My Top 10 Favorite Classic Holiday Movies

 

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Love Actually with Hugh Grant

I was recently reading a blog post from someone who detested the movie, Love Actually – I mean they were really offended by it and thought it silly, useless, and just plain irritating.  I on the other hand, love this movie, and find it charming as it gets me into the Christmas spirit when I watch it.  This made me think of my Go-To list of movies I need to watch between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, that remind me of how important family is and all the magic you can experience when you celebrate the holidays together. Here is a list of my Top 10 Must See Movies every holiday season – you may recognize a couple and hopefully some are your favorites too!

“Love Actually” with Hugh Grant and Kiera Knightly.   I was buying Jo Malone perfume Saturday and almost laughed out loud while I watched the man gift wrap my perfume as follows: perfume bottle is added to a Jo Malone branded box (which I really love), stops to toss in a handful of tiny samples (perfect for when I travel), puts on lid and ties a bauble of cranberries on top of the package, then lightly sprays perfume onto Jo Malone branded tissue paper, which he then fluffed into a branded shopping bag in which he nestled the boxed perfume.  THEN he threaded a festive red ribbon through the loops of the bag handles and tied it all into a gigantic fluffy red bow and finally handed it to me.  This guy really enjoyed his job!  All of this of course reminded me of the following funny scene with Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) from Love Actually…

 

 

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“Desk Set” with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  I can watch this movie any time of the year, but I especially enjoy it during the holidays.   I love the witty banter between these two Hollywood icons.  There was definitely serendipity in the air from their first movie together (1942’s Woman of the Year through their last movie in 1967 which was Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.)  I love all their movies, but this is actually my favorite of their working together – I feel like they had a language all their own that was evident in their eyes, facial expressions and that knowing nod they share with each other  – which is probably due to their 25 year personal relationship. This is a classic scene between the two of them…

 

 

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“Christmas in Connecticut” with Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan.  This movie was re-made in 1992 with Kris Kristofferson and Dyan Cannon, but I am loyal to the original romantic comedy from 1945.  Dennis Morgan plays a WWII war hero returning home and is invited by Barbara’s character (who happens to be a food writer) to stay at her farm in Connecticut over the Christmas holidays. Only thing is, all of her articles are fiction as she lives in a walk-up apartment in NYC rather than on a farm in Connecticut.  What ensues is a delightful few days of mixed up characters pretending to be married so the food writer doesn’t lose her job – but bottom line she ends up falling in love with the soldier.  I didn’t mention “scene spoiler” in advance, as everyone knows that a movie made in 1945 could only end up with the two main characters falling in love and getting married.  I mean it was 1945  – okay?

 

 

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“Meet Me in St. Louis” with Judy Garland and Tom Drake.  This movie is about a family of four daughters and a son who live in St. Louis.  We were a family of four girls and a boy, so I had an immediate bonding with this movie the first time I saw it.  As a child I would “stall” going to bed when this movie would be shown on TV only to be told “go to bed now” – then I would sneak back and stand in the doorway where no one could see me, and continue to watch the movie till the end (the next day of course I could barely keep my eyes open at school). My favorite scene is when Judy Garland sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – ooh this gives me chills of very fond memories…

 

 

 

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“Miracle on 34th Street” with Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood and John Payne.   I have always loved the opening scene where Santa Claus tells a shop owner who is setting up a window Christmas display during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, that he is placing the reindeer in the wrong order for pulling his sleigh. But the best part of the movie by far is when John Payne is defending Kris Kringle as the one and only Santa Claus, in order to keep him out of the nut house.  The following takes place in the courtroom where John Payne proves his case by citing the US Postal Service as evidence of Kris Kringle’s existence – watch this…

 

 

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“Scrooged” with Bill Murray and Karen Allen from 1988.  I love the 1938 Dickens’ movie “A Christmas Carol” that tells the traditional story of the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge – and watch it every year and still love the ending when Tiny Tim says “Bless Us Everyone”.  But Bill Murray’s version is just so over the top, downright hilarious while still keeping with the essence of the story and providing a moral on “changing your selfish ways”. Big, hilarious, fun movie that gets me every year without fail.

 

 

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“An Affair to Remember” with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.  One of Cary Grant’s best movies as far as I am concerned.  He is handsome, charming, witty, and in love with Deborah Kerr.  He is a notorious playboy who meets Deborah on a cruise and they fall in love.    This was my Mother’s favorite movie, bar none.  She could watch this movie over and over and never, ever tire of it.  Even though she had limited vision towards the end, she would watch this movie and know in detail precisely what was happening in the movie at any given moment.  You may recall the scene in Sleepless in Seattle, when Meg Ryan goes to the top of the Empire State Building to meet her love – this was taken right out of An Affair to Remember – when you watch this movie you will need your box of Kleenex nearby!!

