Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I just wanted to share an alternative to this White Chocolate Cranberry cookie. Just follow the recipe the same way, but substitute chopped up dried cherries for the cranberries and semisweet chocolate chunks for the white chocolate. It makes for a really yummy flavor combination!

Food on the Table

To me, white chocolate and cranberry are food soul mates. They just belong together. And they make for perfect Christmas treat bedfellows. You can make just about any dessert white chocolate-cranberry and not only would people love it, but it would look super festive on any table or cookie tray.

These are just a twist on a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe which I usually adapt from Nestle.

Fun Fact: The chocolate chip cookie was invented by a woman named Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938. She owned a restaurant called the Toll House Inn. During WWII, soldiers from Massachusettes (where the Toll House Inn was located), shared the chocolate chip cookies from their care packages with other soldiers. Soon they were requesting them from their families who then inundated Ms. Wakefield with requests for her recipe! After her recipe became so popular, she contacted Nestle and struck a deal: they…

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Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies (Poland/Eastern Europe/Sweden)

I had plans to bake this weekend. Big plans! But as usual, other commitments got in the way and I got off to a late start. Tomorrow will be a baking extravaganza, but for today, I got started with my Rocky Road Fudge and these thumbprint cookies. 

Thumbprint cookies may not necessarily be strictly part of a holiday culture, but they don make great holiday cookies because they are so pretty to look at and the flavor combinations can vary greatly. 

There is some dispute about where these cookies actually come from. Some say they originate from Poland, some say they were the creation of Eastern European Jews. Others still say they are a variation of the Swedish cookie Hallongrotta which translates to “raspberry cave” because of the placement of the jam.

Thumbprint cookies are named because you form the dough and use your thumb to create a divot where the filling goes. Fillings are usually jam but can really be anything.

For this particular recipe, I took the easy way out. I don’t know about you, but my schedule tends to get packed around this time of year and making multiple batches of cookies and treats makes me want to take some shortcuts here and there. That’s why these are so perfect.

I simply made a variation on cake mix cookies

I used 1 box of chocolate cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and an extra 1/4 cup of flour. Mix together until combined. 

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use your thumb to lightly press the balls down. Since these aren’t normal thumbprint cookies, the indent won’t actually stay, but the slight flattening is what you want anyway.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes.

While they are still warm, press in a peppermint Kiss. They will start to melt, but leave them alone and as they cool, the Kisses will solidify again.

This is a fun job for the kiddos.

I made 2 dozen cookies in about 30 minutes this way and they taste delicious so no one will know that you took a shortcut. But even if they did, no one would care.

They would just ask for more! 

Healthy Cookie Dough Bites

Warning: The following recipe is absolutely, 100%, seriously addicting. I got this recipe from a friend who raved about it on her Instagram (she doesn’t have a blog or anything to link to, but you can search #lifeonlomarecipes. She has this one and many of her other delicious creations there). 

When I first saw her post this, my initial thought was “Yeah, right. How could this possibly be good?” Then she kept making it over and over. Then other people started saying they had made it and that it was truly that good. 

I couldn’t figure it out. Healthy cookie dough bites? Really? How could these ingredients even work together? (You’ll see what I mean.) Anyway, I finally gave in and tried it out. I had all the ingredients I needed in my pantry so I set to it. 

You. Guys. I kid you not, these are amazing. Seriously. They are just as addicting as I was told and they taste EXACTLY LIKE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH!!!! I’m glad they are full of healthy ingredients, because I was nabbing bites every time I walked by the fridge. I even had a few friends try them to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind. 

My advice: Make these. Make them now and make them often. Keep some in your house and give some as gifts (the holidays are coming up soon!). You won’t regret it.

Now, without further ado, here is the recipe:

1 can (15oz) of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup peanut butter

2T honey

1 ½ t vanilla

Pinch of salt

Mini chocolate chips

Regular chocolate chips (optional)

What’s that you say? That’s it? That’s all that’s in this recipe? Yes. That’s it. These seemingly unrelated ingredients will come together to make perfect harmony. Trust me.

