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Category Archives: Vegetarian

Kitchen Hack: Avocado Freshness

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I hated avocados for decades, I thought they were slimy and gross. Until, one day I had a fresh guacamole that was more like salsa with firm chunks of barely ripe avocado than the green goo they sell at the grocery store. Since then, my love affair with avocados has only deepened, to the point that I will indulge daily.

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The trick with avocados is using them in that shoe window of gloriousness ripeness that passes all to soon. I have a trick that expands this opportune time from mere minutes (OK, maybe hours) up to a WHOLE WEEK.

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I buy my avocados in bulk, for the best price (sometimes at Costco), when they are rock hard and let them ripen on the counter. To speed up this process, place them near bananas (which release ethylene gas) or to super charge it, place the avocados in a brown bag WITH bananas.

Once they are ripe, keep them in the refrigerator until YOU are ready to use them!

Avocados are a wonderful source of fibre, monounsaturated fat (the good kind) and tons of vitamins and nutrients. I love using avocado in place of may for tuna salad. What’s you favourite way to enjoy a perfectly ripe avocado?

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Brie Stuffed Veggie Burger

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Brie Stuffed Veggie Burger

When I sat down to enjoy this flavour packed veggie burger stuffed with brie cheese, I did not know just how many people would share in the excitement of my creation! I entered this photo of my homemade burger, dressed with avocado sauce and pickled onions, in a burger contest and promptly forgot all about it, until my Brie Stuffed Veggie Burger won the contest.

Epic Burger Contest

I was honoured to have my beautiful burger recognized and, of course, was thrilled to win the prize (who doesn’t love winning?). I did re-prize it as I love to share good fortune (even more than winning) and it was too good to keep to myself!

Brie Stuffed Veggie Burgers

Ingredients

MAKES: 4 SERVINGS

  • 1 pkg Veggie Burger Mix (Pkg of 2)
  • 1/2 C (125 ml) hot water
  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 C (250 ml) cooked quinoa
  • 1 C (250 ml) grated zucchini (or carrot)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) oil
  • Brie Cheese (or other soft cheese)

Method

  1. In a bowl, combine first 5 ingredients. Let stand 5 minutes
  2. Use Burger Press to form 4 patties with brie cheese inside
  3. Preheat large Fry Pan or grill pan over medium heat. Add oil. Cook until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Recipe Tip: Make burgers; refrigerate or freeze. Reheat on barbecue for smoky flavour.

Avocado Burger Sauce

Ingredients

Method

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, using Piano Wire Whisk, whisk together all ingredients.
  2. Store in a sealed container in fridge for up to 1 week.

Quickled Red Onions

Ingredients

MAKES: 1 C (250 ML)

Method

  1. In a saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, pickling mix, and salt.
  2. Boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour over sliced onion. Chill before serving.

Hack: Add pickled onion juice to Caesars and Bloody Marys or substitute it for the vinegar in your salad dressings.

Assemble with all your favourite burger fixings and enjoy! I love onions on my burgers: raw, pickled, caramelized or any combination. What is the one topping that makes your burger the best it can be?

Eat More Bar Extravaganza

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Homemade treats are always the best, especially when they are a better copy of a commercial sweet! While I’ve never been a fan of Eatmore candy bars (too sugary), this version has become an indispensable part of our family’s annual Christmas cookie tray tradition.

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Year after year, but

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I love making them in Epicure’s Perfect Petites Silicone Cookware as it gives it the perfect shape and makes it super easy to pop them out! I used to cut them into bars, but they never looked so scrumptious.

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Eatmore Bars

Ingredients

1/2 Cup smooth peanut butter

1 Cup golden corn syrup

1 3/4 Cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/4 Cups rolled oats

2 Cups dry roasted peanuts

 

Method

  1. Pulse oats in a food processor until small flakes (but not oat flour)
  2. Chop peanuts, but agin, not to a dust
  3. If not using silicone cookware, grease a 10″ x 6″ pan
  4. In a saucepan, bring peanut butter and corn syrup to a low boil and stir well.
  5. Remove from heat, add chocolate chips and mix until melted
  6. Add oats and peanuts and mix them in
  7. Pour into pan or scoop into silicone cookware
  8. Chill to harden (thaw for five minutes, then slice into bars, if using a pan)

Do you have a favourite store bought indulgence that you’ve made better at home?

Gingerbread Spice Cookies

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Sleigh Cookie

Forgiveness is important, especially in baking. I love this cookie dough because it lets me get away  with a LOT: flavouring, tearing, re-rolling, flour substitutions, over baking. I’ve never made a bad batch and that’s why I’ll keep using this recipe until there are Food Replicators in every kitchen (then I’ll program it in).

