Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My New Favorite Remedy for a Snack Attack by Cleo Coyle via Nurse Judy Mac

I was shocked (yes, shocked) 
at how much I enjoyed today’s recipe...

While many of you may have heard of the intriguing food known as Pepper Jelly, it was new to me. I truly didn't think I would like it. But once I sampled this beguiling condiment, spooned prettily over a block of cream cheese and served on crackers and slices of apples, I was sold. I absolutely flipped for it. 

This recipe is not mine, but comes from a follower of this blog: Judy McIntosh, aka "Nurse Judy Mac," which is what her patients call her. (She went back to Purdue at age 32 for her nursing degree and returned for her Master's at age 52.) 

Last fall, Judy shared her recipe for pico de gallo, which beat the de gallo out of my own (and every other salsa I’d ever tasted). It was so good I wanted to eat it with a spoon, but I use tortilla chips for one of the best Rx to a snack attack there is. 

To download Nurse Judy’s BEST EVER HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here

To read the full blog post from last year, click here.

As for Judy’s Pepper Jelly recipe, scroll on down and you, too, will soon be eating with joy!

~ Cleo

Judy Mac's
Sweet Pepper Jelly

Pepper Jelly is a mixture of sweetness and heat. Judy's version is mostly sweet. Like her salsa, she prefers to use sweet peppers rather than hot, and that's fine with me. It's amazing spooned over cream cheese and served with crackers and apple slices.
Cleo Coyle, whose partner in 
crime writing is her husband,
is the author of The

Judy's Pepper Jelly is also fantastic as a dipping sauce for egg rolls and can be used as a substitute for sweet-and-sour sauce in Sweet and Sour Chicken. Thanks again to Judy for sharing her recipe with all of us...  

~ Cleo


To download this recipe in a free PDF document that you can print, save, or share click here


4 cups of chopped bell peppers
   (*See "Heat Note" below)  
  About 8 medium peppers - 2
 each green, red, yellow, and orange

1 large sweet onion (optional)

1 cup apple cider vinegar 

5 cups granulated white sugar

1 package of Sure-Jell pectin

*Heat Note: If you prefer "hot" pepper jelly to "sweet" pepper jelly, simply add 4 jalapeno peppers to the mix of bell peppers.

Note: This recipe makes about 1-1/2 quarts. For best results, do not try to double this recipe. Make 2 batches instead.


Step 1 - Core, seed, and coarsely chop the peppers. If using an onion, coarsely chop it, as well.

Step 2 - Pulse the peppers (and onion, if using) in a food processor until finely chopped. WARNING: Do not process too long or you’ll end up with pepper soup!

Now measure out 4 cups from the recipe. (Be sure to measure the correct amount or the jelly will not set properly.) 

Step 3 - Mix the peppers and the 1 cup of apple cider vinegar together in a large pot (6-8 quart size). Add 1 package of Sure-Jell pectin and mix thoroughly. Heat the mixture on high heat until it comes to a full rolling boil (that’s a boil that does not stop boiling when stirred). 

Now add the sugar and return the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute (that’s all, just 1 minute). Take the pot off the heat and skim off any foam floating on top and bottle the jelly. 

TIP: Place this foam into a bowl and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This will give you an early test of what your jam will taste like.

Now it's time to can your pepper jelly... 

Start with sterilized canning-quality (Mason) jars. Fill up to about 1/4-inch from the top of the jar, wipe the edge clean of any jelly, put new (sterilized) canning jar lids and rings in place and finger tighten the ring. Allow to cool and then place in the refrigerator.

As the pepper jelly chills, the jars will seal and stay "canned" until the seal is broken and the lid is removed. To check the seal, simply touch the center of the Mason jar lid. It should be flat and quiet and not "loudly" bounce in any way, which means the center button has not "popped" and the can is sealed. 

