Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shephard Inspired Pie


I highly doubt this comes close to what a real Shephard's Pie is all about but never the less, it tastes great! Growing up I had a similar version but we called it tater tot casserole and it used cream of mushroom soup. There is no cream of anything in here..not that Im a snob when it comes to that. I think casseroles as a whole get a bad rap. I have always loved them and will continue to make them for my family. This is a really versatile recipe. You can add whatever type of veggies you and your family like.

Shephards Pie
1 1/2 lbs. Ground Beef
4 medium sized Potatoes; chopped
Small Onion;Chopped finely;optional
1-2 cups canned veggies;corn,peas and carrots,cream corn,green beans..etc
2 cups Cheese;Grated
Seasonings of your choice
Paprika;optional

Gravy Mix
2 TBSP. Flour
2 TBSP. Butter
1 cup Beef Broth
2 TBSP. Worcestershire Sauce

Preheat oven to 400 or 200 celcius. Grease casserole dish and set aside. Place your chopped potatoes in water and boil them until done. Cook your beef and onion;drain and add in your choice of mixed veggies.
To make the gravy combine the 2 tablespoons of butter;once melted add in flour;whisk until combined. Add in remaining ingredients and bring to boil;whisking until gravy has become thick. Add to beef mixture;reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins. Mash your potatoes adding in enough butter,milk and seasonings to your liking. Add in one cup of cheese and stir until combined. Spread beef mixture in bottom of casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese. Spread mashed potatoes over mixture and sprinkle Paprika all over top. Bake for 30mins and serve with warm rolls.

** Another way to make this is layering part of the mashed potatoes on the bottom of the casserole dish,then the beef mixture and topping with the remaining mashed potatoes. I did it with this one but it's equally as good with all potatoes on top.**

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Butterfly Garden





I have a Butterfly Tree in my back yard and when it blooms I get a wonderful camera opportunity to take photos of the beautiful butterflies that stop by. I never get tired of looking at them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Homemade Root Beer!!


I'm sure you're wondering why someone would want to make their own root beer. So here's how it goes. You take one american girl who just loves root beer, I mean really loves root beer. She loves it with tons and tons of ice cubes and espically loves it on a hot day. You take that american girl and stick her in the netherlands and watch her go through withdrawls when she can't find it. Then one day she finds it in the store in a weird section of the store labeled food from around the world..huh? It's 81 cents wich isn't bad..until she does the math in her head..4 cans will cost her almost 5 american dollars..thats not good when you are on a budget. She sends her Dad an e-mail and he sends over root beer concentrate. She's happy. She's really happy because not only is it super cheap to make but tastes better than the can stuffed they are selling here. So thats how a person goes about making their own root beer! ha ha. I have yet to find a dutch person who likes root beer..or pumpkin pie for that matter. My husband swears it tastes like toothpaste. I swear he's just plain crazy.

Sometime I will do a post dedicated to odd food finds,funny names they have for american items,how they label certain things "american food" and they taste nothing like it should and just plain gross foods I have found. However lets get back to the root beer. I made it yesterday and it was so freaking fantastic! **The only important catch is to drink it all when you mix the concentrate with the club soda water. If you don't it will go stale on you real fast**. I'm going to be making this alot when the weather gets warmer..will it ever get warmer? summer seems to come in august. This recipe comes straight from the McCormick root beer concentrate package.

Root Beer
1 1/2 cups Water
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Root Beer Concentrate
1 liter COLD Club Soda water,selzter OR Club Soda

Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Stir in sugar and whisk until dissolved. Add concentrate,whisk until well mixed. Cool down,pour into container and store in refrigerate until ready to serve. Slowly pour soda into root beer mixture and stir to combine. Serve with lots of ice in the glass.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garden Update





Here is another update on my container gardening that I'm doing. Im just so dang happy that I managed to grow everything I set out to do. I have bell peppers growing now,epplants are making an appearance and we are already eating the cucumbers and soon cherry tomatoes!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mini Cheesecake Bites


I love cheesecake. I really really love cheesecake. I am a cheesecake snob. I will only eat new york style and it must be plain. I have never attempted to make it myself because I just don't think I can make it as good as what I've had before. Well today I decided to make mini cheesecake bites and it left me yearning for new york style even more. These aren't bad by any means. They have a very nice hint of cream cheese without going overboard and if you are health conscience then you could eat one of these without feeling like you just took a huge leap off the diet wagon. Next time I am going to add more cream cheese to get a bolder taste of it. These can be eaten in two bites and make great treats for the kiddos.

