Carrot Cake Cookies w/ Cream Cheese Glaze (GF + V)

I absolutely love Easter. Everything about it- the aisles at Harris Teeter filled with egg dyeing kits and chocolate bunnies, the little girls wearing white, wide brimmed Easter hats, and the reverence of the holiday. Our debts are paid, we’ve been set free!

Last year at this time I was going crazy trying to prepare a feast for members of both sides of our family who were visiting. While I absolutely love hosting, our house all of a sudden seemed VERY small. And I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of chatting while making sure the honey ham, potatoes, and gravy would all be hot at the same time.

I had a lot of relief last year by making many of my sides in advance. Made-in-advance meals are essential. But this year, we elected not to host since our house is currently reminiscent of a large storage unit. We are moving in 2 weeks, and figured we’d keep Easter low-key this year. We are going to a potluck at a friend’s house instead.

I knew I wanted to bring something sweet, but also wholesome. The idea of carrot cake crossed my mind, but who has time (in between boxing up the linens) to bake an entire cake? And besides, I find most times I go to parties and no one wants to be the person to cut into the cake, let alone eat a whole slice with so much other good food around.

Enter carrot cake cookies.

Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Glaze

Inspired by a recipe from Iowa Girl Eats, these carrot cake cookies are wholesome enough to eat for breakfast, I swear! Minimal oil, no eggs, no butter. Oat flour and flax for staying power, and grated carrots, raisins and chopped walnuts to get that carrot cake texture. I saved about half the batch to freeze for grab n’ go breakfasts at work. Does that make me a meal prepper?

These can also easily be gluten free (using GF oats) and vegan (using almond milk and without the glaze).

To make these a little more “desserty” (and also more like true carrot cake), I whipped up a cream cheese glaze to drizzle over the cookies when ready to serve. The glaze will harden slightly as the cookies continue to cool, but will stay drizzly, not like the gross frosted molasses cookies you buy in a box.

And you will probably have leftover glaze, which gives you complete license to put it on top of your cereal, dip graham crackers, or just lick it out of the bowl.

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These are husband and kid-approved. Well, I don’t really know if they’re kid-approved, since we don’t have any kids, but just trust me on that one.

I promise my next recipe will not include anything carrot.

But in the meantime, enjoy every bite! Recipe below. Happy Easter!

Carrot Cake Cookies w/ Cream Cheese Glaze (GF + V)
Recipe Type: Cookie, Breakfast
Cuisine: Healthy, Gluten Free, Vegan
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Celebrate Easter this year with a simplified version of a just-as-tasty carrot cake! These cookies are made with wholesome ingredients and can be made vegan with just a few subs. Make ahead and freeze for an easy, on-the-go breakfast!
Ingredients
  • 3 cups GF old fashioned oats, divided
  • 1 cup GF flour (or almond flour)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 very ripe mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup veg oil
  • 1/4 cup milk (almond milk if vegan)
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • For cream cheese glaze:
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, pulse 1 cup oats until a fine powder.
  2. In a large stand mixer, combine the oats, oat flour and GF flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine.
  3. In the same food processor, use grating function to grate carrots finely. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk banana, applesauce, honey, maple syrup, oil, and milk. Stir in carrots, walnuts, and raisins. If mixture is too runny, add a little more flour.
  5. Spoon onto prepared baking sheet with 1/4 cup scoop. Bake 8-10 mins until golden brown on top. Cookies will still be soft.
  6. Allow to cool completely.
  7. While cooling, prepare glaze. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and milk until runny. Drizzle onto cooled cookies.
  8. Note: To make ahead, wrap individual cookies (without glaze) in plastic wrap and freeze. Microwave 10-20 sec in the morning for a wholesome breakfast!

He is Risen!

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Three-Cheese Turkey Pizza Roll

Disclaimer: There is nothing healthy, wholesome, or vegetarian about these pizza rolls. They are the epitome of quick, easy, and processed, and they’re probably filled with more saturated fat than is recommended for your entire day.

But boyyyy are they delicious! And they’re not completely unwholesome, since I used greek yogurt cream cheese for the filling, which has 1/3 less fat and calories than the regular version. And there’s some spinach in there too. Because green things poking out of the nuances of crusty bread makes one think that it’s healthier. Or moldy. Either way you get more probiotics probably.

