Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Umami Cabbage & Lemongrass Soup over Seasoned Rice

There's something about this soup...some people at our table may have moaned audibly, several times, and had seconds and thirds. 

I know it doesn't look like much, and when I first read the ingredients, I was seriously doubtful - but I thought I'd try it out, and then I tweaked and played with the flavor, and man oh I ever glad I did. My family requested that I add this one to the know, for posterity's sake. 

This is a spin off of a recipe by Jill Nussinow.  After making her basic recipe, it felt like it needed something more, so I added and played with the seasonings and decided to serve it over a garlic and seaweed flavored rice-which doesn't necessarily sound amazing I know. But, when it all combines together...oh my-you too may just moan! For us, this is definitely a umami recipe! 

1.5 cups diced onions
4 peeled medium potatoes - cut into fourths, then sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
1/2 cabbage thinly sliced (6-8 cups)
4 large garlic cloves, smashed and diced
2 Tablespoons diced or grated fresh ginger
4 stalks lemon grass, cut into 4-6 inch pieces
2 new Mexican chile peppers or jalapeno
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1.5 cans coconut milk
1/3 cup key lime juice
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt (additional/or to taste)
2 Tablespoons liquid aminos or soy sauce

4 cups water
2 cups Jasmine rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 large smashed garlic clove
1/4 cup wakame (dried seaweed)

Turn pressure cooker to saute setting, and heat 2 T. water. When heated, add onions and saute. Add ginger, garlic, chili, and lemon grass. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add potatoes and cabbage and stir a couple of times as they begin to soften.
Add broth, water, and coconut milk, salt and pepper.
Place lid on pressure cooker and cook for 4 minutes.
While this cooks, prepare rice (below)
Remove lid and add cumin, key lime juice, paprika, liquid aminos, cayenne, and additional salt to taste. Remove lemongrass stalks prior to serving.

Add water to saucepan and begin to heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt, smashed garlic, rices and wakame.
Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Stir, then cover with lid, and turn heat to lowest setting. Cook without disturbing for 20 minutes.
Remove lid, allow to sit for 5 minutes before fluffing.

Place rice in the bottom of the bowl, cover with soup and serve.

Monday, July 10, 2017

2 Non-Dairy Plant Based Corn Chowders, & Basic Grilled Corn

I made this a couple of weeks ago with a cashew cream base, and thought that it would also be awesome with fresh, grilled corn. This recipe is one of my teenager's favorites and I've adapted it into two recipes - one with a cashew base, another with a non-nut base. This recipe works well with freshly grilled, canned or frozen corn.

I normally cook my corn in the husk in the microwave for 6 minutes, and it comes out steamed and juicy. With this recipe, because I really wanted the grilled flavor, and I didn't want to cook 24 ears in the microwave, and I had some extra kids hanging around with time on their hands who were available to help shuck corn and man the grill...I created the grilled option - but work with what you have!

To grill corn: (this process takes about an hour)
Carefully peel husks back, (some outer leaves may be removed) and remove silk. Pull husks back up into place to protect the corn.

Soak corn in a bucket or tub of water with 1-2 Tablespoons salt for 10 - 30 minutes. This will help the husks to not burn so quickly.

Shake off excess water, and place corn on preheated grill, and turn every 5 minutes, grilling for about 20 minutes. Take care not to burn (too much). If a charred look or flavor is desired, peel husks back, and place on grill for a few moments to achieve desired charring.

To release corn kernels from husks, stand cob in a large bowl or pan, and with a knife placed close to the center of the cob, slice/cut in a swift downward motion. Slightly rotate corn, and repeat until all kernels are removed from the cob: I learned this trick from my grandfather who had dentures - and he usually used a butter knife.

Chowder Recipes

*3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2" chunks (Russet or Yukon) - see note
*1.5 cups peeled carrots - sliced into 1-2" chunks - see note
*3 quarts water with 1 teaspoon salt - see note

1.5 cups raw cashews
4 cups of water

Corn kernels from 4-6 ears of corn on the cob (or two 16 oz cans canned corn)
1-2 cans diced green chiles, or 1 diced jalapeno
1/2 - 1 cup. dry Maseca corn tortilla mix (found in hispanic or flour section of grocery store)
1-2 t. liquid smoke (optional) OR 1 t. smoked paprika
1 t. lemon juice
1.5 t. cumin (adjust to taste)
1/2 t. chili powder (adjust to taste)
Dash cayenne powder (optional - adjust to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

While the corn is grilling, place potatoes and carrots in a pan, with water, and boil until tender, (about 10-15 minutes.)
Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, (leave water in pan) and place them into the blender. Add water from pan to blender as needed, and puree until smooth. Return to pan (with the water), and stir to combine.

OR  Blend cashews in 4 c. water until smooth and place in a large pan.

Sautee onion, garlic and celery in a frying pan with water until tender. Add to the potato/carrot/water mixture OR cashew/water mixture.  

Place 2 cups of grilled corn into blender (or 1 can), and blend until smooth. Use potato/carrot water mixture or add additional water as needed.

Add to pan with other ingredients.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

For potato/carrot option - to thicken this chowder base, place 1/2 cup Maseca corn/tortilla flour into a small bowl and add cold water, mixing until it reaches the consistency of a thick gravy.  Remove 1/2 cup of boiling chowder from the pan and mix into the maseca mixture - it will quickly thicken. Stir this mixture back into the chowder to thicken, and repeat this process until desired thickness is achieved.

For cashew cream option, if mixture is already at desired consistency, do nothing. To thin, add additional water to desired consistency, or use the maseca option above to thicken if desired.

Add additional corn kernels (1-2 cups,) diced (grilled optional) jalapenos or diced green chiles (including juices,) cumin, chili powder, lemon juice, liquid smoke/smoked paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Sweetness may be adjusted with a small amount of maple syrup or molasses if needed. Heat, then serve.

Garnish with chopped bell peppers, cilantro or pico de gallo if desired.

