Christmas Dessert- No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Squares

Christmas was a bit weird this year…no snow, no decorations, no school Christmas concerts. No build up of any kind really.

We finished school on the 14th of December and December 25th crept up and all the sudden it was Christmas.

I was lying on a beach on Christmas Eve….

Being away from family and friends, we knew, would mean a very different Christmas for us, and we were ok with that. What we didn’t expect was to meet people who have become our family abroad. People who we share so many experiences with and who we can celebrate holidays with and have that little taste of home.

What I have enjoyed even more is seeing how those who are not from Canada/USA process some of our traditions. For example, when you want to watch A Muppet’s Christmas Carol with your Middle Eastern and French friends and they stare at your blankly and say “What is a…muppet?” You realize that not everyone celebrates the same way.

Our wonderful friends Darren and Leanne offered to host Christmas dinner a few days after we all arrived home from traveling. We had all the traditional things- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies. It was great!

I was in charge of dessert- our friend Hassan calls me “the sweet woman” because I make good sweets. Thanks Hassan- I like to think I do a pretty good job.

I wanted something easy to make and serve (since we all have only 6 sets of dishes in our school issued houses) and something that could use up the boat load of oatmeal that I bought for a recipe that only required 1 cup. (Got to free up space in my micro-kitchen you know)

I found this recipe on Pinterest and immediately knew it was the one.

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Squares

Chocolate- good, Peanut butter-good, butter- good, oats- really good!

Its a no bake recipe, but you will still need your stove to cook the base. Really this recipe could not have been easier!

I measured out 2 cups of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar and put it in a pot on my stove.

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Squares

Now let’s just take a moment and talk about the amount of butter I have bought since I moved to the UAE. I can’t even count the number of sticks…I buy multiples of butter every time I go to the grocery store. What am I making? I never bought butter at home….

But I digress.

I let the butter and sugar melt together and then added in 2 tsp of vanilla and 6 cups of rolled oats and mixed and cooked it for 2-3 minutes. I read that the longer you cook it, the harder the base will get. So if you want a soft, chewy base, undercook it. If you want a crisp base, cook it maybe a minute or two longer.

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Squares

I spread half the oat layer into a parchment paper lined 9×13 pan and pressed it firmly down.

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Squares

Next, I measured 2 cups of chocolate chips and 1 cup of peanut butter into a microwave safe bowl and melted that together in short 10 second bursts stirring in between so that I didn’t scald or seize the chocolate.

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Squares

When that is all deliciously gooey, pour it over the first layer and spread evenly.

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Squares

Take the rest of the oat layer and spread it on top of the chocolate layer. I did not leave enough oat layer to totally cover the top so mine looked a little more like a crumble topping rather than a oatmeal bar top.

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Squares

I let this sit in my fridge for a few hours to firm up before I cut into squares.

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Squares

The Verdict- These are delicious and chocolaty and buttery. In fact, the next time I make these I think I would cut back the butter to 1.5 cups rather than the full 2 because they were REALLY buttery….but all in all they were a hit and I would totally make them again if I needed a quick, easy to serve dessert.

Sweet Korean Lentils

Our life in the UAE day to day is not that much different than life at home.

I get up every morning, do the same things I would have done at home, eat the same breakfast and always enjoy (at least) one cup of coffee before heading out the door.

But there are some things that snap you back to the reality of living 10,000 kms from home.

Like the weather- it just doesn’t get old. Andrew and I went out for a walk last night around our apartment complex and it was 29 degrees. We actually commented about how cool it felt. And as we walked, I looked over at Andrew and said “I will not miss the snow this year…not even one bit.” Sorry family and friends that are digging out of the first big snowfall.

Sweet Korean Lentils

And how is it possible that I went on a boat cruise the first weekend in November? AND WENT IN THE WATER? Sigh…life is just too good.

Sweet Korean Lentils

We continue to make our micro apartment our own and yesterday Andrew tackled our *ahem* “laundry room” project. We had lots of wasted space above our washer and in an 800 sqft apartment you cannot afford to have any wasted space. So we did what every good UAE expat does. We went to Ikea and bought something for cheap to solve the problem. I’m sure we alone are keeping the Ikea here in Abu Dhabi open for business between all the house stuff, ice cream and shawarma we buy. Thankfully our new friend Hassan is opening our eyes to all things shawarma and we are realizing that Ikea does not make the world’s best shawarma (gasp!).

Sweet Korean Lentils

Andrew borrowed a drill and got all the right screws and attachments for drilling into concrete and set down to work. There was a lot of math involved all to find out our walls are not actually straight or square…

Oh well, I think he did a great job and now we have double the shelf space we had before. It’s amazing how much the little things make a difference.

Sweet Korean Lentils

The other big thing I am missing is my stocked pantry and kitchen utensils. I mean I am getting by and making due but every now and then I wish I had this or that to make my life a little easier. Tonight I decided to tackle a new recipe in order to use up some lentils that I bought and free up some more cupboard space.

Sweet Korean Lentils

I started by cooking some sliced leeks in a little oil on the stove. Leeks have become my go to replacement for onions and green onions. They are super cheap and abundant here and they have a nice mild onion/garlic flavor that I quite like.

Sweet Korean Lentils

In a separate bowl I mixed together the sauce

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Sweet Korean Lentils

Once the leeks were soft, I poured in the sauce and 1 cup of green lentils. I know the original recipe called for red lentils, but I thought “hey, a lentil is a lentil right?” Green ones should work just fine. Wrong.

Sweet Korean Lentils

1 hour later my lentils were still a bit firm and I had to add another 1/2 mixture of sauce in the process to try to soften them up.

If it called for red lentils, use red lentils. Clearly they are not as similar as I first thought.

I served this with green bean and rice and there was plenty left over for my lunch.

Sweet Korean Lentils

The Verdict- other than the fact that the lentils could have been a touch softer, the flavor of this dish is so incredibly good. I will definitely make this again, but will make sure I have the right lentils on hand for the job.