Three-Cheese Turkey Pizza Rolls

Three-Cheese Turkey Pizza Rolls

These can be rolled up and sliced into four or five pieces for a calzone-like entree, or you can slice them much more thinly to be served as appetizers.

I streamlined the process by using a pre-made pizza dough sheet (already rolled out on a big rectangle of parchment paper) which I then topped with my ingredients (cream cheese spread mixed with Ranch seasoning mix- which Ben lovingly refers to as “drugs”- and two types of shredded cheese, turkey, and spinach). Stick it in the oven for 15 or so minutes, then cool and slice.

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One of the best parts about these is that you can choose whichever ingredients or toppings you want to add to customize them. They’d be great with the traditional “pizza” ingredients like tomato sauce, black olives, and pepperoni, or a Greek version with kalamata olives and chickpeas. Have fun with these!

Three-Cheese Turkey Pizza Roll
Recipe Type: Entree, Appetizer
Cuisine: Easy
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-8
Serve as appetizers or slice a bigger piece for a handheld calzone-like entree! Have fun customizing these with whatever floats your boat!
Ingredients
  • 1 prepared pizza crust (I used one that was already rolled out on a big rectangular parchment paper)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt cream cheese spread
  • 1 packet ranch salad dressing or seasoning mix
  • 5-6 slices turkey (or other thin-sliced meat)
  • 1/4 cup each mozzarella and cheddar cheese
  • handful of spinach
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Mix together greek yogurt cream cheese and ranch mix.
  3. Unroll pizza dough and spread the cream cheese mixture over entire surface in a thin layer.
  4. Top with turkey, cheese, and spinach.
  5. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper if you want.
  6. Tightly roll the dough from one of the long ends, until you get to the other side. Seal edges by pinching between fingers.
  7. Transfer to baking sheet, seam side down, and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Cool before slicing.

 

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Fries

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Fries

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Fries

Oh hello, zucchini fries. I’ve been missing you.

You make me feel a little better about eating you because you’re supposed to be healthy…ish. Well, you were until I slathered you in egg and breadcrumbs and cheese.

At least you’re still better than gobbling down an entire plate of soggy, oily potato fries. And about 137x more delicious!

I made these to go with Ben’s turkey burgers and my salmon tonight- the perfect crispy side for any summer meal! You can dip them in yogurt, ketchup (catsup? does anyone ever spell it like that anymore?) or mustard. I dipped in all three!

Crispy Zucchini Fries

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Fries

These could NOT be easier. Simply slice your zucchini, shake up in a bag with a spoonful of corn starch, dredge in egg, and roll in breadcrumb-cheese mixture. Bake at a high temperature for 20 min or so or until crispy.

I had a slight panic attack trying to decide whether to call these “zucchini fries” or “zucchini frites.” Then Ben informed me that I was not French and neither were these. Fries they remain.

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Fries
Recipe Type: Side
Cuisine: Summer, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
In the mood for something healthy yet indulgent? Look no further! These crispy, cheesy zucchini fries will hit the spot without making you feel greasy and cow-like.
Ingredients
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into long strips
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan-romano cheese
  • pinch of greek seasoning (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 deg.
  2. In a large storage bag, shake zucchini strips with cornstarch.
  3. Dredge in beaten egg, then shake gently to get rid of excess.
  4. Roll zucchini in breadcrumbs mixed with cheese.
  5. Sprinkle with greek seasoning, if using.
  6. Bake at 425 deg for 20 mins on parchment-lined sheet or Silpat, until crispy and golden brown.

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Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Fries

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Fries

These Parmesan Zucchini Fries will hit.the.spot. without making you feel that greasy, gross feeling that you get after gorging on an entire plate of Loaded Cheese Fries from Carolina Ale House. I mean, these are vegetables! Even Ben liked them. And he hates zucchini.

Already planning my next attack plan to get him to eat brussels sprouts…

P.S. Sorry about the half-chipped nail polish on my exposed left thumb in the above picture. Also about the harsh lighting. I have a bad habit of waiting until the last minute to take pictures of my recipe creations until the last minute when there’s no natural light left (Ben is usually sitting at the table with his dinner getting cold in front of him). Not my best work. Oops, just keepin’ it real over here.

Have a great rest of your weekend!

3 Minute Microwave Paleo(ish) English Muffins

Don’t worry, I haven’t decided to go all paleo on you. While I know the Paleo diet has lots of benefits in that it encourages lean proteins, non-starchy veggies and fruits, I have to admit… I like dairy and oats too much.

