Lychee Berry Chia Jam (It’s Vegan!)

Recently, I decided to go vegan. Not for any moral or ethical reason, but that’s a nice bonus. I can’t really process meat well, dairy makes my skin break out, so really all I’m giving up is eggs, which I’m not too fond of anyways, so…no big life changes here. But I did start a new Instagram, because I figure I’m more likely to make healthy dishes if I can take pretty pictures for the internet, and I didn’t want to spam everyone on my personal Instagram a million times a day with pictures of food. The new, vegan food based Instagram is here. I’ll post recipes on this blog every so often, but a lot of things are really simple (because it’s summer in Texas and I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen) so they don’t need recipes.

Also, I’m not a real big fan of jams or jellies in general, because I feel they’re way too sweet, so being able to control the sweetness for this one was a big help, and I like it a lot.

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Look at all those fresh berries. I used strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but really you can use any fruit you like, the recipe is really flexible. 

Lychee Berry Chia Jam

350g strawberries, quartered.

100 g blackberries, cut in half

150g raspberries

1/4 cup lychee juice/nectar 

4 tbsp chia seeds, divided

3 tbsp light agave nectar

First things first I took 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and put them in the lychee juice to soak. Save the remaining tablespoon for the end, you may or may not need it.

Next, chop up your berries. You’ll be smashing them later, but chop them roughly how big you want them to end up. I found that chopping the strawberries and the blackberries at least was best, the raspberries smashed easily without being chopped. Put your berries in a medium saucepan and heat them, on low to medium heat. They’ll release their juice and cook down. After they get soft, turn the heat as low as you can, take a potato masher or fork, and mash them to however chunky you want them.

Your chia seeds should have absorbed all of the juice by now, so add that to the saucepan and mix well. The chia thickens the jam so you don’t have to use pectin.

Add the agave nectar, and taste (blow on the spoon, this is hot), adding more if you prefer your jam sweet.

Turn off the heat, and if you feel you have too much liquid, add the remaining chia seeds, and stir so they absorb it.

Let the jam come to room temperature before you put it in a jar, it’ll set some more, and then put it in the fridge.

One serving is about two tablespoons, and this recipe makes sixteen servings. Each two tablespoon serving has 44 calories, 0.9g fat, 8.4g carbs, and 1.1g protein.

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This is my jam. 

I like having it on crackers, and it’s especially good with chocolate hazelnut butter.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com, or now at my new vegan food based instagram, PickyEatersInternational.

 

 

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Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

Growing up, every fall my mom would make butternut squash soup, because it was an easy thing to make on a weekend, and it could be frozen and reheated throughout the week. It was a fall staple, cold weather meant butternut squash soup.

butternut squash soup

But now I live in Texas and the weather is never really cold. But since I really wanted butternut squash soup, I had to turn down the AC and pretend I lived somewhere with more than one and a half seasons. This is a super easy recipe, and I used my slow cooker for it, but it could also be done on the stove.

You need:

1 medium butternut squash

2 cups veggie stock

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried/ground sage

1 medium white onion, roughly diced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 cup coconut milk

butternut squash ingredients

Note: You can substitute chicken or other stock for veggie stock and heavy cream for coconut milk if you don’t want to make it vegan.

The hard part of this recipe is cubing the butternut squash. But, you can make it a lot easier by cutting it into quarters, and once you’ve removed the seeds and guts, roast it at 400F for about 20 minutes. Let it cool and chop it up. It should be soft, but not cooked through.

Here’s the easy part:

All you have to do is throw everything except the coconut milk into the slow cooker for about five or six hours, on high. Then when the squash mushes easily and the onions are somewhat clear, grab a stick blender and blend everything up, and then add the coconut milk, blending until it’s all nice and creamy. I garnished mine with black pepper and scallions, but you can use whatever suits you.

Also for anyone concerned and keeping track, here’s the basic nutritional info, based on one serving being 1 cup of soup.

  • Calories: 103
  • Fat: 3.8g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 8mg (varies based on how much salt you add)
  • Potassium: 557.6mg
  • Carbs: 18.7g
  • Fiber: 3.2g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Protein: 1.7g
  • Vitamin A: 297%

Gluten Free Banana Bread

gf banana bread

Banana bread is great. Gluten free baked goods, however, can be hit or miss. So with every banana bread recipe I’ve found, I’ve had to tweak the proportions of gluten free baking mix and whatnot to fix it. Finally I cobbled together a decent recipe:

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas (Not overly brown and mushy. Just that spotty yellow that they’re squishy but not falling apart.)

1/3 cup melted butter (unsalted, preferably, but if you’re using salted just omit the salt later)

3/4 cup sugar (this can be adjusted to 1 cup or 1/2 cup depending on how sweet you like things)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (omit this if you’re using salted butter)

1 3/4 cup gluten free baking mix (this varies based on the brand, I use Bob’s Red Mill)

Your oven should be at 350F, which is about 176C.

  1. Mush the bananas until smooth. Slowly add in the melted butter, and when it’s all the way combined, add the egg. If you ad the egg too soon after you add butter, the hot butter will cook the egg and that’s gross.
  2. Add the sugar, salt (if you’re using it), and baking soda. Mix it all up thoroughly.
  3. Slowly add the flour until it’s smooth, thick, and creamy consistency. It should be thicker than cake batter, but not dough. It should be like molten lava when you let it fall of the spoon.
  4. Put it in a greased loaf pan, and bake for about 50 minutes to an hour and ten minutes. After 50 minutes you should check for doneness, just stick a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean you’re all set.

Let it cool, and cut with a serrated knife to prevent crumbling.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

The last time I made peanut butter cookies was probably in the eighth grade, for a bake sale for some activity I did. The reason this stands out so much was because in the process of baking the cookies, one of the five teenage boys I was baking the cookies with forgot to add an entire cup of sugar into the cookie dough, and the cookies tasted like vegetable oil and sadness.

I found this recipe somewhere on the internet, but after looking at like three different recipes I realized that the 1:1 ratio of peanut butter to sugar just was not going to happen, so this is a combination of a few different recipes.

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This is a painfully simple recipe. It took me all of ten minutes to get it all done and into the oven.

All you need is:

1 cup natural peanut butter (all the recipes I consulted were adamant about it being natural, don’t know why.)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

All you have to do is lightly beat the egg and then combine the ingredients into a dough. Form it into balls and place them on parchment papered baking sheets, and squash them into a cookie shape. I used the flat end of a spoon. Most people do that cute little crosshatch pattern with forks.

That’s basically it. They need to go into a 350 degree oven (according to google that’s 176C) for eight minutes, then rotate them in the oven for another five-ish minutes. Use your judgement. They’ll be kind of gooey when they come out, so let them sit for a bit on the baking sheet before moving them to a cooling rack.

I was surprised with how good they tasted, not gonna lie. I was super skeptical about the whole deal but figured I might as well try.

Sick Day Soup: An Accidental Recipe

Guys, I feel awful today. And not gonna lie, this soup started out as mashed potatoes because that’s all I ever want to eat when I’m ill. But then I added too much milk. So…soup. Which is also why I don’t have any pictures of the process.

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As you might have guessed, it’s a potato based soup. I’m not feeling up to writing out a long and clever narrative about it, so here’s the recipe. Tweak as needed.


Potato and Scallion Soup

3 redskin potatoes

1/3 cup cold milk

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon chopped scallions/green onions

3 cloves garlic, chopped roughly

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt to taste

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, and pop in the potatoes. Let them cook thoroughly. Once they’re done, take them out of the water and cube them, leaving the skins on.
  2. Warm the olive oil and lightly saute the garlic and half the scallions.
  3. Once those are toasted, turn off the heat and add the milk, and then the potatoes, so the potatoes don’t start to fry.
  4. Use an immersion blender, and basically liquefy everything, adding water until it’s the consistency you’d like.
  5. Add the rest of the scallions and blend them in.
  6. Add salt to taste. When I’m sick I tend to add more salt, because I can’t really taste much.

That’s basically it. It’s great for when my throat hurts too much to eat, I have no appetite, and just need to get something down so I can take my DayQuil and be done with it. Enjoy! I’m crawling back under my blankets and calling it a day.

Masala Chai Macarons

So as you know, I’ve been trying to ages to make macarons. Something always goes wrong. But Friday I managed to make a decent batch of red velvet macarons. I was so excited. Then I got distracted with making tea masala, and then had a fantastic idea.

What about masala chai flavored macarons?! I mean, it’s not too far off from the red velvet. Instead of adding cocoa powder and red food color, I just need to add tea masala and tint the batter brown-ish. Easy enough.

