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The Birthday Pie

Hello friends! I’m stopping in for a late and quick update. Just getting in from playing a State of the Union drinking game. I had to take a drink of my Alexander Keith’s any time Obama said “economy” or when Joe Biden fell asleep :P

Tonight I want to share the pie I made for my birthday. It’s become a bit of a tradition that I make my own special treat rather than the more common birthday cake. You can see the carrot cake I made in 2009 and the chocolate beet cake I made in 2010.

This year I decided cake was passé and it was high time the lesser acknowledged pie take the front seat. I spent a lot of mental energy trying to decide what kind to make. I got some fabulous suggestions on Twitter and Facebook. But in the end I went with one of my favourite flavour combinations: peanut butter + marshmallow fluff. And so I give you…

Fluffernutter Pie

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I ended up following this recipe. However I think it could be tweaked a little. I will save my comments for the end so you can feel free to play around with it if you so choose!

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I started with a basic graham cracker crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp melted butter

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Sounds easy enough! However, this was my first attempt at a graham cracker crust, and I think it turned out too crumbly. Maybe because I used a pre-crumbled mix. Probably because any good recipe needs a little more butter ;)

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I flattened that mixture into a normal sized pie dish and stuck it in the fridge while I assembled the filling.

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You will need:

  • 1 cup marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used smooth & natural)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (I used light)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
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    Start by beating together your cream cheese, peanut butter and marshmallow cream.

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    Slowly add in your 35% cream.

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    Then your sugar.

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    Blend all that up, then take a spoon and stir in the milk to get it nice and fluffy.

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    And pour over your chilled graham cracker crust.

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    That’s it! The hard work is done! Easiest pie ever, right? It’s quite literally “as easy as pie.” Now you just need to freeze overnight before eating. The recipe highly suggests you do this to bring out the flavours.

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    If you’re impatient, I recommend licking the bowl to tie you over. 

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    Now, the recipe never said if this should be eaten frozen or just chilled. I tried it both ways, and letting it defrost in the fridge makes a much better pie. Nice and fluffy instead of hard like a frozen cheesecake.

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    Overall, it was a damn tasty pie. Even though the crust was crumbly, it still tasted top notch. And the fluffy pie made for a wonderful light dessert. I did however find that the cream cheese flavours overpowered the peanut butter and marshmallow flavour. And it was a touch too runny.

    SO, if you’re brave and ever try making this. I suggest using a whole jar of marshmallow cream (closer to 1 1/2 – 2 cups) and leaving out the milk. Also, if you’re using natural peanut butter, feel free to bump up the sugar from 4 tsp to at least 2-3 tbsp.

    Clearly, I’ll just need to find an excuse to make this again. Anyone in need of a birthday pie??

    My Favourite Pasta, Healthified

    Happy Waffle Wednesday!!

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    I woke up this morning with waffles on the mind, but decided to wait until Wednesday to have them. Then I realized it is Wednesday! It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine needs sugar every afternoon in the office. My body wants waffles every Wednesday. And who am I to say no?

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    Similar simple recipe as always:

    • 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
    • one scoop (30g) unflavoured soy protein powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 stevia packet (or the equivalent to 2 tsp sugar)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3 tbsp egg whites
    • 1/3 cup almond milk

    Topped with vanilla yogurt, blackberries, blueberries and homemade coconut chia granola. The berries were on sale this week. In January? I’ll take it!

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    In honour of Waffle Wednesday, I dedicated a whole album to it on my Facebook page. Check it out if you need some topping ideas! There are freezer waffle variations in there as well.

    It’s a slow week over here as I get back into the swing of things after being home for so long. On the bright side, it’s provided me with ample time to make dishes that I’ve had bookmarked forever!

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    First up is Jessica’s Autumn Mac and Cheese.

    I ended up completely bastardizing this recipe, but the inspiration was still there ;) It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest pasta fan. I just don’t like the taste or texture of slimy noodles. But one dish is the exemption: mac n cheese.

    I was originally drawn to this recipe because of the addition of butternut squash. My favourite sweet squash sounded like the perfect addition to a cheesy mess!

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    I am however still a cheapskate. I left out the brussel sprouts for a much cheaper bag of frozen cauliflower and broccoli.

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    To me, mac n cheese is all about the elbow macaroni. I went for the whole wheat variety as I like the grainy texture.

