Just a brief update on our temporary absence from the blogging scene. These last few months have been ultra busy and challenging for both of us – a new job, many new recipes being developed and tested for our upcoming new book (watch for it in the coming year as well as a rebirth of our present blog format), a new roof being installed on our house, and sadly, the loss of our beloved cat Bhakti on September 4th. We posted about him earlier in the year, telling you about his struggle with lymphoma. What a challenging journey – so many ups and downs. He fought so hard to live, but in the end his body was too weak to sustain the life he desired. We’ll always treasure the gift of this beautiful and special soul’s presence in our lives. A peaceful spirit, filled with pure love and joy. Just thinking about him brings a smile to my face and fills my heart with joy.
I suppose this offers a nice transition to today’s post and our gift to you, our readers, for the holidays. A delicious chocolate recipe, our “Delectable Goji Berry Chocolate Bark,” which is incredibly easy to make, as well as directions on how to make your own “Rudolph” gift bags.
To make the gift bags, you will need the following items, some of which may already be in your “arts and crafts” drawer:
- brown paper lunch bags
- small bells
- red ribbon
- glue stick
- wiggly eyes (you can also draw then on the paper)
- small red pom-poms (you could paint a red dot, or use a red sticker – be creative)
- small cellophane treat bags
- dark brown construction paper for the antlers
- light tan paper for the ears
Most, if not all, of these items can be found in any crafts store.
- Make a template for the antlers, trace it on the dark brown construction paper and cut out. If you make this with small children, you can help them trace the outline of their hands on the construction paper. Cut out this design and voila ‘antlers.’ Many years ago we created some fun Thanksgiving and Christmas projects, using this idea. It is a great way to get little kids involved in their own gift giving projects. Repeat the above steps over and over until you have the desired number of antlers. You need two per bag.
- Draw the shape of the ears, trace on the light tan paper (you can use the paper from an extra brown lunch bag), cut out and repeat, until you have enough to complete the number of bags you need.
- Fold the top of the lunch bag over (roughly between 2 and 2-1/2 inches). Now punch two holes through the folded part (about 1/2 inch below the top fold). The holes should be at least 3/4 – 1 inch apart.
- Using the glue stick, attach the antlers on either side of the folded portion of the bag. Glue the ears over the beginning part of the antlers. Using a pencil, or marker, draw an inner outline for the ear (see examples in the photos).
- Glue the wiggly eyes about 1 inch below the folded part of the bag. You could also draw the eyes on the bag. There is no need to run out and make a special purchase, especially facing all the craziness in the shopping malls and the ensuing traffic everywhere.
- Attach the red nose about 1-1/2 inches below the eyes.
- Draw a line (see photo) from each corner of the nose up to the outer corner of the fold of the bag.
- Fill each bag with the chocolate filled bag.
- String a bell on each red ribbon, thread through the two holes (start from the front of the bag – bell needs to face the front) and tie a bow.
For the “Delectable Goji Berry Chocolate Bark” you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 bars of at least 72% Dark Chocolate, each weighing 3.5 oz (100g)
- 5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil/butter
- 2 Tbsp. coconut sugar, or sucanat
- 4-5 Tbsp. goji berries, or dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews (optional)
- Himalaya salt, or celtic sea salt
- 2 large cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper
In a double boiler, over low heat, melt the chocolate together with the coconut oil/butter and coconut sugar. Stir constantly, until all ingredients are liquid and smooth. Pour the melted chocolate mixture on the parchment paper lined cookie sheets, dividing it up evenly. Spread it out evenly to about 1/8 inch thickness. Top the chocolate with the goji berries, seeds and nuts and sprinkle with a small amount of salt. Place the cookie sheets into the freezer for about 45 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator to keep the chocolate firm until you are ready to place it into the cellophane gift bags. Ease the chocolate away from the parchment paper and cut into strips, then breaking each strip into smaller pieces. Fill each bag with the desired amount and close. Place this bag inside the “Rudolph” bag, and close it with the red ribbon.
From our home to yours, wishing you a most joyous holiday! Enjoy this time with your family and friends. Remember it is not about the presents, but about how to be present.