Wednesday, October 29, 2008

26 before 27

In my meanderings on the interwebs, I came across idea of making a list of x number of things before your next birthday (x=your current age). This is supposed to be realistic goals. Small (or not) things that you can be proud of for accomplishing. It's meant to be less drastic than your "bucket list," and I'm good with that.

26 Things I Want to Do Before I'm 27

  1. Go on a 25km bike ride without dying in the process.

  2. Enroll in the aquajogging class.

  3. Eat oatmeal for breakfast more often.

  4. Invite people over for an afternoon "tea."

  5. Figure out a better system for filing my recipies.

  6. Smile at people on the street, even though they probably won't smile back.

  7. Go eat lunch in the park.

  8. Sort the horror of unfiled .jpg files on my hard drive.

  9. Finish altering the button up shirt pattern I have.

  10. Use up 3 pieces of fabric from my stash.

  11. Make myself a new awesome hat.

  12. Make 5 new Christmas ornaments for our little tree.

  13. Finish my kitty wall hanging.

  14. Make a paper bag album.

  15. Have a giveaway on my blog.

  16. Complete at least two more incomplete projects that I've got hiding away in my cabinets.

  17. Make a book.

  18. Finish my alphabet project.

  19. Get portraits of Martijn and I made.

  20. Find good stuffing and finish making the army of sock monkeys inside my cabinets.

  21. Tag and go through all of the bookmarks on my

  22. Save enough money for a new camera.

  23. Play Scrabble in Dutch.

  24. Post one recipe per week in my blog (33).

  25. Make some parsnips.

  26. Complete 23 of the 30 requirements for my inburgerings portfolio.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The Halloween gathering yielded a lot of pumpkin seeds. I decided to get creative.


Starting at the bottom left (in the mug) and going around clockwise: Sweet Seeds, Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, Taco Seeds, Curry Seeds, Sandwich Fixin' Seeds
Closeups: Sweet Seeds (left), Taco Seeds (right)

I made all of these recipes up as I went along, save the Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

For each "recipe" you will want 1 cup of cleaned (wash off the guts and let them dry overnight) pumpkin seeds and a tablespoon or so of oil or butter and one of the "mixes" below.

Sweet Seeds
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 twists of the nutmeg grinder (just a pinch if you're not grating it yourself)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch of salt (this is important!)

Taco Seeds
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt

Curry Seeds
1 tsp curry powder
pinch of salt

Sandwich Fixin' Seeds
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp powdered horseraddish
1/4 tsp seasoned salt

Mix your pumpkin seeds, oil/butter, and seasonings in a bowl or a plastic bag. Make sure the seeds are covered generously. Roast at about 250 F (125 C) for an hour or so. They'll be lightly browned and if you're not sure if they're done you can do a taste test to see if they're crispy!

The fun thing about pumpkin seeds is you can really play around with the seasonings and do whatever you wish! My favorite of this batch was probably the Sandwich Fixin' Seeds or the Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (which I yanked from

Monday, October 27, 2008

Menu Plan Monday- October 27, 2008

click the banner and "Menu Plan Monday" for more menu planning ideas

I'm so impressed with myself! I managed to make everything on my menu last week. If you missed it, here's a link for my Pot Sticker How-to.

This week:

Curry Sprouts- (Recipe is in Dutch) I love trying new sprout recipes! I will see how it looks when I make it, but I think the cream in the recipe could easily be eliminated.

Potato Carrot Gratin- (Recipe is in Dutch) I think I'm going to sub out some of the potatoes that it calls for with cauliflower.

Spaghetti- I need to get my mom's sauce recipe. Mine never turns out quite as delicious as hers!

I decided we'd have a special spooky Halloween dinner this year. Here's what I've got planned:

Mummy Dogs
Abracadabra Hats
Tomato Soup with Goop (instead of cheese goop, I might just pipe creme fraiche in a spiderweb pattern)

I need to read the ads for this week and see what vegetables are on sale. Hopefully they will include sprouts and cauliflower!

We're going to stay in a bungalow on the island of Texel the week after next. We're trying to plan what we'll need for the week and take it with us since we'll be on the island and don't want to get stuck paying huge "tourist supermarket" prices. I'd love to hear ideas for easy meals with portable ingredients! We'll have a kitchen and we're going to take our little Turbo oven with us.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Festivities 2008

The Dutch don't really celebrate Halloween like folks in the US. Since this is the case, the North American Women's Club here in Eindhoven hosts a party for the kids and families to get together and do Halloweeny things. This year, someone new was in charge and she went all out and did a wonderful job organizing and getting everything set up. I think we ended up with around 85 people there, and we were LUCKY to have awesome weather yesterday (it's usually a crapshoot and you just pray for no rain when you have an outdoor event planned).

