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Free Cookies! (Holiday Gift Giveaway)

Did that get your attention?

I thought it might. And that’s good, because I want to keep it for this whole post. There’s lots of information here, plus a GIVEAWAY at the bottom, plus a COUPON CODE for everyone else who doesn’t win!

Anyway, these free cookies. They’re free cookies to make — very easily — at your convenience.

Or, if you’re in the giving mood since it’s the holiday season and all, at someone else’s convenience. Good thing, too, because it is seriously a perfect holiday gift.

Allow me to explain.

You see, there’s this really cool company called The Mason Jar Cookie Company, which allows you to create your own custom cookies.

You get to choose a base (out of four options) and three add-ins (out of thirty!), and all of a sudden you have a “recipe” for  your own custom cookies. And you get to name your blend, too!

Then, in the mail, you get this attractive tube.

Which you open to find this:

And then you dig down a bit, and you find your custom cookie mix, carefully layered inside a mason jar.

It even comes with custom nutritional statistics and baking instructions!

Which brings me to the next part — baking it!

All you need to provide is the butter,  egg and vanilla.

And then it comes together so quickly, it’s ridiculous.

In just a few minutes, you have delicious cookies right out of the oven, with basically no work at all.

Super easy clean-up, too.


Oh, and even better? You can re-order your mix (or get your friends to order your exact mix) easily with your custom code!

(Note: That’s not my code, nor was this my mix — I just got their recommended blend.)

Anyway, here are the two best parts:

1. I get to do a GIVEAWAY!

You have until Thursday, December 8th at 12PM (noon) PST to enter.

Here’s how you can enter:

(Up to two entries by doing each of the below.)

  • One entry for commenting here with what your mix will be.
  • One entry for tweeting about it (and also copying me, @honeykaitlin and The Mason Jar Cookie Company, @masonjarcookie) and linking to this post.

2. All of you get to benefit from this — not just the winner! — because ALL of you can use the coupon code TENOFF to get 10% off your order.

It’s the perfect holiday gift for the person who has everything… or the person who just loves cookies! And especially the person who loves cookies but is hopeless in the kitchen. 🙂

Enter and order away! Let me know if you order one, too. 🙂

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Day 4: Does Wine Count As Alcohol?

So, I’m not going to lie to you. In no way, shape or form did yesterday fall underneath my self-appointed rules. I won’t even try to pretend.

It’s all Fresh & Easy’s fault, really. I mean, they sent me three bottles of wine and asked me to try them all in one night. What’s a girl to do?!

In truth, though, I had somewhat failed the day before I even got there. Not terribly — in fact, even with the wine, I think I did alright — but, you know, accountability and all.

At least I started out with a workout: 35 minutes on the elliptical (at 5:30 in the morning, no less!) and 45 minutes of a strength training class (super heavy on the arms and I can feeeeel it today!).

And I was on point with breakfast, at least.

I had a cottage cheese bowl. It’s high-concept, watch out — it’s a yogurt bowl, but with cottage cheese instead of yogurt.

I know. I just blew your mind.

 

Into the mix went:

  • 1 cup 2% cottage cheese
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • 1/4 banana
  • ground blueberry flaxseeds
  • cinnamon

This combo is really working for me lately. It keeps me full, it has lots of protein, and it has such a variety of flavors and textures that it keeps my tongue interested (TWSS). Oh, and — SPOILER ALERT! — it’s been working so well for me that I actually had it for breakfast this morning, too.

Sheesh. You might as well not even come back for tomorrow’s post.

Annnnnyway. I was on point at lunch, too.

I had the… exact same salad that I had for Monday’s lunch. What can I say? I like to repeat good meals and I like to use the ingredients I actually have in my fridge.

Into the mix went:

  • romaine
  • lentils
  • baby bell peppers
  • yellow grape tomatoes
  • feta
  • cucumber
  • three cheese balsamic vinaigrette

Yum!

It was after lunch that I started to get into trouble. See, I totally forgot to bring an afternoon snack yesterday and I had to scavenge in the unfamiliar-to-me office kitchen when I got hungry. I ended up finding some Kashi bars, which might not be on my plan, but were definitely the healthiest option available.

That was Dark Mocha Almond, or something like that. It was alright, but nothing to write home about. I’ve definitely had better Kashi bars.

Then, when I got home, I got the party staaaarted!

Actually, that’s sort of a lie. By “getting the party started,” what I mean is that Lauren was held up at work and was late, I tried (unsuccessfully) to tide myself over with a low-fat cheese stick, and then eventually realized that I had a responsibility to Fresh & Easy, who had sent me the wines, and needed to start drinking them on my own so I could participate in the tweet-up.

