Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dirty Rice..My Way

Dirty rice in my house means leftovers!! I usually keep bits and pieces of various foods throughout the week and then if I have nothing else to use them on, I make dirty rice. It's a great economical recipe to have around and I'm all about stretching the almighty euro these days. It's not a hard recipe to make and you can use whatever you have on hand. This time around I used bean sprouts,mushrooms,onions,and a green pepper. I sometimes use soy sauce instead of the spices,or sweet chili sauce..get creative!

Dirty Rice..feeds 4 with leftovers
1 lb. Ground Beef or bulk Pork Sausage
1 cup diced Onion
1 diced Green Pepper
1/2-1 cup Diced Celery
1/2-1 cup Sliced fresh Mushrooms
Bean Sprouts
1-4 TBS Cajun Seasonings
4 cups or Cold

Cook the beef in a large skillet until browned. Add in vegetables and cook until tender. Sprinkles in your cajun seasoning. 
 This spice packs a serious punch. I was able to use 2 tablespoons but probably should of used 1. My youngest drank a gallon of water while eating this and I was pretty thirsty aswell! if you like heat,then add the full 4 tablespoons. I would really taste it though before adding in more. Dump in your rice.
  Gently mix it in. I used cold rice so I had to break it down while mixing it in. Continue to cook until everything is heated through if using cold rice. Serve with big glasses of ice water! If you want your dirty rice to be a little more moist than dry, add in some beef stock. I've done that several times aswell.                                                                   

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Butterfly Madness!

It's tuesday and that means Communal Global wants to know what your "Today" looks like. Well my today is all about butterfly madness! 
We have so many now that when you walk into the backyard they actually land on your head now.
  These peacock butterflies are the ones I spot the most. I'm going to buy a few more butterfly bushes. I guess if you can get the one with red blooms it will attract Hummingbirds! I so want a photo of one of those.
  I spotted this guy the other day..reminds me of a moth.
    He looks like a bat in this one!! So there is my "Today" for this week. Link up and share your today with us!
   Time to link up and share your Tuesdays with us! Simply share your "today" (in a post on your own blog where you mention, and link back to communal global) then link up with us (at the bottom of this post) so we can come and visit your blog and see your unique (or wonderfully ordinary) "TODAY"! Oh, and while you're at it, feel free to add our button to your site (see the link that says "add us" in our header? Click that!) so more of your friends can share in the sharing! We can't wait to see your "Today."                                             

Monday, July 26, 2010

Focaccia Cheese Bread with Mushrooms

For dinner tonight I made soup and cheese July. I never make soup in July..ever..and if I did, it would be cold soup. However when I woke up this morning it was cold,grey,and raining. It felt like we were in October instead of july! It needs to do a major turn around or my vacation is going to a huge let down!

I wanted something to go along with my homemade potato soup and decided on a bread. I flipped through my newest Taste of Home cookbook that was sent to me from back home and setteled on Italian Snack Bread. It's a basic focaccia bread recipe that I played around with. I added in mozzarella cheese and sauteed mushrooms. I think next time I will make sure to add more salt and play around with the seasonings but other then that we really loved it!

Focaccia Cheese Bread

1 PKG Active Dry Yeast
1 cup Warm Water
1 Egg,lightly beaten
2 TBL Olive Oil
2-1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Salt
2-1/2 cups Flour
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Sauteed Mushrooms
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced Onions;optional
1 tsp. Coarse Sea Salt;Optional

In a large bowl add flour,yeast, and water. Add in the egg,oil,oregano,and salt. Using a wooden mix until a soft dough forms. It will be sticky but thats ok. Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Pat into a greased 13x9 baking pan; set aside.

In a skillet sautee the mushrooms and onions in the 1/4 cup oil until tender(if not using the onions you probbaly wont need that much oil if just sauteeing the mushrooms). Spoon evenly over dough and sprinkle with coarse salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees or 200 celcius. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake 25-30mins..until golden brown.
 Cut into squares and enjoy! You can serve this warm or room temp. I allowed it to sit for a few mins before cutting into it. Goes great with a bowl of soup!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday's In My City...

