fairy french toast casserole


Hello all! I hope you’re enjoying your holidays!! Bernie and Nick and I are on our beautiful Italian fake-cation and I left my computer behind! But I wanted to leave you with this fairy bread-inspired overnight baked french toast because I cannot imagine a better New Year’s brunch dish. Can you??? It’s as if the Times Square ball dropped and instead of confetti, sprinkles poured out, and luckily we were standing there with a casserole of bread sandwiched with almond paste. (You are all hip to fairy bread, right? The Australian delight that consists of buttered bread and sprinkles?!! If not, get on it!!)

fairy french toast casserole

serves 4-6


¼ c unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted 

¾ c sugar

1 loaf challah or french bread, cut into 1-inch slices

6 oz almond paste, grated on the big holes of a box grater (or if it’s too soft to grate you can tear it into little tiny pieces)

8 large eggs

1 c milk (whole, 2%, or dairy-free)

1 tb vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

½ tsp kosher salt 

Zest of 1 lemon

½ c sliced almonds

TONSSSSS of Rainbow sprinkles*

*make sure they’re rainbow sprinkles you really like the taste of. the sprinkles in this photo are a mix of india tree’s nature’s colors sprinkles and good old wilton nonpareils. 


Pour the butter or oil into a 9x13 casserole dish and swirl it around to coat evenly. Sprinkle on the sugar. Arrange half of the bread in the baking dish, overlapping if necessary, and sprinkle on the almond paste. Arrange the remaining bread on top.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and lemon zest and pour evenly over the bread slices. Sprinkle the almonds all over the top.

Cover and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºf.

Bake uncovered until browned on top and set throughout; begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes. If the top starts browning too much, tent it with foil.

Remove casserole from oven and take no prisoners while you cover it completely with sprinkles. Enjoy!!

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photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

birthday battenberg


hello, hi! how are you doing? are you enjoying this weather? can you believe that it is... summer kind of?? bernie and i have been lapping up the sun like thirsty puppies. nearly every afternoon, we pack a little bag of water, bamba or freeze-dried berries, sunscreen, books, and toys, and bring it out to a blanket on our lawn where we bask and play and listen to the sound of music. sometimes my phone doesn't get very good reception however so instead of julie andrews serenading us it becomes me squeaking out i-am-16-going-on-17-doo-doo-dee-doo-dee-doo because i don't know the words and the whole time i have to ignore the vision in my head of john mulaney doing the creepy version on SNL. it's really awful when we have to resort to me singing, i can’t wait for the future when cell phone reception is better. regardless, these pre-mosquito days are idyllic. bernie is in this painfully perfect sweet spot where she has learned not to put everything in her mouth (dirt, bugs, the cold noodles leftover in the grass from her sensory play weeks ago) and she can't yet walk or run very fast so i don't have to chase after her worried that she's going to run into the construction hole in our yard (more on that eventually…!). we can just sit contentedly on the blanket with crayons or balls for hours and i love it.

so that's what we did on my birthday last friday! nick was planting sugar beets and bernie and i spent the day outside. we blew up her new kiddie pool and tested out what it would be like to sit in it (it was still a little chilly for water) and zoomed with all of our people. we had homemade egg mcmuffins, as is tradition on my birthday, and sausagey pizza for dinner. after bernie went to bed, i zoom aperol spritz’d with rob and brian and then watched center stage. center stage is SO GOOD. 

for my birthday cake this year, i decided to make a battenberg cake! 1) because it’s been a long time since the last time i made a battenberg, 2) it's fun, and 3) it's a great cake for a tiny party of three because it's small yet festive. it also lasts for a good few days so you can chip away at it without feeling the rush to gobble it up, and the fact that it has no frosting gives it this sense of snackiness which lends a tiny bit more legitimacy to the urge you'll have when you’re passing through the kitchen and just want to shave off one bite. 


the cake itself is dense and delicious, with a hint of rose. as with most of my butter-based cakes, i added a little coconut oil to ensure that this cake has no choice but to be moist. you can use unrefined to add some coconut flavor, but i chose to go with refined so that it wouldn't interfere with the power couple of marzipan and rose. for the jam, i used an amazing strawberry rhubarb kumquat situation that my aunt gifted me from sqirl. design wise, my laziness to fully knead the food coloring into the marzipan made it look like my tie dye sweats that i wear every day so i just went with it! then i cut out marzipan "stickers" using tiny cookie cutters and smooshed them right on. 

my biggest battenberg tips are: roll the marzipan out on a silicone mat! you don’t get the scrunchy lines in it like you would if it was on parchment and you don't get it messy with powdered sugar (which is fine for the interior surface of the marzipan but on the outside it’s not a great look). also, let the cakes cool completely before trimming them so you can get the cleanest edges, and use a very sharp knife (i’ve been loving this knife for this). once the cakes are trimmed, you can definitely stick them in the freezer, wrapped in plastic, for up to a few weeks until you're ready to decorate (or up to a few months if you also wrap in foil). once you decorate, let the cake come to room temp before serving!

happy battenberg-ing, everyone!


