Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles + a $500 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Classic cinnamon sugar snickerdoodle cookies made with bold vanilla sugar. Crunchy on the outside with the perfect soft baked texture inside. Vegan and gluten-free, so almost everyone can enjoy!

Psssst: There is a really sweet giveaway at the end of this post that you don’t want to miss!

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

The other day I had a craving for sugar cookies. I almost never make sugar cookies, so it was weird. I asked Steve if he thought that sounded too plain. He thought about it for a second, and then, overly proud of himself for his creative contribution, he said “What about cinnamon sugar cookies???” Silly boy, those are snickerdoodles, and yes, they are awesome.

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

I have always been a huge snickerdoodle fan. Have you ever had those huge ones at Paradise Bakery? I can’t even handle them. I’m pretty sure they use something really awful like shortening to get the texture that perfect.

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

And can we talk about how my screen keeps yelling at me with that awful red squiggly line every time I type the word snickerdoodle? Snickerdoodle, snickerdoodle, snickerdoodle. I even googled it to make sure I wasn’t spelling it wrong. Get with the program, computer, and stop yelling at me!

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

At Healthy Living Summit, my BBFF {blog-best-friend-forever} Nicole gave all the girls in our room this amazing vanilla sugar. It was love at first site smell.

Vanilla Sugar via foodiemisadventures.com

Such a simple idea, but a really easy way to take your baked goods to the next level, especially if you’re as vanilla bean obsessed as I am. More than anything–chocolate, peanut butter, even fro yo, I love all things vanilla bean. It’s such a distinct, clean flavor, and you don’t see it as often as you would think.

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

I thought a lot about what I wanted to use it for, and eventually decided snickerdoodles were the perfect vehicle–with the vanilla sugar baked inside and a crunchy, sweet cinnamon vanilla sugar coating, you get the most out of the vanilla flavor. These were some of the best cookies I’ve ever made, and everyone I gave them too was a huge fan. They have the same perfect texture as my chai snickerdoodles that I loved so much, with just the twist of extra vanilla flavor. They are definitely a must for your holiday cookie exchanges!

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 1/2 - 3 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles

Classic cinnamon sugar snickerdoodle cookies made with bold vanilla sugar. Crunchy on the outside with the perfect soft baked texture inside. Vegan and gluten-free, so almost everyone can enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free baking blend (or 2 cups white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 3/4 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • For coating:
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together apple butter, vanilla sugar, maple syrup, and almond milk until well combined. Add vanilla, then add dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine remaining vanilla sugar and cinnamon for the coating. Lightly spray hands with nonstick spray, then roll dough into one inch balls. Roll in the sugar mixture to coat completely, then transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. They may look underdone, but do not over bake. They will set more as they cool. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

If you do not have vanilla sugar, you can easily combine the seeds with 1/2 vanilla bean with your total 1 cup sugar before baking. Mix together thoroughly, then divide out your 1/4 cup for coating.

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Giveaway details:
The giveaway will be open from Friday December 6th, 2013 until Wednesday December 11th, 2013 (@ 11:59pm EST). You must be 18 years old to enter and you must live in the USA. One winner will receive a $500 Amazon gift card.

Please check out my fellow healthy recipe blogging buddies that are also hosting! They all have amazing recipe, beautiful photos, and lots of greatness to share with you!

Healthy Seasonal Recipes | Running to the Kitchen | Yeah…imma eat that | The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman | Tasty Yummies | Real Food Whole Health | Texanerin Baking | Beard and Bonnet | With Food + Love | So…Let’s Hang Out | Healthy Green Kitchen

Apple Cinnamon Puppy Chow

Insanely addicting sweet cinnamon puppy chow with crunchy apple chips–the perfectly sweet fall snack, and an awesome gift!

Apple Cinnamon Puppy Chow #glutenfree

So we’ve established how I have the maturity of approximately a 6 year old. On a good day. Also, kind of the taste buds…minus my love for vegetables. I’m just a…n eccentric 6 year old. ;)

Apple Cinnamon Puppy Chow #glutenfree

Ever since before I learned to cook, I LOVED baking around the holidays. I would make a huge batch of puppy chow and put it in everyone’s stocking. It was kinda my thing. Such a simple little treat, but people went crazy for it! I never even strayed from the simple original recipe either until last year. I made a batch with cookie butter and a batch with nutella. I can’t even go there. They were ridiculous.

Apple Cinnamon Puppy Chow #glutenfree

But ya know what? I ended up falling equally in love with this batch! The apples bring a little tartness that cuts some of the super sweetness from the white chocolate and powdered sugar. Not to mention, apples + pb? It’s only the world’s greatest combo. Add a healthy (and I’m talking serious here, people) dose of cinnamon, and it’s kinda dreamy. In the way a little kid (AKA me) finds foods dreamy. The simplest no brainer foods that just bring you a happiness. Not like this girl’s bike apparently <—never gets old.