In a food processor, mix up your chickpeas until smooth. My food processor is really small, so I only used it for the chickpeas. If you have a bigger food processor, you could probably just put all the ingredients in there and save yourself a dish.

 

Once the chickpeas are all smooth, pour them into a bowl with the peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.

 

Add the mini chocolate chips and mix well.

 

Scoop out the “cookie dough” and form into 1” balls (or whatever size you want, actually). I was bad and didn’t really measure my ingredients very well. The end result was fine, but my “dough” was a little wetter than it was supposed to be so I couldn’t really roll it quite right. It was still fine, but next time it would be better to measure a bit more accurately.

 

Once your balls are all formed, freeze for about 10-30 minutes. Melt some chocolate and coat the balls in the chocolate. Freeze or refrigerate until set.

 

This last part is optional. I did it on half of mine. The other half, I just dipped the bottom half into chocolate. They are both amazing, but I actually preferred the ones that were only partially dipped. 

These babies are full of fiber and protein. The little sugar from the chocolate chips is fine. Also, you could probably swap them out for cocoa nibs and be even healthier if you wanted. You could probably also substitute the peanut butter for any sort of nut or seed butter you like. You could add oatmeal or even switch out the extract. I feel like these could be customized in a ton of different ways.

 

Chocolate, Banana, Coconut Greek Yogurt 

I’m a big snack person. When I first heard that it is actually recommended that you eat 6 small meals throughout the day instead of just 3 main meals, I was pretty ecstatic. Of course it took me awhile to get it down so I was doing it right (cookies and chips are not what they are talking about here, unfortunately), but still. Dieticians are saying to eat more often? You got it. I’m so there.
 It’s also good to have one of these snacks after a workout. A good post-workout snack has a both a good source of carbs and a protein because you need to replenish the energy you just expended and you need to help repair and recover the muscles you just worked. Plus, your body is still burning calories for a while after you work out, so you won’t be “undoing” anything you just burned. 

This snack was inspired by a picture I saw online, but I don’t remember where (sorry! I’m not trying to steal ideas here!), but it was actually really delicious. Like, you could make this a post-workout snack or a post-breakfast snack or a Tuesday-afternoon snack or a trick-your-kids-into-eating something-healthy snack or an anytime-you-damn-well-feel-like-it snack. It’s healthy and delicious and you will likely want to add it to your routine, whether you work out or not. 

This is for one person, so you can adjust accordingly. This is only about 175 calories (you could do less nut butter if you want to lower this number, since that’s where most of the calories in this snack come from). You use so few of the coconut chips and the nibs, you don’t even have to worry about what they add. 

¼ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt

½ banana, sliced

1 tablespoon peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)

A few Coconut chips*

A small amount of Cacao nibs*

*I know, I know; the technical measurements here are really on-point.

Let’s pretend I didn’t forget to put the peanut butter in this picture…


In a bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt and the peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice). You may notice in the picture below that I didn’t do this. It just makes it easier to mix together before all the other stuff goes in. Then add the sliced bananas and sprinkle a few coconut chips crumbled up and some cacao nibs over the top.

Done! 

**Notes:

1. I found these coconut chips at Trader Joe’s. I’m pretty sure you can get them or a similar product at most grocery stores. Coconut is sort of the It Girl of the food world right now so you can find products everywhere. 

2. Cacao nibs are a raw, pure form of chocolate, made from the crushed dried cocoa bean. Pretty much, they are nature’s chocolate chip. They have a deep chocolate flavor and a little goes a long way. Texture-wise, they sort of remind me of Buncha Crunch (remember those? Do they even still make those anymore?)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I have a friend from high school who is now the owner of a very successful bakery. Seriously, her stuff is amazing. If I were her, I’d probably weigh about 1000 pounds just from samples of her dreamy cookies and cupcakes. Which is probably why she’s such a health nut.

