It's always during the holidays when we get to eat the most amazing food of the year, and of course when we have no limits while doing it. We all feel a little bit 'guilty' when January comes to our door and we want to fulfill these bunch of 'new resolutions' and start the new year with a 'new me'.

But let's face it, eating healthy doesn't always mean starving and limiting ourselves to a short list of vegetables. It's more about being intelligent on choosing fresh and good ingredients and being creative with new recipes.

Pizza. Everybody loves pizza, and if not, they're not human. Yes, there's a way you can eat pizza that's healthy, easy and without giving up the delicious flavor. Here I present you: Zucchini Crust Pizza!


You'll start by shredding your fresh zucchinis. Make sure you get all the water out of them, or you'll end up with a very soft and soggy crust. I used a strainer for that.

Add the shredded zucchini into a bowl with the egg and the cheese.

Mix with a spatula until combined. I kept it simple and seasoned my 'dough' with some salt and black pepper, but you can use your favorite spices.

Transfer your mix into a baking sheet and with the help of your hands, form a flat circle, about 0.5 to 1 cm thick. Remember the crust won't rise because we're not using any flour or baking powder, so have in mind the thickness of your pizza will stay pretty much the same. I recommend you to make it as thin as possible, so you can get a crunchier crust.

You want to pre-cook your crust so it's easier to put the ingredients on top and to give it more time to get crunchier. By the second time the pizza enters the oven, the edges will brown and the texture will be richer and not so soft. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until edges start to get barely golden.

Now it's time to add your favorite toppings! I started by a generous layer of marinara sauce (I made it myself, but you can use your favorite brand), then added some mozzarella cheese and topped it with crunchy veggies. I added some oregano and black pepper for more flavor.

Bake it for about 10 to 15 minutes or until edges are slightlty brown and the cheese is bubbly. I finished my pizza with some fresh arugula and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!


ZUCCHINI CRUST PIZZA

 Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 small pizza

For the Crust

2  medium zucchinis
1  egg
2 tbsp  Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp  Mozzarella cheese
Salt
Black Pepper

For the Toppings

Marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Vegetables of your choice
*You can also add meat
Seasoning or spices you like

Preparation:

1. Shred the zucchinis and using a strainer, get all the water out of them. 
2. Add the shredded zucchini to a bowl, together with the egg and cheeses. Season to taste.
3. On a baking sheet, start forming a flat circle with the mix, about 0.5 cm thick.
4. Bake crust for about 10 to 15 minutes at 185ºC or until edges start to brown.
5. Top crust with a generous layer of marinara sauce, then cheese and your favorite toppings. Don't forget to season at this point.
6. Bake pizza for about 10 to 15 minutes at 185ºC or until edges are golden brown and the cheese starts to bubble.
7. Top with fresh arugula, spinach or fresh greens and a drizzle of olive oil.
8. Enjoy!


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?

-Mariana.




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