Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

       When I first came to The Netherlands the first thing I noticed was how cramped and congested everything was here. I took Oregon for granted and instantly missed the wide open spaces.

    My eyes instantly dried up from lack of nature. All I could see were buildings,more buildings and people. I've lived here 4 years now and have spotted a squirrel only twice!

     I am still not used to living in such a cramped country. I get edgy and feel like a caged animal alot of the time.

   My husband can spot when I've reached my limit..we pile into the car, drive 30 mins away and arrive here..

    We get out of the car and both take a deep breath. We instantly smile and then we listen..We listen to the birds, the trees, the wind, the life that lives within this beautiful forest.

   We don't come here as often as we'd like and although it's only 30 mins away, life has a way of keeping you busy. There are appointments to be kept,jobs to head to,being to tired to move and just letting the daily grind take over.

     I'm thankful for moments like these..When we can walk through here and talk about life, where we want to be in the future and what we need to do to get there. I love the quiet moments just as much. It fills me up again until the next time I am able to stop by. What keeps you going and gives you peace? Please stop by Unknown Mami and see what everyone else is up to this weekend!        

Unknown Mami


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

      A few weeks ago I attempted to be the good wife by joining my husband on a "quick fishing trip"wich consisted of him throwing the poll in for less than hour..and it was only for that short amount of time because I couldn't feel my face after 5 minutes of walking around.

   I spotted this horse and it quickly came over to me.

    It was all alone and I could tell the poor thing was very lonely. I didn't have anything to offer her except my hand.

   She stood still for the longest time as I stroked her beautiful face. My fishing trips are done for the season. The bitter cold is here to stay for awhile so I'm going to pick and chose my moments of freezing my face off! Please stop by Unknown Mami to see what everyone else is up to this weekend!
Unknown Mami

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

       Chocolate and peanut butter has got to be my favorite combination. I miss the chocolate peanut butter M&M's,ice cream, nutty bars..the list is endless really. I've tried to make my own chocolate peanut butter ice cream  but so far I haven't found the one yet. Do you have a favorite combination? if so, what is it? I also like the hot and cold combination too..warm brownies with ice cream is always good. Oh..sweet and sour is awesome too..Ok..moving on.

Peanut butter cookies has always been a favorite of mine since childhood. I can remember when times were tough and we'd get a food box to make it through the rest of the month, there was always a big jar of peanut butter in there and I always knew that peanut butter cookies would be baked at some point. I'm not sure why I never bothered to add chocolate into the classic recipe..I mean it makes sense and the finished product is awesome. The cookies taste almost like a brownie :) I went ahead and added in chopped salted peanuts and used a cookie scoop to portion the dough out. They came out ginormous..and awesome. I didn't add to much time on to the larger cookies because I wanted them to stay soft and perfect. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup Shortening..I used real butter with no problems
3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1-1/4 cups Packed Brown Sugar
3 TBS Milk
1 TBS Vanilla
1 Egg
1-1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Cocoa...I used Dutch Cocoa:)
3/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flour,cocoa,salt and baking soda;set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the shortening,peanut butter, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add egg. Beat just until blended. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture to creamed mixture just until combined.

Drop by tablespoons full 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Dip a fork into flour and make criss cross pattern onto tops of cookies. Bake 7-8 minutes or just begining to brown. Do not overbake! Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: Several dozen..depending on small or big you make them
Source: Amanda's Cookin' 


Monday, November 14, 2011

No Fuss Slow Cooker Potato Soup

    it COLD out there! I walked to the store recently and my face felt chapped when I returned home. I'm no stranger to cold winters. I'm originally from Oregon and winters can get bad there. What The Netherlands has going for it though is that deep level of bitter cold that leaves you chilled to the bone. My face hurts nonstop for about 4-5 months and no matter how much extra strength lotion I put on my face and hands it's never enough. I need to stock up on gloves,hats and thick boots to make it through every year.

The only way to combat the bitter cold that awaits everyone as they leave for the day is to have giant bowls of soup with warm slices of homemade bread when they return. I'm a huge fan of the slow cooker and I just love knowing that dinner is ready and waiting for us at the end of a long day. Now that the boys are both getting braces, we have alot of appointments coming up and I'm going to rely on slow cooker meals alot more..Today's wonderful visit consists of teeth brushing..and we get charged for this visit. I toally get that they need to learn how to brush their teeth differently once the braces are on..but WHY not go over that when they actually have them on?? 

Lets talk soup! this is a super easy recipe that can be changed to suit your needs. You can add in meat if you want,I've used a packet of onion soup before and I've added in a pouch of instant potato soup towards the end to make it  thicker. All versions are good and we love the soup!

No Fuss Potato Soup

6 cups Cubed Peeled or Unpeeled Potatoes
2 cups Chopped Onion
1/2 cup Chopped Celery
1/2 cup Thinly sliced Carrots
5-6 cups Water or Broth
1/4 cup Butter,cubed
4 tsp. Chicken bouillon granules..leave out if using broth
2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 can (12 ounces)  Evaporated Milk
3 TBS Minced fresh Parsley;optional

In a 5 quart slow cooker, combine the vegetables,water,butter,bouillon,salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high 7-8 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Add milk and parsley. cover and cook 30-60 minutes longer or until heated through.

