Thursday, April 20, 2017

PB Snickers Candy Cups

Awhile back I saw a picture on an IG page I follow for a sort of snickers type/peanut butter cup type candy bar and knew I needed to make it sometime. I forgot all about it until I came across it again a few weeks ago. Armed with all the ingredients I needed I set out yesterday to make them. I wasn't disappointed.

I love trying new recipes and newer, healthier versions of some of my favorites. This recipe made twelve muffin size cups. You could make them as thin or thick as you like. Mine turned out fairly thick because I like substantial filling. The majority are going to be dropped off to my oldest and her fellow baristas this morning. 



Ingredients:

1 c. coconut oil
1 c. raw cacao
Stevia, maple syrup or honey to taste
1 c. dates
vanilla
3 Tbs. water
3/4 c. peanut butter
2 Tbs. protein powder (opt)
more vanilla
1/2 c. chopped roasted peanuts

Instructions

Chocolate layers:

1 c. coconut oil
1 c. raw cacao
Stevia, maple syrup, or honey to desired sweetness.

OR

1 package dark chocolate chips
2 Tbs. coconut oil (or until chocolate reaches a good pouring consistency)

Combine ingredients in a saucepan over low heat and melt. 

*NOTE: I had this recipe halved and it didn't make enough. I ended up just melting some dark chocolate chips with coconut oil for the rest.

Caramel layer:

1 c. dates
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbs. water

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. You don't want it too thick so if needed add a bit more water. Set aside

Peanut Butter layer:

3/4 c. natural peanut butter
2 Tbs. vanilla protein powder
1 tsp. vanilla

combine ingredients in food processor. Set aside.

To Assemble:

Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners (or you could use a silicone pan).

Pour a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom. Freeze until set (about an hour). Another option could be to brush chocolate up sides a bit to ensure filling is all enclosed...see bottom picture. 




Begin layering caramel, nuts, then peanut butter, about 1/2 Tbs. each. I really just eye balled it. 


Pour remaining chocolate over top to cover well. Freeze until set. Let sit out a few minutes before serving. I haven't tried storing these in the fridge yet. I think I will try that today. 

Enjoy. I'd like to play with it a bit more, but it was fun. 
Notice how the edges aren't quite covered in chocolate? Yah, that might be where I need to make some adjustments, though I think it looks cool. I opted to freeze the bottom layer of chocolate first because I felt the other layers would spread better. I'll have to see if they are all like this...or at least the others I eat. 


With Joy Unquenchable,


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fantastical Food Fight: BLT Salad

  I love being a part of  the Fantastical Food Fight This is a great group I joined at the end of last year, that has a different theme each month and bloggers can either choose to participate or not. For example, next month is Cherry Cobbler. I probably won't participate...the only way I like cherries are fresh...lol. So it's really a great group.

 This months theme was BLT's and I LOVE a good BLT. However, I had recently posted a recipe for a BLTA sandwich and one of the rules is it has to be new to the blog. "Hmmmm....what could I do to change it up a bit". We've (hubby and I) been trying to cut back on carbs and so I decided to do a BLT salad, and wouldn't you know, the other two in the house really wanted it in sandwich form, so I made them sandwiches and I stuck with the salad. It was great, lighter than a sandwich, but still filling.

So, let's get on with it. It's been one of those days and I'm ready for bed, so I'll just keep it short and sweet. 

Ingredients:

Romaine Lettuce, chopped
Bacon, cooked and chopped
Diced Tomatoes
croutons, store bought or homemade
Dressing (I made an avocado ranch because we love avocado on our BLT's)
     *1 1/2 avocado
     *1/2-1 c. ranch
     *garlic powder, pepper, touch of salt to taste
(combine all dressing ingredients)
Instructions:

Simple and sweet....layer all your ingredients. Top with dressing. 







With Joy Unquenchable,

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Raw, Vegan Mini Cheesecakes

This just shows how behind I am on blogging. It's now April and I realized I never posted a few recipes I made for Valentines Day that we absolutely loved. I'll be making the dessert again for Easter this year as well as attempting a dairy free scalloped potato recipe. I'll share the dessert recipe today and the meal another day. 


I love finding healthier versions of some of our favorite dishes. We know many who have certain dietary preferences, and we ourselves really have been working towards cutting back on certain things and continuing a healthy eating journey. It's not always easy, but it's always fun. It really is. My oldest daughter, who just started her own simple blog, loves trying new things and eating healthy. Sometimes she'll send me pics of food and say "this sounds good"..lol...meaning, "mom, you should try this". And I do. And then I usually bring it to the coffee shop to share with her and all her workmates.  

I originally found the recipe on Minimalist Baker. A friend of mine had mentioned she made raw cheesecakes and I went on a search. I ended up finding the same recipe she used. I'll post a link to the recipe because she (minimalist baker) is very in-depth and I may not go that route in this post. I thought they would be complicated but they really weren't. They took no time to put together and everyone loved them. Here's the link. I made the 3 flavors she had here and oh, can I just say the homemade caramel sauce was incredible. yah, I could eat it with a spoon.

