autumn oatmeal cookie bars

Another squash recipe, but this time – a sweet version!

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I don’t know if it’s the cooler nights, seasonal flavors, or the fact that it’s no longer “swimsuit season” {LOL} but this time of year I start craving desserts. There’s something so special about sitting down at the end of the day, dinner cleaned up and dishes put away, and enjoying the perfectly sweet bite of dessert. For some people – ice cream {year round!}, others – cookies and cakes. I am not going to say no to any of those options, but boy…do I love me a good cookie.

This particular recipe was inspired by…as mentioned above…squash. I LOVE pumpkin, y’all! It’s a great ingredient to work with; packed with vitamins and minerals, full of flavor, and it serves as a great way to scale back on some of the typically not-so-good items that go into cookies. Paired with tangy Greek yogurt, the resulting cookie is perfectly moist and chewy, and loaded up with spices. A combination of rolled oats and all-purpose flour lends a hint of nutty flavor, which is beautiful with the pumpkin and brown sugar. The little nuggets of chocolate chips and raisins don’t hurt, either ; )

Once you bake up a batch of these, don’t expect them to last long. BUT! If you want to, portion of a section of the pan to freeze; your weeknight self craving something sweet, but not overly indulgent, will be glad you did.

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Autumn Oatmeal Cookie Bars {recipe adapted from Averie Cooks}

Traditional chocolate chip cookie meets pillowy pumpkin cookies. They taste every bit delicious as they look: perfectly fluffy, with crispy edges and bursting full of flavor and goodies. Ideal for any autumn get-together; I promise, they won’t last long. 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed {light or dark is fine}

1 large egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree {not pumpkin pie filling!}

1 Tbsp. molasses

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

pinch salt

3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour {I used a combination of 2 cups AP flour and 1-1/4 cups oats, just for extra texture and flavor}

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2-1 cup assorted dried fruits…cherries, apricots, cranberries, raisins, etc. *nuts of your choice can also be used

*optional: for a sweeter cookie, add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar 

**optional topping: 1/3 cup granulated sugar + 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, mixed together

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine plain Greek yogurt, brown sugar {optional granulated sugar to be added here, if using}, and beat on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes to cream ingredients together; stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add in the egg and vanilla, and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy.

Add in the pumpkin, molasses, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, pinch of salt, and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Add in the flour {or combination of flour and oats} and baking soda, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips {and any add-ins you might like} by hand. Cover the mixing bowl and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 90 minutes {I only chilled for about 30 minutes because of time constraint}. Dough can be chilled for up to 4 days.

Prepare your 9″ x 13″ baking dish by coating liberally with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute the batter into the dish, making sure to spread it out evenly and ensuring that all corners are filled. Top with optional cinnamon/sugar mixture, and bake for 20-25 minutes {edges will be golden and set, and the top will have just set; they will continue to firm up as they cool}. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into bars.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to three months.

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cookies n’ cream cake

Oreo lovers, you’ve found your ::literal:: slice of heaven.

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We all know pretty well by now that I have a sweet tooth the size of the planet, but it’s not too often that I do a lot of baking. Don’t get me wrong, I love baking! – it’s a methodical, precise process; entirely different from the way most of my day-to-day cooking goes. But the art of baking requires concentration and focus; sometimes I need that in the kitchen. Which is why I always let the hubs choose as intricate a birthday dessert as he wants. It’s a win for the both of us – he gets an awesome dessert, and I get my focus fix {and yes, the entirety of the dessert is consumed solely by the two of us!}.

This year’s cake was a no brainer. I mentioned above that Oreo cookie lovers have found a slice of heaven. I kid you not, this cake is hands-down the embodiment of an Oreo cookie, crafted into a glorious 2-layer cake. Every inch, every crumb of this cake pays homage to the iconic cookie. We have crumbled Oreo wafers in the actual cake base. The creme filling finds its way into the frosting that is sandwiched between the two cakes. Whole Oreos have been pulverized into a fine powder, and folded into the buttercream frosting.

