Improv Challenge: Strawberries and Cream

I’ve been following Kristen’s blog Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for a while now. She runs a monthly blogging Improv Challenge. Kristen describes the challenge as “a monthly party where everyone takes the same two assigned ingredients and lets their imaginations run wild.  It doesn’t matter what other ingredients we use, whether we make something savory or sweet.” Sounds fun to me! I don’t normally post on Thursdays, but I’ll definitely make an exception for this!

This months Improv Challenge ingredients are: strawberries and cream! Because this is my first time participating, I decided to keep the recipe simple (and, with the theme of my blog, budget friendly). Strawberries are one of my favourite fruits and I will usually wash them and eat they without any other preparation, so I didn’t want to stray too far from what I already enjoy.

Strawberries will be in season here in Ontario in a few weeks!!! I can’t wait to get local strawberries from the farmer’s market. Or even better, find a farm where I can pick my own! For this recipe, I’ve used imported strawberries (I forgot to look where they are from, probably California or Mexico). They were a bit tart, so I marinated the strawberries in maple syrup to give them a sweetness similar to those fresh from the strawberry patch.

The whipped cream I prepared for the photos didn’t turn out very well. 😦 It was very tasty. It just didn’t whip up and become as fluffy as the whipped cream I had prepared dad’s house the day before this (it was perfect). I didn’t have my camera with me then, and it was so yummy there weren’t any leftovers. I wish the new batch looked a bit prettier.

What are your tips/tricks for making perfect whipped cream every time? What is your favourite way to enjoy strawberries?

Strawberries Marinated in Maple Syrup with Whipped Cream


  • 1 quart fresh strawberries – approximate cost $3.00
  • 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup – approximate cost $0.50
  • 200 millilitres whipping cream – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla – approximate cost $0.25


  1. At least 2 hours before you’re preparing dessert, place a glass mixing bowl and metal beaters in the freezer to chill.
  2. At least 1 hour before you’re preparing dessert, prepare the strawberries.
    1. Wash the strawberries.
    2. Core the strawberries and slice them into bite-sized pieces.
    3. Place the strawberries in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with maple syrup.
    4. Toss the berries to coat them with syrup.
    5. Let the berries stand at room temperature to marinate/sweeten.
  3. Prepare the whipped cream.
    1. Remove the mixing bowl and beaters from the freezer
    2. Combine the whipping cream and vanilla in the chilled mixing bowl.
    3. Whip the cream until it becomes fluffy (don’t over mix or it will churn into butter).
  4. Prepare the dessert!

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.44 per serving).


Raw Apple Pie in Cupcake Tins

I’ve been making a lot of raw apple desserts lately, so when Chef Renee said we were going to make a raw apple pie I was excited to learn a few things about how I could improve the desserts I was already preparing. And the answer was obvious… play with the ingredients! I was using walnuts exclusively for many of the desserts, including the raw apple crisp and the raw apple cobbler. I hadn’t thought of including dried coconut flakes, pecans, or any other type of nuts.

Raw apple pie

Renee’s apple pie was fantastic! Although when I made this again myself I left the dates out of the filling to tone down the sweetness of the dessert. Just a personal preference.

B and I both enjoyed this pie. For his, I heated the apple mixture before serving and prepared my own at room temperature. Because you don’t put the crust and the filling together until you are just about to serve the pie,  it is easy to cater to various preferences.

Raw Apple Pie in Cupcake Tins

Recipe by RAW food chef Renee Shaidle



  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts – approximate cost $2.25
  • 1 cup pecans – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/2 cup dried coconut (optional) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 cup raisins – approximate cost $1.00
  • 10 medjool or honey dates – approximate cost $2.75



  • 6 apples – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 lemon, juiced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup raisins – approximate cost $0.50
  • 3 medjool dates, pitted  – approximate cost $0.80
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.05
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup – approximate cost $0.75



  1. Soak the raisins and dates in warm water for at least 20 minutes, this will make them more sticky. This step is optional. You will likely need to use more raisins and dates if you do not have time to soak them first.
  2. Prepare the crust
    1. Blend the walnuts, pecans, dried coconut, cinnamon and sea salt in a food processor until coarsely ground.
    2. Add raisins and dates until mixture begins to stick together.
    3. Reserve half of the crumble (to sprinkle on top of pie).
    4. Press the remaining half of the crust mixture into muffin tins lined with plastic wrap (Or a 9” pie pan)


  3. Prepare the filling
    1. Peel, core, and thinly slice 2 apples.
    2. Coat sliced apples with 2 tablespoons lemon juice (this will keep them from turning brown) and set aside.
    3. Peel, slice, and core 4 apples and blend in the food processor with 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
    4. Add dates, cinnamon, and maple syrup and continue to process until smooth.
    5. Remove mixture from processor and combine with the sliced apples.
  4. Putting it together
    1. Pour the apple mixture into the prepared muffin cups or pie plate.
    2. Top with remaining crumble.


Note: Raw apple pies will keep in fridge for approximately 5 days. However, you might want to keep the crust and filling separate until you are about ready to serve the dessert.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.08 per serving).

Raw apple pie

The Dessert: Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Pumpkin pie is one of my favourites. It rivals my grandmother’s apple pie and nana’s lemon-meringue pie. I think I generally enjoy these pies because they’re not very sweet.Because Thanksgiving is a special occasion, it requires that I prepare a dessert. This is an infrequent task on my part. I usually don’t want sweets and am reluctant to make a pastry. It never seems to turn out quite right. I’m sure I’d get better with practice, or if I followed the directions a bit more closely. Or, I can opt for a recipe, such as the one I found on Oh She Glows, which omits the pastry altogether and uses a pecan-based crust.

I liked this pie and crust recipe because it was flexible. It allowed me to substitute ingredients I had on hand instead of buying something I would use just this once (e.g. honey instead of brown rice syrup). On top of that, it’s very easy to put together because both the crust and the filling are prepared in the food processor.

B and I enjoyed the pie so much that we ended up eating it for breakfast the next day.

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Adapted from Oh She Glows (Note: The original recipe is vegan. This recipe is not.)


For the crust

  • 1 cup oats – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups raw pecans – approximate cost $4.00
  • 2 tablespoon sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 tablespoon ground flax – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 cup honey – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil – approximate cost $0.75

For the filling

  • 1 large can of puréed pure pumpkin – approximate cost $1.75
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup – approximate cost $0.75
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.75


  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the crust.
    1. Place the oats in the food processor and process until they become a powder/flour.
    2. Add the pecans, sugar, flax, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and process until the pecans are chopped into fine pieces.
    3. Add the honey and the coconut oil. Process until the entire mixture is sticky and begins to form a ball.
    4. Divide mixture into two and press firmly into two 10 inch pie baking pans.
    5. Bake crust for about 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the filling.
    1. Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, coconut cream, coconut oil, maple syrup, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in the food processor and process until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Putting it together.
    1. Divide the filling into half and pour the mixture over the prepared crusts.
    2. Bake for 30-45 minutes (the top should start to brown slightly).

The original recipe suggests refrigerating the pie for at least 3 hours. We enjoyed the pie fresh out of the oven topped with whipped cream and it was fantastic. It was also great when served cold the next day.

Makes 2 pies, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $1.16 per slice).

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