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Category Archives: Kid Friendly

Totally Tropical Smoothie Bowl with a Capitol Tea

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While I frequently enjoy smoothies, sometimes I want something more than just sucking back my fruit and veg through a straw… Enter the Smoothie Bowl!
Dish your favourite smoothie blend into a bowl (or in this case, an oversize teacup) then add fresh and/or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, bee pollen, granola or whatever grabs your fancy to add some taste and texture. Bonus points are awarded for creating an eye pleasing arrangement!  Lately, I’ve been brewing up extra tea in the morning, cooling it in the fridge, and then using it for smoothies. It’s a great liquid because you get a touch of caffeine and antioxidants, plus it doesn’t add any sugar! One of my favourites is Citron Sencha Green Tea from Epicure, which is based just outside Victoria, the Capitol of our fair province.

Recipe for Totally Tropical Smoothie Bowl with a Capitol Tea

Makes 1 healthy serving

Smoothie Ingredients

1 Tablespoon Chia seeds

1 cup cold Citron Sencha Green Tea (add more as needed for blending)

1 banana, in pieces

1 cup frozen baby spinach

1 cup frozen tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, kiwi, etc)

Topping Ingredients

Dried Tropical Fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, etc)

Dried Coconut

Sesame Seeds

Bee Pollen

Method

  1. Soak chia seeds in tea for 15 minutes, mixing or swirling occasionally
  2. add remaining Smoothie Ingredients
  3. Blend (either in a blender or in a 1 litre Mason Jar with an immersion blender)
  4. Pour in a bowl or other suitable vessel
  5. Decorate with toppings

What’s your favourite smoothie bowl topping? I always add Bee Pollen for the floral flavour AND B Vitamins!

Gorgeous Gluten Free Gingerbread Granola

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I love ginger. Fresh, pickled, crystallized, preserved and every way in between. But I love it best in gingerbread form: cookies, houses, lattes and now granola!

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Gingerbread Granola

I have been playing around with making granola in my slow cooker, rather than in the oven, and it makes it so much easier and gives a more consistently crunchy and evenly toasted cereal.

The best part about making your own granola is that you know exactly what is in it. The other bonus is that you can get all creative and come up with customized flavours. Inspired by my Epicure Gingerbread Spices, and the recent dessert for breakfast trend, I decided to make a healthy and delectable granola.

Gingerbread Granola Detail

Gingerbread Granola Detail

Granola is pretty easy to make and the measurements don’t need to be precise and by using a slow cooker, you don’t have to watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn. The pain of dumping most or all of a burnt batch of granola in the garbage is not something I wish on anyone.

Gingerbread Granola Overhead

Gingerbread Granola Overhead

Recipe for Gingerbread Granola

Makes approximately 6 cups of granola

Ingredients

One of the joys of granola is that is ridiculously adaptable, feel free to increase, reduce or switch up anything!

1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil

1 Tablespoon Molasses

1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon Epicure Gingerbread Spices (or a teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves and ginger)

1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 cup Buckwheat

2 cups Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats (or Rolled Oats)

1/4 cup Flax Seeds

1/4 cup Sesame Seeds

1 cup Pecans, roughly chopped

1 cup Crystallized Ginger, roughly chopped

Method

1. Turn slow cooker on to Low setting and melt coconut oil with molasses, maple syrup, spices and salt

2. Add remaining ingredients, except Crystallized Ginger

3. Stir until thoroughly mixed

4. Cover with lid, but leave a slight gap for moisture to escape

5. Stir every 30 minutes until crunchy (about 2 hours)

6. Turn off slow cooker. Add in Crystallized Ginger and spread on baking sheet to cool

7. Once cool, store in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks

Try it on cottage cheese, Greek yogurt or fruit salad!

I’ve also made Aloha Granola (pineapple, papaya & coconut) and Maple Walnut Granola in my slow cooker. What’s your favourite Granola flavour?

See my list of available samples of Epicure product by clicking here.

