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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Date Balls

Yesterday, in my blog post about chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, I mentioned that I don't get too into baking for the holidays. Yet, here I am, about to write about another holiday sweet. Today's delight is a bit healthier. It's entirely vegan and raw. I'm writing about date balls!

Medjool dates arrive to our house every year in our CSA box, and often, I don't know what to do with them. They are deliciously sweet and are packed with nutrients (weight for weight more potassium than bananas,  full of fiber, good B-12 complex vitamins...and fat-free), but their caloric make-up is high (65 per one Medjool date). A recipe for Date Balls came with our CSA box this week, and since we're on a running kick in our house, the timing for this recipe seemed perfect. Plus, what a wonderfully healthy addition to the holiday sweet table. Leftovers from there will serve as energy boosts before some big runs or snowshoe adventures in the upcoming weeks.

The recipe couldn't be simpler, and the amount of ingredients is small. Most of the ingredients cannot be bought locally here in Wisconsin, but dates and oranges are in season right now in other places.

1.5 cups of pitted dates
1/4 cup of shredded coconut
3 Tbs. of cocoa powder
optional: 1 tsp. of espresso powder
optional: 1 tsp. of orange zest  

To cover date balls, you could just use one of these or you could make a variety:
coconut flakes
toasted sesame seeds
toasted and finely chopped hazelnuts
toasted and finely chopped pistachios
...and I tried Eden Organic Seaweed Gomasio (Sesame Seeds, Seaweed, & Sea Salt) for some of the balls

1. Pit the dates.

2. Mix the pitted dates, the 1/4 cup of coconut, the cocoa powder, and the optional ingredients (if you're using them) in a food processor. Mix until the mixture forms into a ball. If it is too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time. If it is too wet, add more coconut.

3. Put the date ball coverings into their own bowls.
Form 1-inch or smaller balls of the date mixture in your hand, and then roll them in the desired coverings. I got creative here and did some simple, one-covering balls and some mixed.
4. Refrigerate.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Balls: A Yummy Tradition

We don't get too into making Christmas cookies here at our house. There is an annual tradition in our extended family for all the ladies to get together a few weeks before Christmas and turn the kitchen into a bakery, so  the family as a whole is plenty stocked come Christmas Eve. However, here at our place, we do create one sweet delectable every December: peanut butter balls. Usually, we give them as gifts at work and save a few for our own holiday festivities; this year, because of two snow days in a row, we have Peanut Butter balls galore.

Other than the rolling-in-chocolate part, these sweet treats are super easy to make.

2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
3 cups Rice Krispies
...for chocolate sauce...
one 24 oz. bag of chocolate chips
2.5 Tbs of butter

1. Melt peanut butter and 1/2 cup butter over stove top.
2. Mix together powdered sugar and Rice Krispies.
3. Pour peanut butter mixture over powdered sugar mixture. Mix well.
4. Form mixture into 1-inch balls. Freeze.
5. Once the balls are frozen, use a double boiler (or a bowl over a pan of hot water like I did) to melt the chocolate. Dip the frozen balls into the chocolate, using a teaspoon. Place on cookie sheet. Freeze again to set.

Without a double-broiler, I just put hot water in a  pan and  put my other ingredients in a metal bowl.

These are always a crowd-favorite, and they make wonderful gifts. Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Squash Curry

Something that I make quite often is Squash Curry. It's so simple, and doubling the recipe makes it great for potlucks or packed lunches. Plus, between our gardens and our CSA box, we usually have squash growing out of not only our ears, but our toes and nostrils too.

1.5 lbs. of cubed squash
1 14-oz can of coconut milk
A few cups of broccoli or other green vegetable
1 medium onion, cubed
1/2 jar of Thai kitchen red curry paste
3/4 cumin seeds
1/3 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 Tbs plus 2 tsps of sunflower or olive oil

basil leaves
spinach leaves
fish sauce
lime wedges

1. Heat 1 Tbs of oil in skillet and add cumin seeds and cubed squash. Heat for 6 minutes or until squash is browned. Turn off.
2. In another pan, add the remaining oil and saute the onion. Add 1/4 of the coconut milk and the red curry paste. Stir over heat until mixed well.
3. Add the squash, rest of the coconut milk, water, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Once the squash is tender, add the broccoli. Heat. If you're adding spinach, fish sauce, or basil, add now too.
4. Serve over rice or on its own. Squeeze lime on for an extra zing.
5. Enjoy!