Christmas Cookie Exchange

This year my boyfriend and I went to our very first Christmas Cookie Exchange party.

It was a really great idea and I like to bake so I was very excited about it. Although I had no idea what to make, I knew I wanted them to be simple and easy to make and something you can dunk in your coffee or hot chocolate. So I researched my favorite cooking sites for recipe ideas such as the: smittenkitchen.com, foodnetwork.com, allrecipes and of course the ever popular Pinterest. I found four cookie recipes that I absolutely loved but in the end I chose Christine’s Lemon Wreath Cookies from Martha Stewart’s website (she really comes through in a pinch).

The Lemon Wreath Cookies were easy to make and I don’t even have one of those fancy KitchenAids. But I do have a Ninja! So I put my apron on and went to work.

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I followed the directions exactly except I added a little lemon extract to the cookie dough. After they were done baking, I let them cool then dipped them in lemon frosting and sprinkled them with white sugar pearls and green sugar. I gave them a taste after I let them set for a little bit and was very happy with the end result. They came out just as I had hoped they would – sweet, soft, buttery and lemony 🙂

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Peppermint-Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
My boyfriend also took his time to select a cookie but once he did, he did not disappoint. The recipe he decided to go with was for Peppermint-Chocolate Sandwich Cookies by Giada De Laurentiis. A most excellent choice since we both love chocolate and peppermint.

Our kitchen was a mess but as the saying goes….”A messy kitchen is a sign of happiness” or something like that ;P

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I don’t know what was more enjoyable – the cookies or coming home to my boyfriend while he was making this chocolate-peppermint concoction in the kitchen 🙂

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peppermint-choc cookies

As soon as our cookies were ready, I arranged them on platters, covered them with plastic wrap and tied them up with a pretty ribbon (for presentation) then we were on our way to the party.

There were about 8-10 different cookies that were exchanged and each of them were delicious. Afterwards, we all wrote down our top three favorite cookies and mine and Oscar’s were both voted second 🙂 The Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies came in first and they were my favorite as well.

Some of the other cookies that were brought to the party are:
Mince Meat Pie Cookies
White-Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Caramel Apple Cider Cookies
Jam Filled Thumb Print Cookies
Oreo cookie balls

So if you are looking for ideas for a cookie exchange party, I would highly recommend them. Do you have any cookies ideas or recipes you would like to share? If so, please feel free to post them here.

Happy Holidays! 🙂

10 Tips for A Healthy and Stress-free Holiday

Tis the season to be jolly!!…..fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!!

Christmas really is a great time of year. It’s a time for getting together with family and friends to honor traditions like decorating Christmas trees,  drinking hot chocolate by the fire, singing Christmas Carols, baking cookies and building ginger bread houses. And let’s not forget about the glorious seasonal drinks that come out around this time of year such as the Peppermint Mocha and Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks, Mulled Spice Wine, Egg Nog and homemade Irish Cream liqueur.

I wrote this post to remind myself of all the good times and happy memories that come from the holidays that we sometimes forget or take for granted once it’s over. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own busy-ness and I stress over finding the “perfect gifts” that I forget the real priorities which are: family, love and human compassion.

I was especially reminded of this when the tragedy took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th. It was a horrible HORRIBLE thing to have happened and I can’t even imagine the pain and shock that has taken over the town of Newtown, CT. Just the thought of what those poor teachers and kids went through along with the pain and suffering of the families who lost their children in the shootings just makes me feel so sad and hollow inside. I think about how brave those teachers had to be while trying to keep their kids calm and safe when they must have been scared out of their minds.  I keep them in my thoughts every day and I pray for healing and strength and their ability to cope and overcome this tragedy and find peace again.

To all of my friends and family, please know that I love you very much! You all mean the world to me and I cherish every moment that we spend together.

Below are some photos and special memories from this Christmas that I am very grateful for:

Dec 2nd – Going to the Holiday Craft Bazaar and Bonnet House Orchid Festival with my Mom 🙂

mom and me Collage

Dec 3rdDecorating the Marantz Family Christmas Tree 🙂 

marantz Collage

December 6th – Going to the Holiday Sand Tree Lighting in downtown WPB with my guy 🙂

sand tree

Dec 8th – Meeting up for coffee and catching up with my good friend Caitlin 🙂

Dec 10th Chatting and catching up with Melanie – my bestie from the westie 🙂

December 14th – Going to see “The Hobbit” with Christina and Johnnie 🙂

Dec 15thJessi Boo’s Birthday Dinner in Delray 🙂

jessi bday

December 19th – Making my very own Elf Yourself video 🙂

December 20thChristina’s Surprise 30th Birthday Party 🙂

Christina bday Collage

December 21stMy very first Cookie Exchange Party! 🙂

Lemon Wreath Cookies made by moi (left) and Peppermint Chocolate Sandwich Cookies made by my guy :)

Lemon Wreath Cookies made by moi (left) and Peppermint Chocolate Sandwich Cookies made by my guy (right)

December 22ndPajama Jammy Jam Christmas Party 🙂

Xmas PJ Party Collage

December 23rd – Making gingerbread cookies with my Mom 🙂

ginger bread Collage


December 24th Spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the Dominguez Family 🙂

Dominguez fam

December 25th – Spending Christmas night with my Dad and giving him his awesome homemade 2013 calendar!!


Here are 10 tips for staying healthy and making the most of your holiday season:

1)   Take time for yourself – don’t worry about being everything to everyone. It’s OK to say No. Carve out some “you” time to recharge your batteries. Go out and take a walk or listen to your favorite music while tidying up your house or read a book.

2)  Be Flexible – Don’t strive for perfection, you’re never going to get it. Whether it’s the “perfect” gift or the “perfect” Christmas for your family or the “perfect” holiday party. Missteps and unexpected events ARE going to happen. Just remember the most important things – spending time together and enjoying each other’s company.

3) Eat green veggies or fruit with each meal and stay away from sweets as much as you can!!

4)  Get plenty of sleep – I know it’s hard with all of the excitement but this is something you must do all year round!

5)  Exercise – make your gym appointments ahead of time and keep them!

6)  Take multi-vitamins – they’ll help you keep your energy up and boost a positive mood if you start to feel a little blue or frazzled.

7) Plan your family Christmas activities ahead of time – especially if you have to make multiple visits.

8)  Make home-made gifts – thoughtful and creative home-made gifts that come from the heart are the most unique and enjoyable gifts ever!

9) Don’t worry about keeping tradition – it’s not the end of the world if you don’t do Christmas cards.

10) Volunteer or Donate – There are so many worthy causes out there and it makes you feel good to help someone and make their day or year a bit brighter.

I wish all of you a Happy and Healthy 2013!