Tag Archives: jam/jellies

Mango Date Chutney with a Bengali Touch

It’s the end of May, and I’m so happy to announce that Winter has finally decided to leave Minnesota!  In all my memory–granted, that’s a little less than 30 years–I have never suffered through such a horrible, never-ending season.  It was terrible.

The -60 degree F (-51.1 degrees C, for all you non-American peeps out there) windchills not only made life miserable for me (actually, this winter life was miserable for nearly everyone!) but it also took it’s toll on my beautiful gardens.

Sadly, my beloved lavender plant did not survive.  It’s dead stems are still protruding out of the ground and I keep hoping maybe–just maybe–they’ll send out some new, green shoots.  So far, no luck.

I’ve been meaning to get a few new posts up on this space for quite a while now, but I’ve just been so busy with cleaning the yard/gardens, mulching, and planting.  I keep telling Piyush that he gets the better end of the deal.  He pays for the supplies and I do all the labor while he’s out golfing.  Haha…after all, a happy marriage is all about compromise!

bengali mango and date chutneyLast week our local market had mangoes on sale.  The mangoes we get here in Minnesota are mostly tasteless and I don’t really enjoy to eat them plain as a snack. However, they do star wonderfully in a delicious, homemade chutney!

Typically (or at least what Piyush tells me), in India mango chutney is made with green, unripe mangoes.  But because ours have little flavor I always choose to let them ripen until they’re at their sweetest.

Continue reading


Easy Lemon Cheesecake with Blackberry and Ginger Spiced Topping

Easy blackberry cheesecake

There are few desserts as rich and delicious as cheesecake.  Personally, I prefer cookies, but Piyush–who swears he does not like sweets!–is definitely a “cheesecake man.”

In fact, he likes it so much that it’s all he wanted for Christmas.  No presents, just cheesecake.  Heck, that’s easy enough!

I first made this particular cheesecake during the last season of Master Chef.  There was a pressure test where the contestants had to bake a cheesecake in an hour.  I was stunned!  At that point I had never actually baked a homemade cheesecake before, but I knew it had to take longer than an hour!  Continue reading

Blackberry and Ginger Spiced Jam

Lately I’ve been making some recipes that require many different steps or “recipes” within the recipe.  To make it easier on me (and probably for you, too!), I’ve decided to split these recipes up into a few different posts.

Because I want to share this stellar Lemon Cheesecake with Blackberry and Ginger Spiced Topping (jam) with you guys:

Lemon blackberry ginger cheesecake

I’ve got to first tell you how I made the topping.


Because the jam can take quite a while to thicken (around 45 minutes from start to finish), I use this time to make the cheesecake crust and filling (recipe coming soon!).  If you choose not to make the cheesecake and just want the jam…that’s awesome, too!  Just know that it takes a little time to make.

But trust me, this jam is so fabulous, it’s definitely worth the time spent on it.  You will not be disappointed! Continue reading

Apricot Macadamia Nut Cookie Bars: Perfect for Potlucks!

These bars are nothing short of perfection.

apricot macadamia nut bars

They’re incredibly easy to make and take nearly no time; but the result is a light-tasting cookie (well, it’s technically a bar) that has just the right level of sweetness.

I baked these last week for my co-workers to enjoy…and enjoy they did!  They were gone in no time!   I had intended to bake a blueberry tart to share, but I forgot to buy half the ingredients (imagine that!)…so I turned to my favorite–quick–recipe.

I had these bars put together and baked within 30 minutes; which was good because I was running late (hence the not so fabulous photos…).

I love this recipe because all the ingredients are very common things found in nearly everyone’s pantry.  Sure, I add a little cardamom powder–just to give the cookie crust a little “flair”–but this can easily be omitted, and it won’t affect the taste too much.

I use apricot preserves, but I have tried making the bars with other fruit preserves…and they’re equally delicious!

This is the important part though.  Because the preserves are the key ingredient, you want to use something tasty and not overly sweet.

I make my own preserves, but there is no need to worry if you don’t.  Simply “dress” the store-bought preserves up with a little citrus zest (I like lime) and vanilla bean…no one will ever know you didn’t make it yourself!

not so secret ingredients: vanilla beans and citrus

I made these preserves last year, and they were so delicious that I (seriously) hoarded all the apricots I came across; just so I could make a few more batches.  I think I ended up with like 50 jars of the stuff…so I needed to find ways to use them.

