31.8.15

Reese Peanut Butter and Chocolate Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake

Reese Peanut Butter and Chocolate Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

The other morning a man from Fed Ex came to my door with a package. "Oh, sorry, did I wake you up?" he said. Taken aback a second, I wondered why he had asked. Then I realized I was in my "work-from-home" uniform, which usually involves pajama pants. Oh, the joys of working from home. The Fed Ex person thinks you have just rolled out of bed and they are there to deliver two jars of Reese peanut butter spread. If he had known what was in the package, do you think he would have been like "you can't get dressed and go out to the store to buy your own Nutella?" Hershey's Canada sent me some of their new Reese peanut butter chocolate spread to develop a new recipe and try--or eat out of the jar with a spoon.

Reese peanut butter spread

The hardest part was not eating the entire spread by itself and on toast. It tastes exactly like a Reese peanut butter cup. I picture some person at the factory cranking Reese peanut butter cup candies through a machine and pouring it into these containers. I know I usually focus on healthy eating recipes on my blog. I made a little bit of an exception for this sweet treat. Cheesecake is my guilty pleasure. With this recipe I tried to make it a little less heavy by substituting half of the cream cheese for greek yoghurt. I also didn't add any extra sugar and used the Reese spread as sweetener instead.

Reese Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake

The jars were sitting on the counter for a few days until my husband asked if he could open them. And then I made this cheesecake, and the jars were set free for consumption. You know you live with a food blogger when there are rules as to what you can touch or eat before it's been recipe tested or photographed. I live a strange life...

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

There's no beating around the bush that this is a rich and dense cheesecake. Adding Reese spread added enough sweetness to the cake. I then made a topping with regular chocolate chips and peanuts to balance out the peanut taste. It is also a baked cheesecake as opposed to one you put in the fridge to set. I took inspiration from a few other recipes, including Nigella Lawson's Nutella cheesecake and this cheesecake recipe. Basically, substitute the Reese spread in any recipe calling for Nutella or peanut butter. I would also suggest making brownies with the Reese spread. 

Nutella peanut butter cheesecake

Reese Peanut Butter Chocolate Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake

1 cup chocolate baking crumbs (or crushed Oreo cookies)
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp Reese peanut butter chocolate spread
1/2 package of cream cheese (250g brick)
3/4 cup Reese peanut butter chocolate spread
3/4 cup Greek Yoghurt
2 eggs
1/4 cup crushed peanuts
1/4 cup chocolate chips with 1 tsp canola oil

chocolate baking crumbs

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl and mix. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased pan.
2. In a stand mixer or in a bowl, mix the cream cheese and greek yoghurt until smooth. Add the Reese spread and then the eggs one by one until there are no lumps. 

Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake recipe

3. Pour the mixture on top of the crust. Bake in the oven at 350F for 60 minutes. Test the doneness of the cake by inserting a toothpick into the middle to check if it is clear. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake Recipe

4. For the topping, sprinkle the crushed peanuts on top of the cake. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave with the canola oil for 30 seconds. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top. 

Reese Peanut Butter Chocolate Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake recipe

5. Let the cake cool for 20-30 minutes in the fridge before serving. 

Reese Peanut Butter and Chocolate Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake

Reese Peanut Butter Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake

Follow the #doyouspoon hashtag on Facebook and Twitter for more recipes using Hershey's Reese peanut butter chocolate spread.  What would you make with the Reese peanut butter chocolate spread? Are you going to try it out? 

Disclosure: I received free product samples for review purposes and was compensated for this post by Hershey's Canada. The opinions expressed are my own based on my own experiences. 

27.8.15

Food News: Truvia Brown Sugar Blend

Truvia Brown Sugar blend

Let's face it, sugar consumption is something everyone needs to work on. According to a recent Stats Can study, consumption of total sugars averages 21 percent of daily energy intake in the Canadian diet--with "added sugars" making up 10 per cent. Any way to still enjoy sugar while reducing calories helps. Truvia has recently launched a new brown sugar blend that tastes, looks and feels like regular brown sugar with 75 per cent fewer calories.

