A sweet spicy family tradition

Christine Speno:

It’s my annual “plum sauce making” day — a family tradition. Read my post from 2012 for yummy pictures!

Originally posted on Pudbudder - It's all about fun!:


plum (Photo credit: Greencolander)

Sunday  morning I shared a  picture on Facebook of one of my annual cooking sessions for Sweet Spicy Plum Sauce. I promised more pictures; you’ll find them at the end of this post!  Making this sauce is a family tradition that goes back for years.  It seems particularly special because the original recipe calls for Italian Plums (often dried into prunes) that are only available for a a few short weeks in September, so if you miss that window of opportunity when the small sweet fruits are available, you’re just out of luck until next year.  That seems to make this homemade concoction even more precious. But I admit I made this batch from Red Plums that enjoy a longer season.

Now you could try making this sauce with a canned variety of plums, but to me it’s all about getting in touch with nature and working with fresh ingredients…

View original 271 more words

Peaches and Fresh Mozzarella – a perfect match!

I recently ran across a great summer salad recipe in the Publix Family Style magazine. Those of you that follow me know that I always tweak things. Now the original recipe calls for peaches, quartered and grilled, but I used the nectarines the first time I made this. I also substituted the crunchy part – once I tried walnuts, another time, as shown in the picture, some brightly colored tortilla strips.

I’ve tried this salad with peaches too and must admit I prefer the nectarines as I think they keep their firmness on the grill better than peaches. But either add great flavor especially combined with the creaminess of fresh mozzarella. It literally melts in your mouth.  The grilled shrimp or chicken are my addition too.

So here’s my version – enjoy!

Grilled Peaches and Mozzarella Salad with Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

DSCN5564Prepare dressing first:

Chop in mini blender, 1 or two green onion bulbs (add a little of the tops for extra color)
Whisk together with:

1 tbsp lemon zest
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp Dijon-style mustard
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Set aside.

For Salad:

  • 2 medium ripe peaches or nectarines, pitted and cut into wedges (suggest you peel the peaches, but skin on nectarines are perfect)
  • 8 cups mixed baby greens
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced or chunked
  • 6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts or pepitas or other topping to add crunch & flavor

Arrange lettuce on salad plates, arranging the cheese and cucumbers around the plate. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

When ready to prepare, skewer quartered fruit onto metal or wooden skewers. DSCN5563[1]Brush with some of the dressing and grill for about 5 – 6 minutes. I use a grill tray brushed lightly with olive oil to keep the fruit from sliding off the skewers. (see photos) If serving with grilled chicken or shrimp, use some of the dressing mixed with extra olive oil to baste, and cook alongside the fruit skewers.
When fruit and shrimp/chicken (if using) are ready. Arrange on top of the salad and top with walnuts or Pepitas. Serve with remaining dressing.

I promise you’ll make this often if you try it once!


Diaper Bag Fun – be creative!

I originally created this post as a private page for a friend to demonstrate my method for creating a diaper bag through photos…… However,  I decided to make it public as other readers are getting notice of the page via  RSS feeds and want to know why they can’t get into it.  So here ya’ go for anyone interested.  I used leftover scraps from a quilt project for the first bag so that’s why you’ll notice lots of piecing.

For anyone interested in making a diaper bag similar to this, I suggest you look at the links below to guide you.  For those of you familiar with Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company, you know that she’s always sharing simple ideas for sewing and quilting.  Her video on making bags from charm packs is the basis for this design.  I just changed measurements, added pockets, some embroidery, different straps and borrowed some of the ideas from the Moda link.  I’m not one for patterns and just like to “freestyle” it!

Have fun!




Christine’s Photos:


It’s summer – time to relish those peppers!

It’s the heat of the summer and if you’re into gardening and peppers are part of your bounty, relish is a great way to keep the flavor going throughout the year.  Several years ago, I found a great recipe from Putting Up More by  Steve Dowdney.  I’ve had several requests from friends for this recipe so it’s time to share!

If you follow me on Pudbudder, you know I always tweak with my own twists and special touches. So without further adieu, get on those kitchen gloves and start cleaning those peppers, it’s time to relish those peppers.

Note:  be sure to use kitchen gloves whenever handling hot peppers and seeds.  You’ll find disposable ones at discount stores like WalMart, Dollar General etc for a nominal cost.  These peppers contain oil that will definitely leave your hands wishing you had used gloves if you don’t. 

