Breville Juicer Review and A Glass of Sass

Hey everyone! This video is a LONG one, but in it I review the Breville juicer that I just got! It deserves a long video! 🙂

I also mention a really cool raw vegan book I got, and use the juicer to make one of the recipes! So if you have the time, check it out! 🙂

Here’s the recipe I used for the Juice in the video!

A Glass of Sass

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole bunch spinach
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 bunch celery
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 1/2 inch knob of ginger
  • 2 apples, cored
  • 1/2 lime, peeled
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled

Method:

  • Juice all ingredients one at a time in the order mentioned above.
  • Serve and enjoy! 🙂

The book title is: “Rawesomely Vegan! The ultimate raw vegan recipe book”, and the author is Mike Snyder. It’s definitely worth a read!

Here’s the juicer on the company website!

PS: Here’s the recipe for the Ruby Red Super Juice that I mention in this video! 😉

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Review – Kensingtons Espresso Bar in Kensington Market

On a random urge to wander around the Kensington Market area, I saw this place called “Kensingtons Espresso Bar” and decided to try it because it had the word “espresso” in the name. I’m a coffee fanatic, and this place claims to have the best coffee in the city. Hmm, I’d have to say that’s not true… It’s good coffee, but far from the best…

So click below to check out my review!

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Cholula Hot Sauce Review

 
Look! I got a present in the mail! :)
Look! I got a present in the mail! 🙂

 

And who doesn’t like presents? 🙂 Especially spicy presents. Click below to read my review!
 

Review: President’s Choice Chocolatey Chai Herbal Tea

I’ve always loved coffee, and hot chocolate, and any type of fancy coffee-type-beverage… And I’ve always been pretty vocal about my love for these things…

However, I don’t want it to seem that I’m leaving tea in the dust. My favourite tea to drink is Earl Grey, mainly because the smell of the bergamot orange (the oil extracted from the rind, not the whole fruit) reminds me of fruit loops. It’s got such a pleasant smell and taste… But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. 🙂 There is now a close second, almost tied for first, tea in my life.

Every week at No Frills, I walk past the tea and coffee aisle at least ten times. I walk by this random “chocolatey chai herbal tea”, and think to myself “what an unusual tea.” The price was really what tempted me to buy it, being $2.00 for a box of 20 bags.

So I brought this tea home, a little skeptical, but quite eager to try it. As soon as I opened the box, the scent of chocolate filled my nose. Oh wow… It smelled amazing! Chai spices mixed with chocolate. Such a smooth smell… I still didn’t get my hopes up though, because I’ve been let down so many times with tea that smells this good. A few types of green tea that I’ve had smelled wonderful, but tasted like shi something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone.

I poured some boiled water (after letting it sit for a minute of course – never pour boiling water over a tea bag!) over the thirsty tea bag waiting in my mug, and let it steep for 3 minutes. After the first minute, I could smell the spices and cocoa from the other room. I added a spoon of turbinado sugar, and a tiny bit of lactose free coffee whitener (I still can’t drink tea black…), and took my first sip. After I was finished swearing from burning my tongue, I drank that cup of tea faster than I’d drink a bottle of water after a hard work-out! It was amazing.

Amazing.

Again: Amazing!

It has a smooth flavour with a bit of a bite to it, similar to regular chai tea, but with a lovely aroma of cocoa. It almost makes me think of chai tea with chocolate milk almond milk. Hmm… Maybe a chai latte with chocolate milk almond milk.

Here’s a picture of the box, and of the ingredients and nutrition information:

This is some good tea! :)

This is some good tea! 🙂

nutrition info

nutrition info

Please note: this is not a sponsored review. These are my genuine, unbiased opinions.

