Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Take A Peek Wednesday: Hyacinth,We Have A Problem!



                Saturday morning starts out like any other day of the week: I get up and get the hens fed and watered for the day. Each morning they get a bowl full of greens,oats,nuts,corn or peas and whatever else I think they might like. Then I walk out and feed them,grab their water container and refill that and their dry food if it's empty. It's been happening just like that since they came to live with us at the end of July.
                  

         Well..as soon as I walked out my back door I knew something was up. You see..my huge beautiful Hyacinth decided to let me in on a secret. She was a HE!!!! The sound stopped me cold in my tracks. I actually prayed that I heard it wrong. I walked closer to their coop and as soon as I rounded the corner, there she was..Their coop as a window they can look out of and as soon as she saw me, she cockadoodledoo'd me. I was devastated and she was over the moon to let us all know her little secret. I was actually angry.
                         


            I was angry because I was now stuck with an animal we couldn't keep. I can't have a rooster while living in a very populated neighborhood. I couldn't do that to my neighbors,whom I suspect would become very resentful towards us, and if I'm honest, I didn't want chicks. I'm not set up for that. I was both angry and sad at the whole situation. I really liked her and now I was down one hen when it came to egg laying. My husband and I scrambled to find him a new home. I never realized how much roosters are hated. No one wanted him. No one.

We called people,we begged people,we bribed people..nothing worked. Then we found a solution: He would live on a working farm but in the meat bird section. I knew this was his reality. Everyone else we called said they would kill him on the spot. This farm would allow him to free range until he was turned into their dinner and it was up to us to come to terms with that.

This morning we loaded him up and I cried. I cried and cried and cried. My husband called me awhile later very excited to tell me that he wouldn't be eaten but instead would live out his days producing tons of baby chicks for them!!! I couldn't believe it. They were impressed with how huge he was ( I guess he was twice the size of the other roosters) and they loved how beautiful he was. I am so happy. I guess he has a wooded area to free range in and since they are a biological farm, he will be eating as well with them as he was with me. It's a perfect ending to a sad situation. I've decided to stick with my 7 hens since everyone is settled in already and leave it at that. Hopefully I won't be surprised again with a rooster!

I'll miss you dear,Hyacinth but I'm excited for your new life!



Monday, October 28, 2013

Whole Wheat Apple Oatmeal Muffins

   

             We are currently under a sever weather warning and urged to stay indoors. The wind is so strong that I'm worried something is going to crash in on us. I keep running out to check on the hens to make sure they still have a roof over their heads. My oldest son has to bike home and lets just say that I will be relieved once everyone arrives home safe and sound!
               
      

         I'm going to keep this post short in case we lose power. These muffins are so delicious and soft! We loved the fall like flavors and had a hard time stopping at just one muffin!

Whole Wheat Apple Oatmeal Muffins

1-1/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1-1/4 cups Quick Cooking or Old Fashioned Oats
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Ground Cardamom
1/8 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1/2 cups Low-fat Buttermilk
1/2 cups Packed Brown Sugar
2 TBS Oil
1 Large Egg,lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
2 Small Apples,Cored and chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celsius. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl,combine flour,oats,baking powder,baking soda,salt,and spices.

In a medium bowl,combine the applesauce,buttermilk,brown sugar,oil,egg,and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet into the dry;stir just until combined. Fold in the chopped apples.

Fill each muffin cup 2/3-3/4 full. Bake 16-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted  comes out clean.

Yield: 12 Muffins
Source: Cookies and Kate

                








Friday, October 25, 2013

Apple Butter Spice Cake

    

                  What a productive week this has been! I've been knee deep in bread dough,chicken poop (not at the same time), running errands,and taking care of various things around the house. We made an appointment for someone to come out and finish installing the wood burning stove that was in the house when we bought it. It's brand new and has never been used. They will be here in about 3 weeks and I can't wait! I've always wanted a wood burning stove and plan on putting it to work the second it's ready to go!

A week or so ago I made apple butter. I also mentioned that I would be sharing a recipe that used up some of the butter that was made. Well here it is.. apple butter spice cake. Good lord is it infused with a good amount of spice. The cake is crazy moist,slightly dense and filled with a spice blend that will make you glad you served it with some ice cream to balance it out a bit. This type of cake actually gets better and better days after it was baked. The flavors calm down and settle a bit so if you are able to, give it a day or so of resting and dig in!

Apple Butter Spice Cake

1 TBS Butter
1 cup Apple Butter
3/4 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
3 TBS Canola Oil
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 cup Buttermilk
1 Large Egg
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 cups plus 2 TBS White Whole Wheat Flour or All-purpose
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
2 tsp. Ground Ginger..I only used 1
1 tsp. Allspice
1/4 tsp. Salt

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celsius. Grease an 8 inch square pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a medium to large saucepan,melt the butter over medium-heat;swirl the pan until the butter turns a nutty brown,about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Add the apple butter,brown sugar and oil into the saucepan and whisk until smooth. Add raisins,buttermilk, egg, and vanilla and thoroughly mix. Add flour,baking soda,spices and salt; whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan evenly.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

** If you wanted to skip the whole brown butter thing, you totally can. I honestly don't feel like it added anything special to it so if you can't be fussed to do it then chuck everything into mixing bowl instead. Keep an eye on the time. My cake was done before the 35 minute mark. Store in an airtight container and enjoy for days and days**

Yield: 9 servings
Source: Eating Well 












Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Take A Peek Wednesday: Hen Update!


       I thought I would post an update on the ladies since it has been awhile. All is well in Hen Valley! They are happily clucking their days away in the backyard.
                      


          Do you know what they all so happily do all day? eat and poo..and then poo and poo some more. I never realized how much they can drop in one day. I go in every two days to rake and clean everything up..and as soon as I'm done they run around and poo all over the place again.
                   


            They are huge now..like HUGE. This one..Hyacinth is the largest of the 8. We thought that she might be a rooster for awhile but after some research we learned that this breed is very big..both male and females are large so hopefully that translates into big beautiful eggs! Speaking of eggs...we still aren't there yet. It could technically happen any day now but more than likely won't be until some time in November. They show no signs of wanting to lay yet..but I do still check each morning. Just in case :)








Monday, October 21, 2013

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

      

             This weekend I made a decision to completely stop buying bread from the store. It's actually harder than it sounds..I've tried before to make the switch to making it all myself 100% of the time..but I have failed several times. I don't believe myself to be this snob when it comes to the bread from the store. It can be very good. We also have bakeries all over the place and they sell freshly baked bread as well. The truth is..I no longer feel comfortable buying it from the store because of all of the fillers they put in there and I don't want to pay the extra price for a bakery loaf when I know I can make it at home for pennies. I know not everyone can make the switch and find nothing wrong with that..but I have way to much time on my hands and decided to fill it up by baking crazy amounts of breads and buns to keep us going. I'm realistic though and have no problems with purchasing breads here and there so I am in no way anti bread unless it's made at home..I'm just kinda fed up with the poo bread sold in the stores.
              


             I suppose while I'm being honest I should also admit that I watched the documentary called, Food,inc and that kinda opened up my eyes. Has anyone else seen it? a must watch..especially if you live in the U.S. 
                      


            So now that I have that confession out of the way..lets talk about this bread! It's so soft and delicious! The rosemary isn't over powering,the whole wheat flour adds a great flavor, and sliced up and toasted makes a great fried egg sandwich! Bake some bread today!

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

1 cup Warm Water
1 TBS Sugar or Honey
2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast 
1 tsp. Salt
2 TBS Fresh Rosemary,chopped or 2 tsp. Dried
1/4 tsp. Italian Seasonings
1/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 TBS Olive Oil..extra virgin or regular
1-1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Bread Flour,plus extra for kneading
Egg Wash: 1 egg,whisked with 1 TBS Water
Dried Rosemary,for sprinkling on top

In a large bowl,combine the water,sugar,and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir in the salt,rosemary,seasonings,olive oil, and whole wheat flour. Add the bread flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes,adding in more flour as needed to prevent sticking,until smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl,turning to make sure both sides are coated. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size,about 1 hour.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a tight ball. Place the ball onto a cornmeal dusted pizza peel or parchment paper,dust the top with flour and cover with a tea towel. Let rise until doubled,about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven and pizza stone if using to 400 or 200 celsius. Brush the risen loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle with dried rosemary.

Bake on the stone for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

** If you don't have a pizza stone then don't worry you can use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprinkled with cornmeal**

Yield: 1 round loaf
Source: A Hint of Honey




Friday, October 18, 2013

Chocolate Chai Mini-Loaves

         

            Friday! I think it's my most favorite day of the week. Well if I'm honest everyday is a friday for me since I don't work outside of the home, but I love the day because it means my husband and kids are all mine for the next few days. My two sons are off next week for Fall vacation and I love that.

This recipe I am sharing today has been posted before..but the photo was atrocious. So I whipped up these mini cakes yesterday and ran outside when I spotted a wee bit of sunlight. It's been a challenge this week when it comes to natural light so I'm actually basing my baking on what the weather is going to be like. Soon the weather will change and will make going outside even harder..so for now I keep my eyes sharp on the sky and snap away when I can.

These mini-loaves are more cake like than bread like..but a lot of sweet quick breads are like that. The cakes have a wonderful subtle chocolate flavor and the spice mix screams fall. If you are unable to get your hands on chai mix I will include a quick recipe that was included below. I am able to get it here but when I added the mix, it wasn't spicy enough so I went ahead and added the additional recipe they included. That gave it a wonderful spice flavor that I will use in place of the store brand chai mix. The loaves are moist and delicious and would make a wonderful gift this christmas season!

Chocolate Chai Mini-Loaves

1/2 cup Water
2 (1-ounce) squares Bittersweet or Semi sweet baking chocolate
1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter,softened
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt
1-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
3 TBS Instant Chai Tea Latte Mix
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt

Glaze

1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 TBS Butter,softened
1 TBS instant Chai Tea Latte Mix
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
4-5 TBS Milk

**Chai mix substitute: Combine 2 tsp. Cinnamon,1 tsp.Ground Ginger and 1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves in a small bowl. Use 2-1/4 tsp. in the batter and 1 tsp. in the glaze**

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celsius. Grease bottoms only of 3 ( 5-3/4 X 3-inch) mini loaf pans;set aside. 

Combine water and baking chocolate in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat,stirring occasionally,until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat;cool to room temperature.

In a medium sized bowl, combine brown sugar,butter,eggs and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add chocolate mixture and sour cream. Continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low,add remaining batter ingredients and mix until batter is smooth.

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack completely. 

In a small bow,combine all of the glaze ingredients except for milk. Beat at medium speed,adding enough milk for desired spreading consistency. Glaze cooled loaves.

** You can bake these loaves in any size pan that you want. I baked mine up using a mini loaf pan set that has 6 individual loaf pans that are all in one tray. If you bake this in a 9x5 then increase the time to 45-50 mins.**

Yield: 12-16 servings
Source: Land O Lakes


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Take A Peek Wednesday: Street View




               I was dusting my window sill and decided to take a quick pic to show you what part of my street looks like. Across the street and to the right there is a hair salon..I've never gone in. All of the women that work there have short spiky hair that's dyed a maroon color. I'm to scared to go in for fear of coming out looking like they do.

Our front door is rarely used. We use the back of our house as our front door. We park back there so coming and going is always done that way. In fact a few of our neighbors thought we moved out because they never see anyone coming or going from the front and they claim they can't see any lights on at night. Well I know for a fact they can see me because every morning when my youngest heads off to school..through the front door, I wave goodbye. I glance across the street and see several neighbors peeking out their windows to look at me.

I do miss American streets though. The roads are wider and they have more curb appeal. My front door leads right onto the sidewalk..which took some getting used to. Do you have a front yard where you live or do you do more of your living in the back like we do?



  




Monday, October 14, 2013

Cinnamon Waffles



               Hello Monday! Are you ready to take on the world this week my friends? yeah,me neither. You know what I did this weekend? absolutely nothing. I sat my butt on the couch with my husband and took naps and downloaded various things to watch. As soon as I'm done with this post I'm off to watch Salem's Lot. Does anyone remember that movie? I just noticed they did an update version in 2004..seriously people,stop remaking movies. It ticks me off to no end.

What doesn't tick me off though,are waffles. Oh how we love waffles in this house! I'm going to attempt some savory waffles next while the boys are home for Fall vacation. I have my eyes set on some ham and cheddar waffles!

These cinnamon waffles are super easy to bring together and taste fantastic with peanut butter,maple syrup and apple butter..yes,all at the same time. We like to live dangerously over here!

Cinnamon Waffles

2 Eggs
2 cups All-purpose Flour or half whole wheat,half all-purpose
1/2 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1-1/2 cups Milk of choice
2 TBS  Sugar
1 TBS Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Vanilla
4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt

Preheat your waffle iron! In a medium bowl,beat eggs with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.

Pour batter into a greased hot waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's instructions. For me that was to use 1/2 cups worth of batter on each side for my belgian waffle maker.

Yield: 10 Waffles
Source: Give Me Lemons



   




Friday, October 11, 2013

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

             If fall came in a cookie flavor..it would come in the form of pumpkin oatmeal cookies. After I baked these, I wanted to run out and buy a pumpkin to carve,buy a pumpkin flavored latte, jump into a pile of leaves, and twirl around like a crazy woman. The only one I managed to do was the twirling bit because for one..finding pumpkins here aren't easy, I've never drank a pumpkin latte because they don't exist here unless you head to Amsterdam and score one at a Starbucks,aaaand there are no leaves to be had at this point. So I settled on one twirl in my kitchen and a flurry of snapshots of the cookies in hopes of tempting my husband to come home from work early. Yep, I use food to lure the man home. I'm ok with this.  
              


         These cookies are crazy good and you just have to make them. They are soft,loaded with flavor,chunky,dip-able,moreish, and perfect in every way.

If you don't have pumpkin puree then don't worry, just use sweet potato puree..there won't be a difference in flavor. You can use whatever add ins that you want but I will list what I used so you get an idea. The only change I needed to make was to use blackstrap molasses instead of the regular kind. The reason being and this won't come as a shocker to long time readers is that I can't find the regular molasses. It's just not something they really use here I guess. Yes I know they sell it sometimes at the health food stores and yes I know you can purchase at the ubber expensive store in Amsterdam or online..but I live on a budget and I can't make myself spend close to 15 american dollars on a bottle of molasses. I was however able to score blackstrap when I found it in the international section of my store about a year ago. I bought every bottle I could and decided to learn how to bake with it. I actually don't mind the flavor of it and neither does my family. I thought it went very well with this cookie but will say it needs a 24 hour resting period to allow the flavor to mellow a bit. It didn't take anything away from the cookie and actually brought the whole fall flavor together in my opinion. So if all you can get is blackstrap, then give this cookie a try :) Do not leave the molasses out though. You need the flavor in this cookie.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups plus 1 TBS All-purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 TBS Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice(or 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1-1/2 cups Old-fashioned Rolled Oats
1 cup Butter
1/3 cup Dark Molasses
3/4 cup Dark or Light Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
3/4 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp. Vanilla
1-1/2 cup Add-ins..I used a combination of chocolate chips,pumpkin seeds,chocolate covered sunflower seeds,chopped walnuts and dried cranberries.

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celsius. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl,combine the flour,baking soda,cinnamon,pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Fold in the oats; Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat,melt the butter. Whisk in the molasses,brown sugar,and sugar. Add the egg and whisk until combined. Add the puree and vanilla and whisk until thick and completely combined. Pour into dry ingredients and gently mix just until combined ( the batter will be thick,heavy,and sticky..and that is ok). Fold in the add ins of choice.

Using a large cookie scoop..2-3 tablespoons,drop dough onto prepared pan and gently press cookies down.

Bake 13-15 minutes,until lightly browned and still soft in the center. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to cool completely. These cookies actually taste better the following day!

** I think my cookie scoop was maybe a 2 tablespoon size because I got 30 cookies out of this. The original recipe states 15-17 cookies! mine were still huge so go with whatever size you have or just scoop of large sized dough balls with a spoon**

Yield: Depends on the size of your dough balls..I got 30
Source: Sally's Baking Addiction








Monday, October 7, 2013

Homemade Apple Butter

    


           Did everyone have a good weekend? My husband worked an early shift on Sunday so I was up with him at 5 am. I don't mind. Honest. As he left for the day I decided to take advantage of the early start and get a ton of things done. So in went the laundry,the sweeping and dusting, got the dough rising for No-knead Cheese burger buns, fed and watered the hens, and just basically kept on trucking for the rest of the day.
             


        I also decided to whip up some apple butter!!! I honestly can't remember the last time I had it..well at least 6 years since that's how long I've lived here..but really longer then that. I don't know why I didn't make it sooner than this..oh yes I do. I always thought you needed to can the stuff and I don't own any canning equipment. It's not like back home where you can hit garage sales and get everything dirt cheap. They don't even have garage sales here and when we do see it in the stores..it's anything but dirt cheap. So I never made it. Then I spotted this fantastic recipe and decided now was the time.

It was foggy and cold out and a perfect fall morning to make this. The house smelled of apples and cinnamon.And I was so happy. I baked up some buttermilk biscuits to go along with it and happily plopped it down for the family to devour.

Sometimes the simple things in life make you feel so crazy complete it's almost ridiculous. Apple butter did that for me. The recipe is so simple and I love that is uses half brown sugar and half honey. I have seen some recipes with crazy amounts of sugar and it's just not necessary and plain not good for you. 

In case you aren't sure what to do with the apple butter,let me give you some tips! We eat it on toasted and un toasted bread. We eat it on pancakes and waffles, on biscuits, stirred into yogurt and as a topping for ice cream. You can bake with it as well and I will be posting a recipe soon that uses it.

Fall is here..go make some apple butter!!!

Apple Butter

3 lbs Apples,peeled,cored and sliced
2-1/2 cups Apple Cider
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Honey
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Ground Cloves

In a large saucepan,combine the apple slices and cider. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir in the brown sugar,honey and spices. Continue to simmer for another 45 minutes to 1 hour..until the apples have easily broken down and resemble a chunky applesauce.

Cool slightly and process in either a food processor..which is what I did or in a blender. You can also use one of those immulsion blenders but I don't own one of those yet. It's on my christmas list. Pour into an airtight container..like a jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Yield: 2-3 cups worth..I didn't actually measure it
Source: The Stay At Home Chef





Friday, October 4, 2013

South-of-The-Border-Pie




          Well..here we are again. Another week has come to an end. It's been cold and sunny and I've got no complaints about that. The hens are loving this weather and running around like crazy in the chicken run. My husband had a few days off this week and we spent it running errands and getting some things done around the house. This weekend will be filled with laundry, apple butter making, biscuit baking to go along with the apple butter making, and various other bakes to get us taken care of for the weekend. Do you have any special plans?

This recipe I am sharing with you is basically a crust less quiche that can be served for lunch or dinner. We love it and have it often. It's an easy recipe to bring together and budget friendly on top of that. Feel free to toss in any left over meat or chicken you might have but it really doesn't need it. Serve it with freshly baked bread and a salad and you are good to go.

Happy Weekend!

South of the border pie

1/2 cup Chopped Onion
2 Garlic Cloves,minced
1 TBS Olive oil or Vegetable oil
1-2 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/4 tsp. Salt
1-15 ounce can Red Kidney Beans,drained and rinsed
1-1/2 cups cooked Brown Rice
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
3/4 cup Milk of choice
2 Beaten Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celsius. Grease a 10-inch pie or quiche dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large frying pan or saucepan,cook onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat until tender but not brown. Stir in chili powder,cumin, and salt. Cook one minute more and remove from heat. Stir in beans,cooked rice,cheese,milk, and eggs until thoroughly combined.

Spoon mixture into prepared dish. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or till the center is set. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Yield: 6 main-dish servings
Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Take A Peek Wednesday: Running Errands



                Do you ever have those moments where you feel like you live in your car? that you are constantly in it more than not? for the most part my life is very quiet..very very quiet, but there are those brief moments where I am running around like crazy.
                       
 
             I still can't believe where I live sometimes..I mean,look..I can head to Amsterdam if I want to. I live 2 hours from there..crazy I tell you.
                                                


              I still have those moments where I'm looking around and thinking to myself that I am no longer surrounded by Americans..I miss you guys. I really really do. Life isn't so bad across the pond. I'm lucky in ways that aren't always expressed.. I do live a very blessed life. But I miss my peeps :)