Truvia Brown Sugar Blend is made from stevia plants. Stevia is a popular choice for people looking to reduce their sugar intake. You also don't need to use as much as regular sugar, so a recipe calling for brown sugar would only need half as much Truvia brown sugar. One cup of Truvia Brown Sugar blend contains only 210 calories compared to regular brown sugar, which is about 830 calories for the same amount. The 450g resealable bag costs $9.99.

You can click here to request free samples of Truvia and check out their website for recipe ideas.

22.8.15

Spinach and Feta wraps with Opadipity Greek Yoghurt Dips


Litehouse Opadipity Greek Yoghurt dips

I still believe that spinach dip in a rye bread bowl is the best party appetizer of all time. Any party I go to I'm always like "who has the spinach dip?" One party I went to I actually sat by the spinach dip and when the pieces of rye bread ran out, I resorted to eating the "bowl." That is how much I love dips. When they are low-calorie I like them even more, as a snack with crackers or vegetables, on a sandwich or used as a sauce for dinner. Most of the time I make my own greek yoghurt dips by adding some dill and cucumber to make tzatziki or some caramelized onions for onion dip. Other times I buy pre-made dips. I was excited when Litehouse Foods asked me to try their new Opadipity Greek Yoghurt dips.


The Opadipity savoury dips come in Creamy Ranch (60 calories per serving), Chipotle Ranch (60 calories), Cucumber Dill (50 calories) and Spinach Parmesan (70 calories) flavours. They are low calorie made with zero preservatives, no MSG and no gluten. As you can see, the cucumber dill dip when fast. All of them seem to be disappearing at high speed in my fridge. I like the texture of the dips, as they are not too liquidly for dipping or spreading and not as firm as regular Greek yoghurt. The taste of the flavours comes through without being too overpowering. Unfortunately, chipotle is not my favourite flavour in general. I was willing to try it with these dips. I liked the actual Greek-inspired dips more, like the cucumber and dill and Spinach Parmesan, over the Ranch-based dips. If you like ranch and are looking for something with less calories than regular Ranch dressing, these would be a good choice. The dips sell for $3.99 each.

Litehouse Opadipity Greek Yoghurt dips

I made some quick, lunch-time wraps using the Opadipity dips. These spinach and feta wraps are adapted from this recipe or you could make Greek-inspired quesadillas like these ones. They are easy to make and full of cheesy, creamy Greek dip goodness. The wraps are prepared "a la Florentine," which means "with spinach" or "featuring spinach." I learned that this week. Think of them as almost like a spinach and artichoke dip wrap although a lot healthier. You could also use cream cheese or another Greek yoghurt dip substitute. The recipe makes two wraps.

Spinach and Feta wrap

Spinach and Feta wraps

2 whole-wheat tortillas
4 oz Opadipity Spinach and Parmesan dip
1 tbsp olive oil
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 a zucchini, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
6 oz spinach
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Heat olive oil in a medium or small skillet.
3. Add the zucchini and cook for a few minutes until soft.
4. Add the green onion and tomato and cook for a few minutes. Then add the spinach.
5. In a bowl, mix the dip and vegetable mixture.
6. Grease a baking sheet for the tortillas. Add the mixture on top.
7. Sprinkle the feta cheese on top.
8. Wrap the tortillas and bake for 15 minutes.


Spinach and Feta wrap

Let the wraps cool for a few minutes then cut them in half on a diagonal. Admittedly, this is not spinach dip in a rye bread bowl. This is a lot better for you. Or you can spread the dips on toast or crackers. I like to call them "vessels" for dip. The Opadipity dips would be great for entertaining and parties as something quick and easy to bring. Visit the Litehouse website or Facebook page for more recipe ideas. Which Opadipity dip sounds like the best to you? 


Litehouse Opadipity Greek Yoghurt dips

Disclosure: I received free product samples for review purposes. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my own experiences. 

