Monday, 30 April 2012

Queen's Day!

Today we celebrate the Queen's birthday in the Netherlands.
It is called Koninginnedag and it is pretty much one big party.
The streets are lined with stalls and everyone is out and about.
People sell their old stuff (read junk) and generally have a fun time.
Orange is the colour of the day.

I contemplated baking an orange cake... but decided against it.
Instead I had a very delicious little bar of Orange Nero & Bianco chocolate.

It was really, really, really good.
Milky chocolate with sweet orange bits.
My little orange treat.

Happy Queen's day everyone!

Friday, 27 April 2012

DWZI - One hundred days...

This week was all about the grandparents.
What joy for my kids to spend so much time with them.
Heidi asked whether her grandparents can stay here for one hundred days.
One hundred days to her must seem like a very long time...
I wonder what our vegetable patch will look like in one hundred days.

This week we planted bean seeds in empty toilet rolls.
I'm not sure where this is going but I'm just following instructions!
Sometimes it is better not to question things and just hope for the best.

Happy weekend everybody!

You can find the Deze Week Zag Ik participants here.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Sandwiches for Lunch

I make my own sandwiches for lunch.
Mostly because then I know exactly what I eat and I can control the calories.
Because lately I am all about counting calories.
So every day I skip the big lunch room with all the deep fried snacks and I enjoy my sandwich.
Honey mustard, rocket, cucumber, tomato, ham... yummy!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Eating Outside

As soon as the weather is nice I have this urge to eat outside.
I want to sit on our roof terrace and enjoy the fact that the sun is setting later.
We had a chance to do just that when the weather was surprisingly good in March.
I grilled courgette and mushrooms, made lovely cod fillets in the oven and served it all with crispy potatoes. 
Squeeze fresh lemon on top and dinner is sure to be fabulous.
Anything is great when you're sitting outside for dinner!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies

Yes, these brownies are glorious.
They are absolutely perfect.

I made them as a treat for my team at work.
But if I could have, I would have eaten them all myself.

Here is the recipe which I found on the back of a bag of cocoa from King Arthur Flour:

2/3 cup (3 ounces) Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar 
1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces)King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour 
1 tablespoon espresso powder 
1 cup (4 ounces) toasted walnuts, diced (optional) 
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (optional) 
3 large eggs 
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) vegetable oil 
2 tablespoons(1 ounce) water or brewed coffee

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugars, salt, flour, espresso powder, nuts, and chips. Add the eggs, oil, and water or coffee, mixing just until smooth. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 8 x 8" or 9 x 9" square pan, smoothing the top.

Bake the brownies in a preheated 350°F (180 degrees Celsius) oven for about 35 minutes (for the 9" pan), or 45 minutes (for the 8" pan). To see if the brownies are done, remove the pan from the oven, and stick the tip of a sharp knife into the center of the brownies. Wriggle it around just enough to see what’s going on. Is the batter under the crust still shiny, wet, and smooth? Continue to bake the brownies, checking frequently. Is it ultra-moist, but not shiny, and “crumby” looking? Take them out, they’re done.

Place the pan of brownies on a cooling rack, and allow them to cool for 1 hour before slicing. 
Yield: 16 rich brownies.

Monday, 23 April 2012


The tulip season is fabulous.
You simply have to see it for yourself.
The fields are so beautiful.
Intense stripes of colour.

What a pleasure it was to drive along the 'bollenroute' yesterday.

Friday, 20 April 2012

DWZI - Roses

Sometimes you've just got to stop and smell the roses.

Unfortunately the roses which I bought at the Jumbo turned out to have no fragrance at all... but hey, they were pretty to look at.

All week long I've been looking at them.
The soft pastel colours and perfectly shaped petals.

This week I have also been looking forward to my parents arriving for a short visit.
Today they finally arrive and by this evening we will be enjoying dinner together.
Nothing like having family around!

Happy weekend everyone!

                                     You can find the Deze Week Zag Ik participants here.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Brasserie Domplein

We walked into town on a busy Saturday morning and soon enough the kids were hungry.
Since we found ourselves near the Dom we secured a table at the Brasserie Domplein.
I had an excellent decaf latte and we enjoyed some sandwiches.

There is a big mural on the ceiling of the restaurant which I found fascinating.
The service was good and it is pretty much a typical Dutch restaurant.

