Blackberry Basil Jam

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When Kroger has blackberries on super cheap sale, you buy all of them and figure out what to do later. Here’s what I did …

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I am mildly obsessed with combining fruit and herbs, so when I decided to make jam I naturally had to think about what herb would go well with it.

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I was torn between basil and thyme, and don’t think I could have gone wrong either way, but basil turned out to be just perfect.

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Toast with salted peanut butter and blackberry-basil jam. :::drool:::

I found a good Giada recipe, but cut the sugar down because I enjoy the tartness of blackberries. This jam is perfect with peanut butter, on a cheese platter, with a spoon or on crackers, a la Joey Tribbiani style (:45).

Blackberry Basil Jam 

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

  • 3-6 oz. cartons of fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 oz. basil leaves (or as much or as little as you like)
  • Juice from 1 large orange
  • Juice from 1 medium lemon

Preparation:

Place fresh blackberries in a medium saucepan and turn to medium heat. As the blackberries warm and soften, mash them lightly (and carefully) with a fork. In a food processor, combine the basil, sugar, orange and lemon juices. Blend until smooth. Stir the mixture into the blackberries and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the mixture is thick, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow the jam to cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week. Serve on bread, with cheeses, on top of peanut butter, layered in desserts … the opportunities are endless.

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Spaghetti-Squash Pizza Crust

Using vegetables as pizza crust might have changed my life forever.

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Here was the situation: it was two days before Fall break, no food in the fridge, no point in buying more food for the fridge, I had just cooked a spaghetti squash the day before, and had more squash than I knew what to do with.

A quick Google search of “new things to do with spaghetti squash” yielded me results which led to this tasty pizza.

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I didn’t follow the recipe to a T because, again, I had almost nothing else in my fridge. But the crust still turned out really yummy and crispy on the edges. This crust is not as sturdy as other vegetable crusts, and certainly not traditional pizza crusts, but it was a really fun experiment and delicious dinner.

I simply topped with olive oil, raw cheddar, and jalapeños, because that’s what I had. It turned out really well, but you can get really creative with the toppings. Think of what might go well with squash … fall herbs like rosemary and thyme, mushrooms, caramelized onions, chorizo, pesto …. the options are endless!

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Recipe adapted from Shared Appetite 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cooked spaghetti squash
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used raw cheddar)
  • 1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese (I didn’t use this)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Roast spaghetti squash and scoop out the flesh.
  3. Wrap measured-out squash in a cheesecloth, clean kitchen towel, or layers of paper towels and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. I just squeezed it plain over a strainer. The drier the squash, the crispier the crust.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the squash, garlic, olive oil, egg, cheeses, and season with oregano, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Press squash in a thin, even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and form into an approximate 10-inch circle.
  5. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully flip, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add desired toppings and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until done.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Farmer’s Market Saturday

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Simple pleasures are the best. I love watching the produce at the Farmer’s Market change with the seasons. It’s all about squash, beets, and eggplant right now, and I’m not complaining.

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The beauty of beets. With matching fingernail polish ❤

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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pasta

When it starts feeling like Fall, I get that pumpkin fever. I got the fever, and the only cure … is more pumpkin.

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I decided today, spur of the moment, that I wanted pumpkin pasta for lunch and nothing else would do. I’m not high maintenance at all …

I don’t have a Kitchen Aid or a pasta maker, so I needed a recipe that was simple and easy to make without fancy equipment. I found the perfect one.

I only changed the recipe slightly – swapping in whole wheat flour for some extra nutrition, and omitted one of the egg yolks to lower the cholesterol. I also just happened to have homemade pesto in the fridge which I knew would taste wonderful atop this fabulous noodle (I was right). This pasta was incredible! Like, O-M-G good. It is so satisfying and hearty, delicious and flavorful, while still being simple and healthy. It’s basically the embodiment of everything I strive for in my life, in the form of a noodle. This pasta might be my soul mate.

The original recipe called for all-purpose flour, which would definitely make the dough much lighter. I used all-purpose for dusting but stuck to whole wheat for the substance of the noodle. The choice of flour is all yours. If you’ve never made or tried fresh pasta, you should know it tastes completely different than boxed store-bought pasta. It’s ten times more flavorful! It also takes hardly any time. I only boiled my pasta for 1 minute each batch. Don’t forget to salt your water – it makes a huge difference, I promise!

