Little chocolate squares

With the rushing about during this time, it's handy to have a recipe in your pocket that is quick and easy for your next gathering. There are only five ingredients in these little chocolate squares and they're delicious! Definitely a holiday hit.

Little chocolate squares

1/2 cup coconut oil (soft and almost melted but warm not hot)
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup puffed quinoa (I used chocolate puffed quinoa. Regular is good, too.)

Mix the first four ingredients until smooth, then stir in puffed quinoa.
Spread the batter into a thin layer into a small square pan, lined with parchment paper.
Freeze for at least 1/2 hour.


Giving Tuesday

If you haven’t heard about Giving Tuesday yet, it falls, thankfully, right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when it is most needed, reminding us what the holiday spirit is about—giving (time, respect, attention included) to those we know and love and those we don’t know.  

I joined The Two Twenty team on this special day, to go to the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre to volunteer my time and write about my experience. For two hours, I got to wrap presents for Christmas. This was really fun, but the reality is, this area of the city is considered a food desert—the availability and access to food is limited. Every month the Food Bank sees around 12,000 people and almost half are children who are hungry.

Individuals and families of all sizes can visit the Food Bank every two weeks to receive emergency food baskets to tide them over. All of the food is donated, from residents, grocery stores, and the Garden Patch, one of the Food Bank programs.

It was exciting to see behind-the-scenes work in the food centre, the clothing depot, and the educational programs. One of those programs is the Urban Agriculture Program. You may have seen the big community garden (Garden Patch) downtown. Individuals, organizations, and businesses from around the city, volunteer their time to tend to a plot all summer. Once harvested, the food is given back to the Food Bank to pass along.

The Food Bank also partners with the Saskatoon Health Region to offer the Aim 4 Health Program, teaching people about nutrition, meal preparation, diabetes education, and the importance of physical activity.

If you want to share your Christmas spirit this holiday, right now, and all year long, baby formula is one much-needed item, along with all food and clothing donations. Also, PotashCorp is matching all monetary donations made, up to $1 million, until January 16, 2015. I am in awe of the amazing work the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre does with very little and I would be happy to volunteer my time there again.

 (photo: Desaree Larsen from Fine Arts and Freckles, one of my co-volunteers)  

Homemade Baileys

I am counting down the days until Christmas holidays, when I have two weeks off my day job, and besides a little yoga teaching, all I have to do, is cozy into the couch, squished between two blankets, with a juicy new novel in one hand, and a cup of steaming hot coffee and Baileys in the other!

Why buy a bottle when you can make it in five minutes?

I've made a few different recipes over the years and ultimately have combined my favourites from each recipe to make this delicious treat.

Homemade Baileys

1 cup whiskey (I highly recommend Saskatchewan's Last Mountain Distillery whiskey)
1 small can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
1 teaspoon cocoa (maybe 1 tablespoon, depending on your taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 egg or 2 egg yolks*

Now, the easy part.

Put everything in a blender and blend on high for 2 minutes.
Pour into a bottle and let it chill in the fridge for at least a day before drinking in coffee, on ice, or any other way you like it, if you can wait that long! It will thicken a little as it cools and the flavours will join together.

* I've made this with cream and honey, and it's still delicious. I find it's fairly creamy and sweet without additional cream, though, and then I don't have to worry about the dairy expiration date. If you want to add it, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup cream and 1 teaspoon honey.



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