Oatmeal Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

January is often a time for change; new diets, new fitness routines, new personal and professional goals. I am no exception to this rule, but this year I have a slightly different goal in mind with regards to my eating and this blog.

Off and on I’ve struggled with healthy eating, to the point that it’s been hard to feel good about eating anything that isn’t a plain vegetable. We are so inundated by “guilt-free” and “skinny” and “clean-eating” recipes that it starts to feel like every food is measured by how terrible of a person I am for eating it. This year, I’m done with that. Fat is not the enemy, carbs are not the enemy, and if I’m going to eat dessert then why the heck would I want it to be “skinny” or “light”. If you see me using these phrases here, please point them out. I know that changing my relationship with ingredients is not a one-woman task, and if you want to join me in this endeavor, I welcome all the help I can get.

In light of that, here is an extremely normal cookie recipe because if you’re going to have a cookie, have a proper cookie. (Those “skinny” recipes never work anyway, since most of the time people just eat twice as many of them.) Peanut buttery goodness complemented with the rustic flavor of oatmeal and the chocolatey crunch of peanut butter M&M’s, these are sure to please any peanut butter fan.

I’ve been making the standard peanut butter cookie recipe on the back of the Jif jar for as long as I can remember (even saving a label when my Costco started carrying Skippy instead), and it’s still one of my favorites. I usually add chocolate chips (and nix the sugar crosshatching) because nothing is better than melty chocolate and soft peanut butter cookie in one cozy mouthful. However, I also super love oatmeal cookies, and have featured a couple different ones on this site. Inspired by that flavor palate, I opted to adapt this recipe towards some oatmealy delight.

Largely the same as the original, I substituted some of the flour for some extra oatmeal mostly for texture purposes. I never pack brown sugar for cookie recipes, which I think blends nicely for the oatmeal pairing, but if you prefer a sweeter flavor then by all means pack that sugar firmly into your measuring cups.

For texture and color and always-welcomed chocolate, peanut M&M’s are a fun addition. I’ve also used peanut butter M&M’s and regular ole’ chocolate chunks, both with delicious success. Smooth peanut butter is my preference, but use chunky or add some chopped roasted peanuts if you’re in to that. Playing up the peanut flavor instead of just sugar is a nice twist on an old favorite, and it makes them great for hiking too.

Celebrate your progress towards your first month of goals, console yourself over the lack thereof, or just welcome in a new month with a batch of these cookies. Enjoying life is so much more than doing everything “right”, and a proper cookie is always a welcome lift in the day.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

Adapted from Jif
Makes about 3 dozen large cookies

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cup peanut butter (Jif or similar; I’ve never tried it with a “natural” sort)
1 cup shortening
2 1/2 cups unpacked light brown sugar
6 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 eggs

3 cups peanut M&Ms1

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine peanut butter, shortening, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat until completely combined.
  4. Add eggs and beat until just combined.
  5. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Dough should not stick to your finger if you press it; add additional flour 1/4 cup at a time if necessary.
  6. By hand, stir in M&Ms (so they don’t break.)
  7. Use a 1/4 cup cookie scoop to add balls of dough to cookie sheets (I could only fit about 8 on a pan), flattening the tops slightly.
  8. Bake 13-15 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned; remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Store in an airtight container up to one week, or in the freezer for longer term storage.

Notes

Or any one of the following: peanut butter M&M’s, regular M&M’s, chocolate chunks, chocolate chips, roasted peanuts, etc. Mix and match to your heart’s desire.

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Cookie Fruit Pizza

Just in case you still need an a quick and easy dessert for any Labor Day Weekend festivities, I am posting this a week early. Although I generally avoid mixes and pre-made desserts, everyone needs a couple quick go-to recipes for those impromptu barbecues and summer parties. Usually I make brownies because the Ghirardelli mixes are fantastic, but when I want to bring a lighter or non-chocolate dessert and don’t have the time for cupcakes or lemon pie spoons, I’ll tend towards fruit pizza or (peanut butter Cheerio treats). Made with a store-bought cookie dough, the longest step is preparing the fruit. It can be put together in less than an hour, assuming you have all the ingredients, and is a great crowd pleaser.

Cookie Fruit Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

Although any fruit can be used, my favorite options are strawberries, kiwis, raspberries and blueberries. The first two can be sliced easily whereas the latter two options require no cutting. I usually opt for a combination of fruits as it’s both delicious and prettier. In general I just use what I have on hand or what looked good at the store, which this time happened to be kiwi, blueberries, and mandarins. You really can’t go wrong other as long as you are careful to either not choose fruit that browns quickly, or to serve everything promptly. Think of the pizzas as your palette and choose whatever flavor combinations you like best.

Cookie Fruit Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

I did all mine the same, but you can certainly do each slice differently if you don’t have enough of a fruit, or just to allow people to pick their flavors. Since the cookies are pre-sliced, it’s easy to lay out each one identically or differently, and they’ll be ready to serve right away. Clearly you could also use a pizza pan for the normal round shape and slice into wedges, but I find the squares are easier to handle, less inclined to break, and just as pretty.

