Pump up the Jam

Breakfast is my jam lately.

As in, massive amounts of jam make its way into or onto every single breakfast.

Those all fruit jams at the store are great, but they can be a bit pricey (a lot pricy) and come in minuscule amounts.

You can make your own at home.

You don’t even have to spend hours in the berry patch picking your fruit.

Since, you know, its not even near berry pickin’ time.

And since it is freezing outside it only makes sense that your berries will come from the freezer too.

All you need is your favorite frozen fruit and some fresh fruit that naturally has a high amount of pectin.

Pectin.

The powdery stuff that costs an arm and a leg at the grocery store and is practically non-existant in the winter months.

The stuff your grandmother uses to make her generations old jam recipe.

The stuff that is so fickle, you can never get it the way your  Granny did, leaving your jam runny, watery, and soupy.

Or maybe I’m the only one who spends 8 hours in the kitchen boiling fruit, adding pectin, sterilizing jars, canning, and waiting for the inevitable final product of fruit soup.

Fruit soup does not work nicely on a cashew butter and jelly.

And husbands get mad when jam oozes out onto their work uniforms.

Hulk-ishly mad.

So because berry season is an interminable amount of months away, because fresh fruit comes from countries that I can barely geographically locate, and because store bought all-fruit jam contains about a spoonful of actual product, I present you with this jammin’ recipe.

It’s easily customizable to your favorite fruit and fun additions like orange zest, citrus juice, or flavor extracts like vanilla and almond.

Fruits high in pectin that can be used include apples, plums, grapes, and citrus peels. Unripe fruit contains more pectin so now you have a use for those rock hard plums. Also, most of the pectin is in the skin of the fruit so don’t get all peel-y with it.

Just get jammin’.

Frozen Fruit Jam

2 plums

2 ( 12  oz.) bags of frozen blueberries

Juice + zest of 1 orange

Zest the orange and set the zest aside.

Slice and chop the plums.

You can’t taste the plums. They really just help to thicken up the jam.

Add the plums to a medium sized pot over low-medium heat and cook for a minute or too until softened.

Add the frozen blueberries and the juice from the orange.

Cook for 20-30 minutes or until jam gets nice and thick.

Remove from heat and add the orange zest.

Tidbit: The jam will thicken significantly when cooled completely.

And that’s my jam.

Fire Fighting

Everyone in my family is flaming.

Wait.

That’s not right.

Everyone in my family is inflamed. 

Arthritis, IBS, bone pain, joint pain, headaches, allergies.

And that’s just my sister.

Rumor has it you can fight inflammation with an anti-inflamatory diet.

It was like the ultimate challenge when my sister asked me to help her come up with some meal ideas for her anti-inflammatory and anti-allergen diet.

Ok, she didn’t ask.

I practically tripped over my oven mitts begging her to let me meal plan for her.

Her diet requirements include:

No meat, eggs, dairy, white fish, nuts, gluten, wheat, rye, corn, citrus fruit, apples, bananas, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, paprika, coffee, and processed foods. 

It seems limiting but there are actually a ton of foods she can eat.

Flameless foods like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, tofu, kale, broccoli, peppers, onions, squash, sweet potatoes, beans, seeds, lentils, beans, peas, olive oil, and canola oil. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

All healthy things.

That are delicious when you know how to cook them.

I was so excited.

That is until she told me the rest of her own personal criteria.

1. No creamy food.

2. No thick food.

3. No mushy food.

4. No oatmeal

5. Nothing that needs a lot of prep work.

6. Nothing that takes too long to cook.

7. Nothing that takes food too far away from its original form.

8. Absolutely no oatmeal.

Seriously, what is it with this girl and textures?

I’ve had migraines that hurt less than my head hurt after she got done with that list.

I was so excited.

Here’s the fastest, non-creamiest, un-mushiest, sans oatmeal, flameless, and allergy free meal I could come up with.

(withwhitebeansbecauseyouneedtolearntolikebeansbecausetheyhaveprotienfiberandhealthycarbohydrates)

Mediterranean Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Salad 

1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts

1 ( 12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers

12 pitted Kalamata olives

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning

1 bunch fresh basil (about 1/2 cup)

salt + pepper to taste

1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Drain artichoke and roasted red pepper.

Add to a medium sized bowl.

Add olives.

Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning, and chopped basil.

Add cannelini beans if using.

And you are using them.

Be not afraid! Cannellini beans are just white kidney beans. If you don’t like cannellini, you could substitute any bean or even lentils.

Gently toss everything together.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Best served room temperature or cold.

But very tasty warmed through.

 HAPPY HEALING!

Branded

A craving smashed into me on Saturday like Chris Brown’s fist into Rhianna’s face.

Oh man, that was so mean.

But that was the intensity of this craving.

And like Rhianna deciding to to get back together with an abusive waste of space, this was the dumbest craving ever.

I seriously wanted, no needed, a bran muffin.

A bran freakin’ muffin.

Who craves that?!?!

But it had to be a good bran muffin.

Some bran muffins are shiesters and go around masquerading as healthy when they’re really loaded with fat, sugar and more sugar.

But no one wants a bran muffin that tastes like cardboard either.

In a fight against bad tasting muffins, I put the beat down on some bran.

They’re nutritious and taste good.

It basically does all the things a good bran muffin should do.

Like I told it to.

APPLE BRAN MUFFINS

1 1/2 cups natural applesauce

1 cup non-dairy milk

1/2 cup molasses

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup wheat bran

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix applesauce, non-dairy milk, molasses, canola oil, and apple cider vinegar.

In a large bowl, whisk together white whole wheat flour, bran, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Tidbit: Make sure to use WHITE WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR. It’s softer and less chewy than regular whole wheat flour.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.

Stir just until combined.

Pour into greased muffin pans.

Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if using.

If using a mini-muffin pan, bake for 12-14 minutes.

*I have no idea how long regular muffins would take. Start with 12-14 minutes and then continue cooking until the tops spring back when touched. I always under-bake my muffins by a minute or two since they continue cooking once you remove them from the oven. 

Grab a fist full of mini bran muffins and stuff your face.

Now that’s what I call a balanced meal.

Egg-scluded

Sometimes its hard living so far away from family.

Like when your sister calls you and tell you she’s basically allergic to everything.

Well, not everything.

I think she can eat toast.

Gluten free toast with non-dairy butter.

And make sure the toast isn’t within a 12 foot radius of an egg.

Yeah.

Egg.

“What am I going to eat?” she wailed from eight hundred miles away.

We weren’t on the phone.

I could hear her yelling that loud.

She proceeded to list 16 other things that her allergy test came back positive for.

How traumatic. 

Traumatic that her food lovin’ sistah lives so far away.

I basically wanted to Fed-Ex her Sunday brunch.

She’ll have to settle for a photograph.

With a recipe!

When you can’t (or don’t) eat eggs, you might be surprised to learn that crumbled tofu cooked until warm has a similar texture and mouthfeel as eggs. It doesn’t taste exactly the same but a little salt and pepper go a long way in the flavor department. 

Tofu Scramble

1 (12 oz) block of  firm tofu

1/2 teaspoon canola oil

1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

salt + pepper to taste

Drain tofu and press out excess water.

No need to get technical here. Just press the tofu with paper towel to absorb excess liquid.

Use your hands to crumble the tofu into a medium sized pan.

Add canola oil and sprinkle with turmeric.

Cook over medium heat until warmed through.

(This takes less than five minutes).

Add salt and pepper to taste.

If my sister is anything like me (she’s not) she’ll probably want ketchup for her scramble (she probably doesn’t).

But since she’s also potentially allergic to any processed food with added “spices” she’s going to need to learn how to make her own.

I would have sent her this batch but I used it all to make sloppy lentils.

Yup.

Sure did.

