Bruschetta Recipe

My sister and I have started a new Thursday night tradition. We have each other and our hubs over at each other’s homes, alternating weeks. It’s become a coveted time of laughter and good food! The perfect way to break up the week.

When they came over to our place, I made bruschetta as an appetizer and they enjoyed it so immensely! What I love about bruschetta is it’s delightfully light, looks impressive, but is deceptively easy to make! So I thought I’d share my recipe with you all–because that’s what friends are for!

Speaking of bruschetta, I must confess a pet peeve of mine—when people call it “broo-shetta.” Being the little Italian girl that I am, hearing bruschetta mispronounced is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Haha. “Broo-sketta” sounds far more beautiful, don’t you agree?

Bruschetta

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 tomatoes, petite diced and seeded
  • 1/2 onion, petite diced
  • A few leaves of basil, chopped
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A dash of garlic powder
  • 1 to 2 TB of olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Baguette

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil.
  2. Refrigerator mixture until ready to serve.
  3. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch pieces.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and garlic powder and toast in even for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. (Or until desired crispiness.)
  5. In a small pan, simmer balsamic vinegar until it bubbles and reduces in volume. It will continue to thicken as it cools and will form a glaze. Set aside.
  6. Spoon tomato mixture on each slice of bread and drizzle the balsamic glaze on top.
  7. Enjoy!

-From the kitchen of Julia Brown

http://www.theyouthful.me

I love how light and refreshing this appetizer is! The perfect cheese board pairing! May this recipe delight your tummy and wow your guests.

Ciao!

5 Ingredient Granola Recipe

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There is something so gratifying about making homemade granola.  It makes you feel like some sort of amazing cook, but in all honesty, this is so simple to make.  Not to mention, the aroma that will fill your kitchen! Think:: toasted oats coated in cinnamon and honey. So. Good.

I recently started enjoying greek yogurt as a daily snack.  (My personal favorite is Fage.) I can’t get enough of its creamy, thick texture. Topped with fresh strawberries, granola, chocolate chunks, and honey–it’s the perfect healthy breakfast. Or dessert.

Yet, store-bought granola can be so pricey. And some contain questionable ingredients.  So began my quest to make simple, clean granola.  After a few tries, I finally settled on the perfect recipe.  And I’m sharing it with all of you!

The best part is–this granola only requires 5 ingredients.  Chances are, they are in your pantry right now! I love saving money wherever I can, and this recipe is the perfect solution to my granola addiction.

Here are ways to enjoy your homemade granola:

  • Topped on plain greek yogurt with fruit and honey
  • As a quick snack to munch on (Billy loves to grab the jar of granola from our pantry after work.)
  • On top of vanilla ice-cream
  • With a splash of milk (kind of like cereal)

5 Ingredient Granola Recipe

  • Servings: 1 1/2 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Add the oats to the mixture and thoroughly combine.
  3. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Spread oats in an even layer across the cookie sheet. Pack down slightly if you want more granola clusters.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Stir at 15 minutes to prevent the granola from burning.
  6. During the last half of the cook time, check often. Granola can burn easily.  If you’re not sure if it’s done but it looks done, it probably is! Granola will continue to cook a little when you take it out of the oven and will continue to harden and crisp up.
  7. Enjoy! You can add dried fruit once it is out of the oven.

Note:

If you want more granola clusters, don’t stir immediately after taking out of the oven.  This will allow the clusters to form and bind.

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I hope you enjoy this highly requested recipe! It is a new weekly obsession of mine. If you make it, comment below! I’d love to hear all about it.

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Challah Bread French Toast Recipe

Saturdays. They’re my favorite. Especially the morning time. Sunlight floods our bedroom, and blankets everything in sight.

Then coffee. Coffee and tea begin the start to a lovely morning. Recently, we’ve been enjoying challah bread.  It’s a traditional Jewish bread made from eggs. We particularly like its light and fluffy texture. Perfect toasted with a favorite jam. Then, one day the idea struck me to make French toast with our new favorite bread.

And so began a new Saturday morning tradition.

A favorite record is spinning and the kitchen begins to smell like a small, downtown cafe.

Here’s my recipe for fluffy, flavorful, and delightfully sweet–challah bread French toast.

Challah Bread French Toast

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of challah bread (raisin challah is also a delicious option)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk (we use almond milk)
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 TB butter

Directions:

  1. Slice challah bread in 1 inch pieces.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs.
  3. Combine milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon with the eggs.
  4. Melt butter in large pan.
  5. Quickly place challah in egg mixture, coating each side.
  6. Place coated bread slices in the pan and brown each side.
  7. Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit.


I hope this sweet little recipe becomes a new part of your morning routine.

Happy breakfast!

