How to Make Greek Yogurt Cookies (Recipe)

Happy day-after-Christmas!  I hope you had a lovely holiday and aren’t feeling too much of a sugar hangover from the past few days… you know how holidays can be.

I don’t know about you, but post-holiday, I’m always trying to keep things a *bit* lighter.  And with New Years next week, you know you’ll be indulging again soon enough.  In times like these, I grab my trusty Greek yogurt and whip up a little somethin’ sweet but sensible, like these Greek yogurt cookies.

Let me tell you, these are some soft, fluffy, pillowy (?) sugar cookies, and that’s all thanks to the Greek yogurt in the cookie dough.  For these cookies, I strained the yogurt overnight (see recipe for instructions), which gives the yogurt a more cream cheese like consistency, perfect for making soft cookies.   I used just the tiniest amount of butter, mostly for the flavor, which keeps these cookies fairly light from a nutritional perspective.

The cookies are reminiscent of a sour cream sugar cookie, if you’ve ever had one.  If not, don’t bother… just make these!

I added extra vanilla to the cookie dough for a very flavorful cookie.  You could certainly substitute some of the vanilla for another flavoring — almond, lemon, peppermint…

If you want to keep the cookies lighter, you can bypass the frosting and enjoy them plain or with a simple dusting of powdered sugar.  For me, I had lots of leftover cookie frosting on hand, so I had no choice but to top my fluffy cookies with an equally fluffy layer of frosting.

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How to Make Chocolate Peanut Butter S’mores with Homemade Graham Crackers (Recipe)

It seems every year, as the weather changes, my appetite does as well.  Set aside cakes and pies that take upwards of an hour to bake, and bring out no-bake desserts, ice cream, and everyone’s backyard favorite, s’mores!

I impulsively grabbed a (cheap! $2.29!) bag of Bob’s Red Mill graham flour last week and decided to try my hand at homemade graham crackers.  I doubted myself several times while making them.  Isn’t this dough too soft?  Shoot, I didn’t roll the dough thin enough.  How the heck are these going to end up crisp? 

Fortunately, the results were great – a nice, crisp cracker with a touch of flavor from the molasses.  Next time, I might use honey instead of molasses.

For a fun twist on traditional s’mores, I replaced milk chocolate with two types of peanut butter.  I spread the inside of one graham graham with regular, creamy peanut butter.  Then, I spread the other graham cracker with chocolate peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams).

Then, just toast your marshmallow, sandwich it between the two crackers, and you’ve got yourself an ooey, gooey, peanut buttery s’more!

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How to Make Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies (Recipe)

When it comes to food in New York City, I feel like I’ve done a pretty well for myself as a tourist over the years.  I’ve eaten bagels (hold the cream cheese… yuck) at Murray’s, waited in hours-long lines for brick oven pizza at Grimaldi’s, and slurped down frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity.  I’ve eaten my fair share of Magnolia Bakery banana pudding, Shake Shack frozen custard, and sidewalk pretzels (Sigmund’s are 3498x better though!).  But for whatever reason, trip after trip to New York, I had never made it to Levain Bakery, a bakery on Manhattan’s upper west side, which is known to bake some of the best (if not the best) cookies in the city.

Last weekend, while enjoying a great weekend with friends in the big apple, my friend mentioned she wanted a really good chocolate chip cookie.  While she started to Google best chocolate chip cookies in New York, I mentioned Levain Bakery, and as fate would have it her Google search led her to Levain Bakery. :)  In no time at all we found ourselves outside the teeny tiny bakery on the upper west side, eating cookies the size of a frisbee.   As soon as I took my first bite I knew I had to try to recreate the cookies at home!


Some quick Internet searching led me to a variety of “copy cat” recipes for Levain Bakery’s famous cookies, and after some adaptations, I had myself a chocolate chip walnut cookie that tastes very close to the real deal!

If you can’t tell, these cookies are monstrous in size.  I laughed when an entire batch of cookie dough yielded just a dozen cookies!  But it’s all worth it when you’re enjoying bite after bite of crispy edges and gooey centers.  Just make sure you sit down for a bit afterward… sugar. coma.

In comparing the cookies to Levain Bakery’s, the flavors are definitely close.  Texture wise, I think the Levain Bakery cookie is a bit more crispy than mine, but that also might have to do with the fact that the humidity in upstate New York has been about 99% for the past 72 hours.

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How to Make Vanilla Greek Yogurt Cupcakes and Frosting (Recipe)

Cupcakes.  With sprinkles.  And… Greek yogurt!  Would you expect much else from me?

I’m sharing these cupcakes today because it’s my mom’s birthday.  Happy birthday, mom!  🙂  I’m a thousand or so miles from my mom, so I figured we can just share a virtual cupcake today.

In fact, let’s all share a virtual cupcake, OK?

If you were wondering whether substituting Greek yogurt for part of the “normal” fat called for in cupcakes (like butter or oil) can still yield a tasty little cupcake, the answer is a big yes.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that these little cakes made with Chobani vanilla Greek yogurt are even more moist.

In addition to Greek yogurt, I used coconut oil in these cupcakes, which I personally believe is the secret to a delicious made-from-scratch vanilla cake.  Coconut oil was once pretty hard to find, but I see it popping up in stores all over the place these days.  Try it if you see it! (but if you don’t have it, just replace the coconut oil called for in this recipe with softened butter).

As for the frosting, it’s packed with Greek yogurt as well.  The trick with the frosting is to strain the yogurt overnight before making the frosting, so that you’ve got a super thick yogurt to work with.  Otherwise you’ll end up with a really runny frosting that falls right off the cupcake.  The horror!

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How to Make Pumpkin Apple Cupcakes (Recipe)

I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again: cupcakes make Monday a better day.  But before we get to these little gems, I’ve got something very important to discuss…

I think we’ve got another canned pumpkin shortage on our hands here in Central New York.  I noticed the dwindling supply a few weeks ago, but didn’t think much of it since it was barely September.  Now – almost October – it’s gotten worse.  Pumpkin isn’t on the shelves at all, not even at Wegmans.  And they have everything!

As horrific thoughts of a pumpkin-less fall started going through my mind Saturday evening, I decided to take last-ditch trip to WalMart.  By the grace of (the pumpkin) God, I was relieved to find it there and promptly put twelve hefty cans in my basket.  By the time I got to the checkout, my arms were about to fall off and a few people in line were looking at me strange.  Ha, they’ll think of me when they’re not eating pumpkin pie on the fourth Thursday in November!  Then, I noticed the guy in front of me was buying three cases of beer and couldn’t help but think to myself—gosh Liz, you’ve gotten pretty wild, hoarding pumpkin at WalMart on a Saturday night!  I should really tone things down and take it easy.  Anyway…

Let me know if you’re noticing the same problem in your area.  I hope you’re not, because you need to make these pumpkin apple cupcakes!

It’s interesting how my eating pattern changes when I’m deep into marathon training.  I still have the urge to bake and cook, but I tend to take more shortcuts.  Like last weekend, when I was making these cupcakes for my mom’s friend.  I wanted to do a fall-inspired cupcake, but I didn’t want to put in too much effort…so I didn’t!  And let me tell you, the ease of prep didn’t sacrifice flavor or texture one bit.

These cupcakes use a boxed cake mix, but you don’t even have to bother adding eggs or oil.  Just pumpkin, an apple, spices, and some water.  Before you know it, you’ll be savoring a super-moist spicy cupcake, without all the fuss!


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