To explain, Fresh & Easy sent us the wines and had us all do a live twitter tasting together. It was a cute and unique concept and I thought it went pretty well. But, obviously, it wasn’t going to work unless the people to whom Fresh & Easy had sent the wine participated, so I took one for the team and broke open the white by myself.

One is the loneliest number…

What’s that they say about drinking by yourself?

I was really pleasantly surprised by this wine. I actually loved it. I’m not a Chardonnay fan and thus expected not to be a fan, since Chardonnay was the first wine listed in this blend. In fact, I opened this wine first because I like to save the best for last and I figured I’d get the one I just knew I’d like the least out of the way. But I was wrong! This wine, called Ma Cherie, was a mix of three whites — Chardonnay, Voignier, and Grenache. I’d never heard of Voignier or Grenache before but after last night’s tasting of this blend, I’m going to go ahead and assume I’m a fan of both — especially because they masked the taste of Chardonnay!

Fortunately, I only got through that one small glass before Lauren joined the party and worked on catching up.

It was a this point that I opened the red (a blend called Doon Buggy) to let it aerate a bit, as suggested by Amanda and Andy in the tweet-up.

It was also at this point that I quickly assembled our easy (and coincidentally entirely Fresh & Easy) dinner.

We split this turkey chili (which has incredible nutritional stats, by the way — this container has 2.5 servings of 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 12 grams of protein each — ridiculously good!).

I also sliced up two whole wheat tortillas to make homemade tortilla chips!

This seriously could not have been easier. I set the oven to 400 degrees and cut the two tortillas into little triangles. I then laid them all out individually on a pan, sprayed them with canola oil, and sprinkled them with sea salt. I set them in the oven looking like this:

… and took them out five minutes later, looking like this:

 

Easy as pie. Wait, no! Way easier. And soooo yummy.

I served them alongside the chili (which was microwaving while I baked the tortilla chips).

In case you couldn’t deduce this yourself from the picture above, I topped the chili with dollops of nonfat greek yogurt and sprinkles of shredded cheese.

This dinner could not have been easier or more convenient. It literally took five minutes to assemble from start to finish, it was pretty darn healthy, and it was inexpensive, to boot! Win.

Meanwhile, during those five minutes, Lauren entertained herself by taking pictures of herself with the wine. She’s like a blogger in training, or something.

After we finished dinner, I rinsed out our glasses so we could move onto the Doon Buggy.

I then tried really hard to get good “pouring pictures” while I was doing the pouring myself…

…which really just did not go very well.

Oops.

Anyway, speaking of failed attempts, Lauren and I then tried to take a picture of ourselves with the wine. We took about ten. Here’s a sampling.

Man.  Maybe we should stop drinking so much wine.

Speaking of the wine…

It was lovely. And it actually grew on me as I drank more of it. It was a rich wine, with a lot of body to it. It felt soft, somehow. I wouldn’t suggest mixing it with the acidic, citrusy white in the same night like we did, but — separately, I thought the Doon Buggy was a very nice wine that would go smoothly with a solid meal.

At some point during this bottle, Mark came home and joined the party, too!

We actually managed to finish the Doon Buggy between the three of us, as well as half of the Ma Cherie. At this point, however, we were wined-out. We never made it to the third wine. We may be lushes… but we’ve got to stop somewhere.

Don’t you worry. That third bottle will be making an appearance on KWH sometime soon.

Oh, and even though wine surely should have counted as dessert, I also decided to have one of my pieces of Ghiradelli Intense Dark 72% chocolate.

Sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Anyway, like I said, yesterday clearly wasn’t on the plan. However, I think I did alright, considering how badly it could have gone. I also know that this week will have two nights of drinking. Last night, obviously, was one, and the other one will be tonight because I’m going to a party with drinking games and I know I won’t be able to help myself (I love me some flip cup). But — all in moderation, right?

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Cheese & Chocolate Night

As a part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I’m pretty lucky. I get sent samples of some really cool things sometimes. Most recently, one of these cool things was a $25 American Express gift card to participate in the Sargento Taste Test.  Another was a box of samples from Ghiradelli Intense Dark Chocolate.

The offer from Sargento was meant for an educational cheese tasting experience, in which we were to compare Sargento natural cheese to any processed cheese. We also were given enough money to also buy cheese pairings of our choice.

Along with the Sargento cheese you see above, I bought:

Processed Mild Cheddar, Swiss, Colby Jack and Pepper Jack…

Woven Wheat Crackers, Butter Crackers and dried apricots…

A Mixed Red and a Merlot…

And a baguette, which Mark modeled beautifully.

Adorable.

Our friends Ryan and Chris were able to join us for the cheese tasting experience.

Sargento guided us through this experience.

