Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a salad fan, and though my general feelings on the matter haven’t necessarily changed I did find myself craving cold, crunchy veggies more than ever over this humid, hot summer. It’s pretty hard to imagine eating lasagna, soup, or other hot savoury foods when you step outside and break into a sweat!

When I went to Calgary earlier this year on my Subway Ambassador trip we got to learn a handful of recipes on the grill with their head chef, and my absolute favourite part was learning how to marinate and grill romaine lettuce. It’s shockingly simple, quick, and makes a massive taste difference to your salad. I was instantly hooked.

When I got my Lil’ Tex Pellet Grill this past August, trying my romaine tricks at home was at the top of my list, and I had a feeling Traeger’s Blackened Saskatchewan Rub would make the creation even more delicious. With grilled romaine lettuce as my jumping off point I made a list of other ingredients to incorporate – I’ve been experimenting with making the perfect vegan caesar dressing for what feels like years, and I think I finally managed to perfect it over the past month. Paired with smoky chickpeas and cashew nut cheese crumble, this salad might just be so good that it has the power to change a salad hater’s mind!

Scroll down for the recipe!

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ROASTED CHICKPEAS

Ingredients //

Can of organic chickpeas
Blackened Saskatchewan Rub
Smoked paprika
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Recipe //

Strain and rinse one can of organic chickpeas, toss with olive oil, Blackened Saskatchewan Rub, smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Spread evenly across a bed of aluminum foil or bbq safe cooking sheeting and cook on medium-high heat for 30 mins.

NUT CHEESE

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Ingredients //

1/2 cup Soaked cashews
1 garlic clove
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
pinch of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Recipe //

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until it reaches a crumbly texture.

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VEGAN CEASER DRESSING

Ingredients //

1/2 cup soaked cashews
Juice of one small lemon
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup tahini
1 tsp dijon
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper

Recipe //

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or high powder blender until completely smooth.

Wash the romaine lettuce well and allow to throughly dry. Cut each Romaine heart in half length-wide, cutting off the stocky part at the bottom. Use a brush to lightly coat the cut surface with olive oil and season with Blackened Saskatchewan Rub. Place face down on the grill on high heat for 10-15 mins until grill marks appear. Place grilled romaine on a bed of finely chopped kale and top with roasted chickpeas, crumbled nut cheese and vegan caesar dressing. Garnish with a lemon wedge and enjoy!

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Blush dinnerware from Ikea Canada

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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Peach season is a precious time for us here in Ontario and I’ve been extra obsessed with fruit this Summer – somehow as unhealthy as I usually am, fruit has been my biggest pregnancy craving!

When I moved into #heaveninhighpark back in March I was already scheming to get equipped with the perfect grill to use in my newly acquired outdoor space. Going from a tiny condo to a home with both a yard and a front patio was a bit daunting at first, but as soon as I started filling the space it was such a fun project to dive into. I planted a fruitful garden (no peach trees… YET!) and set up seating, but the grill hunt took a lot longer than expected. There was so much to consider – charcoal or propane? How does one even use those flavoured wood chips? What type of grill was least likely to accidentally singe my eyebrows off while lighting it? After months of passively searching I finally found Traeger.

When it comes to BBQ’ing, it doesn’t get much better than Traeger. These pellet grills use wood-fired fuel to cook your food, giving everything a seriously delicious smoky flavour, plus there’s an actual smoker setting to play with too! I wanted to set up my grilling station on the front patio for easy access, so I went with the Lil’ Tex Pellet Grill – it’s the perfect size for an apartment but still fits quite a lot of food. The best part? It’s super easy to fire up without lighting yourself or anything else on fire, and food cooks everything from corn to tofu steaks fast!

When the grill arrived, I couldn’t wait to get one thing cooking: peaches! I know most people think meat when they think BBQ, but my lifelong veggie diet means BBQ season has always looked a bit different, and I love getting creative with fruits and veggies on the grill. I had tried grilled peaches at restaurants, but never made them myself, so I was determined they be the first thing I try to make, especially with it being the height of peach season! Of course plain old grilled peaches wasn’t all that exciting, so the idea evolved into strawberry grilled peach basil and honey ice cream sundaes with powdered donut crumb topping. Served up on perfect blush pink dinnerware from Ikea Canada, this recipe makes the dreamiest Summer treat!

Scroll down for the recipe!

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Ingredients //

Fresh local peaches
Vegetable oil
Strawberry ice cream
Mini powdered donuts
Liquid honey
Fresh basil leaves

Recipe //

When choosing peaches for grilling it’s best to stick with slightly firmer ones. Wash and dry the fruit and carefully slice each one down the middle, vertically from it’s stem end. Twist each half in the opposite direction of each other and gently pull apart, use a spoon to dig out the pit.

Apply a light and even coat of vegetable oil to the cut side of each peach half. Place on a medium to high heat grill until golden brown grill marks appear.