President’s Choice Chocolatey Chai Herbal Tea

Soma Chocolatemaker – Review

There’s so much to say about this place! 🙂 Where to start…

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Visiting Carlo’s Bake Shop {From TLC’s Cake Boss}

Just follow the yellow brick PATH… 

Okay… Maybe it’s not quite lined with yellow bricks {the PATH is actually a train that the husband and I took to get from Manhattan to Hoboken}, and Buddy isn’t the wizard {although he does work some magic with baked goods!}, but visiting the Cake Boss was easily an experience that was as awesome as the movie The Wizard of Oz. 😉 

This is not a recipe related post, but what better place to mention the food and experience from this trip than here? This Canada Day long weekend, Joe and I decided to take a drive out to New York, and stay for a few nights. Knowing that we were a mere 15 minute train ride from Hoboken, I couldn’t help but insist that we visit Cake Boss. His show is one of my favourite things to watch, and he has been the biggest inspiration to me when it comes to baking and cake decorating. {I’m hoping that with a little more practice, my “house cake” will be up to “Cake Boss” standards! 😉 }Watching his show each week causes extreme drooling, and extreme urges to bake cakes. I know we’ve got plenty of amazing bakeries here in Toronto, but something about those cannolis just called out to me. {And I will admit, the hype is WELL deserved! There are some tasty treats there, people! The chocolate covered strawberries were so yummy, but I didn’t get a picture of them… 😉 Ate them too fast.} My goal was to at least get into the bakery, but I never imagined that I would have gotten to meet Buddy himself! I had hoped though… Let me share the story with pictures… 

There is an actual street sign... Hard to miss... ;)

There is an actual street sign... Hard to miss... 😉

 

Another sign outside of the bakery...

Another sign outside of the bakery...

 

The husband and I outside of cake heaven - er, I mean Carlo's Bake Shop... ;)

The husband and I outside of cake heaven - er, I mean Carlo's Bake Shop... 😉

 

Some wonderful cakes in the display...

Some wonderful cakes in the display...

 

I actually thought this was a bag at first...

I actually thought this was a bag at first...

 

Hello, amazing cake!

Hello, amazing cake!

 

One of Buddy's sisters working at the counter, she was really nice too!The bakery was SUPER busy, as expected, and we only saw Buddy inside for a moment on the stairs. They were filming, so obviously a lot of running around was going on at the back. I saw a few other members of the cast, but wasn't quick enough with the camera...

One of Buddy's sisters working at the counter, she was really nice too!The bakery was SUPER busy, as expected, and we only saw Buddy inside for a moment on the stairs. They were filming, so obviously a lot of running around was going on at the back. I saw a few other members of the cast, but wasn't quick enough with the camera...

 

goodies inside... Waiting to dig into our treats while sitting across the street from the bakery!

goodies inside... Waiting to dig into our treats while sitting across the street from the bakery!

  

Chocolate and regular cannolis... MMMMM!!!!!!!! Joe loved the regular ones, I loved the chocolate ones... :)

Chocolate and regular cannolis... MMMMM!!!!!!!! Joe loved the regular ones, I loved the chocolate ones... 🙂

 

We also had red velvet cupcakes... These were the best cupcakes I have ever had in my life. No jokin', in Hoboken! ;)

We also had red velvet cupcakes... These were the best cupcakes I have ever had in my life. No jokin', in Hoboken! 😉

 

At my insisting, we walk by the back where the deliveries happen... And what do we see?

At my insisting, we walk by the back where the deliveries happen... And what do we see?

 

Filming is taking place! That guy behind the crew's arm is Buddy, loading a cake into the truck... A few other people and myself stick around, and a girl from Montreal asks if he can come back out to take a few pictures. He says he'll be out in 2 minutes...

Filming is taking place! That guy behind the crew's arm is Buddy, loading a cake into the truck... A few other people and myself stick around, and a girl from Montreal asks if he can come back out to take a few pictures. He says he'll be out in 2 minutes...

 

True to his word, he comes back out for some pictures! So I got to meet him, and got a picture with him! :) Easily one of the highlights of our long weekend trip to NYC {and mini-trip to Hoboken, NJ}!!! :)

True to his word, he comes back out for some pictures! So I got to meet him, and got a picture with him! 🙂 Easily one of the highlights of our long weekend trip to NYC {and mini-trip to Hoboken, NJ}!!! 🙂

 

I’m not normally the “ohmygoshI’msuchabigfan*crycrycry*” type of person when it comes to “famous people”, because really – they’re just people, and not all people are as special as they seem. But Buddy is not just a talented baker and cake decorator, he’s also an amazing artist. He has pretty much perfected the art of making stunning cakes. {Yes, I’ve seen Ace of Cakes, and they’re great too. But Buddy is still my favourite!} It was so great to meet him, and he’s a really friendly guy. The bakery is pretty awesome, too. It’s small, and obviously gets busy, but everyone working there seemed really nice and efficient. 

