Paleo Gingerbread Men Cookies

One of my earliest memories is from Christmastime in preschool. We spent a whole day making gingerbread cookies. We mixed the dough together, rolled the dough out, cut out cookies, put them on a cookie sheet, and then popped them in the oven. We got them out of the oven, and set them in the school kitchenette to cool. Only when we went back to eat them, they were mysteriously gone! Can you believe that those little guys got up off the cookie sheet and walked away? We looked everywhere for them, finding gingerbread parts randomly strewn through the hallway – a crumb here, a Red Hot button there… Until we finally found them! We then proceeded to eat them all.

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I don’t know why certain memories stand out in my mind, but this one fairly clear. It was definitely a great day, and a fun little trick/activity for us. I hadn’t had a real gingerbread man cookie in several years but the memory randomly popped into my mind a few weeks ago and I’ve been craving them ever since. After doing Whole30 diet for several weeks, I was in the mood for something sweet, but not too sweet. These cookies definitely have that perfect balance! They are also perfectly crunchy but still slightly chewy – so tasty!

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Paleo Gingerbread Men Cookies

Servings: 18-24

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • pinch salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix together melted coconut oil, molasses, maple syrup, and egg.
  • Add in the almond flour, starch, oat flour, spices, and salt.
  • Mix together with an electric mixer until crumbly and starting to come together.
  • Combine together until it forms one large ball of dough.
  • Roll out on the counter or pastry board until 1/4 inch thick. Cut out gingerbread men with a cookie cutter and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for around 12 minutes until just starting to turn golden around the edges.
  • Decorate with icing and enjoy!

Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies

Hi everyone! It has been a while since my last post as we have been super busy. We went on a vacation to Austin (more on that later), and we also spent a few glorious days at home with family before returning to Tennessee.

We came back to our house and it was almost immediately Halloween. We do not usually get a lot of trick or treaters but I asked John to buy a small bag of candy anyways. He then proceeded to come home with what I can only describe to be an industrial-sized bag of candy. We then had 3 trick or treaters at our house. Needless to say, we have a TON of leftover Halloween candy. I was trying to brain storm what to do with it all, because I cannot should not eat all of this candy. I then decided to combine two of my favorite things, brownies and candy! These brownies are super dark chocolatey and not too sweet in order to offset the super sweet Halloween candy. Also, if you’re caught up on Stranger things, I will tell you that I used 3 musketeers so these brownies are Dart-approved.

Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies

Servings: 16-20

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Various chocolate Halloween candies, cut into 1/2 or 1/3. All of the candies I used were mini rather than fun-sized. (I used 6 Reese’s mini peanut butter cups, 6 mini Snickers, 6 mini Milky Ways, 6 mini 3 Musketeers, 6 mini Twix, topped with m&m’s)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degeees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
  • Heat butter in microwave until entirely melted (45-60 seconds). Stir in sugar and beat for a few seconds until combined. Add in vanilla, eggs, and salt and stir to incorporate.
  • Add cocoa and flour and stir well but do not overmix.
  • Fold in candy of choice. Pour into baking pan. Top with more candies if desired.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let set for at least 20-30 min before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Cheesecake Topping

You cannot go wrong with pumpkin pie + cheesecake. I like pumpkin anything, including pumpkin cheesecake, but every pumpkin cheesecake I’ve tasted just doesn’t have the full pumpkin flavor of pumpkin pie. The flavor, while tasty in its own right, seems to be diluted by all of the cream cheese. These super easy bars solve that problem. You get the savory pumpkin pie flavor combined with actual cheeeecake baked on top. You can even swirl the cheesecake into the top layer of the pumpkin bar layer for another delicious variation.

Pumpkin pie cheesecake bars

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Cheesecake Topping

Makes a 9 x 13 inch pan

Ingredients:

For the bars

  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Morena sugar (or another 1/4 cup brown sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the cheesecake layer:

  • 1 block of cream cheese (I used Greek yogurt cream cheese), softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
  • Combine canned pumpkin, sugars, egg, and butter in a large bowl. Add in salt and vanilla and stir.
  • Add spices, flour, baking powder, and baking soda and mix batter together. Batter may be slightly lumpy.
  • Pour into prepared pan and spread as evenly as possible.
  • With a whisk attachment, beat together cream cheese and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla and combine. Spread in a thin layer over pumpkin mixture. Swirl lightly with a knife if desired.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cheesecake is set.
  • Cool for at least 4-6 hours in the refrigerator or overnight before cutting into squares and serving.
  • pumpkin pie bars with cheesecake topping

Healthier Vegan Texas Sheet Cake

Every time we went to visit my grandma’s house in Fort Smith, no matter the circumstance, there were always two specific desserts: pumpkin pie and Texas sheet cake. Pumpkin pie was and still is one of my favorite desserts, so I always ate a lot of that and never really ate much of the sheet cake. As I got a little older, I branched out from my regular pumpkin pie and learned to love this delicious easy cake. My grandma would only put pecans on half the cake to cater to those who did and did not like the pecans on top.

