Top 10 Books on Holiday Entertaining

This December I’ve decided to introduce a weekly book roundup to the blog, showcasing books in various categories I deem relevant.

As we’re already immersed in the eight days of Hanukkah (this year it came early, running from December 2-10), I’m skipping ahead a couple of weeks to the needs of the home entertainer for Christmas and then NewYear’s Eve parties. Truth is, though, that many of these books could be (and should be) cracked open throughout the year. Getting together with friends and family–and feeding them–is such a massive demonstration of love, you’re really to be admired for taking it on, you home cook, you. These books are for you!

Welcome to the Holiday Entertaining round up.

1. Cooks Illustrated, All Time Best Holiday Entertaining

Cook’s Illustrated knows a thing or two about putting together a fool proof meal, and since they test all of their recipes, this is a go-to book if you’re having guests for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, for instance, and have no idea where to begin this holiday season.

In this book, they’ve taken their over 20 years of testing experience and put together 75 delicious recipes that are sure to give you confidence in the kitchen during this stressful time of year. Whether you’re putting together a small celebration or a feast for your entire extended family and friends, there’s a chapter devoted to each delectable course, ensuring you create the perfect meal. And with recipes that include Roasted Cauliflower Gratin, Boneless Rib Roast with Yorkshire Pudding, Chocolate Truffles, and Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake, I’ll be waiting for my invite!

2. Shelly Westerhausen, Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion

They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I dare you to look at this book and not want to open it immediately! Author and food blogger Shelly Westerhausen gives you all the tools, tips, and tricks to create an incredible spread to impress both meat lovers and vegetarians alike. If you like finger food, you’ll be in heaven.

I particularly like this book because while it’s a great resource for planning your next Christmas party, it’s not exclusively focused on the holiday season. There’s a great chart that offers suggestions for every occasion. You’ll be using these ideas all year long.

Sweet and savory platters are featured.

3. Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion

My next selection is for all the grain-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free food lovers out there. In 2018, there are more people with food allergies and dietary restrictions than every before, whether for health reasons or personal choice. But just because your diet’s changed doesn’t mean you need to restrict your ability to enjoy delicious comfort food.

Danielle Walker transforms classic recipes and menus for twelve occasions throughout the year,including birthday cakes, finger foods, and even classics like peach cobbler and corn bread, using alternative ingredients that you’ll feel confident serving at your next event no matter who is in attendance. And everyone can eat up.

4. Elisabet der Nederlanden, Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten an invite to a cookie exchange, gotten really excited, responded that you’ll be there, and then realized you now have to make the cookies. Next time, all you’ll need is this book. It covers everything cookie, from baking to decorating, and offers 50 recipes that are sure to make your sweet tooth tingle.

Here are Martha Stewart’s instructions for “Hosting a Cookie Swap

5. Christmas Entertaining (Williams-Sonoma)

Food isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when entertaining during the holidays. Hosts spend hours planning, cooking, and decorating. This book by the posh kitchenware and home goods retailer Williams-Sonoma serves as a guide and gives you everything you need, from complete menus and decorating ideas, to ideas for welcoming your guests into your home with style and ease.

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6. Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook: For the Best Christmas Ever

I’ve been a fan of Jamie Oliver for years. It never hurts to have a charming guy show you a better way to eat, America, right? His school lunch movement was impressive. Beyond that, he really knows how to cook! And this book contains all the classic dishes you need for the big day and beyond,as well as loads of delicious recipes for edible gifts, party food, and new ways to love those leftovers.

And thanks, Jamie, for designing recipes whenever possible to cook in the oven at the same temperature for kitchen efficiency. That’s really helpful and lets us hang out in the living room with the people we love while the meal is doing what it needs to do in the oven.

Roasting, baking, stirring, basting, frosting. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Get Jamie’s list of essential kitchen equipment here on Oprah Winfrey’s blog (favorite things, anyone?)

7. Mary Giuliani, The Cocktail Party: Eat Drink Play Recover

The Cocktail Party looks like a bible.The plain white cover with gold lettering let’s you know the best information is inside. And the subtitle stenciled on there, “Eat. Drink. Play.Recover,” offers a clue that the author know whereof she speaks. Famous New York caterer Mary Giuliani’s core philosophy is “simple yet special.”

