Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sundays In My City....

I decided to join in on Unknown Mami and her sunday postings about Sunday in your city. I thought it would be a good way to show you my life here in the netherlands. The photos were taken of a mansion I took a walk around with my husband. It was so beautiful there and I wanted to so badly to see the inside! People are living there right now and I can only imagine the cost of the upkeep on this place. The Netherlands oozes with historical sites and beautiful scenery. See you next sunday! Unknown Mami

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chocolate Ice Cream

Hi Everyone! It's been a busy week. My husband took a 3 week vacation and is going back tomorrow. We spent the 3 weeks going places,working on our townhouse and scouting out a new place to live in Germany. We can't buy for another 3 years but it's so much fun to look. Today I found the american dream in a small german It's out in the country but close to town. I can only hope that it doesn't sell for 3 more years. There's room for me to have my own chickens,large garden and space to build on aswell. One of the finer points of living here besides universal health coverage for all is that you get paid vacations. My husband gets something like 5 weeks off every year and it only goes up. It's paid aswell plus everyone gets vacation money here every summer aswell. I love having him home!

On to the ice cream! I finally found out why I couldn't find a thermometer like I wanted for ice cream making. I guess they no longer sell them because of the mercury in them. I did find some online here so Im not sure what makes those any different. I was lucky enough to get on for free from another american living here in the netherlands. Now I can make the ice cream recipes that require you to heat it to a certain temp. This recipe however doesn't require you to use one. I'm not going to lie and tell you this is the best ice cream ever...because that would be a lie. However this is a darn good chocolately ice cream that with a few tweaks could be that much better. It tasted alot of the cocoa and it almost wants to be a milkshake in a way. I don't know,something was missing and Im not sure what yet. It was great to have a cream based ice cream and Im hooked on making it now. I wont ever buy from the store again. I'm going to keep hunting for the perfect chocolate ice cream and if anyone has any recipes for one please let me know!!

Chocolate Ice Cream..6-8 servings
3/4 cup Sugar
1 cup Milk
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 TBL. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
3 Egg Yolks; Lightly Beaten
2 ounces Semisweet or your preference Chocolate;Chopped
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 tsp. Vanilla

Combine sugar, milk, salt, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over mdium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer. Place egg yolks in small bowl. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into the yolks and beat to combine;pour back into saucepan. Heat until thickened, but DO NOT BOIL! Remove from heat, stir in chopped chocolate until melted. Pour into bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours or until cold stirring occasionally.

When cool, stir in cream and vanilla. Pour into ice cream making, freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. When done place in freezer safe container and freeze for another few hours. I have a small ice cream maker..about 1 liter and this was to much for it almost. So I would suggest you use a larger maker for this recipe.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Garden Update

Well it's that time again folks..another garden update. My cherry tomatoes are taking over! seriously. I grew 3 plants and that is more than our little family can deal This morning my husband and I went out and picked our first eggplant. As you can see I snapped a photo of the special moment. Our bell peppers are getting bigger by the minute and will be ready to pick soon aswell! I'm loving this process more than I expected and I'm already getting ready for next season. Is there anyone out there that can buy Banana Pepper seeds? If so I would love to do a swap with you for them. I can't get those here and Im really wanting to grow those.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Homemade Devils Food Cake

Yesterday marked the first day back to school. Here in NL there is only 6 weeks of summer vacation; I'm liking that. So to mark the special day I decided to make a Devils food cake from scratch aswell as make homemade ice cream!
The first thing I noticed when I moved here and tasted the ice cream was that I was in for a serious heartbreak. The ice cream here tastes like frozen Cool Whip. It doesnt taste milk based and I was really sad. Also you can choose from 4 or 5 boring flavors and thats about it. There is no mint chocolate chip,cookie dough,peanubutter anything,no peppermint during christmas time,no chunks of anything. I don't buy ice cream anymore and when mother's day rolled around I asked for nothing else but an ice cream maker. I got one:) It's a small one but thats ok. I couldn't use a larger one due to the fact that freezer space in fridges is obsurd. This post isnt about the ice cream only because I didn't like what I made. I didn't have a candy thermometer so I used a no cook recipe..and well,it was so sickingly sweet. I have searched high and low and even went into Germany to find a thermometer and have come up empty handed every single frustrating time. I found one online and ordered it. Hopefully it will be here soon and I will be posting recipes for my upcoming ice cream adventures.