We enjoy this with a fresh garden or fruit salad, and hot sourdough bread with either chimi churri, or a fresh herb spread (chopped fresh herbs, salt, and a little coconut milk blended together.)

*Note - for a quicker  or cashew cream based chowder, the boiled potatoes and carrots may be omitted and replaced with a cashew cream.  To create this, combine 1.5 cups raw cashews in a high speed blender with 4 cups of hot water.  Blend until smooth, and use this as the chowder base. This cream base will thicken when heated, so it may need to be thinned with water to desired consistency.

Dairy Free Hot Chocolate ~ Creamy Cashew Cocoa

Rich, creamy, & chocolatey - this cocoa is made to be sipped and savored, rather than chased down the gullet, but my kids are still working on the concept of savoring, as they would drink this by the gallon if I let them (and they've been requesting the recipe here, so that they are no longer reliant upon me when their need for smooth and creamy chocolate hits.) 

This is what I find 2 minutes after I've made this for them: 

Keep in mind that this recipe is a guideline, and amounts should be adjusted to taste - add more cashews for a creamier consistency, more or less cocoa powder for depth/darkness of chocolate, and more or less dates or maple syrup for desired sweetness.  

1 cup raw cashews
2 T. cocoa powder
12-14 deglet noor dates 
4 - 6 cups hot water
1/8-1/4 t. salt
 Dash (or two) cayenne pepper (optional)
Dash (or two) cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla
100% maple syrup for additional sweetening (if needed...I don't need it, but my kids think they do)

Place all ingredients into a high powered blender -
 (or soak cashews for 4 hours beforehand in hot water.)
Blend for 3-5 minutes, until the beverage is heated, and all ingredients are thoroughly blended (er..blasted into microbits and emulsified into a delicious nectar, rather than still in chunks). 

Taste, and adjust for preference. 

Note, the salt brings out the sweetness, and the cayenne, cinnamon and vanilla add depth and a very subtle, difficult to figure out what the slight essence of flavor is, but oh so much yumminess! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Vegan Comfort foods - Cream of Mushroom Sauce

As we've been adapting to our new whole food, plant based lifestyle in the kitchen, we've made some really gross food, and we've refined some recipes into family favorites - it's definitely been trial and error.

Below is one of our favorite go to's -  probably number one on our kids list of favorite vegan foods.  For me, it is the ultimate comfort food for a girl who was raised on Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup!

1 cup raw cashews
3 cups hot water
1 cup thickly sliced shiitake mushrooms (or whatever you have but shiitake are our favorites)
1 medium onion - diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed and diced
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce

Place cashews and water in blender and allow to soak for 15 minutes to soften the cashews.

Place onion and mushrooms in medium frying pan and sautee in tamari or soy sauce for 5-7 minutes, occasionally stir gently. Add garlic and sautee for an additional 2 minutes to release the juices and oils.

Using high powered blender, blend the cashews until they are completely smooth, then with the heat on, add to the onion, mushroom, and garlic in the frying pan, stirring while adding.
Continue to stir as sauce will begin to thicken.  Salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Once heated, serve over rice, potatoes, pasta, or grain.

*This can also be thinned with additional water and served as a soup.

Moist Cornbread - Vegan, Sugar and Oil free

It took me a really long time to find a cornbread recipe that I liked...and then we decided to cut all animal products out of our diet. And so, following is the vegan, no sugar, oil, or processed ingredients version of my favorite cornbread recipe. Let it be known that my kids LOVE this (so do the adults) and we aren't really big cornbread fans. It's a keeper! 

3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1 can corn (pureed with corn liquid in blender)
1 can corn, drained (not pureed)
1/2 cup chia gel (add 2 T. chia seeds to 4-5 T. water, let sit 10 minutes)
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove - minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 can coconut milk

Sautee the onion in small amounts of water for 25-30 minutes, stirring and adding water as needed.
Add minced garlic and jalapenos and saute for an additional 5 minutes.

Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt in a medium sized bowl.
Add syrup, pureed corn, chia gel and coconut milk - mix well.

Add drained corn and onion mixture. Stir to mix.

Line a 9x13 glass pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375* for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool before turning out of pan.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Vegan/WFPB "Chicken Tortilla Soup" Inspired Black Bean and Rice Soup

After thumbing through several vegan cookbooks tonight, I had decided to make a basic black bean and rice soup. However, as I began collecting ingredients, it morphed into something new, warm, comforting and reminiscent of chicken tortilla soup.
This soup comes together quickly and is awesome served over rice, topped with Pico de gallo, diced avocados, tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese (optional).

2.5 quarts boiling water
*2 cups cooked black beans
*1.5 cups cooked white beans
1 quart canned tomatoes (if home canned tomatoes are not available, add an additional 2 Tbsp. Lemon juice, & 1 Tbsp. sweetener such as maple syrup or sugar of your choice for taste as needed)
1/3 c. chopped leeks or onions
5 garlic cloves, diced or crushed
1 Tbsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup diced fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds (to taste)
1.5 Tbsp. white miso
1/2 cup Maseca corn tortilla flour
Salt and black pepper to taste

Cooked Jasmine Rice
Pico de Gallo
Diced avocados
Baked corn tortillas broken into pieces
Grated Cheese and sour cream (optional)

Add water to large pan and heat to boiling. While water heats, blend tomatoes until smooth. Add tomatoes to water, then add beans, leeks, garlic and spices. Stir to mix.

Scoop several Tbsp. of liquid into a small bowl, then add miso and mix until smooth. Add this mixture back into the large pan and stir.

Place Maseca flour into the small bowl. Add cool water, mixing until it is a thin paste, (similar to the viscosity of honey), adding water as needed.  Once smooth, add a small amount of the tomato liquid mixture (1/2-1 cup) to the Maseca and stir until smooth. Once mixed, add back to the large pan and stir to combine. This will thicken the soup slightly.

Add coconut milk and cilantro, and season to taste.

To serve, place a serving of rice in the bottom of a bowl, add soup and garnish with Pico de gallo, diced avocados, tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese as desired.

