Posts by Cassie
If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably heard me whining about having the flu this past week. I rarely get sick (one of the many benefits of working from home), so when I do, I’m a miserable bundle of pitifulness.
Not to toot my own horn (okay, a little bit—toot), but I kinda have a rockstar immune system. It wasn’t always that way. I used to get sick all the time, but a switch to a healthier lifestyle—eating better, staying hydrated, sleeping more, drinking less, exercising, quitting a stressful job—really had a huge impact on my immunity. I went from getting stuck-in-bed sick once a month to maybe catching the sniffles once a year. It was like night and day.
Unfortunately, I’ve been slacking on my immune-boosting ways lately, and like clockwork, as soon as I stopped acting healthy, I stopped being healthy and came down with this ickiness. Sleep has been in short-supply (um, hello, new mom here), and I have been indulging in way more cookies than I planned (I know, I only have myself to blame for that one). I’ve also been really bad about drinking water. I used to be so good at it, but I’ve let that one slip. And my biggest stumbling block? I haven’t been getting in my fruits and veggies. With December being the crazy month that it is, I’ve been opting for fast options in the kitchen, and often, that doesn’t involve fruits and veggies.
Put all this together, plus the fact that Indiana is a flu hotspot right now, and I pretty much sent a hand-addressed invitation to the flu virus to come set up shop in my body.
But, the awesome thing about healthy living is you’re never out of the game. Even if you’ve eaten your weight in cookies, forgot what a water bottle looks like, and haven’t seen the inside of a gym in a year, you can still pick back up and benefit from healthy choices. Sure, I might not have been able to starve off the flu, but I was able to turn around and fuel my body to help fight it off. I put away the cookies (mostly), filled up my water bottle, and filled up my plate with veggies! And I am feeling much, much better.
I call this salad the December Detox Salad, because, even if you don’t get sick during the month of December, I think a lot of people need a little bit of detoxing from the indulgence right around this point in the month. Many of you have already had holiday parties and cookie exchanges and family gathering—and your holiday cheer might be feeling a bit lethargic. I’m, for one, okay with the overindulgence that is the holidays. I think it’s perfectly fine (and healthy!) to enjoy some Christmas cheer, but I also think all that indulging can be a bit taxing after a while. It’s nice to step back from the cookies, and instead enjoy a nice, healthy salad to right the ship.
I love the combination of this salad because it has so many elements that will help you get back on track. A bed of greens that are packed with vitamins, minerals and iron. Hydrating cucumbers (for those of us who have been skipping the water glass). Protein and omega-3s in the form of chia seeds, which will not only help keep your brain sharp, but also help you stay hydrated. Fresh blueberries and carrots which are both excellent sources of vitamin C—and important nutrient to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. And creamy avocado, which is packed with healthy fats that will help keep you full. The salad is dressed with one of our favorite salad dressings—a creamy lemon-sesame dressing that is full of flavor and is good for you!
Enjoy. And stay healthy!
This detox salad is packed with a variety of tastes, textures and colors to make sure you get all the nutrients you need!
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped Romaine lettuce
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 large cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup avocado, sliced
- 1/2 cup snap peas, sliced
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, place lid on tight, and shake until well-combined. Set aside.
- Combine the salad ingredients into a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.
I did a lot of debating over which cookie should close out the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies. I thought maybe I should do something über decadent and overly-rich. My husband suggested I take the best elements out of the best cookies from the series and mash them into one cookie (ha!). But in the end, the classic, delicious, totally perfect chocolate chip cookie won the anchor leg.
I know there are about as many ways to make a chocolate chip cookie as there are people on this planet. And everyone has their own definition of a “perfect” chocolate chip cookie. Some like it flaky and cakey. Some like it crisp. Some like it gooey and chewy. Some like milk chocolate. Some like dark. Just so we’re on the same page, let me tell you about my perfect chocolate chip cookie.
It’s thin, but not too thin—you still have to have something to bite into. It’s got a tiny bit of crunch around the edges, but the inside is soft and chewy. So soft, that it’s a little hard to pick up because it wants to just fall apart in your hand. It’s a sweet cookie, but not overly so. It’s packed with dark chocolate morsels. Oh, and it’s salty. Just a little bit. A little to balance out the richness of the chocolate. Those, my friends, are the best ever chocolate chip cookies.
