A few minutes in a hot dry pan can waken up ground spices and dried herbs to give any dish a more robust flavour. Be careful to stir the spices, so they don’t burn, and give them 2 or 3 minutes in the pan. When the fragrance has intensified to a pleasant level, add the rest of the ingredients. In this case, can of organic diced tomatoes with no salt added to make spaghetti and meatballs.
Sometimes 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.
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.
Juice 1/2 lime
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup ice
Optional Garnish: Tutti Fruity Whole Food Sprinkles
Blend all ingredients until frothy
Do you have a go-to warm weather drink to cool you down and charge you up?
Pineapple 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.
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.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake In-A-Jar
4 TBS unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 diced whole pineapple (or substitute canned tidbits)
- Grease the bottom and sides of six 250ml wide mouth mason jars with butter. Place on a lined baking sheet
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat
- Add brown sugar, stir occasionally until the mixture is pale and foamy, about 3 to 4 minutes
- Distribute evenly into the mason jars and arrange pineapple in a single layer, but tightly packed together
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
- Pre-heat oven to 350
- Whisk dry ingredients together
- Cream butter in a mixer at medium speed
- Add sugar gradually and continue beating until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes)
- Beat in yolks and vanilla
- Reduce to low speed and add dry ingredients and milk, alternating between the two (begin and end with dry ingredients)
- Beat egg whites at low speed until frothy, then increase to med-high and beat to soft peaks
- Gradually add the remaining 2 TBS of sugar, continue to beat to stiff peaks
- Fold one quarter of the beaten egg whites into the batter
- Then fold in the remaining egg whites
- Distribute the batter evenly to mason jars
- Bake until the top of the cakes is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean (about 20 minutes)
- Let the cakes rest for 2 minutes then run a knife around the edge to loosen them, then individually invert the cake on plates
- Garnish with maraschino cherries and mint sprigs
- Serve and enjoy
The mason jars also make it a snap to save or share the individual cakes. Who do you know that loves cake in a jar?
Brownies 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).
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!
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup creamed honey
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon Epicure Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Kosher Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 350
- Melt butter in a saucepan on the stove
- Mix sugar, honey and cocoa powder into melted butter
- Add eggs and and mix with a whisk
- Add flour, baking powder and salt and gently combine
- Stir in vanilla extract
- Pour into a greased 8-9″ pan or the Epicure Perfect Petites for 30 lovely little loaves
- Bake for 25-30 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean or just a bit crumby)
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?
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.
Makes 1 healthy serving
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)
Dried Tropical Fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, etc)
- Soak chia seeds in tea for 15 minutes, mixing or swirling occasionally
- add remaining Smoothie Ingredients
- Blend (either in a blender or in a 1 litre Mason Jar with an immersion blender)
- Pour in a bowl or other suitable vessel
- Decorate with toppings
What’s your favourite smoothie bowl topping? I always add Bee Pollen for the floral flavour AND B Vitamins!
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!
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.
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.
Recipe for Gingerbread Granola
Makes approximately 6 cups of granola
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
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.
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!
Recipe for Roasted Carrot Soup
makes 8 servings
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
2 TBS water
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
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?
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.
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!
Recipe for Glowing Garnet Jewel Tonic
makes 1 serving
1/4 small purple cabbage
2 red pears
2 medium parsnips
1 small red bell pepper
1 pink grapefruit
1. Juice all ingredients
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?