Brownie Bites from The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook

Here’s the recipe for Brownie Bites which CTV co-anchor Nancy Richards and I prepared during the noon news show on CTV Kitchener today.

This recipe is one of my contributions to the brand spanking new cookbook, The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook, which was edited by the incomparable Mairlyn Smith. This just-released book (which is already into its second printing!) is from the Ontario Home Economics Assocation. All the recipes come from Ontario professional home economists and students.

You’ll find recipes for two other dishes I had on display (Autumn Apple Crepes from Deb Campbell and Mexi Meatless Shepherd’s Pie from Amy Snider Whitson) here.

Brownie Bites
Make 24 mini muffin-size brownies

½ cup (125 mL) quinoa flour
1/3 cup (75 mL) natural cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
2 omega-3 eggs
2/3 cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil
1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Lightly spray 24 mini muffin cups well with canola oil spray.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together quinoa flour, cocoa powder and baking powder until well mixed.
  3. In a large bowl whisk eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until blended.
  4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, whisking until blended.
  5. Divide batter between muffin cups, filling each with about 1 tbsp (15 mL) batter. Cups should be about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted into a brownie comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, 13 to 15 minutes. Don’t overbake.
  7. Remove from oven; let cool in pan on a wire rack for 2 minutes, then turn muffin pan over. After a minute or two, lift up pan. Brownie Bites should have released from pan onto wire rack. Carefully turn each brownie over to finish cooling on rack.

* To serve, plate brownies and sprinkle with icing sugar and cocoa powder or serve on a puddle of raspberry coulee.
* For an extra special treat, press a chocolate macaroon or mini Rolo into the centre of each Brownie Bite before baking.
* If you are gluten-free use gluten-free baking powder.

Per serving: 3 brownies (without chocolate macaroons or mini Rolos!): 202 calories, 12 g fat, 0 g sat. fat, 48 mg cholesterol, 17 mg sodium,  24 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 17 g sugars, 3 g protein.

Sleep issues: Are you getting enough? Should you eat before going to going to sleep?

The latest issue of Roomplanners e-zine is all about sleep. It’s got tips on how to fall asleep faster, create a comfortable bedroom, fight bed bugs, and much more!

This free online magazine also includes an article I wrote on when and what you should eat before sleeping. And there’s a recipe for the Nutri Cookies pictured here.

Nutri Cookies

Check out this issue and subscribe (it’s FREE!) to receive future issues of this fabulous design magazine by visiting Sure, I’m a little biased because Roomplanners is written by my sister, but check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Bad Late Night Habits

I’ve developed a bad habit. Well, it’s kind of a good bad habit. Or should that be a bad good habit?

Most week days my husband, a hockey scout for the Kitchener Rangers, doesn’t get home until 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. Often he leaves for the evening before I got home from work, or we have a lightening speed supper together before he dashes off to a hockey arena somewhere to assess the on-ice talent.

Late night tea with Pain Au Chocolat.....and milk bones

But when he walks in the door later that evening, a little ritual ensues. I put the kettle on, ask him what kind of tea he wants, and the two of us sit down with our cups of tea and maybe a cookie or a piece of chocolate, and we talk over the day’s events or anything else on our minds. (Sorry, make that the three of us. Cocoa, our poodle, snuggles in beside us – after he’s enjoyed his own snack!)

While it’s a good thing to take a few minutes each day to spend together, by 11 p.m., the lights in the rest of the houses on our street have long since been turned off and most people have been in their beds and sound asleep for awhile.

Driving home the other day I heard a ‘sleep specialist’ talk about the importance of sleep. You don’t expect to get through the day on only half the food your body needs, she said. So why do people think they can exist on half the amount of sleep their bodies need. Good point, I thought guiltily.

And never mind all the sleep I’m missing out on! How about the effect of snacking at that late hour? Sure, sometimes there’s no snack, or maybe just a digestive cookie, but often it’s something a little more, uh, how to put this…..calorie-laden?

Recently I brought home a box of Caramilk Snack Cakes. Not something I typically buy, but I like Caramilk chocolate bars and I was curious to try these little cakes with my evening tea.

The verdict? Well, I liked the oozing caramel centre but I wasn’t really crazy about the flavour of the chocolate sponge cakes or chocolate coating.

Then there are the chewy chocolate cookies Murray likes – Little Debbie Caramel Rings (cookie rings made with caramel and coconut) and Caramel Treats (cookies made with caramel and crisp rice). I like them too. Probably a little too much.

