Christmas

Homemade Red Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

by Shawnda on December 7, 2011

in Christmas,Condiments,Holiday Favorites

Homemade Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

I have a knack for loving things that seem to quickly go out of style. Or TV shows that get canceled (I’m looking at you, Jericho and Flash Forward). But some things are just way too awesome to ever go out of style. Like yoga pants, cupcakes (not the $4 boutique variety, but in general), putting bacon in and on everything, and jalapeno pepper jelly.

Pepper jellies used to be all the rage, making appearances along side a block of cream cheese and a bowl of crackers, at every single party I attended in 2004 and 2005. But then it just kind of disappeared. Sweet and spicy, it paired wonderfully with tangy cream cheese and a salty, buttery cracker. I could go on and on, but I’m going to quickly run out of adjectives.

Homemade Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

This year, we’re including a jar of red and green jalapeno pepper jelly in our gift baskets. Because we’re still harvesting 50+ jalapeno and serrano peppers a week from our garden. In December. I’m a complete novice when it comes to canning – I can make freezer jam like it’s nobody’s business and turn out a batch of candied jalapenos in no time, but more advanced things make me a little twitchy. But there’s no twitchiness involved here because this recipe is that easy.

For this batch, I used all red jalapenos and serranos – when you put off harvesting them, they actually turn a beautiful bright red! I also think that’s when they go from being “just” a spicy pepper to a seventh-circle-of-hell-hot pepper.

Red Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Sweet and spicy red pepper jelly, serve it with cream cheese and crackers. Make a festive green jalapeno pepper jelly by using green peppers and adding a few drops of green food coloring at the end of the cooking time.

Ingredients

  • 1 orange bell pepper, halved and seeds and stem removed
  • 1 lb red jalapeno peppers, seeds and stems removed (for a spicy jelly, use a couple of serranos and leave in the seeds to half/all of the peppers)
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 3 oz liquid pectin
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put the peppers into a food processor and process for 7-10 seconds. Alternately, you can finely chop them by hand - wear gloves!
  2. Transfer the peppers to a large pot and add the vinegar.
  3. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Pour through a fine mesh sieve to separate the peppers from the liquid, you should have 1 cup of liquid. Simmer longer to reduce, if necessary.
  5. Return the liquid and as much of the pulp/seeds (more for a much spicier jam, less/none for a slightly spicy jelly) to the pot and add the salt and sugar until dissolved.
  6. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  7. When the mixture comes to a rolling boil (one that cannot be stirred down), boil for one minute, and then add the butter.
  8. Stir the butter into the mixture and then add the liquid pectin, stirring to mix.
  9. Let boil for 3 minutes.
  10. Ladle into sterile jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
  11. To store jars at room temperature, you'll need to seal them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Otherwise, let the jars come to room temperature, place the lids on them, and then store them in the fridge (the jelly will keep a couple of months this way).
  12. Refrigerate jelly after seal is broken.

Notes

Yields: ~6 8 oz jars

Adapted from AllRecipes and Ball

Estimated time: 1 hour

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Baileys Marshmallows

by Shawnda on December 3, 2011

in Beverages,Candy,Christmas,Holiday Favorites

Homemade Baileys Marshmallows

Some days, regardless of how bright it is outside, are just… gray. A dear friend I made through blogging lost her father recently. We’re all just so heartbroken for her and her family’s loss.

Grief and comfort is so very individual and we all cope differently. Often you just can’t find the right words. Or when you do have plenty to say, sometimes the words themselves just seem so insignificant. Or they tumble out in a heaping mess. We pray for peace and comfort and then we often turn to acts of service to better say the things we feel. A lot of people, including me, cook.

When it’s a gray day, I often reach for my favorite mug. It’s easy to spot, it’s the cracked one with the Colts logo on the side and the crooked handle held in place with super glue. A steamy mug of hot tea has a way of temporarily replacing that cold, empty feeling to warm you from the inside out. Or when it’s cold out, a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Many of us wanted to do something to show our support for our friend, to let her know that we were still thinking of her. And because we all cook, you’ll see comfort foods popping up all around our friends’ blogs. I’d love to give Annie a hug and then pass her a mug (the un-cracked one!) of hot chocolate with a melty layer of homemade Baileys marshmallow on top.

Baileys Marshmallows

Fluffy homemade marshmallows spiked with Baileys Irish Cream. Add them to a mug of hot chocolate or use them in grown-up S'mores.

Ingredients

  • 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup Baileys
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Powdered sugar, for coating and dusting
  • Baking spray

Instructions

  1. Place Baileys in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and sprinkle gelatin over top. All of the powder should absorb within a few minutes - you might need to swirl the liquid in the bowl if powder remains on top.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, heat sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water over medium heat and stir constantly until the temperature reaches soft ball stage (240F).
  3. Add the heated sugar mixture in a slow, thin stream to the stand mixer while on low. Add vanilla and increase speed to high and whip for ~15 minutes, until thickened and mostly cooled.
  4. Spray an 8x8 pan with baking spray and coat with powdered sugar.
  5. Pour marshmallow into the prepared pan and let sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours (I always do overnight).
  6. Dust your work surface with powdered sugar and turn the marshmallow out of the pan (pull up one of the corners of the marshmallow, flip, and let gravity do the rest).
  7. Using a greased pizza cutter or knife, cut the marshmallows into 1-inch squares, dusting the cut edges with powdered sugar to prevent sticking.
  8. Store the marshmallows in a gallon zip-top bag with a few additional spoonfuls of powdered sugar (shake the closed bag to evenly distribute the powdered sugar).

