It’s the last day of the month and time to recap the noteworthy recipes and events from the month:

Snickerdoodle Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, GF) – These very chewy and soft granola bars really do taste like snickerdoodle cookies and are every bit as satisfying, but are healthier. They’re no-bake, come together in 5 minutes, and can easily be kept vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free. They’re lightly sweetened and full of cinnamon-sugar flavor, just like snickerdoodles. They’re very portable and make great snacks to toss in lunches

Snickerdoodle Cookie Granola Bars

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups – Cookies made in a muffin pan are the answer to your prayers if you’ve ever had a problem with cookies spreading while baking. There’s no where for these thick and dense cookies to go. Between the nuttiness and richness imparted from the browned butter, and the brown sugar used in the dough, these cookies have great depth of flavor. They’re the perfect balance of chewy edges, squishy in the middle, and loaded with melted chocolate

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Pepperoni Pizza and Chipotle Avocado-Cucumber Flatbread – Homemade pizza and flatbread that’s ready from  from start-to-finish in 30 minutes. Perfect for times when you need a quick dinner, have a last minute party, especially football or Superbowl parties

Pepperoni Pizza and Chipotle Avocado-Cucumber Flatbread

The flatbread topping is creamy, crunchy, with a slight chipotle kick, and a perfect accompaniment to the gooey, easy, and cheesy pizza

Pepperoni Pizza and Chipotle Avocado-Cucumber Flatbread

Vegetable Fried Rice Frittata – An easy vegetarian meal to toss together in just minutes, uses just one skillet, and is highly adaptable based on the what you have around and your preferences. The fried rice forms a crusty base, the creamy soup lends a cheesy quality, and the vegetables add healthy texture. The eggs and centers stays soft while the edges crisp up. A simple yet flavorful one-skillet or one-baking pan meal

Vegetable Fried Rice Frittata

Brown Sugar Maple Cookies – Dark brown sugar creates rich flavor and helps these maple-flavored cookies stay soft and moist for days. As they bake, the sugars caramelize and these buttery smooth cookies take on a caramel quality with hints of vanilla and molasses. They’re dense with the perfect balance of chewy edges and soft, tender, pillowy centers. A bit of cornstarch keeps them extra soft while bread flour gives them chewiness. They bake up thick, puffy, and it feels so good sinking my teeth into one of these new favorites

Brown Sugar Maple Cookies

Seven Minute Microwave Caramels (GF) – It seems too good to be true because the caramels are made in the microwave in seven minutes, and no candy thermometer is required. I assure you the recipe works and produces the best-tasting caramels I’ve ever had. They’re rich, buttery, creamy, sweet, and softly flavored with vanilla. They’re the perfect balance of soft-yet-firm, chewy and smooth, and just melt in my mouth. They’re everything I could ask for in a caramel and will put them up against fancy candy-shop caramels. I’ll never need another candy-shop caramel or another recipe for homemade caramels

Seven Minute Microwave Caramels

Homemade Cookie Butter (with vegan and GF options) – My two favorite spreads are combined into one. It doesn’t taste exactly like Cookie Butter, but is very similar and takes on more of the cookie butter flavor than peanut butter flavor. It’s loaded with cinnamon and gingersnap cookies, which also give the spread a slightly grainy texture, similar to the texture of storebought Cookie Butter and Biscoff Spread. If you’ve never made homemade nut butter or spreads before, you’ll never look back. Once you try fresh, homemade nut butter, you’ll fall in love with the rich, wholesome taste, and the purity of flavors. It takes less than 10 minutes, is effortless, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this forever

Homemade Cookie Butter

Loaded Baked Tater Tot Dip (vegan, GF) – My favorite baked potato toppings are loaded into an easy, creamy, and cheesy dip. It’s made with tater tots, sour cream, meatless meatballs, and cheese and assembly takes just 5 minutes. It’s a gooey, hearty, rich dip with extremely minimal work and effort for a maximum amount of flavorful comfort food. Perfect for parties or any gathering where a fast and easy appetizer is needed

Loaded Baked Tater Tot Dip (

25 Lightened Up Dinner Recipes – 25 ideas for lightening things up in January when many of us are trying to get back on track after one too many holiday parties, events, Christmas cookies, warm brie dip, hot toddies, and eggnog.

Everything is vegan, or vegetarian where noted, and most are gluten-free.

Most are ready in less than 30 minutes and all are easy enough for busy weeknights.

Many make just enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

There’s not one traditional lettuce salad on the list. Who said lightened up and healthy had to involve lettuce anyway.

25 Lightened Up Dinner Recipes

Maraschino Cherry White Chocolate Cookies – Maraschino cherries are the stars of the show in these very soft cookies with chewy edges and tender, soft, pillowy centers. Coupled with an abundance of white chocolate in every bite, there’s plenty of texture in these uber-moist cookies. They’re a perfect choice for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, girlie birthdays, showers, or for anyone who loves cherries and melt-in-your-mouth cookies. My husband said they’re some of the best cookies I’ve ever made

Maraschino Cherry White Chocolate Cookies

Soft Buttery One Hour Pretzels (vegan) – They’re like the soft, fluffy, buttery pretzels at the mall, but now you don’t need the mall for them; you just need one hour. They’re easy enough for the novice bread-maker because I removed all the complicated and fussy steps and pared this recipe down to the most basic elements, and also kept it vegan (use vegan buttery spreads or margarine). The basic dough recipe is a blank canvas and can go sweet or savory depending on how you like your pretzels with suggestions included. Ready in an hour, buttery soft, and dangerously good

Soft Buttery One Hour Pretzels

The Best Lemon Bars – These good old-fashioned lemon bars pack a punch of robust lemon flavor, without being either too tart or too sweet. They come together in minutes by hand and are so satisfying. A soft, flaky, buttery shortbread crust is the base for the golden yellow lemon filling that tops it. As they bake, the filling sets up into a gorgeous shade of yellow, and is dense yet light, smooth, and creamy. They’re my favorite recipe for lemons bars me and remind me of the lemon bars my mom and grandma used to make

The Best Lemon Bars

Rum Runner – I love drinking rum runners when I’m on vacation and this recipe comes straight from the bartender on the last sunset sailboat cruise I was on. There’s a secret ingredient added that makes a tropical and fruity drink even better. They go down fast and easy and pack a punch. They’ll put you in the vacation spirit in no time

Rum Runner

Chewy Sugar Sprinkles Cookies – I’d been searching for a sugar cookie recipe that produces soft and chewy sugar cookies and this one delivers. Chewy edges, tender centers, and the buttery flavor reminds me of the sugar cookies my grandma used to make. The sprinkles baked right in not only saves time from having to frost and sprinkle the finished cookies, but they provide additional texture, chewiness, a bit of sweetness, and plenty of smiles – a hit with kids, great for parties, Valentine’s Day; or use them as your sugar cookie recipe for Christmas cookies with red and green sprinkles

Chewy Sugar Sprinkles Cookies

Homemade Little Debbie Star Crunch (no-bake) – Little Debbie Star Crunch Snacks were a favorite treat growing up. It took me many attempts to recreate them at home, but I finally got it right and they’re very similar to the real thing. Caramel and butter are melted and combined with marshmallows to create a gooey sweet sauce for crispy rice cereal, which provides texture and crunch. The treats are very dense, extra chewy, the flavor is caramely and rich, and the milk chocolate coating makes them taste so authentic

Homemade Little Debbie Star Crunch

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (gluten-free) – The best peanut butter cookies I’ve ever made or eaten. And the most amazing thing about them is there’s no flour, no butter, and no white sugar used. And they taste better than any other peanut butter cookie I’ve had, many of which use plenty of those ingredients. They’re melt-in-your mouth soft and chewy, and extremely moist. They’re intensely peanut-butter flavored and because there’s no butter or flour added, the purity of the peanut butter shines though. There’s no white sugar, just brown sugar, so the cookies have richer flavor and stay soft for days. They’re bursting at the seams with dark chocolate, a perfect pairing for peanut butter. They’re naturally gluten-free, easy, and fast to make

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Lemon Rosemary Coconut Oil Roasted Vegetables (vegan, GF) – Lemon and rosemary is a favorite flavor pairing and add a gentle pop of brightness to the vegetables. The coconut oil adds depth of flavor, richness, and makes the vegetables satisfying. If you don’t enjoy coconut oil, roast with another oil. No one will complain about eating their vegetables when they’re made like this

Lemon Rosemary Coconut Oil Roasted Vegetables

10 Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipes – In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day, I shared my 10 Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipes, including Chocolate Cake Donuts and easy cookies made with chocolate cake mix

Chocolate Cake

Coconut Oil White Chocolate Cookies – There’s no butter in these cookies and it’s been replaced with coconut oil. If you’ve never baked with coconut oil, you’re in for a real treat. The cookies don’t taste overtly of coconut and instead, the coconut oil creates a subtly sweet undertone and perfumes the dough with a luscious scent. The cookies are soft and chewy with firmer edges and moist, soft, dense interiors. The white chocolate chips complement the flavor of the dough perfectly and are oozing in every bite. The coconut adds richness, depth of flavor, and you’ll never miss the butter in these new favorites

Coconut Oil White Chocolate Cookies

Creamy Cherry and Lemon Bars – A creamy bar that’s bursting with cherries and cherry flavor, with subtle notes of fragrant lemon. They remind me of cheesecake, but denser and firmer, and have lots of texture from the cherries. Extremely easy and fast to make, the batter comes together in less than 5 minutes and no mixer is required. A small-batch recipe, making just 8 wedges

Creamy Cherry and Lemon Bars

Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting – My new favorite recipe for carrot cake because it’s ridiculously moist, soft, tender, and is full of cinnamon-and-spice-and-everything-nice, including an abundance of carrots and sweet, juicy raisins. The batter is extremely fast and easy to make by combining the first 11 ingredients together at once in a bowl and whisking. Carrot cake isn’t carrot cake without cream cheese frosting and this one is tangy, thick, wonderful, and a must-have. The recipe makes two loaves; but can be made as mini loaves, muffins, or a Bundt cake

Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting


Most notably this month I crossed many recipes off my personal mental bucket list that I’ve been wanting to make for ages and that I wanted to have on my site, including some classics and recipes that I’ll use for years to come.

