Monday, August 26, 2013

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Pepper jellies are a Southern staple food item. Most often served with cream cheese and crackers, this condiment has soo many other tasty uses. It's a fantastic way to jazz up a plain ole grilled cheese or turkey sandwich. It makes a deliciously zippy dipping sauce for chicken fingers, fried chicken even fried shrimp. I often add a bit to my favorite BBQ sauce to add a little extra zing. Last year I even used some to make these pepper jelly thumbprint cookies, which are surprisingly good!
I did a lot of canning this summer but this recipe was by far the easiest one I made. Everything can be chopped in the food processor, so getting it prepped is a snap! The whole process start to finish only took me about 30 minutes. I can't say that about most of the other things I canned this summer. If you've never canned, this recipe would be a great place to start!

*One quick note: I made three batches of this jelly this year. Be sure to use the Certo brand liquid fruit pectin for this recipe. The second batch I made I used another brand and my jelly never set..not sure why. Made it again using Certo, no problems!
I've yet to find a use for the second batch which is pretty much a jalapeno syrup. Hubs said he was willing to try it on waffles...hmmm maybe I just came up with a new twist on chicken and waffles!

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Source: (slightly adapted)
Yields: 6-7 half pints

1 lg. red bell pepper
1 lg. green bell pepper
10 medium-sized jalapenos, leave some of the seeds in or all of the seeds depending on how spicy you want it.
1 1/2 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
6 c. sugar
1 pouch Certo* liquid fruit pectin

In food processor, finely chop peppers. Put in large pot with vinegar, salt and sugar. Boil for 10 minutes stirring often. Add Certo* pouch and boil 1 more minute. Fill canning jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. (here's a link to a great youtube video for the water-bath method) Start your time when the water reaches a rolling boil.
Wait a couple of days before opening jars to allow jelly time to gel.

This pepper jelly doesn't have any added food dyes, many are colored bright red or green. I thought the natural color of this jelly was gorgeous, studded with the flecks of red and green pepper, who needs any food coloring?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chocolate Espresso Mousse

Hello lover..oh excuse me,..but this mousse has stolen my heart! I've yet to find a chocolate that's too dark or too rich for me and this mousse fits into both of those categories. It's dark, silky, and completely luscious. (I like throwing in the word luscious whenever possible, I mean, how often can you really use it?? Try it. I dare you! there you go word of the day.) (You're welcome!)Anyhoo... If chocolate is your addiction, this mousse is sure to satisfy. The espresso and Kahlua in this mousse just serve to deepen the chocolate's (luscious) flavor. Also this mousse is really quick and easy it is to make. It only takes a few ingredients, all of which I almost always have on hand! So don't wait until your throwing a fancy dinner party to make it. Whip up a batch, top it with a dollop of whipped cream and some sprinkles, to up the fun factor, and enjoy this oh so luscious dessert any time!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Peanut Butter and Vanilla Greek Yogurt Dip

So I can't believe it but school starts NEXT week! Where did this summer go? It seems to gone by in record speed this year. Anyway, Walkers Shortbread send me another box of cookies. This time I got to sample a variety of their cookies in mini bite-sized form! They come in small resealable bags, so convenient to grab and go. These cookies are the perfectly sized for lunch on the go. Great for busy moms needing an easy, delicious school lunch snack that the kiddos will love.
The mini's are wonderful, just like all of Walkers Shortbread cookies. These are sized just right for easy mouth pop-ability! The newest addition to the minis line, and my personal favorite, are the crunchy oatmeal cookies. Made with ingredients like; whole wheat flour, butter and oats, these cookies are a treat you can feel good about giving to your family.

School lunches can get monotonous. So here's an easy, very healthy vanilla Greek yogurt and peanut butter dip that will jazz up any lunch box. This dip is a perfect accompaniment for apple slices, a banana, or a handful of Walkers crunchy oatmeal mini cookies!

Ok this one is sooo easy, you can let the kids make it...I say that makes this dip perfect for school lunches!

Peanut Butter and Vanilla Greek Yogurt Dip

1 5-6 ounce container of vanilla Greek yogurt, about a half a cup ( I used the Oikos 0% fat vanilla from the four pack)
1 tablespoon or so,  natural peanut butter (the kind you have to stir)
1 teaspoon honey (if you are not using a natural peanut butter you probably won't need any extra sweetness)

Mix it all together and start dipping

All ready for back to school! My sweet friend at Beatrice and Lulu makes the cute lunch bags in this post!
Walkers is once again offering a great deal for Half Baked readers. Order any two Walkers mini cookies and get one free!  Just go to the Walkers site here and use the promo code: HBBSCHOOL when you check out. This offer is only good until August 16th, so don't miss out! 
Leave a comment on this post and one lucky reader will win all four flavors of the Walkers Shortbread Minis! 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Pimento Cheese

Believe it or not this was my first time ever making pimento cheese. Pretty incredible considering it's a staple item for almost any Southern gathering, particularly those involving tea sandwiches. From showers to ladies luncheons to church picnics, pimento cheese, usually in sandwich form, is guaranteed to make an appearance. I have to confess though, that I just never really cared for pimento all. However, Hubs loves it. He asks for it all the time and I always find a reason not  to make it. Somehow pimento cheese came up recently in conversation (we talk about food a lot!) and once again Hubs said how much he loved the stuff. I just happened to have all the necessary ingredients on hand,so I thought I'd surprise him with some homemade pimento cheese. To find a recipe I thought I'd start right at the top and consult the godfather of Southern foods, Chef Frank Stitt. I'll admit that if my first experience with pimento cheese was this pimento cheese, it wouldn't have taken me so long to make it.