Peach & Jalapeno Jam

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Hello world & Happy Fall, Ya’ll! I can finally celebrate Autumn because the weather is slowly breaking here in N.E OH and according to my calendar, tomorrow (Friday) marks the first official day of fall, heck yeah! Who else really enjoys the fall as much as me!? How can you argue sweaters, boots, leaves crunching beneath your feet, crisp air, picking apples and then turning them into a fresh pie, warm days and cool nights, everything fall scented, fall crafts such as pumpkin painting/carving, bonfires, no bugs or sweat running down your body, goodbye to sunburn and busy nights at work! Fall really is the best season.

For those of you that have missed me, I appreciate your patience in waiting for my next blog post, ya’ll are the best! If you are new to following me, ICYMI: Summers for me working as a banquet captain at a Country Club is very busy. I don’t allow myself a lot of free time to work on cooking at home, crafting, photography and anything else that makes this blog what it is. I tend to disappear every so often because this is only a hobby for me and I only have a small window of free time to do what I love. Thank you to those who do continue to read and follow my blog. You can also follow my facebook page if you are on there as well facebook.com/driven2eat

As I was saying, fall is here and August thru September has the best produce available. -If you haven’t stopped at your local farmers market yet, this is the last week to do it before the season ends! I was lucky enough to make it up in time for the last of the peaches hull. I don’t know how the peaches were for everyone else, but the peaches we had here weren’t all the great ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I was disappointed in the lack of sweetness and juice that I expect to have from a peach, they were okay.

When I make breakfast at home, I usually almost always have a toasted English muffin with fresh jam. I had been buying Jam from Amish Country the last few years and haven’t made my way up there in a few months, figured it was time to just make my own anyways. With how easy it is to make jam, there’s no excuse whey I don’t make it more often! I took a look around the fridge and noticed that a few Jalapenos I had remaining were beginning to do the pruning effect on the outside, so it was time to do something with those as well. I remembered one thing my Aunt always liked to bring to a family dinner, cream cheese topped with pepper jam to spread on crackers for an appetizer. That’s when the light bulb went on in my head to take my leftover peaches and jalapenos and make a jam! The lack of sugar in these peaches actually made them perfect for this recipe. Sweet meets heats for a great spread. Peach and Jalapeno are a great combination together. This recipe also makes an excellent glaze on pork or fish for a finishing touch on dinner!

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Mise En Place:

  • 3 Large Peaches, Diced
  • 3 Jalapenos, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • Juice 1/2 Lime
  • 2 Small Mason Jars for storing

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Method of Prep:

  • Mix together peaches, jalapenos, sugar and lime juice until sugar well incorporated. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Over high heat, add mix into a pan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and allow to lightly simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Liquid should reduce by half and coat the back of a spoon when ready.
  • Turn off heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Pour into Mason jars and cool to room temperature. Seal shut, refrigerate after opening.ย *If jam is cooked too long, it may become gelatinous and hard to spread once cooled. Scoop out what you need for spreading. As jam sits on a warm surface it will begin to melt for easier spreading.ย 

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*You may blend the jam at the end if you don’t like the candied chunks of jalapeno that will be left behind.ย 

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Sticky Rhubarb Bars

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Rhubarb looks and acts like a fruit but it’s really a vegetable. The very tart but considerably sweet strawberry related flavor from rhubarb is why this plant is commonly used more in baking. Rhubarb is grown in late spring and is generally paired with strawberries, springs other darling.

My Grandmother has grown rhubarb in her backyard for more than 15 years. Every year I make sure to grab some stalks before it’s too late and hopefully get them into a recipe quick enough before they go bad. one of my preferred recipes to make with rhubarb isn’t a dessert but a drink. My summer time version ofย  the classic Iced Tea, by steeping rhubarb in with the tea bags. Give that a try for your next cookout! (Pro-tip: Add some berry vodka for a little something extra!)

I enjoy a little pastry each morning with my coffee, usually a doughnut or cookie of some nature. this recipe is adapted from lemon bars and with my interpretation, formed the Rhubarb Bars. This treat is perfect for the summer!

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Mise En Place:

  • ย 1 1/4 Cup AP Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, Room temperature, cut into small cubes
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Cups Rhubarb, diced

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Method of Prep:

  • Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of a 8×8″ pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, mix 1 Cup flour & 1/2 Cup Sugar. Using either a pastry cutter or your hands, slowly mash in the butter cubes. Mix together until mix is flaky and all the butter is dissolved. Press crust into lined pan and bake for 15 minutes.
  • While crust is baking, mix together eggs, remaining sugar, flour and salt. Stir in rhubarb.
  • Remove crust from oven (color will still be pale) pour in rhubarb mixture and continue to bake for 40-45 minutes.
  • Let the bars cool upon removing from oven. Remove the parchment paper and cut into squares.
  • Store in a glass container for up to 5 days.
  • Enjoy!

