Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

        I'll be the first to admit that I am not a fish fan...Wellll..thats not entirely true. I love it breaded and deep fried into a glorious crisp fattening meal. If you serve a piece of fish to me without such coating I become very 5 year old-like and the urge to throw a trantrum becomes strong. However I am not 5, but instead 37 and decided I needed to work harder to get fish meals into our everyday lives. I figured tuna was about as non threatening as I could get at this point.

I spotted this recipe on Foodgawker and pinned it right away (pinning is so therapeutic. My entire life is in categories and it looks so amazing!.) I was so happily blown away by this meal and even happier that my 3 guys inhaled it without complaint that it will become a part of my rotation meals. I was skeptical about the pesto and lemon sauce and wow does it taste like the flavors of summer: fresh,spicy,woody with a hit of zing! I will say though that if you are like me and pretty sensitive when it comes to the flavor of pesto, you might want to add half the dressing first and see how you like it. I did end up using it all but I ate a few pieces that were a bit much for me.

I loved the tuna and chickpeas on top and the olives and tomatoes add a nice salty touch to it. I went ahead and used black olives since thats what I had on hand but will pick up the kalamata olives next time to see if I like that better. This is a perfect meal to make during the hot days of summer. Serve with a crusty loaf of french bread and iced tea! Leftovers are awesome the next day stuffed inside pita pockets!

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

2-5oz cans Tuna packed in oil
1-151/2 oz can Chickpeas,drained and rinsed
1/2 head Iceberg Lettuce,chopped
4 cups Baby Arugula,chopped
6 TBS Pesto
1 Lemon,juiced
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 pinch Cayenne
1/4 lb ( about 3/4 cup) pitted Kalamata Olives
1-1/4 cups Grape Tomatoes,quartered

In a medium bowl,drain the oil from the tuna and add the chickpeas ( I went ahead and added the tuna and tossed the chickepeas with it.)

In a large salad bowl,toss together the iceberg and arugula.

In a small bowl,whisk together the pesto,lemon juice,salt and pinch of cayenne.

Just before serving, toss the greens with the dressing and divide among 4 plates, Top with tuna,chickpeas,olives and tomatoes. Serve with additional lemon slices if desired.

Yield: 4 servings
Source: Everyday with Rachel Ray


Monday, May 28, 2012

Blueberry Whole Wheat Muffins

       Happy Muffin Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend..I believe it's a three day weekend for most Americans due to it being Memorial Day. I sometimes..well not sometimes but more often then not I forget about alot of the holidays now. I still remember the major ones but everything else in between I am aware of at the last minute. I miss home..I hope someone out there enjoys a wonderful bbq and eats an extra helping of potato salad and chicken for me!

Lastweek was a crazy one for us. I'm constantly aware of how fragile life can be. How you can visit with someone and in a few short hours you are pushing your car to the limit trying to get to them quickly because something life threatening has gone wrong. The rest of the week is spent running errands,visiting and praying that all will be well. I'm happy to say that our prayers were answered and all is indeed well.

When I'm stressed I bake. I whipped these up in the middle of the night when the house was cooler ( oh yes my friends,we are still on one awesome weather streak) and served them for breakfast the following day. It's a no frills blueberry muffin recipe and I kinda like that. I added in some whole wheat and the cinnamon in this recipe added a really nice touch. You could add in some lemon zest if you want and if you don't like the zest,add in about 1/4 tsp of lemon extract. We all loved how moist and fluffy these were..I say were because they are long gone now!

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups All-purpose Flour..I used half whole wheat
3/4 cup Sugar
1 TBS Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Buttermilk
1 Egg,lightly beaten
1/4 cup Canola Oil or Vegetable Oil
1 cup Fresh or Frozen Blueberries ( if using frozen do not thaw and toss the berries in a little bit of flour to stop them from sinking in the batter)

Preheat oven to 400 or 200 celcius. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a large bowl,whisk together the flour,sugar,baking powder,baking soda,cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl,whisk together the buttermilk,egg and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.

