Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Miss me yesterday? Normally I post on Wednesdays and join a bunch of blog parties… but I decided to switch things up. Typically, today I would be be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. But… the challenge ingredients didn’t work well with our current dietary habits so I decided to skip out this month. You should stop by and check out the challenge though, there are, as usual, some delicious and fantastic recipes posted!

Today, I’d like to wish my wonderful, loving, best friend and boyfriend Bryan a very Happy Birthday!

Bryan — Thank you for being so wonderful! … and eating all my failed attempts at baking your favourite cake. Love you immensely!

To celebrate his birthday I’ll be making yet another attempt at making his absolute all-time favourite cake (His mom’s recipe). The pictures come from my last, and most successful, attempt at making the cake so far. My brother and I served the cake at a birthday lunch we hosted for Nana back in August. The cake went over really well despite the fudgy texture.

Nana, her sisters, and my brother Matt getting ready to enjoy their chocolate cake! (For Nana’s birthday gift, Matt and I hosted a lunch for these lovely ladies. They all loved it and had a wonderful afternoon!)

The recipe may look simple enough. But you see, I’m a terrible baker. It never seems to come out right.

At first, I tried to make the recipe, but changing some of the directions (I tried to melt/boil ingredients on the stove-top instead of in the microwave). I tried to fiddle with the ingredients (using only lard instead of adding some butter and vice versa). Less sugar maybe? Usually I get the cake right. It should be fluffy (not fudgy, which is what happened last time). The frosting is generally the tough part. It frequently comes out soupy (it should be thick). What I’ve learned… mother knows best when it comes to her own recipe! Stick to it.

What makes this cake so amazing? It’s chocolately (cake and frosting). It’s fluffy. It’s oh so sweet. And when Bryan’s mom makes it, it’s one of my absolute favourite desserts. But most important, this cake reminds me of Bryan’s wonderful and welcoming family and my trips to New Mexico.

Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups sugar  – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup lard (Crisco)  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 milk added to 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice)  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 eggs  – approximate cost $0.50

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 6 tablespoons milk  – approximate cost $0.20
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 pound or 454 grams icing sugar  – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup chopped pecans  – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the cake batter.
    1. Stir together sugar, flour, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Bring butter (or margarine), lard, cocoa, and water to a boil. (NOTE: Bryan’s mom melts the ingredients in the microwave. She also notes that she uses margarine and butter-flavoured Crisco sticks. I melt the ingredients in a pot on the stove. I have used butter and a generic brand of lard)
    3. Stir butter mixture well.
    4. Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the butter mixture.
    5. Mix well using an electric mixer.
    6. Slowly add (while continuing to mix):
    7. Buttermilk (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that you can use milk added to one-half tablespoon of lemon juice as a substitute — I use this recommendation)
    8. Vanilla
    9. Eggs (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that she uses one-half cup of egg beaters)
    10. Bake in 11×13 oblong pan for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Prepare the frosting.
    1. Bring butter or margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil in the microwave. (NOTE: For whatever reason, this direction is a must! I’ve tried melting these ingredients in a pot on the stove many times. Each attempt was unsuccessful, resulting in a liquidy frosting that never stuck to the cake. Use the microwave and the frosting will turn out thick every time.
    2. Mix well with electric mixer.
    3. Add icing sugar, vanilla and chopped pecans.
    4. Mix well with electric mixer.
  4. Pour icing over HOT cake.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 15 servings (approximate cost: $0.52 per serving).

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Guest Post: Best Waffles for Independence Day

Tomorrow, my friends south of the border will be celebrating Independence Day. More often, I hear it referred to as the 4th of July. Between school, work, hobbies (yes, I find time for that on occasion), and having just celebrated Canada Day over the weekend, I just haven’t had time to prepare a blog post celebrating Bryan’s country’s holiday.

Instead, today I have a blog poster here to help me celebrate!  I learned quite a bit of history from David’s article and hope you will too!

How will we celebrate? I think Bryan and I may need to make some waffles (topped with blueberries and fresh Ontario strawberries) now that I’ve got a new recipe on hand. Red, White, and Blue waffles!

Welcome and take it away David!


Author Bio: This is a guest post by David J. from Fridge Freezer Direct, UK’s premier commercial refrigeration and catering equipment specialist. For more information you can visit www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk.

