Peanut Butter Cup Stuffed Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Happy Mother’s Day! I created this magical mashup for my best friend Alexia’s birthday, but it is definitely a treat sure to please any mom out there (It’s one of my mom’s favorites for sure). It’s a spin off my classic brown butter caramel pretzel cookie recipe, which is always a crowd favorite. For as long as I’ve know her, Alexia has been addicted to 2 things: peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. This recipe was a no brainer and a big step up from the chips ahoy and Reeces puffs we snacked on after school. The pretzels and peanuts mixed into the batter add a nice, savory pop that compliments the overt sweetness of the cookie itself. They are thicccck, indulgent, and everything you want out of a good cookie.

  • 1 3/4 c AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 14 tbsp vegan butter/coconut oil
  • 3/4 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp flax+3 tbsp water mixed
  • 1 tbsp applesauce
  • 3/4 c dark chocolate chips
  • 2 heaping handfuls of crushed pretzels
  • 1 heaping handful of roasted peanuts lightly crushed
  • 16 dark chocolate peanut butter cups

Line 2 baking sheets and preheat oven to 375. Melt 10 tbsps of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk constantly for about 1-3 mins, until starting to turn brown and developing a nutty smell. Transfer to large bowl and add remaining butter until melted and incorporated. Add brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk until combined. Add flax mixture and applesauce and whisk rigorously for about 30 seconds. Let stand for 3 minutes, then repeat mixing for 30 seconds. Repeat process two more times. Mixture should be smooth and shiny. Use a rubber spatula to fold in dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips, pretzels, and peanuts into mixture. Create 16 three tablespoon size dough balls. Wrap each one around each of the peanut butter cups. Place on 2 lined baking sheet 2 in apart. Bake for 10-14 minutes until browned on the bottom and firming up top.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • If you don’t have peanut butter cups on hand, you can wrap your dough balls around a square from a chocolate bar and about a tsp of peanut butter for the same effect.
  • My favorite peanut butter cups to use are Unreal and Justin’s, but obviously use whatever you’d like. Both brands also have great almond/cashew butter options that are AMAZING for anyone with an allergy out there.
  • These are just as great out of the oven as cooled in my opinion, just an FYI.

Quick and Easy Vanilla Birthday Cake

Oh no! You forgot tomorrow is your brother’s birthday… or the PTA bake sale… or your turn to bring dessert to the potluck. Whatever it is, this recipe has your back. In one bowl and under 15 mins, these cupcakes come together for any occasion. In fact, you likely have all the ingredients in your pantry already. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity, this staple recipe is a crowd pleaser that shouldn’t be overlooked. The cake is tender and moist, the perfect base for frosting. The fraction of time they take to make is infinitely worth the results over anything store bought.

Cake:

  • 1 + 3/4 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c almond milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar mixed (let sit for 5 mins before adding)
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • frosting (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 and line a standard cupcake tin. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add almond milk mixture, olive oil, vanilla, and any mix-ins. Pour batter evenly between each tin, should be right to the top of each. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Frosting:

Beat butter, shortening, and cream cheese in a paddle-fitted stand mixer for 2-3 mins on medium high until fluffy. Switch to low and add corn syrup and vanilla, beating for 2-3 minutes more. Add sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid until just combined on low. Then, switch the mixer back to medium high and beat for 3 more minutes until fluffy, smooth, and almost glossy.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • Easily make these Funfetti by adding about a 1/2 c sprinkles. (or maybe Oreos, more birthday crumbles, chocolate chips, or chopped berries)
  • Feel free to make these even easier by using store bought frosting. Most canned vanilla frostings are accidentally vegan– including Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, and Duncan Hines. If you have a little extra time, you can toss one of these in a stand mixer for a much lighter, homemade tasting frosting.
  • I topped with my COOKIE CRUMBLES
  • I got the base for this recipe from

Best Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

My mom has a bad habit of buying bananas she does not eat. Every week she gets a bunch of bananas from the grocery store, and every week I end up freezing all of them. After I had filled nearly 3 gallon ziplocks full of bananas, I decided I should try to use them up. Hopefully you’re not as bad as us, but if you have some extra bananas starting to go bad, this recipe is for you. I got the base recipe from Love and Lemons, which no one is surprised about. Whole wheat flour and no refined sugar make these muffins hearty and healthy, but my tip to blend the dry ingredients together instead of just whisking keeps them light and fluffy. I made a double batch and froze some for future on the run breakfasts.

