Het is kersentijd! Kersen zijn absoluut wel mijn favoriete zomerfruit. Kan me er ook echt ziek aan eten, want ik kan gewoon niet stoppen als ik eenmaal aan verse kersen begin. Daarom doe ik het met inkopen ook wel rustig aan. Maar dan krijg je ineens een emmer verse kersen van vrienden, met 2,5 kg kersen. Dat was zelfs voor mij erover. Dus ging k ermee kokkerellen. Ik maakte o.a. een kersenchutney met verse dragon.
Caramel Waffle Cookie Banana Bread
Caramel Waffle Cookie Banana Bread – that really is a mouth full. Caramel waffle cookies or ‘Stroopwafels’, literally translated as syrup waffle, are thin crisp waffle cookies, with a gooey layer of soft caramel in between. These Dutch stroopwafels are quite popular worldwide and have found their way to supermarkets across the globe.
In 2015, United Airlines even started serving original Daelmans stroopwafels on their flights. The stroopwafels were so popular, that when United Airlines stopped serving them last year, passengers kept asking on social media to please have them back in their snack rotation. And United Airlines listened. Since January of this year, the stroopwafels are back.
While coconut and almond macaroons are well known around here, hazelnut macaroons are quite a rare thing at least outside Germany. And that really is a pity, as they are darn delicious, if I may say so. And easy to make.
As long as I can remember, well almost that long, you can buy ground hazelnuts in Germany. They can be found in the baking aisle in most supermarkets. Just until fairly recently, it was pretty hard to get them in Belgium and the Netherlands. But also there, they are finding their way into the supermarkets. And you can now order ground hazelnuts or hazelnut meal at most of the online nut and seed shops.
Grinding your own
Grinding your own hazelnut meal in a blender or food processor is also an option. That’s what we used to do when I was a kid, when there were ground nuts at all. I can remember me and my mom grinding almonds and hazelnuts for Christmas cookies.
Easy does it
Anyway, even though I can perfectly do that myself, and it might be a lot cheaper, it’s so easy to simply them already ground. I usually buy them in bulk whenever we’re in Germany, either on holiday or on a shopping trip. Which is so fun to do especially in December, with all the Christmas markets and decorations.
Leftover egg whites
I usually start the Christmas cookies frenzy with other types of cookies for which I mostly need only egg yolks. Which means that I’m stuck with 10 or more egg whites once I’m done. I keep them portioned by 3 or 4 egg whites in containers in the fridge. So, I can just grab a container and start on some macaroons. Just like these hazelnut macaroons that I made with the 4 egg whites I had left after making my Butterplätzchen.
4 egg whites
A few drops of lemon juice
250 g sugar
400 g ground hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 150°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I usually use 2 ro 3 baking sheets to be able to quickly bake them all off.
Beat the egg whites with a few drops of lemon juice until stiff peaks are formed.
Keep beating and slowly add the sugar.
Fold in the ground hazelnuts.
Using two small spoons, lay small heaps of the batter on the prepared baking sheet. If you use larger spoons, you’ll get larger macaroons. Either is fine. A great tool for portioning are cookie scoops.
Bake ca. 15-20 minutes in the middle of the oven.
They are still very soft when you take them out of the oven. Let them cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 to 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to let them cool completely.
This recipe rendered 16 large and ca. 45 small macaroons.
They are really utterly delicious. To make them extra special, you could dip them in chocolate.
Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars, I think these are fairly unknown outside of the US. That is, I have not met a person who was familiar with these. It’s like one giant sheet pan cookie cut into pieces. This is a recipe I have made for several years now. And I’ve made these cookie bars so often, it never occurred to me to actually right everything down and publish the recipe.
The original recipe is from an American food blog, Lauren’s Latest. It’s one of the first food bloggers I started following, about 6 years ago. When Lauren published this recipe a couple of years ago, I made them right away and it’s been a favourite ever since. In the original recipe, the sugar cookie bars are topped with icing, but I don’t think these cookie bars need that. I leave them plain. And with just a few minor adjustments, this recipe has become a staple in our house.
So, it’s safe to say that these are quite popular, whenever I make them. Though there is the odd one who doesn’t like them. There is almond extract added, which makes the cookie bars taste like marzipan. If you are not a fan of marzipan, you can still make these bars by simply swapping the almond extract by any other extract of your liking, such as vanilla or lemon.
It’s just not the taste and texture (soft bite) that I like very much. These bars are so easy to make too. I love cookies, but sometimes it’s just too much hassle. Cooling the rough, rolling it, cutting it out, etc. These sugar cookie bars are way easier and faster. Everything goes into one bowl, all ingredients at once, kneed it together, press it into a baking dish, bake it, cut it, eat it. That’s it, now let’s get baking!
250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
400 g flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking dish with parchment paper. I usually use a brownie tin. You could of course use any other baking dish, like a 13×9”.
Put all ingredients into a bowl and quickly kneed into a dough. I love using my KitchenAid for this, but you can do this by hand as well.
Press the dough into the prepared baking dish. Use the back of a spoon or the bottom of a glass to smooth out the top.
Bake ca. 25-30 minutes in the middle of the oven.
Let cool completely and cut into pieces.
Banana bread with apple and oats
Autumn seems to keep its schedule this year. As if on cue, right on the 21st of September, the warm weather is gone and it’s rainy and windy outside. Like flipping the switch. And I can’t help it, but I’m immediately in the mood for fall baking. So, I started the season with this delicious banana bread with apple and oats.
There is so much you can do with banana. I really don’t like eating (over)ripe bananas, but they are a perfect natural sweetener for cake. If any at all, you just need to add a little bit of sugar or other sweetener to your dough and much less fat. From classic banana bread to heavenly chocolate, everything goes. There are already more than 15 recipes using banana on the blog and I’m still bubbling with ideas for more.
Apple and oats
The weather will get better towards the end of the week, but the wind and rain made me long for comfort food. Apple pie is the ultimate comfort food. We still had a full bag of apples in the pantry and I needed to come up with recipes to make use of those. So, I made apple sauce, apple pear sauce and this utterly delicious banana bread with apple and oats. Perfect with a cup of tea and easy as a grab&go breakfast.
By using (over)ripe bananas you need much less sugar or other sweeteners. Compared to a regular cake, there is a lot less sugar in this bread. And by using whole wheat instead of white flour and throwing oats into the mix, you’re adding extra fibre. Which is not only healthier, it keeps you full longer. Though I don’t think that food should ever make you feel guilty, if it really does bother you, this banana bread definitely should invoke less guilt ;).
2- 3 sweet-tart apples
1 tbsp light brown sugar
2 bananas (peeled ca. 250 g)
2 eggs (L)
100 ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla-extract
50 g light brown sugar
150 g whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
100 g oats
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a cake tin with parchment paper.
Peel the apples and cut into small cubes.
Add 1 tablespoon sugar to the apples and mix.
Mash the bananas and mix with the eggs, oil and vanilla-extract.
Add sugar and mix well.
Now add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and mix until no lumps remain.
Fold in the apples and oats.
Pour the batter in the prepared cake tin and bake ca. 50-60 minutes in the middle of the oven.
This banana bread / apple cake is delicious in the afternoon with a nice cup of coffee or tea, but it’s also great for breakfast. As is or with good dollop of cookie or peanut butter.
Hot Cheese Dip
It’s become a vast classic in our house: Hot Cheese Dip. Not hot as in ‘spicy’ (though that is a possibility of course), but rather as in ‘very warm’. That’s because this dip is served straight form the oven. For those of us who can’t wait (not mentioning any names), this may result in a burnt mouth. I mean, this is really, really good, you won’t be able to wait that it’s cooled down just a tiny bit.
Let’s dig in
Once on the table, everyone digs in. No-one is willing to share just the tiniest bit. That lovely golden brown, bubbly crust, the gooey cheese, it will disappear right before your eyes. There’s never been a dip as popular as this one. Dip those (tortilla) chips, fresh bread or veggies in it. Serving this at a party? Double or triple the recipe and prepare several dishes.
I used mature cheddar in this dip. Cheddar has quite a strong taste and might not be to everyone’s liking. As the cheese is quite strong, I did not add any salt to the dip. If you’re using a much milder cheese, you might want to consider adding a bit of salt, but most of the times that won’t be necessary. Try Emmenthal, Mozzarella, goat’s cheese, blue cheese or a mix of cheeses. Do you want it hot and spicy? Add chili paste, sriracha or extra chili powder toe or finely dice jalapeño’s or a red chili pepper and mix it in.
200 g cream cheese
150 g grated mature cheddar
75 g mayonnaise
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp chili powder
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
Put the mixture into a small baking dish and smooth out the top.
Bake ca. 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
Serve immediately, but watch out: it’s piping hot! And now, dig in.
Blueberry Lemon Curd
Do you ever do that, buying way too much if something is on sale, without thinking about what you’ll with all of it? No? Well, I do (unfortunately). Just recently, I bought buckets full of blueberries, just because they were extremely cheap. Yes, buckets, two of them. Way too much of course, because after baking muffins with blueberries and putting loads of blueberries in my yogurt and smoothies, there was still about a bucket left.
I could have made my Blueberry Chia Seed Jam, but we still have quite a few jars with all sorts of jam in the pantry. So, I had to come up with something different, something new. It’s fun, trying new things. And as I also had a whole lot of lemons (same principle), I thought of combining those two and make Blueberry Lemon Curd.
Lemon Curd is becoming more and more popular in our region since it’s been ‘imported’ from the UK and the US. A deliciously fresh, tangy yet sweet cream. Wonderful on scones or added to yogurt. Or incorporated in pies and other baked goods. It’s becoming more and more available at supermarkets around here, but it’s so easy to make yourself and it’s much tastier.
