Lemon Ricotta Thumbprint Cookies

Lemon Ricotta Thumbprint Coolies

I’ve been so incredibly busy. I’m still working at the hospital to finish the required clinical time for my Advanced EMT license. I’m also teaching 7 classes per week at the dance studio, building websites, and cooking up a storm. With the shorter days (whose bright idea was it to make it get dark at 4 pm in October???), I seem to be in hibernation mode. However, these bright and fruity cookies were enough to shake me out of the doldrums. They taste like a bite of Spring!

Ingredients
2 Sticks butter, softened
8 oz Ricotta cheese
1 tsp Lemon extract
2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Granulated sugar
Jelly or Jam (I used raspberry and apricot, but I believe blueberry would be terrific)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat butter, ricotta and vanilla together until creamy. Mix in flour to form dough. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Form dough into 1/2 tablespoon balls and roll in granulated sugar. Use 1/2 tsp measure to create an indentation in each cookie. Fill each cookie with about 1/4 tsp of jelly or jam.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are golden on the bottom. Let cool completely.

Adapted from Ricotta Thumbprint Cookies.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (grain, oil, and refined sugar free; vegan)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite season is Autumn. Even though it’s only August first, I’m already looking ahead to cooler weather, colorful leaves, and the tastes of spiced apple and pumpkin. The orchards are just starting to sell their summer apples, and I’m looking forward to the fall varieties that are barely a month away. I’ll be spending my fall days picking apples, making and canning applesauce and apple butter, and canning pumpkin for cookies and pies.

Autumn

While I wait longingly for apple and pumpkin season, I decided to pick up some canned pumpkin and create something fall-inspired. Boyfriend is kind of picky when it comes to my healthy cookies. He’ll never turn down a cookie, but he can usually tell that they contain something…non-traditional. These were not only well-received, he gave them 4 forks out of 5 (which he reserves for only the most spectacular of foods)!

Gratuitous gooey melted chocolate picture. You're welcome.

Gratuitous gooey melted chocolate picture. You’re welcome.

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cup Cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Pumpkin
1/4 Cup Honey or maple syrup
1 tsp Baking powder
a pinch of Cinnamon
a dash of Nutmeg
a pinch of Salt
1/2 Cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips**

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scrape the top and sides and process again until fully combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes until firm.

Form the dough into 1½” balls. Place balls of dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Press down with fingertips or the back of a wooden spoon to flatten (about 1/2 inch thick). Bake for about 15-18 minutes.

These cookies will not rise and will generally hold their round shape. They have a soft, slightly cake-like texture.

**These can be made vegan by using vegan chocolate chips.

Adapted from Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan; wheat, oil, and dairy free)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
I absolutely love to bake. I also love to eat the results. What I don’t love is the way most baked goods make me feel. Wheat brings on a major allergy attack reminiscent of the peak of pollen season and often starts an argument between my tummy and I. It is simply not worth it. When I first realized that I needed to cut out wheat, I thought that I would have to spend a ton of money and time learning to bake with exotic flours. I was beyond wrong.

My first clue that I was thinking about wheat-free baking in completely the wrong way was this recipe by Erin over at Texan Erin Baking. It didn’t contain flour of any kind and relied wholly on cooked chickpeas, a staple in my kitchen. Erin mentioned that she had tried an oatmeal variety, but they didn’t work at all. I kept researching and eventually came across this recipe on Carrots ‘n’ Cake. The recipe looked great, but I wasn’t thrilled with the ratio of oil and sugar to other ingredients.

Eventually, using the knowledge I gained from Erin’s cookie recipe and a few experimental variations, I came up with the recipe below. Thanks to both Tina and Erin for the inspiration!

Ingredients
1/2 Cup Cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 Cup Oat flour
1/2 Cup Rolled or quick oats
1/2 Cup Brown sugar (or 3 Tbsp maple syrup; if using maple syrup, reduce applesauce to 3 Tbsp)
1/2 Cup Unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Chocolate chips (or raisins)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips into a food processor and blend until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop the dough by tablespoons onto a silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. (I admit it…I can never wait. These are awesome straight from the oven!)

Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

Snack Time
In my quest for the perfect granola bar, I had a few failures. My first attempt for chewy peanut butter granola bars was a melty, gooey mess. However, they turned into a delicious, crunchy, peanut butter candy bar. I store these in the freezer for a sweet treat! Best of all, with only a little honey as a sweetener, these are almost healthy.

Ingredients
1/2 Cup Peanut butter
1/3 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Coconut oil
1 Cup Oats
3/4 Cup Shredded coconut
1/2 Cup Rice crispies

Melt the peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil in a medium sauce pan until fully combined. Remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Press into a parchment lined 9×9-inch baking pan and refrigerate for two hours. Cut into 12 bars, individually wrap with parchment paper or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites (PB and Nutella flavors)

Photo from www.texanerin.com

This photo by Erin of texanerin.com was all but irresistible!

I found an amazing recipe on Pinterest about two months ago for Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (flour, oil, and refined sugar free). These awesome cookies use chickpeas, and since I think chickpeas are pretty cool little beans, this recipe was definitely pin-worthy…but since I don’t bake often they fell off of my radar. Then, about a month later, friend after friend shared these on facebook and I figured it was time to take the plunge.

The original recipe calls for natural peanut butter, but Boyfriend is allergic so I made my own cashew butter to use instead because I had a ton of cashews in the pantry. I hear it’s cheaper to make your own too (BONUS!). For instructions for making your own peanut or cashew butter, Erin over at Texan Erin Baking has a great tutorial here.

Cookies

When I made them the first time, I was instantly in love…warm, gooey, chocolatey…heaven. They’re not perfectly healthy, but they sure beat my old Tollhouse recipe and I think they might be even more delicious! After one successful attempt, I started wondering about all of the ways that this recipe could be modified and remembered Nutella. I’m still working on an oatmeal chocolate chip variety, a cranberry white chocolate variety, and a cocoa peanut butter chip (Reese’s) variety. Both the original and Nutella versions are below. Scroll to the bottom for the Nutella version.

Cookie Close-up

The original recipe had lots of hints and tips, including the following (plus a few of my own):

  • Chickpea flour won’t work
  • This will burn out less powerful blenders (I’ve done it successfully, but it requires lots of scraping and it’s definitely at the upper limit of my blender’s capabilities)
  • Do not add eggs, dairy, or flour to this recipe; it will not work
  • These are best eaten warm; to reheat them, put them into the microwave on high for 10 seconds.
  • These can be made dairy free by using vegan chocolate chips and homemade Nutella (store bought contains milk)
  • They can be made grain free by substituting the baking powder with 1 part cream of tartar + 1 part baking soda + 2 parts arrowroot
  • These can be made ahead, rolled into balls, and frozen for a quick treat later. Just place the desired number onto a cookie sheet and bake as described

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cups(230 grams) cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter, cashew butter, or almond butter
1/4 Cup honey or agave syrup (or 30 drops Stevia)
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt if your peanut butter doesn’t have salt in it
1/2 Cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scrape the top and sides and process again until fully combined. Add the chocolate chips and pulse the food processor a few times. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes until firm.

With wet hands, form the dough into 1½” balls. Place balls of dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

These cookies will not rise and will generally hold their round shape.

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cups(230 grams) cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
3/4 Cup Nutella (to make your own, go here)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scrape the top and sides and process again until fully combined. Add the chocolate chips and pulse the food processor a few times. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes until firm.

With wet hands, form the dough into 1½” balls. Place balls of dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

These cookies will not rise and will generally hold their round shape.

Homemade Brownies (that taste like a mix!)

Brownies

I feel compelled to admit that I hate homemade brownies. I am usually at the front of the line when I hear the words “homemade” and “baked goods” together, but you couldn’t pay me to eat a homemade brownie! Those who grew up with homemade brownies don’t know any better; they have no idea what they’re missing. We who grew up with boxed mixes know better. We know the deep chocolatey flavor, the rich fudgy texture, the firm chewy edges. We know what a brownie can be, and poor homemade just can’t hold a candle to its deliciously sophisticated boxed cousin.

When I get together with my closest friends, I often make brownies. They’ve become accustomed to eating slightly scalding, but deliciously gooey, cupcake brownies or the even more popular “pile-o-brownie” (too impatient to let them cool, we scoop them out of the pan in scrumptious piles of molten brownie fudge). This wondrous delight comes from a boxed mix…Betty Crocker’s Ultimate Fudge Brownies with Hershey’s Fudge and Melt-away Chips.

Once I decided to start eliminating processed foods from my life, my wondrous brownie mix was one of the first to go. Farewell my fudgy chocolate friend; I shall miss you. Then I realized that I wouldn’t be the only one losing out. How could I tell my friends that their favorite brownie goodness was gone forever? Well, frankly, I couldn’t. The only solution was to find a recipe for homemade brownies that could match everything I loved about that wonderful mix.

I searched and searched until I found several brownie recipes, like this one on Fake-It Frugal, claiming to replicate boxed mix brownies, so I decided to try them. The first step was to create my own fudge, which I did here in a dark chocolate variety. Then I started trying out the recipes. The first was a complete and total failure. The batter was more like oily cookie dough and the brownies were as hard as rocks when they finished baking. Fake-It Frugal’s mix came second, and it was almost perfect. You’d never know by tasting it that it wasn’t from a mix.

Hang out nights are saved!!!

And so, dear reader, if you are in love with boxed mixes like me but not with all of the additives, this will save your brownie-loving soul.

Ingredients:
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Cocoa
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
**Prior to adding the wet ingredients, you can store your mix for quick baking later in a zip-loc bag or canning jar.
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Vanilla
3 Tbsp Fudge sauce

Dry Ingredients Close-up

Batter and Tin

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.** Whisk to combine. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, and fudge and stir until just moistened; do not overmix. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 9 pan.

Adapted from Fake Betty Crocker Brownie Mix.

Minute Brownie in a Mug

I absolutely love brownies. I can’t stand having a whole pan of them sitting around the house. This is the perfect solution! Boyfriend only gives this one 4 forks because it’s so rich.

Brownie with Whipped Cream

This recipe is amazing. I microwaved it for 65 seconds in an 1100 watt microwave and it came out with a fudgey molten center. 75-80 seconds would result in a firmer brownie. Be careful not to overcook it. (Since it has no eggs it only needs to get warm enough to taste good.)

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp warm water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 dash salt
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Directions:

In a 12 oz coffee mug, melt the butter; add the water, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Add cocoa powder, sugar, and flour; mixing well after each addition.

Microwave for 60 to 90 seconds. The center should be slightly molten; be careful not to overcook it.

Enjoy it with a bit of fresh whipped cream. Be careful; as with most microwave magic, the center will be hot enough burn a hole through your tongue.

NOTES:
I served mine with homemade whipped cream (put up to a 1/4 C heavy cream and a small amount of sugar to taste in a blender and blend until stiff) and some homemade hot fudge. If your microwave is a lower wattage, you’ll probably have to cook it a bit longer to get a fully cooked brownie.

Inspired by this recipe by Wheres_the_beef?

Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Mug

Occasionally, I want a sweet treat without any commitment. I mean, I’m not looking for a long-term relationship here. I just want a one night stand, a fling, and then I want to return to my lovely relationship with whole foods and healthy fruits and vegetables. All too often I fail, making a whole two-layer cake (like the one currently sitting on my counter wondering why I’m neglecting it) or an entire batch of brownies that I have to face day after awkward day. Every once in a great while, though, I find something wonderful that satisfies my craving without all of the leftovers. This is one such recipe.

