Christmas

Vegan EggnogIt is a mystery to us why Egg Nog is so popular (even though we are big fans of dairy over here), but this recipe by Pure Bar Founder, Veronica Bosgraaf’s has us intrigued. It can be found in her cookbook, Pure Food, and seems to capture all the flavors of the season without all of the calories. It's more like an almond milkshake without the rum (that's why it's called nog), but to each their own. Cheers!

Vegan Eggnog (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 cups almond milk, homemade or store-bought
1/4 cup spiced rum (optional)
1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 to 1 cup ice

In a blender, combine the almond milk, rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt, and ice. Blend on low speed until smooth and serve immediately.

 

Image'Tis the season of spreading good cheer and spreading waistlines. We have all heard it before – the average person gains one pound a year during the holidays. That is, except for French women, who apparently don't gain weight, ever.

One pound isn't so bad. What is bad is that most people never lose that pound and then continue to gain a pound each year afterwards.

There is no shortage of articles telling women how not to gain weight during the holidays. Some are practical; others are, well, simply stupid. Below are a few of my favorite stupid suggestions and my common-sense alternatives. They work for me, and I hope they'll work for you too.

Stupid Suggestion #1: Avoid Alcohol At Parties.
Telling people to avoid alcohol at a holiday party is like telling women inside of Nordstrom to avoid the shoe department. Ain't gonna happen.

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pizzelle1.jpgMy grandmother, Nan, loved to receive shirt boxes at Christmas every year. Not shirts, just the boxes. After Christmas, my mom and I would bring them over her house, where she would stack them in a closet, then insist we sit down at the kitchen table and have something to eat.

Wondering what she did with all those boxes? She used them store her pizzelle cookies. She needed a lot of boxes because she made a lot of pizzelles – for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. It's not just my grandmother, all Italians enjoy them for celebrations.

Pizzelles are round Italian waffle-like cookies made from flour, sugar, eggs, and butter and are typically flavored with anise or vanilla. The name pizzelle comes from the Italian pizze, meaning "flat" or "round."

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duckbreast.jpgGrowing up eating roast duck often, especially during holidays, stoked my love for all things duck. Foie gras, pâté, or duck confit, I love it all. It's a rich food in more ways than one. But for the holidays it's worth a little splurge. Most of my family's Thanksgivings were always about the juicy roast duck and not the dry turkey. As the years passed we've held to American tradition and dined on turkey for Thanksgiving, but we always have duck on Christmas day. Roasting is a great technique, but sometimes the breast tends to get dry since it cooks faster. I find the best way to cook it is by searing, which renders all the fat and crisps the skin, leaving behind a very flavorful, medium-rare cut of meat. Any steak lover would be pleased with the result. Plus searing is a fast and simple technique that does not have to be limited to holidays.

Duck always pairs well with something sweet, tart, tannic, and astringent. All of those lip-smacking aspects work to cut the richness of the duck. A good tart, tannic wine is also a must. But I knew I had the perfect pairing in pomegranate juice, pressed from the jewels or arils of pomegranates. The red, hexagonal pod fruit is readily available in the markets in the winter season. I had already been planning on developing a recipe to feature this duck-pomegranate pairing when POM Wonderful contacted me to see if I was interested in taking up a challenge of cooking with their juice. I agreed and was sent a box of juice bottles to experiment with. From that juice I was able to create the feature sauce and a complementary vinaigrette for the salad.

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Christmas-Tree-DecorNo wonder I rarely got a tree. It’s just too much work. Going out to buy it. Schlepping it home. Carting it inside. Pine needles everywhere. Finding the box with the decorations in storage. Untangling the lights. Discovering that only some are still working.   I’m not that together.   I have zero organizational skills. Hey, if magical elves appeared in my home to set up the tree, and I didn’t have to go to the lot or do anything, I would reconsider.

And then, of course, there is the religion factor. To get a tree or not to get a tree. Since half of me is Jewish and the other half vague, it’s easier to just call myself a Jew. A tree never seemed to bother other Jewish families when I was growing up in Beverly Hills. This time of year, everyone became his or her own Hollywood set decorator. Each family outdid the next. Talk about keeping up with the Joneses --only in this case the Jimmy Stewarts.

Lets’ face it a Christmas tree is an indicator of taste. Pink-flocked ones seem a bit “Liberace” to me.  But I kind of dig a pink tree.   A very close friend growing up lived in a home with wall-to-wall white shag carpeting and lots of gaudy gold-trimmed fixtures. Her prematurely blue-haired mother always matched their blue-flocked Christmas tree. Each year I thought wow, everyone’s trees are getting bigger and bigger. Like bigger is better. They seemed to reach the ceiling in some homes and I would think, okay, we can see you have a big penis.  

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