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Strawberry champagne jam and 3 wonderful years

Last week, Jeff and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary on May 1st. I said it last year around this time and I’ll say it again – it feels like we’ve been together much, much longer than that, but I mean that in the sweetest way possible. My memories of the time before “us” are hazy and dull. The happiness I’ve experienced since we met has been bewildering. I didn’t think this kind of love existed for ordinary people like us, and it just keeps growing and getting better and better.

Strawberry Champagne Jam

Enough with the mush.

We’ve had 2 bottles of champagne left over from our wedding that have been taking up space in our fridge for 3 frickin’ years now, and though we would love to have the space back, we just can’t ever find a good enough reason to pop such a special bottle. If we’re splitting hairs, then I should mention that they’re actually cava, a Spanish wine made in the style of champagne (it’s not technically champagne unless it’s made in the Champagne region of France.) I’m not a wine person, so I have no problem erroneously referring to them as champagne. Tastes like champagne to me.

Strawberry Champagne Jam

I had the idea for this recipe a few weeks ago and asked Jeff over dinner one night if he would be comfortable with letting me use one of our special bottles to make it. I could just see him debating it heavily in his head, and it was actually several days before I was given the blessing to use it. I figured there would be a lot of it left that we could sample later that night and reminisce together over, but somehow I ended up using the whole dang bottle! Whoops.

Strawberry Champagne Jam

It turned out fantastic though. It’s not really boozy at all, but there’s a heavy white grape flavor with a bit of tingly something there, kind of like the enzyme-y tingle you get from honey. It’s a bit on the thin side too but I thought it was fine that way, good for dipping a croissant in. It would be absolutely incredible as a topping for vanilla bean ice cream or paired with some really nice cheese.

Strawberry champagne jam

The classic marriage of strawberries and champagne in a luscious jam.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 6 cups strawberries (leaves removed and cut in half)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 750mL bottle of champagne (about 3 and 1/2 cups)

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together strawberries, sugar, zest, and juice then allow to sit for 1 hour covered with a kitchen towel.
  2. Transfer contents to a large, heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot and pour over the champagne. Stir until foaming has stopped.
  3. Turn on the heat to just above medium and allow to come up to a low boil. Stir frequently with a spatula and reduce heat if you feel anything starting to stick to the bottom or it could burn.
  4. After 1 hour, test doneness by adding a small dime-sized dollop onto a frozen plate. Wait 20 seconds, then tilt the plate. If it runs freely, it needs more time; if it barely runs, it's done. Continue boiling jam until it passes the run test.
  5. Finished jam can be canned or the majority frozen while a small amount is kept in the refrigerator for immediate use.

Obviously, a jam recipe that uses an entire bottle of champagne is not made inexpensively. This is certainly not something you’re going to make on a whim unless you’re just rolling in cash. It would, however, make for a very thoughtful and personal anniversary gift to give to a special couple in your life. I know Jeff and I will get much more enjoyment out of this jam than we were getting from that bottle taking up room in our fridge that we never had the heart to open.

Strawberry Champagne Jam

Just don’t wait 3 years like we did.

Do you have a sentimental food item you can’t bring yourself to indulge in?

 

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Spicy sriracha chicken salad

Inspiration can come from anywhere…

Last week I sat looking at a list of over 30 recipe ideas for the blog with no desire to make any of them. I like to cook what I crave, and though the ideas I had already were good, I just wasn’t craving any of them at the time. I decided to poll followers of my blog’s Facebook page for what flavors you guys are loving right now. There were lots of good suggestions, but the one that immediately got my recipe-inventing wheels turning was… Sriracha sauce!

Spicy Sriracha Chicken Salad

As soon as I heard the word I knew I wanted to make a chicken salad with lots of fruity spicy sriracha! I often mix sour cream and sriracha together to make a dipping sauce for panko-crusted chicken, so I knew this same concept would work perfectly in chicken salad form.

