The Seasoned Traveler

Recipes and remedies using herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients from the world's pantry


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A Festive Recipe Roundup

Happy Holidays

From my busy kitchen to yours, I’m sending all of you my wishes for happy holidays and festive feasting. Wherever you spend the holidays, bon appétit, bon voyage, and happy seasonings!

Here I’ve gathered up my favorite holiday dishes, from starters to main courses to desserts, all the way to magical morning breakfast ideas. Enjoy! ~Laura

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Swedish Tea Ring with Cardamom & Cherries

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Christmas morning is the stuff of magic and memories. I can still recall racing downstairs with my sisters to try to catch a glimpse of the tree and piles of presents underneath, the overflowing stockings, or the crumb-scattered plate of Santa’s cookies. Our frenzy was always halted in the kitchen by two words: “Breakfast first.” Quietly yet somehow effectively, our parents enforced this rule, and we would (not so quietly, I’m sure) put up a fuss and  take our seats at the table. And then as we devoured plates of fluffy eggs, buttered cinnamon toast, and fresh oranges sent straight from the Florida groves, our attitudes shifted. The anticipation of opening our presents was still there, palpable, but in those moments we began to savor it, as though when held in suspension our excitement was magnified. The presents would still be there; this family feast came first. All these years later, it’s those moments of suspended joy over Christmas breakfast that I cherish and miss more than the gift-opening that followed. Continue reading


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Avocado-Tomato-Feta Stack

IMG_6560This nutritious and scrumptious salad tower can be enjoyed any time of year, but I think it is festive and perfectly color-coordinated for the holidays. Plus, it helps to balance out all those decadent meals and treats consumed at holiday parties. It’s great as an appetizer, as a healthful snack, or for lunch, and can be tweaked with different ingredients to your taste: optional layers of artichokes, olives, crab, tuna or chicken salad. Enjoy! Continue reading


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Seared Duck Breasts with Cherry & Red Wine Sauce

IMG_6545I’m not sure I can convey how phenomenal this dish is. Consider this: We’ve made it about 20 times since discovering the recipe on Williams-Sonoma’s site a few years ago. It was our Christmas dinner last year AND our New Year’s feast. And yes, we are having it again this Christmas!

Oh, we are having it again this Christmas and I cannot wait. Probably New Year’s too, let’s just get it out there now.

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Pork Tenderloin with Coriander-Spiced Prunes

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Coriander is the kind of spice that usually plays a supporting role in curries, other sauces and spice rubs. Here it’s the star seasoning. This sweet, nutty seed complements pork, red wine and prunes so it’s perfect as the star ingredient in seasoning pork tenderloin and infusing a red wine and prune reduction sauce. I love this dish in winter; I find it so soothing and simple, but it’s elegant enough to be the main course of a festive feast for the holidays. Continue reading


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Pear, Gorgonzola & Thyme Crostini

IMG_6434Call me old-fashioned, but I love hors d’oeuvres at parties. Not complicated or fancy or difficult-to-eat ones, just little nibbles of things like a beautiful cheese plate, some fresh fruit, or warm bread with aromatic herbs. And when I am hosting, this is my favorite one to serve (and eat!) — it’s a decidedly unfussy but delicious combination of cheese, fruit, warm bread and herbs all in one. Continue reading


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Gingerbread Cake

IMG_6383The scent of gingerbread baking has to be one of the loveliest scents that ever filled our home. The blend of cinnamon, ginger and molasses is so cozy and comforting this time of year. After swooning over the scents wafting out of the oven today, I got to taste the first little nibble before anyone else got home. For a moment I was transfixed by the warm, moist, soft cake and the sweetness of all my Christmas memories tucked into one bite. Continue reading


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Holiday Sugar Cookies with Natural Red Icing

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‘Tis the season to make cookies, and this year, my friend Sarah challenged me to find a natural red food coloring to use in icing for sugar cookies. Did you know that most artificial red food colorings contain crushed beetle-like cochineal bugs? And those that aren’t derived from bugs often contain coal. (Here’s one helpful link in case this interests you, but be warned, there’s a picture of those red crawlies.) Now that doesn’t sound very festive or appetizing, does it? And recent studies found potential links between artificial dyes and hyperactivity and even cancer. That’s enough to turn me off of artificial food coloring, how about you? Continue reading