Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

           Hello from Humid Holland! We've been experiencing that humid,sticky,no-wind- so you barely want to move kinda weather..yuck yuck and more yuck.

         That hasn't stopped the bike rides though :) Awhile ago my oldest son took me to a spot where frogs love to hang out.

       I love frogs..can't help it. These guys were so loud and they were chattering back and forth to one another.

       Thanks for stopping by in my neck of the woods. Head on over to Unknown Mami and check out what everyone else is up to..and maybe even join in! :) See you next week!
Unknown Mami

Friday, June 24, 2011

Puffy Tuna and Rice Bake

             This dish doesn't photograph well..wich is why it has taken me awhile to post it. I've made it two times now and we've loved it each bad photo or not, it deserves to be posted :)

This dish screams..I made it back in Home Ec. class. It has this weird 70's vibe and you are almost embarassed to serve it without some kind of an apology following it. The egg whites gives this a souffle type feel when eating it and seriously if you have nothing better going on for might as well try this :). It's super simple to make, it's easy on the budget and you can switch it up. The first time I made it with a can of tuna and I've also made it with shredded chicken. I changed the recipe to suit our needs by adding in shredded cheese and french fried onions and I served it with a salad and crusty french bread. Yum yum

Puffy Tuna and Rice Bake

1 can Tuna..not the big can,drained
1 cup Frozen Peas..or veggies of choice
1-1/2 cups cooked Brown or White Rice
2 cups Shredded Cheese,divided
1 cup French Fried Onions;optional
3 Eggs,seperated
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Wheat or All-Purpose Flour
Seasonings; salt pepper,seasoning salt,etc.

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease a casserole dish and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the tuna, rice, peas, 1 cup of the shredded cheese and the french fried onions;set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together oil, flour, water, milk,salt and any other seasonings you want to add in. Heat over medium heat,whisking often. Add in egg yolks and whisk continuously,about 3-4 minutes, until mixture starts to thicken. Add in 1 cup of the cheese and quickly whisk until blended. Pour sauce over the rice mixture and stir to combine.

In a small bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff and frothy. Carefully fold in the egg whites into the creamy rice mixture just until combined. Gently pour into casserole dish.

Bake 35 minutes.

Yields:4-5 servings
Source: Branny Boils Over 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One-Bowl Yellow Cake

                   I think yellow cake has got to be the ultimate birthday cake. I can remember as a kid getting the yellow cake with a bunch of chocolate frosting on top and sprinkles :) The cakes we have back home can not be found here. I do see the fondant covered cakes but I'm not much of a fondant fan. So thats why every year since moving here everyone gets to pick their cake that I will bake for them.

This year my now 11 year old picked a yellow cake :) It's actually the first time I have baked one from scratch since becoming a grown up and like most everything else...I can't believe it took me this long! The cake has a real old fashioned taste to it and seriously..all you need is one bowl to mix the batter easy is that? I used a simple chocolate malt frosting on top and made sure to spread it as thin as possible. This cake doesn't deserve to be drowned in a mound of frosting. It's so amazing on its own.

Yellow Cake

2 cups All-Purpose Flour,sifted
1-1/4 cups Sugar
1 TBS Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Butter,softened
1 cup Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl,sift flour,sugar,baking powder and salt. Add butter, milk and vanilla. Beat with a hand mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes and scraping the sides down as needed. Add eggs, beat for 2 more minutes.

Divide batter equally into prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted towards the middle comes out clean.

Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out and cool completely on wire racks. Frost with choice of frosting; chocolate, malt frosting,cream cheese, or nothing at all!

Source: Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

          I thought it was time to do a container garden update! Everything is growing great in my little Dutch green house. My lemon cucumbers are starting to show up finally!
     I was able to harvest my first Eight-Ball Zucchini!
        I just loved the pattern in had on the inside when I sliced into it.

     My cucmbers are doing really well too..and they taste fantastic!