1. Look at the cheeses. Natural cheeses, like cheddar, come in many different colors, but in general an understated and non-glossy appearance. Processed cheeses, however, have a luster or shine to them, even after their plastic is removed.”

2. Touch the cheese and feel its texture. Bend the cheeses. Natural cheese texture can vary by cheese variety, but will normally break in an authentic fashion when you do this. Processed cheese is characterized by a smooth, rubbery and artificially pliable texture, and often can bend and fold without breaking… It can sometimes even feel ‘mushy.'”

3. Smell the cheeses like you’d smell a glass of wine. Natural cheeses’ aroma will vary by cheese type, and the range of smells span adjectives like earthy, nutty, and fruity. Processed cheese is usually lacking in a strong aroma, but can have cooked milk notes due to its heating process.”

4. Taste the cheese. Natural cheeses have an incredible array of flavors — from savory to fruity to spicy and sharp. The dominant characteristic in processed cheese is often described as salty. Take note of the characteristics of the cheese, the intensity of the flavor, the saltiness, sharpness or fruitiness of the cheese.”

The way we used the Sargento cheese, specifically, was to create our “main course,” if you will. I think I’ll call them… pizza dippers.

We used the bread and the shredded cheese…

… along with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Basically, we sliced the baguette, then toasted those slices for about 5-10 minutes at 400 degrees. Then we took the toasted slices out, drizzled them with olive oil and topped them with salt, pepper and cheese, and then put them back in the oven for a few more minutes (until the cheese was melted).

Once they were out of the oven, we dipped them in warm roasted garlic & sweet basil tomato sauce.

It was very popular. We finished the entire baguette between the four of us!

Once we finished that baguette, the dessert portion of the evening came about.

It was Ghiradelli Intense Dark Chocolate time!

You might not be able to tell in the picture, but… Mark and I had already made a serious dent in the Sea Salt Soiree bar before the party.

Oops.

We tried the (rest of the) Sea Salt Soiree, 72% Cacao Twilight Delight, and the 86% Midnight Reverie.

Each of them was delicious. but I’m particularly fond of the Sea Salt Soiree. I love sweet and salty!

This was a perfect end to the evening!

“Ghiradelli Intense Dark chocolates deliver luxuriously deep and velvety chocolate in a variety of cacao percentages… and sophisticated flavors… This line of 100% all natural chocolates delivers unrivaled chocolate intensity in a delicately thin chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt slowly in your mouth.”

I actually think these rich bars offer the perfect dessert. I could absolutely be satisfied with just one square.

Pretty nice night, right? I had so much fun and loved the guidelines given by each brand!

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Last Week

I feel really bad that I haven’t posted in a few days. I’ve been so busy catching up with my family and friends and, of course, dogs, that I haven’t really had a moment in front of the computer.

I can, however, tell you all about last week, since I never really had time to cover it at the time.

As you are all well aware, last week was nuts. It was my final week at my old job, for one, so I was wrapping things up and training my replacement. On top of that, I was busy every single night.

I spent Monday night making red velvet white chocolate chip cookies for my friend Chris since it was his birthday.

I made them with Lauren and was so concentrated on making the cookies that I didn’t really have time to focus on making us dinner, so I was terribly grateful for the Steamfresh packages I’d just been sent by Foodbuzz for the Tastemaker program.

I made scrambled eggs with that package of Roasted Red Potatoes and Green Beans. So, that package plus four eggs and some cheese made a perfect and easy dinner for two.

Meanwhile, Mark didn’t really need dinner because he was too busy making out with Lauren’s dog, Spot.

Actually, those Steamfresh packages saved me more than once. Lunch, the next day, was a package (two servings) of Primavera Vegetable Risotto.


It was pretty good! A little bland, though. I preferred the potatoes and green beans.

On Tuesday night, we went out for Chris’s birthday.

On Wednesday night, I did laundry and packed my bags.

On Thursday night, I went out with my coworkers to celebrate the end of my time at our company. I had three beers and they killed me. But I had a great time doing it!


(I have no idea what’s happening there.)


(Robyn, I’m framing that!)


(I maybe won’t frame that one.)

And, on Friday, right after work, I hopped on that plane home to CT.

Whew! Okay, next time you see me, I’ll actually write about some of my time at home.

Have you ever left a job before that you loved, like me? Or that you hated? I’d love to hear your stories!

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Pretzel Cookies

I totally want to tell you all about Mark’s birthday, which was yesterday (happy birthday, Mark!), but today is so completely crazy that I’m just going to have to share an awesome cookie recipe with you, instead.

I know, I’m terrible.

Remember how, at Wine Riot, I had a little bit of a love affair with the Pretzel Crisps?

Of course you do.

Well, I was inspired! So, I decided to make cookies with these pretzels.

