July 2015 Cooking Class

Vegetarian Picnic in the Park
Vegetarian Picnic in the Park


The theme for this month’s cooking class was Picnics, Potlucks, Barbecues and Food for Hot Summer Days. Summer in Manitoba is short but intense, with both heat and humidity. And there is so much to do in the summer, you don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen cooking. These menu items are easy to prepare ahead of time with little cooking required. They are perfect for quick no cook meals or to take along to a backyard barbecue or a picnic in the park.  We have a family favorite, dairy-free Pizza Quesadillas, my favorite potato salad, a potluck favorite Black Bean Salad, a super easy vegan Caesar Salad and a light simple Lemon Curd dessert parfait. The recipes are all below. Thanks James for the great photos.


smoothieAnd there is no better time to enjoy refreshing, nutritious green smoothies than the summer. Gardens and farmers’ markets are teaming with delicious local greens perfect for green smoothies – beet greens, carrot tops, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, parsley and cilantro. The green smoothie this month is an Orange Mango Cilantro smoothie. Its light, citrusy sweet and delicious. If you are not a fan of cilantro, you can substitute parsley, spinach or kale. However, don’t give up on cilantro, it has so much to offer nutritionally.  I was not a big fan of it to start but I found I loved it in smoothies. Now I love it in everything. Give it a try, using a bit less cilantro to start, and you just might acquire a taste for this very nutritious herb.

Orange Mango Cilantro Smoothie

  • 2 cups chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • Zest of one organic orange (optional)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 cups water

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy.

Although green smoothies are best consumed right away, if you find you are strapped for time, make them ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze them.

Pizza Quesadillas

quesadilaThese pizza quesadillas are a fast east way to make personal pizzas without heating up your oven.  You can cook these in an electric frying pan, a large skillet on the stove or in a grill. And they are delicious hot or cold. Make your cashew cheese and pizza sauce ahead of time and these pizzas can be whipped up in short order. I made a batch of these for our last picnic in the park.

Pizza Quesadillas

  • 1 batch Cashew Cheese Sauce, recipe below (or use dairy free cheese such as Daiya)
  • 1 batch pizza sauce, recipe below
  • 8 large whole grain burrito shells
  • Thinly sliced veggies – mushrooms, peppers, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, etc
  • Veggie pepperoni (optional)
  • Sliced green or black olives (optional)
  • Olive or coconut oil for frying

Place a small amount of oil in a large skillet or electric frying pan. Place one burrito shell on your cutting board. Spread about 2 tbsp of pizza sauce over the burrito shell. Sprinkle on your choice of thinly sliced veggies, veggie pepperoni and/ or olives. Carefully transfer to the hot pan. Spread with about 2 tbsp cheese sauce on a second burrito shell.

Spread pizza sauce and toppings on one burrito shell and cheese sauce on the other.
Spread pizza sauce and toppings on one burrito shell and cheese sauce on the other.
Place pizza on a skillet
Place pizza on a skillet

Place over the first burrito shell in the pan (cheese side down).Using a spatula, press the burrito shell down. With a pastry brush, coat the top burrito shell with oil. Once the bottom burrito shell is toasted, carefully flip the quesadilla over and toast the second burrito shell. Remove and let cool a few minutes before slicing into wedges. Make 4 large pizzas. 

Good served hot or cold.

Cashew Cheese Sauce

cashew cheeseThis cashew cheese sauce is my variation of countless cashew cheese sauces I have tried. The carrots give it a cheddar cheese color.



  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced (about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ to 3/4 tsp salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp)

Soak cashews overnight or 2 hours minimum. Cook sliced carrots in ½ cup water until very tender. Drain soaked cashews and place in blender with remaining ingredients, except nutritional yeast. Once carrots are cooked, add carrots with the water to the blender. Blend well adding additional water if required. Add the nutritional yeast and blend until combined. (mix in by hand if the sauce has gotten too thick to blend)  Adjust the seasonings – adding more lemon, salt, garlic or nutritional yeast as needed. Makes about 1 ½ cups.

Pizza Sauce

pizza sauceFor me, a great pizza is all in the sauce. This sauce is nice and thick and super easy to whip up. However, you can substitute a store-bought pizza or spaghetti sauce in a pinch.


