Spicy Chorizo Shakshuka

Ahh shakshuka! An amazing Middle Eastern breakfast dish that is as fun to say as it is delicious to eat.

At its most basic, shakshuka is a dish of eggs baked in a savory tomato and pepper sauce spiced with paprika and cumin. But honestly, that's just the beginning. Add in sauteed veggies, cheese, or meat (or all the above) or have a little fun with the spices. It's a simple and cozy dish that works well for both breakfast and easy dinners. It's wonderful if you're feeding a crowd because the sauce can be made well in advance with just the eggs and final baking done right before serving.

How to Entertain Party Guests with Dietary Restrictions

Last week I did a media tour on behalf of sponsors TruWhip and Edible Arrangements, sharing a few easy holiday entertaining tips and recipe ideas designed to make life easier for the host. During the interviews with various TV and radio stations around the country, I talked about how one of the biggest challenges for hosts this time of year is managing a menu when you have guests with a variety of different dietary restrictions.

Whether you have friends who eat gluten-free, have nut or dairy allergies, are vegan, or are simply trying to stick to a keto or paleo diet plan, it can be tricky trying to find ways to balance a low-fuss menu with making sure all of your guests can eat and enjoy without worrying about food that meets their individual needs.

Here are some of the tips and recipe ideas I shared--hopefully some of them will inspire you and help you with your party planning, too! 

Ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas Punch)

This time of year, I'm always craving a mug of something steamy and cozy. From rich hot chocolate to endless cups of tea, it's my favorite way to stay warm when it's freezing outside. I've recently fallen in love with Ponche Navideño--a Mexican-inspired Christmas punch that is made by simmering fresh fruit like apples, prunes, and guava with whole spices and tea.

For this version, I'm using Lipton Green Tea, which adds delicate flavor and combines beautifully with the fruit. I'm a big green tea fan. I rarely drink sweetened beverages in my daily life, so unsweetened green tea has long been one of my go-tos when I want a natural pick-me-up or a refreshing alternative to water. During the summer, I brew up a batch and keep it in my fridge to drink over ice with lemon, but in winter I prefer it warm.

Creamy Chestnut Soup

Last year, Eugene and I took a last-minute trip to Paris in December. This time of year in Paris is sort of equal parts magical and miserable. Magical because it's the holiday season so the entire city seems to be twinkling with fairy lights, festive store windows, and Christmas trees decorated with paper bows.

Oh, but the weather! December is the grayest month in Paris and the sky seems to blend into the zinc rooftops of the same color. It rains constantly, alternating between a chilly insipid mist and torrential downpour that switches to the other the second you get used to one.

Fortunately, there was soup! Thick, rich, creamy bowls of pureed chestnut soup, to be exact.

Blood Orange Negronis

There are a few cocktails I love to order over and over again, and Negronis are chief among them. I love sipping a pre-meal negroni while perusing a menu at dinner, or enjoying one at a bar by myself with a good book (bonus points if this bar is in an airport or a hotel or at a lovely restaurant where I've arrived early to wait for a friend).

7 Tips for First-Time Thanksgiving Hosts

Will this be your first year hosting Thanksgiving? (Or do you remember the first time you did?) I was in college the first time I hosted. My brother, who was in the Marines at the time, was unable to come home for the holiday so instead of celebrating without him at home, my parents came down to Washington, DC (where I went to school) for a low-key Thanksgiving in my tiny studio apartment.

I remember prepping for days and cooking WAY too much food for just three people.  (Seriously--I think I made a 22-pound turkey, which is way too much turkey.) It was all delicious, but I could definitely have used a bit more guidance to keep things streamlined and less stressful.

That's why I pulled together this post to help share hosting tips and advice for first-time Thanksgiving hosts (although these tips will work for everyone, too!).

Below are a few of the best tips I've learned over the years:

Vegan Coquito (Dairy-Free Coquito)

I've shared a few coquito recipes on this blog before, both for the classic coquito and fun variations like chocolate coquito and coffee coquito, but a request I get a lot is for a vegan or dairy-free coquito version so I finally got around to posting one for you!

If you've never tried it, Puerto Rican coquito is a holiday coconut and rum beverage that is often described as "Puerto Rican egg nog." It's a drink that my family has made and served during the holidays my entire life, and I love that the appeal and popularity of it has been able to reach and touch so many others. The idea of non-Puerto Rican families enjoying coquito during the holidays makes me so happy!

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