While the peaches are grilling, crumble powdered mini donuts into small crumbs for the topping.

Place two grilled peach halves on the strawberry ice cream, top with donut crumbs, then drizzle with honey and garnish with a fresh sprig of basil!

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Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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This post was made in collaboration with Melitta Canada

Confession: I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker. I know, I know, how can I live without coffee? The saying is literally “But first, COFFEE”, not cereal or green juice or tea! The truth is, I do like the taste of a good cup of coffee with a healthy dose of milk and sugar, but I can’t take the caffeine! I always end up with palms sweating, heart racing panic, so I’ve just steered clear for most of my life… and now that I’m pregnant, decaf or nothing seems like a no brainer considering how sensitive I already was to coffee.

Johanna on the other hand lives for her daily coffee(*s). I don’t know how she does it, it’s like coffee actually replaces her blood. Unlike me, she never takes sugar, just a small touch of cream, and flavour-wise the bolder the better.

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Jo is constantly complaining about the lack of coffee in the office, always arriving at work with a to-go cup in tow that runs out too quickly. Having my own rocky relationship with coffee, I had never really felt the need to stock beans at home, nevermind a coffee maker of any sort. The whole thing seemed like an expensive investment and though I’ve always wanted to be able to serve guests coffee, I was overwhelmed by the seemingly complex (and often controversial) methods of making the world’s favourite drink.

As you know I’m easily swayed by almost anything pink, so I was immediately drawn in by Melitta’s Ceramic Heritage Series Pour Over Coffee Maker in “pastel pink”. Melitta is a female-founded family run company started by a German housewife. Tired of bitter coffee, Melitta Bentz invented the two-part filter system that would become known as the pour over method in her kitchen in 1908! Since then Melitta has grown to become an international coffee and pour-over maker company, though it’s still run by the Melitta family four generations later.

Cute on the countertop and easy to use (even for a noob like me), this little #MelittaPourOver appliance seemed like the perfect addition to my kitchen, and it was amazing to be able to order pre-ground coffee from the exact same website. I even got myself a decaf roast to indulge in! The only problem: I had no idea how to make a cup of coffee! Luckily Johanna had all of the pour over knowledge to shower upon me when it arrived.

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THE PREP //

The first step to creating the perfect cup of pour-over coffee is to boil the kettle – make sure to boil a little bit of extra water (about double what you need).

Pour the first bit of boiling water into the bottom pot of the coffee maker and allow it to sit while you prepare your beans or coffee grounds (about 2-3 mins.)

Pour out the boiling water in the pot and place the natural bamboo coffee filter inside the top part of the carafe. You are now all set to start brewing coffee!

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THE GRIND //

The pour over method’s versatility makes it the perfect way to prepare coffee in the office or at home.
4-5 generous teaspoons of a finely ground Columbian Roast will produce a medium to bold cup with a high caffeine content, Johanna’s personal go-to.

Alyssa opt’s for the Naturally Decaffeinated blend, with lots of honey of course!

A Dark Roast will produce a strong and smoky cup with a lower caffeine content.

For the absolute freshest brew every time, go for a whole bean and grind to your desired taste before each brew. Remember, the finer the grind, the stronger your infusion!

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THE POUR //

Start by slowly pouring, in circular motions from the outside in – only pour enough to just cover the grounds. It should resemble wet sand, you’ll notice large bubbles start to create craters in the grounds, this is carbon dioxide being released from within the beans cell structure. Allowing this gas to be released results in a smooth and even brew.

Now very slowly pour the boiling water over the grounds in circular motions from the outside of the filter inward, the carafe can hold 20 oz. Allow to fully drain from the filter.

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MAKE IT YOUR OWN //

-try adding a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the grounds for a spicy, festive treat.

-stir in your favourite honey or maple syrup

-Love a creamy brew? Stir in about half a teaspoon of coconut oil to your cup for extra buttery texture

-Love lattes? Try infusing the 4-5 generous teaspoons of Vanilla or Hazelnut flavoured coffee blends with only 6-10 oz boiling water for a strong, flavoured concentrate to pour over ice or combine with steamed milk.

Head over to Melitta’s online shop for 15% your purchase using my promo code Alyssa15% and create your own cup of coffee using the pour-over method! #pouroverisbetter

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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I created this blog post as a paid ambassador for Pepto Bismol. All opinions and advice are my own and I only work with companies I genuinely love and have used prior to being contacted.

It’s no secret we love all things pink here at RAOP headquarters, but how far do we take it? Is there such thing as TOO MUCH pink? This post is next level on the pink scale, even for us, thanks to PEPTO…

We’re officially on a colour diet, and we’ve cut out everything but PINK FOOD!

