Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Have you ever watched your kids go from being semi-normal to bat-poo crazy after eating lots of sugar? I have seen my sweet little girl go from rainbows and sunshine to the Exorcist in about five minutes flat after she eats too much sugar.

But here’s the problem…

I’m a pastry chef. Making stuff with sugar is what I DO.

So, it’s kinda hard to NOT let my kids eat ANYTHING with sugar in it. The compromise? Well, I can either load them up and send them to Grammy and Grampy’s house until they crash, or make adjustments and not let them eat a pound of sugar at a time.

With these cookies, I really don’t feel bad at all letting them have a couple at a time. They literally contain HALF the sugar of a standard chocolate chip cookie, they’re made with whole wheat flour, have ground flaxseed, and are packed full of oats. Makes a great little lunchbox snack, too.

If your family is nutty like mine, throw in a cup of chopped pecans for some added crunch.

Let’s get real though, these are also great for breakfast. They go really well with coffee, and I have been known to pack a couple in a little plastic bag and take them to work. My new favorite breakfast of champions.

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies Recipe: (makes about 32 cookies*)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup stevia (or other sugar substitute of your choice)

1 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (plus 2 tablespoons water)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups old fashioned oats

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or raisins if you prefer)

In a very small bowl or cup, stir together flaxseed and 2 tablespoons water. Set aside. Combine butter, both sugars, and honey in a medium size mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add flaxseed, eggs, and vanilla, continue beating for another minute. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, continue mixing until well combined. Add oats and chocolate chips, stir together well with a spatula.

Using a medium ice cream scoop, distribute dough on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Using your hands, form each ball of dough into a thick disk. Place back on sheet and into refrigerator for at least one hour. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cookies on another cookie sheet, about two inches apart. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until a very light golden brown. Remove from oven, let sit on pan for another ten minutes. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

*If you want smaller cookies, use a smaller scoop and adjust the baking time by about 1-2 minutes.

**How do I make cookies soft? This may sound weird, but a great way to make sure your cookies are soft are to UNDERbake them. No seriously, I’m not kidding. This is a technique that takes some practice, so you know exactly when to pull your cookies from the oven. When you underbake the cookies, they still continue to bake on the cookie sheet after they’re removed from the oven. This is called carryover baking. If you don’t believe me, Google it. The internet never lies… Just before they’re starting to crack a little on the top and are still slightly soft in the middle, pull them from the oven. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for about 10-12 minutes. They’ll still be somewhat soft when you transfer them to the cooling racks, but will firm up more as they cool. If they’re falling apart when you are transferring them, they didn’t bake long enough. It just takes a little practice. I have faith in you.

FREEZER INSTRUCTIONS:  For a great way to have cookies on hand, you can freeze the cookie dough and use as needed. Even though these cookies are healthier than the usual cookies, eating a dozen at a time may cancel out that whole “healthy” aspect, you know? My freezer is packed with different cookie dough flavors, and I can bake them at the drop of a hat as needed. Kids need an extra snack in their lunchbox? Cookie. Unexpected dinner guests and you want to have a little dessert? Cookies. Wine just won’t cut it after a long day? Dozen cookies.

After the cookies have set in the refrigerator, transfer them to an airtight container lined with parchment paper. If you’ve got more than one layer of cookies, make sure you separate the layers with the parchment paper. Before baking, let them rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before baking. If you need to bake them right out of the freezer, just add 1-2 minutes to the baking time.

Ultimate Oreo Cake

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep? Happens to me more than I’d like, but often that’s when a lot of brainstorming takes place in my noggin.

Sometimes I’d rather be sleeping, but that’s when an idea pops in my head that makes me want to start baking a massive dessert at 3am. That happens to everyone… Right?

Well, that’s what started this…

The Ultimate Oreo Cake.

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As I was laying in bed in the middle of the night desperately trying to fall back asleep, Oreos were dancing in my head. Then came the cheesecake. And the chocolate.

Oh, the chocolate.

The end result was a three layer decadent dessert made for dreams. Two moist layers of chocolate cake surrounding a thick and fluffy Oreo cheesecake, covered with Oreo Cream Cheese Icing, chocolate ganache, and little baby Oreos.

Mmmmm, Oreos.

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As my husband watched me layering all of this goodness together, he said, “Why would you want to ruin a cheesecake by adding cake to it?” I gawked at him. “That’s it, I’m locking you away in a padded room tied up in a straightjacket.”