       This is a Hungarian Wax Pepper. They can get fairly large and I look forward to stuffing it and grilling it : )

      These are called Cherry Peppers. You can pick them now or you can wait until they turn a bright red..we picked some and now we are going to let them turn to red. So far I am in the lead when it comes to most harvested veggies. My husbands peppers will produce more fruit but my veggies are the ones who will be eaten the most..therefore I think I should be the winner when it comes to producing the most amount of fruits that will be eaten..don't you agree? :) Please send some extra good weather vibes my's June people and I'm wearing socks around the house. It's been raining like crazy for a week now..enough is enough. Please head over to Unknown Mami to check up on what she is up to along with everyone else who is playing along. See you next week :)  
Unknown Mami



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Almond Joy Muffins

            Wow..where has this week gone? I've been knee deep in batter that last few days and now I'm knee deep in laundry in preperation for overnight school field trips that my two sons are going on. My youngest turned 11 on monday and I will be posting the cake recipe in the next day or so. I can't believe how quickly time goes by now. I look at them and can still picture their tiny little hands and feet that I stared at for hours when they were born. Time needs to stand still for awhile so that I can catch my breath!

As usual I needed to send in something for my husband's co-workers. Each week I try and bake something with each person in mind..and this week I am satisfying the coconut chocolate fan with these seriously awesome muffins. It's an almond joy in muffin form. They are super moist,addictive and my favorite way to eat them is while they are still warm. I have a feeling this guy is going to be adding these to his birthday baking list that I am catering for. I thought I was going to bake a cake for him but he wants bars and cookies and cupcakes and muffins :)

Almond Joy Muffins

2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 TBS Baking Powder
1/2 cup Butter, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
3/4 cup Milk
1 tsp. Coconut Extract
1 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup Sweetened Coconut
5 TBS Sugar
2 TBS Butter, Cubed
2 tsp. Cocoa
5 TBS Flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees or 200 celcius. Line muffin tin with liner or spray with nonstick spray;set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder;set aside.

In another bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs, extract and milk; mix until combined. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixtur just until combined. Gently mix in the chocolate chips. Fill muffin tin two-thirds full with batter.

To make streusel topping: Combine all the ingredients using a fork or your fingers to form a sandy crumb mixture. Sprinkle tops of the muffin batter with topping. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to wire rack. Serve warm or cooled.

** I went ahead and added in 1/2 cup of shredded coconut to the batter to up the coconut flavor even more for the person I was baking these for**

Yields: 24 Muffins
Source: Eat At Home 




Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday's In My City...


            I finally purchased my very first Dutch bike! Isn't she wonderful! I was scared to death of it when I first saw it. These bikes are the size of a small horse..and I'm not joking. The Dutch are some seriously tall people and those seriously tall people need a horse sized bike to get them around on. This classic bike is called an "Omafiets" wich means Grandma bike! I assure you that the bike is for everyone and not just a grandma :) 

When you first get on the bike you need to push off with the pedal and then quickly sit yourself up on the high bike saddle..I fell over twice when trying to attempt this. One you get up there you feel like a high riding queen looking down on all the small people. You sit up straight and you get this bitchy attitude about yourself when you are on there :) Infact I've named her " Elmira Gulch"..for you non loving Wizard of Oz fans, thats the name of the Wicked Witch of the West. 

Elmira has taken me on some serious bike rides over the last 7 days. I've biked enough to lose 7 pounds and Elmira and I have tons of plans for the summer. I'm so lucky to be living in a country that is more bike friendly than most. If you tag me while in a car you are in deep doo doo. I've got the same rights as a car almost and can actually go more places by bike than I can a car. However biking here means you seriously need to know your rules and who you need to yield to and when. So for now I stick to the country roads until I feel comfortable enough to hit the main streets.

You can totally pimp out your bike aswell. Soon I will have a basket on the front and side saddle bags on the back. Those come in handy when biking to the store for a few things. You stick the stuff in your side saddles and you are good to go. Now just imagine that bike with a child seat not only in the back but also the front! I am in awe of Dutch mothers. I can barely bike without looking like a drunken fool and here they are biking around with two kids strapped in there plus groceries in their saddle bags. I've seen people moving a couch with bikes and at christmas time you can see them biking around with giant packages on the back and sometimes they are holding on to another large one while stearing. As we get further into summer I will share more experiences with Elmira and all the wonderful things we see :) Head on over to Unknown Mami and see what she and everyone else is up to this sunday! Also I am using this post on Communal Global's Tuesday's Around The World. If you've never stopped by there, you really need to. It's a wonderful group of women from all over the world who share a photo each day of their life. I'm so proud to be a member there :)

Unknown Mami

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grilled Chili Chicken Marinade

          I am sooo in love with our grill! I could kick myself for waiting 4 years to buy one here. The ease of starting it up and cooking within 3 minutes is fantastic!

