Kristi and Darlene get super deep about the HOLIDAYS – cooking, expectations, gifts, and consumerism. And then we talk about cookies! This is one food therapy session you DON’T want to miss! Queue us up in your podcast player before the holiday hustle leaves you feeling less than jolly.


Listen on your favorite podcast player.


Tough Cookie is actually on Apple Podcasts for real now. I am embarrassed to say we were not there if you tried to share us with someone new! If you were already subscribed, disregard. 

On that note… please leave us a review. 🙂  AND join us for a podcast party! It will be sometime in January 2020. Keep an eye out on Facebook!

Show notes for episode 32 – Holiday Cooking and Food Gifts

Darlene helping her dad and brothers with a gingerbread house!

Related: A Nice Relaxing Thanksgiving

Perhaps you should try a Christmas Brunch?

Do some make-ahead cinnamon rolls or a strata! 

Darlene’s Prime Rib in rock salt 

Yule log cake – this is great for if you are going to a party or having a bunch of people over because there is a wow factor here.

The yule STUMP cake is even easier! Garnish with a garden gnome, rosemary sprigs, and chopped pistachios and chocolate “bark”. Yes those are mini mushrooms made with marzipan stems and fresh raspberries.


Kristi – My fancy holiday dinner, sandwiches on paper plates. But, we buy fancy bread and lunch meat. Or, we rock a potluck. Or, we go out to eat somewhere! 

Exciting stuff… I am not making Christmas dinner this year because we are going on a CRUISE for Christmas! We will be celebrating on a boat. So, I will have the kitchen staff whip us up a fancy dinner. 😉 

Darlene is jealous! 🙂 

Food Gifts: 

Kristi: Her mom made quick bread mixes from the store. You do YOU!

Darlene: I had a legit religious ALMOND ROCA experience! The recipe is below in “Family Recipes Section” 


Darlene: Christmas Treat Boxes


Sweet and Savory Items: 

Spiced Nuts

ALSO: Honey Roasted Walnuts

Candied Orange Peels

Salted Chocolate Truffle Cookies


Homemade Marshmallows

Party In A Jar. Have I talked about this?? Marinated goat cheese + bread + wine = instant party 🙂 


Kristi’s Fav Treats to give out: 

My favorite food gift is to make Chex Mix. It is the legit – original – recipe. Plus, I add a little bit extra of one particular ingredient that makes it taste extra AMAZING!!! You will probably not want the premade stuff again. 

My other fave food gift – homemade cookies. You can’t go wrong with good cookies. Right?!

My friend Jeannette makes caramels. And, another friend of mine makes caramel corn. Yummy!! 


Food gifts I love to buy: 

Food For The Sole – we mentioned on our last podcast – I get a sampler box for my mom and my brother who are big outdoor people and always looking for yummy trail food. 

Holm Made Toffee 

Humm Kombucha 

Combine some food gifts with meli wraps! Cover your loaf of bread with the Meli wrap as “wrapping paper” 

Pie, cupcakes, or other baked treats! Brown’s Basics Bakery 



You can’t go wrong with the title of this post: 23 Christmas Potluck Recipes That’ll Earn You Mad Respect. I’ll take the loaded baked potato casserole OR the 3-ingredient brie bites. 

— Side note, sometimes I use websites like these to get inspiration. Then, I find a recipe I already have and make that instead. For example, the loaded baked potato casserole reminded me of the twice baked potatoes my grandmother used to make that are amazing.


Family recipes.


Grandma Marlene’s Family Recipes  – Printable!

Darlene: Almond Roca and French Apple Pie! 



Darlene – Using up russet potatoes. We ended up with a bunch of leftover potatoes after the gnocci workshop we did this weekend. Now I need to use them before they go bad! 

Kristi – Minestrone soup inspired by Olive Garden. My oldest daughter helped me make it …. Drum roll… in the insta-pot! My glorified soup maker. I was really craving a new way to get more beans into my life. And, the minestrone checked the boxes with kidney and white beans (navy beans). So, perhaps my food-spiration is actually beans. LOL


Food for thought:

Darlene – food gifts can be bought or homemade, just gage your effort with the list of people and pair down if you need too. 

And don’t forget to make yourself your OWN food gifts! OR buy them. We like to buy specialty cheeses, and random treats or even eat out and take a break from the kitchen during the holidays. 


What’s for dinner? 

Darlene – Roasted chicken (with Russet potatoes!) 

Kristi – Black bean & sweet potato tacos. Almost like fajitas though… because I love to saute bell peppers and onions. Again, totally wants to have more beans in my life. They are a beautiful blend of protein and fiber. <3 


Tough Cookie: 



Where to find Darlene

Pickle Jar Studios website
Pickle Jar Studios on Instagram
Tough Cookie on Instagram

Where to find Kristi:    

kristi coughlin

Effect Positivity on Instagram