11.8.15

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

shrimp and avocado salad

When Kevin Costner said "if you build it, he will come" in Field of Dreams--famously misquoted as "if you build it, they will come"--I don't think he meant your first house as a married couple. Since living in a place that has two bedrooms and plenty of space, we have had a lot more visitors, which I don't mind at all. It means there are more opportunities to entertain and spend time as a tourist in our own city. That's what we did for the August long weekend. Both of our parents were spending the weekend in Ottawa, so the weekend was jam-packed with food and fun. 

shrimp and avocado salad

Having a table that fits six to eight people somewhat comfortably also helps to encourage people to visit. That means more room for good food. On Sunday night, we had dinner at our place with steaks, the shrimp and avocado salad pictured above and green beans and potatoes. I find making a bunch of salads great for entertaining because everyone loves salad and they are versatile for lunch the next day or leftovers. It was my interpretation of "surf and turf." We bought some amazing aged steaks from Seed to Sausage in Ottawa. I mean, look at those things.

dinner party

dry rubbed aged steaks from Seed to Sausage, Ottawa

The focus of the weekend was Mike's parent's boat. They were taking a six-week long journey from Midland, Ontario to Ottawa, Ontario on their boat for their summer vacation. It was neat that we could see them and spend some time on the boat while it was docked in Ottawa. Of course, who wouldn't want in on some boating action, so my parents wanted to join in and decided to visit that weekend as well. My favourite boating activity is boating "happy hour," which we did a lot of when the weather wasn't nice enough to go out on the boat. I am perfectly alright with using a boat as a glorified patio.



Living in Ottawa, we are surrounded by culture, history and attractions that we sometimes forget about living here. Museums are also a nice activity to take visitors to for an afternoon. Many of the museums in Ottawa I could go to for the architecture alone, like the Museum of History formerly known as the Museum of Civilization located across the bridge from downtown Ottawa in Quebec. We visited the museum last time we visited Ottawa before moving there and watched one of the IMAX films. The Museum of History is one of Canada's most visited museums with more than 1.2 million visitors each year. The Grand Hall is an impressive indoor space with six-storey windowed walls and an homage to the First People of Canada's Pacific Coast. 

Museum of History, Ottawa

Grand Hall, Museum of History, Ottawa Ontario

That weekend happened to be the last weekend the Magna Carta was in town for a special touring exhibit. The copy of the Magna Carta with the exhibit, as well as the Charter of the Forest, was written around 1300 and stamped with the seal of King Edward. To see the documents that are more than 700 years old, to read every word and to admire the penmanship was truly amazing--coming from someone who loves words. The documents were in Ottawa for a few weeks before traveling to other cities in Canada. 

Magna Carta

The Magna Carta paved the way for modern ideas of democracy. It established that no one, not even kings, were above the law. Much of the current Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other international charters were based on the ideas of the Magna Carta. The law also says you probably shouldn't take photos of rare documents in museums, but somehow my husband sneakily took a non-flash photo of the document in the exhibit.  



Can you get any better than this for a city to show people when they come to visit? Ottawa, although you are far away from a lot of things, you're alright. Now it's August and the summer is practically over, so soon it will be back to the crippling cold of Ottawa, which I can maybe deal with after this beautiful summer. This photo is the view from the museum looking over to Ottawa and the Parliament buildings:

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Now, on to that salad I made for dinner. Even if you're not a fan of sea crawlies, you may still like this salad. I adapted from this recipe that originally called for nacho chips with it to serve. You could put it in the middle of crackers or chips as a kind of guacamole. I liked it as a fresh, side salad. Depending on the avocados you have, the mixture might be more of a guacamole texture than a salad. I promise you it will still be tasty as a side salad or even as a meal. 

Shrimp and Avocado salad

Shrimp and Avocado Salad 

Ingredients:
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and cooked
10 oz spinach
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 avocados, diced
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper

Shrimp and Avocado salad

Directions:

1. Defrost or cook the shrimp and peel them.
2. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, mustard and parsley and whisk together.
3. Coat the shrimp with a few tablespoons of the dressing and let marinade for 20 minutes.
4. Chop the tomatoes and scoop out the avocado into cubes if possible, depending on how ripe.
5. Combine the shrimp, tomatoes and avocado.
6. Layer the serving bowl with spinach and then the shrimp, tomato and avocado mixture.
7. Pour the rest of the dressing over top. 

