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Archive for July, 2010

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I beg you… please make this recipe this weekend.

Putting this recipe together takes no more time than making a sandwich.

The combination of simplicity yet decadence is probably sinful.

A few weeks ago, I bought a roll of puff pastry with the intent of making this recipe.

I love the name of puff pastry in German. It is called Blätterteig, which when translated means leaf pastry. The layers are certainly dainty and light like a leaf. oh, and I also love that a roll of Blätterteig only costs 89 cents.

Today, I opened the fridge, saw the roll of puff pastry, an assortment of fruit that needed to be used and cream cheese.

And the light turned on!

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Easy Danish Pastries

Ingredients

  • 1 roll puff pastry
  • 1 block cream cheese
  • 1 heaping tablespoon powdered sugar
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • toppings such as strawberries, blueberries, slivered almonds, poppy seeds

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (176 C.) Unroll the puff pastry and cut into 6 even pieces.
  2. Space the pastry out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the edges of the pastry with the egg white.
  3. Put the cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a bowl and cream together using a rubber scraper.
  4. Put about 1.5 Tbsp of cream cheese mixture onto each pastry square and spread out, leaving a half-inch border around the edge. Top with chosen fruit, nuts or seeds.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are puffed and golden brown.

Before and After

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These would be great for brunch, afternoon tea, baby or wedding showers, an easy gift, or just because.

Really, so simple yet such a delicious and impressive outcome.

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And for a little American patriotism…

P7318032Red, white and blue. 

Now go forth and bake! You won’t regret it!

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Vacations have many purposes.

It’s not all about doing, going, seeing.

Vacations can also be about reading and relaxing.

Because of this, I don’t feel guilty in the least bit for the way I spent today.

I did absolutely nothing.

Luckily, in doing my nothingness, I ate, so at least I have that to share with you.

Here goes!

Breakfast

P7287963 Plain yogurt

Raw oatmeal, ground flax and hemp seeds.

Blueberries, strawberries, peaches and red currents.

Drizzled with agave nectar and sprinkled with cinnamon and coconut flakes.

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Lunch

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Whole wheat pita bread with horseradish hummus

Red cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts and sweet potato falafel.

Junk food cheeze balls (at least they are baked!) and the rest of my peach

Most of my day has been spent reading a book my brother recommended.

In my relaxing, I decided to read while taking a bath.

All was well until I got out and realized while drying off that my left arm felt like it was on fire.

When I looked in the mirror, my entire left shoulder was bright red and there was a bright red line running down to my elbow. The skin was raised and swollen. It looked like I had a huge scar running down the back of my arm.

Upon further investigation, I realized that the medicated muscle pain bath serum had leaked.

Now this stuff is strong. On the bottle, it has a huge warning with very specific requirements for how much of the medication (one small cap) is to go into how much water. It also says the exact temperature the water should be and how long to stay in the bath.

Now, when you use this stuff as recommended, your skin does turn sun-burn red for about 10 minutes after the bath and it feels all prickly and itchy.

The concentrated medication must have gotten wet when I filled the bath and then leaked back into the tub, via my body. About an hour after my bath, the redness and swelling started to go away. Now, everything is back to normal, but it was kind of scary.

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t take pictures and think about putting them on here. But, common sense wins! I really don’t want nearly naked photos of myself on the internet, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. Think scar. Big, red, puffy, scar then you’ll have it.

Back to the food!

Afternoon Snack

P7287981 Date with peanut butter, times 2!

(Yes, I do realize there is a piece of fuzz/ cat hair on the date. No, I didn’t realize it until just now. Delectable!)

Dinner

I was going to make the couscous stuffed tomatoes like before, but then decided to change from Northern Africa influenced couscous to Italian influenced couscous. So basically, I didn’t use the same recipe at all. I guess I ought to share the new version as it was even better than the first!

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Italian Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 6 tomatoes (I only used 3 and had a ton of stuffing left over)
  • 1/3 cup instant couscous
  • 1 Tbsp. bruscetta seasoning mix (mine was from Aldi)
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. capers
  • heavy drizzle of olive oil

Method

  1. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and flesh inside the tomato, reserve for later. Turn the tomatoes upside down on a paper towel to drain any excess liquid.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Add the garlic, spring onions, capers and tomato juices. Cook until the onions soften.
  3. Mix the bruscetta seasoning (probably just a mixture of Italian seasoning, salt, and dried tomatoes) with the dry couscous. Pour the boiling water over and mix well before covering tightly for 5 minutes.
  4. Mix the cooked ingredients with the cooked couscous and stuff into the prepared tomatoes.
  5. Microwave on medium power for 3-6 minutes, depending on the size of your tomatoes or bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

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I ate one stuffed tomato, along with the remaining stuffing. The other two will be my lunch tomorrow!