HOMEMADE KETCHUP

*Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or light brown sugar)

1 tablespoon salt

1 small onion, peeled and quartered.

Combine tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan. Add quartered onion and simmer for one hour or until thick.

Cool and store in an airtight container.

Makes about two cups.

My sister and I may share DNA but we do not share tastebuds.

She pretty much hates everything I like.

But if she really can’t ever eat eggs again, she’s about to become a huge tofu fan.

Just like her sister.

Embrace it!

Rainbow Bright

I’m worried that I’m about to say something and you won’t want to be my friend anymore.

It’s kind of weird.

Like, “mercury is in retrograde and venus just called his brother neptune and there is a full moon so that means that I’m going to lose some money because I’m a Libra.”

That’s not even the weird thing I was going to say.

It’s just that the thing that I am going to say might sound just as weird.

And I want you to be prepared.

Ok, here goes.

Sometimes I crave colors.

Not like a pop of color in my tunic to offset my skinny jeans or a bright accent pillow to lighten up the living room, but like food colors.

Yeah.

Some people crave a warm comforting bowl of soup or a nice crisp pear, but I look in the fridge and I’m like, “I need something red.”

Fortunately, I think it has more to do with intuition and biology than it does with actual weirdness.

If you need an info-graphic for proof, check THIS out.

I meal plan with the intention of including as many colors as possible because different colored foods offer different kinds of nutrients and antioxidants.

You may have heard recently that tomatoes are high in lycopene, an antioxidant that may help protect against cancer.

But it’s not just tomatoes that are high in lycopene-all red fruits and vegetables are rich with it.

I have been eating more than my fair share of oats and grains lately so I think my body was screaming for some red antioxidant power.

And bourbon.

Of course.


Red cabbage and sweet cherries are slow cooked (braised) with bourbon, apple juice, and a little bit of honey. Since cherry season is a long ways away, I started this recipe by heating a bag of frozen cherries before adding the rest of my ingredients. A shot of apple cider vinegar contrasts with the  sweetness of the cherries, apple juice, and honey for a sweet and slightly tart side dish.

CHERRY BOURBON BRAISED RED CABBAGE

1 (12 oz) package frozen sweet cherries

2 lbs. red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups apple juice

2 tablespoons bourbon*

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Juice of 1 lemon

*Tidbit: I used Jim Beam Red Stag Cherry Bourbon. You can use regular bourbon or leave it out altogether and add  additional apple juice. Also, if you want a more pronounced bourbon flavor, add it near the end of cooking time. 

In a large pan, heat cherries until thawed.

Add cabbage, apple juice, bourbon, cider vinegar, honey and lemon juice.

Cover pan with a lid, but place it slightly askew to allow room for the evaporation to escape.

Cook over low heat for 60 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and cabbage is soft.

I’m not weird.

I’m color coordinated.

EAT THE RAINBOW!

The Life of Pie

Oh.

My.

Pie.

For breakfast.

Yes.

Go ahead.

Peruse the ingredient list.

Then scroll back up because we’re not done talking.

Don’t get your blackberries in a bunch.

I just wanted to tell you why pie is the most important meal of the day.

1. Oats: Contain selenium which can lower the risk of join inflammation.

2. Flax seed: An excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids.

3. Peanuts: Contain niacin which can help prevent age related cognitive decline.

4. Blackberries: Contain folate which may reduce the risk of mood disorders.

5. Chia seeds: 1 ounce contains 18% daily value of calcium.

Tidbit: All information except those with a link was obtained from The World’s Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan.

Peanut Butter and Blackberry Breakfast Pie

For crust:

3 cups quick cooking oats

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup natural applesauce

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons peanut butter

For Filling:

2 (12 oz) packages frozen blackberries, thawed

1/4 cup chia seeds

I SAID SCROLL BACK UP!

For Assembly:

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

To make crust:

Combine oats, ground flax, and salt.

Add applesauce, honey, and peanut butter.

Mix thoroughly.

Press firmly into 9 or 10 inch pie plate.

