Friday, April 30, 2010

Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread

Today is a national holiday here in The Netherlands. It's Queen's Day. Being an American it's still hard to get used to the idea of the whole royalty thing. It's something you almost need to grow up with or really be into something like that already. It's a day that celebrates the queen's birthday and is in general a day of national unity and "togetherness". They have parties,open air markets, and everyone who has a flag puts it out. We haven't gotten a flag yet but I asked if we could at some point. I was hoping to have both the american and the dutch flag out together at some point..but thats neither a safe nor smart idea for me to do so. So instead I shall fly the Dutch flag with pride:) So Happy Queen's Day!!
  
I made shortbread for the first time and I'm not sure I did it right. I've never eaten it myself but I have seen pictures of shortbread and mine doesn't look right. The flavor was spot on but is it supposed to be really delicate and semi crumbly? The amount of butter does give the impression of a more delicate flakey type dessert but I still think I did something wrong. It could be the recipe I used..maybe someone out there who makes it alot can either point me in the direction of another recipe to use or tell me what I could of done differently?. The recipe called for me to divide the dough into 4 equal portions. When I did this it came out small and flat. When I made the last batch, I combined the two together and then got more of a thicker circle but then because of that, it didn't bake all the way through. I want to try again because the lemon poppyseed combo was really great in this recipe but I guess I need some advice:)
  Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread
3/4 cup Butter; Softened
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 TBL Poppyseeds
1-2 TBL Lemon Juice(I used 2)
1 tsp. Lemon Extract
1-1/2 cups Flour
2 tsp. Sugar
 Pre heat oven to 325 or 170. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and powder sugar. Stir in poppyseeds,lemon juice, and extract. Gradually add flour; Mix well. Divide dough into 4 portions.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 4 inch circle. Transfer to ungreased cookie sheet. Cut each circle into 6 wedges,but do not sperate. Prick dough with a fork and then sprinkle with sugar
 Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Cool for 4 mins before removing to wire racks. Break into wedges when cool.                          

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Amazing Salisbury Steak

The first time I had salisbury steak it came from a Swanson TV Dinner...it's the only kind I had for the longest time. Then I made a version of it myself using a packet of onion soup mix and a beef gravy mix..If you Wiki it,it just says a mixture of ground beef and other ingredients served with a brown sauce..How not appealing is that! So for the longest time I just didn't make it. That all changed when I stumbled upon a recipe from Taste and Tell.

This is how it should taste. Oh my goodness the sauce alone is worthy of taking a bath in. It's the first time I have ever cooked with red wine. I am not a fan of wine of any kind so cooking with it never appealed to me much. However I am a total convert! The sauce is the real winner in this recipe. The meat is really great aswell with the chopped up green pepper,onion, and other spices..but the sauce..wow is it good. The recipe calls for Chili Sauce..I went ahead and used sweet chili sauce since thats what I had in the house. We loved it. It has a bit of a spicy kick to it and everything comes together so perfectly..and if thats not enough praise..I got caught running my finger all over the plate to catch every last drop. My husband asked if I wanted his plate next to clean off and then we could just put the plates away...What a smarty pants he is.

The recipe also calls to cook the patties under the brolier. Well mine for whatever reason has decided to never work. So I fried them in a large frypan and it worked just fine:) Thanks Taste and Tell for one winner of a recipe!

Salisbury Steak..8 servings
2 lbs. Ground Beef
1 medium Onion,Finely Diced
1/2 cup Green Pepper;Finely Diced
1 stalk Celery; Finely Diced
2 TB Snipped Parsley
1 Clove Garlice; Finely Diced
1/2 tsp. Ground Mustard
1/2 tsp. Dried Marjoram; Crushed
1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme; Crushed
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper

Sauce
3 TBL Butter
1 cup Sliced Mushrooms
1/2 tsp. Flour
1/3 cup Chili Sauce
1/4 cup Dry Red Wine
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Dash of Hot Pepper Sauce..I left out.

