This post is dedicated to my wonderful mother, Debbie. My mom loves all things red velvet – especially the cake – and I thought these cookies were a fun spin-off of one of her favorite desserts.
I’ve always known how fortunate I am to have such an amazing mother. She’s the most caring, generous, and loving person I’ve ever known and I was lucky to realize this at a young age. While others were embarrassed to be seen with their moms in their preteen or teenage years, I always loved to spend time with her and would gladly accompany her to the grocery store or other errands. During my college years and now that I’ve moved away from home, I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like, but I make sure to visit home every few weeks to hang out with her.
Isn’t she so cute?!
My mother has given me and taught me so much. She has always been 100% supportive of my hobbies and interests and has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. She’s been especially supportive of my interest in cooking and blogging and even came up with the name for this blog! She is my best friend in many ways and I can only hope that someday I’ll be half the mother she is. I am so thankful to have the relationship that we do and I couldn’t ask for a better mom. Love you mom!
Anyway, onto the cookies. This recipe were inspired by these Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies on Cooking Classy. I found this recipe through foodgawker last year and saved it because it looked like something my mom would like. In fact, I have a whole folder of recipes to make for her someday. I decided to stick with my go-to cookie recipe, because I like that it uses just one stick of butter and the large proportion of brown sugar makes them extra chewy. These cookies are incredibly rich with a nice vanilla flavor, a hint of cocoa, and sweet white chocolate chips. They would also be perfect for Valentine’s Day or Christmas!
I read that you can adapt any cookie recipe to make red velvet cookies, so long as you remember to take away as much flour as cocoa powder that you add. For example, if you’re adding 3 Tbsp of cocoa powder, subtract 3 Tbsp of flour from the recipe. It’s also a good idea to cut back on the amount of sugar a bit because these cookies are very decadent.
Red Velvet Cookies
makes 2 dozen cookies
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg, whisked
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp red food coloring
- 1 3/4 cup minus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (also equivalent to 1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbsp)
- 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- optional: 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together. Stir in egg, vanilla extract, and red food coloring until uniform.
- In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and optional cinnamon. Whisk together and combine with butter/sugar mixture. Stir just until incorporated and fold in white chocolate chips.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 24.* Once your dough is cool, preheat your oven to 300ºF.
- Roll the dough into roughly 1 inch balls (or a heaping tablespoon) and place on a very lightly greased or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until center looks firm. I found that mine were perfect after 12 minutes. Serve with a glass of milk and enjoy
*Refrigerating the dough isn’t necessary to the recipe, but I like to do this because baking dough that’s been firmed in the fridge yields thicker, chewier cookies.
The other day I was browsing foodgawker and noticed how many carrot cake recipes were popping up. I’ve personally never associated carrot cake with Easter, but apparently many others do. All of a sudden I found myself craving carrot cake and began saving any recipes that looked good to me.
Of course I wanted my carrot cake to be lighter than your average slice, which can contain anywhere from 500 to 1000 calories – eek. I also decided I wanted them to be in the form of cupcakes or muffins. I found this Carrot Cake Cupcakes recipe on Baked by Rachel and thought it looked perfect. Since I slightly cut back on the amount of sugar and eliminated the frosting, I chose to call my version muffins rather than cupcakes.
These muffins have all of the flavor of traditional carrot cake, but at a fraction of the calories. I swapped out white flour for whole wheat flour and used honey instead of granulated sugar. They use applesauce and canola oil to keep them moist, rather than butter. One muffin has just 132 calories, 3.2 grams of fat, and 24.3 g carbs. This recipe makes just 6 muffins, but you can easily double it. They make a perfect afternoon snack or even breakfast!
Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins
adapted from Carrot Cake Cupcakes on Baked by Rachel
makes 6 muffins
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup finely grated carrots (about 2 carrots)
- 1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together applesauce, oil, honey, vanilla extract, and your egg. Stir in grated carrots.
- In a separate small mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon listed above). Whisk together to make sure all is well-incorporated, and stir into wet ingredients just until combined.
- Carefully spoon batter into your greased muffin tin. Fill each about 3/4 of the way full, almost to the top. Bake for 19-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving and enjoy
Start by grating your carrots if you haven’t already done so.
Whisk together the applesauce, canola oil, egg, vanilla extract, and gently stir in shredded carrots.
Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until combined.
Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tin, filling each about 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees for 19-21 minutes.
The muffins are done when a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.
Coconut seems to be one of those things that people either love or hate. Though I can understand why some dislike coconut, I happen to fall into the category of loving it. Over the past year or so I’ve grown to love all things coconut: shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut oil – you name it. The only time I dislike the flavor of coconut is in coconut rum, bleh. Keep that stuff away from me.
Since making those Chewy Biscoff Granola Bars earlier this year, I have become obsessed with homemade granola bars. I’ve been making them 2-3 times a month, trying out all sorts of recipes. Coconut oil has become a staple in my granola bar-making process. It makes the bars wonderfully chewy, with a small hint of coconut. I briefly wrote about the benefits of coconut oil in a post back in February, but if you’re interested in learning more, click here!
Though I adored the Biscoff granola bars, and also using peanut butter or other nut butters in my granola bars, I started searching for a slightly lighter recipe with less sugar and less fat. I came across these Oatmeal Bars on Collecting Memories and knew I had found the one. Her photos of the bars are far more attractive than mine, but oh well. Hopefully mine still tasted just as good!
