Pumpkin Pie: A Two-Day Ordeal

Hey everyone!

How has your week been so far? Mine’s been busy with one last midterm (before Round 2, that is), another trip to Princess Cafe, study group meetings, and relaxing evenings at home.

Before I show you the world’s most labour-intensive dessert known to mankind, let me introduce my house-mate and her boyfriend! I originally typed roommate, but some people get the wrong idea with that. We don’t share a room but live in the same “unit” where we share a nice kitchen and bathroom. But we both have our own rooms ๐Ÿ™‚ You can take a peek into our unit by clicking here!

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Madhulika graduated from the University of Waterloo and is currently working in the area. Arsalan, her boyfriend, is on a satellite-building team. Both of them are super kind, thoughtful, funny, and have been the best mentors for me since I came to Waterloo. They give the best advice and know this part of Ontario inside out. Plus, they are incredible cooks and an inspiration for me to be more adventurous with food!

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Arsalan bought this cool ceramic pie plate and a massive pumpkin. Turns out this was a CARVING pumpkin, not a PIE pumpkin (that explains the size!), but it turned out perfectly fine.

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It was sliced in half,

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The seeds were scooped out with a big spoon,

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And the two halves were placed facedown on foiled trays to bake. Placing them facedown helps them steam and allows them to cook faster. That’s one of the tips I learned from Madhulika! It works for butternut squash, too.

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This was placed in the oven for an hour.

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60 minutes later, the timer beeped and they were steaming like crazy. The flesh was quite soft and scoopable. ๐Ÿ™‚ By now, our unit smelled so pumpkinny!

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The creamy insides were scooped out and reminded me of spaghetti squash. And human flesh. :O

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Unfortunately, the flesh wasn’t quite soft enough, so we discarded the skin and placed the “puree” in Madhulika’s massive pot to cook a little longer.

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Half an hour later, it seemed tender enough, so we busted out a blender.

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We did this in batches because the blender wasn’t cooperating, but after six or seven batches, we had lots of neon orange pumpkin puree. It was quite watery, too, but a fine sieve and a fork got rid of that problem. We probably could’ve done something with the pumpkin-infused broth (maybe cook quinoa or make veggie soup?) but ended up throwing it out.

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Meanwhile, Arsalan cut the butter into little cubes and placed it in the fridge to chill. The next day, a Sunday, he added them to a dry flour mixture and cut the butter into the flour with two knives.

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This takes major skill – last time I tried to make scones using this technique, the butter got too soft and I couldn’t make these big crumbs like he did. It turned out so well.

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The butter “crumbles” were rolled up into a ball,

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and rolled flat with a rolling pin on a floured surface.

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The dough was later pressed into the pie plate,

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And the edges carefully and skillfully crimped.

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Isn’t this pretty? I would never be able to make a pie crust as elaborately as this. Many Chef John and Allrecipes videos were watched!

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The filling involved eggs and egg yolks, along with numerous spices. I think pumpkin pie spice smells like Homesense, the department store! Or maybe Bath and Body Works candles. Does pumpkin pie spice have a non-food smell to you?

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All whisked up with some sweetened condensed milk and poured into the chilled pie crust.

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This was supposed to be done in an hour, but ours took closer to an hour and 45 minutes. After letting it cool at room temperature, we chilled it in the fridge overnight and devoured it the next day!

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Before serving, Madhulika whisked up some heavy cream (BY HAND!) with a tablespoon of white sugar and a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract. It turned out so fluffy. There is nothing quite like fresh whipped cream! Then, I wanted some chopped nuts for additional texture on my pie, so Madhulika helped me crush them using the legs of a chair ๐Ÿ™‚

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“I need to practice putting on a sexy dollop.” – Arsalan, putting dollops of whipped cream on three slices of pie

This one turned out the sexiest and was sprinkled with cinnamon before we gave it a photoshoot!

