Holiday Happiness Bites

I don’t like chocolate. There I’ve said it. It’s true. I really just don’t get the allure. About twice a year I try some, and at least once a year I end up spitting it out. I know. I’m weird. Personal feelings aside, I get that chocolate makes most people happy, and I like making people happy. So since we are heading into one of my favourite holiday seasons I thought it only right to share a bit of love. Recipes for little bites like this abound and there are about a zillion possible variations, but these are tarted up a bit for the holidays. I won’t join you in eating them, but I do hope they make you happy this holiday season.

IMG_52351 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup carob powder
1 tsp. vanilla
4 dates, pitted and ripped apart
½ cup raisins
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp. chocolate chips

3 (chemical free) candy canes, crushed and powdered

In a food processor (or strong blender) blend all ingredients, except candy canes, until fairly smooth and pasty (the blender will melt the coconut oil). Place crushed candy canes in a bowl. Using your hands make marble sized balls with the batter. When you have several ready, drop them in the crushed candy canes to lightly coat them. Place finished treats on a piece of parchment paper (or tin foil) in a container. Cover and keep in fridge for up to one week. Makes approximately 25 the size of a large marble.

Grilled summer fruit.

As I write this it is early morning and I’m sitting on my back porch with a coffee. The sun is creeping its way over the trees, the birds are singing and the garden is still dripping from the dew. I may change locations soon but only to get a fresh peach for breakfast, weed the garden and plot my next preserving adventure.

It’s summer and the livin’ is easy.

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Cook(those)books & weekends.

Ah, weekends. How those days do beckon. To me there are three kinds of weekend people. The practical ones who actually relax, the determined-to-get-away (and have fun!)-even-if-it-means-I’ll-be-exhausted-at-the-end-of-it ones and the bury the head in the sand types who spend their days at their desks happy that the phone isn’t ringing as much and they can finally get some work done. Now practical people recognize that you need at least three days for a proper weekend. A day to wind down and get some things accomplished, a day to relax and a day to wind back up and get ready for the week ahead. But how many of us actually find the balance and do this? This past Victoria Day weekend I tried. I gardened, and then I took a nap. I went to a wedding, but then went to bookclub with my girls. I tried a new recipe and cooked dinner for family, but then stayed in my pj’s until noon. Not a bad balance all in all.

What I also did over the long weekend was download about a bazillion photographs and sort through some of my menu and cooking notes. As I was doing that I realized it had been awhile since I did a Cook(those)books recap. So if you need a bit of inspiration here are a couple of the recipes that have been new to my kitchen in the last while.

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Shortcake, quit hogging the berries!

Does anything spell the beginning of summer like strawberries?  This week I finally had my first local strawberries (sorry, California, yours are good, ours are better!).  Thankfully my oven still hasn’t been installed and I couldn’t make tea biscuits because the berries were gone before the batter would have been mixed.  However, if I did have an oven, and a few extra flats of berries I would have had to make at least one batch of my moms tea biscuits, pour on the berries and maybe, just maybe, some fresh whip cream or ricotta cheese on top.

For those of you with an oven (and with a special shout out to Mom!) here is a tea bicsuit recipe perfect for shortcake of any fruit variety.

4c organic flour

1c white sugar

1/2tsp baking soda

1tsp baking powder

1c organic unsalted butter

1 ½c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450degrees.  Grease a 9×13 baking pan.

Sift dry ingredients together.  Cut in butter.  Add milk .

Bake for 15 min., test with a toothpick in middle.

To serve cut in squares, then cut individual squares in half horizontally.  Split apart and top with berries, cream and a sprig of mint for garnish.  As an aside – they are great with  a bit of butter or cheese as a special treat with your morning coffee on the patio in the sun with a book!