Chocolate Cherry Bliss Balls

ChocolateCherryBlissBalls

Bliss balls, energy balls, protein balls–lots of different names for the same thing: a small bite of sweet bliss packed full of nutritious deliciousness.

These are so easy to prepare that kids could make them. All you have to do is toss everything in your food processor, mix it all up and form it into bite-sized balls. If you are heading out on a road trip, flying somewhere, or going camping these are a must for those times when you just need a quick bite but still want to avoid resorting to junk food.

Hundreds of variations of these are circulating right now on Pinterest but a recipe really isn’t necessary, once you learn the correct proportions. Choose your family’s favourite ingredients and start creating. One of these balls will satisfy any sweet cravings you may have and it will also give you an energy boost when you need it.
Chocolate Cherry Bliss Balls
Here’s my latest creation. To make your own, keep the dates, but substitute your favourite nuts and dried fruit.

Chocolate Cherry Bliss Balls

Makes 12-16 balls

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts
1 cup pitted Medjool dates
3/4 cup dried cherries
1 Tbsp. cacao powder or cocoa powder (What’s the difference?)
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup hemp seeds

Directions

  1. Finely chop the nuts in a food processor first before adding the remaining ingredients. Then toss it all in and pulse away until it is just starting to clump together.
  2. You should be able to easily form a 1 Tbsp. size ball in the palm of your hand.
  3. If desired, melt 1/3 cup of chocolate over simmering water and drizzle over the balls. Store in the refrigerator.  Freeze and have them ready for your next camping trip.


And speaking of bliss, here was my view last night on our boat camping trip just before I headed to bed.
Bliss

Posted in boating or camping food, Christmas, cookies, gluten-free, kid's cooking, nuts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seriously Good Grain-Free Brownie Bites

Grain Free Brownie Bites

These little brownies are one hundred times better than those store-bought brownie bites in the brown paper bag. One hundred. And they’re gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free as well! Not only that, but they take less than five minutes to make and only dirty one bowl (your food processor). A win-win.
Chocolate Hazelnut Mini Cupcakes
I’ve found that some of the photos of gluten-free recipes that are circulating look incredibly good and their recipes sound wonderfully delicious. In reality, however, they’re disappointing: hard little lumps of dough masquerading as scones, or mushy discs pretending to be cookies. This recipe for little cupcakes is actually more like a brownie because the finished product is quite dense. But they are incredibly good and wonderfully delicious and you should definitely make them. Soon.

Seriously.

And by the way, they freeze well. Make ‘em and hide them for spur-of-the-moment dinner parties. I served these last night with my sugar-free Strawberry Banana Ice Cream that my Vitamix kindly whipped up for me in about 30 seconds flat. Love that machine!

Seriously Good Grain-Free Brownie Bites

Makes 24 mini-cupcakes
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 mini-muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Combine the chocolate chips and hazelnuts in a food processor and process until you can’t get them any finer ground, but before they start to clump together into a dough.

3. Add the eggs, honey, vanilla and salt and process for a full minute or two.

4. Fill muffin tins almost to the top as these won’t rise significantly. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan.

5. Just eat them as is, or frost with Whipped Chocolate Coconut Milk Frosting

Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream Frosting

    •  1 (14 ounce) can full-fat organic coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
    • 1 (10 ounce) bag dark chocolate chips

Melt the chocolate over low heat in a medium pot. Remove the can of coconut milk from the refrigerator. Carefully open it and scoop the hardened milk from the can into the pot. Stir until melted and combined. Remove from heat, let cool. When cool, beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. (Soooo good!)


SeriouslyGoodGlutenFreeBrownies

Definitely pinnable.

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Summer Berry Crisp: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free

Saskatoon Berry Crisp

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This crisp is just so good for you it could be either breakfast or dessert.
Or both.

Serve it with a dollop of plain yogurt in the morning or with whipped coconut milk after dinner, or just enjoy it as is.

