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Carolyn Malcoun's Blog

December 13, 2010 - 11:20am

Hi, my name is Carolyn and I’m addicted to nuts. I definitely blame my genes. My maternal grandfather (may he rest in peace) loved nuts—the 5-pound tins we wrapped up for him for Christmas were his favorite gift.

Related: Spiced Nut Trio and 29 more affordable gifts from your kitchen

My father loves them too, so much that when my parents are having a party my mom has to wait to fill the nut bowl until the very last minute lest my dad gobble them all up before the guests arrive. (When I’m at home I may or may not contribute to this problem as well….shhh.)

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December 7, 2010 - 11:33am

The first year I planned Christmas dinner was nerve-racking, I didn't really know where to start! Then I thought about how my mom planned her holiday meals. When I followed her 5 unofficial rules, I found that my holiday meal planning was relatively stress-free. Happy holiday meal planning!

Rule 1: Ask your guests about any special diet considerations.
Before you have your menu figured out, make sure that everyone attending will have enough to eat. If my friend with celiac disease is coming, for instance, I make sure to choose a dessert that doesn’t use any ingredients, like flour, that contain gluten, such as fresh fruit with chocolate fondue. And if a vegetarian will be dining with us, I make them a special main dish, like squash stuffed with white beans and chard or a tart full of roasted vegetables.

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December 7, 2010 - 9:36am

I’m hosting my first cookie swap this year. It’s an inexpensive way to get together with my favorite friends and most of them love to bake (and eat cookies, of course!).

At my cookie swap I’m going to ask all my friends to:

1. Make two dozen cookies. (When we swap, we leave with as many cookies as we came with—just different kinds!)
2. Bring a bottle of wine (it is a party, after all).
3. Fill a container to bring home their share of cookies at the end of the night.
4. Make cookies with a healthy twist (such as low-fat versions or recipes made with whole-grain flour, healthy nuts, etc.).

Since baking a healthy cookie may be a challenging idea for some of my friends, I’ll direct them to EatingWell’s...

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November 30, 2010 - 12:05pm

Whether I’m looking for a gift or a fantastic addition to a holiday brunch, I often turn to quick breads and muffins during this season. I particularly like to bake this Cranberry-Walnut Quick Bread recipe, studded with tart cranberries and walnuts with a touch of orange zest. But this recipe is built to be flexible, so feel free to swap your favorite fruit and nuts—try pears and hazelnuts for an unusual twist or blueberries and almonds for a familiar combination. It’s a great way to use up any really ripe fruit—bananas in black-spotted jackets and too-soft pears make perfect quick breads!

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20+ marvelous muffin and quick-bread recipes
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November 19, 2010 - 12:54pm

Despite my best efforts to keep things simple, my holiday gift-giving often turns into some sort of tortuous math equation. The amount of time I spend racking my brain for “The Most Perfect Gift Ever” seems to be inversely related to the look of joy on the recipient’s face. So this year I’m keeping things simple and giving everyone something they’ll love: food.

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Soup mix, spiced nuts, pasta sauces and more homemade gifts from your kitchen
Our Top Prize-Winning Holiday Cookie Recipes To Put In Your Cookie Tin
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