Pepper Jelly

To many, this must sound foul. “Ew, pepper jelly?” Let me tell you something, something very important.

It’s not ew.

As I mentioned in my about page, I love odd foods like peanut butter and pepper jelly sandwiches. Yay for sweet, salty, and spicy. This recipe makes a slightly vinegar-y jelly, but I still think it is delish. A possible alternative (I haven’t tried it yet) is to replace some of the vinegar, maybe 1/4-1/2 cup, with apple juice, which would mellow the vinegar flavor. So anyways, this jelly can go on anything from crackers, to cheese, to bread, (and peanut butter!), and just about anything that needs a sweet and spicy kick. I think I put it in my black bean soup the other day. I’m mildly obsessed with this stuff.

The ingredients are pretty basic. Peppers, sugar, vinegar. Here’s the scary different part: you can it yourself! Canning is basic; all you need is a giant pot and some clean canning jars. You need to sterilize your cans: simmer them, not boil, at 180 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Fill the cans, then stick ’em in the hot water bath and wait around impatiently patiently.

Making this sweet, spicy, and addictive jelly has never been easier. I just eat it plain sometimes. I hope that isn’t totally weird.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large jalapenos

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    It’s green…and delicious.

  • 1 whole bell pepper (any color)
  • 6 cups sugar-pre measured into a bowl
  • 2 cups white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (I used a mix of both)
  • 1 box powdered pectin or 6 tablespoons from a bulk jar
  • Green or red food coloring, very optional

Directions: 

  1. Remove the tops and seeds of the peppers. If you want spicy jelly, keep seeds from one or two peppers. Put peppers in a food processor with a half of the vinegar. Blend up (or chop by hand and take like 90,000 years). In a largish saucepan put the rest of the vinegar, pectin, and peppers.
  2. Bring to a boil, then add all the sugar at once. It will seem like a ton, but you need all of it. Actually, it IS a ton of sugar. I don’t want to make you believe that six cups of sugar is a small amount, ahaa… Stir until all the sugar is melted. Bring back to a boil, then remove it from the heat. Stir in food coloring. Use only 1-2 drops.
  3. Pour the jelly into sterilized jars, (see above for sterilizing directions) then place the lids on tightly. Place them in a LARGE pot of boiling water-each jar should be covered by two inches of water-and process for 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to touch the insides of the jars after sterilizing. Yucky germs, people.
  4. Let the jars cool overnight. Be careful not to burn yourself making jelly. Don’t be a bozo like me and stick your fingers into boiling jam ’cause you wanna taste it. Be patient. This amazing jelly is well worth the wait.
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I love eating this stuff on a snowflake roll with peanut butter. Amazing.

I got this recipe from this fun little food blog I found while looking for a good pepper jelly recipe. Here’s the original recipe:http://foodbycarrie.blogspot.com/2012/07/jalapeno-jelly-8-half-pint.html

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Random Thoughts #1

I’m at my grandma’s house, sitting on the couch, thinking about the City Turkey. “A City Turkey? Did it taste good?” Nope. I don’t eat bird meat. “Um, what is a City Turkey?” I was getting there! Anyways…

My sister and I were on the Harvard grounds, having a chat about life. At one point, careers came up. I mentioned something along the lines of wildlife rescue when I saw movement in the bushes. A turkey burst out. “A dead one?” No, alive and well, roaming around Harvard. I shrieked with delight (I love turkeys) and mumbled something about how the turkey needed rescuing. We watched it walking around (nobody was giving it a second glance, tell me city residents, are turkeys a common sight?) and eating flowers planted along the buildings. When my dad returned, he recognized the turkey. He said one time he had seen it standing under a bus stop, fearless of the people. It just roams around the whole of Cambridge, living life to the fullest.

I admire this turkey. Fearless, brave, strong. A true city trooper. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me when this little (little?) hero went by. Here he is: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/04/07/turkey-sightings-reported-in-boston-cambridge/ (This might be a different turkey, but…)

Oh, and if you ever happen to visit Cambridge, go to Verna’s. They have amazing donuts. And bring a good pair of sneakers for walking. (Bring good shoes to any city, you usually walk a lot.) I brought my hot pink Nike shoes. Pink makes you walk and run faster. No joke*.

