comfort food

Mortar and Pestle Blackberry Basil Jam

I use my mortar & pestle frequently — one of the best items I’ve ever purchased. The organic nature of it all brings life and flavor to everything. I enjoyed jam and grew up on it, but with my food allergies and digestive issues, I prefer to create a small batch at home. This jam is refreshing, not overly sweet, and contains three ingredients. Plus, I get to use my own Basil darlings (Sweet & Tulsi).

Ingredients:

6 fresh blackberries

2 leaves fresh basil

A squeeze of lemon

Directions:

This small batch was perfect for two pieces of toast. My husband likes butter on his toast as well. This jam with peanut putter is beyond delicious. The combination is quite universal. You can make a bigger batch a refrigerate it.

In the mortar & pestle add ingredients, grind them well, and to a consistency you favor.

The beautiful deep purple and aroma of minty sweet are everything summer.

Great topping for pancakes or waffles. It’s a great balance between sweet and savory.

Below is the mortar and pestle I use.



Pesto Mayo

To say my family is obsessed with this condiment is an understatement. Even my folks love it, and they are quite linear with their food choices.

For someone with a soy allergy and other food sensitivities, pesto and mayonnaise can be a challenge to purchase on the shelf of a grocery store. However, making mayo and pesto at home doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

My version of pesto is different. No cheese. No nuts. Which I can have neither of but this version is delicious and has full on flavor. My mayo recipe is simple, fast, and tangy. Blend them, and well, it’s become a staple in our house.

At times I use my pestle and mortar to make the pesto but this recipe we are doing it the less arm workout way.

Ingredients for the mayo:

1 cup light tasting olive oil or garlic infused olive oil

1 free range egg

1 tsp spicy brown mustard

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 to 1 1/2 tsp all-seasons salt (Simply Organic can be found at Publix and Amazon) or you can use pink salt and ground peppercorns.

*seasonings are personal. Start with 1 and add after you blend if you so desire. Adding is easier than taking away*

Directions

In a blender add 1/4 of the oil, egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, and seasonings. Keep blender on low. If it’s too fast, the whole thing will break once you start to add the rest of the oil. Blend until it begins to thicken. Don’t shut off the blender. Open the circular part of the lid at the top of the blender and slowly pour in the rest of the oil.

Once blended in shut off the blender and stir. This is the time to add more seasonings. Keep in mind the taste will increase over a resting period in the refrigerator. I usually wait 12 to 24 hours before use.

Ingredients for the pesto:

Fresh basil

Two cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 to 1/3 cup extra light olive oil (you can use a bit less if using it immediately in the mayo)

A few mint leaves

1 sage leaf

1/4 of a lemon

Dash of pink salt and crushed peppercorns

Teaspoon of Primal Palate Amore seasoning or any Italian seasoning

Directions

In the food chopper, I have the KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper, fill to top with basil leaves and a few mint leaves. Add garlic and seasonings. Blend. After I dry mix, I use a spoon and scrape the mixture back into the middle. I found this method blends better especially if some of the basil and mint leaves don't thoroughly chop up. 

Add the olive oil and lemon (watch out for the seeds). Chop again.

Please taste. I can't emphasize enough to taste as you cook. Everyone's palates differ. Some prefer garlic. Others salt. 

I tend to go lighter with the seasonings because you can always add, but you can't take away.

When ready mix the two together in a bowl. Here is where it is up to how much of each you desire. If you want it for just a sandwich or wrap mix together a small batch, that way the both remain separate and can be used for other dishes.

This recipe is an allergy friendly recipe. One you can involve the kids, especially when you can use your own homegrown herbs. As a veteran homeschool mama, this is a great lesson as well and teaches them how to make food on their own.

Products used in this recipe:

Rum Sugar Cookies

I don’t always bake cookies but when I do booze is involved.

A little for me, a little for the cookies.

These cookies didn’t last long in the house. They do crisp up as they set. If you want a chewier cookie, lower the white sugar measurement by 1/2 cup and raise the brown sugar measurement by 1/2 a cup. White sugar creates a crisper cookie which is what my family prefers.

Ingredients

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup Soy-Free Earth Balance, softened (you can use regular butter but this is a soy and dairy-free recipe)

1 egg

3 teaspoons of rum - Kraken is the best!

2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract - Spice Islands is all natural. No corn syrup and gluten-free

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (this is optional, you can use regular flour)

1/4 teaspoon salt

For rolling the dough in:

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

Preheat oven to 325. In the mixer beat and smooth together the butter and sugars until fluffy. I use the KitchenAid Flex Edge Beater attachment. Then add the egg, rum, and vanilla and mix until nice and smooth.

Change the attachment to the wire whip. Add the dry ingredients. Mix on low until all is thoroughly combined.

On parchment paper roll 1-inch dough balls through the sugar/spice mixture. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are a bit crisp and the center is soft but cooked through.

Products used in this recipe:

Hello? Is It Cheese You're Looking For?

March 7, 2017, USA Today published an article titled Cheese is so addictive, one doctor calls it 'dairy crack'. I 100% believe it. There is something about cheese when it's listed on a menu. A gleam in one's eye. The giddiness inside.

My relationship with cheese is complicated. When I was young whether my grandma was visiting our home or my family was visiting hers, she'd cook delicious food for us. Every single meal. Most contained cheese. One of the favorites was her fried macaroni and cheese. Nothing fancy but she made it with love. The crispy noodles mixed with creamy cheese was on another level for a nine-year-olds palette. I've mimicked the recipe, but it's not the same. It's not my grandma's.

I decided to create my own.

Soy-free. Lactose-free. Vegetarian-friendly. No noodles.  

What the heck is it?

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake.

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Activate watering of the mouth. 

Spaghetti Squash. Cheese. Basil.

The trifecta of awesomeness. 

As I've stated in a previous recipe I cook the squash the night before, The Foolproof, Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking Spaghetti Squash, I add a few cloves of garlic and fresh basil for aromatics.

The end result is cheesy goodness.

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Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash

3 tbsp of Earth Balance Soy-free butter

3 tbsp of ap flour or your flour of choice

2 cups of coconut milk (I use VitaCoco Original)

1 tablespoon of Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Cream

A handful of fresh basil leaves

3/4 tbsp CampMIX or create your mixture of garlic salt, salt, garlic powder, celery salt, black pepper. I recommend tasting as you go. 

1 block of Cabot Farmhouse Reserve Cheddar (Shred the entire block) 

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Instructions

Preheat oven to 390.

Mince basil leaves. 

In a medium saucepan or cast iron pot on low-medium heat melt the butter. Whisk in flour until small lumps form. Add coconut milk and continue to whisk until smooth. Add seasonings salt, basil, whisk and simmer for about 2 minutes or until sauce has slightly thickened. Add the cheese and whisk until smooth. 

Add spaghetti squash. Stir and blend carefully.

In an 8x8 Pyrex dish pour in the cheesy awesomeness. A 10" cast iron pan is also an option.

I have an electric oven--miss our gas oven--I cook the squash for 5-7 minutes. Then I switch to broil on high. Check every couple of minutes until golden brown.

This entire dish is 5-6 servings depending on the portion size your spouse or children dish out. My husband dishes heavy.

The leftovers are perfect to fry up the next day. Too bad I never have any leftovers which I guess is a compliment.

Now go make this dish and make it your own.