Kruidnoten are a traditional spiced, bite-sized cookie that is eaten around ‘Sinterklaas’ in the Netherlands. Sinterklaas is based on Saint Nicholas, who was the patron saint of children. Sinterklaas is the feast that celebrates Saint Nicholas’ name day on the 6th of December. It is often celebrated by giving presents and sweet treats to children on the 5th of December, Saint Nicholas Eve.
Last week, the boys had Fall break. They went to holiday care for two days, the rest of the week I was at home. Which meant we had time to do some fun stuff together. Our boys are fairly enthusiastic dinosaur fans. It has almost become a tradition to visit a beautiful park, Dinosaurierpark Teufelsschlucht, when we’re on holiday in the Eifel. But we have quite a few cool parks and museums in the Netherlands as well, like the Oertijdmuseum (prehistoric museum) in Boxtel.
Bulgur Wheat is made from different types of whole wheat grain, mostly durum. It’s first precooked, dried and then cracked. The wheat is naturally high in fibre and has a somewhat nutty flavor. It’s perfect in warm dishes, but also in warm or cold salads.
When I started on this dish, I actually had couscous on my mind. As I went to get the couscous from the pantry, I saw that I still had a box of bulgur. And I thought: hey, that would be great in this dish as well. And boy, did that work out well. The combination of the more substantial texture of the wheat, the softness of the roasted pumpkin, together with the oily smoked mackerel and the salty feta cheese… this was heaven on a plate.
Tomorrow is Halloween night. Whether you celebrate it or not, it’s hard to ignore all the Halloween-accessories, costumes and candy that’s available in the stores. Now that it’s almost Halloween night, they sell everything at high discounts, as they won’t be able to sell anything after the 31st. Very tempting to buy all that stuff. But you can also make cute Halloween treats yourself. If you’re looking for some last-minute inspiration, I have a few nice ideas for you.
Spaghetti squash is still fairly unknown around here. But since one of the largest grocery stores in the Netherlands has started selling it and explained in monthly magazine what it is, the word is getting out and recipes are popping up everywhere. I’m really glad about it, as I don’t have to drive through half the country anymore to get a spaghetti squash.
It’s a fun and versatile vegetable and perfect if you want to cut down on your carb intake. It is a delicious sub for spaghetti (obviously), but you can use it in other dishes as well, where you would normally use pasta, rice or potatoes. I posted this Spaghetti Squash Casserole last year, which is actually based on a pie recipe (like a Shepherd’s pie).
Last week, our youngest had his 7th birthday. I had asked him several times already, what kind of theme he wanted for his birthday party and the list was long. Basically anything boys his age like. Currently, that’s mainly Pokémon, he’s still into dinosaurs, Star Wars, Skylanders, dragons and many more.
But as you could read two weeks ago, I was on a small shopping spree at Søstrene Grene in Eindhoven. And there, I found the cutest pirate stuff. As the little guy still could not decide which way to go, I decided then and there that it had to be a pirate’s party. With loads of fun and cool accessories, like skulls and stuff.
Halloween is getting more and more popular in Europe. There are scary walking tours, amusement parks have Halloween themed days, the shop are filled to the brim with costumes, creepy accessories and tons of Halloween candy.
Our boys love Halloween. The creepier the better. Which means we happily go along with all that Halloween craziness. But we keep it fairly low key. Just a few accessories in the house, a little bit of candy and we might just go on ones of those scary walking tours.
Year end is rapidly approaching and so is the end of my organiser. There is already a wide collection of organisers, calendars and planners for 2018 available at the stores. A wide selection, but what am I looking for in a new organiser?
I’m bad at planning. Well, actually I’m fairly good at planning, but I’m bad at writing everything down. I simply forget to make notes in my organiser. Luckily, I do remember all appointments, so it’s not a huge problem. But I do feel like a scatterbrain when I have to search for my notes every time.
You all know by now that I love to bake with banana’s. So it can’t be a surprise that I have yet another wonderful recipe for you. And since I had posted a picture of my first marbled chocolate banana bread on Instagram a couple of months ago, I kept getting requests for the recipe. Well, finally, it’s here!
