Healthy No-Bake Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars

A buttery gluten-free buckwheat and cashew crust topped with creamy date caramel and covered in rich chocolate ganache: these healthy Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars taste decadent while containing lots of nutritious ingredients. Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and only eight ingredients. Paleo option, too.

Posting on a Tuesday? Me? I know it’s very unusual and actually not pleasing my mind – three posts in a row … – but even I can make exceptions. Especially when two special occasions collide. First would be today being World Vegan Day. This isn’t to force anybody into choosing a certain diet but I simply enjoy sharing delicious plantbased recipes. Secondly, today I’m collaborating with some other lovely blogging ladies for our first …

Bloggers Gonna Blog Friendsgiving Collab!

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire's Shortbread - gluten-free, vegan and only eight ingredients!

Granted, I was hesitant to join in a virtual Thanksgiving celebration. As you might know this is a holiday not celebrated in Germany. We do have the occasional ‘Erntedankfest’ [which literally translates to Thanksgiving] but it’s nothing official and I don’t know a single person honoring this day at their home. Anyway, I figured every holiday feast needs dessert and that I could do. Allow me to present: Healthy Millionaire’s Shortbread.

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire's Shortbread - gluten-free, vegan and only eight ingredients!

Way different from my recent flourless hazelnut shortbread this is it. The kind of treat you’d whip up for a holiday or take the time to really savour on an ordinary day. Funny story: my first time trying this British classic was as a special Britain-themed week at Lidl [for those not familiar with it: a discounter] of all places. Very gourmet, I know. [Read: not.] I got my whole family obsessed with these caramel-topped and chocolate-covered slices of decadence. For some reason Lidl stopped carrying the shortbread during future British weeks despite them clearly being a popular item and gone very quickly every time.

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire's Shortbread - gluten-free, vegan and only eight ingredients!

But we wouldn’t be bloggers if we let stores decide our food choices, right? Given my ‘history’ of no-bake brownies and bars it’s a riddle why I’d yet to try and recreate the Millionaire’s Shortbread. Luckily, I did after all and – dare I say it?  – these are even better. Buckwheat and cashews are combined with a special ingredient to create the gluten-free shortbread crust here: cacao butter. I just wanted to see if I could use it instead of coconut oil, not expecting anything. But: wow! The cacao butter, despite using a small amount only, lends a truly buttery taste to the shortbread base. Naturally sweet date caramel stands in for the typically sugar-laden variety. My favourite chocolate ganache finishes everything off for an amazing taste experience.

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire's Shortbread - gluten-free, vegan and only eight ingredients!

Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or just an average day when you’re reading this: Make this Healthy  No-Bake Millionaire’s Shortbread and be sure to have everybody get back for seconds.

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire’s Shortbread

Shortbread base:

  • 1/4 cup [40 g]  raw buckwheat groats
  • 3/4 cup [100 g] cashew nuts
  • 1 heaped tbsp/25 g cocoa butter, melted [can sub coconut oil]
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Caramel

  • 1 cup [150 g] dates
  • 1 heaped tbsp of peanut butter [coconut butter works, too]
  • Pinch of salt [omit if your nut butter is salted]
  • 2-3 tbsps water

Ganache Topping

  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsps coconut cream or soy cream [~ 75 ml]
  1. In a high speed blender or food processor, blend the cashews and buckwheat groats into a fine flour-like consistency.
  2. Add to a bowl and mix with the melted cacao butter, kneading to form a dough. Press into an 8 x 8 inch pan and set into the fridge to harden.
  3. Prepare the date caramel by processing the dates in your blender until crumbly, Add in the nut butter, minimum amount of water and salt and process into a smooth caramel.
  4. Spread the caramel onto your ‘shortbread’ crust and chill in the fridge again.
  5. While the base is chilling in the fridge, prepare your ganache layer. Finely chop the chocolate bar and set aside.
  6. Bring the coconut milk to a boil either on the stove or in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate and (!!!) let sit for three minutes. Do NOT stir before.
  7. Stir to fully combine all ganache ingredients. Top the chilled base with ganache and refridgerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting into it.

