turtle cookies

I confess, I have absolutely no idea what to call these cookies besides delicious.  At first I was going for caramel-chocolate chip, but that’s a bit wordy and does not do justice to how incredible these are.  Then I thought monster cookies, since that’s somewhat where the inspiration came from but they did not have any other ingredients in them to make them actual monster cookies (m&ms, whole oats, raisins, etc.).  And then I thought, well I think it came from either my mom or sister when they were eating them that they were almost turtle flavored.  caramel, chocolate + nuts.  Although no nuts.  But close enough for me and maybe next time they will have nuts.

So if you can think of a better name for these delightful cookies, please share.

 

Turtle Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature
  • 1/4 c grapeseed oil (or any other light oil)
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2t vanilla
  • 1t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4c oat flour (oats ground into flour is what I used)
  • 1/2c sorghum flour
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup caramel bits
1. In a small bowl, combine the oats, sorghum flour and baking soda.  Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat up the butter or margarine until it is nice and fluffy.
3. Mix in the oil to the butter or margarine until it is somewhat mixed well, and then add in the sugar and continue mixing.
4. Once the sugar and butter/oil mixture are combined, add in the salt and eggs.
5. Dump the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until fully mixed together.  If this ends up being too sticky, you can add some more oat or sorghum flour.
6. Once the batter is a good consistency, add the chocolate chips and caramel bits.
7. Try not to eat the entire batter as-is… and then take small scoopfuls of what is left and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
8. Bake in a 350′ oven for 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through if necessary.
I used the smallest scoop I had and these cookies were still a very good size, and it made 4 dozen cookies.  If you add in extra cookies for the amount of dough that was consumed.
Holy yum.
The caramel bits were such a random splurge at the store…
But definitely, 100% worth it.
They could also be called “I took way too many photos of these cookies” cookies, but that’s an even greater mouthful than caramel-chocolate chip…
Mouthful being the key word.

a new kind of cookie

I have a major sweet tooth.  But I’m sure if you’ve read this blog before you’re aware of that fact ;).  But the strange thing is that when I switched to eating unprocessed foods, my tolerance for sweet things went waaay down.  I used to almost always choose milk chocolate over dark in a Russell Stover box – obviously I needed the higher sugar content.  I have even on more than one occasion (I refuse to count), made this Martha Stewart Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe using two – yes, two cups of sugar.  And then proceed to eat the whole batch (well, not by myself obviously) over the course of a weekend.

Now, I am more likely to eat dark chocolate than even semi-sweet, and never milk chocolate.  Sugar in baked goods has gone down (or become non-existant) in all of my recipes.  Oh, and my love for coconut has increased significantly.  I used to think unsweetened coconut was, well, unsweet.  Now?  Oh my, it’s absolutely delectable.  Coconut flakes are pop in your  mouth good and coconut butter tastes like frosting.  Last night, Kinley and I purchased Coconut Flour for the first time.  Now combining all of my previous ramblings into one recipe?  Don’t mind if I do.

Gluten Free Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies makes 2 dozen

  • 3/4c sorghum flour
  • 1/4c + 2T coconut flour (Let’s Do… Organic®)
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1 stick earth balance (or butter)
  • 1/4c organic natural sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2t vanilla
  • 1c semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard – made in a gluten free facility!)
1. In a small bowl, mix together the sorghum flour, coconut flour and baking soda.
2. In a large bowl, combine room-temperature earth balance and sugar with a handmixer until fluffy and smooth.
3. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.
4. Add the flour mixture and mix.  One of the best things about gluten free flours is that there is no chance of you over-mixing!
5. Time for the chocolate chips – so, so good.  Put them in and mix.
6. Scoop and roll (these won’t change much during cooking so what you put in will look pretty much like what comes out) and place these on a baking sheet and put in a 375′ oven for 8-10 minutes.
These cookies are a nice change from the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies I have baked recently since they used oat flour as the base (as did the Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies).
I do kind of love how the non-rolled ones look like coconut macaroons.  I have big ideas for the not-so pretty and semi-crumbly ones but I’ve got to talk the sister into going along with it ;).

dessert pizza

Kinley and I took a trip to New York City this past January.  I loved it.  I have always loved big cities and this was my first time in NYC – although it had been a longtime ambition of mine to get there.  It’s actually quite funny now, we decided to eat vegetarian when we were there in order to help with cost savings – and now that’s all we do :).  We ended up finding a bunch of really good restaurants even without pre-planning anything.  We had a couple stops in mind, but those were mainly for cupcakes.  One night we were really struggling to find something to eat was the night we went to see a show on Broadway, American Idiot.  We were walking around and around and could only find expensive prix fixe meals that didn’t even sound good!  Luckily, on probably our tenth loop around on side streets, we stumbled upon a small Italian Bistro.  I forget the name of it (I do have their business card somewhere), but I remember it was extremely delicious food.  I had some sort of pasta dish but Kinley had a pizza that was to die for.  And what was even more to die for than her meal pizza?  Dessert pizza of course.  Pizza Crust + Nutella + Marshmallows.  We changed it up a bit due to ingredients we had on hand, but the variability of this idea is what will make anyone happy :).