  • 1¾ cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅔ c almond milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ c maple syrup
  • ⅓ c olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c ground flaxseed + 1/4 c warm water mixed
  • 2 large, ripe bananas (mashed)

Preheat oven to 350 and spray/line a cupcake tin. Place flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in blender until fully mixed and ground to a fine powder. In a large bowl, whisk almond milk, maple syrup, olive oil, vanilla, and flax mixture. Fold in dry mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined. Add mashed bananas. Scoop 1/3 c batter into each tin and bake for 18-20 mins until tops are browned. Let cool for 15 mins in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • Be careful not to over-mix the batter. The more you mix, the denser the muffins get. (Please don’t leave like chunks of flour, though, just don’t go crazy)
  • Feel free to add chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, or whatever you’d like. I was just craving some plain muffins this day.
  • I may slice some bananas to top the muffins with next time.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 and bake one of your day or two old muffins for about 7 mins (or the ones your froze for about 20) for a fresh, out of the oven effect.

Gluten-Free Slutty Brownies

If you’ve never been fortunate enough to encounter the masterpiece that is the slutty brownie, let me enlighten you. Slutty brownies are three magical layers of desserts — each delicious in their own right — that come together to form something even more amazing. I’ve been making these since late elementary school with my sister, so they really take me back to my roots. This may be the one time I say it, but box mix is a must. I’ve tried making gourmet versions, and they just never add up to the original. Plus, box mix make this recipe insanely simple considering the extravagant results. I said that my sister is the one who turned me onto these, but unfortunately the typical chocolate chip cookie dough, Oreo, and brownie combo are packed with gluten. Now that Oreo has released an official gluten free cookie, though, we knew we had to bake a new version.

Cookie Layer:

Brownie Layer:

Line with parchment paper (see picture below) and preheat oven to 375. Prepare cookie dough and brownie batter according to packaging, using the flax mixtures as your “eggs”. Place cookie dough in pan and use clean hands to cover the entire bottom of a 9×13 baking pan evenly. Next, place Oreos with some space in between (to make slicing easier) in even rows on top. Finally, pour brownie batter over top evenly until everything under is covered. Bake for about 10 mins, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 15 mins. The brownie batter should just start to crisp up at the top, but the inside will continue to bake after you take them out of the oven because of how thick they are. You should let them fully cool in the pan before slicing, but I won’t judge if you can’t resist the temptation of digging in sooner.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • In my opinion, double stuffed Oreos are always the way to go if you can.
  • The brownie batter can be tricky to spread across the top, but be patient and I recommend using clean hands instead of a utensil.
  • I linked my recommendations for which mixes I like, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand or a favorite homemade recipe if you’re really feeling it.

Peanut Butter Banana Pretzels

So apparently it’s national soft pretzel month? I didn’t know soft pretzels were worthy of their own MONTH, but honestly I’m here for it. One of my favorite recipes on this blog is my soft pretzel recipe. I was amazed at how easy they were to make considering how delicious the result was. These peanut butter banana pretzels are actually a bit healthier than those and add a sweet twist! I loved having them for breakfast and they are amazing fresh out of the oven! If you’re a sweet and savory mix person, these are definitely for you.

dough:

  • 1 c almond milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 c peanut butter
  • 2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 5 tbsp of baking soda
  • 5 c water
  • glaze (below)
  • coarse sea salt (to top)

Heat milk in a saucepan or the microwave until it is hot, but not to the point where you can’t put your finger in it (about 100F). Mix yeast, maple syrup, and 1/4 c of the hot milk to a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. Whisk flours, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in. medium bowl. Mash together remaining milk, bananas, and peanut butter together. Add the yeast mixture and the dry mixture and use a wooden spoon to combine into a dough. Transfer to a table top and knead for about 10 minutes until it starts to get smooth and resilient. It will still be sticky, but will stick to itself for the most part and roughly hold a shape. Transfer to a large bowl covered with a towel and let rise in a cool oven with the light on for about 90 mins until doubled in size.

