Monday, May 17, 2010

What is Blue, Hot and Sweet- all at the same time?

 I found this recipe back in March and have been wanting to try it ever since.  I'm a real 'gringo' when it comes to hot and spicy food, but, for some reason, this one really intrigued me.  Today I took the plunge.  Living in Arizona makes finding all the different peppers easy.. well, ok, we had to go to two stores, but, that's not too bad, right?  Surprisingly, this went together really fast.  It didn't take long at all to  cut and de-seed all the peppers. Then I just plunked them in the food processor, pulsed a couple of times and the prep was basically done.  It actually took longer to sterilize the bottles.  Of course, it still takes time to bring the ingredients up to a rolling boil twice, but, that's just part of making jam.  
      I was pleased with the yield too- I got 12 half pints with a little bit left over for tasting.  And, the tasting was the fun part!  It really is good (she modestly says)- hot, peppery and sweet all at the same time.  Bill's comment was 'Who needs to eat it WITH anything?  Its great all by itself!"  LOL    All in all.. I'd say it was a hit!    I plan on using these little gems for hostess gifts this summer.We have quite a bit of traveling planned to visit friends and family and these should come in quite handy.  (Act surprised if you read this first!)   Hopefully, everyone will enjoy it as much as we have.  :)

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 large green bell peppers
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 2 large slim jim or Anaheim peppers
  • 8 jalepeno peppers
  • 2 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1 c. vinegar
  • ½ c. lemon juice
  • 1 pkg. sure gel
  • 8 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. butter

Cut peppers in half and remove most of the seeds.  On hot peppers, the more seeds that are left, the hotter they will be.  Cut peppers into chunks, run through blender with vinegar and lemon juice to puree coarsely. 
        Pour into pan, stir in whole blueberries and Sure Gel. Over medium heat, bring to a rolling boil, then add ALL of the sugar at the same time.  (Pre-measure it into a large bowl.) Add butter to help reduce foaming.        Stir well, and return to a full boil (one that cannot be stirred down) and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat.  
      Pour into clean, sterilized 8 oz. [I used 4oz] canning jars.  Wipe rims, put on lids and screw on rings snugly.  Place in boiling water bath and process 5 minutes.  Let cool out of drafts and check for seal after 1 hour.  Any jars that have not sealed properly will need to be refrigerated and used within 2 weeks.
     This jam is usually a “soft set” jam, which means it spreads easily and works very well as a glaze for chicken or pork too.  Its good on toast or biscuits with eggs, or as an unusual but tasty ice cream topping.  The blueberries can also be pureed with the peppers if you prefer a smoother jelly texture.  I happened to like the surprise of the whole berries in the jam!

Lemon Chicken and Gravy

Ok, be honest, didn't that title grab you the minute you read it?  Or am I the only one who is a total lemon freak?  I really love chicken and lemon together, and adding thyme (fresh out of my herb garden) and parsley sounded like a lovely addition.  Had to try it!
       I decided this also sounded like a perfect recipe to make in the sun oven.  I plan to use the sun oven and barbeque grill a lot for the next few months.  We are fast sliding into that time of year in Arizona.. HOT.  Ugly, nasty, ridiculously HOT.  And, my Scottish blood really hates to heat up the kitchen with the stove and oven only to have to turn around and crank up the AC so we can breathe.  Air conditioners are wonderful, but they're also dang expensive!  So, even as I type this, my lovely little sun oven is busy doing its thing and cooking our dinner.  I have to say, its had a full day- I also made my first loaf of whole wheat bread in it this afternoon.  And, IT WORKED!  How fun is that??
       Here is the link to the Taste of Home recipe  Lemon Chicken and Gravy.  I didn't change anything except to use chicken thighs instead of breasts.

Verdict:  Delicious!  Bill and I both loved it. The chicken was moist and tender and beautifully seasoned with a lovely lemon flavor.  Very 'gourmet'.  :)  I served it with brown rice, steamed broccoli and sliced tomatoes- the perfect summer dinner.   The only change I think I would make next time would be to greatly reduce the butter.. maybe to 1 Tbsp?  The gravy turned out to be quite fatty- probably because I used thighs instead of breasts.