Cookies · Dessert

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Bars

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My husband has a soft spot for these bars – the bars that go by many names. Depending on with whom you’re speaking, they may be called Special K bars, Scotcharoos – or in my case fat bars. I’m not sure who coined the name fat bars, but growing up at my grade and high school everyone called them by this name. Made in their original recipe, I imagine it’s because we all knew they were laden with sugar, processed items and a large dose of fat. I remember them being sticky and so sweet that they got you in that spot in the back of your throat and jawline. $.50 got you a full square and they were the most popular item on the Ala carte line.

These are a much less sugary version, and so simple to make. 5 ingredients (plus a sprinkling of Himalayan salt if you so desire!) and so delicious. The dark chocolate is what makes these better than the original, in my opinion – though if you’re similar to my husband and prefer milk chocolate, substitute away!

I made this recipe to fit within our dietary restrictions and was really happy with the results. It’s an adaptation from a number of recipes and comes together in 10 minutes or less, plus refrigeration time. Enjoy it with friends or family (or by yourself over a cup of coffee!) Happy Independence Day to you all! I hope your memories are as sweet and easy as this dessert.

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Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 2 cups organic, raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup

For the chocolate + peanut butter layer

  • 8 oz. organic dark chocolate (I used 80%)
  • 1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • Himalayan salt for topping (optional)

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Method:

  1. In a food processor, blend the raw almonds until they are semi-finely ground
  2. Add the avocado oil and maple syrup and pulse until combined
  3. Spread evenly on a parchment lined 8×8 pan.
  4. Roughly chop the chocolate and microwave in a glass bowl for 30 second increments until melted.
  5. Stir in the maple syrup and peanut butter until combined. Spread over the almond crust + sprinkle with pink Himalayan salt (optional.) Refrigerate 4 hours.
  6. Cut, serve, enjoy! (These will be best if stored in the fridge.)

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Cookies · Dessert

Oatmeal Cream Pies

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We were recently having dinner with friends and the topic turned to favorite childhood snacks – specifically the ones that concluded a sporting event’s win or defeat. My memory was swift and sweet. Summer nights for me were filled with softball. From the moment I could toddle my father had me holding a bat and glove, and what began as coaches pitch led into a love for the game through early adulthood.

Memories of teammates on the field flooded my mind – the smell of the infield dust and broken in baseball gloves still ripe in my nose. Each family would rotate turns bringing snacks – typically the boxed Little Debbie numbers on rotation. Star crunch were my personal favorite.

As every one recalled their favorites, both men mentioned Oatmeal Cream Pies as one of their top choices. Naturally, I had to follow up by making these for them!

I created a version of this recipe years ago for my husband, but have tweaked the recipe since. I love this version and none are the wiser it’s gluten free. That being said, feel free to substitute a mixture of 1 cup unbleached + 3/4 cup whole wheat flour if you prefer them to be made with flour.

May your memories be sweet, and shared amongst friends.

Recipe yields approximately one dozen sandwiches.

~Julia

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Ingredients:

For the Cookies

1 stick butter, room temp
1/2 cup organic pure cane sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup gluten free 1:1 flour mix
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sprouted brown rice flour
1 cup rolled oats (not the instant)

For the Filling

3 cups powder sugar
1 cup Nutiva brand palm shortening (or vegetable shortening)
1/4 cup almond milk (or whole milk)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.
  2. In your Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together about 3 minutes. Add the applesauce and vanilla, mix.
  3. Add the baking soda, cinnamon, flours and oatmeal: mix until combined. Do not over mix or the batter will become gummy.
  4. Drop teaspoon sized dollops onto lined cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
  5. While cookies are baking, using your whisk attachment on the Kitchen Aid mixer, add 1 cup of the powder sugar, shortening, milk and vanilla to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  6. Add remaining 1 cup powder sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and cream of tartar and mix on medium speed for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Once the cookies are completely cooled, spread a layer of filling on the bottom of a cookie and top with a second cookie to form your sandwich. Finish with remaining cookies and filling.

