Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

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Last year, my husband surprised me with a full canning set that he found for 75% off at our local Target. I have been curious about canning, but very afraid of messing up and getting someone sick.

However, after reading through the Blue Book of Preserving that was included in the kit, I felt much more confident about the safety of canning.

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I found this recipe for Jalapeno Pepper Jelly on Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen website. I instantly thought that I could FINALLY use all those jalapenos growing in my garden for this.

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This will also make a great, unique gift for family and friends come Christmas season. :)

I learned that canning jelly can be very sticky so have damp towels ready, and you also have to work pretty fast when canning the preserves. The preserves will gel up quickly and you want those in the jars before they do or they’ll be a pain to pour.

That being said, I do recommend canning to foodies. It’s pretty tedious but the result is super cool. You get to say you MADE that jelly! :)

I’m submitting this recipe to What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen’s “So You Grew a Garden” blogging event.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Source: Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Jalapeno, Seeds And Membranes Removed, Finely Diced
  • 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ cups Red Or Orange Bell Pepper, Seeds & Membranes Removed, Finely Diced
  • 6 cups Sugar
  • 2 envelopes Liquid Pectin, 3 Oz Each
  • ½ teaspoons Unsalted Butter

Directions

  1. Prepare canning jars and lids as directed by manufacturer’s directions. This recipe makes 6 8-oz 1/2 pint jars…so have at least 8 jars ready, just in case.jelly3
  2. Do not use seeds in your jelly (if you’d like it hotter then put seeds into a piece of cheesecloth or muslin packet and put into the sugar mixture, but remove before you put the pectin in!). You can mix up the peppers if you’d like…habaneros, jalapenos, bell peppers.
  3. In a large stainless-steel pan combine the vinegar, peppers and sugar. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. (add the unsalted butter here if you want to use it…it helps to keep the foam down to a minimum)jelly4
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a full boil, at this point stir constantly. Once a rolling boil has been reached, pour in the pectin. Return to a full boil and stir constantly for 1 full minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Immediately ladle the jelly into your jars leaving about 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims off and screw on bands.
  6. 4 to 8 oz jars need to be processed for 10 minutes. 1 pint jars for 15 minutes. Adjust for elevation. (I live at sea level, so 10 minutes was fine for me.)
  7. Remove from canner and place on paper or cloth towel.
  8. Wait about 15-30 minutes and then carefully twist or tilt jars to distribute the pepper pieces throughout the jelly while cooling. (I did not do this since the preserving book said NOT to move the jelly for 12-24 hours, thus interrupting the sealing process. The pepper pieces were dispersed well anyway.)

I wrote myself a little reminder so I’m not tempted to move these as I clean the kitchen.

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Sloppy Joes

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My husband and I are always trying to find new ideas for dinner, especially with ground meat. My husband has mentioned how much he loves sloppy joes, so I thought, let’s try this! Easy peasy dinner, right?

My husband told me he was going to make them while I went on an errand, and wow! My husband can totally cook! This was delicious!

Sloppy Joes
inspired from Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 1.25 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 0.5 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bbq sauce
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • cajun seasoning to taste (Tony Chachere’s is what we used)

Directions

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, green pepper and garlic powder; drain off liquids.
  2. Stir in the mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

The Skinny – per serving, serves 6 (not including bread calories)

Calories 291.1
Fat 19.8g
Fiber 0.6g

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

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After a pretty full day, I wanted to make the hubs and I something easy and enjoyable. I’ve seen this recipe from Campbell’s for quite some time and was hoping that it would be a great recipe. I will say it had some really great flavor, but this recipe had some issues that I will take note of for next time.

First off, some of the rice ended up extra soft and some was still crunchy. I’ll have to be sure to stir occassionally while it’s in the oven to ensure that the rice is evenly cooked for next time.

Also, the recipe states that it needs to be covered the whole time it’s in the oven. However, after 50 minutes, it was still very watery. I had to keep it in the oven uncovered for a while after to let it evaporate, but it was still slightly watery even after that. Next time, I’ll uncover it when it’s halfway done to make sure it evaporates enough to make a thicker sauce for the chicken and rice.

I ended up omitting the vegetables called for in the recipe, since the hubs isn’t a fan of mixed vegetables. So, as you can see, dinner was pretty carb-y with the addition of some yummy garlic bread!