Ravishing Roasted Carrot Soup

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Roasted Carrot Soup

Roasted Carrot Soup

I buy big bags of carrots. Many of these carrots get juiced, grated, peeled, baked, salad-ed and snacked upon, but sometimes we don’t quite make it through the bag before they start to get bendy. I had just such a dwindling bag of carrots taking up valuable real estate in my fridge the day before New Year’s Eve, and so my brain began to whir…

Knowing that I was having family over for a simple dinner to ring in the New Year, I started thinking of what else I had and what I could do with these extra carrots. I knew I had lots of onions and lemons, a bit of feta cheese and some Kalamata olives, this had me thinking Greek. Recalling that I had Epicure’s Souvlaki seasoning and El Greco Secret Sauce, a plan came together.

While this was a simple dish to throw together, I actually prepped it the night before so I could have more time to relax and reminisce about the year that was ending, the soup was greeted with rave reviews and encores of second and third helpings!

Ravishing Roasted Carrot Soup Ingredients

Ravishing Roasted Carrot Soup Ingredients

I knew I had to share this recipe when my Instagram post was shared by Epicure on their Facebook page as part of their weekly round-up of images shared on Social Networks featuring their products.

Recipe for Roasted Carrot Soup

makes 8 servings

Soup Ingredients:

8 medium carrots, peeled and cut into finger size pieces

2 medium purple onions, sliced in finger width sections

1 head garlic, peeled and hard bottom bits cut off

2 TBS Epicure Souvlaki Seasoning

2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cups dried red lentils

6 cups water

juice of 1 lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Garnish Ingredients:

1 TBS Epicure El Greco Secret Sauce

2 TBS water

1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Feta Cheese

Kalamata Olives

Method:

1. Pre-Heat oven to 400

2. Spread carrots, onions and garlic on baking sheet, sprinkle Souvlaki seasoning and Olive Oil and toss to coat

3. Roast vegetables in oven until golden brown on the edges (approximately 30 minutes)

4. For garnish: Mix El Greco Secret Sauce and water, let stand for 5 minutes and then add Olive Oil, cube feta and slice olives

5. Remove vegetables from oven and allow to cool while placing a soup pot with the red lentils and 6 cups of water on high

6. Once water is boiling, add vegetables turn heat down to medium and cook until lentils are soft (approximately 10 minutes)

7. Add the lemon juice and puree with an immersion blender

8. Add water, salt and pepper to achieve desired consistency and flavour

9. Serve soup in bowls and garnish with tiny cubes of feta, sliced Kalamata Olives and a smattering of prepared El Greco Secret Sauce from Epicure

I also served a simple salad of thinly sliced bell peppers and cucumber (using my Epicure Ceramic Slicer) dressed with Epicure’s Greek Dressing seasoning mixed with red wine vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

If you would like to purchase Epicure seasonings or cookware, please visit my online store: www.juliaustine.myepicure.com or contact me for samples.

What is your favourite way to use up a carrot surplus?

Jewel Tonic: Glowing Garnet

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Jewel Tonic: Glowing Garnet

Jewel Tonic: Glowing Garnet

I love making smoothies and experimenting with different fruit and vegetable combinations and adding things like chia and oatmeal. I even like to combine kale, mint and chocolate in my Shamrock Smoothie (see blog post and recipe here), so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise how much I’d enjoy playing around with a juicer. But after my lovely mother lent (and then gave) me her Omega Juicer, at the insistence of my son who had liked helping his Nana juice things up, we’ve been going through bags and bags of carrots and whatever produce we can get our hands on! We started cataloguing our juices on Instagram (Check out @juliaaustine on Instagram here), but then I began blending more veggie filled concoctions on my own and thought I should share some on Kitchenette Finds.

Jewel Tonic: Glowing Garnet ingredients

Jewel Tonic: Glowing Garnet ingredients

I love the colours that come out of the juicer and watching them change as you add different items. It’s a fascinating process where you truly get to enjoy the fruits of your labours! Freshly made juice give you all the vitamins and nutrients of these luscious plants in a super-dose, by taking out all the fibre that fills you up and breaking down the cells of the produce so that your body can better absorb their phytonutrients. If you are new to juicing or looking for a new mix to try, I’d like to share one of my first attempts which was pretty tasty and such a gorgeous colour!

