Hot Pepper (Jalapeno) Jelly

Ever since moving to California, I have had a very hard time finding hot pepper jelly. I love to serve hot pepper jelly on top of cream cheese to serve with crackers — great savory sweet flavors. So, I decided I should make a bunch of it to always have on hand. This recipe that I found here, was good, but honestly, it should use more spice. Will post it exactly how I made it, but I would recommend another jalapeno, or 2, when making this.


  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 1 cups white vinegar
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 bottle liquid pectin


Use rubber gloves to handle jalapeno peppers. Remove seeds and put all peppers in a food processor — run until peppers are completely processed, about 15-20 seconds. Transfer peppers and juice to a large pot. Slowly boil pepper, vinegar and sugar for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add liquid pectin and boil hard for 1 minute. Pour into sterilized half pint jars to within 1/2 inch of top. Put on cap and screw band firmly tight. Process in boiling water bath 5 minutes. Makes 5 half pints.

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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Canning


Superbowl quality Mac and Cheese!

Every year I got nuts cooking for the superbowl — this year was no different. One of the things I made was mac and cheese. For me, I never like to try new recipes with guest — I like to have tried it first, but hey, I was daring that day. This recipe was weird for me as this was the first recipe I have ever made that really did not include baking. That is to say, this was a cooktop mac and cheese. I got the recipe from The New Best Recipe, which is one of my favorite cookbooks. I made a few modifications which I will note here. But, in the end, it was amazing — so much so that I got MANY requests for the recipe :-). (Note: I personally believe that mac and cheese should be made with shells — none of this elbow nonsense.)


  • 1 lb shell pasta
  • 1 Tbs salt, 1 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbs flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 5 cups milk (this works well with non-fat milk, which is what I used, but use any milk)
  • 8 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • 6 slices of bread (I used my homemade sourdough)
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter


Bread crumbs: Tear bread into small pieces and then throw it into a food processor with the 3 Tbs of butter. Pulse until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch. This is about 10-15 1 second pulses. Set aside.

Mac and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle portion and heat broiler (this is just to crisp the bread crumb topping). Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil (I never measure the amount of water…just a big pot of water). I would recommend using a dutch oven-type pot or a pot that can go directly from stovetop to oven – my All Clad and Le Cruset pots allow me to do this. Add shells and 1 Tbs salt…stir. Cook until pasta is tender (better to overcook here than undercook). Drain. In that same dutch oven pot, heat butter over medium-high heat until it forms. Add flour, mustard and cayenne pepper and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until fragrant and deeper in color, about a minute, and then add milk (still whisking) until it comes to a boil (make sure it comes to a boil!). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cheeses and 1 tsp salt until the cheese is fully melted and incorporated. Add in the pasta and cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and headed through, about 6 minutes.

If you have a oven-safe pot, just add the bread crumbs to the top of the mac and cheese. If not, transfer mac and cheese to a broiler safe baking dish and add bread crumbs to the top. Broil until the crumbs are deep golden brown, 3-5 minutes. (Really watch this as mine burnt the first time…it REALLY is only a couple of minutes.) Cool and serve.

Sorry, I don’t have pictures of this as I wasn’t expecting it to be such a hit.

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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Dinner


Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

I recently posted about spinach pasta – yes, I know it was only a few minutes ago but in reality, I made that and took the pictures months ago! Last night, I decided to see if I could substitute the spinach with other vegetables. Roasted red peppers were it and it worked out wonderfully! Now, I made raviolis with the pasta, but the dough will be the same regardless of how you decide to shape it.


  • 2 fresh red peppers
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


Cut the peppers in half and roast them in the over at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes — I put a little oil on the bottom of glass pyrex I used to avoid sticking. Let cool. The, in a food processor, combine red peppers, eggs and salt. Process until smooth. Gradually add enough flour to make a firm, but not sticky, dough. On a floured surface, knead about 20 times. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes. Roll out your pasta in any way that fits you. (Picture attached is of my raviolis, but shows texture of the pasta).

