Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks

“When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.” ~Laiko Bahrs

Last year at Christmastime, I had every intention of giving out homemade Christmas treats to all of my family and friends…yeah, that didn’t happen. It was my second to last semester of college and what comes to stomp out any Christmas spirit or plans that any college student may have hoped to have in December? Just a little thing called final exam week. It was perfectly scheduled just one week before the week of Christmas…really, it’s perfect isn’t it?…. :-/

This year I was sure it would be different. I didn’t have school, or final exams to worry about so I thought I would have all the time in the world to bake…wrong again! The weeks leading up to Christmas were some of the busiest I have ever experienced! We were out of town every weekend from Halloween until December 10th when we were both in our best friends’ wedding. The next weekend we were on a plane to Chicago to visit family for the holidays! So my resolution? New Year’s treats. I spent two whole days baking to my little heart’s content.

These beauties came from a recipe in my “Cuisine at Home: Holiday Cookies” magazine. And I know it’s February now, but can’t one enjoy awesome cookies anytime of the year? Besides the little ruby red gems called cranberries could totally be for Valentine’s Day too…Christmas doesn’t own the color red!

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks (Makes about 4 dozen 4-inch cookies)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract (the real stuff)

3 cups organic old-fashioned oats (not instant)

1 cup dried cranberries

6 oz. good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl, set aside.

3. Cream butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer or in the bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture; stir with a rubber scraper or wooden spoon until completely blended.

4. Fold the oats, cranberries and white chocolate into the dough until evenly distributed.

5. Drop dough in 3 Tbsp. mounds (a No. 40 cookie scoop is perfect) onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.

6. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until golden but still a little moist. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

*You can also the freeze portioned dough or baked cookies

Enjoy!

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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“True friends are never apart, maybe in distance, but not in heart.” ~Unknown

Every time I make these muffins I think of my best friend, Brett. Last March, I went to visit her during my spring break and I brought some VERY overripe bananas with me because I was determined to attempt vegan baking. I had heard that bananas could substitute eggs as a binder, so I thought we should try it out. I was there for 5 days and each day was packed with all the things that we do best…eating, talking, shopping, wine tasting, eating, talking….it was so great…and so us. One of our other favorite things to do together is bake. On my last night there we still hadn’t used my bananas…so despite it being 11 o’clock at night, we baked. And it was so worth it! We made these vegan banana muffins and they were moist and delicious. Since then, I’ve been adding non-dairy chocolate chips to them to make them even more delicious! They also freeze well. I’ll often make a batch, and then after they cool, put them into a freezer bag in the freezer. For a quick breakfast on the go, I just take them out of the freezer and microwave them for about 30 seconds and they’re perfect! Great with coffee, almond milk or if you are not a vegan- then maybe you’ll go for the cow’s milk! Oh yeah, and feel free to lick the bowl- no eggs!! :)

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Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (yields 12 muffins)

Ingredients

3 very ripe bananas

1/4 c. vegetable oil

3/4 c. organic cane sugar

2 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1/3 c. vegan mini chocolate chips (optional)

Method


1. Preheat oven to 375. Meanwhile, mash the bananas in a medium sized bowl and add oil and sugar, stir to combine.

2. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Grease or line muffin pan. Fill each cup 3/4 full.

4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350. *Lower the temperature to 350 degrees after about 2 minutes of baking time. Muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean. (Mine are usually done right at 20 mins)

5. Allow muffins to cool for 1 minute in the pan and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

(This tip of spiking the oven temperature in the beginning and then lowering it actually helps prevent the muffins from sticking!)

Enjoy!