The holidays are upon us with all the fun, frolic, stress and chaos of the season. We are encouraged on all sides to spend, consume and be generous with our gift giving. This year I plan to offer dog sitting, babysitting, gourmet meal hosting and herbal remedies for gifts, spending a lot less and offering a lot more. Consider resisting the push for mass consumption and be more creative in your gift giving. How much of the stuff we receive every Christmas do we really use?
Take a night or three off to watch a Christmas movie, make a yule log, sip some hot chocolate or spiced cider. Don’t let this magical season go by in a frenzy of spending and obligations. Skip the malls and internet sales and celebrate.
So many fun things to do this month. There are holiday light shows at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Hudson Gardens and the Denver Zoo. Celebrate with a night at the Nutcracker ballet, a Christmas parade, musical performance or show.
Check below for more ideas.
Get out there and celebrate.
Light Shows: Denver Botanic Gardens, Blossoms of Light, York Street, nightly through January 1. $12-$15. Gorgeous light displays. To avoid sold out nights reserve tickets at botanicgardens
Denver Botanic Gardens, Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms, C470 and Wadsworth. Santa, reindeer, lights and entertainment. Friday nights through Sundays until December 24. $15-$20. info here
Consider becoming a member of the gardens. You receive free tickets to special events like the holiday lights and discounts on classes, free admission to the gardens and more. Well worth it. Great gift for a gardener.
Denver Zoo – Zoo Lights, December 1 to December 31st, Fantastic lights, ice sculpting, treats and frisky wildlife. $7-$17 with a $2 online discount and lower rates if you go before December 14. info here
Hudson Gardens, select dates through December 31st. Wagon rides, Santa and illuminated trail through the gardens. $6 -$9
9 News Parade of Lights, December 1st and 32nd, the big guy in downtown Denver. Go early to get a spot. info here
Boulder Lights of December Parade, Dec. 2, downtown Boulder, 6pm. Floats, marching bands, carolers and of course, Santa. info here
Georgetown Christmas Market, December 2-3, & 9-10. An old time mountain celebration with entertainment, hay rides, craft vendors, food and roasted chestnuts on an open fire.
Check www.colorado.com for more fun things to do.
Upcoming Classes – Plan Ahead
First class of the New Year and a good start on those New Year’s Resolutions.
Delicious Vegetarian, Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, January 27, 10am – 12:30pm.
Discover the scrumptious side of international vegetarian cuisine! We’ll begin with a savory salad and continue with a delicious butternut squash curry, a spicy cashew veggie stir fry, a pesto and roasted veggie pizza and end with a sweet. Eat your veggies and love doing it! Recipes and full lunch included. info and registration
Care of Fresh Christmas Trees
Avoid a bristly fire hazard by New Year’s Eve with a little care for your Christmas tree. Be sure to make a fresh cut immediately before you put it up, essential for water uptake. The base container should hold a gallon of water.
Fresh trees need lots of water, so check them daily. If the tree base dries out, resin will form and you will need to do another fresh cut. Keep them away from fireplaces and heat vents and if you love your tree, you’ll put a humidifier near it or just mist it with water whenever you think of it.
If you have a lot of lights on your tree, keep them off when you are not actually enjoying it. Your tree will appreciate the break from the heat. Use LED lights if possible, they stay cool and are energy efficient. I also turn the thermostat down a few degrees; fresh trees will last longer on the cool side.
The poinsettias are back. Long-lived, reasonably priced, and low maintenance, they definitely give you a lot of bang for the buck. Put them in bright light and water when dry for best results. Do poinsettias hold the same allure for you as Aunt Betty’s fruitcake? Then try cyclamen, my personal favorite. Keep them cool and lightly moist and they’ll bloom for months. Remember to remove the dying flowers at the base to accelerate new buds.
The Holidays are Killing Me Face Mask
This is a quick skin soother, great for winter dryness. Tastes good too! Take a few minutes and relax. Put a slice of cool cucumber or a chilled, used teabag over each eye while your mask tones and soothes.
Spoonful of plain organic yogurt
Spoonful of honey
Combine and spread on a clean face. When dry, steam off with a warm wash cloth. Finish with a cold water rinse. You look fabulous!
The Spirit of Giving
With all the misery and hardship in the world it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and just focus on ourselves and our own little world. Every act of kindness, no matter how small, gives light to darkness. Who can you reach out to this season? A homeless shelter? A friend in hard times? A family in need? Give the gift of kindness, it helps us all.
Yes, they are a pain to process, but you can buy them pre-seeded, though I prefer them fresh. Pomegranates are a true superfood full of antioxidants and a natural holiday garnish with their ruby colors. Pick heavy, dark-colored fruit.
I love pomegranate on salads with goat cheese, roasted beets and toasted pine nuts. They are lovely in salad dressings, with pork tenderloin and ground lamb stuffed in eggplant. The juice makes a great cocktail blended with vodka, champagne or prosecco, a squirt of lime and splash of seltzer.
You can extract the seeds by cutting the fruit into quarters and releasing them from the membrane by pull the skin backward, thumbing out the seeds. The juice stains, so keep that in mind.
Recipes of the Month
Here are some tasty treats for last minute gift giving or just for you. They are all easy and inexpensive to make. Package with flair, we eat (and assess) with our eyes first.
Ricotta, Gorgonzola and Honey Spread
Tasty, easy and great for parties.
- 1-15 oz container ricotta cheese
- 6 oz gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tbs honey
- Crackers or baguette slices
- Sliced apples or pears, or thinly sliced dried apricots
- Walnuts (optional)
Beat ricotta in a mixing bowl until well blended. Stir in gorgonzola, honey and herbs.
To serve spread on Baguette slices and heat through, top with fresh fruit slices. You can also serve the spread cold or room temp on crackers. If you are making a lot of these, pre slice the fruit and dress with some lemon or lime juice to keep from browning. Top with some crushed, toasted walnuts.
Quick Pickled Jalapenos
These will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Jalapenos with a bark-like texture on the outside will be the hottest. Pickling them removes a lot of the heat. This recipe also works with onions, cauliflower, garlic, radishes or whatever favorite veggie you would like to try.
- 8-10 jalapenos, sliced into rings, you can remove the seeds if you like, up to you. Hotter if you don’t.
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup vinegar of choice, you can use wine, rice or apple cider
- 1 tbs kosher salt
- 2 tbs sugar
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, sliced into rings (optional)
Pack jalapeno rings into glass canning jars. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil. Pour over the peppers, put a lid on the jar, cool and store in the fridge. Great on nachos, burgers, sandwiches and all your Mexican meals.
Great with cocktails, as a snack or on salads.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbs chili powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 large egg white
- 4 cups nuts of choice (I use pre-roasted mixed nuts)
Preheat the oven to 300°. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. In a bowl, whisk the sugar with the salt, chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. In a bigger bowl beat the egg white until frothy. Add the nuts to the larger bowl, add spiced sugar and toss. Spread out the nuts on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once, until browned. Let the nuts cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Scrumptious!
So dang easy to make and a great accompaniment to soups, salads or anything you want to fancy up.
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, or other hard cheese of choice.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a silicone or parchment paper lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. Repeat with the remaining cheese, spacing the spoonfuls about a 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool. You can also do them in a non-stick skillet, same process; just remove with a spatula when crisp.
Wishing you and yours a glorious holiday season.