn’t leave much of my photo unpainted the way she did in the tutorial, I really love the way it turned out.

After working my way through Katie’s steps, I took the technique one step further.  I really wanted my photo to look more like it was actually painted so I added a dry brush filter to the photograph.  And that was it!  I was completely hooked!  I loved the results so much I immediately designed this page to showcase the beautiful view from our vacation house.

I can’t wait to play around with this technique some more using other photos.  Ultimately, I’d really love to create something so spectacular that I feel it’s artsy enough to have printed and framed.  Now that would be something!

 

Darn Goods

So do you remember these tasty breakfast morsels from your scouting days of yesteryear?  They were, and still are a popular camping breakfast project for both boy and girl scouts.  I didn’t remember that until I Googled Bisquick donuts and found the recipe.  It’s no wonder they are such a hit with the scouters.  They are extremely simple to make and, well, darn good!

All you need is some Bisquick, water, cinnamon, sugar, and a bit of oil to fry it all up.  Seriously, it takes like 2 minutes to put the ingredients together.  Heating the oil is the most time consuming part, but then the fry time is just a couple minutes more.  I love any recipe that earns me a super hero title for a day, while requiring very little effort on my part.

So, while the deep fryer was heating the oil I tossed a cup of Bisquick in a bowl and, with a fork mixed in 1/4 cup of water.   If you don’t have a deep fryer, not to worry!  Just heat a couple of inches of oil in a deep sided skillet.

Once the oil reached 375 degrees, I used my handy dandy Pampered Chef cookie scoop to drop the dough into the oil.

The whole batch fit perfectly in the fryer with lots of room to spare!

Then the fried little dough balls were tossed in some cinnamon sugar.  You can put the cinnamon sugar in a paper bag to toss the donuts, but I used a bowl instead.

And that’s it!  These have to be the fasted donuts I’ve ever whipped up, and I am darn sure I will earn the Mommy Super Hero title a lot more often with this recipe in my hip pocket!

Darn Goods

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Heat oil in deep fryer or deep sided skillet to 375 degrees.
  • Mix sugar and cinnamon in paper bag or large bowl.  Set aside.
  • Stir Bisquick and 1/4 cup water to a soft dough.  Drop dough by teaspoons into hot fat.  Fry about 30 seconds on each side or until golden brown and puffy. Drain on paper towel.
  • While warm toss the donuts in the cinnamon sugar.

Enjoy!