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole
Source: Campbell’s Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cup frozen mixed vegetables (we omitted this)
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast half  (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F.  Stir the soup, water, rice, onion powder, black pepper and vegetables in a 2-quart shallow baking dish.
  2. Top with the chicken. Cover the baking dish.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender. Top with the cheese. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes. Stir the rice before serving.

The Skinny – per serving, serves 4

Calories 408.4
Fat 10 g
Fiber 0.7g

Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies

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I love Oatmeal Raisin cookies. It’s one of those things that makes me feel like I’m eating a healthy cookie, but I’m sure with all the butter, it’s not so healthy after all. I saw this recipe on Picky Palate’s blog, and I had to immediately star it in my Google Reader. I LOVE that Raisinets combines the idea of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin cookies. These were another cookie that I brought over for labor day and they were definitely enjoyed! This is such a yummy cookie, and I will definitely be making these again.

Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies
Source: Picky Palate

Ingredients

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 1/2 Cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup quick oats
  • (2) 3.5 oz boxes Raisinets

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place butter and sugars into a stand or electric mixer; beat until light and fluffy. With mixer on medium add egg and vanilla until well combined.
  2. Place flour, soda, salt and oats into a large bowl. Slowly add to wet ingredients until just combined. Add raisinets; stir to combine, being careful not to crush the raisinets.
  3. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Sugar Cookies

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Happy Labor Day everyone!

While I do enjoy decorating sugar cookies, sometimes the hubs and I crave a chewy sugar cookie. I wanted to make these for the hubs and his family for Labor Day and thanks to a recommendation from Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles, I think this will be our go-to recipe for sugar cookies!

This was originally a recipe for Snickerdoodles, but all I needed to do was omit the cinnamon (another tip from Bridget) and we were set. I was a little skeptical about no vanilla extract, but I trusted the recipe and it still had a really good flavor.

Sugar Cookies
adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles (via Betty Crocker’s Big Red Cookbook)

Ingredients

  • 2¾ cups (13.75 ounces) unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar minus 1 tablespoon (10.35 ounces total)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar (for rolling)

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk the flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugars (except the ¼ cup granulated sugar for rolling) until creamy; add eggs and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  3. Mix ¼ cup sugar and the cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out cookies and roll into a ball; roll ball in sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Bake until cookies are just set and turning golden brown at edges, 10-12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes; then, using a wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

After baking 2 dozen of the cookies, I decided to stop baking and freeze the rest for another day. Yet another reason I love my FoodSaver. So easy to just bag and freeze!

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Mexican Potatoes

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My husband and I like to make our weeknight cooking as simple as possible. Just lately, we got into making tacos, but were shamefully using the kits for tacos and mexican rice.

After finding this recipe for Taco Seasoning on Allrecipes, I decided it was probably worth a shot to do this without the kit. Not only did we have all the spices on hand, but because it was a mix we made, it felt a little more homemade with not much extra effort!

For the side, I wanted to try something a little different, so I searched for ideas with mexican spiced potatoes and after looking at many ideas, I found a recipe for us to try.

These potatoes had a nice flavor, but I was hoping for more of a kick with them. So, next time, I’m going to probably adjust the spices a good bit or even try putting some of the Taco Seasoning in there with the recipe.

Mexican Roasted Potatoes
Adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet

Ingredients

  • 5 medium russet potatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to sprinkle on top)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard
  • 1 lime, juiced (or more to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients, except the potatoes and lime in a jar and shake to thoroughly mix ingredients (or whisk in a bowl).
  3. Pour your diced potatoes into a jelly roll pan, and toss with the oil mixture. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Roast for about 40 minutes, until the potatoes are well cooked, and browning on the edges. Take out of the oven, and sprinkle the juice of one lime over it. Taste test, and add more lime juice or salt, if needed and serve.

The Skinny - per serving, serves 6

Calories 250.5
Fat 12.1 g
Fiber 4 g

The start of the Fall

I know Fall isn’t until nearly the end of September, but to me, Fall is when the weather changes to cooler mornings, football season starts and the cravings for everything pumpkin become imminent. Fall is here!

Another thing I associate with fall is darker, richer colors. So, this year, since I no longer have my blonde color to maintain for the wedding, I decided to darken up to my natural hair color. :)

Here’s a before, on my wedding day. It has since grown massive roots and lost a bit of its luster…standard with hair color though.