Apple Cinnamon Puppy Chow #glutenfree

I have been obsessed with those Apple Cinnamon Chex for a good year now. I put them on my Greek yogurt every.single.day. and while I know they are just a half step up from fruit loops, I just love them, and I can’t go without them. It’s only fitting that they would be a part of this perfect puppy chow. And the best part? Puppy chow literally takes all of 10 minutes to make. Just make sure you have lots of friends to give it to, otherwise you will find yourself with a stomach ache, and those slight pangs of regret after you realize you just polished off the entire batch in 24 hours. ;)

Apple Cinnamon Puppy Chow

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: approx 12 cups

Apple Cinnamon Puppy Chow

Insanely addicting sweet cinnamon puppy chow with crunchy apple chips--the perfectly sweet fall snack, and an awesome gift!

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (or cinnamon chips, or butterscotch chips…)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 9 cups Apple Cinnamon Chex cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon
  • 3 oz apple chips, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine peanut butter, coconut oil and white chocolate chips until fully melted and combined, stirring constantly. Slowly fold in cereal, mixing gently until cereal is fully coated.
  2. Transfer to a large trash bag or paper bag and pour in powdered sugar and cinnamon. For lack of a better term, shake the heck out of it! Just keep shaking it around (make sure the top is fully sealed! ;) ) until everything has come together. Lay out to cool on parchment paper. Evenly sprinkle chopped apple chips in with cooling puppy chow. Store fully cooled in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

You can easily make this recipe vegan by using vegan white chocolate if desired.

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Autumn Spiced Toddy (Cold-brewed Iced Coffee)

Easy & smooth cold-brewed iced coffee spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice & cloves. 

Autumn Spiced Toddy

Lately I’ve been wondering if it’s time to start acting like a grown up. I can’t even tell you what that means, because I just act like, well, me. The other day someone thought I was wayyy younger than I am (this isn’t even including the almost daily basis in which I’m mistaken for a student), and although this should be a compliment (YAY!! You didn’t notice those lines decorating my forehead!), I immediately got into my head thinking “OMG do I need to start acting like I’m in my *gulp* late 20′s?”

Autumn Spiced Toddy

Again, not that I could even tell you what that means. But sometimes I feel like maybe I need to stop talking like a teenager, getting upset when children beat me at games, and locking my husband out of our room so I can win at the who gets into bed first game. That’s a whole other story that I should probably be embarrassed of, but I’m not because I have the maturity of a 6 year old.

Autumn Spiced Toddy

I find this whole “growing up” and “maturing” business incredibly confusing. I guess I just assumed it would happen naturally, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s something people make a conscious effort to do? You know, like washing dishes (something I find equally appalling).

Autumn Spiced Toddy

But then on the other hand, I go to bed at 9 pm, I make my own coffee and I even pretend I’m fancy and call it toddy. That really is the name for cold brew, but I feel like it’s this secret coffee snob name that no one really knows about. I am totally a coffee snob, but in an all inclusive name. Feel free to join me in my snobbery and use words no one else knows. ;)

Autumn Spiced Toddy

There are few DIY projects I love more than making a huge batch of toddy. It is ridiculously simple, and not a single drop ever goes to waste. It’s one less thing I have to worry about in the morning. My coffee routine is simply fill my glass with ice, pour in toddy, add some almond milk and grab a straw. Nothing to prep the night before, and I never have to worry about running out of time to feed my caffeine addiction.

Autumn Spiced Toddy

Of course, sometimes I like to spice things up. One of my favorite local coffee shops offers spiced toddy this time of year (although I’ve never actually tried it there), and it always sounded so delicious. I am a huge fan of pumpkin spiced lattes, and pretty much any fall coffee drink you can imagine, so I wanted to incorporate my favorite flavors right into my cold brew.

Autumn Spiced Toddy

I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to taste the spices over the bold flavor of the coffee, but they shine through without being over powering. You can always add more if you want a bolder spice flavor, but I like the nice hint that adds depth–it makes you wonder what’s different about this coffee, and why it tastes special.

Autumn Spiced Toddy

Adding the spices doesn’t really take any extra time–just add them right into your batch while it sits. I used a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. You could also add ground ginger, cardamom (for a chai flavor), or any other spices you want. If you want to see detailed instructions with step-by-step photos on how to make your iced coffee, check out this post!

Autumn Spiced Toddy (Cold-brewed Iced Coffee)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 24 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 12-15 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Autumn Spiced Toddy (Cold-brewed Iced Coffee)

Simple & easy cold brewed iced coffee seasoned with warm, comforting fall spices.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb good quality bold coffee, coarsely ground
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 gallons water

Instructions

  1. Pour ground coffee into a 2.5 gallon airtight container. Add spices. Top with 2 gallons filtered water. Pat down the top to ensure all coffee is incorporated. Cover and store for 24-48 hours (the longer it brews, the stronger it will be).
  2. Scoop out as much of the grounds as possible with a fine mesh strainer. Rinse strainer, then cover with a double layer of cheesecloth. Place covered strainer over a 1 gallon jug Use a measuring cup to pour coffee over your covered strainer to filter any remaining grounds. Repeat until jug is mostly full, then repeat with a second 1 gallon jug. If your coffee begins to have trouble filtering through, change your cheesecloth out for a fresh one.
  3. To serve, fill glass with ice and add 1-2 inches of water. Add coffee, and any desired cream or sweetener.
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White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