Dessert Pizza makes 1 pizza

1. Preheat oven to 350′.

2. Pre-bake the crust for a couple of minutes, if desired.

3. Top crust with your desired pizza toppings.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until nut butter is warm and marshmallows have melted.  You could also use a broiler to help the marshmallows puff up a bit ;).

Mine was PB2 – Kinley’s was Raw Almond Butter.  Both were incredibly delicious.  To make it even more like the original, break out that Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter.

There will be more of these in the future.  Many, many more.

oatmeal chocolate chip

I am currently procrastinating packing…  Well, not serious procrastination.  It might be worse – I’m waiting for laundry to be done so I actually have clothes to pack.  Which could have been done right away when I got home at 5pm.  But no, it’s 9:30 and the stuff just went in the dryer.  Whoops.

It’s a little nerve-wracking packing for my first business trip.  Having to pack a bunch of ‘dress-up’ clothes that will need to be ironed at the hotel (shocker!), shoes, plenty of workout clothes (hoping I won’t have to get up super early to do it!), all my getting-ready goodies.  Not to mention my food.  I have no clue what there will be for gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian offerings.  My guess is not much – if even that much.  So I have oats and a box of almond milk to make overnight oats in the fridge in my room so at least I’ll have a nice and filling breakfast in the morning.  I even picked up a few individual packs of Justin’s to have on top!  I also bought a pack of rice cakes today and have a myriad of Lära and Clif Bars as well as some raw almonds.  This way, I will at least have some options available to supplement what I am guessing is going to be a fruit and salad-filled weekend.  And a long weekend at that since it is Wednesday – Sunday.

I am all checked in – after an incredibly long phone call with a guy from AirTran.  For some reason my payment wasn’t going through for a checked bag that was holding up the whole process and took much longer than it even needed to…  Good thing that right as I got off the phone, these little guys just happened to be waiting for me to eat them ;).

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 c oat flour
  • 3/4t baking soda
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/3c melted earth balance (or other butter)
  • 1/4c organic sugar
  • 1T molasses
  • 1 egg (or flax egg)
  • 1/2c non-dairy milk
  • 1t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 c mini non-dairy chocolate chips

1. In a bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients except for the oats and chocolate chips (you could sift them as well).

2. Whisk together the melted earth balance, sugar and molasses.  Add in the egg, milk and vanilla.

3. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and add the oats and the chocolate chips.

4. Scoop into little balls, roll, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

5. Bake in a 350′ preheated oven for 10 minutes.

6. Eat!

These cookies are similar to the Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies I made awhile back but with more chunks due to the oats as well as puffier because of the egg addition.  These are also way cut down on the sugar (only 1/4c for over 3 dozen?).  I thought they were a good sweetness, not an over-the-top sugar high but enough so it tasted like a treat!

Who knows what I will be experiencing this weekend, but I have been told it will be an ‘ease’ into what some business trips will be like in the future, so enjoy it while I can ;).

dessert on the grill

I love summer cookouts.  I believe that almost everything tastes better from a grill.  However, up until last week, I had never attempted even turning on the grill by myself, but I am happy that I did since I had the most delicious sweet potatoes come off of it.  Sometimes after a warm, summery day all you want it a frozen dessert, such as banana soft serve, but on nights when the air is cool and you feel more like sitting around a fire than jumping in the pool, a warm dessert is where it’s at.  Especially when it can be made on the grill.

The below is only a suggestion, feel free to change up any of the fillings/toppings to suite your taste.

Chocolate Marshmallow Stuffed Grilled Bananas makes 1 serving

  • 1 banana
  • 1-2T chocolate chips
  • 5-6 marshmallows (vegan or mini)

1. Cut a slit into the banana on the inside curvy side (consult picture).

2. Stuff with desired toppings and wrap in aluminum foil.

3. Place on the grill for 5-10 minutes until the banana is warm and the chocolate and marshmallow have melted.

4. Make sure to take out of the peel before eating!  You can also top with some ice cream, whipped cream, nut butter… In our case, we put a dollop of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter.

