Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I was the ‘mystery reader’ in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom this week. Which essentially means I show up unannounced and read a couple of books to the kids. Scarlet knew I was coming in but didn’t know which day, so she had prepped me that I absolutely had to bring a Christmas
book in to read. She set out her special copy of Twas the Night Before Christmas and I dutifully brought it in.

Kindergartners have to be the very best age to enjoy the magic of the holiday season (well anything really) because they are so delightfully enthusiastic and excited over every little thing. They listened to
the story in bated breath and then proceeded to talk over each other telling me what Santa was going to bring them this year. It was the best.

As I was getting ready to leave, my daughter announced to the class we would be making cookies after school and she would be happy to bring one in for everyone. Her teacher and I laughed and of course, the kids were all too hopeful for a cookie delivery in the morning. And while I can’t quite deliver on those hopes, it made me think of my absolute favorite cookies to make this time of year.

Richly decadent chocolate cookies are studded with dark and white chocolate chips as well as peppermint bark. Sometimes the peppermint bark pieces can be hard to find but I’ve had good luck at Target and Wal Mart. We make batch after batch of these special cookies all month long and gift them to neighbors and friends, take to holiday gatherings and wrap up a few in extra special paper to give our favorite teachers.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cookies:

  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peppermint bark, crumbled into small pieces

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter and sugars until creamy and well-combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue mixing for an additional two minutes. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Use a whisk to stir until there are no clumps in the flour mixture. Slowly combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture, mixing until a dough is just barely formed. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, add the chocolate chips and peppermint bark to the dough and stir until well-combined. Place a piece of parchment paper over the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Use a small ice cream scoop or a spoon to make cookie balls. They should be roughly two tablespoons of dough. Give them plenty of room on the baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the cookie has spread out and looks firm.

Raspberry Nectarine Tart

I stopped in at Johnson Orchards last week to pick up a box of peaches and peek at what else was available. The white nectarines were calling my name and as I loaded up a bag to take home, my mind was racing as I thought of all the things I could make with them.

Of course, almost all of them were eaten over the kitchen sink, juice running down our hands, too lazy even to slice them up.

But the last couple nectarines were begging to be turned into something special. I needed a special dessert for a get together I was hosting and I had just the idea. I decided to make a batch of lemon scented shortbread cookie dough and shape it into a large rectangle. I baked it until it was lightly golden brown and the house smelled of sugar and lemon. I whipped up a frosting with unsalted butter, a little cream cheese, vanilla and more lemon zest. I slathered the giant cookie with the frosting and topped it all with those glorious nectarines, some raspberries, and a tiny bit of mint from my garden. And just to be a little fancy, I added a few nasturtium blossoms, also from my garden, which technically are edible.

The dessert was light but so wonderfully decadent at the same time. I cut the pieces into thin rectangles to serve and before I knew it the entire thing was gone. I was admittedly a little obsessed, so I made the recipe again a few days later. This time I just piled the top with fresh blueberries and a little more lemon zest. It was perfection.

Use this recipe as a guide but feel free to play around and make it to your preferences. Don’t like lemon? Skip it. Have blackberries growing in your yard? Use those. My only recommendation is to use fresh fruit so the cookie stays crisp and doesn’t get soggy.

Peaches, strawberries, blueberries, nectarines and raspberries are all readily available right now and any combination will make a delicious and special treat.

Raspberry Nectarine Tart

For the cookie:

• 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (2 sticks)

• ½ cup sugar

• ½ teaspoon almond extract

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• Zest of 1 lemon

• 1 ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

• Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until the butter mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, almond and lemon zest and mix to combine. Add the flour and pinch of salt all at once and mix on low until a crumbly dough comes together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Working quickly, gather the dough and shape it into a rectangle about 14 inches long and ¼ inch thick. It helps to flour your hands when working with the dough. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cookie is lightly golden brown and the center of the cookie is cooked through. Remove cookie from oven and set aside to cool.

For the frosting:

• ½ cup softened butter (1 stick)

• 4 ounces softened cream cheese

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• Zest of 1 lemon

• 2 cups powdered sugar

Using an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese and beat until well-mixed. Add in vanilla and lemon zest and mix for another minute. On low speed, add in powdered sugar until frosting is smooth and creamy.

To assemble the dessert, generously frost the cookie making sure the entire cookie has a thick layer of frosting. Wash and slice two nectarines. Top the cookie with sliced nectarines and raspberries. Garnish the cookie with minced mint and nasturtium blossoms.

To serve, use a sharp knife to cut the cookie in half down the middle. Cut small rectangles from the two pieces.

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

My kids (and their sweet grandma) made that plate you can see in the background for me for Christmas. It’s actually more of a platter and I’ve taken to leaving it out on my counter. I stack cookies on it, or let a loaf of bread, fresh from the oven, cool on it. I love seeing their handprints and they love seeing the gift they made proudly displayed on the kitchen island.

