Christkindl Market’s Bavarian Style Pecans

Today was a fun day where I checked out the Chicago holiday happenings downtown. Every year the Christkindl Market sets up shop near the city center and brings in a taste of Germany to Chicago. There is so much to see, smell, taste, hear… it’s almost like walking around in a European city during the holidays.

Visitors from all over the world come to the Christkindlmarket Chicago annually and the numbers continue to grow every year. It is so popular and loved by all that any Chicagoan will tell you that they could not imagine the city without it. It is no longer just a German tradition – it has become a Chicago institution. ~ Christkindl website

One of the main smells of the market were of cinnamon glazed nuts. There were several kinds of nuts available and it seemed as though everyone around me had some to snack on as they walked through the market. Once I got home, I was inspired to make some. The recipe that inspired me was from here. I adapted it to give it some more flavor using Pumpkin Pie spice to make it as close to the Bavarian Style pecans and they came out just as good as the ones in the Market!

Bavarian Style Cinnamon Pecans
original Joelen recipe

2 egg whites
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or extract)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecans halves, divided
2 quart sized resealable bags

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the egg whites, vanilla and water. Whisk until frothy and place in 1 resealable bag.

In the other resealable bag, combine the sugars, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Mix thoroughly to fully combine.

Place 1 cup of pecans in the egg white mixture. Seal bag and toss to coat. Remove only pecan halves and place in a medium bowl. Be sure to keep any remaining egg white in the bag.

Coat the remaining pecans with the egg white mixture in the sealable bag and set aside in the bowl.

Place 1 cup of the egg white coated pecans in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Seal bag and toss to coat. Remove pecan halves and place in a medium bowl. Be sure to keep any remaining sugar in the bag.

Coat the remaining pecans with the cinnamon sugar mixture in the resealable bag and set aside in the bowl.

Pour any remaining cinnamon sugar mixture from the resealable bag into the bowl of nuts.
Stir all the nuts once more in the bowl to thoroughly coat.

Place coated pecans on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour – stirring every 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.


Here are some pictures from the Christkindl Market…

So many trinkets!

Here’s where you can get some authentic Beer Steins!

Gifts all made with honey…
Russian & Ukranian gifts & ornaments…
I don’t think I’ve seen so many ornaments in one booth!

Ahh… lots and lots of German sausages…

A very cold Russian vendor with his Babushka Dolls…
Any one need a Nutcracker?

Interesting candy treat… a Marzipan Pig complete with a candy man riding it?
Creepy Witch Castle (Hansel & Gretel scene)…

Mmm.. Chocolate Clogs!
Truffles are a weakness of mine…

Warm Pineapple Brie & Crackers

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. This is not only an appetizer that’s easy to prepare but elegant too! I chose to add this to my Floribbean menu because I’m a fan of cheese and crackers. Brie is one cheese that seems to be a great crowd pleaser and one you can serve as either sweet or savory. Pineapple salsa is something that reminds me of Florida so pairing that with cheese sounded like a great idea!

Warm Pineapple Brie & Crackers
original Joelen recipe

1 large round of brie
1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained & smashed
1/2 cup finely diced tomatoes
1 handful chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely diced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice brie round in half, horizontally and place on a foil lined baking pan.
Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl until fully incorporated.
Spread half of the mixture on top of one half of the brie.
Top with the second half of brie.
Spread the remaining mixture over the second half of brie.
Bake in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes until warmed through.
Serve with crackers or crostini.

Aloha BBQ Chicken Pizza Squares

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. This is a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time. I’ve seen different variations of BBQ chicken pizza in restaurants and this was a way for me to incorporate the trend in my menu with a tropical spin…

Aloha Pizza
recipe adapted from Pampered Chef

2 packages refrigerated croissant dough
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup BBQ sauce, divided
2 cups (8 oz) shredded colby jack cheese
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, drained
handful finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup finely diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll both packages of dough side by side over bottom of a cookie sheet to cover. Bake 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown; remove from oven.

Spread half of the bbq sauce over hot crust. Sprinkle with chicken, crushed pineapple and cheese over crust. Bake in oven until cheese is melted.

Remove from oven and garnish with fresh cilantro and diced tomatoes.

Shrimp Ceviche

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. Seafood is definitely evident in Floribbean foods and shrimp needed to be included in my menu. I love how easy ceviche is to make and how refreshing it is to eat without being heavy. This was a great recipe that helps me forget about the harsh Chicago winters!

Shrimp Ceviche
served with tortilla chips
recipe adapted from
SimplyRecipes.com

1 pound medium-small raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp salt
3/4 cup lime juice (juice from 4-6 limes)
3/4 cup lemon juice (juice from 2-3 lemons)
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1-2 jalapenoes, ribs and seeds removed, minced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cucumber, peeled finely diced
2-3 roma tomatoes, finely diced

1-2 avocadoes, finely diced

In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of water, salted with 2 Tbsp salt. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute to 2 minutes max, depending on size of shrimp. (Over-cooking the shrimp will turn it rubbery.) Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Drain the shrimp. Cut each piece of shrimp in half, or into inch-long pieces. Place shrimp in a glass or ceramic bowl. Mix in the lime and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour.

Mix in the chopped red onion, jalapenoes & tomatoes. Refrigerate an additional half hour.

Right before serving, add the cilantro, cucumber & avocado. Toss to combine and serve as is, with chips or on top of tostadas.

Holiday Chicken & Gorgonzola Pizza Squares

I prepared this for my annual Holiday Cookie Swap this year. It was a hit and so easy to make!

Holiday Chicken & Gorgonzola Pizza Squares
original Joelen recipe

1 ball of prepared (or homemade) pizza dough
1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
chives, chopped for garnish
salt & pepper to taste

– Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
– Stretch out your pizza dough to loosen it up and make it easier to work with. Sometimes using gravity to help stretch it out helps!
– Press your pizza dough onto your pizza or baking sheet.
– Bake your pizza dough until lightly browned and crisp on the bottom, roughly 12-14 minutes.
– Remove crust from the oven and top with the chicken, cranberries, sliced red onions and gorgonzola cheese.
– Place back in oven and heat until cheese melts.
– To serve, garnish with chopped chives.

Apple, Brie & Caramelized Onion Pizza

I prepared this for my annual Holiday Cookie Swap this year. It was a hit and so easy to make!

Apple, Brie & French Fried Onion Pizza
original Joelen recipe

1 ball of prepared (or homemade) pizza dough
1 wedge or log of brie cheese, sliced
1-2 apples, finely minced
1 cup french fried onions
chives, chopped for garnish
salt & pepper to taste

– Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
– Stretch out your pizza dough to loosen it up and make it easier to work with. Sometimes using gravity to help stretch it out helps!
– Press your pizza dough onto your pizza or baking sheet.
– Bake your pizza dough until lightly browned and crisp on the bottom, roughly 12-14 minutes.
– Remove crust from the oven and top with slices of brie with the rind removed.
– Top with the french fried onions.
– Sprinkle with minced apples.
– Place back in oven and heat until cheese melts.
– To serve, garnish with chopped chives.

Layered Jalapeno Dip

I love snack food and this is an easy one to prepare especially for parties. I served this up for my annual Holiday Cookie Swap this year…

Layered Jalapeno Dip
original Joelen recipe

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
2 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained & chopped
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 cup prepared guacamole
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/4 cup sliced black olives (optional)
1 tomato finely diced
sliced green onions for garnish
tortilla chips

Combine the first 5 ingredients above and mix thoroughly.
Spread this mixture at the bottom of a pie plate.
Top with a layer of guacamole.
Sprinkle with a layer of remaining Mexican cheese blend.
Sprinkle sliced black olives, chopped tomatoes and sliced green onions.
Serve with tortilla chips.

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted

1 10oz package frozen spinach, defrosted
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
garlic powder
onion powder
1 brick cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup italian cheese blend

Combine all the ingredients above and mix thoroughly.
Place in baking dish and bake for 20-23 minutes until warmed and bubbly OR place in mini crockpot to keep warm.
** I made this a day in advance and replenished my mini crockpot as needed.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip
adapted from THIS recipe

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
2 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained & chopped
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
chives for garnish

Combine all the ingredients above except for chives and mix thoroughly.
Place in baking dish and bake for 20-23 minutes until warmed and bubbly OR place in mini crockpot to keep warm.
Garnish with chives.
** I made this a day in advance and replenished my mini crockpot as needed.

Baked Buffalo Wings

Baked Buffalo Wings platter
served with ranch & blue cheese dressings,
baby carrots & celery sticks
5 lbs chicken drummettes

salt & pepper to taste
garlic powder
onion powder
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce

Preheat oven to 375.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Place chicken wings on baking sheet in a single layer.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, & onion powder – toss to coat.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Remove chicken from oven after 30 minutes and set aside. Do not turn oven off!
In a large bowl, add melted butter and hot sauce; stir to combine.
Add chicken to butter/hot sauce mixture and toss to coat.
Clean baking sheet and line with new sheet of foil.
Place coated chicken on baking sheet and bake in hot oven for 10 minutes.**
To serve, plate on serving platter. Spoon on an remaining juices/sauce from the baking pan over the chicken wings.
To accompany the wings, serve with blue cheese and/0r ranch dressing and celery sticks & carrots.

** To make ahead, prepare as directed above, until the second baking. You can make this in advance and keep warm in a 250 degree oven an hour prior to serving in place of baking the second time for 10 minutes.