Cowboy Candy | Dishin & Dishes

Cowboy Candy | Dishin & Dishes


Cowboy Candy.

The name itself evokes questions.

Is it candy?  What exactly is this stuff that sounds like it’s straight off the frontier.

I guess….an explanation is in order.

Cowboy Candy is sliced fresh jalapenos that you simmer in a sweet vinegar syrup and then pour into a mason jar to sit and age like liquid gold.

Once you’ve tried it over a cracker with some cream cheese or even better – creamy goat cheese, you will be forever addicted…the sweet syrup balances out the heat of the jalapenos and just makes you sigh with joy.

But don’t stop there…pour it over grilled pork chops or a pork loin. Drizzle them over hot dogs or grilled brats. Whatever you do ….

Make. Cowboy. Candy.

Our garden is cranking out peppers like crazy…the jalapenos and seranos are going nuts! The shishitos, our personal favs are the ones getting the most attention. We toss them onto a hot iron skillet with a little olive oil and blister them then sprinkle with a good sea salt and eat them right out of the skillet.

Here is what we’re currently doing with jalapenos.

Slice up about a pound of jalapenos.  If they’re garden fresh, red ones are A-ok as well!

In a medium saucepan, add 3 cups of sugar and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoons of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed, a teaspoon of granulated garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Then add in all those sliced jalapenos.

Simmer for approximately four minutes.

Then using a slotted spoon, remove the peppers to a bowl.

Pour the peppers into a mason jar.

Then using a ladle, pour the syrup in on top of the peppers until it reaches about 1/2 inch of the rim of the jar.

And that’s it…you can go ahead from this point and can the Cowboy Candy using the directions on the printable recipe that follows. This stuff never lasts long enough in our house to make it to the shelves for much time though…

Our family is especially fond of cheese boards…so we put out a dish of this deliciousness with some kind of soft cheese at family cream cheese, honey goat cheese, even brie.

You will love this stuff…it’s so addictive. I am hoping to make several more jars…it’s that good.

  • Cowboy Candy – Candied Jalapenos

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  • 1 pounds fresh, firm, jalapeno peppers, washed
  • 1 cups cider vinegar
  • 3 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. The easiest way to do this is to slice a small disc off of the stem-end along with the stem. Discard the stems.
  • Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.
  • Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.
  • *If you have leftover syrup, and it is likely that you will, you may can it in half-pint or pint jars, too. It’s wonderful brushed on meat on the grill or added to potato salad or, or, or… In short, don’t toss it out!
  • Place jars in a canner, cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth then label.
  • Allow to mellow for at least two weeks, but preferably a month before eating. Or don’t. I won’t tell!



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Homemade Pimento Cheese | Dishin & Dishes

Homemade Pimento Cheese crackers



Pimento Cheese is most certainly a Southern institution in itself around these parts, but imagine my surprise when I began to research it and found its roots were not in the south at all,  but in New York around the turn of the century in the early 1900’s. Cream Cheese had been introduced a decade earlier, and with the beginning of imports of the Spanish peppers “Pimiento”, it wasn’t long before the two were married together to form a spread that filled celery sticks, white bread sandwiches and was served alongside crackers at every picnic across the country.  Interestingly enough, the “i” was dropped from most spellings and it became simply “Pimento Cheese” at some point along the way.

After World War II, it literally disappeared from the North, but the good ol’ southerners, who love their cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese and mayonnaise kept the staple alive and you can find it in tubs in most grocery stores by the deli meat.

Growing up in Michigan, I couldn’t remember eating pimento cheese until my mom corrected me by letting me know we used to get it in those small juice glass-sized jars that you pop the lid off with a spoon. I thought how funny that was because one of those tiny jars would barely make a sandwich here in the south, where the spread is lavishly sandwiched between two slices of plain ol’ white bread. Mom said they used to wash the little jars and use them for juice glasses afterward.

recipe for pimento cheese

It’s actually a simple thing to whip up a batch, and the homemade version is leaps and bounds ahead of the store-bought. Use the best mayonnaise possible like Duke’s or Hellman’s, and make sure you use either a food processor or a hand-grater when you grate your cheese choice (typically sharp cheddar) yourself. The pre-shredded bags at the store are coated with something like cornstarch to keep it from sticking and won’t be near as good.

how do you make Pimento cheese

Below is my humble gourmet version I’m dressing up for some delicious cheeseburgers for an upcoming recipe, but I must confess, I ate half of it last night with a sleeve of crackers and a fresh glass of iced tea, just like any good southerner would do.