And how about my own baking? Tonight I made a super easy version of Pain Au Chocolat. (I’ll share the recipe in the next weeks. I’m teaching a Chocolate Class at Thyme to Cook in Guelph on March 24th and I don’t want to post the recipe until after the class.)

Murray should be home soon and then we’ll try them with a cup of tea. Or maybe we’ll just share one. And, just maybe, tonight we’ll drink our tea quickly, keep the conversation brief, and get to bed a little earlier than normal.

One can dream.

One can dream even more comfortably if one is in bed……

A basic chocolate cake recipe, with variations

For Valentine’s Day – a basic chocolate cake with lots of variations (see below)….in case you’d rather have cupcakes, or a different size or shape of cake.

Chocolate Cake

(Makes 10 to 12 servings)

2 cups (500 mL) sugar
1-3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (175 mL) cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) milk
½ cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
Chocolate Icing (recipe below)

Grease and flour two 9-inch (23 cm) round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. (The batter will be thin.) Pour batter into prepared pans.

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Cranberry Cereal Crisps

Cranberry Cereal Crisps

If you didn’t OD on baking or eating sweets over the holidays, or you just like to keep your cookie jar full, here’s a great cookie recipe that can be made easily and is really tasty. And, it’s a good way to use up the last couple servings of crisp rice cereal (i.e. Rice Krispies) languishing in the bottom of the box.

The texture of these cookies is also really pleasing: melt-in-your-mouth tender, yet crisp – all at the same time!

This recipe makes a big batch (about 5 dozen), so to be fair to your waist, hips, thighs, and all those other body parts where excess weight tends to migrate, enjoy a few, then freeze the rest to eat over the next while!

Cranberry Cereal Crisps
(Makes about 60 cookies)

1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
3-1/2 cups (875 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) large flake oats
2 cups (500 mL) crisp rice cereal
1 cup (250 mL) dried cranberries (or chopped dried apricots)

Beat butter, sugars and egg on medium speed of electric mixer until light and creamy. Stir in oil and vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture along with oats, mixing on low speed until well blended. Stir in cereal and cranberries or apricots.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls (about 20 mL), about 2 inches (5 cm) apart, onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

I like to use this handy cookie batter scoop. (It's the clear acrylic utensil with blue-bottomed scoop.) It allows you to easily measure out a specific quantity of batter.

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New York City is Cupcake Crazy!

The cupcake craze has been in full swing for a few years but I still did a double take when I saw a mobile cupcake shop on a New York City street recently.

I didn’t stop to check out the confections at the Cupcake Stop as I’d just come from a day of classes at the French Culinary Institute and couldn’t possibly have eaten another bite. And besides, it was cool, windy and raining, although that didn’t seem to deter others from choosing from an assortment of cupcake flavours. (View the full menu of cupcake flavours online).

The Cupcake Stop has been roaming the streets of the Big Apple since June of this year. You can find out where the truck will be by checking the CupcakeStop web site and Twitter.

If you’re a cupcake lover and plan to visit NYC, check out this list of where to get cupcakes in New York City from the Carroll County Times.

Or you can hop across the river into New Jersey and visit Carlo’s Bakery (of TLC’s Cake Boss fame) for cupcakes, as we did on a trip to NYC this summer.

Cupcakes from Carlo's Bakery in New Jersey

Mini scones make a perfect little dessert or tea time treat

Watch out! These bite-sized scones are more than a little addictive. And since they’re small, it’s easy to pop one, then another,  and another in your mouth without keeping count!

Scones with jam and whipped cream

Scones with jam and whipped cream

That said, they pair perfectly with tea and are great for a party when you want to serve something a little different as a sweet. Just set out a bowl of jam or fruit spread and a bowl of clotted cream, stiffly whipped sweetened heavy cream (35% M.F.) or Cool Whip, along with a couple of knives and watch the mini mountain of sweet little biscuits disappear.

Cream Tea Scones
(Makes about 20 1-3/4 inch (4 cm) scones)

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour or 1 cup (250 mL) each all-purpose and cake & pastry flours
2 tablespoons (30 mL) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1 egg
2/3 cup (175 mL) milk or light cream

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk egg; reserve 1 tablespoon (15 mL) to brush on tops of scones before baking. Stir together remaining egg and milk.

Using fork, stir egg mixture into flour mixture to make a light, soft dough. If dough seems too sticky, stir in a bit more flour. (I find I usually need a tablespoon or two (15 to 30 mL) less milk than called for so I hold back a little and only add it if necessary.)

Gather dough into a ball; on a lightly floured surface, lightly knead dough a few times until smooth. Gently flatten with hands or a rolling pin to 3/4″ (2 cm) thickness. Cut into 1-3/4 inch (4 cm) rounds with a cookie cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with reserved egg. Sprinkle sugar over tops, if desired.