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After

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I think this is a good look for me. She didn’t even have to use harsh highlighting paste, so my hair won’t be as damaged this time around. :)

Here’s to pumpkin spice Starbucks, changing leaves and fresh new hair!

Chicken Scallopini

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I’ve always been curious about the taste of capers. I’ve never had them, but this recipe for Chicken Scallopini really caught my eye. My husband and I usually stick to the same old recipes, but I thought this would be a nice change from the usual.

I ended up putting the heat way too high on the skillet, partially burning the coating on the chicken without cooking it all the way through. So, I had to put the breasts in the oven for 10-15 minutes afterwards. I’m still learning how to cook, so these mistakes do happen for me. Sadly, putting them in the oven killed the crunch that I think the dish was supposed to have from the bread crumb coating.

The flavor of the chicken and sauce, however, was very good. Turns out, I love capers and I can’t wait to use them again! I served these with Creamy Parmesan Orzo (a must try!) and green beans.

Chicken Scallopini
Source: Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2  teaspoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/3  cup  Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4  cup  dry white wine
  • 4  teaspoons  capers
  • 1  tablespoon  butter

Directions:

  1. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Brush chicken with juice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in breadcrumbs.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove from pan; keep warm.
  3. Add broth and wine to pan, and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in capers and butter.

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I thought it would be cute to call the nutritional information from now on, The Skinny. I’m sure it’s unoriginal, but I like it. :) I will also no longer calculate POINTS on here, since I’ve been reading that a few food bloggers are getting in trouble with Weight Watchers for calculating these. I am, however, including the information necessary for you to use online/paper POINTS calculators if need be. :)
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The Skinny – Per serving, serves 4
Calories: 206
Fat: 4.6 g
Fiber: 0.6 g

New plan: I’m quitting…

I hate that word: quitting. It sounds like I’m giving up when essentially I’m doing the opposite (just saving a little $$).

I am quitting my membership with the YMCA. I haven’t been there in over a month, and it’s always crazy crowded that I feel worried about getting in my full work-outs. I also only went twice/week. I wasn’t at all getting my $40/month worth, so I’ll be working out using other means.

  1. Couch to 5K -I haven’t done this in about a year but I had great weight loss and training results from it!
  2. 30 Day Shred – Of course, who could exclude the ever-so-fabulous SHRED!
  3. Weight Loss Yoga – A new DVD for me, but I really need to work on flexibility and balance. I figure Bob could help me!

Since I could really use some dieting motivation (stupid ice cream/snowball season), I’m going to (temporarily) go back to Weight Watchers meetings. There is a buy one, get one month free promotion going on that I can’t pass up! :)

I’ll continue to use my Lose It! app for food logging as well, which I LOVE! It’s a free app for iPhones…seriously get this app folks! Food logging couldn’t be easier!

Chipotle-Honey Glazed Chicken

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The minute I saw this chicken on Smells Like Home, I starred it for a later date. Not only is it a Bobby Flay recipe, but it looked healthy too!

I have to say, this was the best chicken recipe I’ve ever made to date. It was so flavorful and the spice wasn’t too over-powering for me. It was also simple and basically like BBQ-ing on a grill. Since we were out of propane for our grill, I made this inside on the cast iron grill. :) I served it with Green Bean Casserole and some garlic bread. Perfection!

Chipotle-Honey Glazed Chicken
Source: Bobby Flay via Smells Like Home

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp pureed canned chipotle chilies in adobo
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2″ thickness
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp chopped chives

Directions:

Heat your grill to high.

Whisk together the honey, chipotle puree, mustard, 1 tbsp ancho powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp oil in a small bowl. I just threw it all in the food processor to blend it well.

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Stir together the remaining ancho powder with the coriander, cumin, and paprika in another medium bowl.  Add the chicken breasts, the remaining oil, and toss to coat.  Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Place the chicken on the grill and grill for 3-4 minutes.  Flip the chicken and brush the pieces with the honey-chipotle sauce.  Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.  Flip the chicken again and brush the other side with the sauce; cook for 1 more minute.    Flip once more and cook for another minute. Remove chicken from the grill and brush on more sauce as desired. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cilantro, and chives before serving.