I’m linking up with Allergy Free Wednesdays#RecipeOfTheWeek, Gluten-Free Fridays,Tasty Tuesdays,Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meatless Mondays.

.. .and because dessert alone doesn’t make a whole Thanksgiving feast don’t  miss out on what everybody else is bringing to the Bloggers Gonna Blog Friendsgiving party:

https://static.inlinkz.com/cs2.js

Happiness-inducing today: Music. It’s been an ugly grey and rainy day. Stressful with some anxiety thrown in, too. But setting out for short walk after work, just catching some fresh air and listening to brighter tunes helped a little.

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Chocolate Coconut Caramel Cups [vegan & paleo]

Rich dark chocolate encloses a layer of slightly sweet coconut crumbles mingling with naturally sweet date caramel. An easy and quick to prepare treat suitable for vegans, gluten-free and paleo eaters alike – there’s a refined sugar-free option, too.

Another chocolate creation already again? Why, yes. Valentine’s Day is around the corner after all so you can never have enough chocolate on hand. Though if you’re like me – or any other normal human – you don’t need a special occasion to eat chocolate. Its existence is reason enough to eat it. In fact, I don’t care much about Valentine’s Day. If you love somebody you shouldn’t need a special day dedicated to prooving just that. I’d much prefer to be surprised rather than either well, not surprised as it’s a given on that date or disappointed if my significant other forgot about Valentine’s Day while every other lady was showered with treats. A sweet letter, homecooked dinner or any other little treat saying “I love you” throughout the year would make feel much more loved. Bonus points if that surprise involves chocolate.

Chocolate Caramel Cups_6

Okay, onto the star of this post now. After trying date caramel for the first time here it made my mind spin for other uses of it. The same goes for my rediscovery of coconut butter. When I saw the cutest silicone molds at a store the decision was pretty much made. Side note: I’m awful at resisting cute kitchen accessoires, plates, towels/you name it. At least I used them right away …? It’s my excuse to postpone working on this bad habit. Don’t judge.

What these Chocolate Coconut Caramel Cups are? Naturally sweet date caramel layered with crumbly coconut filling for a tropical touch enrobed in deep dark chocolate. They are the perfect balance of sweetness with some crunch from the coconut leaving you satisfied without the sugar shock. A no-fuss little treat made in almost no time.

Chocolate Caramel Cups_8_

The recipe below yields three chocolate caramel cups – perfect for savouring all by yourself sharing with your valentine?! – but is easily doubled or tripled for a larger get-together. Many of my recipes result in small batches as I’ve found this to be a rarity. A large yield is awesome if you’re feeding a crowd but I’d personally would rather double a recipe than eat one and the same thing for a week. More room for further experimentation … mmmh.

Chocolate Coconut Caramel Cups

  • 1/4 batch of this date caramel
  • 1 1/4 oz/35 g of dark chocolate  [unsweetened for a sugar-free version]
  • 1 1/2 tbsps coconut butter
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1-2 tsps agave (adjust to taste)
  1. Melt the coconut butter.
  2. Stir in the agave sirup, adjusting the sweetness to your preference. Mix in the shredded coconut.
  3. Melt dark chocolate.
  4. Add a teaspoon of melted chocolate on the bottom of each cupcake liner. Spread well. Let the chocolate harden in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Place a generous teaspoon of date caramel on top of the chocolate and pat down to even it out.
  6. Add a teaspoon of coconut filling on top and smoothen out as good as you can. No need for perfection here.
    Finish off with enough melted chocolate to completely cover the filling. Let harden in the fridge again before serving.

 

Chocolate Coconut Caramel Cups_10

I’m linking up with Allergy Free Wednesdays#RecipeOfTheWeek,#StrangeButGoodGluten-Free Fridays,Tasty Tuesdays,Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meatless Mondays.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Getting a little walking in right in the morning. No day can feel completely bad if you start it with a bit of movement and fresh air.

 

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Do you prefer recipes yielding larger or smaller batches?

What are you thoughts on Valentine’s Day?