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I was lucky enough to enjoy this pretty piece. These photos were taken on Madhulika and Arsalan’s cellphones by the way! Aren’t they great for phone pics?


Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

CRUST
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted buter, chilled and cut into tbsp-sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 tbsp ice water
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  1. Combine flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 1-second pulses. You can also do this with two knives, as we did here ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. Stir water and vinegar in a small bowl.
  3. Pour half the ice water and vinegar mixture into the flour and butter mixture. Pulse to combine, about 3 (1-second) pulses. Pour in remaining ice water and vinegar mixture. Pulse until mixture just starts to come together, about 8 (1-second) pulses.
  4. Turn dough out onto a wooden surface, pat into round shape and divide in half. Form each half into a disc about 5 inches wide.
  5. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until ready to use.
PUMPKIN PIE FILLING
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp 5-spice powder
  • Pie Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Whisk together pumpkin puree, egg yolks, and egg in a large bowl until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and Chinese 5-spice powder; whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. Fit pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate and crimp edges.
  4. Pour filling into the pie shell and lightly tap on the work surface to release any air bubbles.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake until just set in the middle, 30 to 40 more minutes. A paring knife inserted into the filling, 1 inch from the crust, should come out clean. Allow to cool completely before serving.

My camera took some nice shots as well. Can you see how buttery and flaky that crust was? The sides were so crispy and rich that they reminded me of the massive mille-feuille that my sister and I devoured in Paris. Speaking of Paris – was that really two and a half months ago?

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Covered with the professionally-prepared crushed nuts and demolished in seconds. Nothing quite compares to homemade, 100% from-scratch pumpkin pie, or any pie! ๐Ÿ™‚ Can you believe I’ve never had pumpkin pie before this? It was surprisingly custardy and flavourful. Now I’m in love!

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Many more slices were enjoyed throughout the week, and I think the three of us finished the pie in about eight days. It was just too tempting to have that plate of deliciousness calling our names from the fridge.

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I just had a slice today after lunch and it was perfection. I think pumpkin pie gets better the longer it sits in the fridge – maybe the flavours start to meld together! So by now we’ve established that pumpkin pie is awesome… but there are countless other ways to use up that liquid (?) gold! My favourite ways to cook/bake with pumpkin involve muffins, pancakes, and oatmeals, but I’m definitely going to explore some savoury options. Here are some ideas.

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Ways to Use Leftover Pumpkin Puree

How do you use leftover pumpkin puree?


Awesome, right?

Whew, guys, I am so glad it’s the weekend and happy it’s Halloween! I don’t have any plans other than staying home to relax, doing laundry, and other fascinating things like sweeping and organizing my containers. I have the most exciting life and I love it ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you have any plans for the weekend? Are youย dressing up for Halloween?

What I Ate Wednesday

Woke up to a rainy, rainy day. So glad I have nice rainboots to keep my feet dry and warm while walking to the bus stop at eight in the morning!

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Before I left, though, I had a massive bowl of oatmeal made with a whole mashed banana. I love, love, love oats made with an entire banana! They become so creamy and sweet.

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The weather was miserable.

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I came home after my first class ended at 10:00, did some studying, and started making lunch.

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It was one of my best sandwiches yet!

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Yes, I know I say that about every sammie I have ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I enjoyed some broccoli-cheddar soup while making this, then had some pumpkin pie afterwards for something sweet. This sandwich had TONS of zucchini, cheese, and avocado inside and was incredibly filling! That’s an end piece by the way – I inverted it ๐Ÿ˜‰

Do you eat the end piece of a loaf of bread?

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Check this out! This hallway in one building at my school is made entirely of glass whiteboard material so students can draw all over it. Isn’t that great? I’ll have to bring some markers to school one day to try this out!

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I studied with a group of friends, then with another friend to prepare for tomorrow’s midterm before coming home at around 7:00 to make dinner. Roasted cauliflower cooked in the oven while I made Thai green curry with fish and vegetables. Lots of quinoa was devoured, too.