Of course, I had to get in on the action and carve my pumpkin.

Pumpkin 2008

Martijn and I were volunteered to help with the games for the kids. I think he drew the short straw and had to gather up LOTS of pumpkin seeds for the relay race. I was in charge of "pin the nose on the pumpkin" and the "assemble the skeleton" game, but people were pretty into the pumpkin carving so I didn't see a lot of action. I managed to successfully explain to some of the little Dutch kids how to play the game, though I suspect they were wondering what planet I learned their language on.

My only other Halloween celebration this year is going to be on Halloween and I'm making funny things for dinner like Mummy Dogs and Blood Soup (tomato soup, of course).

P.S. The Dutch word for pumpkin is "pompoen."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Husband of the Year

The past few weeks have been rather rough, and yesterday really blew up in my face. So it really made my day when the doorbell rang last night and I peered through the peep hole and saw my husband's smiling face holding out these:

Pretty in Pink!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday- October 20, 2008

click the banner and "Menu Plan Monday" for more menu planning ideas

Last week:

I had two days where I didn't have to cook, and one day when I tried a different recipe than the one I had listed (but didn't need to buy any new groceries for!).

Rice Noodles with Chicken- this is really good, I'm going to use a little less soy sauce next time, but I highly recommend it! I left out the sugar, because I think with the sweet soy sauce you don't need it.

I still didn't get to the Cornmeal Crusted Catfish, so I'm putting it back into the recipe file to try in a few weeks. Maybe it'll look more appealing then.

I didn't do the Tex Mex Lasagna yet either, but I have everything for it so I'm going to try to make it this week.

This week:

Tex Mex Lasagna

Potstickers- these are so easy and delicious!

Won Ton Tacos- we won't use a whole package of wrappers on the potstickers, so I'll make these to finish off the package.

I was cleaning out the cupboards the other day and realized we really had a LOT of noodles, so I'm going to make a stir-fry of some kind again this week to try to use them up. Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vintage Thingie Thursday- Candlestick

Picture 1565

For some reason, I had a horrible time trying to get a decent photograph of this thing. I think my camera is acting finicky because it knows I want to replace it in the next 6 months or so!

This is a candlestick that my husband's grandpa made. I'm not sure exactly how old it is, but in an effort to help me with Vintage Thingie Thursday, Martijn was running around the house finding all the interesting "old" things I could showcase in my posts. This was one of them! It usually just sits on a little side table under some cabinets, so we don't burn the candle very much. I thought maybe it was time to move it somewhere else so it could burn for awhile.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blogs I like...

I mentioned a few days ago that I my intent for this blog wasn't for it to be a recipe blog.

So, what -is- my intent?

Good question. I'm still working on an answer.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of the blogs that I enjoy reading.

A Touch of Dutch is the blog of a fellow American living in The Netherlands. She writes about life and has some darn good informative posts about life in The Netherlands. There are also tons of good language links, and I really like the "Dutch word of the week" in her sidebar.

Two Cheese Please makes wonderful things like rainbow scarves, handcarved rubber stamps, and the cutest stuffed goat I've ever seen.

Blogger Buster is really good to learn little tips and techniques on how to make your blog better. It's the only reason I managed to get my cute header with Henrietta sewing to work.

Org Junkie has some good ideas on how to get things organized and also hosts Menu Plan Monday each week. I don't have time to read all the submissions on MPM, but I try to go through a few every week to glean new recipe ideas.

I've also been getting a kick out of the posts on Confessions of an Apron Queen. She hosts Vintage Thingie Thursday, which I've participated in the past few weeks.

Tammy's Recipes hosts Kitchen Tip Tuesday, and I have been shamelessly learning interesting things I never would've figured out on my own there.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Won Ton Tacos

Won Ton Tacos

You will need:

12 won ton wrappers
1/4 lb ground beef (turkey, chicken, or pork would work too)
1 cup cooked black beans (canned works)
1 onion, diced
3/4 cup salsa*
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Brown the meat and saute the onion. Drain any excess fat you don't care to consume (I don't bother if I have used really lean meat, but when I use pork I do drain it). Add the taco seasoning, salsa, and beans and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.

