Holiday how-tos: recipes for gingerbread, peppermint bark, cocktails and more
December 25th, 2012
09:15 AM ET
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Just in case you still have eggnog to spike or plums to sugar before the gang arrives, consider us Santa's little helpers.

We're sharing our time-tested Christmas tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities, hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Christmas with a jolly smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on December 26 with your sanity intact.

Here are a few helpful holiday posts that may make your holiday bright.

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Filed under: Chilled Out and Cheery • Christmas • Christmas • Feature • Holiday • Holidays • Homemade Gifts • How To • Recipes • Step-by-Step • Techniques & Tips

December 8th, 2012
07:00 AM ET
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iReporter Marilynn's grandmother passed away at the age of 100 in 2010, and now honors her at the holidays through making the foods she taught her to treasure. Here, she fries up her grandmother's potato latkes.

There's no written recipe - just the memory of touch, sight and scent - and Marilynn's tie to her family and celebrations past can live on.

Have a sweet holiday and save kitchen memories while you can
November 28th, 2012
10:30 AM ET
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Everything tasted better when my grandma was around.

Growing up, we didn't get to see my dad's side of the family all that often, but I noticed at some point that all the food we ate in Grandma Kinsman's presence was exponentially more delicious. Later on, I came to realize that it wasn't due to some special grandmotherly mojo, but rather that she used real butter rather than margarine, and my family shopped accordingly when she was in town.

No matter the ingredients, I was predisposed to enjoy her cooking. I loved her and she loved me, her weird, short-haired, misfit granddaughter, even if the rest of the world wasn't inclined to. Seldom did I feel that love so strongly as when her yearly shipment of holiday cookies arrived.

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Filed under: Buzz • Chilled Out and Cheery • Christmas • Cookies • Family Recipe Index • Favorites • Feature • Holiday • Holidays • iReport • Make • Recipes

December 20th, 2011
11:55 AM ET
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Marilynn Shcolnik of Snohomish County, Washington, shared photos of awe-inspiring gingerbread houses from the 19th annual Gingerbread Village fundraiser in Seattle. The creations are all made by architects partnering with hotel chefs, to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Northwest chapter. The theme this year was “Holiday Express.”

Is there a food that makes the holidays bright in your home? We want to hear all about it. Immortalize your food tradition in words, recipes, pictures or video, submit it as an iReport and we'll show off some of our favorites on CNN's Eatocracy food blog through the end of the holiday season.

See the assignment on iReport

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Filed under: Buzz • Chilled Out and Cheery • Christmas • Feature • Holidays • iReport • It's not the holidays without

Chilled out & cheery - booze you can use
December 7th, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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All this hall-decking and merry-making can make a reveler awfully thirsty. You've got enough on your plate with shopping, party planning and frolicking all about town, so don't overthink your holiday drinks.

Yes, cleverly-crusted glass rims and candy cane garnishes might seem terribly festive, but when it comes to prepping, is the work really worth it? Honestly, I'm gonna go with no. I'd need a whole extra set of limbs to count the number of time I've seen windowsills, counters and tables littered with mostly-full glasses of an elaborate themed cocktail - and a mile-long line for shots, wine and beer at the bar. The drinks are awfully pretty, to be sure, but they tend toward the super-sweet and from the first sip, taste like the next day's hangover.

5@5 - Essential bar tools for the holidays
December 5th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Ready or not, here the holidays come. And that means people - friends, in-laws, carolers, cousins twice removed –  will be merrily rolling into your house. Some of them you will like; some of them you will not. Either way, you might as well ease the potential awkwardness and give them a drink.

Bryan Dayton, the owner of Boulder's Oak at Fourteenth and this year's "most inspired bartender in the country" according to GQ Magazine, offers all the bare necessities to make spirits brighter in the comfort of your own home.

Five Essential Bar Tools for the Holidays: Bryan Dayton

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Filed under: 5@5 • Chilled Out and Cheery • Cocktail Recipes • Feature • HolidayShopping • Sip • Spirits • Think

Chilled out & cheery – a last-second guide to New Year's Eve
December 31st, 2010
11:45 AM ET
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It's not like you didn't know this day was coming. Same date, every year, as long as there's been a calendar - it's just that the 364 other planning days just happened to flap on by, and you're left with nary a bottle of bubbles in the fridge, and guests set to arrive within the next 12 hours.

You don't need excuses - you have us.

We've got recipes, hosting tips and everything you need to know about buying, speed chilling and opening Champagne to get through tonight.

Your mantra - revised slightly from Thanksgiving
Remember how we said "It's just a's just a's just a meal?" It worked then and it works now - "It's just a night." Unless you've been running around talking up the tremendous culinary adventure upon which you will personally sherpa your guests this evening, you're in the clear.

No one's got far-flung food ambitions for New Year's Eve. They want to be with friends and loved ones, sip something with bubbles in it, and eat simple things that allow them to drink more bubbles. If you wanna get schmancier than that with the menu - mazeltov. We encourage embracing the low bar.

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Filed under: Bubbly • Cheese • Chilled Out and Cheery • Feature • Holiday • Holidays • HolidayShopping • Make • New Year's • Pimento Cheese • Recipes • Sip • Wine

Agog over eggnog
December 16th, 2010
07:00 PM ET
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Sam Meyer is an editor at CNN and blogs about cocktails at The boy knows his 'nog. December 24 is National Eggnog Day.

The holiday season is far too often a contentious time: which set of relatives to visit, who to host, how to navigate schlepping to all the parties, white or colored lights, whether you put a star or an angel on top of the tree. For my money, one of the most divisive issues is that of eggnog.

Yes, eggnog. It can vary wildly in textures and flavors. Everyone’s familiar with the annato-colored, too-thick, pasteurized sludge sold in cartons in the grocery store. When I bought that stuff, I would cut it with milk, as I kept envisioning that goo going straight into my arteries, exactly the same consistency as it came out of the carton. It didn’t actually make it any healthier, but it wasn’t quite as gooey. We’ve heard about the history of eggnog, but what’s the best recipe for making your own as well as all the equally tasty variations?

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Chilled out & cheery - peppermint bark
December 6th, 2010
10:00 AM ET
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As the last of the stale Halloween candy is shoved to the back of store shelves, an avalanche of red, green and white tumbles into the aisle.

The coming of the first seasonal candy cane means one thing to us: peppermint bark.

Whether you forgot to get admin Alex a gift, need nibbles for visiting wassailers or simply hankering for something spirited and sweet to munch on during the sixteenth hour of the "A Christmas Story" marathon - the solution is just 45 minutes and two ingredients away.

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