Saturday, October 31, 2009

World Blog Surf Day: Dutch New Years

Today is World Blog Surf Day! This is a day where expat bloggers come together on the same day and write about a specific theme. We then link our blogs to end up with a lovely chain to travel the world via blogs. The theme this time is "Holidays and Celebrations." This is a pretty broad category so I had several ideas. I settled on New Years!

The Dutch celebrate their Oudejaarsavond (New Years Eve) in a pretty similar manner to the US with one explosive exception. People get together with family and friends to spend time together. Then, when the clock strikes twelve everyone goes completely bonkers and runs outside to set off fireworks! We have a pretty good view from our balcony so we usually stay home (so as not to get blown up) and watch from there. From midnight on there's a pretty good solid hour of explosions and bangs that shake the windows and probably terrify small children and animals. It starts to taper off a little around 2:30 or so, but you'll still hear a straggler every now and then through the rest of the night.

Before the booms and bangs though, you need to eat your oliebollen!

Oliebollen are a traditional treat and one of the only times during the year we actually use our deep fryer.

Picnik collage

Our oliebollen usually look like olierandomshapes, but they taste good! You can buy a box mix from the supermarket or get really crazy and make it from scratch.

4 c. (500 grams) white all purpose flour
2 tbsp (30 grams) yeast
1 tsp (5 grams) salt
2 cups (1/2 liter) lukewarm milk
1 cup (250 grams) raisins
powdered sugar for sprinkling
oil for deep frying

In a large bowl make a dough from the first four ingredients. Let rise in warm place for approximately 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Mix raisins in with the dough. Let rise again. In the mean time, heat the oil to 350 F (180 C). With two spoons, make small balls and drop into the oil. Turn if needed. When the balls are light brown use a slotted spoon to remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar to serve.

It's a good thing we only have these once a year!

Please visit the next blog on the list Just a Plane Ride Away by JaPra and continue on the journey!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fragmented Freewrites- October 30, 2009

I don't know why it is that I'm so bad about getting these dang posts written up on Fridays! I have plenty to say, I just forget it all when I finally sit down at 11:45 on Friday night to write about it. My mom told me she missed when I didn't post a couple weeks ago and said she almost left a comment asking where the fragments post was! I told her I might just STOP posting all together if it meant she'd leave me a comment. I wasn't really serious. She doesn't need to comment for me to know she's reading. Everyone else does though *hint hint* I'm not ashamed to admit to being a comment junkie!

Tomorrow we're having our annual Harvest Festival. I was going to have a table to sell my wares but I was getting all stressed out and crazy and decided I'd rather just go and have fun. I may or may not regret this decision when I get there tomorrow as I have a job helping and apparently the woman I'm helping with is a little on the strange side. We'll have to see what happens.

Martijn has been thinking and pondering for awhile about getting a Wii. I've wanted one, but it was one of those things that was a bit of a luxury and we didn't really need it. We found a used one on Marktplaats and picked it up on Wednesday. I'm pretty sure I needed it all along and just didn't know. It's amaaaazingly awesome! Martijn's mii looks just like him, it's uncanny.

I bought these noodles for the pho I made a few weeks ago, and the instructions just made me giggle. Make sure not to use it in mean soup!

Funny Noodles

I hope everyone has a fun Halloween and a great weekend!

Friday Fragments?
The chronicles of my Ordinary and Awesome life, family, and thoughts at Ordinary and Awesome is also the Mostly Wordless Wednesday headquarters as well as the home to several original awards and memes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cat Cora's Moussaka: Eggplant Casserole

This week's FNCCC chef is Cat Cora. She has a lot of Greek recipes so I was looking forward to trying one of them. Initially I'd planned on making something else, but the fates had other plans. I couldn't get a hold of the lamb meat I was after and the eggplants went on sale for 49 cents. It was like the world was telling me to just make moussaka already! So, I did.


