Monday, September 29, 2008

Taco Salad

As I have said many times,when you live abroad many of the things you loved in your home country arent available in your new one. It's up to you to recreate those wonderful dishes. The problem with that sometimes is that you cant find the original ingredients. I found that out with cream of mushroom soup. I have yet to find it here. While speaking with another expat she told me to look for the powder form of mushroom soup and add only enough water to make it into a thick form of the cream of mushroom soup we are used to. I found it,tried it,and thankfully it worked! I am more lucky in the mexican food products. You can find a variety of mexican food items in certain stores here in the netherlands. I find myself looking with wide eyes when I see how much more we have to pay for those items but it's got to be done if you want it.

Taco salad is such an easy meal to make and you can add or take away things depending on your families likes. You might want to add in more of the ingredients or maybe add in mild flavored jalapenos,this is just a rough list of whats in there.I will give you our version of it and hope that you make it. Alot of times taco salad calls for Catalina,Thousand Island or Ranch Dressing to be added. I find that those take away from the over all taste so I came up with my own version of a dressing wich I will include. This also makes alot. It will easily feed 8 people or with our family of 4 we can eat once and have enough for leftovers tomorrow. Also with any of my recipes feel free to add in onion as you like it. We are not an onion eating family so whenever it calls for it I leave it out. Feel free to add one onion chopped up and cook it along with the beef. **For those living in NL,I went to Albert Heijn and bought two medium cans of the red kidney beans..not the super tiny can.**
Taco Salad
1 1/2 lbs of Ground Beef
1 packet of Taco Seasoning
1 can of Kidney Beans; drained and rinsed
1-2 cans of chopped Black Olives;drained
2 large Tomatoes;seeded and chopped up
2 cups or more of your choice of Shredded Cheese
1 1/2 heads of Lettuce;chopped up or torn into pieces
1 bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos
Between 1 and 1/2 cups of Sour Cream
Mild Flavored Taco Sauce
Brown the ground beef in a large pan. While that is cooking take your lettuce and tear it into pieces and put in a large serving bowl. Take your tomatoes,seed it and chop it up and add it to the lettuce. When your ground beef is brown,drain if needed and add the kidney beans. Then add your taco seasoning and fill the packet just under full with water. Mix it together,bring to a boil and then turn the heat down and let the beef,kidney beans and seasoning packet simmer for about 10mins. After you have simmered it you need to turn the heat off and let it sit while you make the other ingredients to give it some time to cool off before adding it to the lettuce mixture. Meanwhile add in your olives,cheese and take your bag of doritos and crush the chips inside. I find that simply opening up the bag and carefully crushing the bag all over works best. Take your dressing recipe and again this is just simply eyeballing it and going from there. I added in a bowl about 1 1/2 cups of sour cream and then tipped the jar of taco seasoning in there a few times. It gives it a very nice creamy texture. I also didnt add the dressing into the mixture but left it out instead to let everyone decide how much of it they wanted. When your beef mixture has cooled down for maybe 10 mins add it to the lettuce mixture and toss to coat. I added two dollops of the dressing and was one happy camper:o)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Old Fashioned Coffee Cake