I've been trying out new recipes and marinades are my favorites right now. This is a super simple one that only has 4 ingredients..and that includes the chicken. The flavor is subtle,sweet and delicious. I can't stress enough that is needs some serious marinating time. I only left it in the fridge for about 2 hours and I think it could use an overnight soak to be honest...Basting the chicken with the left over sauce is crucial aswell so don't leave that part out!

Chili Chicken

2 TBSP Honey
5 TBSP Sweet Chili Sauce
3 TBSP Soy Sauce
4 Chicken Breasts

In a bowl, whisk the honey, chili sauce and soy sauce until combined. Place a small amount of the sauce in a small bowl to baste with later on. In a ziplock bag, combine the chicken and the marinade, making sure to coat all of the chicken with the sauce. Close bag and pop into the fridge for an hour or up to 24 hours; turn the bag over a few times during the marinating process.

Spray your grill grate with nonstick spray and preheat the grill for medium high heat. Arrange chicken on the grill and grill until juices run clear. Baste frequently with the reserved sauce during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
** You could also use 12 drumsticks in place of the chicken breasts**

Yields: 4 Chicken Breasts
Source: Allrecipes 



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

         I love muffins..they are a quick breakfast or snack on the go, they freeze well and they come in so many varities that you can't get bored with them :) I had two seriously ripe banana's that needed to be used before they went bad and decided that a chocolate chip banana muffin was in order!

       Banana's make everything so moist and they really shined through in this muffin and I loved the addition of the chocolate chips..So did my 3 guys. This recipe makes between 6 and 8 muffins so they were gone in no time in my house!

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

1/4 cup Butter, softened
1/3 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 Egg
3/4 cup Mashed Ripe Banana's (1-2 medium)
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour..I used all white
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/8 tsp. Salt
1/4-1/2 cup Miniature Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking soda and salt;set aside. In a bowl, cream butter and brown sugar with an electic mixer. Beat in egg, banana's and vanilla extract. Beat in the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill cups 3/4 full with batter and bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm if desired. They are great once they have cooled all the way down aswell.

Yield: 6-8 muffins
Source: Taste of Home           



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My first harvest of the season!

              Yesterday I picked my first harvest of the season! I plucked off a fat cucumber and a teenie cherry pepper. If you leave the peppers on for a long time they will turn the bright red tomato color. The cucumber tasted amazing.
         I just loved the inside of the tiny pepper. It tasted great aswell. They are supposed to be hot but I am not one to eat those things with the seeds..I always take those out!

         I've finally got blossoms on my Eight-Ball zucchini plants. I am super excited about those since I have never seen the small round shaped zucchini's before. I have lots of plans for those!
  So what does your "Today" look like? link up with us on Communal Global and share your today with everyone!                         

Monday, June 6, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

          Aahh peanut butter and jelly bars! does it get much better than this? a classic American combination made into bar form :) Dutch people do not understand this combination and if you suggest it to them,well the look on their face shows pure horror. I grew up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and loved them..even as an adult I still crave them once and awhile :)

These bars are super soft and the ratio of peanut butter to jelly is perfect. We loved them and I plan to make them again..maybe with some nutella instead of jelly. You can use whichever jelly you prefer. While chatting with some other expats living here on Facebook we discovered that none of us can find grape jelly here..whats up with that? I asked my husband and he's never seen it nor had it himself. I guess I will have to see if they sell it in Germany. I used strawberry jelly in these but my friend Lizzy mentioned that she likes them with raspberry jam!

PB & J Bars

1-1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 cup Smooth Peanut Butter
3/4 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter,Softened
1 Large Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Jelly or Jam in your favorite flavor
2/3 cup Coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line an 8x8 inch pan with foil, allowing the foil to extend over the sides to allow easy removal later on;Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Whisk flour,baking powder and salt together in a small bowl;set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, brown sugar and butter in a large bowl until smooth. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just until combined. Transfer half of the dough..about 1-1/2 cups into prepared pan. Place the remaining dough in a freezer safe container for 10 minutes.

Using your fingertips, press dough evenly into bottom of the pan. Spread the jelly over in an even layer. Remove dough from freezer; using your fingertips, break dough into grape sized pieces and scatter over jelly layer. Sprinkle peanuts on top evenly.

Bake until the top is golden brown,about 30minutes. Place pan on wire rack and allow to cool completely. Using the extended foil, lift bars out of the pan and cut into squares..make sure you take the foil off of the bottom of the bars if they stick to it when cutting. Serve warm or room temp. Store in airtight container up to 3 days.

Yield: 16 Bars
Source: First Look, Then Cook                     


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

       My son's school is about a 30 second walk from our place. I so love that. However the poor little school is being shut down because of how old and small it is. They are building the new one about a 4 min walk away. I decided to take a stroll to see how its coming along. 
      Well here it is! If it looks crooked to you it's because it is. It looks like an odd slanting type castle to me. There is a roof terrace at the top that will be used to grow things and they've installed a special small elevator for kids who have problems using the stairs. To the right of the school there is a small matching building that will be the gym.
       The school has a lovely area infront of it and the apartment building on the right is a retirement facility.
     These homes face the school aswell. When I first moved here I was always fascinated by the different designes of homes here.
           These are typical style homes you see here..meaning one large place split in two. The only free standing home there is the one on the right. To buy one half of this place and they are typically in the style of a town house only smaller than what I'm used to back home, you will pay..and I am not joking, 400,000 dollars..for that one half,that has a teenie kitchen,small back yard and small living/dining room. This is why I can't stand to buy a home here.
These are also typical style townhouses that you will see here. Our place is similar to this but is all brick with no color on it. They get soooo hot in the summer. The brick locks in the heat and the upstairs becomes a sauna. Anyway thats a look at my little Dutch neighborhood :) Please head over to Unknown Mami and see what everyone else is up to this weekend!   
Unknown Mami

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

             Do you like cheesecake? what about chocolate chip cookies? well if you like both, chances are you are gonna love this! the best of both worlds come together in a super duper yummie bar.

This was this weeks pick for my husbands work meeting..which now takes place during various shifts now. I wanted to work in a cheesecake recipe before one of the co-workers came back from vacation. It turns out that she doesn't like cheesecake or anything cold. I don't blame her since I have serious issues with hot peaches..yuck..peach cobbler is pure hell on earth for me.

These bars could be eaten at room temp..but I did not like them at all like that. I think when baking anything with a cheesecake layer you need that refrigeration time or it just doesn't taste right. So go make these please :) 

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

1-1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
5 TBS Unsalted Butter,melted
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: 
5 TBS Unsalted Butter,room temp
1/3 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
3 TBS Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 cup Flour
1 cup Chocolate Chips
Cheesecake Filling:  
10oz Cream Cheese,softened
1/4 cup Sugar
1 Large Egg,room temp
1 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 or 165 celcius. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil,extending the sides to allow easy removal later on;spray foil with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the crust ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Press mixture into bottom of pan and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack. Do not turn oven off.

To make the chocolate chip dough, beat butter, both sugars, salt and vanilla until smooth and combined with an electric mixer. Mix in the flour on low speed, and mix just until combined. Mix in chocolate chips with wooden spoon and set aside.

Cheesecake layer: Cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in egg and vanilla on low speed until thoroughly combined. Pour cheesecake batter onto the crust. Take the cookie dough and using your hands form crumbs with the dough. Place the cookie dough onto the cheecake batter in teaspoon sized clumps. Be sure to use all of the dough. It looks like you have to much but the amount is perfect.
     Bake for 30 minutes, until the top of the cookie dough feels and looks dry and firm and the entire pan looks set if given a gentle shake ( it took my oven 40minutes to achieve the dry and firm look to the dough) Cool on wire rack and serve room temp or place in fridge for a few hours. Using the sides of the foil, lift the bars out and cut into desired size. Store in refrigerator.

Yields: Many depending on the size of the bars
Source: My Baking Addiction