Moussaka: Eggplant Casserole
Recipe courtesy Cat Cora


3 medium eggplants
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces olive oil (see my note below in the directions)

Meat Filling:

2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, finely chopped
12 ounces ground beef
4 ounces dry white wine (reviews on the website indicated you could skip this)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 ounces water
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cinnamon (SMALL pinch... I think I over-pinched mine)

Bechamel Sauce:

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used skim evaporated milk)
Pinch nutmeg (I have a nutmeg grinder and I just did two twists)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Kefalotyri cheese, grated, plus 4 ounces (Couldn't find this so I substituted percorino which is another variety of hard sheep's milk cheese. Also, I used about half the amount called for and I think it was plenty)


For the eggplant: Wash eggplant and cut off both ends. Peel 1/2-inch strips of peel from the eggplant, making stripes of skin. Slice crosswise into 1/3-inch rounds. Salt and pepper both sides and let stand for 30 minutes I have a post about sweating eggplants here, if you care to read it.) Rinse and dry. Heat the oil in a large saute pan, and fry the eggplant on both sides, until golden brown. Drain well on paper towels. (So SO SO much oil! I used less than half the oil called for and my eggplant was still greasy greasy. Next time, I'll just brush a little oil on each slice and roast in the oven for a little while.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (Unless your oven takes 45 minutes to warm up, wait until you're done with the next two steps to turn it on, seriously.)

For the Meat Filling: Heat the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beef and cook until brown, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and reduce until it is almost dry. Add in tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Simmer for 30 minutes (this seemed like a really long time to simmer something that had next to no liquid in it, but I did it anyway... I'm not sure it's really necessary), remove from heat and cool.

For the bechamel: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Blend in the flour, and gradually stir in the milk. Cook, stirring, until thick and smooth. Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cool. Add 4 ounces of cheese (I used less and it was still very good) and blend well.

For the assembly: Butter a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant and half of the meat mixture, alternately, until completely used. Cover with the bechamel sauce, and the remaining cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Cut into 3-inch squares and serve warm.

The Verdict: We both thought this was a very tasty moussaka. It was really really time consuming though, so I'm not sure I'd put it on the normal rotation of recipes. Roasting the eggplant instead of frying would cut down the work to make it quite a lot I think. In other words, good recipe if you have a lot of time to spend making dinner!

Stay tuned next week for Claire Robinson who seems to have a ton of 5 ingredient or less recipes. YAY FOR SOMETHING SIMPLE! I'll still probably find a way to choose a hard convoluted one though so don't worry.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Zaterdag Markt (Saturday Market) in Eindhoven

One of my favorite things about living in The Netherlands is the sheer crazy amount of markets that are here. Being in a larger city, there's a market of some sort somewhere in the city everyday except Sunday. Many smaller cities and towns have their markt (market) one day a week. I took some shots a few months ago of the zaterdag (Saturday) market here in Eindhoven.

This is the bicycle parts stall. We usually check for bike parts first since they're generally a little bit cheaper.

Saturday Market / Zaterdag Markt

There are tons of fruit and veggie stalls. The selection at supermarkets isn't that great sometimes so if you need something slightly out of the ordinary (like an ORANGE sweet potato for instance), the market is usually a good place to check.

zaterdag markt collage

Here's an olive stand with more sorts and flavors of olives than I even knew existed.

Saturday Market / Zaterdag Markt

There are a couple of stalls with fabric and haberdashery. The very best place to search for this stuff though is at the stoffenmarkt (fabric market) on Tuesday.

zaterdag markt collage 2

Can't forget the cheese now, can we?

Saturday Market / Zaterdag Markt

And what Dutch market would be complete without flowers?

zaterdag markt collage 3

There are of course tons of other sorts of stalls: clothing, bread, snoepjes (sweets & candies), fish, poultry and so on. If you're really lucky your local market will have someone making hot fresh stroopwafels!

Click the link below to visit more of the world with Unknown Mami's "Sundays in My City."
Unknown Mami

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fragmented Freewrites- October 23, 2009

I missed Fragments last week because I was being rather lazy. I'm back on the bandwagon again this week!

I went and got my flu shot on Tuesday. They're not doing H1N1 flu shots until next month which is a pity since that's the flu that seems to be KILLING people right now. Honestly I'm not that worried, I just feel like complaining because my arm still hurts and I have to go do it again in a couple of weeks.

