Glühwein - Merry Christmas

This is just something that belongs to Christmas time for me, a warm spiced wine. In Germany you can usually buy it at the outdoor Christmas Markets to keep yourself warm in a wintery cold night. Even so it is pretty cheap to buy in Germany, during my college time my roommates and I used to sit in our dorm kitchen, play board games and make this spiced wine ourselves. The non-alcoholic version is basically the English Wassail, a spiced warm fruit juice punch.


  • 1 - 1.5 liter Red wine
  • 4 Orange slices
  • 1 cup Honey
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 3-4 Cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 Anise stars
  • 10 Gloves
  • Optional: 1/4 cup of cider mate spice (including orange, lemon peel, anise star parts, gloves, dried berries)


Pour the red wine in a big pot, add the orange slices, cinnamon sticks, anise stars, gloves and cider mate. Heat on low, do not boil. Then add the honey and sugar to taste. Start with a little bit and add more if still to bitter. A friend also told me, that you can use orange juice to sweeten it. Heat for about 5-10 more minutes and then strain the wine in cups.

This also makes a nice little christmas gift if you fill it up into dark green bottles, add a cinnamon stick, some christmas stickers and maybe an ornament made out of the orange slices, cinnamon sticks and anise stars :)

Bed & Breakfasts

My boyfriend and I like to stay at Bed & Breakfasts. I just love this feeling of being in a home that tries to recreate a historical ambiance with cute antique furniture. And of course, I do love the self-made breakfast, arranged in a thoughtful and beautiful way. Most of the Bed & Breakfast we have stayed at have delivered delicious and creative breakfast including self-made lemon cake, blueberry corn pancakes, spinach crepes, creamy omelets, crispy warm blueberry muffins, etc.

Last year during Christmas time, we took a short trip to British Columbia, Canada and stayed at the cutest little Bed & Breakfast in Whistler (Inn at Cliff Top Lane). Everything was perfect. It was by far the most romantic and thoughtful one. The owners were very nice and accommodating. The rooms beautifully arranged, even had a jetted tub. The breakfast was very creative with lots of options. The fresh baked blueberry muffins were a dream, they had a crispy top that reminded on a cookie. The owners were so nice to share their recipe with me and I will re-create it soon :) And everything was surrounded by a fairy-tale like snow landscape.

This is a short list of all the amazing Bed & Breakfasts that I have stayed in so far and that kind of spoiled me:

However, I cannot recommend all Bed & Breakfasts...

We recently stayed at a Bed & Breakfast in Capitol Hill in Seattle (Mozart Guest House), that unfortunately did not meet our standards. The house was too small and cluttered and missed the mark of creating the historical feeling. The breakfast lacked creativity and cute arrangements. The host offered either plain eggs or plain french toast, prepared in a very simple way and was unfortunately worse than a continental breakfast at a Super 8 Hotel... However, we still had a nice time in Seattle and just went to our favorite food places to make up for it (see blog post: Seattle's Pike Place Chowder and Lola's Doughnuts).

Seattle's Pike Place Chowder and Lola's Doughnuts

This post is about my boyfriend and my holiday weekend trip to Seattle and our favorite food places there.

Pike Place Chowder
    - the best clam chowder ever

Even though I have already been several times to Seattle, I had to wait for my friend Nick to discover this little place as he and his girlfriend came visiting on a vacation trip. This is an amazing little Clam Chowder place right of the Pike Place, in the Post Alley. It is not a big fancy restaurant, however they serve a variety of freshly prepared chowders and bisques. If you are not a big fan of seafood, you can even get vegetarian or vegan chowders with fresh vegetables from the market. They also serve them in Bread Bowls. When you enter the place, you can see the "Hall of Fame" board, showing that they won best clam chowder awards all over the States, even in New England on the east coast that is famous for its clam chowders.

Lola's (or the Dahlia Bakery) 

             - the best fresh baked doughnuts ever

My boyfriend found this little place. He watched one of the shows on the Food Network Channel that I almost always have running at home and they introduced the best doughnuts on the west coast. He surprised me and took me there for my birthday. Lola's is a full sized restaurant, however, the best thing on the menu are their small doughnut holes. They are freshly baked and served in a paper bag filled with cinnamon sugar that they shake so that the warm doughnuts are covered with the sugar. But that's not all, they serve amazingly delicious dipping sauces: a mascarpone creme sauce and a seasonal jam (which can be a pear or berry jam).
If you do not want to go into the restaurant, or arrive at a time when they don't serve the doughnuts (12-1pm) , you can also get these doughnuts at the cute little Dahlia Bakery across the street, that kind of belongs to the restaurant. Here you can either sit down on a street-side table or get them to go.

Braised Leeks and Cauliflower Soup

This delicious fancy little recipe comes from my good friend Jamie. It was part of our "World Tapas Night" where we all chose an international dish that we all shared as an Appetizer (Tapas) with a drink.

Jamie's fantastic braised Leek and roasted Cauliflower soup started the evening and was served with a fancy cocktail. 

Then Adam's Tapas followed: a Spanish Tortilla de Patata that we actually learned from our Spanish friends Elena and Silvia. Steven and I finished the night with my Elsaesser Flammkuchen with creme fraîche and crispy bacon and with Steven's delicious Quesadillas with sauteed veggies and a self-made guacamole creme.

This recipe here is my adaptation of Jamie's Leek and Cauliflower soup. I also braised the leeks, and I found a nice recipe on how to do that. These leeks tasted so flavorful and fantastic that you can also eat them on their own or as a side dish. This soup is perfect for a cold winter night.


Braised Leeks
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • 1 big Leek
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Thyme

Roasted Cauliflower
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoon Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

The Soup
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 2 gloves Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Ginger
  • 2 tablespoon Thyme
  • 2 cups vegetables or chicken Broth
  • 1 cup dry White wine
  • 1 1/2 cup aged white Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup Milk or Cream
  • 1/2 cup Sour cream or Creme fraîche
  • French Baguette
  • Optional for garnishment: 2-3 slices crispy baked bacon, cut into small pieces


1. Braise the leek

Preheat oven at 355 degree Fahrenheit. Wash the leek and cut lengthwise in half, depending on the size of your casserole you might need to cut it in half as well. Place cut side facing up in a small baking dish. Pour chicken stock over them and sprinkle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Distribute grated parmesan cheese over them and top with chopped thyme. Bake for 15 min till leeks are soft and parmesan turned golden brown. Take out and cool down. This dish is also delicious as a side dish.

2. Roast the cauliflower

Preheat oven at 400 degree Fahrenheit. Cut the cauliflower into florets. In a bowl, toss the florets with the oil and salt and pepper. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until lightly golden brown for 20 min. If you have a broiler, bake them for 15 min and place them for 3 minutes under the broiler.

3. Prepare the soup

For the soup, heat the oil in a pot, add the chopped onions and sauté until translucent for 5 min. Add the chopped garlic, ginger and thyme for another minute. Be careful that it doesn't turn black. Keep a few little pieces of the roasted cauliflower and leeks for garnishment. Add the rest of the cauliflowers, leeks, the broth and the white wine. Bring to a boil, but then reduce the heat and let it simmer covered for about 20 min. Transfer 2/3 of the soup into a blender and puree till smooth. Pour it back to the rest of the soup. Add the cheese and let it melt for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add milk/cream and creme fraiche/sour cream. Remember, if you chose to add cream, do not bring it to a boil as it will separate. Serve with baguette and garnish with little roasted cauliflowers and leek slices or some crispy bacon pieces.

Print this recipe:

Print Friendly and PDF

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Christmas Cranberry-Popcorn Garland

What would an American Christmas be without trying out some of the American traditions? Making a garland for the christmas tree out of popcorn and cranberries is one of these traditions. It might take a little bit of time, but it is very simple and looks so cute around the christmas tree.

Just be aware that if you have a cat it will not make it easy to make the garland as it will try to play with it. Your boyfriend might be another challenge, as mine was constantly eating the popcorn away. But if you master these challenges, it will be worth it :)

All you need:

  • Cranberries (fresh)
  • Popcorn (best to use one without butter)
  • Yarn and needle

How to do it:

Take the yarn, best if it is white and unwaxed, and make a big knot at the one end (I did several knots to make it bigger). Then start the garland by threading the popcorn and cranberries. I used 3 white popcorns and then 2 small red cranberries. You can use whatever pattern you like, whether you like it even, or more white or more red or completely unpredictable. Make it as long as you want. You can also do several small garlands. When you are done, make another big knot at the end.

Decorate your Christmas tree or your front porch with it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...