I’ve read a lot of reviews where people complain about either the crowds, or about “rude workers”, and these reviews make me laugh. EVERY store/company/restaurant will have rude employees, or nice employees that are just having a bad day. It happens. Get over it. With the crowds, it’s to be expected in a place that’s on television. It’s so close to one of the hottest tourist spots, so if people are fans they’re obviously going to go and visit. Also, there are many local customers that buy baked goods from there. {So if you want to avoid crowds, visit the bakery at 7am when it opens, and go on a weekday.} If they WEREN’T busy, I’d be a bit worried… 😉 I’ve always believed that a sign of good quality food at a restaurant or bakery is a full house. So I will stress this point: Carlo’s Bake Shop lives up to the hype. 😉Note: I also got a picture with his mum, but it didn’t turn out too well…

Starbucks “However-You-Want-It” Frappuccino – Review

Oh Starbucks, I could write a poem to express my love for thee…

Cups of white with circle green,

Filled with the brewed coffee bean.

Frothy milk,

Oh,

Creamy topping.

A double-shot?

My heart is stopping.

Drizzle to your heart’s content,

To buy your brew,

I’ll forgo my rent.

Beautiful, isn’t it? I’ve always felt that I was the reincarnation of some great poet… *sigh* The emotional connection that I have to Starbucks really DOES bring out the poet in me… Brings a tear to my eye almost… Okay, maybe not.

As much as I constantly mock their higher-than-necessary prices for their tasty beverages, I’ve got to say that the Starbucks company is brilliant. Creating beverages that faithful customers literally crave {and need}, and putting them at a price that definitely causes your wallet to lose a pound or two {hah, I know there’s an opportunity for a pun or joke in there somewhere… I’ll leave it be…} is genius. Of course there are some of us out there that love to mimic the drinks at home, and with some success needless to say! But nothing beats going on a walk through the city on a nice hot day {or cold day}, and popping into the eclectic coffeehouse to purchase an ice-cold {or steaming hot} treat.

Fact about my life: Joe {who’s now my husband} and I had our first date at a Starbucks. What a shocker, eh? 😉

All over the place, I see signs and ads for the “however-you-want-it frappuccino”. I’ve tried this a few different times already… The first time, I ordered a “tall non-fat java chip frappuccino with 1 pump of peppermint syrup and 1 shot of espresso”. Wow, that’s a lot to say for just one drink… Anyways, I walked out of there with a “tall light caramel frappuccino”. Still not quite sure how that happened… Either way, it tasted great anyways!

The second time, I ordered the same drink as the first time, and got it. The taste? Meh, I’ve had better… {Maybe the wrong drink order the first time was the barista’s way of telling me “your drink choice sucks, try this, it’s better.”}

So the third time, I was a little worried. Maybe Starbucks is giving us too much choice! I decided I was going to try something completely different from my first two. I don’t like soy milk, so this whole “strawberry soy” thing that everyone is mentioning just made me sad. But wait, what’s that? I can change whatever I want in the drink? I can order any type of milk I like? Perfect! I ordered a “tall non-fat milk strawberry frappuccino with whipped cream”, and oh boy was I ever happy I did! This is probably my favourite frappuccino from Starbucks yet! With the exception of a drink they had years ago when I was in highschool… This drink was called the “tazzo berry frappuccino blended cream”, and it tasted like a piece of heaven with a glob of tazzo-berry juice. Don’t ask me what “tazzo-berry juice” is, because I don’t know. But what I do know is that it tasted better than anything that Starbucks has ever made… This strawberry frappuccino comes in at a close second in the cold-beverage category for me!

I must add, that the “low calorie” frappuccinos are also worth trying! The “Mocha Light Frappuccino” really tickled my taste buds, and didn’t taste low calorie at all! For a tall, it’s only 100 calories! You can’t go wrong with that… 😉

I’ll stop rambling now. Go, to Starbucks, and order one of these! “Tall non-fat milk strawberry frappuccino with whipped cream”. Go, do it! Here’s a picture of it before I quickly inhaled it.

The definition of Joy.

The definition of Joy.