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Avocado Toast

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Happiness is a fresh seasonal avocado. I’ve met a few people who have mentioned they don’t like Avocado’s…those people cannot be trusted LOL. Avocados this year have been amazing so far, I’m happy it’s finally summer and I can have access to all of the avocados…if only I could get more than 2 for a reasonable price!

Avocados are a stone fruit with a creamy texture that grow in warm climates. Their potential health benefits include improving digestion, help in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and are a very nutrient rich fruit with beneficial fats to keep you full and satiated. With an impressive list of health benefits, I don’t comprehend how anyone could say they are gross. Avocados are versatile and one of the freshest ingredients to work with in summer dishes. They make a great alternative to mayonaise and butter in many recipes, even dessert! I propose if you are one of the many people who don’t appreciate a fresh avocado, to eat least try it in this recipe listed below. Add a little salt & pepper, maybe some juice from a lime or lemon, give it a good stir and they try again. Avocados might just guac your world.

This recipe is a trend showing up on many menus around the country. I’m certain Avocado Toast is nothing new for you to get excited about. These are just (3) ways I love my avocado Toast. Do you have any suggestions of a good avocado toast pairing? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Avocado Toast with Fresh Strawberries and Balsamic Reduction:

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Mise en Place:

  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 2 Slices of Bread, Toasted (I use Whole Wheat, or English Muffins)
  • 4 Strawberries, Sliced
  • Balsamic Reduction, to drizzle on top
  • S&P, TT
  • Fresh Mint leaves, optional

Method of Prep:

  • Cut avocado in half, remove from skin and add to a bowl. Season with salt & pepper. Using a fork, mash, then spread on toast. Top with strawberries. Drizzle with a little balsamic. Top with fresh picked mint.
  • Enjoy!

Southwest Avocado Toast:

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Mise en Place:

  • 1/2 Avocado, sliced
  • 2 Slices of Bread, Toasted
  • 2 Eggs, over medium
  • 2 Tablespoons Chunky Salsa or Pico
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Add sliced avocado to toast. Season with S&P. Top with over medium egg. Garnish with salsa.
  • Enjoy!

Smashed Avocado with Hard Boiled Egg:

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Mise en Place:

  • 1/2 Avocado, Smashed
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 2 Slices bread, Toasted
  • Hot sauce, optional

Method of Prep:

  • Remove avocado from shell, mash with salt and pepper. Spread on toast. Top with Hard boiled egg. Garnish with hot sauce.
  • Enjoy!

**Not pictured: Avocado Toast with Crab dip

  • Same process as above, just top sliced avocado with fresh lump crab or a seafood crab dip.

 

Shrimp Primavera

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The weather here in The Land, aka Cleveland hasn’t quite broken into spring temps just yet. Mother Nature has decided to keep winter around a little longer this year. Well, I think everyone can agree with me, enough is enough and winter, you need to go bye bye! The forecast for this weekend is giving us a little hope that spring isn’t far, with a high of 75 tomorrow! However, this is Cleveland and any chance we get with warmer weather always comes with rain….If you dislike the weather where you live, move to Cleveland and change my mind.ย 

April is the month I like to start looking into more fresh ingredients to use in my cooking. It’s around that time of the year where all the good produce is coming into season and everyone is looking for lighter food options to enjoy during the summer heat and refrain from gaining extra winter weight (I refer to this as the summer body diet). There is also the issue with cooking time on meals. I find most folks don’t want to spend more than 30 minutes preparing dinner especially when they are feeding more than themselves. Long days at work and then having to come home and cook dinner get exhausting very fast. Pasta is always a quick go to and whats nice about this recipe, you can cook the pasta and prepare you vegetables ahead of time so all you have to do when you’re ready to eat is heat it up!ย 

Even on a low carb diet, I find this recipe to be keto friendly. I just measure out my pasta to grant myself 1/4 cup to eat that way I don’t consume all of my daily carbs in one meal. I love the addition of fresh lemon juice and the mixture of vegetables in this dish! My primavera is very light and the acid gives a lovely crisp mouthfeel. Shrimp is the best option for protein as it is also very light. Butter is the only “sauce” used, you may substitute EVOO or Avocado Oil in place of the butter if you would like.ย 

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Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 40 Minutes

Mise En Place:

  • 1/2 Box Bow Tie Pasta, Cooked in salted water, drained
  • 1 LB Raw Shrimp (Approx. 20 Pieces) peeled & deveined
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1 Green Belle Pepper, medium dice
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion, medium dice
  • (1) 14 Oz Bag Frozen Vegetable Medley
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Cook off pasta and drain if you haven’t already done so. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add frozen vegetables. Cook until soft but not overcooked, approximately 5 minutes.
  • In a saute pan, Melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Season both sides of the shrimp with salt & pepper. Add into pan and sear for 2 minutes over medium heat. Turn shrimp over, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, addย  1 tablespoon butter, 1 Teaspoon minced garlic & half the lemon juice to the pan, quickly baste the shrimp for 10 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • In a large pot, heat up 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add in all vegetables and garlic. Stir and allow to cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add in pasta, remaining butter, shrimp, pepper flakes, and lemon juice. stir until well combined and hot. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Enjoy!
  • **Pair this pasta with a glass of French Chardonnay or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc!

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Cookies In A Jar

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Does anyone else have the problem of a colossal collection of Mason Jars? I have not only inherited more jars than I can count, but I began saving them for God knows why. Mason Jars can be used in many ways more than anyone can imagine, just search Pinterest if you don’t believe me! I was determined to finally clear out the Mason Jar inventory and start using them around the house. I spray painted a few and used them for holding eating utensils in the kitchen, some I use as glassware, others are used for storage in the bathroom and in the spice cabinets.ย 

Every year, the Club puts on a Princess & Superhero party for the kiddos. We usually include a raffle with a few different gift baskets the families have a chance at winning. I was asked to put together a baking basket using some of the baking supplies we had in house, I wanted to go beyond just a basket with a whisk & spatula in it. My inspiration for the cookie mix in a jar comes from a friend of mine who packages these jars and sells them! I was fortunate enough to have plenty jars on hand to make this happen. This is a favorable gift idea and exemplary gift basket filler. I believe that when packing something edible, sweets are the way to go! The cookie in a jar recipes are a great shortcut to homemade cookies. Typically these gifts are given around the holidays, however they are also great to give as a “Welcome to the neighborhood” and Teacher gifts. Families enjoy receiving these gifts because they are simple to make, and who doesn’t love a fresh baked cookie!?

I’ve included (3) distinctive jars that everyone is sure to enjoy. The directions are simple, You fill the jars with the dry ingredients, & whoever the receiver is they just add in the wet elements and bake to perfection!

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M&M’s Cookies:

Prep Time:ย 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time:ย 25 Minutes

Yield: Approximately 20 Cookies

Mise En Place:

  • 1 1/2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Holiday M&M’s
  • 1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Quart Mason Jar

Assembling Jars:

  • Using a funnel (or paper plate rolled up), pour flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt into the bottom of the mason jar. Top with the m&m’s. Next add in the Sugars, press firmly with a spoon. Seal with the lid and decorate with ribbon & fabric.

Recipe to Include with the Jar:

  • Pour the contents of the Jar into a large bowl & stir to combine. Add 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, lightly melted, 1 egg, beaten, & 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract. Stir until well combined. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a cookie scoop, place dough balls onto a lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.
  • Enjoy!

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Cocoa Brownies:

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time:ย 45 Minutes

Total Time:ย 55 Minutes

Serving: 1 (9×13 inch pan)

Mise En Place:

  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa (I used Hershey’s)
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 8 Ounce Mason Jar

Assembling Jars:

  • Add the flour, salt and cocoa into bottom of jar. Pack in the sugars firmly. Seal with lid and cover with fabric & ribbon.

Recipe to Include with the Jar:

  • Heat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Add brownie mix from jar into a large bowl, mix well. Add 2 eggs, 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted, 1 Teaspoon Vanilla. Mix until well incorporated.
  • Add mix into a greased baking pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  • Allow to cool 5 minutes. Cut into squares.
  • Enjoy!
  • **Add in 1/2 Cup Chocolate chips into mix for a fudgier brownie!

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies In a Jar:

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Minutes

Yield: Approximately 10 cookies

Mise En Place:

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 8 Ounce Mason Jar

Assembling Jar:

  • Add flour, baking soda and salt to the bottom of the jar. Add in chocolate chips. Pack in the sugars.
  • Seal with lid, cover with fabric & ribbon.

Recipe to Include with the Jar:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add jar mix into a large bowl & mix well.
  • Cream together 1 Stick butter, softened, & 1 egg. Add 1 Teaspoon vanilla, stir. Add dry ingredients into wet and mix until well incorporated.
  • chill dough for 30 minutes. Scoop small dough balls onto a lined and lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  • Allow to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

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