  • 1 – 156 ml can tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp each oregano and basil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or ½ tsp garlic granules)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed chilli peppers (optional)

Mix all ingredients together well. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Add crushed chilli peppers if using. Makes about 1 cup.

Macedonian Potato Salad

potato saladThis is my absolute favorite type of potato salad. In my books it far surpasses the regular mayonnaise based potato salads.



  • 4 large red potatoes
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill or parsley

Boil or bake potatoes until just tender. Cool until cool enough to handle. If baked, peel off the skin. Chop potatoes into ½ inch cubes. Add vinegar and oil to warm potatoes and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add more vinegar if needed. Add dill or parsley and chopped green onions. Good served warm or cold.

A great way to bake potatoes in the summer without heating up your oven is in a crock pot slow cooker.  Simply wash your potatoes and place in a slow cooker on high. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours until the potatoes are fork tender. As a bonus they stay hot in the slow cooker for at least an hour after you shut off the cooker. A super easy way to prepare baked potatoes for a barbecue.

Black Bean Salad

This Black Bean Salad is my go to for potlucks as it is colorful and a sure crowd pleaser.

  • Two 16-ounce cans black beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 1 ½ cup canned or frozen corn
  • ½ red or green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 very large tomato, chopped
  • 1 or 2 avocados, diced

black bean saladCombine all ingredients except for tomatoes and avocado in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight. Take the salad out of the fridge at least 1 hour before serving. Add tomatoes. Right before serving, add avocados and mix gently, being careful not to mash avocados. Garnish with a more chopped cilantro if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Adapted from:

http://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/easy-black-bean-salad-recipe/    and http://www.onceuponachef.com/2010/08/black-bean-salad-with-corn-red-peppers-avocado-lime-cilantro-vinaigrette.html

Caesar Salad

I have made many vegan Caesar salad dressings, and although I prefer to make the dressing from scratch using whole food ingredients, this one is super easy to make from bought or premade mayo and is always delicious.


  • ½ cup Vegenaise Mayonnaise (or an eggless mayonnaise)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast


  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ red onion, chopped (optional)
  • Whole Grain Croutons
  • Nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Veggie Bacon Bits (optional)

Mix all dressing ingredients well. Place lettuce in large bowl and toss with dressing and, if desired, an additional tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Garnish with tomato, red onion, croutons and veggie bacon bits.

Lemon Curd with Blueberries

lemon dessertThis is a lovely fresh looking desert with a nice lemony tang.  Make your lemon curd ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Then its super simple to whip up a glamorous desert in a snap. You can make this as individual servings in parfait glasses, fruit nappies , punch bowl cups or even small mason jars. Or you can make it in a glass pie plate or baking dishes and slice it up to serve it. It is very reminiscent of lemon meringue pie.


  • 1 cup cookie crumbs (e.g. ginger snaps or graham cracker)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil


  • 1 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ to 1 cup sweetener (brown rice syrup, honey or raw cane sugar)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional, for color)
  • 1 – 398 ml can coconut milk (lite or full fat)
  • 5 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 cup water


  • Fresh blueberries
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled in fridge for 24 hours
  • 2 tbsp raw cane sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

To make the filling: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the lemon juice, rice syrup or sugar, lemon zest, salt and turmeric, stirring well to dissolve the sweetener. Mix the corn starch and water well until the corn starch is fully mixed. After the sweetener is dissolved, add the corn starch mixture and the coconut milk, stirring well to combine. Stirring constantly, cook until the mixture begins to thicken and the first few bubbles appear on the surface, about 8 minutes. Cook, stirring constantly, for several minutes more, or until the mixture resembles a thick pudding. Transfer to a glass bowl and place plastic wrap on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Cool in refrigerator for several hours.

To make coconut whip topping: open bottom of can of chilled coconut milk. Pour off liquid and place coconut cream in a bowl. Whip with beaters until smooth, adding cane sugar and vanilla. Adjust sugar to your taste. Store in fridge until ready to serve.

To make the crust: mix cookie crumbs with melted coconut oil and press crust into a glass pie plate or individual fruit nappies.

Assemble: top crust with lemon curd, blueberries and whipped coconut cream. Alternatively, serve in a parfait glass with layers of crust, curd, blueberries and whipped topping.  A fresh mint leaf makes a great garnish.



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