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Jammy Baked Oatmeal with Mixed Berry Jam

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Yesterday, I showed you how to make the Mixed Berry Jam on FreshPreserving.com. This easy, small batch of jam is versatile, flexible, and really delicious. You can use it any number of ways. Stirred into oatmeal! On peanut butter toast! In sparkling water! Dolloped in thumbprint cookies! Whisked into vinaigrette!

If you are unmoved by those suggestions, I’ve got one more for you. Baked oatmeal. Now, I realize that at first blush, baked oatmeal doesn’t sound like the most exciting dish ever. But here’s the thing. It’s a workhorse. A day saver. A morning mood lifter. Packed with whole grains, applesauce, and a couple eggs for protein and binding. It’s tasty, portable, and easy.

Another truly excellent thing about baked oatmeal is that it’s really easy to make. All you need is a bowl, a two-cup measuring cup, and square baking pan (greased with cooking spray or a small slick of neutral oil). I’ve included weight measurements so if you have a scale, you don’t have to dirty additional measuring cups.

You start by measuring out rolled oats, whole wheat flour (if you’re gluten-free, you can swap in your GF flour of choice), toasted nuts, and raisins (or any other raisin-sized dried fruit). Add some cinnamon (cardamom is another good option, if you prefer), baking powder (to help make it lighter), and salt.

Then, in the measuring cup, portion out milk, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk, add the wet to the dry, pour it into your prepared baking pan, and add dollops of jam in a grid pattern (like a tic tac toe board).

The oatmeal is baked in a hot (375F) oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the middle has lost its wobble, the edges start to pull away from the corners of the pan, and the puddles of jam sink slightly. You can serve it warm (perfect for mellow weekend brunches) or once it’s cooled, you can portion it out into containers for the work week.

I like to eat it straight from the fridge with a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt, or warmed up with a little milk. Full recipe below!

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Guest Post: Fruit Leather from the Mid-winter Pantry

Today’s guest post comes to us from Janet Reich Elsbach. Based in Western Massachusetts, Janet writes wildly beautiful things about food and life at A Raisin and a Porpoise. Her first cookbook, called Extra Helping: Recipes for Building Community One Dish at a Time, will be out this fall (and is available for pre-order now!). I also highly encourage you to follow her tiny dog Sylvester on Instagram. He is delightful.

There’s a poem by Wendell Berry that I keep taped up inside my closet so I can see it every day, because it helps me feel calm and serene when the circumstances of the world around me are not conducive to that state of being.

The Peace Of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

What this has to do with canning is that a similar feeling of calm, also rooted in gratitude for the natural world and thoughts of what my life and my children’s lives may be, can be switched on in me by going down to the basement and into the pantry where I keep the jars of fruit that I have preserved from the summer harvest. I have the great good fortune of living next to my parents’ prolific orchard, and most years there is more fruit streaming out of it than I can tackle, even with the help of my canning coven.

My daughter lines up the jams and sauces and so forth in her very tidy way, sorting by color and type and size of container. If I have done it correctly, the sealed jars produce no aroma or other emission. But standing in the narrow, windowless alcove, between the skinny little shelves and among the crates of empties and other supplies that line the floor, I might as well be standing in the forest, inhaling the negative ions that wild places are said to give off to great tonic effect. I just feel a little bit safer, seeing the peaches and plums and tomatoes and apples lined up so neatly.

Possibly because a healthy population of jars is connected to my sense of calm, I struggle with the math that governs the pace at which the jars are opened. Ok, let’s be clear: I don’t do any math. I vacillate between periods of hoarding and bouts of lid-popping. By this point in the winter, it’s usually clear that we can probably increase consumption and I can stop being quite so careful. And nobody seems to eat as much applesauce as they once did. And I don’t like to keep anything more than two years from its canning date. So around this time of year, once holiday giving has cleared what it is going to clear from the inventory, I start making fruit leather.