Datil Pepper Relish ready for the pantry shelf!

Datil Pepper Relish ready to turn right side up for the pantry shelf!

Hot Pepper Relish

Yield : 3 pints

4 cups diced bell peppers – varied colors
2 cups chopped onion (yellow and red)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
½ tbsp salt
½ tbsp mustard seed

Hot Peppers to add

  • Mild: add ¼ cup finely chopped jalapeno, seeds and veins removed
  • Standard: ¼ cup finely chopped jalapeno, leave seeds & veins
  • Medium: ¼ cup finely chopped hotter pepper – datil or cowhorn
  • Hot – ¼ cup – ½ cup haberno peppers or ½ cup datil
  • Screaming: 1 cup finely chopped hot peppers of choice and reduce bell by ½ cup

Bring vegetables, vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard seed to boil; simmer 3 minutes.

Dowdney recommends to check the pH at this point in the recipe.  However, I have had no problem with simply canning the product as stated below by ladling into sterile jars (do make sure the jars, lids and bands are sterilized), sealing and inverting, then storing in a cool dry place.  Actually this relish disappears pretty fast at our house so not sure how long the shelf life would be for this product.  But use your best judgment – test pH or process for the desired result.

Optional for testing pH: Take pot off heat and allow temp to drop to 205 degrees; test pH. If below guidelines (pH higher than 4.2), drain vinegar and add another cup vinegar per recipe. Bring to boil again. When temp reaches 205degrees, test pH again.

Ladle into sterile jars; seal and invert for at least 2 minutes.

Here are the combinations I’ve tested and developed for taste:

Batch 1:

  • 4 cups mixture green and sweet banana peppers
  • 2 cups onion – red & white mixture
  • ¼ cup Datils, seeded and veins removed, finely chopped

This one is our favorite!


Batch 2:

  • 1 each red and 1 green bell peppers, chopped
  • (1/2 batch) ½ cup banana peppers, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped jalapenos
  • 1 cup onion, red and yellow mix

This is our second favorite.


Batch 3:

We liked this third version the least. Suggest skipping the pickling spice if you don’t like the stronger ginger flavor in this mixture.

  • 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, chopped (2 cups)
  • (1/2 batch) 1 cup onion, red and yellow mix
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsps chopped cowhorn  pepper*
  • 3/4 tsp pickling spice

Cowhorn is a pepper I have grown that is similar in heat to an Anaheim pepper. (3,000 – 5,000 on Scoville.)  But be CREATIVE – use your favorite pepper and don’t be afraid to add different flavors to your relish.  Try something new, but be sure to check out where your pepper rates on the Scoville Chart to make sure it’s your kind of pepper. For something hotter, try Serrano or Thai Chili peppers, depending on your tastes.  But our favorite will always be our beloved Datil!

Creativity makes it your own and adds to the fun!   Share your ideas with me and let me know what combination you try!

Eat, Pray, Peel/The Silly Poem Series

Christine Speno:

A fun trip to the world of Pickled Eggs from my friend at ClaudiaJustSaying!

Originally posted on claudiajustsaying:

20140529_094357  Eat, Pray, Peel

On a recent trip north, Mr. Wonderful and I stopped at a rest area in West Virginia. A  pamphlet, “County Cookbook”,  was in a rack of free brochures and I took one. I was intrigued by a recipe for picked eggs, and remember seeing ruby red eggs  in large glass  jars back in the seventies, but  never ate one.  At home I gave pickled eggs a try. Peeling the hard boiled eggs took more than an hour. There was cussing and swearing!


Pickled eggs caught my eye, Why?
Simple, pickled eggs can be a treat!
But . . . first you need the pickled beets

Like Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth
An iridescent show of color.
Looks good to eat . . . except!

Hands turn red, hot liquid stain
Crimson ruby, not lobster red, or cardinal beauty
Red alert, a warning sign
Out damn spot! I want…

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Hot stuff from the garden….

Yesterday I shared some updates of “stuff” I’ve been up to through a slideshow.  One pic showed yesterday’s jalapeño pickings. I tried out a simple stuffed jalapeño appetizer and am sharing my version of the recipe here today (as promised in that photo’s caption.)scoville

Now to real fans of hot peppers, jalapeños don’t rate too high in heat. Scoville places it pretty much in the middle as you can see on the chart to the right — well below those really hot little guys in the 2M+ range — like the habaneros!