It’s really funny, actually, because even though she runs a bakery, she is so in tuned to her and her family’s health. Her Instagram photos from her bakery account are chock full of cupcakes and cookies and chocolate and frosting and mini pies and sweets galore. Her personal Instagram is chock full of her cute kids and all the healthy, organic, good-for-you foods you can imagine. It’s quite the dichotomy. 

The food she makes always looks so yummy, so I try to remember and make mental notes. She recently posted about making chocolate peanut butter ice cream from an organic food blog she reads. That was all I needed to hear. Chocolate and Peanut Butter? Ice cream? And, knowing my friend, good for you? I’m in. 

I finally had a free afternoon, so I decided to try a couple new recipes I’d been eyeing: honey roasted chickpeas and this ice cream. The roasted chickpeas were a total bust. I thought they were going to turn out a lot different than they did and I just really didn’t like the texture. So, sorry, no crispy chickpea recipe from me. But then I made this ice cream, which was super easy and turned out SOOOOO Good!! And my kids loved it! 

You will need an ice cream maker for this recipe, but even if you don’t have one, you should think about getting one. They have lots of varieties that run the size and price range gamut. Homemade ice cream just blows the store-bought stuff out of the water. It had been awhile since I’d made some myself, and doing this made me want to make it more often. Plus, it’s a lot of fun for the kids. They love watching it come together.

This recipe is adapted from Deliciously Organic 

1 can coconut milk (I used lite, but I’ll bet if you used full fat, it would be even creamier)

¼ cup cocoa powder

½ cup honey

½ cup smooth peanut butter (I used the all-natural kind)

In a saucepan, mix together the coconut milk, cocoa powder, and honey over medium heat until combined well and the mixture comes to a simmer.

Remove from heat and add ½ of the peanut butter. Mix into the coconut milk mixture until well combined.  


Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the mixture through it into a bowl. Cover the bowl tightly and put in the fridge for about 2 hours.

When ready, freeze the mixture according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. This wasn’t in the recipe, but while the ice cream was mixing and getting thick and ice creamy, I drizzled in the rest of the peanut butter in an attempt to get a peanut butter swirl in the final product. I think I put it in too soon because it just ended up getting mixed into the ice cream, so it was delicious, but not swirly.

If you choose not to do this, just add all the peanut butter at the same time in the earlier step.

Pour the finished ice cream into a container and let it set up in the freezer for about an hour or so before serving. It will still be soft.

The kiddos LOVED it!

If you are going to serve it the next day, I would suggest taking it out of the freezer for a little bit before you plan on serving it because it will get hard. Based on the texture from it being in the freezer overnight, I would think this mixture would make excellent popsicles.

Black Bean Brownies

Let me guess. The title of this post made you think I was crazy? Thought so. I thought I was crazy at first too, but I promise you all, Black Bean Brownies are totally a thing. 

I’m not a huge health food stickler and I am about as far from a granola mom as you can get, but I’ve been really looking into eating cleaner and removing unnecessary things from my life. That includes my food. I figure, if we (my family and I) eat cleaner and healthier the majority of the time, it won’t be as bad when we do go get a cheeseburger or a slice of pizza every once in a while.

So I began my research and in doing so discovered black bean brownies. At first I was super skeptical. I mean, how good could they be? They are made out of black beans, for crying out loud. But, I figured if they worked out, I’ve figured out a way to make brownies with no flour or butter and get extra fiber and protein into my kids. 

I’m so glad I stuck with it and made the brownies. They turned out delicious! And my kids loved them! They don’t even know they are full of beans!

I couldn’t really find any one recipe that I loved so I made my own. The whole thing makes 16 brownies at 160 calories a piece. There is still regular sugar in the brownies, but I’m not really very familiar with sugar substitutes yet. I did do a little research and you don’t really save too many calories on something like Agave syrup vs. Regular sugar. Everything in moderation.

