Hot Pepper Jelly

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Years ago, there was a rage for an appetizer made by topping a cube of cream cheese with sweet hot jalapeño jelly. Served with crackers, it was something new and different, and soon appeared in every community cookbook. I recently ran across a recipe for the jelly in Chevys & Rio Bravo™ Fresh Mex Cookbook, and decided to make it for Jim’s birthday. The cookbook recommended serving the jelly with steak fajitas, so there are a bunch of ways to use it. Here is the recipe for the jelly. If you don’t want to go to the trouble, a  similar jelly may be available at your local supermarket–look for it with the jams and jellies. But this recipe works well, and I recommend it.

Hot Pepper Jelly

3/4 cup chopped red bell peppers
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/3 cup diced and seeded jalapeños
2-3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
6 tablespoons Certo liquid pectin (1 packet)

Combine the peppers, jalapeños, sugar, vinegar and lime juice in a large saucepan over medium heat. Heat until warm and the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend at a low speed until the peppers are chopped finely. NOTE: Let the mixture cool off a bit before blending. Also, before you blend, fold a kitchen towel into a pad, and hold it firmly down on the top of the blender. When blended, hot liquids can shoot out of the blender if you are not careful! So go slowly and hold the blender top down firmly.

Return the blended mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. (The foam is an orange color.) Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the pectin; increase the heat to medium high, and bring briefly to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour into a 24-ounce glass jar, screw on lid, and store in the refrigerator. The jelly will set as it cools down.

Notes: Be sure to use both the red and green sweet peppers–the jelly really looks best that way. This jelly, even to my timid palate, is only mildly hot, so you can add more jalapeño. I washed the storage jar in hot water and soap, and boiled the lid for a few minutes.

To make the above-pictured appetizer, use an 8-ounce package of cream cheese. I used Neufchatel cream cheese, which is lower fat, and it worked well. Unwrap the cheese and place on a plate. Stir the jelly and pour about a half cup over the cheese. If your jelly is firm, microwave for about one minute to liquify. I molded my cheese in a bowl lined with plastic wrap, just for appearance’s sake, but you don’t have to do this. Serve with Triscuits. That’s all there is to it!

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I molded the cream cheese in a plastic wrap-lined bowl, and then upended it on the little round plate.

I am always happy to get back to birds. Here are some house finches, who may be a mother with a juvenile. Take care. Fran

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