Friday, May 29, 2009

Handmade Cupcake Toppers

Cupcake toppers are so cute and so easy to make! I whipped these up a few weeks back and have been making different designs ever since. I'm a huge frog nut and thought these would go perfect on a set of birthday cupcakes. The images are from Stampin Up's Unfrogettable Set.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chocolate Chip Mufins


I have to drive into germany when I want chocolate chips. It seems weird for me to say that..I drive to germany to buy chocolate chips. I live in the netherlands and I go to another country to get what I need. The whole idea of actually living here is so bizarre to me sometimes but thats not what this post is about. I have to drive there because for some unknown odd reason, they don't sell chocolate chips here in any form and the only kind I can get in germany is plain chocolate chip. I'm not complaining though!!

So once a month my husband I go to this store that I love. It reminds me of a few stores back home. Now to get the chocolate chips I need, I have to actually justify this purchase. The reason being is that they cost a pretty penny. They only come in small boxes wich measure out to about a 1/2 cup. So in order to make alot of the things I want to, I need to buy several boxes. I usually buy 4 boxes at a time and that costs me in american dollars just under 7.00. That seems like alot to me..lol Now I realise you can infact break up chocolate bars and use those in recipes and I do, do that when I'm in a pinch. However it just never really seems to be as good as buying semi sweet chocolate chips. So whenever I know Im about to go I always plan out what Im going to make. I love bake or break blog. I am always lurking over there and drooling over all the wonderul goodies that are being baked. I had a craving for chocolate chip muffins and headed over there to see if I could find one. I did and they are perfect. Wow they are perfect. The only problem I see myself having with these is controlling myself around them. I ate two without even knowing I did it. These are that good.

Chocolate Chip Muffins..12
1 1/2 cups Flour
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter,melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup semi sweet Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celccius. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups. In a large bowl mix flour,sugar,brown sugar,baking powder,baking soda,cinnamon,and salt; set aside. In a seperate bowl beat the eggs. Stir in the melted butter,milk, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture,stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 20-22 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Serve warm

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jello Popsicles


Plain and simple: Homemade popsicles rock. I love the flavor combinations you can come up with when making your own. Last night before going to bed I decided to see if I could make jello popsicles. I'm sure this isnt a new venture but it was for me. I'm here to tell you peeps that yes you can infact freeze jello!!! and it wasn't half bad. My husband mentioned that it tasted slightly watered down to him but still had the jello flavor to it. The neat thing is that it doesn't freeze rock hard. It's hard but you are still able to bite into it. I wasnt sure if it was going to have some weird wobbly texture going on but it didn't. I'm going to try it again with another flavor other than orange. I don't like orange jello for some reason.
Basically there is no recipe for this. You simply make the jello following the box instructions. I let it cool down for a few minutes and then poured it into my molds. I let it freeze overnight and it was perfect the next morning. I plan to make alot of popsicles this summer. We also have a juicer that we got for christmas and Im going to juice a bunch of different fruits and vegetables to see how that goes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Moist Chocolate Cake


Yesterday my oldest son turned 11 and it also marked our 2 year anniversary of moving to the Netherlands. Since my son is a fishing fanatic a fish shaped cake was in order. Although I doubt very much I will win any awards for presentation he loved it none the less. The cake and frosting was a huge hit with us and I liked it more than my buttermilk chocolate cake recipe. The frosting is very subtle and it reminded my husband and I of homemade whipping cream. When my husband moved to the U.S. one of his big complaints was how sweet everything tasted and how awful the frosting was. I have to agree with him on that. I can't stand the frosting on the cakes that you order. He also doesn't like cream cheese frosting and since moving here I no longer do either. However when I moved here I was shocked at how tasteless their frosting was and how boring the cakes were. They don't do custome cakes here wich is a shame.