Pre heat Broiler. Crumble beef in a large bowl; Set aside. You can either use a food processor to mince the onion,bell pepper,celery,,parsley, and garlic or finely chop it like I did. Add to beef mixture but do not mix yet. Add the ground mustard,majoram,thyme,paprika,salt, and pepper to beef mixture.  Mix all ingredients together,making sure not to over work the beef.. Shape into 8 patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Place patties onto broiler pan and broil and cook for 12-14 minutes, or until done, turning halfway.

To make the sauce: In a large saucepan,melt the butter ; Add mushrooms. Cook 4-5 minutes over medium high heat until tender. Sprinkle with flour and stir. Add the chili sauce, red wine, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce Cook and stir until bubbly, cook for 1 minute more. Serve sauce over patties.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Homemade Focaccia Bread and My Debut..

Before I get into this amazing post about the Focaccia bread I made, I wanted to take a moment to let you know where you can see some of my photograhs. I'm sure you all remember me entering and winning the photo contest hosted by Communal Global? Well I'm an official member there now! I still can't believe it. I'm going to be representing my life in The Netherlands and I hope you all take a moment to head over there to see the beautiful photos of all the ladies who contribute. It's amazing to see how similar yet different our lives are. I'm so nervous because those women can seriously take some amazing photos! So ok..lets talk bread.
  I made Focaccia bread!! I made it all by myself and it turned out perfectly!!! I am so amazed every single time a bread recipe turns out for me. I lack confidence big time when it comes to yeast and it takes me ages before I give a recipe a try, and then I ask my self what in the world took me so long! This is such a wonderful bread. I wish I was a creative writer and then I could describe the taste in a way that would leave you feeling like you just ate a slice of it yourself. It was my first time eating focaccia and I can assure you that it will not be my last time. The smell of olive oil and spices fills up your kitchen and moves into your house. When my son came home he said it smelled like we started our own bread shop. The recipe comes from Noble Pig and couldn't be easier(She also has step by step photos of making this). She made hers using a mixer but I did it by hand. 

On a side note, I learned something important along the way. The yeast I buy here has different directions than the yeast back home. The directions state to use the packet in a large bag of flour and to use it right away in a recipe..meaning I do not need to let it sit in warm water. I can dump everything together and begin mixing it. Also the packets here are slightly smaller and I needed to open up another one to get the correct amount to use in the recipe. I think this is why I have failed many times. There wasn't enough in the packet and I was using it wrong. Also this bread is best eaten warm out of the oven. I had some left over and it never tasted as good as when it was fresh out of the oven.

Focaccia Bread
1-3/4 cup Warm Water
1 PKG. Active Dry Yeast
1 TBL Sugar
5 cups Flour,plus additional for kneading
1 TBL Kosher Salt,plus more for Sprinkling. I used Sea Salt
1 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Divided

Combine warm water(by warm I mean body temp, should be able to place your finger in the water and not get burned and it should not feel cold),yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, atleast 15 minutes.

In a bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour,1 TBL kosher salt, 1/2 cup Olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5-6 minutes on medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.** If making by hand I went ahead and added the salt,olive oil,and the flour all at once. I mixed it with a wooden spoon until combined. I turned it onto a lightly floured surace and kneaded it for 5 minutes.**

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface,then knead it a couple of times,sprinkling with flour. The dough is a more tacky kind of dough so rolling it around in some flour a few times until you can handle it is normal. Coat the inside of large bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough doubles in size,1-2 hours.

Coat a jelly roll pan(it must have sides) with remaining 1/2 cup oilve oil. Do not worry that there is to much oil. I thought for sure there was waaay to much..but focaccia is an oily crusted bread, wich is why it's so good. The oil will be soaked up into the bread during baking,making it delicious.

Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan(it will eventually go into place). As you are doing so,spread your fingers out and make finger holes all through the dough...make sure you do that to create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia. If you don't make the holes the finished product will be smooth.

