A tangy, yet spicy jelly on top of a mild cheese is such a wonderful appetizer. I’ve enjoyed many of these appetizers through the years but Christmas 2021, I made my own! After the epic fail of Grape Jalapeno jam a few years ago, I was a little nervous. Never fear, this recipe is a winner! Other than cleaning and chopping the jalapenos, this was an easy recipe and yielded 7 half pints of Jelly and a little more to enjoy immediately! It was wonderful on top of cream cheese or brie. It would be marvelous with chicken or fish, too.
It you make homemade Christmas gifts, I would highly recommend this for friends and family!
Cranberry Pepper Jelly
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (I used a 12 oz. package of fresh cranberries)
1 cup jalapeno
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
4 cups sugar
6 tbsp. Ball RealFruit™ Low or No-Sugar Pectin
Sort & wash cranberries. Measure pectin and add 1/2 cup sugar to it.
Add vinegar and water to large stock pot.
Chop and remove seeds from jalapenos. 1 cup of jalapenos makes a fairly mild jelly.
Add peppers and cranberries to the vinegar and water to pan.
Bring to boil.
Simmer for about 10 minutes until everything is soft.
Strain out the cranberries and pepper mixture with a slotted spoon to a food processor or blender.
Blend until very smooth. (you can add some of the liquid from the pan to help break up the cranberries and peppers, if you need to)
Return to the saucepan.
Add sugar/pectin mixture. Bring to rolling boil.
Add the remainder of the sugar.
Bring back to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute.
Fill hot jam into hot jars.
Attach lids. Tighten bands finger tip tight.
Process in water bath canning pot for 15 minutes. Turn of heat, allow jars to sit in hot water for at least 5 minutes.
Cooking with Chef Lucas during the COVID lockdown and cautionary period was a bright light in during dark days. Our family came together to cook together and enjoy a wonderful meal of unique dishes. Mint and Cheese Greek Pies did not disappoint. Thanks to Chef Lucas and InVINtions for offering such a great program and helping our family create wonderful memories.
Sungold cherry tomatoes have become our family’s favorite tomatoes, eating them off the wine as a treat. They are so sweet and incredibly delicious. Just perfect for Cherry Tomato Jam.
Each year I seem to have an abundance of tomatoes, making salads with them, roasting them with peppers and garlic and much more. Tomato Jam recipes were popping up this year and I decided to try it. It’s so easy and delicious. I haven’t tried to can it because it disappears from the frig long before the expiration date. Serve it on a crusty bread or on top of a soft cheese. I also made a Grilled Cheese with a schmeer of tomato jam. YUMMO!
CHERRY TOMATO JAM
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/3 cup) 3 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 32 ounces (2 lbs.) cherry tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pints) 1/4 cup water 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 large spring thyme 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel or non-reactive pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until softened.
Add the chili powder and smoked paprika and sauté 30 seconds more.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until the tomatoes burst and thicken, for about 10-15 minutes. If at any time the pan becomes dry and the tomatoes begin to burn, add a tablespoon or two more of water and reduce the heat a bit more.
Remove from heat and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 10-14 days.
During the holidays there are so many parties and potlucks and it’s fun to make something that people remember. Charlene, an AT&T co-worker, shared this recipe several years ago after she brought this to one of our office potlucks.
The first time I made it, I had the snowman standing upright. Big mistake, no one wanted to dip into it and have Mr. Snowman tumble. Give Mr. Snowman a rest on a platter and surround him with crackers. He’ll be a big hit!
SNOWMAN CHEESE DIP
1 tub whipped cream cheese
2-8 ounce bars cream cheese
4 ounces dried beef, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 tablespoon dried parsley
bunch of green onions
Mix cream cheese bars and chopped dried beef. Add chopped green onions (white part only). Blend in garlic, horseradish and parsley.
Form into 3 balls (small, medium and large) using waxed paper. Stack into snowman shape using a toothpick to attach. (NOTE: I lay the snowman down on the platter)
Spread whipped cream cheese over snowman using wet knife. Garish and serve with crackers, carrots, pretzels.
rosemary branches or broken pretzel twists for arms
Spring brings wonderful strawberries to the markets. Honey goat cheese pairs beautifully with strawberries and with a hint of honey drizzle, you have a very simple, delicious appetizer (or dessert). Yummy!
