Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday's In My City...

Unknown Mami
Hello from no longer snowy but rainy Holland! If this is your first time here, every sunday Unknown Mami allows us to take a look into her world along with everyone else who signs up. So head over and take a virtual trip. 
We had a bit of sun this week..and I mean a bit. As in we had get out suppa fast to get some photos taken. I thought I would show you the streets,the houses along the way and some water..because a post without water in the Netherlands is just so wrong!
 First up we had to stop for gas! gas stations tend to look so much alike. You can buy flowers there and let me tell you, the flowers there were prettier,bigger,fresher and cheaper than anything I ever bought back home.
 Here is what a typical dutch street looks like. Can you tell one of the differences here? The streets here are not covered in power lines. I love it.
Here is another look while we were waiting for the light. I never get tired of the brick homes.
As much as I love this house, I wouldn't be to happy living on such a busy road. I would want my curtains closed all the time.
  We stopped by a canal to get out and walk. As you can tell there is a powerline but it's out in the country side.
                                                                                  As we stood there this big ol thing went by!
 We then took a drive through a small town. Some of these places shouldn't allow cars because of how close you are to the people walking down the streets!
 This is actually part of the downtown area in this little town. I can see the appeal of living like this. You can open up your door, take a left and be shopping in a matter of minutes.
  Here is the downtown area. There are people living above all of these shops and if you look closely you can see parked cars facing eachother both ways. That is not against the law here..which ever way you can fit your car in is ok. I hope you enjoyed your tim here! Have a wonderful week and see you next sunday!                                   

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Recent So-Sos

Do you ever wonder why you don't get something when everyone else thinks it's cool,to die for, and a must try? I get like that alot. Like take Crocs for instance. I won't be caught dead in those things but everyone around here seems to think they are great. I see people wearing orange crocs with white socks..and they have the NERVE to stare at me in my jeans and nikes! I've had a string of just so so recipes lately that although others really liked it, I only thought it was so so.
 Coffee cup mug cakes. This thing went around the blogs like crazy. It claimed with just a few ingredients and a microwave you could have a sinful chocolately cake in a matter of minutes. You know what I got? A rubbery blob my kids wouldn't even touch. I made the recipe twice with two different recipes and still came away with the same outcome.
Honey Glaze chicken. I thought it tasted like something that was basted in grape juice! I keep trying different honey chicken recipes and each one has failed for me for one reason or another. I love honey and chicken but I haven't found the magic combo just yet.
  This last one I made this morning. A Lemon Yogurt Loaf with a powdered sugar glaze on it. Although it was tasty Im still deciding on if I should post the recipe or not.

I should point out that none of these recipes come from any one blog. I would never EVER make something from someones blog and then come on here and trash it. I can't stand that when I read that on someone else's blog...just because I didn't like it doesn't mean that it wasn't good. I've gotten all of these from cookbooks and wasn't impressed like everyone else was..wich is how it seems to be for me alot. I suppose I don't have a fancy shmancy palate. I see tons of mile high cakes,dinners that take hours to prepare, and all I want is a good coffee cake and meatloaf recipe. I guess I'm weird.                                 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Homemade Bagels

It's not to often that I blow my own horn. However I'm going to take a moment to do just that.. HOLY MOLY I made bagels!!!! B-A-G-E-L-S!! not just any run of the mill bagels, but honest to goodness decent bagels! This is the first recipe using yeast that came out the first time I made it. I usually have to start over for one reason or another..not this time:)
I can't find bagels here and when I do find them I always wished I hadn't spent the money to buy them. Now to be honest, if I lived back home I never would of made these. It's just to easy to go to the store and pick out your favorite flavor and be on your way. Since I can't do that anymore I turned to Nigella for the answer. She answered in a big way! These are great bagels. Nigella said bagels need to be chewy,not airy,with a tightly woven crumb..thats just what we got. 
Before I get into the recipe I wanted to mention to my expat readers in the netherlands that I bought the bread mix from AH. I bought the multi grain one because I could not find just plain bread flower. If you use this I would cut down on the salt a bit. Mine came out slightly salty but I think it's due to some already being in the mix. One bag of the mix is 6-2/3 cups but you need another bag to knead in more dough. Ok here is the recipe with photos to help out!

