a balanced plate with room for dessert

1 Comment

SNAP Challenge: Day 4

Today’s Feeding America prompt: “Are you worried about your groceries running out before the end of the Challenge? Do you feel you are eating a healthy, balanced diet? What nutrition decisions did you have to make?”

In a word – yes. I am worried about running out of food. I think that’s something that I’ve mentioned on a daily basis in my summary posts. I have the tiniest bit of money leftover and I keep thinking about what I can do with that money just in case we run out of food.

I think the menu is healthy, but not as healthy as we normally eat. Our house is usually stocked full of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. This week, we only have a few fresh produce items. We have free garden produce – tomatoes, zucchini, hot peppers and I purchased bell peppers, bananas, and grapes. I usually buy exclusively whole grain pasta, rice, and bread, but this week the only whole grains I purchased were the whole wheat bread and oatmeal. I was able to buy some boneless, skinless chicken breast, but I bought 85% lean ground turkey instead of my usually 93% or 99%.

I’m also not used to the lack of variety we have. For example – I don’t think I’ve ever eaten oatmeal every single day (sometimes several times a day) before this. I like to switch up my breakfast items! Before, I would choose between cereal with almond milk, a breakfast sandwich, egg and veggie scrambles, or half a bagel with Tofutti cream cheese and some fruit. I’m not huge on “sweet” breakfast foods (pancakes, waffles, and the like have no place on my plate during breakfast!), but I love savory breakfast foods! I got sick of eating oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar by the end of Day 2 and ended up making a savory oatmeal with spices mixed in. Mike found it revolting, but it was just the change I needed!

For the MyPlate recommendations, we’re pretty darn close to meeting all minimums except for dairy. I’m getting no dairy at all. Like I’ve mentioned before, I can’t handle it any more. I didn’t fit lactose-free milk into our budget. I’m not a big milk drinker anyway, so getting rid of that was no big deal to me. Mike’s getting some from cheese, but not nearly enough. Something to work on for next time, I guess…

All that said, I am so thankful that we have a garden. Even though it’s 2 hours away, Mike was able to bring down cherry tomatoes, zucchini, herbs and a few hot peppers from the garden the day before the Challenge started. In a way, it kind of feels like cheating… but when I think about it, we haven’t really used much from the garden “stash” at all aside from the hot peppers and my occasional cherry tomato snack.

Snack wise, we’re doing a lot better. I don’t have access to any of our popcorn supplies (gosh, I miss kettle corn), rice cakes, or baking supplies. Another thing I really miss? Chocolate from my favorite Appleton chocolate shop, Wilmar’s. I’m obsessed with their cherry pie chocolate bar: milk chocolate with Door County dried cherries, almonds, and sea salt. Swoon! I keep a bar in my desk drawer and I eat one piece almost every day when I’m in the office. Having the bar in my desk drawer and not being able to eat it is hard. Mike doesn’t have access to his go-to snacks either. Good for our waistlines, not so good for our mood.

What we ate today:

  • Breakfast: savory oatmeal with an egg (me), whole wheat toast with peanut butter and raisins (Mike)
  • Snack: cherry tomatoes and grapes (me), grapes and a cookie (Mike)
  • Lunch: three bean turkey chili with elbow macaroni,
  • Snack: nothing for me… I ate it all in the morning 😦
  • Dinner: sweet & sour chicken with rice (Mike) and pepper chicken with rice (me)
  • Snack: peanut butter with raisins (Mike)

I think Mike and I were both struggling with not having a snack or dessert, so I whipped up a batch of healthy cookies for us. I had to improvise with what we had purchased for the SNAP Challenge. They’re super simple (4 ingredients!!!) and surprisingly tasty!

healthy 4 ingredient banana oatmeal cookies |

Banana Oatmeal Cookies
makes 1 dozen cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 ½ cups old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
½ cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.
  2. Mix bananas with oatmeal and peanut butter until well combined. Stir in raisins until evenly distributed.
  3. Roll into 1.5” balls and place on prepared baking sheet 2” apart. Gently press down on each cookie with the bottom of a cup to flatten slightly.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Leave a comment

Soft & Chewy Snickerdoodles

Well, I’m now closer to 30 than I am to 20. At first, I was distraught over this realization. Looking back on it, though, 26 is off to a pretty dang good start. I got to celebrate with my family over the weekend and then the actual day of my birthday was fabulous. In fact, my 25th birthday sucked in comparison.