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I’m in love with anything coconutty or drizzled with lime!

Oh, and I enjoyed another slice of pumpkin pie after this. Having that pie in the fridge is dangerous for me because I’m always tempted to snab a piece. :/

Did you eat anything delicious today? Do you get tempted by sweets when they areย there in front of you?

PS: I’m still fiddling with my camera trying to figure out why the memory space is all full. I’m terrible with technology!ย Do you ever have problems with computers, phones, or cameras?

Bad News!

There’s something wrong with my camera!

I transferred all of my photos onto the computer last night, and erased every shot, but this morning I couldn’t take any pictures because “Memory Space Full”. :O

So I ended up taking pictures of today’s meals on my iPhone 4, which was a totally different experience! The quality is making me cringe, though. Here is what I eat on the most normal, average Tuesday ๐Ÿ™‚

And… here’s to the shortest post in blog history.

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A handful of nuts after because… I wanted nuts. Nuts for nuts!

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Snack: sweet potato hummus and rye + flax crackers

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Dessert: yogurt with flax and maple syrup, peanut butter, and some more of those addictive nuts ๐Ÿ™‚

Did you have a delicious day? What did you eat?

Yamwich

Who doesn’t like yams? Sweet, creamy, and tender, they are practically fluffy carbohydrate clouds. High in potassium fiber, and Vitamin A, they are also much more nutritious than their white potato counterparts.

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I think my favourite thing about sweet potatoes is their versatility. Throw them in salads, on quinoa bowls, make soup with them… and now, enjoy them in a panini! The photo below was taken at Princess Cafe, where I recently enjoyed their famous ‘Yamwich’, a crispy multigrain bun stuffed with tender sweet potato, brie, caramelized onion, and spinach with a thick smear of pesto. You might’ve seen this photo in my lunches and dinners post earlier last week ๐Ÿ™‚

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They inspired me to make my own version, which was honestly just as good. I like their bread, but my brie was much meltier ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, this was my second time remaking a Princess Cafe sandwich. A while back, their vegetarian sandwich with eggplant, tomato, and roasted pepper inspired my grilled zucchini, pepper, avocado, and goat cheese sandwich. These easy meals for one make filling, healthy, and absolutely delicious lunches. I wish I had a side of soup!

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This sandwich is easy as pie (speaking of pie, my roomie, her boyfriend and I made a pumpkin pie completely from scratch over the weekend – roasting the whole pumpkin and all. Recipe and photos coming soon!). All you need is to build a sandwich using the following ingredients:

  • Roasted yam cubes
  • Brie cheese
  • Spinach
  • Pesto

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And that’s it!ย The Princess Cafe version included caramelized onions, but I didn’t think it was worth the time… and tears ๐Ÿ˜‰

The best thing about sandwiches is how flexible they are. Don’t have brie? Try goat cheese! No spinach? Arugula works too. How about butternut squash cubes instead of yam? Or a sundried tomato pesto? Switching things up will keep this sammie super exciting.

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I can’t wait to go back to Princess on Thursday (it’s my new tradition – going to Princess Cafe for lunch between classes!) and enjoy another awesome panini and salad/soup.

I’m curious, guys – let me know in the comments below ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Have you tried yam in a sandwich?
  • Do you have any favourite cafes nearby that you visit regularly?
  • Do you like to re-make restaurant dishes and how do they turn out?

Kitsilano Foodie Day with Seline

It’s Flashback Friday!

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Thomas Haas double-baked chocolate almond croissant // organic quark danish // Moroccan chicken sandwich

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Beehive ceiling

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Row after row of chocolate

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One of my top three favourite sandwiches in the world

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YUM.

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Danish

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Tasty but lacked something :/

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Mmm, almond frangipane and chocolate perfection

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All together

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Leftovers to go

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Terra Breads

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Their famous blueberry flatbread

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Las Margaritas

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Chips and homemade salsa

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Mexican rice, flautas with chicken and salsa, sour cream, guacamole

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We love Mexican food!

