Monday, October 25, 2010

Pepper Vinegar

Being a California girl, I wasn't really sure what pepper vinegar was when I first stumbled upon a recipe for it.
How did I stumble across a recipe for pepper vinegar? Well, in anticipation of planting a variety of hot pepper plants, I began searching for recipes to utilize them. Why grow 6 different hot peppers with no plans to USE any of them?
When I first found this recipe I was intrigued, to say the least. I looked up other versions of pepper vinegar. I remembered going to St. Louis for a couson's wedding and seeing a bottle of what must have been -pepper vinegar- in a Steak and Shake. these people were onto something that I wasn't.
These pepper recipes were part of why I started blogging when I did. I wanted to document recipes that I tried and made up. Some have been good, some have been not so good. But this pepper vinegar has been great.
Hubby and I have put it on stuffed bell peppers and on pasta. There are definite plans to put some on pizza next time we make that too. It's peppery- that's for sure, but not as hot as you might think it should be since it has cayenne peppers in it. It's also vinegar-y (sp?), go figure. Perfect replacement for the bottled hot sauce we had sitting in the fridge. As you can see in one of my pictures, we dumped the hot sauce in favor of some pepper vinegar. The other bottles are those small wine bottles you find in the store in packs of 4. I love using those when a recipe calls for about a cup of wine- no need to open up a whole bottle!
Any bottle you want should work, so long as you can wash it well and the neck is wide enough to shove peppers through. Take also into consideration how well it pours. We found those wine bottles don't pour as easily as we would like. It's all worth it though. :)
This pepper vinegar needs to sit in the cupboard or the fridge for 2 weeks, ideally before use. This gives the vinegar time to absorb that yummy flavor. And now that the weather is starting to cool off (at least around my parts), it's time to figure out what to do with all of those last peppers before the cold destroys them! This recipe is perfect!
Of course, you could just go to the grocery store and grab some peppers there. Bring the bottle you plan to use (empty!) so you can get an idea of how many peppers you'll need.
Onto the recipe...

Pepper Vinegar
(recipe from

Hot peppers (cayennes, serranos, jalapenos, etc.)
Distilled white vinegar (Try apple cider vinegar for a fun twist!)
bottles (clear is fun so you can see the peppers inside)

Wash, and sterilize in a hot water bath if you so desire, the bottles and lids (and a funnel).
Wash the peppers and let dry, or gently dry with a towel. Cut off the stem and slice in half (or in quarters if a half is too big to fit through the neck of the bottle).
Stuff the peppers into the bottle. You want them to all fit in nicely, but not too snug because otherwise, the vinegar won't be able to get around all of them. You can get creative here and put the peppers in different orders to make fun patterns. I found a chopstick was very handy in getting the peppers right where I wanted them. Make sure there is empty space in the neck above the peppers. This ensures they can all be covered completely with vinegar.
Warm up some vinegar. You have to estimate how much you'll need. If you are making several bottles, I recommend following the directions here on how he heated up the vinegar. Since I did one or 2 small bottles at a time, I put some vinegar in a glass liquid measuring cup and popped in in the microwave for 45 to 60 seconds.
Pour the vinegar into the bottles with the help of a funnel. Once the tops of the peppers are covered, oh so gently shake the bottle to release any air pockets. Fill up some more, but make sure to leave some head space in the top.
These little beauties need to sit away from direct sunlight for at least 2 weeks. Put them in a cupboard or in your fridge. I'm making some for Christmas gifts. Yum!

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake Scones

You remember my Strawberry Bread, don't you? You don't? Okay, go ahead and read it. I have time. :)

Back to my 2 containers of strawberries that needed use. I found a delicious looking recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Scones at Fancy Frugalista. Having a bunch of strawberries and the desire to expand my scone repertoire, these were perfect. I love that they use NO cream. Perfect since I didn't have any.
These are great, and definitely best fresh and warm. Yummy!
The recipe calls for strawberry juice. My strawberries weren't willing to give up much, even after a sprinkling of sugar. So I just used what I had and filled up the rest of the way with milk. It worked. They were great.
I halved the recipe for hubby and I, if you have quite a few people to feed, go ahead and make the full batch.

