Lemon Drop Hot Pepper Jelly

I’m sure not many people will have a handful of lemon drop hot peppers laying around their kitchen, but this canning recipe came out so well for me I just had to share!

These hot peppers were another new item for me in my kitchen, courtesy of our wonderful CSA. We only received a handful of them over two weeks/boxes (seven peppers total to be exact) so I wasn’t really sure what to do with them at first. I knew they were special enough that whatever I made had to feature the peppers as the main part of the dish, not just cover them up with a bunch of other ingredients.

I poked around online for a while looking for “lemon drop hot pepper recipes”, but couldn’t find anything that sparked my interest or only required seven peppers. Many of the recipes I found were for making lemon drop hot sauce; something I’m sure would be delicious, but I just didn’t have enough peppers for.

So I finally gave up and just put them in the freezer until I could figure out what to do with them. A few days later, I hit gold! I came across a Lemon Drop Hot Pepper Jelly recipe on Boomerangdave’s Blog and instantly knew that was what I was making with my peppers! And really, the rest is history.

I followed the recipe step-by-step, except for one tiny detail that I will now emphasis to you. WEAR GLOVES WHEN CHOPPING HOT PEPPERS!! *insert my mother’s “for someone so smart, you do some really dumb stuff” comment here* It may not feel like anything while you’re chopping them. It may not even feel like anything when you’re making your jelly. But I PROMISE… by the time you are done and all cleaned up, IT WILL FEEL LIKE A THOUSAND FIRE ANTS EATING AT YOUR SKIN FROM UNDER YOUR FINGERNAILS FOR THE NEXT 24 TO 48 HOURS if your choose to not wear gloves. …You have been warned.

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So, like I said, I followed this recipe and the final product came out amazing! (The batch made seven half-pint jars.) Couldn’t be happier with the taste or consistency! As you may notice in my picture all the little “bits” did end up floating to the top, but it’s nothing a little stir didn’t fix once we opened one of the jars. We taste-tested on some homemade bread I made (following this recipe) and again on some crackers with cream cheese… you know, just to be safe. 😉 If you get a chance try this recipe I’d love to know how yours turns out – let me know!

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Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Coming up with a meal plan can sometimes be hard. Knowing which ingredients you want to use up in your kitchen is always a great place to start! It helps keep your kitchen organized and prevents you from letting food go to waste.

So, for this meal, I knew I needed to use some of the bell peppers from our CSA sitting in the fridge. I also knew I wanted to use quinoa as the main “filler” of the dish since I didn’t have any meat defrosted or ready to use. So I looked at a few recipes online for inspiration, found a few meatless stuffed pepper ideas, improvised a set of ingredients that matched what I already had in the kitchen, and voilà! Easy stuffed peppers that are delicious, healthy, and look quite festive for fall! Happy Autumn everyone!

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. cooked tri-colored quinoa
1 Serrano pepper, finely diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 (15.25 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 t. cumin
1 T. chili powder
1 t. paprika
4-6 bell peppers, tops cut, stemmed and seeded
salsa, optional
shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking dish (large enough to hold all the peppers) with foil and grease. Set aside.
2. Cook the quinoa according to its packaging. For time and effort purposes, I used Success Boil-in-a-Bag quinoa. Highly recommended for this recipe – easier, quicker, and less mess!
3. When quinoa is cooked, pour into a large bowl. Add in the Serrano pepper, corn, beans, onion, and tomatoes. Mix together, then add cumin, chili powder, and paprika, and mix again. (Note: Tony suggested that I add some shredded cheese into the stuffing mix as well as on top of the peppers. I think it’s a good suggestion and you could add a 1/2 c. or so if you want the inside to be more cheesy.)
4. Stuff the mixture into the peppers, filling them as much as you can. (Optional: Add a heaping spoonful of salsa on top of each pepper.) Cover each pepper with it’s top and place them (cavity side up) in the baking dish. Put in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until peppers are heated through and tender.
5. In the last 5 minutes of baking, remove the dish, cover the peppers with shredded cheese, and put it back in the oven to melt the cheese.
6. Let cool for a few minutes before enjoying!

Apples & Onion Pork Chops

Well… here I am, finally! As you may or may not have noticed, I have been rather “MIA” (missing-in-action) for the past few weeks. That certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking, but being given the time to play catch-up on so many projects, errands, and other “need-to-dos” over the past few weeks has left me with little desire to sit down in front of a computer and write.

(Un)luckily, my mind has found a funny little way of resolving that problem by deciding to keep me up at all hours of the night – giving me more than enough time to write this post… at 5:00 am. *insert UGH emoji* How (un)kind of my mind to create this time for me. Maybe by next week I’ll have written a full book… 

But enough about me. On to the more important things in life…. food! This recipe features some of the wonderful local meats I’ve previously written about, as well as delicious Macintosh apples from Schafer’s Fruit Farm (New Kensington, PA) and fresh rosemary from our wonderful CSA, Uncle Henry’s Garden (Indiana, PA).