Dinner in 30: Easy Paella Recipe

I think the underlying hesitancy to cook is: busyness. An hour of prep. A half hour to cook. And an hour of countless dirty pots and pans. I recognize this need and the demand for easy, healthy, flavorful meals that nourish and satisfy you and your family. That’s why my new goal is to create a series of recipes that will be classified as: Dinner in 30. Healthy, unique, meal ideas that take around 30 minutes from start to finish.

This easy paella recipe is the definition of simplicity. Minimal ingredients, and only requires one pot and one pan. The use of chicken sausage keeps things simple, since chicken sausage is bought already fully cooked. All you must do is chop it and brown it. 🙌🏼

Here is this lovely recipe, that has become a weeknight staple in The Brown Abode.

Easy Paella Recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz bag of yellow rice (with saffron)
  • 3 chicken sausages, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:

  1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the bag.
  2. While the rice is cooking, brown the chicken sausage in a large skillet.
  3. Sauté the onion and pepper.
  4. Then add the peas and black beans.
  5. When rice is cooked, add to the large skillet and toss.
  6. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Note:

I like to use Vigo yellow rice. It has the seasonings already in it.  Saffron is a very important component of traditional paella, but it can be very expensive if you buy it on its own. It is definitely worth buying rice that already has saffron in it.

A Trip to Trader Joe’s 

Aaaaahhh Trader Joe’s.

You know…going to Trader Joe’s feels less like an errand, and more of an event. In fact, you could make a whole girl’s night or date night out of it. Start in the flower section (they have the best, fresh florals) and work your way up each aisle, picking up whatever strikes your fancy. Take home your unique goodies, have a “tasting”, and watch some Netflix. Bam. Consider your Saturday night planned. 👌🏼

I typically do most of my grocery shopping at Publix, and then get fun speciality items at Trader Joe’s. But this past week, I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I bought a week’s worth of food soley at Trader Joe’s. Not only was it a delicious success, but we came in well under budget. Win!

Even though Trader Joe’s is a relatively small market, it is fully stocked with unique foods. You wouldn’t know it by looking at it. But once you start perusing the aisles, you’ll find yourself reaching for item after item. Curiosity and adventure fill the shelves. I’m really quite obsessed.

Sooooo how about I cease the rambling and oodling, and simply share my favorite Trader Joe’s goodies that you need on your grocery list.

1. Mini Blueberry Tea Scones

Deliciously moist, I tend to crave these! With coffee or tea, you’ll feel like you’re at a coffee shop right in your own abode.


2. Organic Roasted Vegetable Pizza

This pizza is hands down the best frozen pizza ever! It legit tastes like it’s from a restaurant. They don’t skimp on the veggies and the crust is just the right thickness. Why am I not surprised that this pizza is imported from Italy? 🇮🇹

3. Organic Popping Corn

I love making homemade popcorn on the stove. These kernels make for crispy snacking and numerous batches of the favorite movie night treat. I make mine with olive oil, and no butter. A sprinkling of salt and parmesan cheese is all you need. #healthysnack

4. Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Slices

Ohmygoodness. These are a delight! They’re great when you need a bite of chocolate! They’re rather refreshing too! Find these in the frozen dessert aisle.

5. Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Bread

This is Billy and I’s latest obsession. I know, we are a little late to the game. But, seriously. Bread that tastes good, and isn’t loaded with sugar. Protein? It’s got 3 grams per slice. Fiber? 2 grams per slice. It’s based off of the Bible verse Ezekiel 4:9. You can find this at Trader Joe’s in the bread section, or at other natural food stores.


6. Eucalyptus 

No trip to Trader Joe’s is complete without some fresh eucalyptus. I simply can’t help myself. Fragrant and beautiful. Arrange some in a large jar, or hang a bundle from your shower head for some aroma therapy during your shower.

That’s all for now, folks! I could go on endlessly, but I thought I’d keep this list concise.

Remember, fall is just around the corner! Trader Joe’s will soon have pumpkin everythang! They’re pumpkin spice flavored coffee is a personal fav. The wait will be hard, but it will be worth it. 🍁

Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream Recipe

It’s no secret I love my fruits and veggies. But if I had to choose between the two, I’d hands down pick fruit. I’m obsessed. Even as a little girl, I would turn down a cupcake for a handful of grapes. That is true love, my friend.

I love finding new ways to enjoy my favorite fruits. Since peaches are in season in the summer, I’ve been buying them a lot lately.

The other night, I decided to pull out my little George Foreman grill (#apartmentliving) and grill up some peaches. Then, I topped them with some ice cream. It was delicious. However, the next time I made it, I took it to the next level by marinating the peaches in some dark brown sugar and cinnamon. Um WOW. So good. Billy literally said, “This the best dessert I’ve had in a long time!”

