The holidays – at least for me – are all about the food. The decorations, gifts, and visiting family and friends are wonderful of course, but really – really if we’re being honest, the holidays happen in the kitchen. Planning holiday meals is one of those things I love doing every year – except this year, I’m totally stuck!

favorite cookbooks

Some of my favorite books

I remember, when I was in junior high, my mother started taking the month of December off work. I loved that time – even though I was still in school, I knew when I got home we would dig through cookbooks and plan wonderfully elaborate menus and bake prodigious amounts of cookies. By the time I reached high school, I started pushing the boundaries, making those cookies and candies more and more elaborate and complicated and wonderful. Insisting on trying new and interesting menus instead of the traditional fare.

Those were good times.

These days are a little different. I’ve been trying to come up with menus for two holiday meals – Christmas Dinner, which will involve just our immediate family, and Christmas Eve lunch with my in-laws. And I’ll be honest: I’m stuck – trying to balance everyone’s tastes and dietary restrictions, as well as my own desire to unleash some wild creativity in the kitchen isn’t as easy as it sounds!

This is what I’ve got so far:

Christmas Eve Lunch:

  • Egg nog (homemade, of course! Don’t worry, there’s enough booze in it to kill any bacteria.)
  • Fleur de Sel caramels covered in chocolate

Christmas Dinner:

  • Mulled wine for the adults, cider for the kids
  • Pork shoulder stuffed with garlic and apricots

Ok, so clearly I’m thinking in terms of drinks…Any suggestions? What do you love to cook for the holidays?