Monday, May 26, 2014

Cherry Apricot Pan Jam



Pan Jams are one of my favorite things to make. They are so easy and in a short amount of time you have delicious jam! No one will know the difference. Lately I’ve been using my last batch of strawberry jam to top my yogurt and granola in the mornings. It’s a great way to flavor and lightly sweeten plain Greek yogurt using natural sugars from the fruit and honey. This jam is also great as a topping for pancakes, added into smoothies or even muddled in cocktails. Since there is no canning process required, the jam needs to be kept refrigerated. It usually keeps for about a week or two in the fridge and up to a year in the freezer. One batch  yields 16oz. This jam in particular is on the tart side which I prefer. If you would like a sweeter jam, add 1-2 more tablespoons of honey.


Ingredients:

2½ cups cherries, halved and pitted
2½ cups apricots, pitted and diced
½ cup honey
Juice from 1 lemon
Pinch of salt

To make:

In a large saucepan, add prepared fruit, honey, lemon juice and salt. Turn heat to medium high and stir to incorporate ingredients. Once the mixture reaches a boil, cook for about 18-20 minutes stirring frequently.  About ¾ of the way through you may need to turn the heat down to medium low to prevent thickening jam from burning. Once jam is done, pour into two glass jars. Top with lids and place in fridge or freezer. I usually keep the second jar in the freezer until ready to use.







Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Moroccan Lentil Soup



There is a magical herb shop I discovered a few years back. I’m trying to remember if I stumbled upon it myself or if someone took me there. Either way it’s one of my favorite places to visit when I’m up in San Luis Obispo. I pretty much planned my birthday afternoon around going to this place because I wanted to stock up on my favorite teas and spices. The Secret Garden Organic Herbs Shop's name pretty much sums up the place. It’s hidden off the main drag in a little outdoor type cottage surrounded by flowers and foliage. They have a large selection of medicinal herbs, spices, and teas which the owner blends herself. You could seriously spend an hour here admiring the wall holding rows of large mason jars filled with all sorts of goodness. My favorite tea that they offer is Candy Cane Lane. It’s a seasonal blend which consists of green tea, jasmine flowers, spearmint, peppermint, ginger, cinnamon, roses, and stevia leaves. I made sure to get a larger bag the last time before they ran out.
Awhile back I had purchased some different culinary spices including a Moroccan curry blend. It smelled so good. I’ve never done much Moroccan cuisine so it sat in my cupboard a bit longer than expected. Finally, I told myself I had to make something with it. And now we have Moroccan Lentil Soup! This is my go to soup recipe. It’s so easy and healthy. A bowl is a meal in itself. Lentils provide a great source of protein and fiber, keeping my stomach full and satisfied. My mom likes to serve this soup over a bowl of couscous.




Moroccan Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium white onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
2 medium zucchini, sliced in quarters
1 cup red lentils
1 can garbanzo beans
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth (chicken broth can be used in place but would not make the soup vegan)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons Moroccan spice blend from Secret Garden Herb Shop
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil

To make:

Rinse lentils in a fine mesh sieve until water runs clear and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add oil.
Once the oil is hot, add onions and saute for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add carrots and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add zucchini and garbanzo beans along with the Moroccan spice blend, salt, red chili flakes and pepper. Mix well to coat vegetables.
Pour in the vegetable broth and water. Turn heat up to high.
Once it reaches a boil, add lentils and stir to combine. Reduce heat to a low boil for 30 minutes, stirring every so often.
After 30 minutes your soup is ready to enjoy!
Let the remaining soup cool before storing in the fridge.