Last Minute Christmas Cheer

Christmas always took an agonizingly long time to arrive when I was little.  I started flipping through the giant JC Penny’s toy catalog and circling the 625 items I wanted in October.  We had to wait for what seemed like ages to decorate the tree once December finally arrived.  And as soon as school got out the rest of the month was dedicated to absorbing Christmas – eating cookies, decorating gingerbread, doing the advent calendar, and watching A Muppet Christmas Carol (available on Amazon Instant?? My night just got so much better…) as many times as possible.  Then, of course, Christmas Eve itself was the longest night ever, and I rarely fell asleep within an hour of going to bed.  Now that I’m not so little though, Christmas seems to sneak up on me all of a sudden – I’m barely getting in the spirit when the day has come and gone.  It’s easy to get so caught up in your life – and the shopping, and parties, and rushing around that seem to epitomize Christmas now – that you forget to just enjoy the Christmas spirit.  And to think about what Christmas actually means – whatever that may signify for you.

Luckily, we all still have at least another 48 hours to soak up as much Christmasyness as possible, and I plan on doing just that.  And you know what’s helping the most?  The eggnog.  Sweet, rich, creamy, and just a little spicy, one sip of this eggnog and I feel a little bit more relaxed, a little bit less anxious, and a little bit more ready to enjoy the next two days for what they are.  Fifteen more sips and you can just imagine how good I feel. :-)  Really though, it’s extremely easy to whip up, and I even made a half batch just for Trevor and myself to enjoy on the spot.  If you have a little bit more time on your hands, chop up some apples, oranges, and pomegranates and throw a batch of this Christmas sangria in the fridge as well.  Turn on some Christmas music, plug in the tree, put out a plate of cookies, and pour yourself a glass of your drink of choice.  Christmas is here – enjoy it!

P.S. Recipe for the Chocolate Mint Thumbprint cookies pictured can be found here!

Christmas Sangria

Adapted from Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life.  Serves 6.

  • 1 bottle (750mL) red wine
  • 2 c. apple cider
  • 3/4 c. brandy
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 sweet, crisp apples, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • seeds of 1 large pomegranate
  • 1 orange, sliced
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large pitcher, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Refrigerate for 3-4 hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Serve cold, and don’t forget to eat the fruit!  Will last in the fridge for 3-4 days, if, like me, you cannot drink an entire bottle of wine in one night. :-)

Homemade Eggnog

Adapted from Food Network.  Serves 4.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/3 c. sugar, plus 1 TBS
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 3-4 oz. bourbon or brandy
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  1. In a medium bowl or stand mixer, whisk egg whites until foamy.  Sprinkle cream of tartar over, and continue whisking/beating until they form soft peaks.  While still whisking, sprinkle 1 TBS of sugar over them and beat until egg whites are stiff.
  2. In a large bowl (preferably with a spout) or pitcher, whisk egg yolks and 1/3 c. sugar until pale yellow and creamy.  Whisk in milk, heavy cream, and booze until incorporated, then gently fold in egg whites until the consistency is even.  Divide between four glasses and top with nutmeg.  Drink right away.

*NOTE: This recipe contains raw egg yolks.  If you are uncomfortable eating raw egg yolks, heat the milk and cream over low heat until just beginning to simmer, then pour over the egg yolk and sugar mixture, whisking yolks rapidly to prevent scrambling, to temper the yolks.  Chill the mixture before continuing.