Bagels..makes 15
6-2/3 -7 cups Bread Flour,plus more for kneading
1 TBL Salt
1 package(1/4ounce) rapid-rise Yeast
2 TBL Sugar
1 TBL Vegeatable oil,plus more for greasing
2-1/4 cups Warm Water,plus more as needed(I did not need any extra)
2 TBL Malt or Sugar..I used sugar
2-3 Baking Sheets,oiled or greased. I used parchment.

1. Combine the flour, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl. Add the sugar and oil to the water. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid, mixing the ingredients with a wooden spoon.
2. Knead the dough either by hand or with a dough hook, trying to add more flour if you can. **I added just under the 7 cups and did it by hand! My husband actually kneaded it for me! ** The dough will be very stiff and hard to work with but keep doing until you have a smooth. elastic dough..wich takes 10 minutes even if you use the dough hook.
 Form the dough into a ball, and put it into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat all around, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for about 1 hour. It should be well risen, and , when you poke it with your finger, the impression should remain.
 You can see the poke I made in the middle and how it stayed.
3. As you begin to shape your bagels get a large pot of water on the boil. When it starts to boil add in the sugar. 
4. Punch the dough down really hard and plop it onto the counter top. Give it a quick knead and then divide the dough into 3 pieces. Take those 3 pieces and using a pizza cutter or knife cut each one into 5 pieces..for a total of 15 pieces. Take each piece and roll it into a ball. Then take a finger and poke a hole in the middle and gently open the hole up bigger by pulling it apart gently. Set the bagels on cookie sheets and cover either with a tea towel or plastic wrap for 20 minutes by wich time they should be nice and puffy.
                     
5.Pre heat oven to 500 or over 225celcius..my oven actually won't go as high as that but get it up as high as you can.
6. When the malted water is boiling and your bagels are good and puffy,start poaching them. Drop a couple of bagels at a time into the boiling water and boil for 1 minute, turning them once. Use a couple of spatulas to flip them over and remove them. When the minute is up place back onto the oiled baking sheets.
 Your bagels will puff up even more when in the water. Bake them for 10-15 minutes or until they are shiny and golden brown. I needed the full 15 but my oven is never right anyway.
Place them onto wire racks to cool. When they are totally cool they take on the chewy texture of a bagel. I know this was a long post but I'm hoping my photos will help out anyone else who wants to attempt bagel making.

I was really pleased with this recipe and plan to make more in different flavors.                           

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A country drive..

I'm at my happiest when we leave the city and head towards the country side. It's there that I finally get a sense of peace and space. Living in the netherlands has been a real trial for me when it comes to lack of privacy and open spaces. I am used to being able to walk outside without feeling eyes on me from all sides. Even when living in a neighborhood back home,everyone did their own thing without getting into others business.
  I don't get that same feeling here. From the moment I get up in the morning and barely open my curtains, I am confronted with the city life...and the general dutch mentality of always having this need to look into your life and what you are doing,what new item you may have boughten and wondering how you could aford that.
  So I get excited when it time to take a drive :) I love the country side here. It's so different from what I am used to but I love it just the same.
  These photos were taken as we attempted to find a new fishing spot. Sadly the water is not what we were looking for but the drive there was well worth it!      

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday's In My City..

Hello from The Netherlands! I hope everyone is having a wonderful sunday. Thanks to Unknown Mami we can take a look into everyone else's world..So as always please head on over and check out what she is up to along with everyone else. This morning I started my sunday off with a cup of coffe and a snickerdoodle! Can it get any better then that? Well it did. The sun came out and we jumped in the car before it went away.
  I took some photos of the artwork they have along the road and the roundabouts. My husband and I call this one "Rabbit Ears" but Im thinking it's supposed to be two leaves due to the design on the inside.
 Next up we have a lovely metal girl jump roping. The sun went away after this and I was able to capture one more from the car.
  It's not the best photo but the rain was coming down and there is no way Im getting my lense wet. I actually like this one because of the butterflies:) Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week!     Unknown Mami                     

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snickerdoodle Ice Cream

I'm having one of those weeks where I need to shake alot of things off. I have to work extra hard sometimes to stay focused with living here and although those days are getting further and further apart..they still come and I still miss the U.S. So on days like this, I turn the music up loud and try a new recipe.

