Two Time Jam Champion at the State Fair!

Hi readers! Hopefully the title of this post says it all, but yes, the DC State Fair happened this past weekend and my jam won first place, again! Last year I won first with my Southern Lady Pepper Jelly, and this year I entered two fruit-centric jams. I’m trying to be modest, but both jams placed– 1st and 2nd!

Award Winning Jams ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

I didn’t go into this year’s fair thinking I would win again. There was a lot of good competition last year who I knew would be back this year too. Plus, a part of me felt my win was probably beginners luck last time. Nope! I think I might know what I’m doing! 😉

Smoky Peach and Pepper Jam and Peach-Basil Jam ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

So, on the left is the 1st place jam,  Smoky Peach and Pepper. The 2nd place jam on the right is Peach-Basil. These are the peaches my husband and I picked earlier in the summer, and the basil and some of the peppers were grown in my community garden plot.

Smoky Peach and Pepper Jam ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

LOVE the color

These jams are delicious and too sophisticated in flavor to go on a PB&J. The Smoky Peach and Pepper has an intense smoke flavor that yields to the sweetness of the peach and a tiny hint of heat from the pepper. It is amazing served with cheese and crackers. The Peach-Basil is also sweet, with a strong fresh basil taste that intensifies as you chew. I love slathering it onto a toasted bagel and cream cheese.

Yums. 🙂

IMG_3853

I’m sharing the recipes with you all in the hopes you try these jams too one day. Freshly picked ingredients make the best jam, remember that! I picked everything that went into this jam and then starting cooking it within 24 hours. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really is just fun and you get a better product.

Fresh Peach Jam

  • 4 heaping cups finely chopped, peeled and pitted peaches
  • 2 tbl lemon juice
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 package (49-57 g) powder pectin or about 6 tablespoons

For Peach-Basil Jam

  • 3/4 cup snipped fresh sweet basil

For Smokey Peach and Pepper Jam

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red, yellow and orange hot peppers (not jalapeno)
  • 1/4 heaping tsp dried smoked paprika (taste it, you may need to add more depending on smokiness of your spice)
  • 1/4 tsp dried ground chipotle pepper (again, taste it, you may want more if you want a big kick of heat, this is for mild heat)

Directions: The base peach jam recipe is above, you add in either the additional ingredients for the Peach-Basil or Smoky Peach and Pepper jam in addition to the base recipe. The measurements for the additional ingredients are for a whole batch (meaning you need to make the base peach recipe twice if you want to make both jam flavors. I do not recommend doubling the recipe and then trying to split it in half.)

Prepare your peaches by scoring an X along the bottom on the skin and dropping the peaches into boiling water for 30 seconds. This will loosen the skin and make it easier to peel. Peel, pit and chop the peaches until you have 4 heaping cups. Add the peaches and lemon juice to a large pot. Stir in the pectin and bring to a boil over high heat. Sit in the sugar all at once. Return to a boil and boil hard for 2 minutes. You will notice the texture of the jam mixture will go from grainy and thick to liquidy. Once it gets liquidy, your almost there but be sure to boil hard for at least two minutes or the jam will be soft. Skim off foam as desired, or plop in a tablespoon of cold butter, which is what I do, to keep the foam down.

*If you are making Peach-Basil jam, stir in the snipped basil right after you skim off the foam. Keep the mixture hot while you are doing this, or else you will get air bubbles in your jam.

*If you are making Smoky Peach and Pepper, add in the chopped peppers along with the peaches at the beginning of the recipe and continue to cook according to instructions. After you skim the foam or add the butter, stir in the dried ground spices. Again, keep the mixture hot while you are doing this, or else you get air bubbles.