Vegan Texas sheet cakeVegan Texas sheet cake

Now that I live much farther away from Texas, I have realized that most people have never heard of a Texas sheet cake. It’s a single layer chocolate cake baked in a cookie sheet and spread with milk chocolate icing, and may or may not have pecans on top. Baking a cake in a sheet pan is also much easier to make and transport than a traditional cake. My grandma always put cinnamon in the recipe, creating a spiced chocolate dessert that is the epitome of fall. I’ve looked at a lot of recipes for sheet cake, which may call for > 1 stick of butter, sour cream, and cups of sugar. This recipe has a secret ingredient that makes this a healthy alternative to traditional recipes, without losing any of the indulgence!

Vegan Texas sheet cakeVegan Texas sheet cake

Healthier Vegan Texas Sheet Cake

Servings: makes a half cookie sheet (recipe can be doubled for a full cookie sheet)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

Cake base recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s Chocolate Cake with a Secret Ingredient

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 packets of stevia or 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

For the icing:

  • additional 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter if not vegan)
  • additional 1/8 teaspoon salt (1/4 teaspoon if using coconut oil)
  • additional 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • additional 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • additional 3-4 tablespoons milk of choice
  • additional splash vanilla extract
  • pecans (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a half cookie sheet and set aside
  • Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, cocoa powder, and flax. Combine and set aside
  • In a separate bowl, melt coconut oil. Stir in pumpkin, sugar, and stevia to combine. Add milk and vanilla to combine. Add in flour mixture and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Spread onto cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Allow to cool
  • For the icing: melt additional butter or coconut oil. Add salt, cinnamon, and vanilla and stir. Pour in powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and 3 tablespoons milk. Stir until combined and icing is shiny, adding additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time until the icing looks shiny as it does in the picture above. It should not be as thick as buttercream, but not as thin as a glaze. Spread over cooled cake and top with chopped pecans if desired.

healthy vegan texas sheet cake cinnamon chococlate spice cake

 

Pumpkin Spice Cake Cookies

I have to admit, I did not make these cookies taste exactly like pumpkin spice bread on purpose. It was a happy accident. I was experimenting with ingredients and meant to make a more dense, sugar cookie-like pumpkin cookie. Instead, I ended up with a super fluffy, cake-like pumpkin cookie – still delicious – but not what I intended to do. I brought them to work and thought that maybe I had in fact, hit a stroke of genius. Who wants to bring a big cake or loaf of bread to work, and have to cut it, and then find a small plate, napkin, and fork for your co-workers to eat it with? Not me! Why not just serve something equally delicious in cookie form. So that is what I have for you today. You can thank me later.

Pumpkin Spice Cake Cookies

Servings: 18

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup Morena sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silicone baking bat and set aside.
  • In a standing mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Add canned pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix to incorporate.
  • Add flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
  • Using a cookie scoop, scoop onto prepared pan.
  • Optional: sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Coat a fork with sugar and press perpendicular patterns on top
  • Bake for around 10 minutes or until just browning around the edges.

pumpkin spice cake cookies

Pumpkin Cookie Butter

Guys. I did something dangerous today. I made a whole batch of this pumpkin cookie butter, and I have to admit, most of it didn’t make it to the fridge. I have a weakness for cookie butter. It just has the perfect mixture of tastes and textures. You can’t go wrong. Every time we have gone home this summer, I had to get the cookie butter ice cream from Braums. (It’s so tasty, you should check it out before it’s gone!) I had a crazy idea today. What if you could make a pumpkin version? I did, and it lives up to everything you would expect. With only THREE INGREDIENTS this recipe is super easy and delicious!

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Pumpkin Cookie Butter

Servings: 6-8 (or 1 if you’re me..)