Press a won ton wrapper into the section of a muffin tin. The sides overlap a little- this is okay. Sprinkle with a little bit of cumin. Repeat for the remaining wrappers. By this time your meat mixture is probably finished cooking, so go ahead and split it evenly between the little won ton cups. Bake at 220 C (425 F) for about 8 minutes. Quickly sprinkle cheese on top of each and return to the oven for a couple more minutes so the cheese can get nice and melty.

The tacos should just pop out of the muffin tins. Serve with your favorite taco toppings. We did salsa and sour cream. Next time I'll have some lettuce and guacamole handy too.

*Note about the salsa- I usually just make a small batch of fresh salsa for stuff like this. Since it's not very "wet" (it's more like Pico de gallo) like you find with jarred salsas, I add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste and a little water. If you use jarred salsa, this probably isn't necessary.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It's spruitjes (Brussels sprouts) season!

This makes my mouth happy.

I think a lot of people have aversions to Brussels sprouts because they haven't had any that have been cooked properly. Here are a couple of hints followed by my favorite way to prepare sprouts.

  • Cut an X in the bottom of your sprout. This helps them cook more evenly and prevents the need to have to overcook them to get the centers tender.
  • brussels sprouts
  • Pour just a quick glug of milk in with the sprouts if you choose to boil them. This keeps the smell down!

My favorite method of cooking sprouts is roasting them. Martijn likes this recipe, but says he prefers them the "traditional" way (but he likes canned peas better than frozen ones too, so I don't know if I should trust his judgment on this one!).

Prepare sprouts by trimming the stems, cutting the X and discarding any discolored or wilted outer leaves.

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200-ish C).

In a big bowl with a lid (or a ziploc bag) combine about a pound of sprouts, a glug of olive oil, a teaspoon of good salt, and a little bit of pepper. Shake well and make sure all the sprouts are coated evenly with a little bit of the oil.

On a cookie sheet with parchment, spread the sprouts out.

Roast for 30-45 minutes. You'll want to shake the pan or stir the sprouts with a wooden spoon every 5 minutes or so so they'll cook evenly. Your sprouts will be really dark brown, almost black. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary.

Check out more Kitchen Tip Tuesday hosted by Tammy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday- October 13, 2008

click the banner and "Menu Plan Monday" for more menu planning ideas

Last week went pretty well. I used new recipes, so here's a rundown:

Whole Slow Cooker Chicken- this is going to be my new go-to recipe for crockpot chicken. The flavor was really good, though I did marinate the bird overnight in the "sauce" (minus the broth) before cooking it the next day.

Stuffed Peppers Casserole- this was really tasty! I think it'll be fun to play around with different variations, and it's really perfect for the frozen pepper slices I have stocked up in my freezer.

Spicy Sauteed Chickpeas, Beef, & Cilantro- Make this! Very tasty! I might suggest using water instead of the juice that you drained from the chickpeas because it was a -tad- salty. Also, I don't know what Spike seasoning is, so I used a "meat" seasoning I found at the supermarket.

I didn't get to the
Cornmeal Crusted Catfish because I made Crockpot BBQ Ribs instead. Don't worry though, I've got the fish on this weeks menu!

This week I'm trying to use a lot of what I've got in my pantry and in the freezer. I did a little shopping this morning and hopefully that'll get us through the rest of the week!

Rice Noodles with Chicken

Black Bean Burritos

Tex Mex Lasagna

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish


Sunday, October 12, 2008


I need to preface this by saying that this isn't an -every- Sunday morning occurrence. It only happens three or four times throughout the year, but I find that enough to be notable.

Picture 1531
Huddled under a blanket his laptop and the TV on...

I took this picture a little after 7am, but he'd been in there since before 6:30. Now what on earth would provoke a man to wake up BEFORE 6:30 on a Sunday morning? I'll tell you what. RACECARS! The Formula 1 race was in Japan today which meant that afternoon there is SIX THIRTY in the morning here. Want to know what's worse? I actually dragged myself out of bed around 7 to watch the remainder of the race with him.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Crockpot Barbecue Ribs


I don't think ribs are very photogenic...

You will need:

1kg (2.2 lbs) ribs, inner skin removed
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp hickory liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 cup cola (I used diet coke)

Mix the brown sugar, salt, pepper, smoke and garlic together. Use a basting brush and brush it over your ribs, coating generously.

Cut the ribs into 3-4 inch pieces and layer with onions inside your crockpot. Pour the cola over the top. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours.

Drain and discard the cooking liquid.

Next, you will need:

1 cup ketchup
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Dash of liquid smoke
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk the above ingredients together and pour over the ribs in the crockpot. Cover again and simmer for 45 minutes on low, and 15 minutes on high at the end.