Other possible additions: Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, coconut, white chocolate chips, etc.

You (and your guests) will be sure to go bananas over this delicious grilled dessert.

cookie monster

Cookie baking has been my thing for quite a few years now.  Shortly after the Martha Stewart Cookie Cookbook came out, I received it for a birthday present and I was instantly hooked.  All of the photographs were beautiful and all the cookies looked absolutely delectable.  The weekend after that birthday, I set out to bake my first batch.  I decided to bake the good ol’ standby, chocolate chip cookies.  Easy, right?  Well, Martha has not one, but three recipes for various chocolate chip cookies.  How was I to choose?  Well, I didn’t, I made them all to be able to try the cookies side by side.  And don’t worry about cookies going to waste, a few friends got a nice box of cookies mailed to them and our freezer was well stocked with the rest.

Needless to say, chocolate chip cookies are my favorite and I have not baked them for awhile.  Wheat flour has not been the kindest to me lately and baking with gluten-free flours still intimidates me.  Well, I decided to get over my fear of gluten-free cookies and bake some cookies on Saturday.  Lucky enough for me, I was able to find this recipe from Post Punk Kitchen which utilized oat flour instead of wheat.  And as I am an oat fanatic, I had the flour on hand!

Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cup oat flour (I weigh out all my flours for baking on a kitchen scale to avoid dense cookies/muffins, etc.)
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted Earth Balance (could be substituted for oil or butter)
  • 1T ground flax
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1t vanilla
  • 3/4 cup (dairy-free) chocolate chips

1. Preheat your oven to 375*.

2. SIFT together the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Oat flour is clumpy so this step is crucial!

3. In a small bowl, mix together the wet ingredients and make sure it is completely combined.

4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and then mix in the chocolate chips.  You do not have to worry about over mixing gluten-free flours (which is one redeeming quality), so mix away until it is well combined.

5. I used a small cookie scoop to make my cookies.  The first tray I simply scooped and baked, the second tray I flattened them out with my fingers since the cookie does not spread.  All the pictures I posted are of the cookies flattened slightly since I prefer that, but it is entirely up to you.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes (the flat tray took 8, the regular scooped tray took 10).  Remove from the oven and let cook for a few minutes before putting them on a cooling rack.

Whether or not you are trying to avoid wheat or you want to try something new with cookies, this recipe is fantastic.  The cookie itself tastes just a little oatey, but the flour is finely ground so there are no chunks of oats.  Although adding a few old fashioned oats would be a nice addition if you wanted to change it up.  Don’t have oat flour?  You can purchase it (mine is from Bob’s Red Mill) or you can grind up old fashioned oats or oat groats in a blender.  It might be a little different texture, but I think it would work.

And by the way, Martha’s cakey chocolate chip cookies were my favorite, but this one might have it beat :).

sweet perfection

I’ll write a recap of my race this past Saturday tomorrow – but I wanted to start out the week with a delicious recipe Kinley and I had for dessert yesterday! It was a nice, sunny day outside but still a little chilly. But being from Wisconsin, I could eat ice cream any month of the year! Unfortunately, ice cream is only a memory for me and the ice cream replacements on the market have quite a long ingredient list. This recipe definitely curbed my craving for ice cream and only has TWO ingredients – can you believe it? Adding gluten free cookie dough chunks is the icing on the cake… er topping on the ice cream.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Soft Serve
adapted from Oh She Glows

Ice ‘Cream’ (2 servings)

  • 3 frozen bananas (cut into chunks before freezing)
  • 2T or so unsweetened vanilla almond milk

In a food processor, add the frozen bananas and blend until they break down and start to get creamy, scraping down the sides when necessary.  Drizzle in some dairy-free milk to speed up the process and make a more creamy consistency.  It all came together within 5 minutes!  At this point, scoop into 2 bowls and you can eat it straight up, or add any toppings you would like such as cookie dough pieces!

Cookie Dough Pieces

  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashew pieces
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1t pure vanilla extract
  • 2T pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chunked dark chocolate

1. In a food processor, blend together the cashew pieces and the old-fashioned oats until crumbly.  Add in the oat flour and salt and process to combine.

2. Add in the vanilla extract and maple syrup and blend until the mixture comes together.  It’ll stay sticky.  Scoop into a bowl and add in the chunked dark chocolate.  You can either roll these into balls and stick in the freezer, or press out onto some wax paper, freeze, and then cut into pieces to avoid rolling a bunch of little cookie dough balls.  We may or may not have skipped freezing all of the cookie dough step so we could eat some right away ;).