This recipe combines creamy coconut oil and honey with ground oats, almonds, and dried cranberries. They are no-bake so they’re a cinch to throw together and are wonderfully chewy. I added some chia seeds for a bit of crunch and for their endless health benefits, and threw in some brown sugar and dried cherries as well. The flavor of the honey really comes through and is perfectly balanced by the tartness of the cranberries.
Coconut Cranberry Oat Bars
adapted from Chewy No-Bake Oatmeal Bars on Collecting Memories
makes 12 bars
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 Tbsp sliced or slivered almonds (whole almonds will work too – use about 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup dried cranberries and/or dried cherries
- 1/4 cup coconut flakes, sweetened or unsweetened
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil or butter
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- In a food processor, combine oats and almonds. Pulse until they they break down into small pieces, about 15-20 seconds. You may also throw in the dried cranberries if you want them broken up into small pieces, or you can leave them whole.
- In a small saucepan, combine coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Heat over a low heat until melted, stirring. Pour into a medium mixing bowl along with the crushed oats, almonds, dried cranberries, and coconut flakes.
- Stir the mixture together until all of the ingredients are well-incorporated and it forms a large, sticky mass. Press mixture into an 8×8″ baking pan lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until bars have hardened before cutting. Store in the fridge for up to 2 or 3 weeks and enjoy
Today we were hit with another big snowstorm in New England, though luckily not as severe as the previous one. Days like today make me crave comfort food and I’ve really been enjoying popcorn lately.
Until recently, I had never tried popping my own corn kernels over a stove but now that I have, I don’t think I’ll go back to the bags. Popping kernels over a stove is a great way to make popcorn because you can control exactly what goes into it and not have to wonder what’s in that strange buttery substance in pre-packaged bags of popcorn kernels. My two favorite ways to make popcorn are spicy (with hot sauce and red pepper flakes), or a sweet version, such as caramel corn.
My roommate Emily has made this recipe for us on a few occasions now and we always devour it each time. Many recipes for caramel corn call for corn syrup as the base, which I don’t necessarily mind every once in a while, but using honey instead of corn syrup makes for healthier and tastier caramel. To make this popcorn slightly lighter, we also halved the caramel sauce cut the popcorn measurements down by a third. Each piece of popcorn still had a nice, crispy sweetness to it. We also eliminated the salt because while I agree that salted caramel things are good, I like plain caramel even better.
Vanilla Honey Caramel Popcorn
adapted from Vanilla Honey Salted Caramel Popcorn on Pineapple and Coconut
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, or 1 bag of microwave popcorn (roughly 4 quarts popped)
- 3 Tbsp canola oil (if popping kernels yourself)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- Preheat oven to 250ºF. To cook the popcorn kernels, heat 3 Tbsp canola oil in a 4-quart cooking pot. Add kernels and cover with a tight-fitting lid. When kernels begin popping, carefully shake pot every few seconds to make sure the heat is evenly distributed. The popcorn is done when the time between “popping” noises is 5 seconds or more. (If using microwaved popcorn, simply cook the popcorn according to box directions).
- In a medium sauce pan, combine butter, brown sugar, and honey over medium heat. Stir until melted and then bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for just 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning, and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract, baking soda, and cinnamon until dissolved. The mixture will bubble up a bit so be cautious.
- Pour caramel over popcorn and stir to coat all pieces. Spread the popcorn out in an even layer on a lightly greased large cookie sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring at 15 minute intervals. Let cool slightly before eating.
This popcorn was nearly impossible not to eat while photographing it. This stuff is seriously addictive, guys. You are warned.
Today I’m going to keep it short and sweet, because it’s Friday and because I’m lazy.
Did you know today is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day? To celebrate, I’m sharing a drink recipe I’ve been really enjoying for the past few weeks. I tend to go through phases where I eat a lot of peanut butter, and then I eat none at all for like three months. Right now I’m in a peanut butter phase and have gone through almost an entire jar of peanut butter in just a few weeks, which is normally unheard of for me. It’s probably because I recently bought my favorite type of peanut butter after not having any for almost a year.
Peanut Butter & Co. makes my favorite peanut butter in the whole world – The Bee’s Knees.I can only find it at one store back home, but last time I was visiting they were out of it. I picked up some Mighty Maple instead, which is almost just as good. Peanut Butter & Co. has 10 different varieties of peanut butter and they are made with all-natural ingredients.
This milkshake combines peanut butter, frozen bananas, milk, and protein powder to make a healthy drink that’s perfect for before or after the gym. It’s thick, creamy, and tastes kind of like a banana split in drink-form. I’ve been having one after the gym and some days it’s honestly enough to motivate me to get off my butt and go exercise – knowing I can treat myself with a delicious (and healthy) milkshake afterwards.
Frozen bananas, when blended up, turn into an ice cream-like consistency without the help from cream or added sugar. If you left the milk out of this recipe, you’d have something similar to ice cream and I’m betting it would taste pretty darn good, too. This recipe can easily be made vegan if you use dairy-free milk, such as soy or almond. I used coconut milk because it’s my personal favorite. This shake is also delicious with coffee if you need an extra pick-me-up – just add 1/2 cup brewed coffee that’s been chilled. Yum!
Banana Peanut Butter Milkshake
makes 1 milkshake
- 1 banana, cut into chunks and frozen (make sure you peel it and cut it into chunks before you freeze it or else you’ll be sorry!)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup milk (any type will work – cow’s milk, soy, almond, coconut, etc.)
- 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder or 1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- optional add-ins: 1/2 tsp cinnamon or cocoa powder
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Sweeten to taste and serve immediately, or place in freezer for later use.
Hope everybody has a great weekend!