Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

Soft, nutty almond meal cookies with bold eggnog flavor, and melty chunks of dark chocolate. Vegan, gluten-free and unlike any cookie you’ve ever tasted!

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

How do you feel about eggnog? It seems to be one of those holiday things that people either LOVE or find totally disgusting. I never understood how anyone could dislike it, but then again, if I had it my way, I’d eat my cereal with half and half. ;) Rich, thick and creamy has never been something I turn down. In fact, in my, um…less healthy days, I could probably drink a carton of eggnog in one sitting. Okay, now that does actually gross me out now, but that’s how much I love it.

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

But don’t worry, if drinking eggnog isn’t your thing, these cookies have got you covered in the flavor department, without that creamy texture. They also use the soy nog. I’m usually not a big fan of soy anything, but I’m also a big fan of saving calories, and it really is the lightest one around. Not to mention, it means you can share it with all your vegan and lactose intolerant friends. Or keep them all to yourself, because you probably won’t want to share. That’s where using the lowest calorie eggnog comes in handy. ;)

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

If you’ve never had almond meal cookies, they are unlike any other cookie you will ever eat. It’s not one of those times where I’m gonna be like “I swear, it tastes exactly the same!” because it doesn’t, but not in a bad way, but in a totally unique, surprising kind of way. The almond meal gives them tons of texture without having huge chunks of nuts in your cookies. I hate that. I love nuts, but I don’t usually like them in my desserts. I like to save room for things I love more. Like chocolate, which these babies are loaded with.

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

Okay so about the chocolate…You want to use the good stuff. I mean, don’t spend a fortune, but don’t buy one from the check out stand. I always use a salted dark chocolate. It’s my favorite. I’m a 65-75% kinda girl. Some people love their 90%, and I don’t think that’s dessert, but if you like it, more power to you! Pretty much, just use what you like because you will be the one unable to keep your hands off these little gems. On second thought, maybe you should use something you hate…

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

A couple hints before you get started: Don’t worry if the dough seems really wet, and more like muffin batter. It will firm up a bit when it chills, but it still won’t be a traditional cookie dough. Use a scoop if you want your cookies to come out not looking like aliens. You can use a large spoon as well, but the scoop will yield much prettier and more even cookies. DO NOT try to roll them in your hands unless you like doughy fingers. Oh, and if you love these as much as I do, you have got to try this version using Baileys instead of eggnog!

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 2 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies

Soft, nutty almond meal cookies with bold eggnog flavor, and melty chunks of dark chocolate. Vegan, gluten-free and unlike any cookie you've ever tasted!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • dash freshly ground nutmeg
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup soy nog (or light eggnog)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp rum extract
  • 5 oz dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together almond meal, baking soda, cornstarch, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt. Add eggnog and extracts. Mix until well combined. Fold in dark chocolate. Cover and chill for 30-60 minutes
  2. Use a small cookie scoop to drop onto prepared baking pan. Bake until tops just begin to brown, about 11-14 minutes. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
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Peppermint Blossom Crinkle Cookies

Peppermint Blossom Crinkle Cookies

Ultra soft and fudgy mint chocolate crinkle cookies topped with a smooth and creamy peppermint Hershey’s kiss.

Peppermint Blossom Crinkle Cookies

All my life, I’ve always been obsessed with those peanut butter cookies with the chocolate Hershey’s kiss on top. I know, I know…they’re called “Peanut Butter Blossoms”, but to me, they will always be those peanut butter cookies with the chocolate Hershey’s kiss on top.

Peppermint Blossom Crinkle Cookiespeppermintblossomcrinklecookies-2

If I ever saw them at a party, I’d immediately grab a couple, and then try to secretly make my way back all night long. What can I say, I’m a classy lady.

Peppermint Blossom Crinkle Cookies

A few years ago, Heather and I made some peppermint crinkle cookies during our holiday baking extravaganza. This baking extravaganza was no joke. Heather made a spreadsheet dictating how many pounds of butter, flour and sugar we needed to stock up on at Winco. Oh Winco…best grocery store ever.

Peppermint Blossom Crinkle Cookies

Then we baked for probably a solid 24 hours, and gave away our treats to the entire musical theatre department, and used our talents to suck up to our professors. How could we not be your favorite voice student when we made you 70 pounds worth of holiday dessert???

Peppermint Blossom Crinkle Cookies

So I took two of my favorite cookies, and I made them one. I made them for a couple of Christmas parties last year, and they were the first thing everyone flocked to (we all have similar tastes it seems ;) ), and immediately asked “WHAT ARE THESE????” Then they quickly disappeared. Fluffy powdered sugar covering a rich peppermint chocolate cookie with a smooth, melty peppermint kiss on top. It’s everything you could ask out of your holiday cookie.

**Note: All photos on this post were taken by my husband. I made these last year before I was exclusively taking the photos for my site. I could make them again (they are so good), but his photos are gorgeous, so I decided to keep them. :)

Peppermint Blossom Crinkle Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: approx 4 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Peppermint Blossom Crinkle Cookies

Ultra soft and fudgy mint chocolate crinkle cookies topped with a smooth and creamy peppermint Hershey's kiss.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (or gluten-free baking blend)*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 and 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup light cream cheese
  • 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • Approx 1 cup powdered sugar for rolling
  • 48 peppermint kisses (the mint truffle kisses would also be delicious!)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, eggs and cream cheese. Beat in melted chocolate and extracts until well combined. Slowly beat in flour mixture. If dough becomes too thick, use your hands to mix the rest of the way. Cover and chill for 2 hours (or longer).
  3. Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or lining sheet. Pour powdered sugar into a wide, shallow bowl. Shape dough into 1" balls and roll in powdered sugar until coated, then drop onto prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until set and crinkles have formed. Immediately press a kiss into the top of each cookie. Let stand on cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

*Recipe tested with white whole wheat flour, but I have subbed the gluten-free baking blend in many similar recipes and it has worked perfectly. Cooking time may be lower, so check cookies at 7-8 minutes.

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Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Soft and chewy peanut butter cookies stuffed with melty dark chocolate and covered with powdered sugar–just like an inside out buckeye! Vegan, gluten-free, and seriously addicting.

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

You know it’s Christmas time when I post cookies 3 days in a row. Okay, that’s a lie. I always post cookies. I love cookies. Everyone has their “thing”, their go-to dessert, that one thing they feel like they do significantly better than all other baking. Mine is totally cookies. In fact, I mess up brownies more times than I get them right, and I constantly have to remake cupcakes because I under bake them (because that works with cookies…not so much with cakes…).

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

For part of my segment for Health2Fit (read more about the whole experience here), Natalie asked me to bring in some health(ier) cookies so she could demonstrate some creative ways to package them for swaps. That was awesome for me since I love to bake things, and then I totally fail at packaging in any sort of attractive manner. They were a huge hit at the studio, and everyone said they wouldn’t have been able to tell that they were lightened up, vegan & gluten-free!

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

I’ve made these with both white whole wheat flour, and then more recently with my gluten-free baking blend. The only adjustment for the gluten-free version included baking time. They cooked about 1-2 minutes quicker than the original. In fact, the first batch I second guessed myself, left them in too long, and ended up with overly chewy (not the good kind of chewy), flat cookies. I was worried that they wouldn’t work, but the next batch, I took out as soon as they set, and they were awesome! Not quiiiite as puffy as these, but certainly not flat, and the taste was identical.

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Oh, and I guess maybe we should discuss what buckeyes actually are? Because I had no idea until the last year when I saw them floating around the blog world. It’s kind of like a Reese’s cup crossed with a truffle. They are little balls of peanut butter mixed with powdered sugar covered (mostly) with chocolate, but leaving one little “eye” remaining, So these cookies are…the opposite! Dark chocolate in the middle, with the peanut butter and powdered sugar on the outside. I love melty dark chocolate in the center of my cookies, and I am a peanut butter fanatic. The powdered sugar is that perfect extra touch that makes these cookies the first to go at parties or cookie swaps!

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Soft and chewy peanut butter cookies stuffed with melty dark chocolate and covered with powdered sugar--just like an inside out buckeye! Vegan, gluten-free, and seriously addicting.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup gluten-free baking blend or white whole wheat flour*
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz good quality dark chocolate, in small squares or roughly chopped
  • approx 1/2 cup powdered sugar for rolling ( + more for dusting)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and corn starch. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the apple butter, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in dry ingredients until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Pour powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll dough into 1" balls then press a square of dark chocolate inside. Re-roll dough around chocolate. Make sure no chocolate is showing. Add more dough if necessary. Roll in powdered sugar, then transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake until edges are just set, about 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

*Gluten-free cookies will bake 1-2 minutes faster than if you use white whole wheat flour. Check gf cookies at 7 minutes, and wheat cookies may be in for closer to 11 depending on your oven.

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PS: Don’t forget to check out the segment this Saturday (12/14) @ 11am AZ time. Local channel 7, cable 13.

Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies {The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap}

Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies {gluten-free}

Pillowy soft, fluffy, and loaded with vanilla flavor, these sugar cookies are irresistible. Eat them plain, frost them, or decorate with your favorite holiday decorations.

Pssssst…Today is the last day to enter this awesome giveaway! Don’t miss out!

Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies {gluten-free}

So yesterday we were discussing cookie swaps, yes? I may not have a ton of experience with them, but this year is the second time I have participated in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and it is AWESOME! You sign up, and then you are sent your 3 matches. You make and send a dozen cookies to each match, then you receive a dozen cookies from 3 surprise sources.

Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies {gluten-free}

I signed up for the gluten-free option so I could share my cookies with Steve. The last thing I need is 3 dozen cookies that only I will eat. As awesome as that sounds. Heather sent me spict gingerbread cookies, Marianne sent me chocolate snickerdoodles, and Rachel send me peanut butter blossoms. Everything was amazing. Steve loved the peanut butter blossoms, and I kept getting drawn back to the chocolate snickerdoodles, but I mean who doesn’t love gingerbread cookies this time of year too? Seriously.

photo (31)

I sent these sweet li’l sugar cookies to Dre, Amy, and Sara.

Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies {gluten-free}

First I made peppermint mocha cookies. They were amazing (and I will totally share them soon), but they just didn’t look pretty, and I couldn’t bring myself to send something that didn’t at least begin beautiful. Although, who the heck knows what they looked like by the time they arrived. Sending cookies makes me so nervous. What if they get smushed? What if they’re dry and cakey by the time they arrive? What if, what if, what ifffffff….????

Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies {gluten-free}

Well, I can’t tell you what they looked like when they got there, but I can tell you that I absolutely loved them. They were unbelievably soft and fluffy, and the vanilla flavor was so bold, but definitely a nice change from all the chocolate I’ve been devouring. ;)

Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies {gluten-free}

I used coconut oil + vanilla yogurt instead of my usual apple butter. I wanted to keep the color as light as possible. Between the brown rice flour, oat flour and almond meal in my baking blend, it’s really tough to get cookies that look like the original, and I couldn’t get past the idea of brown sugar cookies, so I did everything I could to keep these as white as possible. The little bit of coconut oil adds an immense amount of softness and richness to the texture, making the cookies satisfying and irresistible.

Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies {The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap}

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: approx 4 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies {The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap}

Pillowy soft, fluffy, and loaded with vanilla flavor, these sugar cookies are irresistible. Eat them plain, frost them, or decorate with your favorite holiday decorations.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups gluten-free baking blend
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking blend, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, yogurt and coconut oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. Cover and chill for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Use a small cookie scoop to transfer dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake until outsides are just set, about 8-10 minutes. Cookies will look underdone. Do not over bake. Cool completely on baking sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
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Drink & Dish: Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Soft baked ginger molasses cookies stuffed with sweet, gooey caramel. These will easily become your new favorite Christmas cookie! Gluten-free with vegan option.

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Would you believe me if I told you that until this year, I had never actually done a cookie swap? Okay, that’s a lie, I did The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap two years ago (And again this year which means you’re getting two…actually 3…days in a row this week. I’m sure you’re devastated.), but I had never done a real life one. I was just always the one giving away all of the cookies. The idea of getting some in return of kind of amazing!

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

This year we did a cookie swap at book club, and that was my first, official, in real life cookie swap. So much deliciousness. Did I tell you I was in a book club? Ummm, I am SO BAD at it. It’s been going on for almost a year? More than a year? And I’ve read 2 books. Well, that’s not even true. I read one book, then when it was my turn I picked my favorite play (August: Osage County), and never got around to rereading it. I just show up, drink wine, and at Christmas time, swap cookies.