This birthday was pretty great.

  • I had a good day at work (have I mentioned I love my job?)
  • Went for a nice run with Mike (instead of going out for drinks – how grown-up of me!)
  • Went to Takumi for a sushi dinner (totally amazing)
  • Annnnnd best of all – I was surprised with a dairy-free cheesecake by Mike. I melt a little every time I think about that cheesecake. Excuse the cell phone pic, but it’s the best I can do at the moment!

dairy free cheesecake |

A little background: I’ve recently cut dairy out of my diet because I’ve been developing some not-so-fun reactions to it. I’m really struggling because I’m a dairy-lovin’ gal. Cheese, Greek yogurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, cheese… you name it. After all, I do live in Wisconsin! Going cold turkey on dairy was hard. It’s still hard…

That delicious dairy-free cheesecake with raspberry sauce made everything better, though. It was so good – I still can’t believe that it was dairy free! I’m going to get him to remake it someday so I can blog about it. Yummmm.

So, while I don’t have the cheesecake recipe to share with you today, I do have some snickerdoodles! These cookies were one of three types of cookies that I brought in to work for my birthday treat. All three were delicious, but these turned out the prettiest. I don’t know about you, but I definitely “eat” with my eyes first. I’ll beautify the other two cookies and get those recipes up as soon as possible. Promise 🙂

soft & chewy snickerdoodles  -- no shortening! |

Soft & Chewy Snickerdoodles
makes 2 dozen cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

for rolling:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or use a hand mixer to beat butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add in sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  4. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for the topping.
  5. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the prepared cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  6. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until puffy and soft. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Leave a comment

Healthy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been craving cookies like crazy lately. On Sunday night the craving was so bad and I (sadly) didn’t have any cookies in the house. Wait, I take that back. I had Girl Scout cookies, but those weren’t going to cut it.

I decided to experiment and whip up some peanut butter cookies. Then I decided to make them better with mini chocolate chips and some chopped peanuts. Mini chips are my newest baking fave. I don’t know why I don’t use them more! They are perfect for cookies because they distribute more evenly in the batter than big chips. You’re pretty much guaranteed chocolate in every nibble!

If you’re a fan of soft, cake-y cookies, these are for you. They are so light in texture and absolutely delish. I was a bit hesitant to use the word “healthy” for this cookie, but this is probably one of the better-for-you cookies that I’ve made. After all, there is not a trace of added oil or butter in this recipe. And no butter or oil means I can eat more cookies, right? Right.

Healthy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies |

Healthy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together peanut butter, applesauce, sugars, vanilla, and eggs until smooth and well combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir into wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and peanuts.
  4. Wet hands with water* and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12 – 14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.

*I had to wet mine with water because this dough is really darn sticky. Alarmingly sticky. But don’t fret. Wet your hands, roll the dough, and the cookies will bake up perfectly!

1 Comment

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies |

I think I have a problem. I can’t stop eating these cookies. Seriously. They are making their way into my mouth 3 at a time, several times a day. I’m eating so many of them that I haven’t really eaten a proper dinner in a few days because I’m seriously just stuffed full of cookies. The only time that I am sans-cookie is at work. And that’s only because I force myself to walk out the door without a bag full of them. I need to keep a few hours of my life cookie-free, after all.

I have 2 sad cookies left in my cookie jar. The good news is they are super easy to whip together. The bad news is that it’s a million degrees (and humid!) out and the thought of turning on the oven makes me want to cry. I think I’ll have to wait until it cools off so I can bake more of these. And this time I probably won’t share.