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Ingredients:

3-5 pork chops, or whatever fits in your pan
3/4 c. chicken stock
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. dried sage
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 1/2 t. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2 medium apples, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

Directions:

1. Heat 1 T. of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops before adding to the pan. Sear the pork chops for at least 5-7 minutes per side, or until they are mostly done.
2. While the pork chops are cooking, prep your other ingredients. Mix together the chicken stock and mustard and set aside. Slice the apples and onions. In a small dish, mix together the sage, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper, set aside.
3. Remove the pork chops from the pan and keep warm. Add another 1 T. of olive oil to the pan, along with the apples and onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the seasoning mix. Stir to combine.
4. Pour in the stock mustard mixture and heat until liquid is hot, but not boiling.
5. Add the pork chops back into the pan, cover with apple mixture and juices. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until pork chops are thoroughly heated and fully cooked*. The liquid should reduce by about half. (*Pork should be cooked to at least 145 degrees F – 160 degrees for larger, thicker cuts.) Plate & enjoy!

Spicy Homemade Marinara Sauce

This recipe is a little creation of my own, with some inspiration from our CSA farmers! They provide us with 1-2 recipes of their own each week to accompany whatever is in the box. It comes in very handy when I’m just not sure what to do with a certain products. In this case, we were becoming overrun with tomatoes from both our garden and the CSA, so I decided to – loosely following our farmer’s family recipe – try making a homemade sauce of my own.

Full disclaimer: the method below on how to skin/seed the tomatoes is not what I originally used when I made this sauce. I tried the method recommended by our farmers, but I didn’t have the right tools – i.e. a food mill – so it didn’t work out too well. That’s why, if you look closely, you will see some tomato seeds still in my sauce. Not ideal, but I don’t think it hurt anything. When you leave the seeds in the sauce you run the risk of it turning bitter, but since I was going for a spicier version anyway I wasn’t too concerned and figured the spice would overpower any bitterness. And I believe it did.

So long story short, I’m confident the directions below are easier to follow and a better alternative to skinning and seeding the tomatoes if you don’t have a fancy food mill to help with that process. Let me know what you think! Would it be better to just give-in and invest in a food mill or does this peel & seed method below work just as well? I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences!

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Ingredients:

2 lbs. fresh, ripe tomatoes (I used about 8 medium-large sized tomatoes.)
olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 Serrano pepper, finely diced (seeds removed)
1/4 c. red cooking wine
1 T. dried oregano
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Start by blanching your tomatoes. (Here’s easy instructions if you’ve never done this before.)
2. Once tomatoes are skinned and have cores removed, cut into four quarter sections. Using your fingers, remove the seed section of the tomatoes. Chop the remaining tomatoes into large pieces and add to a large pan with a little bit of water.
3. Simmer tomatoes and water over medium-high heat until the tomatoes start to break down and dissolve.
4. When the tomatoes are mostly dissolved, remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash the remaining tomatoes until mostly liquid. (Careful! It may still be hot!) It’s ok if it’s more watery than you want – that will boil out.
5. Put the tomato sauce into another sauce pot and put on low heat to simmer while you prepare the rest of the sauce.
6. Wipe clean the original pan and put back on the stove, on medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onions, and garlic. Cook until onions are almost translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the finely diced Serrano peppers and cook 2-3 more minutes. (Add a bit more olive oil, if needed.)
7. Add the red cooking wine, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook 1-2 more minutes before adding the tomato sauce back into the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow sauce to come to a gentle simmer for 5 more minutes.
8. Right before turning off the heat, add chopped fresh basil and combine.
9. Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy!

Thai Basil Chicken

After making this dish, Thai basil is definitely my new herb obsession! I’m already making plans to have it in my garden next year…

So after getting the basil from our CSA box, I knew I wanted to find and make a dish that highlighted it’s unique, wonderful flavor. I found Immaculate Bites‘ recipe on Yummly and I couldn’t of asked for anything better! It was a quick and easy dish, and the ingredients list wasn’t long or complicated. They were actually ingredients I already had in my pantry. Or so I thought…

Turns out I was down to the very, very last drop of soy sauce. So I ended up having to make that small adjustment from the original recipe since I just didn’t have a full tablespoon of soy sauce. So I decreased the soy sauce to what I had left and increased the fish sauce to compensate. Which honestly, is by no means a substitution for soy sauce, but I wanted to make sure there was enough liquid to help the dish’s sauce thicken. I’m not sure if, or how much, this affected the overall flavor of the dish, but what we ended up with was a-maz-ing! This is definitely in my Top 10 list of CSA-inspired dishes and I can’t wait for the chance to make it again!

