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Creative twists turn up the heat on popular menu items

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Updated: 8/30/2013 3:18 pm

(BPT) - The zing of fresh jalapeno peppers, tangy barbecue sauce and pickles so crisp they make your mouth tingle are all flavors to savor. But have you ever thought about using those awesome flavors in extraordinary new ways such as topping a cake with barbecue sauce, using jalapenos to make ice cream, or perking up deviled eggs with pickles?

Favorite dishes, presented with a twist, can make any fall gathering a special event, whether you're barbecuing in the backyard or tailgating before the big game.

Here are four favorite ingredients and some hot new ways to use them this season.

1. Jalapeno peppers - You love them on nachos and they wake up any omelet, but have you ever thought of adding jalapenos to ice cream? The combination of heat from the peppers, sweet from other ingredients such as fruit, and the coolness of the frozen treat make for a stimulating and unique experience. Pull out your ice cream maker and whip up a batch of chocolate jalapeno ice cream or mango-jalapeno sorbet. It's easy to find such recipes online and in no time at all, you'll create a dessert that's both hot and cold and will keep people talking until Christmas.

2. Pickles - While you love them all year long, pickles are among the royalty of condiments. Why not let them hold court in dishes where you might not usually expect them? Start with pickles that celebrate the essence of freshness, such as Farmer's Garden by Vlasic in Kosher Dill Spears or Halves, or Zesty Garlic Chips. Made with farm-grown cucumbers, hand-picked garlic, carrots, peppers, herbs and spices, each jar is delivered fresh to your grocery store. Free of preservatives and artificial colorings, they're naturally low-fat and low-calorie. Toss pickles on the grill or use them to add zing to favorite dishes like deviled eggs.

3. Barbecue sauce - Grilled goodies surely would not be the same without barbecue sauce. It makes burgers bodacious and wings take flight. But imagine that spicy, savory zing paired with the intense richness of dark chocolate; it's a match made in heaven. Barbecue sauce adds moisture and excitement to your favorite chocolate cake or cupcake recipe.

4. Watermelon - Plenty of fresh fruits find their way onto your plate, but few carry the weight (literally and figuratively) of this staple. Watermelon is a great ingredient for everything from salads and salsa to cocktails and Asian-style stir fry. You can even toss a wedge on the grill. Simply brush the edges with oil first to prevent sticking, grill just enough to warm the melon and add some grill marks, and then top it with thinly shaved prosciutto and blue cheese crumbles for a sweet and savory appetizer.

If you're ready to get adventurous with your ingredients, try this deviled egg recipe from Vlasic, which marries two tastes into one blissful union of flavor:

Deviled Eggs Pickle Boat

Ingredients:

6 eggs

1 teaspoon of mustard

3 tablespoons of mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of chives

1/2 a Farmer's Garden Kosher Dill Half, finely chopped

2 pieces of red pepper from the Farmer's Garden jar, finely chopped

1/2 Farmer's Garden Kosher Dill Half, sliced thin into half moons for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil or steam the eggs for 13 to 15 minutes. Immediately remove the eggs from the hot water and place in ice water to cool. When eggs are cool enough to handle, peel the shells, and split the eggs in half, separating the yolks from the whites.

Place yolks in a bowl with mustard, mayo, salt and pepper, chives, chopped pickles and chopped red pepper. Mix until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Place two half-moon pickle slices in each egg white half. Fill remaining egg white with yolk mixture, using a spoon or a piping bag. Top deviled eggs with fresh parsley and chill until ready to serve. Log on to www.farmersgardenvlasic.com/recipes for more great pickle recipes.

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