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Entries in Christmas (7)


Last minute Christmas gifts for foodies

I posted this on my Facebook and Twitter yesterday, but in case you missed it, here are five suggestions for last-minute shoppers.  Some of these can still be ordered TODAY, or you can run out and buy them...if you don't mind the crowds.  :)

Links to all the products are available on this video's YouTube page, in the video description.


Last minute Christmas decoration - styled two ways!

Have you yet to deck the halls?  Need a super easy decorating idea?  This took me ten minutes.  Seriously.  All you need is wrapping paper (contrasting solids are great, but...whatever you have is fine), ribbon, and a few boxes of varying sizes.



Add ribbon.

Couldn't be simpler.  Another added bonus?  This is a great way to hide any unsightly boxes, especially if you just moved or just need to disguise some clutter!  Here are two ways to style this decorating shortcut...

This is inspired by a Barney's window I saw some time ago...department store displays are a great source for decorating ideas!

Wouldn't this be so pretty in the corner of the den or dining room?


Be a chic correspondent - send a simple Christmas card!

I just love a pretty holiday card...emphasis on card.

Photo postcards and brag letters were once a novelty, but they're now quite mainstream.  While it's always nice to hear from family and friends, a heavy paper card with a short personal message makes quite an impact these days.  If you'd like to re-embrace this tradition, here are several cards for classic holiday correspondence:

Brooklyn Bridge
  •  Palm Tree  •  Chicago Christmas


Color Wheel
  •   French Hens  •  Popup Skaters  •  Bringing Home the Tree


Angel, Lion, and Lamb
  •  Patridge in a Pear Tree  •  Tartan


Chic tips

Holiday cards are about the recipient, not you.  Resist the urge to show off.

Greetings don't need to be complicated. A short and heartfelt personal message is more sincere than a long, impersonal rundown of your year. For instance:
     "So nice to see you at Sophie's baptism. Warm wishes for happy holidays, and the very best in 2011."
     "Congratulations on the new job! Wishing you prosperity and peace this Christmas and always."

Handwritten cards and envelopes are best. If your handwriting has deteriorated (as mine has), write s-l-o-w-l-y. 

Don't pressure yourself.  Hole up with some hot cider and Christmas carols and do them all at once, or just write a few every day.  Put yourself in a calm state and let the love shine through!  That's what this season is really about, isn't it?


Inject some Mexican flair into your holiday menu

When you hear "Mexican food" do you think of tacos, yellow cheese, and salsa?  Marcela Valladolid of Food Network's Mexican Made Easy is out to prove that there's much more to our southern neighbor's cusine! Mexican food can be sophisticiated and even makes for a great addition on your holiday menu.

Sauza Tequila has partnered with Chef Marcela to present "Ladies Night In" events. I attended the Chicago event just a few weeks ago and picked up some great recipes for you. These dishes are unique but still have a healthy dose of holiday comfort and cheer:

Brussels Sprouts in Morilla Cream Serves 4-6
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds brussels sprouts. halved
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
3 scallions (white and pale green parts only)
1 morilla chile, stemmed, seeded, and very thinly sliced
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the brussels sprouts and stir for 1 minute to coat them with butter. Add the broth, cover, and simmer for 7 minutes, or until the brussels sprouts are tender. Uncover and continue to simmer for 4 minutes, or until all of the broth evaporates. Transfer brussels sprouts to medium bowl.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in same pan. Add the sunflower seeds, scallions, and chile and saute for 2 minutes, or until the nuts are toasted and chile is tender. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, return the brussels sprouts to pan, and toss to coat them with the cream. Season the brussels sprouts to taste with salt and pepper. 


Apricot-Tequila Chicken
4-6 chicken pieces
1 1/2 cups apricot preserves
2 tbs crushed chile de arbol
1/3 cup Sauza Tequila Blanco
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine apricot preserves, chile de arbol and tequila in
medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season
chicken with salt and pepper on all sides and place on glass baking dish. Brush
apricot mixture on chicken and pour left over mixture all over chicken. Roast for 80
minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and crispy. 


Roasted Chipotle Acorn Squash Serves 4-6
2 acorn squash (1-11/2 pounds each)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the acorn squash in half lenghthwise. Then cut each half crosswise into 3/4 inch thick slices. Remove and discard the seeds from the squash pieces. Transfer the squash to a baking sheet. Mix olive oil, garlic, ground chipotle, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the squash pieces and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, or until squash is tender. 

Naturally, with Sauza as the sponsor we sampled delicious cocktails throughout the night.

The overwhelming favorite was this warm tequila cider...one of my friends pronounced it "Christmas in a glass!" upon tasting.

The recipe will be featured in my December newsletter (comes out Monday 12/6).  Subscribe so you can make it, too...it's really different and delicious!

Food photo credit Barbara Rozgonyi
Group photo credit Nicole Yeary


Last minute Christmas!

I don't know why Christmas always manages to "sneak up" on us...it gives at least two months of notice!  Nevertheless, procrastination happens.  If you're feeling the Christmas Eve crunch, here are some last-minute tips:

Last minute hostess gift
Restaurant.com gift certificates.  Print them out on heavy paper, roll into a scroll, a tie with a pretty ribbon.  Sometimes they're as low as $2 for a $25 gift certificate, so get more than one. (Just be sure to read the fine print...there are some limitations on when/how the certificates can be used.)

Last minute Christmas cards
Paperless Post!  Not free, but less expensive than real cards and they'll get to the recipient on time.  It's primarily an online invitiation service, but they do greeting cards as well.  See my recent post for step-by-step directions.

Last minute wrapping paper
"Brown paper packages tied up with string...."  No, seriously.  If you have paper grocery bags, cut them up and use the unprinted side to wrap your gifts!  Secure with tape, but tie a cotton string or yarn around it.  Decorate with a black marker (music notes), green and red markers for holly, and include the line from the song so that the package makes sense!  Suddenly, you're not cheap, forgetful, or lazy.  You're nostalgic.

Last minute decorations
Didn't put up a tree?  Make your table the focal point. 
1) Tie a length of wide Christmas-y ribbon to the back of each chair, and let it cascade a few feet. 
2) Place a coordinating runner on your table, but if you don't have one, use several strips of ribbon (ok, you're going to need a lot of ribbon) in its place.  Pin the ribbon to the ends of the table cloth so that it stays put.
3) Fill a large glass bowl with ornaments, and accent with ribbon on the outside.  Make that your centerpiece.  Dim the lights, light some candles, turn on the Christmas tunes, and pour your guests a glass of bubbly.  No one will miss the tree.
See my holiday tabletops for more inspiration!

photo source

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