Three days till Christmas! For me, a holiday that is not only about presents and wonderful food, but about spending time with my family and celebrating the birth of Christ. To me that is the real meaning of Christmas. Family, faith and love.
It’s been quite an eventful day today, the day before our Christmas break starts. I spent a good part of the morning chasing a stray dog with cheese and a spare leash, after no one bothered to do a thing. Not even the animal ambulance. I called them and they said they would only come if I managed to catch the dog. So I tried my best, enticing him with cheese, but I failed. After begging them to come and saying the dog wasn’t going to let me put him on a leash, they agreed. But at a certain point, he swiftly ran away and it was too late. I hope with all of me that he’ll be found. He was old and in pretty bad shape, I walked home in tears feeling defeated.
A Christmas card from our dear friends Marit and Kelvin put a smile on my face though, so I put on some Christmas music, cleaned the house and whipped up a batch of festive breakfast cakes for tomorrow morning. I really think you will love them. They have cranberries, apple, crisp pecans and a hint of almond.
It will be a busy day tomorrow, by the way! We’ll be driving to the organic butcher for our holiday meats and I still need to do some last minute shopping to take care of. I will also be meeting a lovely woman I met on Instagram a while ago — exciting!
But about those breakfast cakes… here’s the recipe!
Have a wonderful Christmas!
PS: You will need a large muffin tin of 3 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. Though this should work perfectly well in a normal muffin tin. Just start checking for doneness after 18 minutes or so.
Christmas Breakfast Cakes
Makes 4 cakes
80g all purpose flour
50g coarse cornmeal (polenta)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
50g cranberries, chopped
40g pecans, chopped
1 small green apple, or 1/2 large, chopped
100ml whole milk
40ml mild olive oil
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
80g granulated sugar
a glaze made with lemon juice and powdered sugar, or just powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 200C and grease 4 holes of the large muffin tin. Sprinkle with flour, shaking off any excess. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cranberries, pecans and apple. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, olive oil, almond extract, granulated sugar and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently combine. Divide the batter over the muffin holes and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Unmold and make the glaze the way you like it. Drizzle over the cakes. You can also just dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Last Friday I decided to take the day off and spend it in the kitchen, listening to Christmas music and making some holiday treats to enjoy with my family during the weekend. The last few weeks have been hectic, and this was truly a much needed break.
I am always amazed at how therapeutic cooking can be. The act of creating something that not only looks nice but tastes good (and will make people happy) is so rewarding. I cooked from early in the morning until about 6:30 p.m. in the evening when Hans showed up. By that time, I was just putting the final batch of mince pies in the oven and the house smelled of Christmas! I think I may do this every Friday from now on, at least for the rest of this festive month!
Christmas is just around the corner and I’m so excited! This past Friday we officially kicked off the holiday season with a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with friends Marit and Kelvin and my son-in-law (well, it kind of feels that way already!). After a huge turkey dinner, we all cozied up on the couch to watch one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation — so, so funny! It was a lovely evening with a highly festive feeling. We even had eggnog and twinkly lights!
There are a lot of cooking plans brewing in my head, and today I want to share one that I tried this morning — my easy cinnamon rolls made with ready-made croissant dough! This recipe saves you a lot of time, so it’s definitely one to keep in mind this busy holiday season. I hope you’ll like them as much as we did!
Easy Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 8 rolls
a tube of ready-made croissant dough (340g)
40g butter (20g melted, 20g softened)
50g light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
60g softened cream cheese
40g powdered sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C. Open the tube of dough on a well-floured surface. Cut it in half with a sharp knife and join the two sheets to make on large sheet of approximately 31 x 11 cm. Brush a little of the melted butter over a round Pyrex dish. Brush a little more of melted butter over the dough. Mix the sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough. Roll up the dough into a log, from the small side. Place the rolls in the pan with the seams touching and brush with the rest of the melted butter. Bake for 25 minutes. Make the glaze by whisking the softened butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Spread this over the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven. Delicious!
November already? Yes — fall is slowly slipping into winter, and the holidays are not that far off anymore. I always look forward to this time of year; planning my Thanksgiving dinner, the anticipation of Christmas, celebrating my daughter’s birthday. There’s so much to look forward to. This year, I am also hoping for a real winter. Although I’m not a fan of cold weather or snow (I can’t walk on snow!), I think it’s time for nature to get back on track. The chances of that happening are pretty slim though. I’m not so sure we’ll ever have a white Christmas again. One thing I can always count on, however, is spending a delicious end of the year with my family, cooking the foods we’ve always loved and coming up with new recipes.
Last Friday I decided to get into the spirit a little early and spent the afternoon listening to Christmas music while baking a cake. I came up with a recipe that I’m sure you will love as much as we did: a lemon-cranberry loaf. My husband, who doesn’t really like sweets and desserts much, keeps telling me how good it is every time I serve him a slice. With its bright red cranberries and tangy glaze, it’s a pretty cake, too. I think it would be perfect for breakfast or coffee this holiday season, so keep it in mind, especially if you’re having family staying over.
Here’s the recipe:
230g all-purpose flour
6 1/2 tbsps ground almonds
pinch of salt (preferably fleur de sel)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
zest of two lemons (you will need the juice of 1 1/2 lemons for the cake, the rest for the glaze)
200g soft butter
4 medium eggs
100g dried cranberries, plus extra for decorating
125g powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 28 cm rectangular cake pan with baking paper. Mix flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest. In a standing mixer, whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one to the butter and sugar mixture while letting the machine run. Fold in the dry ingredients in three batches, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool thoroughly on a wire rack. To make the glaze combine the powdered sugar and about 1-2 tbsps lemon juice until the mixture reaches a nice consistency, neither too thick nor too thin. Allow to stand for 15 minutes. Give the glaze a good whisk and pour it over the cake using a spoon. Decorate with the extra cranberries.