Stonemill Bakehouse Bread – Review

So I’m a bit of a bread-snob… I love bread, it’s probably one of my favourite foods… but I won’t eat Wonderbread {or anything similar}, and maybe this makes me a bad person, but that’s okay. Something about bread that has the texture of spongey foam just turns me off…

Walking into a grocery store or bakery can be overwhelming at times. There are SO many different types of breads, not to mention flavours… Wanting to always know what I’m putting into my body, I find it hard to just randomly buy bread that’s shipped in from some random factory, so I did a bit of research in the past few weeks to find bread that I could enjoy guilt-free.

Stonemill Bakehouse makes amazing bread. Yes, AMAZING. They not only use 100% whole grains in their breads, but they’re also trans-fat free. They also have a variety of different flavours for their breads and bagels, putting them a step above your average whole grain loaf. Click here to visit their website. They have a full FAQ section, tons of information about their products, their history, and they even have a recipe section.

This brand of bread/bagels can be purchased at the St.Lawrence Market, MANY grocery store locations {No Frills, Rabba, Loblaws, and Longo’s just to name a few}, or you can even go to the Stonemill Bakery Outlet Store located in Toronto {426 Nugget Ave., Tues – Fri: 9am-5pm, Sat: 8am-3pm}.

My favourite bread by Stonemill is the 11 Whole Grains: Grains & Honey bread. This particular one keeps it simple, with not too much going on with the crust {I’m not really a fan of too many seeds and stuff on the crust of my bread}, and has a rich and hearty {yet somehow still light} texture with a hint of honey flavour. A REALLY nice bread to put a little almond butter on, or even some pitted honey dates! {Yum!} The slices are not too thick, but they are full of {good} carbohydrates, fiber and protein! {Ps: There’s only 60 calories per slice! 😉 Nice!}

Tasty Bread!

Tasty Bread!

check out the info!

check out the info!

Good to know!

Good to know!

Mmmm... Yummy bread with sweet tasty pitted dates!

Mmmm... Yummy bread with sweet tasty pitted dates!

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownies

“What is happiness to you?” -Vanilla Sky

What IS happiness? The easy answer is “an emotion”. Real thought-provoking, eh… The tougher answer is figuring out what makes YOU happy, and being able to put that into words that others can relate to. This blog is in no way a place where I philosophize or go into my deepest thoughts about my personal life, so I won’t write out an essay about what makes me happy. This is a food blog, not an English assignment. Instead, I’ll give you my food-related definition of happiness:

Happiness, for me, is the beautiful harmonization of food flavours. Finding two {or more} flavours that blend so well together, that when you eat the finished product, you feel like the world has stopped moving just so you can savour that tasty moment.

One of my favourite flavour combinations is peanut butter and chocolate. As I’ve posted in entries prior to this {such as the peanut butter cup smoothie, peanut butter filled chocolate candies, and the peanut butter chocolate chip tart just to name a few}, I just LOVE the way these two flavours join together. Chocolate is so rich and sinfully sweet, while peanut butter is slightly salty with a creamy texture. So good!

So when a competitor on an episode of the Ultimate Recipe Showdown presented the judges with a “peanut butter cookie dough brownie” as the dessert {and won!}, both Joe’s and my jaws dropped. This dessert looked far beyond tasty, and I thought that since Joe’s birthday was coming up, why not make this for him? {I’m sure he would have enjoyed the poached pears I planned on making, but really, he loves peanut butter and chocolate more than almost any dessert.}

I went onto the Food Network’s website, and found the recipe for this calorie-packed dessert! I will admit that I used a boxed brownie mix for this, as I was super low on time {I work 9-5, Monday – Friday, so I don’t always have time to do everything from “scratch”}. For this entry, I’ll post what I did for this recipe. The original recipe can be found by clicking here. Enjoy! 🙂

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownies

{adapted from the Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown contestant Kerstin Sinkevicius}

Ingredients:

  • Brownie Mix {you can either make your own, but I used a boxed mix for this}
  • Cookie dough layer:
  • 1/4 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp skim milk
  • 1/2 cup 100% natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour {the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp, I found that to be way too much for this recipe, so I cut down on this}
  • 1/4 tsp salt {the original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp salt, again, I found this to be way too much, so I cut down on this}
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract {not called for in the original recipe, but I like to add vanilla to pretty much anything}
  • Ganache layer:
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips/broken chocolate of your choice {I used milk chocolate with great results!}
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream {keep it above 30% m.f.}
  • optional garnish: 1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • Dash of salt for the top of the chocolate ganache {I did this as I wasn’t using peanuts, but wanted to give a hint of a salty flavour to the chocolate}

