Category Archives: Desserts

My Obsession with Girl Scout Cookies

I started Girl Scouts the second I was eligible to become a Daisy.  I loved attending the weekly Girl Scout meetings, going on camping adventures during the summer, learning camp songs and competing with other girls to see who could get the most badges (news flash: I usually won).  I made it all the way up to a Junior before my family moved to Venezuela, where, shockingly, they don’t have Girl Scouts.

During those 4 years of being a Girl Scout though, I developed an absolutely incurable addiction to Thin Mints and Samoas (although apparently they’re called Caramel De-lites now which I think is really stupid-why change a classic?).  Every year, around this time, when Girl Scout cookies are for sale, I always find a way to track them down and buy a supply of Thin Mints and Samoas to keep me satisfied for a while.  These little boxes of delicious aren’t cheap though at $4 a box, so it’s probably about time that I start figuring out how to make them myself.  Although, to be honest, the money you spend on Girl Scout cookies really does go to good programs that empower young girls and teach them important leadership skills, so it’s almost justifiable to be spending $20 on 5 boxes of cookies.

When I finally found the Girl Scouts this year, in the Harvard T Station (really really hard to say no to those boxes of cookies when you’re coming home after a rough day), I excitedly asked for one box of Thin Mints and one box of Samoas.  When the girl handed them to me, she said “Did you know that Thin Mints are vegan?”  I didn’t know they were, so I told her as such, and she went on to explain the whole line of cookies to me.  Apparently Girl Scouts, in addition to working to remove most of the hydrogenated oils (although I found them in the Samoas-sad day), is also producing gluten-free cookies and vegan cookies.  Good for them!

Since I can’t afford to stock up on a life-time supply of Thin Mints (Samoas are out now that I know about the hydrogenated oils), I’ve pulled together a couple of recipes that you can make at home:

Thin Mints by The Little Epicurean

Homemade Thin Mints by Averie Cooks

Keepin it Kind’s Somer’s Vegan Thin Mints

Do you have a favorite Girl Scout cookie?  Any other good recipes out there for homemade Girl Scouts cookies?

Tagged , , , , , ,

Healthy Brownies

Anyone that knows me knows how much I love cookies, brownies, cakes, and pretty much any other dessert.  Part of my New Year’s Resolution was to cut back on unhealthy things (like cookies, alcohol) and find other ways to satisfy those same cravings.  I know it’s important to not cut anything cold turkey, because they you just end up craving and binging, so I started doing some research on ways to make sweet foods in a healthier way.

Thanks to Jillian Michaels, and my amazing nutrition professor from senior year of college, I read all about baking alternatives for sugar, butter, and oil, the real calorie contributors to desserts.  Sugar can easily be replaced with honey or cane sugar, and butter and oil can be replaced with applesauce and avocado.  Jillian Michaels likes to use olive oil in place of vegetable oil, but I don’t like how that tastes, but you can try it and see what you think.  It’s also pretty easy to sneak in extra veggies to your desserts and to replace any white flour with whole wheat.  So here’s my recipe for a super-healthy brownie chock full of fiber, antioxidants and vitamins.

2014-01-15 09.09.30

Healthy Brownies (adapted from Jillian Michaels)

What you need:

  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup mild honey, such as clover or orange blossom
  • 1/3 cups natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups of spinach or bananas, or shredded zucchini or carrots
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare an 8-inch pan by spraying it with olive oil.
  2. Place the honey and cocoa in a large glass measuring cup. Microwave until the honey is runny and just bubbling, 45 to 60 seconds.  Whisk together until well combined and let cool.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. .
  4. In a blender, combine the applesauce, oil, and spinach, banana, carrot or zucchini.  Blend until well incorporated.  Pour into a bowl and mix in the egg, and vanilla. Add the honey-cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and stir until well-incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the brownies cool for about five minutes, then cut into 16 servings.
Tagged , , ,

Baking with Pumpkin

I’m heading out to Martha’s Vineyard this weekend with my boyfriend and a bunch of his friends, and I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to escape DC for a little bit.  Since shopping is limited/much more expensive on the island, we’re all making food to bring and share.  I’m going to make a big batch of this butternut squash soup, but I’m also thinking some baked goods need to be involved.  I’ve been really curious about pumpkin cookies for a couple of weeks now, and I think now might be the time to try them out.