Fill the muffin cups evenly with batter and bake for 20-24 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

One muffin has 188 calories

Yield: 12 Muffins
Source: Taste of Home



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Banana Sorbet

     It's been so warm over here in tulip land! Everyday the windows have been opened,the yard is cleaned up, we grilled pizza for the first time and we've been enjoying a variety of frozen desserts. I chat with other expats on facebook throughout the day and alot of us are taking this weather by the horns and enjoying it as much as possible because we all know how it can change here. Last year we had a horrible cold front that killed off most of my greenhouse container garden. It was one of the worst summers I've had since moving here and I hope this year will be different!

Since everyone else seems to enjoy more of a regular summer with high temps,I thought this recipe would be perfect for you guys! Banana sorbet has got to be one of the cheapest ice cream based recipes I have ever made. It only requires 4 ingredients and I'm sure most of you already have them on hand. The intense banana flaovr is locked in when you puree and freeze the mixture right away. It's one of the most freshest tasting sorbets I've ever had. We all loved this and hope you do too!

Banana Sorbet

4 medium ripe Bananas,peeled
1 cup (250 ml) Water
3/4 cup (150 g) Sugar
2 tsp. Lime Juice..fresh or bottled

Cut bananas into chunks and puree them in a blender or food processor with the water,sugar, and lime juice until smooth.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Yield: About 1 Quart (1 Liter)
Source: The Perfect Scoop 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

        For Mother's Day I received 3 new cookbooks..I also received these cookbooks several days prior to the actual day because I knew my husband and sons were hoping for a sweet treat that sunday :) One of the cookbooks was one I have been waiting to get for ages and ages. It's called The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. The man is pure genius when it comes to ice cream making. As I turned the pages my excitement grew and grew. I will happily be spending all of the seasons churning out ice cream,sorbets,granitas,sherbets and the perfect pairings to go with each one. There are recipes for add ins and homemade cookie cups,ice cream cones and several other items to hold your creamy dessert. I'm in ice cream heaven!!

I'm happy to share the first recipe we tried and devoured on mother's day. It's a simple chocolate peanut butter ice cream that uses half and half cream. I took it one step further by going with a suggested add in of peanut butter patties. I also went ahead and used Speculoos spread..I believe my American friends willl call it Biscoff. We've had this stuff for years and years over here and it's amazing. I could of also gone with a chocolate fudge swirl and totally plan to try that next time! I will include both the ice cream and the peanut butter patties recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream w/ Peanut Butter Patties

2 cups ( 500ml) Half-and-Half
1/4 cup (25g) Unsweetened Dutch-process Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup (100g) Sugar
Pinch Salt
1/2 cup (130g) Smooth Peanut Butter or Biscoff/Speculoos

Whisk together the half-and-half,cocoa powder,sugar,and salt in a alrge saucepan. Heat mixture,whisking frequently, until it comes to a full,rolling boil ( it will start to foam up and that is ok!.) Remove from heat and whisk in the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Peanut Butter Patties

6 TBS (90g) Peanut  Butter..smooth or crunchy
2 TBS Powdered Sugar

Mix together the peanut butter and sugar in small bowl. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap. Pinch of small pieces of the peanut butter mixture, about 1/2 teaspoon each, drop them onto dinner plate. Once you've used all of the mix, freeze the patties. 

Fold the peanut butter patties into the ice cream as you remove it from the machine.

Yield: About 1 liter of ice cream
Source: The Perfect Scoop 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Honey Applesauce Muffins

     I can't believe it's monday already! sometimes the days seem to creep by so slowly and then other times we zoom through an entire month in no time. I'm currently typing this entry out with the ceiling fan on..That's right my friends..we've got some serious heat going on over here. Now if I told you what the actual temp was you would totally make fun of me..but you have to realise that this country is not used to anything above 70 on a regular basis so when we do get warmer temps,the humidty comes out in bucket loads and the ceiling fan gets turned on. I am so not complaining because in no time at all the rain will be rolling in again. I've been busy the last few days with weeding and mowing and bike riding. It feels good to be getting out again and enjoying the wonderful countryside we have.