I have a non-stick liner in my slow-cooker, but if you don't you can spray some cooking spray in before you toss everything in to prevent an icky sticky mess later on.

We -really- liked these ribs. Martijn was making caveman noises while we ate them. I wasn't sure what to think at first, but then I decided to take it as a compliment.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again!

A few weeks ago when I was making pesto, my trusted sidekick Little Choppy was in a terrible accident in which he had a skull fracture. Now, I use Little Choppy almost everyday. It's really a stick blender with a chopping bowl attatchment and a whisk attatchment, but I use the chopping bowl the most, hence us naming him Little Choppy. I was, quite understandably, very distraught over how I was going to chop all my little things at lightening speed. Martijn was very distraught over how I was going to continue making chip dip.

We looked up the part on Philips website here and they wanted 12€ PLUS another 6€ for shipping. EIGHTEEN EURO?! We could get a brand new one for 30€, and if we watched, probably catch it on sale for even less.

A piece of window screen and a generous coating of epoxy later- Little Choppy has been revived!

Picture 1516

Little Choppy is back baby!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Sewing Machine- with all it's goodies

This is Greenie. She's a Husqvarna CL-8 from sometime in the mid 60's. It's a straight stitch only machine, but that just means it's the loveliest looking straight stitch you'll ever see!

I left my sewing machine behind in the US when I moved here, and I'd been really feeling like I needed one... so on Queen's Day* I spotted this machine and knew I had to have it. Martijn asked the woman how much she wanted for it and she said something along the lines of she was asking a lot, and then said 35€. I was so excited to have found such an awesome looking machine that I immediately said "YES." Martijn said we should've tried to haggle it down a little. We should have, but I still think I got it for a steal. Besides, he doesn't like haggling, and I think he wouldn't have tried to get it down anyways (he'll tell you otherwise though).

It had the original accessory box, foot pedal, and (Dutch) users manual. We did end up changing the plug end because the outlet I usually plug it into is grounded and recessed back into the wall and the original plug end wouldn't fit.

Sewing Machine-  back viewSewing Machine- side view into it's brains

*Queen's Day (Koninginnedag in Dutch) is the celebration of the Queen's birthday here in The Netherlands. Everything that can be covered in something orange is and the entire country turns into a giant flea market. There are some good deals to be had if you search enough!

Strange bit of trivia: Queen Beatrix's actual birthday is in January, but she opted to keep the celebration on April 30th (her mother, Queen Juliana's birthday) since the weather is usually more pleasant and conducive to celebrations in April.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Favorite Things Monday

SarahC from Everyday Elegance has invited me to participate in her "My Favorite Things Monday" hosted on her blog! The idea is to post a current "favorite thing" that cheers you up when you're feeling bad.


I did quite a bit of thinking on this and decided sock monkeys fit the bill. I mean, how can you be annoyed or down when you're looking at a sock monkey? Even when you're trying to stitch on their limbs and they're flopping all over, you can't really help but smile.

I give you some examples:

sock monkey mosaic

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Menu Plan Monday- October 5, 2008

click the banner and "Menu Plan Monday" for more menu planning ideas

Last week:

We liked the Crockpot Chicken and Brown Rice but I felt like there was just a little -something- missing. It was better with a little added salt, but I might try to season the rice differently next time I make it.

I didn't make the Low Carb Pizza because I contracted the plague and was having a nasty med reaction and just didn't feel like messing with it.

This week:

Lucky me for having a husband that likes to cook! He's making us pork medallions and witlof salad tonight, and sometime this week he's going to be making a red cabbage stew because we're having people over. The rest is up to me though ;) All of these recipes are new because I have a serious backlog of "untested" in my recipe file. I might as well test them and see if they're good enough to add to the "tried and true" file!

Stuffed Peppers Casserole- This is interesting because it's -like- stuffed peppers without actually -needing- whole peppers. I have a freezer full of sliced, so this is perfect. I'll let everyone know how we like it next week.

Whole Chicken in the Slowcooker- I've got a chicken in the freezer that I'm going to use to make this. The reviews say to use less oil, and maybe marinate the bird for a couple hours before starting to cook so I'll give it a go.

Spicy Sauteed Chickpeas, Beef, & Cilantro- I think I've got everything on hand for it except Spike Seasoning... which I have no idea what is so I will be making some substitutions I'm sure.

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish- This looks simple enough that I won't foul it up!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

DS Lite Restoration Project 2008

Did you ever wonder what the inside of a Nintendo DS looks like?

