Holiday Cookie Exchange!

Do you and your friends or co-workers have any holiday traditions?

Each year a group of us get together for a cookie exchange. Since I am doing Paleo this holiday season (down 4.8 lbs since 11/30) I will be taking my cookies to a Christmas party this weekend. Are you wondering what a cookie exchange is? Some of you might think it’s an opportunity to bring a couple of cookies and have coffee and chat. Well, our cookie exchange is a bit more than that.

This year we had eight ladies participating in the cookie exchange. Each person makes a different kind of cookie and you then exchange a dozen of the type you bake. Since our group had eight ladies we each had to make 7 dozen cookies to share, 8 if you wanted to keep a dozen of your own kind for yourself.

In the past I made my favorite cookie the Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter cookie. My grandmother made these every year for Christmas. The year I made them for the cookie exchange I had 60 kisses to unwrap so thought I would do something easier this year.

CE Kiss cookie

When searching for a cookie to make I stumbled upon the “Puppy Chow Cookie”. Are you familiar with the Puppy Chow Snack mix? “This absolutely delicious snack mix is one of my favorites. People gobble it up – well, like puppies gobble puppy chow!” My daughter loves the snack mix so I thought this would be a great cookie to make. Almost better than the snack mix.

2 hours and seven dozen cookies later my kitchen was a powdered sugar disaster and I was beat. What the heck was I thinking? I thought this would be an easy cookie to make. Next year I think I will stick with the basic Chocolate chip cookie or a cocktail swap.

CE Puppy chow cookie

CE PC Eaten

The cookie exchange was fun. We all shared our kitchen stories, making multiple trips to the grocery store, mixers breaking, marshmallow’s burning, cookie press breaking, high altitude flour not working and naked ginger bread men.

CE Swap
I have a large bag of cookies to take to my Christmas party. Decorated sugar cookies, Ginger bread men, Coconut Mounds, Ginger snaps, Salted Carmel Thumbprint’s, Macaroon’s and a plate of assorted cookies.

CE Bag cookies

What is your favorite type of cookie for the Holiday season?

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Misfit Thanksgiving

Do you know friends who are divorced with no kids or family on the holidays?

That’s what this Thanksgiving was all about. Supporting our friends who needed us on this holiday. My friend Christina and I decided we would make the feast, give the chef a break from cooking and share with our friends who needed support and love.

EAT!

We divided and conquered the menu together.

Menu

Appetizer of Bacon wrapped Elk tenderloin – Chef

Turkey – Christina

Gravy – Chef (Christina bought jar but the chef didn’t like that idea)

Stuffing (German Style) – Christina

Sweet Potato Pie – Christina

Cranberry Sauce traditional – Christina

Serrano Pepper Cranberry Sauce (Mexican) – Christina

French’s Green Bean Casserole – Me

Mashed Potato’s – Me

Chunky Pecan Bars – Me

Pumpkin Pie – Christina

Apple Pie – I donated blood and they gave me a free pie.

DRINK!

Choke Cherry Merlot (Colorado) Vincent Winery

Cesar Bloody Marys’

Ménage Trios – California Red

Ménage Trios – Pinot Noir

Cupcake – Pinot Noir

Be Healthy!

I wanted to burn some calories on Thanksgiving morning so I hit Gold’s gym at 5:00 am with a friend and did combat, back home for a 2 hour nap and then hit my gym for Kick It at 9:00 total of 1,065 calories burned!

If you don’t have a gym open I bet you could find a Turkey Trot 5K to burn some calories. I chose Kick It instead this year because it’s a lot warmer in the gym and I burn more calories than running a 5K.

Let the festivities begin! 

Christina and I started prepping for the big meal the day before. This is probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Hanging in the kitchen drinking wine, laughing and catching up with my friend.

Do you peel your celery? Christina does!

We set the table, made stuffing, cut the potatoes, made Serrano cranberry sauce, drank more wine and invited guests over to join us!

Three of us girls in the kitchen laughing, giggling and telling girl stories, only to get quiet when Christina’s misfit walks in. Let the party begin!

The Thanksgiving appetizer just so happened to get eaten the night before Thanksgiving. Very delicious, can’t beat fresh elk tenderloin wrapped in bacon “its a taste of heaven.”  We also had artichoke dip and homemade meatballs and sausage.

Three bottles of the Thanksgiving dinner wine were consumed before the big dinner. I only tasted two of the three because I had to get up at 4:15 in the morning for Combat!

Ménage à Trois

Pinot Noir

http://www.menageatroiswines.com/pinot-noir.php#

 

Fancy a little splendor in the glass? Turn down the lights, turn up the Barry White and uncork the Ménage à Trois Pinot Noir. When it comes to affairs of the palate, we’ve always felt that three was much more fun than one, so we played matchmaker and brought together grapes from three distinctive California wine growing regions known for producing exquisite Pinot Noir. Clarksburg grapes add bright flavors and a lovely perfume, North Coast grapes add silkiness, and Central Coast fruit rounds out the blend with beautiful complexity. Enhanced with French and American oak, our Pinot Noir’s is sure to have you waxing poetic. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

 

This was an ok Pinot not one of my favorites. I probably wouldn’t buy it again. If you like oak you will like this Pinot.

Ménage à Trois

California Red 

Even if red wine is not your speed, give our Ménage à Trois Red a try. This wine exposes the fresh, ripe, jam-like fruit that is the calling card of California wine. Ménage à Trois Red brings together three strange bedfellows.