So it's monday and that means..Muffins! Here is my latest installment for Muffin Monday. I am officially over the honey applesauce combo. I love it but I've been eating way to many muffins with those two ingredients in them. It's time for some chocolate muffins or streusel topped muffins..stay tuned for one of those next week :) I've got ice cream recipes coming up,sorbets and healthy dinner options!

These muffins are super moist and at 185 calories for each can totally enjoy it without guilt. You could add nuts to this recipe and I think it would be great. I went ahead and added in apple pie spice to bump the flavor up a bit...and because we don't always need 12 muffins, this recipe only makes 6 big and fluffy muffins.

Honey Applesauce Muffins

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Apple Pie Spice;optional
1/3 cup Honey
2 TBSP Canola Oil
1 Large Egg
1/2 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Lightly grease a 6 cup muffin pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl,whisk together the flour,baking soda,salt, and apple pie spice. In a small bowl,combine the honey,oil,egg,applesauce and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until combined. Divide batter evenly into cups.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes before removing and allowing to cool on wire rack.

One muffin has 185 calories

Yield: 6 Muffins
Source: Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Peanut Butter,Banana and Honey Snack Cake

         I can't begin to tell you how much time I waste spend on Pinterest and Foodgawker. I'm talking a serious amount of time. Now to be fair, it's not really wasteful time. I mean,I am on there searching out sinful healthy meals and desserts for in reality I'm doing my family a huge favor by being on there so much! Wow,what a great person I am!

This snack cake is one such item that I snagged on pinterest to bake up for the family. I can't begin to tell you how crazy delicious this snack cake is. It's super soft,moist,slightly dense and yes I know it's another peanut butter,banana and honey recipe..but those combos just work! We loved these served warm but they were just as good the next day.

This isn't a complicated recipe so get in there and bake this! You and your family will thank me for all of my hardwork I put into searching these recipes out :)

Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Snack Cake

3 Ripe Bananas,mashed
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
2 tsp. Vanilla 
1 TBS Honey
1 heaping TBS Creamy Peanut Butter
2 TBS Canola Oil
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/8 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon;optional but so worth it

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease an 8x8 inch pan;set aside.

In a medium bowl,whisk together the bananas,sugar,egg,vanilla,honey,peanut butter and oil. Add in the flour,baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Blend with wooden spoon or spatula until well mixed. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. I went ahead and stuck a toothpick in the center knowing that the bananas might make the cake extra moist and slightly wet in appearance. It was done at 20 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into squares and serve warm. Top with additional honey if you like.

Yield: 9 squares
Source: Keep it Simple Foods

Monday, May 14, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and Thank You!

         I bet you thought I was joking when I mentioned doing a Muffin Monday..well I wasn't! So Happy Muffin Monday! I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who commented on my language class update with encouragement and cyber hugs that I really needed. I received several private e-mails aswell and it ment the world to me. I know I'm not the first one to deal with something like this and won't be the last but it helps knowing that you are all out there. So from me to you..I thank you and you've helped more than you realise and I hope you can feel the warmth of love behind these words.

So,yeah..lets talk muffins on this beautiful sunny monday afternoon. I think this is the first time I really played around with a recipe. I tend to make things the way they are written the first time around,but I've been baking muffins for so long that I can spot when I know certain changes will work for us.  I added in buttermilk,whole wheat flour and cinnamon. I would also keep an eye on the baking time. I  left mine in for 25 minutes and that was almost to long. I would check between 15-20 mins and go from there. We really enjoyed these muffins. They were really moist and we enjoyed these throughout the week as snacks,with coffee for breakfast and as dessert. 

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour ( I replaced 1/2 cup with WW)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 large Bananas,mashed ( or 5 small bananas)
3/4 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Butter,melted and slightly cooled..I used Buttermilk
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Mini Chocolate Chips..I used 2/3 cup

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick spray;set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour,baking powder,baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

In another bowl,whisk together the mashed bananas,sugar,melted butter,egg and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly into muffin tin,and bake for 20-25 mins, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes before taking them out and allowing to cool on wire rack.