STRAWBERRY HONEY GOAT CHEESE BITES
1 dozen large strawberries
8 oz. package Honey Goat Cheese (I use Haystack)
Wash, stem and halve strawberries.
Allow them to dry on paper towels.
Place a small piece of Honey Goat Cheese on top of strawberry and drizzle with honey.
Quarterly book club review of the book, The Chile Queen by Sandra Dallas, was big hit. She has become one of my favorite authors. Our book review is always preceded by our favorite part of the evening, the themed potluck. This time the theme is Southwest and the main dish included four different versions of Chile with cornbread. What to make to compliment chile? I found this recipe from Paula Deen, which I altered to suit my taste, and loved the results. It has made me think there are even more creative ideas for for delicious deviled egg.
12 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons salsa (I used home-made Salsa)
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped green onion, plus more for garnish, optional
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Halve eggs lengthwise. Remove yolks and add to a small bowl.
Mash the yolks with a fork and stir in the mayonnaise, cheese, salsa, sour cream, green onion, and cumin.
Add salt and pepper, to taste, and blend well.
Fill the egg whites evenly with yolk mixture and garnish with additional green onions, if desired.
Arrange in a container and store, covered in the refrigerator, until ready to serve.
Brie and Blackberries is like a slice of heaven. For my last meal, I would definitely choose Brie and a bowl of berries so this recipe sounded perfect to me! It’s relatively simple to make. Delicious addition to my recipe box!
You’ll notice a glimpse of Fancy Schmancy Asparagus to the right as well. I used 1/2 of the crescent rolls to make the Blackberry Brie Bites and the other half for the Asparagus. Win, win!
BLACKBERRY BRIE BITES
1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (8 oz.)
1 round Brie Cheese (8 oz.)
1/4 cup blackberry jelly or jam
24 fresh blackberries
24 large toothpicks (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Separate the crescent rolls into 4 rectangles. Press the seams together and cut into 6 even squares. Press into 24 mini muffin tins.
Cut the rind off the Brie. Cut into 24 small squares. Place one square into each crescent lined tins. Spoon a small amount of blackberry jelly/jam on top of each cheese square. Fold the tips of the crescent rolls over, if desired.
Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with a fresh blackberry on a toothpick. Serve immediately.
Tender stalks of asparagus at the store are a sign that Spring is upon us (or at least we hope it is). This recipe for Asparagus Tapenade has been in my stack of ‘must try’ recipes for a long time. I wish I could remember where the recipe came from so I could give proper credit.
Asparagus Tapenade is a great recipe for anyone, but is a tasty treat for those practicing a Vegan or Vegetarian diet.
I served the Tapenade with vegetables and bits of bread. It was great with both but I LOVED it on artisan bread.
1 pound asparagus (thick spears work fine)
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil or fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, optional
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Bring pan of water to boil over high heat.
Rinse and trim ends from asparagus, then cut in 1 – 2 inch pieces.
Add asparagus to water, return water to boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook until just soft and still bright green, about three minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium high, stirring occasionally, watching carefully to avoid burning.
Add remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and cooked asparagus. Pulse until thoroughly blended but still roughly chopped.
Transfer to clean container and refrigerate until fully chilled. Serve with crackers, vegetables and/or on crostini/bread.
Hot Wing Dip came into my life thanks to oldest daughter Megan’s friend, Jacqui. It was instant love for both of us, although Megan prefers Ranch dressing vs. Blue Cheese dressing. Either way, it’s a hearty appetizer that is great to share at a potluck, tailgate, Olympics gathering, or just because! This time I split the recipe into two 8×8″ or 9×9″ casseroles to share at different events.
Hot Wing Dip has the same impact as hot wings but 1) not as messy and 2) easier to prepare. What’s not to love?
HOT WING DIP
2 bricks cream cheese, softened
16 oz. bottle Franks red-hot BUFFALO sauce
16 oz. bottle Blue Cheese dressing (or Ranch dressing)
6-8 cooked chicken breasts (depending on if you like it creamier or a bit drier)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
Bake or steam the chicken, cool. Cut into smaller pieces. At this point you can either shred the chicken or place in a food processor to chop.
Combine chicken with cream cheese, sauce, dressing and 1/2 of chopped green onions (white portion). Sprinkle top of dip with chopped green portion of onions. Place in greased 9×13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes.
Serve hot with corn or tortilla chips, Ritz crackers, and celery.