Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples, Walnuts, and Cranberries

If you are a Brussels sprouts hater, then there is no better way to change that than by mixing them with fruit, nuts, and maple syrup, then letting them roast in the oven until golden brown and crispy. This side dish is a great way to amp up vegetables by adding a lot of flavour, texture, and beautiful colours, and it tastes wonderful warm and fresh out of the oven or served as a cold salad. 


2 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved
2 medium apples, diced
1-2 shallots, diced
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the Brussels sprouts, apples, shallot, walnuts, cranberries, and olive oil in a large bowl and toss. Evenly spread the vegetables on a large baking sheet that has been lined with foil.

Bake for 25-35 minutes. Transfer the roasted mixture into a serving bowl, drizzle with the maple syrup and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, or cold.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Vegan Black Bean Brownie Bites

I know I am the queen of using strange ingredients in baking (namely beans), but even I was completely skeptical about using black beans in desserts. They have a much more distinct flavour than navy beans or chickpeas, so I was sure you would be able to detect a hint of "beanness" in these brownies. But much to my surprise there is no trace of them - and I wouldn't kid you when it comes to chocolate brownies! These vegan and gluten-free brownies are the most rich, fudgey, gooey brownies I can remember having in a long time. Making them in muffin tins made them look like those two-bite brownies I used to beg my mom to buy at the grocery store when I was a kid. I used a variety of different toppings on these brownies so feel free to use whatever is your favourite, or just leave them plain. The best part about this recipe is that you can eat as much raw brownie batter as you want without worry, since there are no raw eggs involved. I was tempted to not even bake them because the batter is so good. You could definitely get away with using it as a dip for fruit, as a spread on toast, or even as a frosting.


1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
2 chia or flax eggs (2 Tbsp. ground chia seeds or flaxseed meal + 5 Tbsp. water)
2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil - You can substitute canola or vegetable oil if you don't have coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
heaping 1 tsp. instant coffee granules - Coffee enhances the chocolate flavour and makes it much richer
Topping options: chocolate chips, shredded coconut, sea salt, cayenne powder, chocolate sprinkles, chopped nuts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

Prepare the chia or flax egg by combining the ground chia or flaxseed meal and water in a small bowl and letting it sit for 3-5 minutes until it forms a thick gel. 

In a food processor, combine the black beans, prepared chia/flax egg, coconut oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, sugar, baking powder, and instant coffee until very smooth. Scrape down the sides of the processor as necessary so there are no large clumps of any ingredients. 

Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared muffin tins and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the tops of the brownies with the toppings of your choice. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until the tops are dry and starting to pull away from the sides of the muffin cups. If you take them out towards the lower end of the baking time, the middles of the brownies will still be gooey and almost undercooked, so take them out then if that's what you're going for. If you'd like a firmer brownie then leave them in longer.

Allow the brownies to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before gently removing from the muffin cups. They will still be fairly soft and gooey at this point, so if you want a firmer brownie then place the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before removing the brownies. 

*Recipe adapted from My Little Celebration 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lemon-Brown Sugar Roasted Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

Roasted potatoes are one of my go-to winter comfort foods. The combination of red and sweet potatoes makes for a nice colour and flavour contrast, and the lemon-brown sugar glaze really adds an extra punch of flavour. The brown sugar caramelizes in the oven and enhances the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, which is balanced nicely with the tanginess of the lemon.


3 medium-large red potatoes, cubed
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed - You can peel them if you want; I didn't bother because I like eating the potato skin
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest (optional)
 1 tsp. sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the potatoes and sweet potatoes in a 9x13" baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to evenly coat the potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the brown sugar, lemon juice and zest, and sea salt in a small bowl. Remove the potatoes from the oven and drizzle with the lemon-brown sugar glaze. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. 

*Recipe adapted from Carrots N' Cake

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pear, Walnut, and Cranberry Goat Cheese Salad

This year I wanted to add a couple of new dishes to my family's usual Christmas dinner line-up, namely a delicious salad full of fresh festive ingredients. I really wanted to make something special and delicious that would hold its own on the table up against the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, instead of just a lifeless pile of lettuce that got looked over. I can assure you that this salad is anything but boring; my family and I could not get enough of it! You know it's a good sign when people go back for seconds of "salad" during a big Christmas dinner feast. The combination of mixed greens, sweet pears and cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and creamy goat cheese is perfect, and once it is all drizzled in the tangy cranberry orange vinaigrette it is even better. I am quite positive that I could eat this salad every day and never get tired of it!

