Food, fun, family and friends … A very Carnoski Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I had an amazing few days spending time with my family, some friends from home, and B’s family. That’s right -somehow in the four days I had off, we spent time in New York, Connecticut and Ohio.

Here’s a little bit about how it went:

B and I flew into NY early Wednesday and spent some time on the couch doing work – I worked remotely most of the day (Boring, yes) but got to take a few breaks to enjoy my mom’s homemade soup for lunch (AWESOME) and even take my dog for a walk amid getting some work done. Wednesday night, my mom made some baked ziti (sorry, no photos were taken) and we had a few friends over for a pre-Turkey Trot pasta party! The last time I was in town, Jane and Melgar and I ran the Turkey Trot – so of course we had to do it again this year. It was great to see these ladies (and Melgar’s boyfriend Jon) for a short while and catch up on high school gossip and all that had happened since our last reunion.

high school bffs

Turkey Trot

This year’s Turkey Trot shirts .. but we forgot our bibs

Thursday meant running the Turkey Trot (B and I forgot our bibs … so we didn’t get to time ourselves !!)  and enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with my family in Connecticut! It had been a few years since I’d last spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my family and it was great to see everyone and enjoy some of my Thanksgiving food traditions.

obligatory turkey shot

Three generations – me, my dad and my grandma

My brother and me

Friday we faced the crowds and after fueling up with some leftovers, we hit some of my favorite outlets for some Black Friday specials. I may have been lucky enough to get a few early birthday gifts and enjoy some other holiday specials.

Day after Thanksgiving dinner? Pizza!

Saturday was an early flight back to Cleveland, a train ride downtown (along with many of others who were attending Winterfest!) and then a carride way east to enjoy B’s Thanksgiving family tradition – bowling! That’s right, the Sat. after Thanksgiving, B’s family gets together in northeast Ohio for a friendly bowling competition – complete with a trophy and huge Italian dinner afterwards. There’s so many of us we basically rent out a whole bowling alley and dining room afterwards. Neither B nor I won this year –  but maybe next year? I can dream. After bowling, we decided to continue the party and go out to watch the Notre Dame game. B’s sister is a senior there and was more than excited to watch them win.

newest member of the family – cousins in law!!

we rent out nearly a whole bowling alley

Somehow we ended up drinking Corona and oranges

Post-bowling outing

Sunday was a lazy day, spent recuperating from the weekend’s travels and activities, unpacking watching some bad  good TV (Vegas Vacation, Brady Bunch Movie and of course the Browns win), working out and catching up on email. Can hardly believe that Christmas is less than a month away!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Peanut butter and chocolate. What other flavor combination makes your mouth water? What other flavor combination produces some of the best desserts ever? (like homemade BuckeyesSurprise Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes or Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oreo Bars)

That’s why, when I was asked to bring cookies to an event, B suggested that I bring Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies – a recipe my mom had made when I was growing up, and one that I often forget about. Now you can make them too!

 REESE'S Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

(from the back of the Reese’s peanut butter chip bag … and my mom)

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups peanut butter chips (one package of Reese’s peanut butter chips)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat  your oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. I used Pam.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
  3. Mix in the eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Combine dry ingredients — the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt — and slowly stir into the creamed mixture.
  5. Fold in the peanut butter chips. Try not to eat too many before adding to the batter! They’re SO good.
  6. Drop cookies by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until set. Cool on wire racks.

Enjoy! Hopefully more peanut butter and chocolate recipes are coming 🙂

chocolate peanut butter chip cookies ingredients

What you need …

chocolate peanut butter chip cookies

What you’ll make!

Cherry Almond Chocolate Kiss Cookies

A few weeks ago I got asked to bring some cookies to an event. I wasn’t sure what I should make. My schedule has been super crazy lately, so I knew I’d have to bake the cookies in advance. What’s something “new” (aka I haven’t baked it before) I could bring but still look cute? What’s something I could bake ahead of time, and freeze, and then bring?

My coworker Cari had an idea. She shared with me a recipe that she says her family always makes during the holidays – Cherry Chocolate Kisses! I did some googling and found quite a few similar recipes, online – and reviewed those to come up with these masterpieces. They were soft, delicious and so adorable! I’m definitely making them again.

cherry chocolate kiss cookies on plate

Cherry Almond Chocolate Kiss Cookies

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons juice from jar of maraschino cherries
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Few drops of red food color (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
  • Red sugar crystals for sprinkling on the cookies
  • About 36 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together powdered sugar, butter, cherry juice almond extract and food color. Cream together until blended well.
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour and salt; mix well.
  4. Add the chopped maraschino cherries.
  5. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in red sugar crystals. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cooking sheets.
  6. Bake the cookies until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 10 – 12 minutes.
  7. Immediately top each cookie with a chocolate kiss. Remove from cookie sheets and cool.

Enjoy! They freeze well. And taste delicious!

chocolate cherry almond chocolate kiss cookies cooling

Weekend Recap: Denver Edition

This weekend I traveled to Denver to spend some time with my good friend Caitlin. B and I had never been to Denver before and we both have friends there. It was the perfect chance for us to both take a weekend trip – and for me to have a girls weekend, and B to have a boys weekend as he stayed with his friends.

What were some of the trip highlights?

Dinner at Steuben’s : I tried my first Moscow Mule (it was SO GOOD. I told B that I’m never drinking anything else again) and we split fried corn on the cob, french fries and ribs! Sadly, no photos of the food were taken that I can share. It was gobbled up too fast!

Walking around, exploring the entire city by foot on Saturday: Cait was a great tour guide! We saw the Capitol building, walked past City Hall, the Public Library, the famous Tattered Cover Book Store, Art Museum, both stadiums (football and baseball), through LoDo and to the Highland. We even made a stop in the HUGE REI that’s there.

Drinks at WynkoopNot only did we get to enjoy drinks with tons of people dressed as gorillas – but it was also their 24th anniversary and we got $2.40 beers the entire time (plus birthday cake!).  The best worst best best part – trying their Rocky Mtn Oyster Beer! That’s right – I drank beer that was brewed IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN OYSTERS. Gross? Maybe. Drinking something that tasted like beef jerky? #Winning.

Drinks and dinner at Vine Street BreweryPost-Wynkoop, we hit up Vine Street Brewery to try some of their beers and dinner. Again, no photos. Instead, lots of fries and drinks.

Hiking in Elk Meadow Park: Just a short drive from Denver lies Elk Meadow Park. Cait and I enjoyed an easy hike and saw some snow covered mountains!

snow capped mountains in the distance

Running up the bleachers at Red Rock: The view was gorgeous – and the run was hard. Can I blame it on the altitude?

looking down the bleachers

Up the bleachers

Visiting the beautiful city of Golden: While didn’t make it to the Coors brewery, we instead enjoyed lunch and walked around the cute town and took pictures with the statues. Just as fun? You decide.

All in all it was a great weekend – but I was so glad to make it back to Cleveland before all the flights were cancelled and the effects of Hurricane Sandy blew into town. We’ve had nonstop rain in Cleveland since I came back (so it’s hard to look at all those blue sky pictures of Denver!) but it’s nothing compared to those who were in the storm’s path.

Thinking of all my family in NY and NJ who are suffering the effects of Sandy, stranded without power! Stay safe, warm and dry!