Thursday, 30 June 2011

Tuna pasta salad

A pasta salad is perfect for those really hot summer days and you know me, I wouldn't be writing about it if it wasn't really easy to make.

You can pretty much make a pasta salad with anything you have in the fridge or pantry. I opted for a pasta salad which I found on Nigella's website since I had all the ingredients in the house (Pasta, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, oil, tuna and mayonnaise). Besides, cucumbers are so cheap these days I seem to be eating them with every meal!

Here is the link to the recipe.

I doubled the ingredients so that I had more than enough for dinner and lunch the next day.
However, I used less of the oil and mayonnaise than in the recipe. It was a pleasure to drizzle my olive oil from Crete over the pasta.

The salad turned out really well and I will definitely be making this, or a vegetarian version thereof, again this summer.

P.S. I have been playing with Adobe Ideas on my iPad - that's where I added the text to my photo's. Then I made the photo collage in Adobe Elements... I'm becoming a real graphics software junkie!!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Lunch at Zussen

I joined a friend for lunch at a restaurant in Utrecht called Zussen (which translates to sisters).

It is very trendy and has a lovely interior. The restaurant has a children's play area in the basement which meant showing up with two small children wasn't a problem. Heidi was very impressed with the toys - my only problem was that it felt isolated and I did not feel comfortable leaving her downstairs alone.

The food was good and the service too. I had a wholewheat roll with buffalo mozzarella, tomato and pesto. Heidi enjoyed some delicious poffertjes.

I think this restaurant is probably more suited for after work drinks and hopefully I will get a chance to go there one evening (I can but dream...).

After lunch we strolled across the road to the Sint Willibrord Church. It was renovated not too long ago and it is the first time I've been inside.

What a beautiful church! My breath was taken away by this special place.
Definitely worth a visit if you are ever nearby.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Scrambled eggs and beans on toast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day... not!
Every meal is the most important to me.
That being said, I love toast and anything that goes on top of toast.
Scrambled egg is easy to make and tastes really good on toast, thus that was my breakfast choice for the day.

Take two eggs, scramble them with a fork and season.  (If, unlike me, you are not on a diet or watching your dairy intake then add a bit of cheese, milk or cream to your mixture just to be decadent)

Heat up a dash of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan and then add the scrambled eggs.
Once the eggs are in the pan you need to scramble like crazy for two minutes and then take it off the heat. It is very easy to overcook the eggs, and I tend to do that more than I'd like to admit.

My husband always says the trick is to take the eggs off the heat when you think it is not quite ready.

I added some Heinz beans in tomato sauce to my breakfast feast.
Let the day begin.

Monday, 27 June 2011


Yes, I ordered sushi from the comfort of my couch. It was because I just couldn't muster the energy to make dinner... and the sushi arrived within 25 minutes. Pretty impressive - well done Sushi Wang in Utrecht.

We ordered vegetarian sushi - my favourites are Avocado Maki, Kappa Maki (Cucumber), Nigiri Tamago (Egg) and Nigiri Inari (Tofu skins). Yummy!

I've never been a fan of raw fish but strangely enough I simply love vegetarian sushi. Especially the tofu skins... it is sweet and when you dip it into the dark salty soy sauce it is just heavenly.

If you live in the Netherlands then the best sites to order food from are:; and

They have a huge variety of restaurants and in all price classes... of course I do my best to resist the temptation to order food too often but sometimes it can be a real lifesaver!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Coffee and biscuits

It started pouring with rain while we were driving around in Crete.
One minute the sun was shining and as we turned a corner on a mountain pass the rain put in an appearance. It wasn't cold, just wet.

So we decided to stop in Tsoutsouros and have some coffee.

Of course we couldn't resist the biscuits they had displayed in the little cafe. So a selection was made and enjoyed with our cappuccinos. They were buttery and sweet, just as they should be.

Heidi had ice cream, which we later lived to regret. The rental car will probably never be the same again...

As we stood on the side of a mountain, cleaning the car with baby wipes, the sun came out and the rain was soon forgotten. The incident with the ice cream will take a while yet before it is wiped from our memories.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The end of a holiday

It was bound to happen.

Holidays aren't meant to last forever... right?

We had a great time on the Greek island of Crete.
In our rental car we crisscrossed the mountains, and believe me they have lots of mountains on this island. Beautiful mountains with olive trees, hidden caves and Minoan ruins.
We even went in search of the cave where Zeus was born (allegedly) but after a day of winding mountain roads we eventually gave up, deciding that climbing into a dark cave with a 6 month old baby might not be the smartest move.