I saw a version of this recipe on The Big Man’s World this morning and decided I felt like being creative with my Sunday brunch. The original recipe came with three different versions- paleo-free, gluten-free, and vegan. I settled on the paleo version because I didn’t have peanut flour! Other variations I made were adding raisins, using 1 egg white instead of a full egg (or 2 whites), and a handful of oats instead of the full amount of almond flour. I realized after I made these that the fact that I used oats completely goes against the Paleo principles… oops. So I guess these aren’t really Paleo. But they’re still delicious. And gluten-free!

3 Minute Microwave Paleo English Muffins

3 Minute Microwave Paleo English Muffins

3 Minute Microwave Paleo(ish) English Muffins
Recipe Type: Brunch, Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Gluten-Free
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
An adapted-from-paleo, gluten-free english muffin recipe that serves one and is simply to make! Serve with natural PB, honey, and jam or applesauce. This version is unsweetened, but you could also add a dash of honey, sugar, or maple syrup to make the muffins a bit sweeter!
Ingredients
  • 1 T almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground flaxmeal
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • 1 egg white
  • 1-2 T almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 T raisins
  • Toppings: peanut butter, applesauce, jam, banana, honey
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients, followed by egg white whisked with almond milk and vanilla.
  2. Sprinkle in salt and raisins.
  3. Spray a small ramekin with cooking spray, then pour mixture into ramekin. Microwave 3 minutes or until firm. (I had to turn the muffin halfway through to make sure the bottom cooked all the way! I also used a fork to periodically stab holes in the batter so it didn’t spill over the sides of the ramekin).
  4. Slice in half and toast (oven or toaster) to crispness of your choice.
  5. Top with PB, applesauce, jam, fresh fruit or honey!

The result was not exactly as I expected, but better! After toasting in the oven for a few minutes, the english muffin was hearty, savory and a bit like a pancake! I love that you can make one serving of these when you only have one mouth to feed, and that you can really play with the ingredients based on what you’re in the mood for. I decided not to add any sweetener because I was serving it with honey, banana and the homemade applesauce I made with my friend Natalie yesterday, but you could also add a pinch of sugar or maple syrup in the batter if you wanted a sweeter muffin.

Enjoy this paleo(ish) Sunday!

Rainy Day Spiced Molasses Granola

Rainy Day Spiced Molasses Granola

Rainy Day Spiced Molasses Granola

Today it was starting to feel a little more like fall here in Durham. Since returning home safely after my trip across the country with my sisters last week (see my Instagram page for a recap!), I’ve been all out of sorts in terms of time zones, days of the week, and seasons. CA was springlike- cool, sunny and breezy; Utah was HOT but really not humid at all, Colorado had snow blanketing its mountain summits, and Kansas was, well… a lot of corn. And we tried to forget the rest. Except when I got us lost in Ferguson, MO after being distracted from my role as navigator. That wasn’t a very happy moment.

Even after one week of being gone, I’ve noticed that college students have started trickling back to campus, lined paper has started appearing in the “dollar deal” bin near the checkout line at Target, and commercials have started targeting teens with the latest fall trends. In honor of that back-to-school feel, I decided to recreate an old fall favorite: spiced granola. Adapted from Skinnytaste, I’ve made this a few times using different swaps based on what I had in the house. In the past I’ve used kamut to supplement the oats, but this time I used the quinoa the original recipe calls for. I also swapped in molasses (since I have a TON leftover from my Brown Butter Ginger Molasses Cookies) and almonds in place of pepitas. I love this recipe because it hardly uses any oil at all (only 2 tsp for a double batch), yet the granola still forms nice little clusters. It irks me when I see recipes that call for over a half cup of oil… you really don’t need it! I doubled the recipe since I always end up giving some away- it makes a perfect gift!

Enjoy with sliced apples, pears, or peaches, over yogurt or with some nice cold milk. Happy (almost) fall!

