Noms: Girl Scout Thin Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Girl Scout Thin Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies. Recipe at cinenoms.wordpress.com.

Confession: As I was making these, I couldn’t shake this weird feeling that I was doing something terrible. I mean, you get Thin Mints once a year, maybe twice if you’re lucky, and there I was, smashing up half a box of them, turning them into a different cookie entirely. I felt like a monster.

But you know what? If making these makes me a monster, I’ll take being a monster. These might be the most amazing cookies I’ve ever made.

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Noms: Pasta Salad with Chicken, Grapes and Cashews

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This pasta salad contains pasta, chicken, grapes and cashews.

In college, you hit a bunch of milestones that make you feel like you’re growing up. Signing your first apartment lease. Traveling on your own. Graduating with a degree.

But I’ve always felt that it’s not the big things that make me feel like I’m on my way toward adulthood as it is the little things, the ones that your parents always did for you, like taking your fancy clothes to the dry cleaner or using Draino and boiling water to fix your sink.

A recent “Oh my gosh, I might sort of be a kind of adult” moment? Making my mom’s pasta salad, a delicious combination of chicken, pasta, grapes and cashews coated in a semi-sweet dressing.

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Noms: “Skinny” Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

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I’ve had my eye on Sally’s recipe for Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins for a while, but the combination of words in their name had me a bit wary. Strawberry + Chocolate Chip? All day, every day. But Skinny + Chocolate Chip? Nope. I’m all for healthy foods, and you know I’m all for sweet foods, and I’ve just always been generally opposed to mixing the two. I guess I was worried the low-calorie label would lead to a low-flavor recipe.

Of course, I should have known better than to doubt Sally! I made these last week for an Easter brunch, when I wanted something that would be sweet but not a full-out dessert, and of course they were flawless. Moist and soft and full of flavor, from the strawberries to the chocolate to the touch of cinnamon. And they were easy, too! I’m already planning to mix up another batch this weekend to eat throughout the week ahead. Yum.

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Noms: Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies are the perfect combination of salty and sweet. Recipe at cinenoms.wordpress.com.

It’s no secret by now that I love sweet things of all shapes, flavors and sizes. But something I’m starting to love even more? Desserts that are both sweet and salty.

It started when I tried brown butter sea salt cookies from the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos, California. I was instantly hooked by the taste of the sea salt. Nom. Since then, I’ve picked up or baked salty/sweet treats whenever I could. Chocolate sea salt ice cream from Sparky’s. Ghirardelli’s various sea salt squares. Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Triple Chocolate Pretzel Brownies. YUM.

This week’s recipe was inspired by Brown Eyed Baker’s Peanut Butter-Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies, which I made — and loved! — last summer. I wanted that salty-sweet taste but wasn’t in the mood for peanut butter, so I kind of combined that recipe with the original Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe. The end result? Delicious!

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Noms: Irish Flag Blondies

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Frosted Irish Flag Bars

As a half-Irish girl who loves to bake, I had big, adventurous plans for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I was going to make soda bread. I was going to make Shamrock Shake Cupcakes. It was going to be great.

But the weekend got away from me, as weekends often do, and for a last-minute St. Pat’s gathering I instead found myself reaching for my trusty standby. Remember how I said Cake Batter Blondies are my favorite because they’re easy and can always be made festive? Here’s my case in point.

These guys are simple to make — short ingredient list, mix by hand, done in an hour — and although they’re not authentically Irish, they’ll be a hit at any St. Patrick’s party.

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