Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Take A Peek Wednesday: Seeds and A New Friend

           It's that time of the year folks!!! that absolutely wonderful time when you start placing your order for seeds! I look forward to this because it means there is an end in sight to all of this grey cold weather. Spring is on the way and planting season is about to begin. I thought long and hard about what I was going to grow in my container and raised bed gardens this year. I really wanted to focus on what me ate the most of and kind of step away from planting things that either never work for me or barely produce vegetables. So goodbye to pumpkins,watermelons,and eggplant. I actually managed to grow eggplants for the first time ever last year but I only got 4 and I decided to use my space differently in my small green house.

I am focusing on cucumbers,zucchini,carrots and potatoes. I still need to pick up a few more seed packets. I want another packet of rainbow carrots and way more sprouted potatoes to grow hopefully twice as much as last year. We loved those! I also decided to grow a few new things...

        We have a local store here that has some kind gimmick going on a few times a 10 euro worth of food and get some sort of prize. I wasn't really excited about any of them until now. For every 15 euro that is spent you will get one tiny seed pot to grow your own fruits and vegetables! I had to stop myself from jumping up and down and screaming yes! when the cashier asked if I wanted a few of the pots. You never know what you are getting until you slide the little peat growing box out and look at your tiny tag. I decided that whatever I was given during the promotion that I would do my best to grow. So far I have,one container of broccoli, two spring onions and one radish container. I am so excited and hope they all sprout!
         Since my birthday is on Dec 1st, my youngest son has always gotten me something having to do with Christmas. For years he has picked out a new snow globe to add to my collection..but not this year! This year he went to my favorite garden center and purchased a grow your own Christmas tree gift set! It came with the seeds and a burlap bag of dirt to plant it in. So out of the 10 million seeds it seemed like I planted a few months ago, this was the only one to come up. I'd like you to meet, Charlie. I have such wonderful plans for this little guy. Speaking of friends..lets meet him!

          I went out to feed the girls and spotted this little guy. We both just stood there and stared at one another. We even moved in closer at the same time to kind of see how the other one felt about the whole situation. I call him Tiny Tim. I asked that he please stay out of the covered food containers and to please not jump out and scare me like he did this time.

Who's growing a garden this year?? let me know what you are planting!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Double Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

              I don't know about you, but I always seem to have at least two to three overripe bananas at any given time. I usually pop them into the freezer to use at a later date but the freezer is full of pork and beef packets we ordered from a farmer so I decided to bake with them right away. When you have two teen aged boys that are forever hungry it's always nice to have a snack on hand to the tide them over until dinner time.

Double Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

1-1/4 cups All-purpose Flour or White Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder
1-1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
3/4 cup Mashed Ripe Banana
1/3 cup Sour Cream..I used plain yogurt
1 Large Egg
1/2 cup Sugar..I used 1/4 cup
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup Semi sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350/180. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl,sift together the flour,cocoa powder,baking powder,baking soda,salt and cinnamon.

In a large bowl,whisk together the banana sour cream or yogurt,egg,sugar,oil, and vanilla until well blended. Add the flour mixture and chocolate chips into the wet ingredients and gently mix until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among prepared liners.

Bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 12 Muffins
Source: Scientifically Sweet 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Take A Peek Wednesday: A Walk Through The Neighborhood

               A week or so ago my youngest came down stairs to announce he was in need of a book written in Dutch by a Dutch author. Normally that's not a big deal..simply go to the library and check one out. Only his bike was being used by my husband and he wasn't exactly sure about how to get there and I so wasn't in the mood to walk into town. 
               So off we went to the neighborhood bookstore/mail office/ office supply store/Hallmark type thing without all the cute ornaments or figurines. So this is my neighborhood and this is the store I shop at once a week..or several depending on what I forgot during my weekly shop.
     I miss American cars....every so often I will see a large truck of some kind and it makes me laugh. For one..they do NOT know how to drive or park the large can tell by how wonky they park while taking up 4 spaces because they can't seem to get the truck in straight. In their defense I will say that that parking spots are smaller and more narrow..but still. If you are going to drive it, then learn how to park it! Secondly, it costs an arm and a leg to fill your car up here so this is costing them that and both their legs each time they fill it up. Still..I miss American cars. Can you spot that sign up there? lets look closer...

