Christmas Chocolate Crunch

This is another recipe from my favorite little Taste of Home - Best Holiday Recipe magazine (see also Holidy Peas and Blueberry Sparkling Lemonade). It brings back memories of one of my first Thanksgiving in the US :)

This chocolate-butterscotch treat may not look like much, but if you start snacking it, you sure cannot stop ;) I especially like the salty snacks (popcorn, pretzles). They are a good contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. Also, you will barley notice the butterscotch. If you prefer a stronger butterscotch flavor than chocolate, add more butterscotch and less chocolate.


  • 1 package (11 oz) butterscotch morsels
  • 11 oz (ca. 300g) bittersweet chocolate
  • 10 cups slated microwave popcorn
  • 3 cups pretzles
  • 1 cup toppas
  • 1 cup cornflakes
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins


Mix the snacks

Prepare the microwave popcorn by following package instructions. Break half of the pretzles in little pieces. Now, combine all snacks (popcorn, pretzles, toppas, cornflakes, nuts, dried cranberries) into a big bowl and set aside.

Melt the butterscotch

You can use the microwave and follow the package instructions. I advise to let it melt for 1 minute and then take it out of the microwave and stir it, squeeze the morzels as much as you can. As the butterscotch morzels stay in form and it does not really melt, it is easy to overmelt and burn the butterscotch. It is important that you frequently stir and see whether it is already done.

Melt the bittersweet choclate

This is easier. Put it in the microwave for 1 to 1.5 minutes and stir. You will definitely see it melting. You don't need to wait till all the pieces are comletely melted. Just keep stiring it and the mix will be so warm, that it will melt the remaining pieces while it rests.

Finish the chocolate crunch

Mix the melted butterscotch and chocolate. Pour it over the snacks in the bowl. Give the snacks a good stir with a big spoon so that all pieces are covered. Then spread the covered snacks out on a baking tray. Butter the tray or use a baking sheet, so that the chocolate crunch will not stick to the tray. Let rest for a bit till the chocolate dries. Then break pieces apart.

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      My Mom's "Rindfleischsuppe" (beef based veggie soup)

      The name of this soup is a little misleading. It is called "beef" soup because the soup's broth is beef based. However, that beef is way to fatty to eat (at least to me), so you don't actually have beef to eat in the soup. It is not a beef stew kind of soup.

      It is more or less a hearty veggie soup with a beef broth as a base. And it is inspired by our famous family holiday recipe "Cous Cous" :) Everything is just on a way smaller scale, cooks faster and is less a stew than a watery soup.


      • 1 tablespoon oil
      • 1 teapsoon butter (or margerine)
      • stewing beef (very fatty, with bones)
      • 1/2 cup finely diced onion (1 onion)
      • 2 tablespoons tomatoe paste
      • 1 tablespoon harissa
      • 1 tablespoon salt
      • 1 teaspoon pepper
      • 1 clove garlic (optional)
      • 1 l water
      • 2 cups of leek ringletts (2 leeks)
      • 2 cups of small diced zucchini (1 big zucchini)
      • 2 cups of small diced potatoes (4 potatoes)
      • 2 cups of small cut carrots (2-3 carrots)
      • 2 cups of chickpeas (or 1 can)
      • salt, pepper, vegeta to taste 
      • parsley
      • optional: serve with instant cous cous



      Step 1 - Preparing the broth

      Heat the oil and butter in a big pot. Add the stewing beef and fry quickly from all sides. You need to use very fatty beef with bones. The beef is not supposed to be eaten afterwards. You can add a second piece of more tender beef for eating if you prefer some meat in your soup.
      Then add the finely chopped onion, tomatoe paste, harissa, salt and pepper. If you want, also add a full clove of garlic, that you just give a quick squash to release the flavor. Stir the mix and let fry for a few minutes till onions are translucent. They should not turn brown. Now, fill up the pot with water till meat is covered. Let simmer at medium heat for 1 to 1.5 hours till the beef is soft.

      Step 2 - Adding the veggies

      In the meantime, cut the veggies in very small pieces: Cut the leeks lengthwise and then slice it into half ringletts. Cut the zucchini in half lenthwise and then each half additional two times lenthwise, then slice it. Dice the potatoes in small cubes of 0.5cm. Cut the carrot twice lenthwise (so that you have quarters lenthwise) and then slice it.
      When the beef broth is ready, add first the carrots and let cook for about 5 minuts. Carrots are the hardest veggies and take the most time. Then add the leek, zucchini, potatoes, and chickpeas and let cook for another 5-10 minutes. The veggies schould be soft. Now, season it with salt, pepper and vegeta to taste. Sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.

      You may serve it over a little cous cous at the bottom of the plate or at the side. The 5-minute instant cous cous, prepared according to package instructions, works fine.

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        Kona Café (Orlando, FL)

        My last stop on my Florida roadtrip was my return to Orlando. Here, of course, I decided to try out another Disney Hotel restaurant for breakfast. I chose the Kona Café at the Polynesian Village Resort. This resort demonstrates the spirit of the South Pacific with tropical palms and lush vegetation. I had been at this Resort Hotel before with my friend for a quick nighttime stop for fireworks and a drink at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto.

        At the Kona Café

        The Kona Café is located on the second floor of the Grand Ceremonial House at the Polynesian Village Resort. It is an open casual table service restaurant with view of the atrium. It serves American dishes with an Asian twist and also offers an open sushi station for lunch and dinner. 

        What I ordered:

        • Mimosa Flight - three mimosas, one with Liliko'i Juice (blend of orange, passion fruit and guave juice), one with pink grapefruit juice, and one with pineapple juice
        • Seven Seas Samoan - Poached eggs with a citrus sauce hollondaise on turkey and pulled pork hash with mustard greens and tomatoes tossed in a citrus vinaigrette

        Other famous Kona Café dishes: 

        • Tonga Toast - the legendary large banana stuffed french toast with a cinnamon sugar crust and strawberry compote
        • Loco Moco - a tower of rice with a hamburger patty, chorizo gravy, eggs and tomato salsa
        • Polynesian Egg Platter - traditional platter with eggs, potatoes, a choice of meat and with a Mickey shaped coconut macademia nut muffin
        • Macademia Nut Pancake - with a macademia nut butter and pineapple sauce


        Runny Eggs in Florida :)

        The Kona Café offers with their Seven Seas Samoan a special and interesting version of eggs benedicts/ runny eggs. The mix of pulled pork and turkey in the hash was great. Surprisingly, the dish did not seem to heavy despite the meat, the citrus hollondaise and the greens tossed in a citrus vinaigrette really lightened the dish up.

        This was a nice continuation to my previous experiences during my Florida road trip. I do love my runny eggs!

        Another Broken Egg Café (Naples, FL)

        Naples, FL -

        My next stops on my way through Florida were Ft. Myers and Naples. I originally had planned to spend my last week on the east coast side of south Florida. However, after Fort Lauderdale did not really work out for me - too stormy and rainy - I had returned to the west side of south Florida.

        Naples is a really nice town right beneath Ft. Myers Beach. It is a little more upscale. The beach there is just amazing with nice little palm tree huts. Before driving back to Orlando, I enjoyed a nice breakfast and some nice last beach time here in Naples :)

        What I liked about "Another Broken Egg Café"

        My friend recommended to try out the "Another Broken Egg Café" as a nice chain restaurants. I looked at the menu and was sold :) Also, if it is your first visit to one of their cafés, you get a free order of their specialty biscuit beignets with a sweet dipping sauce. There are freshly made and crispy.

        They offer a nice selection of decadent eggs benedicts including a vegetarian one and some with lobster, salmon or crab cake. They also have a good variety of sweet treats including different kinds of pancakes and toppings. And check out their incredible nice brunch cocktail section. They have different juice mimosas, bloody marys and champagne cocktails.

        Also, everything I tried tasted really delicious. I was most surprised by their country potatoes. They do look like they have been sitting under a heat lamp for a while, but they are real crispy on the outside and soft inside. They were probably fried instead of re-heated, but it defenitely worked. They were also not greasy at all.

        And look at their cute signature clay mug! You can also buy them, even though they are a little pricy.

        My decadent brunch :)

        As always on my vacation, I went a little overboard and ordered way too much. I just wanted to try everything ;)
        • A free serving of biscuit beignets
        • Breakfast tea in a nice signature clay mug
        • Peach Blini (Champagne, peach and orange juice)
        • Crab Cake Benedicts served with country potatoes
        • A side of Peach Cobbler Pancake (cake filled with honey-roasted granola, topped with peach compote, cream and maple syrup)

        Brunch at First Watch (St. Petersburg, FL)

        Another nice sunny day on my Florida vacation. How to better start the day then with a nice brunch. This time I tried "First Watch" in St. Petersburg out. It is an American restaurant chain that focuses on breakfast and light lunch dishes. They have a nice outdoor seating area and surprisingly, I was the only one who wanted to sit outside. I had the entire area for myself, while it got more and more crowded and loud inside...

        Why "First Watch"?

        The name references to the first work shift aboard a ship as the restaurant is usually only open from 7am to 2:30pm. "First Watch" serves food from the crack of dawn :)

        What's so special about them?

        "First Watch" emphasize the freshness of their products. They do not use heat lamps or fryers. They serve fresh fruit and made to order dishes. While they offer the classic favorites such as eggs & bacon, omlettes and pancakes, they also serve healthy dishes including granola, yoghurt, superfood bowls, avocado bread, and more. They also have tasty seasonal specials and a juice bar :)

        Breakfast Hash the way I like it :)

        Well, I do like runny eggs over good breakfast potatoes, a good skillet hash. However, the potatoes need to be fresh and not re-heated and mushy. I do not like the shredded hash browns, they have to be the real potato cubes preferably fried with some vegetables and onions... So, I got the "Market Hash" and I was not disappointed. It was fresh, with lots of veggies, well seasoned and very tasty!
        • Seasoned freshly cooked potatoes with crimini mushrooms, zucchini, shallots, red peppers, baby spinach, melted mozzarella and herbed goat cheese.
        • Served with two eggs over easy that were still runny inside.
        • Along that, whole grain artisan toast and fresh fruit.

        Disney Brunch at the Grand Floridian Café (Orlando, FL)

        I love brunch time and I love Disney :) What better way to start my vacation then having brunch at one of the Disney Resort Hotels? They always look so neat and cute with their special themes. This time we chose The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and The Grand Floridian Café for breakfast.

        I had been to the Grand Floridian Resort before for the Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Tea Room which was really nice, food tasted delicious and the Victorian style atmosphere was really charming.

        Now we chose breakfast at the The Grand Floridian Café which is located in the same building, right behind the foyer. The Café had also the typical Victorian charm which I really enjoyed. They also had a nice view of the rose garden and the nearby courtyard pool. They did not have outdoor seating which was a little sad. While we waited for the food (which unfortunately took quite some time), we got complimentary biscuits with jam and cream.

        Decadent Eggs Benedicts, Sweets and Drinks

        The Grand Floridian Café is known for its great selection of decadent Eggs Benedicts. Among the traditional version with ham, they also offer Lobster Eggs Benedicts and Spicy Chorizo Eggs Benedicts. Their traditional sweet section of waffles and pancakes is also very interesting. The waffles are Mickey shaped and the pancakes come with different decadent add ones including different fruits, creams, sauces, and decadent syrups (e.g., citrus-pecan syrup). They also have a great variety of intersting non-alcoholic drinks and smoothies which make for a great start :)

        What we ordered

        • Coffee (featuring Micky), Raspberry Colada (puréed raspberries and creamy colada), Tropical Splash (blended strawberries and orange juice)
        • Eggs Benedict Flight (Three Signature Benedicts: Traditional Ham, Chorizo and Lobster Benedict)
        • Lobster Eggs Benedict
        • The Café Sandwich (open faced with ham and turkey)
        • Buttermilk Pancake with Add On (Mandarin Oranges, Dried Cranberries, Chantilly Cream, and Citrus-Pecan Syrup)

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