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    Rather than roast the squash, I just chopped it up and zapped it for five minutes. Apart from being a cheapskate, I’m also an impatient cook.

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    Y’all know I’m a girl who likes her protein, so I added a pound of browned extra lean ground beef to the mix too.

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    I did however follow Jessica’s directions for the roux. I know from experience that it’s the key to a creamy concoction! Just 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp flour, 2 cup milk whisked with the shredded cheddar cheese. I decreased the amount of cheese by almost half for the sake of my expanding waistline.

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    Poured over top the mix and sprinkled with, no, not breadcrumbs or more cheese.

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    Nutritional yeast flakes! It has a very cheesy taste and is one of the richest vegetarian sources of B vitamins.

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    A Bastardized Mac n Cheese Recipe
    (as inspired by How Sweet Eats)

    • 225g whole wheat macaroni (around 1 1/3 cups uncooked)
    • 1 medium butternut squash
    • 1/2 bag frozen broccoli & cauliflower (or whatever you like, really)
    • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1 tbsp flour
    • 2 cup milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
    • 5 oz cheese (I used old cheddar)
    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

    Directions
    Cook the noodles in water and brown the beef in a pan. Peel and chop the squash into 1 inch cubes and microwave lightly covered in a bowl for 5-6 minutes. Defrost the frozen veggies in the microwave as well.

    In a small pan melt the butter and whisk in flour. Add milk, then slowly add the grated cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly. Mix together noodles, meat and veggies and place in a 14×9 casserole dish. Pour milk mixture over top. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

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    I got six meal-sized servings out of this which I also like to eat on top of cooked spinach. I lovelovelove the cheesy sauce with the butternut squash. I also appreciate how the squash adds volume but reduces the calories in a typically high-calorie dish.

    In other news, my Simply Switches are still going strong!

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    Thanks to citrus season, clementines have replaced my usual piece of chocolate for dessert. There is nothing wrong with a piece of chocolate, but I’ve replaced some of those empty calories with something a little more nutritious.

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    Another new dessert I’m loving is crystallized ginger! Mind you, it still has cane sugar. But I love how the strong taste doesn’t leave my tastebuds craving anything else once a meal is complete.

    I’ve also discovered that my homemade Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars fit perfectly in my little IKEA tupperware containers.

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    It’s the little things ;)

     

    Question of the Day: What is your favourite pasta dish? No surprise here, mine’s Kraft Dinner. Yes, the kind from the box with the powdered cheese.

     

    **For anyone in the Toronto area, Morgan and I are hosting a blogger lunch in the city at noon on January 22. Vegan/vegetarian friendly. It’s my birthday weekend, so I promise there will be cake. E-mail Morgan at Morgan.Shuker@gmail.com to RSVP. Hope to see you there!**

    A Little Blog-spiration

    Whyyyy is the weekend over already?? It went by so quickly! I only have two weeks left at my job. Then I’m on my own till I head to Toronto! I actually plan on moving back home for a few weeks before heading to TO for June 1st. And yes anyone living in the area – there will be tons of bloggie meet-ups in our future!

    But there I am getting ahead of myself again. It’s Sunday. The end of Sunday. Sigh.

    My body didn’t get the memo about it being the weekend again.

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    Was up in the 6 o’clock hour again and stumbled to my stovetop right away to get started on a batch of cream of wheat. 

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    Cooked with unflavoured soy protein powder and dates. Topped with cashew butter and molasses. End of the jar for the cashew butter, and it’s almost solid! That’s why it’s all broken up like that.

    I was sooo not feeling the gym today, I just wanted to lay in bed reading all morning. But I forced myself out to a step class. As a little background, I usually go to step at the small women’s-only location. It’s the only time I ever go to that gym, but I just got into the habit of going there any time I went to step. It’s a small class of 25 women or so and pretty tight-knit.

    Well, today I went to my usual, much larger, co-ed gym. There were at least 50 women packed into the class and two instructors I’d never had before. I was a little nervous, because step is one of those things that you need to get into a groove with. I didn’t want this new environment throwing me off my game!

    Well, can I just say, it was the best step class I’ve ever been to. Ever. For a person who hates being in crowded environments, I love being in jam-packed exercise classes. I think it’s because I can blend in a little more. Plus, I feed off the energy of others, and today’s class was flying!