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

But seriously, if you’ve sucked at anything in life and want to make up for it, I feel like these cookies might be the key to solving all past mistakes. They *might* be the best cookies I’ve ever made. It’s so hard because cookies are my favorite. As if you couldn’t tell. Most of the time brownies and cupcakes, while delicious, are only mildly tempting, but cookies get me every single time. So clearly, I make them a lot, and these are definitely high on my list.

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

In fact, after I brought them in to work, I had requests for more for practically a week. Pretty much until I made them again for Drink & Dish, and had more leftover cookies to bring in to satisfy everyone’s craving. The sugared edges give them a light crispiness, but the insides are cookie-dough-soft. Almost like if it was a gingerbread brownie on the inside. I can hardly describe it–just think absolute perfect cookie texture. And with soft, melty caramel in the middle? It honestly doesn’t get much better. They are best with homemade caramels. You can see how well homemade caramels melt in these salted caramel mocha cookies. For these I just used store bought because that’s what I had, and ya know what? They still came out awesome. You could also use vegan caramels to make them vegan (captain obvious), or omit the caramels if it’s not your thing. The cookie itself is so good it stands on it’s own.

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Sooooo, in case you couldn’t tell, the theme of this episode of Drink & Dish is Christmas Cookie Swap! Nicole and I wanted to make sure that you guys had awesome things to bring to all your holiday swaps. Nicole makes a gingerbread martini that is absolutely to die for, and obviously the perfect pairing to these cookies!

These are absolutely a must-make this holiday season, and a great way to spice up your usual ginger molasses fix!

Drink & Dish: Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Drink & Dish: Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Soft baked ginger molasses cookies stuffed with sweet, gooey caramel. These will easily become your new favorite Christmas cookie! Gluten-free with vegan option.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free baking blend
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 24 caramels*
  • granulated sugar for rolling

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking blend, baking soda, spices and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together apple butter, molasses, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper.Roll dough into approximately 1" balls. Press caramel inside, and roll dough back around. Make sure caramel is completely covered. Add more dough if necessary. Roll in sugar and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Bake until just set, about 9-11 minutes. Cookies will look underdone,. Do not over bake. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Notes

*Use vegan caramels, or omit caramel to keep vegan.

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

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

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

Peppermint Bark Cookies

Peppermint Bark Cookies

Rich, chocolatey cookies overflowing with pieces of sweet, crunchy peppermint bark, topped with crushed candy canes–a chocolate and peppermint lover’s dream! Peppermint Bark Cookies On a whim, I decided to buy a bag of peppermint bark baking bits at TJ’s. I knew it probably wasn’t the greatest idea. I took it out of my basket more than once, but I just kept imagining all of the wonderful things I could bake with it! Peppermint Bark Cookies I LOVE peppermint bark. Every year, it’s pretty much the biggest act of willpower to stop myself from buying a bag of the Ghiradelli peppermint bark, and eating the whole thing in one sitting. Buying the bag to eat a few in “moderation” isn’t even an option. I figured at least these ones were chopped into reallllly tiny pieces. Plus, when I bake, I give things away. If I try to give away the store bought candy I just purchased, I feel a little silly. Peppermint Bark Cookies So I bought this bag of baking chips, and I was trying to decide what to do with it. Then I looked at the back of the bag, and there was a recipe. A recipe that called for use of the entire bag. Perfect. No bark left over means no pieces getting shoveled down my mouth by the handful. It’s a win-win situation. Peppermint Bark Cookies Especially when the cookies turn out ridiculous-stop-everything-I’ve-found-the-solution-for-all-the-world’s-problems-amazing. Peppermint Bark Cookies These cookies are soft, chewy and filled with delicious chocolate flavor, complemented by the bright refreshingly sweet peppermint, and topped with crunchy candy canes for some extra texture. To me, the secret to a perfect cookie comes in the texture combinations. A slight crunch on the outside with an extra soft, almost dough-like inside. Peppermint Bark Cookies And you know how I KNOW they were a success? I brought them to a showcase where a bunch of kiddos happily gobbled them down without any clue that they were eating health(ier) cookies. Kids are the best testers because they are ridiculously honest, and happy, chocolatey faces tell all. **Note: All photos on this post were taken by my husband. I made these last year before I was exclusively taking the photos for my site. I could make them again (they are so good), but his photos are gorgeous, so I decided to keep them. :)

Peppermint Bark Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Peppermint Bark Cookies

Rich, chocolatey cookies overflowing with pieces of sweet, crunchy peppermint bark, topped with crushed candy canes--a chocolate and peppermint lover's dream!

Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or gluten-free baking blend*
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
  • 1/2 cup light cream cheese
  • 1 and 1/3 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 bag Trader Joe's peppermint bark baking bits
  • 1 candy cane, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large bow, beat together cream cheese and sugars. Add eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated, then beat in extracts. Slowly beat in dry ingredients until fully incorporated. Fold in baking bits.
  4. Use a small cookie scoop to transfer dough onto prepared baking sheet. Press a pinch of crushed candy cane into the top of each dough ball. Bake for 10-14 minutes until set. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store fully cooled cookies in an airtight container for about 1 week.

Notes

*Recipe tested with white whole wheat flour, but I've subbed my gf blend in very similar recipes and it has worked great. You may need to reduce baking time, so check cookies around 7-8 minutes.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies #vegan #glutenfree

Vegan & gluten-free ultra soft pumpkin cookies filled with chunks of bold dark chocolate. Perfect cookie (not cakey) texture without a single ounce of butter–something even I thought was impossible!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies #vegan #glutenfree.jpg

I  get a little sad every year around this time. The end of pumpkin season. The day after Thanksgiving, I spend the next 10 months waiting for September 1st so I can start posting pumpkin recipes again. Every year, without fail, I’m left with a handful of recipes that never made it to the blog before the season ended.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies #vegan #glutenfree

I had just about given up on pumpkin cookies. I loooove pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cupcakes–anything that is supposed to be light and cakey, the pumpkin basically works like a dream, but cookies? I don’t like my cookies cakey, and especially while trying to avoid using butter, I just thought that pumpkin cookies were an impossible task.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies #vegan #glutenfree

After seeing my girl Sally’s recipe for her pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, I was inspired to try again. It was the first pumpkin cookie recipe I’d seen where you could see just from the photos that the texture was perfect. I did a little more research and saw this recipe on Baked by Rachel. They also looked ridiculously good–and again, with that perfect cookie texture.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies #vegan #glutenfree

I was pretty sure once I got rid of the butter, there was no way I’d be satisfied, but it turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. The texture was absolutely spot on. The edges got ever so slightly crisp, and the middle was soft, gooey, and everything I’ve ever wanted in a cookie. The pumpkin flavor shines through, and the huge chunks of dark chocolate are the perfect finishing touch. I used a sea salt dark chocolate which I would highly recommend, but any good quality dark chocolate will do. I also made a batch with bits of Heath toffee thrown in, and let me tell you, that was magnificent. You could use white chocolate, add cranberries, anything really–the dough is the perfect container for all your favorite add ins!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: approx 2 1/2 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Vegan & gluten-free ultra soft pumpkin cookies filled with chunks of bold dark chocolate. Perfect cookie (not cakey) texture without a single ounce of butter--something even I thought was impossible!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 tbsp apple butter
  • 6 tbsp pumpkin
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 oz good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cornstarch, and salt until combined. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together sugars, coconut oil, apple butter, pumpkin and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Gently, stir in chocolate. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. If you leave it in longer (ie: several hours to overnight), you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before scooping and baking.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Line two large baking sheets with silpat of parchment papers. Use a small cookie scoop to transfer dough to baking sheet.
  4. Bake until edges are lightly golden and cookies are just set, about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.

Notes

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Cranberry Pistachio Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Cranberry Pistachio Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Soft, nutty pumpkin spiced oatmeal cookies stuffed with dried cranberries, pistachios and sweet cinnamon chip. These are the perfect combination fall cookie.

Cranberry Pistachio Cinnamon Chip Cookies

So somehow it became mid November? I don’t even know. Today my mom had to remind me that I was hosting a birthday party on Sunday. I legitimately forgot. Who does that? It’s also the day I had double booked myself to volunteer for Ironman AZ (so bummed that I ended up having to miss it), and yet I found myself thinking “it’s my last open weekend!” Wrong.

Cranberry Pistachio Cinnamon Chip Cookies

So turns out I’m birthday party-ing this weekend, and oh just riding 111 miles with thousands of my new BFFs the following weekend. I can’t even believe the century is finally here. I don’t know what I was thinking, but when I signed up it didn’t seem nearly as scary as running a marathon. I just assumed I’d do a few long rides, and I’d be good. Of course, it’s that time in training where I start to seriously doubt every single thing I’ve ever done, and all the sudden decide I am incapable of riding 111 miles. Even though I already rode 100. Mostly by myself.

