Jalepeno Pepper Jelly Thumbprints

Happy New Year! I hope you have had a happy, healthy and safe holiday season. It feels good to be into a New Year, and I’m excited to see what 2021 has in store for us all. With baking for the Bears in hibernation this season due to the pandemic, I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands and was able to do some really fun things in the kitchen.

At the end of October one of my colleagues convinced me to submit a recipe to The Chicago Tribune’s Annual Holiday Cookie Contest. So, with about 12 hours left to meet the deadline, I decided “why not?” and typed up my recipe from Mrs. Lloyd that she shared with me 10 years ago for the raspberry Spitzbubens. One of the questions on the submission form was “Tell us why this recipe is so special to you.” When I started baking for the Bears I didn’t really know how to bake and had no recipes of my own. It was Mrs. Lloyd’s kindness of sharing a few recipes with me that really helped me that first season. The Tribune Test Kitchen judges liked it as much as I do and they gave it a 2nd place award! My first ever contest and it was a winner… very exciting!! Here is the Tribune article if you’d like to check out the 1st and 3rd place winner’s recipes as well: https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/recipes/ct-food-holiday-cookie-contest-winners-chicago-tribune-2020-20201202-djf27gfbhnenbouoagdzbeuwdm-story.html

I’ve also started canning this holiday season – and, by canning, I mean I’ve even gone out and bought one of those humungous pots with a wire rack to seal several jars at a time. I’ve even joined a canning group on Facebook…ha! It’s crazy the things you can cook, stick in a jar, and “seal” it and eat weeks, even months later. Like, meat and stuff. Whoa. You see, this idea of canning started on my visit to the Restaurant Depot which is now open to the general public because they have surplus of product, sadly due to the challenges our restaurants are facing during this pandemic. Typically, in past years when I would shop at the depot, I’d be picking up 25 pound bags of sugar and flour, and 10 pound boxes of Ghiradelli chocolate chips for my baking for the Bears. This season, I’ve been picking up 10 pound bags of Jalepenos…not knowing what I was going to do with all those peppers. I started researching ideas on what to do with jalepenos. Low and behold, I’ve been canning Jalepeno Pepper Jelly and I love it! The day before Thanksgiving I drove all over Chicagoland dropping jars of jelly off to friends and family. It’s delicious and makes for a great appetizer over cream cheese and crackers. My sister-in-law Holly loved it so much, and she said I needed to come up with a cookie recipe, like a Kolacki cookie and submit it to Reynolds Brands “Cookie Connoisseur” contest. I had not heard about this contest, but I looked it up and got excited to be a part of this fun challenge. Thus, the creation of the Jalepeno Pepper Jelly Thumbprint! The cookie base was inspired by the Raspberry Spitzbuben shortbread. I’m so excited and honored that Reynolds liked it enough to make it their award-winning, first ever cookie in their campaign. Please click here for my recipe and other very unique & fun recipes containing “wacky” ingredients: https://www.reynoldskitchens.com/collection/cookie-countdown-2021/

I will stick to canning just jelly for now, but I might get a little more creative and try making jelly with other types of peppers and spices. And for the Reynolds Cookie Connoisseur gig, I have to submit 4 additional original recipes, which I’ve been diligently working on and believe I have perfected them… so please stay tuned for those new and unique recipes in the coming weeks!

Until then, I encourage you to try different things in your kitchen while we are spending more time at home at the beginning of this New Year. Make the most and the best of it, if you can. You never know what it can lead to…even if it’s just a fun new hobby. And if you do try making the Raspberry Spitzbubens or Jalepeno Pepper Jelly Thumbprints, please let me know – I’m here for any questions you might have and would love the feedback.

Thank you so much for reading my blog. Stay well and healthy…And GO BEARS!!! (Big game against the Packers on Sunday!)

Published by


2018 will mark my 7th Season making treats and baking for the Chicago Bears. You might be thinking, how does one land that gig? Well, let me tell you. It’s riveting… My younger brother, Danny, works full-time for the Bears. Our entire family have been life-long Bears fans, btw. Back in the summer of 2012, he came to me and said, “Hey, we need someone to make treats for the team. Do you think you can do it? Because my boss said, Dan, you’ve got all those sisters, can’t one of them bake? So, I volunteered you.” My first response was, “YES, but I don’t know how to bake”. I mean, up until that point, the only things I remember ever baking were 1) S’mores Bars back in the 80’s off a recipe on the back of the Golden Grahams cereal box. Come to think of it now, I don’t even think those things went into the oven – so technically that wasn’t baking. And 2) Good old Nestle Toll House cookies – which NEVER turned out the same each time I baked them and it drove me nuts and got me to HATE baking for that very reason. I was always in love with cooking, though. I was the gal who threw dinner parties often and provided an obnoxious array of hors d’oeuvres and wine – that’s more my thing. Side note: I learned the hard way that baking and wine don’t mix. Ha! However, I was honored and excited to have been asked to step up to the plate for this little baking / treat-making gig, for THE CHICAGO BEARS, no less. So my answer was an enthusiastic, YES! I figured I still had a month before the first regular season game, which is when the “treat days” begin – every Thursday during the regular season (not preseason). So, I hit the streets in search of good recipes and then got to work test-baking in the kitchen for the rest of that summer. As I became more internet savvy, I started following lots of baking bloggers and watching video tutorials. I would go to parties and if I tasted something that I thought was exceptional, I would never hesitate to ask for the recipe. Baking for the Bears is always in the back of my mind when eating desserts. I now have an arsenal of treat recipes worthy of offering at a bake shop, if I do say so myself;) . I started getting requests for my pound cake, outside of Baking for the Bears, and my Double Chocolate Chip Sea Salt cookies have been quoted as “The best cookies in the world” by a well-known player, as well as friends, family and neighbors. One of the first things I did was perfect a cookie of my own that comes out pretty consistently crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. I no longer rely on the old Toll-House recipe. It’s the one thing I never get tired of baking. The guys get them every week. With that said, this season, I plan to blog my recipes each week, and share with you whatever it is I am making for the Bears. I’ll also give you tried & true feedback on what worked, what didn’t, and any fun comments that the players, staff, friends & co-workers might have regarding the treat of the week. My office colleagues love it when football season rolls around, because I typically find new recipes and test-bake on Sundays to bring in on Mondays for critical reviews. From there, I decide if they are Bear-worthy for Thursday Treat Days at Halas Hall. I hope you will check in periodically and enjoy my blog. I’m super excited for the 2018 Bears football season both on the field and in the kitchen! GO BEARS! This is gonna be a good season… I can feel it!

One thought on “Jalepeno Pepper Jelly Thumbprints

  1. You are so gifted, Sarah! Congratulations and thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes with all of us! Happy New Year!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s