Monday, July 27, 2015

The Most Important Ingredient

I am not a saver. Not really. Our children used to run and hide things when I got into my cleaning mode. My husband has set limits on what I can make disappear while he is gone. As in, his whole garage is off limits. 

I get it.

I like to say: “If it doesn’t have a home, it’s going to live in someone else’s house.”

Never mind that I collect a few things myself.

Such as cookbooks.

I don’t know why since there are countless amazing blogs and chefs and of course internet search engines.

I suppose to me, old cookbooks are like treasure troves, where some long lost secret ingredient or combination of ingredients, may lie buried in their yellowing pages.

In a weak moment some time back, I hauled a trunk full of books including some cookbooks to the thrift store. I've hardly missed them.

Except for one.

Yes, one of those cookbooks was about using dates instead of processed sugar as a sweetener. Sugar has always had a very negative effect on how I feel after eating it. Hopefully we are all more aware than ever that food rich in nutrients and minimally processed is just better.

Have you ever used dates in recipes? If not, please don't run off yet.

Trust me on this, I'm not one to compromise taste, especially when I'm craving chocolate.

And since finding out just how amazing and tasty recipes with dates are, my fears are confirmed. That cookbook I tossed surely had some amazing recipes with ingredient combinations that are now gone  forever.

Fortunately it has pushed me to try a few things on my own and the outcome has been tasty.

Since writing about Table Life and Knowing Your Neighbors, I've been having people drop by to sit at the table! (Squeal!) It's been so much fun. It's also made me realize how I need to do a few things to be prepared, since I love to share food as well as face time.

So here is a recipe that is so easy, healthy, no cookingand best of all.... yummy!
They are kind of like fudge.


But I make them when I am wanting brownies.

There are only four ingredients.

And I keep them in the freezer. If I’m craving a treat they are there. If someone drops in they are there.  Unless I eat them all. Then I make some more because it really only takes a few minutes.

Don't we all need something simple and amazing in our lives? Well, this may be that thing.

You can thank me later.

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1 cup chocolate chips  -I prefer Ghirardelli 60% Cacao baking chips or your choice is fine!
1 cup nuts  -I use almonds or walnuts but pecans would be amazing as well
1 cup pitted dates -Start with the ones you can find in the dried fruit section. You may want to get fancy and find Medjool dates known as “King of the Dates.” Trader Joes is my friend for this. The dates should be moist. If they feel a little hard just soak them in warm water for a few minutes.
1 - 2 tbls almond butter

In food processor add dates and mix until fine consistency.
Add chocolate chips to date mixture and process again until well blended.
Add nuts and pulse until all ingredients are blended.
Finally add almond butter. This binds the ingredients. Mixture will pull away from sides and stick when pressed between fingers.

Press into an 8 x 8 pan

Score into small pieces

Enjoy now or cover and freeze for later.

If you are feeling fancy you could make them into balls and roll in coconut.

And if you don't already have these ingredients on hand, it's worth going to get them. I make these in small batches like this because of the size of my food processor. So, if I want a larger pan of them I simply repeat the process for a double batch.

My mom, she always said that people raved about her food, and she attributed it to her secret ingredient. She made everything with love.

I think that love really is the most important ingredient, as we seek to welcome people to our tables. However, dates may run a close second in the secret ingredients category.

So remember to add a teaspoon of love to everything you do and let me know what you think of these little gems.

Do you have  a super easy amazing recipe?

What tips do you have to help keep extending hospitality simple and fun!


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© Rhonda Quaney