Best Waffles for Independence Day

Independence Day – commonly called “The 4th of July” – is a proud day for the United States. It’s a day when we can celebrate our independence and really take pride in this beautiful country we live in. We generally mark this occasion in a number of different ways, and if you’re looking for a way to celebrate this great day, then we can help you!

The key is to do something truly American. After all, being American is what the 4th of July is all about! However, it doesn’t have to be a big grand gesture then enables you to mark this magnificent date; there are many small ways in which you can showcase your patriotism.

One possible way is through waffles. Thomas Jefferson returned from France in 1789 and he brought back a waffle iron. Since that day, we Americans have loved waffles, and so, what better way to celebrate than by making the perfect American style waffle?

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So if you want to mark Independence Day with a whole heap of waffles, you first need to grab the following ingredients.

Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups warm milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Once you’ve got these ingredients in stock, follow our easy guide to turn these ingredients into delicious American style waffles.

Method

1) Turn on your waffle iron.
2) Get yourself a big mixing bowl.
3) Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar together.
4) Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
5) Stir the milk, butter, and vanilla extract into the eggs.
6) Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl containing the dry mixture
7) Beat the batter until it develops a smooth consistency.
8) Ladle the batter into the waffle iron.
9) Cook until the waffle looks done (golden and crispy).
10) Garnish with whatever toppings you like; for example, fruit, syrup, chocolate, or candy.
11) Repeat the process until everyone’s full!
12) Sing the national anthem.

It’s as easy as that! Enjoy your 4th July and some delicious waffles!

ALMOST Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week, I attended a potluck dinner. The theme was St. Patrick’s Day – so green and/or Irish foods were a preferred contribution.

Generally, I contribute a savory food, something that can be a side dish or a main course. However, this time I decided to go with a (green) dessert. I was in class prior to the potluck and needed something that would be easy to transport and didn’t require refrigeration.

I’ve wanted to try making gluten free cookies for a while and decided this was a good opportunity. And it’s a good thing I wasn’t serving the cookies to anyone with an intolerance, because, as it turns out, these cookies did contain gluten. As I was researching gluten-free cookies, I realized the spelt flour (that I had bought in the healthy food section at the grocery store next to the gluten-free flours and cake mixes) contains gluten! According to The Kitchn:

“Spelt has a reputation as a “healthier” grain, but as far as gluten-free cooking goes, it’s out. It is a direct relative of wheat, and while its protein content may be higher and therefore better for those of us without a gluten intolerance, it will cause problems for those with gluten-intolerance. One interesting note, however, is that some people who simply have a mild intolerance say that they can tolerate spelt better than wheat. But you should still avoid it completely when cooking for those with a gluten or wheat intolerance.” (from “Cocoa to Cornstarch: Are These 10 Ingredients Gluten-Free?” on The Kitchn)

A few other things “went wrong” in the process. First, I realized after adding the green food dye that it was also mint-flavoured. This ended up not being an issue because both Bryan and I like mint. And I let my classmates know about the flavour ahead of time. Second, although the dough was green, the cookies turned out golden-brown with a green center. They didn’t look very festive. Next time, I will take them out of the oven sooner so they retain a bit more colour.

So, while these cookies were not, in the end, gluten-free… they were a delicious first attempt. (Bryan asked me to tell my classmates that they were terrible so we could have more at home). However, I promised to make these cookies again soon. However, the next batch will be truly gluten-free, substituting a bit more of each of the other flours to remove the spelt flour.

ALMOST Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup salted butter, softened  – approximate cost $1.50
  • ½ cup brown sugar  – approximate cost $0.25
  • ½ cup cane sugar  – approximate cost $0.45
  • 1 egg  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  – approximate cost $0.15
  • 20 drops of mint-flavoured green food dye  – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum  – approximate cost $0.50
  • ½ cup spelt flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • ½ cup coconut flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup almond meal flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 150 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips  – approximate cost $1.25

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and cane sugar.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, and mint-flavoured green food dye.
  4. Stir until well blended.
  5. Mix together the xanthan gum, spelt flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, almond meal flour, white rice flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and sea salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture ½ cup at a time, mixing well each time you add flour.
  7. Add the chocolate chips when the flour is completely blended with the butter mixture.
  8. Use an ice cream scoop to make spheres of cookie dough.
  9. Place each scoop of dough onto a non-stick baking sheet (about 5 centimeters apart).
  10. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cookie is golden (the dough on the inside of the cookie will be green).
  11. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet.
  12. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
  13. Enjoy immediately and pack a few cookies away for later!