Cocktails and “Snacktivities,” meaning food stations, like DIY grilled cheese? OK, Mary, I’m listening. I get the feeling you’re going to make me laugh with your whimsical ideas and at the same time help me out by providing me some themes I can use. Themes like:

  • Christmas: Mini Grilled Cheese with Fontina and OTTO Black Truffle Honey, Baked Italian Mini Doughnuts, and Italian Eggnog
  • New Year’s Eve: Banana Pancake Bites, Mini Kale and Fontina Breakfast Pies, and Champagne Jell-O
  • Game Day: MACO (Mac and Cheese Taco) with Guacamole, Banoffee Cream Pie in a Mug, and Beergaritas
  • AwardsSeason: Chicken Satay, Edamame Dumplings, and Easiest Champagne Drink Ever
  •  Cinco deMayo: Spicy Pigs, Sweet Quesadilla Bites, and Grapefruit-Jalapeño Margaritas

Features include a party calculator for figuring expenses, advice for a party closet so you’re always ready if friends drop by. Granted, my NY apartment may be small, and most of my closet space is full of 20 years’worth of old crap I’ve been meaning to sort through and clean out with the help of books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I love the idea of having friends spontaneously visit.

8. Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda, Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe: Celebratory Menus and Recipes from New York’s Premier Plant-Based Restaurant

I met Joy and her business partner and significant other,Bart, owners of the famed New York establishments 9. Christmas with Southern Living 2018:Inspired Ideas for Holiday Cooking and Decorating

For over three decades, Christmas with Southern Living has been the most dependable, comprehensive, and up-to-date guide to the holidays. Christmas with Southern Living 2018 brings an inspired new lineup of creative ways to decorate,entertain, and make gifts for the holidays. Festive menus and décor ideas,along with more than 100 brand-new recipes crafted by the professionals of The South’s Most Trusted Kitchen ensure success and wow factor at every turn. Also included are dozens of kitchen tips and entertaining ideas to take the pressure off the host. A special gifts-from-the-kitchen section includes simple but fun recipes for shareable foods, along with packing and storage information. Over 200 vibrant photographs inspire, showcasing unique holiday decorations–including table settings, wreaths, trees, centerpieces, and mantels–making Christmas with Southern Living 2018 the only guide you need to make the holidays memorable and spectacular.

10. Maggie Battista, Food Gift Love: More than 100 Recipes to Make, Wrap, and Share

My choice for the crafty foodie and DIYer is Food Gift Love by blogger Maggie Battista.  Small-batch,hand-crafted foods make truly great, highly appreciated gifts. The book offers 100 memorable, edible gift ideas with simple, delicious recipes, detailed wrapping instructions, and stunning photography. Recipes to show your love include simple homemade infused salts and sugars; instant-gratification gifts,like fresh ricotta and flavored butters; jams, pickles, and vinaigrettes; and irresistible cookies, desserts, savories, and spirits that will impress fellow food fans.

Inspiration for cooks, food-lovers, and DIY fans.

So, that’s it for now, my friends. Eat hearty. Love open heartedly. I’ve got to go because I think I just put on ten pounds in my imagination.

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Essential Oils for FOCUS (during Tax Season!)

Watch Laura Rubinstein and I discuss three invigorating recipes for keeping focused, clearing brain fog, staying sharp on the job or in school, and getting important tasks done–like completing your taxes in a timely manner. If you have ADHD, or just feel like it by 2 PM every day, then you will want to know the secrets and benefits of essential oils, especially the three recipe blends posted down below the video.

Now, I should add that these are either good in a water diffuser with about a cup of water OR you could blend them with a carrier oil, like fractionated coconut, and then apply a small amount to the back of your neck from time to time. (I explain more about this in the video.)

The basics recommend oils for focus are:
Clary Sage
Juniper Berry




• 4 drops juniper berry essential oil
• 3 drops rosemary essential oil
• 3 drops clary sage essential oil

• 6 drops eucalyptus
• 2 drops peppermint
• 5 drops basil

• 1 drop basil
• 2 drops rosemary
• 2 drops cypress

Contact me if you’d like to get an enrollment kit for a wholesale membership and save 25% on your purchases for the next year.


And remember, you can self-regulate your moods and mentality!

EXCLUSIVE: First Interview with CC Webster, Author of So, That Happened

CC Webster is a hoot! We always laugh when we talk. Even so, I am moved by her story of her year from diagnosis to remission from cancer, which occurred between age 29 and age 30.

This book is her answer to the question, What does it mean to be one of the lucky ones that survive cancer?

In our conversation, you’ll find out how CC and I met seated side by side in a café downtown in New York City in a “divinely orchestrated” moment, what it was like to take the hardest thing she’d ever endured and turn it into a source of creative expression, and hopefully a source of inspiration for others, how readers are responding to the descriptions and truths she reveals, what its like to lay bare for the world one’s greatest vulnerabilities and to draw strength from them.

