Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The August Break

I've been following a blog called Pugly Pixel since I started blogging in 2011. She has awesome tutorials and tips for new bloggers. That's where I came across the August Break. It's hosted by Susannah Conway. The idea is to take photos every day for the month of August and to share it via your blog, Instagram or Flicr. She even has photo prompts if you get stuck for something to photograph:

I like this idea so I'll be taking part - it will give me a break from posting recipes... which will be quite a change for me. I'll probably also post on Instagram (#augustbreak2013) so why don't you join me! Enroll here and see what all the participants get up to.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Vegetable Potstickers

I set myself a challenge to use up the stuff in my fridge, freezer and cupboard.
This is hard because if you know me then you know how I love to go to the supermarket to buy groceries. I admit that I like buying interesting things... except I tend to forget that I have them.

So this is the result of my challenge.
I had tofu and a lot of cabbage in the fridge.
I had gyoza skins and peas in the freezer.
I had all kinds of sauces which could be used for a dip.
Potstickers here we come!

Of course it turned out to be a bit of effort to make these little treats. - don't underestimate the work involved in sealing and 'folding' the wrappers. It was my first attempt at making these dumplings and it took the better part of an hour. Then again I had two kids screaming and running around driving me slightly crazy. In the end I gave Heidi a few wrappers and she made her own ham stuffed pot stickers, which when cooked she also ate - bonus!

The potstickers turned out to be very tasty - my stuffing included two types of cabbage, onion, a radish from my garden, garlic, peas and tofu. I served it with steamed rice, soya sauce and sweet chili sauce. Very vegetarian and very good. Well worth trying!

I found inspiration for the potstickers on Smitten Kitchen and The First Mess and adapted it liberally to suit my larder.

In short, here is what I did:
Buy the gyoza skins - let them defrost if frozen.
Chop up your vegetables and tofu - very finely.
Stir fry them for a few minutes until tender but with the colours still vibrant - adding the seasoning as per your personal preference (Besides salt and pepper I added a dash of ketjap manis to the tofu for a bit of flavour).
Set the stuffing aside and drain any excess fluid.
Now start the process of stuffing and folding the wrappers (gyoza skins or whatever you are using).
A teaspoon or two should be enough per wrapper since you don't want it too full.
Place the stuffing in the middle of the wrapper then dip your finger in a bowl of water and draw an outline on the wrapper. Fold to seal and slowly make little folds in the wrapper - this is tricky but any shape will do!
Set the potstickers on a baking sheet to rest for a few minutes.
Now heat a little bit of oil in a big skillet and place the potstickers in there one by one - fitting in as many as possible. Let is cook for a minute and then add boiling water to cover two thirds of the dumplings.
Cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes, until all water is gone.
The dumplings will become quite translucent when ready.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Home Made Bread (from a packet)

I'v been shopping around, looking for bargains. You know, different grocery stores have different things. Lately I find myself switching between the Lidl and Jumbo. Both of them are reasonably priced and that is pretty important.

I found a packet in the Lidl for home made bread - just a small packet to which I had to add water and milk and I can't remember but maybe there was an egg too... very basic and very cheap. I bought it and tried it out. The instructions were cryptic. They didn't even tell me how long to bake the bread. So, yes, it was guesswork.

But in the end I baked the bread and we ate it all.
The kids are very big fans of white bread. Maybe that's because I never buy it?
I'm not sure if I would do this again though.
Baking bread takes some effort - kneading and proving and patience.
I think for now I'll stick to buying my bread!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Photography Course

What a week! I don't think I have ever taken so many photos... but that's the whole point of a photography course.

Practise, practise, practise.
In the scary M mode.
I even used my tripod.

Linda from Fotolokatie tried her best to fill our heads with as much info as possible in the 3 hours per day we spent in her studio. I now know a lot more about my camera and words like aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, focal point and ISO scares me a whole lot less than it used to. But I still have so much to learn!

Here are some of the photos I took this week as part of our daily assignments.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies

I should never ever ever ever make these brownies.
I just shouldn't.
Whenever I do I tend to eat way too many of them. Like at least half the batch.
But they are so good!! 
Even the kids could not resist the dark, rich, chocolate indulgence.

The recipe comes from King Arthur Flour which I discovered via Joy the Baker.
If you are going to bake these I suggest reducing the baking time by 5 minutes, I kind of wish I did with these just to have them a little softer in the middle.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Watermelon Illustration

A little later than planned, but I've been so wrapped up with my photography course that I barely had time to do an illustration!

Here is an illustration of the delicious watermelon we've been eating all week.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Salad with Serrano Ham and Melon

I have no choice. I have to make salads because it is so hot that I cannot even imagine switching on my oven. The amount of lettuce consumed in this house is reaching staggering proportions.