Next, ladle the hot jam into cleaned and prepared jars. This should make about 7 eight ounce jars, or the equivalent thereof– I used 12 oz jars because I liked the look. Screw on the lids and the bands, and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. (Start the timer once you’ve put the jars into the canner and the water returns to a full boil).  Remove and let cool. You can turn the jars every few minutes, for the first 20 minutes of cooling, if you want to evenly distribute the fruit. Make sure your lids have sealed and enjoy! The jam is shelf stable for 1 year. Once it has been opened, keep it in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Erin

Erin's DC Kitchen at the State Fair

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Fall Round-up: 5 Tastes of the Season (Cinnamon Ice Cream, anyone?)

Happy Fall! This past weekend (Sept. 21st) marked the official start of fall and I’m loving it. The chill in the morning when I walk to the bus stop is the best! 🙂 Plus, I got to bust out the fall boots. I’m not normally one to jump on trend bandwagons, but I have to say I really want some  knee-high cable knit socks to wear under those boots to up the cozy-factor. (Sounds cute right?)

Anyway, I know you don’t come here for fashion commentary. This post is a round-up of fall recipes I’ve put on the blog before, but deserve to get more attention now that I have (slightly) more readers. You newbies might have missed out on these classics!!

For my birthday a couple weekends ago I went apple picking with my in-laws at Stribling Orchard in Virginia. The day was lovely, the apples were plentiful, and the ensuing pie was delicious. I canned four quarts of applesauce, which used up most of the haul, but also made a pie and am working out an apple crumb bar recipe that will hopefully be posted soon!

In the meantime, enjoy the tastes of the season with these 5 recipes!

Homemade Chunky Applesauce

Homemade Chunky Applesauce

Apple Cider Cake (ridiculously appley)

Apple Cider Cake ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Cinnamon Ice Cream (what else should go on that pie?!)

Cinnamon Ice Cream~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Pumpkin Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Pumpkin Sour Cream Coffee Cake ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Oh heck, here is a bonus one! Sweet potatoes shouldn’t be forgotten this time of year! 🙂

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Candied Bacon ~ Erin's DC Kichen

Blueberry Preserves

The husband and I went blueberry picking last weekend at Butler’s Orchard and hauled in a little over 12 lbs!

Fresh picked blueberries ~ Erins' DC Kitchen

So you know what that means? JAM! And more blueberry posts 🙂

Oddly enough, this is the first time I’ve made blueberry jam on my own versus just helping (loosely) my Mom make hers. (Thanks for peaking my interest in canning!)

Homemade Blueberry Jam~ Erin's DC Kitchen

So pretty isn’t it?

Homemade Blueberry Jam~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Right after I finished this batch, I had to turn around and leave for a business trip to Newport, RI and didn’t get to try any of it until this morning! It’s was so good, not overly sweet because I opted for a lower sugar recipe, and bursting with blueberry pieces.

Here is the recipe!

Erin’s Blueberry Jam

  • 5 cups crushed blueberries (it took around 9 cups of whole berries to get to 5 crushed)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 cups sugar (up to 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons Ball powder pectin (or 1 box pectin, 49 to 57 g)

Makes about 7 to 8 eight ounce (250 ml) jars

Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids. In a very large pot combine the berries and lemon juice. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add all the sugar and honey at once, then return to a full boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Ladle into prepared jars and leave 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Place on lids and bands, boil in the canner for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let stand 24 hours, during which time the lids should vacuum seal.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Need a more comprehensive breakdown of how to make jams? Read my step-by-step, soup to nuts guide to strawberry jam.

Weather Throwing a Curveball? DIY Plant Protection!

Protect Plants from the Cold - Erin's DC Kitchen

Don’t let fickle weather undue all the work you’ve put into your springtime garden; cold weather protection is easy (and cheap)! Why do you need to worry about protecting plants from the chill? Mostly because freezing/frost can kill plants. Also, unseasonably cold weather will weaken and stress tomato and pepper transplants. These are warm weather loving plants and in order to get them growing, flowering, and setting fruit in a healthy manner, you need to avoid stressing the plants.

Plants are really a lot like us- we are not happy when it is 75° and sunny and then the next day you wake up to a bone-chilling 35° morning.  (True story).

