Chocolate Chip Swirl Cookies

When stressed out, baking is my go to.  There’s something about all of the ingredients coming together to form something out of nothing that’s calming to me.  Somehow it’s comforting.  History final tomorrow?  Blueberry muffins can fix that.  French presentation?  Slice and Bake cookies calm those nerves.  Big race?  Apple Pecan Scones welcome that pain.  It’s just how I’ve grown up to be.  Sometimes the recipes I use are complicated and sometimes they aren’t.  As long as I get to pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes everything will turn out all right.

IMG_6371.JPGIn recent months I’ve noticed myself relying on more complex recipes, which require more time and effort.  While these recipes are great and occupy my worries, they aren’t always the most reliable or convenient.  Sometimes I feel like I end up with more of a mess then I do cookies.

So when a friend of mine asked me to make her some cookies the other day, I found myself in a dilemma.  I wanted something that I knew would taste good and seemed somewhat complicated, but I didn’t want to make a giant mess that took hours and hours to clean.  Enter Chocolate Chip Swirl Cookies- simple to make but captivating enough to impress any crowd.

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These cookies have quickly become one of my favorites, and I have no doubt that they’ll be one of yours too.

Chocolate Chip Swirl Cookies

  • Servings: 12-16
  • Time: 60-90
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 3/4 cups chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. Place the butter and both types of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high until light and fluffy.  Once fluffy, add the egg and beat until fluffy once again.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 cup the of chocolate chips.  Set aside.
  4. Take the remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips and place them in a small heat proof bowl.  Microwave them for 30 seconds and then stir and place them back in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Repeat this process of microwaving and then stirring until the chocolate chips are completely melted.  Mine took about 2 and 1/2 minutes total.  Melting in increments like this reduces the chance of burning the chocolate.  Allow your chocolate to cool for a couple minutes until room temperature.
  5. While the chocolate is cooling turn your mixer on low.  Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.
  6. Once your chocolate is cooled scoop it into the dough.  This is the hardest part because you do not want to mix the chocolate in until fully incorporated.  You can use your stand mixer to finish it off or you can finish it off by hand.  Either way, only mix it 2-4 times.  You want the dough to have a swirl of chocolate throughout, not just be chocolate.
  7. Cover the dough and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the dough from the fridge and scoop about a tablespoon of dough onto the parchment paper.  Each cookie should be about two inches apart.
  9. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.  They may look a little bit underdone at some spots, but that is just the melted chocolate.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Loukoumades Recipe

I know what you’re thinking- “Loo ko what now?”.  Loukoumades.  Loo-cow-mod-es.  Try saying it.  I’ll wait.

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Did that?  Good.  Now you must be thinking “What the heck are ‘Loukoumades’ or however you say it?!”  When it comes down to it, Loukoumades are basically little fried donut holes.  But really- they’re so much more then that.  Made with just five ingredients these tiny delicacies are a staple in my family.  They are a bit time consuming but they’re worth every second.  Despite taking awhile, these fried balls of dough are really simple to make.

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img_6327After you’ve fried them you can top them with whatever you want.  Powdered sugar?  Yep. Chocolate glaze?  Yep.  Maple Syrup?  Yep.  Cinnamon?  Yep.  Whatever you want.  Loukoumades are traditionally topped with honey but I’m not a huge honey fan.  I normally dust mine with a little bit of powdered sugar and call it a day, but it’s really up to you.  Sometimes, when I’m feeling lazy I don’t even top them!  I just eat them straight up, because honestly, yum.

This recipe was past down from generation to generation in my family and I thought that it was finally time that I shared it with all of you.  Get ready, because these treats are not something that you’re going to want to miss.

Loukoumades

  • Servings: 36
  • Time: 60-90
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Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 and 3/4 to 2 cups flour

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees
  2. Place a medium pot filled to the top with oil over heat.  Attach a thermometer to the side and heat the pot until the thermometer reads “350 degrees”.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  The batter should be very thick.
  4. Once the oil reaches 350 drop a few 1/2 teaspoon of the batter into the oil.  Cook each ball of batter until it is brown and then flip it over to the other side until it is brown again.
  5. Remove the loukoumades from the oil and place in a bowl/plate lined with a paper towel.  Place the bowl/plate in the oven to keep warm while the rest of the loukoumades cook.
  6. Repeat the process with the rest of the batter until you are all out of batter.
  7. Top with whatever topping you want and enjoy!

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2017 Update

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Just about a year ago, I decided that I would start writing more frequently for Papers and Pastels.  In the past year, I’ve posted about anything from Banana Pancakes to Thanksgiving attire. Looking towards the future, I’ve already made some major decisions for 2017.

 

After a year and a half (has it really been that long?) of posting about a slew of random topics, I’ve decided that this year I will be mostly focusing on the food aspect of my blog.  Now, don’t fret, I will still be posting the occasional outfit post or fitness update (I already have a few new Saturday Strolls prepped for the future), but the majority of my posts will be related to food or recipes.

Now that we’ve got everything about the future all set and addressed, let’s reflect.

2016 was a pretty good year.

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This amazing little pup joined my life.  She makes sure that every day is filled with laughter and smiles and I’m grateful for that.  Dogs truly have a way of changing your life- for the better.

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I posted my very first recipe (!!!) and continued to post new recipes throughout the year.

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I explored my neighborhood while walking Hazel.  I found out so much about the area that I’ve lived in for the past 15 years!

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I ate a lot healthier then I ever had before by trying new foods and opening my mind to possibilities.  (How had I never tried brussels sprouts!?!  They’re amazing!)

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I took a photography class and improved my photography skills.

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I’m so excited to start 2017.  I hope you are all having an amazing New Year Eve!  I love you guys and the fact that you all read my blog means a more then words could ever express to me.  Thanks for an awesome 2016, I can’t wait to see where this new year will take us.IMG_6276.JPG

Healthy Apple Muffins

There are some days where I need to bake.  It’s not that I even want to bake (I mean of course I do, I always want to bake), it’s more then a want, it’s a need.  I absolutely have to bake or the world will fall apart… well maybe not, but I think you get the idea.
Today I woke up with this feeling.  I woke up and I wanted to bake.  I walked the dog and I wanted to bake.  I went for a run and I wanted to bake.  So, despite already baking multiple times a day for the past week, I decided that I would whip something up.  IMG_6107.JPGSince it’s the day after a exhausting long week of holiday prepping and meals I wanted to make something on the healthier side.  Instead of reaching for a stick of butter from the fridge, I padded over to my pantry to look for a jar of applesauce- a great butter/oil substitute.  However, there was none to be seen.

After searching the pantry for a solid ten minutes I returned to my kitchen, racking my brain for what I could do.  That was when my gaze landed on the bowl of apples right in front of me.  Within minutes I was setting to work, peeling apples and dicing them into cubes and slivers.IMG_6112.JPGI’ve never made applesauce before, but I knew the basics.  Apples+water+heat= applesauce.  So that’s what I did, I threw water and apple slices on the stove and let it sit for half an hour and presto applesauce!  I also threw a couple pecans in this recipe just because.  Of course this is only for a small batch but it would definitely work to triple it if you wanted to make a dozen.  These muffins are also vegan of you  vegans out there.  Get ready, my friends, because after a week full of unhealthy eating these muffins are exactly what you need.  Oh, and as a bonus they taste pretty dang delicious too.  IMG_6113.jpgIMG_6108.jpg

Healthy Apple Muffins

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30-60
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • a pinch of cloves
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon flax seed and 3 tablespoon water combined
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • One apple
  • 1/4 cup water (or you can substitute 1/3 cup store bought unsweetened applesauce if you don’t want to make it)
  • 1-3 tablespoon chopped pecans (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Place four muffin liners in a muffin tin, set aside.
  2. Take the apple and cut it in half, avoiding the core.  Take the smaller half and set it aside.  With the larger half, peel off the skin and cut it into skinny slices.
  3. Place the apple slices with a 1/4 cup water in a small pot over low heat with a cover.  Let it sit for half an hour, stirring occasionally. (If you are using store bought apple sauce, skip this step)
  4. While that cooks, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.  Set aside.
  5. Once the applesauce has cooked for half an hour add the flaxseed mixture to it and mix.  If your apples are still somewhat chunky you can mash it up with a fork until it is somewhat of a puree mixture.  It is okay if there are still a few chunks.
  6. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Then mix together until combine.
  7. Take the set aside apple half and cut it into cubes.  Add this to the mixture along with the pecans if you are using.
  8. Scoop into the preprepared muffin tins and place in the preheated oven.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until they are golden brown and a tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool for five minutes before eating.  Enjoy!

Note:  These muffins are best enjoyed the day that they are made and taste the best right after they are baked.

