DIY Holiday Gifts From The Kitchen as seen on Daytime Ottawa & CTV Morning Live Ottawa

‘Tis the season to give your debit and/or credit card….a break? YES!!  How you ask?  With thoughtful, homemade gifts from the kitchen. I developed the following DIY ‘Gifts From The Kitchen’ as fun-to-make: teacher/coach/neighbour/grandparent gifts/hostess gifts/stocking stuffers and/or little party favours placed at each table setting. These festive recipes are simple to prepare, use ingredients you likely already have on hand, and will not have you regretting gift giving come January.

Grab the kids, roll up your sleeves, crank up the holiday hits and get busy in the kitchen!

Black Bean Brownies w/Candy Cane Cheesecake Swirl

Black Bean Brownies with Candy Cane Cheesecake Swirl.
Black Bean Brownies with Candy Cane Cheesecake Swirl ~ made with Gay Lea Nordica Smooth Plain Cottage Cheese

A decadent and fibre rich holiday inspired indulgence – I’ll take two!!


1 (540 mL) can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 eggs

1/2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) quality cocoa powder

1/2 cup (125 mL) softened Gay Lea butter

1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped 70% dark chocolate (or dark chocolate chips)

1 tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp (1 mL) quality ground coffee

1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda

Candy Cane Cheesecake Swirl

¾ cup (175 mL) Gay Lea Nordica smooth plain cottage cheese *click here to learn about smooth cottage cheese*

5 tbsp (75 mL) granulated sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) mint extract

½ tsp (2 mL) pure vanilla extract

1 egg, whisked

Garnish: 2 oz (60 g) quality dark chocolate

¼ cup (60 mL) Crushed candy canes (*Note: don’t attempt to crush whole candy canes it just makes a big mess.  Most bulk food stores now sell pre-crushed candy canes)

Method: Preheat oven to 350 F (160 C). Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper (along bottom and up sides) and set aside.

Place beans in food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Pulse until very finely chopped.  Add remaining brownie ingredients and pulse until well combined.  Scrape down sides of bowl when needed.  Measure out 1/2 cup (125 mL) batter and set aside.

Pour remaining batter into prepared pan.

Stir together ingredients for cheesecake swirl until well combined.

Gently fold cheesecake mixture into reserved 1/2 cup (125 mL) brownie batter.

Pour cheesecake/brownie mixture on top of brownie in pan.

Place brownies in centre of preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until edges are set and centre is slightly jiggly.

Remove from oven and cool completely.

Cut into 16 brownies.  Drizzle individual brownies with chocolate and garnish evenly with crushed candy canes.

Chocolate Dipped Stir Spoons & Gay Lea Chocolate Caramel Whipped Cream


An adorable teacher or hostess gift.  

What you will need:

6 teaspoons

¾ cup (175 mL)*approx* melted dark chocolate

Garnish: melted white chocolate and festive sprinkles of choice

1 can Gay Lea Chocolate Caramel Whipped Cream

Method: Dip each spoon in melted chocolate and scoop a mound of chocolate up on each spoon.

Place spoon a parchment lined baking sheet (repeat with remaining spoons) and place in refrigerator until set (about 30 minutes).  

Re-melt the remaining chocolate.  Dip the chocolate end of each spoon in melted chocolate (to give it a smooth look) and chill for at least 30 minutes.  

When chocolate is set, drizzle each spoon with melted white chocolate and garnish evenly with sprinkles of choice.  

Chill again until set.  Once chocolate is set, place each spoon in a candy bag and tie with decorative ribbon.  Makes 6 spoons.

To give: Give one spoon with a can of Gay Lea Chocolate Caramel Whipped Cream.   

Caramel Rum Sauce

Once you try this sauce, you’ll likely wrap it up and give it to yourself!  Darn good thing calories don’t count at Christmas!

½ cup (125 mL) butter

1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar

⅓ cup (75 mL) 35% cream

Pinch salt

¼ cup (60 mL) dark quality rum

½ tsp (2 mL) pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan melt butter, sugar, cream and salt.