After a few extra test drives and some small adjustments, I’m quite satisfied with the end result: a chocolatey banana bread that’s not overly sweet, that’s super moist and extremely tasty. And on the healthy-ish side. Got nothing more to add, except… the recipe.
Do you really need that? That question often lies at the tip of my loving husband’s tongue. Though he has learned to swallow it, most of the time. But a sigh, hanging shoulders or rolling eyes actually say the same. I have to admit that I often ask that question myself. And often the answer is: no, I don’t need that. Not really. Actually, yes. Yes, I do. Oh, what the heck, who am I kidding? I JUST WANT IT!
Did I mention yet it’s pumpkin season? Now you don’t need a reminder, do you? I just love, love, love pumpkin recipes. And since it’s October and we now can officially enjoy anything pumpkin, I’ll throw in another delicious recipe: pumpkin pancakes! Because we also love pancakes. For breakfast, lunch or dinner.
These pumpkin pancakes are very easy to make, especially if you have pumpkin puree ready to use. You can use canned pumpkin, but fresh homemade pumpkin puree, without any additives, is so much better. These pancakes are so light and fluffy. And, they are also gluten and dairy free.
Last week, it was time again for the annual BNP Paribas Fortis Film Days. For four days, you can go the movies at half price, at several theatres throughout Belgium. The perfect moment to take the kids to watch a movie on the big screen again. And so we checked the choices we had for Wednesday afternoon. Our attention was caught immediately by Bigfoot Junior.
I watched the trailer and thought right away that that is a movie the boys will like. Strange we had never heard about Bigfoot Junior before, as it already played at the theatres since the 2nd of August. Ordered the tickets online and printed them out. Ready to go.
Yeah, it’s Fall! And you know what that means? Well? No, I don’t mean it’s getting cold, wet, windy, dark… No no no, I mean it’s PUMPKIN SEASON! Actually, it’s pumpkin season all year round for me, especially when my freezer is stacked with my homemade pumpkin puree. But we can officially jump on the pumpkin wagon now (like with these pumpkin doughnuts), without getting weird looks, like if it’s a crime to have something pumpkin during summer.
De Plateaux-Hageven is a beautiful transboundary nature reserve, that partly lies in the Netherlands (de Plateaux) and partly in Belgium (Hageven), just under the town of Valkenswaard. Natuurmonumenten (the Dutch society for the preservation of nature, landscape and cultural history) and Natuurpunt (the Belgian equivalent) have worked closely together over the past years to extensively restore the nature in this area.
Fall has started way too soon for me. We didn’t have much of a summer and I was hoping for some warmth in September. Alas, it looks like that is not going to happen. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love all seasons and especially Fall. I love the changing colors, the fact that it gets dark sooner isn’t such a bad thing as you can light candles to make it all cozy and you can snuggle up under a blanket. Well, I do need more than a blanket… warm pants, stick jumper and woolen socks is more like it.
Plant-based alternatives for dairy have been around for a long time, but most had been based on soy. Lately, more and more other alternatives are hitting the stores.
I’ve never been interested in these alternatives. Firstly, because I never needed to. I don’t have allergies nor intolerances. Secondly, I have tried soy milk a long, long time ago and I hated it. Maybe I simply didn’t like the unsweetened kind, but I hadn’t touched any soy-dairy ever since.
Zucchini season is almost over. Although you can get zucchini all year round nowadays, they are now at their best (and cheapest, which comes in handy if you don’t have a garden full of zucchinis yourself). I absolutely love zucchini, it’s such a versatile vegetable. You can cook it, grill it, stuff it, layer it, grate it and bake it.
When I found some cute round zucchinis at the supermarket, I knew I had to buy them and make some delicious stuffed zucchini. And while I was at it, I stuffed some peppers as well. Well, actually I had only bought 4 round zucchinis and had too much stuffing. So I added two bell peppers to the mix. Which proved to be a good thing, as the 4 zucchinis simply weren’t enough for that hungry bunch here at home.
It’s my party…
… and I cry if want to. Whenever I hear It’s my party, I think about that song instantly. And I start singing in my head. Very annoying actually, as it gets stuck in my head for hours.
