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Brownie Brouhaha

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IMG_2581Brownies can be controversial, at least when it comes to my friends and family. Some factions say there needs to be frosting, others are in the cakey camp, while a few are stuck in the fudgey side. There is often heated debate about how Butterscotch Brownies (blondies) and Black Bean Brownies are not acceptable options at all. But, when I’m the one donning the apron I say nay to frosting and go for my tried and true One Pot Brownie recipe (please note: no pot is IN the brownies, they are mixed IN a pot).

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I have been using the same recipe since I started baking when I was eight (out of desperation as my mother wouldn’t bake or buy sweets as often as I wanted them). It has never failed me, though I have failed it on occasion. A couple of times, I MAY have over-baked the brownies until they were dried out. My problem solving brain and thrifty heart turned this loss into a win by making ice cream sandwiches with them!

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Kitchenette Brownies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup creamed honey

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3 eggs

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon Epicure Baking Powder

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Kosher Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan on the stove
  3. Mix sugar, honey and cocoa powder into melted butter
  4. Add eggs and and mix with a whisk
  5. Add flour, baking powder and salt and gently combine
  6. Stir in vanilla extract
  7. Pour into a greased 8-9″ pan or the Epicure Perfect Petites for 30 lovely little loaves
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean or just a bit crumby)

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Serve with fresh fruit (I had grapes, mango and raspberries) and a dollop of whipped cream (try not to over whip it like I did).

Which side of the brownie battle do you take or will you just take any brownie that’s available?

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.

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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Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread from Gluten Free on a Shoestring

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Gluten Free Cornbread baked by Kitchenette Finds

Gluten Free Cornbread baked by Kitchenette Finds

I just had to share this recipe that I found on Gluten Free on a Shoestring, a really wonderful blog by Gluten Free cookbook author Nicole Hunn. The cornbread disappeared in under 24 hours, which is a new record in our house!

The only change I made was to use Greek Yogurt instead of plain yogurt. It was super simple and easy to throw together and went very well with Black Bean Chili we had for dinner, and with a smear of honey for dessert and topped with butter next to scrambled eggs for breakfast the next morning.

Prep time: 5 minutes       Cook time: 30 minutes       Yield: 1 cornbread

Ingredients

2 cups (264 g) coarsely ground yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg (60 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups (340 g) plain yogurt, at room temperature (can substitute an equal amount of sour cream or buttermilk)

4 tablespoons (84 g) honey

For the complete recipe please click through to Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

What is your favourite thing to put on or eat with cornbread? Chili? Honey? Cheese? Butter?

Photo of Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread from Gluten Free on a Shoestring

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