Strawberry Vanilla Fridge Jam

This summer has so far been deemed the “summer of lists”. I’ve been making lists like mad and crossing things off with determination. It makes sense. I have two jobs, am taking a summer course, and am marathon training, so this woman needs to get things done!

Two lists that I’ve shared with you on the blog are my 30 things to do before 30 list (which is coming along nicely) and my summer bucket list. I have 5 things on my summer bucket list to do and I’m going to share one of those things with you right meow now!

Item #1 – Picking strawberries and making homemade jam. I love everything about this.

I still need to make homemade dill pickles, go to a drive in movie theatre, and cross two things off of my 30 things to do before 30 list, but there is still time. And I’m determined!

To make this jam, place the strawberries in a food processor or blender and blend until coarsely chopped.

Pour into a medium pot and stir in the lemon juice.

Add vanilla bean.

Add sugar and pectin and stir thoroughly. Cook mixture over medium high heat until it comes to a full rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking until the jam is slightly thickened.

Remove from the stove and allow the jam to cool slightly before pouring into glass containers.

This fresh strawberry jam has a slight hint of vanilla throughout and has a beautiful spreadable consistency. It’s my favorite in morning smoothies or on a cinnamon raisin bagel. Enjoy!

Strawberry Vanilla Fridge Jam
Recipe adapted from Cheeky Kitchen
Makes enough for six small jam jars

Ingredients:
3 pints of strawberries, washed and hulled
Juice of 1 lemon
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
4 cups sugar
4 tbsp powdered fruit pectin (I used Certo brand)

Directions:
Place the strawberries in a food processor or blender and blend until coarsely chopped. Pour into a medium pot and stir in the lemon juice, vanilla bean, sugar, and pectin thoroughly. Cook mixture over medium high heat until it comes to a full rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking until the jam is slightly thickened. Remove from the stove and allow the jam to cool slightly before pouring into glass containers.

Note: Will store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

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My Favorite Pesto

This week has been mega awesome. Two, yes TWO, of my best friends got engaged within three days of each other. HELLO bachelorette parties!

I grew up in a really cute little town where pHD’s are more common than high school diplomas, where we had a choice of three big beaches to sun ourselves on, and where there was one high school. This is where I became friends with 11 of the greatest girls I will ever know, and we’re still great friends today. Most of us live in Ottawa, and some of us are scattered around the world, but I know I could call any of them in a heart beat if I needed them.

One of the 11 ladies is already married, but now two more are on their way and I couldn’t be happier. Growing up is weird and exciting and scary – and in it all I know I will always have my girls. So what does this have to do with pesto? It’s easy and versatile and beautiful in it’s own way. It makes me think of travelling in Italy with two of my best friends, and packed lunches and hikes. I guess it makes me think of some of these 11 ladies and so I thought it would be a perfect recipe to represent the simpleness in life and celebrating friends. It’s truly magical.

To begin, add basil leaves, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to a food processor.

Turn machine on, then drizzle in olive oil while it mixes. Continue blending until combined, adding additional olive oil if needed.

That’s all she wrote! Easy, right? Happy Friday!….and here are a few of the lovely ladies I talked about ;)

Pesto
Recipe taken from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
3/4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons pine Nuts
2 small cloves garlic, Peeled
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:
Add basil leaves, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to a food processor or blender. Turn machine on, then drizzle in olive oil while it mixes. Continue blending until combined, adding additional olive oil if needed.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Ever get sick of plain jam?

Me neither! But I had a lot of apples to use up recently and thought I’d make some good, old fashioned apple butter. Before I made my own, I actually never liked apple butter in the past. It was always too sweet and tasted like apple sauce gone bad. So, to get a good recipe, I searched a few of my favorite bloggers and landed on Jaimie’s recipe. I knew it had to be good.

And boy was I right! This apple butter is perfectly smooth and spiced, and pairs wonderfully with bagels, whole grain toast or even apple slices! I personally thought this went nice on a cinnamon raisin bagel. It was such a scrumptious breakfast (for the amount of time it lasted)!

