Category Archives: Gourmet Jams & Jellies

Luscombe Farm Jalapeño Pepper Jelly

I had a hair appointment a couple of weeks ago, and Allen drove across town with me since we had dinner plans close to the salon later that evening.  He killed some time in a bookstore while he waited for me, and I was surprised to see he had bought a cookbook.  Although he is great help in the kitchen, usually in the clean-up department, he doesn’t cook that much.  He makes the coffee every morning without fail, he’s in charge of bacon and eggs for Saturday morning breakfast, he always mans the grill, but he never consults a cookbook.  His purchase was a good choice, though.  We’ve been trying to eat healthier, so he picked up a Weight Watchers® book of chicken recipes.  I was practically drooling over the recipes and gorgeous pictures of chicken appetizers, soups, salads, and entreés.  I kept gravitating to a recipe for Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly Chicken and made a mental note to pick up the ingredients on the next grocery shopping run.

Luscombe Farm Jalapeno Pepper JellyI chose Luscombe Farm Jalapeño Pepper Jelly for the dish.  The Anna, Texas Luscombe Family farm was established in 1913 and is operated today by fourth generation family members, who produce an award-winning  line of fiery jellies and peppers.  Their pale green jalapeño pepper jelly has a  spicy kick that is tempered by organic pure cane sugar.  The Luscombes remove the peppers’ seeds and membranes, so even those who aren’t fond of jalapeño heat can enjoy it.  It was so great in the chicken recipe! Full disclosure–my mental grocery shopping notes weren’t complete, and I forgot to pick up the low-fat cream cheese called for in the recipe, so I adjusted it to use some regular cream cheese I had on hand.  The recipe wasn’t quite as healthy as intended, but it was definitely delicious served with cilantro lime rice.

Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly Chicken

  • 1/2 cup Luscombe Farm Jalapeño Pepper Jelly
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 ounces tub-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (about 1/2 cup), softened (I used  about 1/3 cup regular cream cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 4 (6 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 400°.  Place jelly and garlic in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high temperature 45 seconds, or until jelly melts, stirring after 30 seconds.

Combine cream cheese and cilantro in another small bowl.  Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket.  Stuff 1/4 of the cheese mixture into each pocket, and close openings with wooden picks.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat a 12-inch cast-iron (or other oven-proof) skillet over medium high heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add chicken to pan, skinned side down, and cook for about 4 minutes.  Turn chicken over and brush with jelly mixture.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until done, basting with jelly mixture in skillet after 7 minutes.  Remove pan from oven, and transfer chicken to a serving plate.  Add water to pan, stirring with a wire whisk to deglaze the pan and make sauce.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Remove and discard wooden picks.  Spoon pan sauce over chicken and enjoy!

Luscomb Jalapeno Jelly

The Luscombe Farm website has other recipes that use their awesome jellies.  Try some in your kitchen!


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Dalmatia Fig Spread

DalmatiaI told my mom recently she should start her own artisan food business and make fig preserves.  I would be very happy to be her only customer, as her fig preserves are the best I have ever tasted.  She modestly credits the small, sweet figs that flourish in East Texas.  I’ve been on a fairly futile search for artisan fig preserves that taste as good as Mom’s.  I’m always surprised that many people apparently believe the great taste of figs needs to be enhanced by the addition of other fruit flavors like orange, lemon or even strawberry.  Not so in my book; the flavor profile of figs is distinct enough to stand on its own.  It is hard to describe the flavor of figs.  I read one description claiming that figs taste like a cross between a peach and a strawberry, but I’m not sure I agree with that assessment, and I’m also not sure I can give you a better description!

After trying a few disappointing brands of fig preserves, I found Dalmatia Fig Spread.  Dalmatia offers two fig spread flavors, original and orange, and of course, I chose the original flavor.  The appearance of the spread in the jar was promising — dark in color with a jammy consistency.  The aroma was deliciously familiar and the taste was right on target.  I grew up eating fig preserves only at breakfast on toast or biscuits, but I’ve since learned to enjoy figs in different ways.  Dalmatia Fig Spread with goat cheese and crackers was a popular item at a recent lunch buffet we hosted.  Now that I have Dalmatia Fig Spread in my pantry, I’m going to recreate a fig, prosciutto, and goat cheese pizza I enjoyed at a local upscale restaurant.