 

Week in review: Exciting news, blogging success and random tidbits

Just like that we’re kicking off the last week of January. While still in disbelief of that fact – and the one it’s my birthday on Friday – I couldn’t think of a better way to start it than by joining Meg once again. Her Week in Review is what inspired another post that will be going online later this week. No further hints on that now, though, as this post already ended up being on the wordier side. Here’s a little recap of the past seven days  in my life.

Week in review

 

  • The most exciting news first: I became an aunt! Eeee! As tempting as it is I’ll spare you the gushing about how adorable my little nephew is – especially as I didn’t get a chance to meet him in person yet. [insert break to look at the picture my sister sent me via Whatsapp] Fingers crossed that’ll happen next weekend. I. can’t. wait.
  • I published three posts yet again. It’s a good number despite being uneven. Not a fan of that last fact but this is a good blogging balance for me at the moment. While I can’t make any promises with the current internet and laptop situation I’ll try to stay consistent here. With this post published and another one drafted for Wednesday/Thursday plus the usual Sunday link lovin’ it looks like I’ll be able to keep it up this week.
  • Honesty time [nobody’s perfect]: Getting this post up and ready came at the expense of half a bar of chocolate and a few nerves plus swearing in the process. A fussy laptop crashing about 20+ times during editing the images and then importing them to WordPress made me want to cry. Instead, I broke out the Lindt and peanut butter. Ironically, all that fussing about with a sweet post left me craving kale like no other – so kale it was for lunch. That whole talk about finding balance intuitively is so true. Now I just need to remind myself of it in moments of doubt.

Date caramel truffles_1

 

  • The anxiety was worth it, though, as those sweet little morsels got accepted by Foodgawker. Maybe all those broken dishes were worth it in the end?
  • Because a lovely lady reminded me to include these tasks: replied to blog post comments mostly in time. Embarrassingly, this is an area I still need to work on but feel I’ve gotten better about lately. It’s not that I wouldn’t appreciate every single comment – I really do – but I’m usually at work when my posts go live so can’t reply until hours later and by the time I’m home the urge to multitask sets in and … you might guess how that ends. I’m working on it, promise.
  • I faced what must have been the most nerve-wracking/fear-of-failure-inducing moment of the week when my co-teacher for the German classes didn’t appear. She’s a trained teacher and knows all the tricks to successful lessons [and how to handle wild little boys]. Handling five children who speak your language? Possible when you give them work assignments and they actually understand what you want them to do. Five children with different degrees of German language skills all of whom would be best off in one-on-one lessons? By far not an easy feat. I managed for half an hour until my colleague appeared after all. Turns out she hadn’t heard her alarm and only woke up when I tried to call her. Keeping my fingers crossed this won’t happen again.

Orchidee_flower

  • Not only kept my orchid alive over the past months but got it to bloom again. Heureka! Admittedly, I’m not the best plant mum so I doubt this is entirely due to my own doing but the fact is showing beautiful flowers again is all that counts, right?
  • Survived two appointments at the dentist’s though only the second one is worth mentioning. Anesthesia is a fine invention for the time you’re sitting in the chair of horror, yes. But walking around with half of your mouth numbed for four more hours afterwards and feeling you looked like Kermit lessens my appreciation if its power. Whew.
  • Watched a movie with my mum yesterday. Verdict: you don’t need to watch “Kiss the cook”. Trust me on this one.
  • With it being my birthday week I treated myself to this delightful Coconut Almond Spread the German vegan scene is going crazy about. It’s sweet and akin to those Raffello truffles but coming along with an ingredient list that – while not deserving of the “healthy” claim – reads a lot nicer than those of the formers’. Pictured alongside here is the sweet belated Christmas card my long-time pen pal from the US mailed me.

Coconut almond spread_Christmas card

 

  • Stopped being lazy and did a through clean-up of my apartment. Meaning I didn’t just clean it but mopped the floors, too. I know, I know. But sometimes I just do everything else and leave the floors aside if they’re not super sticky.
  • Speaking of lazy or rather not: I kept up my daily workout video routine. Compared to what everbody else in the blogging world does this is ridiculous little but better than nothing to me. If I could I’d opt for more intense and interesting workouts, too, but for now this is a nice way of keeping up a routine.

