Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam

I’m back and I have the most summery, refreshing recipe to share with you today!

Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam packaged up in cute little Mason jars make the perfect gift!

This Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam is the perfect condiment to stock up on in your refrigerator for these hot months to come, especially if you’ve got a slight phobia of the whole canning process and can’t bring yourself to make true, legit “jam” (oh hi, hello, that’s me!)


Yes, that’s right, even yours truly has a few things on her “yet to conquer in the kitchen” list, and homemade jam is one of them. To be honest, my in-laws are experts in this regard and always keep our pantry loaded with allll the flavors of fresh jam you can imagine – grape, strawberry, blackberry, you name it! So I’ve really had no reason to make my own. Until now, that is.

But first, let’s catch up on our lives for this past week-and-a-half! I so appreciate your patience and understanding as I took a much-needed break from allll work. It was really nice not having to break my back getting content pre-loaded before I left, and being able to (mostly) stay away from my computer and phone during our entire trip which, speaking of, was AMAZING. Much more like the honeymoon we expected and dreamed of – no hurricanes for us to get caught in this time!

I’ll be working on a Travel Diaries recap all about Kauai soon, but in the meantime I want to tell you all about this Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam!

A dish of Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam at the ready is the perfect addition to your breakfast spread!

I’ve had the idea of cantaloupe jam on my content list for a while now. In fact, it’s been so long that I can’t even remember what my original inspiration was. But it’s safe to say that cantaloupe jam isn’t a jam flavor you see every day, and it becomes even more of a treat when it involves no “canning” and fresh vanilla extract and chia seeds. Plus, it’s so delicious!

So here’s the scoop: All you need as far as special equipment is a blender and a couple of resealable glass containers. I used Mason jars (which do not need to be sterilized for this recipe like most jam recipes require) but you can really use any sort of glass Tupperware.

And, aside from the special equipment (which, let’s be real, is not that “special”), this Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam involves only FIVE ingredients!! That’s right, just five. The hardest part about it is going to be waiting overnight for those chia seeds to expand and really set that jam up so it’s the perfect, spreadable consistency.

Once your Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam has set up overnight, the possibilities are endless. Spread it on any baked good, or toast up some bread and slather it with cream cheese before adding a layer of the jam on top. You could also swirl it into some Greek yogurt and top with crunchy granola. Any way you eat it, it’s going to be delicious!

Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam is perfect to spread on a fresh piece of sourdough toast.

The only word of caution I would share about this recipe is, because you do not go through the full-on canning process, there is a time stamp on it. You’ll want to keep the jam in the refrigerator throughout its lifespan, which will basically be just as long any sliced cantaloupe would stay fresh in your refrigerator. So eat up! Don’t cherish it too much because it won’t last forever 😉

Grab the recipe below, and I’ll be back in action on Friday with a brand new drink recipe to share with you all!

Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Cantaloupe Jam is kept in Mason jars but requires no special canning.

Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam packaged up in cute little Mason jars make the perfect gift!
Print
Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam
Prep Time
10 mins
 

This tasty jam requires no special canning and comes together in less than 10 minutes. The hardest part is waiting for it to set overnight!

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 30 ounces
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 6 cups cubed cantaloupe (about 1 medium cantaloupe)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons high-grade maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on medium speed until well-combined and a smooth yet thick liquid forms. Pour mixture into three or four small Mason jars, seal and refrigerate overnight before enjoying.

Quick-and-Easy Vanilla Chia Cantaloupe Jam | CaliGirlCooking.com

Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola

Vacation vibes right here ↓

A large batch of Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola is all you need for snack time cravings or the perfect breakfast.

We’re heading to Kauai on Thursday for our babymoon/make-up honeymoon (since we got stuck in a hurricane on the last one) so delicious, healthy travel snacks have been on this momma-to-be’s mind. And what better travel snack then homemade granola? Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola to be exact. We are headed to the tropics, after all!


It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of granola, and especially any homemade version since I found my favorite base recipe, Andy’s Fairfield Granola. It’s THE perfect granola recipe as it is, and it’s served as the perfect guideline whenever I’ve had inspiration strike for a certain special flavor, like my Addicting S’mores Granola Clusters.