Bring baking soda and water to a boil in a pot. Preheat the oven to 450 and line 2 baking sheets. Working with about 2-3 tbsp of dough at a time, roll into small balls and then twist into desired shape. Working with 1-2 pretzels at a time, boil each until it floats to the top of the water (about 15 seconds). Transfer to baking sheets until all have been boiled. Use a brush/baster to apply a coat of glaze and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes until browned.

glaze:

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp almond milk 
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Whisk ingredients together.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • You can also cover the dough bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge instead of a cool oven if you want to leave it overnight. Just let the dough warm to room temperature before continuing.
  • These are harder to shape into traditional pretzel shapes, so it may be easier to just opt for knots.
  • I might add some of the PB2 powder to increase the peanut butter flavor next time.

BEST French Onion Soup with “cheesy” Garlic Bread

Okay. This soup is so good… like soooo good. It’s savory and indulgent tasting, yet has surprisingly clean and nutritious ingredients. I’m a huge balsamic person, so this is ideal for me. Of course, I got the recipe from our friends over at Love&Lemons — you know the drill, check them out. This recipe is relatively easy to make, great for meal prepping, and packed with flavor. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of soup, and this one will truly feed your soul. The “cheesy” garlic bread is just a bonus, but amazing in its own right. Don’t let the cashew cheese throw you off, it’s comforting and rich in flavor all the same.

soup:

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium yellow onions
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp tamari
  • 1½ tsp dried thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp  flour
  • 1 c white wine
  • 6 c vegetable stock/broth
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • baguettes (or bread/crackers/croutons of choice)
  • “mozzarella” (see recipe below)

Peel and thinly slice your onions, and mince your garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and pepper to taste, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 40 minutes until the onions are very soft and becoming transparent. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook until starting to brown, about 20 more minutes. Add balsamic, tamari, thyme, and garlic, stirring to combine. Add flour and cook for at least 2 minutes to cook off the flavor. Stir in wine and cook for about 2 more minutes. Finally, add your broth and cook on medium heat for about a half hour longer.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice your baguettes and drizzle with olive oil. You can add a little roasted garlic if you’re into it. Toast baguettes on a sheetpan for about 10 minutes, then remove from oven and add “mozzarella.” Turn your broiler on and roast for about 4 more minutes, carefully watching to ensure that your bread doesn’t burn. Ladle soup into bowls, topping with baguette slices, and serve.

“mozzarella”:

  • ¼ c cashews
  •  1 ¼ c almond milk
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch (or 1 tbsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp gluten free flour) 
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Boil the cashews for about 25 mins in a small pot, or soak them in water overnight. Place all the ingredients (including drained cashews) in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a small pot over medium heat, whisking continuously for about 3 mins. Your mixture should become thick and almost stretchy. Remove from heat.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • I used Vidalia onions and really liked their subtle, sweet flavor. I would assume you can use any onion here, just get about 3 lb worth.
  • Tamari is ground sesame seeds, so a good replacement would be any type of neutral tasting nut butter.
  • This is even better a couple days after you make it since the flavor has time to develop. You can also freeze it for a future easy meal.
  • To roast garlic, simply place whole, unpeeled cloves in tinfoil and place in the oven at 425 for about 25-30 mins. The inside should be soft and the spicy flavor should be gone.

Carrot Cake Waffles

It’s almost Easter! As you’ve probably figured out, I love all the holidays and am always looking for ways to celebrate. If you’re the same, these waffles will definitely be next on your list. I’m honestly not sure when bunnies, chicks, and baskets started overlapping with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but these carrot cake waffles fit the theme. Kids will love the after Church and Easter Bunny treat, and even get some hidden veggies and whole grains in the process. You can even make them the night before or before Church and place them in the oven at 400 to reheat when ready to serve. They’re made with spelt flour and contain no artificial sweeteners, which gives them a nice exterior crunch and make them a great weekday breakfast, as well (especially if you keep a batch frozen).

