Category Archives: Life

Raw Key Lime Cheesecake, Back to Basics Sliders, and Portobello Burgers

When the world gives you copious amounts of cashews, you make raw key lime cheesecake, obviously. With some Maple Cashew Butter on the side.

I am happy to report that the Supper Club – BBQ Edition was a huge success! We had beautiful weather and therefore spent most of our time outside. The food was delicious, there was a plethora of delicious desserts (more on that later!), and we were graced with the best grilling master who helped get our food on the table! My sister and I really couldn’t have asked for more.

I began Saturday morning with a mixed bowl of cereal. I didn’t get a chance to prepare any overnight oats, and I wasn’t really in the mood to cook any in the morning.

This cereal bowl contained 1 cup of  cinnamon Puffins, Fibre 1 cereal, Harvest Fruit Muslix, Vanilla Almond Special K, 1 tbsp flaxseed meal, chopped strawberries, and crunchy peanut butter with about 1/2 c of soy milk.

Not bad, not bad at all!

Then I prepared some Kona coffee for my sister and me using my parent’s coffee percolator. I love this thing! I really need to get one of these (or a French press!) for myself. For now, I’ll just have to make do with enjoying it while I’m at my parent’s house…

When my sister *finally* woke up 2 hours later, I toasted up some bread and spread some of my 3-minute blueberry jam on some Stonemill Bakehouse Omega-3 Golden Flax Bread. She definitely thought it was different from regular jam, but I still think it’s a good substitute from sugar-laden jam. 🙂

After taking a quick trip to the grocery store for some last minute supplies, we came back and decided to have a light lunch in anticipation for the bbq later that evening. She sliced a ripe, juicy pear while I chopped up some mini sweet peppers that I picked up at Loblaws the night before (have I mentioned how much I love Loblaws?).

Just check out this salad! My sister really went all out with the presentation of this salad, don’t you think? I also chopped up some dried figs and added some tart, dry cherries while my sister whipped up a maple dijon dressing.

In the meantime, I insisted on taking a little extra time to break into some goat cheese mozzarella that I picked up from Loblaws as well and toasted up a sandwich thin with some pears on one side, and cheese on the other.

Oh yes, lunch was divine!

After lunch, I got to work – we had a lot of food to prepare!

First I got to work on my Raw Key Lime Cheesecake (GF & Almost Vegan!). Recipe is at the bottom of the post.

First, the cashew, pecan, and date crust…

Then, lots of lime juice and zest.

And then the creamy, maple and honey cheesecake filling.

With a maple glaze.

Then my sister and I prepared some super simple Back to Basics Sliders (recipe at the bottom of the post), and I threw together some Portobello Burgers using this recipe.

After that, I sliced some tomatoes and sweet red onions for the burgers.

My sister washed and prepped some asparagus for the grill.

And I tossed together some zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper.

And then the guests started to arrive!

Someone was kind enough to bring fresh corn which I rolled up with some tin foil before we added them to the bbq.

Another guest brought pre-cut vegetables and brought two delicious dips. My sister also put out some party mix (my weakness at parties!). Lots of great conversation was had while we snacked and the chef of the evening got intimate with our bbq.

Of course, a glass of Summer’s Coming Sangria was the perfect companion to my pre-dinner snackage.

And then it was time to feast. Outside, we all enjoyed a gigantic leafy green salad with some Mediterranean salad dressing.

I just had to try a little bit of everything!

Portobello Burger.

Back to Basics Sliders with melted brie.

The damage – yes that’s dijon mustard on my asparagus and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Oh my goodness, this was fantastic!

After dinner, I got busy again in the kitchen preparing our “dessert buffet” table. We were swimming with berries yesterday, so I put together a gorgeous fruit platter for everyone to pick at.

Then I carefully removed my Raw Key Lime Cheesecake from my springform pan and onto the serving platter.

Another guest slaved in the kitchen preparing a masterpiece of a dessert. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was a cornbread type cake, with a delicious sauce that he made on our stove using a double boiler with egg yolks, castor sugar, and Disaronno. It was very impressive!

Another guest brought homemade strawberry shortcakes. Don’t these look fabulous?! Trust me, they were.

All together now…

Plus some store-bought goodies on the side. These portuguese tarts are one of my all-time favorite desserts. Unfortunately, I was way too stuffed to enjoy mine, so I saved it and will be enjoying it another day. I can’t wait!

I also had a small sampling of the store-bought trifle and chocolate tarts that another guest brought. Everything was incredibly delicious!

My plate. I ate it all except the chocolate tart (only managed to eat half!) and the portuguese tart that is currently chilling out in my freezer for the time being.

For my first attempt at a raw dessert, I was seriously impressed. Next time, I would consider using a smaller springform pan so that both the crust and the filling could be thicker.