And since blueberries and lemon are a match made in heaven, just like in my Lemon Blueberry Crumb Cake, I used both to make this wonderful Blueberry Lemon Curd. And I can safely (and proudly) say: I nailed it. An utterly delicious cream, silky and smooth, sweet and also a bit tangy due to the lemon. Delicious on freshly baked scones with a slather of clotted cream, but also so tasty added to your yogurt for breakfast. Or straight from the jar (I promise I won’t tell). And just as easy to make, like regular lemon curd.
250 g fresh blueberries (it doesn’t have to be exact, a few more or less berries are just fine)
100 ml lemon juice (depending on the size and juiciness of the lemons, you’ll need 2-3)
Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
3 egg yolk
175 g sugar
50 g unsalted butter (cold)
Put the blueberries, lemon juice and zest in a small pan and bring to a boil.
Let simmer for a couple of minutes until all blueberries are soft.
Strain through a sieve and press all the juice through is. Make sure to scrape the underside of the sieve.
Return the juice to the pan, set aside and let cool.
Beat the egg yolk, egg and sugar until the mixture reaches a light-yellow colour.
Pour the egg-mixture into the blueberry lemon juice and mix well.
Bring slowly to a boil and let simmer for a couple of minutes on low heat, whisking constantly.
Let cook until the mixture starts to thicken. When the ‘sauce’ covers the back of a spoon, it’s ready.
Take the pan off the heat and beat in the butter, a small cube at a time, until all the butter has been incorporated.
Pour the curd in clean jars and put the lid on.
Let cool completely.
Well sealed and refrigerated, the curd will keep well for a couple of weeks. Once you’ve opened a jar, it’s best to eat it within a couple of days.
Stir-fried vegetables with freekeh
Stir-fried vegetables with what? Exactly. That’s the reaction I got when I answered the boys’ daily question ‘what’s for dinner’. Freekeh seemed to gain on popularity a couple of years ago and was even called the ‘new quinoa’. But to me, it seems it’s already losing ground and is disappearing from the shelves in supermarkets. Which is a pity, if you ask me. Fortunately, I still had one box stashed away in the pantry and I made this delicious side with it.
Now what is freekeh? Actually, it’s simply wheat but harvested when it has not ripened yet. It’s dried on the land with the chaff and then set to fire. Might seem a strange process, but due to the high moisture of the unripe kernels, only the chaff and straw are burnt. The kernels remain and get a nicely toasted flavour. Freekeh is chuck full of nutrients and fibre which makes this grain a healthy supplement to your diet.
Freekeh is cooked like rice and can then be used in a wide variety of dishes, hot and cold. The cooking time is a bit longer compared to other types of grain and rice. The instructions say 15 minutes, but I usually cook it quite a bit longer. But even after cooking it longer, the texture remains quite chewy. I use stock to cook it in, which gives it even more flavour.
I went even a bit further than this extraordinary grain, by adding a less obvious vegetable to the stir-fry: flat green beans. As it is, I happen to love flat beans, but rarely prepare them. When I spotted fresh flat beans at the store, I had to buy them (without thinking about what I would make). So, when I stood in front of the fridge, contemplating what I would make for dinner, I figured I could use them in a stir-fry. And I think this really is a nice addition.
Freekeh finds its origins in the Middle East. It is often added as a filling to soups and stews. But it is also a great addition to salads or stuffed vegetables. As I used it in this stir-fry with peppers and flat beans, I figured that a Middle Eastern spice mix was just fitting: Baharat. With only a handful ingredients, you’ll get this fragrant and delicious side everyone will love.
200 g freekeh
2 chicken stock cubes
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
400 g flat beans
1 à 2 tsp Baharat
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Put the freekeh with 1 litre water and the chicken stock cubes in a pan and bring to a boil.
Let cook for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Cut the peppers and flat beans into 1-2 cm pieces.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and stir-fry the vegetables with a pinch of salt, pepper and the Baharat spice mix.
Drain the freekeh and add to the vegetables.
Stir and fry for one more minute.
We served the freekeh with lamb burgers and a fresh salad. I actually saved the cooking liquid as it had become this gorgeous, thick and tasty broth. Would have been a sin to just throw it out. Added a small can of tomato puree and let it reduce a little bit. Then a bit of sugar and pepper to taste and we ended up having a wonderful, rich tasting tomato sauce with our meal.
If you don’t have Baharat at home or you don’t like the taste, simply add your favourite spices. Anything goes, really.
Have you ever tried freekeh?
Guys, how hot has it been these past few weeks?! Today, we finally got some cooling air coming in. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed these hot temps. But I know a lot of people are really suffering from the heat. For some, this even means getting sick or not being able to function at all. The most important thing during such heat waves, is staying hydrated. Whether you can easily stand the heat or not, there is always the risk of dehydration, without you even noticing it. With disastrous consequences.
Water is by far the best drink, but I know it gets boring and you would like to taste something else as well. Infused water is an easy way to pimp regular tap water. Simply add fresh fruit and/or herbs and let those infuse the water with a subtle flavour. Delicious. But you know what I like best? Homemade lemonade. And making your own syrup for lemonade isn’t hard at all and way better than store-bought syrup. My favourite: lemon-lime syrup.
Once you have the syrup ready, fresh lemonade is made in just seconds. The syrup is made with a lot of sugar, but you can use as much as you want. Personally, I don’t like overly sweet beverages, so I just use a wee bit of syrup. With a good amount of ice cubes, a bit of extra fruit and a twig of fresh mint, you’ll get this wonderfully refreshing, non-alcoholic summer drink.
350 ml freshly squeezed juice (ca. 5 – 6 lemons and ca. 2 – 3 limes)
250 g sugar
Squeeze the lemons and limes. The exact amount of fruit you’ll need, depends on the size and juiciness of the lemons and limes.
Put the juice and the sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Let simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Pour the syrup through a strainer into a clean bottle.
Seal the bottle and let cool completely.
Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Refrigerated, the syrup will keep well for several weeks (though it never lasts this long on our house).
The syrup is now ready to make a nice refreshing lemonade. Add a few ice cubes to a glass, pour a little bit of syrup into the glass. Start with just a little bit, you can always add more to taste. Fill the glass with cold water (I like to use sparkling water). Add a twig of fresh mint and/or a slice of lemon (or other fruit).
Classic banana bread
Alright, I know it’s been way too hot the past weeks to even think about turning on the oven. But if you don’t mind or it’s not as hot where you live, I got this wonderful recipe for you: classic banana bread.
Just recently, I reviewed a new cookbook, called ‘Bananenboek’, the banana book. Unfortunately, it’s only on Dutch. As the title already says, it’s a cookbook all about the banana. Banana a s ingredient for sweet AND savory dishes. Quite interesting. So, for the review, I tried several recipes form the book, but I didn’t try any of the baking recipes. Why? I already have about 15 different banana recipes on my blog and there are still more to come. And then I suddenly realised that there is still one important recipe missing: one for good, old fashioned, plain banana bread.
Anything but plain
Although I wouldn’t want to call it plain, really. But next to all those funny combinations and unexpected ingredients, the most delicious recipe was missing. Of a simple, easy, and tasty banana bread. Banana bread as it is supposed to be. And even though the hot temps are not really inviting me to turn on the oven, this definitely is worth the extra sweat. And it might be a welcome distraction from all those recipes for the BBQ, drinks, ice cream and salads ;-).
3 small bananas (peeled about 250g)
200 g crème fraiche or sour cream
75 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 ml vegetable oil
300 g flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a cake tin or line with a baking sheet.
Mash the bananas.
Beat the eggs with the sugar, crème fraiche, oil and vanilla until smooth. You can use a whisk for that.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and fold the two together. You could use a whisk or electric mixer, but down overmix.
Fold in the mashed banana.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for ca. 60 minutes in the middle of the oven.
Out comes this wonderfully fluffy banana bread. Now you should wait until it’s cooled down, but I have to admit that that is the most difficult part for me. I can’t muster the patience and usually cut off a piece when it’s still warm. It’s so good!
It’s tasty just as is, but I also love to slather it with peanut butter (especially if it’s the salted caramel type).
A friend brought over some new potatoes, new harvest, straight from the field. My initial thought was to make potato salad, but these gorgeous new potatoes did deserve a more prominent role than that. And as we don’t like boiled potatoes all too much, frying or baking them came to mind.
Smashed potatoes had been on my must-make list for quite a while, since I first saw a recipe online a couple of years ago (yes, it did take me that long, but my must-make list really is quite extensive). So, it was about time. And boy, did they turn out good. Better than good. They were gone in the blink of an eye. Even though I had made more potatoes than I usually did, there wasn’t a teeny tiny crumb left. The wonderful flavour of the new potatoes most likely did play a role here too, but this way of preparing them definitely is a winner. The boys asked, no demanded, that I make them much more often. Luckily, they are a breeze to make.
1,5 kg potatoes (or more/less, depending on how much you would normally make)
50 g Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 200°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Thoroughly clean the potatoes.
If you have some bigger potatoes, cut them in half or quarters.
Put the potatoes in a bowl, add a tablespoon of olive oil and coat all potatoes.
Divide the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet.
Roast in the middle of the oven until the potatoes are cooked and have turned golden brown.
Carefully take the potatoes out of the oven and smash them with the bottom of a glass or cup.
Drizzle a bit of extra olive oil on top, season with salt and pepper and scatter the Parmesan cheese generously on top of the potatoes.
Put back int the oven for an extra ten minutes or so.
These smashed potatoes are delicious with meat or fish, with the BBQ, as part of a buffet… Try some variations by adding herbs or spices, add some bacon or use a different kind of cheese. The possibilities to ‘pimp’ these potatoes are endless.
