We were talking about Gingerbread houses around here, so I found this recipe from a previous edition. Wanting to share the fun and lighthearted aspect of this time of year, we thought a good Gingerbread house recipe is something everyone can use, whatever your age or the tradition being celebrated. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Dough
1 cup butter at room temperature
1-3/4 cups brown sugar
1-1/4 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
6 eggs
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon allspice
Preheat oven to 325°F degrees. Line several cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Butter and flour the foil. Cut out paper patterns for the walls, roof and chimney of your gingerbread house (from dimensions of your choosing) and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Beat in the molasses and eggs. In another large bowl, sift dry ingredients. Combine mixtures and knead into a smooth ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. On a well-floured surface, roll out a small amount of the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Place one of the paper pattern pieces on the dough and cut around the edges. Gently, using the spatula, lift the dough and place it on the foil-lined, prepared cookie sheet. Put all scraps into a bowl and cover. Save these for the kids to play with, or to make gingerbread men. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly firm. Let cool on racks until firm enough to handle. Peel the foil off the sections and set the pieces aside to dry thoroughly overnight.
To make windows and the door: Cut out a rectangle for the door and squares for the windows from the appropriate side. Cut the window in half to make shutters. If you're feeling ambitious, fill the empty windows with crushed lifesavers to form "stained glass" windows. Or, instead of actually cutting out the door and window(s), just score them and decorate appropriately for a closed-door effect.
To make the chimney: Cut out a rectangle big enough to hold all pieces of the chimney. When the baked dough is still warm and soft, lay the patterns on top and cut out the pieces.
Royal Icing (used for decorating and as an adhesive for candy and other decorations)
This recipe is for a single batch. You will probably need several, but if you make them all at once, keep them in separate bowls. Royal Icing dries very quickly and is like cement. Keep it well covered: one piece of plastic wrap touching the icing itself and another over the top of the bowl.
3 egg whites
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they begin to foam. Add the cream of tartar and beat until the whites are stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar, beating for about 5 minutes until it reaches spreading consistency. Keep it covered and refrigerated until needed.





Uncorked - Enjoy the Holidays Edition

Happy holidays!


The holiday season is here…that means food, festivities, friends and family. The trend this year is simple, simple, simple. And did we say keep it simple? You get the idea. No panic, no worry, no fuss but plenty of fun. We’re hearing of a new celebration trend – Friendsgiving, where friends gather close to or on Thanksgiving. Whether it’s small and intimate or large and noisy, parties are a great way to celebrate the holidays. Be creative! is suggesting DIY food and drink bars. While the blog is suggesting it for event planners, you could easily do this for a gathering of family or friends. The s’mores bar looks ah-mazing!

Don’t forget drinks. Try a holiday wine tasting party. Offer your guests a choice of wines or have everyone bring their favorite to share. Change the decorations a bit and these ideas work well for New Year’s Eve parties, too.

For wineries, winemakers, spirits and extra virgin olive oil producers, it’s not too early to start thinking about entries for the 2014 Los Angeles International Wine, Spirits and EVOO competitions. The wine competition celebrates its 75th anniversary next year! Check out the website,, for registration details.

Happy Holidays from all of us as the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition.



Here's the perfect drink for your holiday gatherings! Try this, from’s Top 10 holiday drinks.

Poinsettia Mimosas

3 tangerines (optional)
Maraschino cherries (optional)
3 cups cranberry juice, chilled
1/4 cup Triple Sec, other orange liqueur, or orange juice
2 tblsp maraschino cherry juice or grenadine syrup
1 750 ml bottle champagne or sparkling apple juice, or one 32-oz bottle carbonated water or lemon-lime carbonated beverage, chilled

1. If using tangerines, use a vegetable peeler or a thin sharp knife to thinly peel the tangerines (refrigerate fruit for another use). Trim peel to form about 6-inch-long spirals. Place a tangerine spiral in each chilled champagne glass, or set spirals aside to add to the rims. If desired, place 1 or 2 maraschino cherries in each glass.

2. In a glass pitcher, combine cranberry juice, Triple Sec, and maraschino cherry juice.

3. For each serving, pour about 1/4 cup cranberry juice mixture into each champagne glass. Add about 1/4 cup champagne, filling glass nearly to the top. Gently stir with an up-and-down motion to mix the drink without destroying the carbonation of the champagne. Makes 12 to 14 (4-ounce) servings.


Don’t think you have to raid your local home supply store to decorate your home for the holidays. There is a lot you can do with what you already have around your home. An easy, inexpensive idea with a robust aromatherapy appeal is to poke cloves into the rinds of an assortment of oranges. Put them in a decorative bowl and let the fragrance waft throughout your house. Spruce up candles or floor lamps with decorative ribbon. Pile shiny decorative Christmas tree balls of all sizes into a vase or bowl. Pour a bag full of colorful Christmas hard candy into an apothecary jar (you can find these for great prices as stores like Tai Pan Trading Company) – makes for a cheery and sweet adornment. Invest in some flameless candles that are all the rage now. Battery operated and equipped with timers, candles can greet you when you arrive home after work or can be safely placed on a holiday table for all to enjoy. Let your imagination run holiday wild!


2014 Competition Dates:
May 14-15, 2014