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Back before Christmas, I came up with an idea that could've gone one of two ways - it could either be the greatest idea I'd ever had, or the craziest. Luckily for me, it turned out to be pretty darn good. I made a shortbread cracker with pepper jack cheese, cut into 2" circles. I used my melon baller to put a "thumbprint" in each one then made a pepper jelly to fill the thumbprint. Since these were a gift and I didn't want the crackers to get soggy, I just put the jelly in a jar for my sister to add as she wanted. I want to share the recipe with you, but unfortunately, I don't have pictures (my phone was stolen right before Christmas). So here it is...

Cheese Shortbread Crackers

1 cup flour
½ cup butter, softened
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp red pepper
2 cups shredded cheese

Combine flour, butter salt & pepper until dough forms. Add cheese and mix well. Shape into disk and wrap with plastic. Chill for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°. Roll dough to ¼” thickness. Cut into desired shape. Bake on ungreased pan for 14-16 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Pepper Jelly

Dice 1 medium bell pepper, 3 jalapenos (with or without seeds, depending on the level of heat you like), and 2-3 Anaheim chiles, poblano peppers or any other type pepper you like to equal roughly 1 cup of chopped vegetables.

Place in a medium saucepan with ½ cup apple cider vinegar and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. When the mixture starts bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes - 1 hour or until desired thickness.

*You can use canned green chiles in place of the other peppers if you don't have access to fresh peppers. Just drain the juice off them and measure out 3/4 - 1 cup of them. I simmered mine for about 45 minutes. It does thicken up just a little as it cools down.

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