    The instructors were hilarious and entertaining. I pushed hard because I was having a great time – my HR maxing out at 174 bpm, which only ever happens when I run! Between step today and kickboxing yesterday, it’s been a fun weekend of exercise for me :)

    Like I usually do after hard workouts, I was craving eggs.

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    A couple boiled eggs mushed up with mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, olives and feta cheese.

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    And why just have an apple, when you can have an apple sprinkled with cinnamon? Just sayin’ ;)

    All together now!

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    I wasn’t full after this, but then I wasn’t hungry for a very long time. Weird.

    Showed my apartment again – I may have found a subletter! Maybe. She’s signing a sublet agreement tomorrow. But I won’t believe it until she actually moves in.

    After grocery shopping, I realized that I had three cartons of egg whites in my fridge. Whoops. It’s one of those things I automatically buy every week. Apparently, I didn’t eat much last week.

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    For a snack, I poured egg whites into a mug, and added a de-strung (??) string cheese, nuking it for 3 minutes. Topped with Frank’s hot sauce.

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    The cheese is key. Then you get little pockets of melty heaven.

    So, a girl at work is celebrating her birthday tomorrow, and it’s Treat Monday. Clearly, this called for something extra amazing!!!

    Word on the street is that Janetha’s fruit pizza is the bestest, and I’ve been drooling over it forever. It calls for two rolls of premade cookie dough rolled out onto a baking sheet and baked. Then topped with a mix of whipped cream cheese/condensed milk/vanilla extract and fresh fruit.

    Except! My grocery store only had chocolate chip cookie dough! I panicked, and bought cinnamon rolls.

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    I started imagining a fluffy cinnamon-y crust, but realised this may not be the case when I popped it open and the rolls were already cut up. Could we get any lazier??

    So I squished up all the dough and rolled it out with a water glass because I don’t own a rolling pin.

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    And then I baked it! Predictably, the dough in the center didn’t cook while the edges browned. But it came apart pretty easily and I was able to get a few mini pizzas.

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    I bought a container of fruit salad for the toppings. It’s got pineapple in it though, so I may not be able to partake tomorrow as I’m allergic (even to the juices). But I did by a melon salad, and tried a little pineapple-free piece tonight.

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    I gotta test the goods!! It was deeelicious. The “sauce” is the best part. Maybe next time I’ll just make my own cookie dough or something ;)

    Dinner was another blogger inspired recipe. This time from Leah! I wanted leftovers for the week, and she’s my go-to gal for those ;)

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    Quinoa & Salmon w/ Tomatoes

    2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1 cup finely chopped red onion
    1/2 a giant sweet onion, chopped
    1 cup finely chopped small bulb of fennel Still can’t find it in my grocery store!
    2 cups water
    ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
    1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
    1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted, undrained
    1 pound salmon fillets, skin removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
    ¼ cup tightly packed chopped fresh 1 Tbls dried dill
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

    Zest of 1 small lemon

    1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy, 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
    2. Stir in tomatoes (with liquid). Return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and boil gently over medium heat until quinoa is translucent and tender, 6-8 minutes.
    3. Stir in salmon. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until salmon turns opaque and is cooked through, about 1 minute. (Check and cook an additional minute if needed.) Turn off heat. Stir in dill, lemon juice, and zest, plus remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add salt to taste, if needed.

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    I served it on top of some steamed green beans and broccoli. I’ve actually made this once before and loved it. Definitely deserved a make-again! It’s really quick and easy too. 20 minutes, minimal chopping, and all you have to do is throw a few things in a pot.

    Oh, and look at who I ran into while waiting in line at the grocery store today!!

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    Lori!!!! Eeeeee!!!! So. Freakin. Exciting. She’s featured as one of the real-life weight loss stories in May’s Shape magazine. She looks fabbity fab in the photo too. Stellar wardrobe choice Lori! I love that you’re picking up a big-girl’s dumbbell in the shot too ;)

    Oh, and remember this shot of Archie I shared yesterday?

    Well, I didn’t share the one of him winking at the camera.

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    Sorry ladies, he plays for the other team, if you catch my drift *wink*

    And for the record, my mom is never getting him back :P

    Now I think I’ll wrap up this blogger-inspired day by making one of Holly’s no bake protein cookies. See ya tomorrow!!

     

    Questing of the Day: What blogger-inspired foods have you been eating lately?