To make filling:

Combine thawed blackberries and chia seeds.

Note: This has no added sugar. If you prefer a sweeter pie, feel free to add some honey or sugar.

To assemble:

Spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter over the crust.

Yeah, there’s chia seeds in my peanut butter. I didn’t wash the tablespoon. You’ll live.

Pour in the blackberry filling.

Top with chopped peanuts.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Pie will set once cooled.

Don’t serve this for dessert and expect your friends to be impressed.

Serve it for brunch and be prepared to hand out the recipe.

Ah, the life of pie.

For Butter or for Worse

My husband asked me to stop making so much chocolate food.

I almost asked him for a divorce.

But then I realized that for the price of a lawyer, court costs, and divorce classes, I could buy A LOT of chocolate.

Sometimes I think me and my husband are more different than alike.

Like, we could have been on Maury Povich when every other Wednesday the show was about couples that were “100% Opposite and 100% in Love.”

He’s tall.

I’m short.

He likes Cross-Fit.

I like yoga.

He plays video games.

I read books about how to get your husband to stop playing video games.

Even our dogs are opposites.

His dog eats animals.

My dog prefers vegetables.

I don’t know which is worse-trying to put my dog inside a pumpkin or actually thinking my dog was going to fit inside this pumpkin.

But marriage is about finding common ground.

Fine.

“What do you want?”

“Something with apples.”

Shit.

He’s dying.

My meat-eating, Cross-fitting, Taco Bell binging, chocoholic husband just asked for something with apples.

He’s probably on his death bed, delusional, and speaking gibberish.

Apples.

Huh.

Maybe we’re more alike than I thought.

We go together like chocolate and peanut butter

……..err………..

like apples and almonds.

Almond and apple butters are combined to make a marriage made in food heaven.  You can make your own butters or you can buy them pre-made and put this together in about two minutes.

To make your own almond butter: Add 3 cups of almonds to a food processor and process until smooth. Add salt, if desired.

To make your own apple butter: Add 5 lbs. of apples and 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey to a crockpot. Cook on high for four hours and then puree. Return to crock pot and continue cooking until desired consistency (about 2-4 more hours).

ALMOND APPLE BUTTER

1 cup apple butter

1/2 cup almond butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)

*I added maple syrup because both my apple and almond butters were unsweetened. You probably won’t need additional sweetener if using store bought apple butter.

Add almond butter, apple butter, and maple syrup if using to a medium sized bowl.

Mix thoroughly.

Store in an airtight container for as long as you can keep your face out of it.

Almond Apple Butter.

For butter or worse.

In sickness and in health.

Till death do us part.

I do.

Chasing Tail

Crunch.

Crunch.

Crunch.

That’s what I heard when I went outside to check on my dog after she didn’t come when I called her.

Crunch.

Crunch.

Crunch.

 Oh, great.

She got into the compost and now she’ll be sick tonight.

So I thought.

I should have known better.

I should have known she wouldn’t be crunching on apple cores.

Apple cores don’t make a loud, snapping sounds like, like……………… chicken bones.

Or in this case, squirrel bones.

I should have known.

I also should have known not to reach into her mouth in the pitch black hours before bedtime expecting to pull out rotten fruit.

No.

First came the tail.

Fur and all.

Then came what I can only imagine to be, um, connective tissue.

Attached to a live organ.

Just one.

Just a tail and one fledging, tiny little animal organ.

The rest of some poor critter was  on its way down my dog’s digestive system.

It was all I could do to hold down my own dinner.

I managed to get everything cleaned up and thought the worst was over.

Until I poured myself a bowl of cereal the next morning.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

The previous night’s incident flashed through my brain.

The next sounds that came out of my mouth are not really appropriate for the public forum.

Nice imagery for a food blog, eh?

Now you know how I felt while I tried to choke down a bowl of crispy, crunchy cereal.

I wanted no part of it.

Every crunch was like a stabbing reminder of the carnage that took place in my back yard.

I needed something soft.