Mmmmmmm

Raw Key Lime Cheesecake (GF & Almost Vegan)

Ingredients:

(Crust)

  • 1 c mix of pecans and cashews
  • 1/2 c +2 pitted dates

(Filling)

  • 3 c cashews soaked for several hours (or overnight)
  • 6 tbsp lime juice (or juice of 4 small limes)
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp raw honey (veganize with agave or just maple syrup)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (or use coconut oil)

Directions:

  • Line the bottom of the an 8 or 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper (I always forget to do this, and I always regret it!).
  • Using a food processor, mix together the pecans, cashews, and dates until crumbly. Flatten to bottom of the springform pan and leave in the freezer to set.
  • Add the lime juice, 4 tbsp of maple syrup (reserve the other tbsp for later), honey, vegetable oil, and zest together until blended into a creamy texture. Smooth over top of the crust.
  • With a fork, poke holes all over the filling, and pour the remaining tbsp of maple syrup over the top and let it absorb.
  • Freeze if saving it for much later, otherwise refrigerate for several hours before serving.

♦♦♦

Back to Basics Sliders

Ingredients:

  • 1 package extra lean ground beef
  • 1 package extra lean ground pork
  • 1 small onion, grated (you don’t have to do this, but it will help make the patty more juicy)
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients together (don’t overwork it!).
  • Form small 1/4 c size patties.
  • Grill to your heart’s content and enjoy!

Curried Parsnip Fries and Simple Spaghetti Squash Salad

Saturday Re-cap

It has been such a great weekend filled with fun activities, fantastic company, and delicious food. I really couldn’t have asked for more on my mini-weekend getaway. I mean, how could you not be happy when you wake up to a gorgeous two-egg omlette filled with fennel dill (the ends of the fennel root!), Jarlsberg cheese, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini and onions!? I even added a tablespoon of flaxseed meal to my eggs before Elaine expertly cooked my omlette. It was the perfect and most welcome departure from the oatmeal-in-the-morning kick that I’ve been on for the past few months.  I had my omlette with several tall glasses of water and some butter pecan coffee. With some garlicky, chili hot sauce? It really doesn’t get any better than this. I know, I know… life can be so hard sometimes. 😉 All weekend long, buildings in Ottawa opened their doors for the Doors Open Ottawa event (we have a similar event in Toronto) which we decided to take advantage of on Saturday. Our first stop was Rideau Hall, where the Governor General lives and works out of when she’s in the city. The blue flag at the top of Rideau Hall meant that the Governor General was currently in residence. The grounds surrounding Rideau Hall were an absolute delight to walk around. We had rain forecasted the entire weekend, but as you can see, it was sunny and gorgeous for the majority of the day. Other building highlights included walking through the French Embassy, the Lester B. Pearson Building (headquarters of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada) which my friend told me is also nicknamed “The Honeycomb”, and the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat (headquarters of Aga Khan Foundation Canada). Several hours later, hunger suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. I guess I’ve trained my body to expect food every few hours so well that it starts to complain if I go too long without eating. After we left the Aga Khan building, Elaine took us to this Italian grocery store/cafe called La Bottega which is famous for their Italian sandwiches. I was a bit hesitant to get a sandwich at first because they looked huge and I just wanted a snack, but in the end, I gave into a prosciutto and mustard sandwich with all the fixings: lettuce, tomato, black olives, spicy eggplant, and spicy peppers. Don’t worry, all of the fixings are hidden beneath all of that prosciutto in the below picture. It was delicious, and I ended up inhaling half of it within minutes. I decided to save the second half because I didn’t want to ruin my appetite for dinner. Elaine also bought truffles for me and her friend. It was the perfect mid-afternoon treat.

After I was fed and energized, we headed to a nearby furniture store where Elaine bought an incredible table and chair set for her new condo. Furniture shopping is so much fun! I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like someday to eventually shop for my own furniture one day. Someday…. 🙂

When we got back to her condo, we were both ready to cook up a storm. She started us off with a snack of Jarlsberg cheese, crackers, baby carrots and some leftover ranch and sour cream dip.

Then I got started on preparing some parsnip fries while she prepared the spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs.

After I finished peeling and cutting three and a half small parsnips, I decided to make two kinds of parsnip fries. I made nut butter parsnip fries (original recipe here) by trimming down the recipe since I had less parsnips to work with with the first half by mixing together:

  • 2 tsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

For the second batch of parsnips, I decided to experiment with some curry powder and some smoked paprika that smelled too good to resist. I’ve included the recipe at the end of this post. After chatting earlier in the day about how much I loved the spaghetti squash salad that Elaine and her sister Claire discovered a few years ago and used to make it when all of us gals used to get together, we decided to throw some together tonight so that I could learn how to make it myself! Elaine did most of the leg work, but I watched, learned and am so excited to experiment with spaghetti squash salad in the very near future! An hour later or so, dinner was ready to be served. We started off with some leftover borscht that Elaine had made the night before. Note to self: get recipe from Elaine!!!