Put the dough in a warm place until it has doubled in size,about one hour. **I went ahead and topped the bread at this point. I sprinkled it all over with parmesan cheese..from a can.*gasp* and then I sprinkled pizza seasonings all over and then I put it in the oven to double in size.**
  Pre heat oven to 425 or 220 celcius. Sprinkle the top either with more kosher salt or top it however you like;lightly drizzle with a little oil on top. Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 20-30 minute(mine took 20). It does brown fast towards the ed so keep your eye on it. Remove from oven and resist the urge to tear into it right away.
  Let it cool keeping the steam inside and intact,leave you with a very moist bread. Carefully remove from pan whole after it has been out of the oven for 10 minutes. I went ahead and sliced mine up into squares.
   Just beautiful!!                                                                               

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sunny Orange Lemonade

The warmer weather is approaching fast so make sure this is on your to make list! The more time I spend making things from scratch, the more I ask myself why I never took the time before. Well the answer is simply I did not have time. When you work a job that has you doing all shifts plus weekends, it doesn't leave you a whole lot of time to do anything else. However making fresh lemonade really takes no time at all!

  I was so happy with this recipe. I've had lemonade that made me pucker up in a horrible way and then I've had to sweet lemonade. This recipe is more tangy than sour and the orange flavor lends a nice background touch. The only thing I changed about the recipe was leaving out the orange and lemon zest. I have severe issues with pulp and zest floating around in my drink..so I left it out and we all loved it just the same. I will be making this often during the summer!

Sunny Orange Lemonade...Taste of Home
4-1/4 cups Water; Divided
1 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Lemon Juice
3/4 cup Orange Juice
2 tsp. Grated Lemon Zest
1 tsp. Grated Orange Zest
Ice Cubes
Lemon Slices; Optional
In a saucepan, bring 1-1/4 cups water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved..Cool. Transfer to container and add the juices and the zest.. Refrigerate for atleast 1 hour. Stir in  remaining water. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices if you like. Serves 6 or less depending on your glass size.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lemon Herb Marinade for Pork

Yesterday we kicked off our first BBQ of the season! I wait alllll year long for this! In a perfect world I would BBQ no matter what the season is..but I would need a grill for that and over here they cost an arm and a leg. The same grill I had back home for around 200 dollars is almost 900 euros here(over a thousand dollars). That kills me more than you know. So for now we have an awesome charcoal grill..wich I don't mind at all. I love the smell and taste of one but love the convenience of having a gas grill.
  So yesterday we had chicken kabobs,veggie kabobs and a great tasting marinaded pork. I served it with macaroni salad and a GREAT tasting homemade lemonade wich I plan to share the recipe of tomorrow. The lemon herb marinade is really nice and not over powering at all. However the key to all of this is to NOT allow your husband to burn the piece of pork so badly that you can not taste anything other than charcoal..not that I'm blaming anyone and not that he would admit it if I did blame him. So incase that was to happen, I would highly suggest you do the basting aswell to make sure the meat is coated at all times and not allowed to burn:)

Lemon Herb Marinade
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
2 TBL Vegetable Oil
1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano
4 Garlic cloves,Minced
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
6 Boneless pieces of Pork


In a bowl whisk together the first 6 ingredients.
                            
  In a resealable plastic bag place pork inside and pour marinade inside of bag. 
  Seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for as little as 2 hours and as long as overnight;making sure to turn frequently. I left mine in for 9 hours. When you are ready to grill the meat,drain the marinade into a saucepan. Bring to a boil,remove from heat, and baste meat with marinade while grilling.                                                               

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday's In My City...

YAY it's another round of Sunday's In My City..hosted by the wonderful Unknown Mami. Head on over there and check out her sunday aswell as everyone else's. I'm bringing you the last installment of my trip to Orchideeen Hoeve. You can find the other two posts, Here and Here. The day was beautiful. The sky was so big I felt like I could touch the clouds!
  I've never seen such large clouds before. When I couldn't shut up about them, my husband kindly pulled over and allowed me to snap away:)
     The freeways even look different in other countries.
           I really miss american cars..seriously..the smaller the car you can get here, the better off you are due to the high price in gas and how hard you are taxed for having one.
                Now for the lovely orchids and other flowers we saw while visiting Orchideeen Hoeve.
  