Cranberry Pistachio Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Oh, and then it’s Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. I could talk about that forever, but today I’d rather talk to you about cookies. Fall cookies. Since, ya know, fall is almost over even though it seems like it just began 5 minutes ago? Is it shorter than all of the other seasons or something? Figures the best season would be short.

Cranberry Pistachio Cinnamon Chip Cookies

So I threw every fall weapon you could imagine into these babies. Pumpkin spice, cranberry, cinnamon, the whole 9 yards, and they are totally magical. Soft and chewy, but with that hearty, nutty texture that only the best oatmeal cookies provide. And pistachios are a totally superior nut, in my opinion. They just have a little something extra special. ;)

Cranberry Pistachio Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 3 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Cranberry Pistachio Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Soft, nutty pumpkin spiced oatmeal cookies stuffed with dried cranberries, pistachios and sweet cinnamon chip. These are the perfect combination fall cookie.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour*
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together apple butter, coconut oil, sugar, egg and vanilla until combined. Slowly beat in dry ingredients, then fold in oats, followed by cinnamon chips, pistachios and cranberries.
  3. Line a baking sheet with silpat parchment paper, and drop cookies onto the sheet using a small cookie scoop.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes until golden.Let stand until fully cooled. Store in a loosely covered container for 5-7 days.

Notes

*Tested with white whole wheat, but gluten-free baking blend may be substituted. If dough is too sticky, simply add a bit more flour.

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Peanut Butter Cup Macarons

Peanut Butter Cup Macarons #glutenfree

Before we jump in to these macarons, I have been meaning to tell you guys that my amazing, wonderful and talented friend Kammie just published her first e-cookbook! It’s filled with healthy single serving recipes breakfasts, snacks and desserts. It’s really great, with tons of great, simple recipes, and some really smart healthy substitutions. And even better, she is offering you guys a discount through the month of October! You can receive 25% off by using the code BLOG25. I highly recommend checking it out and showing her some love!

Peanut Butter Cup Macarons #glutenfreeOkay, so I have been dying to put one of those egg white pictures on my blog for a very long time. Meringue (OMG I spelled it right on the first try–who am I??) is just so…prettttty. Macarons are notoriously challenging, fussy, and easy to mess up. I have a bad history with recipes like that, and to be honest, I usually don’t like any recipe that I can’t save if I make a mistake, but these really weren’t that hard, and I’m here to tell you that if I can make them, anyone can!

Peanut Butter Cup Macarons #glutenfree

Trust me, my macarons are not perfect. They don’t have perfectly flat tops, and they don’t all look exactly the same. I toyed with whether or not I should post them for months, but I decided that in the end, food comes down to tastes and textures, and on those accounts, these babies hit it out of the park. So I bring you some imperfection, to inspire you to make macarons, and be fabulously imperfect all the time. It’s so much more fun.

Peanut Butter Cup Macarons #glutenfree

I started out with an incredibly helpful tutorial on Oh Sweet Day. I knew I didn’t want to use any food colorings in my recipe (I’m sure it will happen one day, but it’s just not really my thing), and I knew I wanted a chocolate cookie, because, well…duh. Anyway, I followed her recipe almost exactly, just swapping out some cocoa powder for some of the almond flour. I made them twice to make sure there was no fluke, and sure enough it worked like a charm! I added a creamy peanut butter filling to make it taste like a Reese’s cup, and voila! Challenging dessert success!