Limoncello is such a gorgeous summer drink. The pure stuff is a bit too strong for me, but I love it in cocktails. A light and fresh lemon flavour. A flavour I like all year round, but especially in summer. Which is why I love to get tangy lemon ice cream at the Italian ice cream parlour. So good. And if Limoncello is nice in cocktails, it must be nice in desserts as well.
Raspberries not only give extra colour to the dessert; the flavour also pairs very well with lemon. I used fresh raspberries for the sauce, as they are in season and not expensive right now. But you can very well use frozen ones. Frozen raspberries are just not recommended for garnish, as they won’t look very pretty defrosted.
125 g fresh raspberries (+ extra for garnish)
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp corn starch
250 ml whipping cream
200 g cream cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
50 ml Limoncello (or less, then add lemon juice)
25 g powdered sugar
Put the raspberries in a small sauce pan together with 2 tbsp powdered sugar and the lemon juice.
Slowly bring to a boil and let simmer for a couple of minutes, until all raspberries are soft.
Pour through a strainer to remove the seeds, press as much juice out as possible and return sauce to the pan.
Mix the corn starch with a little bit of cold water.
Stir through the raspberry sauce and bring back to a boil.
Keep stirring until the sauce has thickened.
Divide over 6 glasses and let cool.
Whip the cream until stiff peaks have formed.
Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, Limoncello and lemon zest.
Fold in the whipped cream.
Divide over the 6 glasses and garnish with a few raspberries.
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
A perfect summer dessert.
Even though this is a much healthier version than my ultimate brownies, it’s still an extra treat you should not eat very single day. But it contains much healthier ingredients. Or should I say: I’ve omitted or replaced some of the unhealthy ingredients. It makes them a healthy breakfast option and they are an ideal grab&go meal (take them with you to eat on the road or at work).
To make them all breakfast-worthy, I added granola to the mix. This granola is homemade and unsweetened and is more of a topping for your yogurt or smoothie bowl. Hence also perfect to use as an extra crunch in these brownies.
It took me several tries to get the results I wanted. A deliciously moist brownie turning into a vegan and gluten free treat wasn’t quite as obvious. Sure, I got a few very tasty brownies, but one was too dry, another didn’t quite hold its stuff together (as in: totally crumbled between your fingers). Or they were too sweet or not sweet enough. Finally though, I made a brownie that I’m confident to actually call a brownie.
For the granola:
200 g oats (certified gluten free if necessary)
75 g roughly chopped unsalted cashews
50 g roughly chopped hazelnuts
50 g roughly chopped almonds
50 g quinoa pops
For the brownies:
100 g dark chocolate
15 g coconut oil (ca. 1 tbsp)
40 g arrowroot
4 tbsp cold water
200 g almond meal
½ tsp salt
75 g coconut blossom sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
150 g unsweetened apple sauce
50 g granola
For the granola:
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix all ingredients for the granola and spread evenly on the baking sheet.
Roast for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so everything browns evenly.
Use the desired quantity for the brownies and keep the rest in a jar or airtight container for later use (great on yoghurt, smoothie bowl or fresh fruit).
For the brownies:
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a brownie or other baking tin with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate together with the coconut oil.
Mix the arrowroot with the water until no lumps remain.
In a bowl, mix the almond meal, salt and sugar.
Add the chocolate, arrowroot mixture, apple sauce and vanilla to the dry mixture and mix well, using a spatula.
Then fold in the granola.
Press batter in the prepared baking tin and smooth out the top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Let cool completely before cutting into pieces.
Get an early start with marinating the meat. At least a couple of hours before cooking, though the meat will be at its best if you let it marinate overnight. It will become extremely tender. Instead of marinating in a bowl, I use a zip lock bag and press as much of the air our as possible, which definitely helps the process of marinating (the meat will soak up the flavours even more).
Not only the time the meat has to marinate will influence the tenderness, but also which cut you use. It’s perfectly fine to use chicken breast or chicken tenders, but they can dry out pretty fast during cooking. The best cut definitely is the chicken thigh fillet. Might be a bit more expensive sometimes, but definitely worth it.
The marinate is what makes the chicken skewers taste incredible. What makes it even better? Making a BBQ-sauce out of the marinade. Brush the skewers with the sauce during grilling and serve the rest as dip. For the chicken AND for dipping drowning your bread in it.
500 g chicken thigh fillet (or chicken breast/tenders)
For the marinade:
1 red onion
50 g light brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
50 ml soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 à 2 tbsp Sriracha sauce (or more if you like it hot)
For the BBQ-sauce:
The chicken marinade (after marinating)
1 tbsp light brown sugar
20 g tomato puree
2 tbsp soy sauce
25 ml water
Optional: extra Sriracha sauce to taste
Cut the chicken into strips or cubes and put in a zip lock bag.
Put all ingredients for the marinade into a food processor or blender.
Blend a couple of seconds, until there are no more large chunks.
Pour the marinade over the chicken.
Press as much air out as possible and close the bag.
Massage the chicken a bit and put the bag in the refrigerator.
Let marinate for a couple of hours, preferably even overnight.
Take the chicken out of the marinade and put on skewers. If you’re using wooden skewers, let them soak in water a bit before using them. They might otherwise burn during grilling.
Pour the remaining marinade into a sauce pan and add the other ingredients for the sauce.
Mix well and bring slowly to a boil.
Let simmer for a couple of minutes.
Taste whether the sauce is sweet and/or spicy enough. Add more sugar or Sriracha to taste.
Is the sauce too think, add a bit more water. Too thin? Add a bit of corn starch.
Brush the chicken skewers during grilling with a bit of BBQ-sauce.
Serve the rest of the sauce with the skewers.
Make it yourself
It’s been on my to-do list for quite a while: making cheese. And when I thought about that, I also thought about the fact that I wanted to try vegan cheese as well. Not because I want to become vegan, but I have a curious nature and I simply wanted to know what vegan cheese tastes like. Is it good? Does it in any way resemble cheese?
I had read a few things about making vegan cheese. What’s it based on, what makes it ‘cheesy’? In most cases, cashews are used as basic ingredient and nutritional yeast is used to give it a hearty flavour. Furthermore, a bit of lemon juice and you’re on the right track of making vegan cheese. But I wanted to add a bit more zest to it.
You may not have heard of Bear’s garlic before, as it’s mostly known in Europe, where it grows in the wild in spring. In the US, it’s more known by the name of wild garlic or ramson and it can easily be grown at home. I came across fresh Bear’s garlic at a supermarket in Germany, when we recently went for a short visit to the farm in the Eifel.
To me, its taste is like a cross between garlic and spring onion. It has a much milder taste than garlic and can be used in various dishes. You can use it raw in salads or make a pesto with it. But you can also use it in warm dishes or use it in marinades. Or cheese for that matter.
Vegan cheese with Bear’s garlic
The idea of vegan cheese with Bear’s garlic was born. And I have to say: I’m thrilled with the result. Does it taste like real cheese? Honestly, I don’t think so. But I do think it’s a very tasty spread that can be used instead of cream cheese. Delicious on bread, but also very tasty as a dip. Idea’s for using this ‘cheese’ in various dishes are bubbling up (thinking of stuffed mini peppers, zoodles…. yum yum).
It could be a challenge to get your hands on Bear’s garlic. In that case, you could very well use a bit of garlic and fresh herbs, such as chives and parsley. Which is a perfect combination as well for a very tasty ‘cream cheese’ with herbs.
200 g raw cashews
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
12 leaves of Bear’s garlic
Salt to taste
Let the cashews soak overnight.
Drain the cashews and put them in a blender or food processor, together with the lemon juice and nutritional yeast. Blend until it reaches a very smooth consistency.
That can take up to 5 minutes or more. Scrape the sides as needed.
Add, once you’ve reached the desired consistency, the Bear’s garlic and salt to taste. Pulse a couple of times until it’s mixed in well.
Start with just a little bit of salt and add more if needed.
Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Refrigerated, the ‘cheese’ will keep well for about a week.
Delicious on a cracker, slathered on some fresh bread or as a dip for flatbread or tortilla chips.
Roasted Carrot Hummus
It’s almost April and King’s Day is approaching fast. Many schools in the Netherlands have held the King’s Plays last Friday and everything turned orange. We are not such King’s Day fanatics, partly because we are living in Belgium since a couple of years and the kids attend school here. The 27th of April is just a normal day for us.
That doesn’t mean we’re not participating in all that orange madness, though. I am again participating in the Foodblog Event organised by Foodbloggers BENELUX and the theme this time (obviously) is: King’s Day. The colour orange is quite essential then. And I came with a recipe I had never made before: Roasted Carrot Hummus.
Thinking about orange food, pumpkin soup and carrot mash came to mind. Most people will associate these dishes with autumn or winter. What about something with oranges, a beautiful dessert or a refreshing summer drink. At the organic supermarket, I had bought a bunch of beautiful orange carrots and wanted to use these for the challenge. And the wonderful temperatures of the last couple of days made me think of summer and… BBQ. A salad or a dip. So, dip it is: a creamy hummus with roasted carrots.
Falvours of the Middel East
Instead of cooking the carrots, I roasted them in the oven. Roasting gives the vegetables a much richer taste and makes them slightly sweet. Hummus is an essential part of the Middle Eastern cuisine and I figured that regional spices would fit this dip perfectly.
I wanted to use Za’atar in my hummus. There are spice mixes available at most supermarkets, but most of them aren’t quite authentic. Or so I learned the hard way. Without even checking the label, I bought the first jar I came across. At home, I started searching for the origins of Za’atar and was actually amazed by what I found. Za’atar actually is a herb, but is mostly sold in a mix. That mix is called Za’atar as well.
