- A little light remained in the western sky last night at 6:40. The eastern horizon was brightening at 6:45 this morning. Lovely proof that daylight hours are increasing.
- Yesterday husband wrapped a cut on his finger with a Lincoln Band Aid. What a lovely way to honor our 16th president’s birthday month!
- When Valentine’s Day falls during Lent, do florists see an uptick and chocolatiers a down tick in sales? Which lovely gift would you rather receive on Valentine’s Day?
Today’s yummy and totally decadent recipe comes from the same issue of P31 Woman Magazine as did the blueberry crumble bar recipe posted last month. I converted the bars to non-dairy status (they were already gulten and egg free for those of you with those allergies) by substituting coconut oil for butter and unsweetened baking chocolate and agave syrup for the dark chocolate chips.
The chocolate substitution was a winner, but I’m not yet sold on the coconut oil as a substitute for 2 reasons. First, it didn’t bind the oats together very well, so the bottom oat layer was hard to get out of the pan. Second, whenever I use coconut oil in baking recipes, the end product seems heavy.
Neither of those reservations stopped the fam from eating the layered oat bars at our Labor Day Family reunion. In fact, the bars were gone pretty quick. Still, next time I try this recipe, I’ll use margarine instead of butter and report back. Now, here’s the recipe.
Layered Oat Bars
1 cup margarine or coconut oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups oatmeal
8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 cup natural, no sugar added peanut butter
1/4 cup agave syrup
Spray a 9 x 9 or 7 1/2 x 10 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Put shortening in a large saucepan over medium heat. As soon as it starts to melt, add the brown sugar. Cook and stir until shortening is completely melted, and the mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add oats and cook, stirring constantly for 1 – 2 minutes. Press 2/3 of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place chocolate and peanut butter in a glass bowl. Put in microwave for one minute. Remove and stir. Repeat until the chocolate and peanut butter are completely melted and mixed together. Add agave and stir well, scraping sides of bowl often. Pour over oatmeal mixture in bottom of pan. Use spatula to spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture on top of chocolate/peanut butter. Press gently into chocolate mixture to set the oats.
Refrigerate several hours until set. Remove from refrigerator for 30 minutes before cutting into bars. Cut into VERY SMALL PIECES since these bars are very rich. Store in refrigerator in a covered container.
Today’s recipe comes compliments of my daughter, Anne who showed me how to make these chocolate bars a few weeks ago. She found the recipe at Chocolate Covered Katie, a very fun website that features healthy desserts. Katy’s name for this recipe is Three Ingredient Chocolate Bars since she’s into easy, while my title highlights the non-dairy thing. Whatever the emphasis, these chocolate bars are delicious and can easily be adapted by adding nuts, flavorings, dried fruit, breaking up to use as chocolate chips or melting for use as chocolate sauce.
Non-Dairy Chocolate Bars
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
- 1/4 cup agave or use NuNatural vanilla stevia drops (Katie uses 10 drops. Anne used stevia powder dissolved in 1/4 cup water. I used agave as the stevia chocolate was to bitter for my taste. The agave chocolate is chewier, while the stevia verison is more snapable. Anne said she recently used honey and that was good, too.)
- optional: extracts, cocoa nibs, nuts, dried fruit, coconut, chow mein noodles, crispy cereal, oatmeal
Place coconut oil…
…in a saucepan and melt over low heat.
Add agave or stevia. Stir, then add cocoa powder (and add 3-4 T water or nondairy milk if using stevia.).
Stir stir stir!
Stir until it gets thick. (Caution: I took Katie’s command to stir, stir, stir to heart. Apparently too much to heart as some of the oil separated from the rest of the mixture. So stop stirring as soon as it thickens. It doesn’t take long.)
Pour into any flat container (or candy molds or smush between layers of wax paper or in ziploc bags).
Fridge or freeze until solid. Cut into bars, break into chips, melt back into chocolate sauce. The sky’s the limit with this recipe. So give it a try and leave a comment about how you adapt and use it.