Yield: 12 Muffins
Source: Little B Cooks


Friday, May 11, 2012

Language Class Update and Q & A

          A part of me doesn't feel like blogging about this but due to receiving several e-mails, I decided to. I get e-mails from a wide variety of people. I hear from those who are also expats living either here or somewhere else in the world. We chat freely about the struggles,the funny things,what we miss, and how happy they were to come across a recipe I have made from scratch that they themselves could make aswell. I get e-mails from people who want to swap goodie boxes with me and how excited they are to experience something to eat from another country that they more than likely will never be able to see in person. I also hear from Dutch people and they want to know certain things and why I don't talk about this or that or show this type of photo or why I haven't visited this place yet. So here is me answering  some of those questions and giving updates on things and hopefully then it will satisfy those who feel like I'm not doing my part.

1. Language Class Update: Oh how I would love to show  you the wonderful books I'm studying from and all the great people I am coming in contact with and how much I'm enjoying the language. If I talked about it like that then I would be lieing to you..and I'm not going to. I also don't feel like I need to constantly talk about the struggles I face because that gets old aswell. I will for sure and do updates as to how I am doing..but this blog was never about me working my way through the Dutch culture. My language class isn't going well right now and I kind of expected that. What I didn't expect was to be the reason an entire class was shut down for the night. I am the type of person who prefers to go through this world as quietly as possible and when I am thrust to the front of it..well it pretty much leaves me in the bathroom with the trots and not being able to eat or sleep. I am facing 3 types of people in my class right now. We will call them Group 1,Group 2 and Group 3.

Group 1 hates me. Group 1 doesn't even want to deal with me. Why? because I am an American. That alone is enough for them to hate me the instant they hear me speak. There is no reasoning with Group 1 because they won't have it and they won't listen to it. I always knew about Group 1 because I deal with them alot..not in person but in passing by. Group 1 gives me dirty looks and addresses me as "The American" and nothing else.

Group 2 can go either way. They stay away from me but are also curious. Group 2 likes getting in my face and having me repeat sentences and refusing to leave until I do it. Group 2 can be helpful but not always in a nice way. Group 2 has a point to make and they will make it..because I'm "The American".

Group 3 is the best of them all. Group 3 is chatty and helpful and more of how I pictured the language class to be. I expected a group of people who come together to learn the language together..without drama. A group of people who were willing to help one another and not carrying one bit about where each one came from. 

Group 1 staged a walk out on wednesday evening due to the special treatment of "The American". It wasn't a quiet walk out either. There was yelling and crying and pointing and holding back and shouting and then the final storm off. I did not receive any special treatment of any kind. Infact if I'm totally honest, Group 1 doesn't even need to be there due to a new law they passed here. I have to be there. I just sat there in stunned silence because it was such a voilent outburst that noone expected. For 15 mins the teacher and other students were shouting at Group 1 and the more shouting occured the more looks I received from them and from the other students. I was given the type of look that let me know that I personally was the reason their perfectly quiet class was thrown into turmoil. We all left in silence and as I drove away with my husband I glanced over to see both Group 1 and 2 still shouting at eachother outside. 

The class situations don't make sense either. They are loud,chaotic and disorganised. The books I'm supposed to get I haven't got and I plan on purchasing them myself because they give us nothing to bring home to work with. They shuffle you in like cattle and put you in places that are more advanced and nothing makes sense. So thats where I'm at with that. I can't wait til next week!

2. Why don't I talk more about my life here? Well not to state the obvious, but this is a cooking blog..not how an American works her way through the Dutch culture. I have zero desire to take this country by the horns and make it my own..Zero.Zilch. Nada. If you want to see expats talk more about their life here,they can be found all over the place. My blog is how I personally make my life work in a foreign country. How I get all 3 meals on the dinner table everday. How I enjoy cooking and baking and sharing the recipes with others so that they can enjoy them aswell. How I learn how to create the foods we loved in a country that doesn't altogether enjoy cooking and baking like the rest of the world does. Now thats not to say that all Dutch people are like that..of course not..but it doesn't take a genius to see that their idea of cooking and baking differs greatly to everyone else. This blog was created because I needed an outlet when dealing with living here. It was my form of therapy and getting back to what I had let go of for awhile..and that was cooking and baking.