Heelloo Everyone! You know what time it is! Unknown Mami allows us cool people to link up with her and share a bit of our world. Head over there and check out everyone's sunday! This week I am taking you to Rotterdam! We headed over there to drop off the dogs and to visit their wonderful owners. I was hoping for sunny photos but it rained! So lets get started. Ok see the area above the freeway? thats actually an animal crossing! they have those all over here. They made them so the wildlife can travel safely back and forth without having to deal with the freeways.
 We saw lots and lots of windmills along the way.
 The clouds were big..and dark..back in Enschede it was sunny!
 Houses we walked passed while heading to the Kinderdijk.
 The Kinderdijk wich means Children's Dike is a famous section of windmills. You can walk along and take wonderful photos and even walk inside one of the mills. The weather was so bad that we just decided to take photos along the road and come back when the weather is better.
                         I love Dutch windmills
  Anyway thats a very small glimpse of life over there. I plan to head back there many times though as we visit our friends there. So hopefully I will have prettier pictures to share in the future! Have a wonderful week ahead!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Food Score and My Houseguests Are Leaving :(

We have stores here called Jumbo (pronounced "Yumbo") and they often sell american products. They just opened up a new one a few weeks back and I went there today. 

Whenever I head to a store, I go to 3 places. I hit the spice aisle,the ethnic section,and the baking aisle. It's in those places that I'm likely to find the american products. I already knew that the Jumbo's carried Marshamallow Fluff so I was excited to see it there and snatch up the last one! I headed to the spice section and spotted the Cajun Seasonings right away. I'm going back to pick up the Jamaican Jerk one aswell..but at 2,50 a piece my shopping trip could add up very quickly. Whenever they sell american products the price autmatically jumps up. Still it's nice to see these things and pick them up every once and awhile.

Tomorrow I am heading to Rotterdam. My time with my houseguests have some to an end. I'm going to miss them.
 Pixel is such a sweetie. She loves to play!
      Tug of War is her favorite game:)
   Bailey is the total cuddle bug. I took more naps during this time than I have in a very long time. I would stretch out on the couch and they would both jump up on the couch with me. Bailey would actually sleep on my side or above me on the back of the couch.
 I will probably cry like an idiot tomorrow when I give them back to Tammy and Xander. I see intense negotiations on my part when I talk to them about possibly shareing custody of them. I will lure them in with the possibilty of traveling far and wide and knowing that it's possible since they know of a family who loves their dogs. I've had fun. There have been lots of laughs,play time,walks and cuddles. I've forgotten the joys of owning dogs and I hope it won't be to long before my time comes :)                                                        

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zucchini Patties

The stores are filled with zucchini right now. I bought a few the other day because they were only 45 cents a piece. I had planned on making bread with them but I changed my mind when I saw all the recipes called for 2-3 cups of sugar to make two loaves of bread. I thought that was a bit much. I'm going to hunt around for a lighter version of it.

I was on allrecipes and spotted THIS recipe. I had everything on hand and whipped them up for us on monday. We loved them so much I made them again lastnight. They are super easy to make and and taste great. I know alot of you grow zucchinis so here is a way to use some of them up! Make sure you use plenty of seasonings! I didn't add enough on monday and it was really bland.

Another key point is to make sure you drain the zucchini thoroughly! if you do not, your patties will be very soggy and likely to fall apart. I first used a colander and drained and squeezed as much of the juice out of the grated zucchini as I could. I then placed it into a cheesecloth and squeezed even more out. This is a versatile recipe. Add wichever kind of cheese you want,your favorite seasonings,drop the patties into bread crumbs to get a crunchier outside,swap out the onion for finely diced mushrooms or bell peppers..get creative!

Zucchini Patties..Makes 12

2 cups Grated Zucchini,drained and patted dry
2 Eggs,Beaten
1/4 cup Chopped Onion
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Seasonings to taste;Salt,Pepper,Seasoning Salt,etc..

In a medium bowl,combine the zucchini,eggs,onion,flour,cheese, and seasonings. Stir well enough to distribute ingredients evenly.

Heat small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoonsful and slightly spread the batter out. Cook for a few mins on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Sky

We've had some crazy weather lately. I'm noticing most when I look up into the sky. This is what one of my "Todays" look like..make sure to link up at the bottom and share your today. When I walked out of the house,I saw these clouds to my left.
 Over on my right I had this beautiful sky
AS the day went on we got more of this and it ended with...
 This was our second storm wich came with tornado warnings..In the Netherlands. We didn't get any of course and this storm was worse than it looked thank goodness. So ok..I helped out the sky in the last photo because of h9ow dark it was outside.. but I'm telling you that's what I saw when I looked out my window!
 Communal Global wants to know what your "Today" looks like!        Time to link up and share your Tuesdays with us! Simply share your "today" (in a post on your own blog where you mention, and link back to communal global) then link up with us (at the bottom of this post) so we can come and visit your blog and see your unique (or wonderfully ordinary) "TODAY"! Oh, and while you're at it, feel free to add our button to your site (see the link that says "add us" in our header? Click that!) so more of your friends can share in the sharing! We can't wait to see your "Today."       

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pita Pockets Recipe

Doesn't that look good? I ate it for lunch. A homemade stuffed pita pocket with freshly made Smooth Sweet Tea. I love pita pockets and seriously they are always 100 times better than the store bought brand. I have a problem though..My pitas are a bit shy. How shall I put this? They have performance issues..they fail to "rise to the occasion" so to speak. I only had one puff up for me and I ate that one for lunch.

I think I figured the problem out though. I seriously rolled them out to far. As you can tell by this photo the puffed up one is the smallest of them all.
 I guess in this case..bigger isn't always better! I'm really annoyed though and plan to make these again. They are pillowy soft,taste wonderful and if I can get them to rise it will be my new go to recipe. Thanks to Beantown Baker for the recipe. She got it from the Fresh Loaf (wich also includes photos of the process) They have the best recipes on that sight. So go make some fresh pita pockets and don't stretch the poo out of them like I did!

Pita Pockets..Makes 8
 3 cups Flour
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1 TBS Sugar or Honey..I used honey
1 packet of Yeast(or if from bulk,2 teaspoons yeast)
1-1/4to1-1/2 cups Water,room temp
2 TBS Olive oil,Vegetable Oil,butter,or shortening

If using active dry yeast,follow instructions on the packet to activate it(mine says to just add it in with the dry ingredients) Otherwise,mix the yeast in with the flour,salt,and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1-1/4 cups water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour won't stick to the ball,add more water. I think I only needed about 1 teaspoons worth.

Place the ball on a work surface and knead the dough for approximately 10 mins. If you are using an electric mixer,mix at low speed for 10 minutes. My dough was slightly sticky so I dusted my hands with some flour when I started to knead.

Place a small amount of oil in the bottom of a large bowl. Place the ball of kneaded dough inside and coat both sides with the oil. Cover with either plastic wrap or damp towel and place in warm spot to rise until doubled in size..About 90 minutes.

When doubled in size, punch the dough down and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball,cover the balls with a damp towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it will be easier to shape.
 While the dough is resting,preheat the oven to 400 degrees or 200 celcius. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat aswell. If you do not have one,turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on wich you bake your pitas.

After 20 minutes,spread a light coating of flour on a counter top and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should beable to roll it out between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough doesn't want to stretch properly you can cover it with a damp towel and let is rest 5to10mins before trying again.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 mins. 
If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown leave them in for another 3-5mins,but it isn't necessary. **3 mins in my own wasn't long enough for them to rise up. I needed 5 mins but I think my oven runs cooler than it should.**                                    

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday's In My City...

It's sunday again! If this is your first time here. Hi there! My name is Sonya and I'm and American living in The Netherlands. Unknown Mami lets us all join in on shareing a piece of ourlives each week. Please head over there to see what she, along with everyone else is up to! This week's theme is "Oh thank goodness the temps are cooler because now I can go outside again"
We zoomed along the backroads enjoying the countryside.
See that? thats how people camp the middle of someones field. They all cram themselves in there and just's like pitching a tent with 50 of our neighbors in your backyard. You can't have campfires at all. Seriously odd way to go camping. No thank you!
 The Twilight craze here is nowhere near the level of what the U.S. has. Are you Team Jacob or Team Edward? I'm Edward all the way:) feels way to creepy to have the hots for an underaged
 Spent sometime hunting for a new pond to fish in!
 There was plenty of beautiful butterflies to take photographs of. I hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead and see you next sunday! I'm heading to Rotterdam next sunday and will hopefully have some great photos to share with you!
Unknown Mami

Friday, July 16, 2010

Island Chicken

Yippee it's friday! I am so ready for the weekend. I love my weekends because that means my husband is home. He's been working alot these last few weeks and we both really look forward to the 2 days off he gets. 