If you said no, then I'm sorry. If you said yes, then HERE YOU GO!

DS Restoration Project

A few weeks ago, we were laying in bed and Martijn let out a mournful groan. DISASTER HAD STRUCK! His DS hinge had given up the ghost.

DS Restoration Project
Apparently, this is a known weak spot on the DS and if you Google "cracked hinge" all of the search results on the first page (minus one) are about the hinge problem!

Martijn bought his DS lite right when they came out in 2006, so it was very very much out of warranty. Sending it to Nintendo for a hefty (almost 90€) fee was really not looking like a nice plan, and getting a new one for €149 was sortof out of the question and silly, since otherwise the device was still in good shape. We hemmed and hawed about it and decided the most economical solution was going to be to replace the housing.

Now the tricky part was deciding what color he wanted his new DS to be. You can get new housings in a bunch of different (and non-factory) colors. After much deliberation I ordered the blue and black "full replacement housing" from for him. Since it was a shiny metallic paint and we were worried about scratches, we also ordered a clear snap on case to go over it (more on that later). A set of new button pads and a triwing screwdriver so we could get into the thing finished out our order.

When I've ordered from in the past, I usually have forgotten what was in my order by the time it gets to me because the shipping from China is SO SLOW. Since we were worried about the opposite hinge on his DS, I loaned him MY snap-on clear case. Luckily, the order only took a week and a half, which is really breakneck speed compared to how slow some of my previous orders were.

Now some words of wisdom:
  • This is a very fiddly project.
  • There will likely be swearing involved.
  • If you do this you will probably want to know how to use a soldering iron in case you break one of your shoulder buttons off.
  • If you forget to install the power and volume buttons, you will have to take things completely apart again to put them back in.
  • Same with if you forget to take the little metal nut that the battery cover screws into out of your old housing.
  • The awesome transparent case you bought to snap on your DS so it won't get scratched might not actually fit an aftermarket housing.
  • The replacement buttons that come with many of the replacement housings aren't as good as the originals so you might just decide to reuse the old ones.
  • And the old screen covers.
  • I really recommend reading the reviews of the housings (or replacement shells) at Here's a link.

DS Restoration ProjectDS Restoration Project

Martijn said (very diplomatically I might add) "It was a lengthy, and at times, stressful project. In the end I'm glad to say the result was more than satisfactory."

To see more of the carnage process, you can check out the flickr set here.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

My intention for this blog was not for it to be a recipe blog (which is what it looks like at the moment). However, recipes are easy posts (well, easy in that most of the ones I've posted lately are recipes I've already posted elsewhere *coughs*) and I'm all about easy. I hope that in the next few weeks very soon I'll have something more substantial (and interesting) to read about, but right now I'm going to spam you with more recipes!

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I had some bananas that were on the verge of death, and I'd come across a recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Bread somewhere on the internet... so I thought "why not!?" I was a little wary of the recipe I found, so I made some rather big changes. Here's what I came up with:

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

1 cup flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar (or 1/2 cup of regular brown sugar)
1/4 cup Splenda (or regular sugar)
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Grease a large bread loaf pan.

Mix the sugars and oil together. Beat in the eggs. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together until mixed well. This is a really thick gooey "dough." Pour into the pan and cook for about 25 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for another 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

P.S. Don't forget to put in the baking soda. Really, don't. You will regret it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vintage Thingie Thursday- Coat Rack!

This weeks Vintage Thingie Thursday is probably more of a "I surpassed vintage about 40 years ago Thingie Thursday."

Picture 1502

This is the coat rack that was in the garden plot of Martijn's great grandfather. The really neat part about it is the garden plot actually was right by where our apartment building currently stands. The hooks have been replaced at some point during it's life, but it's a neat piece I think.

Any ideas on what to put on top of it? There's only about 12 inches between it and the ceiling and it's 5 inches deep. I'm up for any suggestions, it's a little naked up there!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Curry Chicken Salad with Cashews

This is another migratory recipe from my livejournal, so sorry if you've seen it before. It's worth a repeat though cause it's delicious. I repeat, delicious.

Curry Chicken Salad

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 good sized apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
2 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup mayo (use more or less depending on how saucy you like your chicken salad)
2 tbsp apricot jam
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard

In a big bowl, combine the chicken, apple, nuts, and onion. Separately, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the chicken mixture and stir to coat. Chill in the fridge before serving. This is really really good the next day.

A friend said she used cherry jam in this and it was really good too, so I might try that next!
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