*I pressure cooker or slow cool beans and freeze them in 2 cup quantities.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Plant Based Carne Asada

I'm a sucker for latin foods...oh me oh my! 

This carne asada is one of my most visited recipes here, and it's probably in my top 5 favorite foods. My daughter asked for carne asada for her birthday and while I made hers with skirt steak, I was bound and determined to figure out how to make carne asada vegan style so that I could enjoy it too. 

I bet you can guess what we'll be having for Mother's Day??! Can't wait! 

I hope you'll enjoy this much as we do. I've tweaked my marinade and added mushrooms and honestly, could eat this raw as a salad as well as cooked.  

Carne Asada Marinade or Mojo
1/4 c. key lime juice (the very small green limes)**this is key for the flavor
1/4 c. coconut milk
2 T. white vinegar
4 garlic cloves - pressed or very finely diced
1/2-3/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 t. kosher salt (less if table salt)
Jalapeño or serano chiles, minced (optional - to taste)
1/4 t. crushed red peppers (optional - to taste)
2 t. pure maple syrup (more or less to taste)

3-4 cups sliced mushrooms - portabello and shiitake

Combine ingredients except for mushrooms in a non-metal bowl. 
Add 3-4 cups sliced portabello and shiitake mushrooms and toss to coat. 
Allow to marinade for at least 1 hour, gently tossing - occasionally.

Heat grill. 

Place ingredients onto a sheet of foil, and fold edges to seal. Wrap with an additional layer (or two) of foil. 
Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning once. 

Remove and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. 

Serve inside of warmed corn tortillas, with black beans, rice, pico de gallo and guacamole. 

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta - Vegan,Plant Based, No oil/sugar

I made this 4 days ago and I can't stop thinking about it - wondering how long I should wait before I make it again, because I could probably eat it every day. My husband took all of the leftovers for lunch the next day, and my kids actually liked it too! See those divine rays of sunlight in the photo? Yes, they are a sign that you should make this too. Now. You are welcome. 

10 red and orange mini peppers - coarsely sliced (or 2 cups normal bell peppers chopped)
1 large jalapeno coarsely sliced
1 large onion coarsely chopped
6 large garlic cloves coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
4-8 baby portabello mushrooms sliced
1/8-1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup boiling water
1/2-3/4 cup of coconut milk OR vegetable broth
1 package of pasta 16-18 oz (500 g)
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika (the smoked part is important for a deep rich flavor)
2 Tablespoons fresh/2 teaspoons dried basil
Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350* F.
Cover baking sheet with parchment paper, or silpat.

Place the peppers, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and sesame seeds into a bowl and toss to coat with balsamic vinegar. Place on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saute mushrooms in soy sauce until softened, then remove from heat and set aside.

Bring salted water to boil, and begin to cook pasta.
Add boiling water to cashews and allow to soften for 10-15 minutes, then blend with a high powered blender until smooth. Remove the vegetables from the oven and blend into the cashew milk, adding paprika, coconut milk or vegetable broth (to thin), paprika, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

Drain pasta. Leave in colander. Reserve some of the cooking water.
Add sauce to pasta pan and heat.
Add pasta to sauce in the pan, and if needed, thin using the reserved some of the pasta's cooking water.
Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh basil and freshly ground black pepper.

Marinara all purpose sauce - vegan, whole food/plant based, no oil

I came across a recipe for marinara at which I really liked....with a few tweaks of my own. My family devours this - as in, none left for my lunch the next day! This is vegan, plant based with no oils or processed sugars. And...this handy sauce can be used for a pizza sauce, a dipping sauce, lasagna, spaghetti, served over rice or other many possibilities!

1 medium onion - chopped
1 medium red, orange, or yellow bell pepper - chopped
5 mushrooms - sliced
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart canned tomatoes, or equivalent (reserve juice)
1 six oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1-2 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste - optional)
black pepper - to taste, optional

Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add oregano, paprika & basil (if using dried spices) and toast lightly, stirring constantly. Add fresh veggies and red wine vinegar. Saute until softened. Add water if needed to keep ingredients from sticking. 
Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Use a potato masher to break tomatoes down to desired chunkiness if needed
. Season to taste. 
Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Add reserved tomato juice or water to thin if needed, or blend if a thinner consistency is desired. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Green Goddess dressing

I made this the other day and loved it! I've missed having a good dressing for a salad or baked potato that didnt to rain oil or sugar.  The flavors blend and mellow with time. It was much better the next day.

1/2 c. chopped red onion
2 T. Fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 c. Firm tofu
2 T. Lemon juice
2 T vinegar (preferably red or rice wine)
1 T almond butter
1 T soy sauce , tamari or Aminos
1 T 100% maple syrup
1/2 T. Salt
1/4 T. Ground black pepper

Blend together in high powered blender.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Crusted Salmon With Herbed Mayonnaise

My friend Gwen served this about 17 years ago and it was the best salmon I may have ever had. I begged her for a copy of the recipe, and I've come across it every now and then, but it has never had a permanent home.  So here it finally is for posterity...  

Crusted Salmon with Herbed Mayonnaise

Herbed Mayonnaise
1/3 c. minced fresh Italian parsley
1/3 c. minced fresh cilantro
¼ c. minced green onions
2 T. red wine vinegar
½ t. minced garlic
¼ t. dried oregano
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 c. prepared mayonnaise

¼ c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
¼ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped fresh thyme or 2 t. dried thyme
1 t. finely grated lemon zest
¼ t. salt
2 small cloves garlic, peeled
1 ¼ fresh white bread crumbs
¼ c butter (1/2 stick), melted, divided
2.5 pounds salmon fillet, 1 piece if available

In a small bowl, combine 1/3 c. parsley, cilantro, green onions, vinegar, ½ t. minced garlic, oregano, pepper, and cayenne.  Stir until well blended and let stand, at room temperature 30 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease large, shallow baking pan. In food processor or blender, combine ¼ c. parsley, Parmesan, thyme, lemon zest, and salt. With processor running, drop 2 cloves garlic through feed tube and process until finely chopped. Transfer to large bowl and add bread crumbs. Toss to blend. (May be prepared in advance. Cover and chill overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.) Add 3 T. of the melted butter and toss to combine.