So here is a step by step guide to what I did to protect my plants, and it cost nothin’! You need some cheap garbage bags, I used our 13 gallon white Hefty’s– no drawstring or anything fancy- and a pair of scissors.

1)  Place bag on top of the plant cage, the closed bottom facing up.

on top before cutting

2) With the scissors, cut along the bottom seam to open up the bag and gently pull the bag down the cage until it touches the soil. Weigh down the edges of the bag with items found in your garden.

weighing down

3) Tie the edges of the bag in three places to the cage. I did this by tearing 2 inch long vertical strips along the top of the bag and tying  knots at the three places where the ring meets the cage. This keeps the top open to the sun.

Note: The bag is floppy because the edges haven’t been tied yet. Tying prevents floppiness, and it will look like the first pic in this post.

You’re done! Plants will stay safe with the bag warming the air around the plant and protecting them from wind. I leave these on during the day if the temperature doesn’t get to0 high, like above 70º, and of course, keep them on at night when the temp is dipping in the low 40’s and the 30’s.

Another option for covering plants is to use the plastic pot from a particularly large pepper or tomato transplant. Cut the bottom off and place over the plant, like so.

use leftover container

Now here is a picture of one of my marigolds, just for fun, 🙂

marigolds

Happy Gardening!

– Erin

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Look at this ice cream. It is decadent, velvety-smooth, and swirled with delicious bites of graham cracker pieces and tart lemon curd. The richness of the whipping cream and cream cheese is balanced by the lemon. It is, not to brag, probably the best tasting ice cream I’ve ever made. 🙂  As usual, no ice cream maker is required for this recipe, or my others here, here and here.

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream, No Maker Required! ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

During one of the nearly 90° days in DC last week, I had a spark of creativity; I really wanted something with lemon, but didn’t want to turn on the oven. So, natch, lemon ice cream.

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream, No Maker Required! ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

This is just so pretty, I love it. It tastes good too, this was confirmed by a second source, my husband, who was skeptical of this flavor combination, but ended up eating two bowls once it was ready.

Not to mention, photographing ice cream is actually fun. It is easy to style and is a playful food to begin with; normally taking pictures is not something I like about food blogging. Ironic, no? Am I the only food blogger out there that feels this way?

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

When the weather turns sweltering, you don’t have to ignore your urge to bake- turn to ice cream as your medium!

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, at room temp (I used about 6 oz. ’cause I ate some)
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • zest of 1 lemon, juice from half the lemon
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd, at room temp
  • 1 tsp creme bouquet (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted 
  • 6 graham crackers, broken into small pieces, but not crumbs.

Place the bowl of your electric mixer into the freezer. A very cold bowl will help your cream whip in no time. Meanwhile, break up the graham crackers, zest your lemon, and measure out your lemon curd and set aside. Once bowl has chilled, whip the pint of cream on medium-high speed until fluffy and peaks form. (My Kitchenaid with the whisk attachment does this in no time, I love it). Add in the lemon zest and whip on low briefly, just to incorporate. Set aside.

In another large bowl, with an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and creme bouquet. Mix for 2 minutes on high. Gently add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and fold in with a spatula. Don’t mix aggressively, but so the cream cheese mix is mostly incorporated into the whipped cream.

Melt the butter and drizzle over the graham cracker pieces, stir to coat. Dump the graham crackers onto the whipped cream/cream cheese mixture, then dump the lemon curd on top of the crackers. With a spatula, gently fold/swirl 2 or 3 times (only!!)  the crackers and lemon curd into the mixture. This will create pretty swirls and pockets of lemony goodness like you see in the pictures. Transfer to a 8×8 metal or glass pan and cover tightly. Freeze overnight. Let the ice cream sit for 5 minutes before scooping, it’s easier that way.

*NOTE: This ice cream does not require an ice cream maker and if you put it into a maker, I have no idea what will happen.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Muchi Curry-Spiced Chickpeas

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Hi dear readers. I moved! Yes, three weeks ago I moved to a new apartment ( I should specify the husband came too), and we really like the new place. The space is smaller overall, but more useful, if that makes sense? It currently smells like curry… nom nom.