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Rain or Shine ice cream cone

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I miss summer and I miss BC!

Lunches and Dinners

Hi everyone! I just finished a lovely couscous, falafel and veggie dinner and need to wash dishes before starting my homework – but I wanted to quickly share some of the meals I’ve enjoyed for the past 2-3 weeks.

You can see my breakfast-only post HEREย for 26 ideas that are guaranteed to draw you out of bed (well, it works for me!), and I recently shared a bunch of 2-minute dessert ideas on this post. Because what’s a meal without dessert?

Onto the savoury eats, though – enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚


LUNCHES

Pulled chicken sandwich with brie and wilted spinach

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Served with butternut squash soup!

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Mexican quinoa salad with black beans, corn and scallions, roasted red peppers, avocado, lime and salsa-greek yogurt dressing

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Leftover spinach, mushroom, and roasted red pepper frittata with feta, grapes, whole wheat crackers and brie

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Leftover quinoa chicken bake with parmesan, crackers, brie, and grapes

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Thai green curried salmon with zucchini, bell peppers, and carrots, steamed broccoli, quinoa

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Princess Cafe panini of the day: goat cheese, artichokes, mushrooms and caramelized onion, roasted red pepper

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Apple parsnip soup! With a side of neuroscience ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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Apple brie grilled cheese with tomato soup

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Couscous salad with black beans, feta, peas and corn, carrots, roasted red peppers

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Topped with pecans another day

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Apple-brie grilled cheese and soup

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Snack: crackers, brie, and grapes before a lasagna dinner

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Lasagna made with sharp cheddar, ricotta, mushrooms, and spinach

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With sauteed garlic-lemon broccoli. Yum!

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Another grilled cheese: this time apple-cheddar with Dijon mustard.

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Simple snack of crackers, grapes, and brie.

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Massive veggie sandwich with cheddar, roasted red pepper, grilled zucchini, and avocado

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This sandwich was so loaded that it fell apart as I was eating it! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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Tomato scrambled eggs over quinoa with zucchini, bell pepper, and mushroom stir-fry

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Omelet with goat cheese mozzarella, scallions, zucchini, and yellow zucchini

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Grilled frittata sandwich with spelt bread and butternut squash + yam soup!

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This grilled sandwich also had a layer of mashed avocado, truffle salt, and fig goat cheese. One of my favourite lunches!

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Scrambled eggs with fig goat cheese, mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash, toast and soup

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Princess Cafe lunch: sweet potato coconut curry soup

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And a delicious “yamwich”: roasted yams, brie, caramelized onions, spinach, and pesto on multigrain bread. Okay, THIS was my favourite lunch!

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Thai-fried quinoaย with egg, pineapple bits, peas, scallions, garlic, lime, and coconut milk. A tropical feast for lunch that kept me full all afternoon!

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I went to Vincenzo’s, a famous Italian grocery store in Waterloo, one Saturday afternoon to grab groceries and a sandwich for lunch.

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I also picked up a cheesecake and received two MAJOR disappointments:

  1. The sandwich was not grilled. It was a cold sandwich, and I’m really not a fan of cold sandwiches. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I had half and saved the rest for another time.
  2. The ingredients in the cheesecake were disturbing. Look above… this is never something I would eat, but I paid for it and didn’t want to throw it out, so…

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This was the horrible bananas foster cheesecake. I took a bite and nearly spat it out – it was like artificial banana medicine. Have you ever had banana medicine? This is what this cheesecake tasted like. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ What a disappointment! I was still craving something sweet after I threw this out (yes, I threw out food… and it was CHEESECAKE, what a surprise) and had some gelato: maple-pecan, chocolate-almond, and peanut butter chocolate. YUM.

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Leftover sandwich toppings from the second sandwich half were given another life: grilled up in spelt bread with apple slices and more brie!

