Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pepper Jelly

At the end of any growing season, we usually end up with tons of produce we are desperate to find a use for. That's when it's time to have fun. A few years ago we found this recipe online for pepper jelly and it has become a staple in our pantry. Sadly, it's been so long that I have no idea where I found this. If anybody can tell me, I'll gladly give credit where credit is due. This is a great recipe. Even with hot peppers it is still nice and sweet. We've used it on every thing from toast to pork roast. It makes a great glaze. It's a bit labor intensive, but totally worth the effort. Give it a try. As always, notes are in blue.

Pepper Jelly

  • 2-1/2 cups finely chopped red bell peppers
  • 1-1/4 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/4 cups finely chopped jalapeno peppers (other peppers can be substituted depending on whether or not you want to bring the heat. Go banana pepper to keep it sweet, swap in a ghost pepper to really tear shit up)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered pectin
  • 5 cups white sugar
  1. Get yourself 6 sterilized half pint jars. Just chuck them in the boiling water canner while you're working and all will be good.
  2. Place  peppers in a large, nonreactive saucepan over high heat. Mix in vinegar and fruit pectin. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Quickly stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil, and boil exactly 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and skim off any foam (when it says 2 minutes it MEANS 2 minutes. I've ended up totally ruining jellies by screwing up the timing. Also, don't blow off the part where you skim the foam. This shit's an exact science, and you'll likely end up with syrup instead of jelly if it goes wrong)
  3. Quickly ladle jelly into sterile jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the tops. Cover with flat lids, and screw on bands tightly.   
  4. Process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Set on a rack to cool and await the satisfying clunk noise when the can seals. As always, check with the National Center For Home Food Preservation to make sure you don't accidentally kill anyone.
Good Times!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Potentially Irresponsible Hot Pickled Green Tomatoes

     It's the end of the season. That means I've got an assload of green tomatoes and I need to find ways to use them. Last year I made some chow-chow which I thought was absolutely nasty. Fortunately, a co-worker loved it so it all found a home. We really enjoyed the hot pickles we've made in the past, so we decided on hot pickled tomatoes. The irresponsible part came about when I decided I'd just chuck the bulk of my surplus peppers in with the tomatoes. I'm going to tell you right now, I haven't tasted these. They're canned and marinating for now. If I eat them, I'll update you. Just know that if you make these and they suck or make your asshole fall out, don't come crying to me. This recipe will yield a bit over six QUARTS of pickled excitement.

Potentially Irresponsible
Hot Pickled Green Tomatoes
based on a recipe from Southern Living Little Jars, Big Flavors

  • 5 pounds green tomatoes (cut medium ones into quarters, large into eights)
  • 2 red onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 pounds assorted banana peppers (sweet or hot, your choice) stemmed and sliced into 1/2" in rounds
  • 2 pounds assorted hot peppers (I went batshit crazy and did a mix of cayenne, jalapeno and Thai bird), stemmed and sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 8 tsp canning and pickling salt, divided 
  • 8 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • garlic cloves
  • bay leaves
  1. Sterilize a half dozen quart jars. 
  2. Get a huge bowl, (I'm not kidding. The biggest you can find).
    That's right. We used a punch bowl. 
    Throw all the veggies in there with 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons of the salt). Toss all that to get the salt incorporated. Wait about half an hour then drain off all the water that built up in the bottom of the bowl. Toss the veggies again to make sure everything is evenly distributed. You don't want a jar of one tomato and the rest hot peppers (maybe you do. HILARIOUS!) Spill some. Make a mess. Swear a bunch and curse ever following my blog.
  3. In a nonreactive pan, add vinegar, water, sugar and remaining salt. Bring to a boil until sugar and salt have dissolved. Lower the heat to low. Just keep the liquid hot.
  4. In each quart jar add a bay leaf, a couple garlic cloves, a teaspoon of mustard seed and a teaspoon of pickling spice. Cram as much of the veggie mix into the jar as you can, keeping 1/2" headspace. Add hot liquid to jars until veggies are covered. Make sure to keep that 1/2" headspace.
  5. Seal jars and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes (as always, double check with the National Center for Home Food Preservation to ensure you're not going to end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit)
  6. Set jars on a cooling rack and hope you hear the thunking noise that lets you know the jars sealed. If they didn't you can either try reboiling them or put all the jars in the fridge for later use (don't be a dummy and put super hot jars into the fridge unless you're a big fan of replacing your shelves).
Good times!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Pork Hat Trick

