Now I know what to do with my star anise… plum jam!

I recently found a recipe online from one of my favorite canning sites that completely piqued my interest. I have never really been a huge fan of anise, mostly because I don’t like licorice at all and the flavor completely reminds me of it. However, seeing a recipe that was for plum jam and had a hint of anise in it definitely got me curious. And the fact that she paired it with cheese? I’m sold.

So, tonight we canned 20 of the 25 lbs of plums we got recently. I never knew how much time it took to cut apart 20 lbs of plums until today. Holy cannolli. Luckily the jam doesn’t require 20+ lbs of plums, so you should definitely try it! I made a double batch and am thinking I might use some of the remaining 5 lbs we have to make another double batch since this stuff was delicious! And I couldn’t get over what a beautiful red color it was. Unlike anything I had ever seen before. My pathetic photo doesn’t do it justice.

But, before I forget, you can find the recipe here. I am looking forward to making it again tomorrow (and licking the pot once it’s cool enough). 🙂

My pathetic iPhone photo doesn't show just how deep of a red color this jam is. It was amazing.

 

 

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Corn Pudding with Basil and a Side of Citrus Collards (Chard) with Raisins Redux

During the Summer, our house is drowning in vegetables (no, not literally, figuratively. But still!). We get weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) deliveries from a local farm and it seems we can never get caught up. In addition, we decided to get a plot in our local community garden, and our basil plants went bonkers! So, I’ve been looking for recipes that use up lots of what I’ve got.

The other night I decided to make two different things:

1) Corn Pudding with Basil (from epicurious.com)

2) Citrus Collards with Raisins Redux from an awesome cookbook we got a year ago after seeing the author speak and cook at the Denver Botanic Garden lecture series. This cookbook is called “Vegan Soul Kitchen” by Bryant Terry.

The corn pudding is great because I was able to use up about 6 ears of corn that I had been accumulating for about 3 weeks. Luckily corn keeps pretty well in the fridge, but by using up 6 ears, I created quite a bit more space in the fridge. I have made this recipe a couple times in the past. It’s incredibly easy to make (I made it before using corn that Will canned last year), but I found that cutting the corn off 6 ears isn’t that time consuming, even if it is a bit messy. Multiple reviews on this recipe suggested adding some crushed red pepper, so I did that this time (last time we sauteed a few fresh chili peppers and added those. This time I was more lazy). I like this recipe because it tastes delicious and I can use up a TON of fresh basil in something other than pesto. 🙂

Even though the corn pudding is technically a side dish, we used it as a main dish since it had eggs and milk in it, giving it enough protein for us. But it meant I wanted to add a side dish to this. For that, I picked one of my all-time favorite side dishes since discovering this a year ago. I love it because while it calls for collard greens, you can basically use any green leafy vegetable and it means I can quickly use up things like chard, spinach, kale, etc. which otherwise ends up sitting around too long in our house. The recipe is quite simple (and I cut it in half since I was feeding two people instead of 4):

2 large bunches collard greens (I used chard), ribs removed, cut into a chiffonade, rinsed and drained

coarse sea salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup freshly squeezed OJ

1) Boil 3 quarts of water and 1 tab salt. Add the greens and cook, uncovered, 8-10 minutes until softened. Prepare a large bowl of ice water to cool the greens

2) Remove from heat, drain, and plunge greens intot he bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain by gently pressing the greens against a collander

3) In medium saute pan, combine olive oil and garlic and raise heat to medium. Saute for 1 minute. Add greens, raisins and 1/2 tsp salt. Saute for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

4) Add OK and cook for 15 seconds. Don’t overcook. Salt to taste if needed. Serve!

It is so simple, so healthy, and super delicious! We make it quite a lot and have been so pleased.

Corn Pudding with Basil. Simple and yet very flavorful!

Chard greens with raisins and orange juice. I even used the jumbo raisin medley from Trader Joe's. Look at the size of those raisins!

Quick, easy and tasty pasta salad

So I will freely admit up-front that I totally stole this idea from a former co-worker. She brought the most delicious pasta salad to work one day to share with a number of us and it was so fresh, vibrant, colorful and delicious that I asked her how she made it. I quickly realized that this was a great way to use up lots of veggies and make a healthy meal in well-under 30 minutes (boiling the pasta is the part that takes the longest). And what’s nice is that you can use just about whatever ingredients you want!

The one she made had pasta, shrimp (which I didn’t eat since I don’t eat shrimp), cashews, chopped up green olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, some kind of crumbly cheese (feta, perhaps?), and an italian/dilly dressing. Mix it all together and wah-la! You’re done!

So, after picking a bunch of cherry and little plum tomatoes off our plants (finally, we’re getting some!), I thought it was time again for a tasty little pasta salad. So, off to the grocery store I went with a list. That apparently I forgot to look at again before checking out because I came home with no cashews and no feta cheese. Hmm. Well, digging through my fridge, I found a few other tasty things to try, so here’s what I added:

Pasta (I chose shells since I had some in the pantry), salmon (we cooked it up on the grill and then just threw it in after cutting into smaller chunks), fresh dill (since I had some), green olives (that were pimiento ones. I think next time I would get it without spicy peppers inside), cherry tomatoes, cucumbers (which I peeled, cut in half, de-seeded and then sliced into cut little half-moon wedges), red pepper and herbes de provence salad dressing. Again, super duper easy, filling and very tasty! And when you have a fridge that is as full of veggies as ours is now (we belong to a CSA and can’t eat the veggies as fast as we get them), finding ways to use lots (in something other than a stir fry, which gets boring after a while), is a happy thing!