Not the Garlic Parmesan (my favorite) ones, or anything. That would be weird. I used the Original Pretzel Crisps.

The cookies? Pretty great.

I mean, I impressed myself.

Pretzel Cookies

makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking dofa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick + 1 tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup Original Pretzel Crisps (any mini pretzels would work, I’m sure), crushed/ broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Sift together dry ingredients.

Mix wet ingredients. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until just combined.

Fold in pretzels, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.

Scoop out tablespoons of the dough and arrange on baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Delish!

And no, nobody asked or paid me to do this. I just like the product!

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Sick Day and a Knee Update

I’m home sick today. I’d show you a picture of all of the tissues, but… gross.

Instead, I’ll show you some food. And a few gratuitous shots of my swollen leg. Hot, right? Don’t worry, I’m going to make you wait for it.

I know. I’m such a tease.

So, this morning I broke some bread out of the freezer that I’ve definitely already started on but never managed to capture on camera. Whoops.

I was send this Nature’s Pride Hearty Wheat With Flax from Foodbuzz as a part of their Tastemaker’s Program.

As a quick breakfast before my MRI this morning, I toasted a piece of this bread and topped it with Bee’s Knees peanut butter, half a banana (sliced), and a sprinkle of chocolate granola.

It was pretty great.

I will say, though, that this bread is probably better for buttered toast or, mostly, as sandwich bread. It leans more toward “savory” than “sweet.”

I bet it makes for a mean grilled cheese. Or an egg sandwich. Yum. I’ll have to try that. Or those. Probably both. You know, all in the name of research. I’m selfless like that.

Right. So… then, I went to my MRI. I may or may not have fallen asleep during it with my book on my face. No big deal. We don’t judge around here.

Anyway, the MRI showed that I don’t have a meniscus tear (yay!), but I do have warning signs of potential tears. I’m going to have to be careful about that.

What I definitely do have (no surprises here – I already knew this) is “Excessive Lateral Patellar Compression Syndrome” (I got the official name this time). Since PT hasn’t really been working for my left knee, and since the clicking, etc. has been so prominent, the doctor decided we should try a cortisone shot. After hearing about what it does and what any side effects or consequences were, I agreed.

Basically, the idea here is that we’re breaking the inflammation cycle and loosening everything up.

I was super nervous for the shot, but it wasn’t so bad. It was more of an uncomfortable pressure than actual pain.

I am, however, now sporting this bad boy:

(Gratuitous knee shot #1)

Ignore the redness. It’s from icing. See?

(Gratuitous knee shot #2). You’re welcome.

My knee is pretty stiff and sore, but the doctor told me that I’d likely feel a little pain for about 48 hours. He also said that in about 5-7 days, I should be seeing improvements. He even said that, if it works (though, no promises there), I may get to work out again — MY way, not the easy way.

Seriously, is that not the best news, ever?? That is, if it works. We’ll see. But, please, cross your fingers for me.There is nothing I want more than to return to boot camp… and possibly – possibly!!! – running. God, that would be amazing.

In the meantime, I’m also still nursing this cold. Which means I’ve been eating lots of soup/ stew and drinking lots of orange juice. See?

I actually made this stew the other day. It’s pretty good. I can’t wait to share the recipe.

Plus, I was able to work on one of my New Year’s resolutions in making it!

Anyway, other than the doctor’s appointment and the icing, I’ve basically been spending my day watching Lie To Me, a new-to-me show.

Have any of you seen it? I like it so far.

Also, can anyone get me my dark chocolate-covered almonds? They’re all the way over there.

Damn.

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Chobani Love & Giveaway!

You guys know I have a lot of love for Chobani.

Like, a lot.

Though I try other yogurts from time to time, I always seem to miss and then return to Chobani. To me, they simply make the best yogurt.

I may or may not crave (and, thus, consume) yogurt bowls five or six days out of every week, these days. That’s a lot of yogurt.

You may have noticed.

I sort of have a problem.

Again, you may have noticed.

Want to hear something that’s not problematic though?

I get to share my Chobani love with one of you!

You may remember that I recently got a fun lunchbox kit with a few of Chobani’s new flavors (though I accidentally let one of them – the Lemon – expire, boo).

One of you lucky readers will get the chance to win the same kit!

The usual giveaway rules apply. U.S. citizens only, please (sorry, international friends), and you have two ways to enter (so, yes, you can enter twice):

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite way to eat yogurt.

2. Tweet about the giveaway, copying both me (@honeykaitlin) and Chobani (@Chobani), and come back here, leaving a comment to tell me that you tweeted.

Woohoo!

The giveaway ends Friday, March 25 at 12pm PST and I’ll announce the winner on Friday afternoon.

Happy entering!

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