You can add the cookie dough to the top, blend a few pieces in to the ice cream (which is what we did + added a couple on top with a sprinkling of non-dairy chocolate chips).  The original recipe was created to mimic a Dairy Queen Blizzard, and does the job perfectly.

I can see many more of these in my future!

p[ea]nut love

I am inspired by peas.  Well, one Pea in particular.  Mama Pea.  And when she says that her Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls are the best recipe she has ever made?  Of course I made three batches.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls from Peas and Thank You

  • 1/2 cup earth balance (or any other non-dairy margarine)
  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter (naturally, I used Trader Joe’s natural creamy)
  • *1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk*
  • 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2t vanilla extract
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 3/4t salt
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup + non-dairy chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s definitely makes the best semi-sweet chocolate chips around)

*the almond milk is optional based on if your dough is too dry without it, I found that mine was so after making the first batch I combined it in with the wet ingredients

1. Beat earth balance, peanut butter, both sugars, almond milk and vanilla until fully incorporated.

2. In a smaller bowl combine baking powder, soda, salt and flour.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, a little at a time until almost mixed together.

4. Now add the chocolate chips that you managed to not nibble on during the making of the dough.

5.  Chill dough for roughly 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350*.  Roll the dough into small balls.  Roll these in your hands to look more like a dough ball and less like a scoop of ice cream.  Place on a lined cookie sheet (they don’t spread so you can fit a lot on each sheet).

The mini cookie scoop I used made tablespoon-sized balls, perfect for a party.

Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine were small so if you make larger ones the time might be slightly more).  But do not overbake.  I repeat, do not overbake.

Doesn’t that make for an awesome dessert selection.

Peas and Thank You, Mama Pea.

pb&j bar

Originally, I was just going to have appetizers to serve at my graduation party to avoid attempting to find something that would be a crowd-pleaser for dinner.  It is also tricky to find something that incorporates my dairy-free and no-meat diet that is still popular with everyone.  Thus, the PB&J bar was born!

I think everyone was pleased with this “spread”!  Most of the items were store-bought which made it so simple to put together, but because of the mason jars, I was asked over and over again if everything was homemade!  All of the ingredients are from Trader Joe’s, I just love that place!  We had:

Natural Creamy & Chunky Peanut Butter

Sunflower Seed Butter

2 Kinds of Homemade Almond Butter (recipes below)

Blueberry & Strawberry Preserves

Apple Butter

Mango Butter

Honey

About 5 loaves of whole-grain bread (we got a mix of sprouted, different grains as well as cinnamon-raisin bagels which Grandpa adored).

Just make sure that you have plenty of knives laid out for people to use!  It seemed like most people put a variety of spreads on their bread and very much enjoyed everything!  My cousin even dipped some crackers in one of the homemade almond butters because it was just that good!

To make the almond butters, I used ideas from two recipes from The Edible Perspective.  The recipes can be found here and here.  To start out, I had a 16oz bag of raw almonds from Trader Joe’s.  Each recipe called for 2cups of raw almonds.  I separated the bag of almonds by weight (8oz which is just shy of 2cups) to make the following almond butters.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Almond Butter

  • 8oz raw almonds
  • 1T brown sugar
  • 1/4t salt
  • 2t vanilla extract
  • 1/3t almond extract
  • 1T grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup chunked dark chocolate

Vanilla Maple + Cinnamon Almond Butter

  • 8oz raw almonds
  • 1T pure maple syrup
  • 2t vanilla extract
  • 1/2t cinnamon
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1-2T grapeseed oil

Directions

1. In a 325* oven, roast the raw almonds for 12-18 minutes, flipping every 4-5 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet.

2. Place the almonds in a food processor and turn on for 6-10 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Eventually it will start to look more and more like almond butter.  You can add additional oil at this point if it isn’t starting to come together (mine did no problem so I did not need to add additional at this point).

3. Add in the desired additions and mix until incorporated.  At this point, my almond butters stiffened dramatically so I added grapeseed oil to both to reach the consistency I wanted.

4. Spoon into a jar and keep at room temperature if you will eat within 2-3 weeks (both recipes make around 1 cup of almond butter, which is no problem to finish off in this household), otherwise keep in the fridge.  For the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor, refrigerate the base for an hour before stirring in the chocolate chunks or else the chocolate will melt all over (which probably wouldn’t actually be a bad thing ;), just would not look as much like cookie dough).