I also ate this:

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Mixed green salad with another hunk of pan-cooked cheese and balsamic glaze.

Then it was back to my book with a glass of red wine.

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Oh, and chocolate blueberry cake. I can’t forget the cake.

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Because, eating, reading and relaxing are what vacations are for!

Oh, I just remembered! I did do something today… I cleaned the toilet.

I did have plans to do the whole bathroom, but I only got as far as the porcelain thrown.

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Today I ventured to the adorable town of Linz am Rhein.

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Not because of the timber framed houses

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or the picturesque German squareP7277958

or even the beckoning barrel wine cellar.

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My trip to Linz was to see a friend.

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A very pregnant friend.

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A friend who should have had her baby 6 days ago.

That’s right, my colleague, who we threw a baby shower for, still hasn’t had her baby.

Now, since I never travel empty-handed a love any cooking challenge, I used this opportunity to help my friend out.

You see, she was expecting to be able to eat sweets by now, free from gestational diabetes.

Once the baby comes, she can go back to her normal eating habits, but since the baby isn’t here, no sugars, no fruits, no potatoes, no fun.

Until today that is!

After seeing Angela’s Raw Energy Cookie Bites, I knew I had to try it.

After a few substitutions to bring down the sugar levels even more, I was left with a moist, nutritious, sweet cookie. One that my friend even enjoyed.

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Raw Fruit, Nut and Seed Cookies

Ingredients

– 1/4 cup almonds

– 9 prunes, pitted

– 5 apricots, pitted

– 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds

– 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds

– 1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

– 1 Tbsp chia seeds

– 2 pinches of sea salt

– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Method

  1. Put the almonds and prunes into a food processor and turn it on until the mixture is finely chopped and sticky.
  2. Toss in the apricots and pulse a few times to chop them up.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with your hands.
  4. Press the mixture into a tablespoon measuring spoon. Press until the “cookie” is firm, pop out and repeat to create 10-11 cookies.

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Nutritional Information per Cookie: 71 Calories, 4g Fat, 20 mg Sodium, 9g Carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 2 g protein.

Thanks, Angela. You made one pregnant lady very happy today!

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When I was a kid, my parents struck the fear of fields into me.

Not just any field, mind you, cornfields.

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Once you go in, you may never come out.

It’s never taken much to scare me.

My own imagination creates scenarios which are far more frightening than anything my older brother or anyone else could say.

Unlike my best friend, Shana, these fears weren’t even exacerbated by watching Children of the Corn.

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My fear of cornfields was all about getting lost.

Stepping into a field to realize that I didn’t know how to get out again.

Rows of corn going on and on forever, no end in sight.

To this day, cornfields scare me.

Luckily, not all fields make me whimper with fear.

Whenever I go to the Farmer’s Market, I imagine running through their fields.

Up and down rows of beets, broccoli, collard greens, and other vegetables that grow no higher than 2 feet in the air.

While at the market today, I bought a fresh salad mix that I would be happy to get lost in.

I’m not talking iceberg, romaine, and a few arugula leaves.

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When I say mix, I mean mix.

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The variety of different leaves, flowers, herbs and greens in the mix was truly inspiring.

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I don’t even know what everything is!

But one thing I do know, is that this mix was the perfect base for a sweet potato falafel salad.

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Mmm, flowers and other colorful living greens!

Now I’m off for some bedtime reading, How to Get Out of a Corn Field.

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Within the depths of my little laptop, I hold a Holy Grail of sorts.

This most-valuable document is protected by an external hard drive, network accessibility, and multiple flash drives.

Daily I visit this baby of mine, feeding it, cleaning it and dispensing loving comments.

Such great care is given to the document of all documents, my Recipe Wish List.

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Currently 22 pages long, my Recipe Wish List contains the name, photo, and link for 173 recipes. 173 recipes from fellow bloggers. Some which I’ve already tried and other that I still dream of reincarnating.

They are the recipes that make me drool on my keyboard.

Force me to question a lifestyle of complete and udder gluttony.

The recipes that make me want to lock myself in the kitchen and never come out.

The best of the bloggers’ best. That’s what makes it into the Recipe Wish List.

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Today was a cold and rainy day in Germany.

If you were a cat, it would be the perfect day to sit and watch the rain.

After heading to the gym early this morning and being back home by 1, my agenda was free.