Bake in a preheated 425F (220C) oven until golden brown, about 9 or 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature if scones begin to brown too quickly.

Recipe Source: Prizewinning Preserves by Yvonne Tremblay, Prentice Hall Canada, 2001. Recipe originates with food writer and author Carol Ferguson.)

* Pronounce it “skawn” (like yawn) or “skown” (like groan), as you wish!
* Don’t twist the cookie cutter when cutting out the scones or the edges will be pressed together and the scones won’t rise as high.
* Instead of mini scones, you can use a 2-1/2 inch (7 cm) round cutter or a glass to make approximately 10 larger scones.

Fun, fun, fun! Sandwich cookie cake pans from Williams-Sonoma

How much fun is this sandwich cookie cake?? It would be perfect as a dessert for any occasion from a spring or Mother’s Day tea to a birthday party or backyard barbecue.

Sandwich Cookie Cake pan (image from Williams-Sonoma)

Sandwich Cookie Cake (image from Williams-Sonoma's web site)

I picked up the pans to make this fun dessert this evening, racing into the Williams-Sonoma at Sherway Gardens at 8:58 p.m. (the store closes at 9 p.m.). Just in time!


Sandwich Cookie Cake pan (image from Williams-Sonoma's web site)

The 9″ cast aluminum cake pans are exclusive to Williams-Sonoma and sell for $29.95 (US) for the pair. Bake your favourite brownie or chocolate cake recipe or mix in them, then sandwich the layers together with flavoured whipped cream, ice cream or buttercream icing.

Visit Williams-Sonoma’s website for more information and to read reviews about the pans. According to the online reviews, it’s really important to grease the pan well with cooking spray to remove the cakes easily.

I’ll have to hold off testing out the pans until next week as I’m off to New York City this weekend to take a Four-Star Breakfast cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education and visit with my sister Loreen who lives on Long Island. We’ve got afternoon tea reservations in NYC at Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon on Friday.

Hard-cook eggs and bake muffins at the same time with Egg in a Nest muffins

Eggs in a Nest Muffins - the eggs hard-cook as the muffins bake!

Egg in a Nest Muffins (image from Egg Farmers of Ontario, circa 1990)

This “recipe” for Egg in a Nest Muffins has been around for awhile. Perhaps you can tell by the dated look of the picture. I scanned it from a photograph found in the archives of the Egg Farmers of Ontario; it was probably taken about 20 years ago. But the idea is still a good one and a fun festive way to say “Happy Easter” at breakfast tomorrow.

With this easy multi-tasking recipe, you hard-cook eggs and bake muffins at the same time. If you want to make things super-easy, use a muffin mix instead of your favourite muffin recipe.

Fruit, yogurt and juice would complement these protein-packed muffins nicely and make for a simple but delicious breakfast that will allow plenty of time to hunt for treats left by the Easter Bunny.

Egg in a Nest Muffins

Ingredients for your favourite muffins
Medium or large eggs, in their shells (1 per muffin)

Prepare muffin batter. Rub eggs lightly with vegetable oil. Fill lightly greased or paper-lined muffin cups with batter. Gently place one uncooked egg, in its shell, partially into each “muffin”.

Bake in a preheated 400F (200C) oven for 18 to 20 minutes.

Let cool 15 to 20 minutes before serving as eggs will be hot.

To eat, remove the egg from the muffin, peel off the shell and enjoy with the muffin.

* For a pretty Easter look, use paper liners with an Easter design and coloured eggs. A little of the color may bleed into the muffins, but it won’t affect the taste.
* Serve warm or cold but refrigerate if not eaten within a couple hours.

Love brownies?


Love brownies? Looking for brownie recipes and baking tips?

Judging by the number of views of the brownie-related posts on my blog, it seems there are lots of brownie lovers out there!

If you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place. Or rather – you’re really close to the right place!

I’ve recently started writing Brownie Lover’s Diary, a blog about brownies. It’s wall to wall brownie info including recipes, baking techniques, tips and bakeware, brownie cookbooks, links to mail-order brownie websites, and more.

chocolate-bar-brownie-pan1I just wrote about this fun pan for baking brownies. It’s made by Nordic Ware and sold at Williams-Sonoma. With it, you can bake brownies in the shape of a chocolate bar with 12 thick rectangular pieces and the word “chocolate” debossed on each piece. You can use it with your favourite brownie recipe or mix.

Brownie Lover’s Diary You’re invited to drop by!