I started with a basic macaron recipe, found here, and then added a tablespoon of tea masala to the dry ingredients, plus a teaspoon of loose tea leaves that had been ground into a super fine powder. To the meringue, I added a tablespoon of very strong tea, mostly for color (Very strong is subjective. My mom thinks I make tea and coffee too strong, I believe that if you’re not twitching after half a cup it doesn’t count.)

And guess what.

It actually worked.

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I was so excited. And they taste amazing. The frosting I used was the same cream cheese frosting for the red velvet ones, and that recipe is here.

You can buy tea masala in any Indian store, but since I only needed a little and had the ingredients on hand, I made it myself. For this recipe it was about five cloves, two cardamom pods, a teaspoon of ground ginger, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of black pepper, all ground up and sifted to a very fine powder.

Macarons are the Devil in Cookie Form.

Guys, I have nothing against cookies. I really enjoy baking. I really enjoy macarons. So I wanted to bake macarons. It doesn’t look like it would be too difficult. Egg whites, powdered sugar, almond flour, done. But wait. The egg whites need to be aged. And if you try grinding almonds into almond flour, you’re just as likely to end up with almond butter, which, although just as delicious, is no good when you’re baking cookies. And once the very finicky batter is made, the cookies need to be piped out exactly, and they need to rest. The cookies need to rest. The goddamn batter circles need to take an hour long nap before they can go into the oven and become cookies.

So I looked up a million different recipes, and watched a million different YouTube tutorials on how to make these mystical cookies, and thought I had it down. I made a meringue. I sifted the flour mixture. I let the cookies rest. I propped the oven open with a spoon so they would be dry enough.

All for naught, because my first batch came out flat and lumpy.

My second batch came out tasting like chalk.

The third didn’t make it past the rest, because the batter spread and everything got gunky.

Then I bought a macaron mat off Amazon, thinking that that was my problem.

The fourth batch, I don’t think I filled the moulds on the mat properly or let it bake for long enough because the shells came out hollow.

The fifth batch is resting now, and I am praying to every god that it comes out nicely because I really want pretty macarons!!!

I feel like these damned cookies are going to age me prematurely. My first grey hair will be because of a damn cookie.

But I am stubborn. So maybe by batch 49 we’ll have a decent cookie.

UPDATE: As of late last night I made not one, but two successful batches of macarons out of the oven. I am so pleased with myself. 

Smoothies and Other Ways to Avoid Getting Sick (A Recipe)

I have some very childish eating habits. I tend to just grab a pouch of applesauce and run out the door, or make a grilled cheese (on gluten free bread) if I’m feeling ambitious. My problem with quick meals is that I can’t have a lot of things, like gluten, meat, or too much dairy. So I tend to go for applesauce or mashed potatoes if I don’t feel like whipping out the recipe book or looking up ways to replace wheat flour online. Because that sends me into a spiral of how to replace it with things like sorghum, rice flour, or cornmeal, finally arriving at the same conclusion every time that some people are way too serious about pastry dough. 

My method of making smoothies is fairly simple: grab some fruit and put it in a blender. Done.

That said, some combinations of fruit don’t quite work, so on the mornings I don’t feel like experimenting, I’ve cobbled together a decent mixture that is some semblance of an adult breakfast.

What You Need:

Bananas (One or two. Your choice. I like ones that are still a little green.)

Strawberries. (Lots. Or very little. This is your smoothie. Own it.)

Cranberries. (The whole frozen kind. I use Dole. They come in rezippable bags in the frozen fruit/veggie aisle.)

Yogurt. (I use strawberry yogurt. Use whatever damn flavor you want. It’s your smoothie.)

A blender. (If you haven’t got one of these, this is going to be very difficult. Good luck.)

Making the Smoothie:

Chop your fruit into manageable pieces. This really depends on how well your blender works.

Throw it into your blender. (Or gently place it.)

Get the yogurt into the blender and stir a little so it’s evenly distributed.

Put the lid on and blend to the texture you want.

Put it in a cup and drink it.

This is what my smoothie looks like. Yours may be different, depending on what you put in it and the Instagram filter you used.
This is what my smoothie looks like. Yours may be different, depending on what you put in it and the Instagram filter you used.

That’s basically it.