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Eggnog so defines Christmas for our family that we have a set of glasses designated only for our annual toast. Topped with freshly grated nutmeg, the combination of iconic flavors embraces the history of all holidays, past, present and future. After the requisite salute, we work eggnog into sweet breads, cookies and alcoholic beverages.

I’m one of those people who is equally devoted to desserts as I am to salty, savory foods — I like to call that balance. When dinner is over, I’m that person at the table who insists on sharing dessert at the end of the meal. Recently, however, I hosted a group of friends for dinner and I realized, much to my shock and horror, that I hadn’t prepared anything for dessert. Luckily, I happened to have some dough for these decadent, delicious double chocolate chip cookies in the freezer. Problem solved!

"Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six" by Lisa Unger; Park Row Books (400 pages, $27.99) ——— Opening a novel with Christmas dinner might make readers think they’re in for something cozy. Not in Lisa Unger’s hands. Unger, an internationally bestselling thriller author and resident of Pinellas County, knows just how to put us on the knife’s edge from the start. In the first paragraph of her 20th novel, ...

Back in my personal chef days, I worked for a wonderful family that had a bit of a dinner conundrum. The father longed for his Sicilian American mother’ s beef ragu, but his kids wouldn’ t touch it because it contained— gasp! Wanting to find a compromise, I added something to the recipe that few kids can resist: cheesy garlic bread.

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In our family, holiday gift giving dissipates in favor of indulgences at the table. We splurge on special wines and cocktails, imported charcuterie, fine chocolates and beef. Great steaks, prime rib roasts and briskets— all connote special family gatherings.

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This less expensive, but always crowd-pleasing, cut of beef is cook-friendly, as you can make the whole main course a day or two in advance and simply reheat when needed. Keep it interesting with a Korean chile and honey glaze as well as the addition of daikon chunks in the simmer pot.

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The world of high cuisine has, for a while now, been ripe for satire. The new film “The Menu” happily supplies a heaping plate of it. Ralph Fiennes stars as a celebrity cook with an exclusive restaurant on a private island. For an eclectic group of high-paying foodies, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The movie, like their meal, unfolds as a series of courses, each more elaborate, and sinister, than the last. “The Menu,” also starring Anya Taylor-Joy, may be targeting low-hanging fruit in mocking molecular cuisine. But it makes for a tasty snack, writes AP Film Writer Jake Coyle in his review. “The Menu” opens in theaters Friday.

(Broadry) — If you are the kind of camper who loves to complete your trip with a chilled beer, then we have some  destinations that you need to hit. Whether you are looking to get away for a weekend or plan your next  cross-country road trip, these breweries and campgrounds are sure to not disappoint […]

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In some areas of the country, especially the South, sweet potatoes make regular appearances at the end of the meal, yet for many of us elsewhere, it’s a surprise to encounter them in dessert form. But they are called sweet potatoes for a reason!

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There’s not much better than having dinner delivered to your door after a long day. Pizza is ideal — quick, affordable, and readily available — but it has a reputation of being junk food. That’s not always the case though. True, many toppings can be high in fat and sodium. But when stripped down, pizza is simply tomato sauce, bread and cheese. Each of those parts individually are full of nutrients. It’s how you put all the parts together, what you add to them, and how much you eat that determines how nutritious or not nutritious pizza can be.

The 7-year-old couldn’t contain her excitement as she raced from kitchen to living room (big TV and oh-so-comfy couch), bedroom, and bathroom (oversized tub). That she could ski right out the door and back at the end of the day was a definite plus.

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