Friday, June 28, 2013

Healthy Cocoa-Chip Muffins


         I am one week away from signing the papers on the home we bought and finally getting the keys! just one more week! I haven't done much baking since more than half of my kitchens items are boxed up and waiting to be moved and my oven has gotten so bad that it isn't worth the frustration anymore.

However, I did manage to bake these wonderful moist muffins a few weeks back and figured now was a good time to get these posted! There is a secret to these muffins that I wasn't sure about at first. It uses a prune puree that replaces the butter in the recipe. I was so totally blown away about how well it worked out and how much the puree compliments the cocoa flavor. The muffins are actually kinda fudgy in texture and thats a massive bonus in my book.

The trick however is to not eat these until the next day..or the day after. These bad boys stay moist for days and days. When I tried one the first day, I didn't like it. The muffin stuck like crazy to the paper and the flavor was kinda bland. I was so let down since prunes are kinda pricey over here. The next morning I decided to give them another try. They peeled without any problems and it was then that I was able to get that fudge like texture with a fantastic chocolate flavor. These were awesome. My husband and two sons loved these aswell and mentioned that it was almost like eating a piece of cake instead of a healthy muffin..which by the way is another bonus..eating something that is healthy but totally not tasting like it.

I'll be making this again for sure! The original recipe says that it makes 12 muffins..I got like 18 so don't be to surprised if you get more aswell.

Healthy Cocoa-Chip Muffins

1 cup (about 6 ounces) Pitted Prunes
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder,sifted
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1-1/2 cups Buttermilk or lowfat Plain Yogurt
1/3 cup Mini Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

Place prunes in a small saucepan and cover them with water. Bring water to a boil,remove the pan from the heat, and let them stand for 5 minutes. Transfer prunes to a food processor and process them until smooth,scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Transfer the puree to a small bowl and let it cool down to room temperature.

In a large bowl,combine the flour,cocoa-powder,sugar,baking powder,baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and prune puree. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and combine with a wooden spoon until mixture is moistened. Add in the chocolate and mix until combined.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full. Bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and allowing to completely on a wire rack.

Store muffins in an airtight container at room temp for up to 3 days,or wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freeze for up to one month.

Yield: 12-18 Muffins
Source: Mom's Big Book of Baking


Monday, June 24, 2013

Thin Cornmeal Tortilla


              When I moved over to The Netherlands six years ago there wasn't a tortilla to be found..anywhere. After a few years they started popping up..along with jars of really bad corn syrup tasting salsas,dips and equally bad tasting packets of taco seasoning. I have made tortillas myself on and off over the years but I fully admit to buying the chewy fake doughy tasting ones from the store. I kinda like those.

However, now that my tastebuds are changing once again, I can no longer tolerate that taste and texture anymore and have been trying out different recipes to see which ones we like the most. I have found a winner..

It comes from King Arthur which is no surprise there since every recipe of theirs always turns out perfectly..but there is a twist in this tortilla recipe. It uses both flour AND cornmeal..something a real tortilla would never have. What you get is a wafer-thin pliable soft tortilla that tastes amazing and is sooooo easy to make! You get a faint sweetness from the cornmeal and the softness from using flour. It's perfect and we love it.

Thin Cornmeal Tortilla

1-1/3 cups (5-1/2 ounces) All-purpose Flour
2/3 cup (3-1/4 ounces) Yellow Cornmeal
1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) Corn Oil or Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup plus 1 TBS (4-1/2 ounces) Water
1/2 tsp. Salt

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour,cornmeal, and oil. Gradually mix in the water and salt. Knead briefly, just until the dough is soft.

Divide dough into 10 pieces,weighing about 1-3/8 ounces each. Round the pieces into balls,flatten them slightly, and let them rest,covered for 30 minutes ( the resting period improves the texture of the dough by giving the  flour time to absirb the water,and it also gives the gluten time to relax,make the tortillas easy to roll out).

Preheat an ungreased cast iron griddle or heavy frying pan over medium heat. Working with one piece of dough at a time ( keeping the remaining dough balls covered), roll out each ball until about 8 inches in diameter. Fry the tortillas in the ungreased pan for 45 seconds on each side. Stack tortillas on top of one another as you remove them from the pan,to keep them soft and pliable. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Store,tightly wrapped,in a plastic bag at room temperature. You can also freeze these if you want to use them at a later time.

