“Mercury is in retrograde….”
It began shortly before Thanksgiving. One of my daughters started having mysterious hives. My other daughter needed to come home for health reasons. The microwave wouldn’t work. The blender broke. My back went out. The drama scripts didn’t arrive as they were supposed to have. The Christmas cards fell into the mud. One of the ears of my glasses fell off. The printer went on the fritz. A gift disappeared. My mother lost a long time friend unexpectedly to undiagnosed cancer. The rice cooker became temperamental. My husband’s sleep apnea increased. BJ’s called to say my newly ordered glasses’ frames were no longer in stock.
Within the past couple of weeks, the universe seemed to be sending me a message, and when I told a friend about my experiences, she said, “Well, you know mercury has been in retrograde.” I laughed because that certainly explained it!
None of the experiences above are unusual. They are a part of life, and they happen all throughout the year, but at the holiday time, they can feel extra overwhelming because we have so many other things we are trying to do… buying presents, attending holiday parties, going to the children’s winter concerts and recitals, planning for family gatherings. And when we have food allergies and need to bring goodies to share, the pressure can sometimes feel like it’s too much.
That’s why I have some easy finger treats which I fall back upon for holiday treating of folks, and when I received an email yesterday asking about what someone could easily make for a party, I decided I’d post some ideas for anyone else who might be wondering the same thing.
One of my favorite easy treats is Chocolate Truffles because they only require two ingredients, are quick to make, and if you put them into little cupcake liners and put them on a plate, folks think you’ve worked hard when you haven’t.
Another simple treat is what I have pictured above which are cheesecake bites. When I make cheesecake and have leftovers, I turn those leftovers into the bites to bring to parties by scooping out tablespoons of the cheesecake and rolling them in gluten free graham cracker crumbs. For the holidays, using Cranberry Cheesecake or Ginger Spice Cheesecake are always good choices. If you haven’t made any cheesecake recently, you can use store bought cheesecake (Daiya makes an allergy friendly version which you can often find in the freezer section of grocery stores) which you bring to room temperature and then roll into the bites. What’s great is you can vary the crumb coating by also using your favorite cookies which you crush. Then, when you put the bites into muffin liners with the different types of coating, they look pretty.
A treat I just made last week are what I call “butter melts”. You take your favorite “butter” as in peanut butter or almond butter or sunbutter or cashew butter… whichever you prefer and fits your allergy needs, mix it with some vegan butter and a little bit of powdered sugar, and roll them into balls and put them into the freezer on wax or parchment paper for about ten to 15 minutes until they’ve hardened and you can coat them with chocolate. The recipes you will find online use crazy amounts of real butter and powdered sugar. I cut the amounts considerably, and for 1 cup of sunbutter, I use a tablespoon of vegan butter and just enough powdered sugar to make the “butter” rollable, which is always less than the cup to two cups called for in regular recipes. I also don’t dip the balls into the chocolate. I simply drizzle chocolate over the top, put them into the freezer for a few minutes, flip and drizzle the other side and put them back into the freezer for another couple of minutes. Much easier, neater, and quicker than dipping! For the chocolate coating, just melt allergy friendly chocolate chips with a tsp or two of a fat like coconut oil or avocado oil or vegan butter or shortening until the chips melt when you stir them. I usually do this in 20 second intervals.
A final finger treat idea I offer is making your own chocolate bark. This is fun as well as quick. Simply put 10 to 12 ounces of your favorite allergy friendly chocolate chips into a large microwavable bowl with 2 to 3 tsp of your favorite fat (coconut oil, vegan shortening, vegan butter, a plant based oil) and melt in the microwave in 20 seconds intervals until stirring the chips completely dissolves them. Put wax paper or parchment paper in a 10 x 15 pan and spread the chocolate mixture to cover the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate with whatever you want (peppermint candies, nuts, chocolates, pretzels, m & m’s, cookie chunks, etc…) and put the pan into the fridge until the chocolate hardens. Then you break them up into bite size pieces and arrange them in muffin liners to look pretty.