Friday, December 19, 2008

Tis the Season

The air is finally cool and crisp enough that wearing a scarf and mittens does not seem out of place (even in San Diego), little lights on strings line the houses around the neighborhood, the stores are all bustling and playing festive tunes, and houses are more often than not filled with the lovely scent of pine and home baked goodies. There are so many things that I love about this time of year, from gatherings with loved ones and friends to the hours spent in the kitchen cooking up delicious holiday goodies, I must admit I am completely smitten with the month of December.  Whether you are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, or none of the above the holidays are a most delicious time of year for everyone. 

So, just incase you are having a hard time getting into the spirit of things and need a little help finding your holiday cheer here are a few of my favorite festive things.


Eggnog Sans Egg

Now I like to consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, old smelly cheese, delish! Banana curry, yes please! Sea urchin, bring it on! But there is one thing that still after 29 years makes my stomach churn,

eggs.

It’s not for a lack of trying, once a year I make an effort to try eggs in a new way to see if I have had a change of heart. Scrambled with cheese, tomato and basil, egg white omelets with cinnamon and vanilla, quiche with spinach and feta all sound like they would be so scrumptious but alas that eggy flavor still shines through.  So of course drinking a beverage that has egg as its namesake is not normally on my list of delicious holiday activities. Leave it to my favorite soymilk producer to come up with a most delicious alternative for all of the vegans and egg loathers such as myself out there.


All the delicious flavor of eggnog without the egg yolks or moo juice! It has been years since I have had real eggnog but as I recall it was rather thick, silk nog however has a consistency more like regular silk which in my opinion is much more palatable. The only thing better than a glass of silk nog, is a glass of silk nog with dark rum and nutmeg enjoyed in front of the Christmas tree.

 

Advent Calendars



As if counting down the days till Christmas was not exciting enough on its own. Add to that anticipation the joy of starting every day of the month with a delicious bit of chocolate, a month can’t get much better than that! Since I was a little girl almost every December I have enjoyed an advent calendar, some made lovingly by hand and others bought in the store. This year I was overjoyed to find my advent calendar at Trader Joes.

Cute pictures spotted with little cardboard cutout windows filled with candy, just as I remembered them only with one extra special difference.

Yet another reason to love Trader Joes!

 

Holiday Parties

Whether with work colleges, family, neighbors, or friends the holidays are a perfect excuse to share food, wine, and stories with all those lovely people in your life that you don’t see nearly enough of.  I love all types of holiday parties, from formal dinner parties with all the fixins to silly theme parties, any excuse to dress up and spend time with the people I care about sounds like a perfectly peachy way to spend an evening to me!


Christmas Lights


Its funny how something as simple as little twinkly lights on a string can bring such joy. As soon as lights appear on the first house on our block my heart skips a beat and I immediately want to run home light a fire and start watching holiday movies or listen to Christmas music and make a hot cup of peppermint cocoa.


Pictures with Santa


For years every holiday season parents have dressed their kids in their Sunday best and headed off to town centers and malls across the country to wait in lines tended to by cute little elves just so their little bundle of joy can have a few minutes on the lap that jolly old man dressed in red and white.  The annual picture with Santa has become a tradition for many families throughout the years.  I myself had a few when I was a little tyke and then many years later as an adult I realized that a cute holiday photo with Santa need not be reserved for the 10 and under crowd.


Cookies


As lover of all things delicious for me nothing says Christmas quite like baking cookies.  Rolled into balls and dipped in powdered sugar, coated with chocolate and bits of peppermint, or cut into festive shapes and sprinkled with colorful sprinkles. Christmas time would not be complete without making a batch or two or three and sharing them with all the cookie lovers in your life.  For all of you gluten free cookie lovers out there here is a scrumptious sugar cookie recipe from me to you!


Sugar Cookies

Makes between 20 and 30 cookies depending on how big or small you make them

 

Ingredients

1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup brown rice flour

½ cup potato starch

½ cup tapioca flour

¼ cup sweet rice flour

1 teaspoon xanath gum

 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt


Optional Additional Ingredients

Sprinkles and red hots for decorating

A few drops of food coloring (for colored cookies)

1/2 teaspoon lemon flavoring (for a slight lemon flavor)

A sprinkle of cinnamon (for a bit of spice)

 

Preparation

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add to that the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.

In a medium sized bowl sift together the flours using a sifter, fine meshed sieve, or whisk. Add to that the xanath gum, baking powder and salt and mix to combine.

With the mixer on low speed slowly add the dry ingredients one cup at a time until a smooth dough is formed.

Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Once the dough is adequately chilled and you are ready to bake cookies pre heat your oven to 375 and lightly grease a cookie sheet or cover with a silpat. After the dough has sat a room temperature for a few minutes place it between two pieces of parchment paper and roll it out to about ½ to ¾ inch thickness. 

Use a cookie cutter to make desired shapes, decorate, and pop in the oven for about 10 minutes or until light golden brown in color.

Transfer cookies to a wire rack until completely cool before serving. If you can’t resist eating one while they are still hot handle with care because they will be a little fragile until they are cool.


Happy Holidays!! 

xoxo Rachel Marie 

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