Yield: 10 tortillas
Source: King Arthur Flour 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Buttermilk-Orange Tea Bread


           My oven is slowly dying. One of the heating elements has gone out and my baked items are coming out a bit wonky. I keep pushing that poor thing and with only 16 more days to go until we move, I'm hoping my oven goes out in a blaze of glory at the end. The oven ticked me off in more ways than one and it wasn't uncommon to hear me cursing like a trucker when it wouldn't reach the highest temp or when the broiler never seemed to work or how long things took me to bake because I only had one oven rack. 

Still..we managed to find a common ground. I was still able to bake the loaves of bread like I wanted and I managed to bake almost everything else I wanted during the 6 years that I had it. I'm excited though to finally purchase an oven that I've wanted since we moved here and within a few short months it will be mine :)


             I baked this super easy quick bread a few weeks ago and thanked the semi broken oven gods that my loaf came out pefect. It was everything a quick bread should be..moist,flavorful and comforting. The orange flavor really comes through in this recipe and as using buttermilk in everything that I can. This recipe is versatile and you can use whatever type of zest that you like; lemon,orange or lime. The one and only thing you can't change is the waiting time. You must wrap it up and allow it to sit for 24 hours. The waiting period allows the bread to settle and allows the flavors to come through. It's worth the wait. I promise.

Buttermilk-Orange Tea Bread

1-3/4 cups All-purpose Flour
3/4 cups Sugar..I used 1/2 cup and it was perfect
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 Egg
1 cup Buttermilk
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
2 tsp. Grated Orange Zest
3 TBS Orange Juice;divided
1 TBS Sugar..for the glaze

Heat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease bottom and sides of a 9x 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and lightly coat the sides and bottom with flour.

In a medium bowl,whisk the flour,sugar,baking powder and salt;set aside.

In another bowl,stir egg,buttermilk,oil,zest, and one tablespoon orange juice until well blended. Add wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until combined. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs. Allow bread to cool in pan on wire rack for 10 mins.

Meanwhile combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of orange juice and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Remove loaf from pan and onto the wire rack. Brush the glaze over the still warmed loaf and allow to sit until completely cool.

Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to sit for 24 hours.

Yield: 12-16 servings
Source: Betty Crocker

Monday, June 17, 2013

Walnut-Raisin Granola


         Whew..the last few days have been crazy busy with cleaning and packing. We had our inspection today and the rental company brought over 3 potential renters to look at the place. Everything went fine and now my husband and I are taking a much needed break for a few days...17 more days until we sign the papers!!!!

So lets talk about granola..I love it. I never get tired of it and always find ways of using it. We love it on yogurt,ice cream,in a bowl with milk, as a snack, in cookies and made into bar form. I have a mile long list of granola recipes to try and each one brings something new.

This recipe comes from Weight Watchers and I gotta was really good! I loved the orange zest and the crunch from the pumpkin seeds and walnuts. I was worried it wouldn't have enough flavor but we all really enjoyed it.

Walnut-Raisin Granola

3 cups Old-fashioned Oats
1/3 cup Chopped Walnuts
1/3 cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 cup Wheat Germ
1/4 cup Flaked Sweetened Coconut
1 TBS Canola Oil
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
Zest of 1 Orange
1/2 cup Raisins

Pre heat oven to 300 or 150 ceclius. Spray a large baking pan(such as a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan) with nonstick spray.

Stir together all ingredients except for raisins in a large bowl. Pour mixture onto prepared pan and spread out evenly.

Bake,stirring once half way through the cooking time,until golden brown,about 25 minutes. Stir in raisins and let cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Store in airtight container up to 1 month.

Yield: 12 servings..1/3 cup has 178 calories
Source: Weight Watchers

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fast Cinnamon Yogurt Cake


             I'm obsessed with the cooking shows on BBC. I am soooo grateful I get those because the Dutch cooking shows just don't cut it.  Not even close. Not even kinda sorta if nothing else is on close. Thanks to the U.K. I am now fond of the Hairy Bikers, Chinese Food Made Easy, Country Show Cook Off and now Rachel Allen. I have seen shows of hers here and there but it wasn't until I watched her on the country show cook off that I was really able to see what she was all about.

All I can say is that she is a wonderful down home cook and baker based out of Ireland. I went looking up some of her cookbooks and decided to give Cake a try. It's not about the frosted american type cakes but things like bundt cakes and coffee cakes and cupcakes,muffins, steamed cakes,brownies,ice cream cakes, and yes the more labor intensive type ones aswell. I love her easy directions and how uncomplicated she makes it. I also love how living over in Europe has really opened up my eyes to the variety of foods here and how different they are from the U.S.