I’ve been dreaming of a Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola for quite some time now, and I figured what better time to make it than when I’m in need of some travel-friendly snacks for a five hour plane ride?

A delicious bowl of Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola just waiting to be consumed.

But before I get to the recipe, tell me, do you have any recommendations for us for while we’re in Kauai? I’ve been there before (although it’s been at least 10 years or so) but the hubs has never been. We’re staying in Poipu, and the only thing we have planned so far is a boat ride up the Na Pali Coast. Since I’m 25 weeks now, we’re obviously not planning on doing anything too strenuous, but any pregnancy-friendly recommendations you have are welcome (and, obviously, any food we must eat while we’re there!)

Okay, back to this granola. It’s really so easy, it doesn’t need much explaining. I (very) roughly followed the guidelines of Andy’s Fairfield Granola, but with some modifications to really make it pop with dark chocolate and coconut flavors. The original recipe calls for honey as a sweetener, but this time around I decided to try out maple syrup to change things up a bit, and I’m pleased to say it worked out fabulously.

Also, cocoa powder to coat all your oats is such a must in this recipe! Being the chocolate-lover that I am, I often find myself picking out only bites that involve it when I’m eating things like granola, trail mix, etc. With the cocoa powder coating on the oats, you get delicious chocolate in every bite! My kind of granola right there.

A bowl of Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola doused in almond milk.

Did I mention this recipe is SUPER easy to make? I mean, seriously, if you’re a novice baker, this recipe’s for you. All you have to do is mix the ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon, spread the mix out on a cookie sheet and bake for about 40 minutes. The trickiest part is the stirring and adding of the coconut you have to do partway through the baking process, but as long as you know how to set a timer, I think you’ve got this.

Mixing up a big batch of Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola.

Oh, you’re also going to have to have the patience to let your Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola cool back down to room temperature and let the chocolate harden again, which may in fact turn out to be the hardest part since the granola’s delicious smell will be permeating through your household the entire time. But wouldn’t you say a big batch of a delicious, nutritious snack is worth it?

Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola is the perfect on-the-go snack or breakfast.

A large batch of Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola is all you need for snack time cravings or the perfect breakfast.
Print
Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

A classic granola recipe gets a decadent makeover with the addition of antioxidant-heavy dark chocolate and toasted coconut.

Course: Breakfast, Snack
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 4 ounces unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 310 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large jelly roll pan with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, applesauce, maple syrup, cocoa powder, cinnamon and sea salt until well-combined. Spread out evenly on the prepared jelly roll pan.

  3. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, give the granola a stir and set the timer for 5 more minutes. 

  4. When the timer goes off again, add the flaked coconut and stir the granola again. Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes. 

  5. Remove granola from the oven and add the dark chocolate chips to the pan, stirring to spread them out evenly. Let cool to room temperature before eating.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola | CaliGirlCooking.com

Red, White and Blueberry Blender

Smoothies all around!!

Two glasses of a refreshing Red, White and Blueberry Blender.

That’s right. Due to my current state, we’re going to forego the boozy drink recipe for this Friday before the Fourth of July and instead sip on a delicious, HEALTHY Red, White and Blueberry Blender. Sound good? Glad you’re on board with me.


Let’s get real for a minute: TBH, I was really nervous to stop posting boozy drinks every week once I got pregnant because they happen to be some of my most popular posts (y’all love your cocktails!) I eased into it by posting some drinks that have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options (don’t worry, those will still be making regular appearances) and, to my surprise, those recipes were still getting lots of love.

Also, a selfish part of me has been really missing cocktails these days, so I have been really into creating mocktails that are just as delicious. Because, at the end of my often crazy busy days, this gal just really needs a delicious beverage to kick her feet up and enjoy!

A glass of healthy Red, White and Blueberry Blender garnished with a fresh strawberry.

So, to celebrate the Fourth of July this week, I had this grand idea to create something along the lines of a patriotic version of this Twisted Tropical Blender. Alas, that turned into a massive recipe fail (I just couldn’t get the measurements/ratios of red-to-white-to-blue right) and so here I was with loads of berries and coconut cream and nothing to show for it.