Speaking of the kids, they’ve been doing hot laps on their scooters around and around our patio, zigzagging the furniture, making jumps off the step. This morning Luke got a bunch of cardboard out of the recycling bin and started building some sort of contraption for more scooter tricks. Last night it was literally pitch black and pouring rain and they were still out there, shrieking and laughing, racing around and around. They bang on the slider door begging me to watch. I stop whatever I’m doing to laugh and cheer on their tricks and stunts.

I meant to get this cookie recipe posted a full week ago, but you know how life gets in the way sometimes. In all honesty, I’ve opened this page a handful of times, stumped by the empty screen. I swing wildly between wanting to document more day to day life (a little mommy blogging like the good ol’ days) and then immediately feeling vulnerable about it. The online world feels so tricky to navigate these days.

I have friends who regularly take breaks from social media, it just seems to hit a nerve where all the pretty (posed, planned and curated) pictures make them feel bad about their less than but (completely normal happy) perfect life. I have other friends who completely own and acknowledge their reliance on it. I feel like I’m somewhere in the world. It’s definitely an absent minded habit. I struggle with falling down the rabbit hole of scrolling. But I also find a ton of inspiration and connection on social media. I peek into friends and families lives that I otherwise wouldn’t have the pleasure of keeping up with. Not to mention that this little corner of the internet provides a needed creative outlet that no matter how many times I think I’m going to quit it, I just can’t seem to.

Anyway, lets talk cookies. I don’t really eat dairy anymore. It’s been almost a year. I occasionally eat it when I can’t get around it or something is just too yummy and amazing to pass up. I pay for it with terrible stomach aches but every once in a while its worth it. It was easier than I thought it would be to give up, but man, I miss a good cookies sometimes. A real cookie. I’m not going to lie to you, these are not the same as a real, fresh-from-the-oven, chocolate chip cookie. But they are really really good. And they hit the spot when it comes to a craving for a sweet treat. Even better, I don’t feel that bad eating them and letting my kids snack on them.

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk (from the can)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large sauce pan mix together the coconut oil, sugar, coconut milk and cocoa powder over low heat until no lumps remain and the sugar is dissolved. Allow to come to a boil and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and rolled oats. Stir in vanilla.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Using a spoon, drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto wax paper. Let cool until completely set. Store covered in the refrigerator.

(Makes about 3 dozen smallish cookies)


Orange Almond and Dark Chocolate Shortbread

Woah…didn’t quite mean to take an almost month long break. Life you know? I’ve got a couple recipes to get caught up on and then next week I’ll get back on schedule (in theory).

Happy Saturday friends. No snow here but we’re headed out to find some in a bit.

We have an annual tradition the weekend after Thanksgiving to drive up towards White Pass in search of a Christmas Tree. We buy the $5 tag from the Ace Hardware in Naches, fill a thermos with hot chocolate and bundle the kids up from head to toe. We’ve been doing this every year for close to 10 years, driving deep into the forest past Clear Lake, to our special spot, bumping along a rutted-out forest service road.

When we finally get to our spot, the kids and dogs spill out of the car, usually fussing over a missing glove or cold feet but the fresh air and wide-open space takes over and within seconds they are whooping and hollering, running in and out of trees insisting each one they see is the ‘perfect’ tree.

Once negotiations have been made and a tree is agreed upon, we cut it down and load everyone back up to head home. It’s a tradition we all look forward to and I love to look back at photos from over the years, seeing my children as babies, bundled up in snowsuits, toddling tentatively through the snow. These days they lead the charge, darting up and over logs, throwing snowballs, making passionate pleas as to which tree should be chosen.

As much as going out in search of our Christmas tree is a tradition, so is laughing over the inevitable ‘Charlie Brown’ status of our wild tree. This year’s tree is no exception, full of big holes between the branches and one side a bit lackluster in branches. Somehow every year, the tree looks pristine in the mountains and always surprises us once it’s in the house. It’s all part of the charm and fun (I hope). I laugh thinking about what stories my kids will tell someday.

Once the tree is up, holiday prep goes into full swing around my house. And number one priority (ok not really, but it’s one of my favorites) is making lots and lots of cookies. This week’s shortbread cookie is adapted from Martha Stewart. I took the liberty of adapting the recipe a little bit, but that’s the beauty of shortbread, it’s a blank slate for whatever kind of flavors you want to add. Candied ginger and lemon zest would be lovely, as would classic vanilla. Dried cranberries and white chocolate is another house favorite. Play around and see what you come up with, you can’t go wrong.

Orange, Almond and Dark Chocolate Shortbread

  • 2 sticks unsalted room temperature butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (about 1 orange)
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons half and half

Make the dough: In a mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, almond extract, vanilla extract and salt until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour and orange zest; mix just until a dough forms. With a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or your hands, gently mix in almonds.