Makes about 15 cookies (approximate cost: $0.50 per cookie).

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Improv Challenge: Bananas and Nutmeg (Fried Bananas with Brown Sugar Sauce)

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are bananas and nutmeg. Yum! So far, I’ve shared:

Today, I’m sharing a recipe that my dad used to make for me when I was younger. I’ve been trying for years to replicate his recipe but, for some reason, even though I started out using the same ingredients it’s just never the same… so I changed things up a bit and made it my own (Dad leaves out the nutmeg and the vanilla).

Fried Bananas with Brown Sugar Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.20

Method

  1. Slice the banana in half lengthwise and then horizontally (you should have four long and thin pieces).
  2. Melt half of the butter (1/8 cup) in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the banana slices to the frying pan.
  4. Cook until the banana begins to turn golden brown.
  5. Flip and cook until the banana begins to turn golden brown.
  6. Remove to a plate.
  7. Add the remaining butter, and brown sugar.
  8. Cook until sugar is melted.
  9. Remove from heat and add vanilla to sauce.
  10. Stir well.
  11. Pour sauce over fried banana pieces.
  12. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.
  13. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $0.85 per serving).



Improv Challenge: Chocolate and Marshmallows

It’s been way too long! It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire month since I posted. But I’m back, and ready to take on blogging once again! Over the last month I’ve been swamped with school work. Between essays, projects and presentations, the deadlines kept me busy. However, I’m glad to have made it through my first term as a PhD student and can’t wait to start all over again after the holiday!

That said, what better way to get back into blogging than participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker?! I was disappointed to miss a few months of the challenge, but happy to be participating today. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are chocolate and marshmallows. Yum!

I wasn’t going to have an evening at home to prepare my recipe, so, last night I enlisted the help from my friend’s 4-year-old (who I was babysitting). That is, I made making a delicious dessert using chocolate and marshmallows our activity for the evening. And it went over surprisingly well! The little one was super excited to help me cook, loved decorating his own dessert, and devoured the tasty treat just before bedtime. It made a great activity!

What did we make? Crispy rice squares!

Crispy Rice Squares with Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows – approximate cost $0.90
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.10
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal – approximate cost $1.60
  • Chocolate sauce for decorating – approximate cost $0.50
  • Chocolate and Rainbow sprinkles for decorating (optional) – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large, non-stick pot.
  2. Add the marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Continue stirring.
  6. Add the cereal, 1 cup at a time, and stirring constantly until well-coated in marshmallows.
  7. Place in a 9×13 baking pan
  8. Cover with a piece of waxed paper.
  9. Press the cereal mixture into an even layer that is the shape of the baking pan.
  10. Remove waxed paper.
  11. Decorate with chocolate sauce (and other edible treats such as chocolate or rainbow sprinkles).
  12. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set.
  13. Slice and enjoy!

Makes one 9 x 13 tray of crispy rice treats, about 12 servings (approximate cost: $3.90 or $0.33 per serving).



Improv Challenge: Zucchini and Brown Sugar

I’m excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are zucchini and brown sugar.

My recipe this month isn’t exactly creative. Instead, I opted for something much more sentimental… my Nana’s Zucchini Bread recipe (with a slight modification). The original recipe calls for white sugar, I’ve substituted brown sugar for the purpose of the challenge, and it worked out great!

Nana’s not sure where the recipe comes from anymore. She thinks she might have got it from one of her sisters, who possibly got it from my Great Grandmother. Either way, it’s been in the family for a while and I enjoyed many many pieces of zucchini bread as a child, especially in the fall when Nana picked the zucchini fresh from the garden.

Growing up, I thought zucchini bread was one of the healthiest treats. Why? Because it’s got vegetable pieces in it. Therefore, it must be healthy. Right? I was a bit surprised going through the recipe when I saw how much sugar it calls for. Not exactly healthy. It won’t kill you to enjoy the bread once in a while either though. Just something I will likely choose to enjoy in moderation instead of abundance, like I did as a child.