Rainy Day Spiced Molasses Granola
Recipe Type: Snack, Breakfast, Brunch
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Fall is almost here! To get you back in that pumpkin-spice state of mind, try this easy granola recipe that’s great with yogurt and fruit! Feel free to stick with the recipe here or experiment based on your own tastes and ingredients you already have.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 deg.
  2. Rinse quinoa and pat dry. Spread quinoa and oats evenly on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Toast for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  4. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300 deg.
  5. Combine dried fruit, nuts, and flax with the oats and quinoa.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, molasses, honey, vanilla, spices, salt, and pepper. Pour over dry ingredients and stir until coated.
  7. Spread mixture evenly on the same lined baking sheet, and return to oven for 20 minutes. Stir and return to oven for 5 additional minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool, resisting the urge to stir too vigorously (this allows nice clusters to form!).
  9. Store in sealed containers for up to 2 weeks.

Rainy Day Spiced Molasses Granola

Rainy Day Spiced Molasses Granola

Easy Yogamole

Summer is in full-swing, which means cookouts, pool parties, game nights, and happy hours are almost daily events! Ben and I have had such a fun weekend hanging out with friends, going out for our anniversary at Second Empire (check out Instagram to see what I had for my entree and dessert!), and taking the pooch swimming in the Eno. Today we had some friends over to play cards, and I hardly felt like making a big messy snack to serve. I remembered that I had a few ripe avocados and a lime in the fridge, so what better than to do a little bit of recipe development? This yogamole recipe is delicious, healthy, and absolutely simple! I love the addition of Greek yogurt to make it a little creamier. It also helps to make it stretch a bit more… we have some eaters in the house! 🙂

Chop, mash, and stir. That’s it! Serve with pretzels or tortilla chips and dip away!

Easy Yogamole

Easy Yogamole

Easy Yogamole
Recipe Type: Dip, Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
An easy, yoga-licious for yogis and non-yogis alike! The Greek yogurt just adds a touch of creaminess and tang. Perfect for your next beach trip, backyard cookout, or game night!
Ingredients
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced finely (about 1/2 cup)
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chips or pretzels, for serving
Instructions
  1. Mash avocados in a large bowl.
  2. Add onion, lime and lemon juice, and spices. Stir in yogurt.
  3. Cover and chill until ready to devour!

Happy picknicking/BBQing/pool-chilling! This yogamole also goes great on sandwiches and wraps in place of hummus or mayo!

Three-Cheese Ham & Pepperoni Rolls

Whenever I have something casual to cook for- like a picnic or one of Ben’s game nights- I have all these spectacular ideas for new recipes to try. Bruschetta with crudites, pimiento-stuffed olives, bacon-wrapped dates… you name it. There are so many good ones out there to try! But I always run out of time, and I always come back to some of the same ones. For example, any version of pinwheels work like a charm, and I think I tend towards things that I can make in bulk and then cut into smaller pieces for bite-sized snacks.

Pepperoni rolls are another example. And they are ALWAYS gobbled up in a flash! I can’t remember the last time we had these hanging around our house for more than a day.

Three-Cheese Ham & Pepperoni Rolls

Three-Cheese Ham & Pepperoni Rolls

These are so incredibly simple. Just roll out the dough, layer the ingredients and bake in a preheated oven until golden brown. This time I used french bread dough with cream cheese, ham and pepperoni. But you can also experiment with the spreads and spices- I’ve done crescent rolls in the past (though it’s a little flakier), as well as pimiento and hummus with greek seasoning. These can’t really go wrong.

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Three-Cheese Pepperoni Rolls
Recipe Type: Snack
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24
These are my go-to “guy pleaser” snacks when I need something simple and quick! They are always gobbled right up!
Ingredients
  • 2 rolls refrigerator French Bread dough (e.g. Pillsbury)
  • 1 container spreadable cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning (I used Penzey’s Creamy Peppercorn Dressing
  • baby spinach
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • sliced pepperoni
  • sliced ham
  • blue cheese crumbles or cheddar slices
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Roll out dough onto a nonstick surface into two long rectangles. Use fingers to spread outwards if needed.
  3. Spread cream cheese, sprinkle seasoning, and layer remaining ingredients (in order listed) on dough. Roll the dough tightly, starting from one of the long sides. Pinch together edges with fingers.
  4. Bake at 350 for 18-20 min, or until golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool before slicing.
Layer cream cheese, seasonings and olives on dough.

Layer cream cheese, seasonings and olives on dough.

Add spinach and pepperoni on top.

Add spinach and pepperoni on top.

Top with remaining ingredients.

Top with remaining ingredients.

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Into ze oven!

Into ze oven!

Cool before slicing.

Cool before slicing.

Slice, serve and arrange!

Slice, serve and arrange!