It must not have been all that ruined since he ate an entire piece.

For the Chocolate Cake:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup strong coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium size mixing bowl and whisk together to combine. Add liquid ingredients and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for about 1-2 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans, pour batter evenly into pans. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and let cakes cool in pans for 12-15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

For the Oreo Cheesecake:

4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine 1 package cream cheese, cornstarch, and 1/3 cup sugar. Beat at medium speed until combined. Add each package of cream cheese, beating after each one until fully incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add remaining sugar and continue to beat. Add vanilla and eggs, beat just until combined. Finally, add heavy cream and continue to beat just until the cream is mixed in with the cream cheese.

Spoon mixture into a 9 inch springform pan. Wrap aluminum foil around outside of pan twice, making sure the outside of the pan is fully covered. Place in a larger pan (I typically use a 12 inch round cake pan for this) and fill the larger pan with water, just until the water level comes halfway up the springform pan. Carefully place in oven and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, just until the middle is a little bit jiggly. Pull pans out of oven, remove springform pan from larger pan and place on a cooling rack for cheesecake to cool completely. When it has cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer overnight.

For the Oreo Cream Cheese Icing:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

5 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 cup Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs (easiest to use electric food chopper or processor)

Combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a medium size mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 3-4 minutes. Add confectioners sugar, one cup at a time, continue to mix for another 3-4 minutes. Pour in Oreo cookie crumbs and beat for one more minute.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Dump chocolate chips in a small mixing bowl, set aside. Heat heavy cream in microwave safe dish in microwave for 45-60 seconds, until it just starts to boil. Pour over chocolate chips in bowl and whisk vigorously until chocolate melts.

Putting it all together:

Place one layer of chocolate cake on a cake board/stand. Spread a thin layer of icing on top of cake. Remove cheesecake from freezer and loosen the side. Carefully push the bottom up to remove from the side. Place a piece of wax paper on a hard surface (I typically use another cake pan) and turn top side of cheesecake down, so the bottom of the springform pan is facing up. Using a knife, loosen cheesecake from the pan all the way around. Since the cheesecake is frozen, it’s easier to handle. Once you remove the bottom of the springform pan from the cheesecake, place the cheesecake on top of the chocolate cake layer. Spread another thin layer of icing on top of cheesecake, then place other layer of chocolate cake on top. Cover the entire cake with the icing until smooth. Spread chocolate ganache on top, just pushing over the sides so it drips down. Place cake in refrigerator or freezer for the ganache to set. Pipe remaining icing on top, set baby Oreos on top of icing for added garnish. Store cake in airtight container in refrigerator for 3-5 days.

 

I’m not 19 anymore, and it shows.

Well, at least physically I’m not. Sometimes it’s fun to be a goofball- minus the obnoxious, totally clueless life perspective from when I was 19. No, I’m not saying ALL 19 year olds are like this, just reflecting on so many of the dumb things I said or did 17 years ago. There are too many to list.

No dwelling on past mistakes though, let’s talk about the physical aspect of it.

Fine, I’ve had two kids… and after that second kid, it was even harder to get back into shape and lose the baby weight (I’m still technically 20 pounds heavier than pre-pregnancy weight). You know what though?

It doesn’t matter.

What MATTERS is how out of shape I FEEL.

At the age of 19, I could exercise for one hour a day and eat WHATEVER the hell I wanted. The result? A flat tummy with lines. My diet? Bagels smothered with butter, cinnamon and sugar, Capri Suns, burgers and fries, chips, Hamburger Helper (don’t judge, we didn’t know how to cook back then), soda, pizza, and anything else unhealthy you can think of. I had a metabolism on steroids.

Well, things change.

Popping in an exercise video just five years ago and getting back into really good physical condition would take less than two weeks. These days, it feels like it takes a damn year.

Oh, and the injuries. In the past year, I’ve had a sprained ankle, sprained wrist, and strained hip flexor. How? I have NO friggin’ clue. Must be age related, and getting back into those workouts while trying to nurse a minor injury makes it even more fun.

It’s like a sloth trying to do jumping jacks during a T25 workout.

Seriously.

Modified exercises? Please. You know the girl who does the modified exercises is still in amazing physical condition and it’s a cake walk for her. Speaking of cake…

I work with food.

Not diet food.

PASTRIES.

BREAD.

DESSERTS.

PASTA.