Birthday Battenberg

Makes 1 loaf cake



2 2/3 c (347g) all-purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1 c (240g) heavy cream

1/4 c (60g) sour cream

3/4 c (169g) unsalted butter, softened

6 tb (75g) refined coconut oil

1 1/2 c (300g) sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp rosewater

3 tb (36g) rainbow sprinkles (classic cylinders are ideal, not nonpareils)

Pink food coloring


14 oz marzipan, plus more for decorations as desired

Food coloring

Powdered sugar, for dusting

6 tb (120g) jam


preheat the oven to 350ºf. turn an 8” square baking pan into a battenberg pan: first, fold a long piece of foil onto itself a couple of times to a create a foil barrier to divide your pan in half, making sure that the barrier is at least the height of the pan or even a little more. then spray the pan and each side of the foil with cooking spray (to help the parchment stick) and line each half of the pan with two overlapping pieces of parchment paper, one going widthwise and one going lengthwise, with enough parchment paper to come all the way up the sides and then some. get your scissors out and trim the parchment so that it lays nicely and doesn’t curl around the corners and make you go crazy. sorry, i know this is a lot of parchment paper (i reuse parchment all the time!). ok, set this aside.

in a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, and then lightly stir in the salt and set aside. in a large measuring cup, whisk together the heavy cream and sour cream and set aside. 

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together the butter, coconut oil, and sugar on medium high for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each and periodically scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. add the vanilla and rosewater and mix to combine. reduce the mixer to medium low and add the dry mixture and cream mixture in 3 alternating additions, mixing until 80% combined. divide the mixture in half. in the first half, fold in the sprinkles as you mix until the batter is combined. pour into one side of the pan and use a small offset spatula or a spoon to carefully spread it out evenly. in the second half of the batter, add a few drops of pink food coloring and fold it in as you mix until the batter is combined. pour into the other side of the pan and use a small offset spatula or a spoon to carefully spread it out evenly. bake until the tops of the cakes are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs on it; begin checking for doneness at 45 minutes. let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then use the parchment wings to left them out of the pans and onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

once the cakes are cooled, level them and trim off the sides if they're uneven. cut into 4 equal rectangles that are as wide as they are thick (measure the thickness of the cake once it’s leveled and then turn your ruler 90º to measure that same amount on top of the cake and score with an accordion pastry cutter). enjoy a bite of cake scraps and set these aside.

knead the marzipan with food coloring to get your desired color, dusting with powdered sugar if it gets too sticky. on a silicone mat (or a big piece of parchment or a counter dusted with powdered sugar, but i strongly recommend a silicone mat so that you don't get powdered sugar all over what will eventually become the outside surface of the marzipan) roll the marzipan out into a rectangle that's about 7 1/2” wide by about 13” long, dusting the top with powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking. trim the edges so they’re straight. brush all over with a thin layer of jam and place a rectangle of pink cake at one end. brush the exposed surfaces with a thin layer of jam. squish a rectangle of sprinkle cake right next to it and brush the exposed surfaces with a layer of jam. stack the other two rectangles of cake on top, brushing with jam, to form a checkerboard pattern. carefully roll it onto its side, pressing the marzipan all over so that it sticks, and then continue to roll until the cake is covered. trim off any excess marzipan, wrap in firmly plastic wrap and let set in the fridge for a couple of hours. decorated with additional marzipan decorations and sprinkles as desired. let come to room temperature and enjoy!

this cake will last at room temperature, wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container for up to a week.

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naturally colored rainbow cake + bernie is one!!


Bernie is ONE!! Yes, it went by so quickly! Yes, she gets more delicious every day!! Yes, I began planning her vegetable-themed birthday party more than six months ago and spent hours and hours searching for the perfect garlands and outfits, hand drawing her invitations, developing new recipes, sketching out her table scape, typewriter-ing the seed packet party favors, and scheduling the prep down to the minute. (And yes, in retrospect, I see what Nick meant when he said that I am… crazy…) And then yes, we had to cancel it ☹️! But!! Even though we missed our fronds and family dearly, it was truly a magical beautiful Bernie day and we loved every single moment of it. We had sprinkle pancakes and blueberries for breakfast, homemade chicken and stars soup for lunch, and turkey spinach meatballs with freshly made fettuccine for dinner. In between, we played in pools of Cheerios and visited the farm cats. And then we had cake! Obviously!