Freeze the dough: in between two pieces of waxed paper, form dough into a flat rectangle about 12 inches in diameter or until the dough is about ¼ inch thick. Put the cookie dough in the freezer for 30 minutes (or the refrigerator for at least an hour) before baking.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove dough from freezer. You have two options to create cookies. Use a sharp knife and cut dough into small even squares OR use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of the dough. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake until edges just begin to turn golden, about 15-20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet; transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and half and half in 30 second intervals. After each 30 seconds, stir the chocolate vigorously until the chocolate is just melted. Dip the cookies halfway in the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to harden completely before storing.

Coconut Oil No-Bake Cookies


Littered across my desk are camp registrations and vacation bible school fliers, a daily reading log and half finished math homework the second grader forgot about. But what keeps catching my eye as I sit here is the framed photo of my three kiddos from when Scarlet was a newborn. Luke was two and had white blonde shaggy hair and the sweetest little smile. Jackson, barely four, is laughing in the picture, making his dimples that much more noticeable and if you really look at him, you can see where he probably had cut his hair at some point. Scarlet is all baby cheeks and deliciously round, staring seriously at the camera. It’s one of my favorite pictures and such a good little nudge as I sit here among the chaos that these kiddos might not be the sweet babes from a few years ago but to slow down and enjoy them because time is a slippery thing.

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t really feeling it this morning when one of my darling children accidentally upended the five-pound bag of coffee grounds in the freezer looking for an ice pack for his lunch. I swallowed the desire to remind him that I never had an ice pack in my lunch when I was a kid, I was forced to eat many a slimy turkey sandwiches without complaint. But I didn’t. I took a deep breath and cleaned it up. And then when I got home later I cleaned it up again because coffee grounds have a way of spreading and floating to every nook and cranny of your entire kitchen. It’s a mystery how that works but I can attest to it being a real phenomenon.

Needless to say I was REALLY pleased to treat myself to another cup of coffee and one of these cookies when the clean-up was finally done. These cookies were sort of an accidental surprise based on ingredients I had on hand and adapted from a recipe I found online. The batch made about 16 medium-ish cookies which is perfect as a treat this week for our family but if you’re feeding a crowd, you might consider doubling the batch.


Coconut Oil No-Bake Cookies

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. almond milk (could use regular milk too)
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • pinch of salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Bring sugar, almond milk, coconut oil and cocoa powder to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in shredded coconut, oats and peanut butter and salt. If the mixture seems a little dry, add a splash of almond milk. Using a spoon, scoop batter onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle with shredded coconut or crushed peanuts if you’re fancy. Allow the cookies to set, either at room temperature or put them in the fridge. Store extras in the fridge.


Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies

img_7171Scarlet discovered the baskets of wooden train tracks in the boy’s closet over the weekend and it has brought a flood of memories back of the boy’s toddler years. We spent countless hours building train tracks. Jack only ever wanted to build the track, with little interest in actually playing trains. Luke was the opposite, he would wait for Jack to get the track exactly how he liked it and then would take over, pushing trains along the tracks for hours. Even now, sitting at my computer, I can see their little heads leaned together, babbling and squabbling, taking turns laying on their tummies stretching tracks from the tv room onto the tile floor of the kitchen. It feels like yesterday and in the same breath a million years ago.

Scarlet seems to like both parts with the added twist of imagination weaved in. The trains have personalities and names. I found myself sitting on the floor playing with her yesterday, chatting a little bit, handing her pieces, listening to her turn the engines into a family with a sister and two brothers, a mom and a dad.

I’m trying to catch these little moments a little more. And mixed right in with the good and sweet is school delays and cancellations, ice storms, basketball practices, gymnastics, freelance work, out-of-town guests and all the regular life stuff that you can’t get away from.


So let’s get to what’s important: brown butter oatmeal cookies. I saw a link to an oatmeal cookie recipe on Cupcakes and Cashmere which sent me down the rabbit hole of Cooks Illustrated online which ultimately led me to this cookie recipe. I’ve made them twice, the first time subbing all-purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour and the vegetable oil for coconut oil. The cookies tasted good but didn’t hold together well at all. The second time I followed the recipe to a T and they were amazing. This is one I’ll make again and again. The cookies have a wonderfully soft and chewy texture and the cinnamon mixed into the brown butter reminds me of a cinnamon roll. I can’t recommend them enough.


Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup Vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until the butter is fragrant and begins to slightly change color. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon. Set aside to cool slightly. In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. In the bowl of a mixer, mix the butter, sugar and oil together until well blended. Mix in the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in oats, raisins and chocolate chips. Scoop dough into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until light brown. Try not to overcook! The cookies should be slightly crispy on the edges and soft in the middle.