Hot Pepper Jelly

Hot Pepper Jelly

Pepper jelly isn’t your typical condiment found in the door of most peoples’ refrigerators. Personally, I think it’s more versatile than catsup or mayonnaise. We put this jelly on sandwiches with sliced turkey or ham, spoon it between slices of cheese and make sweet/spicy grilled cheese sandwiches, eat it with cream cheese and crackers, and even reduce it down to a glaze to brush on pork tenderloin and grilled chicken. A little bit of heat with a little bit of sweet – a perfect combination!

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Salted Caramel Custard Filled Cream Puffs with Bourbon Whipped Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted-Caramel Custard Cream Puffs with Bourbon Whipped Cream and Salted-Caramel Sauce

Today is my 50th birthday and no, I am not one of those women who wallow in anguish over that number. It’s a milestone and I’m proud of where I am at 50!

So instead of the traditional birthday cake, I decided I wanted something just a bit more decadent to celebrate this year. Since I have a weakness for caramel, I created this little masterpiece.

The light, crunchy cream puff, filled with the perfect blend of sweet, salted caramel, whipped cream and warm salted caramel sauce on top was absolutely blissful!

Try it. I guarantee you’ll agree!

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Angel Kisses Forgotten Cookies

 

Angel Kisses Forgotten CookiesThese cookies always make me think of my oldest sister, Laurie, who also shares my love for cooking. She made these cookies for a family holiday dinner one year, and I recall how surprised I was at how light and airy they were. It was like eating a little after-dinner breath mint, whipped up in a fluffy white cloud!

If you’re looking for a fun, unique little cookie to add to your Christmas cookie tray, these would be perfect!

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Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread Biscotti

While planning our Thanksgiving menu this year, when I got to the dessert course, I wanted to do something a little different than just the traditional pumpkin pie. I already had a very savory flavor profile planned for the turkey using a brown sugar, fennel, cumin and chili pepper rub, so I decided dessert should also be more on the savory-sweet side to finish off the meal. I had never made biscotti before, but that wasn’t going to stop me.

After foraging through the pantry and spice cabinet, I discovered I had everything I needed without having to go out to the store, another bonus since it was the day before Thanksgiving and anyone who knows me well, knows that I avoid the holiday crowds as much as possible.

The only ingredient I was hesitant on using was the package of rye flour on the shelf because traditional biscotti have a combination of all-purpose and wheat flours. But an adventurous chef should always be willing to try something new, right?

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Spiced Apple and Rum Compote

Spiced Apple and Rum Compote

In the quaint and historic town of Augusta, Missouri, there’s a wonderful family owned establishment called Centennial Farms. Not only do I buy my honey from them year round, my family also loves to visit them each fall to pick apples and to buy our Halloween pumpkins.

Last weekend, my daughter and I decided to venture out for an apple picking excursion and came home with a wonderful assortment of Fuji, Golden Delicious, Johnathan, Ruby Jon and Winesap apples. Plenty of opportunities for me to create some new recipes!

Here’s the first masterpiece from my kitchen, a spiced apple and rum compote. The slow cooked apples developed a beautiful flavor along with the deep, caramel richness from the brown sugar and vanilla. And they had just the right amount of spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg to round out the finishing touch of the dark, smoky rum. Absolute perfection!

Who needs an apple pie when you can have a bowl of this with a scoop of ice cream?

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Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I look forward to late summer not only for the cooler temperatures, but also for the abundance of late summer fruits and vegetables, especially zucchini.  As soon as I see local farm stands advertising fresh picked zucchini, the menu quickly veers off in the direction of oven roasted zucchini; grilled veggie kabobs; zucchini bisque; zucchini soufflés; grated zucchini in pasta sauce; meatballs; breads and of course, sweet zucchini cupcakes.

The smell of these yummy little beauties baking in the oven will make your home smell like late summer and early fall all wrapped up into one. Then once they’ve cooled, add a generous swirl of cream cheese frosting on top and treat yourself to a moment of reverence as you savor each sweet and savory bite.

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Campfire Brownie Bars with Marshmallow Meringue

Campfire Brownie Bars with Marshmallow Meringue

Having a teen-aged daughter as I approach 50, has taught me to keep my sense of ‘whimsy’ and relish in those beautifully opportune moments of occasionally ‘throwing caution to the wind’.

This dessert would be one of those moments. She and I spent two hours in the kitchen together on Mother’s Day, making these devilishly decadent brownies and they were worth every bite!

No counting calories on this recipe, my friends! Throw them into the wind, along with your caution, and enjoy!

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Sugared Lemon and Rosemary Scones

Sugared Lemon and Rosemary Scones

I planted a rosemary bush in my herb garden a few weeks ago, and as I walked by garden yesterday morning, the wonderful aroma of the fresh herb made me think of these scones.  So after a quick snip off the plant, I whipped up a batch of them for breakfast.

The crunchy, golden crust on the outside and the warm, flaky inside with just the right blend of sweet and savory from the rosemary and lemon zest, made the perfect bite!

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Golden Habañero, Bourbon and Pear Jam

Golden Habanero, Bourbon and Pear Jam

I started making this jam late last summer, after a more than abundant harvest of golden habañero peppers from my garden.

It took a few test batches to get the ratio of peppers to pears right, but after realizing I only needed six ingredients, five if you take out the bourbon (but why would you?), once I had the final recipe established, it was perfect.  The sweetness from the pears, followed by the low heat from the peppers, not only wakes up your taste-buds, the release of endorphins from the capsaicin in the peppers gives your brain a nice little jolt!

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