Pat salmon dry and place, skin side down, in prepared pan. Brush with remaining 1 T. melted butter. Pack crumb mixture on salmon. Bake 20-25 minutes or until center is opaque. If using several small fillets, cook 10 minutes per inch of thickness. If crumbs brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Transfer to serving platter. Stir mayonnaise into chilled herb mixture and serve on the side. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Polenta Bites

We hit the jackpot with this one. I could probably eat it every day.

What's not to love? Corn meal, tomatoes, arugula, flax seeds, avocados, black olives and some hot sauce or homemade salsa on top, or whatever you have on hand and suits your fancy.

The hot polenta creates a palette or base for this meal, and causes the tomato juices to warm and run and mmm - these combine all of our favorite flavors and are a super quick and satisfying meal.

Simply slice polenta into 1/4 inch thick slices and place over medium heat in a frying pan (no oil needed - if it sticks add just a splash of water).  Heat on each side...just a few minutes.

Arrange on plate and top with baby arugula (which gives it a contrasting spicy freshness), freshly chopped tomatoes, sliced avocados, chopped black olives, a sprinkle of flax seeds for texture and some omegas, and hot sauce (if you want a little more heat) on top.

Lentil Soup - Pressure cooker

I've made various lentil soups over the years but my family didn't especially love them.
This one however, caught our attention and I'll definitely make this one often.
I've adapted it from a recipe by Jill Nussinow.
It takes less than 30 minutes.

1 onion - chopped
2 carrots - chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs dried thyme
6 cups liquid (at least 2 cups vegetable broth)
1.5 cups green or brown lentils
1/2 cup red lentils
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 knuckle fresh turmeric, peeled and grated
1 t. ground coriander
2 t. salt
1/2 t. black ground pepper

Place onion into pressure cooker insert and add 3 T. water. Bring to a boil using the saute setting, and add onions. Saute for 3 minutes, stirring if needed. Add garlic, and carrots, and saute for another minute or so.
Add bay leaves, thyme, broth/water, lentils, potato, turmeric, and coriander.

Lock the lid into place and cook at pressure for 7 minutes.  Allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve as is, with crusty bread, or over a bowl of rice, quinoa, barley, faro, or a mixture of these grains.

Brussel Sprouts to fight over

Growing up I experienced brussel sprouts just a handful of times. On one of those occasions, my brother and I posed for a photo with our cheeks stuffed like chipmunks.  Then we spit them out because they were so bitter and I hoped to never have to eat them again. Blech!

You may have thought I was jesting with the title of this recipe, but no, for the children (teenagers) had a fight today over these brussel sprouts...complete with someone stomping off to her room crying.. because we used the "I cut, you choose" method when they were dividing them up, and her portion was a little less than her sisters.  Yeah, they are that good. We've had them twice last week.

Our discovery began this Thanksgiving. A friend invited us to dinner and kept talking proudly about how we would be having brussel sprouts. I was not excited...not in the least, but rather I was worried about having to eat them graciously. Somehow, I avoided them, but my family kept raving about them. They kept asking "why we don't eat those, are they too expensive??" So, I asked my friend for her recipe, which I've adapted here just a bit for our family's needs.  
Super simple, and it takes maybe 15 minutes start to finish.

1 lb brussel sprouts - washed, and bottoms trimmed
2 T. coconut milk 
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400*
Half brussel sprouts and place in medium sized bowl. 
Add coconut milk and toss to coat. 
Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet - I use a silpat, if you don't have one, I recommend a layer of foil. Salt to taste.

Place on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, gently stirring once.

Stand back and let the fighting begin - we have a tough time actually getting these to a serving bowl on the table...half usually go missing in the transition!  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Almond milk - whole food, plant based, vegan milk

Almost three months ago, I decided to try out a Whole Foods, plant based diet-not as in "diet" but as in lifestyle. In adopting this new lifestyle, I decided to cut out all processed sugars, oils, processed foods and refined flours.

I know, it sounds pretty extreme, but it has been an incredible adventure. I'm learning how to cook ALL over again. I didn't see that one coming!

I originally thought I'd try it just to see how my body would respond for 3 months.  And my body has loved it. I LOVE knowing exactly what I'm putting into my body.  I've looked and looked for a suitable milk option and just haven't found one that doesn't have sugar or oil, or ingredients I don't recognize or can't pronounce. So, I've been making my own almond milk.

I've tried it using a date or two as a sweetener, but found that it fermented and only lasted a day or so. So I've been using some raw, unfiltered honey.

Here's the method I've been enjoying the most:

1 cup raw almonds
4 cups water
Dash of salt
1/2-1 teaspoon raw unfiltered honey (preferably from your own bees!)

Place almonds into a quart jar and fill with water. Place in the fridge and
allow to soak overnight.
Drain and rinse almonds.

Place in a high powered blender. Add 4 cups filtered water, honey and dash of salt.
Blend until smooth.

Stain using a nut bag (best ever, takes about 3 minutes), or strain cheesecloth.

Add additional water for consistency.
Place in a container with a sealable lid, and refrigerate immediately.
Lasts 5-7 days.

Use ground almond meal remains in breads, granolas etc. 

Hot chocolate - Whole Food Plant Based, vegan

We woke up to 8 inches of snow and after our walk and some snow shoveling, we were totally craving a warm mug of hot cocoa. 

Honestly, I'd been mulling over how to make a sugar free, vegan hot chocolate for a while. My very skeptical non-vegan teenage test taster said it wasn't too bad (that's like winning the lottery), and she said I could probably sale it, she then suggested we move to Seattle and set up hot chocolate stand and hot cider stand.  She's a funny one, but she asked for seconds and thirds. 