The cake however turned out great! It was really moist and I didn't bother to top it with frosting, although you certainly could. We all ate the cake and ice cream with big smiles.

Devils Food Cake
2 1/4 cups Flour
1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsps. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Shortening(I used butter)
1 3/4 cups Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
3 Eggs
1 1/3 cups Water

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees or 180 Celcius. Grease and lightly flour two 9x1 1/2 inch round cake pans or grease one 13x9 pan and set aside. Stir together flour,cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer set on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add dry mixture and water alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just till combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire rack and frost.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Toko Shopping

Today I went over into germany to pick up some much needed chocolate chips. While I was there I remembered I had taken a photo of some items I bought at a local Toko shop a few weeks back. Being an expat in the netherlands or any country can leave you scrambling around trying to find those few baking items you need to make things that you loved back home. I joined a few expat groups in the netherlands to find the ins and outs of the baking world here..because clearly the dutch do not bake like americans. The first thing I learned was go to germany as often as possible because they have way more of a selection and second, the Toko was to become my best friend. Everyone was right on both accounts!

A Toko is an international food store and actually they have stores like this in the U.S. but I never needed to go there..Well thats not 100% true. We used to go there when we were 14 to buy cigarettes! they never carded us there and it gave me such a thrill to know that I passed for 18..what a dope I was. Anyway I never went there for anyother reason. The Tokos here has the one essential item,all american bakers need: Baking Soda. They do not sell baking soda here. When I asked several dutch people where to buy it they looked at me like I was crazy. They told me to go to the pharmacy and buy it there. Pharmacy? I just couldnt believe that. Well they do sell some there but it's nothing like what you would use to bake with!! that stuff you can soak your feet in..totally nothing like the Baking Soda we are used to. Incase you are wondering why they don't sell it here it's because they only bake with Baking Powder,never soda. When I first entered a toko I was excited. I saw shelves and shelves of food items from all over the world. I spotted the Baking Soda and snapped up two boxes. I picked up packets of coating that reminded me of Kentucky Fried chicken..infact it had the words Kentucky in They sell super small cans of crisco there but an obscene amount of money. I have passed everytime but if I ever want to make homemade Bisquick I will need two cups of it. Those two cups are going to cost me close to 15 american dollars to make. I spotted different flavors of extracts,jiffy peanut butter and many other things. Whenever I go I make a point to pick up a few new items to try.

So in the picture you can see that I bought two boxes of Baking Soda,I spotted pineapple jello so I bought that. That tasted great and I plan to buy more. I saw a set of what they called fruit pudding so I bought that. When we came home I opened it up. I opened up the melon one and it smelled like someone had cut up af resh melon and sealed it. I dipped more spoon in it and it went flying across the room. It was actually a very rubbery jello. However when you ate it, it was far superiour to any jello I ever had. It had big pieces of the fruit and was really refreshing. I also always try to buy the kids some new snack to eat. Now most of the items in there you have to go by sight because the words are not in english or dutch. They have things like sea weed candy wich looked like a fruit roll up. I wasnt to sure about that one. Instead I bought what looked like to be something similar to rice crispy treats..boy was I wrong! The ingredients had milk powder and sugar listed but gosh there was hardly a flavor to it. They were packaged into big squares and it had a creepy squishy feeling to it. We couldnt finish ours. Instead we gave it to my sons best friend who is half Tawainese. I guess that is a popular snack item there. I picked up some banana chips and headed out. I always have fun going in there and picking up new spices aswell. I bought garam masala this time and plan to use it soon. It's amazing what you can find in international food stores. I highly encourage you to go to one yourself in the'd be amazed as to what you can find in there.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Root Beer Popsicles

Welcome to another addition of cooking with kids! Sometimes making something simple can be equally rewarding to both parent and child. I don't always have the patience to make something elaborate and I noticed that the fewer steps there are, the more they are willing to stick it out.