         Yep..KFC and letting you know it's open until 2 am...And no, I have never ever gone there. I just can't. They don't even serve the gravy or the biscuits!

           It's common to have homes on top of businesses here. They cram you into any available space that they can.

                The bottom part of that building is my doctor's office. I've been there a total of 3 times. Behind me is the store I took my son to but didn't want to snap a photo with all of the people walking by. I am so not comfortable snapping pics with random people being in it. I miss American neighborhoods..and houses!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Big and Fluffy Hamburger Buns

                Friday has finally arrived and I for one am glad to see it. It's been another week of early morning wake up calls and generally not getting enough sleep. The older I get the harder it is to sleep an entire night without waking up. I've had home on my mind lately. It's almost been a year since my brother passed away and I have still not made peace with it. I have such an unease inside of me now and the need to go home to help my parents is growing stronger by the minute. Times like these I hate being so far away.
          When it gets to be to much I head into the kitchen to bake bread. It's the only thing that takes the edge off of my anxiety and allows me to focus on something else for awhile. Thanks goodness for bread :)
                  You can't really tell by the photos but these buns are kinda big..and fluffy and oh so tender and perfect. I love the whole wheat in the recipe and the butter,milk, and egg helps keep everything soft and delicious. If you are looking for a new bun recipe to try, I hope you give these a chance!

Big and Fluffy Hamburger Buns

1/4 cup Water
1 cup Milk
3 TBS Butter
1 TBS Sugar
2-1/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1 Egg
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
2-1/2-3 cups All-purpose Flour

In a small saucepan,combine the water,milk and butter. Heat over low and cook just until the butter starts to melt (110-115f). Take off the heat and add in the sugar and yeast.

Pour into a stand mixer and add in the egg,whole wheat flour and salt. While mixing with the dough hook attachment, add in enough remaining flour to form a soft smooth and elastic dough...should take about 6-8 minutes on speed 4. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greed bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Gently deflate dough and place onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8-9 balls and shape each one into a tight round ball. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten each ball until it's less than an inch thick and about 5 inches across. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350/180. Brush each bun with either milk or water and sprinkle sesame seeds or nigella seeds on top. 

Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cool on wire rack.

Yield: 8-9 Hamburger Buns
Source: Recipe Fiction

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Take A Peek Wednesday: Weekend Snow!

                    My husband left for work around 6 am and by 8 am this is what greeted me as I made my way to the chickens! I knew we were going to get a bit of snow fall but had no idea we'd get this amount.

               Lily and Mabel didn't share my enthusiasm for the big white fluffy flakes. This was the chickens very first snow fall and they were refusing to come out. Even though they have a section of covered area to eat and hang out in, they just weren't having it. They finally came out when they saw me shaking the treat jar and then it was the frantic clucking as everyone tried to figure out what was going on.



                As you can see, we covered part of their chicken run with a special mesh they use on construction sites. It's breathable so they always have fresh air in there while it keeps the wind and rain out. They wouldn't step foot outside of their indoor run for two days. There was at least a few inches by Saturday after noon. Then it stopped and the sun came out. It started warming up and as quickly as the snow arrived, it was gone just as fast. I kind of like these one day snow ins. The forecast is calling for more snow fall during the next two days. Is anyone else experiencing snow fall?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies

                  Cookies for breakfast? You know you wanna! During the week I keep my two teenaged sons on a healthy breakfast schedule. It consists of anything from, Healthy Whole Gain Waffles, to Spelt Pancakes and a variety of whole grain muffins,eggs,toast and yogurt with a sprinkle of granola to go on top. I decided to give the popular cookie for breakfast recipe a go just because I know they wouldn't expect me to plunk down a plate of those along with their yogurt.

The cookies are super soft and delicious and in all these anytime you like, but be brave and snag a few for breakfast to have along side your cup of coffee. You won't be sorry!

Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies

1/2 cup Peanut Butter
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 TBS Coconut Oil
1 Egg
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 TBS Ground Flax Seeds
3/4 cup Quick Oats
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

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

Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer, mix the peanut butter,brown sugar, and coconut oil until smooth. Add in the egg and mix until combined. Add in the salt, ground flax seeds,oats and flour and mix just until combined. Add in the chocolate chips and gently mix them in.

