As we grow up, we realize it's less important to have lots of friends and more important to have real ones ~ Amanda McRae
Last weekend's Spaghetti Saturday
By January standards, the night was unseasonably warm. A far cry from November's dinner (the first snowfall of the year!). As always, the festivities began with the puppies barking happy greetings to everyone as they came through the door
True confessions? The food lover in me is always excited to see what kind of wine (or beer!) and yummy treats everybody brings. Our reply to the funny question we always get “What can I bring? Please don't say it has to be healthy.”
“Whatever makes you feel happy.”
By now, the people we love from all of our worlds have begun to know each other. At least well enough to have the beginnings of a good conversation. Never fear for those who are new, the welcome will be warm (!)
I can't help but be reminded in these moments, why it is that we choose to gather
Sometimes I catch myself sweating the details, as we start to get things ready during the week. Should we change the table placement? How can we subtlety encourage everyone to mingle and get to know someone new? Maybe we'll ask some good conversationalists to come early?
Of course, the things I worry about never come to fruition. Everything always falls into place, just as it was meant to. Sitting down for dinner, no one notices the imperfect place settings, mismatched silverware, the black pug sitting on the chair beside them, or that they're drinking wine from a mason jar.
What they notice and remember are the moments.
After everyone has left, my husband and I find ourselves telling funny stories about the night.
“Do you think we can talk her into bringing another incredibly delicious cheese log?” or
“Before we go to bed, we've got to hang the hand-painted sign she brought as a gift” or
“I can't believe all of the women tonight who could talk sports better than their husbands!”
In all of the crazy moments I've never thought, why are we doing this? Instead, these nights have become something we truly love and look forward to.
Whether I'm searching for the perfect dessert recipe, writing blog posts to capture the evening, or sitting down to enjoy a meal amongst friends and neighbors, it's all of these moments that make the act of gathering so very beautiful
I'm reminded that as we planned and organized our first Spaghetti Saturday, we did it because we wanted to pause and be with those we love and those who inspire us. That amongst life's busyness, I'll never regret taking the time to purposefully slow down. For just one night a month to eat around a table, light candles, buy flowers, make some simple food, and truly enjoy it with the people we hold dear.
There are a few of our friends who avoid gluten and/or dairy, and it's always a fun challenge to find recipes that everyone can eat. This is certainly one that will be in permanent rotation.
A raw cheesecake, made with cashews instead of cream cheese. The crust from a few simple ingredients that are easily processed into a creamy paste.
I used a blueberry sauce as a compliment, sweetened with maple syrup — fresh or frozen blueberries as an extra sprinkling on top. Any berries could be substituted and would work beautifully.
The recipe makes one 8-9 inch cheesecake, or minis made in a mini-cheesecake pan would also be great. Don't have a springform pan? No worries, a square or round dish will work
ps: More fun recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturdays
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~ Adapted from The Paleo Kitchen by Juli Bauer and George Bryant
No-Bake Cheesecake with Berries
- ⅔ cup pecans,
- 1 cup almond butter
- 1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
- ¼ cup coconut butter, softened
- 2 Tbsp honey (or liquid sweetener of your choice)
- pinch fine-grain sea salt
- 2 cups cashews, soaked in water for 3-4 hours and drained
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted but not hot
- ½ cup honey (or liquid sweetener of choice)
- ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups blueberries + ¼ cup for garnish
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- Place the pecans in a food processor and mix until they begin to form pecan butter. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and pulse until well combined
- Place the crust mixture into an 8-9" springform pan
- Press down and smooth out the crust, so that the surface is even all around the pan. Put in the pan into the freezer and allow the crust to harden at least 2 to 3 hours
- When the crust is hard, make the filling
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the soaked and drained cashews and process until they are beginning to form a chunky paste.
- Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the food processor and process until smooth (the filling will be the consistency of thin nut butter)
- Pour the filling into the springform pan(s) on top of the hardened crust and smooth out the filing's top. Place in springform back into the freezer for at least another 2-3 hours
- When the filling has firmed up, make the topping. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add 2 cups blueberries and the maple syrup
- Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently until most of the blueberries have burst. Reduce the heat to low and let the topping simmer until it has thickened, (~ 5-10 minutes)
- Remove the cheesecake(s) from their pans. Pour the warm blueberry topping on the top of each and garnish with fresh blueberries.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.