I am so pleased with how this naturally colored rainbow cake turned out. It took a bunch of experimenting and tweaking to get the shades to match and to figure out a method that wouldn’t require too much fussiness/juicing/boiling of beets/etc. I tried using turmeric but that was too bright, and I tried using a store-bought precooked beet but that wasn’t bright enough and just got messy. In the end, I went with a combination of store-bought carrot juice, store-bought beet juice, and a big bunch of fresh mint. The cake is based on my go-to vanilla butter cake that is so incredibly moist, dense, and delicious. It’s one of my proudest cakes! The flavor of the beets and the carrots is undetectable and the flavor of the fresh mint shines through just a wee bit, enough to lend its herby flavor but it’s far from overpowering. I went with a basic cream cheese frosting to add some nice tang and decorated with Fimo clay cake toppers.

For Bernie’s mini cake, I stacked up the scraps that I cut off from leveling the layers and cut out tiny layers with a biscuit cutter. No separate cake pans necessary. I was so excited when I realized this would work! The cake is so moist that the scrap layers stuck together without a need for frosting between them. Bernie loved it! I took enough photos of her eating it to break my phone and she didn’t even make a huge mess which makes me think that one day she’ll make a great cook that will be good at the whole clean-as-you-go thing. 


Weeks ago, I baked the cake layers, let them cool, formed Bernie’s mini cake, wrapped everything in plastic wrap and froze them so that I could have one more thing checked off my to-do list for the party. It also made frosting them, especially the mini cake, way way easier. I always like to frost frozen cakes (and then allow to sit at room temperature for a few hours or overnight before serving). 

Important note about the layers! This cake was originally supposed to be three layers (pink, yellow, and green) but I added a blue layer at the last minute because we were going to be expecting more guests than my usual three-layer cake serves and also because I needed to test two of the layers again so figured I’d experiment with a blue layer for the third. The blue layer is not a part of the recipe below but if you’d like to make a blue layer, simply use the same method as the green layer but sub out the mint for wild blueberries (I used frozen). You’ll have to either add another third batch of batter (using a scale and weighted measurements will help with this and ugh sorry about the 1/3 of an egg thing!) or replace one of the other colors with the blue. I’m sorry for any confusion that this causes!!

Naturally Colored Rainbow Cake

Makes one 3-layer 8” cake (and a mini cake!)


3 1/2 c (450g) all-purpose flour

1 tb baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 c (112g) refined coconut oil, room temperature

2 1/4 c (450g) sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tb vanilla bean paste or extract

1/2 c (120g) sour cream, room temperature

1 c (236g) whole milk, divided

1/4 c carrot juice

1/4 c beet juice (storebought is fine, the one I get has a little lemon juice added and that’s ok)

1/4 c firmly packed fresh mint leaves


1 c** (225g) good quality unsalted butter, room temperature

8 oz (224g) cream cheese, room temperature

4 c** (480g) powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

3 tb** (45g) heavy cream

**if you’re making a mini cake, I recommend adding another 1/2 c of butter, 1 c of sugar, and 1 tb of heavy cream to the frosting in order to have enough!


To make the cake layers: preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line the bottoms of three 8” cake pans with parchment and set aside. (For a 4-layer cake, which is the one on the pictures, please see my note above!)

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, and then lightly stir in the salt and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, coconut oil, and sugar on medium high for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Reduce the mixer to low and add the vanilla and sour cream. Gradually add the dry mixture and mix until about 80% combined (you’re going to continue to mix once you add the coloring so only partially mixing at this stage prevents over mixing the batter). Divide the batter evenly into 3 bowls (using a scale helps with this!). In the first bowl, add 1/4 cup of milk and the carrot juice and fold together until smooth and just combined. In the second bowl, add 1/4 cup of milk and the beet juice and fold together until smooth and just combined. In a blender, blend together the mint leaves with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk until very smooth. Add this to the third bowl and fold together until smooth and just combined. Transfer the batters to the cake pans and spread them out evenly. 

Bake until the edges of the cakes are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs on it; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes and try your darnedest not to let it over bake. Let in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the buttercream: 

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, and then mix in the salt, vanilla, and heavy cream. Mix until creamy.

To frost the cake, level the top of the layers and then stack them up with a layer of frosting in between. (The cakes bake up generally pretty flat so there won’t actually be that much to level off.) Frost all over and decorate as desired.

To make a mini cake, stack the leveled scraps of cake up, give them a good firm pat so they stick, and cut out four 2 1/2 inch circles with a biscuit cutter. Don’t worry if some of the scraps tear, the cake is moist enough that when you stack up the scraps, they’ll all smoosh together. Stack them on top of each other and, if you have the time, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for a few hours or even a few weeks. This will make frosting this tiny cake way easier! Frost while frozen and let come to room temp before serving.

This cake is super moist that you could definitely decorate the day before serving. Let it sit at room temperature overnight.