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Cookies · Dessert

Vanilla Cream Sandwich Cookies

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Let’s be honest for a minute. There’s always something brewing in most our minds that fills us with some sort of “guilt” factor, am I right? If it’s not engrained in our personalities, the world throws enough out there to attempt and make us feel guilty about something we are inevitably “doing wrong.” For me, it’s usually mom guilt on many different levels. Am I spending enough one on one time with each girl? Which school would be best for my oldest, full day vs. half day? Will my kids love tanks be full when I return to work? Is the food I’m feeding my family the most nutritional? The list goes on…

For this reason (amongst many others,) I recreate some of my family’s favorite store bought treats whenever possible. There truly is no reason we can’t eat real food that isn’t full of GMO, preservatives and refined sugars but have to compromise in flavors. These cookies are proof of my last statement.

One of my daughters favorite store bought cookies are the vanilla cream filled cookies. While she’s never eaten the Oreo brand, even the healthier options weren’t what I preferred her to be eating if I could help it. So I challenged myself to create a version of that cookie sans refined sugars (or as limited as possible) and GMO.

I struggled with the cream filling part and my husband, after two attempts looked at me and told me it was impossible. This is, after all THE most important part of the cookie! Think of all the children and adults alike who eat that part first! It had to be perfect. A trip to my local co-op led me to find the perfect products and eventually perfect the cream filling. Happiness ensued as my oldest told me with joy that these cookies were better than the store bought version. I can’t stress enough to seek out a local co-op when possible. The ingredients are fresh, local and the variety of healthy alternatives to every day pantry items never disappoints.

Enjoy baking these for your family, friends – or even yourself for that matter. Then enjoy crossing one more item off the guilt list, should you have one.

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Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1.5 cup organic, room temperature butter
  • 3/4 cup Organic grade A, medium amber maple syrup (I used Target’s Archer Farm brand which is also non-GMO.)
  • 1 organic egg, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached AP flour

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup Nutiva Red Palm + Coconut Oil Shortening
  • 3 cups Wholesome organic powdered confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp Wholesome organic cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp organic whole milk

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Method:

  1. In your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together maple syrup + butter on medium speed 2 minutes. Add in egg + vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  2. Slowly mix in the flour and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Divide the dough in two balls and place each ball between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll out the dough while between the parchment paper to desired thickness of the cookies. The thinner the dough, the crunchier the cookies will be.
  4. Refrigerate a minimum of two hours in advance to baking, but as far in advance as 24 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350. Remove one rolled dough disc from the fridge at a time to keep the alternate dough cold as long as possible.
  6. Using a 2″ cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and transfer to a parchment sheet or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake 12-13 minutes or until the edges of each cookie turn a golden brown one pan at a time.
  7. Without over kneading, continue the process of the remaining scraps until all the dough has been baked.
  8. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Once cookies are cooled, using your mixer with the whisk attachment, add all the ingredients for the filling to the mixer and whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  10. Frost or pipe the filling onto half the baked cookies, reserving the second half of the batch to place atop each frosted cookie. The amount of filling you use is your choice, per your preference! This recipe yields 20-25 cookies, depending on how thick or thin you cut each individual cookie.

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Cookies · Dessert

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free

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These cookies are insane. Though I am not a celiac, many of my close friends + family are either gluten intolerant or suffer from celiac disease. Whenever possible, I try to create a copy cat recipe that tailors to those friends + family. Sometimes it works out well, and then every once in a while, it’s a huge success (like my chocolate cupcakes recipe, found here.)

These cookies are, in my opinion, a huge success! Buttery, soft + chewy and all the flavors of a traditional cookie, but sans any gluten products. I made these on a mission one afternoon to test on my family as Guinea pigs, and waited anxiously for their response. Now, my kids and husband are pretty intense about their cookies. Not one of them guessed that what they were eating weren’t one of my usual recipes.

What I love most about these cookies is how light + chewy they are. Most of the gluten free cookies I’ve enjoyed have been fairly dense. While that doesn’t equate to a bad cookie – this one is so close to its original ancestor made with flour.

I encourage you to try this recipe. I’m confident you’ll love it as much as we do!
Recipe yields approximately 40 two inch diameter cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2.5 cups almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup brown rice flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup organic rolled oats (not the quick oats)
  • 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  • 10 oz bag Chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life Brand)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets With parchment paper or silpat liners.
  2. Cream together butter + sugars 2 minutes
  3. Add vanilla extract + eggs until incorporated.
  4. Add dry ingredients + mix until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Using a tablespoon or a cookie scoop (I used the oxo brand cookie scoop), place 12 drops of cookie dough on the pan, evenly spaced.
  6. Bake 10-11 minutes, or until the edges turn slightly golden brown.