Another year older
And today, it’s ‘my party’, because it’s my birthday! Yep, another year older. But don’t worry, I don’t have to cry. I’m grateful that I am allowed to get old. Some people are not as fortunate. Think about it. Though it is confronting sometimes, when you’re 46 and practically the oldest mom at school of 6 and 8-year olds. Thinking about it, I could be some other mom’s mom. Which would make me a grandma. Ouch…
Banana recipe #… I know, another banana recipe. And guess what, I still have a bunch of recipes I want to share with you. So stay tuned if you like banana bread and similar recipes. This recipe is really different from all the other recipes. Why? Because it’s made with ground hazelnuts.
Gluten & sugar free
As I’ve used ground hazelnuts instead of flour, it’s gluten free and fairly low-carb. Fairly low-carb as it doesn’t have any flour, but probably still too carby for those on a strict low-carb diet, due to the banana. But low-carb or not, this cake is definitely worth a try. It tastes amazing and is super light and fluffy (due to beaten egg whites added to the batter). And, I did not use any added sugar or sweetener. The bananas and the ground hazelnuts are sweet enough together.
Summer holiday – you were amazing, but now we’re done with you. We glamorously celebrated your last week, we’ve pulled out all the stops. It was time to say our farewells. Goodbye summer holiday, hello first day of school!
In Belgium, the children have two whole months of summer holiday. The holiday starts on the 1st of July and ends on the 31st of August. That is quite a long time. Not only for the parents, who have to occupy the kids for 9 weeks and/or arrange out-of-school care. Staying home from work for 9 weeks is no option for most of us.
Pizza is always a winner, with both adults and kids alike. Especially if it’s homemade. No need to let homemade pizza dough scare you. It is really easy to make and this dough doesn’t need to rise for an hour or more, no kneading skills required, it’s really fast. I do have to admit though that I always keep a pizza kit from the supermarket in my fridge for emergencies (read: need to have dinner ready in 15 minutes flat but I have no inspiration whatsoever to prep something). It’s fresh pizza dough in a can plus tomato sauce. For me, it can be a life saver (at least for my nerves on one of those frantic days).
The 1st of September is just a few days away: the first day of school after the summer holidays. There was one thing we definitely had to do. Both boys needed new schoolbags. And then we have to ask ourselves: do we buy yet another ‘cheap’ schoolbag (which is still in the price range of € 40,- to € 60,- per bag), or are we going to invest in a more expensive one. If we decide to purchase a more expensive bag, the boys will have to use quite a while longer. Looking at the quality, that should be feasible. The previous schoolbags lasted respectively 1 and 2 years. They also had to agree upfront, that they would not beg for new schoolbags next year.
The sun has forsaken us a bit this summer. Just like the last couple of years, July and August have been rather cold and wet, with just a few days of real summer. Guess this is what summers will be like in our little part of the world. Well, we’ll have to bring the sun in ourselves. And what better way than bringing the sun on your plate with this Lemon Blueberry Crumb Cake?
I made this cake last week to bring to a little family gathering. It was a sure hit with everyone, kids and adults alike. It’s fresh and sweet and the perfect cake for an afternoon tea, a brunch or as a dessert.
I recently read the Book Tag on Pluseenbeetje. I am, just like Marije from Pluseenbeetje, a real bookworm. I love to read and I’ve always dreamed of my own library. You know, a room with walls of books and a comfy chair to snuggle up with a book. Oh well, a girl has to have a dream.
Unfortunately, I’m not reading as much as I would like. There is not much me-time left between the kids, a household, work and a blog. But if I do find the time to read, I can get totally lost in a story. I love it.
Tomatoes are available at supermarkets all year round, but only now is the right season for super tasty and juicy tomatoes that have soaked up all the summer sun. Now, they are at their best. There is so much you can do with tomatoes, but you know what I like best? A simple tomato salad, where that juicy tomato is the star.
The most simple way of course, is a delicious Caprese salad. Sliced tomato, with Mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, a drizzle of good olive oil and Balsamic vinegar, and if desired a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Nothing more. And all with minimum effort, just slice it up, dress on a plate, dig in.