Bring to a boil.  Boil, whisking until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Cool slightly.  Stir in rum and vanilla.

Pour into sterilized mason jar.  Tie jar with decorative ribbon.  Store in refrigerator until ready to give.  Keeps in refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Makes about 1 1/3 cups (325 mL).

*Recipe doubles easily*

Grapefruit Vanilla Marmalade

Other than a bit of time, this 5 ingredient marmalade is a delicious homemade gift from the kitchen & heart!

Grapefruit Marmalade
3 medium pink grapefruit (about 2 lbs)

1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise

2 cups (500 mL) water

3 cups (750 mL) granulated sugar

2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh lemon juice

Using a serrated knife, peel grapefruit.  Thinly slice peel of one grapefruit and place in Dutch oven (discard/compost remaining peel).  

Slice grapefruit in ¼ inch circles and remove any visible seeds.  Place in Dutch oven with water and sliced peel.  

Scrape beans from vanilla pod, and place beans and pod in with water & grapefruit.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to a simmer.  

Simmer for 1 ½ hours (until reduced by about half).  Add sugar and simmer for an additional 1 ½ hours.  

Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice.   

Place marmalade between two, 1 cup (250 mL) sterilized mason jars.  Decorate jars with festive ribbon.

Store in refrigerator until ready to give.  Keeps for up to 6 months in refrigerator. 

*Note: I like to place the vanilla bean pod in the jar as well ~ visually it looks ‘gourmet’.  Recipe yields 2 cups (500 mL).       

Charmaine is a regular guest on Rogers Daytime Ottawa, CTV Morning Live OttawaCHCH Morning LiveBreakfast Television What She Said Radio and food writer for Running Room Magazine sharing her love and enthusiasm forChar B&W
all things food, cooking and running.

Most importantly; Charmaine is the mother of two active (and always hungry) teenage boys, Tyler & Colgan.

Charmaine understands the importance of preparing healthy, wholesome dishes all while keeping budget and time in mind.

Follow Charmaine on:

Instagram Charmaine_Broughton

FB Charmaine Broughton

Twitter @runnercharb                                                             


Tournament Survival Tips as seen on CHCH Morning Live ~ Nov 3rd, 2017

 Tournament Survival Tips: Save Money and Stay Fuelled

If you have children in sports, you know first hand how costly tournaments can be.

Hotels, gas and eating three meals a day (plus snacks) ‘on the road’ can add up quick for the average family of four.

One of the easiest ways to save money and fuel your growing athletes is by: packing a weekends worth of nutritious snacks and meals.  As the mom of two active teenage boys, I come by this topic honestly and passionately.  My pack-and-go recipes will save you hundreds of dollars over basketball/soccer/lacrosse/dance/hockey season, and will nourish yourself and your family while on the road.  All recipes use pantry staple items and take very little time to prep. Hint, Hint…get those teens in the kitchen, prepping and packing meals/snacks.

Click on each pink title to learn more about the featured product.

Get Up And Go Morning Muesli

This recipe makes for a quick, satisfying and budget friendly breakfast the whole family can enjoy.

Fuel up and save money while on the road!!

1 cup (250 mL) large flake oats (quick oats will also work)

2 tbsp (30 mL) each; ground flaxseed and chia seeds

½ cup (125 mL) dried cranberries

1 cup (250 mL) Gay Lea Nordica Smooth Plain Cottage Cheese

¾ cup (175 mL) orange juice

2 tbsp (30 mL) Canadian maple syrup *or to taste

2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated orange zest

½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon

¼ tsp (1 mL) ground ginger

2 apples; well washed, cored and finely diced *leave skin on

¼ cup (60 mL) green pumpkin seeds

Place all ingredients (except for pumpkin seeds) in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.  *Garnish each portion evenly with pumpkin seeds.  Yields 4 cups (1 L).  Makes 8, ½ cup (125 mL) servings.Plain Cottage Cheese

Introducing: Gay Lea Nordica Smooth plain cottage cheese, yes, smooth!!  No lumps (not one) and contains 15 grams or protein and only 100 calories per 1/2 cup (125 mL) serving.  Click here for more recipes made with Gay Lea smooth cottage cheese.