Who can turn down a still warm chocolate chip cookie? Even better, who can turn down a chocolate chip cookie that takes less than 5 minutes to make and doesn’t expect a commitment? Thanks to No. 2 Pencil for the inspiration!

Cookie Dough

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Granulated White Sugar
1 Tbsp of firmly packed Dark Brown Sugar
3 Drops of Vanilla Extract
Small Pinch of Kosher Salt
1 Egg Yolk (discard the egg white or save for different recipe)
Scant ¼ C of All Purpose Flour (slightly less than ¼ of a cup)
2 heaping Tbsp of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Cookie in a Mug

Start by melting your butter in the microwave; the butter should just be melted, not boiling. Add the sugars, vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Separate your egg, adding only the yolk to your cup, and stir to combine. Measure a scant, slightly less than full, ¼ cup of all-purpose flour, add it to your mug, and stir to combine. Add the chocolate chips, and give it a final stir. Now your mixture should look like cookie dough.

Cook in the microwave for 40-60 seconds, start checking for doneness at 40 seconds. Mine took about 45 seconds. Do not cook past one minute, just like a regular cookie, this will continue cooking as it cools. Serve warm, possibly with a bit of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge or caramel sauce.

Reese’s Crumble

Reese's Crumble Bars, fresh from the oven
I was looking for a Reese’s recipe to make for my boyfriend’s birthday since it’s his favorite candy. In my search I came across this wonderful recipe on Carrian’s blog, “Sweet Basil“. They are melt-in-your-mouth good and have become my go-to for pot luck events. Although the original recipe called for milk chocolate chips, I substituted Nestle Tollhouse Dark Chocolate Morsels instead and the combination of dark chocolate, peanut butter, and milk chocolate was amazing.

A Reese's Crumble BarReese’s Crumble
3/4 Cup Unsalted Butter, Melted
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Quick Oats
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/4 Cup Tollhouse Dark Chocolate Morsels
1 1/2 Cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle position. Grease an 8×8″ baking dish.
In a medium mixing bowl combine the butter, sugars, salt, flour, oats and baking soda. Mix well until all ingredients are combined and slightly moistened.

Press half of the crumb mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the crumb mixture is beginning to get browned. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chocolate chips and then the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture and place back in the oven for another 15-18 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing in order for the bars to hold together. Enjoy!

Lemon Cream Cookies


My boyfriend’s co-worker often sends him home with cookies, cake, fudge, and other treats, so he decided that “he” (read “I”) should return the favor. I was trying to think Lemon Cookie doughof something easy and delicious to make, and I remembered some wonderful, 3-ingredient lemon cookies from my childhood. Back then, we didn’t make them as sandwich cookies, but they do work well that way.

The cookies consist only of Cool Whip and cake mix. At first I was quite skeptical, because I was used to the long list of ingredients, both dry and wet that went into most cookie recipes. However, the combo makes the most delicious, chewy, tender cookies.

Lemon Cookies fresh from the ovenLemon Cream Cookies

1 8 oz. container of Cool Whip whipped topping
1 box of lemon cake mix
Powdered sugar

2 C cream cheese frosting
Lemon juice or lemon extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the Cool Whip and cake mix in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or pastry blender. At room temperature, the dough will be very sticky and difficult to handle.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes before the first batch and between each subsequent batch. While waiting for the dough to chill, add lemon juice or lemon extract to 2 cups of cream cheese frosting to taste and chill it in the refrigerator until ready to use. Place 1/2 inch of powdered sugar in a small, shallow container. Roll the chilled dough into 1-inch balls and coat lightly with powdered sugar. Place the balls of dough on the cookie sheet 2 to 3 inches apart.

Bake each batch for 10 to 13 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Allow the cookies to cool completely. The cookies will be soft when cooled. Gently spread frosting on the bottom side of one cookie and top with a second cookie.

Alternatives: This recipe works with any combination of cake and frosting flavors.