Contributed by: Joyce Moseley Pierce of Emerson Publications
Need a quick treat for those upcoming holiday office gatherings? A few years ago I was introduced to the combination of Wheat Thins(TM), cream cheese and jalapeno jelly! Don't let the jalapeno scare you. There are two ways to combat the "fire" you feel on your tongue caused by these hot peppers, and that's with milk or bread. Whoever created this Southwest delicacy knew what they were doing. The cream cheese and cracker are there to calm the nerve endings in your tongue so you can enjoy the blend of flavors.
The kick in this jelly is a delicious way to open the eyes, as well as the taste buds, of your friends and co-workers. Just place a block of cream cheese on a festive holiday plate and pour the jelly over it. Put the crackers within reaching range, but not close enough that they get soggy from the jelly.
You can buy the crackers and cream cheese at any grocery store, but you may have to search specialty shops for the jelly. Sometimes you can find it at Cost Plus or Marshalls in their food section. However, if you really want to impress your friends, try making your own. If you've never handled raw jalapenos before, let me offer a word of warning. The skin of the pepper is safe to touch - it's the seeds that produce the burning sensation. Use plastic gloves if you're worried about handling them. If you choose to brave it without the gloves, keep your hands away from your eyes while working with the peppers - even the slightest bit on your fingers will send you screaming if you get it in your eyes.
Cut peppers. Discard seeds and stem. Grind peppers in blender with vinegar. Move this mixture to a large pan and place on your stove burner. Add sugar, bring to boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and skim. Add 2 pouches pectin and food coloring. Boil hard for one minute. Seal hot.
One year for Christmas I canned the jelly in half pint jars and gave them as gifts. I made a label with a jalapeno on the front and tied a holiday ribbon around the lid. You might also add a Southwest fabric to lay under the screw top lid. One friend was so excited she grabbed a spoon and ate it right out of the jar!
In addition to being great for dipping with crackers, it's great on toast or as a ham glaze. It adds a "kick" wherever it's used. You may even find yourself reaching for a spoon!
Copyright 2002 Joyce Moseley Pierce
She is also the editor of The Family First Newsletter, an ezine for families with young children. To subscribe: http://www.emersonpublications.com/pages/848640/index.htm
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