One woman's adventures in cooking for her Dutch-American family.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Parmesan Couscous with Roasted Garlic, Toasted Pine Nuts and Caramelized Onions

So The Hubs sends me an email last week telling me that we've been invited to dinner with some friends, and can I make a salad. This was about 3, just before I was about to start making the dinner I had planned. Generally, The Hubs is better about checking with me first, but it turns out it was our friend's birthday, so I was happy to punt.

Since I didn't have any unaccounted for produce, I decided to make this side I found, of course, on Pinterest. I was super easy and quick to make and best of all, I had everything I needed on hand. Pine nuts are crazy expensive these days, so you can always substitute another nut to keep costs down.

Parmesan Couscous with Roasted Garlic, Toasted Pine Nuts and Caramelized Onions


  • 1 box of plain couscous (about 6 oz)
  • 1-2 tbsp toasted pine nuts 
  • 1 tsp olive oil 1/4 yellow sweet onion, diced 
  • 3-5 cloves of roasted garlic, chopped  
  • 1-2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped 

1. Prepare couscous per instructions.

2. In dry skillet, add pine nuts and cook until lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes (stirring frequently). 
In addition to sight, you can also tell when nuts are roasted because they'll be quite fragrant!
3. Remove from heat. In same skillet, add oil, once hot, add onions and cook until caramelized & tender. I had raw garlic, so I threw that in at the same time.

4. Once the couscous is done, stir in the onions, pine nuts, roasted garlic, cheese and parsley. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quick & Crusty French Baguettes

Quick and Crusty French Baguettes
We started off the year this year in Europe vising The Hub's family. We took a day trip to Paris (where we were engaged 4.5 years ago!). We stopped a local grocery store for breakfast one morning and bought a huge baguette for about 75 euros (a little less than a dollar). I realize that a grocery store isn't as romantic as a bakery, but we were walking, hungry, with a toddler and the grocery store was the first food establishment we found! A few weeks later, back at home, we found a baguette at our local grocery store for almost $3. Ever since then, I have wanted to make my own.

Thanks to Pinterest, I found this really easy (only slightly modified) recipe, originally posted on Babble.com.

• 2 cups very warm water
• 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3-4 cups flour

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Yeast can be a little tricky. Here's my secret:
I am guilty of killing many a yeast particle...until I learned to use water that was exactly 95 degrees.
3. Set the bowl on top of your preheating oven for ten minutes.
The heat from the stove will help activate the yeast.
Your yeast should look nice and frothy, like this. If you still see cloudy water, give it another 5 minutes. If it doesn't look like this, you've killed the yeast and need to try again.
4. Stir in the salt and add the flour a half-cup at a time, until the dough becomes soft but not sticky. Knead the dough until elastic. Texture is more important that measurements because the amount of flour you need will be based on the humidity and altitude of your home.
While I aspire to owning a Kitchen Aid mixer, for now I do everything by hand. Keep adding flour until you can knead the dough without it sticking to your fingers.
5. Cut the dough into four even pieces.

6. Roll each of them into four long, thin ropes.
Clearly I need more practice with play dough.
7. Twist together two of the ropes to form one loaf. Twist the other two ropes together to form a second loaf.

Close up of the part of my twist that looks impressive.
8. Transfer both onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
As I rolled my dough, I ended up having to make a third twist because of the size of my oven sheet.
6. You can now bake the loaf right away (if you’re in a hurry) or allow it to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes on top of your warm oven.
This is only 15 minutes of rising.
7. Now for the other secret: Place 3-4 cups of ice on a cookie sheet. Open your hot oven and place the baking sheet with the baguettes on the top rack, then place the tray with the ice cubes on the bottom rack of the oven and quickly shut the door. Do NOT open your oven for 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.

Be careful removing the water tray when you're done!
8. Serve fresh and hot with your favorite olive oil for dipping.

Eet Smakelijk! Or, in this case, bon appetit!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

Every time I've started a post recently, my first thought is, "I found this on Pinterest." Really, once I'm not potty training/selling a house/building a house/feeling better, I will do a sappy love letter post to tell those of you who aren't yet addicted to the site all about it.

So, I found this recipe on Pinterest :-) We aren't big fans of Mexican food, so we don't do tacos pretty ever, but I was intrigued. This was fantastic. I LOVED the cilantro lime pesto, so I'm sure we'll make it again, but maybe serve with rice or something.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

  • cooking spray for sauteeing
  • 2-3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup cilantro lime pesto (recipe follows)
  • flour or corn tortillas
  • preferred taco garnishes (salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc)
Cilantro Lime Pesto
recipe adapted from Food Network
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves--do not include stems. (I used 1/2 cup dried cilantro, because that's what I had on hand)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sliced, toasted almonds
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice (I used 1 lime)
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago (I used Parmesan, but Romano can be substituted too)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (I used Better Than Bullion)

1. Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
We buy all our meat locally. We buy about 40# of chicken at a time, then spend an afternoon packaging it up. Recently, I started cubing several pounds before freezing it. It makes my life so much easier.
2. In a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, saute chicken over medium high heat and cooked through.

3. While chicken is cooking, make the awesome pesto, by mix together the cilantro, olive oil, almonds, garlic, lime juice, cheese, salt and chicken broth in a blender or food processor on low speed for 2 minutes.