Let's get on with the recipe. 

Crust:

1 c. packed, pitted dates

1 c. raw walnuts or almonds (I used almonds)

Filling:

1 1/2 c. raw cashews, quick soaked*
1 large lemon juiced, about 1/4 c.
1/3 c. coconut oil, melted
1/2 c. + 2Tbs. full fat coconut milk
1/2 c. maple syrup, honey or agave nectar

Flavor Add-ins:

2 Tbs. salted natural peanut butter
1/4 c. blueberries
3 Tbs. caramel sauce (I made this before doing the filling)

Instructions:

Notes: 

*Dates should be sticky and moist, if they aren't, soak them in warm water for 10 minutes and then drain thoroughly and pat dry.

* To quick soak cashews, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 1 hour. Drain and use as instructed.

1. Place dates in a food processor and process until small bits remain and it forms a ball. Remove and set aside. 

2. Next add the nuts to the processor and create into a meal. Add dates back in and process until a loose dough forms. It should stick together when you press it between your fingers. If it's too dry, add a few more dates, if too wet, add more almond or walnut meal to it. You could also add a pinch of salt to taste.

3. Lightly grease a regular size muffin pan. Now, to make it easy to remove the cheese cakes later, cut thin strips of parchment paper and line the bottom and up the sides making sure it goes above the top. You will be able to lift the cheesecakes out easier later.

4. Scoop a heaping tablespoon amounts of crust filling into bottom of pan and press with fingers, or small glass. I had a wooden tamper that I used to really press down and compress. If it seems to stick, place a piece of parchment between crust and glass. Place in freezer to set.

5. In a blender (I use a Vitamix), combine all filling ingredients and mix until very smooth. For the coconut milk, if it's all mixed together, add it like that, but if it has separated, you can just use the cream at the top which gives it a more "creamy" consistency. If it doesn't seem to be coming together you can add a bit more of any of your liquids.

6. At this point I decided to do 4 of each flavor, so I poured the filling over all but 4 crusts. With the remaining filling, I added the peanut butter and mixed until it was combined. Pour onto the remaining crusts. Take the blueberries, and caramel and swirl into 4 year of the fillings. Tap pan slightly to remove any bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 4-6 hours or until hard.

7. Once set, remove by tugging tabs and using a butter knife. You can make a whipped cream or also use remaining caramel sauce. If you want them slightly softened let sit out for 10 minutes. These will keep in the freezer in a covered container for 1-2 weeks. 


Caramel Sauce: (this makes a lot so I'll probably half it next time)

1 c. sugar + 1/4 c. water
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 Tbs. bourbon (you could use vanilla, or I happened to have leftover kahlua rum from tiramisu, I used that)
pinch of salt, optional

Instructions:

1. Simmer sugar and water over medium heat, swirling pan, NOT stirring for 15 minutes until a deep amber color is achieved. Watch closely so it doesn't burn. 

2. Turn off burner, and remove from heat. Slowly add cream, while stirring.

3. Add a pinch of salt and bourbon (or flavoring of choice), and place back on still warm burner for another minute while stirring.

4. Transfer to a heat safe container or bottle and let cool. Store covered in the refrigerator and bring to room temp to serve or heat in a warm water bath. You could also warm in microwave in 30 sec. increments.


With Joy Unquenchable,


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

We did a Staycation


 Our youngest is on a two week spring break from college classes (she's a HS senior taking college classes to get her AA). We thought of going away for a few days but thought about it too late and many places were booked up. Plus, we're saving up for a few longer vacations and figured it might be best to not go away. We opted for a Staycation instead. Hubby took 3 days off and I took 2 days off (since I already have Wednesdays off). We are blessed to live in a small town in SW Washington State and are only 30-40 minutes from Portland, Oregon, a city with so much to see and do. There are also a myriad of outdoor adventure activities to be done. 
(Saturday, my hubby and I visited a Farmers Market in Portland. I always love everything about them)

Now, I will say this....Staycations can be tricky. Technically you are still "staying" at home and just doing things locally. Staying home means it can be easy to fall into the routine of what you normally might do on any other day if you don't have a plan. At the same time, if you are taking time off of work, just staying home might have a great appeal to it. I work 4 days a week for 3 hours in the morning, so I am home most of the remainder of the day, so for me a staycation would seem more like a vacation if we were out doing stuff all day long. For my hubby who works very long days and spends a lot of time in the car going from job to job, staying home, watching movies, etc..would be a great break for him. So it's a matter of finding the balance and to be honest, as much as I like to go do things, I really can be content just staying home, dinking around. 
(Multnomah falls is a great spot to visit..we didn't hike to the top, but enjoyed the drive and view from below and the bridge)

We found a good middle ground of heading out in the mornings to do things around the Portland area and then home in the afternoons to kind of do our own things (which was great) or like we did a few nights, head down to my hubby's parents house to play cards with his mom, which was a blast. Lots of time laughing and being together. I laughed so hard, I cried...doesn't that always feel good?
(One day we headed into Portland to walk around shops, eat at a new eatery and visit the popular Powells Bookstore)

The nice thing about Staycations is there's not much required really. Just a little planning ahead. They can be as grand or as simple as you want. Here are some of the things I did:

*  Got the majority of "housework" done before our time off. This makes it so much less tempting to need to do the same-O same-O. Sure there might be little stuff, but not much different than if we were in a hotel or rental house.