Dalmatia & goat cheese

Dalmatia lies on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, where sun and sea combine for a unique growing climate.  Dalmatian farming families hand-pick the figs , and sun dry them on wooden pallets.  The figs are imported into the United States, where the spread is made.  I’ll let you know if I talk my mom into starting an artisan fig preserve business, because you are going to want to be in on that.  Until then, Dalmatia Fig Spread is a delicious addition to sweet and savory dishes.  I bought Dalmatia Fig Spread at Central Market, it is available at World Market, and from several Amazon vendors.

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McCutcheon’s Apple Butter

Allen and I were grocery shopping in Central Market recently, and sampled McCutcheon’s fruit butters.  Allen tried apple butter, and I tasted peach.  I’ve always been more of a jelly and jam fan, so I was surprised at how much I liked the peach butter.  Allen really enjoys apple butter, and since he thought McCutcheon’s was superb, we brought a jar home.  When I came in from my morning run the next day, he had already popped open the jar and was enjoying toast with apple butter.  The apple butter has a great texture, not too thick and not too thin.  It is pleasantly spiced without overwhelming the apple flavor.

I surprised (maybe shocked) Allen this morning by actually cooking breakfast on a weekday!  This French toast is quick, easy, and super-delicious.

Apple Butter French Toast Sandwiches

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

8 slices whole wheat sandwich bread

4 tablespoons McCutcheon’s Apple Butter

4 tablespoons whipped cream cheese

Preheat oven to 250°.  In a large shallow dish, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.  Coat a large skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat.  Place 4 slices of bread in milk mixture and soak for 1 minute per side, then place bread in skillet.  Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer bread to a wire rack set on a baking sheet and place in warm oven.  Wipe out skillet and repeat with remaining bread.  Spread 4 slices of bread with one tablespoon each of apple butter and top with remaining slices which have been spread with one tablespoon each of whipped cream cheese.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar if desired, then serve immediately.

Source:  Slightly adapted from

We love a good story behind good food, and the McCutcheons’ story is great.  William McCutcheon retired from a Frederick, Maryland canning company in 1938 at age 80, but he wasn’t quite ready to stop working.  With the help of son, Robert, and daughter-in-law, Helen, he purchased a used apple press for $25.  The McCutcheon family began pressing apples for local farmers, and later made apple butter per their customers’ own recipes.  During the 1950’s, the family expanded into larger manufacturing facilities and began making apple products under their own label.  Robert and Helen’s sons, Robert Jr. and William, expanded the product line to include preserves, salad dressings, and many others you can order from their website.  They also have a company store in Frederick.  A fourth generation of McCutcheons is now proudly carrying on the family tradition that began more than 70 years ago with a $25 investment.  That is a true American small business success story!

The National Association of Manufacturers produced an interesting video featuring McCutcheon Apple Products.  Check it out on YouTube.

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Fredericksburg Farms Peach Pecan Amaretto Preserves

Peaches, pecans, amaretto.  Do I have your attention?  Fredericksburg Farms hits the ball out of the park with these delicious, all natural, gluten-free preserves.  They are full of large peach slices, crunchy pecans, and a generous splash of amaretto.  They would take toast or biscuits to a whole new level, but honestly, mere bread might be unworthy of these amazing preserves.  As soon as I opened the jar and smelled the amaretto, my thoughts immediately went to dessert!

One of my co-workers gave me a recipe for cream cheese ice cream, and we often enjoy it with fresh fruit or pound cake.  It seemed like a natural with the Peach Pecan Amaretto Preserves.  Once the ice cream was made, it was a cinch to assemble these mini ice cream parfaits.


Peach Pecan Amaretto Cheesecake Shooters

Cream Cheese Ice Cream

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Thoroughly blend the first five ingredients.  Gently stir in heavy cream.  Freeze following the directions for your ice cream freezer.  Remove from the ice cream freezer, and store in an airtight container in the freezer for at least 2 hours, or until firm.

For each dessert shooter, you will also need

  • A small dessert glass
  • 1/2 graham cracker sheet
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Crush the graham cracker sheet and mix with sugar and cinnamon.  Layer graham cracker crumbs, Fredericksburg Farms Peach Pecan Amaretto Preserves, and small scoops of ice cream, ending with a dollop of preserves and a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs.

Fredericksburg Farms operates on a real farm in the Texas Hill Country.  They are locally known for their seasonal flowers, particularly poinsettias and Easter lilies.  But their food steals the show — grilling & barbecue sauces, salsas & queso, jellies & preserves, syrups, condiments, hot sauces, chili mixes, bread mixes, and dip & rub mixes.  Their website has dozens of taste-tempting recipes.  You can order products directly from Fredericksburg Farms, and their products are available in some major retailers, including Central Market.

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