What is your go-to recipe for dinner parties? Where do you like to take people when they come to visit? Let me know in the comments or like Food.Love.Happiness on Facebook

30.7.15

Food News: Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival and a GIVEAWAY for 2 tickets

Toronto Food & Wine Festival 2015


Do you watch Top Chef? Of course you do. If you don't, then we can't be friends anymore. As you probably know, many Top Chef finales wrap up at the great Food & Wine Festival in Aspen run by Food & Wine Magazine. Top Chef Judge Gail Simmons was Special Projects Manager at Food &Wine Magazine for awhile. Now, you can experience all of the excitement of a Food & Wine Festival with the first Toronto Food & Wine festival. Formerly, the Delicious Food Show, the festival will be hosted by the magazine and include tastings, events, celebrity chefs and programming at the Evergreen Brickworks September 18-20, 2015. I don't need to convince you that you need to go because food shows are great and you should go. Just in case you need a reason, here are some highlights:

Food tastings at the Toronto Food & Wine Festival 2015

5 reasons you need to visit the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival 2015:

1. Celebrity Chefs: Curtis Stone, Tyler Florence, Gail Simmons, Chuck Hughes, Roger Mooking, Mark McEwan, Antonio Park and many more will be taking to the stages for demos, talks and workshops.

2. Free samples: Sample, sip and savour all the flavours from 130 purveyors of premium products, fine foods and beverages from Ontario and around the world in the Grand Tasting Pavilion – presented by PC Black Label.

3. Chef events: Cochon 555 is bringing its flavour-packed marquee events series to Canada allowing guests to sink their teeth into over 1400 pounds of expertly prepared pork dishes by chefs including Chuck Hughes, Matty Matheson and more. 

4. Workshops: Expert-level educational workshops welcome legendary masters like Kevin Kent (Knifewear), Tetsuya "Ted" Iizuka (Soba Canada), and Antonio Park (Park Restaurant) to share their knowledge of time-held traditions like knife skills and soba noodle making.

5. Talent: Canada’s Best New Student Chef will be crowned after a cooking competition called Taste Canada Cooks the Books. Some of the brightest up-and-coming culinary talents from across Canada will gather in front of a live audience in the Miele Kitchen to make a dish from a well-known Canadian cookbook, with the author on stage.

Follow more news about the festival on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Chef Chuck Hughes, Toronto Food & Wine Festival 2015

I am giving away 2 free tickets for general admission (1 for you and a friend) and guest access to the Grand Tasting Pavillon and some celebrity chef events. The winner will receive 2 Adult Single-Day General Admission passes (approximate value of $58). The winner will be contacted by email and will receive the tickets by mail 2 weeks before the festival. Please only enter the giveaway below if you are able to attend the event in Toronto, Ontario between Sept. 18-20, 2015. No purchase necessary. Open to Ontario residents only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

18.7.15

Making better choices with Rolling Meadows Dairy and Life Choices Natural Products

Life Choices Natural food whole fish fillets and Rolling Meadows Dairy yoghurt

I try to support local food as much as I can with an emphasis on "as much I can." No one is perfect. I go to the farmer's market sometimes, check where produce is from at the grocery store and read labels. Then there are times when my husband is working nights and I want to eat chicken fingers and watch episodes of Celebrity Wife Swap. Little did I know that I could somehow do both things. I received some coupons to try some free products by Life Choices Natural Foods and Rolling Meadow Dairy products. The coupons took me all the way to Whole Foods where I observed the hyper local trend at its most extreme. To be honest, convenience meat products are not something I would normally buy. I can definitely see the appeal if you have kids and want to whip up a quick dinner they will like. At least I knew with the Life Choices products that I could feel good that the meat was from pasture raised animals.