Day after day we spent hours in the sun, either on the beach or in the hotel swimming pool. The seawater is crystal clear and the most amazing blue. It is hard to describe, you have to experience the beauty yourself.

We also ate our way through countless Greek salads, olives, tzatziki, baklava, freshly baked bread, watermelon and anything you can imagine at a hotel dinner buffet. It was glorious, it was also way too much.

I am actually really excited about cooking my own food again.

The holiday is over and it is back to business.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Greek Salad

There are few things as wonderful as having a real Greek salad for lunch.
Ripe tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and a big slab of Feta cheese.
Drizzle lots of extra virgin olive oil on top, a dash of vinegar and the salad is ready.

During the last two weeks in Crete I can admit to eating a Greek salad every second day. I am not ashamed to say that it was deliciously decadent. I ordered it in restaurants, road side cafes and even at a snack bar in the middle of nowhere which had the most amazing view.

The best thing about a Greek salad is its simplicity. It is the easiest thing in the world to make and you can have it for lunch or dinner. Go for it, buy some feta cheese and make a salad today.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Olives and Tzatziki. Every day.

I love green olives.
I love Tzatziki.
I am in heaven.

They serve it here at the hotel for breakfast, lunch and dinner...
Guess that's what you should expect on a Greek island.

So far the food has been pretty good. A large selection of salads with all meals. Unfortunately the desserts are very very very tempting and I am having a pretty hard time resisting. In fact, I have given into temptation twice already by eating baklava.

When in Greece, right?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Grow basil grow

Unfortunately I am not known for having green fingers.
In fact, just about everything I plant dies.
That doesn't stop me from trying though, and a few weeks ago I bought basil seeds and followed the instructions on the packet diligently.

Miraculously little plants started to grow from these teeny weeny little seeds.
I am amazed and slightly apprehensive. Will they actually survive and produce basil for me to use in my daily cooking?

Positive thinking and remembering to water the plant, that should do the trick... let's hope they survive my holiday!

Lunch time blues

I am eating my lunch and feeling miserable about it.
Miserable for two reasons:
1. I have no appetite because I have an awful cold;
2. I cannot taste a thing (sob).

It is the worst feeling in the world for someone so obsessed with food. Taste is vital. I know it will return within a day or two, but I desperately want to taste my lunch.

My lunch today is vegetarian "balletjes" from the Albert Heijn on a wholewheat and seed bun with some rocket leaves and mayonnaise. Nothing special but I still want to taste it.

I share the vegetarian balls with Heidi and she seems to think they taste just fine. That just makes me feel worse.

This too shall pass...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Pizza night!

I love pizza.

So since I am home alone with the kids for the weekend I decided to make pizza. Not order it, but make it. Hands on with Heidi. Of course you should know by now that I do try to make things easy for myself thus I confess to not making the pizza dough. I bought some ready made wholewheat pizza bases at the bio shop. Easy as pie.

Add mozzarella, avocado, parma ham and I am in pizza heaven.
I will gladly have avocado for breakfast, lunch and dinner... if I could find ones that are perfect. I keep buying avo's only to be disappointed when I cut them open. In fact, I've had a real bad run of avo's lately thus I was elated when I cut open my latest purchase to see the green, smooth, beauty of an avocado.

I had half of it for lunch and saved the rest for my pizza.
Yes, you know me, I have been planning my dinner all day long and by 5pm I switched on the oven. Heidi was my happy helper and together we assembled the pizzas. I simply squirted some Heinz tomato ketchup on the base and then layered everything else on top. 10 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius and the melted delight was ready to eat.

Heidi's pizza was a very basic pizza - tomato ketchup and grated cheese. I saved the buffalo mozzarella for myself (greedy me!). Of course a pizza is not complete in my opinion until I cover it with rocket leaves and a tiny drizzle of good olive oil.

Maybe next time I'll make the pizza dough, maybe not.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Lentil soup anyone?

For the first time in my life I made lentil soup.

Seems like I've always known about it, but just never made it or even ate it before. I browsed the Internet for some recipe ideas and in the end improvised, like I usually do.

It turned out really well and I will definitely make lentil soup again.

