This is post #200 for my little old blog here! When I started Aloha Yinz Mangia back in 2010 I was flying high on the heels of watching (the movie) Julie and Julia for the first time and wanted to manifest my new-found inspiration by challenging myself to be adventerous in the kitchen. Here we are, just shy of 4 years later, and I'm still at it. The list of recipes I'd like to try is still a mile-long and, strangely enough, I just finished reading Julie and Julia (the book) this week!
Dates have always intimidated me and I've finally gotten over the fear and have given them a try. Figs - the other fruit popular amongst senior citizens - are already my favorite so why shy away from dates, right?! My friend Jessica posted a photo of a date stuffed with cheese on Instagram a few weeks ago and I knew that I couldn't wait any longer. Trader Joe's came through with a non-intimidating package of the little gems. Fancy, huh?
I sampled a date right out of the gate (ha!) and it honestly tasted like candy. Soft, sweet, and a little sticky. Watch out for the pits!
After pinning several options for the fate of the dates (I can't resist!) the dessert route was the one for me. Another recent discovery of mine is Coconut Oil, which I'm quickly falling in love with! It's just a little sweet and adds great flavor to anything that's cooked in its presence.
The original recipe/inspiration for this creation [from The Live-In Kitchen] was vegan friendly, although my chocolate chips totally ruined that initiative. The cookie dough doesn't contain the dreaded (raw) egg and is completely safe for consumption.
Cookie Dough Date Bars
Makes roughly 24 squares
1/2 of a cup of raw, unsalted almonds
1 1/2 cups of pitted dates (about 15)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, divided
3 Tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
3 Tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1/2 of a cup of whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons of chocolate chips, divided
In a food processor, pulse the almonds until coarse.
It only takes a second!
Add to the almonds the dates, 1/4 of a teaspoon of the vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
Process this combination until it forms a ball. This happened very quickly and much more easily than I anticipated, thankfully!
The dough is sticky so spraying a spatula with non-stick spray or oil works wonders for helping to spread the dough across the bottom of the pan. Spread into an even layer, in a pan lined with parchment or wax paper, and set aside.
In another bowl, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, flour, and remaining vanilla (3/4 teaspoon) using a fork. Once combined the mixture will appear smooth and shiny. Add one Tablespoon of the chocolate chips into the mixture before pouring and smoothing it over the base layer.
Add the remaining chocolate to the top of the bars and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Use the paper to remove the whole thing from the pan before cutting.
Once set, the bars are easy to cut, handle, and eat. They taste great, just slightly sweet, and are filled with quality ingredients.
They're a great way to ease into eating dates and/or any of the other ingredients that may frighten or intimidate you (raw, unsalted almonds or coconut oil). Originally considered a dessert, these cookie dough date bars make a great mid-morning snack and were more than well received when I offered them to hungry friends at the peak of a hike!
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Here we are some 4 years and 200 posts later and I still feel like my culinary journey and Aloha Yinz Mangia are just getting started! I look forward to sharing many more recipes and food adventures with you, whoever you may be. We're continuing to love the food here in Seattle and are beginning to humor the idea of buying our very own kitchen to cook in - as well as the home that may surround it - and are very much looking forward to our upcoming trips [to Ireland and Italy in a few months] and the corresponding cuisine.
200 is quite the milestone, if you ask me. My goal is to post more regularly and strategically moving forward, including posts at least once a week. On Sundays I'd like to feature recipes-I've-made and on Wednesdays where-I-ate posts.
If you've got any ideas or suggestions for me on what you'd like to see more of, please let me know! It's always great to hear from any friends/readers :)