I enjoyed a 'broodje gezond' and the kids had toasted ham and cheese sandwiches.
It's not really a very child friendly place, but at the same time they were very easy going and not at all fussed by our kids.

Definitely a nice spot to have a quick coffee on a Saturday morning.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A Quick Tuna Pasta Salad

That is how I try to make all my dinners.
Unfortunately I don't like eating the same thing twice in a row or else I would just make everything double. Luckily some ingredients can be cleverly disguised.

I made a standard vegetarian pasta and decided to cook a little extra pasta to keep ready in the fridge for a pasta salad.

A can of lovely white tuna, one cup of cooked cold pasta, half a small cucumber finely chopped, a big juicy tomato, one red onion, half a bag of rocket leaves, lemon juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and ground black pepper.

(Notice how I resisted temptation and did NOT use any mayo with the tuna...)

Mix it all together and enjoy a very healthy dinner or lunch!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Kids Food #16 - Sausages and Pasta Monsters

I try to be creative and fun when cooking for the kids.
I really try.
Usually I fail because I am in a rush.
But sometimes I succeed.

These little monsters are lots of fun for the kids.
But beware, your children might end up playing with the food instead of eating it.

My husband saw this idea on the internet ages ago and finally we got around to making it for the girls.

Basically all you need is some sausages, cut into bite size pieces.
Then take spaghetti pasta and stick it through the raw sausages.
You can use as many pieces as you like.
Place in a large pot of boiling water and cook for about 12 - 15 minutes.
Serve up with or without pasta sauce and any other vegetables you manage to get your kids to eat :-)

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Vegetable Patch #4

Things are growing!!

It is actually really exciting and I am doing my best not to be too impatient...

Today we transferred the little cherry tomato plants to their own little pots.
They will continue to grow inside the house, on the window sill.

Heidi was amazed at the progress they made and could not wait to 'help' with everything from planting to watering. Of course my husband did most of the work (he's the one with green fingers after all).

Now we wait some more.

I almost forgot to mention how I bought some lovely little plant labels for the vegetable patch from Dille & Kamille. The idea is that you write the names of the vegetables on it with chalk. Yes, you probably spotted it right away... we live in the Netherlands. It rains a lot. All my labels are gone. Good thing I have a rough idea what I planted!

Friday, 13 April 2012

DWZI - Sadness

Apart from the Easter madness and chocolate overdose, this week was mostly a week of sadness.

My dear friend Carina lost her little 4 year old son, Gerrit, in a tragic accident.

I have no words to help her grieve.
I cry almost every day for her loss.

Today is his funeral and I am too far away to be there, to hold her hand, to comfort her. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family in this difficult time.

This week I truly realised how short life is and how important it is that we make the most of every single day with the people we love.

                                     You can find the Deze Week Zag Ik participants here.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Star Cookies

Sometimes I just want to bake.
Usually on a Saturday afternoon.
My focus has been on cookies lately.
Probably because it is something that is a lot of fun to do with Heidi.
Rolling out the dough, cutting out the shapes and eating the dough.

I think that I stumbled across the best sugar cookie recipe ever.
It is from a children's cookbook and it is really easy!


125 gram soft unsalted butter
125 gram sugar
1 egg
250 gram flour
100 gram dark chocolate (melted)


Beat the butter, sugar and egg until light and creamy.
Add the flour and mix with your hands until you get a soft dough.
Place on a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth dough in about two minutes.
Cover in plastic foil and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Grease an oven tray.
Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick by placing it between two sheets of baking paper.
Use a star shaped cookie cutter and cut out as many shapes as you can get out of the dough.
I used a small one and managed 40 little stars.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cookies are golden.
Let them cool and melt the chocolate.
Place half a teaspoon of melted chocolate on the back of half all the cookies. The place the other half of the cookies on top and sandwich them together.

Now drizzle some melted chocolate on top of the cookies and dip them into hundreds and thousands for a bit of colour.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Fried Eggs with Vegetable Stirfry

There is beauty in a fried egg.
A soft yellow yolk, waiting for a knife to pierce it.
Simple and satisfying.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Kids Food #15 - Penne and Cheese

Yes I am a big lover of macaroni and cheese.
The home made kind.
Not the kind that comes in a box with all kinds of weird artificial stuff in it.

I like it the way my mom has made it for years and years.
My kids like it too.

For some reason it is impossible to find nice and big macaroni in my supermarket so I always use penne as a substitute, about 250 gram. Cook it, drain it and place it in an ovenproof dish.

Loosely beat 2 eggs, add half a cup of milk and mix well.
Season to your liking. I use pretty much no salt these days, especially when cooking for kids.

Pour this mixture over the pasta and sprinkle grated cheese on top, mixing it in a little here and there, about a hand or two full of cheese.

Place in a preheated oven (190 degrees Celsius) and cook for 20 - 30 minutes until the cheese melts and the egg mixture sets.

Serve up with a salad!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter Brunch

Instead of the usual weekly menu I'd like to tell you all about the fabulous Easter brunch we enjoyed yesterday. Tip invited a few friends over and as always it turned out to be lovely.
She really has a talent for entertaining.

Tip made an egg and potato pie from Sweet Paul Magazine and it was delicious. So delicious that I had seconds. It was served with bread, a green salad and coffee (of course!). The kids had the cutest devilled eggs you can imagine.

For dessert I baked a 'boerenappelcake', served with fresh strawberries as well as Tip's strawberry and rhubarb pie with ice cream. Yes, it was quite a feast.

Great food, good company, kids running around searching for Easter eggs and just plain having fun. What more could one ask for?

Friday, 6 April 2012

DWZI - Bracelet, Comfort and Easter Eggs

This week went quicker than I thought it would.
But that is not a bad thing.
Now I have a lovely long weekend to look forward to.

Mostly this week I admired my new bracelet.
It adorned my wrist every single day.
Just looking at the pretty glass beads makes me smile.
My fellow illustration student, Corine, made it and she has an etsy shop where she sells her lovely creations.

I bought it at the echt waar bazaar in Utrecht last weekend when they had an Etsy showcase. It was great to see all the beautiful things made locally.

I also bought an instant comfort pocket box from my illustration teacher, Kim Welling.
Funnily enough I looked at it twice this week and it really was comforting. She's on to a good thing here.

And last but not least we went hunting for easter eggs near Bunnik on Sunday with the IWCU and the kids had a great time. A real chocolate overdose!

Happy Easter weekend everyone!

You can find the Deze Week Zag Ik participants here!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Stamp Workshop

In February I attended a workshop on making stamps.
It was given by my illustration teacher, Kim Welling, on a cold winters afternoon.
I've been meaning to write a post about it for ages, but you know, time just really flies in my world.

It was my first time experimenting with stamps and I learnt a lot.
The best part was seeing all the different designs and ideas that the group of creative women came up with. I'm a little obsessed with hearts, but luckily the other participants were more creative.

I especially loved Carly's geometric designs and Lisl's decorative petals.
Everyone there had something beautiful at the end of the workshop.
If only I had the time to be this creative every single day...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

On Top Pancakes at Rosada Factory Outlet

We recently went to a factory outlet mall called Rosada near Roosendaal and we were pleasantly surprised. It has a good selection of brands and some really good prices too!
I had to resist going on a spending spree since we had very clear objectives that day:
1. Buy the husband a new suit.
2. Buy Heidi a new pair of jeans.

You probably won't be surprised to know that we did not stick to the plan. We bought a few more things... but I am such a sucker for a bargain!

There are a few restaurants to choose from but we ended up at On Top where they have a great selection of pancakes. The kids were in heaven... lovely toppings, toys and juice.
All in all a great success.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Kids Food# 14 - Potato Omelette with Broccoli and Ham

This recipe came from Opperdepop, one of my favourite Dutch children's recipe books.
However, if you ask me this recipe is plain wrong.
Somewhere they made a mistake with the ingredients because my version did not look anything like their version!

But hey, we tried it and it was not really a success... firstly because it didn't look anything like an omelette, and secondly the kids did not want to eat it.


You win some, you lose some.

I'm not going to bother with giving you the recipe but if by chance you've made it and it came out well then do let me know!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Vegetable Patch #3

Things are growing!
Little tiny radishes are making an appearance :-)
And the cherry tomatoes are also flourishing.
I am really getting excited now, and Heidi is having a great time too. 
(Although you wouldn't say so looking at her below... take the photo already Mama!)

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