Thursday, May 26, 2016

Strawberry Basil Freezer Jam

If you have never tried your hand at making homemade jams or jellies, this is an easy, quick recipe to get you started.  Capture the flavor of fresh strawberries (with a hint of fresh basil) in a soft set jam that you can freeze and have all year long.  Nothing beats the taste of fresh strawberries in the middle of winter!

This jam makes a delicious, light summer breakfast on warm, buttered biscuits, whole grain toast, or you can even use it as a topping for ice cream.

3 cups crushed, fresh strawberries
3 cups sugar
1-3/4 oz. package of fruit pectin
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil

I pulsed the strawberries slightly in the food processor to help crushed the berries.  Leave it chunky!

In a large bowl, mix the 3 cups of crushed strawberries.  Mix well to moisten the sugar.

In a small saucepan, mix the fruit pectin with 3/4 cup of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for one minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir pectin and water mixture into the strawberry and sugar mixture.  Stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Stir in freshly chopped basil.

After the jam sets, the chunks of strawberries float to the top.  Stir to combine and distribute the berries evenly to get a burst of fresh strawberry in every bite!

Pour mixture into freezer-safe containers with tight fitting lids.  If you are not freezing the jam, pour into jam jars.  Let mixture sit at room temperature for 4 hours before transferring into freezer or fridge.  If you freeze, allow to thaw in the refrigerator.  Jam should last 2-3 weeks in the fridge or up to one year in the freezer.

Get your labels for your jars HERE!

Photo submitted to #JerseyFreshLove

Monday, April 18, 2016

Vegetarian Chili with Steel-Cut Oats

Oats for Dinner?

Adding steel-cut oats to a smoky chili with chipotle peppers makes a quick, hearty and wholesome meal.  This chili is great for lunch time leftovers and is so quick to make!  


4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 Tbsp. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can kidney beans
1 14.4 oz. can black beans
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
Sliced scallions and sharp white or yellow cheddar for garnish


Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a medium soup pot.  Add oats and quinoa and lower to a simmer.  Cook, covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally  Uncover and continue cooking until oats are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, beans and tomatoes with their juice.  Cover and simmer over low heat to allow flavors to blend.  Salt to taste.

Top with sharp cheddar and scallions.  Serve with tortilla scoops or chips or crackers.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Eggplant Meatball Parmigiana

Everyone knows that when you get a craving for Eggplant Parm, you sort of dread the process of slicing, breading and frying the eggplant.  It's the only way - unless you make some meatballs!  Crunchy on the outside, tender and full of flavor on the inside.  You can make yourself a great sandwich or top these meatballs on your favorite pasta.

3 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 eggplant, about 12 ounces), peeled and diced
2 Tbsp. water
1-1/4 Italian Style Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup minced fresh Italian Parsley
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup canola oil
Marinara Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella & Provolone Cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet and slowly cook the garlic over medium heat until golden.  Add the eggplant and 1 Tbsp. water; cover and steam the eggplant over low heat until very soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Add the remaining water only if the eggplant begins to stick to the skillet.  Stir the eggplant occasionally while it cooks.  Set aside and let it cool.

Combine the bread crumbs, parsley, salt, pepper, oregano, eggs, and cheese in a large bowl.  Stir in the eggplant, mix well and let it stand for 20 minutes.  Scoop small amounts of the mixture into your hands and form meatballs.  There should be enough to make about 12.  Roll each meatball in Panko breadcrumbs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Fry meatballs, turning them occasionally so they brown evenly. Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with olive oil spray and one cup of marinara sauce.  Top with mozzarella and provolone cheese.  Be sure to leave some of the meatballs exposed to keep them crispy.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melted and browned.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Cherry-Dark Chocolate Pistachio Bars

This is a basic mixture to make those fruit and nut bars that cost an arm and a leg!
Use any mixture of nuts and fruit that your imagination can dream up.
The nuts are a bit costly, but there are no preservatives in these bars and once you buy the basics, you can make them for a lot less.

The brown crispy rice cereal and brown rice syrup are readily available in the organic section of your supermarket.
1 cup roasted & salted pistachios
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almond or raw cashews
1/2 cup cherry craisans
1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon whole golden flaxseeds
1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp. almond butter
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla
1 tsp. honey (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper.
Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together the syrup, almond butter, salt and vanilla until combined.  Gently fold into nut mixture until completely incorporated.  This mixture is very sticky.  Spray your hands lightly with cooking spray to help manage the mixture.  Transfer mixture evenly into prepared baking dish.

Spray the bottom of a drinking glass with cooking spray.  Press down mixture and pack into the pan.  Be sure there are no air pockets.

Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow bars to cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Refrigerate or freeze for faster cooling.

Lift cooled bars from pan with the parchment paper.  Cut into 12 rectangles with a serrated knife.  Remove bars from parchment and wrap individually in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two weeks.