I used Saskatoon berries because I happen to have a love affair with them and the Saskatoon berry farm just down the road has them all picked and ready for me to simply drive up and bring them home to freeze for the winter. Blueberries, or any summer fruit will work equally as well in this recipe. Just prepare your berries, spoon them into ramekins or a large baking dish and top with my Gluten-Free Hazelnut Granola.

Gluten-Free Berry Crisp

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Summer Berry Crisp
Serves 8
Ingredients

  • 4 cups Saskatoon berries, blueberries or other berries
  • 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (or less depending on the sweetness of your berries)
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Topping: 2 cups Gluten-Free Hazelnut Granola

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Toss berries gently with tapioca starch, lemon juice, honey, almond extract and cinnamon. Spoon into 8 ramekins or a 9 inch baking dish.

Top with granola, making sure the berries are completely covered. Place the ramekins or baking dish on a baking sheet as the berries sometimes bubble over.

Bake at 350F. for approximately 25-30 minutes or until berries are bubbling. Serve warm or cold. It is equally as good!


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Watermelon Limeade with Cucumber and Fresh Mint



Watermelon Limeade

The little ones have gone home again, but the big watermelon that they couldn’t finish remains. So do the sticky pancakes-and-syrup fingerprints and tiny Playmobil people left behind (and apparently terribly missed!) under the deck chairs. The house is pretty quiet without them wiggling and giggling and asking, “What are we going to do next?” We miss them already, but we love our adult routines too.

A relaxing happy hour on the deck seemed like a good idea. With half a watermelon in the refrigerator taking up way too much space, turning it into a refreshing drink was the thing to do. Mixed with cucumber and fresh mint from the garden and some freshly squeezed lime juice, it’s one I want to remember and make again.

WatermelonLimeade by JoinMeForDinner

Watermelon is not only fun to eat, it’s good for you too. Besides being an antioxidant and containing significant levels of Vitamins A, C and B6, it’s a great source of potassium and it provides more lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable, even more than tomatoes.

Watermelon Limeade with Cucumber and Fresh Mint

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 cups watermelon cubes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • juice of 3 limes (or lemons if you want lemonade)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Directions

  1. Pour hot water over the honey and stir until combined.
  2. Squeeze the limes (or lemons) to extract the juice.
  3. Place the watermelon, cucumber, lime or lemon juice and honey mixture in a high-speed blender. Process until smooth.
  4. Using a fine sieve, strain the juice into a pitcher. Don’t skip this step!
  5. Add the mint leaves and chill.
  6. Serve over ice.

We finished off the rest of the melon with these Watermelon Feta Stacks as snacks.

Watermelon Feta Stacks2.jpg

You can keep this drink refreshing, healthy and kid-friendly OR you can add a shot of vodka to it. Alternatively, rim the glass with coarse sea salt, add a shot of tequila and call it a Margarita! What do YOU do with leftover watermelon?
Watermelon Margarita.jpg

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Refrigerator Pickled Beans

refrigerator pickled beans

Summertime is Caesar time. Here is one more way to use some of those extra beans that are so plentiful in the garden or in farmer’s markets right now. This is a fast and easy recipe that produces a crispy, crunchy pickled bean that can be as mild or as spicy as you like. Just adjust the seasoning to your taste. Crunch away, or use them as stir sticks in your Caesars.

Refrigerator Pickled Beans with Dill

Makes one 16 oz. jar
Ingredients

  • fresh green beans, stems removed (enough to stuff a 16 oz. Mason jar–about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)*
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 – 2 cloves of garlic OR  1 to 2 tablespoons of minced garlic scapes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of coarse sea salt
  • 2 – 3 sprigs of fresh dill
  • ½ teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ to 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you want them)

*I made one jar with white vinegar and one with apple cider. They are both good. The apple cider tastes a little stronger. You decide.