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valentine’s day almond cake


Holy guacamole snowstorm almond paste, where did January and the better part of February go?? It seems like just yesterday that I was rolling around with Bernie under the Chrismukkah bush and staring down my kransekake asking what am I going to do with you? (Oh wait, that definitely was yesterday because a) we still have the bush up and b) nobody ate my kransekake and it’s still in our pantry/prop/piano room looking as handsome as ever.) My point is that wow time flies when you’re belting Sesame Street and braving the snowstorm to go to library story time. I’m so sorry I haven’t written to you in forever!!! Are we still fronds? Are we fronds on Instagram?? I find it’s much more manageable these days to document directly from my phone during nap time and in between readings of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs rather than opening up my computer for a longer form blog post. So for the time being, let’s just hover between Instagram and a less frequent but not totally infrequent blog post correspondence, ok??? Navigating the internet and balancing time with Bernie and other projects is hard! But I love them all so I promise to blog as often as I can!

Let me ketchup on what we’ve been doing this winter!

IMG_0803 2.JPG

We’ve been snowshoeing in the yard, finger painting, tasting the finger paint, cheering on Jason Brown’s quad, screaming for Mariah Bell’s nationals moment, testing Girl Meets Farm season 6 enchiladas again and again, avoiding the flu, going to the spa in Winnipeg, and scrubbing oatmeal off of a high chair three times a day every single day. We’ve reached peak coziness on the couch, taken swim lessons, and zipped down to Arizona to see the sun. We’ve eaten plenty of pot pies and kept up our pizza Friday habit, and Bernie’s had her first boureka, hawaij, harissa, and bamba. Next week we’ll get another little dose of sun in South Beach and then before we know it, we’ll be filming again and then after that it’s spring planting! Ugh I love winter so much. How have you been? Are you staying warm? Ready for the spring??


On to the cake. It is time for Bernie’s very first annual Valentine’s Day almond cake and oh my good gosh geez, I’ve been dreaming of this moment for so very long. As you know, I make this same exact cake every single year for Valentine’s Day and have way too much fun thinking of different ways to decorate it. The cake itself is a light spongey almond cake with fluffy whipped cream and it’s so good and not too rich. (See below for links to the cakes I’ve made every year since the start of this blog.) This year I spent a really long time brainstorming ways for Bernie to help decorate, taking into account the fact that most Valentine’s candies are choking hazards and all she wants to do is put everything into her mouth. So inspired by a painting method that Hayley, the art director for Girl Meets Farm, did with Bernie to make paintings for our refrigerator, I taped a bag of melted (and mostly cooled) chocolate to her high chair tray and let her mush it around. She loves squishing things!! When she was done with her masterpiece, we put the bag in the freezer (carefully, to maintain Bernie’s artistic vision) and when the chocolate firmed up, we used it as the decorations on the cake!


This is by far my favorite Valentine’s Day cake of all time. I’m so stinkin excited to eat it. We’re going to have it with heart shaped pizza and it’s gonna be the best!!! Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!!

(And you can see all of my past valentine’s cakes here! 2019 / 2018 / 2017 / 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011 / 2010)

valentine's day almond cake

serves 10-12



1/2 c (64g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

8 oz almond paste

6 large eggs, separated

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 c (100g) sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

whipped cream:

1 1/2 c (360g) heavy whipping cream

1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar

1 tsp almond extract

pink food coloring (the food coloring in the photo is americolor’s mauve colored gel), optional


sprinkles of all sorts


preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottom of a 9” springform pan and set aside.

in a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks and then gradually beat in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. continue beating to stiff peaks and then set aside.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (i usually just scoop the whites out of the bowl and transfer them to a separate bowl and then reuse my stand mixer bowl without having to wash it for this step), combine the almond paste and egg yolks and beat on high for 2 minutes until pale and fluffy (but allow some almond paste chunks to remain in tact), scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. mix in the vanilla and almond extract. gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then fold in the flour mixture. pour the batter into the pan and then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove to the rack to cool fully.

to make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and almond extract to stiff peaks. add a few drops of pink food coloring if desired.

spread the whipped cream on top of the cake. decorate with chocolate and/or sprinkles as desired and enjoy!!

store leftovers in the fridge for up to a few days.

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a chrismukkah kransekake


Around here, it just isn’t the holidays if, after being buried under a mountain of cookies all month, I don’t then emerge to make a holiday cake. It usually has marzipan or a storm of coconut snow or some type of gingerbread house-inspired element, and it’s typically my contribution to Nick’s extended family’s holiday party. This year I decided that it was time to tackle the magical Kransekake!

Kransekake is a Norwegian and Danish cake that’s traditional to have at big celebrations like weddings, Christmas celebrations, and Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day). In my eyes it’s the centerpiece of the celebration. It presides over the party. Whenever I’m in the room with one I just gaze at it with heart eyes because it’s so stunning and geometrically pleasing. The circles stacked up look so clean and pretty and I just always assumed that it would be extremely complicated and time consuming to make. So I started my research months ago and tapped friends and family for their recipes and tips. I learned of secret almond paste sources and admired Erin’s gingerbread version and got the story from Chantell and Brett on the wedding tradition of pulling off the top ring to see how many other rings stick to it and that symbolizes how many children you’ll have (!!!) Hah. I love it. 

