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?

Holiday Eats

Christmas Eve Eve

On Friday I slept in til a lovely late hour and then went swimming at the pool. Michael worked out at home on the bike and with weight lifting. On Friday evening we settled in to enjoy some Christmas movies by the fire! It ended up being a John Hughes marathon that night–Home Alone and Christmas Vacation. Can you believe that Michael had never seen Home Alone before?

Dinner was steak and veggies. I roasted the veggies in some olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic. I loved the roasted veggies. I did sweet onions, broccoli and carrots.

I opened a nice bottle of wine to go with our steak dinner. The wine was a Tempranillo I got at Trader Joe’s and I loved it. I would definitely buy this wine again.

Is there anything better than red wine and red meat together? It was delicious and satisfying. I also sprinkled some Asiago cheese on the roasted veggies–a great addition.

Dessert was one scoop of cookies and cream ice cream, half a serving of M&M’s and one chocolate chip cookie. It was decadent and hit the spot.

It was a great way to end the night.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve we went snowshoeing up on Mount Hood. We were both famished when we got home and I was ready to eat everything in the kitchen. We settled in to watch a Christmas movie of Michael’s choice–Rocky IV don’t ask! — and then we made dinner together. Christmas Eve dinner was Poulet Au Vinaigre (Gina’s Weight Watchers) –chicken, with roasted veggies and Israeli Couscous.

I’ve never had Israeli couscous before. It was…interesting…it wasn’t bad, it was just different. If felt like I was eating miniature pasta noodles or something. It’s hard to describe. For the veggies I used Grapeseed oil this time. Everything turned out alright, so dinner was a success.

After dinner we watched another favorite Christmas movie–Die Hard–and we each opened one present under the tree. Michael did good this year:

Peppermint bark cookies!!!! OMG. Crack in a box! I HAD to have one with dessert.

Merry Christmas!

QUESTION: What was your favorite food this holiday?