    
     
      
    
   
             
    On our way home, we stopped at Mickey D's.
 I should warn you, that if you ever come to The Netherlands, the drinks are NOT the same. The ice is always missing..and if you ask for alot of ice, they give you maybe 7 cubes. Everyone has their drinks without ice here..wich is just the cruelest thing possible when you love ice in your drinks as much as I do. Have a wonderful week! Today we are having the first BBQ of the season. I can't tell you how happy that makes me!!         Unknown Mami                                                        

Saturday, April 24, 2010

You know you're living in a male household when...

You open the fridge to see maggots for fishing staring back at you! They are soooo creepy and they are crawling all over the place in the bags..EEEWWW!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kool-Aid Sherbet

I'm so happy it's friday!! Alot of people think that because you stay home that everyday is a weekend. I really disagree with that. When the kids were younger I was on the go non stop..plus I worked outside of the home for awhile aswell. Now that they are older, I am alone alot more. Back home I would of been working for sure and if I wasn't then I would of had alot more to keep my busy. I tend to have a realllly low key life now. It has it's good points and bad. I'm happy for fridays because that means my husband is home for the weekend. He accepted a surprise promotion on monday wich will have him even more busy, but it includes all weekends and holidays off! That is a real blessing for us. I'm forever grateful to my husband who works really hard for us wich in return allows me to be a very happy homemaker:) It allows me to the time to make things like..Kool-Aid Sherbet :D
  I have a ton of kool aid packets that were sent from home. They do have kool aid here but the choices are limited and you get a way better deal back home than you do here. So whenever a neat recipe pops up, I like to try it. So far I have made Kool-Aid Pie, Slushies, and now sherbet (I am sooo not a food snob..lol). Whats neat about this recipe is that you don't actually need an ice cream maker. I went ahead and used mine anyway because I wanted to make sure that it came out really creamy and wasn't sure what it looks like when you just freeze it. It takes only 3 ingredients and it has a really creamy,light,fluffy, taste to it. I used strawberry kool-aid and it reminded me of what Trix might taste like if you made ice cream out of it...Needless to say the boys liked it and although it's not something I will make often, it is a neat treat to make.

Kool-Aid Sherbet
1 envelope unsweetened kool aid mix; Flavor of your choice
1 cup Sugar
3 cups Milk

In a blender combine all ingredients and blend until sugar is totally dissolved. If you don't have a blender you can whisk it by hand or heat the milk and sugar up over the stove,constantly whisking until sugar is dissolved; Cool and add mix.

Pour into shallow freezer container, cover and freeze for 1 hour or until slightly thickened.  Transfer to a large bowl,beat until smooth. Return to freezer container, cover and freeze until firm. Remove from freezer 20 minutes before serving.

If using an ice cream maker pour ingredients into machine and mix according to your ice cream makers instructions. Also be aware that this is NOT like ice cream. It's not going to get that super creamy texture. This is smooth but has a lighter and fluffier texture to it.                                      

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Closed Captioning Mishap

One of my BBC channels always has the closed captioning option on there. Every so often it gets jumbled up and alot of the time the whole screen will be filled up with various sentences. It will also put on converstaions from another show on the screen aswell..wich is what it did today.
  I left the room and when I came back in this was stuck on there for about 5 minutes. I grabbed my camera and snapped a photo before it went off.  I was laughing so hard trying to figure out what they all ment..the middle one about the bus was about children who were being bullied while riding the bus. The top and bottom one I never figured out. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Part 2 of Orchideeen Hoeve

I took soooo many photos from my day trip to Orchideeen Hoeve that this could turn ito several posts. If you want to see the first part of the photos,start HERE. These photos are of the second part of our botanical gardens experience.
      