We had a wild adventure with our washing machine the week before last. I went to take a load of laundry out of the washer and it was still SOGGY SOAKING wet. I asked Martijn if our washing machine had a spin-only cycle and we then realized that the washing machine was doing a good job at filling up with water and then doing nothing. The main reason this was so dramatic is because getting to the back of the washing machine to investigate what's going on is a huge pain in the rear. Eventually we excavated enough to get the dryer off of the top and out of the way. It turned out that the motor brushes were completely worn out and that's what caused it to die. Mr Handyman Martijn went to the part store and was able to find replacements for €12.50. Our machine is pretty dang old but it still does the job so I was glad to just be able to repair it and not have to get a new one. Plus, now I know what the inside of a washing machine motor looks like and that's pretty dang cool.

I've been having quite a lot of fun doing Sarah's Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge. This week I made Sweet Potato Hash and Spicy Chicken Strips. Cat Cora is the chef for next week, but I haven't figured out what it is I'll be making yet.

There is a new Law & Order: UK. It has Apollo from Battlestar Galactica, aka Archie from Hornblower in it. Martijn and I are just waiting for him to throw someone overboard and then go shoot down some Cylons.

I'm still working on sock monkeys. I have piles of them that still need eyes and ears. Hopefully I can finish them up this weekend. Then my army of monkeys and I will take over the world!!!

And since every post needs an unrelated picture, I present you with a random wall full of birdhouses on the island of Texel!

Picture 1663

Friday Fragments?
The chronicles of my Ordinary and Awesome life, family, and thoughts at Ordinary and Awesome is also the Mostly Wordless Wednesday headquarters as well as the home to several original awards and memes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sweet Potato Hash and Spicy Chicken Strips

Brian Boitano (yes, the ice skater) has a new show on Food Network called "What Would Brian Boitano Make?" The answer is "bacon." Brian Boitano really seems to like bacon.

I decided to make the Bacon Cups with Sweet Potato Hash AND the Spicy Fried Chicken Bites with Derby Dip. Both recipes have, you guessed it, bacon. I did make some modifications to the chicken, but I'll note those in the recipe.

Sweet Potato Hash

Bacon Cups with Sweet Potato Hash
Courtesy of Brian Boitano

Bacon Cups:

* 24 slices pancetta, sliced 1/16-inch thick (pancetta is a fancy word for ROUND BACON, if you can't find it I don't see any reason in the world thin sliced strips wouldn't work)

Sweet Potato Hash:

* 4 strips bacon (used about 50 grams/2 oz bacon pieces)
* 1 large sweet potato, small diced
* 4 stalks celery, diced
* 1 small yellow onion, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 24 fresh parsley leaves


For Bacon Cups:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Carefully place a slice of pancetta (round bacon) in one of the cups of the muffin tin making sure to gently press it into the cup like pie dough in a pie shell. Repeat with remaining slices of pancetta (round bacon). Carefully place the second muffin tin on top of the first so that the pancetta round bacon) is sandwiched in between the 2 tins. Flip the muffin tins upside down and place onto a sheet tray and bake in oven for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully remove the top muffin tin. Let the cups cool slightly before removing to another baking sheet lined with paper towels.

For Hash:

In a large skillet over medium heat brown the bacon. Remove the bacon from the skillet and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. In the skillet with the bacon fat, add potatoes, celery, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika and season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until potatoes are tender about 12 minutes (it took more like 20 for everything to be cooked through but maybe I didn't dice my sweet potato small enough). Crumble in cooked bacon and stir to combine.

For Assembly:

Fill each bacon cup with a tablespoon of the hash and garnish with a parsley leaf.

The Verdict: The bacon cups use a mini muffin tin, but since I don't have a mini muffin tin I used a regular one. Somehow, I didn't take into consideration that bacon SHRINKS when it cooks, so I have little bacon saucers instead of bacon cups! I think the mini muffin cups would've made this look better, but it didn't really effect the taste so I wasn't too bothered. They were delicious, by the way. I'd make the hash without the bacon cups as a side dish in the future, it's really quite good.


Now for the Spicy Chicken Bites!

I made some adjustments to this recipe so I could bake the chicken instead of frying it, but I hope I captured the main idea.

Spicey Chicken Strips

Spicy Fried Chicken Bites with Derby Dip
Courtesy of Brian Boitano


4 strips bacon (I didn't use this much since I'd already had the bacon in the hash)
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken (I used chicken tenders)
2 cups buttermilk (I didn't measure this, just poured enough to cover the chicken)
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Tabasco sauce)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (this really sounded like a lot, but since you double dip the chicken it's actually pretty close to a good amount)
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (I wimped out and only used half this amount)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt (start with 1 tsp and work your way forward if you think it needs more salt)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups canola oil (I ditched this since I decided to bake the chicken instead)

Derby Dip:

* 3/4 cup sour cream
* 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
* 1/4 cup blue cheese, room temperature, cut into small pieces (I used Danish Blue)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the bacon onto a baking sheet and bake until crisp about 12 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Once the bacon is cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces. (I skipped this entire step and fried it up with the bacon from the first recipe)

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces (Again, I used chicken tenders, so I skipped this). In a large bowl combine the buttermilk, hot sauce, and chicken. Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

In a glass baking dish, whisk together the flour, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and add to the seasoned flour. Make sure all the chicken pieces are thoroughly coated. Remove the chicken from the flour mixture and put back into the buttermilk. Remove chicken from buttermilk and put back into the seasoned flour mixture for a second coating (instead of redipping in flour, I rolled them in panko crumbs). Transfer the double coated chicken to a baking sheet and reserve.

Heat the canola oil in a large cast iron skillet to 350 degrees F. Add the reserved 2 tablespoons bacon fat. Working in batches, fry the chicken until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. (If you decide to bake the chicken instead, do so for 15-28 minutes at 375 F).

In a medium bowl stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise and blue cheese. Stir in the crumbled bacon.

Serve the chicken with the Derby Dip on the side.

The Verdict: I thought this was good! It had a bit of a kick but wasn't super hot. Next time I'd try a bit more cayenne pepper like the recipe says.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Refashioned Tosti-ijzer Handles

At Make-Do Mondays we discuss how we’re simplifying, downsizing, repurposing, buying used, and using what we’ve got. It’s a carnival celebrating creative problem-solving, contentment, patience and ingenuity. Check out more Make-Do Mondays at Shari's blog!

We have a fabulous tosti-ijzer (sandwich press) that had a broken handle. They are readily available to buy new, but this one is cast iron on the inside and can be used as a weapon in case someone breaks into our house. The new ones are flimsy and wimpy so we really wanted to keep this one.

Martijn talked it over with his dad and his dad said he could make us a new handle. We figured he'd just attach a rectangle block of wood and call it good, but he went all out and made us not only one, but TWO new handles.

New Tosti-ijzer handles

What sorts of things do you always find worth fixing up and keeping around?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge: Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

The Daring Cooks challenge for October was hosted by Jaden of The Steamy Kitchen. She challenged us with a recipe from her new cookbook for Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho. We also had the option of using the long version of the recipe from her blog which entailed making your own stock instead of using canned. That's what I ended up doing, but I'll post the "quickie" version here.



For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

I made my own stock and honestly I'm not sure it was worth the effort I put into it. I've made chicken stock before but doing it the way suggested here left me with a rather bland tasting stock... which I found strange considering all of the various spices and such involved. We added some salt when we served it and that helped but when I first tasted it I thought "WAAAAAHHHH! All that time and energy wasted!" Maybe if I'd let it simmer longer... or used less water... I'm not really sure what happened. Once we added in the goodies at the end it worked out but I don't think I'd eat this soup without the additions. My other observation is that fish sauce smells unpleasant. I'm glad it didn't taste like it smelled. I think this is a recipe worth trying, but like I said I'd probably make stock my normal way instead of this way and then add the spices like in the quickie version.

As a nice little twist, we also had an add-on challenge for making Dessert Won Tons. We could decide what we wanted inside the won tons as long as it was sweet. I went nuts with marshmallows, peanut butter, and bananas. Marshmallows do crazy things when put under intense heat. It's pretty amazing. I only made a few of these because they were fried and my arteries are probably cross with me for all the frying on challenge recipes I've been doing lately. They were good though!

