Christmas is great - decorating the tree, putting lights on the house, drinking hot chocolate while watching Linus explain the reason for the season to us.  Unfortunately, it is also filled with recipes that require Iron Chef skills and Martha Stewart's farm to make.  But I have you covered with 3 recipes that will make your house smell amazing, and give you a break from the traditional turkey and tamales that everyone has this time of year.


These 3 recipes are totally unconnected to each other.  One is for mulled wine, a fab grownup drink that is really only good around the holidays.  The other is for potpourri that will make your house smell amazing and make your friends think you are a domestic goddess.  The last one is for a main course that you will find endless uses for.

1.  Mulled wine - Mulled wine is warmed and sweetened, kind of like sangria, but because of the spices, it's more of a winter drink. Just be careful - I can usually drink a couple or three glasses of wine, but only one of mulled wine. The warmth of it seems to intensify the alcohol's effect. You'll need:

One bottle (750 ml) of red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot.  I've also used port and prefer it in this recipe.
One orange, cut in half
8-10 cloves
1/3 cup honey or sugar (if you don't like sweet wine, cut this in half, but do add a little sugar or honey. I prefer honey, but only because that was the sweetener that would have been used when mulled wine was first developed centuries ago.)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp allspice

Put all the ingredients into a glass, not metal, pot. I've used metal before, but it imparts an odd flavor. You can also use a slow cooker. Slowly warm all ingredients, but don't boil, for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally so it looks like you're actually doing something other than waiting to dive in. Taste to make sure you've added enough honey or sugar. Serve warm.

2.  Easy potpourri - I love this because I always seem to have the ingredients on hand.  Buy the cheapest oranges you can find - it's not important which kind they are.  This will make your house smell divine, and you can reuse it for a week if you refrigerate it between uses.  You'll need:

1 - 4 large oranges, depending on the size of your pot

4 - 6 cups of water

1 tsp. each of cinnamon, crushed cloves, vanilla extract

Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out all the juice into a pot.  Add the water, orange halves, spices, and vanilla to the pot.  Bring to a simmer on the stove.  You can add water as it boils down without having to add any other ingredients.  Cool and refrigerate, and reheat it up to a week.

3.  The best pork roast you will ever eat - This is the easiest recipe to put together.  It does require a long cooking time, so do it on a weekend.  It seems like only a little bit of seasoning for such a large roast, but the meat is already very flavorful, so you're just giving it a little nudge.  Don't over season!  Make flautas, burritos, tacos, chile colorado, and sandwiches with guacamole and cheese on francesitos, with the leftovers.  You'll need:

1 pork butt or pork shoulder roast (it's the same thing, by the way)

crushed or granulated garlic



In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp. each of garlic (freshly minced or granulated), salt, and pepper.  Rub over the roast.  Place fat side up in a roasting pan and cover tightly with foil.  Cook the roast at 350 degrees for 5 hours.  Uncover and turn up the heat to 400 and cook for another 30 minutes.  It helps carmelize the fat a little so it won't look like an untanned pork butt.  You won't need a knife to cut this because the meat will be velvety and fall off the bone.  Serve with just about anything, and get ready for your family and guests to rave about your butt!