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Cookies · Dessert

Peppermint Chocolate Crunch Bars

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I’m not gonna lie: I’m pretty excited about these candy bars. Who hasn’t had a Nestle Crunch bar? Chocolate meets crunch? Genius. But THESE!! In my opinion these beauties are the Crunch bar re-incarnated in minty fashion, only better! The best part of these is the non GMO + non guilt factor that comes along with them!

A few years ago, I discovered the company Enjoy Life Foods when my oldest daughter was struggling with food intolerances. Fast forward to second daughter facing the same issues and I was convinced part of the reason so many parents are seeing food intolerances in their infants + toddlers (not to mention many adults too) were specifically linked to what is in our foods now days. The processing, the soy, the GMO…we have all encountered this on some level.

Whenever possible, I aim to remove these things from my kitchen. It’s not a perfect science yet, but as often as I can I try to create tasty dishes sans all the bad stuff. Enjoy Life Foods embraces this lifestyle and offers so many delicious options for folks struggling with the 8 common allergens. Their products are available in many grocery stores – but I always find the largest selection at my local Co-op.

These are made with Enjoy Life Foods semi-sweet chocolate chips, Crunchy Flax + some peppermint extract. The definition of simple! Make these for the holidays and give them out as gifts; everyone will thank you!

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz Enjoy Life Foods semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Enjoy Life Foods Crunchy Flax cereal
  • 1 tsp pure peppermint extract (I used JR Watkins brand)

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Method:

  1. Line a 9×9″ pan with parchment paper & set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave in a glass bowl, stirring after each 30 second interval until melted.
  3. Stir the 1 tsp pure peppermint extract into the chocolate.
  4. Stir in the cup of flax crunch cereal.
  5. Pour the mixture into the parchment lined pan & refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge & cut into desired sized pieces.

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Cookies · Dessert

Krumkake

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Everyone has a favorite Christmas cookie; mine are undoubtedly Krumkake. They remind me of both my grandma and heritage, boasting a classically delicious flavor. Krumkake is a Norwegian waffle cookie, cooked paper thin on a special iron then rolled into a cone shape.

The process of making these are fairly simple but require a good amount of time and patience. The key is getting the iron at just the right temperature to cook evenly on each side. It takes one or two goes to achieve this method, but don’t give up! I promise the patience is worth the effort + the end result is a crumbly, delicate cookie with a subtle punch of vanilla and cinnamon.

Once made + cooled, these can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for a few weeks. Feel free to add a cream filling if you’d like or dust them with powdered sugar. Or leave them as is + enjoy with a cup of coffee. Enjoy your holiday baking & thanks for stopping by!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic butter, room temp
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1.5 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Cream together the butter + sugar for 2 minutes using a mixer or in your Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. One at a time, beat in the eggs until the batter thickens slightly & takes on a slight yellow tint.
  3. Mix in the flour, milk, cinnamon + vanilla extract until just combined. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Over your gas range, heat the Krumkake iron on medium heat until a drop of water sizzles when dropped on the center of the closed iron.
  5. Open the iron + lightly coat with nonstick spray. Spoon 1 tbsp of batter in the middle of the iron & close.
  6. Cook for 1 minute on each side until the cookie is golden brown.
  7. Open the iron & Gently remove using the tip of a sharp knife. Roll immediately into a cone shape. (The iron should come with a cone roller, if it doesn’t, roll them by hand in a cigar shaped manner.)
  8. Allow the cookies to cool on a rack. They will crisp up as they cool.
  9. Repeat until the batter is used, adding a tablespoon of water as necessary if the batter becomes too thick.
Breakfast · Cookies · Dessert

Almond + Cookie Butter Biscotti

Almond + Cookie Butter Biscotti

Morning coffee is equal parts necessary + nostalgic for me, taking me back to my grandma’s kitchen growing up. Food and drink have a strong connection with memories and I like to make them sweet. Coffee can be wonderful on it’s own, but sometimes it calls for a companion. Biscotti being the natural partner.