Life Choices Natural Foods fish fillets

I picked up a bag of the Life Choices breaded fish fillets made with a sprouted grain coating and whole fish fillets. I served it with "Mexican cauliflower rice" and some Rolling Meadows dairy 2% plain yoghurt. The dairy products are made from grass fed, pasture raised cows. According to Rolling Meadow Dairy, grass fed products have a better taste because grass fed cow's milk has more than a 300 per cent improvement in the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids versus conventional milk. Plain yoghurt is definitely something I use all the time, so I was glad to try a different kind. In terms of the taste, the yoghurt had a little bit of a creamier, less tangy taste than other plain yoghurts I have had. Although the fish sticks were convenient to make, the grain coating made them taste a bit too dry for my liking. 

Life Choices Natural food chicken strips and Rolling Meadows Dairy yoghurt

I much preferred the Life Choices multigrain breaded chicken strips to the fish fillets. The next night, I had them with some broccoli, pita and tzatziki sauce made with the even richer Rolling Meadow Dairy 3.25% plain yoghurt. I actually really liked the chicken strips. They also had the multigrain coating that seemed to taste better with chicken than fish. It seems kind of weird when stepping out of my food comfort zone involves eating chicken fingers and fish sticks. If you want to eat them or need to eat them out of convenience or on the go, then eating grass fed is probably a good way to go. 

Life Choices Natural Foods chicken strips

Speaking of on the go, you know those vacations that aren't quite vacations? Like the week or two you take off to get things done, go on a staycation or visit family? I had one of those a few weeks ago. Since I live in Ottawa now, my husband and I try to go back to the Southwestern Ontario region a few times a year where we used to live to visit family and friends; it's like a reunion of sorts. That also means taking time off to travel to see people, and not necessarily things, which is good sometimes. Google+ actually put together a neat "collection" of the photos from my phone from that week, which you can see here


The first leg of the journey was from Ottawa to Guelph on the Saturday. We arrived just in time for a private block party on the street where my husband's parents live. The court gets together each year for a street party and decided this year to hire a "pizza food truck." Those Pizza Guys in Guelph are a new business starting out that drives around with a wood fire oven for private events. The dough is made from scratch and rolled out at the venue, and then cooked in the wood oven with the toppings. 

Those Pizza Guys Guelph Ontario

Everyone paid a set amount to get all the pizza you could eat from four different flavours, like "Green, no eggs, no ham" (mozzarella, shallots, roasted tomatoes and pesto) and "The Queen" (Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil). I ate way too much pizza and sat out in the sun way too long and it was so worth it. It reminded me of the street parties we used to have on my street growing up. 

Those Pizza Guys food truck Guelph Ontario

On Monday, we headed down to London, Ontario for a few hours to visit some friends. We moved from London to Ottawa, so we wanted to go back to visit after not having gone back there since we moved last year. It is always so hard when you're only there for a few hours to see everyone you want to see and do everything you want to do.


We had dinner out and then hung out at The Cardboard Cafe, which is a new board game cafe in town. I can't resist a board game cafe (seriously, I love those places) and it was a great way to catch up with friends. If you're looking for a fun game, somewhat easy going game, for a lot of people, then try Camel Up (pictured below).

The Cardboard Cafe London Ontario

Near the end of the week, we headed to Toronto for the day to meet up with my parents and my Uncle and cousin. My relatives fly from England to Toronto for the weekend to see the final Rush concert. They are die-hard Rush fans, and to come all the way from England to see the band play is dedication right there. We met everyone for lunch downtown and then afterwards went to Ripley's Aquarium. 


I know it is a complete tourist trap and somewhat overpriced. I have to admit, it was pretty cool though. We were there for about 3 hours looking at all of the different galleries, exhibits, fishes and sharks. There is one point of the aquarium where the glass is a 360 degree view of the fish and they all swim over your head. I had a good time even though it seems primarily geared towards children. The efforts they put in to conserve the fish and their habitats is neat to see. Plus, you can take all sorts of "selfies" with the fish.

Ripley's Aquarium Toronto

Ripley's Aquarium Toronto

After a week of traveling--and not quite a week of relaxation--it was back to Ottawa. It still had some of the features of a regular vacation, such as food. Food is always the focus of any vacation. A change of scenery is always nice for a little while to get yourself out of a busy cycle of life. Sometimes, it's nice to take a road trip and see old and new things, as well as familiar people. 

Disclosure: I received free product coupons for review purposes. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my own experience. 

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