This comes out warm and creamy and perfectly hits the spot of a great comfort food on a snowy day.  Mmmm 

3 cups almond milk 
2-3 T cocoa powder or cacao nibs (for a deeper chocolate taste)
6-8 dates (seeds removed) covered with and soaked for 15 minutes in boiling water
1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews preferably soaked overnight or 15 min in boiling water.
Additional boiling water

Cinnamon (optional)
Vanilla (optional)

Place dates and water they were soaked in, into a high powered blender. 
Blend until smooth.
Add cocoa powder, almond milk and cashews, blend until smooth. Add additional boiling water until it reaches your desired consistency. 
Add a dash of cinnamon or vanilla if desired (optional).

Serve immediately. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Zucchini & Portabello Mushroom Stir Fry

Holy cow! This was such a great dish - my husband asked me when I was going to make it again, even though I just made it two days ago.
This takes a slightly Asian twist on zucchini and is so easy and healthy.
Truly a 15 minute dish.

2 medium zucchinis
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 portabello mushroom, sliced, coarsely chopped
1-2 T. soy sauce
1-2 T. grated fresh ginger
2 t. sesame seeds

Using a grater, thinly slice zucchinis. 
Place in cast iron pan, with a small amount of water (so they don't initially stick). Add onions and mushroom pieces and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until ingredients become tender and translucent.  

Add soy sauce, and grated ginger, and cook down to reduce the liquid. Add sesame seeds, salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.  

Tadka Dal with Potatoes (Split Red Lentils)

We've entered a new realm - the realm of whole food, plant based diet, with no refined sugars or flours, or oils.

So...these next recipes are recipes have been altered to fit into the no anything (see above) category. We've been very surprised to find workable recipes that we've actually liked. The following posts include some of our favorites.

I was at Winco last week checking out their bulk dry options and found some red lentils that I thought might be fun to try out.  They were awesome in this recipe!

Tadka Dal With Potatoes (Split Red Lentils)
1 onion - finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T. grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeno pepper - sliced into rings (with or without seeds)
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 T. grated fresh turmeric or 1.5 t. ground tumeric
1 t. salt
6 cups water

1 quart tomatoes
1 T. yellow mustard seeds
1 T. coriander seeds
1 T. sesame seeds
2 t. green cardamon pods
2 T. cumin
1 t. allspice

Pre-heat a pressure cooker using the brown setting.
Add a small amount of water, then cook the onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeno until softened, stirring occasionally.
Add the lentils, potatoes, turmeric and salt. Then add the water, stir and lock the lid into place.
Pressure cook on high for 7 minutes.
Release the pressure using the quick release method.

While the dal is cooking, in a cast iron skillet, heat the spices, stirring occasionally - all except for the cumin and allspice.
Once they've begun to brown and are moving around and popping a bit, add 1 quart of canned tomatoes. Use a potato masher or similar tool to break tomatoes down, and boil and stir this mixture, Add the cumin and allspice, and boil and stir until it reduces and most of the liquid cooks off.

Remove from heat.

Serve in bowls, on top of rice or with naan bread, (or a homemade Maseca corn tortilla), with the tomato mixture on top of the dal.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sandee's Super Amazing Green Chocolate Smoothie

My friend Sandee in Florida sponsors healthy living challenges periodically, and she is a health guru.  She recently shared this recipe on a blog. I've tweaked it just a bit to better work with what my family normally has on hand.

A little backstory - I've been making smoothies for YEARS, and my kids hate it when I "nutritionalize" everything (their words not mine).  If you ever come to visit they will share their favorite story of when I tried to add arugula to a smoothie. Yes, the results were a disaster, and now we know... Anyways..

I didn't get a photo of this smoothie because they inhaled it - I present the empty glass as evidence. My husband even asked for seconds and took it with him to work, and asked me to make sure that I let Sandee know how much he loved it and thank her for the recipe. That never happens. EVER. My daughter finished all of hers - with no complaints. Needless to say - this one is a keeper.

Power Greens - kale, chard, and beet greens (can be found at Costco)
5 medjool dates (for natural sweetening), pitted
3 T. cocoa powder
1 T. chia seeds
1 T. flax seeds
1 T. hemp hearts
2 cups almond milk or coconut milk 
1 c. ice

Stuff blender full of greens. 
Add additional ingredients. 
Blend and serve.

Serves 4

There you go - super healthy greens, cocoa powder, and those awesome omega 3 super food seeds that are all the rave - and it tastes good! 

Easy Almond Milk

This is another super simple recipe:  
Basically, you need almonds, water, a blender and a few hours. Yep. That's it. 

I tried a new recipe this am which added a cinnamon stick, a date, and a pinch of salt to the overnight soak, and so I tried it out - a couple of ways. Results are as follows: 

Combine the following in a quart jar:
1 c. raw almonds (not roasted or dried)
Water - fill the remainder of the quart jar
1 medjool date
1 cinnamon stick
pinch kosher salt

Let soak overnight. 
Drain off water, and place almonds in blender - they should be swollen. 
Add 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of almonds to the blender. 

Blend until very smooth - strain through a sieve, and chill. Water down if thinner consistency is desired.  

I blended one batch without the date and cinnamon stick and another batch with the date and cinnamon stick. Personally, I found the one without, a little on the bitter side.and prefer the one with the date and cinnamon stick. 

This is a great milk for morning smoothies! 

Super Simple Chicken

Last night, grilled chicken was on the menu, but when I stepped outside to grill, I found that my grill was out of order.
I was in a hurry, and so I threw this recipe together - just winging it with ingredients I had on hand.

I was surprised when my oldest daughter, followed by my second exclaimed how good this was! They both immediately asked me to post it here for posterity's sake (theirs). My husband got home a little later and he too really loved it. He and one of my kids took leftovers of this meal for their lunches today.

My jaw is still on the ground because it was so simple. I served it with roasted potatoes, and chimichurri sauce. 
Here's the recipe - for posterity's sake.

6-8 skinless, frozen chicken breasts
1 c. water
1/2 yellow onion - sliced
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped

Place chicken in cast iron pan over medium high heat.
Spread onions, mushrooms, peppers, and garlic over the top of the chicken.  Add 1/2-1 c. water, and cover with a lid (I use my pizza stone as a lid).
Cook for approximately 20 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
Check halfway through to make sure water hasn't boiled away. If it has, add more water.