Remember my previous post about the Nilla Wafers? Well I put 12 aside and mentioned that I would tell you what I did with those? Well this is what I did with them. I used them as the crust of the cheesecake:o) You can use any round cookie though. A dear friend named Nicola sent me a package of mini oreo bites that came in the mail today. I crushed some up and used those as the base for 4 of the mini cheesecakes and placed a whole one in each one so surprise the boys. It worked. Stay tuned..I have my first semi giveaway coming up. It's a giveaway with a twist.

Mini Cheesecake Bites..inspired by Little Corner of Mine
1 8 oz pkg. Cream Cheese;softened
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 Large Egg
12 round cookies

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and then place 1 cookie in each cup. In a medium mixing bowl combine the first 3 ingredients; blend until smooth. Add in the egg and continue mixing until bended. Spoon batter on top of each cookie. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool and then refrigerate for atleast 2 hours. Decorate tops with strawberries,sprinkles,ect if desired.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nilla Wafer Wannabe


They don't sell Nilla Wafers in the netherlands. They also don't sell ranch,cheezit's,wheat thins,peanubutter chocolate anything,and every other snacky type thing we all have come to love. It's depressing I tell ya. I went hunting for a round shaped cookie here and didn't really find anything. Sure they have chocolate chip and Oreos if I feel like giving up alot of money..but I didn't. I needed a nilla wafer so like always I hit the internet. I found a recipe at Baking Bites and made them yesterday. I had a master plan for these and will show you tomorrow what I made 12 of them with. These are nilla wafer wannabe's..I can taste the likeness of a wafer in there but it's still not all together there. Still if you are in need of a simple vanilla tasteing crunchy cookie then this should work. Atleast now I can make a nilla wafer wannabe banana pie this summer:)

Nilla Wafers..makes several dozen depending on size
1/2 cup Butter;softened
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/3 cups Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
Pastry Bag

Preheat oven to 325 or 160 celcius. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl,cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Sift flour,salt,and baking powder over butter mixture and stir to combine. Scoop dough into pastry bag fitted with plain tip to make small ones or a larger tip to make the regular sized cookies. I made the regular sized ones. Pipe onto paper with space in between as they will spread a little. Bake 10-15mins,until cookies are light golden brown.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Homemade Slushie


As a kid I spent many summers walking to the local Circle K and buying slurpies and slushies. I got my husband hooked on them when we were living in the U.S. While out shopping one day, I spotted a slushie machine here. I got really excited and went over to buy one. I stopped the moment I saw the price. I quickly calculated the difference and in american dollars that small slushie was going to cost me close to 5.00! I walked away and went hunting online. I found this great recipe over at Hillbilly Housewife. It takes all of one minute and 30 seconds to make. It's cheap,tastes great and for those who live away from home like myself,it's a good trip down memory lane. I served these with cheese and ham quesadillas and cut up apples. The boys told me I rocked. Need I say more?

Homemade Slushies
2 cups Ice Water..I always have cold water in the fridge and used that
1 packet of Koolaid or other off brand of your favorite flavor
2/3 cup Sugar
4 cups or 1 tray of ice cubes

Place all ingredients into blender. Blend for 1 minute. Check for un chopped up ice;blend for another 30 seconds and serve right away. Makes 4 generous servings.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Banana Crumb Muffins


Baking these banana crumb muffins on a stormy day like today is perfect. Your house will smell amazing and you can enjoy these with your youngest child while watching it rain outside. Well thats what I did anyway:)

For some super annoying reason my favorite grocery store has been selling less than stellar looking banana's lately. It's great if you want some banana's that are already for baking but not so much if you want to feed them to your family without them saying eeeww over the semi brown look. The crumb topping on these really sell it for me. I usually like my banana muffins with walnuts in there but the topping totally makes up for that. You could add some in there aswell and take it to a whole other wonderful level of banana muffin goodness. These make 12 very large muffins so you could infact stretch these to around 15 or so..but why would you? large muffins on a rainy day are a must in our house:) Enjoy!

Banana Crumb Muffins..allrecipe inspired
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 Banana's Mashed
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1/3 cup Butter; melted

Topping:
1/3 cup Packed Brown Sugar
2 TBL Flour
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1 TBL. Butter

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Grease 12 muffin cup pan and set aside. In a large bowl combine the flour,baking soda,baking powder, and salt.. In a seperate bowl combine the banana's,sugar,egg,and melted butter,beat until combined..I used a big spoon and it worked fine. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture,mixing until just moistened. Spoon batter into muffin cups. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar,2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in the 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinle over top. Bake for 18-20 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chocolate Chip Meringues


Well today was supposed to be my day to make homemade bagels. However while watching a re-run of America's Funniest Home videos lastnight,I managed to walk around the corner while still watching the tv and smack my pinky toe against the bottom of the stairs. I yelped and knew instantly I had broken it. I have broken that toe about 15 times during my life. I am used to it now and can tape it to the next one and go about my day. However making bagels requires some standing and my toe just wasn't having it. My oldest son was stuck at home today aswell and was begging to help me with something. So in came meringues to save the day!

I am the first one to admit that I am not a fan of meringues..but thats because I buy them in the store. This was my first time making these and I can assure you it will not be the lasttime! Wow these are just so so good. They are crispy on the outside with the element of dissolving right into your mouth. Then you are hit with a soft chewy inside that makes you smile and grab another. The chocolate chips dont fully melt but they are really soft when you bite into them. These are super easy to make and perfect for a bored kid who decides that after he's done helping me that I'm pretty funny for a mom and a great baker:) Life is good.

Chocolate Chip Meringues..about 30
2 Egg Whites
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/8 tsp. Cream of Tartar
2/3 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Miniature semisweet Chocolate Chips
2 ounces semisweet chocolate,melted(optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees or 150 celcius. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside. In a medium bowl beat egg whites,vanilla,and cream of tartar with electric mixer on high speed till soft peaks form. Add sugar,1 tablespoon at a time,beating till stiff peaks form(tips of the meringues should stand straight up when pulling the beaters up). Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart. Bake for about 20mins or until firm and bottoms are very lightly browned..mine took a full 20mins. Transfer to wire rack and allow to cool. If you want drizzle the cookies with the melted chocolate.

Variations:
Cocoa Meringues: prepare as above,excpet stir 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder into the sugar;add to egg whites as directed.

Peppermint Meringues: Prepare as above, except use 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract instead of vanilla. You could also sprinle in crushed peppermint candies on top before baking.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Poo On A Stick


Thats the title that came to mind when I saw these pudding pops! No matter what I did,even adding a lame border around it,it still looks like poo on a stick. Well let me tell you, it was mighty fine tasteing poo! ok enough poo jokes. These are really good I promise. I spotted these over at Our Best Bites. You need to head over there because they have some fabulous concoctions when it comes to pudding pops. Being the mint chocolate fan that I am, I went with that one. It was mentioned that you should not use full cream because for some reason it didn't work. Well I went ahead and used it anyway. I used half milk and 3/4 cup of the cream. I can understand now why you shouldn't use it. When I started mixing it,it became to thick to fast. I wasnt able to pour it in the molds. The taste is awesome but when I pulled a few more out,it looked like freeze dried poo on a stick. It still tasted fine but because I couldn't judge how full it was,there was alot of air bubbles in there and it wasn't filled to the top. Next time I will just use regular milk or half and half if I can find it. I also left out the cookies only because it ticks me off to pay almost 6 american dollars for a small bag of Oreos that I don't actually like in the first place. However I can see how adding them in would work in this case but it won serious rave reviews as is so I don't feel bad about leaving them out. I think Im going to try some chopped up mints in there next time. Stay tuned...Homemade Bagels are up next!!

Mint Chocolate Cookie Pudding Pops
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1 3/4 cup Half and Half..regular milk would work too
10 Oreo cookies,crushed(about 1 heaping cup)
1/4 tsp. Peppermint extract

Blend pudding mix,extract, and half and half in a blender until smooth. Stir in crushed cookies by hand. Place in molds and freeze. ** I just mixed everything by hand with a whisk in a bowl and it worked fine.**

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Roasted Potato Fans


The dutch love their potatoes..I mean really love their potatoes.It's not unusual to see potatoes served at almost every single meal here. However being that Im not dutch, I can only take so many potatoes at any given time. I do love them but I need variety in the way they are cooked aswell. So enter potato fans. These don't come with a recipe..it's more of an idea. You slice them,slather each slice with melted butter,seasonings and cheese. It's a fancy baked potato in my opinion and we really like them. Feel free to change up seasonings and cheeses!
Potato Fans
Potatoes;washed and free of blemishes
Butter;Melted
Seasonings of choice;pepper,italian,garlic powder,onion powder
Cheese;parmesan,cheddar

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees or 200 celcius. Take a sharp knife and if you have them two wooden spoons. Place the potato between the two wooden spoons and using the handles as your stopping point,slice down..NEVER cutting all the way through..that would give you slices and not the fan look. Your goal is to make slices all the way across and I use the wooden handles as the guide as to when to stop slicing. Sometimes you have to free hand it aswell but it's easy once you get a few done. Mix your seasonings in with your melted butter and carefully spread the slices open and add the melted butter. Reserve some of the melted butter to baste later on. Place in glass pan and roast until done. The last 10-15 mins cover with remaining butter and sprinkle with cheese. Cook until melted.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cornmeal Pancakes


When I first served my husband a plate of pancakes he was a bit taken back..and then he made a face when he tried the maple syrup. He told me these weren't pancakes. I said yes they were. He said no way and I was like well if they aren't pancakes then what are they? I can't tell you how many times we have laughed over the differences in our foods. I am used to the fluffy thick pancakes with butter and maple syrup..thats eaten during breakfast time. In the netherlands pancakes are a dinner meal. They are flat, with melted slices of cheese,bits of apple or a combo of things thats inside the pancake and served with a sugar syrup. I can't tell you how taken back I was when he made me some when we moved here. They are so flat you can roll them up like a tortilla,yet they have a rubbery type texture to them. I will always prefer my version of pancakes..and the maple syrup. I just can't wrap my mind around non tasteing sugar syrup.

These cornmeal pancakes are a great alternative to the traditional type. They have nice crisp edges and a great cruncky aspect to them. I really really liked this. However with that being said, these were also the fussiest pancakes I have ever made. They didn't want to flip very well and that was after waiting for the edges to bubble. The middle doesnt set up like the others so be careful of that. You can't wait for that to happen or you will burn the bottom. Give yourself planty of time to make these because they take a bit longer than the originial kind.Thanks to eating out loud for a great recipe.

Cornmeal Pancakes..I was able to make 14 pancakes
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Cornmeal
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
2 TBL Oil
1 Egg
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
Butter
Oil

Combine all ingredients just until blended. Melt equal parts butter and oil in pan and cook until done. I tried these with a nonstick spray and it just didn't work. The oil and butter works much better.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Patriotic Cupcakes


Happy 4th of July!!! I can't tell you how odd it is living in another country and not being able to fully celebrate a holiday. I fully understand now why people who move to another country bring along with them their love for their food. Sometimes thats all you have to remember where you came from. I wanted to wish all my family and friends back home a safe and Happy 4th of July:)

I jumped on the bandwagon and made these patriotic cupcakes. My layers slightly ran wich was a bummer but you get the idea. Although we have had a break in the high temps we are still dealing with the humidity. My batter was super runny and so was the frosting. They taste great though and thats all that matters. You can save yourself some time by using a regular boxed white cake mix and a tub of frosting. However for those like myself who have no access to those things I will include a vanilla cupcake recipe for you. They are sweet and simple.

Vanilla Patriotic Cupcakes..14-16 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter;Softened
1 cup Sugar
1 Large Eggs
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line cupcake pan with liners and set aside. In a bowl combine the flour,baking powder,and salt;whisk together and set aside. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar; cream until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and mix until combined. In a drinking glass combine the milk and vanilla. Alternately add flour and milk mixture into batter,beginning and ending with the flour. To make the patriotic cupcakes I took out two bowls and divided the batter into them,leaving in the white batter in the original mixing bowl. Dye one blue and red. Layer batter into cupcakes making sure to cover the entire top with color. Bake for 17-20 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Frost with favorite icing!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Easy Baked Potatoes


Well I know almost everyone can make baked potatoes but I swear up until a few years ago I nuked mine..and they sucked that way too. However since getting a clue and sticking them in the oven I love em.

Baked Potatoes
Potatoes;scrubbed clean and blemishes removed
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

Adjust your oven rack to the middle. Heat oven to 400 or 200 celcius. Prick potatoes several times with fork. Rub with olive oil and roll in sea salt. Bake until tender..about 45 mins to 1 hr. depending on size. You get a very nice seasoned skin thats slightly crispy.

Potato Pancakes


It's so hot and humid here. It's just not fun to go into the kitchen at this point and cook something. However the family must eat so I must cook. Luckily we have been living off of salads and various other things I make in the morning and re heat or serve cold later that day. I had some left over mashed potatoes and decided to make them slightly different. I love the usual way of making them wich is add an egg,some spices,roll them into bread crumbs and fry until crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. Well I was out of somethings and decided to treat it like a dough. I added in spices and flour until it became a soft dough. I rolled it out,used a flower cookie cutter and fried it in equal parts butter and oil. A real winner!

Potato Pancakes
left over mashed potatoes
seasonings; salt,pepper,italian seasonings..watever you like
flour
butter
oil

Add your seasonings and add enough flour in to make it a soft dough. Roll out to desired thickness,keeping in mind the thinner the dough the more crisp it will be. Using a cookie cutter or a glass cut out the shapes. Fry in equal parts of butter and oil until golden brown and heated through.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Burn Your Mouth Chicken


I almost always pay close attention to the ingredients when making something. I almost always pay even closer attention to it when there is a serious spice factor. I don't like alot of heat in my food,neither do the kids. However for some odd known reason wich I think I will blame on the high humidity we've been having, I let the 1 tablespoon of chili powder escape my attention. I won't ever let that happen again...ever.I let my guard down because the name of it is Sweet and Spicey Chicken..I kept waiting for the sweetness to come threw but it never did! If you don't mind the spice factor then this is a dish for you. However I will be adding way less..as in maybe a teaspoon of chili powder next time around. It would have been perfect that way.
This is also a versatile dish. You can eat it hot,luke warm or like us,cold. I say us as in my husband and I. I made the kids something else. We however had to douse the poo out of it with whisky sauce..we love that stuff.


Sweet and Spicey Chicken
1 TBL Olive Oil
1 TBL Chili Powder..adjust to your taste
1 TBLS Brown Sugar
1 TBL Dried Oregano
3/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 3 1/2-4 lb. Chicken cut into 10 pieces or boneless chicken breasts
Heat oven to 400 or 200 celcius. In a bowl combine spices and oil. Place chicken into roasting pan and rub with the spice mixtire. Bake 45-50 mins or until done. I used chicken breasts and mine only took about 20-25 mins. Serve either hot,room temp or cold.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chef Salad


Our family loves salad. I've been very lucky with my two sons when it comes to eating their veggies and actually liking them. My oldest son tries just about everything and there isn't a whole lot he doesn't like. My youngest has the texture thing going on so although he eats salad he tells me he feels like a cow after awhile..lol Chef salad is easy to make and I always have everything on hand when we feel like eating it. I rely on lunch meats for this one. The amount of ingredients you use is up to you
Chef Salad
1-2 heads of ice burg lettuce
4-6 hard Boiled Eggs;Chopped
Ham;sliced or chopped..you can use leftovers or deli style
Chicken;sliced or chopped..leftovers or deli style
Tomatoes;seeded and chopped
Cucumbers;sliced or chopped
Shredded Cheese
Salad Dressing
Tear of chunks of salad;tear apart and divide between 4 plates or lare bowls. Divide remaining ingredients between all 4 plates. Top with shredded cheese and choice of dressing.