Peanut Butter Cup Macarons

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 12 macarons

Serving Size: 1 macaron

Peanut Butter Cup Macarons

Chocolate macarons with a creamy peanut butter filling

Ingredients

    For the macarons:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • For the peanut butter filling:
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (if needed)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In your food processor, combine powdered sugar, almond flour and unsweetened cocoa powder. Process until very fine. Sift mixture into a large bowl. You may need to reprocess any large chunks that can't make it through the sifter.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat egg whites using the whisk on medium speed until light and frothy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Be patient, it will take a few minutes. They should look like the top photo when you take the whisk out.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to egg whites and gently fold together using a spatula. Once ingredients are combined, fold for just an other few turns of the wrist--this is where you need to be very careful! Under-mix and you will have pointy shells, under-mix and you will have a soupy mess. You want the batter to just barely stream off the spatula when you remove it. I err on the side of caution and smooth out points later if they arise.
  5. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" round tip. Carefully pipe mixture into circles about 1 1/2" in size. If tops are pointy, you may run your finger under water and gently smooth them. Let them stand for 30 minutes until tops are glossy and smooth to the touch.
  6. Bake until just set, about 10-12 minutes.Place baking sheets on wire racks and allow to cool completely.
  7. To make filling, beat peanut butter, powdered sugar, and coconut oil together in a medium mixing bowl or stand mixer until combined. If needed, add almond milk and beat until combined.
  8. Gently remove macarons from baking sheet and place a small spoonful of filling on one macaron. Top with a second macaron. Repeat with the rest of the batch. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.
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Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Hi friends! I can’t believe this week is almost over. It has been a whirlwind over here. I’ve been back in town for just a little over a week, and I’ve started a new job, adjusted to a new 4am alarm, and tried to start setting up a new routine. It has been great, and challenging, but mostly great! Also, yesterday I had the honored of being featured by one of my favorite bloggers. I answered several questions about my weight loss and running journey. Head over and check it out if you want to learn a little more about me. :)

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Anyway, let’s talk about food! Cookies, specifically. Perfectly tart and sweet, melt-in-your-mouth-soft lemon crinkle cookies. Uggghhhh, you guys…I can’t even explain to you how good these cookies are. They rival those Paradise Bakery gems that I’ve been obsessed with for years. They make you want to convert to lemon desserts forever.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

The combination of the lemon Greek yogurt + coconut oil = cookie texture perfection. Thick, soft and lightly chewy–you will never miss the butter!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 5 tbsp nonfat lemon Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and lemon zest until fragrant. Add coconut oil, yogurt, vanilla, egg and lemon juice. Beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
  4. Place powdered sugar in a large shallow bowl. Roll dough into approx 1" dough balls. Roll in powdered sugar to coat completely, then transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges gave just set. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet. Store in a loosely covered container for 5 days.

Notes

Plain yogurt may be substituted if lemon is unavailable.

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Drink & Dish: Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

When I was a little girl, my brother’s mom (yeah, my family is hard to explain…she’s not my mom, or my step mom…) always kept the creamsicle ice cream in the house. You know, the swirl between the orange sorbet, and vanilla ice cream? The one that is 100x superior to just the bar with the ice cream on the inside? She always had it, and I always finished it. She probably never got more than a bowl full, and I didn’t even live there.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

There is something so refreshing about the bright, citrusy, orange flavor against the smooth and creamy vanilla that is just about perfect in every way. Great on their own, better together.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

I’m a little obsessed with stuffing cookies. I mean, I love a good chocolate chip cookie, but it is almost always better if all of the chocolate (or white chocolate as the case may be) is contained to the center, so that when you bite into the cookies you have the same experience as, say, a jelly-filled donut. And if you don’ know it’s in there, you get an AWESOME SURPRISE!!

creamsiclecookies-13

These creamsicle cookies are dangerously addictive. The cookie is soft and chewy, and the white chocolate filling stays perfectly creamy, even after the cookies have cooled. In fact, these are a rare cookie case when they taste BETTER after cooling completely. They come out slightly underdone, and need about a full hour after that to set, and cool completely. I mean, I was impatient, and I still loved them right out of the oven, but it wasn’t until I had one the next day that I fell deeply, deeply in love. In fact, the second batch didn’t even make it past the filming day. They were that good.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Cookie stuffing can be one of those things that no matter how well you try to describe it, it’s better just to see it in action, so Nicole and I are bringing you an awesome summer episode of drink and dish! Be sure to check out her recipe for her delicious rum punch!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 12-16 cookies

Serving Size: 2 cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4 oz good quality white chocolate squares or chopped into large chunks

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together sugar and orange zest. Then beat in cream cheese, egg white, and orange juice until combined. Slowly, beat in dry ingredients until combined, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. Refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Roll cookies into 1? balls, then stuff with a white chocolate square. Re-roll into 1? ball, making sure all the white chocolate is covered. Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden. Cool completely on baking sheet. Store in a loosely covered container for 5-7 days.
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