Probably my favorite thing that I learned was [whispers] that it’s actually easy to make. It may look delicate and time consuming, but in reality it’s quite sturdy and pretty difficult to screw up. The dough is easy to work with and there’s no gluten in it so you don’t have to worry about overworking it. The only thing that requires pre-planning is ordering the molds on Amazon. Past that, you don’t need a stand mixer or fancy ingredients or days and days of time. With good time management, you can crank one out in a day. 

Also!!!! It’s so tasty!!! It’s basically baked marzipan. Crisp on the outside, super chewy on the inside, it bursts with almond flavor, and it also kinda lasts forever so you can totally make it far in advance. I can’t sing enough praises about Kransekake. It’s officially my favorite Norwegian thing since Bernie. 

My version is a Chrismukkah Kransekake. It’s decorated with a paper chain that’s a miniature version of the rainbow felt chain that Nick and I made years ago for our Chrismukkah bush. (It’s rainbow because rather than going with a red/green Christmas theme or a blue/white Hanukkah theme, we just went with all of the colors!) It’s a pretty standard Kransekake recipe that I’ve embellished slightly with rosewater or orange blossom (both go so well with almond) and I like to grease the pans with coconut oil for a hint of coconut flavor. You could always go with butter though.

So if you’re looking to impress all of your fronds with a holiday party centerpiece that’s less labor intensive than a gingerbread house (and, well, much tastier), make this!!!! 


Makes 1 large Kransekake


500g (4 c + 7 tb) almond meal, plus more for dusting

500g (4 c + 3 tb) powdered sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

4 large egg whites

1 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp orange blossom water or rosewater, optional

Softened butter or coconut oil, for greasing

For assembly

Royal icing (I just bought meringue powder from my local grocery and followed the recipe on the back!)

Sprinkles, paper chains, flags, any other fun decor!


In a large bowl, whisk together the almond meal, powdered sugar, and salt. Add the egg whites, almond extract, and orange blossom water or rosewater (if using) and stir with a spatula to combine. At first it will seem like there is not enough liquid to hold everything together but just keep on mixing and it will eventually form a dough. Pat the dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400ºf and position the racks in the center of the oven. Use your hands to grease your kransekake molds liberally with butter or coconut oil and set aside. I prefer to set the molds on large baking sheets so that they’re easier to move around. 

Working with one dough disc at a time, chop off a piece of dough and roll it into a rope that’s a generous 1/2” thick (or, if you’re pulling your kitchen ruler out, just go with 5/8” thick…), dusting with additional almond flour if the dough is sticky. Coil the rope into the molds, pinch off any excess dough, and pinch the ends to seal them together. Continue this, re-rolling scraps as needed, until all of the molds are filled. Don’t worry about overworking the dough! Bake until golden; begin checking for doneness at 9 minutes. You’ll likely need to bake these layers in batches, which is totally fine, just keep any dough that you’re not working with covered and in the refrigerator. 

Let the rings cool in the pans and then carefully pop them out (a small offset spatula or butter knife will help) and transfer to a baking sheet or wire rack. 

Make your royal icing and stack the rings up and then pipe on your decorations or pipe on your decorations, let them dry, and then stack them up. When you stack them up, “glue” them together with dots of royal icing (I do dots at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock). Let the icing dry and then decorate with sprinkles, paper chains, flags, or other decor as desired! This is good for at least a few days uncovered at room temperature, so feel free to make this in advance!

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photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

hazelnut gelt cookies


These cookies were born out of my desire to build a repertoire of Hanukkah cookies in a Christmas cookie world! I mean I obviously love a Christmas cookie but I also love a Hanukkah dessert that a) doesn’t require me to fry anything and, b) can allow me to pull out all of the sprinkles and decorate stuff. A few years ago, I learned the joys of making homemade gelt. It’s so simple yet fun! You just melt blobs of chocolate and add any toppings you want. And you can control your own currency and game the dreidel system so that whatever happens, you’re rich! (Oh, your gelt is topped with sunflower seeds? Well mine is way more valuable since it’s topped with sea salt. Therefore I win.) So this year I decided to up the ante and put this gelt right on top of a cookie. Gelt on cookies is nothing new, but homemade gelt on a thick soft hazelnut cookie is a thing of modern beauty! You could obviously schmear melted chocolate on any kind of cut out cookie but I’ve used these hazelnutty orange zesty pucks here because they’ve got more personality than your standard holiday sugar cookie. The result is a combination of textures (soft cookie + snappy chocolate) and flavors (hazelnut + chocolate + orange) that is worthy of a prime spot in your Hanukkah cookie box.

So have at it and let your creativity run wild! Make some for your Ultimate Hanukkah Challenge viewing party*!!! 

*Your daily reminder that the Ultimate Hanukkah Challenge is a show that exists and it is premiering on December 21st at 9pm/8c on Food Network.