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Gift Guide: Runner’s Edition

The holiday season is here and it’s the ‘most wonderful time of year’.  Or so the music that’s constantly playing states.  I love winter and all things that come with it (Cold weather, holidays, snow, music, trees, everything), but I know that not everyone shares my love for it.  Some people find it overwhelmingly hard to find the perfect gifts for people within their budget.  Stop the worrying and enjoy the holidays, you’ve come to the right place.  Throughout this week I’m going to be sharing with you guys several gift giving guides to take the stress off of your shoulders.  So take a deep breath, relax, and with a click of a button you’ll have all of your holiday shopping done.

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We’ve all got one of these types of people in our lives.  Maybe they live for a cold run through the woods or are just trying to stay in shape for another sport.  Maybe they’re a fitness fanatic who is constantly trying to recruit you to join them.  Whatever the reason- they run.  No matter the weather they can be found running, which is why some of the perfect gifts for runners this holiday season can be winter gear.  Winter gear is always helpful when it comes to gifts for any type of fitness fanatic- especially runners.

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1. Ear warmer

With the cold weather now upon us, the runner in your life is going to be wanting one of these.  The majority of body heat is lost through the ear/head area so fuzzy ear warmers like these are perfect for running.  The one that I am pictured wearing is a old one from Nike, but this one and this one also work really well.

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2. Windbreaker

Running with a heavy coat would be wildly uncomfortable, but sometimes it’s a little too cold to wear just a long sleeve shirt.  That’s where these lightweight jackets come into play.  I’ve got a few of these just because they keep your body at exactly the right heat, not too hot but not too cold.  This one is also from Nike and I have another one from The North Face which I really like too.

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3. Gloves

Cracked hands are the last thing that anyone needs to worry about.  That’s why wearing gloves while running is the perfect way to avoid this age old threat.  These ones from Saucony and Nike are both nice pairs of gloves.

img_5888IMG_5869.JPG4. Reflective Vest

As the weather gets colder, the days get shorter and the sun sets faster.  This means that it’s dark for a longer percentage of the time.  These reflective vests from Nathan make sure that cars and other vehicles can see runners at all times.  They’re not the most stylish, but safety over style right?

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5. Neon Zip Up

If the runner in your life doesn’t want to put safety over style, don’t fret, this neon long sleeve shirt doubles as a reflective item of clothing that vehicles can see from miles away.  This shirt from Nike is sublime from running in the dark, as it is extremely bright.

IMG_5907.JPG6. Clip On Light

Maybe the runner you know just doesn’t seem to be the type that would wear a neon shirt or vest.  That’s okay because this light can clip onto the back of a shirt or the waistband of a pair of leggings and cars will be able to spot it.  Road safety during the winter (and during other seasons) is important to remember!  This specific light is from Nathan and features two settings, normal and blinking.

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7. Mock neck Long Sleeve

Sometimes turtleneck long sleeves get a tad bit too hot, but a regular long sleeve is too cold.  That’s where mock necks come into play.  The neckline isn’t too high but it isn’t too low.  Much like a windbreaker they create the perfect temperature.  Mine is a few years old so it’s no longer available but these ones from Under Armor and Nike look almost identical in style!

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8. Fitbit

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with my Fitbit.  If you’re willing to splurge a little bit then these are amazing.  Fitbit watches are step counters that include other features like calories burned and stairs climbed.  The runner in your life will love one of these as they encourage longer runs and an active lifestyle.  My Fitbit is the Fitbit Alta and I absolutely love it.

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9. New Sneakers

Again, if you’re willing to splurge the runner in your life will love this gift.  If you know exactly what type of shoe they like then go out and buy it, but this is a little tricky.  Make sure that you get the correct pair as every runner is different and needs a different amount of support for running.  My favorite shoes to run in are Newtons, but other people like brands like Asics and Saucony.  If you go with this gift, make sure to do your research!

IMG_5855.JPG10. Fleece Lined Leggings

This last gift is a winter essential.  Every runner needs a pair of fleece lined leggings for a day when the temperature is below 0 and regular leggings just won’t cut it.  I recently purchased a pair from L.L. Bean and I fell in love.  The leggings in the picture are a pair that I bought before from Champion, but the ones from L.L. Bean are like no other- they’re amazingly soft and feature a pocket that’s- you guessed it- fleece lined!

