New Traditions and Cookies

One of the cool things about being an adult is being able to make your own traditions. For a long time, my favorite traditions were with friends and family, often including an off-color Christmas movie (Die Hard, The Ref, Scrooged, Bridget Jones’s Diary) and lots of eating. Being in a relationship means melding together traditions. This year Michael and I both had Christmas Eve off from work. His office was closed, I took a vacation day. We kind of went about our mornings doing whatever we wanted (I went to physical therapy and then swimming) and he finished shopping. 🙂

Then we went to lunch together, courtesy of his great aunt, and to a movie. We saw “Jack Reacher.” I was skeptical going in because I LOVE the books. Jack Reacher has been one of my absolute favorite book characters for about 15 years now. When I heard that Tom Cruise was going to play him, I was so disappointed. I mean, really? Reacher is like 6’6 in the movies, menacing and dark and mysterious. Those words do not describe Tom Cruise. But I went into the movie trying to think of it as just another action flick. Thankfully, I was not disappointed! While I couldn’t get it out of my head that I was watching Tom Cruise, I liked the movie a lot. It stayed pretty close to the books and characters, the writing and plot were excellent and there weren’t any cheesy action movie scenes that make you roll your eyes. There was also a pretty kick-ass car chase scene (I need a Camaro). Michael loved the movie, and has never read the books. So in the end….I do recommend it, even though it’s Tom Cruise. 😉

After the movie we still had the whole afternoon free so I baked some Christmas cookies to give to his family as gifts, and to take into work to share after the holiday. Michael kept me company as I baked. I don’t bake as often as I used to for one simple reason: I don’t want the treats in my house. But this gave me an excuse to bake something because I was giving them away!


The recipe turned out really well. I definitely recommend it for a fall or holiday party/occasion.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Serves: 24-30
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil and egg.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. Dissolve baking soda in the milk, then add flour mixture and milk mixture into the pumpkin mixture and blend well.
  4. Add vanilla and chocolate chips. Mix well.
  5. Drop onto cooking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and firm.

A few things to note: This recipe most definitely does NOT make 12. It makes about double that. So the calorie count is way off if you go by 12 servings. I don’t know about you, but I don’t make giant cookies. Mine are somewhere between small and normal sized!!! I got 30 cookies out of this recipe (because I thought there were 12 servings in it, so I doubled the recipe…oooops). Because I got more cookies out of the recipe, I calculate it at around 170 calories per cookie instead of 425. Much better.


Also, I used a mixture of Splenda Blend and regular sugar, and I also added some nutmeg. The kitchen smelled wonderful! It smelled like pumpkin pie was baking in the oven. How were the cookies? They were great! They were soft and almost cake-like instead of dense like a chocolate chip cookie. Perfect blend of pumpkin and chocolate.



I let the cookies cool down and then wrapped them in festive tissue paper to get out of my house!! No temptations! Since I accidentally doubled the recipe, I needed to get rid of more cookies. So Michael and I played Santa and dropped some off at our neighbor’s house.


Michael built a fire in the fireplace and we watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (a classic!). Then we opened the cards we got each other. When we first started dating, I told him I liked exchanging cards on Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries. And I expected more than just his name in the card. LOL I trained him well. Now I can expect a lovely heartfelt note from him 3 times a year. I love it!


Christmas Eve dinner was leftover Barilla farfalle pasta with homemade turkey meatballs, some pickled green beans on the side and a nice glass of red wine. Sounds a bit weird, but it all tasted great. Later that evening some neighborhood kids came caroling! I love making our own traditions aka doing whatever we want!

QUESTION: What are some of your holiday traditions?

Gooey, Chewy, Chocolatey

I was craving chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I’d been craving them for probably months, but hadn’t gotten around to making them because I try not to have treats in my house like that. I can handle a half batch of this, a few candy bars here and there, but to bake some cookies and have them in the house taunting me is something I try to avoid.

The last cookies I made were the Valentine’s sugar cookies for Michael. Ever since then he’s been mentioning how much he wanted some cookies. One Saturday afternoon when the weather wasn’t great and we had no plans to speak of, I decided we’d bake some cookies together.

The only change I made to the recipe was substituting the Splenda/Sugar Blend instead of using straight sugar. I love using the blend. It saves on calories and doesn’t taste WEIRD like some sugar substitutes can taste.

If you haven’t tried baking with the Splenda/Sugar Blend, give it a try. I’ve been using it for years and no one can tell the difference. In fact, Michael was helping me make the cookies and he said “eeew don’t use that.” I kindly informed him that he hadn’t noticed the difference in anything else I’d made and he said okay. 🙂

This was the first time I tried to make cookies in the Kitchenaid Mixer. It went smoothly most of the time, then when the dough got really heavy (after I added the flour, oats and chocolate chips) it started to rock a little bit. I had to stop it a few times to scrape the dough off the spinner. I also scraped inside the bowl with a spoon to make sure it was mixing everything (it missed some spots). But all in all, using the mixer was pretty easy.

While it was mixing I did have to add a few tablespoons of milk because the dough was dry and crumbly. It got to the desired texture and I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours while we had dinner. The dough was easy to work with and tasted just right!

Using the Splenda Blend saved about 20 calories per cookie. As for the cinnamon…I’ve always added cinnamon to my recipes even if the recipe didn’t call for it because I think a dash of cinnamon adds something to cookies. When I read how much cinnamon was used in THIS recipe I did a double take. It seemed like a lot but….it worked. It was delicious.

When it was time for dessert, I baked just enough cookies for us to have that evening and saved the rest. I crossed my fingers that the dough would keep for a little bit because I didn’t want to bake the entire batch that evening.

The cookies were plump and sweet. I could taste the cinnamon and it was delicious, not overpowering. Cookies fresh out of the oven are the best!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite cookie?