I used the large bowl of my food processor, which is why my pesto is chunkier, which I like. If I would have used the small bowl, I'm sure it would have been smoother, especially if I let it go the full two minutes.
4. Toss cooked, seasoned chicken with the pesto.

 5. Fill tortillas with chicken and top with preferred garnishes.

Eet smakelijk!

Joelen, who created this recipe, offer this advice for making this recipe ahead as a freezer meal:
Cook chicken as directed as above and cool. Place chicken in freezer bag. Prepare cilantro lime pesto as directed below. Place a 1/2 cup of pesto in a small storage bag then place inside the freezer bag with the chicken. Freeze. When ready to prepare, defrost and heat chicken. Toss chicken with defrosted pesto. If desired, heat chicken and pesto together before filling tacos.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jello Fishbowl

This weekend we attended a friend's open house party. Our friend bought a mid-century ranch, and did a fabulous job updating it. As I was trying to figure out what I could do for a practical housewarming gift, I found this cute jello fish bowl recipe on Pinterest:

I found a cute glass jar with cover at Target, and since you can never have too many glass jars, I decided to make the jello fishbowl in the jar for housewarming centerpiece.

Montana Anchor Mini Glass Jar with Lid from Target
One word of warning about this recipe. It's not something you can throw together. Between the need for flat soda and the fact that the gelatin needs to set, you'll need at least two days to assemble this.


  • 1 two-liter bottle lemon-lime soda, flat (I left the cap loose over night)
  • 4 1/4-ounce packages unflavored gelatin (or 1 box blue jello, if you can find it)
  • 2 drops blue food coloring (if you don't use blue jello)
  • 2 ounces gummy fish

1. Unscrew cap of soda and leave it overnight so that it becomes flat. Unless, of course, you have some flat soda laying around, in which case, you are good to go!

2.  Place 1 cup soda in a large bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over soda, and let stand to soften, about 5 minutes. I thought it made a crazy face, what do you think?

3. Place 2 cups soda in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until just before a boil.

4. Add the softened gelatin, stirring to dissolve the gelatin completely over the heat, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Pour the liquid into the fish bowl. Add the remaining soda and food coloring, and stir to combine. Martha suggests adding the food coloring and soda to the sauce pan, but I put it in the glass bowl first so I could see the coloring.

I used 3 drops of blue food coloring.
6. Using a damp paper towel, carefully remove any bubbles that have formed on the surface. If you give it a minute, most of the bubbles will disappear on their own, then use the paper towel to get the last stragglers.

7. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill overnight.

8. When ready to serve, use a sharp knife to make vertical slits in the gelatin; insert the fish in a random pattern to make it look as though they are swimming in the bowl. Keep refrigerated until serving. Serve within 6 hours.

Eet smakelijk!

Crockpot Hutspot

I am so excited! Last night, I successfully converted one of my husband's favorite (time-consuming!) recipes into a crockpot recipe. Hello, crockpot hutspot! If you don't have a crockpot, you can still make this traditional Dutch dish the old-fashioned way).

I've written about hutspot before, but I'm so happy to be able to make it without standing in the kitchen for an hour and a half.

  • 6 onions (3 cups)
  • 6 carrots (2 cups)
  • 8 potatoes (5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • salt to taste (I actually like to use garlic salt)
  • pepper to taste

1. Dice onions, carrots and potatoes and place in crockpot. This is still the most time-consuming part. If you really like this recipe, you could chop twice the amount and freeze the extra in a bag for the future.

2. Add butter, condensed milk, salt and pepper.

3. Cook on low for 3.5 - 4 hours.

 4. Vegetables should be very soft, and mashable with a fork when done.

 5. Use a potato masher to mash the vegetables. If you have an immersion blender, that would give your hutspot a smoother texture. 

6. Serve in bowl.

Many people like to enjoy hutspot with sausage. The Hubs doesn't care for it as much, so we often eat it plain. If you do want to include sausage, just puncture it with a fork and then place it on top of the vegetables before starting the crockpot.

Eet smakelijk!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Zucchini Chips

Meal planning has gotten to be even more fun now that Pinterest allows me to have basically a visual cookbook. This is one of the first recipes I tried: zucchini chips.

  • 4 small zucchini or 1-2 large zucchini
  • olive oil/cooking spray
  • salt (or garlic salt, or dill weed, however you want to season your chips)

1. Clean and trim the zucchini.

2. Use a food processor (or very steady hand) to slice zucchini in thin even slices. I'd definitely recommend the smaller zucchini so you don't have to worry about seeds or trimming the sides to fit your food processor.
 3. Brush olive oil on parchment paper (spray with cooking spray. Then place the zucchini slices very close together. They should touch, but not overlap.
 4. Spray or brush with oil again and then lightly season with the flavor of your choice. I liked dill week the best. Hubs like the garlic ones. Season lightly because the flavor will intensify as the chips dehydrate.
5. Cook at 170 degrees F (as low as my oven goes) for 3-3.5 hours. The chips should be crunchy when ready. If they are still a little soft, keep checking them every 15 minutes.

 6. Enjoy!
Garlic zucchini chips
Dill zucchini chips.
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