As I write this, the Berkshires is getting its first ground-covering snow. As much as I hate winter, I have to admit the snow adds to the holiday season. I spent the afternoon wrapping the last of my Christmas presents — well, last until the mailman and UPS and FedEx drivers deliver the next loads this week. As I wrapped, I watched the snow fall and sipped on a hot cocoa, as Christmas music played throughout the house. It was one of my favorite holiday season days.

I’m in remarkably good shape this year. So far, the Ghost of Christmas Stress hasn’t visited me. My cards are written and ready to mail, the tree is up and decorated, as is the rest of the house. Well, except for the dining room, which looks like a tornado hit Santa’s workshop — boxes, wrapping paper, ribbon and rolls of tape are the theme there. All that remains is to buy some gift cards and a few special greeting cards.

I’m so far ahead of the game, I’ve invited a couple of friends over for a Christmas movie night this week and I plan to keep it simple. I plan to make a pitcher of Mistletoe Margaritas and serve a hot artichoke and spinach dip, accompanied by toasted French bread slices. Although I don’t plan to make it this time around, I’ve included a recipe for a Grinch cocktail, which is a Grinchy shade of green!


(Recipe by Jacy Topps)


1 1/2 ounces of Midori

1/2 ounce vodka

1 ounce pineapple juice

1 ounce dry sparkling wine

1 cherry for garnish


Combine all ingredients except sparkling wine and garnish in a cocktail shaker.


(Recipe courtesy of


Fora pitcher:

3/4 cup tequila, silver or white

1/2 cup triple sec

1 1/2 cups cranberry juice

1/2 cup lime juice

1/3 cups simple syrup (optional to taste)

For a single drink:

1 1/2 ounces tequila, silver or white

1 ounce triple sec

3 ounces cranberry juice

1 ounce lime juice

1/2 ounce simple syrup (optional to taste)

Garnish with:

Fresh Cranberries

Rosemary Sprig

Lime Wedges


If you are making a pitcher, stir together the tequila, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime juice until well blended. If making just 1 or 2, add these to a shaker filled with ice. Taste and add simple syrup if desired.

Pour the cocktails into a glass filled with ice, and garnish with fresh cranberries, a sprig of rosemary and lime wedges.


Makes 4 cups


One 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, cooked and squeezed dry

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise

1 package Knorr Vegetable recipe mix

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack, Swiss or cheddar cheese, divided

One 14-ounces can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped


Combine spinach, cream cheese, mayonnaise, vegetable soup mix, 1 cup cheese, artichoke hearts, water chestnuts and garlic. Spoon into a 4 quart casserole dish, then top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 35 minutes or until dip is hot.