A little bit of Serrano ham (or Parma ham, any type of 'raw' ham will do) with a lovely melon, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, a few pieces of feta and of course a lovely balsamic dressing. This is what happened here and I was pretty happy with the results. Perfect on a hot summer evening.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Fruit Stall

Summer in the Netherlands is synonymous with fruit stalls on the country roads.
Fresh strawberries, raspberries, cherries, melons and even wild peaches.

We stopped at one on a lazy Sunday afternoon somewhere near Maarssen. The kids played, we enjoyed our coffee and wished all afternoons could be like this.

Friday, 19 July 2013


I love taking photos of the children.
It gives me a chance to focus on something other than food!
Stella really is a rock star when it comes to building puzzles.
And did I tell you it is finally summer vacation here in Utrecht? 
No more school runs for a while - yay!!

Next week I'm taking a photography course to finally learn something about my dSLR camera. I'm trying to contain my excitement but not really succeeding.... It's all I talk about. 
Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Tuna Pasta Salad

Hot weather calls for cold food.
Hence a pasta salad for dinner.
I must admit that I'm pretty happy with this tuna pasta salad.
The sweet corn and salty green olives really worked well together.
Can I make this pasta salad twice in one week... I just might!

Here's my recipe. 


250 gram penne pasta (uncooked)
1 can of tuna (in water or oil, depending on your preference)
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup green olives (pitted), finely chopped
1/2 of a large cucumber, chopped
1 can sweet corn kernels (medium sized can)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used a light version)
The juice of one lemon
A sprig of fresh parsley, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta and let it cool down
Prepare the rest of the ingredients and simply add to the cold pasta.
Add the lemon juice, olive oil and mayo last.
Mix it well and enjoy! 

P.S. you might want to add more mayo. I'm trying to be good so I used as little mayo as possible.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Key Lime Pie Illustration

We had ourselves a little treat Saturday evening... Burgers at a restaurant called Steiger1 in Amsterdam. They had Key Lime Pie on the menu. Who can resist that?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

I wanted a slice of chocolate cake.
It haunted me for days until finally I baked one.

After a quick search I decided on a Donna Hay recipe since it looked simple and didn't require any fancy ingredients. Plus I like the fact that her recipes give measurements in grams and cups. I recently 'lost' my 1/4 cup measure and you will not believe how many recipes call for a 1/4 cup of everything!

Here is a link to the recipe and here is a copy:

 170g butter, softened
 1½ cup (265g) brown sugar
 2 eggs
 1½ teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda
 1½ cup (375ml) milk
 2¼ cups (335g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
 3 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
 ½ cup (50g) cocoa, sifted

Chocolate butter cream
 250g butter, softened
 2 cups (320g) icing sugar mixture, sifted
 ½ cup (50g) cocoa, sifted
 ¼ cup (60ml) milk

Preheat oven to 160ºC (320ºF). Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the milk and add to the butter mixture with the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Beat until combined. Spoon into a lightly greased 22cm-square cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool on a wire rack. For the buttercream, beat the butter until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar, cocoa and milk and beat until fluffy. Spread over the cake. Serves 8.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Wall Decoration

The walls of the study felt empty.
I mean we went through all the trouble of painting them and they were begging me to hang something on them.

Unemployment tends to limit ones budget thus I decided to improvise.
I went to the Action (which is awesome and filled with junk!) and bought some ugly canvasses which were the right size. They were really cheap, 50 cents each, so I bought 8.
Once I got home I ripped off the canvas and was left with the perfect frame for some material samples which I bough ages ago at a sale.

I then covered the frames with the material and viola! some decoration for the study.

Of course I am not yet done... the last piece of the puzzle is to fix them to the walls. Hopefully I'll get that done this weekend!

Friday, 12 July 2013


This week we harvested one lonely strawberry.
It was perfectly ripe and Heidi couldn't wait to eat it.
Luckily I managed to get one photo of it.
Pity the harvest was so small, maybe we'll have better luck next year!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Apple Buttermilk Muffins

Yet another use for buttermilk - muffins!
I know, I know, I bake lots of cupcakes and muffins but now that I have more time I cannot help myself. My little helpers love baking too...

These apple buttermilk muffins were delicious and did not last very long.

Here is a link to the recipe which I found on a website called Homegrown and Healthy and here is a copy:

1 cup self-raising flour
¾ cup plain flour
½ cup traditional rolled oats
¼ cup caster sugar
60g butter, melted, cooled
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 lightly beaten egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 green apples, peeled, grated
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 190C and line a muffin pan with paper cases.
Combine flours, oats, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add butter, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Mix until just combined then fold in the apple.
Spoon mixture evenly between the cases and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden and just firm to the touch. Stand in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Salad Illustration

Last night I made a very big salad filled with goodness.
Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, carrots and a honey mustard vinaigrette.