Granted, the foods I make are for the customers and I don’t eat much of them, but I’m still surrounded by some of the most succulent aromas from the incredibly talented chefs I work for. Did I mention the food is AH-MAZING?? “I think I’ll have a salad for lunch.” The day may start out with those intentions until the “not-diet-food” is staring at me from across the kitchen. Sending its fumes over to my nostrils. It’s a conspiracy. Especially when the stomach starts singing that it’s hungry and the chefs make a family meal of hot pasta, freshly made sauce, and oven roasted chicken wings. It’s just not fair.

Time to compromise. It may take longer, but the feeling of being physically fit and having more energy to do pretty much everything is worth those 25 minute workouts. Forget the pounds, I refuse to watch everyone else around me indulge in amazing food while I stand by and say, “No, I’m not allowed to eat.” Most of what I eat is healthy, but I’m not missing out on dessert and wine if it’s not necessary.

I can deal with having a muffin top if being able to move around like a kitchen ninja is fueled by those workouts.

Compromise fulfilled.

My kids are mac n’ cheese addicts.

Mac n’ cheese seems to be the “it” thing for kids. Most kids not only like it, but they go absolutely bonkers for it.

My kids fall into that category.

Before I learned how to make it from scratch, Kraft “Thick and Creamy” lived in our pantry. I could easily blame myself for their addiction, considering it’s something that was consumed on almost a daily basis while I was pregnant with both of them. And I’m not talking about a little bowl of it, I’m talking about an ENTIRE BOX.

At one time.

All 1,100 calories.

There were no leftovers.

Ever.

Did I care that I gained 40 pounds with each pregnancy? Um, no. I was providing nourishment for my babies. That processed box of heaven was giving them nutrition, and that’s the excuse I was sticking to.

After attending culinary school, I grew some cojones and started making it from scratch. Grating fresh sharp cheddar cheese and parmesan, melting it in the bechamel sauce and stirring in those freshly boiled noodles before topping it with more cheese and baking it. Holy crap… Kraft who?? You’re fired.

Once the second kid came around, I got lazy and went back to the boxed stuff for a while, just until he got older and my sanity somewhat started to come back. I won’t lie though, I will still grab the boxed stuff every now and then, just because I still think it tastes delicious.

My daughter recently started asking for it again, because that’s what she was used to before her little brother came along. She was known as the “kid who only ate hot meals” at her old school because she refused to eat cold sandwiches. So, I’d make that mac n’ cheese for her and send it in little glass microwave safe containers that the teachers would pop in the microwave for her.

Should’ve sent in a silver spoon for her to eat it with.

Either way, this stuff is da bomb, and my daughter starts squealing like a rabid monkey when I tell her we’re having it for dinner. Or, is it me who does that? I can’t tell anymore.

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Creamy Baked Mac n’ Cheese

8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

3 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside. Melt butter in a pot on medium heat and add flour, whisk until smooth and cook for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk to flour mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Add mustard, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook on medium heat for 14-15 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. While sauce is cooking, grate cheddar cheese. Add all but 1 cup of cheddar cheese, stir. Add Parmesan cheese and stir again. Whisk constantly until sauce is smooth and cheeses are melted. Remove sauce from heat and stir in drained pasta. Pour mixture into 8×8 inch baking dish, sprinkle with leftover cheddar. Bake,  uncovered, for about 30-35 minutes. Remove dish from oven, let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

This stuff reheats and freezes very well! Great as leftovers and freezer meals!

SECOND COOKBOOK AVAILABLE!!!

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My second cookbook in the Moms on the Go cookbook series is now available!

Are you tired of making the same things for dinner over and over again? Are you looking for easy recipes using every day ingredients? Look no further!

The Moms on the Go cookbook series is aimed at busy moms (and dads!) who are looking for simple and delicious recipes to prepare for their family. Even if you don’t have kids, these recipes are too simple and yumdiddles to pass up!

“What’s for Dinner?” is the second cookbook in this series with over 85 easy recipes for:  breakfast & brunch, salads & sandwiches, entrees (chicken, beef & pork, vegetarian), side dishes, and desserts!

Click HERE to get your copy!

Tiramisu Pancake Stack

It’s amazing how a simple combination of several different ingredients can make your mouth water just by thinking about them. My mother-in-law is a HUGE fan of tiramisu, and while I was making pancakes for the family one morning, her mere presence had me brainstorming about tiramisu recipes. The thoughts came swirling into my head like an ocean of chocolate syrup, and it was like a huge lightbulb turned on over my chocolate-syrup-filled brain. I gasped, then started thinking about how I could make these already delicious buttermilk pancakes, but brush each one with coffee, layer them with a mascarpone cream filling and top them with chocolate syrup. I’ll accept hugs as a thank you.