I want to tell you about one of my favorite nights ever in life.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake.jpg

I was training for my first half marathon, Steve and I invited Kara, Charlie and Hermano over for dinner to celebrate Long Run Day. It’s a real holiday when you’re training. Trust me.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake.jpg

We went to Whole Foods and each picked out our meat of choice, and I made a sweet potato hash on the side. We ate a delicious dinner paired with lots of dark, sweet beer (my favorite), and then we watched the Muppets Christmas Carol. It was December, and that is pretty much my favorite holiday movie.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

Around the middle of the movie, we all started to want dessert. I was maybe, kind of, a little…tipsy. I usually at least follow a base recipe for an idea of liquid/flour/leavening agent ratio, but I didn’t measure a single thing. I flew by the seat of my pants, and hoped for the best.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

Well, Hermano has been obsessed ever since. He calls it his favorite dessert I’ve ever made. Although, like my husband, I feel like he says that a lot. ;) Anyway, he’s been asking me to recreate for the last year, and I kept telling him I didn’t know how.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

Last weekend, he performed in the southwest regionals concert. He got second chair as a sophomore! He was also asked to play with the choir. I was feeling like a super proud sister, so Steve and I surprised him with a steak from Whole Foods, and I told him I could make him whatever he wanted for dessert. He, again, requested “that one thing….with the banana…” He has a way with words.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

So again, I decided to wing it. This time I measured, but I just made it up as I went, and hoped for the best. I had no intentions of photographing it, or blogging about it, but after one bite, I knew it was too good not to share. Hermano immediately confirmed that this was the dessert he wanted. I know I changed it up a little, but the idea was similar, and the cream cheese frosting just took it to the next level.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

Sweet, tender, soft and gooey banana cake filled with white chocolate and cinnamon chips, and topped with rich cream cheese frosting. I don’t know how I ever doubted the success of this dessert! Whenever I make things up as I go, I almost always have a moment where I decide I’ve “ruined it”, or it’s a total flop, but usually it’s just my silly anxieties. Now I know I had absolutely nothing to worry about here!

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

 

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

yield 16 servings

  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 2 very ripe large medium bananas
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp butter extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp light whipped butter
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and extracts. Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in white chocolate and cinnamon chips.
  3. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Slowly, 1/4 cup at a time, beat in powdered sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Beat in vanilla.
  5. Remove completely cooled cake from baking dish and top with cream cheese frosting. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree.jpg

 

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, there are a few things you’ll know about me.

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree.jpg

 

1. I am addicted to nut/seed butters. Peanut, almond, pistachio, macadamia, pecan, sunflower….you name it, I love it. and 2. I am obsessed with all flavors of PB&Co, but my two favorites are white chocolate wonderful and cinnamon raisin swirl.

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree

 

It’s funny, sometimes I have ideas floating around in my head for months before I get around to making them, and sometimes I just go to the kitchen to get a glass of water, and before I know it, I’m whipping up some new recipe that I had no plans on making. We were out of most of our nut butters, so I stuck some sunflower seeds in the food processor to make more, and before I knew it, this came out!

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree

 

Okay, maybe not before I knew it. I must confess that sunflower seeds took longer to process, and form a nut butter than anything I’ve tried before. BUT with patience (and overheating my food processor), I finally got the result I was looking for! Thick, creamy, slightly sweet, with the bold flavor of cinnamon, and sweet, soft raisins in the mix. It was well worth the wait.

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree

 

I’ve learned a little bit of patience since I first started making my own nut butters. I used to quickly get frustrated that it wasn’t coming together quickly enough, and add oil to help it along. Well, I’ve learned that *most* of the time, it really isn’t necessary. Most of the time, if you are patient, it will come together on it’s own, but patience isn’t really my forte, so I recommend spending the time while you wait reading a book, or blogging, or making dinner to keep yourself occupies. ;)

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree

 

In the end, it’s 100% worth the wait. Pinky promise.

 

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter

  • 8oz roasted sunflower seeds (I used salted, if you don’t, add a pinch of salt)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like it. I used 1 1/2, but I love sugar, and could have easily added more…)
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Place sunflower seeds in your food processor. Blend for 3-4 minutes at a time (less if your food processor starts to sound like it needs a break–give it one!), scraping down the sides of the bowl in between. Eventually, sunflower seeds will form a paste-like consistency, then finally a nut butter consistency. This took me about 30 minutes.
  2. When seeds have reached your desired texture, add cinnamon and brown sugar to food processor, and blend to combine. Start with 1 tbsp brown sugar, and add the rest at your discretion.
  3. Remove sunflower seed butter from food processor and fold in raisins. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. I do not refrigerate mine, but you may if you like.