Healthy and Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I love blogs with beautiful photos of ridiculous things I might not ever make.  But truth be told, sometimes I want to see recipes I’ll actually make.

So recently, while I was brainstorming ideas for Peanut Butter & Co.’s Peanut Butter/Oat extravaganza, I decided to share a recipe I make all the time.

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I have an enormous sweet tooth.  I want to eat cake every single day.

No really.  Every. Single. Day.

But I also want to be healthy.  So sometimes I make compromises and find ways to tone down my sweet tooth and still be satisfied.

Peanut Butter + Oats + Banana is the perfect way to do it.  They’re not terribly sweet, but they do the job when I want a big fat cookie without all the extra fat and sugar.

Peanut Butter and Co. teamed up with Bob’s Red Mill to do what they are calling #Oatober.  I love both oats and peanut butter, so I couldn’t help but participate.

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I seriously made these cookies every other week in some variation or another.  Today I’m sharing an oatmeal, raisin, date inspired cookie, but I’m thinking I’ll try a pumpkin version later this month.

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Healthy and Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter
2 cups of oats, blended in a food processor
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
5 dates, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  You’ll get a thick dough.  Form dough into balls and flatten slightly to form a cookie shape.

Lay cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden on the bottoms.  Allow to cool and serve!

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That’s it.  They’re super easy and perfect with a cup of tea.  I really do make them all the time.  Sometimes I omit the chocolate chips.  Sometimes I do raisins.  I also tried making this with Peanut Butter and Co’s new Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and they were all sorts of awesome!

What’s your favorite Peanut Butter/Oat Combo?

 

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Macaron Making: I Promise It’s Not Scary

I’ve started wedding planning and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if the word wedding is attached, it’s automatically expensive.

Cakes. Flowers. Dessert tables. Photographers. Dresses. Shoes. Invitations.

All of it = $$$$

So with dollar signs looming over my head, I’m going through a phase where anything I buy seems outrageously expensive, and I want to make everything myself.  While I don’t plan on having french macarons at my wedding, they’ve always been something I thought was ridiculously expensive.macarons1

$2+ a pop is too much for el cheap-o over here.

I was determined to make them myself but never got around to it.  I had tried a few times before and failed.  One time they turned out like meringues (with a little peak).  Another time, they just crumbled and fell flat.  After some research and reading, they turned out great.

These cookies are delicate and delicious.  I can see why they’re so pricey, but honestly, you can make them at home on your own.  They take some time, because they require a lot of sitting, but the active amount of work is actually minimal.

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Basic French Macarons

from All Recipes

100g egg whites
50g white granulated sugar
100g powdered sugar
110g almond flour, finely ground
Food coloring of choice (optional)
Filling of choice*

Weigh out your egg whites and allow your eggs to get to room temperature.  100g of eggs was a tiny bit less than 3 egg whites.  Yes, I was neurotic and weighed out exactly 100g.  I think this was part of my success.

While your egg whites get to room temperature, weigh out your remaining ingredients and set aside.  Sift together the powdered sugar and almond flour, set aside.

Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites.  Once they start to foam, slowly stream in the granulated.  Continue to beat until they reach soft peaks.  Try not to over mix and get firm peaks.  Soft peaks are good! They tip of the peak will fall over to the side a bit.

Fold the almond flour and powdered sugar into the egg whites, along with a few drops of any food coloring you’d like (I used a few drops of red to get a bright pink).  Keep turning/folding until it’s all incorporated, but you don’t want to overmix it.  Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a round tip, then get your baking sheets ready.

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  If you want you can draw circles using a bottle cap so that your cookies are all the same size, I did that at first, then I just eyeballed it and it turned out fine.   You want the parchment paper to be fitted exactly to the baking sheet so it can be completely flat.

Then start piping.  Pipe some frosting onto the baking sheet.  They’ll spread a bit so leave an inch or two between each one.  Once you’ve piped enough to fill your sheet, lift the baking sheet and lightly slam it on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.  Then continue piping onto another baking sheet until you run out of batter (this recipe makes about 24 macarons, so for me that was 3 baking sheets full of cookies).  Let the unbaked cookies sit out on the counter for an hour.

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Then preheat the oven to 275F.  Bake 10-14 minutes.  This is where it might get tricky.  My first batch was underbaked and completely stuck to the parchment paper.  The second batch, I baked a few minutes longer (13 minutes) and they turned out great.