I would definitely recommend making these. They are perfectly cakey and chocolatey. You would never guess they had beans in them. They are a great way to get added nutrients into your day, especially the kids. 

Black Bean Brownies

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 eggs

1 T coconut oil

¾ cup sugar

½ t salt

1 t baking powder

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided (you could use cocoa nibs too and save even more calories)

In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except the chocolate chips until smooth.

Gently stir in ½ the chips and pour into an 8×8 greased baking dish. Top with the rest of the chocolate chips and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Italian Love Cake 

I first saw this cake on Valerie Bertinelli’s cooking show on Food Network. It looked really good when she made it, so I saved the recipe to my Pinterest board and then, as with most Pinterest pins, promptly forgot all about it. 

When it came time to make a meal for my friends who just had their baby, I found myself going with an Italian theme (lasagna, Caesar salad, garlic bread). I wanted to make dessert too and randomly this cake popped into my head. 

Valerie called it “Sicilian Love Cake” on her show so I thought “Perfect. An Italian cake to go with the Italian dinner!” Well, when I Googled “Sicilian Love Cake” all I got was Valerie’s recipe. I did find a few others for “Italian Love Cake” so I assumed that she just tweaked the name a little because she’s Sicilian. I changed my Google search accordingly and as it turns out, there is no real reason why this cake is called Italian Love Cake. It just is. Maybe because of the ricotta and mascarpone? Italian cheeses = Italian cake? 

That reminds me of a funny-ish story. Growing up, my mom used to make these things called Tamale Buns. They were a recipe from her grandmother and they are delicious. They sound really weird and you will think I’m completely off my rocker, but I promise they are really good: It’s dinner rolls carved out into little vessels. The filling is a mix of tomato soup, corn kernels, diced green chiles, chopped hard-boiled egg, and cheese. This is all baked in the oven. I know, I know. Report me to the foodie police, it sounds bizarre, but I promise it’s good. Anyway, the point of me bringing it up is that apparently, my great grandmother, being the small-town Utah woman she was, called them Tamale buns because they had green chiles in them. Chiles = Mexican = Tamales. Insert eye roll here. That’s what I thought of when I read why this cake is called Italian Love cake. 

Italian cheese = Italian cake

Green chiles = Mexican meal 

All settled on how that works? Good. 

This cake is really simple and it looked really yummy. Since I was giving it to friends, I couldn’t have a piece myself, but I did lick the spatula when I made the frosting, and OMG!!!! You guys, it was heavenly. I think it may be my new go-to chocolate frosting for anything. Cookies, cakes, eating off the spoon. Anything.

Sicilian Love Cake by Valerie Bertinelli

As found on FoodNetwork.com 

CAKE:

1 box chocolate cake mix, plus the ingredients called for in the directions 

MASCARPONE-RICOTTA FILLING 

28 oz ricotta cheese

4 oz mascarpone

3 eggs

¾ cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt 

COCOA-MASCARPONE FROSTING 

10 oz mascarpone

1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)

1 box instant chocolate pudding mix (3.9 oz)

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat the oven according the directions on the cake mix. Prep the cake batter according the directions on the box and pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Set aside. (Don’t bake it yet).

Make the filling: Combine the ricotta, mascarpone, eggs, sugar, and salt in a mixer and whisk until smooth. Gently pour the filling onto the top of the chocolate cake batter so the top is completely white. Maybe I didn’t do mine “gently” enough, but the top of my cake batter was not completely white. Not even close. The idea is when you bake the cake, the cheese filling settles to the bottom and make a layer. According to my friends who ate it, it worked, so I guess it was fine how I did it.

Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the chocolate layer has risen to the top, about 50-60 minutes. Let the cake cool completely.

Make the frosting: Whisk together the mascarpone, milk, chocolate pudding mix, and sugar until smooth. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the cake and serve.

Again, I’m sorry I don’t have a final picture of the cake showing the layers, but I was told this one was delicious too! There is a nice photo on the Food Network site though!

And take my word for it… make a little extra frosting!