Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Last Cookie Exchange 2014

Yes, my last.  At least my last to host for my wonderful coworkers.  It was number 5 for me and time to pass the golden spatula on to a new hostess.


Each year has been so special with memories of good times and good people.


But enough of the bittersweet and onto the cookies and food!  There were 10 of us exchanging baked yummies this year: Paula, Rachel, two Janets, Leslie, Sarah, Julie, Elisa, Stacie and me.  Mine isn't pictured here, but can be seen in the picture above or in my last post .

Pizzelle, Pumpkin Pie Cookies, Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies
Pumpkin Oatmeal Drizzle Cookies, White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread, Hot Chocolate Cookies
Gingerbread Men, Florentines, Cranberry Bliss
Beautiful, right?  Every year I am amazed at how wonderful the cookies look spread out on my table. And after a bit of stress over how to package the recipe cards, and with more than a little help from my friend and coworker Elisa, it all came together.  It always does.


I chose some new appetizers this year and for the most part I was happy with how they turned out. The hands down favorite was a new twist on bacon wrapped chicken by adding Sriracha and garlic.

Sriracha and Brown Sugar Wrapped Chicken Bites
The wonton tacos were a close second.  I strayed from the recipe a bit and used regular salsa instead of salsa verde, and served guacamole on the side instead of chunks of avocado on the tacos.  I also omitted the green onions due to a food allergy of one of my guests.  Regular diced white onion would have been a nice addition and I'll remember that next time (Christmas Day?)

Chicken Verde Wonton Tacos
 I made wonton cups to squeeze the guacamole into and garnished them with a slice of grape tomato.

Guacamole Cups
The BLT stacks were nice, but then again, it is one of my favorite sandwiches of all times.

BLT Teas Sandwiches
Cucumber Canapes with Whipped Feta
I used the Savory Sausage and Fennel Galette recipe I have made half a dozen times before into smaller bite sized "tarts.  Using a drinking glass, I cut pie crust into rounds then topped them with a heaping tablespoon of sausage filling, pinched the sides, and baked for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Savory Sausage and Fennel Galette
By far the easiest bites I made were the goat cheese balls.  I made them a day in advance and was not sure about the flavor, but over night the taste mellowed and I really liked it.

Goat Cheese Appetizer
I did make a couple desserts, but failed to get pictures.  One was individual Pineapple Upside Down Cakes and the other was a tray of mini apple pies.  I've made them before, pictured below,but it's a great go-to recipe.


And that's it!  Well, not really.  The highlight of the night beyond the food and friends, the ornament exchange and the laughter, was a wonderful surprise given to me by my friends.  They each contributed cookie cutters which were used to fashion a beautiful wreath with a big holiday bow.  How about that one red candy cane?  Could this gift be anymore perfect?


I cannot tell you how much this meant to me.  I was surprised and happy beyond words.  I'm not a cryer, but when I opened the card with all their names and words of thanks I admit to welling up. These wonderful ladies warmed my heart.

You may also like these posts:
Ahhhh.  Party Over 2011
The Cookie Exchange 2012
Cookie Exchange 2013

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Not A Party Without The Cookies

Today is the annual Cookie Exchange Party at my house.  I look forward to it every year.


The day before the party is always busy.  This year I never even got out of my pajamas having started the cleaning and prepping first thing in the morning and never stopping.


Now I have a clean house and the food is ready to be served when my friends arrive this afternoon.


The cookie I chose to make this year is an Orange Cranberry Cookie.


The texture is everything I love in a cookie; slightly chewy on the inside and a little bit of crunch from the orange sugar on the outside.


Orange sugar.  I am going to have to try this with a muffin for Christmas.  The fresh orange zest mixed with white sugar is so fragrant and naturally orange in color.


Oh, maybe as a sugar rim on a pretty martini glass with a cranberry cocktail!  Yummy.


At any rate, it's perfect on a cookie.  All 6 dozen of them.


Recipe card and treats are done and the table is ready.  Can't wait to see all the home baked cookies this year.  This will be my 4th exchange to host here.  Each one has a funny story attached.  Will this year be any different?