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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Dinner


Spinach pasta – An easy way to eat your greens

I have been having fun making my own pastas. I know many people say you don’t need a pasta maker (really, they mean the automatic rollers), but I did. I am not good with a rolling pin and thus before I got the rollers, my pasta was just super thick and unmanageable. But, many people can do it so power to you! For me, I got the Kitchen Aid attachments for my mixer and they work perfectly!


  • 1 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour


In a food processor, combine spinach, eggs and salt. Process until smooth. Gradually add enough flour to make a firm, but not sticky, dough. On a floured surface, knead about 20 times. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.

Divide your dough into manageable pieces — small enough for the pasta roller. Feed the dough into the flattener (don’t know if that is actually what it is called). Once the pieces are flat, I feed them into the fettuccine slicer. This is where most people can just roll each piece of dough out i to 1/16 inch thickness pieces. Then they cut into 1/4-inch slices.

Regardless of how you got here, separate the slices and let rest on a clean towel for at least 1 hour. Cook noodles in boiling salted water until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and eat.

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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Dinner


Only the good Stuff(ed) Peppers

I grew up on stuffed peppers — they were definitely one of my favorite things my mom used to make! However, for the first time tonight, I decided to branch out from the standard way I am used to making them. As most of you who have been following this blog recently know, I am getting married in 2.5 weeks and for the past two months, I have really focused on eating healthier. So, tonight, I was trying to figure out how I could make my favorite peppers with less carbs (rice) and more veggies :-). Total success! Enjoy!!

1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
10 oz sliced mushrooms
14 oz can of artichokes hearts, chopped (if you have the patience to get fresh ones, go for it! Work night so I didn’t have time)
1 large clove of garlic, chopped (I would have done more but Rob doesn’t like it)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 lb ground turkey or beef (can be made without for my veggie friends out there :-))
1/4-1/2 cup of cheese (we used mozzarella)
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (I did about 1 tsp)
4-6 red or green peppers, washed
Tomato sauce (this is the only case where I prefer the blandest sauce I can find so I can really taste the peppers…Hunt tomato sauce works great here)

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Cook rice via your preferred method. I use a rice cooker — 1 cup rice and 2 cups of water, press on 🙂

Cook ground meat and pour off fat when it is done.

Put oil and sliced mushrooms in a frying pan. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add chopped onions and garlic and cook until water from mushrooms cooks off — about 10 more minutes. Add artichokes and cook about 2 minutes, stirring everything together. Add salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes.

Add meat and rice into pan with cooked vegetables. Mix everything together. Finally, add cheese and mix again. This will be the “stuff” for your peppers.

Cut the tops off your red or green (or really any color you want) peppers. Using a spoon, stuff the pepper as tightly as you can until it reaches the top of the pepper. Do this with all peppers.

Pour the tomato sauce into the casserole dish. Then, put all peppers into a casserole dish, standing upward. Put the tops of the pepper back on the pepper. Cook for about 40 minutes or until the peppers are fully me, if the peppers aren’t cooked throughly, you will regret it. I served with fresh chopped parsley, basil, and oregano.


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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Dinner


My favorite Banana Bread

Over the years, I have made at least 20 different banana breads. I will say, this recipe from “The New Best Recipe” is my favorite. I definitely have made some changes, but I use this as a base every time. Below is how I make it, but here is a link that I found to the one in this book.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (then a little more for dusting the greased pan)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (I use a heaping 1/4 cup of lowfat yogurt)
2 large eggs
5 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract (again, I use an overflowing tsp as I love vanilla)

Directions Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan — I use Pam spray. Dust with flour, tapping out all of the excess.

Put flour, sugar, baking soda and salt into a bowl and whisk ingredients together.