Thing is though, the mixes found at the supermarkets don’t contain what gives the mix its name: Za’atar. How strange is that? Slight consolation: the real za’atar very much resembles a cross between thyme and oregano. So, lacking the real thing, you can always go for a combination of those two.
As far as this hummus is concerned: anything goes. Use whatever spices or herbs you like. I very much liked this Za’atar mix. Omitting it, will be just as good. The roasted carrots are what makes this hummus taste great. Just adding salt and pepper will be fine. But adding spices and herbs gives it a totally different dimension.
2 (organic) carrots
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can of chick peas (400g, net weight: 240 g)
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Za’atar
75 ml water
1 tbsp ginger syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel the carrots and cut into small slices.
Put the carrots in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of freshly ground sea salt and pepper. Shake to cover all pieces.
Spread on the baking sheet and roast for about 20-30 minutes, until the carrot pieces are soft.
Drain the chick peas. You can keep the liquid for other purposes, such as vegan mayo.
Put the chick peas, carrots, lemon juice, ginger syrup, garlic, olive oil and Za’atar in a blender or food processor and blend until it reaches a smooth consistency. If it’s too dry, just add a little bit of water (1 tablespoon at a time).
Then add salt and pepper to taste.
This hummus is delicious as a dip with your BBQ, on pita bread, in a wrap (like on this chili tortilla with fresh green leaves and vegan ‘chicken’ shawarma) or as a dip for fresh bread or vegetables.
Spring has finally arrived. More than that, we’ve reached summery this week! If you’re walking outside around dinner time, you can’t escape the smell of BBQ’s all around the area. We’re not huge BBQ-fans, but we love to eat outside. And with these warm temps, we like to move into the garden. We might fire up the BBQ this weekend, or we might settle for a quick and light meal. What I love in both cases? Freshly baked bread on the side.
Easy to make at home
You can make sure to buy a fresh loaf at the bakery or the supermarket. Perfectly fine. Because baking brad at home is a tedious job. Right? Nope, it doesn’t have to be. With this recipe for artisan bread, anyone can bake fresh bread at home.
The ‘no knead’ method
You’ve probably heard of it before, no-knead bread. As in: bread you don’t have to knead. We’re making this bread already for a couple of years and I have tried several variations. Using another type of flour or adding extra ingredients. The bread is very popular all over the world. Once you’ve tried it yourself, you’ll understand why. Making your own artisan bread at home has never been this easy.
How can this ever work? By giving the dough enough time. The dough has to rise at least 8 hours. Preferably longer, up to 24 hours. So, it’s not a recipe you can make just before use. I prepare the dough just before going to sleep. That way it has enough time to rise. The next day, I can bake it any time I want to. It sounds so easy, right? Well, it is.
375 – 525 g (spelt)flour (see instructions)
1 tsp dry yeast
2 tsp salt
375 ml lukewarm water
First, mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. I’ve put a very wide margin for the flour in the recipe, as the exact amount of flour very much depends on the type of flour and even the brand you’re using. I’ve noticed that spelt flour is much heavier than regular flour. For a bread with regular AP flour, I used about 375 – 425 g of flour. With my last spelt bread, I used 525 g flour.
Start with the smallest amount of flour and add more as needed. The dough doesn’t have to reach a ‘dry’ state, where your hands don’t stick anymore. Sticky is fine, as you are not going to knead it.
Add the water and mix everything with a wooden spoon. Add more flour if it’s too wet.
Cover the bowl with cling film and put in a place where the dough can rest (I usually put it on the cupboard in the living room, out of reach of children and pets).
Let rise for at least 8 hours. Preferably longer, so it’s best to start it just before you go to sleep at night.
Put a piece of parchment paper on your workspace and dust it generously with flour. The dough is very sticky and thin and without the flour, it will stick to the paper.
‘Pour’ the dough on the dusted parchment paper (I use a dough scraper to get it out of the bowl). Try to shape it in a round form. Again, I use the dough scraper and kind of fold the edges.
Let the dough rest like that for about an hour.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 220°C.
Place, halfway the rising time, a cast iron pan/casserole in the oven. The pan needs to be really hot.
On the dough, you will see air bubbles have formed. That’s a good thing!
And now a dangerous job: take the pan out of the oven (don’t forget your oven mitts!), carefully lift the parchment paper with the dough and place it in the hot pan.
Put the lid on the pan, put the pan back in the oven and let it bake (lid closed) for 30 minutes.
Take the lid off the pan (again, don’t forget your oven mitts, because: HOT!) and let bake for another 15 minutes or until the top has reached a nice golden colour.
Carefully take the bread out of the oven and let cool. Though hot bread, fresh from the oven… so good.
And your freshly baked, homemade bread is ready. This recipe can be made with different types of flour, even gluten free mixes (be sure to check whether these mixes are suitable for bread baking). You cabn also use whole wheat flour, but you’ll get a much denser bread (less air bubbles are formed in the dough). Well, in other words: start experimenting.
It was during our holiday at the farm last year, when I first made this salad. We had a BBQ with all the other guests at the farm and everybody had to bring something. I addition to the couscous salad with roasted vegetables, I made this deliciously fresh and crisp fennel salad.
Crisp and sweet
The fennel itself has a sweet, aniseed flavour. The crisp, tangy flavour of the apple and the smoky saltiness of the chicken match perfectly. You can make this of course completely vegetarian/vegan by omitting the chicken. This salad actually doesn’t really need it. Just the fennel with apple is such a great combination.
1 fennel bulb
1 green apple (Granny Smith)
1 smoked chicken breast (single)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
3 tbsp vinegar
6 tbsp oil
A few drops liquid sweetener (optional)
Cut the shallot in very fine strips. You could use a mandolin for that.
Then cut the apple au julienne. No need to peel it.
First cut the green from the fennel and chop it up a bit. Set aside.
Cut the fennel bulb in half and remove the tough heart.
Thinly slice up the fennel. You can again use the mandolin to do that.
Make the dressing by mixing vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and a little bit of liquid sweetener. The sweetener is optional, but it lifts this dressing to the next level.
Mix the shallot and the fennel greens into the dressing.
Add the apple and the fennel and mix well. Let sit for about an hour.
Just before serving, cut the smoked chicken breast into small pieces or slices and mix through the salad.
This salad is delicious as a side to a BBQ, but it can also serve as a main along with some fresh bread.
Mongolian Beef in the Slowcooker
Have you ever heard of Mongolian Beef? If you’re living in the US, you most likely have. Here in Europe, the dish is fairly unknown. And I thought it was time to get it introduced here as well. This simple dish is so flavour, I just love it.
Mongolian Beef is a very tasty stew. Perfect to prepare in the slow cooker. If you don’t have a slow cooker, that’s not a problem, as it can be prepared in a regular pan on the stove or in the oven. This dish is so delicious. With just a few ingredients and a little bit of patience, you’ll get a wonderful stew that everyone will love.
750 g stew beef (f.e. chuck)
2 à 3 tbsp corn starch
1 large onion
150 ml soy sauce
150 ml water
150 g dark brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic (crushed or finely chopped)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
Cut the meat into thin strips.
Put the strips into a zip lock bag and add the corn starch.
Seal the bag and shake until all the meat is covered with corn starch.
Peel and slice the onion.
Mix soy sauce, water, sugar, garlic and ginger.
Pour the sauce in the slow cooker.
Add the meat and onion and stir.
Let cook on low for 5 hours.
Serve over white rice and pickled vegetables.
Do you like Asian stews? Try this Indonesian dish: Babi Merah – Pork in Spicy Coconut Sauce!
A quiche can be easily prepared and the possibilities for the filling are endless. Meat, fish, veggies… there’s something for everyone. I often make several kinds, just to be sure that everyone can pick what they like best. This time, I also made a quiche with smoked salmon and broccoli. An absolute winner.
Salmon and broccoli
Broccoli pairs perfectly well with smoked salmon, just like other types of green vegetables, such as spinach, green beans and green asparagus. S, I went for the broccoli this time, but you easily swap this for other vegetables if you like.
200 g smoked salmon
1 broccoli (ca. 500 g)
1 sheet of puff pastry
250 ml cream
100 g grated cheese of your choice
Preheat oven to 180°C. The puff pastry that I use already comes with a baking sheet. If you one without it, make sure to grease or line the quiche/pie dish.
Take the puff pastry out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for about 10 minutes (if you try to roll it out straight form the refrigerator, the dough might crack and tear).
Cut the florets from the stalk. You don’t need the stalk now, but don’t just throw it out yet. It’s perfect for soup or you can use it for a stir fry. It’s perfectly edible!
Steam or cook the broccoli florets until they are al dente. Drain well.
Place the puff pastry in the quiche/pie dish and lightly press the sides.
Divide the broccoli evenly over the bottom.
Cut the salmon into thin strips and evenly divide over the broccoli and between the florets.
Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
Beat the eggs with the cream. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. But be careful with the salt. The smoked salmon is already salty and depending on the type of cheese you use, it could get too salty.
Pour the egg-cream-mixture over the cheese and place the quiche in the middle of the preheated oven.
Bake ca. 25 – 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Serve with a fresh side salad or as part of a buffet. I like the quiche best when it’s hot, but it can be eaten cold as well. You could bake the quiche right before serving, but you can also bake it a day before and heat it up in the oven just before you are ready to serve.
PS: have you tried my Quiche with Sauerkraut & Bacon yet?
So, what makes this a Triple Chocolate? Well, there a generous piece of good dark chocolate, cocoa powder for an even deeper chocolate flavour and on top of it all: dark chocolate chips throughout the bread. Addictive, is all I can say. Make this bread at your own risk. If you have some (over)ripe banana’s lying on your kitchen counter and you have no idea what to do with them? Make this utterly delicious and very easy to prepare banana bread.