Photo May 07, 5 45 37 AM

Homemade Gourmet Pimento Cheese

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  • 2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. good mayonnaise like Hellman’s or Dukes
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 1/2 c. freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 c. chopped roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 t. garlic salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper or tabasco
  • Add all to large mixing bowl and mix well being careful not to mash cheese too much.
  • It helps to smash the cream cheese first with the mayo and sour cream to incorporate better once the cheeses are mixed in.
  • Keep refrigerated


    Homemade Gourmet Pimento Cheese Recipe


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    Pico De Gallo (Fresh Salsa)

    pico de gallo recipe 3


    Pico de gallo is one of those delicious little additions that really brightens up recipes.

    I used to dislike plain ol’ Mexican rice and beans at restaurants until I discovered pico de gallo. After I tossed some on top of my rice and beans, they were transformed into something fresh. Mix them together and scoop up a bite with a tortilla chip? I could just eat that now instead of ordering a main dish!

    I have played around with making pico, and find this ratio of tomatoes to onion and jalapeno to be the best for us. Depending on the level of heat you like, you’ll want to adjust according to your taste-buds.

    Like more heat? Add more jalapeno or leave in the seeds and ribs. Not a cilantro fan?  Reduce your addition to a tablespoon. Love lime? Add more! Let me show you how I like it.

    Chop up four roma tomatoes into small pieces.

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    Also chop up one small onion (or half of a larger one) into the same size pieces. Uniformity is important in pico! I’m not even kidding.

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    Add these into a bowl.

    Photo Jan 30, 3 35 37 AM

    Now scrape the seeds and ribs from one large jalapeno and slice it into strips long ways and then cut across them the other way to make small pieces. Removing the seeds and ribs gives you plenty of jalapeno subtle heat without the mouth-scorcher heat.

    chop jalapeno collage

    Add them into the bowl as well.

    Now chop up about 3/4 cup of loosely-packed cilantro. When you’re done you’re going to end up with about 2-3 tablespoons of cilantro. I love the stuff so I’m probably closer to 3.

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    Add this into the bowl along with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

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    Squeeze about a tablespoon of lime over top.

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    I use about 1/2 of a medium lime.

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    And mix it all up.

    Photo Jan 30, 3 41 53 AM

    If you’re making guacamole, just add a few tablespoons of this to three or four avocados, add some garlic powder and voila! Guacamole!

    Some great ways to use pico de gallo:

    • top fish tacos or other tacos with it
    • brighten up creamy dishes with it like alfredo sauce or mac n cheese
    • Warm a can of black beans and add before serving for a great Mexican side dish
    • top baked potatoes with it and light sour cream instead of butter
    • Top quesadillas with it
    • Stir it into scrambled eggs or top omelets

    This week I’m making it to top individual nachos for a Super Bowl recipe. Stay tuned for the recipe!

    Pico De Gallo



    • 4 roma tomatoes
    • 1 small yellow onion
    • 1 large jalepeno
    • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
    • ½ medium lime
    • ½ t. salt
    • ¼ t. black pepper
    1. Chop tomatoes and onions in small, like-sized pieces
    2. Remove stems and ribs from jalapenos (or leave in if you like it hot!)
    3. Chop jalapenos into small sized pieces
    4. Add all to medium bowl
    5. Chop cilantro and add 2-3 tablespoons to bowl
    6. Squeeze lime over all
    7. Add salt and pepper and mix all together
    8. Will last for up to days. The tomatoes tend to break down after that.


    how to make pico de gallo


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