 

Jewel Tonic: Glowing Garnet

Jewel Tonic: Glowing Garnet

 

Recipe for Glowing Garnet Jewel Tonic

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

1 beet

1/4 small purple cabbage

2 red pears

2 medium parsnips

1 small red bell pepper

1 pink grapefruit

Method:

1. Juice all ingredients

2. Enjoy!

Now, I just need to figure out what to do with all the pulp… If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments below.

Buck Brand Citrus Bliss

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Buck Brand Finger Lime at Thrifty Foods

Buck Brand Finger Lime at Thrifty Foods

There is something truly special about tasting fresh produce while chatting with the farmer that brought it to fruition. When I heard that Lisle Babcock of Deer Creek Heights Ranch would be handing out samples of his terrific Buck Brand Organic Citrus at my local Thrifty Foods, I made a date with my mother to meet the man behind the oranges that we can’t get enough of every winter.

Lisle Babcock of Buck Brand Citrus at Thrifty Foods

Lisle Babcock of Buck Brand Citrus at Thrifty Foods

With his cowboy hat and many, “Ma’am”s Mr. Babcock was generous and genial with the samples of the many types of organic citrus that are currently in season on their ranch. Thrifty Foods has an exclusive deal to carry Buck Brand Organic oranges and some of their 80 different varieties of citrus fruits in British Columbia.

Buck Brand at Thrifty Foods

Buck Brand at Thrifty Foods

I go through bags and bags of their navel oranges every winter and supplement my citrus cravings with grapefruit, tangerines, pommelos, blood oranges, sweet limes and anything else that is available throughout the citrus growing season.

Buck Brand at Thrifty Foods

Buck Brand at Thrifty Foods

Until February 25th, when you buy a 4 lb. bag of Buck Brand Navel Oranges at Thrifty Foods, they will donate $1 to BC Lions Society’s Easter Seals Camps to fund kids camp fees at Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan and Camp Squamish. Plus you’re supporting a 5 acre family owned organic farm with almost 1000 citrus trees, including many heritage and hybrid varieties.

Buck Brand Citrus at Thrifty Foods

Buck Brand Citrus at Thrifty Foods

While all the citrus samples were delicious and juicy, I was most interested to try the Finger Lime, I’d seen all the pretty pictures on the internet and I was curious to see if they tasted as fascinating as they looked. Originally from Australia, Deer Creek Heights Ranch has been growing them in Terra Bella. California for 4 years. Lisle cut one in half and gave it a gentle squeeze to make the tiny little juice packets bubble up to the top, to be enjoyed like an ice cream cone. The flavour is similar to a very floral lime, quite tart and tangy, but it is the texture as the little pearls pop inside you mouth that is so delightful. I bought a 50g package to bring home and enjoy at my leisure and to share with my son.

Lisle Babcock of Buck Brand Citrus at Thrifty Foods

Lisle and Mary Lou Babcock of Buck Brand Citrus at Thrifty Foods

We had a great time chatting with Lisle and Mary Lou and I really appreciate that they make such an effort to share their luscious fruits and take the time to interact with Canadian consumers.

Buck Brand Citrus at Thrifty Foods

Buck Brand Citrus at Thrifty Foods

I now have a nice selection of citrus beautifying my kitchen counter and I’m faced with the delicious dilemma of incorporating them into a recipe or just enjoying them as nature intended.

Related Articles

New Ingredient: Finger Limes (gastronomiette)

Thrifty Foods Tour Maple Ridge: video (Meat of the Message)

What is your favourite citrus fruit outside the holy trinity of lemon, lime and orange?

Clam Linguine with Greenery

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Clam Linguine with Greenery by Kitchenette Finds

When days turn snowy we seem to reach for the foods that have comforted us in winters past. I’ve been making clam linguine from my grandmother’s recipe for the last couple of decades and it’s a favourite of my son and my best friend, two of the most important people in my life. While I want to feed and comfort them, I also feel the need to nourish them and keep them healthy. Over the years, I’ve tweaked frequently cooked dishes to be a bit healthier while still maintaining the textures and flavours that made them staples at our table.

