Saturday, December 31, 2016

Lucky Pig Star Anise Dinner Rolls for New Year's Eve



How cute are these lucky rolls for your New Year's dinner or brunch table? Let's face it, 2016 has been a really tough year both in the USA and globally. We all could use some luck ammo going into the New Year. 

Last year I made Lucky Pig Breads with Plum Jam Filling. For this last post of 2016, I'm simplifying things with a simple pig shaped dinner roll recipe spiked with star anise flavor. The rolls are made with a combination of white and whole wheat flour. The star anise flavor adds a seasonal warm spice touch. 




This holiday has been fraught with a stone floor installation that stole Christmas, a busted furnace that threatened our New Year's eve celebration and a series of other super annoying events, including a minor car accident and a broken computer. 

However, I am well aware these are first world problems and tried to plow through each one without getting too cranky. There is, after all, SO much to be grateful for, most of all for my delicious amazing husband and an astounding, brilliant, talented, funny circle of friends whose love just won't quit.



I've had some incredible trips in the past year, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Sudan, Dubai, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Now 2017 is shaping up with some exciting and exotic destinations both for work and pleasure. I'm excited and looking forward.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Creamy Hazelnut Chicken Noodle Prosecco Soup


Here a soup that is a cross between comfort food and celebratory dish. A sexy take on chicken noodle soup, this  slightly tipsy soup is perfect for your fancy New Year's Eve dinner or New Year's Day brunch. However, it also works if you choose to spend both of those cuddled up on the sofa in your jammies. 


There is no chicken meat in this soup. It can be easily added to the recipe. The soup is simply a blend of chicken stock (use organic if you can), heavy cream and seasoned with a bit of nutmeg. This is a quick and easy recipe to prepare for a dinner party or for watching the ball drop from your sofa.


You can get fancy and add different color noodles but thin good old workhorse egg noodles will do the trick. I used a recipe for hand-rolled egg noodles and cut out the numbers 2017 using number cutters just to be extra fancy. Using store bought is obviously a huge time saver. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Butter Pecan Kringle: King Arthur Flour's December Bakealong


Yes. I know Christmas was yesterday but we all know the holiday party train continues until January 2nd. Consequently, we all need a stockpile of cakes and desserts for friends and relative who drop by to visit. 


This butter pecan kringle is this month's bakalong recipe from King Arthur flour. It is both a stunner and a workhorse.

A stunner in looks and butter pecan flavor, one of my all-time favorites for ice cream. This kringle did not disappoint. It's a beautiful addition to any holiday table and the layer of flavors, butter, caramel and pecan are sublime. The cake is a workhorse in that it covers your holiday desserts, coffee and tea time and even breakfast danish territories.


The recipe is all about layering. First, a dough base is made, then another cake layer on top, then baked. After that, it's a matter of layering caramel, toasted whole pecans and vanilla butter flavored sugar glaze over the baked ring.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Quince Cranberry Almond Bars


Happy Christmas Eve everyone! Here are some beautiful holiday bars to make this season. Yes, there's still time to make these for a post-Christmas celebration or a New Year's brunch. The recipe feeds a lot of people. A lot. Like 20.



They look so fancy, I should call them the Fresh Quince of Bel Air Bars.  Quince is still inhabiting our local markets. They do add a unique flavor to this recipe, However, you can easily substitute pears for the quince. 


Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Christmas Market with a Conscious - Tollwood in Munich, Germany


There are so many great Christmas markets in Munich to visit. This is one of my favorites. the entire market is devoted to sustainability. 

Handmade Goods from Madagascar
From the Christmas tree made out of recycled plastic bottles at the entrance to the rule that all the vendors present organic foods and sustainability friendly products. 


The market, on the grounds of Thereseweisn, where the world famous Oktober fest takes place every September, is vast. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Advent Calendar Hazelnut Hibiscus Linzer Cookies


I saw this idea in a German cooking magazine awhile back and planned to create my own version this year. It's way past the time to gift or create an advent calendar. Sigh. However, the cookies themselves are so delicious, you can still make them for the holidays using holiday shapes or letters for the cutouts. You can also bookmark these for next year's holiday cookie baking. 



These hibiscus flowers in syrup have been an obsession of mine since I had 2 jars shipped to be in Germany when I first spotted the product online years ago. Since then, I routinely add them to prosecco for holidays, sit back and watch the wow factor from my guests. 


Since I've moved to the states I've been lucky enough to have met the rep for The Wild Hibiscus Flower Company. They have been generous enough to send me an assortment of their cool, creative products made with exotic ingredients. Aside from the hibiscus flowers in syrup, there are gorgeous teas, extracts and salt to choose from. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

12 Days of Christmas Rosemary Springerle Cookies


The only thing I love more than a cookie exchange is busting out the disco dust to decorate baked goods. Participating in this Food Blogger Love Cookies Exchange provided an opportunity to do both. A big thanks to Food Blogger Allison Boyer of The PinterTest Kitchen and her co-host Sarah Ellis of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes for creating this cookie initiative.


Everyone who signed up sent three set of cookies to three random participants chosen for them. In return, every participant also recieved three packages of cookies from different senders.




I had purchased this beautiful 12 Days of Christmas themed shortbread pan last year and decided to give it a test run for making springerle cookies. I switched up the flavor of the springerle from the traditional anise by adding fresh chopped rosemary from my garden.