Once you take the macarons out of the oven, transfer the parchment paper with all the macarons on to a cooling rack so they can cool completely (you can put them in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process).  After the cookies have cooled completely you can assemble them!

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*For my filling, I used a simple chocolate frosting recipe, because I wanted to get the basics and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand.  Later I’ll try experimenting with different fillings, but I wanted something quick and easy.  And so, I used the Hershey’s Chocolate Frosting Recipe.

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Chocolate Buttercream Filling

adapted from Hershey’s Chocolate Frosting

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/6 cup coffee (or milk)
Melt butter and mix with cocoa powder.  Using a mixer, beat in powdered sugar, a bit at a time, alternating with coffee until all ingredients are incorporated.  Beat a few more minutes until fluffy, then set aside.

Now assemble the macarons by spreading some frosting (or other filling of choice) on one cookie then putting together like a sandwich.

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Then ta-da! You have 24 beautiful macarons!  That wasn’t too scary, right?

Overall, in the macaron-making process, I learned a few key things…

Tips for Making Macarons:
  1. Sift the ingredients (and make sure you buy extra fine almond flour).  I hate sifting ingredients but these cookies are so light that it’s a must.  If you buy the almond flour at Sprouts in the bulk food section, it’s not fine enough.  I’ve tried.  Get the Bob’s Red Mill one.
  2.  Let the batter sit a bit before piping it.  I found that my last batch turned out the best, so I’m chalking that up to the fact that it sat the longest in the piping bag (a few hours really) and sat for about an hour and a half on the counter before baking (because I was working and forgot about them).
  3. You need to let them rest for 1 hour after you pipe them onto the baking sheet.  When they sit, they smooth out and develop that nice coat.  Let them chill.
  4. If you underbake your macarons, they’ll stick to the parchment paper.   It depends on your oven and the size of your cookies. Figuring out when the macarons were ready to come out of the over took some guess work.  They have to look set, but not browned.  If this is your first time, I recommending each baking sheet separately in case one gets messed up, there are still two others for you to try with.  I ended up baking mine for 13 minutes, and that was the magic number.  But remember, every oven is different and your macarons might be bigger than mine.

I’m excited to try to make different flavors now.  I’m a big believer in mastering the basics before moving on to more extravagant things or tweaking recipes.  I had a lemon macaron from Lette Macarons that basically changed my view of macarons.  I must try to recreate it!

Have you tried making macarons? or are you just an eater? What’s your favorite macaron flavor?

Almond Joy Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Second #C2CCS

Hi friends! I’ve been on the DL the past few weeks.  I’m in a sort of blogging/life rut, so I had been taking a bit of a break.  Luckily, I have some blogger friends to help get me out of the rut.

One of my favorite parts of blogging is getting to know people.  I know it sounds silly and cliche, but I’ve made a few real life friends as a result of blogging.  Real life friends are amazing (looking at you Allison and Samantha), but it’s also great to make friends online, especially when they motivate you to bake treats and send you some.

You might remember last year, I made some Molasses Ginger Apricot Cookies?  Then I sent those cookies to some ladies and they sent me some cookies back and we called it the Coast to Coast Cookie Swap.  Well here is the second installment of that! Because isn’t sending your friends cookies a good idea?  It is!

Planning what kinds of cookies to send to other foodie/cookie lovers is hard.  I brainstormed for a while and these cookies turned up by mistake.  I wanted to make some cookies for a coworker who was doing an awesome job.  I liked them so much I decided they needed to happen again.  I’ve actually made these cookies three times in the past two weeks.

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Trust me.  They’re worth it.

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In exchange for these cookies, I received a few goodies in the mail:

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White Chip Cranberry Cookies from Natalie

Delicious Spiced Cookies from Coco

Take 5 Cookies from Jazzy

Additionally, Allison made some Grain Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies that I wish I got to try!

Let’s be honest, exchanging cookies (or all baked goods in general) is an amazing idea.  You should try it.  Start by making these and sharing them with your friends.

Almond Joy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick of butter
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4-1/2 cup roasted coconut chips
1/4-1/2 cup honey roasted sliced almonds

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add 1 egg, then vanilla and continue to be beat for about a minute.  Add in flour mixture.  Mix until almost combined. Fold in chocolate chips, coconut and almonds until dough is just combined.  Be careful not to overmix the dough, if not you’ll get flat cookies!