So with that in mind, let me introduce you to what I consider the best ever chocolate chip cookie. This recipe is a variation on the classic (and darn good) Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you’re looking for a fool-proof chocolate chip cookie recipe, you really can’t go wrong with just using the one on the back of the bag of chocolate chips. But I’ve been tweaking that recipe for years now, and I think I’ve landed on the way to turn that recipe from good cookies into absolutely spectacular cookies.
There are four big changes I make to that recipe. I reduce the overall amount of sugar—I tend to find most cookie recipes are just a touch too sweet for my tastes. Instead of tasting like chocolate chips or peanut butter or whatever else they are supposed to taste like, I think they end up just tasting like pure sugar.
Secondly, I changed the ratio of sugars. The original version calls for equal amounts of granulated and brown sugars, but I’ve found that by tipping the scales in favor of brown sugar, you get a softer, chewier cookie—with just a touch of rich flavor that I really like.
Next up, salt. I really like a salty chocolate chip cookie. I’m not talking potato chip salty (although, a chocolate chip potato chip cookie sounds awesome—maybe next year), but there needs to be a heavy hand of salt to help balance out the sweetness and richness of the chocolate. So I up the salt just a touch.
And the last big change I made is my secret ingredient—I add almond extract. It doesn’t end up tasting like almond, but I think it adds a really nice rich, underlayer of flavor to the cookie.
Just like most of the other cookies I’ve been sharing with you, the key to the right texture of these cookies is to keep a close eye on them in the oven. Just a minute or two too long and you’ve got a crunchy cookie that requires glass of milk to enjoy (which is not bad, just not my definition of perfect). To me, for a chocolate chip cookie to be really good, it has to taste good both warm out of the oven and after it’s cooled down. I’ve seen recipes for cookies that say, “these are best served warm, because they get too tough once they’ve cooled.” You don’t have that issue with these cookies. They’re nice and tender even out of the fridge.
I’ve had so much fun sharing all of these cookie recipes with you guys over the past few weeks. I know it’s a little bit of a departure from my typical M.O. of healthy balance, but I have to be honest, this is one of the most fun projects I’ve done on this blog in a long time. I’ve so enjoyed making these cookies for you!
And tomorrow, I’ll be back with a salad recipe (no really, I will).
Soft, chewy, sweet, and chocolatey, these cookies use a secret ingredient to help make them the best ever chocolate chip cookies!
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the sides as necessary.
- Add in the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond and mix until just combined.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two additions, mixing until combined after each addition.
- Fold in the chocolate chips by hand. Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough onto an ungreased cooking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are just barely browned around the edges. Cool for 1-2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I have to admit—I’m kinda running out of things to say about cookies.
This is cookie #11, and the only thoughts running through my head at this point are, “COOKIES GOOD. EAT.” Spoken, of course, in Cookie Monster’s voice.
What, Cookie Monster isn’t the voice inside your head? Just me?
It’s really unfortunate that I can’t drum up anything more eloquent to say about these Nutella cookies, because they deserve my absolute best write-up. They are absolutely delicious. They’re like if peanut butter cookie dough took one too many shots of Nutella, and then did a cliff dive into a pool of roasted hazelnuts. They’re crunchy and craggy on the outside, but soft and chewy inside, with an awesome crunch from a heavy-handed dose of hazelnuts.
I would call these cookies a “workhorse” cookie. They aren’t going to win any awards at your office cookie contest, and I highly doubt they’ll be the next smash sensation to take over your Pinterest feed, but they are darn delicious, easy to make, and chances are, you have almost all the ingredients to whip up a batch right now. They’re also pretty much impossible to mess up. And, dare I say it, they’re almost a little bit kinda healthy. I mean, they have peanut butter and hazelnuts in them. Healthy fats and all that.
I hope you’ll give these cookies the benefit of the doubt, and not blame them for my totally cookied-out brain. I swear, they are worth your consideration.
These easy-to-make Nutella cookies are crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
- 1 cup Nutella
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted, plus more for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In the bowl of a mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, cream together the Nutella, peanut butter and brown sugar, scraping sides as necessary.
- Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and beat to mix.
- Add in the baking soda, flour, and salt, a mix to combine. Remove dough from mixer, and fold in the hazelnuts by hand. Dough should be crumbly, but holds together when squeezed
- Form dough into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten cookies with the back of a spatula, then press in additional hazelnuts on top of cookie.
- Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown and crack. Let cool for 2-5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
I’ve done a lot of hating on crunchy cookies over the past few weeks. It’s no secret that my preference is for chewy, gooey, soft cookies, but I do have a soft spot (hard spot?) in my heart for one crunchy cookie—the sweet, delicate, adorable spritz cookie.