What is a girl to do with a free afternoon and evening?

I could do laundry.

I could vacuum.

I could take down the garbage and recycling.

I could do a lot of things, but what I really wanted to do was tackle the Recipe Wish List.

Today I made 4 amazing recipes from 4 talented bloggers

My day of wishes coming true started with dessert, naturally.

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Healthy Chocolate-Blueberry Cake

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (white whole wheat preferred)
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 banana, per Angela’s recommendation *
  • 1/ 4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • coconut oil for greasing
  • 1 cup blueberries to garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, chia (or flax) and salt. In blender, combine water, 1/2 cup blueberries, banana, vanilla and balsamic vinegar and blend until smooth.
  2. Make a well in the dry ingredients.  Add the syrup and the blueberry mixture. Stir until completely mixed.  Pour into an oiled 9-inch round cake pan.
  3. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before inverting onto serving platter.

* Note, the extra moisture from the banana was great, but three was a slight banana taste. Next time I’ll use about 1/3 cup of apple sauce.

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Chocolate Glaze

Adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 100 grams dark chocolate, shaved or 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  1. Combine the chocolate and oil in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds on high. Stir and microwave for 30 seconds more, or until chocolate is melted and creamy.
  2. Pour glaze over the cooled cake, allow to partially harden then top with blueberries.

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I just love the feel of a sharp knife shaving through a block of chocolate!

This recipe produced much more glaze than I needed… so I also made chocolate covered almonds and raisins with the remaining glaze!

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Cake Verdict

Wow! This cake was dense, moist, decadent, and indeed dainty. The chocolate coconut glaze made it. I would serve this cake to anyone, vegan or otherwise, with confidence that they too would love it. This combination is definitely a keeper!

 

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Baked Sweet Potato Falafel

Adapted from Bran Appétit

  • 3 sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
  • 1 can lentils, drained and rinsed (I didn’t have chickpeas)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Mash sweet potatoes with chickpeas in a food processor.
  3. Add in seasonings and flax and mash again until the mixture sticks together.
  4. Spray baking sheet or line with foil. Use two spoons and the “cookie method” to make 1” balls and place on baking sheet.
  5. Brush or spray with olive/canola oil.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes.
  7. Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes.
  8. Serve!

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Yes, I will be using this pillow case tonight. The incredible, buttery smell will certainly leave me with visions of pita bread dancing in my head.

Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Adapted from Just Hungry

  • 1/2 block fresh yeast *
  • 250ml warm water (A U.S. cup plus a bit)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white bread flour (
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Equipment needed:

  • a non-stick frying pan or two
  • lids to fit the pans
  • mixing bowl
  • clean washed pillow case

* Note on Yeast: I’m miserable with active dry yeast, but fresh yeast and I are buddies. For more information on fresh yeast, visit this website. My grocery store carries the blocks of yeast in the refrigerator section near yogurt.

  1. Mix together the yeast and sugar with the back of a spoon until the crumbles of yeast turn to liquid. Dissolve the yeast mixture in warm water.
  2. Mix together the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the liquid gradually, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add the oil, and as soon as it’s formed a ball start to knead. Knead until smooth and pliable.
  3. Put the dough ball in a clean bowl covered with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until more than doubled in bulk.
  4. After the dough has risen, punch it down and knead again. Cut into 8 to 12 equal pieces. Round off each piece into a smooth ball, and leave, covered with a damp cloth or plastic, to rest for about 10 minutes, on a floured surface. (This resting time the author finds is critical for the successful formation of the pocket inside the pita.)
  5. Flatten the balls with your hand or a rolling pin to your desired diameter. Let rest again for a few minutes so that the dough balls ‘relax’.
  6. Heat up one or more non-stick frying pans, over medium heat.
  7. Take a flattened ball and put in a hot frying pan. Cover with a lid or large piece of aluminum foil. Leave for about 2-3 minutes, until it puffs up. Flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Some will puff more than others – don’t worry if the puffing is minimal, you can still use it.
  8. Take out of the pan and immediately put into the pillow case. Close up the pillow case. This allows the pita to cool in a somewhat closed environment, so the surface is sort of pliable rather than crispy and brittle. Repeat for the rest of the dough.

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Sandwich Verdict

Again, wow. The pita bread is so incredibly simple and absolutely spot-on. The smell alone is enough to make me devote my life to pita making. I agree with what the author said about this recipe taking a lot of time, but not being time consuming. Bread takes time, but the actual hands-on demand of this recipe is next to none. The falafel turned out fantastic, even with the lentil substitution. Flavorful, exotic yet slightly sweet. I will use the little balls on salads and sandwiches all week. This was so good, I called Sebastian and told him to come home hungry. I already have one waiting for him! I ate my sandwich with horseradish hummus, cucumber, tomato, and sprouts.