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Pink Shoes!

*Joke

Pumpkin Frappuccino

When you ask people what their favorite thing about fall is, they usually say something about the nice weather, the beautiful colors, and the cozy clothing. My favorite part of fall? Pumpkin flavored everything. Pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin drinks, pumpkin donuts, the list goes on forever. My pumpkin craving usually strikes in July, so I can’t buy anything pumpkin-y. But I can make it.

This drink is sweet, full of pumpkin flavors and spices, and it is so much healthier than something you buy at a coffee shop. Bonus: it’s cheap. There is no longer a need to break your bank for this frap. Forget Christmas in July.

I want Autumn in July.

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This drink rocks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cold coffee
  • 1 1/4 cups milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions: 

  1. Combine milk, pumpkin, syrup, and spices. Place in a shallow container (the original recipe suggested using an ice cube tray, but I didn’t have any of those lying around) and stick it into the freezer. Freeze until frozen. I let mine freeze overnight.
  2. Once the pumpkin is frozen and the coffee is chilled, dump it into a blender and whip it up. Mine took about 5 minutes to blend up because the blender I used is probably 20 years old. Top your drink off with whipped cream and enjoy. Very delicious. Actually has pumpkin in it.

Sally, from Sally’s Baking Addiction, has been the provider of this amazing recipe. I basically live on her website. Check out the original recipe here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/08/27/skinny-pumpkin-frappuccino/

Tofu and Pineapple Stir Fry

I’m going to warn you before you see the pictures, this stir-fry might look scary. But it’s not, I promise. It is sweet, salty, and soy-saucy, with a thick (not pathetic and watery) sauce. And here’s a big bonus: it’s easy to make. Oh, fast too. Wait, one more thing, it’s versatile. Throw in any vegetables you want, add some protein, and cook up a carb-y side to complete the meal. This recipe was originally made with shrimp, but my mom despises it, so in came the tofu. You could also use chicken, or fish, or hamburger DON’T use hamburger, that was a joke ahaa… Try jazzing this up with some spices! The options are endless. My family can’t complain about this recipe, they love it. If your family turns up their noses to something this good, I’m sorry. They must be hard to feed. I’d probably force feed them.

Here’s to a new meal for the weeknight menu.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 (20 oz) can of pineapple chunks in pineapple juice
  • 1 big square of tofu, diced (or meat of choice)
  • 1 (1lb) bag frozen vegetables (Fresh can also be used. I threw in a mix of both.)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

    DSCN0890

    Yum.

  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Directions: 

  1. Drain pineapple, saving the juice. Take the pineapple juice and mix in the cornstarch and soy sauce.
  2. Cook the tofu until it is slightly golden, about 5-10 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  3. Place the vegetables in the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add the pineapple juice mixture and tofu, then stir until sauce thickens.
  4. Add pineapple chunks and cook until heated. Serve over your favorite type of rice or pasta. I used wild rice. This is a great dinner, and the leftovers make a great lunch, or breakfast. Just whip this up whenever you want something simple, but flavorful. Enjoy.
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The weird gray stuff is wild rice. try it, it’s darn amazing.

I clipped this out of a random magazine ages ago, so uhm, I don’t remember where it came from exactly. All I know is that I didn’t make this up, so I’m not gonna take the credit. Cheers to whoever made it up.

Apple Pie

In my opinion, pie is one of the best desserts ever. The sweet filling is perfectly balanced out by the buttery crust. And of course, warm pie is the perfect companion for a blob of vanilla ice cream. I love watching it melt and drip down my pie. Heaven. I just realized that that sentence sounds a bit weird, but whatever. Warm pie with vanilla ice cream is bliss. You really don’t need to wait for fall to enjoy this pie now. You might be thinking: “What pie?” Apple pie!

This whole pie got eaten in about one day. I’m not going to make this sound like the “best pie recipe ever” because it’s probably not. It’s just pie. But that’s the magic of pie. It doesn’t need to be frilly or fancy to be the ultimate dessert.

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” -David Mamet

Ingredients: 

Filling

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 5-6 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (you can use pink lady, honeycrisp, granny smith, pretty much any apple. I used pink lady and granny smith).
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar

Crust  ~~Crust is not as hard to make as you may think! Make sure your butter, shortening, and water are very cold.