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Apple-brie French toast. This wasn’t my favourite lunch but a drizzle of maple syrup did improve it ๐Ÿ™‚

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DINNERS

Mexican quinoa topped with avocado, Greek yogurt, cheddar, black beans and corn, chicken, roasted peppers, salsa, and lime

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Spinach, mushroom, roasted red pepper frittata with feta

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Quinoa mixed with sauteed vegetables and shredded chicken, topped with sharp white cheddar. Pre-bake!

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And post-bake, served with sauteed garlic broccoli and sweet potato aioli.

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We all know that the cheesy topping was the best part: I’m definitely adding more next time!

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Poached salmon in a Thai green curry vegetable “stew”, sauteed broccoli and quinoa

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Bow ties with tomato vegetable sauce, spinach, and parmesan

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Thai peanut noodles with chicken, egg, carrots, spinach, scallions, and cucumber. I used my favourite peanut sauce recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

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Scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms, feta, and two slices of different toast!

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Spinach-ricotta ravioli topped with spinach tomato sauce, mushrooms, and parmesan

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Simple pan-fried salmon, roasted potatoes, and steamed broccoli with sweet potato aioli

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Salt, pepper, and a little lemon make excellent seasoning.

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Tomato scrambled eggs with scallions, quinoa with peas and corn, broccoli

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Quinoa stir-fried with zucchini, corn, mushrooms and topped with sweet potato harissa hummus and sweet potato aioli

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Thai green curry with carrots, spinach, eggplant, peas, and mushrooms over quinoa

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Frittata for one: two eggs with zucchini and mushrooms, ricotta on top, broccoli and sweet potato aioli

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Wish this was goat cheese instead! Ricotta has such a mild flavour.

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Leftover lasagna with parmesan broccoli

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Heating it up in the oven makes the edges nice and crispy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Pan-fried salmon, roasted brussels sprouts, potato and zucchini gratin made with goat cheese mozzarella: the gratin was the highlight! Thin slices of zucchini and potato baked with simply goat cheese mozza, salt, pepper, and dried basil for about half an hour to 40 minutes. Perfection!

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Indian coconut curry with chickpeas, spinach, and peas, zucchini and bell pepper stir-fry, quinoa

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Chickpeas, curry, and coconut go together beautifully. This is such a classic Cindy-meal ๐Ÿ™‚

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Avocado, lemon, and truffle salt on toast, frittata with zucchini, bell pepper, mushrooms, and sweet fig goat cheese

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Hideous photos because it was late and I was still freaking out over setting off the smoke alarm – even toasting bread a minute too long will set of the smoke alarm at my place!

Goat cheese with fig spreadย is so, so good – I’m never buying another goat cheese in my life! By the way, this was the same frittata that made the delicious sandwich above.

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Coconut chickpea curry with spinach, broccoli, mushroom and zucchini stir-fry

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I love little veggie stir-fries as a side dish.

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Thai-style fried rice with coconut quinoa, scallions, egg, peas, and pineapple, sauce of soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice

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Lasagna with parmesan-garlic broccoli

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Goat-cheese stuffed chicken meatballs, sauteed basil mushrooms, cheesy broccoli and zucchini over quinoa. This meal (minus quinoa) was made by my Master Chef roomie. She is an excellent cook and such an inspiration!

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Zucchini and potato gratin with goat cheese mozzarella, Thai green curried salmon with yellow bell peppers and lime, quinoa with peas and scallions

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Goat cheese chicken meatballs with mushrooms and zucchini, topped with arugula and basil ricotta over quinoa: my roomie inspired this dish. Her meatballs were stuffed with goat cheese but I got lazy and mixed the chunks in ๐Ÿ™‚ By the way, quick oats work as a substitute for breadcrumbs!

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Vegetable ricotta lasagna with parmesan broccoli – I like this version better than my previous one!

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Leftover meatballs mixed with tomato sauce and spinach, served over quinoa with goat cheese and sauteed broccoli

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So that’s it for today – what are your favourite lunches and dinners?