These are a few recipes I’m considering making, but I’d love to know if you have favorites that I should try!

These Spiced-Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies from Chow look awesome. And they have oatmeal so I can sort of pretend they’re healthy.

Source: Chow.com

Source: Chow.com

Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Cookies with Brown-Butter icing look heavenly.

Source: MarthaStewart.com

Source: MarthaStewart.com

These Harvest Pumpkin Scones from King Arthurs Flour also look pretty spectacular.  So many decisions!

Source: King Arthur Flour

Source: King Arthur Flour

Let me know if you’ve tried anything spectacular lately, I want to make it!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Skillet Cookie

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Skillet Cookie

If you’ve never had a skillet cookie, you are missing out.  Warm cookies are still the best food in the world in my opinion, and eating one out of an individual-serving sized skillet, just makes the best thing better.  This one trades out half of the butter for applesauce, and uses whole wheat flour and honey in place of white flour and most of the sugar.

Here’s what I used:

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips

Here’s what to do:

  1. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and stir together.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, apple sauce, brown sugar and honey.  (The mixture won’t look like regular cookie dough would at this point, but don’t worry, it will be okay.)
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time.  (It REALLY won’t look like regular cookie dough, but I promise, everything will work out.)
  4. Add in the vanilla, and then slowly add in the flour mixture until well mixed.
  5. Stir in the oatmeal and the chocolate chips.  (See, it went back to looking like regular cookie dough.)
  6. Now, you can bake these like regular cookies on a cookie sheet for 9 minutes at 375 degrees, or you can scoop a couple of tablespoons of dough into a mini skillet and bake for 9 minutes at 375 degrees.  (I like the skillet because it helps to control the portion, but either way is going to lead to delicious, sort-of-healthy cookies.)
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Peach and Blueberry Whole-Wheat Crisp

Peach and Blueberry Whole-Wheat Crisp

Ever since I got a cast-iron skillet for Christmas last year, I’ve been trying to come up with new fun ways of using it.  I’ve done cakes in there, eggs in there, anything I can think of, I use that cast-iron skillet for.  So when my sister showed up two nights ago with bags of produce (including tons of peaches and blueberries) I decided to go ahead and make a crisp in the skillet.

What I used:

  • 2 fresh peaches, cut into slices
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature

What I did:

  1. First I combined the flour, sugar, vanilla and butter in a bowl using a fork until it became crumbly.
  2. Then, I arranged the peaches and blueberries in the cast iron pan.  You can grease the pan if you want, but you don’t have to.
  3. Next I spread the crumbly mixture on top of the fruits and baked it in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until it was bubbly and the crumbly mixture was golden brown.
  4. Let it sit until cooled down and serve with frozen or regular yogurt (or ice cream, or whatever else delicious you want to put on top).
  5. Enjoy!

Peach Blueberry crisp

Let me know if there are any other kinds of fruits you like to add to your crisps!  I usually stick to the basics (strawberries, blueberries, peaches and rhubarb), but I’d love to know if you have any interesting suggestions!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Watermelon and Mint Frozen Yogurt

Watermelon and Mint Frozen Yogurt

It looks like I’m on a frozen yogurt kick this week… This one was really easy and super refreshing and made with the watermelon I got from the farmers market and the mint I grow at home. Here’s what you need:

4 cups of cubed watermelon (make sure the seeds are removed)
1/4 cup of honey
1 cup of low-fat plain yogurt
10-12 mint leaves

Blend in mixer and pour into ice-cream maker (so easy, right!?)

For toppings, I just did a simple watermelon and mint puree and poured it over top. So good!

Tagged , , ,

Strawberry Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt

Strawberry Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt

I got inspired for this recipe by a Bon Appetit recipe that was sitting on my friend’s kitchen table. I have to tell you this is one of the best frozen yogurts I have ever made.

This recipe is super easy and was made even better by the fact that it used up the leftover buttermilk that I had in my fridge that desperately needed to be used up.

I started by roasting a pound of strawberries that I’d cut in half with one cup of sugar and a splash of vanilla extract in an oven at 400 degrees.

Then, after allowing the strawberries to cool down, I blended them with 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk and 1/4 cup of sour cream in my blender.

Then I poured the whole mixture into my ice cream maker and let it go to work making the most wonderful thing I’ve ever eaten.

I think the next time I make this, I’ll add honey to the strawberries in place of all of that sugar.

Tagged , ,