Strawberry Shortcake Scones
(recipe from Fancy Frugalista)

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. + 2 tbl. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. room tempterature butter, cubed
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
strawberry juice + milk to equal 1/3 cup. (half and half is ideal, but more milk than juice is just fine)
1/2 c. chopped strawberries (mix in some sugar and let sit to get juice)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet.
Mix together the first 4 ingredients. Then blend in the butter until it's pea sized.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, juice and milk. Mix into the flour mixture just until moistened. Gently mix in the berries. Put the dough onto the cookie sheet and form into a 8-inch circle. Score into 6 to 8 slices and bake 25-30 minutes. I think you could also divide the dough into 6 to 8 pieces and put them on the cookie sheet and bake them that way. They may night take as long to bake, so keep an eye. Let cool a bit and enjoy!!

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Strawberry Bread

Strawberries were on sale cheap at one of our local grocery stores and I wanted to get a couple containers for strawberry shortcake. Unfortunately, the yellow cake I was planning to use as the cake molded. Like the day after we bought the strawberries.
So, with two containers of strawberries, it was time to get creative. I made strawberry shortcake scones (more on that later), cool and easy strawberry pie (that's dessert for tonight), and a lovely strawberry bread.
I found the recipe at, but made so many changes that there isn't a whole lot linking it back to the original (which I don't have the link for anyways).

I don't know about anyone else, but warm strawberries doesn't sound very good. However, it's time to get over that feeling and have some yummy bread. The bread is great warm, but also tasty at room temperature. It's incredibly moist and soft. Yum.
I left the nuts out of the recipe because hubby isn't a big fan of them in bread, but feel free to add some in if it's your sorta thing.

Strawberry Bread one 9x5inch loaf

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. granulated sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. + 2 tbl. veggie oil (or try substituting applesauce- and let me know how it works!)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. strawberries, pureed
1 c. strawberries, chopped
1/2-3/4 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. In a smaller bowl, blend together the oil, eggs, vanilla and pureed strawberries. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until everything is moistened. Gently fold in the chopped strawberries and pecans.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning the loaf out of the pan to cool the rest of the way. Slice and enjoy!!

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

There is just about always fresh cookies in the house. Hubby likes them for his work lunches, and I like making them for him. He is a simple guy, and usually likes just plain old chocolate chip cookies. However, with all of my cookbooks, and blog following, I want to change it up from time to time. Hubby is fine with that, and we do usually end up going back to the old standby of chocolate chip.
This week at my internship worksite, someone brought in the staff pizza and cookies. I chose a huge chocolate crinkle cookie, and at that moment knew I had to make some of my own at home.
I searched and searched my cookbooks for a recipe to no avail. My mom makes something similar around Christmas time, but the recipe must be over at her house. Off to the internet I went. I searched "krinkle" and "crinkle" and came up with loads of recipes. Some included melted chocolate, some required refrigeration time, some had good reviews and some had mixed reviews. After looking at a few I knew that I wanted one that used cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate and preferred to find one that didn't require any refrigeration time because I prefer to start and finish a recipe in one standing.
Enter here the Williams-Sonoma website. I have a few of their cookbooks, of which I am very very pleased with. This recipe had great reviews (I love the recipe websites that let people review them. SOOOOO helpful!). And the weird thing is - I followed the recipe EXACTLY this time. Crazy, huh? They are delicious. Hubby even enjoys them in his lunch. Win-win! They are definitely going on my Christmas cookie list.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies makes 24-30 cookies
(recipe from Williams-Sonoma)

1/2 c. powdered sugar (you may need just a bit more)
1 2/3 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two cookie sheets.
Put the powdered sugar into a bowl and set aside- a cereal bowl works great for this.
In another bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
Now, in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until it's nice and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
Gently mix in the flour mixture until it's all combined.
Using a tablespoon, or a melon baller, scoop out the cookie dough and roll it into balls. Put the balls in the bowl of powdered sugar, a few at a time, and roll them around until completely coated. The powdered sugar does seem to stick better when the dough is cool. Place the powdered sugar covered cookie dough balls (they look like donut holes) on the cookie sheet, a couple inches apart and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until they have puffed and cracked.
Let them sit on the cookie sheet for just a moment, then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!

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