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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pasta 
Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour (could also use all-purpose flour) + extra for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • Water
Preparation:
Add flour and salt to a food processor and pulse. Then add in egg yolk and 1 whole egg, and the pumpkin puree. Pulse until well combined. Then drizzle in water until a dough forms.
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Transfer to a very lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 30 minutes to rest.
After the pasta has rested, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously.
Cut the pasta into four pieces and begin rolling out into a loose rectangle, sprinkling on only as much flour as it takes to keep it from sticking. Mine was a fairly sticky dough (I might have added too much water), so I needed quite a bit of flour to hold it all together.
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Once the dough is nearly paper thin, cut it into any shape you want. I used a pizza cutter to cut mine into fettuccini-like strips.
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Cover with plastic wrap until ready to cook. Add pasta to boiling water and stir just to make sure they don’t stick together. It should only take 1 to 1 1/2 minutes to cook.
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Drain and transfer to serving plate. Top with pesto and parmesan cheese, like me, or you could toss with tomato sauce. Roasted chunks of pumpkin and sage would be a yummy combo, or just plain olive oil, red chile flakes and cheese would be great too!
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Usually I eat the same amount that 3-4 people would, but this pasta was pretty filling, so I had leftovers. Hooray I get pumpkin pasta round 2! 🙂
Pumpkin Pasta

Farmer’s Market Saturdays

I’m that girl at the Farmer’s Market who takes awkwardly up-close-and-personal pics of each stand and then dashes away before someone can stop me …

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We stopped first at the coffee stand and then got a pastry from our favorite cute German baker lady before we began shopping in earnest, because, how could we possibly function before we’ve had iced coffee and pastries?

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In addition to the usual folk band, there was a harpist. Our Market is very fancy.

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There is so much beautiful produce in season this time of year, so we came away with quite a haul …

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Acorn squash, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, plums, apples, basil, fresh pasta, and the most flavorful Concord grapes I have ever had. 

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Until next weekend …

Garlic Dill Pickles

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When you see Kirby cucumbers at the farmer’s market, the only sensible thing to do is to buy them and make pickles immediately. Which is exactly what I did.

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Pickles are something that are so nostalgically summer to me, and to be honest I don’t know exactly why … my grandmother had a great pickle recipe, which unfortunately was lost when she passed away. I used to love when she would make pickles though. They were just perfect, but I can’t remember why. I’m guessing she made them in the summer time.

Now I’m on a quest to find my own perfect pickle recipe. Pickles are also something that top American summer favorites like burgers and hot dogs. So perhaps that’s where my feelings of nostalgia arise from. These pickles turned out so well, that I think I will make it a personal tradition for me to make pickles in July from now on.  

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I really like when cucumbers are kept whole for pickles, but I didn’t have a jar big enough to accommodate. You think that stopped me? Nope. Instead I found a sun tea container buried deep in the back of the pantry and used that. It was WAY too big for the pickles, but still did the job. 

I used a recipe I found on Serious Eats. It recommended letting the pickles mellow out for a week, but I actually let them sit for 3 weeks. I tried one after a week and it just wasn’t done. After 3, they were perfection. Spicy, tangy, garlicky … just what I like in a pickle. I can’t stand sweet pickles, so if that’s your thing, this recipe is not for you. Also, we probably can’t be friends. 

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Garlic Dill Pickles 

Recipe from Serious Eats 

Ingredients:

  • 2 quart kirby cucumbers (approximately 3 pounds)
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 teaspoons dill seed
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes

Preparation:

Wash jars thoroughly in warm, soapy water. If you plan on making shelf stable pickles, prepare a boiling water bath canner. Put fresh canning jar lids into a small saucepan with 3 inches of water and set to the barest simmer.

Wash and dry kirby cucumbers. Remove blossom end. Cut into chips, spears or leave whole, depending on your preference.

Combine vinegar, water and salt in sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lean forward if you would like to clear out your nasal passage … 

Equally divide garlic cloves, dill seed, black peppercorns and red chili flakes between jars. Pack prepared cucumbers into jars as tightly as you can without crushing them.

Pour the brine into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace (that’s the amount of space between the surface of the brine and the rim of the jar).

Remove any air bubbles from jars by gently tapping them. You can also use a wooden chopstick or plastic utensil to help remove stubborn bubbles.

Wipe rims and apply lids and bands (don’t screw them on too tightly).

If processing jars for shelf stability, lower jars into your processing pot. When water returns to a boil, set a timer for 10 minutes.

When time is up, remove jars from canning pot and allow them to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, check seals.

If you choose not to process your jars, let them cool before putting them into the refrigerator. Do note that your jars may seal during the cooling process. However, without the boiling water bath process, that doesn’t mean they’re shelf stable. Still refrigerate.

Let pickles rest for at least one week before eating. I recommend 3 weeks. 

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At the start of pickling … 

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After 3 weeks of pickling …                                          

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Credit to my brother Scottie for taking the great pics. 

Indian Spiced Nuts with Coconut

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My family is about to embark on a summer road trip, which means I am preparing myself for lots of Cracker Barrel and Chick-fil-A pit stops. Ugh.

