Merry Christmas

Year after year I look forward to Christmas for months. Sometimes I get teary eyed thinking about it when I’m alone in my car… in September. I’m not kidding – I don’t even know why Christmas has become such an emotional holiday for me in the past couple of years.

Anyways, this december has been quite stressful for me. Filled with university work, my new job, discovering and learning new things about myself and trying to become the kind of person I want to be. It’s been a struggle but also rewarding and beautiful.

For everyone else who’s having a hard time this holiday season, know that you are not alone. I hope you find peace and quiet moments with the people you love and if you ever need to get something off your chest then feel free to write me a message me wherever, whenever.

Christmas is celebrated on the eve of the 24th in Austria and while I wait for my family to come over to stuff ourselves with Raclette and chocolate fondue, let me quickly share the recipe for the aperitif I’m going to serve in a little while.

 

Cranberry-Pomegranate Sparkler

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Ingredients:

1 cup of pomegranate juice
1 cup of cranberry juice (unsweetened if you can)
juice of one big mandarin (or orange)
about 5 tablespoons of mandarin simple sirup

For the mandarin simple sirup:
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
the zest of 1 big mandarin (without the bitter white stuff, so really only super thin layers of the peel!)

How to make the simple sirup:
In a sauce pan put together the sugar, water and mandarin zest. Heat up until it’s boiling and the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely.

How to assemble the drink:
Combine the juices and 5 (or more, depending on how sweet you want the mix to be!) tablespoons of the sirup.
Pour into champagne flutes and top of with champagne.

You can chill the juice mix for hours until you’re ready to serve the drink. For the champagne to not mix with the juice I’d recommend pouring the champagne over the back of a teaspoon that’s pressed to the inside of the champagne flute.
As decoration I’ve used rosemary sticks with fresh cranberries.

Recipe adapted from here.

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Peanut butter-Banana-Chocolate-Oatmeal Cookies

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I feel like it might take you longer to say that recipe name than it does to bake these cookies.

In an attempt to get rid of the excess amount of peanut butter that was residing in my kitchen, I looked up a couple of recipes. Originally my plan was to make peanut butter granola, but then I found a recipe for peanut butter-oatmeal cookies and just couldn’t resist. I haven’t made cookies in so long!

This is the recipe source I used, but I adapted it (I only had one banana, and no coconut oil or agave sirup, so I split the amount in half and worked with what I had at home).

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Ingredients

1 large, ripe banana
1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup of peanut butter (the original source said creamy, I used chunky and I like that it has the extra crunch to it!)
1 1/4 cup of rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup of dark chocolate (I chopped it myself, but chocolate chips work just as well) I used more because… chocolate!

What to do

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Mash the banana in a large bowl. Add the peanut butter, honey and oil, mix until it is smooth. In a medium bowl mix together the oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add it to the banana-peanut butter mix and stir it together. Add the chocolate chunks and stir until it is well blended.
Use 2 spoons and drop the mix on the baking sheet. Bake for around 10 minutes or until the cookies set.

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Plundergebäck (Danish Pastry)

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The other day I still had some apples from our tree and I was slowly running out of ideas what to make with them. There are only so many apple pies you can bake, you know? So I thought I’d try something new and then I found ready-made dough for Danish pastry. I had no recipe so I just grabbed random ingredients which I thought could taste nice and oh my God, they did.

This is of course, no professional recipe, but if you’re willing to experiment, maybe it can be some sort of inspiration for you :)

Ingredients
1 package of curd cheese
1 cup of vanilla yoghurt
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
sugar or vanilla extract (depending on how sweet you want the filling to be)
some honey
Apples and/or peaches
Ready made dough for Danish pastry

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What to do
Okay, so since I didn’t have a recipe for this and did most by taste this is what you’ll have to do as well.

Pre-heat the oven to the temperature needed for the dough.

Peel and cut one apple in small slices. I added lemon juice, honey and cinnamon for taste and cooked it for a few minutes. Take care that the fruit doesn’t get too soft.
Then I did pretty much the same with the peaches, but left out the cinnamon.

Mix together the curd cheese and some of the vanilla yoghurt (again, just as much as you think tastes nice). Add vanilla extract (syrup or whatever else you have). Add sugar if you want to (I didn’t. Mostly because I’m trying to reduce my intake of sugar when it’s not absolutely necessary, like in coffee or tea :)).

Cut and fold the dough. I found this tutorial and it worked really well! Put the curd cheese – yoghurt mixture on it and top it off with the apples or peaches. Then put it in the oven and bake it for the required time.

If you want to you can coat the pastry with an egg/milk mix before you bake it as well.

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Marillenkuchen (Apricot Cake)

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Apricots are in season and this is kind of a tradition. We make cake every year and my gran makes enough jam to last me the entire year. So much goodness.
So when I was about to bake Coconut Cupcakes today my mum just raised an eyebrow at me and then nodded to the entire bucket full of apricots that was standing in the middle of our kitchen. Point taken, thank you very much.
This is the first recipe I found and one of the quickest, easiest recipes for dough I’ve ever made. Seriously.

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Ingredients
200g butter (unsalted)
200g powdered sugar
200g all purpose flour
4 eggs
1 packet vanilla sugar
1 pinch of baking powder
300g apricots (pitted)

Butter to grease the form (or baking paper, if you prefer).

What to do
Melt the butter, let it cool for a while then mix with powdered sugar until smooth and white. Carefully add the eggs and vanilla sugar. Mix and then slowly add the flour and baking powder.
Pour the batter into a greased form (about as thick as one of your fingers) and put the sliced apricots on top.
Bake at 150°C until a skewer comes out clean.

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Gebackene Apfelspalten

Baked Applerings:
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I’m on a roll here with recipes of typical Viennese/Austrian desserts. I hope I don’t bore you all too much, but these recipes are all just so easy and so tasty.
This recipe for example is something I grew up with. It’s something my great grandmother used to make for me often (she also baked elderflowers, which smell great but taste… like not much to be honest). Anyways, it’s also something I regularly ate at school for lunch, but never really made myself – until last night. I was pleasantly suprised by how easy, quick and well these turned out!

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Ingredients:

3-4 eggs
120g flour
1/4l milk
ca. 6 apples
some rum and lemon juice
a pinch of salt
some butter for the pan

Additional you might want to get some ice cream (vanilla usually, but I’ve also had it with cinnamon, walnut or pistacchio ice cream), or cinnamon sugar. I also reccomend you drink a glass of milk with it.

What to do:
Mix the eggs, flour, salt and milk until you have a smooth batter. I haven’t posted a recipe for Palatschinken (typical Austrian pancakes) yet, but this batter should be a bit thicker than that one as it has to stick to the apples.

Peel the apples and remove the core. Cut into rings and let them soak in the rum-lemon juice mixture. Dip them in the batter and bake until golden brown.

Serve with powder sugar or cinnamon sugar, top off with ice cream of your choice. That’s it.

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