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Directions: 

1. Make the crust before the filling. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Place the butter and shortening in the flour. Use a pastry cutter (or knives and forks) to cut in the butter and shortening. The fats should be no larger than pea sized. Once these ingredients are combined, add the ice water slowly so you don’t add too much. Stop adding water when the dough forms clumps. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, divide it in half, and refrigerate for two hours.

2. For the filling, pour the lemon juice over the apples and mix gently. Combine the spices, flour, and sugar, then pour over the apples. Mix well to coat every apple. ( Here,  I’ll just say apple 100 more times for you. Apple, apple, apple, apple…)

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Working on my lattice top skills. I swear.

3.Take your chilled pie dough and place it on a floured surface. Roll it out until it it can fit into a 9 inch pie pan. Fill your crust with apples; it may seem very full, but that’s fine.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

5. Make a lattice topping, or not. For the lattice top, I strongly recommend you browse another place for directions on how to make one because mine are downright hideous. For a non-lattice top, roll out your dough, then cut out a small design on the top. (If it is sealed up, there will be an explosion.) Place your dough on top and pinch the edges shut. Make it pretty if you want, just don’t ask me for advice.

6. Let the pie bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes.

7. Let the pie cool for about 3-4 hours. Then cut it up and eat a big slice with a scoop of ice cream. It will cure sadness and stress and loneliness, if you enjoy the company of good, homemade apple pie.

Many, many thanks to Sally, from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I followed her recipe for the crust, but changed some ingredients in the filling. If you haven’t seen her blog, visit it. Good food, my friends. Here’s the link for the recipe I piggybacked: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/07/04/salted-caramel-apple-pie/

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If you look in the right hand corner of this picture, you can see the faint outline of a fork. That’s my uncle, going for slice #2.

Homemade Pasta

I like love pasta. It makes a fast, easy, delicious meal that can satisfy vegetarians and meat lovers alike. For the longest time I never dared make my own pasta; it seemed far too daunting, and I was completely content just dumping boxed pasta into boiling water and heating up sauce from a can. But after a while, I got bored. My old favorite meal turned into a fear as my mom announced, “Spaghetti for dinner!” for the millionth time. So I decided to change things. On a free summer day I opened our battered old copy of The Joy of Cooking and flipped to pasta. The simple ingredient list shocked me; I believed that the list would be long, terrifying, and full of unknown ingredients.

I spent the afternoon mixing and rolling and cutting and thinking: “Wow this is so much easier than I thought it would be!” It may be a bit time consuming, but that’s mostly spent waiting, not working. And I promise you, it is worth it. The noodles are fast to cook to al dente perfection. They are tender, but have this perfect bite to them. Not a mushy gross ten minute dinner without any thought. This pasta is full of love (and deliciousness). On your next free weekend, make this. If you have kids that refuse to eat long evil worms, cut it into hearts. It’s so versatile. Make pink Alfredo sauce. Go wild. Or make plain old red sauce and be boring (me). Any way you have it, you’ll love it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour  (Don’t pack it too hard!)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (Optional)*
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (Optional)*

Directions: 

  1. Mound the flour onto your counter. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, oil, and salt. Beat the eggs well, then slowly start incorporating the flour. Be careful of eggs spilling out of your flour dam.
  2. Keep combing the ingredients until it forms into a ball. (It sticks to your fingers, I know.) If the dough is too goopey add some more flour. Once it is at an easy to knead consistency, knead it for about ten minutes or until the dough is very elastic.
  3. Divide the dough into four pieces, and let it rest at room temperature covered in plastic for 60 minutes.
  4. Lightly flour a surface and begin rolling it out until it is thin. (About 1/8 inch thick)
  5. Cut your pasta into desired shapes. (Pizza cutters work well! Or use a pasta machine, lucky duck.) Let it sit for another hour before putting it into boiling water.
  6. Boil your pasta 2-4 minutes. It really depends on how firm you want your pasta to be. Layer on your favorite sauce, or put a dab of butter and salt on them and enjoy them plain. They’re just that good.

* If you have these ingredients, put them in! They make the pasta taste even better!IMG_20150716_155028IMG_20150716_205617