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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We took a bit of a break over, well, the holiday break, in part because we needed it, but also because we had a lot to figure out re: me taking off to La La land! With half the team (aka me) keeping toasty down here and the rest of us freezing their tails off back in Toronto, content has become a bit challenging.

Nothing wrong with a little challenge though, right?

The way I see it, our distance only means we can inspire each other in new, unexpected ways. One of my favourite things about the city of angels is the incredible food – so much fresh produce and so many amazing vegan options! Inspired by the dreamy menus I’ve seen here, and a potential upcoming trip to Hawaii (fingers crossed) I thought up this tropical veggie burger with the team, and they made it happen back home in the studio!

Taking a cue from some of the burgers I saw served to tables on trips to Hawaii as a kid, we topped our veggie patties with grilled pineapple rings, avocado and sweet bbq sauce. For a pop of pink, simply add a handful of pink pickled onions or turnips!

Scroll down for the recipe

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Ingredients //

Veggie burger patties (we used St.Yves because they’re vegan!)
Burger buns
Lettuce
BBQ sauce
Pineapple slices
Avocado
Pink pickled turnips or onions
Umbrellas for decoration (optional)

Steps //

We started by grilling our toppings! Lightly oil your grill and allow it to heat up fully. For the pineapple, make sure you press as much water as you can out of it first with paper towels. Then place on the grill and wait for those dark brown grill marks to appear, flip and grill the other side as well.

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To grill the avocado, lighting oil your grill again, cut the avocado in half length-wise and carefully peel away the skin from each half. Place the halves flat side down on the heated grill until you see the desired grill marks.

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Now grill your veggie burger patties and assemble! Start with the BBQ sauce, burger patty, lettuce, turnips, pineapple and finally avocado. Top your burger off with a fun umbrella and fries and you’re ready to eat like the islanders do!

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Plates from the Cheeky Home + Brit & Co collaboration!

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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In our world, no one is ever too old to believe in Santa Claus, and why would he visit without a tasty treat to tempt him?

We wanted to whip something extra special up for old Saint Nick this year, so we decided to do a new spin on our cereal milk recipe: cookie milk! This concoction is perfect for the King of Christmas when he’s on the run and doesn’t have time for a proper snack, and oh my, is it ever so delicious. We highly recommend making a big enough batch to share with your friends and family – it’s sure to get you on the nice list.

Making this sweet holiday treat was made even more fun thanks to adorable rainbow shopping lists and letters to Santa. With the help of Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens we were able to turn our notes into rainbow works of art (also, because they’re so fast drying they’re great for the lefty on your list!)

Scroll down for full recipe!

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Ingredients //

Mini Rainbow Chips Ahoy cookies
2.5 cups of soy milk (or alternative of your choice)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6oz boiling water
Cheesecloth
Maple Syrup and sprinkles (optional for rimming)

Recipe //

(Makes 2 cups)
You’ll need about 45 mins for this step.

1. Crush the Mini Cookies inside the bag until they are small to medium size crumbs.

2. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the cookie crumbs onto a cookie sheet. Toast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 mins until you can start to smell the cookies and they start to brown.

4. In a medium size bowl add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, boil a small amount of water to dissolve the mixture.

5. Measure out 2 1/2 cups of milk alternative (we used soy) and add it to the bowl.

6. Add your toasted cookies, stir and allow to steep in the fridge for 30 mins.

7. After the 30 mins transfer into another bowl using a sifter with cheesecloth to collect the cookie dust. You may need to strain multiple times to collect all of it.

Now rim your glass and you’re ready for Santa!