 

 

That’s a wrap week in review for me and I’d better make a  beeline for my bed after scheduling this post. The upcoming week won’t be any easier with a lack of sleep [oops].

Happiness-inducing today: The weather allowing for a nice long-ish walk. No fear of slipping or freezing my fingers off while outside.

 

Stay in touch!

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Tell me three [or more] achievements from your past week!
What was a recent exciting happening in your life?

 

 

Healthy 5-Ingredient Snickers Truffles [vegan, paleo, refined sugar-free]

Lusciously sweet and creamy caramel studded with salted peanuts and covered in chocolate: all the flavours of the traditional candy bar combined in one healthy truffle. Easy to prepare, vegan, gluten-free and with a paleo option these are a treat everybody can enjoy.

Raise your hands if you like caramel? Okay. Salted peanuts/ cashews[aka crack]? Okay. Chocolate? Great. Lots of refined sugar? No hands?? Okay, me, neither. But if you do like all the flavours in Snickers bars I do have a treat for you today.

Date caramel truffles_3

See, I’m not necessarily opposed to refined sugar and it’s part of my diet every day. However, I don’t fancy eating too much of it and the additional ingredients in store-bought candy bars are far from tasty-sounding, too. Into the kitchen we go then. These truffles are

Sweet.

Salty.

Creamy.

Crunchy.

Refined sugar-free. Vegan. Paleo.

Covered in chocolate. We can never forget about the chocolate.

 

Date caramel_spoon

If you’ve been around the blog world for any amount of time you will be familiar with the many different kinds of balls bites made from nuts and dates with various add-ins. Confession: I’m not a fan of those. Granted, I obviously haven’t tried every kind out there and some sound pretty good. It must be mix of childhood “trauma”/lasting rebellion [growing up eating bars made from dried fruit and nut while others had chocolate bars isn’t fun] and the fact they don’t saturate but only make me hungrier. Not a good choice for a snack. However, I recently started playing around with dates caramel and that is something I could get used to. After using it in this recipe that – while delicious – was rather time-intensive I wanted to see if I could come up with a quicker way to bring together all of the amazing flavours used here. Much to my pleasure: yes, I can. As can you so next time you’re craving salty-sweet crunchy and creamy Snickers just make these and feel good eating as many as you want.

Date caramel truffles_1

I’m also very happy to announce these are mum- and coworker-approved which is a rarity around here. For one as I don’t usually venture into sweet territory with my recipes and I’m not exactly going to bring Cauliflower Curry to share at the office. And then as I trust my own tastebuds enough when it comes to savoury fare not inviting any other judges. These healthy Snickers truffles, however, got a major sign of approval and I already have a request for another batch. Nothing to complain about here. Make these for your family or coworkers and not have them guess the treats they’re eating actually aren’t all that sinful.

Date caramel truffles_2

 

Healthy 5-Ingredient Snickers Truffles

  • 250 g [a scant 9 oz]* soft dates* [don’t need to be Medjool]
  • 2-4 tbsps coconut butter [the more the creamier the taste ]
  • Optional: warm water*
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 oz roasted salted peanuts/cashews for paleo version, chopped
  • 1.5 oz dark chocolate [use unsweetened if you want to keep these refined sugar-free; I used an 80 % bar]

 

  1. In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine dates, salt and coconut butter. Blend until relatively smooth. A few smaller pieces of dates are no big issue. If your caramel doesn’t become as smooth as you like add in warm water 1 tsp at a time.*
  2. Put the date caramel into a bowl and mix in salted peanuts.
  3. Using 1 tsp [more for bigger truffles] at a time roll caramel into balls.
  4. Melt chocolate either in the microwave or using a double boiler.
  5. Dip the caramel balls into the melted chocolate and set onto a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate. Using a fork works best for this
  6. Transfer truffles to the fridge for the chocolate to set.

** this was one bag of dates for me. I only used half the caramel for a small batch of truffles as my blender (Vitamix) doesn’t work for blending smaller amounts at a time. The remaining ingredients listed are for using half the caramel so either double them or  keep the same if your blender allows for making smaller batches of caramel.