On top we’ve got Zinfandel, a saucy tease that brings blackberry and raspberry jam to the relationship. Merlot, with its generous mouth feel and red fruits, fits perfectly in the middle. The rich flavors and firm tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon make it the ideal. 

I love this wine! It’s a great inexpensive blend.

I bought the Cupcake Pinot Noir because I love the Cupcake Red Velvet Cake wine.

http://www.cupcakevineyard.com/wines/reds/pinot-noir/#

“Our Pinot Noir has the aroma of cherries that carries through the palate with a touch of red currants and a hint of spice. It’s reminiscent of a cherry cupcake with currant coulis.”

What a fun night with friends! We laughed and laughed and laughed! Definitely a night to remember!

What do you do on the eve of Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving day!

On my way home from the gym I called to see if the bird had made it to the oven after the party the night before. Christina has only cooked a turkey once before. She told me she could only find the neck in the bird and had it cooking on the stove for the gravy. I thought it was strange that there were no giblets in a fresh turkey. Oh well no biggie the neck will make great gravy.

We arrived and started the dinner with Bloody Mary’s. I like mine Cesar style.

Cesar Bloody Mary

Ice

Kettle One Vodka

Salt

Pepper

Dill

Horseradish

Celery seed

Pepperoncini juice

Clamato juice

Tabasco

Garlic

Olives

Celery

Pepperoncini pepper

Yummmmmmm!

The oven timer went off and the bird was ready to come out! Looks magnificent!

When we started cutting into the turkey guess what we found? Yep! The giblets!

Time to Mangia!

Wine with dinner was a Choke Cherry Merlot from a friend of ours vineyard.

Everything was excellent! My favorite sides were the sweet potato pie and the green bean casserole. What is your favorite side?

Chunky Pecan Bars

After a few hours of football we had dessert and then I was stuffed like the turkey!

Traveling and the 5280!

Traveling for business or traveling for pleasure? Does it really make a difference when it comes to eating and fitness? 

I am such a routine type person. When I travel I get out of my normal eating and working out routine. I always pack clothes with full intention to get moving at the hotel but it rarely happens. Eating out every meal gets old fast and very difficult to stay on track. On Monday my Mini Me and I packed our bags and hopped in the car and headed over the mountains to the Mile High City (5280) 

We arrived with plenty of time to wear our feet out at Park Meadows mall for a few hours then headed to our hotel. Once checked in we continued to walk and walk and walk up and down the 16th street mall in Downtown Denver for more shopping. Does shopping really count for burning calories?

Since we were in the city I let my Mini Me choose the dinner house. Dinner was awesome. We went to Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant. I had full intentions of being good but my Mini Me said mom you’re at Maggiano’s how often do you get to eat this kind of pasta? Ok so I ordered the Spaghetti and the HUGE meatball for dinner. We ordered the dessert sampler platter. Really, I should have just said NO! Because you can’t just have one bite when you have so many choices. 

Business meetings/classes really take its toll on me. I am not one to just sit from 9-4 straight. The rooms are always freezing and I need to move around! After the business meeting my mini me chose Rodizio Grill for dinner. My recommendation is to not eat the salad bar. The meat servers bring out 15 types of meat for you to eat. OMG! So good! 

Here are the favorites we enjoyed!

Turkey wrapped in Bacon

Sweet & Spicy Chicken

Beef Tenderloin

Ham

Grilled Pineapple

Sausage

Top Sirloin

Garlic Beef

Parmesan Tomato

This place is amazing. When you need a break just flip the marker over to red and when you are ready to eat again flip it back to green and when you have had enough lay it on it’s side and the server will come with the huge choices of desserts. I highly recommend you take your appetite for Rodizio Grill! 

After two nights of eating incredible food we managed to get in a workout the next morning. We biked and then did an upper body workout. Wow What a week. Time to get back at it.

Do you have any traveling recommendations for staying on track? 

Girls Night!

The school year has come to an end and I decided it would be fun to have my friends and my daughter’s friends over for a fun Mary Kay Party!

I worked harder preparing for the party than I do at my day job. LOL! I did manage to get in a killer “KICK IT” workout in.

Off to the grocery store and the liquor store to gather supplies for the fun night planned.

I had a Mexican food theme in mind. The menu was simple and fun. I wasn’t consistent in my picture-taking. I think I got all caught up making the food and forgot to take pictures. So the photos will be random.

Mini Bean Tostadas!

Flour Tortillas

Vegetarian Refried Beans

Fiesta Cheese

Lettuce

I made a Pico for the topping of the mini torts.

Tomato

Onion

Garlic

Cilantro

S&P

Coriander

I used a cookie cutter and cut the tortillas. Then baked in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. Then add the refried beans and cheese pop back into the oven for 5 mins top with the pico.

       

Chips & Salsa and a white cheese sauce and the “Chef” made guacamole.

Cheated on this store-bought!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dessert is my personal favorite and personal specialty

Mini Brownies with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the middle!

Box of brownie mix

Reese’s

Pink Chocolate

     

When the brownies are about half way done insert the Reese’s in and finish baking. When cooled remove from pan and drizzle your color of chocolate on top. I choose Pink today for Mary Kay! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least the beverage of the night!

Margarita’s!

Fresh squeezed Key Limes

Tequila Blanco

Agave Nectar

In a shaker add lots of crushed ice

2 oz Tequilla

1 oz Fresh squeezed lime juice

1 oz Agave Nectar

Salt a glass and pour over ice!

You only need ONE! 

For the kids and non-drinkers I served Raspberry Ice Tea.

I hope you will enjoy these fun recipes. I have book club in June offering wine and dessert. Any suggestions?