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Lassette helping herself

I’m always trying to work more green vegetables into meals and one day when I was picking up supplies for Clam Linguine, I thought about how it’s the only time I like to use lots of parsley in a dish. Realizing that it was because the parsley absorbed all the other flavours, I wondered if kale wouldn’t just do the same thing. By quickly blanching the kale in the pasta water before adding it to the pan and reducing the amount of pasta, it added lots of vitamins and nutrients without taking anything away from a beloved dish.

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Detail of Clam Linguine with Greenery by Kitchenette Finds

When I tested the altered pasta dish on my son, he approved and ate about half of a bunch of kale! When I made a lunch date with my best gal where she wanted to make Clam Linguine together at her place, I figured it was a great chance to test out the changes on a “mature” palate. With a splash of Wayne Gretzky wine, I dished up the greener version of the recipe we’d been cooking together since high school and got our daily greens with a side of witty banter.

Recipe for Clam Linguine with Greenery

makes 2 very generous servings

Ingredients:

150 ml (5 oz) canned whole baby clams

2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

5 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 bunch fresh kale

120ml (4 oz) dry white wine or broth

1 Tablespoon butter

5 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Bring salted water to a boil. Wash and tear up kale into bite size pieces, discarding the spines.

2. Melt butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium. Add sliced garlic and sauté until golden.

3. Blanch kale in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Add parsley, wine or broth, clam nectar (from the can) to the garlic pan and transfer kale with a slotted spoon from pot to pan

. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Add pasta to same pot of boiling water. Add clams to sauté pan and salt and pepper to taste then simmer for another 5 minutes.

5. Add pasta to saute pan with sauce and allow to sit with burner off until most of the sauce is absorbed.

6. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Do you have a treasured recipe that you’ve ‘greened’?

Clam Linguine with Greenery by Kitchenette Finds

Clam Linguine with Greenery by Kitchenette Finds

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Shamrock Smoothie

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Shamrock Smoothie - Kitchenette Finds

There is a certain fast food chain that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with a suspicious green sludge dubbed the “Shamrock Shake”, while I admit to having consumed one or two in my reckless youth, I’m no longer foolish enough to put the 54 ingredients that add up to 820 calories of no-goodness into my body. Especially not when I’ve created a delicous and very healthy drink I’m calling the Shamrock Smoothie.

Shamrock Smoothie - Kitchenette Finds

I came up with this smoothie when my 10 year old, Young Fresh Chef, was getting bored with all my fruity smoothie combinations. I was looking through my baking cupboard trying to come up with something fresh when I spied raw cacao powder and mint extract. I am a big fan of mint and chocolate together so I knew I could make something wonderful.

Shamrock Smoothie - Kitchenette FindsI’ve been adding frozen baby spinach (the kind you buy fresh in the plastic tub) for over a year with my son’s knowledge and approval and when I recently tried frozen kale it got a thumbs up as well. I used frozen bananas as the only source of sweetness and almond milk to help it blend better, but the chocolate and mint are the real stars!

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When I tested this on the Young Fresh Chef he finished it down to the last drop and declared it his favourite smoothie ever. So it’s definitely a winner. He couldn’t taste the kale at all, when it’s frozen it pretty much disintegrates when blended. By using bananas that were left to ripen until they were super sweet and then broken into chunks and frozen it could satisfy any sugary craving. I use raw cacao powder to get all the antioxidants and minerals that are usually lost when cocoa beans are roasted. Cocoa powder would still work in a pinch for the flavour.

Shamrock Smoothie

After sucking back this smoothie I always have a smile on my face and a spring in my step. It’s a much better feeling than what you would get after a visit to your local heart attack shack and your body will thank you for years to come.

Recipe for Shamrock Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

1 frozen banana (very ripe)

1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of your preference)

2 handfuls of frozen kale (or frozen baby spinach or a combo)

2 drops of pure peppermint extract (or to taste, it’s powerful stuff!)

2 TBS chia gel (optional, I use 1 part chia to 6 parts water and keep the extra in the fridge for up to a week)

Method:

1. Blend all ingredients in a glass or mason jar with an immersion blender (or in a blender)

2. Enjoy!

Shamrock Smoothie  - Kitchenette FindsWhat are some other sweet ways you get your greens?

Happy Pi Day!