What’s funny is, this recipe is so easy. Like, it’s such a fake out. It’s all like, “I’m so fancy.” Yet, it’s not. Gotta love it.

Because of its delicious simplicity, this is the perfect dessert to make when you have guests over. You won’t be slaving away for hours in the kitchen, and your guests will be impressed.



The warmth of the grilled, marinated peaches with the coldness of the rich ice cream, is an unbeatable combination. I guarantee you I will be making this on many summer nights to come! My new favorite little recipe has me feeling just peachy! (I had to! 😉)  🍑🍨

Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 peaches
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter pecan ice cream

Directions:

  1. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit.
  2. On a plate, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Massage sugar and cinnamon mixture all over peaches.
  4. Place peaches flesh down and allow to marinate in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Grill the peaches. If you do not have a grill, use a grill pan or George Foreman grill.
  6. Once grilled, top with butter pecan or vanilla ice cream. I recommend butter pecan, because peaches and pecans are a delightful combination! Enjoy!

Grilled Zucchini Open Faced Sandwich Recipe

I’ve heard it said before, “Food is memories.”

Isn’t that so true? We remember meals we’ve shared with people. We remember that amazing entree we had on a vacation. We remember when someone cooks for you. I think that’s one of my favorite things about food. One bite can take you back to another time and place.

The recipe I am sharing today has a memory. It’s a small memory. It wasn’t from a holiday or big party. This memory is a simple one. One that always stuck with me.

Growing up, I went to my Nonna and Nonno’s house a lot. I remember going there one afternoon, and they were in the kitchen. Of course. This time, they were grilling zucchini on the stove together.

“Julia, you need to try this,” my Nonno said as he drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the grilled zucchini. He toasted some crusty, Italian bread for me and put the zucchini on top. As I bit into, I’ll never forget the burst of flavor in my mouth. But the best part was the memory of my Nonno excitedly preparing this snack for me. It was special. There was love in it. He loved good food and he loved me.

So today, I’m sharing with you this easy grilled zucchini open faced sandwich recipe. Maybe one day you’ll make it for someone, and they’ll never forget it. Isn’t it neat how we never know when we are going to impact someone? 💗

Grilled Zucchini Open Faced Sandwich

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut the zucchini in half. Then thinly slice the long way.
  2. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Grill the zucchini either on a grill, or a grill pan.
  4. When cooked through, remove from the grill. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Slice a baguette and toast it till crisp and brown on the edges.
  6. Serve the zucchini on top of the bread to create an open faced sandwich. Enjoy!

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“Pizza” Popcorn Recipe

Hi friends! Well, for starters, I’m so happy to be on summer vacation right now! ☀️🌴 It is such a blessing and something I don’t take for granted. Last year I wore myself down workwise, and I think it contributed to my poor health last fall. Therefore, this summer, my focus is good HEALTH and lots of rest.

With all that being said, I’d like to share a healthy recipe with you! Recently, I did a blog post about my top 5 favorite healthy snacks right now. In that post, I mentioned popcorn.

The simply wonderful thing about making your own popcorn, is you control exactly what goes in it. This recipe contains no butter. Yet, there is SO much flavor, you won’t even miss it! Billy isn’t a huge popcorn lover, but he LOVES this recipe!

“Pizza” popcorn. That is not a typo. Dreams really do come true. You see, when you combine olive oil, salt, oregano, and parmesan cheese, you get a flavor that very deliciously resembles pizza. And I’m totally okay with that.

Now, I most certainly could write a love letter to this yummy pizza popcorn recipe. But I’ll spare you the rambling, and get right to it!

Pizza Popcorn

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels
  • Salt to taste
  • Oregano, just a pinch or two
  • 3 or 4 TB grated parmesan cheese
  • Optional: a pinch of red pepper flakes for some heat

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil.
  2. Place 2 kernels in the pot and put the lid on. When you hear the kernels pop, you know the oil is hot and ready!
  3. Pour in the rest of the kernels, and place the lid on the pot.
  4. Stay nearby to listen for when the kernels stop popping.
  5. Once they stop popping, remove immediately from the heat so the popcorn doesn’t burn.
  6. Toss the popcorn with salt, oregano, and parmesan cheese. Serve!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! You can make this for yourself for an easy snack. It also makes for some great snacking at a party. Or, get your kids in the kitchen and make it together this summer! Meanwhile, I’ll be over here munching on this popcorn while watching some Gilmore Girls. ❤️🍿

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Healthy (and Filling) Snacks


Is it just me, or do you come home from work and feel like you could eat a whole thanksgiving feast?! Something about the work day gets my stomach growling. In fact, I even get a little shaky when I’m hungry.