Salad Ingredients:
Note: I haven't included measurements for the ingredients so that you can just make as much as you need for however many people you plan to serve.
Spring mix salad greens
1-2 ripe bartlett pears, thinly sliced
Chopped walnuts (toasting optional)
Dried cranberries
Cinnamon cranberry goat cheese - I found this goat cheese at Superstore, but most stores should carry something similar. Feel free to substitute with regular goat cheese if you don't have any on hand though.

Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup red wine or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Prepare the cranberry orange vinaigrette by combining the cranberries, vinegar, and maple syrup in a small pot over medium heat until the cranberries burst, about 7-10 minutes. Allow the cranberry mixture to cool slightly, then place into a blender or small food processor with the orange juice, olive oil, and salt. Blend until smooth. Taste and add pepper and additional salt if desired. If it is too tart for your tastes then add a little bit more maple syrup until it is to your liking. Place the vinaigrette in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the salad. Store leftover dressing refrigerated in airtight container for up to one week.

Combine your desired amount of salad greens, pear, walnuts, and dried cranberries into a large serving bowl. Leave the goat cheese out at this point because if you add it before mixing the dressing in then it gets soft and just kind of smears on the lettuce, rather than staying together in large chunks. 

Spoon the prepared cranberry orange vinaigrette dressing over the salad and toss until well coated. Finally, gently crumble the goat cheese into the salad. Serve immediately. 

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Whole Wheat, Nuts & Seeds Banana Muffins


I've been trying to work my way through a freezer full of black bananas for the past couple of months now, and rather than resorting to the standard banana bread, I have been trying to come up with new recipes incorporating bananas. This is the latest in a pretty much constant supply of banana breads, muffins, and cookies that have been coming out of my kitchen. I love making big batches of muffins and cookies to stash in my freezer for when I need a quick breakfast or snack. These muffins are packed full of whole grains, healthy fats, fibre, and protein so they will definitely give you a burst of lasting energy. They are big and fluffy, with a pleasant crunch thanks to all the nuts and seeds. One thing to note is that they are not very sweet, which I don't mind since I usually spread butter, peanut butter, or honey on them, but if you would like a sweeter muffin then I recommend sprinkling the tops with brown sugar or turbinado sugar prior to baking.


2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup hemp seeds
3 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup, honey, or agave
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted - If you don't have coconut oil then you can substitute canola oil, however the coconut oil adds a great buttery flavour and lots of nutrients to the muffins
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup almond, soy, or dairy milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Optional topping: brown sugar or turbinado sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the agave/syrup, coconut oil, eggs, bananas, milk, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just moistened. 

Evenly divide the batter among the 12 prepared muffin cups. The cups will be very full, but don't worry they won't overflow in the oven. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of brown or turbinado sugar, if desired. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean with crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan, adapted from I Talk To Food

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Nesquik Marshmallow Bars

This year I was absolutely stumped on what to get my 16-year-old little brother for Christmas, so I started thinking about some of his favourite things to do for a little inspiration. Eating quickly rose to the top of the list. Even though there were already plenty of snacks and Christmas cookies laying around the house, I wanted to make him his very own treat for a gift. This kid loves his cereal (what teenager doesn't) and it's not uncommon to find him downing a big bowl at our kitchen table at any time of day. So, to surprise my cereal-loving brother on Christmas morning I whipped up a batch of these bars, incorporating his favourite: Nesquik. These bars are essentially Rice Krispie Squares made with Nesquik cereal instead of Rice Krispie's, and they are just as gooey, crispy, and chocolatey as you can imagine. I'm happy to report they have the little brother's stamp of approval! 


6 cups Nesquik cereal
1 10oz. bag marshmallows
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Pour the cereal into a large bowl. Grease a 9x9" baking pan with butter and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the marshmallows and 3 Tbsp. butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 

Pour the melted marshmallow mixture into the bowl of cereal, scraping out the pot with a rubber spatula. Stir until the cereal is well coated. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. It will be very sticky so you will want to grease your hands really well with butter or use wax paper or plastic wrap to cover the cereal and then press down on that, because I found the cereal stuck to my hands a lot. 

Set the pan aside to cool and set for 1-2 hours. You can place the pan in the fridge to speed this up. Cut into bars with a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan