Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dutch New Year

I'm taking a week off from posting any recipes. I am slightly burned out from all the baking and cooking I have done for the last month. Right now Im using stand by meals that we all love and doesn't take a whole lot of effort from me. After this week I will be back to posting again as usual. I have a ton of new recipes I want to try and post about! One thing I thought I would share about is the Dutch New Year..My gosh is it different. This is the only time of year the dutch are allowed to set off fireworks. At first I compaired it to our 4th of July but wow they go waaaaay over the top on their fire works. Im talking hundreds and even thousands of dollars are being spent on this stuff. You can not even compair the fireworks. These are your seriously loud bang fireworks,bottle rockets, and you know those big ones you see on tv? I get those going off right outside my window.

It's a full blown lock down on New Years Eve. We tape our mail slot shut,close all windows, lock the doors, and bunker down until it's over. The first two years my nerves were shot from all the loud bangs. Im not kidding when I say that it sounds like a war going on outside your window. You aren't officially allowed to even set them off right now but everyone has left overs from last year and you start hearing it in december. They also travel into Germany and buy the ones that are illegal here; the big booming ones you see on tv, and they buy the flare type guns and shoot those off. Now lets get down to the basics.

These are called Oliebollen..wich translates into Oily Balls..niiice..lol Everyone eats these by the bucket load...everyone but me..lol I can not stand them. They are sort of like a doughnut but not really. You drop the batter wich always has atleast currants and sliced apples into a deep fryer and cook until they are done. You can also sprinkle them with powdered sugar when they are done. I'm not a fan of these because there is no taste what so ever. No vanilla,cinnamon..nada. They sell these in big stands all over so incase you don't want to make your own you can still buy them.

Here we have this years firworks. This is my oldest sons lot. In the mail you get order forms from all different stores and you can go through and decide who has the best deal and order from them. This is a really big deal. My husband talks about how he would spend days figuring out who to buy from and writing down and then re writing everything he wanted. People spend thousands of dollars are huge fireworks. The boys saved up their allowance and we go ahead and let them get what they want..within reason. I had looong talks with my oldest son over safety issues and what not to do. There is no touching of the illegal fireworks, no shooting off of any flare guns, no holding onto firecrackers..the list went on and on. I was so scared the first time he went out with his friends to light some. There is always atleast one story of either a child or an adult who lost fingers,hands and eyes. This can happen back home of course, but gosh we bought the chicken who pooped out fire balls when you set the butt on fire.

Here is a video I took a few years ago of some of the big ones they set off right by us. I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year! For some reason the darn video won't always play right away. So if that happens try refreshing.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sundays In My City....

I hope those that celebrated had a wonderful christmas! My family did. We woke up to snow falling down wich quickyl turned to rain. Oh well. A partial white christmas is better than none. This week of Sunday's In My City hosted by Unknown Mami comes with the them of "Oh my,we forgot to cut the bottom of the tree". Our poor christmas tree went without water for 26 days! Now I do know better. The first thing you do is cut the bottom off so it will get water..however I forgot to stress that point to my husband. It was the crispiest christmas tree I have ever had. So it had to come down..and come down it did. The needles fell off in bucket loads. When we pushed it out the back door, the rest fell off. 

  I've never seen so many needles in all my life. The poor thing really held on til the end.

     Here is the whole tree after we got it outside and you can see how bare it is.

        Here is a close up of the branches! I hope everyone got wonderful gifts. I got a new camera and can't wait to play around with it. It has so many wonderful buttons and settings. It's probably tired of me already just using the basic ones. Please head over to Unknown Mami to see what everyone else is up to! See you next sunday!       Unknown Mami                                          

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Date with Mr. Bailey

I've got a date..A date with Mr. Bailey..that is Mint Chocolate Bailey. The presents are wrapped. The goodies are baked. The boys are excited about tomorow. My husband and I are equally excited. Our oldest son thinks he doesn't get his main gift until January. Thanks to my wonderful Super Dad of a husband who drove 3 hours round trip yesterday to pick up this gift, our son will have the surprise of his life.

I'm feeling good. I didn't mail everything on time, bake everything I wanted to nor did I visit a german christmas market (Next year for sure), Im still happy. Tomorrow will be busy with opening gifts and visiting family but I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I hope whatever you do, that your day is filled with good cheer, wonderful things to eat, and family and friends to share it all with. The christmas tree cookie in my photo is one I bake every year. The recipe can be found Here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ginger Chicken

Can you believe I just now did my christmas shopping? My husband and I got up early and headed out. We left at 8:30am and got home just before noon:) I'm so happy to be done. In a perfect world I would of gotten done weeks ago but thats not how christmas bonuses work sometimes. Everything is wrapped and ready to be put under the tree!! 

Yesterday I got the newest Taste of Home magazine. The moment I spotted this ginger chicken recipe I knew I had to make it. Chinese food is one of our favorite meals to have and not being able to visit our favorite resturant is so painful..lol One of my goals this year is to learn how to make everything that we loved from our resturant. I've got high hopes for 2010!

This dish is really easy to make and tastes great! I think alot more could be added to it..maybe a package of stir fry veggies and more peppers. I also added in mushrooms and really liked it. The sauce is the real winner in this dish. The soy sauce and rice vinegar go great together and everything just mingles so well:) There was no leftovers to speak of. It truly feeds a family of 4 and if you wanted to stretch it, I would suggest adding stir fry veggies.

Ginger Chicken..Serves 4
1 Egg White; Beaten
1 TBL Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Cornstarch
1/8 tsp. White Pepper
1lb Boneless skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces(I used 1-1/2 lbs)

1/2 tsp. Cornstarch
2 TBL Rice Vinegar
2 TBL Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Sugar

Stir Fry
1 TBL plus tsp. Peanut Oil; Divided..I used regular
1 medium Green Pepper; Julienned
1/2cup Sliced Mushrooms
3 Green Onions,cut into 1 inch length; optional
1/2 cup canned Bamboo Shoots; Finely Chopped
2-3 tsp. fresh Gingerroot; Minced
1/4 cup Slivered Almonds
Hot Cooked Rice

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the egg white, soy sauce, cornstarch and pepper. Add chicken; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Combine sauce ingredients in small bowl and set aside.

Place 1 tablespoon of the oil in a larger skillet or wok. Drain marinated chicken and add to pan. Cook until no longer pink. Add in stir fry ingredients and cook until crisp-tender. Stir sauce mixture and add to pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Sprinkle with almonds and serve over rice.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Homemade Hot Chocolate

When I woke up this morning there was a fresh blanket of snow! I need to stop talking about it..but I just can't. I almost never see snow in december and if I do it doesn't usually stick. It's so fabulous. My oldest son left this morning for a basketball tournament. I smiled to myself as he left because he has come along way since we moved here. There is a difference between dutch kids and american kids. I've had to loosen up a bit on some things and tighten on others. It's a fine balance I need to keep both for myself and for them. I wanted to make him something special today no matter if he won or not. He loves hot chocolate and there is nothing better than the homemade kind. He didn't win the tournament but he said he had fun anyway and will do it again next year. I told him I'll have the hot cocoa waiting:)

Mint Hot Chocolate..1 serving
3/4 cup Milk
2 TBL Sugar
1 TBL Dutch Cocoa..regular is fine too
2 TBL Heavy Cream or Milk..cream gives it a more smooth taste
1 small drop Peppermint Extract; Optional

Add 3/4 cup milk to a saucepan and slowly heat it up stirring once and awhile. Meanwhile in a mug combine the sugar, cocoa,cream and extract; Stir until just combined. Once milk has become nice and warm, pour into mug and stir until combined. Place whipped cream on top with chocolate sprinkles:)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sundays In My City....

Hello everyone from snowy Holland!! It's another week in Sunday's In My City hosted by Unknown Mami. This week's theme is..incase you didn't already know..is SNOW!! Oh how I love snow. I realise we don't have alot but you take what you can get and be happy with it! As luck would have it, my area has been least affected by the snow..everyone else got tons AND tons. There is an 80% chance that we will have a white christmas and in my 35 years of being on this earth..it will be the first time I get to experience that. Im beyond excited. 

I went out this morning and took photos of my front yard, the area across the street and then two shots of the street itself. I hope you enjoy looking! Head over to Unknow Mami to see what everyone else is up to!

This is across the street and what I see when I look out my window!

This is the the street to the right when we come out of our place.

This is to the left. I love this area because our two sons only need to walk about 30 seconds to school wich is located on the left side of the street sign you see right there. I hope everyone has a wonderful week...Christmas is almost here!!!!   

Unknown Mami


Friday, December 18, 2009

Beef Stroganoff

There is a million things I need to get done today. Tomorrow is my husband's 35th birthday. Now normally I don't mind birthdays..that was until I moved here. I will have to do a post on a dutch birthday..wich I might after tomorrow. It's just not fun. Everyone I chat with here who isn't dutch also shares my view. So today is supposed to be filled with a large amount of cleaning because a cluttered/dirty dutch home is probably one of the worst things you can have...and they will check and talk about you. They claim they don't do this but everyone knows it happens. I don't have a dirty home but I also don't obsess over dusting every moment of the day either. If you come to my house without calling first then you are going to find that we actually live in our home and don't make it presentable 24-7. So before I get going I wanted to post this recipe. 

Why is it that certain foods just do not photograph well? or maybe Im just not good at taking photos...could be both I guess. I've noticed that casseroles and any type of gravy topping doesn't look good either. This tastes great though and best of all you can make it without using a boxed mix and have it ready on the table within 30minutes. While the boys were at school eating their christmas dinner, my husband and I were enjoying a quiet meal with just the two of us..wich never happens! I got this recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. If you don't have this one you really need to get it! I love it and haven't been let down yet when using a recipe from it. The original recipe calls for 1 pound of boneless beef sirloin steak. I don't know about you, but I never have that laying around. So instead I use 1 pound of ground beef and it's just as tasty.

Beef Stroganoff..Serves 4
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 8ounce(1cup) container of Sour Cream
2 TB Flour
1/2 cup Water
2 tsp. Instant Beef Bouillon Granules
1/4 tsp. Pepper
2 TBL Butter or Margarine; Optional
1-1/2 cups Sliced Fresh Mushrooms
1/2 cup Onion; Chopped
1 Garlic Clove; Minced
Hot cooked Noodles or Rice

The butter in this recipe was to be used to brown the steak with and I left it out. In a bowl combine the sour cream and flour. Stir in water, bouillon, and pepper; Set Aside.

In a large skillet brown the beef,mushrooms and onions; Cook until done and drain any remaining fat. Stir sour cream mixture into the beef mixture and cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Mini Cupcakes

A couple of things to mention before I get to my recipe. First..we have Snow!!! Ok, ok, I realise it's not a ton and most people have a gazillion times more than me..but hey, that doesn't mean I can't be crazy happy about the amount thats falling at this point! We are supposed to get more overnight and on to tomorrow. I just love watching it fall. Ok the second thing is..a Gigantic thank you to Katy from Food For a Hungry Soul. I sent her an e-mail asking how in the heck I can post multiple photos without them always going to the left side. It's been driving me nuts. I've wanted to start doing step by step photos of some things and this will work out so much better. I can't thank you enough Katy for taking the time to send me a perfectly described e-mail on what I needed to do before you went to work! You are the best! I think it will take me sometime before I work out all the kinks of posting like this but Im really excited.

Ok on to these cupcakes. This time every year, the boys attend a christmas school dinner. All the kids need to bring something for everyone in their class to eat. I let all the other moms deal with the actual dinner while I concentrate on just baking something yummie. I've sent cupcakes every time. I'm now known as the "American mom who bakes cupcakes"..hey I've been called many things throughout my life and this title works just fine thankyouverymuch! This time around I wanted to make it easier on myself and decided to use my mini cupcake tin! There is something so cool about mini food. I got a 24 cup one for my birthday and I needed to make 48 in total so this was easy peasy. I decided on a simple chocolate chip recipe with vanilla frosting. I actually held some batter back so my husband I could try one aswell. They came out pretty darn good I must say!

Chocolate Chip Mini Cupcakes..48 mini
2 cups Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Butter; Softened
1 cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs; Room temperature
3/4 cup Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

Pre heat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Lightly grease or line mini cupcake tin. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; Set aside. 

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add milk and vanilla and beat until smooth. Reduce speed and slowly add flour mixture,beating until combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Spoon batter in to almost the top.

Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and frost 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Candy Cane Cookies

Everyday the weather man has taunted me with the possibility of snow..and everyday this week I have been let down. Reports are coming in from my friends on facebook today that they are seeing snow in their area of the netherlands..fingers crossed it comes this way today!

I cranked up the christmas music and set out to make me some candy cane cookies this morning! These are a childhood favorite of mine. My mom wouldn't make these every year so when she did make them, it was extra special. As a child you don't fully appreciate the time and effort that goes into making something and it's only later on in life that you experience that for yourself. I didn't realise that these suckers can take some time to make. The rolling the dough into strips can take awhile but the outcome is so worth it..Nothing says christmas like a candy cane cookie!

Now, there are several recipes out there and unless they use almond extract in their recipe, they are not the original Betty Crocker version. Im a firm believer in using tried and true recipes and not giving them some splashy update. I'm an old school girl and alot of my cookie recipes are ones I grew up on or have been passed to me from another family member. You won't get a ton of cookies from this recipe. I got almost 2 dozen but that also included when I got bored and made peppermint shaped candy cookies with the dough or just plain candy cane sticks when they didn't want to bend. This is a really soft dough but by treating it gently you can create wonderful cookies.** Make sure when rolling the strips out that your dough is not thick,but on the thinner side. You want semi thin to medium ropes. If you go bigger they will not twist**

Candy Cane Cookies..several dozen
1 cup Butter: Softened..the original I believe calls for 1/2 Crisco
1 cup Sifted Powdered Sugar
1 Egg
1-1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2-1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Salt
Red Food Coloring

Pre heat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a bowl combine the flour and salt: Set aside.

Mix butter,sugar,egg, and flavorings throughly with an electric mixer; Stir in the flour mixture with wooden spoon. Divide dough in half and color one half with the red food coloring.

Take some dough(tablespoon or so) and roll into a 4 inch long strip/rope from each color. For smooth,even strips roll them on either a lightly floured surface or parchment paper. Place strips side by side and press together lightly. Transfer the pressed dough over to the cookie sheet and then gently twist like a rope making sure to curve the top down to make the candy cane shape. If you don't transfer to the cookie sheet before making the twist it makes moving over and staying together harder at that point.

You can also make peppermint candy shapes aswell. I combined the two colors,rolled it out into a strip,twisted it and then curled it up. Bake for 9 minutes, until very lightly browned. Cool and transfer to wire rack. Another version is when cookies come out of the oven to sprinkle them with either sugar or crushed candy cane bits. I prefer them plain.

** Experiement with the amount of dough. I sometimes make super thin long ones,going longer that the 4 inch or sometimes I make fat squatty ones. I make just candy cane sticks with no curve. The dough is soft enough to kind of play around with it without having to much trouble. If it comes apart once you twist it, gently press it back together.**

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sundays In My City....

Happy Sunday Everyone! I was sooo hoping to bring you a lovely christmas post this week. However my husband worked graveyard shift all last week so that ment getting out to take some photos really hard. Plus believe it or not, the dutch really do not go all out for christmas like I am used to. I'm hoping between now and next week I can snap some christmas spirit around my town. Until then, I wanted to show you my favorite photos I took from two zoos in Germany this summer.

I never ever get tired of going to the zoo. I can spend all day there just looking at the animals. I try and go to new ones each time because everyone has something special to offer. The picture of the Gorilla is blurry..but it was ment to be. When I spotted him sitting by himself I started snapping the camera right away..and then something happend. He looked right at me and leaned back so I couldn't see his face. I waited for a few seconds and then he leaned forward with his hands covering his eyes. He peeked at me again and I put my camera up again to take his picture. It was then that he gave up and just looked at me with those sad eyes. I. Felt. Horrible.

I just looked at him as he looked at me. I told him I was sorry out loud and walked away. All he wanted was to sit there and relax and I took that away from him. I have such mixed feelings sometimes about going there. You can argue the value of a zoo in many ways and I'm not here to do that. Im a huge animal lover but that face really got to me and the human emotion he displayed of just wanting to be left alone spoke volumes. I hope you all enjoy your sunday. Please head over to Unknown Mami and check her city out aswell and everyone else's. Have a wonderfull and see you next sunday!
Unknown Mami

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I am not to happy with this photo..but I'm tired. My husband is upstairs asleep and thats where my lightbox is. I tried putting a snazzy frame around it but it still doesn't help. My husband works all shifts and this week he worked graveyard. I no longer sleep well when he is away. I think it's because I still don't feel 100% comfortable with living here. When we moved into our new place I was so nervous. The whole phone number thing is different. It's no longer 9-1-1 but 1-1-2..how am I supposed to remember that in a stress induced situation? Can you imagine being robbed and having to politely ask the person to please threaten your life in english because you are not understanding anything they say? I had post it notes all over the house with all the phone numbers for the longest time. I laugh about it now but wow it's enough to keep you awake some nights. What does this have to do about these cookies? nothing really, but it explains why I'm tired:o)

This isn't a new recipe..infact if you purchase a bag of the Reece's peanut butter chips and flip it over, you too will see this recipe. However I tend to not look at those recipes most of the time and I think it's a mistake. This is the best recipe to use with peanut butter chips. It's almost like a brownie...chewy chocolate peanut butter goodness in every bite. I made these using dutch cocoa instead of Hershey's. I don't even think I can get hershey's over here and even if I could, I wouldn't go near it. Once you have tried dutch cocoa you won't want anything else. However the dutch cocoa calls for recipes using baking powder. I went ahead and added in 1/2 tsp of the powder along with the soda to make sure everything came out ok...and it did. I hope you will pick up a bag of the peanut butter chips and give these a try. They are best served warm with a tall glass of ice cold milk.

Reece's Chewy Chocolate Cookies..4-5 dozen
2 cups Flour
3/4 cup Hershey's Chocolate..if using dutch add in 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Bakins Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1-1/4 cup(2-1/2 sticks) Butter; Softened
2 cups Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
1-2/3 cup(10ozpkg) Peanut Butter Chips

Pre heat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line cookie with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl combine the flour,cocoa,baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl on medium speed beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; Beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Atir in peanut butter chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 mins. Do not over bake! The cookie will look soft. They puff up during baking and then flatten while cooling. Cool slightly before removing them to wire rack.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Homemade Gift Ideas...

I love handmade gifts..always have, always will. There is something so special in knowing that someone else took the time to make me something. I'm not saying that store bought gifts are less thoughtful because that isn't the case either..I just get all happy inside when someone tells me they are making me something. I wanted to show you some things I have been working on. I have a few food friends in my life and we agreed to make handmade items for eachother. Although these are not the exact ones I made for them these are the ones I made for myself. I made handmade marble magnets and cupcake toppers..in one day! It's not hard, just takes some free time from you. I love magnets and collect them. Whenever I travel somewhere new I make sure to pick up atleast a magnet, hopefully an ornament that shows where I went and food to bring back and try..lol I love seasoning packets and other packaged foods that can be brought home to consume and hopefully love.

Anyway I have had this idea for the longest time. They were all over the internet a year or so ago and I finally was able to give it a go. To make the marbles all you need is flat bottomed clear glass marbles wich can be found in the flower arrangement area,or aquarium store. You need small round magnets, a silicone sealer, modge podge, and tiny images of choice. You can get creative with those. These images came from a Taste of Home magazine. I put my marbles on top of the photos I hope to use to make sure the image looks ok inside of there. I have heard of people actually printing out tiny photos of their family and sending those to family for gifts. I cut out the image and make sure it does not overlap the marble. You want it to be the size of the flat part. I place the cut out picture on a protected surface and place a small amount of modge podge on the back using a toothpick to smooth it out. I then place that part on top of my photo and press down...quickly turn it over to make sure the picture is on the back straight. You can then use the toothpick to flatten it out. Then take another small amount of the modge podge and cover the top of the picture to seal it onto the marble. Repeat with the others and let them sit until they are all the way dry. I start in the morning and don't touch them until later on in the afternoon. I will check them to make sure they are all flat and that the edges are not coming up. If they do, apply more modge podge with the toothpick.

Once they are dry, take your clear silicone sealer and put a small dab onto the non magnetic side of the magnet and place onto the back of the marble in the middle. Gently but firmly press down and allow to seal for the rest of the day. Repeat with remaining magnets. I will walk over and check on them from time to time to make sure they are still in place and sealing properly. For a step by step photo tutorial, head over HERE.

As for the cupcake toppers, those are easy peasy aswell. You can either cut out or use punches in various shapes. Stamp an image onto it,color it in and use a glue gun to attach the toothpick to the back of the stamped image. You only need a small glob of it to get it to stick. I went ahead and made toppers,magnets and small handmade matching 3x3 cards with the same theme and packaged it all up as a complete set. You can decorate an Altoid tin and place your magnets on the inside. So far everyone has loved their handmade themed sets that were made with them in mind.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuna Cheese Melts

When my husband and I sat down to do this weeks budget, I thought it was a joke when I saw the figure. I mean I can pinch pennies with the best of them but this honestly required me to squeeze that penny dry like never before. Now back home this was never a problem. However living over here has been a bigger challenge. I can not stock up on anything. There is no family sized this or that or those big unattractive roasts that turn into something beautiful once you put them into the crockpot. I have yet to cook one roast since living here. It isn't because they aren't there but when I do see them my punching arm goes into overload when I see the price tag and the small roast that comes along with it. I realise of course that you don't always need a large roast but being an american mom, I have come to rely on leftovers and everything you can do with them. We decided to buckle down this month to pay off some big bills so that we could look forward to christmas and a better start to the New Year. So in comes this recipe!

I think melts sometimes get a bad wrap. We actually love melts no matter what our financial situation is. Alot of people link sandwiches with being dirt poor and that just isn't the case. I'm also not the kind of mom who feels the need to put a 4 course meal in front of us everynight either. So no matter what your budget looks like,this is a sandwich that fits the bill. You can serve this along side of a soup or like us with potato wedges and fruit.

Tuna Cheese Melt 4 sandwiches
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt
8 Slices Rye or choice of bread
1 can(6 ounces) Tuna; Drained and flaked
2 TBL Mayonaise
4 Slices American Cheese or Cheese of choice
4 TBL Butter; Divided

Combine the Sour Cream and Garlic salt in small bowl; Spread on one side of each slice of bread. In another small bowl, combine the tuna and mayo and spread on 4 slices of bread. Top with cheese and remaining bread; Press down lightly.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add two sandwiches and toast until bread is lightly browned and cheese has melted. Repeat with remaining butter and sandwiches.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dutch Christmas Tree

When I moved to the netherlands my tradition of getting the christmas tree on my birthday kind of went away.I was really sad because that was one of the things that I loved about my birthday. However over where I live they don't sell them until after Dec 5. So over to Germany we went! I know in other towns they sold them earlier but I still had problems finding them around the first.

However this year my husband and I took a drive into Germany and around back to the netherlands in search of someone who was selling them on the 1st. We found a place in the netherlands! I was so excited. I jumped out of the car and gave the guy a big smile. They can always tell right away Im not dutch. I'm to happy and smile way to much to be anything other than an american..lol I was excited because this guy not only sells a few days before the dec 1st but he also sold the trees I am used to. I've been buying the huge charlie brown christmas trees that hold maybe 6 ornaments. Last year we had a 6 and a half footer and drooped when you stuck an ormanent on there. Thats all they have here!! I happily paid 25 euros for this one! The branches are firm and holds every single ornament I have..Whoo Hoo!

So on my birthday I was able to decorate the tree with christmas music in the background and all of us taking out our favorite personalised ones we brought over from the U.S. Im posting a picture of one of my favorites. Edwin and I bought it on our honeymoon. There was a store back home that sold ornaments all year long and you could get them personalised aswell. I wish they did that over here but they don't. I had a huge collection of the hallmark ornaments aswell..but sadly had to leave those behind. I'm having fun building up my collection again and I've even started swapping ornaments with people from around the world. If anyone else posts their tree please come and tell me. I would love to see yours!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Breakfast Puffs

I've been reading my new cookbooks and magazines nonstop since receiving them. It's been really cold and miserable out so snuggling up on the couch with the christmas tree lights on is the best place to be right now.

Yesterday morning I made these wonderful little mini puffs/muffins. I've seen the recipe on other blogs but forgot about it until I saw it again in Taste of Homes Best Holiday Recipes magazine. They are first baked and then dipped in melted butter and rolled into a cinnamon sugar mixture. You can go all out and dip the whole thing or like me I just dipped the top and then rolled the whole thing in the mixture. They remind me of doughnut holes a bit..I remember that Bisquick had a recipe to make baked doughnut holes and I thought these were alot like that. Im going to try dipping some of them into powdered sugar next time! These are best served with coffee or hot chocolate!

Breakfast Puffs..24 mini or 12 large
5 TBS Butter; Softened
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Milk
1 Egg
1-1/2 cups Flour
2-1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
Melted Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
1tsp. Cinnamon

Pre heat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease miniature muffin tin or regular sized tin; Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the flour,baking powder,salt, and nutmeg; Whisk and set aside.

In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk milk and egg; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Pour flour mixture into creamed mixture and beat until just combined. Fill muffin tins two-thirds full and bake for 14-16 minutes or util toothpick inserted comes out clean. If using a larger tin you will need to bake just a little longer. Cool for a few minutes; make sure they are still warm when you start dipping them.

Combine the 1/2 cup sugar and one teaspoon cinnamon. Dip puffs first into the melted butter and then straight into the sugar mixture. Serve warm!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sundays In My City....

Wow has this week gone by fast! It' sunday again and that means Sunday's In My City hosted by Unknown Mami. Head on over and check everyone elses sunday out. This week my theme is "Running Errands". I did a ton of those this week.

I'm taking you on a trip around my neighborhood...well the shopping part of it. Every neighborhood almost has their own small shopping center. You can see the store Aldi where I run in weekly to stock up on groceries. Now across the street from Aldi you can see the road with the big building on the right? The bottom part is my doctor and pharmacy. You know whats neat about that? For one I can walk to it, for two if I need a prescription, my doctor sits at her computer and puts it in and when I walk next door it's already to go. I don't have to wonder if my insurance will cover it, there are no co pays. I pick it up and thats it. Ok now from there I cross back over on to the side of Aldi and round the corner and thats the second part of my shopping. Where the two ladies are standing is where my butcher is. Next to that is the DA(pronounced Day-AH) and thats where I can mail items off at the postal part or pick up hair care products or pharmacy type things.

As you can see the netherlands does not believe in having a one stop shopping store. I can not tell you how much I miss the super Wal-Marts and Targets. I sometimes have to go to 3 or more stores to get everything I need! Oh the other thing is the close up of our shopping carts. We have to put money in them when we want to use them. You can can stick in coin money or most stores give you a metal coin to just stick in there and you keep it on your key chain. I prefer it that way because it can get pretty annoying to always keep the right coin in your purse to shop. Lastly you see a picture of the road we take to drive back home. There are sooooo many townhouses and apartments here. I hope you enjoyed running errands with me! See you next sunday!
Unknown Mami

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Beer Bread

Tonight I was able to use one of my new silicone loaf pans and I'm totally in love! It's really sturdy and not floppy like the older ones are. I can pour the batter in there and the bottom base has a nice sturdy part to it that allows me to pop it into the oven without having to use a cookie sheet. It's so nice having a proper sized loaf pan. The ones over here are over 10 inches long.

So lets get to this lovely quick bread! I spotted this over at Gimme Some Oven. I've never made nor eaten a beer bread before and wow is it totally different tasting than any other quick bread. I'm not a beer drinker at all so this took a bit of getting used to..however after a few bites I really loved it. It was crispy on the outside and super moist and tender on the inside. It's the perfect bread to serve with a soup. Infact if you are looking for one to serve with it then please make it with THIS one. I did and we loved it. The bread and the soup are both economical and with the 4 of us there was enough to have leftovers from both. I forgot to add in shredded cheese to the batter and it was great without it but next time I want to add some. Also I had a few issues with the slight bitter after taste and my husband said next time we'll buy a sweeter beer wich might cut back on that. So keep that in mind..possibly a darker beer would work better. On a side note, my two sons were at the table in record time. When I told them they could have the bread too their eyes lite up. They thought it was the coolest thing ever to be eating beer.

Beer Bread..1 loaf
3 cups Flour
2 TBS. Sugar
1 TBS. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 TBS. Honey
1 bottle (12ounce) Beer
4 TBS Butter; Melted..can be doubled if you like.

Pre heat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the beer and honey into dry ingredients..(you can pop the honey into the microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to measure and mix) Stir just until mixed.

Pour half of the melted butter into bottom of loaf pan. Then spoon batter into pan and then top with remaining butter. Bake 50-60 minutes or until golden brown on top and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Mine only took 42 minutes but I think silicone pans cook slightly quicker. You can also add 1-2 cups of shredded cheese to the batter.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A box filled with love!

Well..today is mine and my husbands 5th anniversary! I suppose 5 years isn't all that long but I'm telling you we have been through so many ups and downs over these 5 years that it makes my head spin sometimes. My husband first gave up his entire life to join me in the U.S. and start a new life there and then I returned the favor by giving up mine to start over here. I have no regrets and look forward to what the next 5 years will bring us! He's my best friend and my heart still skips a beat when I hear the car pull in the garage after his day at work. I'm so very lucky.

My birthday and anniversary brought two large boxes from home. My Dad and step Mom who clearly love me beyond words took the time to send me goodies from home!! I had no idea they were sending me so many wonderul things. I got two thick Taste of Home cookbooks plus 8 taste of home magazines,chocolate chips,white chips,peanut butter chips,butterscotch chips,puddings, seasoning packets,seasoning salt,lemon pepper salt and some Shake n Bake..whoo hoo! I was dancing around the room with such excitement. I am really blessed to have a Dad and step Mom that love me so much that they put their own needs aside to send me a box filled with love and a taste from home. I love you both very much. Now..let the baking begin!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Whipping Cream Biscuits

Wow it has taken me forever to post a recipe! Dec 1st was my birthday and I've been crazy busy since then! I had a wonderful birthday. My husband sent me to my favorite dutch website to purchase bakeware. I can order Wilton and other brands there and it only takes a day or so to reach me. I ordered a 24 count mini muffin tin and some other things I've been dying to get. My Dad and step mom sent my yearly birthday and christmas box. I was so shocked when I opened it to find a huge amount of silicone bakeware! I am soooo excited to use it all..now I can bake using regular recipes from home. They don't sell the 9 inch pie plates or the loaf pans I am used to.

Also included in the box was 2 containers of Baking Powder. I have been wondering for the longest time why in the heck my pancakes and biscuits have been coming out beyond flat. I've wanted to post new pancake recipes but wasnt about to when they came out paper thin. Well after doing some research and talking to others I discovered that the netherlands only sells single acting baking powder! The U.S. and England use the double acting..no wonder nothing has been working! It's those things that you have no clue about until you start baking and asking questions when things don't go right. So this morning I made huge fluffy pancakes and for dinner tonight I made these awesome biscuits! I bookmarked this recipe from Coleen's Recipes. If you have never been to her site you need to rush over there and see for yourself. These bisuits are the best I have ever made...and they only have 3 ingredients. How utterly amazing is that. They are soooo light,fluffy and they are begging to be drizzled with honey. These would also make a great ham and egg biscuit for breakfast. Please make these, you will not be sorry!

Whipping Cream Biscuits..
2 cups Self-Rising Flour..recipe for that below
1 TBL Sugar
1-1/2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream

Pre heat oven to 500 or around 240 celcius. My oven doesnt go that high so I put mine at around 400 (200 celcius) and that was fine too. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease it and set it aside.

Combine the 3 ingredients and mix until dogh forms a ball. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5-7 times. Pat dough into 1/2 inch thickness and cut with a 3 inch cutter. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minuntes or until golden brown and done on the inside.

** To make your own Self- Rising flour for every 1 cup add 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. Baking Powder, 1/2 tsp. Salt, and 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda**