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Summery Lemon Zest Sugar Cookies {Dairy Free}

6 Aug

Just because it’s August doesn’t mean I’m willing to allow the summering to wind down.  Quite the opposite, in fact!  I’m diving in even further the next couple of weeks, because let’s face it – I have too many more things left on my Los Angeles summer bucket to throw in the (beach) towel now!

 

Summer dresses are more in full swing than ever before.  Car windows are indefinitely rolled down.  Pedicures are sandy beach scuffed.  Hair & cheeks are perpetually breeze-blown and sun-kissed.  Chilly smoothies are a daily affair, and Cafe Gratitude shakes a way too expensive, forbidden love affair.

 Lemon Zest Sugar Cookies

(Adapted from my lime zest sugar cookies)

Tangy but sweet summer twist on the classic drop sugar cookie.  Citrusy, refreshing, and perfect for the hot weather months.  If you wanted to make a grapefruit version, we’d probably be best friends! 🙂

Ingredients

2  3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup non-dairy margarine (ex: Earth Balance)

1  1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 Tbsp water

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp non-dairy milk (ex: soymilk)

juice of 1 lemon

zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup granulated sugar + zest of 1 lemon mixed, for rolling

Directions

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.  Mix together the ground flax and water, set aside.

Cream together the margarine and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the egg, flax and water mixture, and vanilla extract, lemon juice, and zest, and beat until fluffy.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add dry mixture into wet, mixing between additions.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  If the dough is a little too dry, add in the non-dairy milk; if the dough looks ok at that point, feel free to omit.

Scoop dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and put in freezer for about an hour or so.  When ready to bake, preheat over to 350* F, and scoop dough into 2 Tbsp size chunks.  Roll each into a ball with your hands, and roll in the sugar and zest mixture before placing on cookie sheet.

Back 8-10 minutes until edges are golden brown.  Allow to rest on the pan a few minutes before using a spatula to transfer baked cookies to a cooling rack.

 

Everything is warmer.  Everything is brighter.  Love is lovier.  Ice cream just tastes better dripping down your arm on the Santa Monica Boardwalk.  Twinkling white lights are more charming strewn across a summertime porch.  Laughter with friends is more therapeutic.

 

I wish I could press pause on life so that summer could live on well beyond September and into October…but I’ll settle for bike rides in Venice, and more sweet times to come as August lives on <3

My heart is happy when pretty things fill my weekends and I get to put pencil to paper to create.  The more I do, the more I inspire myself to want to create, which I love!

 Skies are blue, and dreams really do come true…even on a Monday morning! 🙂

XOXO

 

 

 

Chewy Lime Zest Sugar Cookies (Dairy Free)

15 Mar

I spoke too soon and jinxed myself when I mentioned wanting the weather to stay sunny and awesome…so much for 70 degree t-shirt weather, now it’s rain, rain, rain!  We need it, but I’m still no ray of sunshine myself in the midst of all the gloom, if you know what I mean.  I took one look out my window today at the gray and drizzle and wanted to burrow under my blankets and cuddle the day away, only emerging for mug a few steamy mugs of coffee or hot chocolate.

 

Fall and winter before last, while I was still in school, I devised the most brilliant plan I’ve ever had to this very day.  One morning while untangling myself from the warm cozy depths of my 18 blanket-clad bed in search of the elusive coffee that feeds my spirit and brings my limp, sleepy body to life in the morning, I realized the absurdity of just what I’d been a slave to all these years.  No, the coffee is not the enemy here, if that’s where you think I’m going with this (it’s the giver of life).  Instead of going to the coffee, the coffee should be coming to me.  And so it happened- I promptly relocated my coffee pot to my bedside table.  The very next morning, I had coffee at the reach of an arm.  Done.

Now, I wish I could say this story was leading up to a declaration that I was able to accomplish the very same coffee situation with such ease on this particular dreary morning, but alas, I didn’t have the foresight.  Bedside coffee may be making a long-overdue return if the weather keeps up this way!  I realize this story has absolutely nothing to do with limes.  Coffee doesn’t even taste good at all with lime in it.  Also, at this moment all I can think about is chocolate, so there’s that.

 

Not only is there no coffee in this recipe, there is also no chocolate.  Ooof.

This weather is really doing a number on me!

 Chewy Lime Zest Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 cup non-dairy margarine
* 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 1-2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
* Juice of 1 lime
* Zest from 1 lime
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with zest of 1 lime (for rolling)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Cream together the margarine and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla, and then lime juice, 1 Tbsp non-dairy milk, and zest.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low speed between additions. If the dough seems too dry, add the second Tbsp of non-dairy milk, or a little more vanilla.

Scoop out 1-2 Tbsp size portions of dough and roll into balls. Roll in the sugar/lime zest mixture and place on baking sheet, about 1-2″ apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine needed almost exactly 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the pan before transferring cookies to a cooling rack.

 

I can happily say, however, that these little cookies fit the bill for my green food-themed month perfectly!  What I really like about these cookies is that unlike most sugar cookies, they don’t require all of that rolling pin and cookie cutter drama.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place – Christmas cookies, heart-shaped Valentine’s day sugar cookies, my Noah’s Ark Frosted Animal Cookies *cough, cough*…

But this is not that time.  Nor that place.

 

This is the place of simple, yummy, chewy, lime-spiked sugar cookies that melt in your mouth and clear the clouds from the sky…

Ok, let’s not push it.  They’re just cookies, they can’t change the weather!

….But they will put a smile on your face! :))))

Eggnog Blondies with Brandy Spiked Eggnog Buttercream

13 Dec

Is Christmas really just 12 days away?!  Holy holly berries…I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited!

Tree up and decorated?!  Probably not.

Halls decked & stockings hung by the chimney with care?  Ummm, not quite.

Presents wrapped & ready to go?  Uhhh….

Alright alright, despite having just about nothing done in preparation for Christmas,  I’d definitely say I’m in the spirit, though!

I’ve got a list and I’m in the process of checking it twice.

And seriously, the holiday baking?  Totally!  Plus, check out this cute red ramekin I received as a birthday gift from my momma! 😀

The eggnog craze continues.  I promise the next recipe I post will contain neither egg nor nog, for fear of losing all of you out there who expect festive holiday flavor variety.  I get it, I really do.  It’s just that once I get inspired by a flavor, the wheels start turning and basically end up bull-dozing every other flavor in site.  Bear with me for the time being, or if you are a die-hard eggnog lover like myself, enjoy the ride while it lasts!

 

These blondies are a perfect blend of cookie and cake…the melding of a brownie and, well, not a brownie. Obviously there’s frosting. Not just any frosting, though, this stuff has got a little kick to it, while still being alcohol-shy friendly. I recently read an article reviewing which particular type of alcohol makes for the best-tasting eggnog.  The contenders were Brandy, Rum, and Whiskey, and since Brandy came out on top, that’s what I decided to use, obviously!  To be fair, you really can’t detect the Brandy in it much, so if you feel compelled, maybe pour yourself a glass of spiked nog to go with them? It’s just a suggestion, I mean, there are a lot of holiday gatherings to get through!

Super simple to mix up and throw in a pan to bake without the hassle of sheet after sheet of cookie balling and baking…swipe on a little frosting once they’ve cooled, and voila!…And really, who couldn’t use a time-saving recipe during the holidays, am I right? Maybe if I’d had more of these cookie cake bar blondies in my life I’d have a tree by now, and maybe even gifts under it? Whoa, whoa, I’m not THAT on top of it!

Eggnog Blondies with Brandy Spiked Eggnog Buttercream

Ingredients:

For the Bars-
* 3 Cups All-purpose Flour
* 1 tsp Baking Soda
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp nutmeg (I didn’t have it at the time, but would have added this!)
* 3/4 Cup Butter-flavored Shortening
* 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
* 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
* 1/2 Cup Eggnog, any type
* 2 Large Eggs
* 1 tsp Brandy or Rum (If you don’t want to use alcohol, or don’t have any on hand, Vanilla extract would work)

For the Buttercream-
* 3 Cups Confectioners Sugar
* Dash of Salt
* 7 Tbsp Margarine or Unsalted Butter
* 3 tsp Eggnog
* 2 tsp Brandy or Rum (Again, if you want to make this whole shebang non-alcoholic, just use Vanilla extract or more eggnog instead)
* 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
* Clear crystal Sprinkles (Optional, (but not really!) for topping)
* Red & Green Holiday Sprinkles (Optional, (but not really!) for topping)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 9 x 13″ pan with parchment paper, if you have it.

Cream together the shortening, brown sugar and white sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand!). Beat in the eggnog, eggs one at a time, and the brandy or rum.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing between additions.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Check for browning on top after 15 minutes, and cover with foil if it’s getting too brown. Bake another 5-8 minutes, depending on your oven (Mine took 23 minutes). Pull out of oven and allow to cool in the pan.

For the frosting, cream the margarine or butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gradually add in about 2 cups of the confectioners sugar and the salt. You’ll get a pebbly grainy texture, which is fine. Add 2 tsp of eggnog and continue mixing. Add in the last 1 tsp of eggnog, and then add in the remaining 1 cup of confectioners sugar. Mix in the 2 tsp of Brandy or Rum. Depending on how thick or thin you like your buttercream, you can add a little more confectioners sugar if you think it’s too thin, or a little more Brandy and/or eggnog if you think it’s too thick. Mix in the ground nutmeg.

Allow blondies to fully cool before slicing into squares while in the pan, and then spreading on the frosting. Top with holiday sprinkles!

I’d love to hear what others have to say about alcohol choice in their eggnog!  Which do you prefer?  I feel like Rum is the most traditional, but I’m not exactly sure where that feeling is coming from, especially since at the drop of a hat I totally went with the reviewer’s suggestion and used Brandy in these bars instead!  To each their own?  Everyone’s different.

Serve. Eat. Repeat!


Happy Holidays!

Chewy Holiday Snickerdoodles

5 Dec

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Finals! Finals! Finals! Finals!

Thought I was going to say the holidays, right?  Much mistletoeing and hearts glowing when loved ones are near?

You were expecting a little of this, perhaps:

 With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap- happiest season of all

Not so much.  More likely a little rendition that goes a little something like this:

With the sleep-deprived yelling
And professors telling you “Get into gear”
It’s the most stressing-of-times of the year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those sporadic sleepings and long TA meetings
When tests come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of alllllll 😉

I agree, it needs a little work!

Ok, ok, I’m done funneling my negative feelings about finals into innocent, unsuspecting Christmas carols for now, but no promises I can hold off forever!  In my defense, an 8:00am Tuesday final is not exactly what I’d consider the ideal holiday morning, but I suppose if I can get through that, I can survive any amount of Christmas shopping swarms in the mall come next week!

Let’s talk cookies.  Cookies are not finals.  Cookies are sweet and delicious and sometimes chewy, and never ask me questions that I have to answer via short answer or scantron.  These cookies in particular are cinnamon-sugar studded, crispy on the outside, perfectly dense and chewy on the inside, and have never judged me based on whether or not I know what co-factors regulate the cell cycle, and for that I much prefer them.  I feel like this line of thinking is probably exactly what causes people (totally hypothetically) to stuff 10 cookies in their face at a time in attempts to block out a bad day, or the impending doom of finals….right?  Or maybe cookies are just dang good.

Chewy Holiday Snickerdoodles

(Slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is)

Ingredients:

* 1 cup butter flavored shortening
* 1 cup sugar
* 2 eggs
* 2-4 Tbsp milk, any type, as needed
* 2 tsp vanilla extract
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 3 tsp cinnamon
* 1/4 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp cinnamon for rolling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Beat together the shortening and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and 2 Tbsp milk.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing along the way. Add a bit more milk to make the dough come together if it’s too dry.  Wrap up and refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour.

Use a cookie scoop to make dough balls, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar mix. Arrange on cookie sheet, and bake about 14-16 min. depending on your oven, until golden brown. Allow to sit on the pan a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Cinnamon-sugar rolled dough balls….

Mixed with a little oven time….and voila!

I rolled a portion of the dough in cinnamon sugar mix, part of them in red Christmas sprinkles after the cinnamon and sugar mixture just for a fun pop of color…

And part of them in clear crystal sprinkles for classy, wintery-looking cookies.

Wrap these puppies up pretty, because really, who doesn’t love the gift of cookies during the holidays?

Mocha Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookie Bars

28 Nov

If someone said Christmas cookies, I’m on it!  I love the Christmas season so much that I like to start packing in the cheer as early as possible for maximum enjoyment.  I’m not ashamed to admit I had white and colored Christmas lights strewn around my room several weeks ago, and Christmas tunes on my ipod even before that.  I thought once or twice about starting in on Christmas baking before Thanksgiving, even though I clearly have a thing for Thanksgiving pumpkin, cranberry, and pecan creations.  I contained myself.  I do love Thanksgiving, afterall!

However, now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, has been lived and enjoyed to the fullest, and the turkey leftovers have been devoured, I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever adding candy canes to cookies.  No problems belting out Christmas music while working off holiday dinners at the gym, and slim to no issues with getting my hands on as much Soy Nog as humanly possible.  I actually have zero to slightly fewer than that problems with Nog.  I love the stuff!  Also, these cookies smell amazingggggg…..

Cookie?  Brownie?  Chocolate cookie? Cookie brownie?  Semantics.  Regardless of the fact that these bars owe their rich chocolate color to cocoa powder and mocha cappuccino mix, the texture is much more like a cookie bar than a brownie.  Just to make things right in the world, I laced them with candy cane peppermint goodness, a dash of holiday cheer (not THAT kind!) and called it a day!

Get with the holidays!  Get your tree, hang as many lights as you can find, hand-write Christmas cards to loved ones, guzzle Nog, sing Christmas carols way off key, watch made for tv holiday specials over and over until you can’t handle it anymore, and make these cookies! =)

Mocha Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

* 2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
* 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
* 1/4 Cup Mocha Cappuccino Mix
* 1 tsp Baking Soda
* 1 tsp Salt
* 1 Cup Butter Flavored Shortening
* 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
* 1/2 Cup Sugar
* 2 Large Eggs
* 1 tsp Double Strength Cooled Coffee (I used french pressed Starbucks iced coffee blend)
* 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
* About 6 Peppermint Candy Canes, crushed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper or a panpat.

Beat together the shortening, brown sugar, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in the coffee.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the cocoa powder and mocha cappuccino mix.

Slowly add the dry to the wet, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.

Stir in the chocolate chips and crushed candy canes. Smooth into prepared pan, leveling the surface.
Bake about 25 minutes, depending on your oven, but DON’T over bake! Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Happy Holidays!