Category Archives: Snacks

Cowboy candy: Candied jalapeno peppers

My garden’s overflowing with jalapenos and serranos this year and I’ve stuffed them every way I can and was running out of Ideas on what to do with them all. My sister-in-law said candy them. It took me a minute to wrap my mind around it but a little google-fu and I found plenty of candy jalapeno recipes. I found one that looked good and tweaked it with some additional spices and tore into it.

Verdict: Where have these BEEN all my life?

Gather up about 3-4 pounds of jalapenos. You city folk can just go buy some at the store.
Chop them into little slices with the seeds, up to 1/4 inch thick. Discard the stems and points of course. Yes Virginia those are red jalapenos and some serranos in there.

Here’s the rest of what you will need:

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar.
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne or chili powder
  • 2-3 little pea-sized chunks of candied/crystalized ginger
  • Bunch of 4 and 8 ounce canning jars/lids/rings

Once you have all your peppers sliced, get everything else ready.

Now add all the spices, sugar and vinegar into a 5 quart pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add all those slices right into the boiling liquid. Make sure to coat everything with the liquid and bring it back to a boil.

Once boiling again, give them 3-4 minutes to roll over in that bubbling goodness and get your jars ready. Stir to make sure they don’t clump up.
That fluid mixture is going to soak into those peppers and when it cools off they are going to be hot, sweet and chewy.

Line up your clean jars and use a slotted spoon to fish those peppers out and put them into the jars. Push them down a little bit and make sure they don’t quite reach the top of the jar.

Now ladle in the boiling fluid that remains in the pot, into the jars so that you have about 1/4″ left to the top of the jar. You might want to use the ladle handle to push the peppers a bit and get any bubbles out.

Use a napkin and clean all the goo off of the top edge of the gars and get a lid on those jars.

Also: SAVE THE FLUID!!!! You show up at a BBQ and slather some of that sweet spicy goodness on some chicken or pork and you are going to be Lord God King of that BBQ.

Now go ahead and boil those jars in a canning pot for 10 minutes if using 4 oz jars, 15 minutes for 8 oz ones. Some say let them sit and stew in those jars a week or two before trying them but I have been popping these peppers like candy all evening, they are divine.

Put these candied peppers on some BBQ burgers, cream cheese crackers, stuffed potatoes or whatever, and you’re going to rule the day.


Pickled Radish Giardiniera

Pro tip: Don’t plant a whole pack of radish seeds all at once in your garden. Space them out about 1/4 a pack 2 weeks apart per 1/4th otherwise you get a bazillion damned radishes at the same time. Not knowing what to do with them all I have been annoying my whole family and neighbors with free radishes. I googled around and found some pretty decent pickled radish recipes that looked a lot like my favorite 3AM-in-Walmart snack: Mezzetta Giardiniera. It’s usually $3 for a little jar though.

I checked a jar to see what all was in it and the ingredients were pretty similar to many simple pickling recipes online. I mixed and matched some of the recipes, replaced the cauliflower with radishes and it turned out great.

As usual get all your stuff together first. Get enough jars to jar up 2 quarts of mix. I used 2 Kerr wide mouth mason jars and one quart jar plus the rings and lids to seal up the Giardiniera.

Pickling brine, this will cover 2qts of veggies.:

  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Salt
  • 1/3 cup water

Place into each empty jar:

  • Bay leaf
  • 10-20 black peppercorns
  • Pinch of Fennel seeds
  • Pinch of Dill seeds

Now the actual veggie mix ratio is not horribly critical. No one’s going to care if you put in too many carrots or too few radishes. Chop it up into equal sized pieces, cut the radishes into halves or thirds if they are huge.
Here’s what I used:

  • Half a bag of Ridge cut carrots
  • 20-25 Radishes
  • Celery
  • 1/2 of a red or green bell pepper
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic

Keep the garlic and radishes separate for now.

For the big spicy jar I added this, adjust heat as you see fit:

  • Habanero pepper. I put one in the quart jar, chopped, seeds and all.
  • Tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, strips cut in half

Bring the brine to a boil, then boil the garlic until they are soft, then cool the garlic in a bowl of ice water. Boil the radishes for 30 seconds then cool them in the ice water too. Dibby the garlic into the jars and mix up all of the vegetables.

Pack the jars with the vegetables. Put the spicy ingredients into one of the jars if you are making a spicy jar. Pack them in a little bit tight leaving about 1/4″ room to the top. If you are short on veggies throw some more carrots or celery in there to get them full.

Pour the boiling vinegar solution into the jars 1/4 from the top, then twist on the rings and lids. The vinegar will be pink thanks to the radishes. Tip them over and let the peppercorns and fennel seeds distribute around the jar.

Let them set overnight, or a week or two. I find the store ones are a hint crisper but the added flavors really develop wonderfully in a week’s time. You can eat them the next day if you cannot wait but they will be best in about a week! It looks like I made a vegetarian snack without even realizing it. I’ll do something with bacon next to even it out.

My favorite snack: Jalapenos, cheese, bacon and Creminelli’s salami

Cooking like a man often requires cheese, bacon, peppers and salami. Fortunately these come together to make my favorite fast snack: Stuffed jalapeños. I get a couple different kinds of cheeses: feta and bleu, fresh jalapeños, bacon and my new favorite salami: Creminelli Bolognase sliced thin.

The deli I get my cheeses from charges $19 a pound for bleu and gets all snooty with me when I ask for a little tiny wedge enough for a snack. Over to the $7.99 a pound salad bar for that instead. This deli has a wonderful salad bar with large crumbled bacon bits they make up right in the store too. A couple of salad dressing-sized  containers and 2 bucks worth of ‘salad bar’ fixins and we have our stuffing on the cheap.

Cut the tops off the jalapeños and if you don’t have a fancy Jalapeno Corer
a butter knife works fine to remove the guts. Leave a couple seeds in there for some extra heat.

I have one of these Jalapeño Grill holders for grilling, but the thing doesn’t have big enough holes for the fat peppers so I have to prop them up in a muffin pan.

Now stuffing peppers isn’t brain surgery. Roll up the cheese with the Creminelli slices and just drop them in there. Mix it up, try combos of different cheeses and bacon, salami, ham, go crazy.

Throw them in the oven (ya I know a BBQ would be better but someone left my grill gas canister valve on all winter and the gas leaked out) on 350 until the cheese all melts and the peppers cook soft, about 15 minutes.

The melted cheese and fat from the salami or bacon actually tempers the heat from the peppers making a great snack, enjoy.

Candwich, sandwich in a can

Go America! When I heard about these canned sandwiches I thought they were a funny idea, but the more I mulled them over I’m not sure they aren’t genius.

Sandwich, in a can.

Perfect for vending machines, bail-out-bags, hunting packs, glove boxes, truck toolboxes and emergency kits. Mark One Foods was kind enough to offer the cook like a man review team a free sample, so thanks for that!

The bread was nice and soft, plenty of PB&J, a little knife and piece of candy comes in the can. It was a good PB&J sandwich. The official Cook Like A Man review team also agrees: Yummy!