     Man, do I love pork. I love pork in all its wonderful forms. It's so versatile; you can eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Granted, the same could be said for Cap'n Crunch, but there you have it. I have been wanting to do some form of goofy pork loin in the smoker for a while now. I figured pork inside pork wrapped in pork was the way to go. This recipe, due to time and labor, qualifies as a certified Pain In The Ass. Mind you, it's totally worth it. I apologize in advance for the vagueness about cooking time. If you're using a smoker, you've already committed to a big hunk of time. Just check the temp regularly. Throw some chicken on the smoker, too. That will be ready before the pork so you'll have something to snack on. See how I take care of you? What do I get for it? Heartache. You're driving me to an early grave.

The Pork Hat Trick

  1. With a fillet or other sharp knife, butterfly the pork loin. How do you butterfly a pork loin? Follow this handy link to a fine set of instructions (that I did not write). You should end up with a 1/2" or so thick rectangle of pork.
  2. Spread a layer of the mustard pepper relish evenly across the pork.
  3. Spread the pork sausage in an even layer over the relish.
    I suppose you could just chuck it in the oven and bake it at this point.
  4. Sprinkle with the dried rosemary. 
  5. Here's where things get fun. Roll up the loin, jelly-roll style. Then, wrap it with the bacon. Use what ever method you'd like for the bacon, weave it, drape it, you pick. Once you have the bacon situated, take some butcher's twine and go full bondage on that bad boy. You don't want it unraveling. Wipe down the twine with olive oil to keep the twine from burning.
    50 Shades of Pork
  6. Sprinkle the rub onto the roast. If you don't have Uncle Joe's you're missing out and will have to use something else.
  7. Get that bad boy out to your smoker. Smoke the loin until an instant read thermometer gives you around 160F. Occasionally spray the loin with apple juice to keep it moist. I smoked mine for three or so hours. Can't say for sure. I was drinking. Time may depend on how hot your smoker is running. Alternately, throw it in the oven at 375F until the desired temp is reached. 
  8. Once the desired internal temperature is reached, take it off the heat and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. It's been through a lot and needs time to collect itself. Congratulate yourself on a job well done with your sixth Jim Beam and Mr. Pibb of the day.
  9. After resting, slice that bastard up and eat until you're sick. Which is entirely possible if you didn't cook it long enough.
Good times!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Slow Cooker Pork Loin and Sweet Potatoes in Beer and Tomato Preserves

     You can never go wrong with pork loin for $1.49 a pound. I wound up buying about 25 pounds. This is super handy because you throw a two or three pound hunk in a slow cooker and magic happens. I had been considering using some surplus tomato preserves with a pork loin for a while now. I figured the sweet onions and sweet potatoes would work nicely with the preserves and they do! I like to just mash the potatoes in with the meat and start shoveling it in. Granted, I have no manners or class. As always, notes are in blue.

Slow Cooker Pork Loin and Sweet Potatoes
in Beer and Tomato Preserves

  • 2-3 pound pork loin
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 large sweet onion, quartered
  • 1 can beer (I used Old Style)
  • 1/2 pint tomato preserves (we made our own. If you need a recipe, give this one a try )
  1. Load pork loin in 5-6 quart slow cooker. 
  2. Arrange potatoes and onions around loin.
  3. Pour in beer. Pour preserves over the loin.
  4. Cook on LOW for 7 hours (the potatoes will be a bit mushy. If you like them a little more firm, wait a couple hours before you add them to the cooker)
Good Times!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fettuccine with Tomato and Artichoke Cream Sauce

     So being a Daddy is taking up exactly as much time as I expected, which is why updates are few and far between around here! I am trying to make up for it by posting more completely original recipes. We've been trying to use up the last of our garden's tomatoes, so I figured a nice tomato cream sauce would be a good idea. I added a few other veggies and a touch of seasoning and ended up with a real winner. The Wife had the brilliant idea to add the red pepper flakes. This was a stroke of genius as I think the sauce may have been a touch too bland otherwise. The spot of heat really adds depth to this dish. This will definitely end up in our regular rotation. There's a lot of flexibility here. You can probably swap in or out most veggies and the addition of shrimp or chicken wouldn't be amiss, either! As always, notes are in blue.