On to this cake! I wanted a moist chocolate cake and turned to my Taste of Home magazines for the answer. I wasn't sure about the frosting but wow it really complimented the cake very well. The batter is very thin..thin to the point where you think you don't need to worry about it..but you do. I put it in a 13x9 and it grew and grew and grew. It was supposed to only take 35 mins but ended up taking 1 hour because of how big it had gotten..lol It never spilled over and when I took it out it sunk down but this is the tallest cake I have ever made. The original directions don't even call for a 13x9 but they don't sell round 9 inch cake pans here..not that I have found anyway so I bought a glass pan that was about 13x9. It was so moist,had a wonderful flavor to it and was just as good the next day.
Moist Chocolate Cake
2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 cup Cocoa
2 cups Sugar
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Brewed Coffee
1 cup Milk
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
Pre heat oven to 325 or 160-170 celcius. Add dry ingredients into large bowl. Add oil and milk; mix at medium speed for one minute. Add eggs and vanilla; beat for 2 more minutes..Batter will be thin. Grease and flour 2- 9 inch round cake pans (or 2- 8 inch round cake pans plus 6 muffin cups) OR you can be brave and use a 13x9 pan. Bake for 25-35 mins or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 mins and then take out and transfer to wire rack.

Frosting
1 cup Milk
5 TBLSPNS Flour
1/2 cup Butter;softened
1/2 cup Shortening
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
Combine millk and flour in saucepan. Over medium heat cook until thick;stirring constantly. Cover and refridgerate. In a bowl beat butter,shortening,sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add chilled milk/flour mixture and beat for 12 mins. ** I am not to sure why you need to beat for 12 mins. I only used butter since I cant get shortening very easy so maybe the more you beat the shortening the fluffier it gets? I used all butter and it came out great**

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Honey Mustard Brats


I think bbqing has got to be in my top 5 reasons why I love summer..or decent weather in general. Living in the netherlands reminds me of Oregon..when the weather is nice,you get yourself outside and anything above 65 requires capris:) So whenever we have that kind of weather I ask for a bbq. I still have alot to learn when it comes to grilling on a charcoal grill. Although I love the convience of a gas grill I prefer the smell and taste that charcoal brings..plus if you could see the price of gas grills here, you would faint..I almost did.

I spotted this recipe in one of my Taste of Home magazines and used it tonight. It has a very light honey mustard taste to it but that could be because I used homemade and not store bought. The trick is to make sure you don't leave the brats on one side for very long or it will end up looking like ours did. They still tasted great but I will keep an eye on them better next time.
Grilled Honey Mustard Brats
1 cup Honey Mustard
1/4 cup Mayonnaise ( did u know mayo has 2 n's? I didn't..lol)
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 tsp. Celery Seed..left out because I didn't have any
8 uncooked Brats
8 Brat Buns
In a small bowl combine the 4 ingredients. Pour 3/4 cup of it into a large resealable plastic bag; add brats,seal and turn to coat. Store in fridge for 30mins. Cover and frefridgerate left over sauce. Coat grill rack with nonstick spray before starting the grill. Drain and discard marinade. Grill brats,covered, over medium heat for 10minutes, turning frequently. Baste with 2 tablespoons of reserved sauce; grill 3 minutes longer. Turn and baste with 2 tablespoons sauce; grill 3-5 minutes longer or until no longer pink. Serve on buns with remaining sauce.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

