Cowgirl Candy.

Doesn't look too fancy, right?

Doesn’t look too fancy, right?

There are recipes all over the internet for something called “Cowboy Candy”. This recipe is pretty much the same thing – it’s just that I’m a lady, I’m the one who makes these, and I love these sweet and spicy jalapenos.

So, y’know, that makes them Cowgirl Candy in my books.

Cowgirl Candy is delicious in nachos, on burgers, on their own, with cream cheese on a cracker, on their own, in soups or casseroles, on their own.. you can find plenty of uses for them if you like spicy sweet foods.  It is not actually candy. This will not fool your kids.

This recipe makes approximately 7 (250mL) jars of candy, depending how tightly you pack ’em, and will also leave you with approximately one jar of delicious jalapeno syrup to add to mashed potatoes, swirl into your quinoa bake, or to use as a marinade for meat.  As you can see (sorta’) in the photo, I don’t pack them very tightly – I like each jar to have a bit of extra syrup in there – but that means the peppers will float a bit.

Cowgirl Candy

Ingredients:

3 pounds jalapeno peppers, washed
2 cups cider vinegar
6 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoons celery seed
3 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. I highly recommend that you wear gloves while working with any hot peppers – but I can’t force you to be sensible.
  2. Slice off the stems and tips from all of the peppers. Toss these into your compost bucket.
  3. Slice the peppers into uniform 1/4 inch rounds. I like to use my mandoline because I enjoy taking my life into my own hands around sharp blades. Also, it makes the slices very neat and tidy. But you can totally do this with a knife. Set the pepper slices aside.
  4. In a large pot, combine the cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic, and cayenne pepper. Over medium-high heat, bring this mixture to a boil while stirring.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. For real. Time it. You don’t want them to get mushy and they’re going to get softer later when you process them.
  7. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the peppers into clean jars. Fill to about 1/4 inch line and pack them as tightly as you want them to be.
  8. Turn heat up in the pot and bring the syrup to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes. Time it. For real!
  9. Spoon or pour or ladle the boiling syrup into the jars – covering the pepper slices. Fill each jar to the 1/4 inch line.
  10. If you want to keep a jar or two of syrup, fill those up too!
  11. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel – get all the goopy sticky seeds and whatnot off.
  12. Put on your lids and bands. Process for the usual 10-15 minutes (depending on your altitude)
  13. Set aside to cool overnight and look for the happy ping’ed lids that mean everything has sealed up properly. If they haven’t sealed, put the jars in the fridge and eat ’em soon (I recommend nachos.)

“Artisan” Bread.

Crusty, tasty bread.

Crusty, tasty bread.

Everybody loves this recipe because it really and truly is as easy as it looks. And everyone makes it and says, “I think I did it wrong..” because of the wet dough and the fact that it just seems WAY too easy for anyone who’s ever made bread before (or who has decided not to make bread because it seemed too difficult).

“Artisan” Crusty Bread
Makes one lovely loaf.
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Instant or Rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water
Directions: 
  1. Combine flour, salt, and yeast into a large bowl.
  2. Add the water and mix (by hand) until everything is combined and rough looking.  The dough is very, very soft – you won’t need to put much effort into mixing this up.
  3. Put a lid on your bowl, or cover with plastic cling wrap. Set it aside for a minimum of 12 hours (and as many as 24). The dough blob will get much larger, look very bubbly and wet, and you’ll be concerned that you have done something wrong. Don’t panic.
  4. Heat the oven to 450F.  While the oven is preheating, place a cast iron Dutch oven (and lid) inside. Once the oven has reached 450, start timing for 30 minutes. (The Dutch oven is empty. No bread dough in there.)
  5. While the oven is heating, heavily flour your counter and dump the dough on top. It will be very sticky, wet, and goopy. You will again be concerned that you have done something wrong. Don’t panic.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball – not kneading, just sort of prodding it into shape –  and cover the ball with plastic wrap. Set aside until the 30 minutes of Dutch oven-heating are finished.
  7. When the oven has heated, and the Dutch oven has been inside for 30 minutes, pull out the Dutch oven and plunk the dough into it. You can use a layer of parchment paper if you like (I did) to make it easier to transfer the dough from the counter into the really, really hot Dutch oven.
  8. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and put it back into the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. After 30 minutes,  remove the lid.. and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  10. Remove bread from oven, pull it out of the Dutch oven, and place on a cooling rack to cool.
  11. Cool fully before slicing. Enjoy the crackling noises!

Updated to add:
You can make this in a Dutch oven that’s as small at 3 quarts, apparently. I used a 6 quart and the loaf sat in the middle and didn’t get anywhere close to the sides. All good!  You can also make it in any oven-safe pot with a lid, according to the internet.

Sugar Cookies and Frosting.

‘Tis the season to make cookies, right? So I searched all over the place to find a sugar cookie that wasn’t too crisp, wasn’t too soft, and wasn’t too difficult to make. I’m okay with making dough and putting it in the fridge for a bit – I’m not okay with anything that requires me to scald milk or anything along those lines.

And so, I present some soft, sweet, really tasty sugar cookies. The recipe is below – and I’m including the recipe for the frosting that I used because it, too, turned out to be quite lovely!

Unfrosted stars!

Unfrosted stars!

