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.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://arismenu.com/peppermint-bark-cookies/

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Vegan and gluten-free ultra soft pumpkin banana muffins overflowing with melty dark chocolate chips. The perfect treat for a crisp fall morning.

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins #glutenfree #vegan

Good morning! Is it morning where you are? It’s totally not here, but these muffins make me feel like morning. That probably sounds weird. Not just because they’re muffins. Muffins are more an afternoon snack than breakfast for me. They just make me feel like morning. Like cool, crisp autumn morning on the porch. I wish I had a table and chairs on my porch. A table and chairs just for muffins.

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins #glutenfree #vegan

Perfectly imperfect muffins. Not at all smooth like your normally think of, but with a little character and personality, and a whole lot of flavor. You see pumpkin and banana are known for making perfectly *gross word*, soft, and tender baked goods. Put them together, and it only gets better. Add some melty dark chocolate, and you’ve got the stuff dreams are made of.

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins #glutenfree #vegan

The muffins practically melt in your mouth. No dry, cakey-ness (Okay, serious how do you spell that word?? I get a red squiggly line every time with no suggestion. Rude.) that you would expect from a health(ier) muffin. Sometimes I don’t like pumpkin in cookies because it makes them taste like, well, muffins–which is why pumpkin muffins are just perfect!

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins #glutenfree #vegan

These are super simple and easy to make, and a perfect fall treat to have around on Thanksgiving or any get together. That is if you don’t eat them all before your family and friends arrive. ;)

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 1 dozen

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Vegan and gluten-free ultra soft pumpkin banana muffins overflowing with melty dark chocolate chips. The perfect treat for a crisp fall morning.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten free baking blend
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 2 extra ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (I a combination of mini and full size)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line muffin tins with paper liners and spray liners with nonstick spray. Do not skip this step--lower fat items will stick if you don't use spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking blend, pumpkin pie spice, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl mix together banana, pumpkin, brown sugar and vanilla until combined. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Evenly divide batter between prepared muffin tins. Bake for 5 minutes, then lower heat to 350. Continue baking until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs, about 12-15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://arismenu.com/pumpkin-banana-chocolate-chip-muffins/

 

Banana Cream Cupcakes

Banana Cream Cupcakes

You guys you guys you guys you guys!!!!! I have the best house guest in the whole world right now!

Banana Cream Cupcakes

So I’m going to keep this short so we can commence with cooking, baking, wine drinking, and goat cheese eating. I made banana cupcakes. Then I stuffed them with cream cheese frosting. Then I topped them with salted caramel. I mean, how could that even possibly be bad?

Banana Cream Cupcakes

Did I mention that my “little” brother turned 16? He is also over 6′ tall, and has this deep man voice. When he calls me he just says “Yooooooooo” in this grumbly, ridiculously low-pitched man voice. Like, what IS that? I remember him being born. HOW CAN HE BE A MAN NOW????

Banana Cream Cupcakes

I try to imitate the “Yo” voice, but ummm, I have a high-pitched little girl voice, so it doesn’t work. At all. Everyone laughs at me. So I just let him stick to the man voice, and I stick to what I’m good at, like making him perfect birthday cupcakes. And they are. The banana makes the cupcakes ridiculously soft, and they are totally stuffed with the cream cheese filling, and that salted caramel is just the icing on the cake. Literally.

Banana Cream Cupcakes

Banana Cream Cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 dash salt
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat buttermilk
  • fleur de sel caramel for topping, optional
  • For the filling:
  • 8oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 375. Line 2 muffin tins with 18 paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together apples, apple sauce and sugar. Slowly, beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Slowly beat in half the dry ingredients, then buttermilk, followed by the last of the dry ingredients.
  3. Evenly divide batter between 18 muffin tins. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs, about 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.
  4. To make the filling, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together until well combined. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large tip. Insert tip into the center of cooled cupcakes and gently squeeze out 1-2 tbsp of filling.
  5. Drizzle with caramel if desired immediately before serving. Cupcakes are best the same day, but can be stored refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://arismenu.com/banana-cream-cupcakes/

Drink & Dish: Blueberry Pancakes {with video!}

I know that no one is *perfect*, but I’d have to say my mom is pretty darn close. So today, rather than tell you about how awesome the pancakes are (they are awesome, and make sure you check out the video at the end for all my pancake secrets!), I have compiled a list of a few of the many reasons I love my mom.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes #vegan via arismenu.com

