Zucchini-Oat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I will make almost any excuse to whip up a batch of cookies. I love to make “cheer-you-up” cookies, “thank you” cookies, and the ever-popular “I should be studying” cookies. So it really was not a surprise that I thought of the wonderful idea of making a big batch of cookies to bring a presentation I was giving this week. There was just one snafu regarding my masterful plan…

I was lecturing on the obesity epidemic.

Yes, I was planning on serving cookies to my audience and then speaking to them about the causes, issues, and potential interventions for obesity in the United States and worldwide. Not exactly the most appetite-inducing speech, and one more akin to a small bag of mixed nuts or an apple than cookies. But with my passion for cookie-making overriding my rational brain, I told myself that I would find a healthier cookie recipe. And thanks to the creatively over at Nestlé, I found my cookie inspiration.

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Zucchini-oat dark chocolate chip cookies. It’s a mouthful to say and the cookies themselves turned out to be a nutritious mouthful of yum . The texture is soft inside because of the zucchini, but crisp on the outside and oh-so chocolatey. I cut out some of the flour by making flour from rolled oats, and the sugar and butter are greatly reduced compared to the typical chocolate chip cookie recipe. Add a healthy dose of nutrients from the almonds and antioxidants from the dark chocolate chips, and I must say these cookies actually pack quite a nutritional punch in a small and delicious package.

Turns out the cookie was a crowd-pleaser, and the perfect accompaniment to my presentation. No excuses needed for whipping up a batch of zucchini-oat dark chocolate chip cookies!

Zucchini-Oat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from the Nestlé recipe)

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup oat flour (made from rolled oats in blender)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1 2/3 cups (10 oz. package) of dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. For oat flour: place about 1 cup of rolled oats into a blender. Blend until oats resemble flour.
  3. Combine both flours, cinnamon, and baking soda into a bowl.
  4. In separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add zucchini, and then slowly add dry mixture. Stir in oats, nuts, and dark chocolate chips.
  5. Place teaspoon-sized cookie dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Leave 2 inches between each cookie.
  6. Bake for 9-11 minutes (I baked the cookies for 11-12 minutes)
  7. Remove from oven and cool cookies on baking sheets for a few minutes. Place cookies on a plate or wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Store in container at room temperature.
  9. Enjoy!
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Apple Butter Banana Bread

Attention, everyone: I have a new banana bread recipe.

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While I am sure all of you are craving something with pumpkin in it right about now, I am all about sharing a recipe with bananas and apples and you have to try. This banana bread is so delicious, and the apple flavor is present but not in any way overpowering. And with no butter and no all-purpose flour, the recipe is pretty good for you too!

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Apple Butter Banana Bread (makes 1 large loaf or 2 mini loaves)

Ingredients:DSCF1017

  • 2 medium-sized bananas (about 3/4 cup worth when smashed)
  • 1.5 cups oat flour (made by blending/food processing rolled oats)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup apple butter (make it at in your slow cooker using 3 ingredients here)
  • 1/4 canola oil
  • chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease baking pan(s).
  2. Mash bananas in a medium-sized bowl. Add the apple butter, oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oat flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture while stirring. Mix until just combined.
  5. Pour banana bread batter into baking pan(s) and top with chocolate chips.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool before enjoying.

Easter Egg Cookies

Happy Easter Everyone!IMG_4285As you can see I have been having a marvelous time today coloring beautiful Easter eggs with my boyfriend and his family. (I can only take credit for the polka dot egg…I know, I know, my craft skills are not particularly Pinterest-worthy).

BUT I can bake cookies!

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Aren’t they cute?

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Let’s get a little closer shall we?

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The inspiration from the recipe is from Marla Meridith over at Family Fresh Cooking. Her recipe is gluten-free, but I decided to make mine with all-purpose flour. I also chilled the dough for a couple of hours before baking. These cookies are dense and filled with chocolate and so adorably perfect for your Easter weekend!

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Easter Egg Cookies (inspired by a recipe from Family Fresh Cooking)

makes about 20 cookies

IngredientsIMG_4282

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package Cadbury Mini Eggs

Directions

  1. Mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  2. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and the vanilla extract and continue blending. Beat ingredients until light and fluffy.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl of butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until mixed together. Gather the dough into a ball, cover in Saran wrap, and chill dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a spoon-full of chilled dough and roll in into a ball. Press dough onto a baking sheet. Leave a few inches between balls of cookie dough. Bake cookies in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. As soon as you remove cookies from the oven, press 2-4 Cadbury Mini Eggs (depending on how many will fit) in the center of the freshly baked cookies. Allow the cookies to cool before removing them from the baking sheet.

M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies

Disclaimer: these cookies are not meant to be healthy. Thus I will not advertise them as such. But goodness gracious are they good!

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I made this delicious batch of goodness following the submission of a paper and it was really the greatest reward I could have given myself. The cookie is soft and chewy and all sorts of chocolatey. The cookie dough also freezes well (I might have frozen half the cookie dough to consume at a later date).

