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Posts tagged ‘chocolate’

Blueberry “Glosettes”

I was just surprised to find out that “Glosette” is an exclusive Canadian brand of confectionary!  Who knew!  I thought that Cadbury made them, but apparently Hersey bought them in 1987 from Nabisco so I wasn’t even close!

Basically a glosette is bit of dried fruit or nut dipped in some glossy chocolate.

So over the holidays I had a young visitor who for health reasons is not supposed to eat much sugar.  I didn’t want him to feel left out while everyone else was pounding back the sugar cookies and shortbread, so I tried to make him some healthy items so he would feel like part of the gang.

One thing I came up with was to make my own blueberry glosettes.   It was a bit labour intensive, but worth it in the long run.

I also made up some of these :  CLICK HERE

But for the glosettes I had to first dry out the blueberries!

Out came the trusty Excalibur dehydrator which really hadn’t been getting it’s fair share of use lately.

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Start by thoroughly washing and picking over your blueberries, discarding any dodgy ones.   And then I put them into a clean tea towel and  try to dry them the best you can.

Then onto the dehydrator try and in they go.

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If you don’t have a dehydrator……..and I understand that many people don’t!  You can just put them on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in the oven on super low.  Like 200 degrees if you aren’t trying to make them “raw”.

Which ever method you use, leave them until they resemble raisins.

Once they are done, let them cool to room temperature.

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Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt some good quality dark chocolate.  I used the 70% cacao bars.

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Melt the chocolate until it is just runny enough but still quite viscous.

Toss in your blueberry raisins , coating well, working quickly.

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Now I’m sure at the Hershey factory they have some sort of fancy conveyor belt thing that makes them come out perfectly round, but at home you have to make due.

I tried letting them harden on a fresh sheet of parchment but will admit they came out flat on one side.

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Or I tried putting them on a baking cooling rack with small squares, that seemed to work better, but it was a bit of work getting them off.

Perhaps you might have an even better idea of how to cool them and keep their shape??

Which ever the case, once they hardened they were a delicious, NOT so sugary treat!!

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The Gift Everyone Loves

I know that it might seem a bit cliche but the best gifts really do come from the heart!

They don’t have to cost a lot.

So making someone some holiday treats made with love, in my books is always a winner!

This year I was going to be seeing a number of people so I made a bunch of big batches of a bunch of stuff and then personalized a tin or a basket for each person.

I even made a big batch of  mini Energy Balls because no one really had to know that they were actually healthy and that the only sweetness in them was from dates!

I made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies ( any favorite recipe will do ) but added some orange zest and a teaspoon or two of fresh orange juice to jazz em up a little.

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I made sweet and spicy nuts which are also teetering on healthy.

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Then there was the peanut and chocolate “bark”.

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And finally the cranberry and egg nog mini muffins!

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But that’s just what I did.  Any combo of little treats stuffed in a decorative container will bring happiness to those who receive them!

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Happy Holidays!!

Energy balls or holiday treats?

My friend and I had been out on a full day of serious shopping but knew we had a very special dinner to look forward to, so didn’t want to fill up on pesky lunch!

We were at the health food store when she spied some “energy balls” in the display counter and insisted that we get some.

I’ll admit, they were some tasty energy balls and certainly did tide us over till dinner, but it always gets my goat when these places charge so much for something so simple to make.

So here I will reveal the secret to energy balls!

The key ingredient here is dates!  You must have dates and then everything else can just be whatever you have available.

Start with about 10 dried dates, cover them with boiling water and then let sit for about 10 minutes till they soften up, drain and then put into the food processor.

Grind those up first and alone, because those are what everything else will stick to.

Then, in no particular order, into the processor add:

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cut hazel nuts

etc etc etc

You could add pretty much any nut or seed, even hemp seeds, or dried cranberries whatever small dried thing of that nature that you might have.

Whiz those all up until it resembles a fine meal texture.

Then if you like, add chocolate chips or carob or something like that and then give the processor  a few more pulses till they are mixed in but not pulverized like everything else.

Then on to a parchment covered tray………

I always use gloves for this kind of thing because I really hate sticky on my fingers!

Carefully roll the mixture into a ball, the size is your discretion.   It you are going to use them as a serious energy ball for after work outs or that kind of thing, you could make them golf ball size.

If you want them as an afternoon treat with a cup of tea as I tend to use them you will want them smaller “meat ball” size.

And then if you want to use them as a holiday treat to trick your friends and family into eating something healthy……then just make them small homemade truffle type size.

Then once you choose your size……roll each ball and then either leave as is or you can then roll them in some additional delicious thing like dried coconut or like what I have done with these, sesame seeds or just plain coco powder.

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Place them on the tray and then put in the freezer for about half an hour before serving/eating.