2 medium (over)ripe bananas (the darker the skin, the sweeter, the better)
250 ml buttermilk (no buttermilk at hand? Add a bit of vinegar to regular milk (ca. 1 tbsp per 500 ml) and let sit for about 10 minutes)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey (depending on the ripeness, hence sweetness, of the bananas, you can add more honey if you like)
50 ml vegetable oil
100 g dark chocolate (min 70%)
250 g flour
25 g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
100 g chocolate chips (chopping up a piece of dark chocolate works fine as well)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C hot air) and grease a cake tin or line with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate.
Mash up the banana.
Mix the banana with the milk, eggs, oil, vanilla and honey.
Pour a little bit of the mixture into the melted chocolate and stir.
Add the chocolate to the mixture and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder.
Add the wet mixture and mix with a spatula.
Fold in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the cake tin.
Bake, in the middle of the oven, for ca. 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
The result: a soft and moist banana bread with a deep chocolate flavour and a hint of banana. Delicious.
Spinach Bread Sticks
After the success of the Pink Pizza, I really wanted to experiment further with adding vegetables to pizza or bread dough. And with Easter just a few weeks away, I figured I could make something that’s green. Spinach is a perfect colouring agent and adds a subtle taste. So, I came up with these Spinach Bread Sticks. Green and delicious. Speaking about green, this recipe would also be very fitting for St. Patrick’s Day, don’t you think?
These Spinach Bread Sticks are perfect for Easter Brunch, but will be just as good for breakfast or as a side for dinner or a soup. I personally think these can be eaten all year round, but the bright green colour makes them perfect for Easter or St. Patrick’s Day.
For this first try, I added a mild cheese (grated Emmenthal), mainly due to the fact that our oldest son doesn’t like a strong cheese taste. Though I think that the spinach can perfectly be accompanied by a somewhat stronger cheese, like mature cheddar of goat’s cheese. Thinking of that, I think adding Feta cheese will be a great variation as well. What I’m trying to day: choose whatever you like, experiment the hell out of it. Not a cheese lover at all? These Spinach Bread Sticks taste great even without the cheese.
200 g fresh spinach
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
50 ml water
7 g dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
350 ml warm water
700 g flour + extra flour for dusting
1 tsp salt
200 g + 150 g grated Emmenthal
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan or wok and stir fry the spinach with a pinch of sea salt until the spinach has wilted down.
Let the spinach cool completely.
Puree the spinach with 50 ml water in a blender or food processor.
Mix 350 ml warm water (think of the temperature of bath water) with the yeast and the sugar.
Let sit for ca. 10 minutes until the mixture is all bubbly.
Put the yeast mixture, spinach, salt, flour and 200 g cheese in a large mixing bowl and knead until a dough has formed. If the dough is too sticky/too wet, slowly add more flour.
Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it a couple of times on a lightly floured surface.
Grease a bowl with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, put the dough in the bowl and turn the dough so it gets covered in oil as well.
Put in a warm place for at least 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 16 equally sized pieces.
Shape each piece into a log and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for another 15 minutes.
Lightly beat the egg and coat the bread sticks with the egg wash.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Bake ca. 20 minutes in the middle of the oven.
The bread sticks taste great just as they are, for example with a soup. But with some butter and a slice of cheese, oh my…
2 ingredient dough
A dough made out of two ingredients? Yep. Just google it. You’ll get uncountable hits. You can make bread, biscuits/rolls, pizza and quite a few more with just two ingredients: Greek yogurt and self-raising flour. Put these two together and let your creativity go wild. I had made 2-ingredient pizza dough before and fresh rolls on a Sunday morning. It takes just minutes to put together, bake for 20-30 minutes and you’re ready to dish up. Lifer saver, if you don’t want to go outside.
These quick bagels are a just a very simple variation on the theme. I added a seed mix on top (saw this idea on Taste.co), but you can leave them plain or add different toppings (cheese is a good one, too). In literally half an hour, we had fresh bagels on the table. So, yeah, if we would go in hiding and sit out the freezing cold, I would be able to survive on yogurt and flour.
275 g self-raising flour (plus extra for dusting)
250 g Greek yogurt
½ tsp salt
Seed mix (or toppings of your choice)
Preheat your oven to 200°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the flour, yogurt and salt in a bowl. You can start to mix with a wooden spoon. When it gets harder to ‘stir’, get you hands dirty and kneed until a dough forms.
Lightly flour your work surface and take the dough out of the bowl.
If needed, kneed a couple of times, then flatten the dough and form a disc.
Cut the dough in four equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a log and shape that log into a bagel.
Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
Beat the egg and brush the top of the bagels with the egg wash.
Generously sprinkle with the seed mix or topping of your choice.
Bake ca. 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Best eaten when freshly baked or even straight from the oven when still hot, then they are at their best.
PS: this makes 4 bagels, but the recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled.
PPS: another quick bread option is this Greek Yogurt Soda Bread.
Spice it up
When using ground lamb, I always think of middle eastern flavours, warming spices. Kebobs could have been another way of using the ground lamb, but I had set my mind on these turnovers. You could use store bought spice mixes, but it’s very easy to make your own. Plus, in the store-bought mixes, there usually is a lot of salt and sugar, which is something you really don’t need.
Make your own blend
I simply put all my spices in form t of me and simply picked a few of which I thought they would be nice together. Luckily for you, I wrote down exactly how much of each spice I used. Having said that, you can add whatever spices you like in it. There are no set rules. Our youngest doesn’t like hot foods, otherwise I might have added chili powder or other hot spices to give it a kick. I simply put hot sauces on the table and everyone can make it as hot as they like.
500 g ground lamb
2 bell peppers
1 large onion
2 sheets puff pastry
1 tbsp butter or oil for frying
1 can tomato puree (140 g )
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp paprika
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
Finely dice the onion and the bell peppers.
Heat oil or butter in a frying pan or wok and sauté the onion until translucent.
Add the ground lamb and fry until browned.
Then add the spice mix and stir well.
Add the bell peppers and fry until they start to soften.
Now add the tomato puree, stir well and fry another two minutes.
Taste the mixture and add salt/pepper to taste.
Let the mixture cool down a bit. Preferably, the mixture is cooled completely before filling the pastry, but as usual, I started too late and did not have enough patience to let it cool. Which didn’t help the process of closing the pastries. Story of my life.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the puff pastry and cut each sheet into 6 equal pieces.
Divide the lamb mixture among the 12 pieces of puff pastry.
Wet the sides, take one corner and flip it over the filling.
Close the sides pressing down with a fork to seal the edges. Or, if you’re as lazy as I was to get one, press the sides closed with your fingers. Not very neat, but it does the job just as well.
Carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
Beat the egg with the milk and brush the pastries with the egg wash.
Bake ca. 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve hot. A fresh salad goes very well with these turnovers.
Sauerkraut and bacon
Sauerkraut and bacon is a perfect combination, if you ask me. The sour taste of the cabbage and the saltiness and even greasiness of the bacon pieces are really a good match. Together with loads of cheese and a creamy egg mixture on a bed of pie crust, so good. Sounds easy and it actually is. And this dish is testimony to the fact that something easy can be utterly delicious.
1 roll of pie crust dough
500 g sauerkraut
250 g bacon
250 ml (heavy) cream
200 g grated cheese
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Get the dough out of the refrigerator and leave on the counter for 10 minutes before rolling it out (otherwise it might easily break).
Rinse the sauerkraut shortly with cold water and drain thoroughly.
Cut the bacon in small pieces/strips and fry until crispy (I don’t use any extra fat to do this, as the bacon releases more than enough fat).
Transfer dough into a quiche dish (a round baking dish of pie dish will work fine as well).
Divide the sauerkraut evenly over the dough and sprinkle generously with freshly ground pepper.
Then divide the bacon and cheese on top.
Best the cream with the eggs and a pinch of salt (not too much, as the cheese and bacon are salty enough).
Pour the egg-cream-mixture evenly over the filling.
Bake ca. 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Serve immediately. A fresh side salad will pair perfectly with this hearty dish.
Red Velvet always makes me happy. Cake, waffles or cookies… I love the red colour. And as it is the colour of love, it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. What better way to start that day with delicious waffles? And have them as a snack during the day. Plus dessert. With vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
75 g unsalted butter
400 ml buttermilk
300 g spelt flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp cocoa powder
50 g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Red food colouring
Melt the butter and let cool a bit.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder in a large bowl.
Beat eggs with vanilla extract and butter.
Add food colouring (I use ½ tsp Wilton colouring paste).
Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and mix well.
Heat up your waffle iron and bake the waffles according to manufacturer’s instructions.
These taste great with just some icing sugar on top, but would also be wonderful with cheese cream icing, ice cream and/or whipped cream.
I don’t use a lot of sugar in my waffles, as I don’t like them too sweet, but please free to add more sugar to your taste.
If you like waffles, you might like these Banana Waffles.
Totally engrossed, he searched through the recipes. And then: yes, got it, I want to make this. This… is pink pizza. That was not entirely what I had expected, to be honest. The smoked salmon might have had something to do with this particular choice (he just loooooves smoked salmon).
In the recipe, they use a boxed mix for ciabatta bread (store brand). And a jar of sliced beetroot in its juice. I hardly ever use ready-made mixes, but as this was my son’s project and he wanted to do as much by himself as possible, I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter and get everything on that ingredient list. Unfortunately, the cookbook’s already a few years old and a few of those specific ingredients were not available anymore (not by that particular store brand). Rethink and adapt.
I want to make this
He wanted to make this recipe so bad. Alright sweetie, we’ll make something up then. I’ve got a great pizza recipe, but I’ve never added (pureed) veggies to the dough. Which meant that we had to experiment a bit with the ratios. It did turn out surprisingly well. For the jar of sliced beetroot, I used whole cooked beets.