That’s when I got the idea to make bars.  I absolutely love lemon bars, and they were my inspiration for this dessert.

**Edited to add some new photos…and a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to my baby sister!  She is a college graduate today…and already accepted into the Mayo School Of Medicine!  Whoa!

I made this batch today for my sister’s graduation…with almonds instead of macadamia nuts


Apricot Macadamia Nut Cookie Bars:


  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom powder (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar.  Using a pastry blender or fork cut in butter and shortening.  Once everything is combined, pat crust onto the bottom of an ungreased pan (I use a 1/4 sheet).  Poke holes all over the dough using a fork–this will keep the crust from bubbling up.
Bake until the cookie crust begins to lightly brown–about 17 minutes.
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. macadamia nuts–cut into small chunks (or whichever nut you prefer, almonds are also a great choice!)

In a large bowl (I use the same one I used for making the crust), whisk together egg, sugar, and preserves.  Add butter and vanilla and continue whisking until everything is combined.  Spread the mixture over the hot cookie crust and sprinkle with macadamia nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes–until the topping is set but not browned or dry.  Allow to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut bars into squares (a plastic knife works best!).

I cut the bars relatively small, and can get approximately 30-36 bars from one batch.

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Oh…I had to share this too!  So I made these bars for my sister’s graduation party tonight…I didn’t have time to make her a proper cake, so I went to Target to purchase one.   I asked the guy working in the bakery if he could write on it for me using purple frosting.  He agreed.

I asked him to write, “Congratulations on Your Graduation, Michelle” …this is what I got (sorry for the harsh lighting!):

sorry for the harsh lighting!!!

How funny is that?  Grduation–haha! I thought it was funny so I didn’t even say anything.  Spelling “graduation” wrong on a cake for someone graduating from college.  It just made me laugh!

I wonder how long it will take for my dad to comment on it…

I’m guessing about 4 seconds!

Winter Jammin’… Strawberry Lavander Jam

Making jam and jellies is something I really enjoy.  I’m not really sure why, but when I’m making jam or jellies I feel so relaxed and all the sudden I have all the patience in the world (which says a lot, usually I have the patience of a 3 year old).  I do most of my canning and preserving in the late spring through early fall, probably similar to most people.  But the other day I was thinking…why not winter?  Sure, I guess the logical and most obvious answer would be:  no fresh produce, but that wasn’t a good enough reason for me.  I mean, I froze tons of berries at their peak of freshness and if they’re good enough for smoothies and pies why wouldn’t they be good enough for jam?

Oh, let me tell you…they were!

Christmas is coming up and I thought a variety of homemade jams, jellies and preserves would make awesome gifts.  Give my family the gift of summer…in the middle of the winter, you know?  That beats unwrapping an Ipad anyday!!!

I  took approximately 4lbs of strawberries out of the freezer (this will yield around 5 cups of fruit/juice when thawed).  Then I got this brilliant idea…what if I added lavender to the jam?  I’m always looking for an opportunity to add lavender to everything and anything I possibly can.  Some would say I’m obsessive (I’m lookin’ at you, husband!).

Love--- in a jar

I googled a few recipes and found that I’m apparently not the only one who decided strawberries and lavender would make a perfect pair, as it’s been done many, many times.  Some of the recipes were more confusing—or time consuming— than I wanted, so I simply ground up 2 tablespoons of lavender buds (you can find these at co-ops and most specialty grocery stores.  I also grow my own.) and rubbed it into the sugar—making lavender sugar!  Then I followed the directions on the box of pectin I bought.  So easy! I don’t always use pectin when I make homemade jams, but this time I wanted to be certain it’d set up well in time for Christmas.

Soon enough, I had 12 beautiful jars of homemade jam!  The lavender flavor was a little overwhelming, so next time (and there will be a next time!) I think I’ll probably cut back the amount of buds to about 1 tbsp.  The aroma of the jam is incredible!  Strawberries and lavender were meant for one another!

And just in case you were wondering, no one would ever be able to tell I used frozen berries.  It definitely tastes like summer in a jar!

I can’t wait to tackle some of those frozen blueberries next…