Serve with roasted potatoes and chimichurri sauce - serve everything with chimichurri sauce :)

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fresh Corn Tortillas

Hello! It's been a while. I moved from beautiful, humid Florida, to the desert climate in south central Washington, and have been getting settled - it has taken some time. So, I'm back and ready to experiment cooking in a new climate. 
On to the tortillas!

What could be better than fresh hot tortillas? With perhaps a little salt, butter, and key lime juice? Ummm for me, not much! 
When I lived in Guatemala, the family I lived with asked me if I liked tortillas, and my response was, "sure, I guess" - I didn't dislike them.  For the next couple of weeks, at breakfast and dinner I'd find 10-15 hot corn tortillas, freshly made, wrapped in banana leaves at the table. Finally, we had a discussion, and only one or two tortillas appeared at each meal :) In Guatemala, fresh tortillas are part of every meal. Women cook and sell tortillas three times a day, usually over an open fire on a big lid to a metal barrel/drum called a comal. 
Since I'm not equipped to cook these outside, over an open fire, here's the easier version.   

My children teenagers just happen to LOVE these babies, so this morning I whipped out a batch. While these aren't made from fresh hominy, many Guatemalans also use this "just add water" mix that can be found at many grocery stores, or Walmart - and it's dirt cheap, as in $3-$4 for this bag which makes a whole mess of tortillas.

While there is a recipe on the maseca bag, really, it is trial and error to get the right consistency. Pour some mix into a bowl, and add water. Mix a little, then add more water until it starts to form a ball. If it is too wet, then add more mix, if too dry, add water, a little at a time. Ultimately, it will be quickly apparent when you've got the right consistency. The dough will be soft and pliable, but won't really stick to your hands. Furthermore when you use the quick and easy plastic wrap to roll them out, if it sticks to the plastic and doesn't come off easily, then it needs a little more of the dry mixture.

Here I'm just beginning to mix in the water. It usually takes more water than you imagine!

I mix mine by hand so that I can govern the consistency.
Once you've got the water added in and your dough is the right consistency, scoop out a small amount - about the size of a ping pong ball.  Roll in the palm of your hand, then gently flatten into a small but thick disk - about 2 inches across.  Smooth any rough edges. 
Lay a large piece of plastic wrap onto a flat surface (counter top), and place the dough on half of the plastic wrap. Lightly wrap the other side of the plastic wrap over the dough. Using a cutting board, or similar flat object, press down from the top and center, applying even pressure. 
It should look something like this
(yes, I'm still using my red Christmas and Valentine's Day plastic wrap!)

Note: For the record, you can also just use your hands and "tortillear" these tortillas - the fine art of slapping the dough back and forth between the hands while turning it, turning in the edges and flattening it. I however, have very hot palms, and my hands always dry out the dough too quickly, and my tortillas come out too thick or break. So..the plastic wrap is a surefire method for pretty looking tortillas which cook much more quickly than my thick little hand made hockey puck tortillas (called pistonas).  

Gently peel off the plastic wrap that was folded over the dough. Lift the tortilla up so that the raw dough is in one hand, and use the other hand to gently peel the plastic wrap from the other side. 
If the dough is too sticky and won't peel off, then scrape it off, add it back to the dough in the bowl and work in a little more dry mix. 

Place tortilla onto a hot pan or griddle - no grease or cooking spray needed. 
Because Maseca is a little bland, I grind fresh salt onto the bottom of my pan, and then grind a bit over the top of the tortilla as it begins to cook.

Now for the exciting part - and I really don't know why this is so exciting for me. 
Once the tortilla sears on one side, flip it over. 
As it cooks, tap it. 
Yes, you heard right. Use your fingers (or a spatula if you can't take the heat) and lighty press your fingers over the tortilla. You'll see certain spots that will begin to slightly inflate. This is a great sign! Once you are seeing inflation in various areas of the tortilla, flip it again, and after 15-20 seconds, lightly press in the inflating areas again. 
The inflation means that your tortilla is steaming inside which means it's gonna be a great tortilla! 
Some just don't inflate, but it's like you won the lottery when you consistently get inflated tortillas. It's difficult to see, but below are two nicely inflated tortillas.


After the tortilla has cooked on both sides, and has inflated, remove from the pan, and wrap in a dish towel or tortilla warmer to retain the heat. And repeat until all of the dough has been used. 
These tortillas can accompany any meal (really ANY meal). My favorite is to butter them while hot, and add a splash of key lime juice to them. They are also a great quick snack with re-fried beans, honey, peanut butter, filled with rice and beans or eggs, or just as a general meal accompaniment.   

Store in the refrigerator in plastic wrap. To quickly reheat, wrap in a paper towel, and place in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or pop into the toaster for a minute. 
Buen provecho! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Roasted Potatoes

This is such a simple recipe, but oh so satisfying. Thanks to my friend Carla for teaching me how to make this - it's a keeper!
Potatoes, and butter, salt and pepper, and a little something else, just to season it a bit more. 
Taco seasoning - who knew? 
My kids have asked for this various times since first having it with friends last week. 

6-8 potatoes, scrubbed, skins on, chopped into 1.5 inch cubes
1/2 cup butter - melted OR Coconut Milk (WFPB)
2 Tablespoons Taco seasoning (Costco brand)   OR a blend of chili pepper, cumin, oregano, sea salt, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cocoa powder, jalapeno pepper
Sea salt, Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375*. 
Place potatoes in large bowl, and add butter OR coconut milk and toss to coat. 
Add spices, toss to coat, and place in glass 9 x 13 baking pan in a single layer (this will make one side crispylicious).
Bake for 45-50 minutes, uncovered, until soft. 

Pairs nicely with steak and chimichurri sauce (yes, because I can't get enough chimichurri!) :)

Lucia's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Growing up, my best friend's family had 10 kids and their home was pretty busy.  However, when her mom made this cake, kids came running (including me) from all corners of the house. Moist, not too sweet, there's was never a wrong time of the day to enjoy this treat.