250 gr red lentils
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 big carrot
1 fennel bulb
3 sticks of celery
1.2 litre vegetable stock
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
half a teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
salt & pepper

Chop the vegetables in even sized pieces.
Heat up the oil and saute the chopped onion until softened.
Add the garlic, carrots, fennel and celery. Saute for a minute or two.
Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
Add seasoning, curry and cumin powder.
Let the soup simmer on medium to low heat for about 45 minutes until everything is tender.
You might have to add some more liquid to the soup so stir and check it frequently.
Blend until smooth and creamy.

Yummy and healthy!! Thanks Deirdre for suggesting we try lentil soup - you are full of good ideas.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Salad at the V&D

In the Netherlands everyone knows the V&D.
Vroom & Dreesman.

It is a department store filled with lots of pretty things - clothes, toys, luggage, books, etc.

My favourite part of the V&D in Utrecht is their restaurant at the very top of the store. It has a view over the beautiful city centre in which the Dom towers above everything else.

The restaurant is a buffet style with fruit, smoothies, salads, sandwiches, pizza (freshly made on the spot), fish, chicken,stir fries, soup and of course coffee with cakes. It has something for everyone. Plus it is also pretty child friendly and that is a big bonus for me.

We found ourselves near the V&D and decided to have an early dinner. They close at 7pm and if you arrive there at 6pm it is usually quiet (every night except for Thursday night... that is shopping night and then it is crazy busy). Heidi could run around happily and we had time to enjoy our salads - just the way I like it.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Pretty in Pink

Every little girl wants a pretty room. 
Right now Heidi is at that age where she believes that she is a princess and she just loves butterflies.
Of course she is my little princess and thus I have no choice but to indulge her.

We also finally decided that it is time to move Stella out of our room and into a room of her own. That meant that the guest room had to be transformed into Heidi's new room.

It was a busy DIY weekend and the result is fabulous.
Two very pink rooms for my two little girls.

I even had some retail therapy in Laura Ashley and Ikea... my wallet is feeling decidedly lighter.
Pretty things everywhere. Butterflies and flowers, I am in little girl heaven.

I plan on putting lots of cute wall stickers up tomorrow - lucky, lucky girl!

A very basic vegetable soup

In sticking to my mission of using up the ingredients in the house, I emptied the fridge and found a whole lot of vegetables. I decided to make soup.
Plus it was raining outside and a hearty warm soup just felt right.
This soup is pretty basic though, and I must admit that there are probably a lot of other ingredients that I would have liked to add... but alas, I made do with what I had.
I am not going to lie, this soup needs quite a bit of seasoning and I personally found it a little bland.
Another day, another meal done so I am not complaining.
One head of broccoli
Half a cucumber
Two shallots
Two cloves of garlic
One tomato
Three carrots
One potato
One litre of vegetable stock
One tablespoon of vegetable oil

Peel the shallots, garlic, carrots and potato.
Chop up all vegetables.
Heat up the oil in a large pot and add all the ingredients except for the vegetable stock.
Saute for a minute or two then add the stock.
Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes or until the veggies are soft.
Blend or serve it as is with whole wheat bread rolls.

I tend to blend the soup because I am more likely to get Heidi to eat the soup that way. In fact, I think this soup will probably be better eaten as is since it will have more texture. The choice is yours.

Tip: Add a can of butter beans to vegetable soup - yummy!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Bagels and beans

A giant decaf soy milk latte.
Add some bagels in the mix and you should not be surprised to find yourself sitting in Bagels and Beans in the Biltstraat, Utrecht. It gets quite busy here on the weekend but we were lucky enough to get a table. When the weather is good they have tables outside, but today the weather did not play along.

I had delicious chicken, avo and pesto on a multi grain bagel, and my husband had a vegan version of that i.e. a lot of avo and no chicken or pesto.

Heidi enjoyed her bagel with chocolate sprinkles - oh, the joys of being three years old. They have a big box of children's books in the corner which she 'read' while we finished our giant lattes. Even Stella decided to be on her best behaviour by sleeping the whole time.

Lazy lunches on a rainy Sunday afternoon, now that's what life is all about.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Another day, another dinner

Last night we had vegetarian nuggets with oven roasted potatoes and a salad.
Don't worry, the nuggets were not deep fried but baked in the oven.
My aim was to make the salad the main event of the meal.

This is something I took on board after reading the book 'Eat to Live' by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
I like the thought of salad being the focus of the meal and everything else just condiments.
But then again I like salad so its easy for me. Not so easy for my husband but he really does try.