Method:

  • Prepare the brownie base as you normally would. This takes about 30 minutes.
  • Allow the brownies to cool, then prepare the cookie dough layer.
  • For the cookie dough layer, mix the butter and brown sugar in a bowl until well blended.
  • Add in the milk, peanut butter, flour, vanilla and salt.
  • Mix well.
  • Spread the mixture over the cooled brownie layer.
  • Make the ganache by placing the whipping cream and chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.
  • Microwave for about 1 minute on high, then stir the mixture until all of the chocolate has melted.
  • Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour and spread the ganache over the cookie dough layer, then sprinkle the peanuts on top if using. If using the dash of salt instead, sprinkle this over the ganache.
  • Place the whole dish in the fridge, and allow to set for at least an hour prior to serving.
  • Note: this tastes best when allowed to sit overnight.
  • Optional: serve with a side of vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownie - "Joe sized serving" ;)

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownie - "Joe sized serving" 😉

served a la mode :) (Nikki sized serving)

served a la mode 🙂 (Nikki sized serving)

Red Velvet Cupcakes – The Search For A Great Recipe Has Ended!

I cannot believe how many different people have mentioned how much they love these cupcakes. {Even on Cake Boss, Buddy has said how people love the red velvet cake so much!} So if it wasn’t enough that friends were telling me they love it, Buddy just pushed me over the edge to want to try one! On a regular trip to Starbucks  a month or two ago {yeah, this is delayed slightly…}, I couldn’t help but gaze admiringly at the lonely red velvet cupcake staring back at me from behind the baked goods display. I had a feeling of hope and excitement bursting out from inside of me. {I’ve always held Starbucks to a high standard considering I have enjoyed everything I’ve ever gotten from there.}

So I made the purchase {along with my caramel macchiato}, and made my way to a comfortable leather chair to enjoy this cupcake I now owned. I peel back the paper liner, and the cupcake truly was beautiful. Bright, deep, rich red colour. A white icing with red sprinkles. Oh boy, was I excited… I bit into the cupcake…

Uh, what the #@!! ?????? Stale and tasteless, with a pasty icing crusted with a strange layer that had formed on the outside of it. Maybe it was because the cupcake had been in the display for far too long… I’m not sure, but it was one of the worst things I had ever tasted in my life. I posted the picture on Facebook, with my opinion of it, and was shocked to see just how many people couldn’t believe what a bad experience I had gotten out of that cupcake! I’ve even brought up this type of cupcake in conversation with people, and they’ve all insisted that it’s an amazing cupcake, possibly one of the best!

So I figured, I might as well try to make one myself. My first batch was a flop. It was also a huge waste, because the batch was way too big {oops!}, and I had made some of my own cream cheese frosting to go with it. {Damn, what a waste…} Then, 5 or 6 more {significantly smaller} batches followed. All of them just didn’t do it for me! Last night, I received another comment on the Facebook cupcake picture, and thought to myself “that’s it!”…

I searched long and hard, and found a recipe on this blog that turned out absolutely amazing! When first removed from the oven, they were a bit crumbly, and reminded me of a whole grain muffin rather than a cupcake. {I didn’t even use whole grain flour, I was confused…}

But after keeping them covered in the muffin cups/tins that they baked in over night, this morning they had that “velvet” texture that I have been searching for! The taste was also quite enjoyable. A slight hint of tasty cocoa, with a soft and moist texture! JACKPOT!! Two things that I did different from the original recipe were:

  1. I used pink gel food colour instead of red liquid food colour. It gave a very natural red/brown colour, without having to use so much food colouring. I just added the gel colour to the cocoa powder, along with a smidge of water to allow it to form more of a paste, and I was good to go!
  2. I cut the recipe in half, because… Well, to be honest, I was afraid that this one would have turned out just as bad as the rest I’ve tried. But I was wrong! I now wish I would have made the whole batch.

Instead of re-posting this recipe, I encourage you to check out the recipe on the original blog. {I don’t really like doing that whole “let me claim this as my own” kinda thing. And this cupcaker deserves some credit!}

starbucks red velvet cupcake

starbucks red velvet cupcake

My red velvet cupcake! :) At last...

My red velvet cupcake! 🙂 At last...