  • 2 c spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 c almond milk at room temperature
  • ¼ c melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 c grated carrots
  • cream cheese icing (below)

Preheat a waffle iron. Blend flour, baking powder, flaxseed, cinnamon, and salt together until combined. In a large bowl, whisk almond milk, melted coconut oil, almond extract, maple syrup, and carrots until incorporated. Fold in dry ingredients from blender until just combined. Spray your waffle iron and use a 1/3 c to scoop batter and cook as directed by iron. Drizzle with cream cheese icing and serve.

healthy cream cheese icing:

  • 1 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk ingredients vigorously until smooth and creamy. If it’s too runny, add more cream cheese and maple syrup. If it’s too thick, add almond milk.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • I usually just eyeball the proportions of the cream cheese frosting, so I recommend starting with a small batch and adjusting to your taste.
  • Blending the dry ingredients makes these waffles much lighter and less dense, but it is not necessary. You can just whisk them in a medium bowl.
  • If you don’t like the idea of grating carrots to put in your waffles, freeze and blend them until they become a fine powder. This way, you still get the added health benefits and sweet flavor they add, but don’t have to deal with the grating.
  • These freeze really well, just place them in the oven at 400 for a couple minutes to reheat.

The Milkbar Birthday Cake… but vegan

I’m not going to lie… despite what this recipe it is, making it is no piece of cake. In fact, it takes a lot of time, effort, and dirty dishes, but the result is a unique birthday treat packed with flavor. The cake is actually rather dry, but the milk soak rehydrates it for a unique, creamy texture. The sweet, crunchy cookie crumbles are reminiscent of the crumbles in ice cream layer cakes. My favorite part by far and away is the frosting, though. The vegan cream cheese in it cuts the sweetness, but there’s not enough that I would call it a cream cheese frosting. It uses THIS MUCH vanilla to reach PEAK birthday flavor. This dessert is decadent, super sweet, and full of sprinkles. It’s ultra kid friendly, but sophisticated enough that you’ll love it, too.

  • cake
  • cake crumbles
  • frosting

cake:

  • 4 tbsp room temp vegan butter
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening
  • 1.25 c sugar
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp flax + 1/4 c water mixed
  • 1/2 c almond milk + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar mixed
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c cake flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/4 c almond milk + 1 tsp vanilla mixed (or just use vanilla almond milk)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease and line three 6 in cake tins with parchment paper. Beat butter, shortening, and sugars in a paddle-fitted stand mixer for 2-3 mins on medium high until creamy. Use a rubber spatula to scrape edges and add flax mixture. Beat for 2-3 more minutes until fluffy. Scrape edges again, then add almond milk mixture, oil, and vanilla. Beat for 4-6 minutes until the batter doubles in size it is so fluffy. There should be no streaks of fat when you’re done. Turn mixer on low and add flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles. Mix until just combined, scraping down edges as necessary. Pour batter evenly into prepared baking tin and bake for 30-34 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, transferring to fridge if low on time. Remove the cakes from the pan, line each of the pans with a large rectangle of plastic wrap, then place cakes back in pans. Distribute almond milk mixture evenly between 3 pans right before assembly.

Frosting:

  • 1/2 c room temp vegan butter
  • 1/4 c vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz vegan cream cheese (I used Kite Hill)
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1.25 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of baking powder
  • pinch of cream of tartar

Beat butter, shortening, and cream cheese in a paddle-fitted stand mixer for 2-3 mins on medium high until fluffy. Switch to low and add corn syrup and vanilla, beating for 2-3 minutes more. Add sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid until just combined on low. Then, switch the mixer back to medium high and beat for 3 more minutes until fluffy, smooth, and almost glossy.