Here is an illustration of it, made on my iPad (of course!):

I'm going to try and post at least one illustration per week.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Spinach Pesto

You know how I feel about spinach, don't you?
Even though I fully understand the green goodness this vegetable represents, I just don't like it much.
My husband on the other hand loves it. He will eat it all day long.
What is wrong with the man?

I had a mountain of spinach in the last streekkrat I received. Oh joy.
For a few minutes I actually contemplated freezing it or giving it to the neighbour.
Luckily my husband suggested spinach pesto.
Definitely a winner!

I figured it should be similar to making regular pesto so here's what I did:

Add three tablespoons of pine nuts and three chopped cloves of garlic to your food processor.
Cover it with spinach and blend it. Add some olive oil (I must have added about two tablespoons, maybe three in total) and more spinach, keep on blending.
Add a handful of basil leaves, a dash of salt, a bit of olive oil and more spinach. Blend, blend, blend.
Add about a handful of grated parmesan cheese and blend some more. I must have added about 6 big handfuls of fresh spinach.
It is ready when you have a nice smooth consistency.
Taste and adjust the seasoning to your personal preference.

Mix into cooked pasta and enjoy!

Monday, 8 July 2013


The summer finally arrived!
We are making the most of it since it could be gone tomorrow (seriously).

So yesterday we went to the beach.
We went to Ijmuiden Aan Zee. It is a very big beach with all kinds of restaurants and facilities. It also gets packed when the sun is out. Everyone and their friend showed up.

We didn't mind since it really is a big beach and can accommodate the masses. We lounged about in the sun for about an hour and then found some lunch before heading home.
Will we frequent this beach? Probably not... but it was interesting to see another part of the Netherlands and it is a great spot for people watching!

Hope you have a sunny week!

Friday, 5 July 2013

DWZI - Oudegracht

One of the things I love about the Netherlands is the beautiful canals you find in most cities.
I cycled into town yesterday morning and all of a sudden the sun came out. Lately I carry my camera with me everywhere so I stopped and took a few photos of the the Oudegracht, thrilled to be there and to enjoy the moment.

A little further on I stopped at Sector3 for a delicious latte.
Wish all mornings could be like this!

You can find all the DWZI participants here.
Deze week zag ik is iedere vrijdag een blik op de afgelopen week.

Thursday, 4 July 2013


The kids seem to really like Ikea meatballs so I decided to try and make some at home.
Of course I don't have their recipe and I have no clue what their special trick is to make them so appealing to kids (and grownups)...

But hey, I like experimenting and I was happy with the results.
Unfortunately the kids immediately pointed out that it was not Ikea meatballs they were eating. Heidi at least managed to eat all the meatballs on her plate and that is always a good sign!

You know I'm terrible at giving exact measurements but here is roughly what I did - my suggestion is to play with whatever ingredients you have.

250 gram pork minced meat
1 egg
dash of salt
1/4 cup meat stock
1 tablespoon melted butter, slightly cooled
1/2 white onion - grated finely
breadcrumbs - I used japanese breadcrumbs because I had them on hand. I think I used about 1 cup, maybe less.

Mix everything together in a big bowl.
Add more breadcrumbs if your mixture consistency is too runny - you need to be able to roll a little ball in the palm of your hand and it should keep its shape.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Place meatballs in a lightly greased ovenproof dish and bake for about 30 minutes.
You might want to turn up the heat at the end to give it a bit of colour.
Serve with pretty much anything!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Rhubarb Coulis

Rhubarb again.
I was at a bit of a loss.
I just could not make any more muffins, cakes or puddings.
But I had 5 gloriously ripe stalks of rhubarb.

In the end they were transformed into a delicious coulis which we enjoyed with plain vanilla ice cream. The tartness of the rhubarb merged well with the smooth vanilla ice cream.

I did not follow a recipe... because honestly you don't need one.
Just bring water and sugar to the boil, add chopped rhubarb and simmer. You need to figure out the quantities depending on the amount of rhubarb you want to use. I guess I had 3 cups of rhubarb thus I used one cup water and half a cup sugar. I also added a dash of strawberry liqueur and a splash of rhubarb syrup (from Ikea). Let it simmer for a few minutes until the rhubarb is soft.
Strain so that you keep over the lovely sauce and serve with ice cream!

The free dictionary defines coulis as follow:

coulis [ˈkuːliː]
(Cookery) a thin purée of vegetables, fruit, etc., usually served as a sauce surrounding a dish
[French, literally: purée]

Monday, 1 July 2013

Streekmolen Crate Contents

On Friday I received my last crate with local produce.
Unfortunately I had to cancel my subscription because it was just a little too expensive for our new budgetary constraints.

Here is a little illustration of some of the contents:

I've been playing on the iPad a lot this weekend... feels like I have some inspiration to draw again so I guess I better make the most of it!
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