Lucia's Sour Cream Coffee Cake - tried and tested for years.
1 cup butter (or 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 cup chia gel)
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs thoroughly. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add this mixture and sour cream to the egg mixture. Add vanilla.

1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup pecans (or nuts of choice)
Put half the batter into a buttered 9x13 inch pan. Sprinkle with half of the topping mixture.
Add remaining batter, evenly on top and sprinkle with remaining topping mixture.
Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

Chimichurri - I'm in love!

We had an amazing meal at a friend's house last week, where I was introduced to chimichurri sauce, and oh my heavens! It totally struck a chord with me. So much, that I replicated the exact same meal for our dinner the next night, and ate chimichurri with my next three meals as well. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it.

The great thing about this sauce, is that it is so versatile (and it keeps vampires away). It can be eaten on steak, grilled chicken, mixed into pasta, or that spaghetti sauce you were just whipping up, with eggs or potatoes, or on toast with eggs and avocados as pictured here.

1 bunch parsley - washed and minced
1 head of garlic (yep - a whole head, meaning all of the cloves) - finely minced, or processed through a garlic press
2-3 Tablespoons of fresh lemon or lime juice (key lime is my citrus juice of taste)
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil OR 2 teaspoons coconut milk, OR 1 tablespoon chia gel

Mix together in small bowl, and season with kosher or large grain salt, and black pepper (red pepper flakes may also be added for a little more zing, if the garlic isn't enough!)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Chili Cheese Fries - Comfort Food

I recently returned from a trip to Colorado.  
There we tried to visit one of my favorite restaurants in Minturn - the Turn Table. 
It is the epitome of a greasy spoon diner, and a local's secret. Our favorite meals there are the gringo, and boos burritos.  One of my best friends and I used to stop in after snowshoeing, and she would ALWAYS get their chili cheese fries.  Yesterday, we played with homemade steak fries in my kitchen, and here's my rendition of chili cheese fries - inspired by the Turntable. 
This is a great meal when you want to spice up left over chili, need a warm comfort food, perfect for a cool fall or cold winter's night.

1 Recipe Chili (leftovers are great)
1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Place desired quantity of fries on oven safe plate or dish.
Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.
Place under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Slide fries and melted cheese into bowl of hot chili.
Garnish with sour cream, chopped onions or chives, bacon as desired.  

Steak Fries

My daughter decided that she wanted some fries yesterday, and she set out to make some. She asked for a few pointers, and made herself some great fries with the cast iron pan on the stove. 
They looked so good, that I decided to do a bigger batch, but without the heat from the stove top. 
These fries come out crisp, and tasty, and can be made more quickly than it takes to bake the frozen ones from the grocery store.  

5-8 Russett potatoes - scrubbed
Oil for frying
Salt as desired
Dish lined with paper towels

I picked up this food chopper several months ago, on the advice of my sister in law. I found it at an outlet kitchen store for less than $20.00, and love that it has many interchangeable blades.  I also found a potato slicer at Walmart a couple of years ago, that similarly juliennes food (makes easy sticks) as well.  A kitchen knife and cutting board also do the same thing, but the result may not be quite as uniform.
Slice clean potatoes into 1/4x1/4" slices.  Leave peels on as desired. 

Soak potato sticks in ice water for 10-30 minutes. This helps make them crisper, and alleviates the 'rust' that potatoes get when in contact with air. 

After soaking,I tried gently drying the potatoes with a paper towel just prior to submerging in oil, but liked them best when they were submerged in oil, still wet from ice water. Be aware however, that this may cause oil to "pop" and may cause burns.

Using a fryer (if you have one) or a heavy skillet on the stove, heat 1.5 - 2 inches of oil to 350-400* F.  
A fry basket comes in pretty handily if you have one. 

Working in small batches, remove a handful of potato sticks from the ice water bath, and place into fry basket/or directly into pan, and submerge in hot oil. 
Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes - tossing gently as needed.  

Remove from oil, and salt immediately. 
Dump into paper towel lined bowl or pan, to allow oil to drain. 
Serve hot

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rice Spice Bites - Puerto Rican Recaito & Sofrito

 Ever wanted some extra flavor in your rice, or in a sauce, but didn't have the time to chop and sautee everything? Or have everything on hand? In Puerto Rico, many rice, soups, or meat dishes have a base of recaito or sofrito.. made with a cilantro or culantro base. These are spicy - to your preference, and add a quick burst of flavor to rice and meat dishes. 

3 bunches cilantro - coarsely chopped
8 jalapeños -seeded and finely chopped
5 bunches green onions - chopped
1 large garlic - 8-10 cloves, chopped
3 limes juiced
3 Tablespoons butter

Melt butter in saucepan, add everything except for the lime juice.  Sautee until tender. 
Add lime juice and simmer for a few minutes. 

Place in spoonfuls on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and freeze for several hours or overnight - ice cube trays can also be used.  
Place in individual snack baggies or in a large bag for future use - keep
stored in freezer. 

Add as a base to rice, shrimp, or meat sauces for a quick, rich flavor. 

Hand Soap with Shea, Mango, Coconut, Sweet Almond, Avocado, Emu, and Rose Hip Oils

Super Luxurious Homemade Hand Soap

Even though I'm really stepping away from my edibles genre here, I love making lotions and soaps.
My favorite hand cream (which is the best gift ever, and clears up ecema if used regularly) is
Karen's Buttercream.  It is as yummy as it sounds!   

When I moved to Florida, I brought all of my lotion making supplies, but after a while, I wasn't quite sure about the shelf life of some of my luxury butters and oils.
I called Majestic Mountain Sage and their kind technical staff walked me through and helped me create a soap recipe from my "use it or lose it" oils and butters. 

I totally fell in love with this soap after my first batch. I love the smell, and I love the lather, and they make a great gift presentation, wrapped with velum, tied with lemon grass.   