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Ingredients:

3 T. vegetable oil
1 t. Sriracha sauce
1 t. crushed red pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ bite-sized cubes
2 t. brown sugar
1 1/2 T. fish sauce
1 1/2 t. soy sauce
3/4 c. fresh Thai basil leaves
cooked white rice (like Jasmine)

Directions:

1. Start and cook the rice according to the package directions.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil. When heated, add the chopped onions, sliced garlic, Sriracha sauce, and red pepper flakes. Sauté until onions are translucent and mixture is fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Don’t let it burn!
3. Add the bite-sized chicken breast and cook until chicken is cooked-through and starts to brown, about 5-10 minutes.
4. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Keep on the heat until the sauce slightly thickens, about 2-3 minutes.
5. Add the Thai basil leaves and remove from heat. Keep mixing until leaves are slightly wilted.
6. Serve over hot white rice. Enjoy!

(Recipe via Immaculate Bites.)

Steak Fajitas with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Poblano Peppers

I threw this meal together after having a very long day at work and very little desire to cook. Luckily, I was able to recruit some help from the grill master (aka Tony) and he helped me throw these fajitas together in under 30 minutes. Admittedly, the steaks were pre-marinated, but if you have ever had a steak from Fielings Farm Market then you would understand why we would never bother to do our own marinade. Their steaks –  un-marinated or marinaded – are a-maz-ing! We try to buy most of our meat there because it’s a local, quality food source. We can drive down the road and see the cows that eventually make their way to the market. If you ask me, that’s awesome! There’s nothing better than knowing where your food comes from. #knowyourfarmer

And we know where the vegetables came from too. The cherry tomatoes were straight out of our own garden and the poblanos were from our CSA. Poblano peppers are a wonderfully dark shade of green and have just enough of a “kick” to add a lot of flavor to any meal. I thought this would pair nicely with the sweetness of the roasted cherry tomatoes.

All-in-all, this meal was easy to make and delicious to eat. And if you had a long day at work like I did, I would highly recommend pairing with a very large glass of dry, red wine. Cheers!

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Ingredients:

2 steaks, pre-marinaded (or make your own)
1 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes
1-2 medium poblano peppers
1 t. salt
2 t. fresh ground black pepper
olive oil (about 1/4 c.)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
soft tortilla wraps
sour cream

Directions:

1. Grill pre-marinaded steaks until medium-well.
2. While the steak is grilling, turn oven on to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
3. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Thinly slice poblano peppers, about 1/4 inch wide.
4. In a large bowl, mix together tomatoes, peppers, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Coat with olive oil until everything is coved and mixed together.
5. Spread the mixture out on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Take the sheet out. Mix everything together again, trying to turn over as much of the vegetables as possible. Put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
6. When steaks are done, cut them into thin (1/2 inch) slices.
7. Warm up tortilla wraps in the microwave (30-45 seconds). Spread sour cream on tortilla and top with steak and vegetable mixture. Enjoy!

Kohlrabi & Carrot Coleslaw

“What is a kohlrabi?” you may ask. Don’t worry, prior to this summer I had never heard of it either. We were introduced to this odd-looking vegetable via our CSA. Of course, not really knowing what it was or what to do with it, the first one sat out too long and went bad. Since I hate things going to waste, I was determined to figure out what to do with the next one. Luckily, I came across this wonderful recipe/idea to make coleslaw with it. I also experimented with some roasting – which was also quite delicious. But I wanted to share this recipe with you because we both liked it so much we decided to get some kohlrabi and plant it in our own garden!

After that decision, kohlrabi quickly became a gardening favorite for us as well. We bought 3 plants – rather late into the season/summer – and they didn’t seem to suffer one bit from the late start. We have three large bulbs ready for picking and the best part about this vegetable is it’s a 2-for-1 deal! You can also eat the leaves! So the plan is to harvest the plants, eat the bulbs when they’re picked, and process and freeze the leaves to use later in the winter. Kohlrabi leaves can be used similarly to cabbage or other leafy vegetables, such as collard greens, swiss chard, etc. I’ll be excited to share with you how I use those leaves later this winter. Keep following!

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Ingredients:

1 bulb of kohlrabi
Medium-sized carrots, about 2-3*
1/8 c. red onion, finely chopped
2 T. mayonaise
1 T. cider vinegar
1/2 T. sugar

Directions:

1. Wash the kohlrabi bulb and peel/cut the outer skin off. Cut into large pieces and shred using a food processor.
2. Shred carrots in food processor as well. (*I’ve used whole carrots and baby carrots before for this recipe. So I typically just eye-ball this part. There should be equal parts shredded carrots and shredded kohlrabi. Maybe slightly less on the carrots, but not by much.)
3. In a large bowl, add together the chopped red onion and the shredded mix.
4. Add in the mayo, cider vinegar, and sugar. Mix everything together. If the mixture looks a little dry you can add a bit more mayo.
5. Let coleslaw sit for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy!

(Recipe via The Vintage Mom.)