 The one thing that alot of us expats hold onto is the food we left behind. We all have memories of the wonderful things we ate,how our moms would make that one special meal every year, the sparkle in our eyes when christmas would come because it ment cookies,cakes,pies,candy and everything else you could think of. Those are the things we don't want to lose..and it's very easy to let that happen when you don't live in your own country anymore. I decided to fight that and to create the meals we all loved so much. I have always said and will continue to say that I may live in a Dutch society, but I keep an American home. It's what works for us. My house is my safe zone. It's where I can kick my shoes off,put my hair up and head into the kitchen and whip up a batch of snickerdoodles or ice cream or bread or whatever it is that I or my family is feeling like at that moment. Will I ever share Dutch recipes? maybe. Once the language starts falling into place more I could see myself purchasing a Dutch cookbook and sharing some of the recipes.

3. Why I have stopped sharing photos. Here's the deal folks. I go through periods where I love taking photos and then I go through periods where I barely pick up my camera. I am not a professional photographer and I've always enjoyed nature and food photos over everyday life photos. This summer there will be alot more photos because then I will have the chance to show photos with a blue sky and sun..not the everyday Dutch grey that never seems to want to leave. The fairytale of living here is long gone. When you visit a country it always seems way better and you could totally see yourself living there. I've had that tons of times..infact up until a few weeks ago I fully expected to be telling you that I was packing up and moving one final time to either the U.K. or New Zealand. However due to economy issues in both countries we made the final choice to stay put. This country on paper totally rocks. I have never said otherwise. We have more security here than we ever did back in the U.S. However I don't love it here and I don't know if I ever will. The Netherlands is a beautiful place filled with wonderful people and cheese and chocolate :) It's no different from anyone else who goes through periods where they love where they live and then wish they could drop kick it and move on.

So that's it. That is my life right now and hoping that I finally answered the questions. I am an American woman. A wife,mother,daughter,best friend and over all best muffin baker ever ( the kids gave me that title). Here I am known as the "American Cupcake Mom" and now "The American". I am not ashamed of who I am and where I come from. I look forward to when someone addresses me as just Sonya with nothing else behind it. No Sonya,The American...just Sonya.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Good-Morning Granola

           I know I promised an update this week on a few things. I haven't forgotten and promise to put up a post about it tomorrow.Today however, I need to do a cheerier post. Tomorrow I will do an update on the language class and how I, a small town girl,was able to single - handedly shut down a language class based on the simple fact that I was an American. 

Let's talk granola. I don't think I have ever met a granola I didn't like. I think it's pretty hard to actually mess a granola recipe up. You can swap out and add in ingredients that you prefer over others and can use all kinds of spices to jazz it up. I think the only type of granola I have never tried would be chocolate..and you just know I'm going to have to fix that one and blog about it as soon as possible. I may have to start a Muffin Monday and a Granola Thursday. Who's with me!!

This granola does not disappoint. It's crunchy,it's chewy and it's not half bad calorie wise. We love it sprinkled on top of low fat yogurt,ice cream AND we enjoyed this in a muffin recipe..yep,another muffin recipe coming your way that uses homemade granola..Ain't life grand?  :) The only thing I had to change was the dried cherries..I have yet to find those here and I wish I could. I bet they taste amazing.

Good-Morning Granola

4 cups Old-Fashioned or Quick Cooking Oats
1/2 cup Toasted Wheat Germ
1/2 cup Sliced Almonds
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Honey 
2 tsp. Canola Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla Exract
1 cup Dried Cherries
1 cup Dried Cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Lightly grease a 15x10 inch pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl,combine the first 5 ingredients;set aside. In a saucepan,combine the orange juice,honey and canola oil. Bring to a boil,stirring constantly. Remove from heat;stir in vanilla. Pour over oat mixture and using a wooden spoon, mix until everything is combined and thoroughly coated.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown,stirring every 10 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Stir in dried fruits. Store in airtight container.

1/2 cup has 206 calories.