Wild food foraging
Wild food foraging – I guess that everyone has picked the odd berry here and there. Bushes are now full of juicy berries, soon you will find mushrooms in abundance. I must say, I have never picked wild mushrooms before. I would probably not be able to tell the edible ones from the poisonous ones. Well, some I might, but I would be too scared to pick the wrong ones and get horribly sick from eating them.
Have you ever made Bread Pudding before? It’s a perfect way to use up stale bread and I can’t believe I have never tried it. This recipe is one of those that are the result of throwing together some ingredients that need to be used before you have to throw them out. Another recipe that I came up with during our holiday at the farm.
Using up ingredients
I had a whole baguette left from a barbecue two days earlier. Too dry and too hard to eat it like that. There is a lot you can do with a stale baguette:
Holiday at the farm. You either hate it, or you love it. For us, it’s the perfect family holiday. It’s been four years since we’ve taken our first holiday at a farm. Unfortunately, the first two times were a bit disappointing. Other than holiday home rentals (at really good accommodations, I have to admit), this was far from what we expected from a holiday at a farm. The description of the farms let us believe that the kids would truly experience living and playing on a farm, but there was virtually nothing to do there. What a scam. Maybe we needed to adjust our expectations. But we did not want to simply rent a holiday home for a few weeks. We wanted a place where the kids could learn more about farm animals and life at a farm.
Couscous salad is a staple in our house for parties and barbecues. You can add basically anything you want, but my absolute favorite is couscous with roasted or grilled vegetables. And feta. The feta is optional of course. If you have eaters that don’t like feta or cheese in general, simply serve it as a separate topping, so everyone can add it if they want to.
We had a barbecue with all the guests at the farm, where we’re staying during our holiday, and everyone brought something. There was potato salad, bell pepper salad, egg salad, macaroni salad, garlic bread and more. And I decided to make this couscous salad. I usually grill the vegetables, but as I did not have a griddle or grilling pan, I roasted them. Which is just as delicious! Got raving reviews from the other guests and more than a few asked for the recipe. So I decided to share it with everyone :).
Crazy about dinosaurs
Those who know our kids a little bit, know that they are crazy about dinosaurs. And that even is an understatement. I don’t know how many dinosaurs we have at home, but if it’s up to the boys, more will join the crowd. While our youngest loves to play with dinosaurs and loves to watch movies and documentaries, our oldest has really started to take interest in the history of dino’s, how they came to exist, how they lived, how they developed and how they became extinct.
Rainbow is this week’s Crea-Cross 2017 challenge. For those of you, who don’t know yet what this Crea-Cross 2017 entails, check out Kreanimo, an inspiring personal blog with loads of creative ideas, for more information.
Although I’ve contributed just last week, I’m not a very regular contributor to the challenge. To some, I might even be a bit of a strange addition to all those creative bloggers. But hey, cooking is all about creativity as well. But I have to admit that it can be quite hard to come up with a recipe that expresses clearly the given challenge. But not so this week’s prompt: rainbow. I’m proud to be a co-host yet again, and I’m not alone this week. Anne from Simple Thoughts is co-hosting this week’s challenge as well. Go check out her blog with loads of DIY idea’s, beauty tips, recipes and so much more. Please feel free to share your own idea’s, work etc related to this week’s prompt, using the blue button at the end of this post.
As you could read in my previous “MondayMusings” blogpost, we were all alone last week. Both the boys were at summer camp. I did have some very mixed feelings about that. But one of the advantages of being kid free for a couple of days, is that we can go out for dinner at a fancy restaurant, just the two of us.
Now I don’t mean fancy as in ‘dress code’ fancy. But with two kids at 6 and 8, not every restaurant is just as suitable. And where do we love to go? To ‘Restaurant Broertjes’ in Dommelen (small town famous for the Dutch beer brand ‘Dommelsch’).
Star Wars Cookies? For real? Yes, for real.
That’s kind of the short version of my conversation with the boys when I showed them what I had made. Their eyes almost popped out of their heads when they saw them. Followed by questions and remarks in the range of ‘are these Star Wars Cookies?’, ‘are they edible?’, ‘are those real cookies?’, ‘can we have these cookies?’, ‘are they really for us?’, ‘wow, how did you do that?’, ‘you really made these yourself?’, ‘WOW’, ‘COOL’, etc. And now imagine two excited boys jumping up and down, talking simultaneously, that my ears started ringing. Get the picture?