No Bake Cookies


I think No Bakes were the first thing I ever made in cooking class. I've been making these and eating these since forever. It's a super fun and easy recipe to make with the kiddos and this recipe makes alot! of course in a house hold like mine I'm lucky if they will last 4 days. I stick mine in the fridge once they have hardened up..these are sooo yummie when they are cold. I hope everyone out there who is a mom/has a mom/is any kind of mom has a wonderful Mother's Day!
No Bake Cookies..5-7 dozen..I got 7 1/2
4 cups Sugar
1 cup Butter or Margarine;Softened
1 cup Milk
6 TBLSPNS Baking Cocoa
1 cup Creamy or Crunchy Peanut Butter
6 cups Quick-Cooking Oats;uncooked
1 cup Sweetened flaked Coconut or walnuts or a combo or nuthin at all
Combine Oats and coconut in a large bowl;set aside. In a medium saucepan combine sugar,butter,milk,cocoa; mix well. Bring to a boil over low heat; boil for one minute. Add in peanut butter,stirring until melted. Pour mixture into the oats and mix well. At this point I like to let it sit for about 3-5 mins. I noticed if I leave them alone for a few they will thicken up a bit and it makes it easier when dropping them onto the parchment paper. Take several strips of parchment paper,lay them on the counter and drop the mixture by spoonfuls onto it. Let them harden for an hour or so and then transfer them to a sealed container and store in the fridge. I also like to add the paper in between layers of the container..that way they wont stick to one another.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Easy Tuna Fish Cakes


Although the economy is no where near as bad as back home, we still feel a pinch here. Food has gone up some and since we are a one income family it's my job to save and stretch where is needed. Since moving here I have had to learn how to scratch cook alot. The food items I am used to back home are either very hard to find,expensive or non exsistent. So I have learned to make homemade versions of things. However finding those items to actually make it homemade can be expensive here aswell. It's been a real learning process for me when it comes to cooking,buying and making the same things that we loved back home. One of those things are fish cakes and I'm happy to say they are cheap to make,taste great and it doesn't feel like you had to skimp on anything to make a meal. There is a wide variety of ways to make these so I"m not going to give alot of directions for this. I used what I had around the house. I noticed that most of the recipes call for you to boil and mash some potatoes but I used instant instead. I don't use instant as a rule in my house but it was a beautiful day outside, I was on my way out for a beautiful country drive so I needed to whip these up fast. I'm happy to say that in a pinch instant potatoes work just fine. You can also use one can or two of the tuna depending on your family size. I have 1 adult male and 2 growing always hungry boys so I used 2 cans. This recipe leaves alot of room for improvement. You could add onions,grated carrot,mashed peas,the possibilities are endless.
Tuna Fish Cakes..13 Cakes
2 cans of tuna;drained
1-2 packets of instant mashed potatoes(I made 2 packets but only used 1 1/2)
Seasonings to taste
Flour
Bread Crumbs
2 Eggs,Beaten
Heat a pan full of water and cook your instant potatoes using the box directions. I didn't add any butter to mine and left some of the milk out. You don't want creamy potatoes because it will make it hard to form the cakes. While the water is heating up take your tuna and add it to a large bowl. Flake it and add your seasonings. Once you have made the potatoes add them to your tuna mixture. I added enough to mix in with the tuna and when I felt like it was enough to form decent sized cakes. Cover and put in fridge until slightly cooled and easier to handle. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet,form mixture into cakes and place back into the fridge until ready to use..atleast 30mins to an hour before dinner. Put flour in one bowl,bread crumbs in another and beaten eggs in one aswell. Dip the cakes into the flour,brush off access,dip into egg and then into bread crumbs. Place in heated pan with some oil. At this point you can do it two ways. Either continue cooking in a pan until heated threw or if you are like me you don't have a big enough pan. Instead I browned on both sides,put them back onto the parchment cookie sheet and baked in the oven at 350 or 180 celcius for 20 minutes. Serve with tartar sauce..well we did anyway :)


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Homemade Tortillas


I made homemade tortillas last night using a recipe from The Happy Housewife. I can not tell you how wonderful these were and how easy they were to whip up. Well..easy as in it was easy once my husband took over:) I failed miserably at rolling them out. I made the first one and it came out palm sized and reminded me of a gordita. The trick is to seriously roll the poo out of it until you get your desired size. We didnt do the 6 inch circle like she did. We are more of a burrito family so we stretched the dough out into an 8 inch circle. When you do that you don't come away with as many as she did. I made 8 wich is basically what we have normally..2 a piece.