I wanted to update my 2011 Peanut Butter Cookie recipe and did so, with a bang. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies are the best peanut butter cookies I’ve ever had or made, were on Page One of the FoodGawker Most Gawked List for most of first seven days they were posted. Although they’ve only been posted for 8 days, I’ve already had many people write saying they’re in love with a cookie that has no white sugar, no butter, and no flour. Me too. If I could recommend one recipe from the entire month to make, based on both ease and overall results, these would be at the top of the list.

I wanted a recipe for both brown sugar cookies and traditional sugar cookies and I have them now; the Brown Sugar Cookies and the Chewy Sugar Sprinkles Cookies recipes are both keepers. I prefer the Brown Sugar Cookies but in general, I’m not sugar cookie person. However, as sugar cookies go, the Chewy Sugar Cookies are as good as any I’ve tried.

I wanted to create a chocolate chip cookie recipe that used browned butter, and I was able to get around the typical spreading issue that tends to plague cookies made with melted butter in cookies by making the Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups in a muffin pan. I made those cookies when we were in Aruba during December and looking back at those photos makes our trip already feel like a lifetime ago.

The Soft Buttery One Hour Pretzels is a yeast-bread and bucket list recipe I had wanted to tackle for ages. I’m proud that I pared the recipe down to include only the most basic elements and there’s nothing fussy about it; they’re ready in an hour, taste like mall pretzels, and I kept the recipe vegan.

Coming up with The Best Lemon Bars and the moistest and best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting are two big bucket list recipes I wanted to tackle. I’m at the stage in my blogging where not having solid recipes for classics like Lemon Bars and Carrot Cake on my site felt like glaring holes. But the holes have now been patched, quite nicely. I am very proud of both of the recipes and will use both of them for a lifetime. I don’t throw around words like The Best or Best Ever if I don’t mean it, and both of those recipes get the Best Of stamp in their respective category.

My Homemade Peanut Butter is one of the most popular recipes on my site, and I wanted to come up with Homemade Cookie Butter, too. It’s dangerously good and I made four batches in two weeks earlier this month. I wish I could say I gave some to deserving friend and neighbors, but I didn’t.

The Little Debbie Star Crunch knockoff bars is a recipe I’m proud of because I loved those things growing up, and although Oatmeal Creme Pies are more widely known, there are also tons of recipes on the internet for them. But there are virtually nothing for Star Crunch, and I came up with it myself and they’re a dead-ringer for the real thing. Most people are probably saying, what’s a Star Crunch? It’s explained in the post.

I wanted to bake with coconut oil, and did so with the Coconut Oil White Chocolate Cookies, and am thrilled with the results. Even if you don’t love coconut, try these cookies. No butter, no problem; it won’t be missed and I’m such a butter-only girl in cookies but I didn’t miss it. I want to bake more with coconut oil and see how things go.

It had been ages since my last coconut oil recipe, but manged to have two in one week this month. Most people seemed to really like the Lemon Rosemary Coconut Oil Roasted Vegetables, which was the surprise post of the month. It was sort of an afterthought post because there’s really not much to the ‘recipe’, but as I was looking at the vegetables on the baking tray and the colors of the rainbow, and the sunlight bouncing off them, they were just too beautiful in person not to capture. I didn’t even plate them and took all the photos on baking trays on Silpats, but I’m glad I did and posted it anyway because it’s been Pinned a ton and people have made them, with glowing reports. It’s always the simplest posts and recipes.

The other post that was a bit of a surprise was the Snickerdoodle Cookie Granola Bars. People seemed to really like them. They were the last thing I made in December in Aruba, took the pictures there and wasn’t happy with them at all, but posted it anyway as my first post of the year. It was well-received and have had lots of good feedback about the recipe from those who’ve made them.

The post I am surprised that it didn’t catch on more is the Seven Minute Microwave Caramels. They are so ridiculously good and are everything I want in a caramel, and more. I wish everyone had a scratch-and-sniff screen because if you could even just catch a whiff of these, you’d find yourself busy for the next seven minutes. So easy with amazing results.

Savory recipes were a bit scarce, but that’s nothing new. I like posting sweets rather than savory. Savory Game Day-type recipes like the Homemade Pizza and Tater Tot Dip are always wins though because everyone seems to love melted cheese. Photographing warm, melted cheese is actually one of my favorite things to photograph, along with yeasted-bread recipes.

I posted six cookie recipes this month, plus granola bars that taste like cookies. So that makes seven, and if I look at my blog stats, and the numbers don’t lie, it seems you all like your cookies and cookie recipes. How are those New Years Resolutions going for everyone?

Thank you for reading my blog and if you take the time to comment, they’re always appreciated. And if not, that’s okay, too and I’m just happy to know you’re reading. I’m always extra thankful when people make my recipes and then take the time to come back and tell me about it. Feedback like that is worth it’s weight in gold.

Tell me about your month and your year so far. What did you do or make in this month that was memorable?

Any recipes you’d like to tackle or like to see me tackle here?

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