Monday, August 31, 2015

Jalapeno Jelly

 A few years back we planted about 6 jalapeno plants at a little farmhouse we were renting.  The problem was the place we were renting, the landlord did not have sprinklers set up, therefore no drip lines, and all the watering was on us.  Sometimes we'd forget, or go out of town, or our automatic timer for our small sprinkler would not work.  The plants did OK, and we got a decent amount of peppers, but no like when regular watering takes place.  

Fast forward 2 years and we now have our own new home with sprinklers, drip lines, the whole bit!  So this time I only bought one plant and put it in a pot since we don't have a dedicated garden yet.  This one plant EXPLODED!  I can only guess that over a few months time we have gotten over 100 peppers from this one plant.  
Needless to say, I needed to find a way to use our awesome harvest of peppers.  I had pinned a recipe for jalapeno jelly, and remembering the one time I had tried this stuff in the past I knew it was something I had to try :)  

So plucking 20 jalapenos off my plant, I set off on my jelly adventure.  It was super easy to make and canned up nicely.  When I was done, I busted out some Wheat Thins, some cream cheese, and lunch was served!  

Some ideas for this stuff is just like I said... crackers, cream cheese with a little jelly on top.  Or for a party, soften a whole block of this stuff and throw a whole jar on top and serve with crackers.  Use it as a sauce for chicken or steak.  Some people mentioned how great this is with coconut shrimp and even chicken nuggets.  The blogger that I got this recipe from loves it on her paninis as an alternate spread to the normal mustard.  I am willing to venture out and find some some uses for this delectable stuff!

I doubled up the recipe and got about 13-14 half pint jars.

Jalapeno Jelly

1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
10 jalapenos (I leave about 1/2 the seeds in)
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5-6 cups granulated sugar (yep, you really need this much to combat the spice!)
1 3-ounce pouch liquid fruit pectin (like Certo)

Finely chop the bell peppers and jalapenos in a food processor fitted with a fine shredding blade (if you don't have a food processor, no worries, grab a knife and get started chopping up those peppers into little tiny pieces).

Add the peppers to a large pot (the jelly will foam when it first comes to a boil so use a pot at least 5-6 quarts for a single batch and larger if doubling the batch).

Stir in the vinegar, salt and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add the liquid pectin and boil for 1 more minute.

Remove the pot from the heat. Pour the jelly to within 1/4-inch of the top of clean, warm canning jars. 

Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp rag. Place a lid and ring on each jar and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes (you may need to add additional time if you live above sea level; the pectin box/info should give details).

Once removed from the water bath canner, let the jelly rest for 1-2 days to let it fully set up.

Recipe Source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Homemade Peach or Strawberry Ice Cream

Well, summer is pretty much over and a part of me of SOOO okay with that.  I am ready for college football, apple cider, changing leaves, and pumpkin treats!  Not to mention my birthday celebrations ;)

Anyhow, last week we finally broke down and bought an ice cream maker.  I must say it was a fantastic purchase and my mind is overflowing with ideas I want to try in it.  After doing some research, we ended up with the 2-quart Cuisinart (found here).  Our first attempt was a simple vanilla ice cream, which was great...especially if you have REAL Mexican pure vanilla.  We picked some up down in Cancun earlier this summer.  

This was our second recipe, considering we had about 30+ pounds of peaches sitting around.  Not to mention peaches are by far my favorite fruit!  It turned out so so good, and it is always best when it first comes out of the ice cream maker.  So excited to try more flavors throughout the year :)  Enjoy!

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

3 cups fresh ripe strawberries/peaches, stemmed and sliced
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-1/2 cup sugar, divided
1-1/4 cups whole milk
2-3/4 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries/peaches with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Stir gently and allow the strawberries/peaches to macerate in the juices for 2 hours. Strain the berries/peaches, reserving juices. Mash or purée half the berries/peaches.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and remaining granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, reserved strawberry/peach juice, mashed strawberries/peaches, and vanilla. Turn the machine on; pour the mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the reserved sliced strawberries/peaches and let mix in completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source:  Cuisinart