To begin, place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples and mix well. Cook in your slow cooker on low for about 10 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.

Uncover, stir in vanilla and continue cooking uncovered on low for about 2 hours.

Use an immersion blender to puree the apple butter until smooth. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Yield: 2 pints
Recipe taken from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:
3 1/4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used honeycrisp)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch salt
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples and mix well.
2. Cook in slow cooker on low for about 10 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
3. Uncover, stir in vanilla and continue cooking uncovered on low for about 2 hours.
4. Use an immersion blender to puree the apple butter until smooth.
5. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze.
6. Serve on breads, muffins, pork chops or just eat it with a spoon!

Homemade White Chocolate Peanut Butter

I have now been in Switzerland for a week running around like crazy, and trying to get organized. My work day is from 8 to 5:30, but with marathon training and morning exercises in between I find it hard to get anything done. This weekend I had some time to myself so I went to the grocery store only to find that it didn’t have peanut butter. I was confused, but upon asking a local (in my very bad French) I learned that the Swiss don’t really eat peanut butter. You can get it in some specialty stores, but it’s not common at all. WEIRD!

In North America people go crazy for it, and when they can’t have it they go nuts for peanut butter substitutes like sunbutter or almond butter (which are both amazing as well). I am one of those typical North American’s that also love the stuff. Before leaving for Switzerland I made my own peanut butter often, and tried this white chocolate variation from How Sweet It Is. It’s a must try!

To begin, grab some high quality dry roasted peanuts.

Add peanuts to a food processor and blend until a thick nut butter forms. Stream in oil and vanilla with the processor on, continuing to run it until the mixture is smooth (about 3-4 minutes). You can add more oil if needed, but in small increments. Turn off processor, add melted chocolate, and turn processor back on. Blend until smooth.

Try it out on some yummy whole wheat toast, and enjoy! I miss this stuff.

Homemade White Chocolate Peanut Butter
Recipe from How Sweet It Is
Makes about 3/4 cup

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups dry, roasted peanuts (I used salted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup white chocolate chips/chunks/bars, melted

Directions:
1. Add peanuts to a food processor and blend until a thick nut butter forms. Stream in oil and vanilla with the processor on, continuing to run it until the mixture is smooth (takes about 3-4 minutes). You can add more oil if needed, just do it in small increments.
2. Turn off processor, add melted chocolate, and turn processor back on. Blend until smooth.

You can keep this peanut butter at room temperature for a week, but refrigerate it if you want to keep it for a few weeks.

Tangy Stewed Rhubarb

She’s here! And thank goodness she is. Welcome back rhu-BARB! Doesn’t she look great?!

Rhubarb season is one of my absolute favorites. Rhubarb brings out a sassy, tangy, flavour in baking that makes my mouth water. Luckily, rhubarb is super healthy, and low calorie as well (even though I like to dip it raw in sugar). I love the way my mouth puckers up after a big bite of a raw stalk. It’s saying “GOOD MORNING”!

Let’s get started, shall we? Begin by washing your rhubarb. Chop up the rhubarb into one-inch pieces and place into a large saucepan.

Add sugar, water, vanilla and lemon juice.

Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb is completely cooked, and blends together. You don’t want any hard chunks!

You can serve this on toast. It’s so yummy!

This recipe makes 8 servings, and is 2 weight watchers points per serving (1 serving = 1/4 cup).

Ingredients:
6 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:
1. Rinse, and chop rhubarb into one-inch chunks and place into a large saucepan.
2. Add all other ingredients and cook on medium heat until rhubarb has completely cooked and turned into a “stew”. You don’t want any hard chunks. This should take about 20 minutes.
3. Allow to cool completely and serve with toast (if having it for breakfast), over ice cream (if having it for dessert), or eat it plain!
4. This stores in the fridge for up to one week.