Monday, November 29, 2010

Revamped Green Bean Casserole & We have Snow!

   
  We've got snow!! I'll post a pic at the end of this post so you can see :) I'm always extra happy about the first snowfall of the year..showed up right on time for my birthday on Dec 1st!...First lets talk about green bean casserole. I think most all of us who have had this know that the main ingredient is cream of mushroom gloop soup. Now I'm not at all knocking the stuff..I've used it many times myself but I'm beyond happy to know there is another version..a much better version in my opinion to try. They actually don't sell cream of anything here and there is a way for me to make my own but I don't really need to now :)


The main ingredients in this version is sour cream and cheese! The flavor is fantastic,way better texture and I won't ever go back to the other way again. Ok here is a snow pic!
        I'm soooooo happpy!!!!!

No Mushroom Soup Green Bean Casserole

2 TBL Butter
2 TBL Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Sugar
1 cup Sour Cream
3 (14.5ounces) Green Beans Drained
2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1-1/3 cups French Fried Onions

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. In a large saucepan or frying pan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and whisk until smooth, and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and whisk or stir in the salt,sugar,and sour cream. Add in green beans and stir to coat.

Transfer to a 2-1/2 quart lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over the top and sprinkle the french fried onions over the cheese. Bake covered with foil for 15 mins. Remove foil and bake another 15 mins or until top is golden and cheese is melted.  

** For my euro/dutch peeps I usually buy two of the large jars of green beans that they sell at the store. I've never found a small jar of green beans and two seems to be perfect and I used Creme Fraiche in place of sour cream**


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday's In My City...

  
       
Hi Everyone! Last week I told you I was heading to a Christmas Market with another expat..well we went lastnight! I went with Lizzy from Lizzy Goes Dutch. She is an American aswell and it was so wonderful to finally meet her. We went to the market in Osnabruck,Germany and I can't you how magical and fun these are! So lets get down to the photos.
 
          Look you can see McDonalds! They also had a Pizza Hut.

          

                The world's largest working music box.

 There was sooo much food..everywhere you looked. They had pretzels,candy,variety of meats,fish,pizza..it was wonderful :P I had roasted chestnuts for the first time ever! I also tried a pretzel covered in cheese..pure heaven
     The lights were beautiful..all different colors.
       
         I picked out a christmas candle. When you light it the whole scene lights up aswell.
        I also bought a handpainted ornament. I've had my eyes on these for a few years now and decided to buy one. You can buy giant painted ones aswell and although I have no room for one and it obviously won't fit on the tree..I still plan to buy one someday :)  I hope you enjoyed the photos. I had the best time and look forward to heading to a new one next year! Head on over to Unknown Mami and see what she along with everyone else is up to this sunday. See you next week...with hopefully snow pics!!! 



Unknown Mami

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The BEST Blondie Recipe!!

  
If you have plans to bake today..you need to throw out whatever you have planned and bake these. Hands down these are the BEST blondies..Ever  I woke up this morning to a bright beautiful sun and I knew what I had to do.. I pushed everyone out the door to head to work and school and I got busy. I knew I had minimal time before the rain came..we've got snow in the forecast..so it was now or never to get a perfect pic to go along with these perfect blondies :)

I don't even know where to begin with how amazing these are. The peanut butter,peanuts,cinnamon and peanut butter chocolate chips all came together like a perfect marriage. Each one brought their best and made sure not to outshine the rest. The blondie was chewy,moist and makes you stop,close your eyes, and smile. My toes even curled up in delight. My two sons who come home for lunch ate their sandwiches in record time. They each took a bit and they too knew what it was all about.

This recipe comes from Bakeologie. She posted it for the Tuesdays with Dorie. I must be the last person on earth who has no clue who Dorie is. I always see the posts about it but I've never taken the time to figure out who she is. I went over and took a peek. I guess you sign up and make one of her recipes from her book every tuesday. Each person who signs up gets the chance to pick one of her recipes and make it. They ask that only the hostess post the recipe so I thought I had better atleast stick to that. I will post the link at the end and I hope you take the time to bake these.

The only change I made was by using an 8x8 inch pan since I don't have a 9x9. The top got brown..a little to brown but I was worried the middle wasn't cooked enough through. When I cut into the blondies there was a harder top  and then a slight pocket of air and then the actual blondie part. It made cutting them harder but it wasn't a problem and seriously the taste makes up for any issues with the cutting of it.

So head over to HERE get the recipe and bake them today!!!

   

  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oven Roasted Mexican Chicken

     
 The super dark days and nights are back in The Netherlands and it will be a constant companion during winter. It makes picture taking pure hell...espically when it comes to food. I have a lightbox but I need the correct bulb to go in there now. Here's hoping Santa is paying attention and will bring me what I ask for :) 


I've had this recipe bookmarked for awhile now and like most of my bookmarked recipes..well the list keeps growing and growing and I soon forget about what I had to begin with. I'm so glad I spotted this again because we all loved it! I found the recipe over at Crepes of Wrath and made only a few changes. I used a whole chicken instead of thighs and swapped the oregano out for cumin..only because I didn't have oregano. I also left out the hot sauce. I know they sell it here somewhere but I haven't found it yet. This was an awesome marinade for chicken and can see us using it on the grill this summer. Thanks Crepes of Wrath for a fantastic recipe!!


