October 31, 2011


Today is Halloween and on this day the majority always dress up, go to parties and trick or treat as a kid. I always wondered what the big fuss was all about.
For me, Halloween has always been known as the dark holiday, where people dress up as witches, ghosts, the devil or Frankenstein. I never dressed up for Halloween, but my mother tells me she dressed me up as a bunny rabbit when I was two. I couldn't find a picture of that, but my dad found this one, and oh, so many really great memories came along with it! If you are in this picture, or related to someone in this picture, you know what I'm talking about!
This is me with three of my cousins when we were kids! We had so much fun at the harvest parties that my mom would have every year for us. I'm pretty sure we had more fun inside our warm home carving pumpkins and making masks then the other kids did outside in the cold - at least I believe that we did.

For years and years and years my mom hid bags full of candy for the 15 of us crazy, loud Italian cousins and made clues for each of us to find our treasures on a scavenger hunt. The first clue was stuck inside a balloon that we would have to pop that would lead us to our next clue, and eventually to our bag of candy. Can you imagine the complete mayhem that event must have been? Now that I'm older I can't believe that my mom did that for all of us kids every year! She is amazing!
I loved our harvest parties. I also remember my mom always trying to make Halloween special for us, not in a scary, creepy, evil way, but in a fun, festive way. One year I remember she even made carrot soup for dinner in the spirit of the holiday (because it was orange). And maybe it's just my memory but I think we turned out all the lights and ate our carrot soup by candlelight, but I really can't be sure about that... or the carrot soup... but I know it was something orange.
Like I said, so many good memories from being a kid and growing up. And then, you do grow up and it becomes less fun in a way. I'm not sure why, but it just does. Probably just the idea that as a child you're innocent, and as they say "innocence is bliss".
On Friday, one of my co-workers suggested that we dress up for Halloween. Of course I wasn't into the idea because I had no idea what I would dress up as. But, then I started doing some research and before I knew it, I had all these ideas and you would be hard pressed to stop me. I was on a mission.
It was really fun actually, minus the countless trips to Joann Fabrics, party stores, thrift stores, needles breaking on sewing machines, ribbon unraveling when it shouldn't and my car being hit while parked and no one leaving a note (yeah, that was not fun). Other then that, it was a lot of fun. What girl doesn't like dressing up and looking pretty? So, with the help of my mom, we made this costume for me.
Dressing up was a lot of fun but I'm glad that I don't do it everyday. I had a lot of fun with the details and things that no one else would know about my costume except for me. But it wasn't as fun as popping balloons on my parents living room floor when I was eight and running through the house with all of my other 4 foot tall cousins looking for our treats, or carving pumpkins with my dad and feeling the slimy pumpkins seeds slip between my fingers - nothing can replace that.
Happy Halloween!

October 27, 2011

Chocolate Almond Joy Bars

This is the first gluten free dessert that I made from scratch and it turned out so good, dispite a few short cuts and one little accident.

The recipe found here is gluten free and dairy free. But, after having already been two two grocery stores, in my high heels, without finding any dark chocolate, I decided to just cheat and use the milk chocolate chips that I knew I already had at home. So mine aren't dairy free, but next time they will be, because I'm for sure making these again!

I made a couple other revisions when I made them last night. One, the recipe calls for coconut palm sugar, I used white instead. I also did not use celtic sea salt as it calls for, but table salt instead. Lastly, instead of two teaspoons of almond extract, I accidentally put in two teaspoons of vanilla extract! I realized this just after I finished pouring the last teaspoon and to my "Ahh!" my husband calmly suggested I slow down a little... good and often needed advise for me unfortunately. So, because I could not believe that I missed out of two whole teaspoons of almond extract goodness, I just puring a little in for good measure. Oh, and I also didn't have any unsweetened coconut so I just used coconut instead.

These bars are amazing and even though this is our dessert for our guests tonight, my husband (and I might be a little guilty too) managed to polish off a row and a half out of the 9x9 last night... shhh, don't tell!

Enjoy and let me know how you like them!

Chocolate Almond Joy Bars
From Elana's Pantry

4 eggs
¾ cup coconut milk(canned)
2 teaspoons almond extract
¾ cup coconut palm sugar
½ cup blanched almond flour
½ cup coconut flour
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup dark chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, almond extract and palm sugar
2. In a smaller bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, salt and baking soda
3. Mix dry ingredients into wet with a handheld mixer
4. Stir in ½ cup of the chocolate chips
5. Grease an 8x8 inch Pyrex baking dish
6. Pour batter into dish, then sprinkle shredded coconut and remaining chocolate chips on top
7. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes
8. Cool for 1 hour
9. Serve