Jalapeno and Peach Jam

 

Jalapeno peach jam

Trying to spice up a few of my jam and jelly recipes.  Yesterday it was Jalapeno and Lime, since I like peaches, thought I would try this one out.  Sweet, with just a bit of a kick.  Good with pork dishes.  Makes a really good glaze for a pork loin roast.

1 lb. peaches, peeled, chopped and mashed

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 jalapeno peppers, minced and seeded

3 tablespoons pectin

3 1/2 cups sugar

If using the Ball jam and jelly maker, sprinkle the powdered pectin on the bottom of the cooker then add the peaches. Turn on the maker to the jam setting and start the cooker.  When it beeps add the pepper, lemon juice and sugar.  Place top on cooker and allow to run through the cycle.

If cooking on the stove top.  In a pot, place peaches, lemon juice and pectin.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  When it starts to boil, add the peppers and sugar, stirring constantly. Boil for about 5 minutes.

Pour jam into hot, sterilized jars.  Wipe rims and place lids on top, screw on bands.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Turn off stove and allow to sit in the hot water for another 5 minutes.  Remove to racks and allow to cool to room temperature.  When cool, wipe off jars and place a label on each with name of jelly and date.  Store in a cool, dry place. Makes 3 half pint jars.

Jalapeno Lime Jelly

Jalapeno Lime jelly

I’m not big on spicy things, but Tommy loves spicy things, so am experimenting with peppers.  I have always made a mild jalapeno jelly that I give as gifts, but wanted something a little more intense.  If you leave the seeds in this jelly, you get just that.  Leave the seeds out, it is a much milder version. This is a small batch so that I can make it in my jam and jelly maker.  I have found that it is not always a good thing to double recipes for jams or jellies, so you might want to just make it in a small batch.

4 limes

3 1/2 cups water

2 large jalapeno peppers

1 tsp. salt

2 grated garlic cloves (I use my micro plane to grate the garlic)

2 cups sugar

Zest one of the limes.  Peel the other three with a vegetable peeler.  Halve all the limes and squeeze the juice.  Strain the juice into a bowl and cover.  Place the lime halves into a saucepan, mince the peels and add to the saucepan.  C0ver with the water and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour.  While it is simmering, cover the zest with water and allow to sit.  Then mince the peppers.  Do not seed if you want the jelly to be spicy.  I wear gloves when I do this.  Found out the hard way that the juice can really cause your hands to burn.  Toss the pepper with the salt and let stand while the limes simmer.  After the limes have simmered for an hour, stain the liquid through a sieve and then through a wet jelly bag.  If you don’t have a jelly bag, a piece of clean wet muslin works just as well.  This should give you about 2 cups of liquid.  Pour it into the jam maker or a pan.  Drain the lime zest and add it to the liquid.  Drain the peppers and rinse.  Drain again and then add them to the pan.  Add the garlic and sugar (if using the jam maker, do not add until it beeps four times).  In jam maker let it process until finished.  In a pan, stir contents over med heat until sugar is dissolved.    Then raise heat to med high and boil until it reaches 220 degrees.  Remove from heat.  Pour into jars, wipe rims and place lids on top and screw on bands.  Process in water bath for 10 minutes.   Let sit in water bath for an additional 5 minutes then move to rack and allow to cool.  Makes 2 half pints.

If you do not like limes, you can use lemons.

Preserving

Preserves

Around this time of year, when many of the fruits are just coming into season, I start thinking of preserving.  I have always canned.  My children grew up with jars and jars of canned vegetables, pickles, all kinds of jams and jellies, soups and just about anything that could be canned.  It just gave me the satisfaction that I was providing good, quality food for my family.  I knew what went into each and every jar.  Canning is not very complicated.  Anyone can do it.  It is very cost-effective and you can have food stored for a rainy day.

One of my favorite types of canning is making jams, jellies, marmalade and fruit butters.  The other day Tommy and I were in a store where I saw shelves of little jars of various jams and fruit butters.  Those little jars were anything from $7 to $14 per jar.  I remember thinking to myself that I was in the wrong business.  I can’t understand why anyone would pay such a crazy amount, when they could make it themselves for a fraction of the cost.  Making jams and jellies was something my kids and I did together and had so much fun doing it.  They were always very proud of what they had made.  Making those jars of preserves was very time-consuming then.  Recently I shared a few of my jam recipes and talked about my new appliance, the Ball Jam and Jelly maker.  I love that thing.  If it had not been for Tommy, I would have never even considered owning one.  Bless him.  It has cut my jam making time down considerably.

So back to business, for those of you who have never preserved anything, I thought I would do a little primer on preserving.  I will do it in small segments and then give you lots of recipes.  I urge you to play with different flavors.  That is half the fun.  You end up with a jam or jelly that no one else has. So first, a little information.

Jam – This is what you end up with when you cook crushed or chopped fruit with sugar until the mixture jells.

Jelly – This is a jelled mixture of sugar and juice.  Jelly should be fairly clear and should hold it’s shape when shaken out of the container onto a plate.  You can have softer jellies, but I kind of fall back to the jelly standards that I had to follow when submitting jelly for contests.

Marmalade – This is like a jelly, because it is pretty clear, but has pieces of fruit and peel suspended in the jelly.  Marmalade is often made entirely of citrus fruit, but you can have other types of marmalades.

Preserves – Preserves are usually whole fruits in soft jelly or syrup.  These can be served on breads, but usually are served over cakes or ice cream.

Butters – This is pureed fruit cooked slowly with sugar and juice. These are usually cooked with added spices and cooked until they are thick and dark.  Butters usually do not have as much sugar in them as jams or jellies.