*  Make a list of things you want to do. Ask friends for recommendations. While we go to Portland a lot, we tend to hit the same places and areas, so we asked people what to do and where to go. We also like to check out Trip Advisor and Yelp. Think outside the box. Find new adventures to go on. Try a new kind of restaurant, etc.

*  Try, try and try again. If it doesn't go exactly as planned (when does anything go exactly as planned) don't give up. Plan for another staycation and know what needs to be done differently next time. I have some things I might do differently as well, though for the most part it went really well. 

* Have a budget. Just like a vacation, you want to have some "fun" money to do the local things you want. The nice thing is, it will probably be less than a "vacation". 

* Enlist your family for ideas and how you can "unplug" what is necessary in order to make it really feel like time off. For my hubby it was turning off his work phone and not checking emails. For me, it was just not feeling the need to "do". Maybe it was taking more time to read, maybe not checking my phone as much. I help a friend as a VA on her FB page and so I made sure I had everything already scheduled and checked in only a few times. 
(One thing I did was enjoy driving around the "bottoms" (farmland) of our town and taking pictures)

Maybe you can't take a long staycation, maybe you just have a day or two. No matter what the length, just do something. Anything. Because if you don't, you won't. What do you mean? I mean, sometimes we think, "oh, that would take too much time", or "That would use up too much gas", "that's not worth going just for the day". But you know what? If you use those excuses, you won't ever go anywhere, do anything, or see anything new. So, if it's going to take a few hours to get there, leave early enough and stay as late as you can to make it worth it. Trust me, I've made these excuses and heard them as well. I don't want to never drive to the beach for the day because it's going to take me 2 hours. I don't want to miss the view from the mountain for the same reason. Take that day, do that thing you want to do. Life is way more fun when we're living it to the fullest. 


With Joy Unquenchable,

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Journeys



A few weeks ago, I sat here at my desk waiting for 9:00 to hit so I could register my youngest daughter for her spring classes at our local community college. I nervously waited to enter the numbers, hit the register button and hope she got the classes she needed and wanted. I checked the schedule to be sure there were still seats available. It's her last quarter. She'll be done and this portion of the journey of life starts to come to a close. It's like we're almost to the end of this road and getting ready to take another road to the next adventure. It's a crazy feeling. She's a high school senior and also taking classes for the Running Start program at our local college and will be graduating with her HS diploma as well as her AA degree. It's been a roller coaster journey that she was hesitant to take, but now I think she's realizing the value. Our oldest did the same program, graduating in 2014, and is almost done with another certificate at the college, she will now have two Associates Degrees and two certificates in the health field. The youngest wants to take a year off and do some traveling. I homeschooled our girls so after all these years, the education journey will transition for me as well. That is a crazy thought.

Life goes through so many seasons and as I sit here I can honestly say in some regards, I didn't expect to be where I am, where we are and it's not necessarily where we wanted to be. When things like these happen, they can certainly throw us for loops, break our hearts, make us question motives, friendships, etc. What do we do with that? Do we become bitter, angry, give up, turn our backs on God? I've found those things don't work. There's surely a period of grieving, heartbreak, questions, but I think one of the keys to journeys that take a turn where we least expected them to, is to stop, look around, acknowledge the hurt and then plow forward, embracing what comes our way and creating a great life. 

Because in the words of Rob Bell;


 "you're here, you're breathing, and you have received a gift, a generous, extraordinary, mysterious, inexplicable gift."

We've been given beautiful life, each day, from the very beginning. And that in and of itself should move us forward. Asking ourselves the question;


"What new and good thing is going to come out of even this?"

I have loved blogging and plan to continue to do so in some capacity. It's obvious my blog has never had a niche, and I haven't been very consistent which at times I think makes it more difficult to be consistent, but I love writing, putting thoughts down and sharing my heart, recipes, whatever comes to mind...now to just get going. I think I've said that before, but it doesn't matter how many times we say it, if it's in our heart we just have to keep being intentional and keep moving forward. If I've rambled I apologize, I just felt like writing what was on my heart at the moment.

We all go through changes in our lives and our journey's take us on many twists and turns, ups and downs, and everything in between. It's what we do with those changes that makes all the difference! So wherever you are, just keep going.

With Joy Unquenchable,



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