I actually didn't know there was a snickerdoodle ice cream. It's not for everyone I don't think. It's not something I could eat all the time but it really has a nice old fashioned quality about it. It's creamy,smooth and pairs very well with snickerdoodle cookies. Infact I made some of those today aswell and made ice cream sandwiches out of them. They were good. Like really good.
 I didn't want a whole batch so I scaled a recipe down and made 25. I don't know what it is about snickerdoodles but you can inhale 5 without even knowing it. I can go years without making these cookies and the moment I make them I ask myself what took so long. Snickerdoodles rock.
This ice cream would also go well with either apple crisp or apple pie. The only change I will make to this recipe is using 1 teaspoon of cinnamon instead of two next time. I like cinnamon but this was on the verge of being slightly to much. We all loved it though and thought it was a nice change from the everyday flavors.

Snickerdoodle Ice Cream..1 liter
3/4 cup Sugar
1-1/2 cups Half and Half or Milk..I used milk
2 Egg Yolks; Beaten
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp. Vanilla
1-2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the sugar and the milk; continue to stir to make sure the sugar dissolves. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat and whisk half of the mixture into the eggs. **I actually ladle in a little at time to make sure the eggs don't scramble. Whisk quickly to make sure this doesn't happen!**

Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and stir in the heavy cream. Continue cooking over medium-low, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick enough to cover the back of a metal spoon..around 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and cinnamon. You can pour mixture through a fine strainer with a bowl underneath to make sure there are no pieces of cooked egg. Allow mixture to cool and put in the fridge until it gets cold. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.                                            

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Crescent Cinnamon Twists

A few posts ago I mentioned that we didn't have any pillsbury products of any kind here. What I failed to mention is that we do have refrigerated crescent dough! I totally forgot about it. I bought a can a few days ago and thought about what to make with it. The crescent dough here is slightly different. You get 6 huge crescents..alot bigger than the ones back home and they taste different aswell.

  I went over to the Pillsbury website and started hunting. I spotted this recipe and decided to make it tonight. These are sooo good..like really good. They remind me of elephant ears that you could buy at the state fairs. My husband mentioned that it reminded him of a fresh doughnut and the boys inhaled theirs with smiles on their faces. I also thought that if you wanted you could go one step further and serve with either drizzled frosting or serve it along the side..but that would just be pushing it:)
  On a quick side note. Today was carnival day at school..it's kind of a like a mardi gras day. All the teachers and kids dress up and play games. My oldest son who is 11 came home with a big smile on his face. He told me danced with two girls..after they had asked him. He turned beet red and waited for my response. I knew he was asked by the one girl he talks all the time about. I told him I thought it was great and how cool it was that two girls wanted to dance with him. He's growing up fast and I struggle with wanting to keep him right where he is but also excited to see where he goes from here on out. It's hard being a mom and letting go!

Crescent Cinnamon Twists..Makes 12-13
1 can refrigerated crescent dough
2 TBL Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
2 TBL Butter; Melted

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar; set aside. Unroll dough and seperate into 4 rectangles. Press each into a 6x4 rectangle.

Brush the tops of two of the rectangles with butter and half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Top each with remaining rectangles and press down lightly. Brush tops with melted butter.

With a pizza cutter, cut each rectangle stack lenghtwise into 6 strips. Twist each strip 3 times and place onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Brush tops with remaining melted butter and remaining sugar mixture.

I went ahead and added more cinnamon sugar to ours because my dough was alot bigger so to my european peeps: I bought mine at Aldi and you will get one more stack so use more butter and cinnamon sugar mixture.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday's In My City..