The end result was an utterly delicious pizza. The pureed beets not only gave the pizza a wonderful pinkish colour, it added a subtle beet root flavour to the dough. As an added bonus, you’ll get an extra fix of veggies with your pizza. Everyone loved it! This pink pizza has to go on the rotation. And no, this pink pizza is not only for girls (the guys in this house will happily vouch for that) ;-).
300 g cooked beetroot (ca. 250 ml pureed)
7 g yeast (1 pouch)
250 ml warm water (not too hot)
700 g spelt flour (500 + 200)
1 tbsp salt
200 g cream cheese
200 g smoked salmon
1 bag of arugula (75 g)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Pour the warm water in a bowl and add the yeast (make sure the water is not too hot). Let proof for 5 minutes.
Puree the beets in a food processor or blender.
Mix the cream cheese with 1 or 2 tablespoons of beet puree and put in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Put the yeast mixture, beet puree and 500 g of the flour in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and mix well.
Add the rest of the flour and the salt and knead until you get an elastic dough. If it’s still too sticky, add a little bit more flour.
Cover the bowl with cling film and put in a warm place.
Let rise for 20-30 minutes.
By the way, cooking also means cleaning the dishes (while waiting for the dough to rise) ;).
Dust the worktop with flour, divide the dough in two and roll into a circle. I made two round pizza’s, but you could also make a sheet pizza. When making two pizza’s the crust will be fairly thick, more like a deep pan pizza. If you’d rather have a thin crust pizza, divide the dough into four and thinly roll it out.
Bake the crusts without any toppings, for about 15 to 20 minutes. The crust might get all puffed up. Pierce it with a knife or a fork to let the air out (be careful, the steam will be hot!).
Take the crust out of the oven and spread the beet-cheese mixture on top.
Shred the salmon with your hands and divide over the two crusts.
Scatter the arugula and sliced shallot on top.
Love pizza? Give this Spelt Pizza with Chicken Mince, Veggies and Feta a try!
Irish or Dutch, it really doesn’t matter. Colcannon is a delicious, hearty dish mainly eaten during the cold winter months (although I’ll happily eat this all year round). In the Netherlands, it’s often eaten with smoked sausage. But it’s also good with meatballs and gravy or a beef stew.
Preparation is also slightly different. While in the Irish recipes, the kale is just slightly cooked, separate from the potatoes, we cook the kale together with the potatoes. It gets much softer that way and the taste of the whole dish gets more profound. I added a little twist by adding crispy bacon bits and cream cheese.
300 g finely cut curly kale
1,5 kg potatoes (peeled ca. 1 kg)
250 g bacon
200 g cream cheese
100 g butter
salt/pepper/nutmeg to taste
Peel the potatoes and cut into roughly same-sized pieces (so they cook evenly).
I use pre-cut kale, but if you’re using whole leaves, make sure to remove the hard stems and cut the kale into thin strips.
Put potatoes in a large cooking pot and top with the kale.
Add a generous amount of salt and completely cover in water.
Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are done.
While the potatoes and kale are cooking, cut the bacon into thin strips and fry until crispy. I don’t use any added fat, as there will be more than enough fat coming out of the bacon. Leave bacon and bacon fat in the pan until ready to use.
Drain the potatoes and kale well and put them back into the pan.
Add butter, cream cheese and season with salt, pepper and nut meg. Start with just a little bit of seasoning, you can add more later to taste.
Mash it all up and then fold in the bacon pieces and the bacon fat.
Season to taste.
Getting the Dodow almost turned into a battle as well though. From the company selling the Dodow, I received an email with the tracking code, which was perfect. The first few days, the shipment was still in pre-alert status and not traceable. No worries yet, though, that does happen a lot.
After a few days, I checked again and the package had been transferred to DPD. The delivery would take place on Wednesday. Two days later, still no package, and I traced it again online. What does it say? Wrong address?? That’s impossible.
What was the problem? The Dodow is sold by a French company. In France, addresses first state the number and then the street name, which is different from our addresses. So, instead of using this ‘foreign’ (read: Dutch) setup for the address (as it was given), they used the French setup for the address on the package.
Thinking that DPD (European carrier) would be able to interpret “1, street name” correctly and turn it into “street name 1”, proved to be too difficult. The package ended up at the depot, with the remark ‘wrong address, missing number’ (even though the number was there, just in front of the street name instead of behind it).
Good thing now was, that we could arrange an exact appointment for the delivery. Which was for Wednesday of the following week. A week delayed. Oh well, I finally got my Dodow!
I was so happy when I got it. Of course, I unpacked it immediately and prepared it for the first test night. The Dodow comes in a small box, with easy to read instructions (in several languages) and a few tips to get the most out of the Dodow. Very nice: batteries are included. Ready to start in no time.
I have to admit that I was pretty sceptical. How can a simple small light help you to fall asleep, while all other methods failed? But I wanted to give it a fair try. First of all, you can set the intensity of the light. I’ve selected the least intense setting and that was still bright enough.
It was quite the search to find the perfect spot to place for Dodow. Due to the deep head board of our bed, the nightstand was too far back for the light. Putting it next to me on the floor wasn’t an option either, as it cast shadows on the ceiling, leaving just half of the circle.
Eventually, I put it on the head board and to prevent that I would have to bend my neck backwards to see it, I put something under it to give it a tilt. Now, I could lie relaxed in bed and watch the circle.
How does it work
You turn the Dodow on by simple tapping on it. Once for 8 minutes, twice for 20 minutes. I chose 20 minutes to start with, as 8 minutes seemed way too short for me. Especially if you consider that I’m used to tossing and turning for at least 30 to 60 minutes before falling asleep. I could not imagine falling asleep in 8.
A blue circle is cast on the ceiling, which is getting larger and brighter, then fades to almost nothing. Now you need to try to follow the rhythm of the light with your breathing. Breath in while the circle gets larger and brighter, exhale when the circle fades. Put your hands on your stomach and concentrate on your breathing.
That took some practising at first. Apparently, I was breathing way too fast, so I had to hold my breath a couple of times to adjust my breathing to follow the rhythm of the light. But I did get used to it quite fast. By focussing on the light and your breathing, you start to calm down. To me, it feels like a kind of a mix of meditation and hypnosis.
Like I said, I was pretty sceptical. But I have to admit that I am pleasantly surprised. After just a few minutes, my eyes started to droop and I could not keep them open. After that, it must have taken just a few more minutes and I was asleep. I did not notice when the Dodow shut down.
I’ve tested the device for just a small period of time and in that time, it has helped me to fall asleep faster. But it was also a time with less working days, the holidays, Christmas break of the boys and I got the flu on top of it all. So, I will be testing for a while longer, now that that our lives are getting back to normal again. What I have experienced so far, is very positive.
We may also try to use the Dodow for out 9-year-old son. A real night owl, who is usually far too awake when it’s time to go to bed. He also has trouble falling asleep at night. This might just be the solution to his problem as well.
Will I recommend the Dodow to others? Based on my own (short) experience, I definitely will. But like with so many things, this might not work for everybody in the same way. Never know till you try. It’s not very cheap, but if it works, it’s worth the investment for sure.
Thank you for reading!
Riced cauliflower is the base for these breadsticks. Whether you’re trying to eat less carbs or have food allergies that don’t allow you to eat bread, these breadsticks will definitely brighten your day. They’ve even converted the die-hard bread eaters in this house (including me). To give them just a bit more texture, I’ve added chickpea flour. But if that’s too much carbs for you, you can omit it.
The best part of these breadsticks: cheese. There’s cheese ‘in’ the breadsticks and on top. Cheesy, yummy goodness. Instead of the Emmenthal and Mozzarella, you can easily swap these for your preferred cheeses.
1/2 head of cauliflower (about 500-550 g net weight)
2 tbsp dried or fresh chives
150 g grated Emmenthal cheese
100 g chickpea flour
pinch of salt and pepper
100 g grated Mozzarella
Preheat oven to 200°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
‘Rice’ the cauliflower using a food processor or grater and put in a microwave-safe bowl.
Cover with cling film and steam ca. 10 minutes at half power (600W).
Let cool a few minutes.
Put the steamed cauliflower in a large bowl, add eggs, Emmenthal cheese, chives, chickpea flour and salt/pepper.
Spread mixture on the prepared baking sheet and smooth it out.
Bake ca. 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Sprinkle Mozzarella on top and bake another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the top has formed a nice crust.
Cut in strips, serve warm or cold, with or without a dipping sauce.
Would you rather have a recipe for real bread? Try these Soft Pretzel Bites.
What is this?
Whoever tries this cookies for the first time, is wondering what it is they are tasting. There’s something very familiar about it. ‘That does taste familiar, but what is it?’ Once you tell them that there’s cookie butter in there, most react like: ‘oh, of course, that’s what I’m tasting.
Cookie butter cookies
By now, family and friends are quite familiar with these cookies and they are well loved by everyone. I think the first time I made them and added them to the Christmas cookies, was two years ago. Last year, I didn’t and I was asked frequently where those delicious were. So, I’ve been good this year and made them once again. I have this feeling that it will be highly appreciated among the cookie fans. And I thought it was about time to share the recipe with you. Now you can make them whenever you want ;).
250 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
200 g cookie butter
250 g light brown sugar
250 g white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp corn starch
600 g all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C convection oven) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat butter, cookie butter and sugars until light and creamy. I use my stand mixer but you can use a handheld mixer as well.
Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, corn starch and salt.
While beating, slowly add flour mixture and mix until the dough is smooth.
Use two spoons or a cookie scoop to portion dough and drop on the prepared baking sheet. Leave enough space between the cookies, as they will spread a little during baking.
