One of the most rewarding things to do is to put a plant in the ground, and a few weeks later, eat the fruits of your labor. Literally. Our backyard is about 8 feet by 8 feet (city living) and space is at a premium. We also did not have great soil, and since we rent, we didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money getting the yard garden ready. This year, we used EarthBoxes to plant our garden. These boxes are virtually fool-proof. You can use high quality soil and they are easy to water. We planted cucumbers, tons of herbs, tomatoes, and different varieties of hot peppers. Since discovering how much I like cooking with habaneros on my Sargento Flavor Journey, we planted lots of them along with serrano, jalapeno, and Thai chili peppers. I was not expecting the amount of peppers that I was going to get, and cannot use them fast enough.
I absolutely love hot pepper jelly. I like to melt it a little and pour it over a brick of cream cheese and eat it with water crackers. That is one of my favorite snacks of all time. I had so many peppers that I thought that I would give making my own jelly a try. I am intimidated by jam and jelly making. I am not a super-technical-rule-following kind of cook, and making preserves requires you to be very precise. And canning, well, it makes me break out into a sweat. If you feel the same way, this is a great recipe to start with. This was so easy. I was so proud of myself, I took vegetables from my garden and turned it into jelly. I felt like Ma Ingalls. This jelly keeps in the fridge, and is not canned. After the success of this jelly, I think that I am going venture into canning something. I felt so domestic.
As much as I love cream cheese and hot pepper jelly, I thought that it would be great as a sandwich. I have to be honest, I am not much of a cold sandwich person. I didn’t eat them as a kid, and I don’t love cold foods. I’m weird. I do like a sandwich if it has some interesting flavors and textures. This sandwich fits the bill. It is a simple sandwich, but with a layer of cream cheese and pepper jelly, it adds a whole new layer of interest. It is sweet, spicy, creamy, sharp, and crunchy all at the same time. Perfect for a summer picnic.
8 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
8 Tablespoons hot pepper jelly (recipe below)
8 slices Sargento Deli Style Natural Blends Sharp Cheddar-Jack cheese
4 slices tomato
4 green leaf lettuce leaves
To make your own hot pepper jelly:
1/2 cup seeded and chopped peppers (jalapeño, serrano, and habanero)
1/2 cup seeded and chopped green pepper
3 cups Dixie Crystals sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 (3-oz.) package liquid pectin
Slice rolls and spread cream cheese on the top and bottom. Add a layer of pepper jelly.
Add cheese slices, turkey, lettuce and tomato.
You could buy pepper jelly at the store, but it is so rewarding to make you own. Just a note, you will want to wear gloves when working with these peppers. I picked an assortment of peppers from my garden. You could use all jalapeno if you wanted. I like the red serrano in this jelly because it adds color.
Using gloves, seed and chop the peppers. Add to a food processor and run for 1 minute, scraping down the sides, until the peppers are very finely chopped.
Add the peppers, sugar, and vinegar to a 4-quart enameled (or stainless steel) Dutch Oven.
Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in lime juice and pectin, and return to a rolling boil.
Boil for one additional minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat, and let stand for 1 minute.
Skim off any foam.
Pour into 3 (half-pint) canning jars. Let cool 1 hour. Cover and chill. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. This recipe comes from Southern Living Little Jars, Big Flavors – a great book for small batch preserving.
**This post is a part of my ongoing collaboration with Sargento Cheese. All opinions are 100% my own.**