I was browsing around for a new chicken recipe and came upon this one from Annie's Eats. It had simple ingredients that I always have in the house so I whipped it up. My chicken looks darker tha hers because I use a soy sauce that comes from the ethnic section of my grocery store. It's thicker and not as salty as Kikkoman soy sauce I bought back home and sometimes here when I feel like spending a little more to get it. The flavor is very subtle and the hint of lemon is a really nice touch. You can either bake this or grill it. I baked it but will try grilling it aswell. Thanks Annie for a wonderful recipe!

Island Chicken
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
3 TBS Lemon Juice
1-1/2 TBS Soy Sauce
1 Clove Garlic,minced or pressed
1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp. Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
2-4 Boneless Chicken Breasts

Combine all ingredients except for chicken in a moxing bowl or large resealable plastic bag. Whisk or shake well until marinde is combined. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl or plastic bag and turn to coat. Is using a bowl cover tightly with plastic wrap. If using  a plastic bag,press out all the excess air and seal. Refrigerate up to 10 hours. I did mine for 9 and highly suggest you do it for aslong as you less than 3 hours if you must.

Pre heat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Place chicken in a baking dish and pour excess marinade over the chicken. Bake for 45mins or until the chicken is done and juices run clear. Let stand for 5 mins before serving.

If grilling heat grill to medium heat and cook the chicken 6-7 mins per side (depending on how thick your chicken breasts are) until internal temp reaches 165 degrees. Tent foil over top and allow to sit for 5 mins before serving.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cheese Puffs

We have cooler weather! Lastnight we had another storm! however this time everyone was home safe and sound and the storm turned out to be a big dud. The temps will be lower for awhile so I took full advantage today:) I've seen these cheese puffs before and always wanted to make them. I didn't know what to expect when it came to the taste and texture of these and thankfully they did not disappoint!

The texture is almost cream puff like..very light and airy but a little chewy aswell. I think it's important to use a stronger tasting cheese. I used mild and although I could taste it, it felt a little flat. There is something missing from this recipe. I think it would be good with maybe some finely diced green chilis,maybe some pepper jack cheese(man I wish we could get that here) or maybe even some pepperoni in it. You will find yourself popping them into your mouth left and right like they are popcorn..very addicting!

Cheese Puffs..makes 4 dozen
1 cup Water
2 TBL Butter
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Flour
4 Eggs
1-1/4 cups Shredded Cheese,cheddar,swiss,gruyere,etc.
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

Pre heat oven to 425 or 220 celcius. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large saucepan,bring water, butter,salt, and cayenne pepper to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes.
  Using an electric hand mixer,add the eggs one at a time,beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny.
  Stir in cheese and dijon mustard.
    Drop by rounded teaspoonfulls 2 inches apart on greased or parchment lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  Bake for 15-10 mins or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.         

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Storm

Yesterday we had a nasty storm hit us out of nowhere. We knew something was coming but didn't expect this. My husband called me from work telling me to get ready because it just left where he was and it was really bad. I had just enough time to hang up the phone and walk over to the window. This is what I saw. It went pitch black,the temp dropped and then the clouds started swirling around and a tornado! I ran around the house shutting everything up and then started to worry. My oldest son was out there and we warned him to come home if the weather got bad. The storm lasted about 30 mins.
 He didn't come home until after the storm was over. He was out in the middle of a field and couldn't make it home in time. He took shelter between two trees and when he tried to leave the wind knocked him down over and over again. I'm so thankful for those two strong trees!
  We've got trees down everywhere,some people had broken windows but thankfully noone was injured! It's Communal Globals Tuesday's Around the World. Link up with us and show a part of your "Today" make sure you put a link in your post back to Communal Global:)