Yield: 15 servings
Source: Taste of Home

Monday, May 7, 2012

Banana,Peanut Butter and Honey Muffins

          I think I need to make monday the official "Muffin Monday". I have a crazy amount of muffin recipes to post..infact I'm pretty sure I'm covered for "Muffin Monday" until the end of the year. My freezer is chock full of  muffins ready to be eaten at a moments notice.. I'm sorta proud about this.

 I'm giving a heads up that a post is coming on wednesday with a few updates. I have a massive update to share but that one is coming in July. It's been in the works since Oct 2010 and I will finally beable to share it. What I will say is that is has zero to do with moving away from The Netherlands! I know many people expect me to blog about that but I'm here to tell you that it ain't gonna happen. The wednesday update is in regards to some e-mails I have gotten that I just want to address out in the open.

Lets talk muffins..specifically low sugar muffins. We kinda like em'. Low fat/low sugar muffins aren't a punishment. Infact if you allowed yourself to enjoy them for what they are and not what they don't have, you'd be as happy as I am. The banana and honey give these muffins a nice touch of sweetness. The peanut butter gives you some protein and the buttermilk and yogurt keeps these guys moist and fluffy. Thats the one thing I changed about this recipe..I used butter milk instead of water. The boys have been eating these for breakfast with a bowl of yogurt and granola sprinkled on top. I'll have a new granola recipe to share soon too!!

Happy Muffin Monday!

Banana,Peanut Butter and Honey Muffins

1-1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 Ripe Banana,mashed
2/3 cup Fat-free Plain Yogurt
1 Large Egg,lightly beaten
1/4 cup Water or Buttermilk
1/3 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup Honey
1 tsp. Vanilla

2 tsp. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with liners and spray the inside with nonstick spray. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours,baking powder,baking soda,salt and ground cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the mixture. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the banana,yogurt,beaten egg, water or buttermilk, peanut butter, honey and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir just until combined- batter will be thick. Fill each baking cup 3/4 full. In a small bowl, mic the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over muffins.

Bake for 15 minutes,or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool for 2 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack. Serve warm or allow to cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temp for up to 2 days.

One muffin has 160 calories.

Yield: 12 Muffins
Source: Tutti Dolci-All Sweets


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday's In My City...

        Last monday the Sun Gods decided to answer my prayers.  This is the view that greeted me when I opened up the curtains!!! There was zero time to waste!

       We ate breakfast,got ready for the day and headed to the canal! In general the canal is not my favorite spot to spend a few hours in the sun..but you see,my husband loves to fish. He also doesn't like going alone. He will go and more often then not he does go alone if the oldest son has other plans..but then I think back to the times he lets me drag him to the Twilight movies,happily sits on the couch while I scream at the tv when watching that horrible show called Extreme Couponing..(seriously who in their right mind needs 400 bottles of ketchup,200 bottles of mustard,8 billion frozen dinners and 300 candy bars? I'm sad to say that I'm not joking about those numbers. I have since banned myself from watching the show.) Because of all these and about 500 other reasons, I went with my husband. I grabbed a chair and happily sat in the sun.

    This is one of the cookbooks I read. It's called The Flat Belly Diet..which isn't really a diet to begin with when you can happily eat chocolate-stuffed french toast!! 

    When I wasn't planning my weekly menu ( wondering how often I could get away with eating chocolate-stuffed french toast while keeping in mind that my belly needed some serious flattening) I stared at the sky. It was so blue and so beautiful. I came home happy,sunburned,happy,renewed and did I mention happy? I almost don't even care that we are back to the lower temps and rain again..Well I do but nothing is keeping me down after 3 full days of this beautiful weather!

Head on over to Unknown Mami to see what she and everyone else is up to this week!

Unknown Mami

Friday, May 4, 2012

Homemade Hamburger Buns

         Happy Friday Everyone!  What a quick week this was! I spent the better part of it biking,sunning myself and baking. We had an excellent week weather wise and I can't tell you how much I needed it. A little sun on the face does wonders!