Pepper jelly can take up to 2 weeks to fully gel so don’t panic if it looks runny at first. It won’t hard set like fruit jam, it will remain pourable.

The best way to enjoy this jelly is to spoon it over a block of cream cheese and eat with crackers. Club crackers or Ritz are delicious, and Judy says she's also partial to Blue Diamond Pecan crackers.   

Judy McIntosh with her husband, John

About Judy in her own words...

"Born in Arkansas with a Mamaw that could cook an old shoe and make it taste wonderful! Learned to cook early out of necessity because the cooking gene skipped my mom. She could paint, sing, sew, quilt, and swing a hammer with the best but she just could NOT cook! I went to Purdue University to become a veterinarian and met a dark haired young man under a piece of mistletoe at a Christmas party. Our first kiss was 30 minutes long! So, of course, we eloped, two and one half months later, over Spring Break, 38-1/2 years ago. (That first kiss is why we always have mistletoe up at Christmas!) 

Fast forward three kids, lots of cooking, growing gardens, going back to Purdue at age 32 for nursing, cooking, working, back to school for Master's at age 52, two granddaughters, more cooking, more working, and here I am." ~ Judy 

Eat with joy! 
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

"I discovered Coffeehouse Mysteries with On What Grounds in the fall of 2003 and fell in love. A book based on the love of coffee! I inhaled the first book and began buying (gasp) whole bean coffee and grinding the beans and discovering what fantastic coffee tasted like . . . I've passed the books to my daughter and my mother, taken fabulous new coffees to work to educate the taste buds of night shift nurses who had become used to drinking coffee that had the smell and consistency of old tar. Along the way I have converted a lot of nurses to what REAL coffee tastes like . . . And I still wait impatiently for the next new Coffeehouse Mystery so I can roam the streets of New York and learn to love new coffees and new recipes." 

~ Judy McIntosh

Thanks, again, Nurse Judy. 
May you eat (and read) with joy!
~ Cleo


  1. I( make blackberry hot pepper jelly. I have also made strawberry and I was going to try peach but didn't get to it. You make the jelly as directed then puree about 4 hot peppers with a little water, strain and add the juice to the fruit.

  2. Just a quick note on the sealing of the jars. You don't need to process the jelly in hot water (just the salsa!) to store outside of the refrigerator. The jelly is scalding hot when you put it in the jars and put the lids on. When it cools down, the lids will "pop" and the seal is solid. No need to further heat process.
    Sue, I bought some raspberry hot pepper jelly at the French Market in New Orleans one year. It was really good but a little went a loooong way!

  3. One golden autumn afternoon, my husband and I sat on the veranda of a gracious old Victorian mansion (we'd been married in it a year before) and were served cream cheese with pepper jelly spooned over, and crackers to scoop it up with. I've been a fan ever since. Two days ago we tasted some HOT pepper jelly whipped with cream cheese at a seaside farmer's market, and my husband did back flips! We bought the jelly - made of habanero and red peppers - and it will go home with us Sunday when we leave Oregon. Judy, I agree with you about cilantro (high-five), but give me peppers, da hotta da betta!

  4. Cleo and Judy, thanks for sharing this recipe! I loooooove hot pepper jelly. In fact made a recipe for cheese puffs with little bowls of the jelly in them for a party Saturday night. So excited to try this!

  5. Judy, the recipe is great, but I love the story about you and your husband even more! It's charming. I'm thinking your hot pepper jelly would be delish with baked Brie, too!


  6. I know I am a complete weenie when it comes to hot peppers but the Surejel recipe calls for 4 jalapenos with the other peppers. I don't see why your couldn't go half and half with hot and sweet.

  7. Judy, love the recipe and the picture of your honey. Sweet! I love hot pepper jelly and yet regular peppers don't like me. What is it about this that works? Maybe the vinegar and sugar combo is what makes them easy to eat.

    Cleo, thanks so much for sharing. Can't wait to share this with the family.

    Daryl / Avery