Loaded Veggie and Burnbrae Farms Eggs2Go Sandwich 

A cottage loaf is commonly used to make party spinach dip. This loaded sandwich is a perfect way to use up any leftover vegetables you may have in your crisper and takes only minutes to prepare.

1 large (500 g – approx.) pumpernickel or whole grain cottage loaf

1/3 cup (75 mL) mayonnaise + 3 tbsp (45 mL) Dijon mustard

2 cups (500 mL) lightly packed baby spinach leaves or mixed salad greens

2 packages Eggs2GO Dill Hard Boiled Snack Pack, sliced

1 cup (250 mL) grated cheddar cheese

½ cup (125 mL) thinly sliced cucumber

½ cup (125 mL) grated carrot

1 small red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 avocado, pitted and thinly sliced

Cut a round cap off the top of the cottage loaf. Reserve top. Hollow out the inside and top of the loaf to make a bread bowl, leaving about ¾ -inch of bread inside the crust. Spread mayo mixture all over inside of bread bowl and inside the cap.  Place spinach leaves at the bottom of bread bowl and layer with sliced eggs, cheese, cucumber, grated carrot, red pepper and avocado. Place cap back on sandwich and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. To serve: remove plastic wrap and cut into 8 wedges.  Click here for more tasty recipes made with Burnbrae Farms Eggs.


Burnbrae Farms Eggs2Go are a healthy and convenient protein source on-the-go.  Find them in the deli section of most major grocery stores.  Look for Dill, Salt & Pepper, Hot Sauce and Teriyaki flavours also.

Homemade Sports Drink

 In a pinch, many of us reach for commercial sports drinks. Most sports drinks are loaded with artificial colours, processed sugars and poor taste. With a few pantry staple ingredients, you can prepare your own hydrating sports drink for pennies per serving.

*As an avid runner myself, I often double or triple the recipe in the summer months (*and keep refrigerated). This way, we have plenty on hand for a post run sip, when my kids are heading to soccer, basketball or bike park, or when my husband is running out the door to baseball.

1 bag herbal tea *my kids prefer peach, or berry flavour *I prefer ginger

¼ (60 mL) orange juice

2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp (30 mL) honey or maple syrup

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

Boil water.  Remove from heat and steep tea bag for at least 30 minutes. Chill. When ready to prepare, remove tea bag and stir in juices, maple syrup and salt to cooled tea.  Shake (*if placing in a mason jar) or stir well to combine. Consume within two days of preparing.  Makes about 4 cups (1 L).

Protein Packed Rocky Road Bars

A perfect post game sweet treat ‘bite’.  Loaded with plant protein and no baking required!!

1 lb. (500 g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1 cup (250 mL) natural peanut butter

⅓ cup (75 mL) butter OR coconut oil

2 cups (500 mL) mini marshmallows

1 ½ cups (750 mL) peanuts *I like to use salted

1 cup (250 mL) dried cranberries (*or dried blueberries or dried cherries)

½ cups (125 mL) green pumpkin seeds

3 tbsp (45 mL) each; ground flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds

Pinch salt

Place chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high heat, stopping to stir every 30 seconds until melted (about 2 minutes total).  Add peanut butter and butter.  Let mixture stand for about 10 minutes.  Fold in remaining ingredients.  Pour mixture into a parchment paper lined 8-inch square baking pan.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Remove from refrigerator and cut into 24 snack size squares.

Charmaine is a regular guest on Rogers Daytime Ottawa, CHCH Morning Live, Breakfast Television , What She Said Radio and food writer for Running Room Magazine sharing her love and enthusiasm for
all things food, cooking and running.

Most importantly; Charmaine is the mother of two active boys, Tyler & Colgan.

Charmaine understands the importance of preparing healthy, wholesome dishes all while keeping budget and time in mind.

Char B&W

Follow Charmaine on:

Instagram: Charmaine_Broughton

Facebook: Charmaine Broughton

Twitter: @runnercharb