***add water 1 tsp at a time if the blending process takes too long or doesn’t yield the desired smooth consistency. However, adding too much water will make the caramel hard to handle later on so use sparingly.

I’m linking up with Allergy Free Wednesdays#RecipeOfTheWeek,#StrangeButGoodGluten-Free Fridays,Tasty Tuesdays,Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meatless Mondays.

Happiness-inducing today: Seeing the first pictures of my newborn nephew. I’m officially an aunt now!

 

Stay in touch!
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How do you feel about refined sugar? As mentioned I follow the balanced approach. If I can avoid it – looking at you, storebought sauces or bread! – I do but nobody will ever separate me from my chocolate.

Date caramel: what are your favourite uses for it?

 

 

Week in review: The Clean[ing] and Fast Edition

Alternative title: the post I promised Meg to write weeks ago already but never got around to because a) Monday’s aren’t a good posting time for me, b) I keep forgetting what I did throughout the week [I know …] and c) I often have a hard time recognizing what I do as accomplishments. Though our list-making and all around fabulous host is right:

Week in review

Without further ado here’s my list: I …

Participated in the Bloggers Gonna Blog Instagram challenge every day of the week. Finally upping my Instagram activity and connecting with new people – win-win! Though I did miss blogging a little a lot. But I’m thankful for what was possible in this week of changes and worries so no further complaints.

Almost finished the book I started last week. I have a loose goal on the number of books I want to read this year as I used to be a huge book worm but somehow haven’t lived up to my reputation in past years. Non-screen reading time is highly beneficial for mind and soul so it’s an endeavor worth tackling.

Book_reading

Did a semi-thorough cleaning spree of my pantry. Semi-thorough because I didn’t have to heart to discard a few items but the overall look is still more organized. I need to leave room for improvement the next times I tackle this, right?

Cleaned my fridge. It took way less time than half a year ago still. Doing it regularly is worth the effort because it makes you overthink your spending habits [= buying less] and fridge organization.

Cleaned the fridge at my parents’ office. Can you tell it was the week of cleaning?

Shoveled snow for two hours on Monday. Okay, so actually one and a half but I took a break to warm up inside in between. Hello, sore arms.

Winter_snow_sun

  • Started a new job that is the main reason I wasn’t as active in the blog world as I’d planned to – and also the only reason I’m mentioning it here. Hoping I won’t sound like a negative Nancy: congratulations are not necessary. It’s neither a job in my field nor one I’m particularly fond of.But helping a relative out at his office as well as having a job to begin with is what matters here. I’ll still keep searching for a more exciting gig
  • Speaking of spending habits: my grocery bills for the week ended up being the lowest they’ve been in – I think – months. This is a huge feat for me as I tend to stop by the shops for just two or three items almost every day which adds up by the end of the week. Here’s to continuing the lucky strike!
  • On the topic of lucky strikes and reminiscing Christmas: I beat my parents in a game of Yathzee. With an all-time highscore of 304 points at that.

Kniffel

  • I made these vegan Snickers bars for my sister and her husband. While not into New Year’s goals, my sister randomly told me she intended to eat less sweets. Being the good sister I am 😉 I obviously needed to come to her rescue – and preparing any kind of treat is never really altruistic, no? Also, this gave me the final push I needed to …
  • Set up my Vitamix again. Only took me … many months. Awful for a blogger, right? My excuses were that a) it uses a lot of energy, b) I’m more often than not too lazy to clean it [don’t pretend I was the only one] and c) I didn’t have enough counter space to set it up permanently. It was mostly for the last reason but I…
  • Cleaned up my spice arrangement at that moving it to a cupboard and – viola! – counter space freed up. Celebrating the Vitamix’ reappearance in my life I made coconut butter.

Coconut butter

  • And date caramel [twice]. They don’t call dates nature’s candy for nothing and I have high hopes of creating a new recipe with it this week. It’s been too long.
  • I ate the remainders of said date caramel straight from the blender.

And that sums up my first Week In Review. A week that started slow and then flew by fast hence the title [the cleaning part should be self-explanatory ;)]. Have a good start to your week!