Despite most fruit pizzas being topped with some kind of glaze over the fruit, I never add one. The cookies and cream cheese frosting are already plenty sweet and the fresh fruit really shines if it isn’t drenched in extra sugar and fruit juice. It also saves an extra several minutes of prep time which is great since this is supposed to be a quick dessert.

Cookie Fruit Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

Although I kept it simple this time, another delicious option is to add a spice to your cream cheese frosting. I keep it relatively low sugar since the cookies have plenty on their own, but the addition of some cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, chipotle, or whatever you think would blend with your fruit selection would be an awesome way to add a little pizzazz. Start with 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon and then add more as necessary.

Cookie Fruit Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

And if you’re not pressed for time, you can absolutely substitute your own sugar cookie recipe!

Cookie Fruit Pizza

Adapted from Pillsbury’s Fanciful Fruit Pizza
Makes 12 servings (1 quarter-sheet pan)

Ingredients

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® Create ‘n Bake® refrigerated sugar cookies (or about 2 cups of your own recipe)1

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature2,3 
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, peaches, etc)

Directions

  1. Wash and slice the fruit (if necessary) laying it on paper towels to soak up excess water.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Spray the edges of a quarter or half cookie sheet (ideally one with a lip) with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overhang the long edges of the pan.
  4. Press dough evenly in the bottom of the pan (if you’re using a normal-sized cookie sheet, it will only fill half the pan), use a rolling pin to smooth at the end.
  5. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown, then cool completely.
  6. Run a butter knife along the edges of the pan, then use the parchment paper to gently lift the whole batch out onto a cutting board (or the counter).
  7. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to trim the raised edges (optional, but it makes it easier to spread the frosting).
  8. At medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, and spread evenly over cooled crust.
  9. Using a knife or plastic pizza cutter, cut the crust into 8-12 servings3, or whatever size you want. If your pan is lipped, make sure you specifically cut the edges as a pizza cutter won’t reach there.
  10. Arrange the fruit on top4, keeping with in the guidelines for easy serving.
  11. Pro tip: use the parchment paper to move the cookies all at once back to your pan or your serving platter, then cut the extra paper away so it doesn’t show.
  12. Fruit pizza is just fine on the counter for a few hours, but cover and refrigerate leftovers overnight. The cookies are best on day one as they will get much softer in the fridge. For a make-ahead option, bake the cookies and leave them on the counter, make the frosting and store it in the fridge, slice and drain the fruits and store them in the fridge, then assemble the next day.

Notes

This is enough to fill a quarter-sheet pan. I love having this size around and am actually thinking I’d like to have two. If you only have half-sheet pans (normal size), then just press the dough into half of the pan, or double the recipe to make 24 servings.
Lower fat (or fat-free) cream cheese will work just fine.
This makes enough frosting for a thin coating, so if you like lots of frosting you may want to double it.
You don’t have to pre-cut the sections (say, if you want to make an American flag pattern) but it makes it much easier and less messy to serve and eat later.
If you’re using very juicy fruit, avoid putting it on more than a couple hours in advance if possible.

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

Hello friends, hope you are having a lovely June. If you’re in one of the places having massive heatwaves, I hope you’re staying cool with smoothies and ice cream and other frozen treats. Shameless self-promotion aside, we’ve had the usual gauntlet of rain and hail and sunshine here that typically befalls June. On Saturday I ran my 10th half marathon in West Yellowstone, which also happened to be my first trail race, and it was as warm as it was beautiful.

2015 Yellowstone Half Marathon

You might think the lack of baked goods the last several posts is due to the weather, but it’s actually because my oven is broken. It’s not holding temperature correctly which doesn’t work well for delicate items like cookies and quickbreads. Due to this, M has been making no-bake cookies, which is one of his standbys for when I don’t get around to baking. (The other is brownies, but that also requires an oven, obviously.) Since they’ll probably be a staple until the oven situation is resolved, I thought I’d share them here.

No-Bake Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

These cookies are quite rich but they have a great peanut butter chocolate flavor, and are super quick to put together. They stay soft and delicious for about a week and are extra yummy with a tall glass of milk. I’ll admit they are really sweet (2 cups of sugar will do that) but they’re an excellent go-to treat when you need something fast to satiate that chocolate craving.

Whip up a batch for the week (or the day) and give your oven a break.

No-Bake Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

Borrowed from M
Makes 4+ dozen one-tablespoon cookies

Ingredients

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup peanut butter
3.5 – 4 cups Quick Oats (I always use Quaker)1

Directions

  1. Spread wax paper or aluminum foil on the counter (or a cookie sheet if you want to be able to move them).
  2. Combine sugar, butter, milk, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan and heat over medium until melted.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil; continue boiling for about 90 seconds.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients until completely combined.
  5. Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons), scoop cookies onto prepared surface. I usually make them bite-sized (about 1 tablespoon) whereas M prefers a more hefty size (about 3 tablespoons), so feel free to do whatever size you like best.
  6. Allow cookies to cool completely, then store in an airtight container on the counter.

