This Friday is Valentine’s Day – which means everyone is making reservations and plans to show their loved one just how much they love them. Adam and I haven’t gone ‘out out’ for Valentine’s Day for a few years now. I can’t remember our last real Valentine’s day dinner at a restaurant. This year, we’re opting to stay in again just the two of us.
Often when we go out for dinner we find something about the service or food that isn’t impressive, which leads us to end the night asking “remind me again why we even go out?” Usually the argument is that I can make better food at home, for a fraction of the dine-out price. Especially when it’s for something special like a birthday or Valentine’s Day.
Every Valentine’s Day we also watch Valentine’s Day the movie – you know the one with Ashton Kutcher where it follows different love stories. It’s cheesy, but necessary. Last year we had a small chocolate fondue for two including homemade marshmallows (peanut butter or regular), and assorted fruit. It was casual and perfect. Exactly how we like to spend our time together.
So, if you’re into staying at home with your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other this Friday night I suggest a cozy casual dinner for two, a movie cuddled on the couch followed by these individual / share vegan brownie pots. They’re rich, indulgent and the perfect ending to a Valentine’s Day night.
I topped the brownies with coconut whipped cream. I found coconut cream at Trader Joe’s and simply placed it in the fridge overnight, then beat in a medium bowl it until fluffy. I also suggest serving some raspberry coulis on top (simply microwave 1/2 cup of frozen raspberries until hot and spoon over top of the coconut cream)
Some fun Valentine’s Day movies to watch:
- When Harry Met Sally
- Valentine’s Day
- Pretty Woman
- Pride & Prejudice
- Sleepless in Seattle
- You’ve got Mail
- Dirty Dancing
- Shakespeare in Love
I’m thinking we might order in sushi for Valentine’s Day this year. And these brownie pots.
Dense, fudgey Vegan Brownies. You can make them in individual ramekins or in a 8x8 baking dish.
- 1/2 cup Vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- Splash of Vanilla
- 1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa
- 1/2 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
- 2-3 oz. Dark Chocolate chocolate, melted
- 1 1/2 cups Flour
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 2. Whisk together the vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl.
- 3. Sift in the cocoa, and add the applesauce. Whisk again.
- 4. Pour in the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth.
- 5. Slowly stir in flour until completely incorporated.
- 6. You can either divide the batter evenly into 4-5 ramekins, or place in a 8x8 square baking dish. Be sure to grease both beforehand. Pour batter into prepared ramekins or baking dish and bake 20-25 minutes. Be careful not to over bake.
- Serve warm with coconut cream and raspberry coulis.
- Keep on countertop for up to a week, covered.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
It feels good to get back into a gym routine this past month. After falling behind during the crazy holiday season we’ve gotten back into the rhythm of after work work-outs.
It’s also noticeably lighter out at 5 pm, which makes it nicer to walk to the gym. We also have the luxury of going to our brand new club house gym or the Steve Nash across the street. However, we should be taking advantage of them both a whole lot more. I’m lucky that another bride to be, our neighbour, and I have been able to work out together too (gotta fit into those wedding gowns!)
Before I really worked out consistently I had no idea about protein bars or any kind of ‘bar’ for that matter. I always avoided them thinking it was only for those big muscly guys at the gym. I first discovered Lara Bars after seeing so many bloggers promote them/eat them as a regular snack. In Canada however, they are more than double the price (anywhere from 2.00-2.50$) Then I discovered them when I was across the border shopping at Fred Meyer where they are only $1.00 each!! I was so excited, I think I bought one of every flavour.
One of my favourite flavours was Key Lime Pie. Simply made with coconut, dates, nuts and lime. I’ve made Protein Pods before, but always used some sort of nut butter as the binding ingredient, never lime or lemon juice. I thought it was about time I tried to make a key lime pie replica.
The only problem with Lara Bars is they don’t contain protein (although I think they’re newest ones might) and really the ingredients are so simple you can definitely make your own at home for a lot less.
The base is the same as my regular protein pods, only I’ve added some cashew meal as I discovered it at Trader Joe’s one shopping trip over the border as well.
They form up easily and store in the fridge – they’re a great bite thats slightly tart and slightly sweet.
Coconut Lime Protein Pods
Nutty Lime Coconut Protein Pods. Tart & Sweet.
- 1 Cup Rolled Oats
- 1/4 Cup Almond Meal
- 1/4 Cup Cashew Meal
- 1 Scoop Vegan Protein Powder (dairy-free)
- 1 Whole Lime, squeezed
- 1/4 Cup Coconut
- 7 Medjool Dates
- Pulse oats, almond meal and cashew meal in a food processor until they form fine crumbs.
