Christmas Eve in Bogotá

JW Marriott Xmas Tree

Christmas is usually celebrated on Christmas Eve in Colombia. It is recognized by many that Jesus was born at midnight so families go out to dinner or gather with family in the evening and start toasting (Christmas, birth of Jesus) around 11pm.

We started our Christmas celebration in the afternoon at my birth family’s house. Traffic in Bogotá is notoriously bad and Christmas Eve is no exception. It took us over an hour to get there but we had fun people watching and checking out the activity on the street along the way.

Bogotá Traffic Xmas Eve

Bogotá Fish in Trunk

One of the Colombian dishes I have been wanting to try is ajiaco. It’s a thick soup that involves some of my favorite foods: potatoes (3 types of Andean), chicken, sour cream, avocado and a corn called Cuzco. The soup is also made with a herb called guascas. Colombian comfort food at its finest and homemade at that. Continue reading

Beautiful Chaos in Bogotá Day 2

Red House Candelaria Blur

Bogotá has its own set of rules. Figuring out these rules is part of the adventure when traveling. Bogotá can make you feel like you have to earn your place but there is a sense of mutual respect once you prove you can mange it. It is then you can concentrate on the magic that is discovered on the side streets and in the faces of the Bogotanos.

If you let the chaos get in your way you miss the beauty. Traffic is bad, like takes 2 hours to get across town in rush hour bad. And let’s not talk about the pollution. But Continue reading

It’s Here! The Best Foodie Gift Guide via Chicago Food Bloggers!

Chicago Food Bloggers Gift Guide Cover

It’s here!

Check out the Chicago Food Bloggers holiday gift guide for the foodie in your life or to give yourself some items for your own holiday list. 100 pages full of treats, kitchenware, gadgets and many items from local Chicago shops. This is *the* foodie Holiday Gift Guide.

Including 4 of my holiday picks! Happy Holidays!

Chicago Food Bloggers Gift Guide Truffle Salt Chicago Food Bloggers Gift Guide Mouth.com Chicago Food Bloggers Gift Guide Tartella Chicago Food Bloggers Gift Guide Flavor Bible

It’s Christmas Market Time in Hamburg & Erfurt, Germany

Hamburg Town Hall Christmas Market People

Christmas markets, known as Christkindlmarkt and Weihnachtsmarkt, have been held in Germany since the mid 1400s and are very popular today. Millions of people visit the markets throughout Germany to celebrate Advent and spend time with family and friends. My first Chistkindlmarkt was in Chicago in Daley Plaza and I loved it. I had heard stories of how beautiful and grand the markets are in Germany so was very excited to attend a genuine Christmas market in two different cities, Hamburg and Erfurt.

Hamburg Town Hall Christmas Market

The Christmas market in the Rathausmarkt, the Town Hall Square, is considered one of Hamburg’s best markets. It’s easy to see why Germans love to go to these markets again and again throughout the holiday season. The atmosphere is so festive with lights, a colorful carousel for the kids, hand crafted goods and of course the Glühwein (mulled wine) and food!

It can get cold standing outside so the warm mulled wine called Glühwein is not only tasty but serves a purpose by keeping you warm. It tastes like Christmas. Don’t worry about going hungry because Continue reading

Chocolate and Peppermint Candy Ice Cream Sandwiches

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This is my first time making ice cream sandwiches and I’m happy to report this is an easy and delicious recipe that is perfect for the winter/holidays. Don’t let “homemade” scare you off, there are only four ingredients:

1 pint premium vanilla ice cream, 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract, 1 cup finely crushed peppermint hard candies, and chocolate wafers.

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwiches Ingredients

Mix the first three ingredients together by crushing the peppermint candies and mixing 1/2 cup of them with softened ice cream and extract. Make sure you do not use more than 1/4 teaspoon per pint.

Peppermint Extract

Initially I tried to crush the candies by putting them in a ziplock bag and using the end of a rolling-pin. This will work but it will take a lot of time.

Crushing Peppermint Candies

Then I wised up and just threw them all in the blender and it took less than a 3 seconds.

Peppermints In Blender

See…crushed perfectly. Although it looks better to have bigger chunks of the peppermint candy it does make it hard to eat as the chunks can get chewy.

Crushed Peppermint Candies

Make sure the ice cream is slightly softened to make the mixing easier. I let mine get a bit too soft.

Mixing Ice Cream Peppermint Candies

Then scoop it back into the pint container and let it harden for about an hour or so in the freezer.

Peppermint Pint

The recipe says to work quickly when scooping the ice cream on each wafer, topping with another wafer and then wrapping in plastic wrap and freezing until firm.  I do not work quickly in the kitchen and given my relationship with plastic wrap I thought it would be a good idea to rip off the wrap for each cookie ahead of time.

Plastic Wrap

The recipe calls for using 1/4-cup ice cream scoop. However, I found this way too big for the wafer size and used a large spoon instead. This way you can also get a lot more sandwiches.

Open Face Peppermint Sandwich

Peppermint Sandwich

To help keep it cold I put the pint of ice cream back into the freezer every time I wrapped up each cookie. Then would take out the pint as I was putting in the wrapped sandwich.

Choco Peppermint Ice Cream Freezer

The sandwiches should stay in the freezer for about an hour. Then take them out, unwrap and roll in the crushed candy. Of note, the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of crushed candy for rolling but I did not even come close to using this amount. I definitely used 1/2 cup to mix in the ice cream.

Choco Peppermint Rolling Edges

Wrap them back up and put in the freezer at least an hour or until ready to serve. Voilà, you have just created deliciousness to share with lucky friends and family.

Chocolate Peppermint Candy Ice Cream Sandwiches Final

I will say that if you let the ice cream get too soft it will be a messy experience. When I make these again I will not let the ice cream get as soft and I will wrap the individual sandwiches very tightly so none of the ice cream seeps out of the sides and under the wrap. But even if you make a mess, it really doesn’t matter because these are so good no one will notice.

Original recipe is from Epicurious and can be found, here.

Get in the Holiday Spirit at Christkindlmarket Chicago – Daley Plaza

If you:

-Need help getting into the holiday spirit

-Still need to get some Christmas gifts

-Are hungry for some meat

-Are thirsty for some Glühwein

Then head down to Daley Plaza for the Christkindlmarket.

The first thing I do when I am there is head to the Glühwein line. Depending on the time and day it can be long so by the time you order you might be a bit cold and ready for a warm drink.

The mulled wine comes in a souvenir boot you can get refilled and take home.

Next is the food line. I’ve been to the market more than a few times so have had the pretzel (comes in about 6 types), potato pancakes, brat, Thueringer, snowballs and curry sausage. All was good and pretty authentic, although any German will tell you, not so cheap. But hey, you are here for the novelty and entertainment.

If you have a sweet tooth there is a whole shop where you can buy kettle corn, cotton candy, gingerbread, roasted nuts and much more. Now that you have stocked up on all of the essentials you can peruse the many shops for your holiday gifts.

If you get cold there is a warming tent with tables to take a break. They have a live band at night and the sing-a-long participation is directly correlated to the Glühwein intake.

Great place to bring kids during the day with educational activities offered, check the website for event calendar. It does crowded at night but if you don’t mind a crowd it is a fun party. Usually Mondays are the least crowded. The market ends on December 24th so just under a week left to go. Prost!

Some history from the Christkindlmarket Chicago website:

Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which began in 1545, the Christkindlmarket Chicago brings a cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm to Chicago. Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas festival was first held on Pioneer Court in 1996. By special invitation of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a stable event on the plaza ever since.