Happy Valentines Day! Thanks to Unknown Mami we can peak into eachothers lives once a week. Please head over to her site and check her life out aswell as everyone elses. I'm posting from the netherlands..welcome if this is your first time here! Today my husband and I took a walk through the nature wich took us from the netherlands and into germany!
 It's been snowing again so we had to watch where we walked. We could hear the ground cracking beneath us and the last thing I wanted was to fall and land in the cold water! Not all areas had water but it was hard to tell the difference between a path and a ditch at times.
  Every spot we walked to was just begging for it's picture to be taken!
   As we came out of walking through this path we were greeted by another change in scenery.
   It was so brown but equally beautiful! 
   This is a bordermarker post. My husband told me that up until 1992 they patroled the borders but now there is a free traffic of people and goods.
Ok ok, this one had me laughing. I have a small bucket list and one of the items included being in two countries at once. So my right foot is in the netherlands and my left is in germany! As you can tell I walk and dress for comfort and not to impress! As we walked along we saw people that dressed straight out of a winter catalog and here I am in my jeans and nike's! LOL
                      
I'm always very aware of how different things are here..I've never had to worry about border control.
  The first sign in german we came to. It's stating that we are in a nature preserve for birds and we aren't allowed there during certain times of the year to allow the birds to breed in peace.
 I spotted my favorite fairytale mushrooms along the way.


    We came upon a bird watchtower and went inside.
    Here is a view from the top.
 Back into the snow scenes and on our way back to the car. It took us about an hour but what a great walk it was. I plan to come back in the summer and then again in fall. I bet it will be equally beautiful. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you liked all the photos! As always,click on them to make them larger:) See you next sunday!           Unknown Mami                                                                      

Friday, February 12, 2010

Drop Biscuits

They don't have biscuits in the netherlands of any kind. There are no refrigerated pillsbury anything here...oh wait in a few stores they sell small cans of 6 biscuits but when I saw the price I didn't need them that badly. I do sometimes miss the lovely prepackaged items that the U.S. is so awesome at making. I sometimes have to make 2-3 things from scratch in order to make one meal. It gets tiresome at certain points. I love to cook and bake but who doesn't want a quick fix every once and awhile?

Thats where drop biscuits come in. When I'm feeling way to lazy to roll out and cut them, I use this recipe. They taste just like a rolled out and cut kind only in a more compact form. These are wonderful topped with butter and a drizzle of honey OR you can make those yummie Red Lobster biscuits. That recipe uses bisquick but I don't let that stop me from making those.

Drop Biscuits..12
2 cups Flour
1 TBL Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/3 cup Shortening or Butter
1 cup Milk

Pre heat oven to 425 or 220 celcius. In a bowl sift together the flour,baking powder and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your hands(wich is what I always do) cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in milk and stir until the dough is well combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto sheet and bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Funny Valentine Cookies and Thank Yous

Yesterday I made my annual valentine cookies using my most favorite lemon sugar cookie recipe wich can be found HERE. These cookies are nice and soft, not hard and crispy, and the lemon flavor is by far better than the vanilla..well to us anyway:) So anyway as I'm decorating I start to notice that if you turn the heart shaped cookie upside and do a little design you get this..
 I can't be the only one who sees a pair of sexy underwear when looking at a heart like that..but wait..there's more..


I saw a matching bra to go along with it..yes I have waaaaay to much time on my hands. To make these all I did was thin out some frosting and used a toothpick to draw an outline and then filled it in with more thinned out frosting and covered it in sprinkles. You could go one step more but covering the cookie in a hard white frosting and letting that dry. Then come in with other colors and make the thong and bra and even put a tattoo above the panty line aswell. The possibilites are endless as to what you could make with these.
  On to some thank yous. I have gotten a fair amount of awards lately and if anyone has noticed I haven't posted any thank yous or passed them along. I have funny issues with awards. Although I am SUPER thankful that anyone would think me worthy of an award I must confess..I love your comments more. I am super bad about passing those along so please don't think I don't care, just chalk it up to way to much sugar in my brain to keep anything straight:) It makes my day when you take the time to send me a comment..even if it's just to say Hi. I love it.