I created this recipe 2 years ago during my pregnancy with my second daughter, and it remains a family favorite to this day. Baking these with her now on the outside, watching the crumbs fall off her cheeks and our older daughter covered in the melted chocolate made this recipe even sweeter.

These are incredibly simple + would make a fantastic gift for the upcoming holidays. I freeze mine to lengthen their lifespan + enjoying the extra crunch the freezing process provides. Dipped in a hot cup of coffee, surrounded by friends or family and making memories – these round out some of my most favorite parts of my morning (or afternoon) routine. Recipe yields approximately 24 biscotti, depending on the width of which you cut them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter
  • 1.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped natural almonds, unsalted
  • 1/4 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 300. Line two baking sheets with silpat liners or parchment paper.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar in Kitchen Aid mixer about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides when finished.
  3. Add eggs to butter mixture one at a time. Add almond extract and cookie butter and mix until blended.
  4. Add flours, salt and baking powder and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix. Stir in chopped almonds.
  5. Divide the dough in half and form two loaves, one on each baking sheet. Bake 40-45 minutes.
  6. Remove the loaves from the oven and slice into 3/4″ pieces with a sharp knife. Lay each biscotti on it’s side, leaving space between each piece.
  7. Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until hardened.
  8. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler and drizzle atop each biscotti. Serve cooled or store in the freezer.

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Cookies

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

October is my second favorite month of the year. The weather is perfection, the leaves peak in vibrancy, and it’s the month in which we celebrate my husband’s birthday. 

He has a soft spot for pumpkin baked items, and – well, I have a soft spot for him. So these were made with him in mind. They’re soft, chewy and perfectly capture Autumn in each bite. They pair really nicely with a hot cup of coffee as well!

I added in some quick oats for good measure, and I enjoy the texture – but you can certainly omit them – just cut back about 1/4 cup of the pumpkin. I also always add a bit more cinnamon than what’s noted below – only for good measure. My grandma always told me to do the same with pure vanilla extract. She said it was her secret to making the flavors pop in whatever she was baking. It’s stuck with me since I was a child, and every time I bake I add a little extra of those ingredients and smile in her memory.

Yields about 18-24 cookies. Happy baking!

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1/2 cup organic butter, room temp
  • 1 cup pure organic maple syrup, grade A light Amber
  • 1/3 cup all natural no sugar added applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1.5 cups oats

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powder sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp whole milk

Method:

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

  1. Mix together butter, maple syrup, applesauce, vanilla extract and egg, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add pumpkin and mix until combined.
  3. Add in all dry ingredients (sans oats) and blend until just combined. Stir in oats. Do not over mix.
  4. Spoon out 1 tbsp sized dollops into the parchment lined baking sheets – bake 15-18 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a cooling rack after 5 minutes, then drizzle or dollop the glaze atop each cookie.

Cookies · Dessert

Mojito Shortbread Cookies


There’s something about a mojito that takes me back to the pre-kids years and traveling with my hubby. Warm sandy beaches, a beautiful ocean kissing the horizon and sitting hand in hand sipping a mojito: these are a few of my favorite things. Call me fräulein Maria.

These cookies are the confectionary equivalent of a mojito. The whole house smelled like sugar cookies and mojitos as they baked in the oven. Bring these to your next cookie exchange and you’ll be a crowd favorite; or serve at a cocktail party. {With a mojito, of course.}
Yields 2 1/2 dozen depending on how thick you roll out the dough.
Ingredients:
• 3 sticks of room temp butter
• 1 cup of sugar, plus another 1/4 cup for sprinkling
• 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
• the zest of 2 limes
• 20 mint leaves, chiffonade
• 3.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
• 2 tbsp clear rum (I used Bacardi Silver)
• 1/4 lime, juiced
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with silpat liners or parchment paper.
  2. Cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar. Then add the vanilla, mint leaves, lime zest and rum. Add flour and salt and mix until combined. The mixture will be crumbly.
  3. Using a sharp knife, slice the log into 1/4-1/2″ thick slices and place onto lined baking sheets. Mix remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 of the juiced lime together and sprinkle atop each cookie prior to baking.
  4. Bake 13-15 minutes.