Archive for December, 2010

Hoar Frost

Although I haven’t missed the unbelievably frigid Midwest winter weather over the past 2 years, I have missed how beautiful winter is in Illinois.



Last night the conditions were just right for hoar frost.


When we woke up this morning, everything was coated in the crystal looking frost.




Mom and I went out to photograph the gorgeous day.



We had a good time trekking through snowdrifts and playing with the most adorable dog in the world.



Then we went into the warmth and ate lunch.

PC232511 Whole wheat pasta, eggplant with tomato sauce and fresh spinach.

What a great day to be home!


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I made it!

Last Friday after a cancelled flight, rescheduled flights and 14 hours of travelling, I made it back home.


Since being back, I’ve spent lots of time with my family.

PC182289 My youngest brother, Christopher (on the far right,) ringing the salvation army bell with the church youth group.

I’ve been busy visiting relatives and baking in my mom’s kitchen.

PC192303 The view from my mom’s kitchen window.

My brother Patrick is working midnights so his sleep schedule is about as messed up as mine. This has given us early mornings to talk and laugh together.


Yesterday I woke up at 5am to the sounds of his video game. Once up, I decided to make cinnamon rolls.



I used the recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook. I doubled the recipe so had a ton of dough to work with.

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PC212340 PC212341


Rather than rolling the dough extra long, I found that cutting it in half lengthwise  gave me the desired proportions while making it easier to roll. Oh, and I added almonds to half of the rolls.

PC212363 PC212367 Mmmm! Ooey, gooey, delicious cinnamon rolls!

PC212357Family approved.


Go and make some today.

I promise these cinnamon rolls will make your friends and family happy.


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Festive City Hall

Add this to my list of reasons I love Germany…


The city hall has Christmas spirit, even while under construction.

PC122141 A giant city hall gingerbread house.

Just for perspective, here is what the Rathaus looked like 3 years ago at this time.

PC071021 Each of the windows usually has a number in it representing the 24 days of Advent. Every day in December, a new window light is turned on like a giant advent calendar.


Isn’t Germany beautiful at Christmas time?

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Last night Sebastian and I had big plans to visit the Medieval Christmas Market in Siegburg, Germany.


We waited until it was dark and found our way to the tiny village. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at 8:30, everything had been closed for half an hour. All other markets are open until 10 so we just assumed this one was as well.

PC122145 The market is lit entirely by candle light.

Ironic as it was, we were still able to get a glühwein before heading back to the market in Bonn. I was determined to see this unique market this year so forced brought my friend Melanie back with me today.


Everything about this market is medieval. The tents are made out of canvas and wood, the products being sold are all handmade, the people are dressed in period clothing and they even speak in a medieval way.

PC122147 I started with baklava for dessert.

The best part is obviously the food. Unlike the greasy sausages and fried potato pancakes at the normal markets, this market offers freshly bread baked in stone ovens, falafel, fresh noodles, and baked apple rings to name a few.

PC122152 Spices for sale.

PC122157 Several stands served their food on cabbage leaves rather than disposable plates.

Medieval is eco-friendly!

PC122158Dinner was a falafel with sesame sauce in pita bread with lettuce from this tent.

PC122155 My take-away food was freshly baked bread from these working stone ovens.

PC122154  PC122160 I bought a loaf of this ‘farmer’s bread’ and a sweet roll made with saffron, butter and raisons. The roll melted in my mouth. Luckily it is nearly the size of my head so I have plenty left for breakfast.

PC122162 My hot loaf of bread kept me warm all the way home.

Oh Germany, I love you for your love of the medieval ages!

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Tomorrow morning my class will be baking these cookies to give as Christmas gifts to their parents.


For the last two years, I’ve used a traditional Swedish gingersnap recipe from my past assistant, I was planning on continuing the tradition this year but her recipe requires 2 days’ work and unfortunately, I had to give up share my second booking for the school kitchen.

Chocolate crinkle cookies have stepped in to save time and save our Christmas cookie day.

PC112066 The ingredient list is simple- eggs, vanilla, baking powder, salt, sunflower oil, flour, coco powder and sugar.

PC112069 Start by combining the sugar, oil and coco powder with an electric mixer.

PC112076 Beat in one egg at a time.

PC112077 Once all eggs have been beat in, add the vanilla.

PC112085 Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt then add the dry ingredients to the wet.

PC112088A thick, fudgy dough will form. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or, as some reviewers suggested, freeze for 1 hour.

PC122122  Roll chilled dough into 1 inch balls. The dough is very sticky so try not to handle it with your hands.

PC122124 Roll the balls in sifted powdered sugar- the more dense, the better.

PC122128 Bake, cool and enjoy!


Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Recipe from allrecipes.com

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours. (I premade one batch of dough for the kids to roll while their dough is speed-cooling in the freezer.)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

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Spinach and Leek White Bean Soup

It has been snowing all day in Bonn. On cold and damp days like today, my hungry mind turns to one thing- soup.

I adapted the following recipe from allrecipes.com.

This is one comforting and warming soup. The combination of veggies, protein and whole grains is not only delicious, but nutritionally outstanding. This may be one of my new favorites.


Spinach and Leek White Bean Soup

Makes 4 servings


1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 liter vegetable broth

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. ground rosemary

1/4 cup quiona, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water and rinsed

1/2 cup frozen spinach

4 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges (Don’t leave this out, it makes the dish!)

freshly grated parmesan cheese



  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the vegetable broth, quinoa, beans, bay leaf, cumin and rosemary. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper.
  3. To serve, squeeze lemon wedge over each serving. Sprinkle each bowl of soup with 1 tsp. parsley and shaved parmesan.


Serve with warm crusty bread on a cold winter’s day.

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It’s a Wrap


Looking for another use for my Vegan Walnut and Mushroom Pate?

It makes a great spread in wraps.

For lunch last week, I spread the pate on two nori sheets and wrapped up fresh arugula, red pepper slices, julienned carrots, avocado wedges and sliced tomatoes.



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