(Cue Mission Impossible theme song.) My eyes scan the fridge for something to take the edge off my hunger. Nothing quick and easy. Pantry? Nothing I can grab and go. Dilemma.

So began the quest of finding healthy snacks, that fill me up. I’ve settled on a few that just seem to work for me. Let’s get started!

1. Bananas

I’ve found that bananas do a really good job of filling me up. I’ve started eating one a day, right when I get home from work. High in potassium, bananas have plenty of health benefits too. (Good for your gut. Good for your skin. It’s a win-win!) These energy boosters have become my new favorite on-the-go snack!

2. Oatmeal

Okay, so we all know oatmeal makes a great breakfast. But, it’s literally become one of my favorite snacks. I’ll even have some after dinner for dessert! The key to making oatmeal more interesting and flavorful is topping it with fresh fruit, nuts, and a little brown sugar. Want to make it more protein-rich? Make it with milk instead of water. Oatmeal is also good for your gut health and for your heart too! ❤️

3. Homemade Popcorn

Ahhhhh popcorn! It’s always been my little weakness. It gets a bad wrap, though. It’s considered junk food. But it’s time to set the record straight. Popcorn is not bad for you! It’s the grotesque amounts of butter they put on it that’s bad for you! Popcorn itself actually has fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, and other minerals. If you make popcorn at home on your stovetop, you can know exactly what goes into it. Get creative with different spices to give it tons of flavor WITHOUT the butter!

4. Carrots and Organic Ranch

Carrots are kind of a stereotypical healthy food, so we often just kind of forget about them. I like to call carrots “beauty food.” Glowing skin? Check. Cleanse the body? Check. Good for your eyes? Check. Deliciously sweet, I enjoy them plain. However, dipped in a little organic ranch, they make a tasty “no effort” snack.

5. Hummus

I was practically raised “in the kitchen.” Cooking has always been a big part of my life, so when it comes to hummus, I’m a little spoiled. I grew up eating homemade hummus. To this day, I still don’t like the store bought varieties. One of these days,  I’ll have to share with you the recipe my Nonna and mom made growing up. Either way, hummus makes a delicious and filling snack. It’s high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants. If you buy it from the store, make sure to look for simple, real ingredients.

Well, there you have it! My go-to, quick, easy, healthy, filling, snacks! What are your favorite healthy snacks? Let me know in the comments below!


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Green Apple and Soy Sauce Recipe


“Just one. You have to eat one, Julia.” My parents spooned a brussel sprout on my plate.

8 year old me was the last one at the dinner table. I stared at the lonely brussel sprout on my plate. Oh the dilemma. Spinach I could spread around my plate to make it look like I finished. But that trick won’t work on a brussel sprout.

I sat there and slowly worked it down, for what felt like, 20 minutes. (It was probably only 5 or 10.)

This situation repeated itself through the years. Yet, my dislike for brussel sprouts never changed.

Then one day (recently) I tried roasted brussels sprouts. I’m not sure why roasting them makes them so much more appealing, but I’m not going to question it.

A few weeks ago, Billy and I were having dinner at Locale Market, here in St. Pete. As a side, Billy ordered roasted brussels sprouts with soy sauce and green apples. I tried them and was like, “Yes. Just yes.” They were absolutely delicious.

About a week later, the roasted brussel deliciousness was no longer available, as the market is constantly changing their menu. My mind was set on figuring out how to enjoy them at home.


I only recently started creating my own recipes. But by some miracle, I created this recipe on the first try. Crunchy and loaded with flavor, I am officially hooked.

When I purchased the bag of brussels sprouts from the grocery, I felt as though I am now officially doing this adulting thing. I mean, goodness me I’m buying brussels sprouts! Before we know it, I’ll be telling my kid to eat “just one.” Yikes! Time needs to slow down!

So there you have it. A story about a girl and a brussel sprout.

What makes this recipe extra special is the green apple! 🍏 With a hint of sweetness, and a bunch of crunch, I hope this recipe works its way into your recipe box!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Green Apple and Soy Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 16 oz. bags of brussels sprouts
  • 1 green apple, diced with skin
  • 4 TB of low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of honey
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Rinse the brussels sprouts and cut off the brown stem. Remove any discolored leaves.
  3. Halve the brussels sprouts and lay them on a baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with pepper. (Do NOT salt them, because the soy sauce is salty.)
  5. Toss the brussels sprouts to evenly coat them.
  6. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, tossing them halfway through so they brown on all sides.
  7. While they are in the oven, heat a small skillet and add the soy sauce, apple, and honey. Allow apples to soften.
  8. When the brussels sprouts are done roasting, toss them with the cooked apples.

* If you are cooking for one or two, you can cut this recipe in half.

Let me know in the comments below how you liked it!

Happy cooking!