Blackberry Basil Jam

Blackberry Jam 3

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 …

Blackberry Jam 6

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.

Blackberry Jam 4

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.

Blackberry Jam 5

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.

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins: 2 Ways

My brother is spoiled rotten. He gets treats every dang time I visit him. As much as he enjoys getting edible gifts, I enjoy giving them. So I guess it all works out.

This time, it was cotton candy cookies (per his request) and lemon chia seed muffins. I’m not a big fan of the cotton candy flavor, accomplished with help from Duncan Hines flavor packets, but the muffins … my god, the muffins.

Lemon Chia Seed Muffin

I’ve always loved lemon poppyseed muffins, but since I’ve discovered chia, it just makes sense to swap in the nutrient powerhouse that is the chia seed. I’ve mentioned before how terrible my oven is, but for whatever reason, these muffins always come out perfect. They have a sort of buttery brown and slightly crisp exterior, while the inside is soft and delicate. Both versions of this recipe, the healthy and … less-healthy, turned out beautiful. 

I think there is some sort of chemical reaction at play between the lemon juice, yogurt and baking soda, because the batter literally fluffs and foams up when you’re mixing at the very end. It almost reminds me of a soft and fluffy tempura batter. These muffins are an absolute must-bake. They’re nice for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack. I’m a purist myself, but I bet these would also be great with blueberries or walnuts if you so desire. 

I made regular ole’ sugar and butter muffins for my brother, because he’s a growing boy. I made a healthier version, sans frosting, for myself. I added in Greek yogurt, fiber-rich whole-wheat, flax meal, coconut sugar and coconut oil. Both were delicious in their own ways. I love that rich and nutty flavor and texture you get from using whole wheat, so the healthy muffins were right up my alley. My brother is a sweet-buttery-delicate cake kinda guy, so these were right up his … 

Lemon Chia Seed Muffin 3

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 large lemons (yielding ¼ cup zest and ⅓ cup juice)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup milk or cream
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine lemon zest and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Rub together with your fingers to release flavor from the zest. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the lemon juice, vanilla, eggs, oil, butter, milk, and chia seeds. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
  3. Pour batter into greased muffin tins; you should be able to get 12 muffins. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched.
  4. For the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and juice together until smooth. Heat the butter over medium heat until melted; add the glaze mixture and stir until bubbling and warm, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and glaze muffins immediately by dipping muffins upside down into the glaze saucepan or spooning the glaze over the tops. Glaze should set quickly.

Lemon Chia Seed Muffin 4

Healthy Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 large lemons (yielding ¼ cup zest and ⅓ cup juice)
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine lemon zest and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Rub together with your fingers to release flavor from the zest. Add the flour, flax, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the lemon juice, vanilla, eggs, oil, yogurt, milk, and chia seeds. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
  3. Pour batter into greased muffin tins; you should be able to get 12 muffins. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched.

Lemon Chia Seed Muffin 5

 If you’re trying to decide which to bake, I say, when in doubt, frost yo-self!

Vegan Walnut Pesto

A couple of bucks got me a huge bundle of basil at the Farmer’s Market last week. (hi-five on that alliteration)

I made caprese salads three days in a row, but as the week went on, and I wasn’t making a dent in my herbal bouquet, I figured I better make a pesto before all the glorious greens started to brown.

Caprese salad

It seems so trendy to call things “vegan” these days, and I hate being trendy; but I didn’t know a more concise way to convey that there is no cheese in this pesto. “Cheese-less pesto” or “pesto sans cheese” just sound weird.

Pesto 2

I made this pesto in the morning and then used it later that day for a Walnut Pesto Chicken Pasta with Broccoli for dinner.

Pesto 4

The pasta was easy … I roasted chicken a la Ina Garten, chopped up a fresh ball of mozzarella, and roasted broccoli with a little olive oil. Sure I could have simply blanched or sautéed the broccoli, but there’s something about roasted broccoli that I just can’t get enough of these days. The edges become toasty and buttery and it really transforms into something special. Scatter parmigiano over top with a heavy hand and you’ve got a meal on its own. But I digress …

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We had fresh pesto pasta from “our pasta lady” at the Farmer’s Market so that didn’t take but 3 minutes to boil. Then it was just assembly. Drain pasta and place back in pot. Pour in some pesto and a little reserved starchy water and stir. Then dump in chicken, broccoli, mozzarella and more pesto, as needed.

Pesto 3

This pasta was SOOooo good! A delicious and healthy dinner for me and my best gal pals.

We were all eatin’ pasta like this …

But it was really like this …

This pesto is nice to have on-hand when you need a good meal quick. It could be used in all kinds of pasta dishes, over chicken, burgers or veggies … it would be great for a homemade pizza base too!

Pesto

Vegan Walnut Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2-3 fresh garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, could toast for extra nutty flavor
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 large or 2 small)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, amount depends on preferred consistency
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

Place basil, garlic, walnuts, and lemon juice into your blender or food processor. Pour a little olive oil in just to get things going and then blend until nuts and basil are finely pureed. Add in red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and begin pouring in olive oil through a top in a steady stream while you blend. You could also just dump all of the olive oil in and blend it all up, it works fine either way.

Note: these ingredient amounts can and should be adapted to suit your preferences. I rarely measure ingredients for pesto, but rather test out the flavor as I go. It all depends on how garlicky, lemony, nutty, or spicy you like your pesto. Also, how thick or thin you like the consistency. Just play around with it and it will be easier and more natural every time.

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