Oatmeal!

In cookie form.

Breakfast cookie form.

A chewy breakfast cookie made with oats, banana, peanut butter and maple syrup for sweetness. These are really good for breakfasts on the go or a quick snack throughout the day. Even though its called a breakfast “cookie” its more about the shape than the actual flavor. These are more like a slightly sweet oatmeal muffin-in cookie form.

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA BREAKFAST COOKIES

(Makes about 6 large cookies)

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 teaspoon ground flax

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch baking soda

(scant 1/8 tsp)

1 large, ripe banana

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, combine oats, flax seed, salt, and baking soda and mix thoroughly.

TIDBIT: For a chewier cookie with more flavor, you can toast the oats for about 12 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

In a small bowl, mash the banana.

Mix in the maple syrup, peanut butter, and non-dairy milk.

Add the banana mixture to the oats and stir just until combined.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of the mixture onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until bottoms are browned and cookies are set.

Tidbits:

This recipe is super versatile.

*You can leave out the ground flax if you don’t have any on hand. They act as a binder and add healthy omega 3’s but aren’t crucial to the recipe.

*For a sugar free version, you can omit the maple syrup and add an extra mashed banana. It will be slightly less sweet and more dense but uber nutritious.

*Toast the oats for 12-14 minutes for a chewier more flavorful cookie.

*Add more peanut butter (or any nut butter) for extra protein and healthy fat. Increase non-dairy milk if needed.

 

 

HAPPY CRUNCHING  CHEWING!

What the Fudge?

Valentine’s Day

Is for suckers.

Suckers for chocolate.

I’m sure that “F” stands for fudge, right?

Riiiiiiiiight.

Fudgy Brownie Bites

1 ( 8 oz) package pitted dates

*Don’t act like you can’t make these because you can’t find fancy dates. Packaged dates can usually be found next to raisins and other dried fruit.

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until mixture forms a firm ball.

Press mixture into a square about 1/2 inch thick.

If you don’t want to take the time to press and cut the mixture, you can just break off pieces and roll them into balls. Fudgy Brownie Balls.

Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shape.

Continue until you have used all of the mixture.

*Tidbit: You can eat these raw OR you can pop them into a 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes to set them like a real brownie.

My Valentine had no idea these were made from dates.

That’s saying a lot considering his STD.

Super tastebud detectors.

What?

Did you think I meant something else?

Get your mind out of the gutter.

We only do wholesome here.

Now go fudge yourself.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! 

 

The Cure For What Ales You

Have you ever heard of Vodka Sauce?

I mean I’ve been sauced on vodka, but I’ve never had vodka sauce.

I didn’t even know it was it was acceptable to go around throwing 100 proof liquor in with your dinner.

Well, if we’re going to be adding alcohol to pasta sauce, I’ll do you one better.

I’m going to COOK the pasta in alcohol too.

Except I left vodka behind with my penchant for trash can punch in my freshman year of college.

Bring on the beer.

Pale Ale Pasta with White Bean Beer Sauce

1 (12 oz) pale ale

1 (13 oz) box of  whole wheat corkscrew pasta

1 (15.5 oz) can cannellini beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

salt, to taste

1/2 cup chopped green onion

Add 8-10 oz. (a generous cup) pale ale and 4-5 quarts of water to a large stock pot. Add a generous pinch of salt and heat water to boiling.

Meanwhile, add a can of (undrained) cannellini beans to a blender or food processor.

Add remaining 2-4 oz. of beer, olive oil and black pepper.

Process until smooth.

Pour into a small sauce pan. Bring mixture to a boil and then gently simmer while pasta is cooking.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package instructions.

Drain pasta (reserve liquid) and then add white bean beer sauce to the pasta.

Toss gently until all the noodles are coated.

If the noodles are dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.

Stir in the chopped green onion.

You’ll be glad to know this doesn’t taste overwhelmingly “beer-y.” It’s more like a creamy casserole with a warm, bready flavor.

CHEERS! 

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