I'm pretty hooked on all things U.K. at this point. I was lucky enough to visit there when we first moved here and instantly fell in love with London. My time was all to short and I have been begging my husband ever since to go back. It's a wonderful place to visit and can really see myself gong back there again and again.

So here you go..the first recipe I tried. We loved it. It's a dense and extremely moist cake. It's so moist that you actually believe you didn't cook it long enough but it's due to the honey,yogurt and oil thats used. It has a wonderful light flavor with just enough cinnamon in there to make you all warm and happy on the inside. The cake stores very well and can be enjoyed over the course of a week..however it lasted only two days. I have feel zero shame in this.

The recipe is in ounces and grams..I can't stress enough how much you need a kitchen scale! I am able to cook from so many different types of cookbooks now since I'm not worried about the conversions..I weigh and bake :)

Fast Cinnamon Yogurt Cake

225g (8 oz) Self-rising Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 TBS Ground Cinnamon
75g (3oz) Ground Almonds
100g (3-1/2 oz) Sugar
2 Eggs
50g (2oz) Honey
250ml (9fl oz) Plain Yogurt
150ml (5fl oz) Sunflower or Vegetable Oil

1 TBS Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease the sides of a 9 inch cake pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper ( I suggest using a 9 inch spring form tin since it will make removing the cake way easier than trying to flip it out. It's to moist for that).

In a large bowl, sift together the flour,baking powder and cinnamon;add the ground almonds and sugar and mix everything together.

In a seperate bowl, whisk together the eggs,honey,yogurt and vegetable oil. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and gently fold to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to completely cool off on a wire rack.

In a small bowl,mix the topping together and then place into a small sugar shaker and dust the top of the cake.

Yield: 6-8 servings
Source: Cake

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cardamom Yogurt Waffles


           Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Ours was spent packing and cleaning and sitting in the warm wonderful sun!

Waffles are a favorite choice when it comes to breakfast in our house and I make sure to always have a supply on hand in the freezer. Our favorite is still the Healthy Whole Grain Waffles but once a week I will add a new one into the mix.

I decided to try this recipe since we're fans of cardamom and sure enough we loved these! The flavor is fantastic and pairs well with some peanut butter and maple syrup!

Cardamom Yogurt Waffles

3/4 cup All-purpose Flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1-1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Ground Cardamom
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs
1 cup Fat Free Milk
3/4 cup Low Fat or Regular Plain Yogurt
1/4 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 TBS Canola Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla

In a large bowl,whisk together the flours,baking powder,baking soda,cardamom,cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl,whisk the eggs,milk,yogurt,brown sugar,oil and vanilla. Add the wet into the dry and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into a preheated waffle iron and bake according to manufacturer's instructions until golden brown.

Yield: 12-14 Waffles..I was able to get 12
Source: Taste of Home

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream


              I so wanted to take a fantastic picture of this ice cream. The photo I am sharing with now doesn't do it justice. The thing is..we ate the ice cream so darned fast that I literally needed to run outside and snap this one before there was nothing left. I must confess that I live with vultures when it comes to ice cream..they swarm around me when they hear the ice cream maker turn on.  They pace back and forth while the machine churns the liquid into an icy delight and they watch the clock and the hours tick away slowly while the ice cream hardens in the freezer.

I love my impatient little family :) This ice cream was a real shocker to me..mostly because of the 3 simple ingredients..coconut milk,sugar and cocoa powder. That's it..and believe me you will be just as blown away as we were. This is..without a single doubt..our favorite chocolate ice cream. It's creamy,full of flavor and a snap to whip up. You can dress this up anyway which way you'd like..for an almond joy ice cream..add in some toasted coconut and chopped almonds..add in crushed oreos or chopped up candy bars,flavored nuts,syrup or whipping cream..Eat it plain the first time though because you might prefer it like that. I sure do!

Two random things: The weather is has been in the upper 60's and 70's this week. Im so happy I can barely stand myself. I'm sitting outside for about an hour each day and allowing the sun to tan my face and arms a bit. I am happy to say that I can no longer play an extra in a vampire movie :)

The second thing: Our rental company has put our place up on their site and we now have random Dutch couples frantically stopping by and peeking in our windows and looking around and talking to us through our window. I can't tell you how much I hate this. It scares me when I walk into the living room and see people staring at me and looking at my furniture. The whole renting thing drives me nuts. They actually bring people over to your place while you are still living in it to show potential renters. As of right now we have over 55 people interested in this place. They take the first 3 who signed up and bring them over all at once to show them. The first person on the list gets the chance to say if they want it or not and if not, it goes to the second in line to see if they want it. The good thing is, they only do this once and I wont have to worry about random people coming over all the time to view it while we are trying to pack and more. The bad thing is..I HATE having strangers over and walking through my place. It's not like I am trying to sell this place or anything..but they view it like you are. They can see something of yours and actually made a bid on it to buy it and I find that weird aswell. I hope someone bids on my giant pile of trash..I'll give them such a sweet deal to take it all off my hands :)

Back to the ice cream..make will be ever so happy that you did! a fan of the coconut flavor? I gotta tell ya..the coconut milk doesn't really give you that coconut flavor. I was really surprised by that and next time I plan to add in some coconut extract just so that I can get the flavor more in there.

Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream

2 cans (13.5 oz) Full Fat Coconut Milk
1-1/4 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Good Quality Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

In a pot over medium heat,add all ingredients and whisk the poo out of it to combine it ( the cocoa powder takes awhile to combine but do not give up! I added the coconut milk first,then the powder and then poured the sugar on top to kind of weight the powder down. I then whisked slowly at first and then whisked like crazy until I reached a nice smooth mixture. If you worry about it not coming together, then strain the mixture over your container once you are done heating it up). Allow to simmer until thickened, about 8 minutes.

Pour into a container and refrigerate until it's nice and cold..atleast 4 hours or make it at night and allow it to sit overnight.

Pour into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. East right away for a soft serve or place in a freezer safe container for a few hours.

Yield: 4-6 servings/ will make around 2-1/2 cups
Source: Domestic Fits

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Te Koop!


            Te Koop in Dutch means, For Sale. That sign above has been dominating my dreams for months now. It's all I see when I run errands or bike around. I anxiously head over to the website Funda to look up homes that are for sale.

I've waited a very long time for this moment. I can remember as a young girl wanting a house of my own. I watched almost everyone around me buy a house and all I could do was wait. When we first moved to The Netherlands is was always the plan to move over into Germany. You get alot more house for your money and I wanted my American Dream in european form. I wanted a house with some land and a space of my own.

So we started looking. We looked at only the homes that came with land and hardly any was then that I realised Germany wasn't for us. I had such guilt for taking the boys out of their Dutch school only to stick them into a German one and expecting them to learn a whole new language all over again. So not gonna happen. I also didn't get the warm fuzzies when I visited the smaller towns..So I swallowed that pill and decided Holland was going to be home.

So we started looking yet again..A home with land and hardly any neighbors. I wasn't sure it could be found since this little country is so packed with people. The more homes we found that did come with land, the more we realised these homes kinda needed to be demolished. They were awful and we needed to get real with ourselves when it came to the extra money it would take to fix those up. So we re-worked the dream again. The re-working of the dream happened over and over again and the more it happened the more I realised I didn't need that picture perfect idea of what a home was in my head..but instead a home that was perfect for us.

We found one,made a bid and got excited. The deal fell through and I cried..hard..for a solid week. I didn't want to hear that it was all for a reason and sometimes you can't see that right away but our time would come. Soooo did not want to hear that. About a month later we started looking again. We went and looked at another one and had to stop ourselves from running out as fast as we could. It was then that we actually wondered if we were going to beable to find our dream home.

Then it happened. We went and looked at a house that has zero curb appeal,is on a narrow street,is sandwiched between several other homes and will require monthly coffee meet ups with the neighbors to keep the neighborly relationship going. I wasn't expecting anything when I walked in but my husband kept telling me this place was bigger than the last one we wanted and we owed it to ourselves to go and look.

So we walked out our front door and down the street..7 minutes later we walked into our new home. The house was everything we asked for: It doesn't come with land but it comes with a very long backyard with a chicken coop already set up,ample space to grow my own vegetables,two fruit trees,a large carport and a large workroom next to the kitchen that I can see my husband spending alot of time in. It came with a bonus room we didn't know about and a large kitchen that has me dreaming of everything I want to bake in there. The first thing I said when we walked in the living room was how much bigger it looked than in the photos and that I could fit a 7 foot christmas tree in here. It comes with a brand new woodstove that I can't wait to use during the winter and the living room and kitchen floor is heated!

So we're moving!!!! We sign the papers and get the keys early July. I'm so glad about that because my poor oven is going out and doesn't heat up all the way anymore. It needs to hold on for my youngest son's birthday aswell as Father's Day and then it can totally give out. I'm so excited to finally be moving on from this place and to start planting roots. The house needs some work and there is painting to be done..but I don't care and look forward to all of it.

Finally after living here for 6 years my dream of owning a home of my own has finally come true :)