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The most recent variation was for a Kids Cooking Class featuring Festive Treats, so I amped up the cheer with Epicure Gingerbread Spices. You can keep it plain vanilla (as long as you use the good stuff) or add your favourite spice blend.

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Gingerbread Brown Sugar Thins

Ingredients

2 1/4 Cups (270g) all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 Cup (226 g) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (213 g) packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 TBS Epicure Gingerbread Spices

Method

Preheat oven to 300F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment or reusable non-stick baking mats.

Mix flour, salt and spices together

Beat butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light in colour and texture (about 3 minutes in a stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed). Then add flour mixture gradually to make a smooth dough. Press dough into a smooth flat disc.

Break the dough into 4 roughly equal pieces and roll each one out on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick.

Dip cookie cutters into flour and cut out shapes. Arrange cookies at least 1 inch apart on the sheets. Scraps can be gathered, rested for 5 minutes and re-rolled.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes (lift one up and check that it’s firm). Cool on sheets for 3 minutes then move to cooling racks until room temperature.

Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days unrefrigerated.

The dough can also be kept in the fridge, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 5 days. Let it warm up before rolling out.

Decorate if you desire or keep them plain! Do you have a favourite cookie cutter shape? I love heart-shaped cookies any time of year.

 

Luscious Lime Lassi

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IMG_4418.jpgSometimes you just need a pick-me-up! A little something to refresh, recharge and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit.

I was working up the energy to go to the gym, when this concoction occurred to me, I was picturing what I had on hand to work with and it all started with the bowl of limes on my counter. I knew I have Greek yogurt in the fridge and once I put those two pieces together, the rest of the puzzle just fell in the blender.IMG_4419.jpg

A tangy citrusy boost in frosty liquid form: Luscious Lime Lassi! A lassi is a traditional drink from India that always has yogurt as a base, but can branch out towards savoury or sweet and salty.

I threw together the ingredients that I had on hand to make this dreamy drink and made it to the gym, with a skip in my step that was definitely not there before.

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Lime Lassi

Ingredients

Juice 1/2 lime

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup milk

1 cup ice

1 TBS Coconut Lime Sweet Dip Mix

1/2 TBS Sweet Coconut Vegan Protein Blend

Optional Garnish: Tutti Fruity Whole Food Sprinkles

Method

Blend all ingredients until frothy

Enjoy!

Do you have a go-to warm weather drink to cool you down and charge you up?

 

 

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Conundrum

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IMG_6553Pineapple Upside-Down Cake can be perplexing: How do you balance the flavours of fruit and cake? What’s the best way to invert the finished cake? When should you stop “testing” it to make sure every bite is equally delicious?

While these questions may not have plagued us for centuries, they have at least crossed MY mind. Fortunately, I found answers. The solution was in creating single servings of the topsy-turvy cake in mason jars.

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The individual serving size makes it easy to prepare, portion and present these sumptuous servings of sweet pineapple and almost savoury cake. The flavour of the cake offsets the pineapple with a hint of cardamom that gives a subtle tropical flavour.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake In-A-Jar

Topping Ingredients:

4 TBS unsalted butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 diced whole pineapple (or substitute canned tidbits)

Topping Method:

  1. Grease the bottom and sides of six 250ml wide mouth mason jars with butter. Place on a lined baking sheet
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat
  3. Add brown sugar, stir occasionally until the mixture is pale and foamy, about 3 to 4 minutes
  4. Distribute evenly into the mason jars and arrange pineapple in a single layer, but tightly packed together

Cake Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (organic, if possible)

3 TBS cornmeal

1/2 tsp salt

8 TBS butter, softened – but still cool

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 TBS (for egg whites)

4 large eggs, separated – at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup milk

Cake Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together
  3. Cream butter in a mixer at medium speed
  4. Add sugar gradually and continue beating until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes)
  5. Beat in yolks and vanilla
  6. Reduce to low speed and add dry ingredients and milk, alternating between the two (begin and end with dry ingredients)
  7. Beat egg whites at low speed until frothy, then increase to med-high and beat to soft peaks
  8. Gradually add the remaining 2 TBS of sugar, continue to beat to stiff peaks
  9. Fold one quarter of the beaten egg whites into the batter
  10. Then fold in the remaining egg whites
  11. Distribute the batter evenly to mason jars
  12. Bake until the top of the cakes is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean (about 20 minutes)
  13. Let the cakes rest for 2 minutes then run a knife around the edge to loosen them, then individually invert the cake on plates
  14. Garnish with maraschino cherries and mint sprigs
  15. Serve and enjoy

IMG_6537The mason jars also make it a snap to save or share the individual cakes. Who do you know that loves cake in a jar?

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!

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