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I couldn’t wait to try these out, and thought about how perfectly a mimosa would accompany this as brunch. If you want to get technical about what is classified as a stack, of course it’ll be anything more than one pancake and cream layer…but feel free to go ahead and make a triple-decker. It’s worth it.

Oh, and did I mention this recipe will be in my upcoming book, “What’s For Dinner?” It’s the second book in my Moms On The Go cookbook series, and will have over 100 recipes for breakfast & brunch, soups, salads & sandwiches, entrees (chicken, beef, pork, & vegetarian), side dishes, and desserts.

Click HERE to check out my current cookbook available on Amazon!

For the Pancakes:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add liquid ingredients, whisk together just until mixture is combined (batter will still have a few lumps). Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter at a time onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until lightly browned on the other side. Let pancakes cool to room temperature before assembling.

For the Cream Filling:

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed

2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and beat at medium speed with electric mixer for about 1 minute.

Putting it all together:

Lay pancake on a plate, brush with cooled coffee. Spread 1/4 cup cream on top of pancake. Layer two more times, then top with chocolate syrup.

Oreo Truffle Tarts

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of Oreos.  It might actually be in my best interest to buy stock in them, because I have probably contributed to a rise in demand for these irresistible cookies.  Every time there’s a fresh package in the pantry, it’s been consumed in some type of concoction, and back to the store we go.

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While writing my first cookbook, I included a few recipes that use the refrigerated pie crust to make miniature tarts.  Although they’re easy and delicious with the different fillings, my brain keeps wandering back to the sweet tart shell that I’ve made from scratch on numerous occasions.

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This time, I decided to fill it with Oreo Truffle filling.  However, there is some added Cool Whip in the truffle filling, but I don’t know if it’s possible to ever have a problem with that.  The first time these were made, the refrigerated pie crust was used.  Although it was quite tasty, it felt like it was missing something…so I tried again.  Ladies and Gentlemen, that was the missing link…a sweet tart shell made from scratch.  The refrigerated pie crust may be easier, but the taste doesn’t hold a candle to the real deal.

Excuse me while I stuff these in my belly, and there will be no guilt felt over here.  None.

For the Sweet Tart Shell

3 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg yolks

6 tablespoons ice cold water

2 1/4 sticks butter

Cut up butter into small chunks, place in bowl and in refrigerator (the butter needs to be COLD when you mix it in with the flour).  In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk together. Remove the butter from the refrigerator and immediately cut it into the flour, using a pastry cutter, your fingers, or a food processor. Do this until it resembles a coarse meal.  In a small bowl, combine the vanilla, egg yolks, and water, whisk together with a fork. Pour liquid mixture into bowl with dry ingredients, toss together with a fork to incorporate. Start kneading together with your hands until dough is moist and combined. Separate into two pieces, placing each piece on dough on a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up completely, forming into a thick disk. Place both disks of dough into the refrigerator to set for at least 1 hour (can be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week).

Remove dough from refrigerator, let soften slightly (about 15-30 minutes) before rolling out. Roll to 1/4 inch thick, use 3 inch round cutters to cut out circles. Press circles into muffin pan, poke 6-8 holes in center of dough. Place muffin pan in refrigerator to let dough chill for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake shells for about 12 minutes, until golden. Remove pan from oven, use butter knife to loosen from pan and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Oreo Truffle Filling

1 (14 oz.) package Oreo cookies

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed

Place cookies in a food processor, process into fine crumbs (if you don’t have a food processor, a food chopper will work well).  In a medium size mixing bowl, combine cookie crumbs and cream cheese.  Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until well combined.  Add Cool Whip and continue beating for another minute, until well combined.  Using a medium ice cream scoop, distribute filling into each pastry shell.  Place in fridge to set.

For the Chocolate Ganache

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

Place chocolate chips in a small mixing bowl.  In a microwave safe dish, heat cream for 1-1 1/2 minutes, just until cream starts to bubble.  Pour hot cream over chocolate chips, whisk vigorously until chocolate chips have melted and mixture is smooth.

Pour a thin layer of chocolate ganache on top of Oreo Truffle layer, or you can just drizzle across the top. Since the ganache is rich, what you do right here is your own prerogative. Top with whipped topping and an extra mini Oreo cookie, if desired. Store in refrigerator.