Canning preserves – Canning is a way of preserving food by sealing it in hot airtight containers or heating the containers after they are filled.  You don’t need to can your jams and jellies if you are only making a few jars and plan on keeping these in the refrigerator.  If you plan to keep them on the shelf, it is best that you process the jars in a water bath.  This is an easy process.

Always sterilize your jars before filling them.  This is easy, just place them in boiling water while you are making your jam or jelly and pull them out when ready to fill.  You will also have to put your canning lids in boiling water until you are ready to close the jars.  It is best to use half pint of quarter pint jars for your preserves.  I still have my huge canner that I bought when I was in college.  Now that I am using the jam maker and make smaller batches, I bought one of those small heat-resistant racks that can fit into my stock pot.  Works great.

Once your jam or jelly is ready, using tongs, lift the jar out of the water, draining off all the water you can.  Fill the jar to about 1/4 inch from the top.  Wipe off the edge of the jar, place the lid on and screw the band until it is almost tight.  Place first jar in rack and then move on to the next jar.  Fill it, wipe edge, place lid on top, screw on band and then put into rack.  Once all the jars are full, lower the rack into the stock pot (or canner if making large batches) of hot water. Make sure the water covers the top of the jars.  Bring water back to a boil and boil for 10 min.  Then turn off heat and cover stock pot.  Let sit for an additional 5 minutes.  Lift rack out of water, using a jar lifter, place jars on rack and allow to cool to room temperature.  Once cool, wipe off jars and label.  On label you should include what is in the jar and date.  Store in a cool, dry place.

Peach Cobbler Coffee Cake

peach cobbler coffee cake

This morning I got up with a craving for peaches, so had to make one of my favorite coffee cakes.  I love this cake.  Simple, but very good.  I call it Peach cobbler coffee cake because it fills my house with the smells of peach cobbler while it’s baking.

1 1/2 cups flour

7 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

2 eggs

1/3 cup milk

2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/4 cup diced peaches, not canned

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8 inch round or 8 x 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.  In a bowl whisk the dry ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk until well blended.  Slowly pour the melted butter into the milk while whisking.  Add the milk mixture into the flour mixture all at once and mix with a rubber spatula until blended.  Pour into prepared pan and then cover top with diced peaches.  Mix 3 tablespoons cold butter with 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, pinch of salt, pinch of nutmeg and 1/4 tsp.  cinnamon. Blend with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle mixture over the top of the peaches and bake in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Insert a toothpick into the center and when it comes out clean, remove it from the oven.  Allow to cook in pan on top of a rack for about 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

Chocolate chip coffee cake

Chocolate chip coffee cake

I love coffee cakes.  They are so easy to throw together.  The end result is dessert for breakfast.  Yum.  I am a total chocoholic. I admit it.  So this coffee cake is one of my favorite.  I usually make it following this recipe.  But for those who know me, I can’t resist playing with the recipe to see what else I can get, so sometimes I add a 1/4 cup cocoa to the flour and end up with a chocolate, chocolate chip coffee cake.  Either way, a wonderful start to your day.

1 1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 8 inch round cake pan with cooking spray or butter pan.  Combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Set aside about 1/2 cup of flour/butter mixture for topping.  Toast the pecans in a dry skillet for a few minutes, until you can smell the pecans toasting.  Do not over brown the pecans.  Add chocolate chips and pecans to flour mixture.  Mix milk, egg and vanilla in a small bowl.  Whisk until well blended.  Add to flour mixture and mix until blended.  Spread into prepared pan and sprinkle reserved flour mixture over the top.  Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a rack for about 15 minutes.  Cut into wedges and enjoy.  If you have any left over, you can reheat for a few seconds in the microwave.  Always serve this cake warm.

Pecan Pie Squares

pecan pie squares

I was talking to some coworkers the other day and they were telling me about a place that they had gone and the pecan pie was the best they had eaten in quite a while.  It made me think of pecan pie and I wanted to go home and make one, but at the end of the day I am pretty tired, so I try to keep my pie baking till the weekend.  Then I thought of these, so much easier to throw together than the pie, but still has all the flavor and the flaky crust on the bottom, so you still get the full enjoyment of the pie.  You can also play with this one, like I do with my pie, to come up with slightly different flavors.  Thow in some chocolate chips, add a little bourbon or rum to the filling, etc.  Love these bar cookies.

3 cups flour

3/4 cup butter, cold and cut into small cubes

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 tsp. salt

Cut butter into flour, sugar and salt until crumbly.Press firmly into a 15x10x1 baking pan and bake at 350 degrees until light and golden brown.  This takes about 20 minutes.

For the filling:

4 eggs

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups Karo syrup (or any good corn syrup)

2 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients together, beating till well mixed and fluffy.  Add pecans and stir to mix.  Pour over crust and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Allow to cool and cut into squares.

Additions:  Some times I will add to the mixture, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or 2 tablespoons rum or bourbon.  The alcohol burns off in the cooking, but if you are worried about that, just use 2 tsp rum flavoring instead.

Orange Buttermilk cake

Orange buttermilk cake

I love this cake.  It’s moist, not too sweet.  The orange and dates make a good combination.  Best served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

2 large oranges

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup butter

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup chopped walnuts

Grate the orange rind from both oranges. Cut them into halves and squeeze the juice out of both into a sauce pan.  Add 1 cup of the sugar let sit.  In a bowl cream butter, orange rind, then add remaining sugar and beat until soft and light.  Add eggs, one at a time, beat until light and fluffy.  Add in the soda, baking powder and flour alternately with the buttermilk.  Mix until smooth.  Fold in dates and nuts.  Turn into a lightly butter angel food pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan for about 10-15 minutes.  Turn out onto a cake plate.  Meanwhile bring the orange juice and sugar to a boil.  Boil for 1 to 2 minutes.  Pour boiling syrup over the warm cake.  Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.