Oven Roasted Mexican Chicken
3-4 Chicken Legs(drumstick and thigh attached)
1/4 tsp. Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Dried Oregano or Cumin :)
1 tsp. Ground Mustard
1 TBL Chili Powder
1 TBL Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic,minced
Juice of 1 Lime


Combine all ingredients, except for chicken, in a small bowl and whisk together. Place the chicken in a sealable bag or container and pour marinade over chicken..make sure you cover all of the chicken. Place in fridge and allow to marinate for atleast 1 hour or up to 24.


Preheat oven to 400 or 200 celcius. Place chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet or roasting pan lined with tin foil. Bake 30-40 mins until cooked through and the juices of the chicken run clear.


**I went ahead and chopped up potatoes,mushrooms and peppers and placed them in a roasting pan without foil. I placed the chicken in the roasting pan and baked everything at once for 1 hour**



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday's In My City...

 Wow it's sunday again! Where did the week go? Our weather is about to take a turn..we've got snow in the forecast:) Alot of the flowers are in for a bit of a shock since they didn't get that memo and continue to try and bloom!
       My hydrangea bush is hanging on until the bitter end.
         Dried leaves are beautiful.
           We took a walk in the forest today
        
         

   

          At then end of our walk this guy was waiting for us! Well actually he was in the yard of a house that we came upon :) I hope you enjoyed your tour..Next week I am heading to a Christmas Market in Germany where I will meet up with another expat blogger living in Amsterdam. I hope to post a ton of pics next sunday. We are going at night and unless you have a tripod it's never easy to take night pics..but I'm going to try..plus there is a forecast for snow then :) Head over to Unknown Mami and join in on Sunday's In My City.


Unknown Mami

 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Highschool in The Netherlands


I rarley talk about my life here and what it's like. I've done posts about why I came and I have talked about the differences from time to time..but never really indepth. I don't know why I don't. I guess I don't find it all that interesting unless I am going somewhere cool..like the Christmas Markets!! wich I am heading to soon,so expect a post on that :)

Anyway I thought I would post about the school system here since it is so different from the U.S.. My son who is 12 is heading to highschool next year. He would of gone this year but because of the language thing, we were all in agreement that we would allow the boys an extra year to really get the language down. The highschool system reminds me of college. Right now he is taking tests wich sound very much like an SAT in order to find out wich highschool is best for him..Unlike in the U.S. where you go to a specific school based on your area..here they can go anywhere they want. It's the same throughout their entire school years. After he takes his second test in February,we will then go in and talk about the test and figure out wich school best suites him. Now within that school are also different levels. There are kids who will be in the lower,middle, and upper learning levels...and within those levels you are also learning certain skills.


So lets say you want to be a Veterinarian. Yesterday my son went to a school that had 3 different areas. One had an entire section of animals for the students who wanted to become a vet. There was an entire Horticulture section where you can learn how to become a gardener,designer,or open up your own florest. They each made a floral arrangment and brought it home. My son brought me the rose in the photo. There was also a section to learn the building trade. Each week they will be touring a different school that offers certain careers. I realise at 12 it's young to be thinking about what you want to do but thats where the test scores come in. Based on the scores they kind of let you know what your kid might be happy in..Thats not to say it's always correct and that you have to listen to the advice..it's just a guide.


I've asked my son to keep in mind what he might be interested in and I guess we will learn more when the tests come in and even though the test might say one thing..he may want something else for himself or change his mind later on..wich he totally can..What I love though, is that they are giving them a chance to work towards something. I think growing up had I been able to go to a highschool that offered photography,cooking,or veterinarian skills I would of been a bit more happy to go.


Also the whole prom,football,cheerleading thing does not exsist here. You go to school,get your work done and anything else you want to do is done after school and on your own time. The whole mentality of the kids here is so different. They are way more grown up in alot of areas that I never was at their age..and I struggle with some of it sometimes. In 4 years my son will be legally allowed to drink. He can buy beer,wine coolers,enter a bar, but they are not allowed the hard liquor until they are 18. The driving age is not until 18 so he has a few years to make a complete ass of himself while riding a bike..and most every dutch person I come across has a million funny stories of being drunk on a bike. I have many things to come to terms with in the next few years but I am excited to see him head towards the next stage in his life and find out what he will make of himself in the future :)
  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm Grateful For....

   
 We at Communal Global want to know what you are grateful for today. Link up with us and share a pic of something you are grateful for.
      For me..today I am grateful for all creatures great and small :)
     What are you grateful for??                      





Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday's In My City...

 

Our weather tends to be wacky this time of year. We can go from crisp sunny days to needing to turn the all the lights on by noon. My mood seems to change just as quickly. I want to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and go into hibernation mode on the cold dark days. I'm happy to show you one of the nicer days here :)

          
      Thanks to Unknown Mami we all get to take a virtual tour of many wonderful places every sunday. Please head on over to her site and check it all out..and join in aswell. I love seeing new places every week! See you next sunday!     


Unknown Mami


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Muffins


The weather is complete and total crap at this point. It's grey,raining,miserable,wet,and dark..and no better time to bake in my opinion : ) I don't know what it is about these types of days but they are perfect for muffin baking.

Muffins are super simple to bake and you don't need a ton of ingredients to make them decilious. I spotted this recipe over at Simple Daily Recipes and it hit the spot! The muffins are airy,super duper moist, and a simple sprinkling of brown sugar on top finishes them off perfectly. You don't need to wait until a grey and rainy day comes along before you can make these..but it sure makes the day brighter when you do! Thanks so much Simple Daily Recipes for an awesome muffin recipe!

Cinnamon Apple Muffins..12

3/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 Egg
1 medium Apple,peeled,cored,and finely diced
2 cups Flour
2/3 cup Sugar
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Optional Topping
1 TBL brown Sugar
1 TBL Oats

Preheat oven to 400 degrees or 200 celcius. Grease bottoms of 12 muffin cups and set aside(you can also use cupcake liners instead, but  I always prefer greasing the cups when baking muffins). In a small bowl beat milk,oil and egg. Stir in diced apples.

In a larger bowl, mix flour,sugar,baking powder,salt and cinnamon;give the mixture a quick stir to combine everything. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and carefully pour the wet ingredients into the well. Stir slowly and just until flour is moistened..batter will be lumpy and that is ok :)

Divide batter evenly into cups.about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with topping. Bake 18-20 mins,until golden brown. Allow to sit for one minute and then remove muffins from pan and allow to cool on wire rack.

** You might come away with more than 12 muffins..I almost did but when I added slightly more to each cup it stayed at 12**

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday's In My City...




You know, there are tons of things that I could say about these two photos..but I won't. Instead I will let them speak for themselves :P You sure can find some interesting things to take pics of while walking in a forest! Head over to Unknown Mami's to see what everyone else is up to this sunday..and maybe join in aswell!!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

English Muffin Toasting Bread

Aahh is there anything better than homemade bread? How about no knead homemade bread? now thats a total winner in my book! You have to,just have to make this bread. It's sooo good.
    I spotted this over at Food for A Hungry Soul. Katy has like the best recipes ever. I have a ton bookmarked and need to start making them. I couldn't resist when it had english muffin in the title and the fact that there is no kneading required pretty much sealed the deal for me. I am not a breadmaker/baker at all. Infact I've never made bread the traditional way of kneading it and allowing it to rise several times. It's on my list of things to do but I keep putting it off. I still have yeast issues.. :P So if you are like me then give this recipe a shot. It's easy and the bread tastes fantastic. It has the emglish muffin type holes and it makes the BEST toast! I heard it's great for french toast but ours never made it that far. I served it with my homemade soup recipe that we love and it was all gone.

A few tips to keep in mind. When heating up the milk mixture in the microwave you really need to make sure you reach the correct temp so make sure you do this. Also the direction say to mix this with an electric mixer. I don't see that happening unless you have a really good mixer like a kitchenaid. When I went to mix mine it climbed up my bread spiral hooks after 30 seconds and I was worried it was going to break my poor mixer. So I mixed the rest with a wooden spoon. My dough wasn't really soft like the directions state but I was able to dump it into my loaf pan and spread it out without any troubles. Other then that you are good to go. Make sure you use the instant yeast it calls for..not the rapid rise yeast. Thank you Katy for a fantastic recipe! Im going to make another loaf as soon as I'm done with this post! If you'd like step by step photos head over to the original recipe wich can be found HERE. When Im baking alone I rarely take step by step photos..Im not that talented yet : )

English Muffin Toasting Bread
3 cups Flour..make sure you fluff up the flour before measuring
1 TBL Sugar
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 TBL Instant Yeast
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Water
2 TBL Vegetable or Olive Oil
Cornmeal to sprinkle in pan.

Whisk together the flour,sugar,salt,baking soda, and instant yeast in a large mixing, bowl.

Combine milk,water, and oil in a seperate microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120*F-130*F(48-54 celcius). The liquid will feel very warm(hotter than lukewarm) but shouldn't burn you.

Pour hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Beat at high speed for 1 minute. The dough will be really soft.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal. Scopp the dough into the pan,making sure to level it in the pan as much as possible.

Cover the pan and allow the dough to rise till it's just barely crowned over the rim of the pan..No more than 1/4 inch over the rim.
   That should take about 45 mins to an hour if you heated the liquid to the correct temp. If your kitchen is cold I would suggest you warming the oven up just a little and then turning it off and popping the bread in there to rise. I always do that and have never had problems with rising.

Remove the bread from the oven (if you go that route) Pre heat the oven to 400 or 200 celcius. Bake the bread for 20-22mins,till it's golden brown and sounds hollow on top when you thump it. Remove bread from oven and allow to sit for 5 mins in the pan. After that turn it out and allow the bread to completely cool on wire rack before slicing. I went ahead and ran some butter over the top to give it a nice crust.