But you know what? My new mantra lately has been to, in the words of Taylor Swift, “shake it off” and not stress too much about things not going quite as I had planned, so I decided to get creative and instead make a delicious, berry-licious smoothie that’s super easy to make and that everyone will love.

Look at it this way: With all of the delicious, indulgent foods you’ll be enjoying over the next four days (and trust me, I’ll be sharing some with you soon,) you’re going to be needing something simple and healthy like this Red, White and Blueberry Blender to balance everything out. You know I’m all about that balance!

An overhead shot of two Red, White and Blueberry Blenders garnished with fresh strawberries and flaked coconut.

I mean, if you start your day with a smoothie, that gives you freedom to indulge just a little bit more for your other meals of the day, am I right?

So here’s the deal, you’re going to want to hit up your local TJ’s (or favorite grocery store) and stock up on all of the frozen berries you can find. I used blueberries, cherries and strawberries, but if you feel like subbing in raspberries or blackberries, by all means, go for it!

Then you’re going to want to get some coconut cream. We’re not talking Coco Lopez here, which is loaded with sugar, but rather the thicker version of coconut milk. I know Trader Joe’s has a good generic brand, and you can also find it on Amazon here.

Aside from frozen berries, coconut cream and ice, there’s just one secret ingredient to this Red, White and Blueberry Blender that really takes it over the top: my favorite new mocktail addition, orgeat! Orgeat is a sweet syrup made from almonds and either orange or rose water. I’ve been totally digging it in things like this Pineapple Orgeat Fizz and it’s definitely worth adding a bottle to your next Amazon Prime order to have on hand for all your summer cocktail and mocktail needs.

The Red, White and Blueberry Blender is the perfect healthy yet festive way to celebrate the Fourth of July!

Throw everything in a blender, and you’ll have a fancy, festive and healthy smoothie in your hands in no time. If you ask me, there’s no better way to kick off a day at the beach or lounging by the pool!

Two glasses of a refreshing Red, White and Blueberry Blender.
Print
Red, White and Blueberry Blender
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This smoothie is the perfect festive, healthy treat for the Fourth of July, full of fresh berry and coconut flavor, plus a secret ingredient!

Course: Breakfast, Drinks
Servings: 2 smoothies
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 13.5 ounce can coconut cream
  • 3 cups frozen berries (I used blueberries, strawberries and cherries)
  • 1 tablespoon orgeat
  • 1/2 cup ice
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until combined. Divide mixture evenly among two glasses and garnish each one with a fresh strawberry.

Red, White and Blueberry Blender | CaliGirlCooking.com

Chocolate Cherry Bread

I’m becoming your one-stop shop for cherry recipes!

A loaf of delicious Chocolate Cherry Bread, fresh out of the oven from the kitchen of CaliGirl Cooking.

I don’t know what it is (maybe the fact that I finally realized how easy it is to actually pit cherries?) but this year I have been on such a cherry recipe kick. Isn’t it funny how that works sometimes? Some years, you become so absolutely obsessed with an ingredient that the ideas just keep flooding in. I suppose I have pregnancy to blame for my obsession with certain foodstuffs, and when those foodstuffs involve things like red, juicy cherries, I don’t mind one bit.


To be fair, this Chocolate Cherry Bread is a recipe I’ve had in my back pocket for ohhhhh, over six years? You see, when I lived in Honolulu, it was a weekly ritual for my friend Leslie and I to go for a Saturday morning run around the base of Diamond Head, and then hit up the Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market (one of THE best farmer’s markets around if you ask me) to stock up on yummy goods for the week (okay, and maybe enough samples to count as breakfast.)

Now, this farmer’s market is seriously no joke. Not only will you find a ginormous selection of local fruits and vegetables, you’ll also find rows and rows of prepared food (we’re talking fried green tomatoes, roasted Kahuku corn and the like) PLUS my favorite: baked goods!

One of my favorite stops was the Ba-Le stand, which is a French-Korean bakery/deli with stores throughout the island. I was still in the midst of my food obsession/eating qualms at the time, so heaven forbid I splurge and buy a whole loaf of their delicious bread to eat on my own, but what I loved about the Ba-Le stand was the SAMPLES. Man, oh man, the samples. They would cut up every single flavor of bread they made and have them all sitting out there for everyone to try. As you can imagine, after a long run (and as someone who had not been nourishing myself properly for these runs) I was alllll about the bread samples.

A partially sliced loaf of tasty Chocolate Cherry Bread.

One of my very favorite flavors that Ba-Le had for sale (and to sample!) was the Chocolate Cherry Bread. I don’t know about you, but whenever I had imagined a Chocolate Cherry Bread, I would think of a quick bread, with a dense, pound cake-like texture. But this Chocolate Cherry Bread was different. It was a yeasted bread, which meant it had plenty of heft and was perfect for toasting and slathering butter or cream cheese on.

On one of my Dad’s many visits out to see me, I took him to the market and made him try this bread that I had so madly fell in love with. My Dad is my confidant when it comes to recreating recipes I try out in public at home. His palate is spot on and he knows exactly what it will take to make our own version of whatever we’ve fallen in love with. Needless to say, the next time I was home visiting my parents in Santa Cruz, we tackled the task of making our very own version of Chocolate Cherry Bread.

The result is this recipe I’m sharing today, which has finally made its way off of the piece of scratch paper I had scrawled it on and into my “official” recipe archives.

This recipe for Chocolate Cherry Bread offers a dense loaf studded with chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Our Chocolate Cherry Bread is a dense, chocolate- and molasses-flavored loaf studded with dried sweet cherries and semisweet chocolate chips. It’s just as irresistible fresh out of the oven as it is two days later, toasted and slathered with your favorite spread (butter, cream cheese and jam are all equally acceptable.)

Yeasted breads can often seem intimidating but, with a little planning, I promise they’re not. In fact, they’re probably one of the easier baked goods to tackle, simply for the fact that much of the prep time involves just letting the dough rest and rise. The actual dough-making and baking process takes less than an hour.

Thick slices of Chocolate Cherry Bread slathered with butter.

Since I’ve been preggo, I’ve needed to eat something as soon as I wake up in the morning, and this Chocolate Cherry Bread has been just the answer. We (just the two of us) can go through a loaf in less than a week, but if you don’t consume carbs at the rapid pace that we do (or simply want to save your Chocolate Cherry Bread for a special occasion,) the loaf will freeze incredibly well.

I’m thinking this is another thing I’ll have to stock in our freezer for the weeks after baby comes?

A fresh loaf of Chocolate Cherry Bread from the kitchen of CaliGirl Cooking.

A partially sliced loaf of tasty Chocolate Cherry Bread.
Print
Chocolate Cherry Bread
Prep Time
2 hr 20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
3 hr
 

This dense yeasted bread has a chocolate-molasses dough that's studded with chocolate chips and dried sweet cherries. Perfect when toasted and served warm!

Course: Breakfast, Snack
Servings: 1 loaf
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 package Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried sweet cherries
  • 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients (starting with just 2 ½ cups flour) to a food processor and process until they begin to come together to form a sticky dough. Add additional flour, ¼ cup at a time (processing in between,) until you are just able to pull out the dough without it sticking all over your hands. (It’s okay if the dough is still a little sticky. You don’t want to add too much flour or the dough will be tough.)

  2. Turn the dough out of the food processor and into a medium mixing bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size. 

  3. Take dough out of bowl and knead a bit, either just between your hands or on a lightly floured surface, before placing dough in a greased 8-inch round cake pan. Let rise, uncovered, in a warm place for another hour. 

  4. Towards the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. When dough is finished rising, bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until bread sounds a bit hollow when you tap on the top. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Cherry Bread | CaliGirlCooking.com

Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad

I’m letting my pregnancy cravings guide the way…

A big dish of Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect no-cook dish to serve in the summer heat.

I hope you don’t mind. Out of the many things this pregnancy has been good for, cravings for old, almost forgotten recipes has been one of my favorites. This Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is one such out-of-rotation recipe that I’m so glad I remembered I had in my back pocket.