Hazelnut Gelt Cookies

makes about 26 cookies


for the cookies:

3 1/2 c (448g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/3 c (150g) ground toasted hazelnuts (you can make your own or buy hazelnut flour, bob’s red mill sells it!)

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 c (137g) granulated sugar

2/3 c (80g) powdered sugar

Zest of 1 orange

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

for the topping:

6 oz (168g) chopped milk chocolate or milk chocolate chips



to make the cookies, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, and salt and set aside. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream together the butter, sugars, and orange zest on medium high until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each, and then add the vanilla.

reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until blended. at this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, or up to two days, or you can get going on rolling out your dough and cutting out your cookies immediately. 

when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside. working with half of the dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness that’s just under 1/2” thick. cut out 2 1/2” circles with a biscuit cutter and then transfer to a baking sheet, 1" apart. re-roll scraps and cut out more shapes. bake until they’re lightly browned on the bottom; begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

To decorate, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwavable bowl in 30-second increments, stirring after each. Melt until it’s just smooth and then remove from heat. Spoon a teaspoon of chocolate onto the top of each cookie, and spread it around with a spoon into a little Gelt-sized circle. Top with sprinkles and let set in the fridge or at room temperature. Enjoy!

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photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

pizza latkes


Sometime last spring (when all of the good Hanukkah R and D happens), I was knee deep in latke brainstorming when my extremely cool friend Natasha texted me a picture of Erin’s cheesy potato pancake with the commentary “omg, pizza latke.” To which the only proper response was, “omg, let’s.” 

Because omg what is better than a crispy fried potato pancake that is topped with melty gooey cheese-pull cheese??? Or if you look at it the other way, what is better than a pizza that basically has a hash brown crust??? Potato, potahto, it was inevitable. We make matzo pizza on Passover pizza Friday, why have we not made pizza latkes on Hanukkah pizza Friday? Dang it, they are so freaking good. I can’t stop eating them. The fact that they’re handheld and small and easy to eat in multiples of four doesn’t make things any easier. My only regret is that Natasha and I never crossed paths for long enough to make these together because she lives in LA-slash-Barcelona. One day!!!!

A great added bonus about these is that because they get cooked twice (fried in a pan, then topped with toppings, and then stuck in the oven so that the cheese melts), you have a fairly easy solution to the thing I always whine about, which is having to stand at the stove for the entire Chrismukkah party, tending to the latkes. With these, just make all of your latkes ahead of time, put them on a baking sheet, top with toppings, and keep them in the fridge for up to a day before your party. And then stick them in the oven before the party and pull out a steaming hot tray of latkes! They won’t be as crispy as a freshly fried latke, but no one will care because they’ll be covered in cheese.

That’s all I have to say about pizza latkes but since we’re on the subject of latkes, I have to tell you about the Ultimate Hanukkah Challenge!! It is (Food Network’s first??) Hanukkah-themed cooking competition and I got to host it and judge alongside Duff Goldman and Sharone Hakman!!! You guys, it was so much fun to film. I wore sufganiyot nail decals and star of David sparkly hair clips and ate piles of latkes, sufganiyot, and brisket. I can’t give any spoilers obviously but there are plot twists and Hanukkah miracles and the most incredible personalities, I am so excited about it and I hope you’ll tune in on December 21st at 9pm/8c on Food Network!!!! 


Pizza Latkes

Makes about 20


1 batch of latkes (here’s my go-to recipe), freshly fried or made a day ahead and cooled, or just use leftover latkes! 

About 1 c marinara sauce

1 lb fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4” slices

(Any other toppings!)

A shower of parmesan

Sprinkles of crushed red pepper

Chopped fresh basil


Preheat the oven to 450ºf. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and arrange the latkes an inch apart. Top each with about 2 teaspoons marinara sauce and a slice of mozzarella and any other toppings you’d like and stick in the oven until the cheese is melty and has brown splotchy spots; begin checking for doneness at 7 minutes. Top with a shower of parmesan, sprinkles of crushed red pepper, and basil, and devour. 

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photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

stollen bars


This time last year when I was a million months pregnant, I got the wildest craving for Stollen, the yeasted spiced Christmas cake that has a bunch of tasty mix-ins (most notably, marzipan). This craving came out of nowhere because I don’t think I’d even ever had Stollen before?! I guess I wanted all of the warm spices and a cake with not too much sweetness, and, obviously, marzipan. Because, spoiler alert, I am approximately 75% marzipan during the holiday season. But then when I started looking for recipes, I realized I wanted something with a little more instant gratification because I was too impatient to let stuff rise. I also wanted a softer moister denser texture than a yeasted cake could give me. After searching high and low, I came across Dan Lepard’s Stollen bars!! They are a stroke of genius and delivered everything I was looking for: a buttery soft blondie-like consistency, loads of flavor, hidden surprises like chewy dried fruit and toasty pistachios, not too much required in the way of time or energy, and gigantic chunks of marzipan. GIGANTIC CHUNKS OF MARZIPAN!!! They were SO GOOD!!! I made multiple batches and gifted them all over the place. My only challenge was that the recipe was written in British and required a lot of Googling and trial and error to figure out suitable equivalents to “mixed spice” and strong white flour, as well as the meaning of “sultana.” I also ended up throwing in some dried cherries because I’m in a dried cherry phase, and some orange zest and almond extract because they tie all of these flavors together soo nicely. 

