Pump Up the Jam: 7 Sassy Uses for Preserves

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Jam can be used to create sophisticated dishes and foodie treats very frugally. Its versatility will surprise you.

That humble jar of jam you have stored in the door of your refrigerator is good for much more than a school lunch sandwich or breakfast toast topper. These seven savvy food solutions show you how to take this high-value grocery staple to the next level.

Great grilled sandwiches        

Who says homemade grilled cheese sandwiches have to be humdrum? Adding jam to the recipe is a great way to jazz things up. Keep things kid-friendly with a cream cheese and strawberry jam combo, or embrace a more savory flavor pairing of cheddar and spicy-sweet onion preserves. Either way, you’ll have a tasty toasted treat that will take your taste buds by surprise.

Perfect pork chops

Cutting a sale-priced loin into separate steaks is an excellent way to enjoy lean meat for less. Incorporating homemade or inexpensive preserves lets you increase your flavor factor while still keeping things frugal. The Mayo Clinic suggests combining black currant jam with Dijon mustard and wine vinegar to create a perfect, penny-pinching pork glaze. Plum preserves provide another fun way to enjoy pork chops, as this suggestion from My Recipes demonstrates.

Glazed chicken

Few comfort meals trump the appeal of a classic chicken dinner. Whether you’re roasting a full bird, keeping things low fat with breast meat, or wowing your guests with a winning wing recipe, adding jam will enhance the food experience. The people at Food in Jars suggest slathering your bone-in breasts in a mixture featuring yellow plum and ginger jam, while the Eat, Live, Run folks offer an unusual raspberry-chipotle glazed wing recipe for those wanting to spice things up at their next dinner party.

Stuffed muffins

Many of us grew up enjoying Mom’s jam-stuffed goodies with our morning milk, but I think there’s more fun to be had with this idea than most people realize. The key is to serve savory combinations. This lets you maximize your money-saving muffin potential by taking them into both the lunch and dinner hours.

Think tomato jam or jalapeno preserves inside a corn muffin, or perhaps using bacon or onion jam to stuff an herb-seasoned oatmeal baked good. They can be enjoyed on their own as a side snack with lunch, or alongside a silky tomato bisque for dinner. Whatever flavor combo you choose will give you a cost-effective way to upgrade your menu with a satisfying side dish.

Sweet and sour sauce

Whether you’re stir-frying tofu, sauteing some kielbasa with peppers and pineapple, or simply want something to dunk your chicken nuggets in, having a homemade sweet and sour sauce in your recipe repertoire will help keep your flavor factor high and your frugality concerns at bay. New cooks are often under the impression they have to purchase this sauce already made, but whipping it up from scratch is actually quite simple. This sauce recipe from Yummly shows you how to prepare your own using ingredients such as apricot jam, soy sauce and rice vinegar.

Puff pastry treats

I’m all about ease when it comes to needing a fancy treat for a holiday, bridal shower or brunch. So this two-ingredient recipe for blackberry jam straws from the Spoon Fork Bacon website caught my eye rather quickly. Basically, all you need to do is put a layer of jam between two sheets of puff pastry, cut into strips and twist. How simple is that?

I’ve also seen something similar done with pinwheels, where you cover one sheet of puff pastry with jam and roll the whole thing up like you would do with a jelly roll cake. Then you simply slice into rounds and bake flat. Easy peasy.

Better baked brie

Baking a round of brie inside a pastry shell isn’t new, but if you want to impress your guests with a more fabulous foodie treat, consider adding jam to your next batch. This baked brie recipe from Epicurious features apricot jam, but I’ve seen successful recipes using raspberry and plum jams as well. Choose buttery crackers in fun shapes to complete the offering.

Cooking with jam is certainly about more than coconut thumbprint cookies and other classroom treats. While those types of recipes are certainly enjoyable, I think it’s important for people to realize how easy it is to use this basic grocery item to create more sophisticated food items. Single people or those who need to budget for frequent entertaining should find this list particularly useful.

Stacy Johnson

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