I hope that this gift guide helped you to figure out at least an idea for that special runner in your life!  Happy Shopping!IMG_5850.JPG

 

 

The Best Apple Pecan Scones

This morning I woke up and I wanted a scone.  Scratch that I needed a scone.  But not just any random run of the mill scone, I wanted a very specific scone.  Not drenched in icing sweet but not crumble apart dull.  The very scone I was craving was fluffy in the most desecrate way, covered with a subtle crunch.IMG_5739.JPG

I dashed into my kitchen and flung open the refrigerator, only to find that I was lacking one very vital scone ingredient- berries.  Feeling rejected I sunk into my couch and opened up my laptop in search of a non-berry scone.  It was then that I spotted the shiny red of apples out of the corner of my eye.  Within a second I was peeling apples and scribbling down notes on what would pair well.

If you’re craving a scone and are in the same berry-less boat as me, I’ve got you covered.  This recipe has got everything a scone lover like myself could hope for.  They are without a doubt the perfect scone for Fall (it’s not winter quite yet!).  I mean come on, they’ve got all the fall essentials.  Apples?  Check.  Pecans?  Check.  Cinnamon?  Check.  Oats?  Check.  They’ve even got a little bit of whole wheat flour so when you’re reaching for your fourth helping you don’t have to feel too guilty because they’re ‘healthy’.IMG_5736.JPGIMG_5738.JPGIMG_5740.jpgWithout further ado, I present to you the scones that my own mother stated were so good that she took two, and she never takes two.

Apple Pecan Scones

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter grated
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (about two medium) peeled and chopped apples
  • A generous pinch coarse sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, pecans, oats, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Work the cold grated butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your hands.  I find that it’s always easiest to use your hands, just because you can feel any remaining chunks of butter.  Continue until the mixture is mostly combine and then set aside.
  4. Measure out the cream in a wet two cup measuring cup and crack the egg in it.  Add the egg, brown sugar, and vanilla to the measuring cup and then whisk.
  5. Pour the wet mixture on top of your dry ingredients. Then mix the mixture together with a rubber spatula until no flour chunks remain. Add the apple cubes and fold them into the dough.  The mixture will be a little wet- that’s okay.
  6. Cover a flat surface (like a cutting board) and your hands with flour.  Transfer the dough to the surface and kneed it three times to make sure that everything is evenly incorporated, adding a little more flour if needed.
  7. Shape the dough into a circle, about 8-9″ in diameter.  Brush the cream over the disc and then scatter the coarse sugar on.  Cut the dough with a sharp knife into 8 even portions.  Put the scones on the prepared baking sheet in two rows, eight on the top and eight on the bottom, so that there is roughly two inches of space in between each scone.
  8. Place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.  The scones will have golden brown edges when they are done.  Allow scones to cool for a few minutes and then devour.  These scones will be gone in seconds, so it’s understandable if you can’t wait for them to cool, don’t worry, I didn’t wait either.

Note:  This recipe is adapted from these scones and these scones.  Both recipes are really good and I encourage you to try them out as well!

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Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donut Holes

Mmmm I can just smell the very spirit of the Fall season in this recipe.  I mean come on- what more do you need!  Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, DONUT HOLES!?  YUM!  IMG_5695.jpgIMG_5692.JPG

With Thanksgiving coming up, I know that many of you will probably have the remnants of pumpkin cans shoved into small containers in the back of your fridge.  Pumpkin pie sure is good, but I find that it always saves the smallest amounts of pumpkin leftover.  It’s always hard to find recipes that use up those last few tablespoons of orange goodness, and I always feel that my pumpkin ends up expiring by the time that I discover a recipe with the golden amount.  IMG_5662.JPG

Fret no more my friends, I’ve got you covered.

These donut holes are amazingly easy to make and will be gone in the blink of an eye.  You have to try these- trust me, you’re not going to want to miss out.  IMG_5658.JPG

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donut Holes

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 + 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the pumpkin and 2 tablespoon sugar.  Then add the milk and continue to whisk until it is a pale orange color and combine.
  4. While mixing, slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet.  Continue to mix until there are no more flour clumps.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin pan cavities, I was able to fill 6 of the mini muffin cavities with batter.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Mine took exactly 17 minutes but depending on your oven, yours could take a longer or shorter amount of time.  Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
  7. While the muffins are cooling, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoon sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  Melt the butter in a heat safe bowl in the microwave as well.
  8. Remove the cooled muffins from the pan and dip them in the butter.  Then roll them around in the cinnamon sugar mix until fully coated.  Enjoy!

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