Is it obvious that I’m pretty much obsessed with this fresh, cool soup? If you had tried it, you would be too. By the time we were finished our soup, my parsnip fries were finished baking and ready to be consumed. As were the cumin turkey meatballs in a cranberry, chipotle glaze that Elaine and I made together.

And dinner was served! Turkey Cumin meatballs served with a cranberry, chipotle and horseradish glaze. They were tangy, spicy, and delicious. Elaine made the meatballs, and I helped make the glaze. Nut butter parsnip fries and curried parsnip fries. Both were a huge hit and we debated back and forth for a while on which ones we liked better. I think the nut butter fries won by a small margin, but I was really impressed with the curried parsnip fries too. Bottom line is that you can’t go wrong with parsnip fries! Check out this slammin’ Simple Spaghetti Squash Salad. Recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.

After dinner, we decided to give the three-minute oatmeal cookie (original recipe here) a try. I had been wanting to try it out for a while now, and that night it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We followed the original recipe for the most part, except we subbed in 1 tbsp flaxseed  meal + 3 tbsp water for the egg white.

Pre-microwave.

Post-microwave! In the end, we microwaved it for 60 sec in total (15 more seconds than recommended) because the bottom looked a bit soggy. Not sure if that was how the cookie was supposed to be in the first place, or if it was because we used the flaxseed+water substitute. Either way, it was a first try, and you really can’t complain about the prep time!

Serving it with a side of rocky road frozen yogurt was a fantastic idea.

♦♦♦

Sunday Re-cap

This morning’s breakfast was simple but still delicious. Elaine happened to have a frozen banana in the freezer, so we made some quick oatmeal by defrosting and mixing it with rolled oats, hot water, pecans, crasins, cinnamon, and a splash of milk. It has been months since I’ve had hot oatmeal, and I have to say that it’s still just as delicious and satisfying as I remembered it to be.

Elaine made more butter pecan coffee which was just as fabulous as yesterday’s coffee.

After breakfast/lunch, we walked back to downtown Ottawa where we did some shopping and I picked up a few goodies for my family. A couple of hours later, we stopped this amazing tea shop that had dozens of teas to choose from, and fresh baked scones, cakes, and squares.

After smelling 20+ teas, I eventually decided to try the Coconut Cream Chai which was so worth it. I love that they serve their tea with a little teapot dish for you to add your tea bag when it has finished steeping. I always get excited about little details like that!

I also indulged in a freshly baked blueberry and walnut scone which was served warm, with some butter, whipped cream, and raspberry jam. I couldn’t decide which way I liked the scone more – I only intended to eat half, but before I knew it, I has tucking the last piece of the scone into my mouth. 😀

After that, it was time to head to the train station to go back to Toronto 🙁 As we all continue to get older and further along in our careers/lives, it’s getting harder to find the time for all of us to get together. Luckily, I’ve realized that Ottawa really isn’t so far away, so I expect to be going back to visit again soon! It’s also a perk to have friends living all over the place – makes for fun and interesting mini-trips!

During the train ride back, I ate the second half of my sandwich from La Bottega and it was just as delicious as it was yesterday. Saving the second half to eat on the train was one of the best ideas I had all weekend. The train was so shaky, none of the pictures turned out, but trust me when I say that it was perfect.

A couple of hours later, I dug into some leftover Simple Spaghetti Squash Salad.

Five hours later, I made it back to my apartment safe and sound.

When I got home, I prepared tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch. Now I’m relaxing with a steaming mug of ginger tea to cap off what was an incredible weekend.

Great food, great friends and company – everyone should take a mini weekend getaway from time to time. I feel so relaxed and ready to dive into work and week 1 of marathon training.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

♦♦♦

Curried Parsnip Fries

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 medium parsnips
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • dash of oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F
  • Peel and cut parsnips into thin fry-like strips
  • Mix together spices and olive oil in a bowl
  • Toss the parsnips with the spices, and spread out onto a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.

♦♦♦

Method: Preparing Spaghetti Squash

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Stab the squash with a knife or fork in several places, and bake in the oven on a baking sheet for 40 minutes or so.
  • The squash is ready when it is the flesh is soft to touch, and you can easily slice it length-wise with a knife.
  • Scoop out the seeds and middle parts and discard.
  • Scoop out the remaining flesh into a bowl – it should separate really easily and resemble thin spaghetti strands.

♦♦♦

Simple Spaghetti Squash Salad

(Original recipe here)

Ingredients:

  • One small spaghetti squash baked, removed from skin and cooled
  • Large handful of parsley, chopped
  • Sundried tomatoes, reconstituted in hot water (we only had 5 or 6 but you can easily use double that amount)
  • 1/4 c pesto
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Prepare spaghetti squash
  • Toss in all ingredients together with the spaghetti squash strands and allow to sit for a few minutes for flavours to absorb and blend together.
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