The older I get the more I enjoy the simple things in life. Like bread baking. I really wish I could of calmed down enough to teach myself back in my 20's but I was so busy being rushed and stressed that finding time to breath took planning. Now that I'm heading towards 38 I realise the importance of just taking a moment,learning something new, and then practicing over and over. The simple joy that bread baking brings me is crazy. I rush out when I see my husband come home from work and smile stupidly as I tell him that I just whipped up a fresh batch of hamburger buns. My two sons repeat over and made these and start calling dibs on the left overs. That pretty much rocks my world and makes my heart swell.

This recipe comes from King Arthur and I can not say enough positive things about that website. All of the bread recipes that I have tried ( like the Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread) have turned out beautifully. The directions are straight forward and alot of the time they come with step by step photos.

When I read through the recipe it stated that it made 8 large hamburger buns but you could also pick between 12 regular sized ones and 24 sliders. You can go with the 8 large buns if you don't mind the fact that they will bake up to the size of a toddlers head! When I saw the risen dough I knew instantly that I would go for the 12. I'm glad I did because these were the perfect size.

The only thing I would change would be to leave out the second brusing of melted butter on top. I didn't like the greasy film it left once cooled.

Hamburger Buns

3/4-1 cup Lukewarm Water **
2 TBS Butter,softened
1 Large Egg
3-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
1-1/4 tsp. Salt
1 TBS Instant Yeast
** For best results ( a smooth,slightly soft dough), use the smaller amount of water in summer (or in a humid environment),the greater amount in winter ( or a dry climate) and something in between for the rest of the time. I needed the full one cup.
3 TBS Melted Butter

You can make this by hand or stand mixer. I always prefer to use a bowl,wooden spoon and then knead it by hand. Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients. If using a standmixer,knead the dough for about 7 minutes using the dough hook. If kneading by hand, it's about 10 minutes. Place dough in lightly greased bowl,cover with cling film and allow to risein a draft free spot for 1-2 hours,or until doubled in bulk ( my kitchen was warm and it took one hour.)

Gently deflate the dough,and divide into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball ( take the time to smooth these guys out by rolling them under your gently cupped fingers.) You can find step by step photos HERE. Flatten balls to about 3 inches across. Place on lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet,cover with plastic wrap thats been lightly spread with nonstick spray ( you don't want the dough to stick to the plastic wrap!) and let rise for about an hour,until noticeable puffy

Brush the buns with half of the melted butter. Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Bake 12-15 mins for 12 buns, 15-18 for 8 buns and 12-15 for sliders. Remove from oven and brush tops with remaining melted butter. Cool buns on rack.

Yield: 8,12 or 24
Source: King Arthur Flour


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mexican Sloppy Joes

         See that awesome looking hamburger bun? I made that. I'll have the recipe for those up tomorrow. I jumped around the house when I pulled them out of the perfection!

I actually baked those hamburger buns with this recipe in mind. I spotted it last week and bookmarked it to make. My oldest son loves everything spicy and so does my husband. My youngest son and I are in the middle and these were about as spicy as we could go. I doubt anyone else who makes these will have a problem with the spice because I'm pretty sure The Netherlands is the only place to produce burn your lips off chili powder. I knew from experience not to use the full amount but the little I did use was again way to much. Boo on lip numbing chili powder!

These are seriously good get a kick of sweetness from the brown sugar and a kick from the chili sauce..Make sure you get sweet chili sauce and if you are like me,go for the mild.

Mexican Sloppy Joe's

1 lb Ground Beef..lean,regular,soy crumbles
1/2 cup Diced Red Onion..I used a regular one
1 TBS Minced Garlic
1/4 cup Diced Jalapeno Pepper..left out 
3/4 cup Sweet Chili Sauce
2 TBS Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
Optional toppings: Cilantro,Pepper Jack Cheese or cheese of choice. They sell a Cumin cheese here that I used and it went great with the sandwiches.

Brown ground beef in large pan over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain and reserve one tablespoon of drippings. Add onion and garlic to pan and sautee until fragrant,about 1-2 minutes.Add in jalapeno and cook until vegetable are tender,about 5 minutes. Return beef to mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in sweet chili sauce,brown sugar and cumin. Simmer for 12-15 minutes,stirring often.

Serve on hambuger buns and toppings of choice.

Yield: 6 servings
Source: Behind the Bites