One  might think that such a cake will be cloyingly sweet. But I promise that it’s not! I tweaked the original recipe just a bit; eliminating a bit of the sugar, presenting alternate options for the oil and sour cream ingredients. It is a perfectly balanced dessert; sure, it’s indulgent, but worth every delicious bite.

 Have I described it well enough? Are you running to the kitchen to make this?

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Because you very well should be : )

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Oreo Cookies n’ Cream Cake {recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Oreo lovers will fall head over heels in love with this decadent creation. Full to bursting with both Oreo cookie crumbs and the oh-so-loved creme filling, it hits all the right notes. Finished with a fluffy buttercream frosting, this cake is sure to win a spot in your hearts – not to mention, bring back fond childhood memories of dunking Oreo cookies into a tall glass of milk! 

Ingredients: Chocolate Layer Cake

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder {not dutch process}

1 cup granulated sugar

1-1/2 cups cake flour*

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup applesauce {you can also use vegetable or canola oil}

1 cup full fat sour cream or full fat Greek yogurt, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup hot coffee or hot water

3/4 cup  Oreo cookie crumbs**

*if you don’t have cake flour, simply remove 3 Tbsp. of the all-purpose flour, the add in 3 Tbsp. of cornstarch. Sift the all-purpose flour and the cornstarch together before using

**scrape out the filling before pulsing the cookies, and set to the side for later use

Ingredients: Oreo Cream Filling

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

reserved Oreo creme filling {from the 3/4 cup of Oreo cookie crumbs}

2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 Tbsp. milk or cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients: Vanilla Buttercream

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup milk or cream

10 additional Oreo cookies, pulsed into a fine crumb

To Prepare:

Position oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 350 degrees. Generously spray two 9″ cake pans with nonstick spray, and set aside.

In a large bowl, using a handheld or standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the cocoa powder, sugar, cake flour, baking soda, and salt together on low speed for 30 seconds. Add in the eggs, applesauce {or oil of choice}, sour cream {or Greek yogurt}, and vanilla. Mix on low speed for one minute.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the coffee and Oreo cookie crumbs; stir to combine. Some of the chocolate chips will melt as you stir. Avoid overmixing the batter!

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes come out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cakes cool, make the Oreo Cream Filling. 

In a large bowl, using a handheld or standing mixer fitting with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening {or just all butter}, and reserved Oreo creme filling on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, alternating with the milk/cream and vanilla. The filling will be thick, but you may add more milk/cream if you prefer. Set aside, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

While the cakes cool, make the Vanilla Buttercream. 

In a large bowl, using a handheld or standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla on low speed, then add in the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, alternating with the milk/cream. The buttercream will be thick. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the Oreo cookie crumbs. Set aside, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

Once the cake is cooled, assemble the cake.

Place one cooled layer on a cake stand or large plate. Using an offset spatula or knife, cover the top with a 1″ thick layer of the Oreo Creme Filling. Top with the second cake. Cover the tall layer cake with the Vanilla Buttercream.

Slice and serve! Leftover cake can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

make ahead tip: the cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. The frosting and filling can be prepared, then covered and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the next day, when you are ready to serve. 

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that was the size of one slice <3