I think part of why I love spritz cookies so much is that they are just so darn fun to make. I pull out my cookie press exactly once a year, but it is still one of my favorite things to do around the holidays. I mean. It’s a gun. That shoots out cookies. How awesome is that?
The name “spritz” comes from the German word spritzen which means “to squirt,” which refers to how the dough is squirted out of the cookie press to form the cookies. The standard recipe for spritz cookies is buttery and sweet, and delicious all on its own, but I tend to like to dress up my spritz cookies with a little bit of festive flavor. This version uses two classic holiday flavors—clementines and cloves.
I love having a couple of these cookies with a mug of tea. These are not decadent cookies. They are light, delicate, and just a little bit sweet. They’re the perfect cookie if you’re looking for a little bit of a treat, but don’t want to overload yourself with a sugar bomb.
Typically, you’ll find a lot of spritz cookies decked out to the nines with food coloring, sprinkles, and other candies, but I like to keep my spritz cookies pretty simple—I just sprinkle them with a bit of sugar right before baking. It gives them a really beautiful shimmer.
We’re spending this weekend with my family celebrating Christmas—I’m leaving my computer at home and enjoying my family! I hope you have absolutely wonderful weekend!
A twist on the Christmas classic, these clementine and clove spritz cookies are full of bright and warm holiday flavor.
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- Juice and zest of 2 clementines
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in the egg and vanilla, and mix until well combined.
- Add in the cloves, juice, zest, and salt. Mix until well-combined. Add in the flour and mix until well-combined.
- Take a handful of the dough, roll into a log, and load into the barrel of a cookie press. Fit cookie press with desired die, and shoot dough onto ungreased cooking sheets. Sprinkle with granulate sugar or sprinkles. Then bake in preheated oven for 7-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies just begin to brown.
- Let cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
You know how when you were a kid, and you were playing with Play-Doh, it took pretty much every ounce of willpower you had not to swirl all the colors together and make a beautiful ball of bright colors? And pretty much the only reason you didn’t do it is because you knew your Mom wouldn’t buy you any new Play-Doh and by swirling the colors together, you were essentially making the Play-Doh totally useless for any future projects?
For all of you grown-ups who wanted to swirl your Play-Doh together as a kid, these marble cookies are for you.
I think this cookie would be such a fun kitchen “art” project for kids and adults alike. I love the mixture of green and brown (for mint and chocolate, obviously), but you could really mix up whatever colors make you happy. Just divide up the dough, color, and swirl until you’re happy with the results.
I think the best way to get optimal marbleization (is that a word?) in the final cookie is to roll the dough into a log, freeze, and then to slice them, although, admittedly, that isn’t nearly as fun as using cookie cutters. You can definitely roll them out and go at them with your favorite gingerbread man, but they won’t be quite as fantastically marbled.
As far as the taste of these cookies, they are little more than a flavored version of my sugar cookies. They’re soft, tender, fluffy and way delicious. The addition of cocoa powder to the chocolate dough really helps transform the cookies from just colored sugar cookies to a whole new idea. As you can see, I just dusted the cookies with colored sugar, so you could still see the marbling, but I think this cookie would also be an awesome candidate for dipping in frosting. I think if you dipped these cookies half in a bright, white frosting, it’d be such a nice juxtaposition to the (sorta crazy) colored swirls.
These twirly, swirly marbled cookies are a fun (and tasty) kitchen art project for kids and adults alike.
- 3/4 cups butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6-8 drops green food coloring
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- Sprinkles for decorating, optional
- In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the sides as necessary. Add in the eggs, vanilla extract and peppermint extract.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two additions—mixing completely after each.
- Divide the dough in half. Place half of the dough back in the mixer, and add the remaining flour and mix to combine. Add in the green food coloring and mix until evenly distributed. Remove green dough from mixer.
- Place the second half of the dough in the mixer, add in the cocoa powder and mix to combine.
- Separate each color of dough into 3-4 pieces, and then mash and swirl the pieces together to make a marbled texture. Form the dough into two 2-inch wide logs. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap, and place in freezer for 15-20 minutes, or until solid enough to slice without squishing.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Remove the dough from the freezer, with a sharp knife, slice through the dough, making 1/4" rounds. Place the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet, decorate with sprinkles, if desired, and bake in preheated oven for 7-8 minutes.
- Let cookies cool for 1-2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.