There is something so gratifying about recreating a recipe that a “friend” somewhere else in the world created; adding my own taste and personality to something that is already outstanding.

Do you keep a Recipe Wish List or something similar?

If creating 4 amazing recipes wasn’t enough, my day of wishes coming true was made even more magical when I received a box from my mom!

I’ve told you before that when living abroad, there’s nothing better than receiving a card or package from home.

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Today’s loot included: a shirt and sunglasses I forgot when I was back at Easter, stamp sets and a stamp pad (one of my mom’s many hobbies is being a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator), a beautiful homemade quilt runner (my mom is very crafty and talented), 2 new plates, bookmarks, clippings from the local newspaper, an article about my main musician, Tom Petty, and photos from my friend’s wedding that I was unable to attend.

Thanks Mom, you’re the best!

This has been a great day!

I hope your Monday was equally as wonderful!

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Looking for a cool summer treat that’s low on calories but high on decadent flavor?

How about an extra protein punch to go with this decadence?

There’s no need to head to your corner coffee shop and spend an arm and a let, you can make this one right at home.

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Vegan Protein Mocha Frozen Cappuccino

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

– 1 cup chocolate soy milk

– 1 cup silken tofu

– 3-4 Tbsp coco powder

– 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

– 1 Tbsp. agave nectar

– 1/2 scoop protein powder such as Vanilla Sun Warrior

– 10 ice cubes

– 1/2 cup coffee or espresso, frozen in an ice cube tray

Method

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and incorporated. You may need to scrape down the powders from the sides of the blender.

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You want rich and creamy? You’ve got it!

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The purpose for our visit to Berlin this month was to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Sebastian’s grandparents.

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Before the Berlin Wall was built, Sebastian’s Grandmother’s entire family lived in East Berlin. After years of communism, and the threat of worse things to come, her entire family fled to the west.

Well, everyone but her.

She stayed behind, bound by her love to Sebastian’s Grandfather.

P7106778Her family was right, things in Communist East Berlin became a lot worse. A wall was built, forcibly trapping people into communism. Life was hard. Food was restricted. Neighbors turned to spies. Raising a family in the DDR was a hard task. But these two did it.

P7106786They had three children together. From these three children, came five grandchildren, with one more on the way. Already, from their five grandchildren, they have two great-grandchildren.

And 50 years of love between them.

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Certainly worth celebrating.

Sebastian’s mom did a fantastic job planning the celebration. Every detail was carefully considered.

From the tables to the entertainment, she did a great job.

The celebration was held in the church where the two were wed, 50 years ago.

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She even put together a very impressive presentation about the life and times of her parents. Beginning with their baby photos, to wedding photos, to a slide of photos for each of their kids, grandkids and great grandkids.

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Sebastian’s mom                              Sebastian on Route 66

Apparently, I’m not allowed to leave this family as there was even an entire slide with photos of Sebastian and me. Including the first time I got drunk with met his grandparents.

The family members who now live in West Germany even planned a bit of entertainment.

P7106813 An operatic puppet show! Oh did we laugh to this one!

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Well into the night, a band arrived to play the top hits from each year the couple has been married.

P7106819Boy did that perk everyone up! All the guests who are more advanced in years started singing along and got up to dance. But naturally, the first dance was had by the couple of honor.

P7106832  I spent most of the day playing with Sebastian’s cousin’s daughter, Natalie.

Whenever we’re at get-together, she and I stick together.

P7106768 Even though I haven’t seen her since Christmas, she instantly recognized me and didn’t leave my side all day or night. I blame it on our similar German language skills. We get each other.

P7106784 Such a cutie, right? We played with bugs, made flower garlands, pretended to be monsters, and even washed the sidewalk and watered the plants.

The party started at 2 and when we walked out of the church many hours later, it was already day light. 4:30 am to be exact. This family is nothing but a group of party animals!

The next day, we went to Sebastian’s grandparent’s house to eat the leftover food and continue the family fun.

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Unfortunately, it was 104 degrees in the shade, so we spent most of the day soaking our feet in water and trying to keep cool.

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50 years is really something.

Although I had a great time at this golden anniversary party, it made me really sad to think about missing my own grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary party a few years back.  Although I believe my generation will have fewer couples making it this far, I hope some day I’ll be able to celebrate 50 years of married bliss.

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