After three weeks of being good we are both reaping the rewards.
We have lost a few kilograms (yay!) and all we have to do is persevere.
This is a lifestyle change and not just a diet...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

A fruit salad for good times


Wonderful, beautiful, delicious fruit.

Chop them up and make a fruit salad! That is exactly what I did.

One watermelon, strawberries, grapes and a nice big pineapple. Yum Yum Yum.
Guilt free pleasure.

Have some fun making an old fashioned watermelon basket - go on, it will make you smile.
Halve the watermelon and scoop out the inside.
Take a sharp knife and start cutting out triangles - you will develop a rhythm and it will look marvelous!
Fill it up with chopped fruit and hopefully you can enjoy it in the sun with good friends, like I did.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Pumpkin Penne a la Marjolein

Don't you just love it when you don't have to cook dinner every now and again?
We were invited to dinner by our good friends Haiko and Marjolein.
No worries about getting groceries, or spending most of the afternoon wondering what to make.
All we had to do was show up.

Marjolein made pumpkin penne pasta. She found the recipe in an Albert Heijn cookbook and it was great. It scored well on all fronts -  easy, quick and vegetarian!

I dont have the exact recipe, since I was just a bystander having a chat in the kitchen while she slaved away. So here is a short description - as usual my suggestion is to improvise.

Chop some pumpkin and boil it until tender with a clove of garlic. Once cooked, add to a pan with chopped white onion and fresh rosemary and heat through, mashing it up a bit. Cook the penne until al dente. Mix the pumpkin and penne together and dish up. Serve up with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and a green salad.

Thanks again Marjolein - it was delicious!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Banana and Apple Muffins

Now this is yet another winner of a muffin recipe.
I had a few ripe bananas and some apples which had to be used as soon as possible.
One can never have enough muffins, right?
Especially since these freeze really well.

Here is a link to the original recipe which I found on a blog called 'the Goddess's kitchen'. She has some excellent recipes on there.

3 very ripe bananas
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
250g plain flour
100g caster sugar
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 eating apples, cored, peeled and cubed

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan oven/gas mark 6 and line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin papers.

Mash the bananas and set aside for a moment. Pour the oil into a jug and beat in the eggs. Put the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix in the beaten-egg-and-oil mixture, followed by the mashed bananas. Fold in the chopped apples and then place equal quantities in the prepared muffin tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

This recipe worked really well for me and I made about 16 muffins with the ingredients above. I still have some frozen, patiently waiting for when I need a little treat.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Strawberries = happiness

All of a sudden there is an abundance of strawberries available in the shops.
I walked into town this morning and bought two punnets of strawberries at the market.
They were ripe and gloriously red, ready to be eaten today and no later than tomorrow.
It is simply a thing of beauty and delivers sheer happiness.
Is there anything better than strawberries for dessert? I think not.

Steak roll with potatoes

Shock! Horror! Steak roll for dinner!
Yes, occasionally I just cannot resist making something 'non-vegetarian' for me and Heidi.
Of course I made vegetarian burgers for my husband - the man has extreme will power and is sticking to his vegetarian guns.

4 minute steaks
500 gram peeled and quartered potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
One tomato
One white onion
One container white button mushrooms (1.5 cups or so when sliced)
Pumpkin seed bread rolls
1 tablespoon vegetable margarine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Switch on the oven to about 200 degrees Celsius.
Toss the potatoes in a tablespoon of oil and season, then add to the oven to roast for about 30 - 40 minutes. (I always try to make sure that the potato pieces are about the same size and not too big, that way they cook evenly and quicker)
Add the sliced mushrooms to a pan with some seasoning and a dash of white wine vinegar. Saute for 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are ready.
Slice the onion into quite thick slices so that it can be grilled easily.
Heat up the griddle pan and grill the onions until slightly softened.
Now add the minute steaks to the griddle pan and grill for a couple of minutes each side (or less depending on how you like your meat! )
Slice the bread rolls in half and spread a little margarine on each side. Then place on the the griddle pan margarine side facing down. Grill for a minute.
Slice the tomato in thick slices.
Place the rolls on a plate and dress with all the ingredients - tomato, onion, minute steak and mushrooms.
Dish the potatoes onto the place and lastly cut some chives over the mushrooms.
Add any seasoning and sauces you like and enjoy!
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