Spicy Sriracha Chicken Salad

Sriracha is a Thai hot sauce made from┬áchili peppers,┬ádistilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. You may have heard of it referred to as Rooster Sauce, due to the giant rooster that appears on the bottle of the most popular brand. Whatever you call it, it’s a mild, fruity sauce that tastes great on almost anything. I love it on a burger or squeezed over fried rice.

Spicy Sriracha Chicken Salad

Spicy Sriracha Chicken Salad

A spicy Thai take on chicken salad with the fruity flavor of hot Sriracha sauce.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Just over 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 skin-on bone-in chicken breasts (makes about 3 cups shredded roast chicken)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 heaping tbsp. Japanese mayo (or other thick style mayo)
  • 2 tbsp. Sriracha sauce
  • 2 scallions (sliced thinly)
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds

Cooking Directions

  1. Dry chicken breasts thoroughly with a paper towel and rub all over with a bit of olive oil. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400F degrees for 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Remove and discard skin. Use your hands to pull the chicken from the bone and tear into small pieces.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded chicken with all other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Serve on bread, a croissant, or over a salad as desired. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

I ate that sandwich for lunch right after photographing it and was in spice heaven. It’s definitely got a kick to it, but I didn’t think it was overwhelmingly spicy. If you’re sensitive to spice though, feel free to dial back the amount of sriracha you add. Start with just one tablespoon and taste it to see if you like it as is. And if you’re a lunatic, add even more!

Spicy Sriracha Chicken Salad

Thanks again for all the awesome recipe inspiration. Anyone else wanna chime in with a flavor you’re loving right now? Who knows, maybe it’ll end up inspiring my greatest recipe creation of all time! A recipe to crash Pinterest! If only in my dreams…

 

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Green tea sugar

I remember when I was a kid we had blackberries growing in our backyard. They were on the corner of the property, twisting and winding out of Dad’s ever-growing pile of lawn clippings. I remember filling a mason jar with them and begging my Mom to bake them into a pie for me. She artfully dodged that bullet by instead making me a bowl of the berries in milk, sprinkled liberally with sugar.

I loved the tart berries with their sandy coating of sweetness swimming in a bowl of sugary milk- it was summer in a bowl.

Green tea sugar

I saw blackberries at the market a few weeks ago and thought they were looking ripe enough to try. Berries are one food I will never buy out of season, they’re a totally different and disappointing food when they haven’t had enough sunshine yet to sweeten them up properly. I had no idea what I wanted to do with them, but for some reason that memory of sugared berries that I hadn’t had since I was a child came to mind.

If I was going to do this I wanted to class the whole thing up a bit, make an “adult” version of my childhood treat. Green matcha tea sounded like the perfect grown-up sprinkling sugar flavor.

Green tea sugar

The flavor is still mostly sweet, with just a faint springy green flavor similar to the herbal flavor of mint. It’s not bitter at all. The best part may just be the leftover sugary green tea milk at the bottom of the bowl.

Green tea sugar
Green tea sugar

The recipe is super simple: 10 parts sugar to 1 part matcha. Easy as pie. I’d recommend using a small measure such as a teaspoon. I made mine in tablespoons and it ended up being quite a bit of sugar. I’m sure I’ll find something delicious to use the rest for.

Green tea sugar

This springy green tea sugar is great for sprinkling over fresh fruit, or anywhere a little sweetness is needed.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 parts white sugar
  • 1 part powdered matcha green tea

Cooking Directions

  1. Whisk together sugar and matcha. Sprinkle on fresh fruit, buttered toast, or any way you use sprinkled sugar.
  2. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Of course you don’t have to sprinkle it on blackberries either. I think it would be fantastic dusted over buttered toast, as a crunchy topping for donut muffins, or swirled into a lemonade. Just for fun-sies, I went ahead and used it to rim a glass of strawberry milk. Mmmmm!

Green tea sugar

Matcha green tea is one of my very favorite flavors and I’m always looking for new ways to inject it into the foods I love. It seems every time I make a new recipe, I find myself wondering if it would work in a matcha flavor. If I’ve learned anything so far, the answer is always YES.

Green tea sugar

What would you sprinkle this green tea sugar on?