old fashioned sugar cookies

Yes, another holiday dessert recipe!
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This cookie is special, and not just because it’s easily one of my favorite cookies. Like, ever. I can still remember the first time that I had this; back in college, when I went home for Christmas break, my youngest sister had already been hard at work whipping up lots of fabulous treats. We always made sugar cookies as children – we spent hours with our mom rolling out dough, decorating all the shapes we cut out, and eating way too many {but who doesn’t?}. So the first time that I sank my teeth into these pillowy, soft cookies I was instantly converted. Gone were my days of making the thinner and snappier version. My heart, and my taste preference, had changed.
These cookies have the best texture, without question. The edges get slightly crisp, but the interior remains perfectly soft and moist. I had been looking forward for weeks to make these cookies, but I had to make them my own {surprise, surprise}. The fine folks over at Chobani contacted me not too long ago about participating in their #MadeWithChobani Project, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do something crazy-fun with these cookies!
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I absolutely love cooking with Chobani Greek Yogurt. Not only is it a great substitution for oils and butter in baking, but it packs in a hefty dose of extra protein! The end product remains unaffected; I like to say that I can eat a few extra cookies because I made them better for me ;)
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You absolutely, totally MUST make these cookies. And when you do, let me know what you think! I’d love to see photos, and be sure to tag them as #MadeWithChobani so we can spread the goodness! Happy cookie-making, and eating!
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Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies {recipe adapted from Tate’s Bake Shop}
Makes about 24 cookies 
Ingredients:
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup Chobani 0% Greek Yogurt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
To Prepare:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
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With a standing mixer {or in a large bowl} cream together the Chobani 0% Plain Greek Yogurt, butter and sugar on medium speed until they are light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and the egg; mix well, and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is evenly distributed. Add in the sour cream and mix until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture in three to four batches, or until combined. Be sure to not overmix.
Drop the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about three inches apart; the cookies will flatten out and spread slightly.
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Bake for 16 minutes or until the are pale/golden brown {your oven may take less time or more, depending on the size of your cookie and the actual oven temperature}. Allow them to cool for 3 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
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Enjoy!

oreo truffles

Perhaps one of the easiest treats to throw together, especially for last-minute holiday guests, I have been SO excited to share this dessert with  y’all today!

frominstructables

 

I think that it is rather safe to say this this tasty tidbit should come as no surprise to most of you – in my opinion, it’s a rather humble, tried-and-true recipe. Anyone who has ever whipped it up can attest to that fact. The thing that makes these truffles so fun, my dears, is WHAT you can do to make them your own!

Over the years, I’ve done them up countless ways: color coordinated for the celebrated holiday, football-shaped for tailgates, glitzed up for New Year’s Eve celebrations, the traditional method of dipping them in candy coating. And don’t get me wrong, each way is fabulous. Even as I sit here typing, I am drumming up more ways to make them unique.

My most recent culinary hurdle {and I used that term looooooosely} as of late was to come up with gluten-free treats for the Thanksgiving holiday. Never one to miss a challenge, especially when the kitchen is involved{!}, I readily said “yes” and let the menu planning begin.

A bit of humble brag – the dinner was a huge success, from the dressing to the bird to the dessert. But I think my favorite morsel was the reinvented Oreo Truffles I brought! Not only were they gluten-free, but significantly lower in fat and calories…and I thought even tastier than batches of years past!

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Oreo Truffles

Customizable in any particular way, shape or form…I chose to adapt these for a gluten-free family member. GF cookies were swapped out to replace the traditional cookie, and Greek-Yogurt cream cheese took the place of its full-fat counterpart. A simple roll in a mixture of vanilla sugar and cocoa powder was the final step. Pure perfection, and guaranteed to please even the pickiest of palates. 

Ingredients:

1 package of your favorite sandwich cookie, gluten-free if desired

1 eight-ounce container of Greek-yogurt cream cheese, slightly softened

1/2 to 3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup vanilla sugar

To Prepare:

Crumble the sandwich cookies into large chunks, and place into the bowl of your food processor. Break the cream cheese into smaller pieces, and add in with the sandwich cookies.

Process until totally smooth; the mixture should eventually form a large ball in the bowl. Scrape down the sides and process one final time to ensure all chunks are eliminated. Place bowl in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, allowing the mixtures to firm up slightly.

While the mixture is cooling, combine the cocoa powder and vanilla sugar into a wide-rimmed dish. Set aside.

Once the mixture is ready, scoop into small balls {I usually get about 14-18 per batch} and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drop each truffle into the cocoa-sugar mixture, and toss evenly to coat. Place them back on the sheet, and put in the freezer until ready for plating.

Let truffles come to room temperature, usually 15 minutes or so, before serving.