  

 
 
         This is my favorite photo(above) from this section we walked through.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brown Butter and Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I looooove walnuts in chocolate chip cookies..I love all types of nuts actually, but walnuts are my favorites in cookies. I went hunting around looking for what I hoped would be a great new cookie recipe. I think I have found it..although I question the directions as a whole.
 The recipe includes brown butter..wich is achieved by cooking it over the stove until it takes on a nice tannish type color. I then added the chopped walnuts wich infused the butter with a nice walnut scent. The cookie did have a really nice buttery walnut flavor..but I'm wondering if it would of been just the same if I had just used softened butter instead of browned butter. I ask myself this because it reminded me of just a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe with walnuts added. I do like them so in the end it doesn't really matter what I had to do to achieve the great taste. I also allowed my butter to get to dark wich you shouldnt do..It still tasted fine but make sure you stay within the tannish color and not the dark brown:D

Brown Butter and Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
2-1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup Butter
1 cup Finely Chopped Walnuts
1 cup Light Brown Sugar; Packed
1/3 cup White Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
1-1/2 cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

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

In a medium saucepan, cook butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begons to brown..about 4-5 minutes. Add the walnuts and continue cooking and stirring for about 2 minutes, or until the foam is lightly browned.
    The mixture will be foamy and have a tannish color. Remove from heat. Using a mesh strainer,drain butter into a large mixing bowl. Set walnuts aside.
 When butter has cooled to room temp, add the sugars and beat until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla until light and creamy. Slowly beat in flour mixture until combined. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons by using an ice cream scoop or with your hands and place onto cookie sheet. Press down lightly either with your fingers or a glass dipped in sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes,until lightly browned around the edges but still likght in the centers. Cool slightly before removing to wire rack. If you like your cookies with more of a crunch just wait until the cookie is lightly browned all over. It will still be crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Makes 4-5 dozen.
                                                                                                

Monday, April 19, 2010

I won the photo contest!!!!

I won the photo contest I have been posting about from Communal Global!!!! I wanted to take the time to thank each and everyone of you who stopped by to wish me good luck and to let me know that you had voted for me..Without you, this would not have been possible. It's the first photo contest I have ever entered and had alot of tun doing it. So thank you all sooooooooo very much! I am so happy:) I will be bringing you more photos from my day trip to the Botanical and Butterfly Garden I posted about yesterday aswell as some new recipes! Have a wonerful week everyone!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sundays In My City....

Hello Everyone! Welcome to yet another addition of Sunday's In My City..wich is hosted by the ever popular Unknown Mami. She had this amazing idea of allowing all us of to link up with her to show off our sunday's. I'm coming to you today from The Netherlands..in a town called Enschede. This week I am taking you to Orchideeen Hoeve. It's located in a town called Luttelgeest..wich literally translate to something like "Not much spirit." This place has the largest Butterfly Garden in Europe and has several botanical gardens. I took over 204 photos so here is a few!
    When you walk in there is a big fountain with some lovely turtles and Koi.
  They have a large gift shop where you can buy orchids and various other plants and gift items.
 We hit that on the way out where I purchased a set of 4 coffe mugs wth various butterflies on them:)
                                                                                                               First up was the tropical garden and it was beautiful!
   Everything was hands on friendly and they had alot of hidden areas to walk along..wich is great for the kids.
 They had hidden caves to walk through wich took you to another area.
   Lots of places to take photos. I wish I could show you all 204 pictures!
   There were flowers in all kinds of colors,shapes,and sizes.
    I was in photography heaven!
                     
                                                                                                                 
        
   We headed into another botanical garden and then it was on to the butterfly garden! I could of spent all day there.
   
  
         
  
   If you are interested in seeing more of my trip there..stop by again this week. I will show more of the flower photos I took aswell as everything else that I saw. Thanks so much for stopping by! See you next sunday!        Unknown Mami