Today is the last day of summer vacation. Here in the netherlands they only have 6 weeks off. I for one am really happy about that. I think anything longer can become a pain when it comes to dealing with the boredom. The only downfall for us is that summer doesn't really start for us until August. We can have rain up until this time and then we are done with the nice weather by October.

Yesterday it was going to get up into the 80's so I decided it was time to make some root beer popsicles! Growing up we purchased the variety packet of popsicles and it was always a real treat to either get the banana flavor or the root beer one. These tasted great..almost like a frosty glass of root beer. The only one downfall is that because it's basically sugar water frozen it can melt fairly quickly. The only thing I did to help was pour the hot water in and my oldest son stirred and poured.
Root Beer Popsicles
1 cup Sugar
3 cups Hot Water
1 TBL Root Beer Concentrate
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Lemon Juice

Stir sugar and hot water in medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Stir in root beer concentrate, vanilla, and lemon juice. Pour into milds and freeze until hard.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm going to go ahead and get this out in the open. I can not stand Martha Stewart. I find her to be one of the most unsympathetic people out there. If you combined her with Rachel Ray and her annoying sammie and EVOO comments,well that would be my own personal hell. Now with that being said I have to thank that lovley unsympathetic Martha for shareing the recipe for the ultimate cakey chocolate chip cookie. I am in love..totally head over heels in love with these cookies. I will never ever in a million years try another chocolate chip cookie. I know everyone has their own preference when it comes to cookies. Some like them thin and crispy,maybe chewy..but me? I need thick cake like cookies. The bigger the better. If you are like me then I can not urge you enough to give these a shot. They are best eaten warm..the warm cookie is oozing with melted chocolate goodness and the smile on your face is fan-tabulous. The one down side I found with these is that you don't get enough! Martha says you should get 3 dozen. I barely got over 2. I have to make more soon..very very soon. Also I still have 1 opening left in my giveaway so come on sign up!!!

Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies..2-3 Dozen
2 1/4 cups Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 -3/4 sticks (14TBL) Unsalted Butter;Softened
3/4 cups Sugar
1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 Large Eggs
2 cups Semi or Milk chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl combine the flour and baking soda;whisk and set aside. In a mixing bowl combine butter and both sugar;beat on mdium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low;add salt,vanilla,and eggs. Beat until mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture, mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by heaping tablespoon balls 2 inches apart. ( I found that an ice cream scoop worked perfectly) Bake until cookies are golden brown around the edges and center is set..about 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 2 mins before transfering them to a wire rack.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten Free everything is popping up on all sorts of blogs. Although noone in my family needs to be gluten free I was still curious about it. I myself can not imagine ever giving up flour..I love flour. I love everything you can make with flour and living without anything that usually contains flour really scares me..alot. However I am not so stuck in my ways that I can't see trying something new. So I did. These cookies are super simple to make,only has 5 ingredients and although they were very peanut buttery I still missed the cakey factor you get with flour. Also these can be mixed with just a large bowl and a wooden spoon..doesn't get easier then that. These are very good though with an ice cold glass of milk.

GF Peanut Butter Cookies..makes 24 Simply...Gluten Free
1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1 cup Sugar, plus more for rolling cookies in
1 Large Egg;lightly beaten with fork
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Vanilla

Pre heat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl mix the peanut butter with 1 cup of sugar,stir until blended. Add egg,baking powder, and vanilla. Stir well. Pour some additional sugar into a bowl.
Take 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Roll into sugar and place on cookie sheet. Take fork dipped in sugar and make the criss cross pattern;reapeat with all cookies. Bake for 10 minutes;cool for 5 and transfer to wire rack to cool all the way.

** As a side note I went ahead and dumped everything into the bowl at once because I could not get the peanut butter sugar combo to get smooth. It worked out fine**

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Easy Lemon Mousse

The summer weather has finally arrived! My container garden is growing rapidly and we are enjoying cherry tomatoes now. When it's warmer my small dutch kitchen is the last place I want to be. However I still want to make something special for my family so I rely on desserts that take minutes to mix up but still taste like you spent alot of time in the kitchen. The lemon flavor paired really well with sliced strawberries that I put in there and it will be a dessert that I will make again for sure.

Easy Lemon Mousse
4 ounces(1/2 package) Cream Cheese;Softened
1/2 cup Sugar; divided
1 1/2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
3 TBL Lemon Juice..I used a real lemon
1 tsp. Lemon Extract
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl until smooth and creamy. Beat heavy cream,remaining 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, and extracts in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Add 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture; stir until well blended. Gently stir in remaining whipped cream mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Spoon or pipe into dessert bowls and garnish with mint leaves,berries and lemon slices if desired.

** You can also make a Vanilla Mousse aswell. Replace 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract in place of lemon juice and extracts.**

Monday, August 3, 2009

Giveaway/Paying it Forward

Awhile ago I won a pay it forward giveaway. When winning you need to offer the same on your blog. So I am. Here is how it works. I am going to offer 2 people a mystery box full of dutch goodies. I will mail these off by the end of the year. It's not cheap to mail overseas so by giving myself some space in between should work out just fine. In the box I will include items to bake with,such as our amazingly famous dutch cocoa. There is nothing else like it. I will also include general snacks to try. It's always fun doing things like this because chances of vising other countries just isnt in the cards for alot of us... So this is my way of letting you visit my new country.

Now before you decided to sign up for this you need to know that you also need to now offer this on your blog. It's a pay it forward thing. I send you something and in return you do something on your blog. It doesnt have to be alot,it can be anything you want, but make someone else's day aswell. So if you are up for this leave a comment and an e-mail for me to reach you. I will take the first 2 to sign up. I don't care where you live, Im so very happy to send you goodies. So think about it and hopefully I get two very excited people:)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cooking with Kids

I wanted to start a weekly cooking with kids post because I think it's important to get them in there and enjoying the process of making different foods. As a mother to two boys I don't want them to be totally helpess when they move out. I don't want them relying on fast food for their meals...although I'm sure for awhile they will do just that! Cooking should be fun and not a stressful activity you do with them. My two sons are 11 and 9 so I will be picking different items based on their age and what I think they can handle helping me with. I noticed however that they are really eager to help me making it but they sure to disappear fast when it comes to cleaning up!

My 9 year old and I made this lastnight. We have wanted to make it since last november when I received my Taste of Home magazine..yep I get them mailed allll the way over here! It calls for frozen strawberries and let me tell you that was difficult to find. I forgot about the recipe until this week when another blogger posted a similar recipe. I got my magazine out,used fresh strawberries instead and voila 8 hours later you can enjoy a strawberry ice cream like dessert.

Frozen Strawberry Dessert..Taste of Home magazine
1 cup Flour
1/4 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Cold Butter;cut into small cubes
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans
2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries;thawed
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream; Whipped

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. In a small bowl,combine flour,brown sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Press into an ungreased 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 14-16 mins or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack. Crumble the baked pecan mixture;set aside 1/2 cup for topping. Sprinle remaining mixture into an 8 inch square dish.
In a large mixing bowl,beat the strawberries,sugar,and lemon juice until blended. Fold in whipping cream. Spread evenly into dish. Sprinkle with reserved topping. Cover and freeze for 8 hours or overnight.

** On a side note, we aren't big fans of big pieces of frozen strawberries so I went ahead and chopped the strawberries up**

** My son helped with all the measuring, mixing the strawberry mixture aswell as helping with the whipping cream. He helped scoop the mixture into the pan and helped with licking the bowl clean:)**