Sugar Cookies

Makes about 4-5 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup sour cream, room temperature
    1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    2 cups sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set this bowl aside for a bit.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the sour cream and butter at a low speed. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Sloooooooowly add the flour mixture to the sour cream mixture, and mix until everything is combined. The dough will be sticky to touch.  Your mixer will probably protest a little. Scrape down the sides and make sure everything is combined!
  4. Divide dough into two chunks. Wrap each chunk in some plastic wrap and flatten them. Put them in the fridge for at least 2 hours – or up to 3 days.
  5. When you’re ready to bake them, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Flour the crap out of your counter or work surface – this dough is sticky! Cover your rolling pin in flour, too.
  7. Set one of the chilled dough chunks on top of the floured surface and liberally coat the top with even more flour. Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4″ thick.
  8. Cut out dough shapes using a cookie cutter. If needed, put flour on that, too.  Put the cut-outs onto your baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Here’s the trick – bake them until there’s just the tiniest hint of brown on the bottom. This will keep them soft.
  11. Move the cookies to a rack to cool, then frost them!

 

When you frost them, the stars turn into circles! (No, not really.)

When you frost them, the stars turn into circles! (No, not really.)

Sugar Cookie Frosting

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:
1  package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar (plus more to taste)
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Beat cream cheese on medium speed for 1 minute, or until creamy and soft. Add powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat for another minute or two, to make sure everything is smooth and fluffy.
  2. Crank the mixer speed up to high and beat for 2 more minutes. Taste. Try not to eat all of it with a spoon. Add more powdered sugar if needed (for taste).

Spicy Smoky BBQ Sauce.

Stacked pints!

Stacked pints!

I wanted to continue to involve my 13 year old son in the process of canning things, so we decided to make BBQ sauce together. The process didn’t involve much chopping or dicing (though he was unimpressed with the onions stinging his eyes and the amount of time that it takes to press the garlic) and it came together fairly quickly. It was messy, however, and involved a lot of measuring.

We used this recipe and doubled it (for a total of 15 pints). We then pressure canned it (so we could stack, as noted in the photo above).

One jar leaked (ew) and two didn’t seal properly (so they’re in the fridge) but the taste is pretty darned good!

Potato Leek Soup.

This is another one of those soups you make ahead of time and, when you’re ready to eat them, just add some cream and heat!

Unfortunately, Potato Leek soup is not particularly pretty. it’s sort of a greeny-yellow colour, in fact, with specks of pepper floating in the jar. But oh, man, this is some GOOD stuff to eat.

Not pretty, but SO tasty!

Not pretty, but SO tasty!

Here’s the recipe:

Potato Leek Soup

Makes approximately 7 quarts

Ingredients:

2 pounds of yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 pounds of leeks, washed and sliced (here are some tips!)
2 bunches of celery, washed and chopped
4 quarts of water
2 tablespoons of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of black pepper (or to taste)

Directions:

  1. Combine the potatoes, leeks, celery, water and salt in a very large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until everything is soft and happy.
  2. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.
  3. Return to simmering for another 10 minutes.
  4. Fill quart jars, leaving 1 inch head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings.
  5. Process for 45 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure.

To Serve:

Add 4 tablespoons of heavy cream per quart.   Heat the soup and serve!

Sloppy Joes!

I recruited my 13 year old son to help make some pressure canner sloppy joe sauce – and he pretty much did the whole thing himself with me giving him the tips and tricks as we went along. It’s his first time canning anything – I couldn’t be prouder.

Still bubbling!

Still bubbling!

Here’s the recipe:

Sloppy Joe Sauce

Makes 6 pints.

4 lbs ground beef
2 c. chopped onion
6 tsp. Worcestershire
3 cups ketchup (make sure there are no thickeners!)
1/2 c. water
4 T. brown sugar
4 T. apple cider vinegar
4 tsp. mustard

Directions :

  1. Prepare 6 pints, lids, and rings.
  2. In a large stainless steel pot, cook beef and onion over medium heat.
  3. While cooking the meat, mix all of the other ingredients in a large bowl, whisking to make sure it’s well blended.
  4. Drain the meat and onion mixture very well, removing as much fat as possible.
  5. Add all of the ingredients together in the large pot and bring to a boil, stirring often.
  6. Continue to cook at a lower heat for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  7. Fill jars to 1 inch head space. Clean rims and apply lids and rings.
  8. Process pints at 11 pounds for 75 minutes.

To serve, open the jar and scoop into a pan. Heat it up and put it on bread, toast, buns, or whatever you normally use for your Sloppy Joes! (2 pints makes approximately 9 sandwiches.)

Pulled Pork.

Meat – the final frontier.  Or something like that, at any rate.

I’ve seen a lot of different recipes for pressure canned meat and figured it was worth a try. My canner came with basic information about canning meats, so I figured I’d go with something simple.

Pressure Canned Pulled Pork.

Ingredients:

12 pounds of pork shoulder (boneless)
1/2 cup of water
4 quarts of no-salt broth

Directions:

  1. Place pork shoulder into crockpot and add water.
  2. Set crockpot to “HIGH” and leave it for 1 hour.
  3. Turn crockpot down to “LOW” for 8-9 hours. Meat should be mostly cooked (“rare”).
  4. Bring 4 quarts of broth to a boil.
  5. Shred the pork, taking care to discard as much fat as possible. Put shredded meat into hot, quart-sized jars, leaving 1 inch of head space.
  6. Add boiling broth to each jar, leaving 1 inch of head space.
  7. Wipe jar rims clean and put lids and rings onto jars.
  8. Process at 11 pounds for 90 minutes.
  9. Jars should seal. If jars don’t seal, put them in the fridge and eat within a few days.
Pulled pork in jars!

Pulled pork in jars!

You can eat the meat straight out of the jars (it’s fully cooked!), drain it and heat the meat up with sauce (for pulled pork sandwiches), or you can use the meat in soup or other recipes.