Tag Archive for julie van rosendaal

Dirty Food

If you do a search for the hashtag #cleaneating on Instagram, you’ll find over 45 Million results. 45 Million! It would appear that we are obsessed with the concept. What is the concept, though? It feels like it’s one of those things that’s become so big, nobody really knows what it actually is. 

The concept of “clean eating” is really based around focusing on a diet high in whole foods. That means limiting your consumption of foods that are processed. The result is that you have a diet high in nutrients, plants and fibre, and low in sugars and processed fats. This is a good thing, right? Trashy Cookies JVR

Of course, and it’s how I try to eat most of the time. 

BUT–I like big butts and I cannot lie–if it’s been raining for three weeks and I’ve had a shitty day, I’m not curling up to eat my feelings with a big bowl of raw vegetables. Sorry, I’m just not. I want a Burgoo Grilled Cheese, gooey and crispy on the edges, and a pot of tomato soup to dip it into. 

Saucy Pudding Cake

Comfort food–the food that makes us happy–is the food of celebrations, of coziness, and this food is very often the opposite of clean. It’s chocolatey, and melty and oozy and fatty and sweet. 

And I think it’s wrong to deny yourself the full on hedonistic pleasure that kind of food brings.

This is the whole concept behind Juile Van Rosendaals’s (@dinnerwithjulie) new cookbook, Dirty Food. It’s unapologetic. Food is joy and celebration and sharing, and these recipes all focus on the messiness and joy in life. Because, let’s face it; life is seldom simple, it’s not often black-and-white. There’s nothing wrong with salad on a daily basis, but sometimes you just need a good grilled cheese. 

In Dirty Food, you’ll find recipes that will make people happy. Waffles, biscuits, gooey cinnamon buns. Lots and lots of carbs… tacos, sloppy joes, smashing burgers. 

Garlic Toast Crumb Spaghetti

I tested a bunch of recipes from this book, and they were all pretty delightful. There are a few more I still want to try (whipped Feta, yes please), though I’ll leave the meat ones to the meat-eaters (but appreciated the veg hack on the tacos). I mostly made desserts; I tried the Trashy Cookies, the Dirty Blondies and the Saucy Pudding Cake (which reminded me of the boxed mix we used to bake as kids). I also made the Toast Crumb & Garlic Spaghetti, which is an ode to carbs (I served a very healthy Kale Caesar on the side, okay???). 

I think the thing I love the most about this book is how Julie’s personality shines through. When you write cookbooks, you’re in a kind of box. You’re constrained by your subject matter, by the style guide… but Julie self-published Dirty Food and there’s something about it that feels like she’s right there with you in your kitchen, getting messy. It’s just plain fun. 

Trashy Blondies

Dirty Blondies

For some years now, Julie’s blondies have been my go-to. Blondies are basically brownies without the chocolate, and you can customize them lots of different ways. This one has a chocolate swirl, and I added a touch of coffee liqueur to mine as well. 

(recipe courtesy of Julie Van Rosendaal’s Dirty Food)


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1-2 tbsp cocoa


  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. When melted, pour into a bowl and stir in brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt, just until combined. 
  3. Line an 8″x8″ square pan with parchment or butter well. and put the cocoa in a shallow dish. Scoop up large spoonfuls of batter and dip the side of the spoon into the cocoa, and then drop the batter into the pan. The idea is to get cocoa splotches randomly throughout your batter. Spread with a spoon or offset spatula, and draw lines or swirls through the batter with a skewer or a toothpick to create a fun effect. 
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and starting to pull away from the edges. Allow to cool at least slightly, then cut into 12-16 squares. 

Slow-Cooker Upside-Down Peach Bourbon Cake

It’s hot.

And I don’t mean that as a complaint. I ain’t complaining. I am a girl who loves the summer, thrives on it, won’t complain when the mercury rises.

I might complain a little, though, if I am forced to turn on my oven during said heat. Because then my apartment gets to be about 700 degrees, and it’s pretty unbearable.

peach bourbon upside down cake

So, faced with a dilemma: that being I had too many peaches (a friend picked them up for me on his way home through the Okanagan), and wanting to make an upside-down cake with them, but not wanting to turn on my oven, I thought I’d give it a try in my slow cooker.

Here’s the thing about slow cookers. People think that they are only for the winter. For soups and stews and heartier, comforting fare. But they can also be your best friend during the summer, when you don’t want to turn on your oven. The heat they kick out is not immense, and it’s contained, so they won’t make your kitchen hot like turning on your oven will.

I’ve never baked a cake in my slow cooker before, but I knew someone who had: Julie Van Rosendaal.

Her new Best of Bridge cookbook included a recipe for a classic pineapple upside-down cake done in the slow cooker, and I thought I’d just swap out the pineapple for peaches, and Bob’s your uncle.

Turns out, Bob IS your uncle! I will admit to having a healthy dose of skepticism going in, but it worked really well. I was really impressed. And the cake was amazeballs. Moist, with just the right crumb. It makes this super tasty caramel sauce that drips down over everything and just rocks. My kid hoovered down a chunk of this still warm, and asked for more.

Winner! And no burning hot kitchen. Extra win.

peach bourbon slow cooker upside down cake

Slow-Cooker Upside-Down Peach Bourbon Cake

(adapted from Best of Bridge Slow Cooker)

Round, 4-6 quart slow cooker



  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 4 peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp bourbon


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk


  1. Make the topping. Melt the butter and mash the brown sugar into it until it’s all combined into a kind of paste. Add the bourbon and mash it in as well. Grease the inside of your slowcooker, then spread the brown sugar-bourbon-butter mixture in a single layer on the bottom of the pot.
  2. Carefully arrange the peach slices on top to make it pretty.
  3. Add the softened butter to the bowl of your mixer, and then add the sugar. Whip those together until they are light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla.
  4. Combine the baking powder and salt with the flour, and then slowly beat it into the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk.
  5. Once the batter is done, pour it into the slow cooker on top of the peaches.
  6. Turn heat to high and let cook for about 2-2 1/2 hours, or until the edges are browning and a skewer insterted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove the bowl from the slow cooker and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen, then place a plate on top and flip it upside down.
  8. Your cake should slide out onto the plate. If there are any bits left in the slow cooker, you can dig them out and patch them in.
  9. Serve warm with ice cream.



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