Directions

  1. First, make the brine as this takes the longest and it needs to cool. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and garlic in a small saucepan and heat to boiling. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Sterilize your jar and lid by washing in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly and then pouring boiling water over all. Let it stand for a few minutes.
  3. Prepare the beans. Wash and remove the stems but leave the tip on. (It looks cute when you use these as a garnish.) Use the straightest ones you have, then fill the jar so you know exactly how many to use. Remove them from the jar and trim the bunch all at once with a sharp knife so that they will fit in the jar with about 1/2 inch of headroom.
  4. Fill the jar with the beans. Add the peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and fresh dill. Carefully pour the brine over top so that the beans are completely covered. Put the lid on tightly. Store in the refrigerator. Resist the urge to taste for at least 2 days.
  5. These will last for about 2 weeks or more in the refrigerator. If you want your pickled beans to last longer, you should blanch and shock them in an ice bath first or ultimately process them for longer storage.
Posted in preserves, preserving/drying food, vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fresh Green Bean and Zucchini Salad with Balsamic Dressing



Green Bean & Zucchini Salad with Balsamic Dressing.jpg

If you live where I do and you have a garden, you’re likely experiencing a similar problem of “too much and all at once” with this hot and sunny weather we’re enjoying. Two short rows of green beans in our garden yielded two of these deep 10 inch bowls in two days . . . and I know there will be more tomorrow.
fresh green beans

What do you do with all those extra beans, besides pickle them, freeze them or give them away? Try this fresh and crispy summerlicious salad. Tender crisp beans are tossed with other garden offerings: raw chunks of zucchini, sliced green onions, halved cherry tomatoes, and fresh dill and drizzled with a balsamic dressing.
Fresh Green Bean and Zucchini Salad by JoinMeForDinner


Fresh Green Bean and Zucchini Salad with Balsamic Dressing
Serves 6
Ingredients
4 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped into bite-sized pieces*
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1 cup mini San Marzano tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes)
2 green onions (scallions) sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. high quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. honey
1 clove garlic, minced

*no need to use a knife. Just snap them. If they don’t snap, they’re not very fresh.

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, cover beans with water and boil for about 3 minutes. Have ready a large bowl full of ice water. Drain the beans and immediately put them in the ice bath. Cool completely, then drain and pat dry.
  2. In a large salad bowl, combine the beans, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, dill and feta.
  3. Prepare the dressing by whisking the next 7 ingredients together. Drizzle over the salad just before serving and toss.


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Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini

Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini
Sweet figs with a hint of orange are thinly spread over a toasted baguette and topped with fresh goat cheese and a sprinkle of chives or green onions in this, my newest “go-to” appy. I’ve made this one several times this summer, but it would be equally good at any time of the year. It’s uncomplicated goodness on a tiny piece of toast. The fig paste can be made well in advance and stored in the frig where it will keep for a week or two.
Earlier this week, I made this recipe to take on our “glamping” getaway to our friends’ beautiful West Coast cabin. We’re also heading out on our boat soon, so I’ve packed some to take with us. (If glam camping is known as glamping, would boat camping then be called bamping?)
BeachCollage
Sweet and salty. I never tire of that contrast in a dish. Use a gluten-free cracker or bread if you like. The photo shows it on small squares of gluten-free apricot and raisin bread.

Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini1

Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini

Yield: 1 baguette, about 24-30 slices (or substitute gluten-free bread or crackers)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried figs, (about 12) stems removed and quartered
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • Pinch salt
  • 5 ounces fresh goat cheese at room temperature
  • 18 baguette slices, sliced on a sharp diagonal
  • 1 green onion, (scallion) or chives, thinly sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil for brushing on the crostiniDried figs

Directions

  1. Place the chopped dried figs, orange juice, water, orange zest and salt in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat until the figs are soft and only about 2 tablespoons of the liquid remains, 20 to 30 minutes. If the mixture gets dry, add water to keep it moist. Cool the mixture and puree in a blender or food processor to make a paste. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Brush the baguette slices with a little olive oil. Toast the baguette slices for a few minutes until they are beginning to crisp. Spread the fig paste on each of the crostini, then top with about 1/2 Tbsp. goat cheese. Sprinkle with freshly chopped green onions or chives and serve.
Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini2
Posted in appetizers, boating or camping food, breads, Christmas, finger foods, gluten-free | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment