The Holidays

Happy 2015 everyone! I hope you accomplish all of your goals and dreams, I wish you happiness, health and success. Just the very best for this new year that has just started.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and no it's not because of the presents or the christmas cookies and sweets (well, maybe that has something to do). For me personally this day has a very special religious meaning, but it also reminds me of my family and the beautiful time we have together.

When I used to live in México, my family always celebrated Christmas in a big way. We had parties and my house couldn't get enough Christmas decorations.. It was all just surrounded with the Christmas spirit and it still is. You'll have to forgive me for the regular quality pictures, but these all are a collection I made, asking family and friends for the pictures they took, plus mine and it ended up like this. Anyway, I just want to give you the idea of how we celebrated these holidays and most important, the food we ate ;)

So here's how my mom decorated their Christmas tree this year. As always, just very bright, colorful and saturated with colorful decorations. This tree brings me always beautiful memories and makes me kind of want to be there now.

Then, my mom arranged these beautiful Christmas socks for us around the fireplace. She made sure there was one for each member of the family. So sweet!!

And here's a close-up of mine. Isn't that cute?

Sadly, this year was not possible for me to celebrate together with my family in México, but because I'm so lucky to have 2 great families, I was able to spend these beautiful days with my german one. We made an amazing party with family and friends, ate delicious food and had an incredible time together.

I live in the city of Cologne (Köln), where the beautiful Cathedral is (Kölner Dom) and of course you can imagine how beautiful the city looked, all decorated and lighted up... And silly me not taking pictures of it (I guess I was too excited with the season that I forgot about it.. yeah)... The only thing I had was this shoot of a beautiful big Christmas tree located on the main shopping streets.

And what to say about the Christmas markets... So beautiful. Here the one in Ratingen, when I was visiting a friend. There you can find typical german food like Bratwurst and of course Glüwein, which is hot wine with some other spices.

And of course the city dressed up with beautiful white snow. It was my first snow since I live here. It was not much but beautiful, and I was so excited!

Holiday Breakfasts were typical for our cold Sundays. Like this delicious French Toast with homemade Raspberry Sauce.

Me and my mother in law made some Christmas cookies, like every Christmas. These are called Spritzgebäck, which are like paste cookies with a hint of butter. Mmmm...

Here's our fancy version with dark chocolate:

And of course the Vanillekipferl, which are sugar cookies made with grounded almonds and dusted with vanilla sugar.

I wanted to make some little Christmas treats for friends and family, so what's better than selfmade gifts? I thought I'd give it a try to these Brownies topped with chocolate and caramel with nuts.

And to these pralines, which I must say, it was the first time I made them. There were 3 types of pralines: Regular Cocoa, White Chocolate-Raspberry and Dark Chocolate with Mint Ganache.

The 24th we celebrated at my parents in law. We even had a Christmas dinner menu:

We ate some Foie gras, which is a french delicacy made of fattened goose liver. I'm not the biggest fan of it, also because I find really cruel the process that it takes to make it, and I personally think the flavor is too strong, but it's always nice to eat it once in a while, especially for a very important ocassion like Christmas. Foie gras is commonly eaten with Brioche and Apple Gelée.

I tried for the first time something called Pierogi Ruskie, which are like little dumplings filled with a potato-onion filling and boiled until cooked. Usually they're topped with melted butter and we added some Parmesan cheese and black pepper. This recipe was given to my mother in law by a woman from Poland, and since then is a favorite dish in my german family.

The Cheese Platter was amazing, just how it should be. There was a really mild cheese and a pretty strong one like Roquefort, some Soumaintrain and of course fresh and juicy grapes to go with.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my mother in law is a real chef. And no, she didn't studied it or made from it a career, but she's a 'natural'. The first time I met my parents in law, and tried my mother in law's food, I turned around to my now husband and said: "If you expect this type of gourmet food in our home as a daily basis, better stay with mom...That won't happen" haha Because really, she put for me the standards so high, that I couldn't ever compete with her. But anyway, my husband knows that I do what I can to 'feed him' in a pretty decent way :) 

Anyway, here's her Blueberry Parfait version (Gestrudeltes Heidelbeer Parfait). It's like a creamy vanilla-blueberry ice cream cake with some Cantuccini pieces (which is a Biscotti or italian almond cookies).

The 25th I said IT'S ON ME! So we celebrated in our home. Oh btw, here is how I dressed up our place with the Christmas spirit. This beautiful door ornament was made by a friend of my mother in law and I found it really sweet, it even has Bambi's mom on it!! :)

And here is our Christmas table. The tablecloth is made by my mother in law, of course ;)

At first I was a little bit nervous to cook kind of gourmet for several people, but then I just thought it's my family, so no worries, I should relax (which I didn't anyway). But I think it ended up pretty fine, the family really enjoyed my food and we had a beautiful evening. As a starter I made a Cream of Cauliflower, which is a creamy soup topped with a bacon remoulade and chives. But unfortunately I didn't take pictures of it. Which is why I'll go straight to the main course, which was a pork tenderloin in a dijon mustard sauce with creamy mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts and cipollini onions.

Here's a close-up of my roasted veggies. First I had to boil them for 3 minutes and seared them with butter on a pan. Then I finished by roasting them in the oven for several minutes until crispy and brown. I know you might think it's a long process just for some vegetables, but believe me, it's totally worth it.

I kept the dessert simple. I did a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and served it with berries ice cream and homemade raspberry sauce. Simple but it's always a guarantee. 

 We received this year at my in laws once again. Delicious food was not missing and we ate Neujahrsbrezel (New Year's Pretzel), that is a big and soft sweet pretzel typically eaten the last day of the year. So good!

And of course, we had some fireworks!! My husband and brother in law got pretty obsessed with them. They reminded me of little kids playing excited with their new toys they got for Christmas.

And last, but not least, I wanted to close the year baking, so I made these delicious Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting and created some chocolate 2015 plaquettes as decoration.

Perfect way to end up a year: Sweet! 

So this was how I celebrated my holidays, I hope you enjoyed this post, as well as the pictures. I want to wish you one more time a great year, full of blessings and success. 

How did you celebrate your holidays?


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  1. Liebe Mariana,
    was für ein schöner Post, aber bei meinen Kochkünsten hast du eindeutig geschummelt, ich koche genauso gut wie Laura und du, wir alle mögen leckeres Essen und geben jeden Tag unser Bestes - so auch in diesem Jahr!!! Küsschen von Martina

  2. Dear Mariana,
    How nice to read your post, I know about the cooking Qualities of Martina and the rest of the Family and can immagine the wonderful time you spent together. We had a family Meeting at the 24. which was very nice, all the family came to lunch at the 25. and New Years Eve we spent with Family and friends at our house, it was really nice -
    have a good start into 2015 and many greetings from Austria

  3. Liebe Mariana,
    das war ein schöner Bericht uns so viel Leckeres und feierlich Geschmücktes gab es zu sehen. Kochen soll keine Konkurrenz sein, aber ich kenne das, mein ältester Bruder kocht auch so fein.
    Ich hatte es dieses Jahr gut. Heiligabend habe ich gemütllich mit meinem Mann Raclette gegessen und am 1. Weihnachtstag hatte dieses Jahr mein Bruder eingeladen. Da waren wir auch eine große Familie, da ich ja 3 Brüder habe und alle waren mit Familie da waren. Das ist immer sehr schön.
    Liebe Grüße und noch viele gute Wünsche für das Neue Jahr

  4. Dear Mariana,

    loved to read your post, it seems it was great Christmas and New's Year! I wanted to eat everything, hahaha

    I also spend Christmas in Germany, with good food in the 24th, and presents. And then more food in the 26. Warm, and cozy, with a LOT of snow (I was in Bavaria).

    But New's Eve was warmer, in Lisboa, with brazilian friends. My country's food and Martini, and then fireworks in the city center. Calm, but really pretty city.

    Lots of kisses,

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