Scoop out 2 tablespoons worth of dough and shape into a ball. Place onto cookie sheet and press down slightly with the tines of a fork ( the cookies hardly spread out so you can place them fairly close together).

Bake for 9 minutes. Allow cookies to completely cool on cookie sheet as they are super duper soft and fragile.

Yield: 12 Cookies
Source: Crazy for Crust  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Take A Peek Wednesday: Running Errands

                 So let's run some errands together..but first..lets take in the beautiful sunshine that is pouring through my front window. It makes me so happy.
               The back yard has seen better days I'm afraid. It's super cold over here and I've been working on digging up the remains of what was left over from the summer. I pretty much suck at weeding and yard work in general. It's probably why I keep a container garden..less mess to deal with. I have such plans for this area though. I've got my seed list made and will be ordering everything soon. I plan on growing way more than I did last year!!

                   My husband and I decided to grab some lunch before we officially began our long list of things that needed to be done so it was off to Intratuin. It's a large garden center with a cafe. This was our view. If you look straight ahead and slightly to the left you will see my favorite section. The kitchen department. It's overpriced for sure but I do love walking through there and grabbing something small to take along with us.

                  But first..lets eat! I always get the same thing when we go here. A sandwich that has cheese,ham,cucumber,tomato and sliced hard boiled egg. I usually get it with a cup of coffee or cappuccino. We don't go out for a meal to often so I enjoy these times where we can sit and chat about things. 

                    On our way out we grabbed a small bag of jelly beans to share. I am a full on jelly bean freak..and an orange slice, swedish fish and any other sort of gummy freak. I can't get those over here so I get my fix every so often via jelly beans!

             Sadly this was my last shot. I didn't realize the battery was low on my point and shoot until I took this photo. We were on our way to Gronau,which is the first town when we come to when we cross the border into Germany. It takes about 10 minutes and we head there every few weeks to stock up on a few things that are cheaper over there.

What's your weather like where you are? We've had snow flurries but nothing has stuck thank goodness. We are in the low 30's but it's been dry which is nice. I can't wait til summer!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Take A Peek Wednesday: The Dark Dreary Days of A Dutch Winter

              Santa surprised me with a few things for being a point and shoot camera. I've been dropping hints for awhile but mostly in the form of complaints. I've got a large camera that is strictly used for the top notch pictures I love to take of my food and other things...and I love it. But it's big and bulky and you can't randomly snap photos here and there without making a deal out of it. So this year they went on sale and I got one.

So you can expect random photos now when I feel brave enough to snap a pic in public. The weather hasn't been on my side as of late but that's the Dutch winter for you. The photos consist of our city center that has a market on Tuesday and Saturday. It's kind of sad looking at the moment and I prefer it more in the summer when you see twice the amount of vendors. The other one is while driving in the car and the last is one of my Christmas gifts..A bread book. Is anyone surprised by this?

I hope your weather is looking friendlier than mine is!!! Hurry up summer!!!!!       


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Maple Pecan Muffins

                   I am sloooowly making my way back to the blogging world. I've been staring at this blog and wondering where it's going. Do I keep it up or just walk away? I don't have the answer so for now you get a muffin recipe!

             I loved the maple flavor and the crunch of the pecans. The muffin is moist and the topping adds another hit of sweetness. I successfully reduced the amount of sugar in these muffins without compromising on the flavor. I also used whole wheat flour and will makes notes where I changed things up.

Maple Pecan Muffins

1-3/4 cups All-purpose Flour..( I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 3/4 APF)
1 cup Rolled Oats
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
3/4 cup Brown Sugar..I went with just under 1/2 cup
1 Large Egg
1 cup Milk..I used low fat
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
1 TBS Maple Extract
1 cup Chopped Pecans

2 TBS Cold Butter,cubed
1/4 cup Brown Sugar..I reduced to 2 tablespoons
2 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour or Whole Wheat
2 TBS Oats

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with liners and set aside.

In a large bowl,whisk together the flour,oats,salt baking powder and cinnamon.

In another bowl,whisk together the egg,milk,vegetable oil and maple extract. Pour the wet into the dry and mix just until combined. Fold in the pecans. Fill each muffin liner 2/3-3/4s full.

In a small bowl,combine the topping ingredients and using your fingers, cut the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly on top of muffin batter.

Bake 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes before removing to wire rack.

Yield: 12 Muffins
Source: Lemon Sugar      

Monday, December 22, 2014

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Bars

                    Only a few days left until the big day! Are you ready??? My husband has the week off and thankfully we were able to get a bunch of stuff done over the last few days. We made our way into the city center to do a bit of secret Santa shopping,managed to grab a bite to eat,and enjoyed the time together. Back home I am reading about friends who are grumbling over having to spend part of their Christmas with family members they don't get along with or feel exhausted over how many holiday meet ups they need to squeeze in. Over in my world I am just happy that my husband has the week off to spend with us. Folks, life is to short to be doing anything you don't feel good about. You should be spending the holiday as you want, not how someone else envisions it for you. If you want that calm Christmas then it's up to you to make that happen. If you need a place to go just holler!

My freezer is full of wonderful things to feed anyone who should stop by. These bars would be on offer and let me tell you something..they are super addictive and a snap to whip up. You'll need some dried cherries though and I only have one bag! I should have bought a ton more but wasn't sure if I was going to like them or not. I pretty much love them. I suppose you could use dried cranberries and that's what I plan on doing when I make these again.

If you still need one more thing to add to your cookie plates, then this is it!!!

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Bars

2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup Unsalted Butter,room temp
2 cups Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
1-1/2 cups Old-fashioned Oats
1 cup Semi sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
1 cup Dried Cherries
1/2 cups M&M's,chopped..optional

Preheat oven to 350/180 c if using a metal pan or 325/165 for glass pan. Spray with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl,whisk together the flour,baking powder,baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl,beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Reduce the mixer to low and beat the eggs in one at a time and mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Mix in the remaining ingredients,minus the M&M's,with a wooden spoon. Spread the batter into the prepared pan evenly. Sprinkle M&M's on top.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean..Do not over bake. Cool on wire rack completely before cutting into bars.

Yield: depends on the size of each bar
Source: Barbara Bakes 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Eggnog Mini Loaves

                    Soooo there's no eggnog in this country. Well,let me rephrase that. They have what's called, Advocaat. And it's nasty. It's like a creamy custard type pudding with a strong taste of brandy and not much else. Plus they sell it on the shelves and not cold..and that creeps me out. I had the misfortune of tasting it when I first arrived here and stay a healthy 10 feet away from it now. So yeah..they have that and some say it's kind of like eggnog, but they are full of it. It's not. Don't be fooled. I've never bothered to make eggnog myself because I would be the only one drinking it and after one or two glasses I am good until next year. So since 2007 I have avoided all eggnog based recipes. 

Until now. Sometimes it takes me ages to acknowledge the light bulb that is blinking on and off inside my head frantically. Why couldn't I just swap out the eggnog for buttermilk? After all..the actual flavor of eggnog is,nutmeg,cinnamon,vanilla and a hint of rum and all recipes include most of that since I am not totally convinced you get a full on eggnog flavor without the addition of the spices and extracts. So I went for it and wouldn't you tasted just like eggnog. I loved the flavor and so did the men in my family. You could add a eggnog glaze if you like but we were happy with it as is.

Eggnog Mini Loaves

2-1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
2-1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda..Only if using buttermilk
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2-1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
2 Eggs
1 cup Eggnog or Buttermilk
3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Butter,melted
2 tsp. Vanilla
1-2 tsp. Rum Extract..I went with one and found it to be perfect

Preheat oven to 350/180 c. Grease mini loaf pans with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl,whisk together the flour,baking powder,baking soda (only if using buttermilk),cinnamon and nutmeg.

In another bowl,beat eggs,eggnog or buttermilk,sugar,melted butter and extracts;Stir into dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for a few mins before removing from pans and allowing to cool on a wire rack.

Yield: Several mini loaves..depends on how many you have
Source: Taste of Home                

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Today In My House..


                     It's 10:30 am and it's dark outside. I should have the lights on in my house..but instead..I've got the warm Christmas glow going on. The candles are lit and the tree is bright.

         I've got this wonderful Christmas movie on and..

                   I've got the slow cooker taking care of dinner for me. Oh how I love this thing! Tonight we will be having THIS for dinner..but instead I am using a turkey loin. It's going to be a great day!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Double Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins

              Have you finished your Christmas shopping? My husband and I knocked it out of the ballpark this weekend when it came to shopping. We are done!! For us, that is a miracle. We are usually the crazy ones who are shopping up to the very last minute and then racing home like a mad person all frazzled and swearing not to do this again. But again we do it. Every single year that we've been married..Until now. We broke that crazy cycle for at least this year and we are so happy about that. I need to head to the post office today to ship a few parcels off and I can happily head home knowing I don't need to stand in lines for ages and ages.

I headed over to a candy store that has an American section and couldn't believe my eyes. They had salt water taffy!!! I haven't tasted that in,well,7 years now! I paid way to much for it but walked around smiling like a Cheshire Cat. It's the little things sometimes. You know what else I wish they would get? muffins that aren't dry and tasteless. I stopped trying all muffins at the cafe's I stop in for coffee. They are horribly dry and someone needs to leave a note stating a little buttermilk could help with that issue.

These muffins aren't dry. These muffins rock on all levels.

Double Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins

2 cups All-purpose Flour
4 TBS Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. BakingPowder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter,softened
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 cup Buttermilk
1 cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 400/200 c. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with liners.

Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl;set aside.

In another bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Gradually,beat in the eggs. Add the vanilla and buttermilk and beat just until combined. Add the flour mix to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl,as needed. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin evenly.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for a minute or so and then take them out of the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: 12 Muffins
Source: Manila Spoon         

Friday, December 12, 2014

Candy Cane Sweet Bread

                 What a wet miserable week this has been. My husband has been hanging out with me with a nasty cold he caught and judging from the sound of my two teenagers they too will be spending some time with me next week. I of course have been able to fight off the cootie bugs so far and it's honestly been years since I was sick. I can't afford to get sick..with my from scratch lifestyle there is just no wiggle room when it comes to cooking and baking.

So..last week I brought you the Santa Face and this week I am bringing you,candy cane sweet bread!! This is a lovely recipe that produces 4 breads! Keep one or two for yourself and share the other two. The taste reminds me of a cinnamon roll..yum yum. The recipe isn't hard and you can change the nuts in the filling. The original recipe called for hazelnuts and I am just not a fan of those. So I used walnuts. This weekend I am baking up another Christmas sweet bread and will be sharing it with you next week!

Candy Cane Sweet Bread

2-1/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
3/4 cup Warm Water
1/2 cup Warm Milk
4 Eggs
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Butter,melted
2 tsp. Salt
7-7-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour


1 cup Chopped Walnuts
1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 cup Raisins
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
3 TBS Butter,melted


2 cups Powdered Sugar
3-4 TBS Milk
1 TBS Butter,Softened or Spray Bottle filled with water
1 tsp. Vanilla
Sprinkles or Chopped Nuts for decoration

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook,dissolve yeast in warm water and milk. Add eggs,sugar,melted butter,salt and 3 cups of flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Continue mixing on speed 4,for 6-8 minutes,until a smooth and elastic dough is achieved ( you can also knead this by hand if you wish..knead for 10 minutes or until a smooth and elastic dough is achieved). Place dough into a greased bowl,turning once to coat the top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

For filling: Combine dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Gently deflate the dough and divide into fourths. On a lightly floured surface,roll one portion into a 12x7 inch rectangle. Either brush with some of the melted butter or use a spray bottle to mist the dough lightly with water ( I actually find that the water holds onto the filling just as good,if not better than the melted butter. Use whichever one you are most comfortable with). Sprinkle 2/3 cups worth of filling onto the dough and spread it out evenly. Roll it up,starting with the long side and make sure you keep a fairly tight roll so that everything sticks together. Pinch to seal the seam. Place onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and shape the top to form a candy cane and make sure to tuck the ends under to form a good candy cane shape. Repeat everything with the remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled,about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350/180. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on wire racks.

Combine the first 4 ingredients of the glaze in a bowl and drizzle strips over the loaves. Sprinkle with either nuts or colored sprinkles.

Yield: 4 Candy Cane Sweet Breads
Source: Taste of Home