 

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“The Man Who Came to Dinner” with Bette Davis and Monty Woolley. This is a classic zany comedy from 1942 full of Hollywood stars  (including Jimmy Durante, Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan) that centers around a notoriously acerbic radio personality Sheridan Whiteside (played by Monty Woolley).  Sheridan slips on some icy steps at the home of a local prominent couple and then insists on recuperating in their home during the Christmas holidays. He is a self-centered celebrity who brings chaos to everyone he encounters. Bette Davis plays his secretary, a spinster who finds the love of her life with the local newspaperman. This move is heart-warming, funny, romantic – an American classic.

 

 

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“The Bishop’s Wife” with Cary Grant, and David Niven.   David Niven plays a church bishop who asks for divine help in raising money to build a new church – enter Cary Grant as the angel who answers his prayers. This is a very fun movie with an exceptional cast (including James Gleason, and Loretta Young as the bishop’s wife.)  A little flirting between the angel and the Bishop’s Wife keeps this movie interesting.  BTW, this was remade in 1996 with Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington and renamed The Preacher’s Wife – also a great movie.

 

 

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“White Christmas” with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen, and Rosemary Clooney. This is the movie I watch every year a day or two before Christmas while wrapping all my presents.  This is deeply embedded from my childhood psyche when I would painstakingly wrap presents I had bought for my siblings and parents (my nest egg was built upon a $1 week allowance – ouch!) while watching Bing and Danny sing and dance for two hours.  The movie “Holiday Inn” (starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire), introduces the song “White Christmas” before said movie was made a couple of years later, and I find it is a toss-up between these two movies.  But bottom line, for me White Christmas will always win – Love this movie and especially when they sing the title song. Did you know this song sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, according to the Guinness World Records – love, love, love it!!

 

 

I know this was a really long post, but Christmas only comes once a year.  There are so many other wonderful movies this time of year, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Tender Trap, Holiday Inn, A Christmas Story, The Santa Clause, Home Alone and numerous others.

 

What are some of your favorite Holiday Movies this time of year and what fond memories do they bring back for you – I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 


Cranberry Cheese Crisps

How Simple Is This? Quick Holiday Canape

A few ingredients can go a long way, when they are packed with flavor.  Keep these items on hand and you will have a spot-on tasty treat to give your drop-in guests, or when you have limited time in prepping for your holiday party fare. This canape has a sweet savory flavor highlighting the sweetness of the cranberry with the sharpness of the gherkin.  A pleasant surprise when you take that first bite. Quick, easy, flavorful – how simple is this?

 

Cranberry Cheese Rounds with Gherkins

  • Servings: 24
  • Time: 15 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1 package round Savory Crisps (34 brand)

Marcona Almonds – 4 ounce tub (Matiz brand)

1 tub of Le Roule Cranberry Log (1/2 pound)

Paprika

12 gherkins

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Preparation:

Slice the gherkins in half.  Do a rough chop on the almonds.  Set aside both.

Scoop the cranberry cheese into a baggie and cut off a tiny corner of the bag – now you have a pastry bag!  Lay out the crackers on your serving platter and press out a round of the cheese onto the crackers.

Top each round with a half slice of gherkin, sprinkle with chopped almonds and a dash of paprika.

Fifteen minutes tops and you are done!!

Green check markWhat is the difference between an almond and a Marcona Almond?   Marcona Almonds are imported from Spain and are more round and plumper than almonds from California.  Their texture and flavor are similar to macadamia nuts.  The ones I used were fried in olive oil and then salted.

 


Shrimp and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

 

This is my second most favorite tea sandwich, after the traditional Cucumber and Cream Cheese.  I use bay shrimp and not prawns as the flavor is far more delicate.   These would be great to add to any Holiday Tea, Ladies Lunch, or even to be used at the cocktail hour.  When not making tea sandwiches I put this filling on crusty sour dough french bread – Yum!

Shrimp and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

4 ounces bay shrimp

4 ounces cream cheese

English Cucumber

Fresh dill, chopped

2 Tbl milk

Garlic powder

Worcestershire Sauce

8 slice whole wheat bread

Preparation:

Rinse bay shrimp under cold water in a strainer.  Place shrimp on paper towels, add another layer of towels on top, and blot dry.

Add cream cheese to food processor – add milk, garlic powder and Worcestershire Sauce.  Blend till smooth and creamy, yet firm.   Transfer to bowl.