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The Perils of Peach Pie

The Perils of Peach Pie

March 14th is Pi day (3.14), I hope you are celebrating with real pie, I’m just sticking with pictures of pie. Up top is my Perfect Peach Pie and below is Not So Sour Cherry Pie. Enjoy!

Cherry Pie Serenade

Olive Greek Salad Dressing

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Cooks always start by mastering the Garde Manger station, our home kitchen is no exception. I started my son, Young Fresh Chef, on salads and appetizers. My mother, Momette, has always made salad dressings from scratch and I’ve continued the tradition. Years ago, when I was making a vinaigrette with my son, he couldn’t have been any older than 6, he asked why I didn’t add some of the olive juice from the bottle of Kalamata olives that I was using from the salad. I’d never considered adding the brine as an acidic element, so I splashed some into the dressing and it was fantastic!

Olive Salad Dressing Ingredients

Later, when we told his dad, Exec Chef about our latest creation there was a glint in his eye that a new menu item was about to appear at his restaurant. It was the first time that our son had inspired a dish and he was as proud as physically possible to be a part of the creative process.

Lately, I’ve been trying to healthify (this is now a word) our food at home and one way is by cooking with fats from whole foods (nuts, seeds, avocados, etc) rather than using extracted fats (butter, oil, shortening, etc). When trying to make a new type of salad dressing, I thought back to the flavours that I loved to put together and, of course, I thought of the olive juice salad dressing. Why not use whole olives instead of olive oil?

I decided to go with a Greek flavour profile, based around Kalamata olives. So, I threw together some fresh squeezed lemon juice, Dijon mustard, a bit of feta cheese, some Kalamata olives, salt and pepper in a little jar and blended it together with my immersion blender.

Blended Olive Salad DressingI topped a salad of romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, shredded carrot and celery with some of the dressing and I couldn’t believe the amazing olive and feta flavour that was delivered with every bite. Usually, when I add whole olives to a salad I try to space them out to get maximum enjoyment. With the blended olive dressing, I felt like every forkful was filled with salty tang of Greece.

Enjoying Olive Greek Dressing

Hilltop Diner Cafe

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Family Lunch Order at Hilltop Diner Cafe in Langley, BC

Family Lunch Order at Hilltop Diner Cafe in Langley, BC

Sometimes you just want the classics: a clubhouse sandwich with roasted turkey, a juicy burger or a straight up breakfast. On a lazy Sunday, when this mood strikes us, we pile into the car as a family and take a leisurely drive to the Hilltop Diner Cafe in the middle of nowhere part of Langley. Picture perfect enough to be a constant shooting location for TV shows and movies, they even have a scrap-book that they love to pull out and show off, the food is just as authentic. But it’s the service that makes it the real deal, it’s casual but caring. They are a busy bunch being open 7 days a week from 8:00 to 2:30 since 1946. Their full breakfast menu is served until 11am and then they still have a small list of morning staples available, as well as their crazy mega burgers (with names like Everest burger and Anarchist burger they are ridonkulous) until they close.

Eggs, Farmer's Sausage & Toast at the Hilltop Diner Cafe

Eggs, Sausage & Toast at Hilltop Diner Cafe

Since it is a bit of a drive for us, and it’s hard to hurry on Sundays, we haven’t made it for the full breakfast menu yet. I think I’m stuck on the clubhouse because of the in-house oven-roasted turkey that is so thinly sliced and nestled in the lightly toasted bread with the perfect amount of lettuce and tomatoes and beautifully crisped bacon. I switch between the excellent french fries  and the impressively fresh side salad.   All the sandwiches and burgers that we’ve tried have been exactly as we would want them to be. Their milkshakes and floats are fantastic and big enough to share and share and share. My other regret about the menu is that we STILL haven’t tried any of their amazing looking pies as we are always too full after our sandwich and burger feast. I guess we’ll have to keep going and keep trying things, it’s a tough life!

Hot Turkey Sandwich with Gravy and Cranberry Relish at the Hilltop Diner Cafe

Hilltop Diner Cafe

23904 Fraser Highway

Langley, BC

(604) 514-9424

Open Daily from 8:00 to 2:30

Full Breakfast Menu served until 11am

Closed on Holiday Mondays

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I’m Busy Eating Review

Feast and Fare Review

What’s your favourite classic diner?

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