So, That Happened, is funny, touching, and honest, and it is a light in the darkness. You are not alone.

Visit CC’s website:

Interview with Debbra Lupien, Author of Akasha Unleashed: The Missing Manual to You

Join me for a delightful conversation with the Answer Diva, Debbra Lupien, author of the new international best-selling book Akasha Unleashed: The Missing Manual to You. I took this opportunity to ask questions about the Records: What are they? Why should we be interested in “reading” them? What’s it like to experience the Records? How do they help us find our purpose? And more.

Right in the middle, Debbra surprised me with some information she offered about my soul purpose. I hadn’t expected it. But it felt very affirming and “right” on a professional level. You’ll have to read the book to learn how you can reduce the dissonance between your ego self and your higher self and soul. And once you do, your plans could come to fruition more rapidly and in ways that delight you.

Buy the book on Amazon:

I AM Symposium, Winter Solstice Celebration, Brings Together Shamans and Healers to Teach

Renee Baribeau kindly invited me to participate in the I AM Symposium 2017, Winter Solstice Celebration, which runs from December 21 to January 12. You can still register to be sent daily links to interviews here: My discussion with Renee centered on the meaning of winter festivals that mark the darkest day of the year followed by the renewal of the light moving toward spring and newness of creation.

Also, I shared one of the basic techniques I advocate for accelerating the writing process. This is useful for other forms of creativity too, but is particularly good when a writer has set a clear intention and wants to support the unconscious mind to reveal more information. Learn about the What More? Technique during this half hour.

If you’re interested in finding out more about book coaching with me (or editorial and packaging services) please click contact.

Interview with Lori Ann King, Author of Come Back Strong

Lori Ann King joins me in this insightful interview to discuss her new book release COME BACK STRONG: BALANCED WELLNESS AFTER SURGICAL MENOPAUSE, which is a holistic look at preparation for and recovery from surgery. She shares what to do moving forward to feel great and lead a purposeful and active life as a woman. Some 600,000 women per year in the United States have this intense and transformative experience, and as an athlete, wellness coach, and someone who has been through it herself, Lori Ann has tons of tips to share.

Visit her website: and sign up to get her excellent free reports.

You may buy the book and Amazon here:

Interview with Courtney Marchesani, Author of The Fifth Chamber

It was my pleasure today to speak with the writer of a seductive new novel of erotica that dares to look into the shadows of a woman’s life. Courtney Marchesani speaks so eloquently about the creative journey that led to the writing of the book, the formation of her central character and plot, and how writing the book was a part of a larger process of discovery and healing for her.

Visit Courtney’s website to learn more about her work in other areas. In addition to creativity and self-expressions, she’s quite the expert on herbs/plants and healing.

Find her on Ask for a free one-hour integrative health consultation!

Interview: Lucy Quigley, Author of You Are Worthy: A Personal Story of Recovery and Hope

New York University college student Lucy Quigley, in recovery from an eating disorder, wrote an eloquent book to encourage other young women and men to seek treatment if they are experiencing compulsions related to food: including anorexia, binge eating, purging. Her message is simple: You deserve love, happiness, and attention.

You can purchase copies of Lucy’s book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, and elsewhere.

Please visit her website:

The Writer’s Book of Inspiration


The Writer’s Book of Inspiration: Quotes on Writing and the Literary Life

Selected and Edited by Stephanie Gunning

Buy the Paperback Book on Amazon

Funny, perceptive, and practical—this compendium of memorable quotations from our favorite writers and great literary figures shows us that, as word smiths, we are not alone in how or why we choose to meet the challenge of the blank page. Despite the fact that writing is an often sloppy and sometimes frustrating process, it is also an exhilarating, joyful, entertaining, and even noble, endeavor, which, if done honestly and practiced faithfully, ultimately reveals every aspect of the human condition. Here you will find encouragement, advice, and motivation, along with belly laughs. A gift for everyone who writes, or longs to, THE WRITER’S BOOK OF INSPIRATION reads like the conversation at a gathering of old, close friends.

Inspiring Art Book Uplifts & Affirms Our Potential

My friend, Bahamian author and painter Tina Klonaris-Robinson has just published her first art book. She’s become an “accidental” painter in her forties, drawn to the canvas as a form of meditation. As a result, special energy is imbued in every one of her works of art. They’re healing paintings filled with angels and sea creatures. Natural. Innocent. They sort of remind me of the Aboriginal art of Australia because they have so many dots in them. I keep telling her I see the dots as cells alive with energy. It is my honor to be her editor and consultant. She’s changing lives with her work.

Visit her website:

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Book editing and publishing