Once they have set, you can put them in an airtight container and put them back in the freezer where they will last a good few weeks.  Just give them about 10 minutes out before eating.

Or put them in an airtight container in the fridge to enjoy often.

Or pack them up in decorative tins and give them away!

They are a very versatile little thing…..oh and they DO actually give you a boost of energy!!

Enjoy.

Oh and PS depending on what you put in them, they are vegan and RAW.

Road side surprise

This past weekend the Chef and I headed “up island”  ( that’s what they call pretty much anywhere that isn’t Victoria, or more North than where ever you happened to live on the island!) to do a little family visiting.

We usually only make one stop on the way, to get gas at the place where it is always cheaper and to get a coffee at Tim Hortons  ( for my non Canadian friends, that is an essential part of Canadian culture!).   But due to timing and what have you, we found ourself needing to stop for a meal of some sort.

We didn’t want to venture too far off the highway and lose too much time, so we pulled over into a strip mall in the city of Nanaimo.  There were a few choices that seem to have sprouted up in most mall parking lots across the land, but we settled on a place called “Original Joe’s“.

I have seen one in a local mall parking lot, but it had never come up for us to have a chance to try it.

We were very pleasantly surprised.  We were expecting your typical parking lot style family restaurant or roadhouse type thing but it was much more inviting.

They had a simple, but nice menu and we both very much enjoyed our choices!

The Chef is very partial to a place called J & L Drive-IN in Port Alberni.  He loves it cause you can get a hot dog ON your hamburger!!

So imagine his delight when he found a similar product at Original Joe’s!!  Only this one came with a fancy sausage of some kind and two delicious sides, garlic roasted mash potato, topped with crispy onions and a tasty Caesar salad.

Big burger

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I got the fish tacos, a dish I have recently become quite fond of and these ones did NOT disappoint.  Full of fresh toppings and a nice side salad.  I was very pleased.

Fish tacos

And then the Chef ordered something called “chocolate therapy”.  It was an ooy gooy moulton chocolate cake type thing with chocolate and caramel sauce and whipped cream.  I tried to take a picture but it didn’t work so well….too  decedant for even the camera!!

“Chocolate Therapy”

So if you find yourself in need of a bite and you see an Original Joe’s, give it a try.

My Valentines

I know that many of you have expressed envy over the fact that I have a Chef around the house.

And although there are MANY perks to this, there are also a few hazards, like the high risk to your waistline and the fact that there ALWAYS seems to be a lot of dishes!

But on this past Valentines Day this year, I was once again treated to a lovely meal!

Actually it started with a very nice breakfast, simple but effective.

Eggs, cooked inside slices of red pepper that looked very much like heart shapes, on toast, with a bit of cheese.  I couldn’t have been happier!

Heart shaped eggs

Who knows what I had for lunch?  Probably nothing, knowing I would be coming home to a feast.  And a feast it was.

For weeks I have been nagging the Chef to try out something I saw on someone else’s blog.  The other blogger had taken goat cheese, rolled it into balls, breaded them and then deep fried them and then tossed them in hot sauce.  Exactly like you might do with chicken wings!

The Chef, not liking to be outdone, took it up a notch!

Instead of just goat cheese, he used shredded chicken and blue cheese!  So these balls were even closer to a chicken wing!   But then we just dipped ours in hot sauce instead of having them completely covered in them.   

Very tasty! 

Chicken & blue cheese balls

Then we moved on to the “Party Snack Sampler”.  I am a big fan of party snacks so to start with a few to whet my whistle, was very nice.

Tapenade topped goat cheese, hummus and pita. 

And my favorite little Spanakopita!

Spanikopita

Next was a simple salad of bundles of baby greens wrapped in finely sliced cucumber with a nice sun-dried tomato and balsamic dressing.

Then the main event.  asparagus filled ravioli on a mound of puree of sweet roasted butternut squash, topped with brown butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Asparagus ravioli with butternut squash and brown butter

Finally, for dessert, the triple header chocolate delight!!

Home made chocolate pudding, topped with grated chocolate infused whipped cream and a shard of Lindt 70% dark chocolate bar!  

Chocolate Triple Header

Doesn’t get much better than THAT!

I am a lucky girl.

New Years Eve in Seattle

We pulled into Seattle in late afternoon and went straight to the hotel.

We were staying at the Hyatt Olive 8, a shiny new state of the art eco-friendly “green” hotel in downtown Seattle.  We choose the Olive 8 not only for the whole green thing, but also because we would be having dinner in the restaurant downstairs.