Being the balanced foodie that I am, when I first found out I was pregnant, I wanted to be sure to keep my diet as in-check as possible (keeping the pregnancy weight gain in between a healthy 25-35 pounds) while still allowing myself to succumb to the nearly inevitable cravings whenever they hit. One of the best tips I received from my doctor was to be sure to get some sort of protein in with every little meal or snack I ate.

I’ve tried really hard to achieve this but, especially working from home, it’s pretty easy to run out of “healthy” protein-packed snacks over the course of a day. With cold cuts out of the question (in less I feel like microwaving them to make them “safe” and subsequently being forced to eat warm lunch meat if I need a snack ASAP), I found myself turning to cheese and peanut butter as my main sources of protein during the day.

After even getting sick of these things at times (which is quite the feat for a peanut butter and cheese lover like me!) I started racking my brain for other quick-and-easy protein-filled snacks that I could just grab out of the refrigerator at a moment’s notice. It was then that I remembered this Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad that I made ALL the time when I first moved back from Hawaii, and I knew it was just the thing I was looking for.

Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect quick-and-healthy lunch for any day of the week.

If you’ve been following along with the blog for a while (or if you’ve just happened to view my most popular post on Pinterest for Spicy Poke Bowls), then you’ll know that I used to live in Hawaii. What you may not know is that, while I lived there, I actually worked as a Line Cook/Pastry Assistant in a cute little French bistro for a period of a few months. While working there, one of my primary jobs was to come up with snacks/dishes/baked goods that did not require any cooking that they could serve out of their deli case in the “grab-and-go” section.

You can probably guess where this is going. One of my go-to recipes for this deli case was a Chicken Waldorf Salad (which was a huge hit, I might add) and I made it more times than you can count on both hands in the few months I worked there. So much that the recipe became pretty second nature to me!

When I returned home, and was back to cooking for just myself and my loved ones, I did what I love to do with typically Mayonnaise-laden dishes like the Chicken Waldorf Salad, and made a “healthified” version that I could enjoy whenever I wanted, without the guilt.

Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad can be slathered on bread for a nutritious, filling lunch!

Just like my favorite Crunchy Pea Salad with Prosciutto, the secret to lightening this Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad up is subbing out the mayo for Greek yogurt. Sometimes (as with the Pea Salad) I like to keep in just a little bit of mayo for the creamy, savory flavor, but since most Chicken Waldorf Salad recipes call for lemon juice anyhow, I felt like the mayonnaise really wasn’t needed at all. And I was right! Adding the Greek yogurt also means that this salad is even MORE loaded with healthy protein, which is just what this hungry preggo mama needs.

Plus, the requisite chicken, walnuts, celery, apples and grapes are all full of healthy nutrients that are great for anyone, not just those of us who are expecting.

A bowl of Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad, ready to be devoured at a moment's notice.

Aside from the dressing substitute, the only other little touch that really makes this Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad stand out from the rest is a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Don’t skip this! The spices round out the dish so nicely, it’s really a wonder why more people haven’t discovered it already.

Finally (says she sitting in her kitchen with her air conditioner blasting), as long as you have some cooked chicken breasts on hand (a must for any meal-prep situation) this is another no-cook recipe that will keep you away from the stove and enjoying the outdoors as much as possible in this sweltering summer heat.

A big dish of Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect no-cook addition to any barbecue or picnic!

Let’s take this week by the horns with some Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad in hand!

3 from 1 vote
A big dish of Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect no-cook dish to serve in the summer heat.
Print
Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

A typically mayonnaise-laden dish gets a healthy makeover with the substitution of Greek yogurt and delicious cinnamon and nutmeg. The perfect no-cook meal!

Course: Main Course, Salad, Snack
Servings: 5 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 15 ounces cooked chicken breast, diced (about 2-3 breasts)
  • 3/4 cup halved red grapes
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. 

  2. Serve alone, with crackers, chips or spread onto sliced bread as a sandwich!

Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad | CaliGirlCooking.com