Sweet Wontons

Eet smakelijk!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Banana Pudding

This week's chefs are Bobby and Jamie Deen, but since the Food Network site doesn't have any of their recipes we could choose on of Paula Deen's recipes instead. I needed something to take to the North American Women's Club potluck, and this banana pudding recipe was spot on.

Banana Pudding

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding
Courtesy of Paula Deen

* 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
* 6 to 8 bananas, sliced
* 2 cups milk
* 1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
* 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
* 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream


Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Verdict: This is VERY good. Since I don't have easy access to Pepperidge Farm stuff, I used some coconut flavored biscuit cookies instead. If I make it again I'd just ditch the cookies because you don't really need them and it just makes it slightly harder to dish up. I do think that this would work really well in a graham cracker crust. I did use pudding mix, but it's a little hard to come by here and I don't see any reason that you couldn't just use the "vla" that you can buy in a carton here. I used real whipping cream and "Klop Fix" (by Dr Oetker) to keep it fluffy. I'll add this to my make-again file, but probably will only use it for very special occasions since it's so rich.

Monday, October 12, 2009

DIY Range Hood Filter Replacements

My sweet friend Shari from My Practically Perfect Life is hosting a blog carnival called "Make Do Mondays."

At Make-Do Mondays we discuss how we’re simplifying, downsizing, repurposing, buying used, and using what we’ve got. It’s a carnival celebrating creative problem-solving, contentment, patience and ingenuity.

So without further ado, here's our "make-do" for this week.

We have a range hood from IKEA that takes not only one, but TWO filters which they recommend replacing every 6 months. The first time Martijn went to buy new ones they wanted about €30 a PIECE for them. They've since come down in price, but it's still a €40 recurring charge every 6 months if you buy new ones.

So, he did what any stingy Dutch person frugally minded person would do. He took the old ones apart and replaced their guts.

Range Hood Filter

The filters just have charcoal in them, and upon further inspection it looked an awful lot like the charcoal you use in aquariums. It's not 100% the same, but it does serve the same purpose and seems to work just fine in this application.

Range Filter Col 1

He couldn't find the pellets so he bought a really fine charcoal and we've since discovered that it doesn't work as well and is insanely MESSY. Luckily we came across the pellets at another store so the next time it wasn't so messy.

Range Hood Col 2

After some liberal applications of hot glue and another layer of filter fabric, the job was complete!

Range Hood Col 3

The total spent on these for the filter fabric, charcoal, and hot glue was less than €10 and that was with a LOT of leftover supplies to make them in the future. I can deal with that!

Please be sure to check out more Make-Do Mondays and join in!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday- October 12, 2009

A recap of last week:

I STILL haven't made that stupid spaghetti squash and it's staring me in the face, mocking me. I WILL make it this week!!

The Bobby Flay Chicken Parm recipe that I made wasn't bad, though it needed quite a lot of tweaking to minimize waste and it could've used a little more flavor.

The 12-Hour Salad is also going to be a carryover to use up leftover bits and pieces of veggies in the fridge.

My veggie casserole TASTED good... but that's about where it ended. It was more like veggie soup in a casserole dish. I'll have to try it again and figure out how to get rid of some of the liquid.

Shoarma is always good and I got to try the whole wheat pitas I bought in Belgium a couple weeks ago. I think I'll stock up on more next time I go since I know they're good now.

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

This week I am choosing recipes that will use up stuff that I have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. I do have to buy a few things for the Daring Cooks Challenge but otherwise the grocery load should be pretty small.

Ham and Leek Cobbler

Spaghetti Squash & Red Sauce

Fried "Rice" & Lemon Chicken

Tuna Muffins & Asparagus Soup

Daring Kitchen Challenge- It's a secret til the 14th!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Fragmented Freewrites- October 9, 2009

Time for Fragments!

My mom called me this week and left a message saying "I'm in Amsterdam and was just thinking of you..." Too bad she meant Amsterdam, New York. I'd have been on a train to the airport so fast!

My in-laws have chickens so sometimes we get yummy fresh eggs from them.

Godzilla Chicken Eggs!

I think one of the chickens is a cross between a chicken and an ostrich. Check out the size of those two eggs on the left! The funniest part is the egg in the middle is NOT small either. These things are massive.