Get another bowl and put in bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla. I either use a wooden spoon or even my hands and just mash it all together until there are no big chunks of banana left. Then, pour this banana mixture into the dry ingredients bowl. Fold the contents with a rubber spatula until just combined — the batter will look thick and chunky. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The recipes says about 55 minutes, but I have never found this to be the case — generally 1 hour 10 min. When done, remove from the over and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack. Can be served warm or a room temperature.

Sometimes, I add either chocolate chips or craisons to the bread. To do this, I would add 3/4 – 1 cup of either of those during the folding process. Both make an excellent additions! (As you can tell, I don’t like nuts in my bread, but it is always fun to have some additional taste in the bread. These two are perfect!)

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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in Bread, Breakfast


Asian Ginger Grill Marinade – great for kabobs on the grill

At this point, I think most of you know Rob and I are really trying to eat healthy prior to our wedding. So, last night, we were looking to make a grilled chicken and vegetables, but I really needed something with flavor. I so searched for a ginger-based marinade (as I love the ginger flavor) and I found this. Unfortunately, we only had time to marinate our chicken and vegetables for about 3 hours, but it still tasted great. When I do it over again, will marinate for about 12-24 hours. Enjoy!

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbs honey
2 tbs sesame oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs grated fresh ginger root
1 tbs chopped green onion or shallot
1 tbs raw sesame seeds
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, green onion, sesame seeds, and pepper until the honey has dissolved.

This made about a cup of marinade and we were able to marinate 2 chicken breasts, 2 red peppers and half an onion in this.

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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Marinades


Spicy green beans – my recreation of my favorite PF Changs green beans

While I know this may be a controversial statement, I love PF Changs. Often times, I try to recreate some of my favorite menu items, like these spicy green beans. I have seen some versions that include sesame oil, but I try to keep oil to a minimum.

1 tbs peanut oil
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1/2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
1/2 – 1 lbs fresh green beans, trimmed
1 tsp sugar
2 tbs dry sherry
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbs cold water


Add peanut oil to a wok or fry pan and heat until hot but not smoking. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add green bean and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes — make sure green beens are dry before adding them to the oil or the skins won’t cook like they are supposed to. Add sugar, sherry, salt, red pepper and soy sauce and stir-fry another minute. Combine cornstarch and water and add to beans. Cook until mixture thickens. Serve warm or at room temperature.



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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Side dish


Garlic brussels sprouts – easy side dish when you don’t have lots of time

I was looking for a good vegetable to make with a recent chicken dish I was planning. I don’t know about you, but I hate wasting food so I wanted to use up ingredients that were in my chicken that were not fully used. In this case, it was the chicken broth. I liked that this recipe would use my leftover broth. I will say, this made a great overall meal!

1 1/2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs butter
2 teaspoons olive
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Cut the ends off each brussels sprout and then cut them in half; set aside. In a large saucepan, saute garlic in 1 tbs butter and oil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Add sprouts; toss to coat. Add the broth, salt and pepper; cover and cook for 12-14 minutes or until sprouts are tender.

Inspiration for thie recipe found here.

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Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Side dish


Baked lemon and mushroom chicken – great when you have little time!

I was going to be coming home from work late one day and was looking for a quick and tasty chicken. This was absolutely the perfect chicken!

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon
1 tbs butter
3 cups fresh sliced mushrooms (I used portabella mushrooms)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the olive oil in an 8×8 glass baking dish. Place the chicken breasts in the dish, coating each side with oil. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over all. Slice the rest of the lemon and place a lemon slice on top of each chicken piece. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until brown.

In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the sliced mushrooms. Cook and stir until the mushrooms are brown and have exuded their juices, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and blend. Add the chicken broth, stirring to make a medium thick sauce. Allow to reduce, adjusting with a little more broth to make a creamy sauce. Add fresh parsley at the last minute. Spoon the sauce over the lemon baked chicken breasts.

I served this with some garlic brussels sprouts — great overall meal!

Recipe inspiration from here.

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Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Dinner