And while we’re on the subject of hot peppers, I’m always offended that many Scoville charts don’t include our beloved Datil pepper.  If you’re not in Florida, you may not have heard of this delightful hot sweet pepper.  Do a search and you will find lots of info and sources for seeds and plants. I’ve  made this pepper into hot sauce and added it to a wonderful peach/onion/pepper relish that I started making a few years ago.  I also use it in a relish blended with sweet banana peppers and sweet red peppers as well as in my pickled pepper strips.  I even submitted that flavor suggestion to the Lay’s Potato Chip Contest! And on top of that it produces such a beautiful bright orange fruit – but don’t let it’s “cuteness” fool you. It packs a punch!  And if you do order these plants or seeds, be aware that there is also a milder variety that produces a red fruit – so if hot is what you want, be sure to get the right variety.  This is an heirloom plant and is really quite interesting and fun to grow even if you don’t like hot peppers.  You’re sure to know someone who likes hot stuff!

I’ve gotten way off track here from the Stuffed Jalapeños so I’ll get to that and say “Adiós!”  Happy gardening, cooking and eating!

Christine‘s Stuffed Jalapeños

Start with 8 – 10 fresh jalapeño peppers, split and seeded (be sure to use gloves!)

For the filling, mix together:

  • 1/2 cup softened cream cheese  (to cut down on calories, use half lower fat cream cheese)
  • 1/8 cup grated cheddar
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 5 or 6 slices of pepperoni, finely chopped – I turkey pepperoni as we always have it on-hand (A mini-blender works great for this step.  I finely chop the garlic and pepperoni together in the blender. You may also substitute crumbled bacon if you prefer)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp of fresh squeezed lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro and or tomato for garnish  or additional chopped pepperoni

2014-05-29 17.02.42Stuff the pepper halves with the cheese mixture.  Coat a grill rack lightly with grapeseed oil or cooking spray. Grill over medium heat for 7 – 8 minutes.  You want to bottoms of the peppers to be charred and the cheeses to be melted.   Sprinkle with cilantro/tomato.

Enjoy and be sure to have a nice cool drink handy to calm the heat!

Note: You may also use this cheese filling with sweet mini-peppers for a milder appetizer.

Comments, suggestions?




Related articles:

Pickled Sweet Pepper Strips

Chicken Quesadillas from Pudbudder

Hot Peppers!



More than just cooking….

This gallery contains 16 photos.

The tagline for Pudbudder is “It’s all about fun – A blog about food, cooking, travel, hobbies and having fun. But it seems most of my posts revolve around cooking.  Now just so my readers don’t think I spend ALL … Continue reading

Oranges – more than just a breakfast food!

We’ve heard of the benefits of lemon for cleaning and as an antiseptic. Spray the juice on your hair and it will help lighten your locks in the sun!  Lemon wedges will also freshen your garbage disposal and drains.  I use a few lemon wedges in a bowl of water to remove odors and clean the microwave.  Just heat the wedges in a bowl of water for a few minutes in the mic and let stand for 30 minutes or so to remove odors and freshen the inside. And of course it’s the perfect addition to water and other beverages! For more on lemons, click here

But have you ever considered the benefits of another favorite citrus – namely the orange? I recently saw an idea for an orange-based spray cleaner that grabbed my attention and tried it out so thought I would pass it along.  I tried it and really like the fact that I know exactly what is in this cleaner!  According to what I read, the orange zest is full of d-limonene what acts as a natural solvent that helps dissolve grease. When using this method of creating your own non-toxic cleaner that’s safe around food and kids, be sure to use only the rind of the orange, cutting away all of the pulp and fruit.  (You don’t want mold in your solution – you’re just trying to draw the oil out of the zest.)

You’ll need:

  • rind only from 2 – 3 oranges
  • 1 cup white vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • a clean jar with lid (a pint canning jar works perfectly)
  • water2014-03-07 15.02.15

Place the ring in the jar and pour the vinegar over.  Tightly close the lid and let it steep on your counter top for 2 weeks.  (I kept it on my guest bathroom counter top as a decoration  – it’s actually kind of pretty!)

When the two weeks of “steeping” is done, drain the vinegar/orange solution into a clean spray bottle and add 1 cup of water.  Done and ready to use!!