When we got our new bikes several people asked me if I'd given it a name. I hadn't, but now I'm going to call it Bucky. I totally biffed it, so I'm going to blame the bike and say it bucked me off, rather than taking the blame for turning the corner too sharply. I tore a giant hole in my pants, skinned my knee, had gravel embedded in my hands, got stabbed in the chest with my handlebars and landed quite heavily on my shoulder. I should live but I'm probably going to be in agony uncomfortable the next few days. The score currently stands Bucky-1, Me-0. The worst part is I wasn't even trying to do anything cool like escape a mob of angry ninjas.

I always get thrown off when I hear "God Save the Queen" because it's the exact tune of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." Then I get annoyed that they're singing the wrong words, even though "God Save the Queen/King" was set to that melody way before. It's not logical, but it's how it is.

I need to stop reading the news, I'm just better off not knowing.

I'm thinking of doing some sort of "Ask me anything" post. Should I do it??

Friday Fragments? is the Chronicles of My Ordinary and Awesome Life, Family, and Thoughts. is the Mostly Wordless Wednesday headquarters as well as the home to several original awards and memes.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Chicken Parmigiana

I started this adventure of the FNCCC fully intending to choose recipes and follow them exactly (or as closely as possible due to ingredient availability) so that I could decide if the recipe as written was good or if it was a stinker. I've managed to do this so far, but this week I ran into a wall. I don't know WHO is proofreading these recipes before they go up on the website but I have some serious doubts about ingredient amounts on this one. There was also an ingredient that I didn't recognize, so I Googled it. The only hits Google had were pages of this same exact recipe which didn't exactly give me confidence since there were no other mentions of it anywhere. I don't think it really exists. That said, I made some adjustments to this one.

Most of the Bobby Flay recipes were grilling recipes. I didn't want to do a grilling recipe... so I chose one of the few that wasn't! My thoughts are in parenthesis and italics.

Picture 2970-1

Chicken Parmigiana
Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper (You do NOT need two cups of flour to dredge chicken breasts in... I used a half a cup for two breasts and probably still could've done two more)
4 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons water and seasoned with salt and pepper (Four eggs?! Serious overkill. One large egg should be enough)
2 cups panko bread crumbs (1 cup is plenty)
1 cup vegetable oil or pure olive oil (You aren't deep frying the chicken, so I have no idea why this calls for so much oil. A couple tablespoons in the bottom of the pan is more than enough)
Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (This is actually just about right, fresh mozzarella is heavy!!)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Fresh basil or parsley leaves, for garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge each breast in the flour and tap off excess, then dip in the egg and let excess drip off, then dredge on both sides in the bread crumbs.

Divide the oil between 2 large saute pans and heat over high heat until almost smoking (Honestly, I think dirtying up two pans for this step is silly, if your meat doesn't all fit just do it in two batches). Add 2 chicken breasts to each pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side (I pounded the chicken REALLY thin, and my oil was hot, so 2 minutes per side would've resulted in very burned breaded chicken- 30-45 seconds per side was better). Transfer to a baking sheet.

Picture 2965

Top each breast with some tomato sauce, a few slices of the mozzarella, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of Parmesan. Bake in the oven until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes (7 minutes was just right for mine). Remove from the oven and garnish with basil or parsley leaves.

Tomato Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped (The all knowing interwebs inform me that a "Spanish" onion is a regular old yellow onion)
4 cloves garlic, smashed with some kosher salt to make a paste
2 (28-ounce) cans plum tomatoes and their juices, pureed in a blender
1 (16-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch Italian parsley (I have no idea how much a "small bunch" is, so I used a handful which isn't really any more of an accurate measurement than "small bunch" is, sorry!)
1 Cubano chile pepper, chopped (This doesn't exist... I figured out that they probably meant a "Cuban pepper" which eventually led me to a cubanelle pepper. I couldn't seem to find one of those either, so I substituted a yellow bell pepper which is supposedly somewhat similar.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add pureed tomatoes with their juices, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 cup water (I wouldn't add this next time), bay leaf, parsley, Cubano pepper, and bring to a boil. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes (I let mine simmer for an hour or so because I like a thicker sauce).