I’ve been thinking about healthy DIY snack foods lately. We really like Trader Joe’s crunchy wasabi peas for a snack, but it is so easy to blow through a whole bag and they are really salty. Making my own crunchy snackypoos allows the sodium usage to be much reduced, happily.

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

These little chickpeas are toasty from being oven roasted, spiced with muchi curry and have the addictive crunch many of us look for in a snack food. These are really easy too, it is three ingredients: 1 can chickpeas, oil and spices.

Curry Spiced Chickpea Snack

Ta-Da! A snack you can feel good about. 🙂 In order to get these nice and crunchy, please be sure to wash and dry the chickpeas well. Rub them with a folded paper towel to help release the skins (pick these out) and remove extra moisture. See below.

IMG_3678

Once the surface moisture is removed, you’ve won half the battle. The oven needs to be really hot for the first part of the roasting, then you’ll turn it down and continue to roast for over an hour to get out the remaining moisture so these stay crunchy after they’ve cooled.

It does take some time, but it isn’t active time, you can watch TV, clean the house or unpack moving boxes while the oven works its magic!

Curry-Spiced Chickpeas (serves two)

  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1/2 heaping tsp muchi curry (this is a savory based powder, heavy on cumin and fenugreek)
  • 1/4 heaping tsp cajun seasoning (I used McCormick)
  • Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 425°.  Drain and wash the chickpeas. Lay out onto a paper towel to drain, and rub with another paper towel. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to dry off. Remove the transparent skins that come loose from some of the chickpeas.

In a small bowl, combine the chickpeas, oil, spices and salt. Toss gently to coat.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminium foil and spread the chickpeas out in a single layer. This is important, these must be in a single layer in order to toast properly. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. The  chickpeas should become very fragrant, but not smell like burning!  Next, turn the heat down to 350° and continue to roast for 20 more minutes, stirring often. Turn off the oven, but leave the chickpeas in for another hour while the oven cools down.

Remove and serve warm, or let cool before storing in an airtight container to nosh on later.

*Note: Don’t use olive oil, it doesn’t have a high smoke point and will start burning to soon, these chickpeas need to cook for a long time to get all the moisture out. Vegetable oil has a much higher smoke point and it will not impact taste.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Snowquester, or, Experiments on a Rainy Day

Hi friends. How many of my dear readers live in the DC area and were bombarded with news reports about “Snowquester”, the biggest snowstorm of the year.

Well, then you already know Snowquester was more of a Snowtease. Despite being letdown by a dismal amount of snow accumulation, my husband and I were determined to do our Snowquester baking experiment.

Aunti Anne's Pretzels At Home

Last night, we went to the grocery store to stock up on the essentials, beer and snack food. Of course. We saw a box of Auntie Anne’s make-it-at-home pretzel mix and thought, yes, this we must try.

DIY Auntie Anne's Pretzels

So, since we are both at home today rather than work (snow is deadly, remember) we busted out the box and got to baking for an afternoon snack.

How to Roll A Pretzel

How to roll a pretzel

We topped them with salt, cinnamon sugar (included in the kit), and also tried Old Bay and Cajun seasoning on a couple others.

Auntie Anne's Pretzels at Home

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

My take on the do-it yourself version of Auntie Anne’s is this, 1) it’s not as easy as it looks at the mall, 2) it’s really messy and 3) there is no way two adults can consume the amount of pretzels this kit makes, so do this at home with kids or a group. Actually doing this with kids seems like a nightmare due to the mess factor and many steps. You should see our kitchen after two adults tried this.

Most importantly though, how do they taste? Although our pretzels were sometimes uniquely shaped, they more or less tasted like the real thing. The thinner ones were not as good.

This one tasted the best, notice it is proportionally shaped?

Homemade Pretzels

You were better because you were pretty. It’s true.

Classic, buttered with no salt- my favorite. 🙂

Did anyone else out there do some Snowquester baking? Let me know!

– Erin