Notes

The fewer oats you use the more gooey the cookies will be. The pictures are using the full amount but we typically use about 3.75 cups.

Makes just under 5 dozen if you do my size, or about 2 dozen if you do his size.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats

Hi friends. It’s been somewhat rainy and gray here but I’m sharing a summer treat anyway. This is one of my favorite easy snacks and childhood memories all rolled into one. I’m not sure how often we actually had these as kids, but I remember it being a lot and them being awesome. I still make them semi regularly since they keep in the freezer pretty well.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats {{Baking Bytes}}

Peanut butter mixed with honey makes for a sweet flavor without being terribly unhealthy. Plus bananas! Bananas are healthy. Graham crackers aren’t terrible for you, probably, so all in all it’s a pretty solid choice. Protein and fruit, can’t go wrong. The freezer makes these into a fabulous summer snack for a hot day when you don’t want ice cream. Or your parents won’t let you have ice cream, whatever the case may be.

Even though I set my own dessert rules now, I still like these as a healthier alternative without feeling like I’m depriving myself of deliciousness. Nice and cold on a hot day and perfect for satiating a sweet tooth. Yum.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a super simple recipe so really there’s not much more to say…other than I suppose if you’re not a peanut butter fan (weirdo) you could use some other kind of nut butter, or I guess Nutella (gross) if you’re into that sort of thing. I typically use roughly a 1-to-1 ratio of peanut butter and honey but it doesn’t really matter that much so long as you end up with about a half cup total, otherwise you won’t have enough for all your crackers. My mom, for example, uses more like a 4-to-1 ratio, so really just go with whatever suits you.

Prepare for hot, lazy days and stick some of these in the freezer now, then later applaud yourself for being so forward-thinking.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats {{Baking Bytes}}

PS – If you think of a better name for these, let me know. I was not feeling creative.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats

Adapted from childhood
Makes about 8 treats

Ingredients

1 package (8-9 sheets) Graham crackers

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup peanut butter

2 small (narrow) ripe bananas

Directions

  1. Carefully break Graham crackers into squares. I like to gently press a knife along the perforation to do this cleanly.
  2. Mix honey and peanut butter together until smooth. Feel free to adjust the proportions!
  3. Spread honey mixture on one side of all crackers.
  4. Slice bananas into approximately 1/4″ pieces.
  5. Top half of the crackers with banana slices and place another cracker on top (peanut butter side down, of course.)
  6. Carefully wrap each sandwich in aluminum foiland place in the freezer several hours, or overnight.2
  7. Enjoy straight out of the freezer on a hot day.

Notes

For my British friends, Digestives work great also. Since they are a little thicker, you may want to use more of the honey mixture per cracker biscuit.

Or use plastic wrap and put them all in a freezer Ziploc.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

Hello friends, hope you’ve successfully made the switch to February. Bozeman leaped right passed it into April as we continue to have weather in the 50’s. As someone who actually enjoys winter, and skiing, and cold-weather running, I find this very depressing. I also am hoping this does not mean we have a hellish summer ahead of us or I think I’ll move back to Alaska for July.

In any case, cookies. With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, Pinterest and the rest of the internet has been overrun with pink and chocolate. I decided to ignore all of these things and make something completely different this weekend.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

These cookies are soft and have a wonderful brown sugar flavor spiced with cinnamon. Kind of a cross between snickerdoodles and gingersnaps, they are a simple pleasure and a delightful treat for any time of year. They do require a couple hours of chilling, but I expect I’ll be making these pretty often in spite of that. Bonus: for those of you without a stand mixer, these cookies are mixed by hand – no electricity required.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe called for dark brown sugar but I only had light on hand. They are delicious regardless but I imagine they’d be extra flavorful if you’ve got the dark option lying around.

As a fall or winter refreshment these go great with coffee or hot chocolate. If you’re looking to cool them down for summer activities, they are awesome as ice cream cookie sandwiches. Just put a scoop of softened ice cream on a cookie, and press another cookie on top until the ice cream is spread out to the side. Serve immediately or store in the freezer, but pull them out a few minutes early before serving. Yum!

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes about 22 cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon (I used a whole tsp)
1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg, room temp
2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp white sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a small-medium bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar until completely combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk thoroughly.
  3. Add wet mixture to dry and use a rubber spatula to stir until completely mixed. Dough will be wet and soft but should be thick. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  4. Pour 2 Tbsp sugar into a bowl or deep plate. After dough has chilled, roll 2 Tbsp dough into a ball, then roll in the sugar to coat. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Return dough balls to the refrigerator, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and line baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.
  6. Bake cookies for 12-16 minutes. They will look soft and puffy but should not look super wet in the cracks. For extra soft cookies, use the lower end of the range; for a slight crunch on the outside, use the upper end.
  7. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  8. Cookies stay soft for several days in an airtight container on the counter…assuming you haven’t eaten them all already.

Notes

To quickly bring an egg to room temperature, place it in a cup of warm water for 5-10 minutes.