Chop the shrimp and then add to the cream cheese.  Add fresh dill and mix lightly till well blended.

Remove some of the skin from cucumber and slice the cucumber into very thin slices.

Lay out the 8 slices of bread and spread a small amount of cream cheese on all slices. Lay 8 thin slices of cucumber on one piece of bread and top it with a heaping tablespoon of the shrimp mixture. Add a slice of bread on top, trim off crusts, and cut each sandwich into three finger-size sandwiches.


Assorted Tea Sandwiches

High Tea for the Holidays

 

If you have never hosted a high tea before, now is the time to jump in with both feet and host one for your friends to help celebrate the upcoming holidays.  I try to have a holiday luncheon for my girl friends each year, where we reminisce about all the good times and memories we are grateful for.  It also gives us the opportunity to spend a minute or two on throwing away any of the negative vibes, and ensure they don’t roll over into the new year.  My luncheon menu varies from year to year and Read More


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Green Apple and Cucumber Salad – Whole 30 Compliant

This recipe is an adaptation of Geoffrey Zakarian’s Smashed Cucumber and Green Apple Salad.Geoffrey is a co-host on The Kitchen on Food Network on Saturday mornings, as well as being an Iron Chef.   Recently he prepared a pesto-rubbed baked salmon along with his Smashed Cucumber and Green Apple Salad.  The salad looked really good and appeared to be Whole30 Compliant, so I made a batch of it the same day.  I ended up taking this salad as a side dish for lunch several times the following week and some days I added cut up chicken and made it an entrée portion instead. Frankly, I was surprised  Read More


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Homemade Turkey Soup

There must be hundreds of turkey soup recipes floating out there to help use up your leftovers from Thanksgiving. This is the first time I ever made by own turkey stock, as I usually just use a carton of chicken broth.  I was amazed at how prominent the turkey flavor was by making it from scratch.  It has to cook for about 4 hours, so it takes time, but the prep work itself, Read More


Goat cheese stuffed mushrooms

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

One holiday down, and two to go before 2014 comes to an end – the year has certainly gone by very quickly!  Lots of holiday parties in the next month, so canapes and appetizers will be at the top of my list of things to prepare. These stuffed mushrooms are quite easy to make and have a slight piquant tangy flavor to them as evidenced  from the combo of goat cheese and balsamic vinegar reduction.  I served them on Thanksgiving and got two thumbs up from my 5-year-old great-niece Lily – that makes this appetizer a winner as far as I am concerned! Read More


Brie and Cranberry Circles with Fig Jam

Brie and cranberry circles with fig jam

Here is a perfect canape to serve on Thanksgiving while you wait for the turkey to finish cooking.  You don’t really want heavy canapes/appetizers as you want everyone to enjoy your turkey with all the trimmings that you have slaved over all day.

Make the sugared cranberries right after you put the turkey in the oven, as the cranberries will need to set/dry for about 3 hours.  Assemble the canapes about an hour before you serve dinner.  Open the oven door and smell your delicious turkey; place the canapes on a white platter and serve to guests.  Sit, eat, sip glass of wine/champagne and you are done.  Let someone else serve the dinner and do the dishes – after all you have done enough today! Read More


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Today is Day 30

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Photo courtesy of Google

Today is Day 30 for me.  That is if I had stayed on the program.  But about 10 days ago I attended an after work party and had a glass of champagne and a few appetizers.  Nothing big, just a couple stuffed mushrooms, some brie and baguette slices, a couple or three deviled eggs, and a treat that is named “Crispy Truffles” which were these amazing balls of mashed potatoes with bits of chives and truffle, which are then deep-fried and served with a creamy ranch-style sauce – Yum!  And two pieces of pizza.  But that was it.   Seriously.

I didn’t feel very good the next day, BUT I didn’t gain any weight, so lucky me – or so I thought.  Since I didn’t gain any weight and I had gone off program, I decided to extend my good fortune and stay off the diet the next day, as after all it was Halloween.  So now I added eating sugar – just a few candies since it was a “holiday” and I was being festive at work.  Well maybe it was more like a few handfuls since it was candy corn, and who can resist candy corn on Halloween?   The next day was the weekend and of course I rationalized since I had already messed up for two days, I might as well live it up over the weekend and go back on program on Monday. Read More


Baked Eggs

Baked Eggs

Coming up with new ideas for breakfast on Whole30 isn’t always easy.  I have learned a big part of the success on this program is to plan, plan, plan.  This breakfast is easy to prep (about 5 minutes), and takes less than 10 minutes to cook.  Couldn’t be easier on a busy morning while you get ready for work. Read More