Assembly:

  • cake (above)
  • frosting (above)
  • cake crumbles
  • more sprinkles (optional)

If you have a 6 in springform pan or acetate strips, now is the time to use them to help maintain the structure of the cake. I managed to work without them, so it’s definitely possible. Take one of your milk-soaked cake layers and add a layer of frosting (in pan). Sprinkle a generous layer of cake crumbles. Take another one of your cake layers and use the plastic wrap to easily remove it from the pan. Place cake on top of frosting layer. Add another layer of frosting and another layer of cake crumbles. Repeat this again with the final cake layer. Top with a ring of cake crumbles and more sprinkles. Freeze over night, or for at least 3 hours. Let warm almost to room temperature before serving.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • If this cake intimidates you, use your favorite vanilla cake recipe, skip the milk soak, and follow the rest of the recipe.
  • The frosting is much easier to handle at room temperature, especially since you’ll be freezing the cake, anyway.
  • You can make any part of this recipe ahead of time, just store in the fridge in an airtight container. All parts will hold for up to 5 days. You can alternatively assemble the entire cake at once in advanced and leave in the freezer until a little before you’re ready to serve.

hand pie cookies

Happy pi day! These cookies are too cute! They are like mini hand pies, but have the nice crunch of a cookie. The dough is strong enough to be packed with filling like a little present, but still not overly tough to bite into. They were originally part of my Christmas baking marathon, and honestly turned out to be one of my favorites. My favorite filling combo was probably the dark chocolate tahini, a nice break from all the overly sweet desserts from the holidays. I love the flavor the olive oil adds and it makes for super easy assembly. It won’t be 3/14 for long, so get baking! (Although I also think they’d be a great Easter treat)

  • 350 g AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 115 g cold vegan butter/ coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp flax seed + 1/4 c water
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • filling of choice (see tips below)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter/ sharp knife/ fork, incorporate vegan butter until texture is crumby. In a small bowl, whisk flax mixture, oil, and water until combined. Add to crumb mixture, and use a wooden spoon to form a dough ball. Split ball into 4 sections and roll into 4 small disks. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge until 5 minutes before ready to roll (wait at least 2 hours). Preheat the oven to 375 F and line 2 baking sheets. Use a large glass/circle cookie cutter to make circles until you run out of dough. Place about a tsp of filling in each. Fold over and use a fork to seal the edges. Alternatively, line the edges with water, fold, and crimp the edges. Place on baking sheets and bake for about 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to fully cool.

Filling Options:

  • 3ish dark chocolate chips+ drizzle of tahini
  • vegan nutella
  • jam
  • pie filling
  • nut butter

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • Make sure you get a good golden brown on the cookies when they bake, it makes the texture and flavor better
  • Dust with powdered sugar once cooled to hide any imperfections or to add a touch of sweetness
  • The dough is pretty elastic, so feel free to fill the cookies up

These are also great for me to use one of my favorite Christmas gifts, shoutout to Caitlyn!

Birthday Cake Cookie Crumbles

Packed with sprinkles, crunchy and crisp, and as full of sweet, birthday flavor, these cookie crumbles are such a fun treat. They come together pretty quickly, making them a great option to spruce up any basic recipe (including box mix/store bought!!).They are perfect for layering and topping cakes, ice cream, brownie batter, or even pancakes if you’re feeling a certain way. These crumbles are actually a sneak peak for a recipe I have coming up. Feel free to guess what it will be in the comments. If anyone gets it, I’ll give them a shoutout. In the meantime, these can be made a couple days ahead, so get baking!

  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 and line a baking sheet. Whisk sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in a large bowl. Add oil and vanilla, and then use a spoon to mix until you have a crumbly mixture with no dry flour remaining. Bake for 15 mins until slightly browned. Let cool completely before using.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • This recipe makes enough for a small cake or to top a dozen cupcakes. If you’re making a bigger spread, or want more to snack on, double/triple the recipe to be safe.
  • You actually have to let these cool in order for them to get the proper crunch you want.
  • Mix in chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, cereal, pretzels, or a mixture of everything to your cookie crumbles to make a dessert trail mix.