The Verdict: The chicken was SO amazingly tender, but we both thought that it should've been seasoned a bit more. I'm thinking seasoning the chicken beforehand, or seasoning the breadcrumbs would both work. I thought the sauce recipe as written was a little bit runny, so I'd leave out the water next time but the flavor was nice. The recipe makes A LOT of sauce. Way more than you'd need for your chicken, so keep that in mind and plan it into your leftovers for the week!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Menu Plan Monday- October 5, 2009

I haven't done a menu plan for two whole weeks! I need to start getting back in the habit...

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

This week:

Bobby Flay recipe that I'll unveil on Wednesday.

Spaghetti Squash and Red Sauce

Veggie Casserole- I think I'm gonna wing this one, but someone mentioned making a casserole with cauliflower and creamed corn and it just sounds so so good right now!

Shoarama in pitas and salad

I'm also going to make this 12 Hour Salad to eat during the week and some sort of dessert to take to the potluck on Tuesday. I'm still trying to figure out something delicious, impressive, and not exceedingly time consuming for Tuesday, any ideas?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Fragmented Freewrites- October 2, 2009

This week has been... well, I don't even know what it's been.

On Monday I went and did my integration exams. I was feeling pretty unhappy with the speaking test, but felt good about one and it could've gone either way on another.

Tuesday I went and got a haircut and then headed to the city center to meet up with a friend. We did some shopping and then went for lunch. I found a rather tasty looking sandwich and had taken a couple of bites when... THERE WAS A WORM IN MY SANDWICH! Not even a fun chewy gummy worm. They have lots of fresh produce in there so I'm sure it was from that but... BLEGH. I got a new sandwich but I'd lost my appetite for it by then. Luckily I'd had some worm-free soup and a muffin so I didn't go hungry.

Wednesday was fairly drama free! I had a language course and then spent the rest of the afternoon doing errands and tidying up.

Thursday the fun began again. My friend (same friend as on Tuesday) and I went to Belgium to do some shopping and have lunch. We figured it'd be a pretty carefree day. It was, until we started on our way home and I rolled down the window to take a picture. I pushed the button, the window went about halfway down... I poised to take the photo and ALL OF A SUDDEN the window just FELL and crashed down inside the door!! It completely jumped the track. So, we did the only thing we could do and drove home with the window down. I'm just glad it wasn't raining! The dealership was on the way home, so we stopped there and said "Haaaaalp!" They did fix it, so that's good, but I felt horrible about it.

Now, we were joking that she's my bad luck charm, though I don't really think that (I'm probably HER bad luck charm!).

While we were in Belgium I decided that their supermarkets have a much better selection of... well, everything. I restrained myself and only came back with some pickle potato chips (they are delicious), whole wheat pitas (MIRACLE FIND), cheap beans, a new pasta mix to try, and some cellophane (which I can buy here, but they had it and I'd been needing it).

I had a couple people comment on my Homemade Mayo post that they needed to get a food processor, and I say to them "YES YOU DO!" I found mine at the thrift store for €10. It is quite amazing. Martijn asked me if we needed to peel off the price sticker and I said "No! I want to remember what a good deal we got!" I really probably should remove it though...

I'm headed to a baby shower tomorrow. I made a terribly cute present (if I do say so myself), but the recipient does read my blog so I'm going to wait until after I give it to her to post a photo.

My poor little camera has to go to the camera hospital. I hope they'll fix it under warranty because it's their BAD design that caused the problem in the first place AND it's still less than a year old. If they won't fix it under warranty, then I might just have to keep a roll of cello-tape in the camera pocket of my purse. The battery door has broken and now doesn't stay closed on one side, so it's not detrimental to the operation of the camera, but it's annoying! I don't think it would've happened if they'd designed the battery compartment better.

I find it worrying that when you try to update Windows Media Player it pops up and tells you if you have system restore disabled and that they recommend you stop, turn it on, and THEN update WMP. Microsoft is SO uncertain about the stability of their updates that they suggest that you make sure to turn on your system restore so you can start over when it destroys your computer!!!

Finally, I would like to share with you some GOOD NEWS! They told me my test results could take about 4 weeks. Try about 4 days...


See that on the right side that says "Geslaagd." That means PASSED!

So, at the very least, the week ended on a good note.

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