Or rather, I continue making fruit leather. We (and by “we,” I primarily mean my son, though he does get a good bit of help) eat a lot of fruit leather. Given the yardage of fruit leather I have produced for this child in his 13 years of life, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to experiment and to refine my thinking. The main refinement is this: What is fruit leather, really, but dried applesauce? And now that I have determined that the tenderest texture derives from both adding some sticky sweetener (honey, for example) and using a blender to grind everything super-fine (think baby food consistency), I’m all set to experiment wildly.

Some of you in the audience may have already figured out that these wild, adventurous experiments I allude to basically take the form of adding different things to applesauce. Winter in New England, people! CRAZY TIMES UP IN HERE.

My usual formula involves zipping the applesauce up with a handful of the peaches or strawberries I’ve frozen, then adding lime juice, honey and a little heat from cayenne or some other type of chile. Tossing a piece of preserved lemon into the mixture as well makes a very complex and mysteriously delicious leather that reminds me of those wildly sweet-tart-hot mango chile pops you can find in Mexican markets.

But lately when I am breathing deeply in the canning closet, I see there is a good amount of jam that also needs to be deployed before its sell-by date. Honey and jam are not all that different, as you know if you have ever run out of one and used the other in your tea or on your pancakes.

In the fruit version here, I paired a jar of plum preserves with some fresh lemon juice, which adds a little tang and generally brightens the flavors, and included some fresh ginger to give it a little kick. Any fruit jam can substitute for the plum.

For the chocolate leather, I combined a jar of pear butter with the applesauce base. Pears and chocolate play so well together, as do strawberry or raspberry if you have a surplus of either of those.

My dehydrator is an ancient old workshorse that I inherited. In lieu of tray liners, which it does not possess, I use parchment paper. If you have a more modern appliance, by all means use the liners it probably came with. Fruit leather can also be made on lined cookie sheets in an oven that has a very low setting, which mine does not (and I’ve made the fruit shards to prove it).

Odds are you’ll soon be off on your own wild experiments. However you mix it up, it’s a new life for the jars lingering in the pantry and definitely not your standard lunchbox snack.

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Preserves in Action: Kimchi Noodle Soup

Need something spicy, flavorful, and warming? Alex Jones is here with a recipe for a tasty batch of soup that will help you make good use of that jar of kimchi you’ve got tucked in the back of the fridge! Yum! -Marisa

Throughout my preserving life, I’ve realized that I use some things all the time — pressure-canned tomatoes, stock and beans, dried herbs and Meyer lemon slices, frozen peak-season fruit. And others, like high-sugar jams, I don’t use much of at all.

As I go along each season, I try to learn from what I end up giving away or not enjoying so that I can maximize my food dollars, avoid waste, and devote space in my fridge and pantry to items I’ll actually eat.

When I found myself with two huge napa cabbages in my fridge two falls ago, I made a massive batch of kimchi (using the excellent recipe from Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking). After giving several jars away at the Philly Food Swap, I still had a gallon left. And while I’ve added it to rice bowls and eaten it on the side with scrambled eggs, two big jars still sit in the back corner of my fridge.

One of my intentions for the new year is tokeep my fridge slightly less jam-packed than it usually is — which includes using up good preserves that I sometimes ignore. Luckily, there’s an excellent Korean dish — kimchi-guk — that turns this pungent condiment into a delicious, warming soup.

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Tartine All Day Jam Bars

From the very first moment I picked up Tartine All Day, I liked it a whole lot. My initial flip was at my local cookbook shop and after just a moment or two with the book, I raised my head and said to the owner, Jill, “I want to make everything in this book.” Were I an emoji, I would have been the one with hearts for eyes.

The thing that speaks to me so much in this book is that it is offers both easy, everyday things you can make with the things already in your fridge, along with the fun project cooking you might trot out on a unscheduled Sunday. Plus, there are a handful of approachable recipes for jams and pickles. Author Elisabeth Prueitt seems to really understand how many of us cook.