Ingredients:

  • 18-20 gingersnap cookies or enough to make roughly 1 cup of cookie crumbs (I found pumpkin ginger snaps at the fresh market.)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted but slightly cooled (or coconut oil + pinch salt)

Instructions

  • Add cookies to a food processor and process until you have mostly fine crumbs. Pulse for a few seconds at a time until you have a coarse meal. It’s okay if there are still a few small cookie chunks as this adds more a cookie-like texture. You can also use a tightly sealed bag and a meat tenderizer or rolling pin.
  • Mix together pumpkin and butter. Add cookie crumbs and mix. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Pie Baked Donuts

Is it too early for pumpkin desserts? Today I opened up the first can of pumpkin this season. I wasn’t sure at first if I was quite ready for pumpkin season yet, but after a bite of one of these delicious donuts, I had no regrets. I have tried so many donut recipes that promise light and fluffy baked donuts but a lot of them ended up super dense and more like a hockey puck than a real donut. I found pumpkin recipes to be the worst ones because the pumpkin is so dense that the donuts would never be light and airy enough. I’ve found a solution to that problem with these donuts!

Pumpkin pie spice baked donuts cinnamon

Pumpkin Pie Baked Donuts

Servings: 6-8 donuts

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Additional 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk of choice
  • cinnamom sugar for topping, if desired

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a donut pan and set aside.
  • Combine apple cider vinegar and milk and set aside.
  • Combine canned pumpkin and melted coconut oil. Add egg yolk, vanilla extract, and brown sugar and stir combine. Add milk mixture and stir to combine.
  • Add flour, salt, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice and combine.
  • Beat egg white in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed. Fold into pumpkin mixture, taking care not to overmix.
  • Transfer to donut pan and bake for 12-14 minutes.
  • Once cooled, mix together powdered sugar and additional cinnamon. Add milk, one teaspoon at a time until you form a glaze. Drizzle over donuts and add cinnamon sugar if desired.

 

pumpkin pie baked donuts pumpkin spice fall cinnamon.jpg

Gooey Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

Gooey soft chocolate chip peanut butter blondie barsThese chocolate chip peanut butter bars are so tasty. Eating one of these is like eating a big scoop of peanut butter cookie dough. Plus they are completely vegan and dairy-free so you could just eat the dough if you feel like it (hey, I won’t judge you.) They taste like you are eating a giant Reese’s peanut butter cup in bar form.  They were a perfect addition to our Labor Day weekend at the lake.

Gooey Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

Servings: 16-20 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 8 x 13 inch baking pan and set aside.
  • Combine peanut butter, apple sauce, sugars, almond milk, and vanilla.
  • Add oats, flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well. It will be hard to mix at first. If you need to thin the batter out, add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Transfer to greased dish and press down with a spatula.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Vegan chocolate chip gooey peanut butter bars Blondies dessert

Mini Apple Galettes With Bourbon Caramel Sauce

I’m now obsessed with making galettes. They are the easiest dessert I’ve ever made! They can also be sweet or savory with any fillings that you have on hand. It’s been really rainy in the south and this dessert will definitely cheer you up on a rainy day.

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Mini Apple Galettes with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

For the crust (Adapted from Williams Sonoma Pie Crust)

  • 1 1/4 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon Morena sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • egg white
  • Turbinado sugar

For the apples:

  • 2 ripe apples (I used honey crisp), cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn starch

For the caramel sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • up to 1 tablespoon good Bourbon
  • 1/4 cup milk (the milk makes this more saucey, but if you want thicker caramel, then substitute with half and half)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Add all purpose flour, salt, and sugar to a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times to combine. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing in between until mixture starts to come together. Be sure not to add too much water, as the dough will be sticky. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  2. Combine apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and corn starch. Toss to combine and set aside for 1-2 hours.
  3. Heat the butter, brown sugar, and milk (or half and half) together in a pan, stirring regularly. Heat for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Add Bourbon and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Take off stove and add salt and vanilla.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove crust dough from saran wrap and place on an even surface lightly coated with flour. Cut dough in half, and then cut each half into thirds, until you have 6 even sections of pie dough. Roll each on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. You can put the dough back in the fridge after rolling it out to firm it up again for a few minutes.
  5. Divide apple mixture evenly between the 6 rounds of rolled pie dough. Take care to only use the fruit and leave as much juice behind, as this will seep through the bottom pie crust. Brush crust with egg white and sprinkle Turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Serve with caramel sauce.

 

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Blackberry Pie Oats

This big bowl of oatmeal, reminiscent of blackberry pie, is sweetened with dates and blackberry jam with no added sugar.

Blackberry Pie Oats

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 5 pitted dates, chopped finely
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup oats
  • Pinch salt
  • Few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Blackberry jam
  • Milk of choice, if desired
  • Toppings: blackberries, pecans, granola, etc.

Instructions:

  • Add the dates, salt, and water to a small pot or sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  • Add oats, cinnamon, and vanilla. Remove from heat, and cover. Let cook for 10-15 minutes until oats are soft. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of milk of choice, if desired.
  • Swirl in blackberry jam and add toppings if desired. Enjoy!