Place dough in the freezer while oven preheats to 350F.

Once oven has pre-heated, form dough into walnut sized balls.  Place on parchment paper-lined pan and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until golden around the edges.

After a few minutes, transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely then share with a friend and enjoy!

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What’s your favorite cookie to share with a friend?

 

P.S. Sharing cookies is awesome, but baking with a friend is even more fun!  Check out these Salted Caramel Eclairs I made with Sam at the Little Ferraro Kitchen!

Molasses Ginger Apricot Cookies and The Coast-to-Coast Cookie Swap

One of the best things about having a blog is making new friends.  There are the kind you meet in real life, that also happen to live down the road from you.  But then there are the online ones.  You have crazy obsession with cookies, doughnuts and the best combination of flavors for that new sandwich you want to try.

I mean who else is going to understand that it’s REALLY important that you try adding herbs to your lemon cookies?  Or how you absolutely NEED to recreate that recipe you tried at some restaurant you went to last weekend?

These things are important. And other food blogger friends can truly appreciate that.  Because sometimes I need to send cookies to people, I teamed up with some bloggers for our very first The Coast-to-Coast Cookie Swap.

Since I was sending cookies to bloggers, I knew they had to be good.  Because of that, I tried to recreate my favorite cookie

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We made cookies and sent them to each other.  It was pretty great!

Who Participated:

Allison from Sweet Potato Bites (aka my crossfit/running buddy) with her Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

Natalie from In Natalie’s Shoes with her Amazing Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Coco from Urban Chick’s Foodie Ventures with her Peach Cobbler Cookies <— LOVED

Jazzy with her Lemon Blueberry Cookies (Link to come!)

 

My contribution to the bunch:

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Molasses-Ginger Apricot Cookies

1 stick of butter + 2 tbsp (10 tbsp total)
1 cup sugar (plus extra for rolling)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (for rolling)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together butter and 1 cup sugar using a stand or hand mixer.  Beat in molasses and egg until fluffy.  In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Just before ingredients are combine, fold in apricot pieces.

Form dough into 1 inch balls and roll in turbinado sugar (note: you can use any sugar, but turbinado sugar is thicker so it looks pretty!).  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool  and serve!  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Clearly, I’m a big fan of ginger and molasses year round, not just for Fall/Winter.

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All the cookies were delicious!  It was cool to see what the other ladies chose to make, and also to make new friends.  And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love getting packages?

Thanks to Jazzy, Natalie, Coco and Allison for participating in the Coast to Coast Cookie Swap!  I can’t wait to do it again!

 

If you were making cookies for your favorite bloggers, what kind would you make?

Delicious Snickerdoodles

A few weeks ago, I realized I eat salads pretty much every day for lunch and for a minute that depressed me.  When you work in an office full of people who buy delicious smelling take-out everyday, eating a salad with some sort of protein, olive oil and lemon daily gets a bit depressing.  Really it’s all a question of comparison.

But then I remember all the reasons I eat salads: health, tastiness, cost-effectiveness and of course, vanity– salads keep me in shape.

But that got me thinking: if I were a “naturally thin” person would I eat out all the time? Would I still go to crossfit?

I posed this question to my friend and her response was “But you love salads! You ate them every single day in school.”

Umm yeah, no.  I’ve deluded myself (and led others) to believe that I love salad.  I like salads just fine, but I don’t love salad.  I love cookies. And pie.

But I make myself eat salad.  Because being an adult means doing things you don’t love in the name of health.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  So I eat a ton of vegetables and I go to crossfit.  I genuinely enjoy crossfit but I also genuinely enjoy my bed at 5:20am when my alarm goes off.

Vegetables and exercise are important.  But let’s also remember that women cannot live on vegetables alone (although I know many try).  Sometimes we just need a dang cookie.  So I have one for you today.

This isn’t my recipe, but it’s a recipe that is awesome so I have to share it with you. If you’re looking for an awesome snickerdoodle recipe, look no further.  I’ve got you covered.

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Delicious Snickerdoodles

adapted from All Recipes

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Cream together butter, shortening and 3/4 cup sugar.  Beat until fluffy.   Add egg and vanilla and beat another minute.  Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and beat until just combined.  