For those of you who pay attention to the world of cookbooks (or live in the San Francisco Bay Area), you will have heard of Tartine. It’s a cafe-turned-brand that has spawned multiple books, locations, and much frenzy among the food-loving set. However, unlike previous volumes, this book isn’t about recreating restaurant food. It’s about the cooking we do at home.

Because I knew that this was a book I wanted to write about, I reached out to the PR folks handling its publicity. They sent me a review copy and gave me permission to share a recipe from the book. I made a few suggestions and together we settled on the Jam Bars. Because a another method for using up jam is always (ALWAYS!) welcome.

This recipe functions in the same way most other jam bars do. You make a simple, crumbly dough, press about two-thirds into the bottom of the pan, spread it generously with jam and then scatter the remaining bits on top.

However, the beauty of this particular jam bar is in the details. Elisabeth offers gram measurements along with the cups, so you can plunk your bowl down on a scale and heap in your ingredients without dirtying lots of measuring cups. The dough is built in a single bowl. And she uses a combination of vanilla and almond extracts to flavor the base, which is somehow so much more delicious than a jam bar with just vanilla.

Another clever element is that she has you mix up the jam with some lemon juice and salt. This helps temper the sweetness of the finished cookie, and also helped thin out the jar of slightly overset jam I used nicely.

I’ll confess that I didn’t follow the directions perfectly. I used cashew butter rather than almond, because I have a jar I’ve been endeavoring to use up. And I somehow I managed to top the jam with an even layer of cookie dough, rather than scattering it prettily (it was just before dinner and I was hungry). But even with that small substitution and smaller error, they are still quite delicious (they’ll be going with me to a picnic tomorrow, so that I don’t end up eating them all).

If you feel moved to make a batch of Jam Bars from Tartine All Day, the recipe is below.
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Instant Pot Pulled Chicken Tacos + Goya Foods

This post is sponsored by Goya Foods. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with authentic Mexican flavor!

While I readily acknowledge the problematic nature of Cinco de Mayo as it is celebrated around these parts, I also admit to the reality that I am a human who is entirely steeped in U.S. culture. That means that while I am wary of stereotyping and cultural appropriation, come the beginning of May, I begin to crave tacos, spicy salsas, and fresh corn tortillas. It’s weirdly Pavlovian.

Recently, the nice folks at Goya asked me if they could sent me a box of ingredients, in the hopes that I might create my own festive Cinco de Mayo meal. Never one to turn down a challenge, I was happy to play along (though painful conscious of the opportunities to be offensive).

After a bit of mulling, I decided that the best thing I could do would be to show you my favorite pulled chicken taco trick and let you determine how and when to serve it. Because truly, this chicken is easy, everyday food that is hugely flexible and quite delicious (on any day of the year).

You start with about three pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs. Because my mother taught me to be compulsively thorough about such things, I like to spend a little time cutting away pockets of fat (this step isn’t entirely necessary, but makes me feel better). Then I season the meat on both sides with salt, pepper, ground cumin, and dried oregano (opening the bottle of cumin from Goya made me realize that the jar on my shelf needs to be thrown out. Theirs was so much more flavorful!).

Once the meat is seasoned, I heap it into the Instant Pot. Then I pour two pints of homemade salsa* and a generous tablespoon of crushed garlic into the blender and puree until mostly smooth. The salsa slurry goes into the pot and the lid goes on. I run the Instant Pot on manual for 30 minutes.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can also do this in a stove top pressure cooker for 25-30 minutes, in a regular sauce pan for a couple of hours, or in a slow cooker for 5-6 hours.

While the chicken cooks, I dice an onion and a red pepper and cook them until tender. Once they’re sweet and have lost their crunch, I add a can of black beans (love the easy pull tabs on the Goya cans. I weirdly hate can openers, so these cans spare me that annoyance) and season it with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and a little lime juice.

