Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Christmas Gift

 
     I pretty much received the Red Ryder BB Gun of gifts. I still can't believe it. I've talked a few times on here about wanting a standmixer and coming to terms with the fact that I would never own a kitchenaid because of the outrageous price they charge over here for it. I had one back home and just loved it and was crushed beyond belief when I saw the price tag for one over here. I researched like crazy online as to what I could get that would come close. I finally decided on a kenwood standmixer and let the whole kitchenaid dream go.

Over the next few weeks my husband kept telling me that he researched everything and had it all under control. When my husband says that I instantly know it to be true. That man can research like no other. We both decided that although we both knew what we were getting from eachother that we would still wrap the gifts. So my husband left one evening and came home with one giant box and two smaller ones. He couldn't stop smiling and kept telling me how excited he was this year for christmas. I was pretty excited too because I desperatly needed a heavy duty mixer for my baking and breadmaking needs.

So christmas morning was finally here. We went downstairs and the boys decided that they wanted everyone to open up one gift at a time and they picked me to go first. My husband jumped up and brought the big box over to me. I tore open the top part of the wrapping paper fully expecting to see the Kenwood name on it. I was in total shock when I saw the words..Kitchenaid. I looked at my husband and burst into tears. Not just any kind of tears, but the-I can't control myself tears-so I'm going to cover my face with my hands and just sob sort of tears. 

      
     I never expected I would get one. I knew what they cost over here and I knew what that sort of cost ment for us and the fact that my husband walked into that store and went straight for the kitchenaid without a second thought made me love him 5 bazillion times more than I already did. He knew I would be content with a kenwood but he wasn't content with me having one. He knew my main passion was baking so the extra cost would pay off in the years to come. The color is cocoa silver and it's just beautiful. The other two presents contained the glass bowl mixer and a special grip paddle. So I now have the stainless steal mixer aswell as the glass bowl. I'm  pretty much set for life. I keep looking at it and touching it. I still haven't used it but I plan to. My husbands favorite dessert is pavlova and I am thinking that this weekend he is going to get the biggest pavlova ever. I wanted to make something really special the first time I used it..and I'm thinking this is it :)

I hope everyone had a wonderful christmas! I have so many recipes to share but I am sick of sweets! I made wonderful spicy cinnamon roasted almonds so I might post those soon. You can make those at any time of year. What made your christmas special this year? We had a wonderful day as a family. We laughed, we cried..well I cried anyway, we ate, we made new memories and we all decided that this was the best christmas ever.

Can you believe we are about to enter 2012!?




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

  
        This weekend was my cookie exchange get together! I had the best time. I really really did. It was so great to spend the day with other expats and it really helped to make my holiday season that much better. We happily ate,drank and chatted the whole day away. We plan to make this an annual event and I can't wait until next year!

I brought these wonderful sandwich cookies to share with everyone and they seemed to go over very well. They are really simple to bake and the frosting makes your whole house smell like a peppermint factory!

      
     I also brought along my lemon sugar cookies in the shapes of snowflakes. I need to practice my frosting more!

I'm finally done with baking for everyone else. I have one more cookie box to mail off and I only need to worry about my family now. It's been a great holiday baking season and can't wait until next year to do it all over again!

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

1-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour,lightly spooned into measuring cup and leveled
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 cup Semi sweet Chocolate Chips
3/4 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
5 TBS Butter..real butter!
1 TBS Water 
1 Large Egg,lightly beaten

Peppermint Frosting

1/2 cup Butter,softened
2 cups  Powdered Sugar
1/2-1 tsp. Peppermint Extract
Milk as needed for consistency
Sprinkles,food coloring,crushed candy canes;optinal

Preheat oven to350 or 180 celcius. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate chips, brown sugar, butter and water, stirring constantly until melted and smooth ( there will still be grains of sugar and that's ok). Transfer mixture to a large bowl and beat in egg. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Do not overmix.

If the dough is to soft, let is sit for a few minutes or place in the fridge for a few minutes. The dough is going to be very soft so do not expect it to hard up. Gently roll balls, either into 1 tablespoon full for large cookies, or 1/2 inch balls for silver dollared sized cookies ( I went with the larger size). Place 2 inches apart on prepared sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes for the larger cookies or 5 mins for the smaller cookies. The cookies will be done when they are slighlty puffed in the middle and the edges are set but centers are still soft. Cool for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Once they completely cool they will flatten out and get that chocolate crinkle look on top.

To make the frosting, beat all of the ingredients together, including a drop or two of red frosting and peppermint extract to taste. Add the milk by teaspoon full until spreadable, but not to soft.  Place frosting in a ziplock bag and cut off a small piece of the corner. Pipe the frosting onto one side of the cookie and top with its matching pair. Roll edges into sprinkles if desired. I found that pouring sprinkles into my hand and rolling the cookies like that worked best.

** For step by step photos of everything, head over to Our Best Bites**

Yield: 1-1/2 dozen for large or  4-5 dozen for the teenie ones
Source: Our Best Bites



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Whopper Cookies

  
         Yesterday my partner for the cookie exchange through mail received her goodies! I kept checking my facebook all day long to see when she finally had gotten them  :) I'm happy to say that she loved everything I sent..including these bad boys..and they are bad.

You know what puts them on the naughty list? you can actually eat the dough..Now lets be honest..I will eat raw cookie dough no matter what. I don't care of there are raw eggs in there..Im sampling. This recipe however has zero eggs in it..zero..which means you could infact grab a giant spoon and take the bowl into the living room,pop a christmas movie in and eat until you pop. I won't judge! These cookies are soft and in the middle they get slighty chewy. The whoppers..or maltesers as they are called over here, hold up perfect in this recipe.

Go make some!!!

Whopper Cookies

2-1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
3/4 cup  Butter,softened
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1-1/2 cups roughly chopped Whoppers or Maltesers ( I put them into a reseable plastic bag and  lighlty tapped  the tops with a rolling pin..way easier than trying to chop them with a knife) 

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in milk and vanilla. then gradually blend in the flour mixture. Do not overmix, stir only until no streaks of flour remain. Gently stir in the chopped whoppers.

Drop by rounded 1-inch balls onto prepared sheet. Bake 12-14 mins,or until lighlty browned. Cool on baking sheet 2-3 mins before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: several dozen
Source: Baking Bites 





 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Scones

  
         I'm in a mad rush this week to get a bunch of baking done. I am headed to my first cookie exchange get together on saturday and I'm so excited! Anytime I can meet up with other expats is always exciting for me. I am also doing a cookie exchange through mail! When you mail something within The Netherlands it only takes one day to reach the person. So a group of us ladies who are on an expat cooking group on facebook decided to do one through the mail. It's not always easy getting together around this time so mailing off a wonderful box filled with cookies is the way to go!

        
     I decided to surprise my 3 guys with some chooclate chip scones this weekend! My kids thought I was the coolest mom ever for serving them chocolate for breakfast :) This was my first time trying a scone recipe and to be honest I don't know if it's an authentic one or not. We didn't wait until they cooled off to eat them so to us it tasted like a wonderful thick cookie! These are super simple to bake and I can see myself making these again really soon!

Chocolate Chip Scones

1-1/2 cups Plus 2 TBS All-purpose Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt..I used 1/8 tsp.
1 cup Chocolate Chips..I used mini's
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 TBS Butter,Melted
Additional sugar for sprinkling;optional. I used a cinnamon sugar combo on top :)

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour,sugar,baking powder and salt. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine. Add the heavy cream to the flour mixture and mix just until the dough forms and the dry ingredients are incorporated. Knead the dough briefly with floured hands to make sure that everything is combined ( I did it right in the bowl)

Using either a large cookie scoop or spoon, drop dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 15-20 mins, or until lightly browned.

Yield: 10-12 Scones
Source: Tracy Carolyn and Annie's Eats
   


    






 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

  
       It's been a cold week here in The Netherlands! We had a bunch of snow this time last year, but not a single snowflake has fallen this time around. 

       
      I've got crockpot chili cooking right now and I've been busy raking up the massive amounts of leaves that a storm dumped in my back yard.

            
        My christmas cactus has bloomed once again! love it

         
     Christmas is getting closer..are you ready for it??? Have a wonderful week! Head on over to Unknown Mami and join in on the fun of sharing your world with everyone else.

Unknown Mami




  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brown Sugar Oat Muffins

 
        I cant believe I have gotten to the point of not posting a recipe based on looks. I mean..seriously. I didn't want to post these because my muffins have peaks..but you know what? peaks happen. It's a part of life and ladies..we need to embrace those peaks! I did two things wrong with this recipe. I over mixed and I didn't check my oven temp. It was slighty higher and when I finally caught it, it was to late. They didn't burn but it shows how you do need to pay attention when baking!

With all of that peak drama aside..these guys are awesome! there is no flashy bits of nuts or raisins or apples or a glaze..well you can add those but you don't have to! I only added a sprinkle of sliced almonds and it was perfect. These are great on their own or with butter. If you don't have whole wheat flower then just add all-purpose flour. Super easy recipe that results in a moist muffin with a great brown sugar flavor with an added old fashioned element with the addition of oats. The original recipe did not call for any spices but I highly suggest you add one. I went with a teaspoon of pumpkin pie seasoning but cinnamon would also work very well.

Brown Sugar Oat Muffins

1 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
3/4 cup Packed Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pimpkin Pie Spice or Ground Cinnamon
2 Eggs
3/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla


Preheat oven to 400 degrees or 200 celcius. Line a muffin tin with liners or grease with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats,flours,brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spice and set aside.


In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake for 15-17 mins or until toothpick inserted towards middle comes out with just a few crumbs. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.


Yield~12 Muffins
Source~ Taste of Home


 



Monday, December 5, 2011

'Tis the Season

   
         The tree has been up for almost a week now and I can't stop looking at it. There are so many memories on there. The one above was bought on sunday to mark my 7th wedding anniversary.

      
      I bought this one on sunday aswell..There is something magical about a smiling mushroom with ladybug on top!

        
      I can still remember when my husband and I walked into the all year round ornament store in Oregon and bought this one. They need a serious shot of personalised ornaments over here. I have yet to find someone who does it!

     
      I love this one too. The truth is I love all of my ornaments. We all know the story behind each and everyone one..and we talk about them every single year. Do you have special ornaments or decorations that you bring out year after year? I want to do an ornament swap sometime. How much fun would it be to receive an ornament from The Netherlands or Germany or England!  





 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

   
          Today I went to a German Christmas Market that was held right below a castle. Does it get any cooler??

        
      We had to walk up this really steep hill and I kept bumping into everyone because I couldn't stop looking at the castle.

        
      The market was right at the top of the hill. It was much smaller than we were used to and most of what was being sold was handmade.

        
      Handmade equals big bucks. I understand the time and effort that goes into making handmade items but with prices like that I need to be picky!

        
      Everyone of course stopped and stared when they heard us chatting away in english...even the dogs did a double take :)

        
      I bought two ornaments,kettle corn and sugared almonds with cinnamon..oh heck yeah they were good.

        
     All in all it was a wonderful afternoon!

     
     In The Netherlands they celebrate Sinterklaas on Dec 5..We get our Santa Claus from Sinterklaas. They also celebrate it at school. Each child writes down 3 things they would like to get ( it needs to come in under 5 dollars) and then they list a few of their hobbies. My youngest son had a partner who enjoys horseback riding. She asked for a pair of riding socks,candy and 3 pencils. You then need to decorate a container,box or whatever you want in the design of what that person likes. So we took a box,placed the items in there and turned  it into a horse by using felt and a hot glue gun. It took 3 hours and alot of laughter. My husband kept burning his fingers on the hot glue gun and I can't tell you how funny it is to see a 6 foot 4 inch man holding onto felt horse ears while saying "Ow,ow"over and over. You then include a poem for that person as if you were Sinterklaas and you make it about them or the gift...and it needs to rhyme. The person then reads the poem opens up the gift and guesses who it was that made the gift for them. I hope she enjoys her gift! Head on over to Unknown Mami to see what everyone else is up to this weekend! 
 
Unknown Mami







 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gingerbread Whoopies w/ Lemon Buttercream Frosting


    Heeelloo people! I am still around! thanks for the concerned e-mails..I am alive and ok. Being an expat comes with its ups and downs and for the most part I can ride the bad ones out fairly quickly. However when Thanksgiving rolls around I hit a huge dip with my spirits. I start thinking of home and about everyone and what they are up to and what I'm missing out on. It takes me awhile to bounce back..and this time it was a really huge dip. I'm feeling better though and have much to be thankful for. I made a no-bake pumpkin pie but there isn't really a point in posting that anymore. So I will wait until next year!

     
     I do have a whoopie pie recipe to share with you though. Today is my 37th birthday and this is what I made for myself. These babies were awesome. The inside is a lemon buttercream frosting that goes perfect with gingerbread. I had a wonderful birthday and being 37 doesn't feel as bad as I thought it would..and I really thought it was going to feel bad. I have a habit of getting caught up in the whole number thing and assuming I'm going to need a walker at any moment. Yes I'm over the top like that.

 Don't overbake these, add more lemon to the frosting than I did and hide a few because they are going to go fast. Real fast.

Gingerbread Whoopies 

1/2 cup plus 3TBS Butter,softened
3/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla 
1 Extra Large Egg
2 TBS  Molasses or Blackstrap Molasses
2-1/3 cups All-purpose Flour
2-1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1-1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
3/4 tsp. Ground Allspice
Pinch of Salt
2 TBS Milk

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter,sugar and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and mix until combined.

Sift the flour, baking powder, ginger, allspice and salt over the creamed mixture and mix together. Add the milk and mix until combined..( you can also mix the sifted flour and milk in by using a wooden spoon).


Using a level 2-inch/5cm ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon, make 18 halves. To make each half, put the batter onto the prepared sheet in 2-inch/5cm diameter rounds about 1-1/4inch/3cm high..allow 3 inches between each round to give them room to spread out ( although these did not spread out much and I ended up placing 5 onto the cookie sheet)

Bake in the oven 10-12 mins, or until firm to the touch. Transfer to wire racks to cool completly. ** I wouldn't overbake these. I allowed some to go as far as 15 minutes and although they were firm to the touch by then, they hardened up and became dry.**

When whoopies are cooled, match each one with its closest partner in size. Spread frosting generously onto the flat side of one whoopie using a butter knife or pastry bag fitted with large star tip and top each one with its partner.


Lemon Buttercream Frosting


3/4 cup Butter,softened
3/4 tsp. Vanilla
3-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 TBS Lemon Juice


Place butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat together with either an electric mixer or with a wooden spoon until combined.


Sift in the powdered sugar. Add in lemon juice and mix together until light and fluffy.


** I would add more lemon juice next time or swap the vanilla out for lemon extract**


Yield: 9 Whoopie Pies
Source: Whoopies! Fabulous mix and match recipes for whoopie pies.