So here is my version of Dan’s bars and, ugh, I am obsessed with these. I love the earthy understated look. They’re sturdy, reliable, low maintenance (make them ahead! they last for a few weeks!), and all around delicious. The cream cheese in the dough adds a sparkle of tang and melted butter brushed on top combines with a storm of powdered sugar for a wintery rustic alternative to glaze. If colorful frosted sugar cookies are the fancy sequined holiday party dress that you’ve been planning on wearing for months, these bars are the very comfortable jeggings and oversized sweater that you decide to wear at the last minute with absolutely no regrets!


Stollen Bars

Makes 25 squares


2 c (260g) all-purpose flour

2/3 c (75g) almond flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

A pinch of ground cloves

A pinch of allspice

3/4 c (168g) unsalted butter, divided, at room temperature

4 oz (112g) cream cheese, room temperature

1 c (200g) sugar

Zest of 1 orange

1 large egg

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/3 c (53g) dried cherries

1/3 c (53g) golden raisins

1 c (112g) roasted pistachios

8 oz (227g) marzipan, chopped into 3/4” pieces

1/3 c (40g) powdered sugar


Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease an 8” square pan and line with parchment paper so that 1” wings come up on two sides. Set it aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cardamom, cloves, and allspice. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together 1/2 cup of the butter, the cream cheese, sugar, and orange zest on medium high until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the egg and almond extract and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to low and then beat in the dry ingredients followed by the cherries, raisins, and pistachios. Fold in the marzipan pieces by hand. Scrape into the pan and spread it out evenly with your hands or a rubber spatula. Bake until golden around the edges and lightly browned on top; begin checking for doneness at 28 minutes. 

Spread the remaining 1/4 cup of butter all over the top while it’s still hot out of the oven so that the butter melts and then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let cool in the pan and then cut into squares and enjoy! Keep in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

kale, pancetta, and white bean cobbler


Baby Beluga has officially been replaced in our house by Biscuits in the Oven as the #1 most sung song. Raffi enthusiasts: am I right that it’s so catchy and much more fun to jiggle and dance to than Baby Beluga? Also the imagery of biscuits in the oven makes me ever so slightly more excited than a little white whale on the go. Golden fluffy hot biscuits on a wet snowy cozy day! My dreamscape. And the jolliness in Bernie’s eyes whenever I put her in front of the mirror and bobble her up and down to the tune makes an even dreamier dreamscape. So for that reason (and because Thanksgiving is coming up), I’m sharing biscuits on top of a gigantic pile of greens that are dotted with pancetta and creamy cannellini beans. This is my current favorite way to shovel greens into my mouth, it’s so good. And dare I say that this is a hotdish??? It’s got veggies, protein, a carby topping, and soup situation holding it together. It gets baked in a casserole... it’s hearty... it’s a meal in a dish. Yes, we’re going with it, people!

Sam Sifton says that salad has no place at the Thanksgiving table and I agree. (By the way have you read his Thanksgiving book? I take it out every year and it’s a true delight.) Hearty cooked greens should be at your table though! There is so much flavor in these greens from the saltiness of the pancetta and a hit of acidity from some ACV, and the biscuits on top bake up beautifully (even if you use store-bought like I did! Don’t tell anyone). On Girl Meets Farm this past weekend I did an option for those who need to reserve oven space for the turkey: I cooked this in a slow cooker and used bread dough instead of biscuits. The dough on top gets steamed into DUMPLINGS! It’s really cool. But I wanted to show both options, and the baked biscuit version is a little prettier, which is why I’m posting it here.

And by the way this was the last meal I cooked at home before I went into labor! It was my last day of work before maternity leave, back in March, and I was testing this and the corn cranberry cupcakes that were also on the Thanksgiving episode and as soon as I was done, I went to sleep but then woke up because I was in labor. Hah! I think we had leftovers of this in our fridge for weeks because there were many things on our minds but cleaning out the leftovers in our refrigerator were not one of them. OK, the end!