I need to be ready with lots of reasonable snacks so I’m not forced to choke down gross fast food fare. I’ve got tons of fruit, Pecan nut thins (because, duh), homemade granola bars, and spiced nuts. These nuts … omg. (That’s what she said?)

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I love how flavorful this nut mix is, and the addition of shredded coconut adds an interesting element, but I actually think it needs a little less spice. As in, there was more dry spice than there was nuts to cover, and I even added extra cashews in the mix. I omitted the 2 tsp of salt this time because the peanuts and cashews I used were already salted. Plus, I don’t like super salty snacks on a road trip. They make me feel puffy and bad about myself and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Next time I make this I will probably cut down on the amount of spices, maybe even in half. I might also try sweetened coconut for an added dimension of flavor. Otherwise, this is a tasty little snack that you can feel good about!

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Indian Spiced Nuts with Coconut

Recipe adapted from Food Network’s, Aarti Sequeira 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashews
  • 4 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a big bowl mix together the peanuts, pecans, cashews, coconut, oil, coriander, cumin, garam masala and salt together and pour onto the baking sheet. Toast for 1 hour, rotating the sheet a couple of times for even baking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

 

 

Mint Pesto Pasta with Ground Turkey and Arugula

Mint pesto is such a pensive condiment …

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I had a bunch of mint that was on its last leg, so before the whole thing went bad I impulsively dumped it all into my food processor and then scrambled around the kitchen looking for additional items to make a pesto. I didn’t have any more greens at the time, so this pesto is admittedly more parmesan and pecans than anything else (no problem as far as I’m concerned).

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I can’t say that I have an official recipe for this, because I made it up as I went, but basically it’s: fresh mint, pecans, parmesan, a clove of garlic, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and extra virgin olive oil. Blend it all up until it’s your preferred consistency. Then put it in a cute jar and admire it from afar.

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I decided to use my pesto right away, so that night I made a huge batch of pasta for the family. I also made this up as I went, but I’ll give you a basic rundown.

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Mint Pesto Pasta with Ground Turkey and Arugula

Yield: this makes quite a lot of pasta, so halving it would be plenty for 4. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Small white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 boxes of whole wheat penne pasta (12 oz. each)
  • Pint of grape tomatoes, halved
  • Couple of handfuls of arugula (i.e. rocket)
  • Mint-pesto pasta (loose recipe above)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

Bring large sauté pan to medium heat and pour olive oil in. Drop chopped onion in and cook until nice and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Place turkey in pan and carefully break up into small pieces as you cook the meat. Stir frequently until cooked all the way through. Carefully placed lid on pan and drain any excess liquid from the turkey into the sink by making a tiny crack between the lid and pan. Place pan back on burner and add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat down to low and add grape tomatoes and arugula. Let cook just until tomatoes start to break down slightly and arugula begins to wilt.

Meanwhile, bring large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add a good handful of salt. Then dump pasta in and cook according to box directions (usually 10 minutes or so for al dente). Stir frequently to ensure pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Before draining, scoop out about a cup of the starchy cooking water and set aside. Drain pasta and then place back in pot on the burner. Turn heat down to low.

Add meat mixture and 1/2 cup of pesto to the pot of pasta. Add in about half of the starchy cooking liquid and stir over low heat so everything can meld together. Add more liquid and pesto, as needed, until the pasta is creamy looking and the noodles are well saturated.

Serve pasta in a big bowl with fresh arugula scattered over the top.

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Tropical Mint Smoothie

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This past weekend I picked up a beautiful bunch of mint (for only $1!) at the Farmer’s Market. I placed it in a cup with water so it would keep until I decided how I was going to use the gorgeous little bushel.

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I have plans for a Greek inspired dinner this week utilizing the mint, but there’s plenty to go around! So this morning I started my week off right with a healthy mint smoothie. Inspired by Women’s Health Magazine’s weekly #Shareyoursmoothie campaign, I made this beauty for #MintSmoothie week. I was in a rush, so I threw together what I thought would go best with mint, and it turned out delicious. Really put a minty pep in my step!

Tropical Mint Smoothie

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup-1 1/2 cups coconut water
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • handful of fresh mint leaves

Preparation:

Toss all ingredients into your blender – chia seeds last so they don’t get stuck to the bottom. Blend together and enjoy immediately! This smoothie comes out to just about 200 calories so it’s a perfect post-workout drink as well!

Note: You don’t have to use frozen pineapple and banana, but I find I like the texture of frozen fruit so much better than adding ice.

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I threw all the ingredients into the blender, then ran out the door and drank my smoothie on the way to work, along with a little baggie of my homemade granola. 🙂

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