First off - figure out how much you will need by doing the following: 
In a pyrex, measure 3 cups of water. 
Line a box (or mold) with plastic, and add water to check height/size.  Continue adding water, and adjusting recipe (double/triple etc.) as needed. 

6 oz coconut oil
4 oz shea or mango butter (or half and half)
4 oz avocado, emu, sweet almond, or rose hip oil
4 oz hydrogenated soybean oil (crisco)
6 fl oz distilled water
2.3 oz lye

Line a mold (cake mix, muffin or shoe box etc.) with a white trash compactor type of bag (not black).  
Set aside. 

In a dedicated "for soap use only" plastic pitcher, place water, and carefully pour in lye.  Make sure to wear protective clothing and eyewear.  The lye/water mixture will heat up drastically and is extremely caustic - use caution. Allow to cool, until gently warm when a hand is placed on the outside. 
This may take an hour or more. 

Once the lye mixture has cooled to gently warm, combine oils and butters into a "dedicated for soap only" plastic or glass mixing bowl (with high sides).  Add lye solution to butters and oils, and use a blending stick/emulsifier to blend until the oil and water emulsify and achieve trace.  (Trace looks like a spoonful of cake batter, drizzled back into the batter, when the drips and drizzles are visible for a few moments).
Quickly mix in essential oils for scent, and or colors and additives. (I like a combination of cinnamon, clove, bergamot, and lemon grass, or ylang ylang).  You may also enjoy experimenting with finely ground oatmeal, lavendar, rosemary, colors, layering etc.  

Pour mixture into prepared box - lined with plastic bag. 
Allow to rest for 24 hours. 

Release from pan, and cut into bars. 
Allow to harden for 2-3 additional weeks, turning every few days. 

Notes: Don't use glass pans, they get too cold.  Don't use aluminum with the lye. 
Olive oil gives a hard dense lather, coconut and palm kernel give a fluffy lather.

Other recipes - use these with the lye calculator below to determine water and lye amounts: 

6 oz coconut oil
4 oz crisco/hydrogenated soybean oil (crisco)
3 oz shea/mango
3 oz liquid oil - sweet almond, rose hip, jojoba


8 oz coconut oil
4 oz olive oil
4 oz shea or mango

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fresh Homemade Strawberry Jam

Because we live in Florida, strawberry season begins in December and runs through March.  We have a favorite u pick strawberry farm we visit each year, and we love to bring them home and immediately process into jam to share with friends for Valentine's Day, and eat throughout the year.
  I've had many friends ask me to teach them how to make this jam.  Ultimately, for quantities, you have to follow the recipe on your pectin.  That's rule number 1.  The rest, you learn as a kitchen slave to your mother and grandmother, year after year, in the middle of summer in a burning hot kitchen and wonder why anyone would be crazy enough to want to do this (until you taste the final product of course) :)  

Here's a general recipe that will yield between 8-10 half pints: 
3.75 - 4 cups strawberries
7 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 package liquid pectin
1 teaspoon butter
8-10 half pint jelly jars, lids and rings
tongs & jar lifters

Keep the following in mind:   
It will take time. More berries = more time, but it depends on how much you are making, and finding your groove. At low altitude, one batch can be done in less than 30 minutes.
It will be messy (but not too bad).
Never EVER double the recipe. EVER. Unless you enjoy failure. I've done it - against better advice. 
Don't do it. Enough said.
It will be totally worth it.

Make sure you have paper towels on hand, lots of kitchen cloths, and an electric kettle comes in super handy. Jar lifters are a great tool also - I've dropped some jars just with tongs, and had some mishaps. Jar lifters are awesome - a $5-$10 investment that is worth it.
Find the ripest, freshest strawberries (or other fruit) around. 
At home, fill a large bowl or pot with water, and allow berries to sit for 10-15 minutes.  This helps remove soil - it drops to the bottom of the bowl.  
Pare off any bad spots, as well as stem and leaves. 
Place berries into another bowl.

Make sure that jam jars are washed (sterilized - they can stay in dishwasher on dry cycle to keep warm)
Place lids inside of rust free undamaged jar rings and submerge in boiling water.  Keep submerged, and keep water at a low boil constantly.  

Use the hot pack recipe found in the pectin box. Using a food processor or high powered blender, blend berries.  Pour into a pan, and add sugar and lemon juice as directed. Cook as directed until it comes to a boil. 

In the meantime...we multi-task
While fruit mixture is coming to a boil, line counter with clean dishcloths, and place 8-10 sterilized jam jars about an inch apart on dishcloths (this allows you to pour more quickly).
Still multi-tasking...
Heat a deep pot of water to boiling on stove. 
Make sure that the jars can fit into the canning pot (depth), and still have 1-2 inches of water cover them, boiling (electric kettles come in handy here with boiling water in just a few minutes, the microwave works too, but because boiling water evaporates, it is needed for lids and for the canning).     

Once fruit mixture boils, add 1 teaspoon butter - this will reduce the foaming later on. 

Add pectin as directed on package, and cook as needed. Usually a minute or two more after it comes to another rolling boil. 

Working quickly, remove from heat. 

Use a metal spoon and skim the foam from the top of the fruit mixture, depositing it into a bowl. This won't be processed, so you can eat it as soon as you want!  

Pour jam into the ready jars on the countertop. 
Use a clean rag (or dampened paper towel), and clean off the rim of each jar, removing any sugar or jam so that a proper seal can be achieved.  

Using tongs, remove rings and lids from boiling water (they need to boil a minimum of 10 minutes to soften the gum that will help them seal), and quickly place on lids.  Only tighten rings finger tight.

Place in boiling pot of water, and process as directed on pectin instructions - making adjustments for altitude. 

Remove from water - no need to dry lids, they are so hot, the water will evaporate. 
Place on dishtowels on countertop and do not disturb for 24 hours.  
If the jars have sealed, you will hear a "pop", and the center of the jar lid will be pulled down in a vacuum.  

After 24 hours, jars may be wiped with soapy water, or a rag with vinegar to make them shine and remove any residue on top of lid from evaporated water.