4 Ingredient Chocolate Covered Caramels

This weekend we will be spending some time with the beau's cousins visiting from Georgia. 

We will be staying with my father-in-law in Half Moon Bay. 
He lives in the house he grew up in, down the street from the stunning California coast.

His parents spent their lives as crafters, leather working, carving, wood working, and pistol engraving. Every time I visit I am left in awe of their spectacular talent and the genuine quality of their artistic abilities. 

Again, this week has presented us with warm California weather, so I have not been using the oven. Instead, I whipped up a couple batches of these tasty little treats. 

Requiring only four ingredients, no added sugar or oil, little time or dishes, and being delectably tasty, these have earned a spot as one of my favorite desserts.

They resemble Rolo candy nearly to a T. 
Their rich, caramel flavor is irresistible

And we ate the entire first batch.

Chocolate Covered Caramels
makes 1 to 1 1/2 dozen caramels

-12 large pitted dates
-1/2 Tablespoon peanut butter
-optional: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla & pinch fine sea salt

-1/3 cup chocolate chips
-1 teaspoon coconut oil

1. Line plate or toaster-sized baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Process dates and peanut butter in food processor until smooth. It will be sticky, scrape into a small bowl and freeze for 10 minutes. 
3. Remove from freezer and form into 12-18 small balls [depending on preferred size], or a log chopped into pieces, and place on parchment paper. Return to freezer and freeze at least 10 more minutes while you melt the chocolate.
4. Combine chocolate chips with coconut oil in double broiler over medium heat, stirring until fully melted.
5. Drop each caramel in chocolate, covering thoroughly, then place back on parchment paper and freeze. 

store in freezer or refrigerator and enjoy chilled, at room temperature they become almost too soft to hold.
they taste fantastic using only dates and peanut butter for the caramel, I added salt since I used unsalted peanut butter, and the vanilla takes the caramel flavor a step further.
you can sprinkle a pinch of fleur de sel over their tops to make them salted chocolate covered caramels
adapted from this recipe by Oh She Glows
optional substitutions...
-peanut butter: any other nut or seed butter

Mangia! Mangia!

Raw Chocolate Bliss Balls

We enjoyed a trip of lake living over the weekend to celebrate the beau's birthday. The weather was hot, the drinks were cold, and the water was amazing as ever. 

Surrounded by some of the best company, we enjoyed the Summer Solstice on the lake and spent our days boating, hiking, wake skimming, relaxing, and exploring natural water slides and falls cutting through fern-covered, evergreen-lined, rocky scapes.

Adventures like these are excellent reminders of the vast wonder of our planet, its enormity, its natural beauty, and our insignificance to its existence.

After our fantastic weekend, I made these delicious cookies and we finished them in little more than a day.

They're fudgy, four ingredients, quick and easy, and require no cooking or baking.
Perfect for toasty, lazy Summer days.

Raw Chocolate Bliss Ball Cookies
makes about a dozen cookies

-2/3 cup raw nuts
-2/3 cup pitted dates, packed
-1/3 cup nut or seed butter
-1/3 cup cocoa powder

1. Place almonds in a food processor, process until fine. Add dates, butter, and cocoa, process a couple minutes, or until well-blended and completely incorporated.
2. Scoop out of food processor bowl and form into balls, cookies, or bars.
3. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate.

store in the refrigerator
optional substitutions...
-almonds: any other nut (seeds may work as well though I have not tried this recipe with seeds yet)
-dates: any other dried fruit, figs and raisins work well
-cocoa powder: cacao powder

Mangia! Mangia!

Flourless Creamy Banana Bread

We don't waste food. 
Growing up, my sisters and I wouldn't get dessert if we didn't finish our broccoli, and coming from strong Italian roots, food is as necessary to life as the air we breathe, possibly moreso.
So when a couple of bananas passed their prime on our counter, I decided to put them to delicious use.

I have made this quick and easy banana bread a few times now. 
It is a delicious, simple, healthier bread to use those ripe bananas in, and has a sweet, creamy, delectable flavor to it.

We spent last weekend enjoying a concert overflowing with talent, gratitude, and inspiring songs that played in my head for days afterward. 
We also had a pleasant visit with my father-in-law to celebrate Father's Day a bit early (I brought these over for the occasion). To celebrate, we took a day trip out to a small town nestled in the coastal redwoods of California to explore and take in sights of their vast beauty, then we stopped for lunch in their sweet historic downtown. 

It was a lovely way to spend the weekend and served as a pleasant reminder of how incredible company and the little things are what make life so marvelous.

Another marvelous facet of life is good food. 
Like this banana bread, which can be whipped up quickly and, depending on the pan(s) you choose, bakes up rather swiftly.

*Serving suggestion: Top with ice cream, as you would a brownie, for a healthier dessert.

Flourless Banana Bread
makes 9 muffins, or 4 small cakes, or 1 loaf

-1/2 cup steel cut oats, finely ground
-1/3 cup raw almonds, finely ground
-2 Tablespoons flaxseed meal
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 cup peanut butter
-1/4 cup applesauce
-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
-1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
-2 medium/large ripe [not black] bananas

1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease 9 spaces in a muffin tin, 4 (4" round) mini baking pans, or 1 (9x5 inch) loaf pan with coconut oil.
2. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until fully incorporated and combined.
3. Pour into prepared baking pan(s) and bake in preheated oven 12-20 minutes, or until top is set and toothpick inserted comes out with fine crumbs. Remove from oven and enjoy!

adapted from this recipe by Running with Spoons
store in an airtight container for up to a week
optional substitutions...
-steel cut oats: old fashioned or quick cooking oats, finely ground
-almonds: any other nut, or replace with additional ground oats
-peanut butter: any other nut or seed butter
-applesauce: any other pureed fruit or vegetable, or 1 vegan egg
-maple syrup: honey, sugar

Mangia! Mangia!