The house is so quiet. After we’ve brought the boys to summer camp, we’re coming home to an empty house. Well, not entirely empty, of course. We’re greeted happily by a dog and a cat. But it feels different. Of course it’s not the first time that I’m coming home to an empty house. When the boys are at school, at a friend’s house or at the sports club. It’s quiet then as well. But this silence feels different. Normally, I can enjoy the silence, having some peace and quiet. Because I know it will be over soon and there will be a lot of noise again. But not this time. There will be no noise. Not today. Not tomorrow. We’re alone.
Chai Spiced Banana Bread. I know that many will associate chai with hot drinks, like a Chai Latte. Chai. Comforting, warming spices. Not something you might expect in the middle of summer. But believe me, this is good. Those who follow me for a little while now, know that I use a lot of banana’s in baking. It started out as a necessity to use up overripe banana’s, but it has started to become a regular item in my baking and cooking adventures. Bread, cookies, bars, drinks, desserts, even waffles. Banana’s are quite versatile and due to their natural sweetness (the riper, the sweeter), you’ll need less sugar or sweetener in your recipe.
Mommy War Tag? No recipe? Nope, no recipe this time. For quite a while, I’ve been contemplating whether I should expand my blog or not. To blog about other stuff as well, and not just recipes. Because, sometimes, there are things happening in your life, that you really would like to tell about. Or things you’d like to share.
Lately, I’ve been following more and more mommy blogs. Blogs full of great, funny, sometimes sad stories, DIY ideas, reviews. Which means a lot of fun stuff to read and loads of inspiration. And a lot of recognition. What do moms encounter in daily life, what is on our minds or keeps us awake at night? What kind of funny things, and less funny things, are our kids doing?
It’s summer and that means BBQ-time! Well, at least if the weather is playing along. Our summers around here are often wet and temperatures are not always what they are supposed to be during summer time. Which means that we have to seize every opportunity we can to enjoy warm and sunny days and eat outside.
I can enjoy any meal outside, if the temps are right. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. The best meals outside of course are barbecued ones. I love the smell and the food tastes so much better when grilled on the barbie. During our last heat wave, we enjoyed many moments outside. And we fired up the BBQ.
Apricots – the season for this summer stone fruit is in full swing. They are juicy and full of flavor. Funny enough though, I don’t like them fresh that much. While I prefer most fruits and vegetables fresh over the canned ones, I do like canned apricots better. And I like them dried. Both not the best options when it comes to sugar, of course. The canned apricots are happily soaking in sugar syrup and the dried ones are (just like any dried fruit) little sugar bombs. So I try to avoid both (not always succeeding).
Today, I’m sharing this fantastic recipe: spinach and cheese stuffed portobello mushrooms. But before I go into that, let me share something else first. Last week, I had the honor of being a guest blogger on LaFamiliaB. On LaFamiliaB, Rachel blogs and vlogs about everything that is going in her and her family’s life. Fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle… basically anything that happens in their daily lives. Rachel’s beautiful teenage daughters are also starting to show interest in blogging and vlogging and you may occasionally find them taking over.
Have you ever had polenta before? Polenta is not an ingredient, as some people might think. It actually is a dish made from cooking coarsely-ground yellow cornmeal into a kind of mash. It can be eaten like porridge or mashed potato. I won’t go into the details of the classic dish right now, that will be for some other time.
If you let the polenta cool though, the consistency changes and the ‘porridge’ or ‘mash’ firms up so that you can ultimately cut it into pieces, like squares or wedges. When cut into pieces, you can perfectly grill them on the BBQ, roast them in the oven or fry in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Add a few spices and you have a prefect side dish for your grilled chicken or steak. Now I’ve made these patties or cakes on several occasions, but a few weeks ago I saw this recipe for polenta ‘fries’ on Boter, Kaas & Eieren Blog, a fun food blog with great recipes. I really thought this was a fun idea. Why I have never thought about ‘fries’ myself before, is beyond me. And since the boys are crazy about fries, I set to work (almost) immediately. I have made a different version, but you can find the original recipe here (a must-try!).