I had a friend come over yesterday for a visit and I decided to make a coffee cake. This isnt something you normally serve in the netherlands but since she is an american I knew she would love this aswell. I liked the cake, alot although I must say it makes alot of the topping so if you arent big on a bunch of it then I would suggest you cut the recipe down a bit wich is what I will do myself the next time I make it. I notice as I get "slighty" older I appreciate getting together with a good friend and talking about things. It helps even more when you live abroad and you are able to talk with someone from your own country. I hope you will make this recipe. It's easy,smells great and tastes even better!
Old Fashioned Coffee Cake
Streusel Topping:
1 1/2 cups ground Graham Crackers
3/4 cup finely chopped Walnuts
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tspn ground Cinnamon
1/4 tspn ground Cardamom(I didnt have any and used nutmeg instead)
1/2 unsalted Butter,melted
2 cups Cake Flour
1 cup Sugar
2 1/2 tspns Baking Powder
1/2 tspn Salt
1/2 cup unsalted Butter,softened
2 large Eggs
2 tspns Vanilla Extract
1 cup Milk
Preaheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Lightly grease either a 8 inch pan or 9 inch spring form pan. In a medium bowl combine the ingredients for the topping and set aside. In a large bowl add flour,baking powder, and salt;whisk together to mix.Add butter,eggs,vanilla,and milk;beat until mixture is smooth and thick;about 2 mins. Spread half of the batter into your greased pan and sprinkle with half the topping mixture. Spoon remaning batter over the topping,and then sprinkle the remaining topping over the batter. Bake 60-70mins or until toothpick comes out clean. If baking in a spring form pan,allow the cake to set for 15 mins and cool off a bit. Loosen side of pan and continue cooling on wire rack.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes

Is there anything better than a side dish of creamy cheesy Au Gratin potatoes?? I can't think of to many. You can make this into a main course by adding in a cup or 2 of diced up ham. I like it as a side dish with a roast or steak. As the weather gets cooler my need to make comfort food becomes greater. I've been reading a ton of recipes and I have some things coming up so stay tuned. I have decided to tackle my fear of bread making so hopefully I will have a succesful post about it. I will be making some stews,soups aswell as showing you how to make some traditional Dutch meals at home. It's fun to try food from another country that you can make yourself at home. I hope everyone has a great week! On a side not the recipe calls for Russet Potatoes. If you are in the U.S. thats no problem but if you live outside of it you don't come in contact with those. So use any large potatoe that you can come across when making these. I have left the onion as being optional here only because whenever I have had these from someone else and they include them I have never liked it. The onions were pale and a bit slimy looking so unless you are a die hard onion fan I really dont think this dish needs it.
Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes
4 russet potatoes,peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion,sliced into rings(optional)
salt and pepper to taste
3 TBLSPNS Butter
1/2 teaspn Salt
2 cups Milk
2 cups shredded Cheese
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F or 200 C. Grease a 2 quart dish. Layer 1/2 of potatoes into bottom of the dish. Top with onions if you want and then layer with the remaining potatoes. If you dont use the onion just put all the potatoes into the dish and then season with the salt and pepper. In a medium sized saucepan,melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt and stir constantly with a wisk for one minute. Stir in milk a little at a time to avoid lumps in the sauce. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir cheese in all at once and continue stirring until melted..about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour cheese over the potatoes and cover the dish with aluminum foil. I made sure I sprayed the foil with some baking spray to make sure that it didnt stick to the cheese. Bake for 1 hr 30 mins. Take the foil off the last 15-20 mins if you want to the cheese to get a bit of color.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Soft Oatmeal Cookies

You know what I love most about these cookies?? Everything! They are so incredibly soft and the aroma that fills the house while you are baking is out of this world. It reminds you of home and what mom used to bake..something I hope the boys remember about me: The times they came home to a house that smelled of freshly baked cookies and a glass of milk and a plate full of cookies waiting for them. I live only 10mins from the border of Germany and I love that because I am able to head over to the groceries stores there and find more of what I want. I walked threw the baking isle and found small bottles of butter vanilla extract. I bought some and figured I could use them in alot of recipes. I used it on this recipe and I cant tell you how wonderful the flavor is. The bottles contain 1/2 teaspoon each so I used half a teaspoon of that and another 1/2 teaspoon of the regular vanilla incase for some reason the flavor didnt come across. I didnt have to worry because WOW these were good. It gave it almost a buttery butterscotch flavor. I look forward to using the extract in many other things. These are really soft so make sure that when you take them out of the oven you let them sit for a few minutes before you take them off and move them to the wire rack.
Soft Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 cup packed Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tspn Vanilla
2 cups Flour
1 tspn Baking Soda
1 tspn Salt
1 1/2 tspn Cinnamon
3 cups Oats
Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. In a bowl mix together the flour,baking soda,salt and cinnamon;set aside. In another bowl combine the butter,sugar,brown sugar and eggs:making sure to mix throughly and until fluffy. Add the flour mixture and mix in oats by hand with a wooden spoon. Drop onto lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 mins.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Buttermilk Muffins