 

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Head on over to Yammie’s Noshery for the recipe, you will be glad you did!

Levain Bakery-esque Peanut Butter Cookies

Apologies for the holiday hiatus! I know you all must have missed me (maybe? anybody? Bueller?). Anyways, now that I am back in the swing of things I am looking back on the past couple weeks and thinking about just how much I benefitted from the break.

Being home for Christmas was definitely the nicest way I could have spent my holiday season. There is nothing like family laughter, home-cooked dinners, and some California sunshine to celebrate a great 2013.

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My sister Corinne and I had a great time catching up over break. With her living big in LA I feel like I never get to see her!

 

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My parents took us to their old date spot…aren’t they just the cutest?

This recipe is inspired by my favorite cookie on Earth: the chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery in New York City. Part cookie, part scone, and completely delicious, this baked good ranks #1 on my list of decadent and calorie-laden splurge items. And my family is a fan of this cookie too.

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I added chocolate chips to this batch…one of many that I made while I was home!

So of course when I was home for the holidays I knew I had to treat my family to something special, and this cookie recipe fit the bill. Inspired by the original mimic recipe by the Brown Eyed Baker, per my family’s request I made some changes. Peanut butter became an obvious addition. And it turned out so well! I made this recipe 3 times in the 1 week I was home. Now I know where I got my sweet tooth from!

Levain Bakery-esque Peanut Butter Cookies (makes 12 Levain-sized cookies)

Ingredients:IMG_3899

  • 2 sticks butter, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips, optional

Directions:

  1. Blend flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, blend butter with an electric mixer until it clumps together. Add peanut butter and sugar and blend together for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Next, add vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, while blending the mixture for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add flour mixture, blending until the cookie dough just comes together. Mix in chocolate chips, if desired. Wrap cookie dough in saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven the 375 degrees Fahrenheit. On a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, form 12 cookies (the cookies do not have to have a perfectly round shape).
  6. Bake cookies in oven for 18-24 minutes (18 minutes if you want your cookies a little on the undercooked side). Remove cookies from the oven and allow them to cool before enjoying!

Personal Apple Crisp

I know I am not the only one who thinks “miniature” versions of regular-sized items are absolutely adorable.

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Doughnut holes taste better than donuts, pigs-in-a-blanket are more irresistible than a hotdog, and mini quiche are impervious to criticism. And who could think to turn down a burger slider? Certainly not me.

The great thing about bite-size portions of food is that they allow you to get a taste for something delicious without having to commit to a whole portion-size of it. And I am a tasty fiend: if there is a buffet I simply must try everything. Small portions of certain “crave-worthy” items is also good for all you people out there trying to battle your sweet or salty tooth. A recent study found that study participants were just as satisfied with a small portion of a delicious food item as they were with an unlimited amount of that item. Why our bodies override this mechanism and let us eat an entire cake, I will aspire to find out, but this result inspired me to try to eat smaller dessert portions (If I am gonna insist on dessert everyday, I need to make it sustainable!). This dessert fits perfectly into that category.

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Personal apple crisp is for all of you apple-cinnamon lovers out there. This recipe has 1 teaspoon of added sugar. The rest of the glorious sweetness in this dessert comes from the natural flavor of a Granny Smith apple. It tastes delicious and looks adorable. I can imagine they would make a great dessert option for the Thanksgiving table.

Personal Apple Crisp (makes 1)

IngredientsIMG_3799

  • 1 apple (Granny Smith recommended)
  • 2 Tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Carefully cut an opening in the top of your apple and core it. For this step, I used a spoon to carefully remove the inner part of the apple, making sure not to puncture the sides of the apple.
  2. Place apple pieces in a small bowl and mix with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  3. Mix together oats, flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon until it forms a crumbly mixture.
  4. Stuff apple with apple/cinnamon mixture and then top with crumbly crisp topping.
  5. Bake apple in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes
  6. Enjoy!

My new neighbor and I make Banana & Twix scones

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So what do you do when one of your closest friends suddenly becomes your neighbor? You hang out all of the time, of course!

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My college friend Shannon just moved down the street from me, which means I have a new running partner/baking buddy. Essentially, life just got infinitely more awesome.

Shannon and I have a lot in common, and one of the most important things is our mutual love for scones. Scones are perfection in the baking world: slightly sweet and the perfect companion for your hot tea or coffee. We already knew we liked banana scones, but adding the Twix pieces just took scones to another decadent level. It’s the perfect way to use up that leftover Halloween candy!

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Banana & Twix Scones (makes 6-8 big scones, or 12 smaller scones)

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup chopped up Twix candy bars

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon until combined.
  3. Add butter and using your fingers, a fork or a pastry blender mix it together and combine until the butter forms  little crumbs.
  4. Make a crater in the center and add in buttermilk, vanilla extract and bananas. Mix with a large spoon until a dough forms and comes together – it will be sticky! Add in your Twix. Cover your counter and hands with flour or you will have a big sticky mess on your hand (literally).
  5. Divide the dough in half and pat it into 6-inch circles on the floured surface. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges, then place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.