Notes

Yields: ~64 marshmallows

Adapted from Alton Brown's Marshmallows

Estimated time: 4 hours 45 minutes

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Soft Dinner Rolls with Black Pepper and Rosemary

Today we’re sharing our favorite recipe for dinner rolls. If you’re still searching for the perfect soft, white, and fluffy dinner roll, you shouldn’t have to look any further.

The rolls are quite versatile, we’ve used it for hamburger buns, dinner rolls, and slider rolls. When making classic dinner rolls, I add a little more sugar than I would for burger and slider buns. When making a savory dinner roll, I skimp on the sugar and add a generous amount of black pepper and fresh rosemary.

And they’ll be a huge hit with your holiday dinner crowd – I made a double batch last Christmas and had absolutely no leftovers. None. I had been so looking forward to leftover turkey & cranberry sliders using the rolls. I’m planning ahead this year :)

Don’t have the time on Thanksgiving to make bread? You can make these ahead of time and freeze them in the pan – simply take them out and let them thaw and rise on the counter and then bake as directed.

Soft Dinner Rolls with Rosemary and Black Pepper

The perfect soft, white, and fluffy dinner roll. Make savory rolls by decreasing the sugar and adding a generous dose of black pepper and fresh rosemary.

Ingredients

  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbsp oil (vegetable, canola, or olive) plus more for greasing bowl and pan
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tbsp - 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (optional, for savory rolls)
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (optional, for savory rolls)
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional, for classic rolls)
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Instructions

  1. Add warm water to the bowl of your mixer and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let sit 10 minutes, until frothy.
  2. Add the, oil, egg, and sugar to the bowl. If making savory dinner rolls, add 3 Tbsp of sugar, black pepper, and rosemary. If making classic dinner rolls, add 1/3 cup of sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.
  3. Add the flour and mix on medium-low speed with the hook until the dough holds together, about 2 minutes. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl. If not, add additional flour by the Tbsp.
  4. Increase speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes.
  5. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough for 20 minutes. Add the salt and mix the dough on low speed for 1 minute.
  6. Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been lightly greased with oil. Cover it with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-1 1/2 hours.
  7. Grease the bottoms and sides of a 9-inch baking pan.
  8. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
  9. Divide the dough in half and pinch off 7 pieces of dough the size of a golf ball (2 oz each if you're using a scale) from each half.
  10. Roll into rounds and place in the pan about 1/2-1 inch apart (they should fill the pan after the final riser).
  11. If freezing, wrap the pan tightly in foil and place in the freezer. Remove from the freezer and let thaw on the counter - plan on 2-2 1/2 hours for thawing and rising.
  12. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise for 20 minutes + oven preheating time. The rolls should expand to fill up the entire pan, if you can see more than a couple of spots of the bottom of the pan, let them rise a bit longer.
  13. Preheat oven to 350.
  14. Brush the rolls with half of the melted butter and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven and brush with remaining butter. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Notes

Yields: 14 dinner rolls or slider buns (1 9-inch pan of rolls), 8 burger buns

Adapted from The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 3 hours

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Cranberry Margaritas

‘Tis the season – cranberry margarita season! It’s what comes between Raspberry Margarita Season and Grapefruit Margarita Season :)

We’re big margarita people so finding new seasonal fruits to blend with tequila has become our Friday night hobby. Sometimes we get a little too serious about getting a recipe just right with “official testing,” complete with notepads, pencils, and a scoring system. Other times we can eye a recipe and just know it’s a winner. Like this one.

I had a cranberry margarita at a Christmas party last year and loved it. So I had a few more :) Cranberries, cranberry juice, orange, lime, and tequila are blended together and served over ice. I’m not big on the peppermint-y cocktails that are usually served at holiday dinners so to me, this is the perfect holiday cocktail.

Cranberry Margaritas

A festive cranberry margarita recipe perfect for holiday dinners and parties.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup 100% cranberry juice* (see note below)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided* (see note below)
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) fresh or thawed cranberries
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice (5-6 limes)
  • 3/4 cup tequila
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur

Instructions

  1. Pour the cranberry juice into the blender, reserving 1 Tbsp.
  2. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp sugar onto a small plate.
  3. Use the cranberry juice to coat the rims of 4 to 6 glasses (6 to 8 oz each) and then dip the glasses into the sugar. Fill with ice and set aside.
  4. Reserve 12 cranberries and place the rest in the blender along with the water, sugar, lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur.
  5. Blend 30 seconds, or until smooth.
  6. Pour through a strainer to catch the cranberry pulp.
  7. Pour the strained margarita into glasses and garnish with reserved berries.

Notes

Yields: 4 servings

Slightly adapted from Sunset Magazine

Estimated time: 10 minutes

* I use 100% cranberry juice – it doesn’t have added sugar so it’s not the stuff a normal person would drink straight – and add a little water to lighten it up. It keeps the margarita tart and not too sweet. If you can’t find 100% cranberry juice (check the label), go with your favorite cranberry juice “cocktail” and consider adding only half the sugar at first and then blending in the rest to-taste. Your margarita will be a lighter color. But festive nonetheless :)

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