Baking time depends on the size of the cookies. I needed 15 minutes for the large cookies and 10 for the smaller ones. They are done when the edges slightly start to brown at the bottom.
Take the cookies out of the oven and leave on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes. Straight from the oven, they are still very soft.
Then carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
They will keep well in an airtight container for several weeks.
PS: this recipe rendered 40 large and 70 small cookies. You can easily half or double the recipe.
PPS: need more cookie recipes? Check out my Top 5 Christmas Cookies!
Butterplätzchen might be the most classic of all Christmas cookies. These cut-out cookies have a delicious buttery flavour, a hint of lemon and a soft bite. A must on every Christmas cookie platter.
These Vanilla Cookies are actually just a shape variation on the very traditional Vanillekipferl, another famous Christmas cookie that finds it’s origins in Germany, Austria and the Bohemian region. I used to make the crescent shaped, as they originally should be, but I got lazy and made myself a very convenient short-cut. But the taste is still the same. This Christmas cookie is a steady component of our Christmas cookie platter.
Okay, technically, these aren’t cookies, but these chocolate coconut balls are the most requested ‘Christmas cookies’ every single year. There is just no Christmas without them. They are easy to make, are totally not healthy (it’s basically fats and sugar, but who cares) and so darn delicious.
These cookies are not only super cute, they are also super delicious and super easy to make. They are little soft vanilla pillows and quite addictive.
The last but certainly not the least are these cinnamon stars, called Zimtsterne. They are soft and chewy, with a crispy meringue topping and a lovely cinnamon flavour. Again a very traditional Christmas cookie.
This is my personal Top 5. Every single one of these cookies has a long tradition, with loving memories that throw me back to times long past. Do you have a recipe that brings back memories an that you will make over and over again?
Zimtsterne are a macaroon-like cookie made with ground almonds and topped with a thin layer of meringue. They are slightly crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and spiced with cinnamon. It is a very delicious little cookie. If you can’t get them where you live, they can easily be made at home.
For the cookies:
300 g powdered sugar
500 g ground almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp orange extract
3 egg whites
For the glaze:
1 egg white
Pinch of salt
125 g powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 150°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl and add the ground almonds and cinnamon.
Add the orange extract and egg whites and kneed until you get a smooth dough. This does require a bit of elbow grease.
It’s quite a sticky dough. You can best roll it out between two sheets of cling film or parchment paper. I use parchment paper and to prevent the bottom sheet to skid across the surface, I splash a bit of water on the counter. The parchment paper will stay in play nicely that way.
Don’t roll out the dough too thin. The perfect thickness would be about somewhere between 0,75 and 1 cm.
Cut out cookies with a star shaped cookie cutter.
Prepare the glaze: beat the egg white with a pinch of salt until it’s stiff.
Add the powdered sugar and mix well.
Top each cookie with the glaze. You can use a brush to apply the glaze or simply dip the top in it.
Put the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake 12 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes.
Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
The Zimtsterne keep well for several weeks in an airtight container.
The salad got rave reviews from everyone. There’s sweet roasted pumpkin, flavorful quinoa (cooked in chicken or vegetable stock), spinach leaves and salty feta, all mixed with a simple dressing. When we planned a get together with the family for Sinterklaas, where everyone would bring food, this salad was requested. And once again, everyone loved it. So it was about time that I sat down and write the recipe to share with you all.
Simple and delicious
It really is a very simple recipe. Roasting the pumpkin takes up most of the time, the rest is just assembling. Now for the quinoa, I always use chicken or vegetable stock to cook it in. I also do that when I prepare couscous and sometimes when I cook rice. As the quinoa, just as couscous and rice, absorb a lot of liquid, it absorbs the taste of the stock as well. What you get, is very flavorful quinoa that doesn’t need any other spices to be tasty. It’s tasty all in itself.
500 g pumpkin (about half a butternut pumpkin)
1 tbsp olive oil
150 g uncooked quinoa
200 g fresh spinach
200 g feta cheese
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp liquid sweetener*
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Optional: 50 g chopped walnuts
*Can be swapped for 1 tsp sugar.
Preheat oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Cut the pumpkin in equal parts.
Put the pumpkin in a bowl and add salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss to coat.
Spread out pumpkin on the prepared baking tray and roast ca. 30-40 minutes.
Take out and let cool.
Prepare the quinoa according to instructions on the packaging. Instead of water, I use chicken or vegetable stock for flavor.
Drain the quinoa and set aside to cool.
For the dressing, mix together oil, vinegar, liquid sweetener, salt and pepper. If you’d like, you could also add some fresh or dried herbs, such as parsley, basil or chives.
Thinly slice the shallots and add to the dressing.
To assemble, put the quinoa and spinach in a large bowl and toss with the dressing.
Add the roasted pumpkin and half of the feta cheese and gently fold it in.
Crumble the rest of the feta on top.
Optional: sprinkle chopped walnuts on top.
This salad is a perfect side (f.e. with a stew) or simply eat it as a meal with fresh bread.
Fairly small facility
The Wedert, a public swimming pool where the tests are held, is a fairly small facility with a small foyer and a small cafeteria. From the cafeteria and a window in the foyer, you can look inside the pool area. We thought we got there early, but the cafeteria was already packed with people, both sitting and standing, so I went back downstairs with our youngest. Daddy was already gone to the changing rooms with our oldest. In the foyer, there were already many people standing in front of the window. Though still just a few little swimmers had arrived.
Who were these people?
Then who were all these people? These were not just the parents and a few siblings. My husband had already warned me and I did not believe him. But he was right: these were not just parents and siblings. No, these were grandparents, even uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews as well.
Pardon my French
WTF? I know, I’m sorry, but there were quite a few swear words going through my mind (just though my mind, not out of my mouth). Because this was insane. I totally understand if a grandparent wants to see his or her grandchild take the test. I really do, I’m not that kind of selfish mother who would want that moment all for herself. On the contrary. But coming to the swimming pool with whole (extended) families to watch one child swim for his or her certificate? I mean, for real??
Get it off my chest
I do need to get this off my chest. Am I really the only one thinking this is strange? Coming there with every single family member? If I look at all those people, I probably am. So, the only option was to get behind the rest, standing on tiptoes and trying to look past 3 or 4 rows of people. If I stretch out my arms, maybe I can manage to get a few pictures. Our youngest couldn’t see anything at all and went to sit in a corner, to play a game.
And while I’m standing there in the 4th of 5th row (behind me, more people had gathered), I’m suddenly pushed aside by an older woman. ‘Would you move please, I want to see my granddaughter!’ Oh, and what do you think why I am standing here?! Totally flabbergasted, I’m watching her making her way to the window.
Looking past the people, I see our little guy searching for us. He can’t see us. I notice that he’s getting anxious. Are mommy and daddy watching? Trying to get his attention by frantically waving above all those heads. Standing on my toes. Stretching as far as I can. Yes, there it is, eye contact! We’re both waving now and visibly relieved, he turns and listens to the instructions of his teacher.
In the pocket
He swam well and got his certificate with ease. Proud as hell, he walks into the changing rooms. All we need to do now, is wait for the actual certificate. After maybe 15 minutes, one of the teachers comes into the foyer, holding all the certificates. It was so crowded, that they had to find a spot to hand them out to all the little swimmers. Next challenge was to get all the children there. Well, finally Sam gets called and he is so proud.
After Sam had received his certificate, we tried to fight our way to the door. We got there eventually, but it was so crowded that the doors would not open anymore. The entrance has two sets of sliding doors and for safety reasons, one will only open once the other one is closed.
The foyer was so crowded, that people were almost pressed against the doors. Even between those sliding doors, the space was crowded. Which meant that the sensors on the doors flipped and eventually, none of the doors opened anymore. At all. At some point, a few dads got tired of waiting and forced open the doors. All right, pulling the boys on the jackets, squeezing outside. Oh boy, finally.
What an afternoon. Such frustration. Luckily, the boys hadn’t noticed any of it. We got what we came for: the swimming certificate. And we did have a surprise up our sleeves for the boys: to celebrate, we went to Sam’s favourite Sushi restaurant! And frustrated or not, going there is always a treat 😉
Thank you for reading!
You might also be interested to read Expo Dino World: top or flop?
Lonely ripe banana
There was also this lonely, overripe banana lying in the fridge. Yes, you read that right, in the fridge. I always keep banana’s in the fridge. Although there are tips on how to keep bananas from getting brown and turn from green to overripe overnight, like wrapping cling film around the crown, none ever works very well. It prolongs the suffering maybe for just one day. Keeping them in the fridge does not prevent them from getting brown, but it does slow down the ripening process significantly.
Brown skin, but tasty banana
Even though the banana will turn brown, inside it keeps fresh a lot longer. Obviously it does ripen, but it really takes a lot longer. Check out the pictures below. The skin is all turned brown. Yet upon opening it, you can see it has ripened, but hardly any mushy dark spots.
Perfect little nut bread
So I had all those nuts and an overripe banana. It doesn’t happen a lot, but I didn’t want to make a banana bread. Not the soft and sweet kind anyway. And then this thought hit me: I could try to make a nut bread. But the more bread type of bread. Okay, that does sound strange. But I’m sure you get the picture. I didn’t want a ‘cake’ type of bread. First thing to get on the right track: leaving out eggs. Then I simply started by mashing up the banana and adding stuff that popped in my mind. And there it was: the perfect little nut bread. Even though it’s made with banana, you don’t taste it at all. This will please banana bread haters, even my husband liked this bread.
100 g mixed nuts*
1 ripe banana (medium)
30 g corn flour
20 g oats**
1 tbsp hazelnut oil***
1 tsp (gf) baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
25 g sunflower seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
Optional: 1 tbsp psyllium husk****
*I used pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds.