Urbane

“The menus at Urbane change frequently to reflect the seasonality of local ingredients including fish and shellfish native to the Pacific Northwest. Says Chef Lopez, “Preparations are traditional and simple allowing ingredients to complement each other without compromising how the food was intended to taste.” Chef Lopez selects the finest fresh foods from celebrated local Seattle resources that include:

  • Beecher’s Cheeses
  • Uli’s Sausage from Pike Place Market
  • Produce from Willie Green Farms
  • Salumi Artesian Cured Meats from Pioneer Square.
A commitment to local, organic ingredients doesn’t limit Chef Lopez’s range of creativity in the culinary arts. True to our regional focus, the wine menu at Urbane exclusively showcases fine Pacific Northwest wines. Enjoy tantalizing regional specialties at our Seattle downtown restaurant, such as:
 
  • Walla Walla’s Thundering Hooves’ pasture-finished bone-in Rib-eye
  • Pan-seared wild Arctic Char served with Butternut Squash Hash
  • Tempting desserts include Toffee Pudding topped with ice cream infused with Mount Rainier honey”

We made sure our reservation was late enough because we wanted to be able to stay up for midnight!  We’re old now so it’s hard to last that long!!

After a quick run around of the big downtown department stores ( we live in Victoria so getting a chance to be in the big city is a real thrill for me!) before they shut down for the big holiday, we went back to the room to rest up a little before dinner.

Finally it was time to go downstairs for dinner.  There also happened to be a big New Years Eve party going on in the ballroom at our hotel, so the place was just teeming with people all dressed up…..with somewhere to go!

We were shown to our table that was perfectly located right next to the window so we could watch all the action outside while we ate.  And imagine our surprise, when at the very table next to us, was the former Mayor of Vancouver, BC, Sam Sullivan, there enjoying New Years Eve dinner with some people!

Originally we thought we were going to have to order off the set menu that they had shown for the evening on-line.  But much to our delight, we were allowed to choose off the fixed menu or the regular dinner menu.

We both started with a salad. 

The Chef got:

caesar | grilled romaine | bacon | croutons |

While I got:

roasted beets | quillisascut blue | pistachios | greens |

Both were very nice.  Then for our main courses…..

The Chef got:

lavender seared duck breast|  cherry sauce | apple fennel salad | lentils |

And I ordered:

steelhead salmon| spaetzle | kale | browned butter |

Mine was SO good.  I’m not a fan of duck so I didn’t try the Chef’s dinner but he was very pleased with his too.

It was New Years Eve so we HAD to order some dessert.   This time we ordered off the special NYE menu and got:

 chocolate trio| frozen mousse | stout gingerbread | white chocolate cherry bar |

Ah what a meal, definitely worthy of a celebration like New Years!

Somewhere during our meal, from our window seat, we noticed a lot of sudden action outside.  Fire trucks and ambulances and a gaggle of police on bicycles all appeared and sped around the corner.  We didn’t think too much of it, not wanting to look like small towners, I mean we have both lived in big cities before……..

After our wonderful dinner we went back upstairs to rest for a few minutes before we got changed and bundled up to walk down to the Space Needle where there was a big midnight celebration and fireworks display.  We turned the TV news on for a few minutes, to see how celebrations were going around the world and imagine our surprise to see footage from outside our hotel!!   Seems there was shooting RIGHT outside our hotel, just around the corner!!!  Seems that’s what all the hubbub during dinner was!   How exciting!   How I miss the big city!

We got bundled up, although I have to admit it wasn’t actually that cold out and headed down in the elevator.  We stopped on a few floors and picked up many revellers who were already in quite “festive” states.  

You know girls….if you are gonna get that drunk…..you really should re-think the wardrobe choices before hand.  Perhaps some lower heels and dresses that don’t hike up dangerously when you fall over……just a suggestion.

So we walked over to the Space Needle with the thousands of other people just in time for midnight.

It was quite a spectacular display and it was really fun to be in the streets with all kinds of people that we don’t even know! 

A fine way to wrap up a very enjoyable trip!  Tomorrow we would head home!

Space Needle Seattle

New Years Eve celebration in Seattle

 
 
 

Fireworks over the Space Needle in Seattle

 
 
 
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Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Getting back to those people who have trouble eating certain things

I was “clicking around” and found this recipe for a raw, gluten-free, dairy free, egg free chocolate cake!

I happened to have a lot of the ingredients kickin around and wanted something different so I thought I’d give it a try.  I’ll admit that I didn’t have high expectations for this, I thought it would turn out like a lot of those other “healthy” things and taste like saw dust.  BOY was I wrong.  This stuff is awesome!

(Click here )  for original recipe that I started with.

The only changes I made was to add some raw almonds with the hazelnuts, only because I didn’t have enough hazelnuts and I used agave syrup instead of maple, again because I didn’t have enough maple.

The avocado “icing” is soooo creamy delicious!!  Even The Chef didn’t know it was good for him!!  He had three portions!!

I mean don’t fool yourself, it is NOT sugar free!  But at least you are getting your sugar from natural sources and nuts and avocado are full of “good fats”.

This was really great.

Raw hazelnut chocolate cake

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