I have to admit that I was rather skeptical about how they would turn out. I was worried that they were going to be really hard and not hold up once we tried to roll them. How wrong I was. These kept a super soft form and rolled up perfectly. Because they were a bit smaller we couldnt do the traditional burrito wrap..instead we put the fixings a bit close to the edge and then pulled the dough over,tucked it in and rolled it up like a cinnamon roll. It held perfectly that way. My husband commented right away that he couldnt believe how soft and light they were. Our biggest complaint has always been that the store bought tortillas are gummy and dont always have a ncie taste to them. These were soft,light and just perfect. We will no longer buy from the store. I'm actually glad about that because buying tortillas over here is super expensive. We only get them in packages of 4-8 and I always have difficulties validating the purchase. Now I can go into my kitchen and use 5 simple ingredients at any time we have a craving for mexican food.

My only other advice is to not give up..even if the first time you make them they don't totally come out. Ours was a bit fugly looking but once we saw what I did wrong we were able to adjust accordingly. Im going to double the recipe next time and see if they can be rolled out slightly bigger.
Homemade Tortillas..we made 8 burrito sized.
2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 TBLSPNS. Butter;Softened
1/2 cup Warm Water
Combine flour,baking powder,salt and butter in a medium bowl. Gradually add the warm water until a smooth dough forms. If the dough is to sticky add a little more flour(I actually thought mine was a little on the dry side and ended up adding more water to mine. I never got the smooth dough but that could be because I did it by using a spoon and not a mixer). Roll dough into 1 and 1/2inch balls(I made 8 instead). Set on plate,cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Flatten balls one at a time between 2 small plates and then roll into 6 inch circle(again we went larger) The flatter they are the more soft taco they are . Cook on medium heat in a pan or griddle and cook them until tortillas turn white. When you put them on the pan you can see the color turn fairly quickly and then you flip them over after that. Serve warm.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pudding Mix Cookies


I've read about pudding mix cookies on various blogs for awhile now. I'm so glad I decided to make these because wow they are really good and oh so soft. If you are a soft cookie person then I hope you gives these a try. I found this recipe when I stumbled across Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats blog. I didn't change anything about her recipe and the only thing I think I will change next time is maybe adding in some chopped walnuts:)
Pudding Mix Cookies
2 1/4 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 cup Butter;Softened
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Sugar
1 (3.4) pkg of Instant Vanilla Pudding
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 cups Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. In a small bowl combine the flour,pudding mix and baking soda;mixing it with a spoon. In another bowl combine the butter,sugars,eggs and vanilla;beat until smooth. Slowly combine the flour mixture in and mix the chocolate chips in by hand. I used a 1 inch melon baller when scooping the dough up and that worked fine. Place onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bell Pepper Appetizers


I hated bell peppers growing up. Infact I refused to eat them until last summer. I ate some on grilled skewers and never looked back. I still don't like them raw though and my favorite way is to layer them on skewers and then grill them until they are nice and crisp with a hint of burnt skin on them..yum yum. Here is a super simple appetizer made with bell peppers,mozzarella cheese and in my case sauteed mushrooms but I would have put minced olives on there if it weren't for my olive hating husband.

When you make these your oven will do a superb job of cooking them on the broil setting. My oven on the other hand refuses to even function on that setting.It really irks me since I can never get a good crisp coating on things. I have even tried sticking the temp on the highest it will go and still it never feels like it's hot enough. Oh well, whenever we move into our new house I get to choose my own oven and I can not wait!
Bell Pepper Appetizers
1-2 Bell peppers;seeded and sliced into chunks
Mozzarella cheese; grated or sliced
Mushrooms;minced and sauteed
Olives:minced and optional
Red Pepper flakes;Optional
Place oven on broil setting. Put bell pepper chunks onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese,minced olives or mushrooms or a combo of each and then add red pepper flakes to desired taste. Place in oven and broil until crisp tender and cheese has melted. I also left the flakes off of some of the bell peppers and just seasoned with salt when I took them out. You could use any number of seasonings on this.