These muffins come from a resturant called Mimi's Cafe. It's a resturant my step mom loves to go to. I was thinking about her and when I saw this recipe on another website I knew I had to make them. I remember going there with her once and we had a giant pumpkin muffin and it was so good. I wish I could get a recipe for that one. I think the boys will be extra happy this week with my muffin choice for them. The original recipe also called for chopped walnuts but I didnt have any so I left those out.

Buttermilk Muffins
2 1/2 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Butter,softened
3 Eggs
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 cup plus 1 TBLSPN Buttermilk
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Whisk together flour,baking soda and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar until smooth;add eggs. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk,beating just until combined. Fill cups 3/4 full making sure to either grease the muffin tins or use paper liners and sprinkle 1 tblspn of topping on top. Bake at 375 degrees or 190 celcius for 20-25 mins or until tooth pick comes out clean. On a side note I never used 1 tablespoon of the topping on each one. I actually thought that was to much and just used 1 teaspoon. Makes around 12

Friday, September 5, 2008


Snickerdoodles remind me of something your grandma would bake..they have an old fashioned element to them that is wonderful. I whipped these up this morning and when my boys came home for lunch they mentioned how nice the house a cookie factory: ) It took me several batches to get it down right. I made several of them to small wich resulted in a crunchier cookie wich my husband just loved. I made them into 1 inch balls wich the recipe called for and thats when I got the big fluffy cookie. I will be making these again very soon. The recipe says to leave the dough in the fridge until chilled to make it easier to roll into balls. I made the dough lastnight and let it sit until this morning and it was very easy to work with.
Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies
1 cup Butter
1 1/2 cups Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 3/4 cups Flour
1 tspn Baking Soda
2 tspsns Cream of Tartar
1/4 tspn Salt
3 tspns Cinnamon
** Mix butter,sugar and eggs throughly in a large bowl. Combine flour,cream of tartar,baking soda and salt in a seperate bowl. Blend dry ingredients in butter mixture. Chill dough in fridge. In a seperate bowl combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon. Roll one inch balls between your hands and then rool into sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10mins;Remove from sheet immediately.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Poor Man's Steak

I got this recipe after reading about it on another blog. I headed over to her blog and jotted down the recipe myself. I will include the link to her blog at the end. This meal starts the night before wich is just perfect for me. I wanted to get some other things done today and was able to now. The meal was comfort food at it's best and will become a permanent fixture at our table. My two sons actually licked the plates
POOR Man's Steak
1 cup Water
1 cup Cracker Crumbs
1 tspn Salt
1 lb Ground Beef
All Purpose Flour
2-3 TBLSPNS Butter
1 (10 3/4) can Condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup Milk
** Line a pan with sayran wrap or in my case aluminum foil and make it big enough to wrap over and cover the meat mixture. Mix the 1st 4 ingredients together and pat down into pan;cover and put in fridge over night. Next day cut meat into 6 slab and coat with flour making sure to shake off any excess. Melt the butter in a pan and brown the meat on both sides. Place into 9x15 pan. Mix the cream of mushroom soup with the one cup of milk and bake at 160 celcius or 350 degrees for 35-45 mins. Serve with mashed potatoes and a veggie.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Crescent Chicken Roll Ups