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies |

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
slightly adapted from Cooking Light

1 1/4 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, gently whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl with an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat together sugar, brown sugar, and butter until well blended. Mix in vanilla and egg until just blended.
  4. Stir in flour mixture by hand until just combined. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.
  5. Roll dough into 1″ balls and place 2″ apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

1 Comment

Healthy Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are the seems-healthy-but-are-not-really-healthy cookie. Sure, it’s got oatmeal, but that oatmeal is usually accompanied by a lot of butter and sugar. But these oatmeal cookies are different. These just might be the healthiest cookie I’ve ever made. They are chock full of the good stuff: bran, whole wheat flour, and even some flax.

In fact, these little cookies are almost too packed full of healthy ingredients that it seems wrong to call them cookies… but they look like a cookie. And they taste like a cookie… so a cookie it is!

Healthy Oatmeal Craisin Cookies |

Healthy Oatmeal Craisin Cookies
makes 24 cookies

1/3 cup wheat bran
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon flax seed meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together on medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in flax, applesauce, and vanilla until combined. Mix in flour mixture, oats, and cranberries until combined.
  4. Drop byrounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet. Gently flatten with palm of your hand. Bake in preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely on baking sheets and store tightly covered.




1 Comment

Nutella Chocolate Chip Biscotti

I’m not a coffee drinker. Or a dunker. So, biscotti and I shouldn’t get along. But we do.

You see, these biscotti are delicious even when they are eaten plain. In fact, they are good enough to eat at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and for snacks. These biscotti were perfectly crisp yet still soft – nothing is worse than a biscotti that is break-your-teeth-hard. They weren’t overly sweet, either. So, whip yourself up a batch of these and enjoy!

Nutella Chocolate Chip Biscotti |

Nutella Chocolate Chip Biscotti
very slightly adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (6 oz) Nutella,  room temperature
3 large eggs,  room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened in color, 2-3 minutes.  Add Nutella to the bowl and mix on medium speed until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (15 to 20 seconds) and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add flour mixture to Nutella mixture and beat on low speed until combined; scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
  4. Add chocolate chips and mix on low speed until just blended.
  5. Divide the dough in half and on a lightly floured surface, shape each half of dough into a 13-inch log.  Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet 4 inches apart.  Gently press down on the logs to flatten them slightly until they are about 2 inches across.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the logs are firm to the touch.  Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the logs cool completely.
  7. Turn the oven down to 275°F and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and use a serrated knife to slice the logs on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick cookies.  Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the cookies, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning the biscotti over halfway through, until the cookies are dry.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Monday! If you’re anything like me, you’re probably having post-weekend blues. I guess that’s the downside to having really great weekends. This weekend was more fun than most. In addition to baking and cooking like I do every other weekend, we did something that I haven’t done in probably 10 years – we went laser tagging. It was fun to be a kid again 🙂 We ended the night with a terrifying four episodes of American Horror Story. And then we watched four more episodes on Sunday.

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies | baked with love by

I have a love-hate relationship with this series. I’ve been hearing how good it was for a while now. Mike and I attempted to watch it last weekend but I made him turn it off after 7 minutes of the first episode. I couldn’t handle it. Why I decided I wanted to try watching it again, I don’t know. Stupid. But now I’m hooked. Thank goodness I have these cookies to comfort me.

These cookies are ridiculously good. They’re the perfect combination of crisp edges with a chewy center, not overly sweet, and I seriously cannot get enough of them.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and mix in eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Mix in vanilla and peanut butter and beat until well combined.
  3. Add half the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Repeat with remaining half of the flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart.  Gently press down and very slightly flatten the tops with the palm of your hand.
  7. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sugar and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the tops just begin to brown.
  8. Remove pan from the oven and let cookies cool for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Lemon Cookies

lemon cookies

Let me start by saying that I love sour candy. Sour Patch Kids. Sour Skittles. Sour S’ghetti. Sour everything, get in my mouth. I used to eat Sour Skittles until my mouth was raw. Unfortunately, it seems like Sour Skittles have disappeared. I can find them occasionally in small bags, but other than that… they’re gone.