I also shred a little cabbage and toss it with salt, lime juice, and olive oil for a little taco crunch.

When the chicken is done, it’s time to assemble the tacos. Toast a couple corn tortillas until warm and pliable. Using a pair of tongs, squeeze a portion of the pulled chicken until you think it won’t saturate your tortilla with juices and lay it down. Top it with a few crumbles of cojita cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and some of the shredded cabbage (a slice of avocado and some fresh cilantro would be good, but I didn’t have any).

Serve with a side of the beans (or heap those into their own tortillas).

Oh, and if you have leftover pulled chicken, try using in a enchilada casserole or thin the cooking liquid out and turn it into tortilla soup. It’s also good stirred into a pot of homemade chili.

*You can also use store bought salsa. You just want to have between 28-32 ounces of liquid go into the pot. I’ve also done with peach salsa to delicious effect. Truly, it’s hard to go wrong with boneless skinless chicken thighs!

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All-Clad NS1 Nonstick Induction Stock Pot + Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

Finished Tomato Soup - Food in Jars

Back in the Fall, I did a little project with the folks at All-Clad, in which they sent me the NS1 Chef’s Pan from their their new line of NS1 Nonstick Induction cookware and I used it to make a batch of really delicious (and totally vegan, to boot) batch of Kabocha Squash, Coconut, and Wild Rice Stew.

It was a fun project, because it made think outside of my normal patterns, and I got to play with a really fabulous pan (that Chef’s Pan has become my go-to for batches of homemade fried rice. It’s a dream). So, when they got in touch again back in early February and asked if I might want to do it again, this time with their NS1 Stock Pot, I said sure.

All-Clad Stock Pot top - Food in Jars

Just to refresh our memories, this line of All-Clad is made from anodized aluminum, has a sturdy three-layer PFOA-free nonstick interior, and is induction-compatible thanks to steel base that also helps prevent warping. The stock pot has relatively narrow base and tall sides, which makes it ideal for making stock, soup, simmering beans, or even poaching whole chickens (something people just don’t do enough).

You could even drop a blossom trivet in the bottom and use it as a medium-sized canning pot. Currently, the NS1 Nonstick Induction line is available exclusively at Williams-Sonoma and this stock pot sells for $179.95.

All-Clad Stock Pot - Food in Jars

I’ve had this pot in my kitchen for about three weeks now and have come to appreciate its form and function a great deal. Every other stock pot I own holds 12 quarts or more, which means that when I make stock, I can’t help but make a lot (I know I could fill up the pot less, but that just never seems to happen).

tomatoes for roasting - Food in Jars

Having a sturdy stock pot that holds a third less that my other pots means that I end up making a more reasonable volume of stock, which is nice. The high sides do an excellent job of preventing excessive evaporation. And the durable non-stick surface makes for really easy clean-up. This particular pot has become a piece of cookware that I didn’t know I needed, but am now very grateful to have!

Roasted Tomatoes - Food in Jars

In choosing a recipe to devise in this pot, I turned to my pantry. There was a moment when I considered making a big batch of brothy white beans, flavored with rosemary and parmesan rind. Then I considered doing a pasta and potato concoction, a la Rachel Roddy. Finally, I settled on a big pot of roasted tomato and basil soup.

Cooking Tomato Soup - Food in Jars

I’ve been making variations on this soup for years now, always using Ina Garten’s recipe as a starting place. However, it’s become a particular favorite in recent years because it makes good use of two of my favorite tomato preserves — these slow roasted tomatoes and my whole peeled canned tomatoes.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup - Food in Jars

I know that it’s traditional to serve tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, but I tend to prefer an open-face sandwich and so opt for cheesy toast instead. However you serve it, it’s delicious!

Disclosure: All-Clad sent me the pan you see pictured above at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided.

For more about these fabulous pans, follow All-Clad and Williams-Sonoma on social media!
All-Clad: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram
Williams-Sonoma: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

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