- Add protein powder, pulse again.
- Add the dates, coconut and finally lime until well combined in the processor. Dough should come together.
- Scoop into pods/balls using small ice cream scoop.
- Store in refrigerator for up to a week.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
Nanaimo bars were one of my favourite treats that my grandmother would make. Whenever we had a family get together, a baby shower, wedding shower etc. we would have Nanaimo bars. They are a treat that you don’t usually make unless it is for a special occasion, however, they are really quite simple to assemble and require no baking which would make them a great dessert for anytime.
While I was going to make them the traditional way – a three layer decadent and sweet square, I had an idea.
While preparing the custard layer I thought I might use a piping bag to pipe the filling on first, then spread it evenly on top with an offset spatula. Then it hit me – why not just use the piping bag to pipe the filling into rosettes and then cut them into squares before adding the chocolate?
One of the hardest things I find when making Nanaimo bars is cutting them once the chocolate has hardened. It’s difficult to make them into perfect squares because the chocolate cracks and breaks when you cut into it, especially once it is cold. However my aunt who is the queen of Nanaimo bars (and learned from my Grandma) always made them perfectly.
I thought it would be much easier to cut them before adding the chocolate, then drizzle it on top as a decoration. I also find that because the filling is so sickeningly sweet sometimes that the extra slice of chocolate on top almost sends you into a sugar coma. This way you still get the combination of chocolate and custard filling, only on a much smaller scale.
And truthfully – my favourite part was always the base. I love the combination of coconut, chocolate, graham crumbs and walnuts. I could just eat the base without the sweet toppings.
These bars as extra special because they hail from a small town on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, which the dessert was named for (although there have been other claims). However at the end of the day a Nanaimo bar, is a Nanaimo bar.
This is the recipe my grandmother and aunt use and it is my favourite. Of course, you can still make it the traditional way by spreading the filling then pouring the chocolate over top and slicing it into squares. In my opinion, they look much prettier this way.
Nanaimo Bar Bites
A modern take on a traditional classic - Nanaimo Bar Bites are a decadent twist on the beloved three layer square with a chocolate cookie crumb base, custard filling and chocolate drizzled top.
- 1cup Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 up Sugar
- 10 tbsp. Cocoa
- 1 Egg beaten
- 1 ¼ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 1 1/4 cups Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
- 3/4 cup Walnuts, chopped
- 2 cup coconut
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter
- 2 Tbsp Almond Milk
- 2 Tbsp. Birds Custard Powder
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 4 squares Dark Chocolate
- 1/2 Tbs. Butter
- 1. In the top of a double boiler (if you do not own one, place a glass or metal bowl over top of a sauce pan filled with simmering water) melt together the butter, sugar and cocoa.
- 2. In a small bowl beat the egg. Slowly whisk it into the melted butter and cocoa mixture. Continue to whisk until it thickens.
- 3. Remove from heat and stir in the crumbs, coconut and chopped walnuts.
- 4. Press mixture into an ungreased 9"x13" pan and place in fridge.
- 5. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment whip the butter until pale and creamy. Add the cream and custard powder and continue to beat. Slowly add the icing sugar and whip until the consistency of frosting.
- 6. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
- 7. Take the chilled base out of the fridge. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the base in 1" sections, drawing lines horizontally first then vertically.
- 8. Using the piping bag, pipe rosettes on to the middle of each 1" scored square section. Repeat until entire surface is covered. Place in fridge, covered.
- 9. Allow to set in fridge for about 45 minutes to an hour. You want the base to set and harden completely. Once it is hardened, remove it and use a dough scraper or sharp knife to cut the bars all the way through, then lift them out carefully with a fork.
- 10. Finally, after you have sliced the bars fully into squares place them onto a cooling rack with a piece of parchment paper underneath. Melt the Chocolate and butter in the microwave in 1 minutes intervals, stirring until fully melted. Spoon the melted chocolate into a ziplock bag or piping bag and snip off the corner. Drizzle the melted chocolate over top of the bars. Place aside to allow chocolate to set.
- To store the bars, place them in an airtight container in the fridge separating the layers with parchment. Alternatively, you can place them back into the 9x13" pan and cover.
- The bars also freeze very well.
- ** To make traditional bars double the ingredients for the Custard and stop at Step 5, then spread the Custard layer evenly over the base and cool. Melt the chocolate (You will need slightly more chocolate to cover the top) and spread evenly over top, allow to set in the fridge. Cut into bars/squares **
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/