Kale, Pancetta, and White Bean Cobbler

serves 6-8 as a side


1 lb thick cut pancetta, diced

2 large shallots, finely chopped

Kosher salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb collard greens, stemmed and chopped

1 lb kale, stemmed and chopped

1 1/2 c chicken stock 

1 (14 oz) can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

Black pepper

A few shakes of Tabasco

1 tb brown sugar

2 tb Apple cider vinegar

1 can biscuits or 1 batch homemade biscuits

Egg wash: an egg beaten with a splash of water

Flaky salt


Preheat oven to 425ºf. In a 3-quart oven-safe dutch oven or braiser, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon and keep the fat in the pan. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the greens in batches, cooking until slightly wilted (it’s a lot of greens! but they cook down). Add the stock, beans, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, tabasco, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar, and return the pancetta to the pot and stir to combine. Top with biscuits, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with flaky salt, and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

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photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

sumac snickerdoodles

Hii!!!! How are you and how was your Halloween and are you in the holiday spirit yet?? We had such a fun first Halloween with Bernie!! She had a H…


Hii!!!! How are you and how was your Halloween and are you in the holiday spirit yet?? We had such a fun first Halloween with Bernie!! She had a Halloween feast of squash (cause it’s orange!) and then donned her fleece lemon costume to trick or treat at Aunt Ethel’s building where she made friends with a Twizzler, or more specifically the crunchy wrapper of the Twizzler. It fascinated her all night long. Eggboy and I split a tiny box of Milk Duds and then ate spinach salads before going to bed by 9. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Going to bed by 9 is, like, how I get my thrills these days because being well rested is such an excellent high? Also, I’m now filming (season 5!) and my call time in the morning is very early o’clock, meaning I have to wake up six minutes before very early o’clock in order to brush my teeth and then commute from my bedroom to the kitchen. 


It’s gonna be a great season! It includes:

  1. A Passover episode, complete with our new Marian Bull Seder plate that I want to stare at all day long every day

  2. An appearance by one of my all time favorite bands

  3. Hockey, hockey stars (!), broomball, curling, Alana curling, and ice skating

  4. KNOEPHLA!!!!!

I know I say this about every season but I think this season is going to be the tastiest yet. And not just because it has the best mozzarella sticks and gruyere babka rolls of all time but also because Bernie’s cheeks have reached peak deliciousness (thank you to my grandpa and dad for those). 

Enough about me, I am going to talk about my frond Michelle now!!! Her book, Weeknight Baking, came out last week and it has SPRINKLE END PAPERS. And a recipe for one (1!) chocolate chip cookie that is just plain dangerous. And billions upon gajillions of tips for how to bake things in advance or speed things up or spread the work out over the course of a few days in order to make it fit any kind of crazy busy schedule. It’s baking efficiency at its tastiest and I love it. Like she’s even making me feel like I can bake a dang wedding cake over the course of a few Bernie naps. For those of you who liked the bake-ahead tips in this post, this book takes this type of thing to the next level. And all the while it offers deeeelicious ideas like halva blondies (!!!) and excellent styling tips like how to get perfectly straight edges when you cut cheesecake bars. This book is so clever, informational, beautiful, and delicious and I’m a proud kvelling frond right now.

One thing that Michelle and I share, other than the fact that we both have quiet reserved Nordic partners, is a love of sumac. Specifically, sumac in sweets! It’s so bright and fun! I sometimes think of sumac as ground up lemony vinegar, if vinegar were a solid. So like if you’re into lemon sour patch kids, you will like sumac’d sweets. (NY Shuk makes a great sumac, by the way.) Michelle made a delicious move in her book and rolled snickerdoodle cookie dough in a sumac/raspberry magic dust and the world is a tastier place for it. These cookies are sweet, tangy bright, crisp around the edges, and soft and chewy in the middle. They’re sassier than you’re average cookie and so pretty! Look at that natural pink color! I love these. And I love Michelle and Weeknight Baking. Yay!!!


raspberry sumac snickerdoodles

makes about 20 cookies

from michelle lopez'weeknight baking: recipes to fit your schedule


for the raspberry sumac topping

1/4 c (1.75 oz) granulated sugar

2 heaping tb freeze-dried raspberries, finely ground

2 tsp ground sumac

for the cookies

2 3/4 c (12.35 oz) all-purpose flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 c (10.5 oz) granulated sugar

1 c (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla extract


position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF. line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.

in a medium bowl, combine all topping ingredients and set aside.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter. beat on medium-high until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 2 to 3 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. reduce the mixer to low and add the eggs one at a time, adding the next egg only after the previous one has bee fully incorporated. add the vanilla and beat until just combined. scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. with the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, and beat on low for an additional 30 seconds.

use a 3-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion the cookie dough into balls. roll each in the snickerdoodle topping, covering them completely. place the coated cookies at least 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pans. bake one pan at a time for 10 minutes, or until the edges have set but the centers are still gooey. the cookies will look puffed when you pull them out of the oven, but will fall and crack into the perfect cookies as they cool. cool the cookies on the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies have set and feel firm to the touch. repeat with the remaining cookie dough (or freeze it to bake later). serve warm or at room temperature. the cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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photos by chantell and brett quernemoen