**Use certified gluten free if necessary.
***Any other oil works fine as well.
****Psyllium husk is optional, but it does give the bread a more bread like texture and keeps everything together.
Preheat oven to 160°C and grease/line a mini loaf pan.
Put the nuts in a blender of food processor and just pulse a couple of times. You could also roughly chop the nuts with a knife.
Mash the banana.
Add all ingredients and knead it into a dough.
Put the dough into the loaf pan and bake ca. 40 minutes.
That’s all there is to it. I absolutely loved it! This nut bread is great with anything. Sweet spreads, jam, peanut butter, cheese, ham, sausage etc.
Snack Tag Q&A
But don’t worry, I’m not going to play the health guru now. On the contrary. I’m going to answer every question in all honesty. There’s no denying that there are quite a lot of healthy snacks and sometimes, I do like them better than the unhealthy kind. And, there really are people who actually hate a BigMac or French fries smothered with toppings (well, I’m certainly not one of them). Anyway, I totally liked this tag (as I love to snack, obviously) and decided to fill it out too. So here it is.
What’s your favourite fast food restaurant?
I’ve always loved McDonald’s, but since we’ve moved to Belgium, I have a new favourite, called Quick. I think the burgers are really tastier, but I’m especially fan of their salads. The McDonald’s salads are usually just iceberg lettuce with two cherry tomatoes, not much else. Salads at Quick have so much more ingredients. Absolutely delicious.
Sweet or salty popcorn?
Absolutely salty popcorn. Even as a kid, I liked salty popcorn better. I don’t hate the sweet variety, but I always rather go for the heartier snack types. The same goes for popcorn. Salty popcorn even classifies as a healthy snack. No added sugars, hardly any fat. But that’s a side issue 😉
What’s your favourite ice cream?
Real Italian ice cream, preferably hazelnut or lemon. But there are so many new flavours nowadays, that I often end up trying new ones. Just recently, I’ve tried ‘heavenly mud’ (reminded me of chocolate mousse) and ‘fleur de sel’ (caramel sea salt). Talking about guilty pleasures…
Describe the best cake or pie you’ve ever eaten
That must have been about 10 years ago at a bistro. On the menu, under desserts, they had Voodoo Pie, a killer chocolate cake. And indeed, it was killing. In the best way imaginable though, as in ‘that was so good but now I can’t move anymore’ kind of way. The smoothest chocolate cake with chocolate ganache AND chocolate glaze. A tiny piece with huge effect. My ultimate brownie has a similar effect, just so you know 😉
Delivery to your door or making snacks at home?
There is not much food delivery service where we live. And we’re quite close to a pizzeria and a fast food place, we could easily get it ourselves. We mostly make our own snacks. A nice dip or a simple cheese platter are our go-to snacks.
Cheese platter or bowl of M&M’s?
Even though I loooove chocolate, I often prefer something hearty, so I’d say the cheese platter. Yummy cheese, glass of wine…
What is your favourite snack during the day?
That depends. Actually, I don’t often eat chocolate or cookies as snack during the day. I’d rather take that with a cup of coffee or after dinner. As a daytime snack, I like fruits or veggies (such as small cucumber, cherry tomatoes of mini bell peppers) a lot. But I also might take a piece of salami or cheese.
Warm or cold apple pie?
Both, really. But if I have to choose a favourite, warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream…
What do you order when at a sidewalk café?
For a meal or with a drink? As a meal, I like a salad or oven baked nachos smothered in cheese. As a snack with a drink, definitely cheese, salami and typically Dutch ‘bitterballen’ (a deep-fried snack, that consists of sort of a thick gravy with slow cooked beef, with a panko crust).
Which deep-fried snack will you order with your French fries?
The weeks leading up to Sinterklaas are very exciting for all children. And for the parents and other family members, who will do everything they can, to keep this tradition very much alive and make sure the children believe in Sinterklaas for as long as possible. Wish lists are written, homes are decorated, songs will be sung and… loads of sweet treats will be eaten. There are many sweets, cookies, pies and more, that will typically be eaten this time of year, such as chocolate letters, speculaas (spiced crunchy cookie, kind of like ginger snaps) and Kruidnoten (spiced, bite-sized cookies).
With Christmas also approaching, this time of year is not the most healthy one. That’s why we try to sneak in a few healthier recipes, like my healthier version of the traditional Kruidnoten. But it doesn’t always have to be healthy. As long as we try to balance the hell out of it (some days are better than others), we can have a not so healthy treat and enjoy it. Like these utterly delicious Sinterklaas muffins we made. Super fluffy and tasty with cinnamon and ginger. With all the sugar. Alright, lightened up a bit with Greek yogurt and vegetable oil. Balance, right…
125 g white sugar
125 g light brown sugar
120 ml vegetable oil
250 g Greek yogurt
250 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
75 g mini spiced cookies or chopped up ginger cookies
Extra cookies for topping
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a muffin tin or line with paper or silicone cups.
Beat the eggs with the sugars and oil until creamy.
Add the yogurt and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger.
Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and whisk until just combined.
Fold in the cookies.
Pour batter into prepared muffin tin/cups. I use an ice cream scoop for portioning.
Sprinkle a few cookies/pieces on top.
Bake ca. 25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
During our summer holidays, we took a really cute picture of the boys and I wanted to do something with it. Once you know, which picture you want to use, you have to go find a provider. There are loads of providers out there. Almost everywhere, where you can print your digital photos, you can order wall decorations. How can you possibly decide which provider to use?
And then, just at the right time, I receive an email from Fotofabriek.nl, asking whether I would be interested to test a photo on canvas for them. Well, I did not have to think twice to answer that question! I could choose between a canvas of 20×30 or 30×20 cm and as I already had decided which picture I wanted to use, the whole process was done in a flash.
If you are a first-time visitor, you have to create an account to be able to upload and edit pictures. Then you can choose from a variety of products, like photo books, planners, calendars and more. Under wall decoration, you also find quite a variety of different products and I obviously chose photo on canvas. After choosing the size, you can start designing.
You can choose to print one photo, but you can also choose to make a collage of 2, 3 or 4 photos. Choose the layout, to determine whether the sides are printed or not. If you don’t want to use a frame afterwards, you probably want the sides printed. Once you’ve uploaded your photo(s), you can see in the preview whether the sides are printed or not.
After uploading, you can still change the layout and the number of pictures. In addition, you can also add text or clip-art. I left the picture just as it was, but I did choose unprinted sides as the faces would not have fit as well as I wanted. Once you’re done, you can click the order button.
When you hit the order button, you will first get an overview of your project and you can choose to have a digital preview sent to your inbox (so you can see how the picture looks on your wall). Before you actually placed the order, you can choose to have it printed in standard quality or premium (at a surcharge). If you order the photo as a present, you can have it gift wrapped. In case of a present, you can have it sent to a different address (by adding extra delivery addresses in your account). As a last step, you go through the payment process.
I placed my order on Wednesday evening and I received a notification the next morning, that my order was in production. By the end of the day, I already received confirmation that the order had been shipped and just moments later I got an email with a link to the tracking site. On Friday morning, I checked the status of the shipment. Now it is a trans-border shipment, as I live in Belgium and it’s shipped from the Netherlands. That does sometimes cause a delay in delivery. However, the shipment was due to be delivered on that same day. At exactly 11.30h, the carrier rang the bell. That’s less than 48 hours after I had placed my order. Of course, I don’t know how long other products might take, such as whole photo book, but this was just superb. Super-fast service.
Ideal as a present
I wasn’t in a hurry and I would not have thought of it as strange if it had taken a couple of days. If something has to be made to order, it is rather normal if it takes one or two days extra. But if you are looking for a last-minute present, this is just perfect. Especially now, with the upcoming holidays. So, if you are looking for a nice, personal present for Christmas, a birthday or any other occasion, you should definitely check out Fotofabriek.nl.
The result is just beautiful. The picture I used wasn’t of the best quality, but I did choose it nonetheless as I like it so very much. Even though the digital picture lacked quality, the print on canvas turned out really well. As mentioned before, I did choose unprinted sides in the layout, as the faces would not have fit the frame very well (the picture has been cropped).
It doesn’t bother me at all and I can still choose to put a frame around it. But if you absolutely don’t want to use a frame, be sure to use the correct layout, with the sides printed. I did notice though, that the sides were not evenly printed. My first thought was that they had not put the canvas on correctly. But then I looked at the photo again and saw that the faces were nicely centered.
The canvas is decently wrapped for shipment. The corners are protected by foam, which also prevents the packaging from touching the canvas. All in all, I am very satisfied with the result and the whole process of ordering.
Have you ever had a picture printed on canvas or ordered any other photo products online?
Thank you for reading!
This post is in collaboration with Fotofabriek.nl. Everything I have stated above is based on my own opinion and personal experience.
I love fennel that has been soaking in a nice vinaigrette for a couple of hours, almost liked pickled fennel. It’s also great sauteed, but my absolute favorite way to eat it, is roasted. Its easy, it’s fast and delicious. Prep time is maybe 5 minutes and you need just a couple of ingredients. Roast it to your preference and you’re ready to dish up.
2 – 3 fennel bulbs
50 g freshly grated Parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Remove the fennel fronds but don’t throw them away.
Cut the bulb in half and remove the hard part.
Then cut in thin strips. I just used a knife, but you can also use a grater or food processor.
I use freshly grated Parmesan in this recipe, but you could also use store bought grated Parmesan (but it’s dryer and doesn’t melt as well as freshly grated cheese).
Mix fennel, cheese and olive oil in a bowl and add some salt and pepper.
Transfer to an oven dish.
Bake ca. 30 – 45 minutes, the exact time depends on how soft or how crunchy you like your fennel.
Serve with some of the fennel fronds sprinkled on top.