I’ll likely experiment with making a healthier version of the recipe at some point. Substituting the white flour for whole wheat, or maybe a gluten-free flour. Try cutting out some of the sugar. But that’s for another day when I’m not scrambling to make something delicious for the Improv Challenge.

Excuse me while I got enjoy some fresh from the oven zucchini bread for breakfast. I just baked it this morning!

Nana’s Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs – approximate cost $0.60
  • 2 cups white sugar (I used brown sugar for the purpose of the Improv Challenge) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, skin included – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 cup oil (I used canola oil) – approximate cost $0.40
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla – approximate cost $0.30
  • 3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup walnuts – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and grated zucchini in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Mix until well combined.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Pour the bread mixture into two (greased) loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 1 hour (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean).
  9. Allow to cool before serving.

Makes 2 loaves, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $3.30 per loaf or $0.41 per slice).


Dairy-Free Breakfast Crêpes with Banana Slices and Blueberries

Today’s my Nana’s birthday, Happy Birthday Nana!

Nana’s taught me much about cooking. We spent a lot of time together when I was growing up (and we still spend a lot of time together now). I have many fond memories of sitting in her kitchen, awaiting homemade goodies. Mac and Cheese Casserole is a family favourite, and I would often invite friends over to visit and enjoy a few servings of her casserole. In fact, friends still reminisce about her casserole and I will eventually get around to sharing the recipe.

Nana and I have dinner together at least once a month, sometimes more often than that. Now that I’m older, we cook together. I try to absorb as much knowledge as possible, learn her secrets and memorize family recipes.

Tonight, I’ll be cooking dinner for her and the rest of my family (my brother is starting training at a new job and won’t be home in time to help, but we’re glad he will be home for dinner nonetheless). Pressure’s on. I want the dinner to be perfect and to suit everyone’s taste preferences.

Last week, I cooked less often than usual. It’s not that things were busier, but I cooked a staple items that I’ve already shared on the blog (Peanut Butter and Banana Quesadillas) and others I though I had shared so I didn’t take photos (Shepherd’s Pie).  Guess I’ll have to make it again to share. Bryan won’t mind, it’s one of his very favourite dinner items. The shepherd’s pie, especially, made so many servings that I didn’t need to cook anything else, we ate leftovers often.

Realizing I didn’t have many photos to share, I took this as an opportunity to make a fancy Sunday morning breakfast that I could then share on Monday morning.

I came up with these crêpes by modifying my pancake recipe (which I will also share at some point), leaving out the baking powder and sugar and adding more egg. These crêpes are surprisingly quick to make and very simple to whip up. They also keep well in the fridge for one day if you somehow happen to have a few leftovers.

Dairy-Free Breakfast Crêpes with Banana Slices and Blueberries

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup almond milk – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 eggs – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.15
  • Pinch of sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 banana, sliced – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1/2 cup blueberries – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Combine the flour and seal salt in a small bowl.
  2. Combine the almond milk, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk the wet ingredient mixture until the eggs are well combined.
  4. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, slowly, to avoid lumps in the batter.
  5. Heat 1/4 of the tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan.
  6. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into the frying pan.
  7. Swirl the batter quickly so it covers the pan in a thin, even layer.
  8. Cook until the batter begins to set.
  9. Flip the crêpe.
  10. Cook until slightly browned.
  11. Remove to a plate.
  12. Repeat steps  5-11 until all of the batter is cooked (makes 4-5 crêpes).
  13. Fill each crêpe with a few banana slices and some blueberries.
  14. Roll the crêpes.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 5 servings (approximate cost: $0.83 per serving).

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No Bake Cherry Cheesecake

This week I’m participating in the Crazy Cooking Challenge hosted by Mom’s Crazy Cooking!  This is my first time participating in the challenge and the challenge item happens to be one of my all-time favourite desserts: Cheesecake!

Yes, I have a slight lactose-sensitivity and tend to stay away from ingredients such as cream, milk, cream cheese, sour cream… but I just can’t pass up the opportunity to have a slice of cheesecake. I’ve tried and enjoy vegan cheesecakes, such as the Raw Vegan Summertime Strawberry Cheezecake. However, Bryan isn’t a huge fan of these nut-based desserts… and sometimes I just enjoy a more traditional cheesecake. So I decided to make a dessert we’d both enjoy.