Yield: About 3 Quarts
Source: Taste of Home Slow Cooker Meals




Thursday, November 10, 2011

Walnut Bars

       So we took the boys in to the orthodontis to see if they did infact need braces and they both do. While I listened to the guy go over everything they needed, I mentally checked out after I heard things like...the oldest one will lose his bottom teeth in 20  years,the youngest has something I have never seen in my 16 years of working here, they both need 4 teeth pulled..two on top and two on bottom..we will then fit them with braces and over the next few years everything will realign and everything will be fine... So yeah..I checked out and thought about what I was going to bake for my husband and I to gloss over this painful meeting.

We walked out in complete silence after setting up the appointments to get the ball rolling! Thankfully over here they cover 70% of what needs to be done and although their teeth look perfect right now he showed us where it was starting to go wrong and where it was going to end up for the both of  them. So instead of a kitchenaid mixer for christmas this year, I get two sets of braces..whoo hoo!

The bars were just what we needed. They had a simple shortbread crust,chewy center and a lemon glaze that brings it altogether. Total perfection!

Walnut Bars

1/2 cup Butter,softened
1/4 cup Sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1-1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt

2 Eggs
1-1/2 cups Packed Brown Sugar
2 TBS All-purpose Flour
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1-1/2 cups  Chopped Walnuts

Lemon Glaze:
1-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
2-3 TBS Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease a 13x9 inch pan and set aside. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour and salt;slowly add to creamed mixture and mix well. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

For filling: In a small bowl, combine the eggs,brown sugar,flour,vanilla,baking powder and salt. Stir in walnuts. Spread over crust. Bake for 25 minutes or until filling is goldne brown.Cool on wire rack.

Combine the powdered sugar and enough lemon juice to achieve desired consistency;spread over filling. Let stand until set before cutting.

Yield: 2-1/2 dozen
Source: Taste of Home Baking 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cornmeal Yeast Bread

       I've got another cornmeal recipe for you! this time it comes to you in bread form. The smell of homemade bread baking is incredible. Do they make a candle in that scent? if not, they should! I have memories of my mom baking loaves of bread. I used to love to watch her take a cube of butter and rub it over the top of the bread when she pulled it from the oven. I still have a ways to go before Im at her skill level breadmaking wise', but the more I do it, the more I love it.

This is a super simple bread recipe that goes great served along soup or chili or toasted with butter and jam :)

Cornmeal  Yeast Bread

2 pkgs( 1/4 ounce each) Active dry yeast
1/2 cup Warm Water ( 110-115  degrees)
3/4 cup Milk
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Butter,melted
1 Egg
3/4 cup Cornmeal..I used Polenta
1 tsp. Salt
3-1/2 to 4 cups All-purpose Flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.Add milk,sugar,butter,egg,cornmeal,salt and 1-1/2 cups flour. Beat with wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface;knead until smooth and elastic,about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl,turning once to grease top. Cover with  plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in  size, about 45 minutes.

Punch dough down. Divide in half and shape into two loaves. Place in two greased 8x4 inch loaves seamed side down.Cover with plastic wrap (make  sure to spray the plastic wrap with nonstick spray so that it doesn't stick to the dough) and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 or 180 celcius for 35-40  minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire rack to cool.

Yield: 2 8x4 inch loaves
Source: Taste  of Home Baking


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

       I love The Netherlands during the fall season..all the bursting colors make me smile! This road leads to my husband work. Thats a two lane road by the way. You need to share with it cars,bikers and the occasional horse drawn carriage.

   I spotted this lovely fellow munching  away and enjoying the sun.

    We even made some time to pop over into Germany to see if we really and truly wanted to live there.

    We walked around this small town to get a feel for it. The stared at me nonstop when they heard me speaking english.

    The more I walked around the more I realised...

   Germany has beautiful churches! they are HUGE too!

   However, I came to realise that it wasn't for us. I've spent 4 years thinking I was going to jump the border from The Netherlands into Germany. Four long years. I came to realise that The Netherlands is where I belong..kind of made me sad and relieved at the same time. I don't feel like starting all over again with a new language,set of customs and trying to fit in. I don't have it in me anymore. So 2012 means that this American is going to get her butt into Dutch language classes and settle in once and for all! 

Head over to Unknown Mami to see what everone else is up to this weekend!    

Unknown Mami

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cornmeal Drop Biscuits

       Did everyone have a happy halloween? I spent mine taking care of a sick kid with a serious sinus infection! thats enough to keep you away from blogging for a week. I'm happy to say he is over it and back at school!

    I am on a serious cornmeal kick and can't use that ingredient often enough. I plan on making some homemade polenta soon but decided to use some of it in this easy recipe. These drop biscuits were a huge hit. The polenta lends a slight crunch and I made the mistake of using one cup of cheese instead of 1/2 was a great mistake. The next time I bake these Im going to use sharp cheddar cheese and possibly add in some choped scallions! I'll be back with a recipe for cornmeal bread..goes great with chili or soup  :)

Cornmeal Drop Biscuits

1-1/3 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Cornmeal
2-1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Mustard
1/2 cup Shortening..I used butter which is why they spread out.
1/2-1 cup Shredded Cheddar or Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Milk

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Line a cookie sheet with parment paper or grease with nonstick spray;set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and mustard;cut in shortening until crumbly. Stir in cheese and milk just until moistened.

Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 2 inches apart onto prepared sheet. Bake for 26-28 minutes or until golden brown. Serve Warm

Yields: 10-12 Drop Biscuits
Source:Taste of Home Baking