Strawberry-Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Summer is officially in full swing here on Delmarva. We spent all day at the beach on Sunday – then came home and fired up the grill. What speaks of summer more than that? I normally count on my good friend, Sweet Baby Ray to handle most of my BBQ needs. But, the DIYer in me won out, and I remembered the BBQ sauce that my friend Josie had posted a few weeks ago. I’d made the sauce before, and was blown away with the results. I love it because it’s super quick – requiring only a few ingredients, and doesn’t need to be cooked.

I decided to add some of the strawberry-chipotle jam I’d made to the sauce, to spice it up a bit. The sweetness of the strawberries and the smokiness of the chipotle really came out on the grill. We both kept raving about it!  Will definitely be making up more batches of this stuff all summer long, looking forward to trying a version with peach jam in a few weeks when I’m able to make some preserves with those juicy gems.

Summer is here, kids. Fire up those grills!

A few weeks ago we went strawberry picking, only to get home to find that I didn’t have an operational cooktop. Not wanting any of those glorious berries to go to waste, I made an interesting strawberry jam, a delicious strawberry pie and cake, and with what I had leftover – I steeped the berries in vodka for a week and made this beautiful strawberry infused vodka!

Isn’t the color just glorious? And the flavor? The flavor is all juicy, ripe berries. When I strained the berries out they were pure white. Alcohol is funny like that. You can extract flavor from anything with it! Last year my husband made a really different hot pepper IPA by soaking a few habeneros in vodka, then adding that pepper extract to the final product. We’re looking forward to another batch of that already! But I digress, that’s another post.

This strawberry vodka is mellow enough to be sipped over ice, or to-die-for mixed into an icy glass of lemonade. I’m hoping that the bottle makes it through to the winter. To enjoy the freshness and flavor of these berries in the cold winter months would be a treat for sure! Next year I’ll probably make 2 bottles. Good stuff, folks!

Let me introduce you to one of my very best friends in the pantry, homemade vanilla extract. I made my first batch of it back in October of last year – to give as Christmas gifts, and I haven’t looked back! I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved over the past few months, a small fortune I’m sure.

As with most DIY projects, I really take pride every time I take it out of the cabinet to bake with. It’s so easy too – you just need some cheap vodka, vanilla beans, and time. You need to let the beans “steep” for about 2 months before you start using the extract, but the longer it sits – the better it gets! I keep 2 jars in rotation to ensure that I never run out.

It’s been a trying week in my kitchen, and it’s only Wednesday. To start out the weekend, I discovered the door to our stand up freezer in the basement was left ajar for a couple of days. It needed a good cleaning out anyways, but still, talk about a waste. Then, to make matters worse, when cooking dinner on Friday evening – the propane tank that fuels the cook top ran out. We only have to have it filled once a year, and I guess it just slipped my mind. That meant going until Monday without a propane delivery. Thankfully, we have a beast of a grill with a handy side burner. It’s saved our butts more times than I can count when we’ve been without electricity for an extended period of time.

However, one thing that I couldn’t do on my trusty grill was preserve the 15 lbs of strawberries we picked on Saturday afternoon. So, we went over to my Mom’s house yesterday to can, and it was a great afternoon. Mom always enjoys spending time with the boys, and it was nice not to have them pulling on my apron strings when I was in the process of canning. Hot jars + boiling water + toddlers just makes me nervous!

I couldn’t be happier with how this jam turned out. At first taste, it’s pure delicious strawberry.  But, comin’ up from behind is a lovely smokey, slow burn from the chipotles. I intended to do one batch of this, and one batch of a traditional strawberry jam. But, I loved this so much that I went ahead and did a double batch. I can’t wait to try it mixed into BBQ sauce, brushed onto grilled pork, or making a fun dipping sauce for coconut shrimp. Definitely plan on entering this one into my local fair come August!