The cheesecake I made is an adaptation of a family recipe. My cousin’s recipe actually. She makes it when the family gets together on holidays. She’s made it with all sorts of fruit toppings, but cherry is by far my favourite, so I decided to experiment with that. I added a few sour cherries and some almond and vanilla extracts. I also reduced the amount of dessert whip for a more dense cake.

What’s your favourite cheesecake flavour?

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake

Adapted from my cousin’s recipe

Ingredients

Bottom layer

  • 2 and 1/2 cups honey wafer crumbs – approximate cost $2.75
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted – approximate cost $1.00

Middle layer

  • 1 container of dessert whip, thawed – approximate cost $2.50
  • 2 packages of plain cream cheese, softened – approximate cost $5.00
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract – approximate cost $0.30

Top layer

  • 1 can of cherry pie filling – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 jar sour cherries, pitted – approximate cost $2.50

Method

  1. Prepare the bottom layer.
    1. Combine 2 and 1/2 cups honey wafer crumbs and 1/2 cup melted butter.
    2. Mix well.
    3. Press the crumb mixture into a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Prepare the middle layer
    1. Use a beater to whip 2 packages of softened plain cream cheese until smooth.
    2. Add the dessert whip.
    3. Mix until well combined.
    4. Pour over crumb mixture.
    5. Spread cream cheese filling into an even layer.
    6. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Prepare the top layer.
    1. In a bowl, combine the cherry pie filling and sour cherries.
    2. Pour over cream cheese filling.
  4. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Makes 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.30 per serving).

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Raw Vegan Summertime Strawberry Cheezecake

This week, I wanted dessert, but didn’t want to bake. I wanted to use seasonal ingredients. I wanted something that wasn’t overly sweet…. Then I came across Kris’ recent blog post for Raw Vegan Summertime Strawberry Cheezecake. Yum!

So far, Bryan hasn’t been a fan of raw desserts. I had him taste test raw apple pie in cupcake tins, raw banana coconut “creme” cake, raw apple cobbler, and raw apple crumble. He gave it a try and ate a whole serving of each, but wasn’t a fan. The apple dishes, however, he enjoyed if we heated them up. He hasn’t tried this cake yet. I’m not going to force him to try it (more for me, right?).

We actually had a discussion about these desserts on Saturday after announcing my intention to bring raw brownies to a potluck on Sunday. Dad didn’t like the sound of them. I couldn’t figure out why he was so opposed to the idea without even trying it first! (What’s not to love about a healthier version of the traditional brownie?) Apparently, there are people out there who don’t like dates! I’ve always enjoyed them, so this comes as a bit of a surprise to me that people don’t like the flavour of them.

I guess what I’m getting to is, this dessert is delicious, if you enjoy the ingredients listed. To me, it’s as delicious as Kris promises!

What is your stance on raw desserts? Love them? Hate them? Still need to try them?

Because I have not adapted this recipe, I will list the ingredients and approximate cost. I’ve also taken photos of the process. However, please visit Kris’ blog for the full recipe and directions.

Raw Vegan Summertime Strawberry Cheezecake

Recipe by Kris from Layakari Yoga

Ingredients

Crust

  • 3/4 cup raw almonds – approximate cost $1.75
  • 3/4 cup (about 12) pitted Medjool dates – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Filling

  • 2 cups raw cashews – approximate cost $7.00
  • 2 quarts strawberries – approximate cost $8.00
  • 2 lemons, juiced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract – approximate cost $0.25
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar – approximate cost $0.50

Notes

  • Soak cashews for at least 6 hours (overnight) and rinse twice before processing.
  • Use fresh, local berries if possible.
  • Substitute strawberries for another berry of your choice to change thing up.
  • Reserve some of the fruit as a topping.
  • Agave is not as thick as honey, be careful when measuring it.
  • Slice pie into individual servings, wrap in foil, and re-freeze for an easy dessert (lasts up to one week in the freezer).
  • Thaw pie (slices) for about 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $2.82 per serving).

Visit Kris’ blog post for directions on how to prepare this fantastic cake!

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  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).



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