When Jo suggested around Valentine’s day that we should do an all pink dinner party, my first response was “how would that even work?” As per usual, her crafty prowess far exceeded my own and over the next couple months we searched for recipe inspiration and sourced as much pink tableware as we possibly could. We spray painted a thrifted vase to be the perfect shade of peach and enlisted the help of a talented local florist to make a pink ombre arrangement as the centrepiece. We wanted to dye our tablecloth with avocado pits (the results are so pretty) but we didn’t have enough time to compile the massive number of pits necessary, so Jo took over with classic fabric dye and bleach, giving the finished product a light marbling effect. Baby pink tableware from put the finishing touches on the entire set up and suddenly we were ready to get cooking.

“Pink food?” you may be thinking, like I once did, “what does that even mean?” In this case it means a decadent, gorgeous four course meal inspired by our very favourite colour (and by no coincidence, the colour of Pepto Bismol). The main ingredient to make almost anything pink is beet juice, and not much is needed to “dye” a whole lot of eats. We started with a pink veggie platter complete with beet hummus, then a spiralized citrus salad with rose dressing. Our main was a true masterpiece – pink gnocci with pink tinted vegan alfredo sauce! We finished the menu off with a dreamy pink coconut cream pie by our talented baker friend Plum Lucky Pie!

Needless to say, it was quite the feast, and the four of us were extremely full when we set down our forks. My hostess tip – don’t forget to pass the Pepto! There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable after over-indulging at a fun night with friends, and covering your bases just in case never hurts. Whether you’re worried about acid from all those veggies, or heartburn from hearty pasta dishes, Pepto will always be the dinner party wing man that you want by your side.

You can find all 3 recipes here!

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Florals by Wild North Flowers
Photos by Johanna Martin

Disclaimer: Pepto Bismol provides five-symptom relief of heartburn, indigestion, nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea. To ensure this product is right for you, always read and follow the label.

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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If you loved our All Pink Dinner Party decor I’m pretty sure you’re going to love our 3 course pink menu even more! With such epic contributions from so many amazing makers, like a pink ombre floral arrangement by Wild North and a pink coconut cream pie for dessert by Plum Lucky Pie Pi, we really wanted to step it up in the cooking department.

Other than the tiny fork swirl lines on each gnocci (which Italian Nona videos on youtube make look soooo easy) I think we totally killed it with this menu. Can’t wait to see you guys’ colourful creations!

Scroll down for Pink Spiralized Salad, Beet Gnocci and Pink Alfredo Sauce!

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PINK SPIRALIZED SALAD //

Candy cane beets
Watermelon radishes
Pink lady apple
Pear
Red beet
Rainbow carrots
Grapefruit

for the dressing:
1/4 cup Rose wine
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of himalayan pink salt
1-2 tablespoons grapefruit juice

Use a spiralizer for all fruits and veggies except carrot and grapefruit. Peel the outer skin from the carrots and discard, using the vegetable peeler create long ribbons and add to the salad, toss well. Supreme the grapefruit, and cut segments from half the fruit, garnish the salad with them. Squeeze the other half into a bowl removing all seeds and pulp. Mix in with the rest of the dressing ingredients and serve immediately.

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BEET GNOCCHI //

1 cup beets, peeled and boiled
1 cup white potatoes, peeled and boiled
1 egg (or egg replacer)
2 cups of flour + extra for dusting
a pinch of kosher salt

Peel and boil both the beets and potatoes separately, potatoes should take 20-30 mins depending on size while beets will take approx. 50 mins.

Drain and place in separate bowls. Poke the boiled beets with a fork and allow extra juice to drain into the bottom of the bowl, save this juice for the alfredo sauce*. Allow to cool to lukewarm temperature. In a large bowl add the flour, making a small well in the middle. With an electric mixer, mash in the beets and then the potatoes. Add egg and salt and pulse until the dough is smooth and free from lumps. Use the extra flour to dust your surface and hand, knead the dough 5-10 times. Remove a small handful of dough and roll it out into a long cylinder, using a floured knife cut 1/2 inch lengths, pinching the middles with your fingers as you go. Lay each gnocchi out on a lightly floured surface until ready to boil.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. It’s important to not overcrowd the pot with gnocchi, so add about 10 at a time. When fully cook the gnocchi will rise to the top of the water, use a slotted spoon to remove. Serve immediately with the following Pink Vegan Alfredo.

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PINK VEGAN ALFREDO SAUCE //

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
3/4 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup red onion, diced
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons himalayan pink salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 tablespoons beet juice*
Fresh basil for garnish

After the cashews have soaked overnight in cold water, drain and rinse well. Add all ingredients except beet juice to a high power blender and blend until completely smooth.
Using the excess beet juice from boiling the beets for gnocchi, slowly add to the blender and mix until you’ve reached your desired pink hue.

Heat on the stovetop on low heat before serving.

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Dinnerware / Ikea
Flowers / Wild North
Kitchen faucets / Delta Canada
Kitchen / Home Depot Canada
Pink coconut cream pie / Plum Lucky Pie Pi