I havent been able to find refridgerated biscuits here yet but they atleast have the crescent rolls. After talking to a friend about how she makes her chicken rolls I decided to give it a go myself. I learned that next time I need to stuff them less because if you dont you tend to end up with a somewhat doughy middle. How much and what you use as your chicken mixture is up to you. You could infact get pretty creative with these but the basics include cut up pieces of chicken( I made a roasted chicken the day before and put some extra chicken aside for this),shredded cheese and cream cheese. There is no set amount to use so eyeballing it is what I suggest. Here is a rough recipe for it.
Chicken Rolls Ups
1 container of crescent rolls
1/2-1 cup cooked cubed or shredded chicken
1 cup or more shredded cheese
6 pieces of bacon,cooked and crumbled
One packet of cream cheese;using only enough to mix it together
Mix all ingredients together. Unroll the crescent rolls and put a small amount of the mixture just bellow the wide part of the dough. I used to much so next time I will try maybe 2-3 tablespoons. You want to make sure the rolls will cook all the way threw. Starting at the wide end of the dough,roll it over the mixture,pinching the edges to seal and place seem side down on the baking sheet. Bake according to the crescent roll instructions..mine was 200 celcius for 10-12 mins. Serves 6. I made a cheese sauce to go on top of mine but you dont have to or you could use maybe a mushroom sauce isntead.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Peanutbutter Cookies

I decided that atleast once a week I would try out a recipe from the blogs that I visit. I can't believe how many wonderful cooking blogs there are. I thinking blogging in general is so cool because you come across people you wouldnt normally meet in life and you get a peak into their world and can taste the food as if you were a guest in their home. I've always been curious about people and I'm one of those people that when I drive by someone's home I like to look in the window and imagine what it looks like on the inside and when I smell something cooking Im always super curious as to what they are baking. We have turkish neighbors and the smells coming out of their place is amazing! They told me I could come over and eat with them anytime and Im thinking that time might be

So on to my first recipe. I wanted to bake some peanutbutter cookies so I closed my eyes and clicked on a blog and typed in peanutbutter cookies in the search blog section. I landed in The Sunday Baker's blog and found a recipe. You can find her blog on the right side and if you have a few minutes you really need to head over there. She has some wonderful recipes to try out and I plan to do more of that. These cookies were wonderful,super soft and oh so peanutbuttery. My oldest son had a friend over and I gave him a cookie. You have to realise that in the netherlands these kinds of cookies just don't exsist. You bring up peanutbutter and chocolate up to a average dutch person and you get a look of disgust from them. They would never combine the two in any form and don't even get me started on peanutbutter and jelly and how they cant comprehend that one either. So I handed the boy a cookie and he looked at me and said "Pindakaas Koekje?" Pindakaas is the dutch word for peanutbutter and when translated it means peanut we get our cookie name from the dutch form Koekje. Anyway he had never heard of it and took a big bite and He said it was "Lekker" wich means good. Thats one dutch boy down and a bazillion more to

I had to change a few things about the recipe. She actually made a filling to go on the inside wich I will try at a later date but I didnt have the ingredients on hand. Also her recipe called for 1/2 butter and 1/2 cup shortening. I cant get shortening here unless I visit a Toko and then they sell it in a tiny can for alot of money. There is another version of it here but alot of people have said they didnt like it so for now I used all butter wich produced a super soft cookie..wich I love anyway. I didnt change anything else. Thanks Tanya for a great recipe and we look forward to trying out more!

Peanutbutter Cookies
1 cup Butter( the original is half butter,half shortening)
1 cup Peanutbutter
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
1 tspn Vanilla
3 cups Flour
2 tspn Baking Soda
1/4 tspn Salt
** Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Mix the flour,soda and salt in a bwl and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients together,beating it until it's smooth and fluffy; add the flour mixture and mix until combined. After this point I guess you can decide what size you want to make them. I wanted a ton so they would last all week so I made small ball sizes and then dipped my fork and make the famous criss cross shape when pressing the douch down. Bake them for 7-8 mins and depending on the size you can get atleast 3 dozen out..wich is what I did.