1. My mom is the best listener. Any time I have a problem, she says all the right things. I can call her at any time of day and I know I can count on her to be my confidant, and give me A+ advice. She is a social worker, so in addition to her 28 years (gross, I’m old) of experience, she’s also legitimately educated in advice giving and people skills.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes #vegan via arismenu.com

2. She is hilarious and totally weird. When I was little, she would do this weird clap-in-patterns thing. I seriously don’t know how else to even explain it, but I was always so embarrassed. Now I see all my weird little quirks, and realize how alike we are. I appreciate that she taught me to be silly, and to be myself. Now I love all of her little oddities. They make her unique, and she wouldn’t be my mom without them.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes #vegan via arismenu.com

3. She is my biggest cheerleader, and also my biggest advocate. I love the positive support and encouragement I get from my mom, but it is the times when I see her stand up and fight for me that I am taken aback. My mom, rarely angry, occasionally turns into a real mama bear, and I can see her fight to protect me. I don’t care how old I am, I will always appreciate feeling protected, and I will also always need to hear her tell me “Good job. I’m proud of you.”

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes #vegan via arismenu.com

4. She is the most patient woman I have ever met. It doesn’t run in the family. I simultaneously admire, and am in awe of her patience. You know when you want to grow up and be just like your mom? Yeah, I still feel that way, and I keep hoping one day it will happen.

There are a million more things I could say, but I’ll try not to make this a novel. Check out the latest episode of Drink & Dish for my pancake secrets, Nicole’s amazing Blackberry Wine Cooler (check out the recipe–they are AWESOME!), and our favorite memories with our moms.


What is your favorite thing/memory about/with your mom?

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 pancakes

Serving Size: 2 pancakes

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

Perfectly fluffy whole wheat and vegan blueberry pancakes are perfect for any brunch occasion!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp milled flax seed
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar*
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flax seed and water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar. Gently mix in flax mixture, almond milk, and vanilla, stirring until just combined, then fold in blueberries. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat griddle or large pan over medium-low heat, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook until top forms small bubbles and bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until golden.

Notes

*I used 2 tbsp brown sugar, but you can easily use 3 if you like your pancakes on the sweeter side.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://arismenu.com/drink-dish-blueberry-pancakes/

Buckeye Brownies

Buckeye Brownies via arismenu.com

My favorite (and best) cooking inspiration has always been making things for the people I love. Especially birthdays. Birthdays are my favorite thing in the world, and nothing brings me more happiness than making the perfect treat to show my love.

Buckeye Brownies via arismenu.com

In fact, to date my favorite recipe I’ve ever made was for Steve’s birthday last year. I have to tell you, though–these give them a run for their money!

buckeyebrownies-10Buckeye Brownies via arismenu.com

When I saw this post on Brown Eyed Baker a couple of months ago, I immediately sent it to Nicole–the idea is genius, the photos are absolutely gorgeous, and I wanted to jump through my screen and lick every crumb.

Buckeye Brownies via arismenu.com

So when I was deciding what to make Nicole for her birthday this year, I knew exactly where I wanted to start. Of course, I changed a few things to make these a little less indulgent, but they still tasted rich and decadent. The brownie layer is the fudgiest brownie I have ever tasted, and the peanut butter tastes like the inside of a Reese’s cup, and then that perfectly glossy glaze? I diiiieeee.

Buckeye Brownies via arismenu.com

The good thing about cooking for your BBF (best blog friend–I know, we’re totally, like tweens) is they don’t mind that you cut into their birthday dessert to photograph it, and maybe sneak a tiny bite so that you can make sure it’s perfect before you give it to them. ;) Thanks for taking one for the team blog, Nicole!

Buckeye Brownies via arismenu.com

Buckeye Brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: 32

Serving Size: 1 brownie

Buckeye Brownies

Rich and fudgy brownies topped with creamy sweetened peanut butter, followed by a chocolate peanut butter glaze--these brownies are to-die-for!

Ingredients

    For the brownies:
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • dash
  • salt
  • For the peanut butter layer:
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2-3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • For the chocolate peanut butter glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Instructions

  1. To make the brownies, preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, espresso powder and water. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla and sugar. Stir in flour and salt until combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Transfer batter to prepared baking dish. Bake set and until a toothpick inserted a couple of inches from the edge comes out with a few crumbs, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
  4. To make the peanut butter layer, beat together peanut butter, coconut oil and powdered sugar until smooth. Add milk 1 tbsp at a time until you reach a smooth, spreadable texture. Spread evenly onto cooled brownies.
  5. To make the glaze, place chocolate and peanut butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 20 second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Spread glaze evenly over peanut butter layer. Cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then serve. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baked

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://arismenu.com/buckeye-brownies/