Dec 152008

Kitchen Fun with Carol

Elves2008_04Merry Christmas everyone! I just love this time of the year. It is a season full of family traditions. One of the favorite traditions in my family is putting up the Christmas display in our front yard. My father-in-law made an animated Christmas set over 50 years ago. The elves and Mrs. Claus are all motorized. Sometimes I think that they are almost a part of the family. My father-in-law calls them the “boys” and my husband makes sure they are in working order every year. We also try to add our own touch to the display. This year we added reindeer. Next year we are looking into adding our first “new” animated creation.

Another fun tradition is a cookie exchange. I went to a different variation this year which was really quite fun. My friend hosted a Pampered Chef® party. Every one who attended brought a standard cookie ingredient such as chocolate chips, flour, sugar, brown sugar, unsalted butter, etc. We then took all the ingredients and made all kinds of different of cookies together. We made Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles, Spritz, Tollhouse Bar Cookies, and Molasses Cookies. It was so fun to make cookies with my friends!

Other cookie exchanges I have been to have you make the cookies before the party. For freezer cooks, this is the perfect kind of cookie exchange! So many cookies can be made before hand and frozen, either fully baked or the unbaked dough.

Never hosted a cookie exchange before? Here are some basics:


  1. Decide on a date and time for the party. Weekday evening and weekend afternoons usually work the best.
  2. Send out invitations instructing everyone to RSVP with the type of cookie they are bringing. When we host an exchange we usually have them bring one dozen for each person attending so if there are 8 people attending, bring 8 dozen cookies. Also ask them to bring recipe cards filled out with their cookie recipe.
  3. Think of a few snacks and beverages that you can serve at the exchange. Make an evening of it with your friends!
  4. Make table markers for each type of cookie that is brought to the exchange so everyone attending knows what kind of cookie they are getting.
  5. On the day of the exchange set up a festive table where the cookies can be displayed. You will need to provide take home containers or ask quests to bring their own. Also, set up your snack and beverage table.
  6. Enjoy spending time with family and friends as you exchange cookies.


There are some great cookie recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet web site that would be perfect for a cookie exchange. Share them with your friends and try your hand at hosting a party.



Contest Winners

New ebook is available!

Our newest ebook, Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, is now available on the 30 Day Gourmet web site. The ebook includes 25 tried and true freezer friendly recipes that are sure to become family favorites. This has been a fun experience for me and my family. My slow cookers got a great workout the last few months but it was worth the effort. We have added many of the recipes from the new ebook to our winter menu. My boys really like the Iowa State Fair Guinea Grinders, Wedding Soup, BBQ Meatballs (as a sandwich), and the Meatball Stew. My husband likes the Chicken Enchiladas, Pepperoncini Roast, French Dip Sandwiches, and Chicken Cordon Bleu Rolls. Take a look at the Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites Sampler. I hope you and your family will enjoy the recipes as much as mine.

This month’s Freezer Cook of the Month winners are our wonderful cooks who submitted recipes to the Cooks’ Corner Message Board for this ebook. Everyone whose recipe was included in the ebook will be receiving a free copy. Emails notifying the winners will be sent this week. Congratulations to our winners.


Bonus Recipes


Cranberry Pork Roast

This recipe smells so good as it is cooking in the slow cooker. The orange peel and cranberry combination give it a great flavor. It is fancy enough for company but it is also great served as a sandwich. If you don’t like to cook with pork you could use a turkey breast instead.




Iowa State Fair Guinea Grinders

My boys love this recipe. It quickly became one of our family favorites. You can change the spiciness of recipe by changing the type of sausage that you use. You can also lower the fat content by using turkey sausage. The recipe still tastes great! Different brands of pizza sauce will also change the flavor of the meat mixture. We like using our homemade sauce or a local store brand. One recipe makes a lot so it would be great for Super Bowl Sunday.



Wedding Soup

I love Wedding Soup. I first tried it at a restaurant call Eastside Mario’s and it was wonderful. This soup reminds me of that restaurant. It is wonderful fresh and it freeze great! My kids request it for lunch. We add spinach to the recipe when we make it. Add a couple handfuls of washed/trimmed spinach to slow cooker when you add the pasta at the end of the cooking time.




Closing Comments from Carol

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season.

Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I’d love to try and share them with everyone. You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email. Or do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!

Have fun in your kitchen!



Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

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