Monthly Archives: December 2014

So, If you’re not helping in the kitchen, it could be starting to feel like that time of day…presents have been opened and put away, you’ve run out of things to talk about with relatives you barely know, and if you have to listen to “Jingle Bell Rock” or even look at a single frame of “A Christmas Story” one more time you’re going to lose it. What is a girl to do in this digital age, when we’ve become so lazy we can’t entertain ourselves without a screen in front of us, yet today is one day that we can’t find anything appropriate that we haven’t already seen a million times before? Besides spiking the egg nog (see previous Christmas Eve post), why not put on a Chick Flick masquerading as a Family Friendly holiday movie? Netflix has at least a few that you’ve probably never even heard of before. As a Chick Flick Guru, I’m shocked that these got past me. So if you’re running dry on novel audio/visual stimulation today, try checking these out:


12 Dates of Chirstmas


“The 12 Dates of Christmas”

This sounds like “Groundhog Day” with Amy Smart instead of Bill Murray and obviously takes place on Christmas Eve instead of the actual Groundhog Day. I’m not saying there’s not potential there.




Christmas Cupid 2


“Christmas Cupid”

An updated Ebeneezer Scrooge tale about a workaholic career woman/Los Angeles Publicist who is visited by the spirits of “Ex-Mas” Past, Present and Future. I predict that by the end she will no longer be a calculating, self-absorbed go-getter who puts work before family. But then how in the world is she going to survive in L.A.?



Holiday in Handcuffs 2


“Holiday in Handcuffs.”

This sounds like “The Proposal,” set over Christmas, starring Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez. Clearly Mario Lopez is the one in handcuffs. What could be better?



Mistle Tones 1

“The Mistle-Tones”

A sing-off movie a la “Pitch Perfect” but with rivals Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tori Spelling. You decide.

In no way should my notes here be construed as reviews, as I have not seen any of these movies. These descriptions are simply for identification purposes, so you don’t “accidently” choose something with a similar title that has profanity and nudity, and blame me. To eliminate confusion, these are all ABC Family made-for-TV movies.

With or without these fabulous films, I hope you and your family are having a wonderful Christmas!






I loved the taste of eggnog before I knew it was supposed to have liquor in it. Now that I know, the low fat recipe below is an attempt at balancing out the added calories of alcohol:

Eggnog 1


Prep Time: 20 min

Yield: 6 servings

Level: Easy



2 cups nonfat milk

2 large strips orange and/or lemon zest (the “Zest” is the very thin outer colored part of the peel—it can be collected with a grater, vegetable peeler or a knife. Make sure to wash the orange or lemon first and don’t get an of the deeper white part of the peel because that gives a bitter taste.)

1 vanilla bean

2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

White rum or bourbon (optional)

Freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon stick for garnish



Combine 1 1/2 cups milk and the citrus zest in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds; add the seeds and pod to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. For those of you like myself, I’ll save you the Google. The “Pod” is the shell of the bean and the “seeds” are the inside.


If you can’t get your hands on a true vanilla bean, you can use 2 teaspoons of PURE vanilla extract instead.


1 (1 inch) vanilla bean = 1 tsp vanilla extract


Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl until light yellow.

Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then pour back into the pan. Place over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure-eight motion until the eggnog begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the remaining 1/2 cup milk to stop the cooking. Transfer the eggnog to a large bowl and place over a larger bowl of ice to cool, then chill until ready to serve.

Remove the zest and vanilla pod. Spike the eggnog with liquor, if desired, and garnish with nutmeg and/or cinnamon stick.

Per serving (1/2 cup): Calories 90; Fat 2 g (Saturated 1 g); Cholesterol 96 mg; Sodium 59 mg; Carbohydrate 13 g; Fiber 0 g; Protein 5 g

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Read more at:


Happy Christmas Eve!



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Above pic courtesy of award-winning baking blog With Love and Confection

Those who know me know that I DO NOT COOK. Simply put, as a surgeon I consider using my hands in the kitchen an occupational hazard. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. But gingerbread–my absolute favorite–is something I would be willing to dabble in, as there are not really any knives involved. However, with everyone at some level of gluten-free these days, is anyone else having anxiety about showing up at a party with your slaved-over baked goods that nobody will eat? Below are some politically–if not “socially” correct–gingerbread options for ringing in the 2015 new year with your gluten-free friends:


1 cup superfine brown rice flour (source link below)

  • 1 cup arrowroot starch
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (use 1 teaspoon if you don’t like a heavy ginger taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoons guar gum
  • 1/2 cup dark, unsulfered molasses
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Extra rice flour for dusting when rolling and cutting out cookies
  • 1 recipe for Royal Icing
  • 1 recipe for Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes


Preheat oven to 350 F degrees

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease

  • Sift all dry ingredients together and set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar, beating on high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add molasses and vanilla and beat until combined.
  • Slowly add dry, sifted ingredients to butter mixture and beat just until a stiff dough forms.
  • Place dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap lightly dusted with sweet rice flour. Roll out to 1/8 inch thick.
  • Dip gingerbread cookie cutter in sweet rice flour and cut out gingerbread men. Use a flour-dusted spatula to transfer cookies to baking sheet. If the dough should get too soft while you are working with it, just place it in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
  • Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven, or until cookies are firm to the touch. Cool and decorate with Royal Icing and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Yield- About 20 medium cookies. Depends on the size of your gingerbread cookie cutter.

Reminder: Always make sure your work surfaces, utensils, pans and tools are free of gluten. Always read product labels. Manufacturers can change product formulations without notice. When in doubt, do not buy or use a product before contacting the manufacturer for verification that the product is free of gluten.

For more great gluten free recipes like this one check out

Another healthy and easy-to-make option is to use gluten-free graham crackers. This is less messy and great for kids:

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More info about this one at:

And for my VERY FAVORITE gingerbread loaf, King Arthur Flour has a great option:

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  • 1 box King Arthur Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup liquid whey (the liquid drained from yogurt)


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

2) Whisk together the cake mix, spices, and baking soda.

3) In a separate bowl, beat the butter with half the cake mix/spices.

4) Beat in the molasses, vinegar, and one of the eggs.

5) Add the remaining eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

6) Add the buttermilk alternately with the remaining dry mix, one-third of each at a time. Beat until smooth, scraping the bowl after each addition.

7) Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

8) Bake the gingerbread for 40 to 45 minutes, until it’s brown and firm on top. Its internal temperature should be between 210°F and 212°F.

9) Remove the cake from the oven, and cool it on a rack for 15 minutes before slicing.

Yield: one 9″ by 13″ cake.

Happy Baking! Let me know how it goes…;)