Happiness-inducing today: Many kind messages – via Instagram, mail and messenger – arriving throughout the day as well as a short chat with an old aquaintance who stopped by for a visit.

 

Stay in touch!
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Tell me three [or more] achievements from your past week!

When was the last time you cleaned your fridge? No shame if it’s been some time because it’s only become a regular task for me in past months.

Have you tried date caramel before? I’m tempted to steal a spoonful [or two … or three] from the fridge in a second.

 

 

Sweet sweet October [Chocolate Almond Caramel Bars]

Monday fans: raise your hand. Nobody? Hm … Maybe I can convince you by saying that this post is not just going to be marvelous but mmmm[hhh]arvelous? Happy Monday!

MiMM_new

Do anybody else’s  cravings for anything sweet become even more intense as soon as it gets colder outside? I’m longing chocolate no matter of the season but it’s definitely exponentially increasing with the decreasing temperatures.

But I digress. Sweet is the name of the game because is there any better way to start into the week? [This is a rhethorical question, by the way ;).] In my post on Wednesday I asked for your favourite chocolatey snacks – for a reason. Let’s say my consumption of the ‘real’ deal has gone up noticably in the past weeks. While I’m never going to give up on it [ha, not even considering it] I figured queasing my sweet chocolate tooth with a slightly healthier or actually just a homemade alternative. Michelle’s recipe for vegan Twix hugely inspired these.

Bar I

Not only was I missing key ingredients [read: almond flour] called for in the recipe but reading it I just couldn’t help coming up with my own spin on it in my head already. What sounds good in theory, though, doesn’t always turn out once put to practice. I’m happy to say it did for these little bars of deliciousness, though. For those of you concered with this: my changes also add a protein boost – treats with a nutritional bonus? Why not.

Caramel bars

You’ll notice I once more put an emphasis on using white almond butter in the caramel. While I’ve just recently discovered the amazingness of roasted almond butter it doesn’t lend the sweet and creamy flavour the unroasted one does in this recipe. I dare you to manage not eating the whole batch of sticky caramel all at once … I somehow did but I can’t tell you how. Next time I may or may not need to prepare a litte more …

Date caramel (2)

But trust me: self-control is rewarded. Rich dark chocolate that crisps upon first bite. Creamy sweet caramel. Slight salty peanutty base. Good thing I don’t have to share …

Treat

Chocolate-covered Almond Caramel Bars [makes five to six bars]

For the base:

  • 25 g pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) peanut flour
  • a pinch of salt

For the caramel:

  • 45 g of dates
  • 1 1/2 tbsps of white (!) almond butter
  • 1 tbsp of water (you might need to add more later)
  • pinch of real vanilla [optional]

For the chocolate coating:

  • 1.5 – 2 oz chocolate (I used 85 % dark chocolate)

Blend the dates in a food processor [or the ice crush attachment of your handheld blender] until a paste forms.

Add the date paste to the peanut flour and salt and knead to get a thick doughy texture. You might need to mix in water little by little depending on how sticky your dates are.

Shape into bars and place into the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the caramel by combining the dates, almond butter and water in the food processor. Blend to reach a smooth but not drippy consistency.

Once the bars have chiled for the time required to firm the up spread a thick layer of caramel onto each of them. Place them in the freezer [not fridge this time] until the caramel has hardened a bit.

Melt the chocolate. Cover the top of each bar with chocolate. The coating should harden right away. If not return to the fridge until set.

in hand

In case you’re wondering: yes, this post’s title was inspired by the movie Sweet November. So romantic, so sad. Perfect for the season. If you haven’t watched it yet: do it! Maybe with a Chocolate [Caramel] Bar to sweeten things up?!

Happiness inducing today: Lots. For one a nice long telephone chat with one of my cousins, Exciting blog news [more to come]. Oh, and Chocolate Caramel Bars – sorry ;).

Have you ever made your own candy bars or found any great recipes online? Please share the links! Amanda had an awesome collection in her Sunday link love post already.

What are your favourite romantic movies? It’s the season so I’m looking for recommendations. Preferably ones that have been released a few months or better yet years back so chances are my library will have them.