Fettuccine with Tomato
and Artichoke Cream Sauce

  • 1 pound tomatoes, roughly chopped (or two 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 2 large scallions, chopped
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 12-ounce can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Bridgeport seasoning from Spice House (follow the link to see what's in there)
  • bunch of fresh basil, chopped (or 1 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sautee 1-2 minutes, being careful to not let garlic get too brown.
  2. Add scallions and sautee another minute or two. Add mushrooms and continue to sautee for 2-3 more minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and artichokes. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Lower heat a bit and add cream, cheese, pepper flakes, seasoning and basil. Cook on a very low simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Cook pasta aldente and drain.
  6. Either toss pasta with sauce or serve a liberal amount of sauce over the pasta, whichever you prefer. 
Good times!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Spud's Choice Hot Noggin Sauce

     First, a couple clarifications. We did NOT give any hot sauce to our The Spud. Also, for those who like to needlessly panic, that's a sweet red banana pepper on her noggin'. We know better than to handle our little tater with hot peppery hands. To review: No Spuds were harmed in the making of this sauce. This particular sauce came about as an attempt to use up surplus peppers. I chose only red colored peppers since that was what I had the most of. I ended up with what can best be described as a sriracha variant. The sauce starts sweet and a bit garlicky, then you get a serious punch of heat that quickly levels off before slowly fading. Much like sriracha, I see this being a multipurpose sauce, topping everything from eggs to meats. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Spud's Choice
Hot Noggin Sauce
(yields just shy of 3 half pint jars)
  • 1 cup cayenne peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup red jalapeno or Serrano peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup bird or Thai peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup red banana peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons seasoning salt
  1. Load peppers and garlic into a food processor. Blend until a thick paste (the peppers, not you)
  2. Dump the peppers into a nonreactive pot. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate.
  3. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. If you plan to use the sauce right away, you're done. It will keep in the fridge for a couple weeks. If you plan to can the sauce, proceed to the next step.
  5. Load sauce into 1/2 pint jars, leaving about 1/4" headspace. Seal with a 2 piece lid. Place in boiling water bath for 12 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool. As always, make sure to refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for useful tips on how not to accidentally poison your friends and family.
Good times!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Slow Cooker Rice Pudding

     I've been cooking some pretty unsightly food of late. This particular recipe is no exception. Granted, rice pudding isn't much to look at even on a good day, so I've got that going for me. I have always been a huge fan of rice pudding, and once I made some changes, it was exactly how I remembered it as a kid. If you've got a rice cooker, this recipe is super easy. Cook the rice, mix in the other ingredients, and done. I'm pleased with the addition of sweetened condensed milk. I think without it, this would not have been sweet enough and we would have had vaguely coconut flavored mushy rice. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Slow Cooker Rice Pudding
via Slow Cooker Magic in Minutes

  • 2 cups water 
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • (if you're using a rice cooker, you only need one cup of water and one cup of rice. You can omit the butter and salt)
  • 18 ounces of evaporated milk (we only had 12 ounce cans, so we used one of those)
  • 14 ounces cream of coconut (nope. We used a 14 ounce can of coconut milk instead)
  • 1/2 can (7 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (you can also use regular old raisins. Nobody will notice or care)
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • peel of 2 limes (omitted, we used 1 tablespoon of Rose's Lime Juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • toasted shredded coconut (optional) 
  1. Place water, rice, butter and salt in medium saucepan. Bring to rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 10 -12 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand five minutes.
    (I just pissed this step off entirely. I ignored the butter and salt and just threw 1 cup each of rice and water into my rice cooker and wandered off for 20 minutes)
  2. Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add milk, coconut liquid of choice, raisins, egg yolks, lime and vanilla. Mix. Throw in the rice and mix it all together.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours. Stir every 30 minutes (it's not the end of the world if you can't. You just may get a couple crunchy spots at the bottom)
Good times!