On a plate, combine 2 tbsp sugar with cinnamon.  Roll dough into walnut sized balls and roll into cinnamon/sugar mixture. Repeat until you get 24 dough balls delicioussnickerdoodles2

Lay dough balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet a few inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Remove from baking sheets and allow to cool.  Serve and enjoy!  This will make about 2 dozen cookies.

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Remember that vegetables are healthy eats are super important in life, but there’s also room for cookies.  So don’t forget to have one of those occasionally too.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie?  I recently discovered this Molasses cookie with Apricot Chunks from Blackmarket Bakery that I’m in looooove with. I must try to recreate it soon.

New Years Resolutions or Why I Won’t Be Making Any This Year

This morning I woke up and felt fat.   So I went through every fad diet in my mind and for about 5 minutes resolved to be a vegan, paleo, juice cleanser who Crossfits and runs marathons in 2014.

Then I walked back into reality and decided that’s just dumb.

Every so often I feel the need to make drastic changes in my diet and time and time again it all reverts back to the same thing: don’t eat so much and move yourself.  The beginning of the year is the perfect time to pine over diets and dream about the possibilities of being skinny if we just cut out a few major food groups.

Everyone is in diet mode and we all decide we’re going to never eat another cookie again our lives.  Then we go on Pinterest, see this photo

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and get hungry and eat 15 cookies.  So let’s just skip that part and just try to be healthy.

That’s my resolution (slightly rephrased): eat when hungry, stop when full, move yourself.

But resolutions aside, I do have some goals for this New Year.  In 2014, I’d like to:

  1. Be able to do at least 1 unassisted pull-up and 10 unbroken double unders.
  2. Read at least 14 books.  Currently reading: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris.  Enjoyable. Up next will probably be: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling.  After that… who knows.  But I took a step in the right direction and made a Good Reads account.
  3. Make cheese (something I said I would do last year but did only once).
  4. And bread! All sorts of bread would be fun!
    ChallahLike I used to! Challah! (lame pun intended)
  5. Go on vacation again.  Now is the time to travel. Peru and China were awesome the past two years.  I’d love to go to Thailand, Costa Rica, or Jamaica.  But I guess I’d compromise on this goal and save money instead.  We’ll see…

What are your goals for 2014?

Gingerbread Cookies

Let’s let the cookie obsession continue with Gingerbread Cookies!

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As a kid, Christmas cookies weren’t really a tradition during the holidays for us. I think I remember my sister setting out cookies for Santa with me once, but I might be making that up in my head. I know Christmas cookie decorating is a normal thing in most households, but it didn’t really happen in mine. That’s what happens when you have immigrant parents, I guess?

But this year, since cookies are all the rage in my world, I decided to go all out and make Gingerbread cookies.

Allison from Sweet Potato Bites had a cookie party at her house, so I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to make them for.

I baked them in advance and made royal icing at her house for decorating.

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I spent a long time researching Gingerbread recipes, but I found this one from All Recipes to be best.  As usual, I made a few changes to the recipe, so here’s my version:

Gingerbread Cookies

adapted from All Recipes

3 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup almond milk (or water)

In a medium bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl (or in a stand mixer bowl), cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Beat in some of the dry ingredients and then some molasses, maple syrup and almond milk, alternating wet and dry ingredients until all combined.   Chill the dough for a few hours (I made this a day in advance and chilled the dough over night).

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Once you’re ready to make cookies, pre-heat oven to 350F.  On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Using your cookie butters of choice, cut out desired shape and place on a parchment paper lined baking dish.  Place a few inches apart on the sheet as they cookies expand a tiny bit when they bake.

Bake 8-10 minutes (this will vary depending on the type of cookie cutter you use and the size.)  Once they’re golden on the edges, they’re ready.  Don’t overbake them or they’ll be hard.  Allow to cool completely, then decorate with royal icing.

Gingerbreadmen1I had never decorated cookies with Royal Icing before.  I’m going to try it a few more times, really perfect it then do a blog post on it.

That means I’ll be making these cookies again.  I really liked these cookies because they weren’t hard.  The ones in an air tight container stayed soft for over 5 days.  However, if you like crunch gingerbread cookies, just leave these out a little longer to harden and you’ll get crunch cookies!

I have some ideas for the next Christmas cookies to make, but if you have a great recipe to share, please share it in the comments!