This March we’ve had lots of good news. A grandchild on the way. Our Ohio kids moving closer to home in August. A sizable tax refund. Even so, I feel like Debbie Downer’s double today. Since I can’t stop the feeling, here are my top ten reasons for being a Debbie Downer when I should be Perky Polly:
10. Spring is way too early this year. See this post for further explanation.
9. It’s been cloudy and rainy. Which is poking holes in my summer drought theory.
8. I caught a cold on the Ides of March. Etu, immune system?
7. I didn’t take out stock in a tissue company before this cold started.
6. My recent upgrade to OS X Lion has not gone as smoothly as Apple promised.
5. iCloud is looming on the horizon.
4. The agent who promised she’d be in touch soon about my proposal still hasn’t.
3. I can now order from the Senior Citizen menu at I Hop.
2. No chocolate since Ash Wednesday.
1. Debbie Downer would be ashamed to post this list, but I’m not.
A rocking case of laryngitis provided oodles of hours for quiet contemplation since last weekend. Thanks to all that introspection, you get to
suffer through reap the rewards in this week’s three thoughts for Thursday.
- Adult children find speaker phone conversations with their parents get a bit draggy when the talkative parent has laryngitis and the quiet parent, whose vocal chords are intact, prefers nodding to speaking whenever possible.
- It’s parent-teacher conference week in our town, a stressful time for parents, teachers, and kids. As a parent, you can diffuse the stress by starting the conference with two simple words: thank you.
- My friend Clare at NanaClaresKitchen.com has joined my oatmeal-as-its-own-food-group campaign by posting a recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal. She calls it a low-cal version of no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies. That’s my kind of breakfast. What’s yours?
Only three weeks until the kids arrive to celebrate Christmas, and there’s no snow in the yard and no presents under the tree. As soon as I think three thoughts for Thursday, maybe I should order a snow making machine or start wrapping presents…whichever is easier, that is.
- How can a robo call about “a very important message about your credit card account” be all that important? If it was, wouldn’t a real person be on the line?
- After a day spent sprucing up Mom’s old metal stool, I’m wondering why anyone huffs spray paint.
- To whoever invented the chocolate used for dipping pretzels and Ritz cracker and peanut butter sandwiches…you had a much better idea than whoever invented spray paint for covering old metal stools.
How about you? What’s on your mind this Christmas season? Leave a comment!
There are some days when all you can be is grateful. Today’s one of them for me. Not because I’m anticipating a Valentine’s gift from my husband. We’re pretty low key about those things. I’m grateful because I’m not doing what I did every Valentine’s Day for twenty-five years which was to supervise a classroom crammed with love-crazed elementary students eating their ways to a sugar high. The kids in the picture above are high school seniors this year. When I see them at their graduation celebrations, they’ll barely recollect how goofy they were on Valentine’s Day.
For me those high energy days are unforgettable. So I’ve been thinking of my friends who are still in the trenches in the district where I once worked. For them, this is a triple whammy day. It’s Valentine’s Day, it’s the beginning of a three day weekend for kids because of teacher inservice tomorrow, and the temperature is dropping like a rock as the wind shifts from south to north. Weather changes make kids crazy.
And here I am in my very quiet living room, working at my keyboard, living my dream. Every now and then, little bubbles of guilt rise to the surface of my consciousness. I try to pop the bubbles by offering prayers of gratitude. My method is marginally successful.
I’m looking for new ways to ease my guilt. I’ve toyed with the idea of nominating all elementary school teachers for sainthood and write the Vatican. If the pope spent one day, preferably a party day, in a classroom he’d see teachers working miracles by the minute. Approving the nominations would be a no brainer. But since I’m not Catholic, he might not listen to me.
Maybe you can help. Today, do something nice for the elementary teachers you know. Tell them thank you. Speak softly as they are suffering from PTVS (Post Traumatic Valentine’s Syndrome). Give them chocolate, lots of chocolate. If you’re married to an elementary teacher, give your spouse flowers and lots of chocolate.
But don’t tell them I put you up to it. Just show them how much you appreciate them. They deserve to know.