Ok, so maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t think that eating candy until my mouth screams in pain is all that great for my body.

So, I guess it should be no surprise that I love lemons. Plain lemon wedges to suck on, lemon slices in my water, you know the drill. I also love cookies (duh, who doesn’t). But lemon cookies? Most lemon cookies I’ve tried just aren’t lemony enough for me. They’re more a sugar cookie with a touch of lemon. These, however, are an in-your-face lemon cookie. So dang good.

lemon cookies

Lemon Cookies
heavily adapted from Anna Olson on Food Network, makes 3 dozen

for the cookie:
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon zest, about 2 lemons
1/4 cup lemon juice, about 1 1/2 lemons
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour

for the glaze:
1/4 cup lemon juice, about 1 1/2 lemons
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for dusting (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. For the cookies: Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined. Mix in lemon juice and lemon zest.
  3. Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour in a large bowl. Add to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Scoop batter using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes, or until cookies are just set. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before moving to rack to cool completely before glazing.
  5. For the glaze: whisk together lemon juice and powdered sugar until well blended. Drizzle over cooled cookies and let set. Once glaze is set, dust with powdered sugar before serving.

1 Comment

Ultimate Chocolate Cookie

My tastes have changed a lot over the years. For example, I used to hate bananas. Yes, hate. Their texture and taste never failed to make me gag. One night a couple of years ago, this all changed. Now, I like them when they’re still partially green or all yellow with no brown spots.

I also used to dislike chocolate. I never craved it, never sought it out. I was entirely indifferent to it. Ice cream? Strawberry, never chocolate. Candy? Sour or fruit candy, never chocolate. Hot drink? Tea or cider, never hot chocolate.

Then, I started the dietetic internship and the stress of it all brought out the chocolate monster that has been dormant all these years. Now I can’t get enough of the stuff. I never fail to have at least one chocolatey goodie a day. It doesn’t help that my work place seems to have an endless supply of chocolates. Funny enough, chocolate chip cookies are still not my favorite. Maybe it’s because there’s not enough chocolate?

ultimate chocolate cookie

This cookie, though, this cookie does have enough chocolate. There are not one, but two types of chocolate chips in it. And not one, but two cocoa powders to make for the ultimate chocolate cookie.

In my opinion, these are best eaten warm. Unfortunately I don’t have the patience to bake up a couple cookies whenever I get the itch, However, a 10 second spin in the microwave will bring the cookie back to the just-baked gooeyness, or at least really close to it.

ultimate chocolate cookies

Ultimate Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (like Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa powders, baking soda, and salt in  a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips until melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar at medium speed until light yellow in color, about 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add in chocolate mixture slowly, beating until well combined.
  5. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Fold in 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips and 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips by hand.
  6. Scoop batter using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, placing 2 inches apart on baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 12 – 13 minutes, until outsides are set but center is still soft. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

1 Comment

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

I purchased some raspberry jam to make raspberry tartlets for Mike. I got all my ingredients out, dug out my mini muffin liners, and then tragedy struck. I couldn’t find my mini muffin pan. Noooooooooo!!!! I tore my kitchen apart – both the actual kitchen and our basement kitchen and they were nowhere to be found.

I pouted about this for a couple weeks before deciding that I should just make something else with the jam. I decided to re-make an old recipe with a few changes.

raspberry thumbprint cookies |

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
makes 3 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup raspberry preserves

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in vanilla and gradually mix in flour until dough comes together.
  3. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets.
  4. Make a small indentation in each ball with your finger and fill with 1/2 teaspoon of preserves.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Let cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute and move to wire rack to finish cooling.