Let me know if you try it!  Until next time, be sure to send me your comments and suggestions.  Have a beautiful day!



Here’s to Jenny and the Missouri Star Quilt Company!

I’ve written before about the “domino effect” where one small minute details leads to another and another and so on. Well, that’s how I feel about my growing interest in quilting. With so many creative juice varieties flowing in my head, it’s often hard to pinpoint exactly what starts the action.And the story continues.....

But it probably goes back to last November when we joined the gym. It was that time of the year that the weather sometimes interfered with my walking or biking, so we thought let’s give our local Planet Fitness a try for the winter months. Plugging in to the overhead television monitors or my cell seemed to be the thing to do while burning those calories on the treadmill or elliptical.

But I found myself getting bored with that so I tapped into my YouTube channel looking for things to interest me. Layout design, Photoshop, sewing, embroidery – those were all things that sparked my interest. And so I started turning my gym sessions into learning sessions. Eventually I landed on the Missouri Star Quilt Company channel to learn more about creating more sewing and quilting projects. And that is when I met Jenny Doan . Her tutorials are always fun, made so by her sparkling personality. If you’ve not heard about Jenny and the Missouri Star’s success be sure to check out their story here

Not only have they found business success, but they’ve made a huge impact on a struggling small town in Missouri where small town downtowns are often deserted and sleepy. They’ve brought jobs and a new vibrancy to town, even developing a “quilting retreat” center. Amazing! And they’ve captured the nation’s attention with recent spots on the NBC Nightly News as well as MSNBC.

Well, this evening I get to meet the famous Jenny at the Cut Up and Sew Shop in Palm Coast where she’s presenting a Trunk Show, sharing some of her quilts and tips.

Even though we’ve never met, I feel like she’s a friend as I’ve spent so many hours with her on YouTube listening to her tutorials on my tablet and DSCN4802picking up hints for my sewing and quilting projects.

I even had her on the tablet while recently making a purse – just like spending time with a good friend.


Thanks Jenny for all your help and keep up the great tutorials. I’m sure I speak for many of your fellow sewers and quilters when I say that we really appreciate ya, girlfriend! ….oh and thanks for playing dominoes with me :)


Soup for you…..

Unlike the soup Nazi from old days of Seinfeld, who withheld soup, I offer a yummy soup for a quick dinner. Tonight is one of the evenings that my husband and I will head to the gym after he gets home from work. That means a quick light meal before we head out the door or something we can eat when we get home.  So today was new recipe day.  This corn chowder went together in about an hour.  Pretty easy stuff.

2014-02-26 19.47.49

Blending old with the new
Photo Credit: Words Etc.

The original recipe is from my good old Better Homes & Garden cookbookI have an original version circa 1980.  It is torn, tattered, and stained and tells the story of how much cooking I’ve done over the years using this little cooking bible.  A few years ago I asked for an updated version for Christmas. Many of the recipes in the newer edition have been updated to conform to our lighter style of cooking eating in the 21st century.  Now that’s a good thing, but sometimes I just can’t help myself and gravitate back to the old “bible,” but one great thing about the newer version is the inclusion of nutritional information. So without further ado, here is that chowder from the newer book that checks in at 192 calories per one cup serving.  I did substitute 1% milk for the whole milk so my version is probably slightly less in calories. (and there is also a corn and crab variation) Served with some warm bread or crostini and a salad and you’re on your way to a light yet comforting meal.

Easy Corn Chowder

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped sweet peppers (green , red or yellow)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 3 cups frozen corn
  • 14 oz chicken broth (homemade or canned)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup cubed red potato
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  1. Sauté onion and peppers in olive oil until soft.  Add garlic, cooking one or two minutes more.
  2. Add corn and broth and bring to boil; reduce to simmer and cook 10 – 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add flour, salt and pepper to cold milk and whisk together. Slowly add to corn mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until thickened and bubbly.
  4. Continue cooking one or two additional minutes.
  5. Add bacon.
  6. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

    2014-02-25 12.21.03

    Corn Chowder from BHG – Feb 2014
    With Christine’s tweaks
    Photo credit: Words Etc.

For Corn/crab chowder: Substitute 6 oz crabmeat for the bacon. Note: for a richer soup, use cream instead of milk, and/or added grated cheddar or swiss cheese. Makes 10 servings.

Have a favorite soup recipe?  I’d love to hear from you!