Jeweled Cranberry Bread

Jeweled Cranberry Bread

Jeweled Cranberry Bread

Those red jewels are on display in grocery stores everywhere – yes, even the Netherlands and Belgium stock fresh Ocean Spray cranberries. Just as the fall leaves exchange their green hues for an explosion of color, nothing quite says autumn like those tokens of sweet and tart. With glee, I rushed home with the bag and placed it in my fridge, excited about the visions of turkey alongside blue-cheese mashed potatoes, and my to-die-for sweet potato casserole. But then I stop. It’s still October. It’s too early for my mom’s Thanksgiving cranberry jello mold! What am I going to do

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Blue-Green Beans

Blue-Green Beans

“Hum, so you add blue cheese to green beans in order to make me eat them?” my husband eyes the bowl and twists his lips. Visions of my mother smothering broccoli in velveeta to get my brother to eat them when we were young pop into my head. I shrug, cast a sideways glance in his direction. “I guess. Will it work?” and I raise an eyebrow as I chop carrots for the couscous. “Uh. . . yeah!” he says, and he loads up his plate. Just like the Lemon Herb Couscous, it just takes a few simple ingredients to

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Lemon Herb Couscous

Lemon Herb Couscous

If you can boil water, you can make couscous, it’s that easy. Rice and potatoes are pretty standard, but couscous makes a simple meal, just a little fancier! I’ve made this recipe with traditional couscous, but I think I like the pearl better. Just follow the directions on the box, and add these few ingredients to really wow your family, and your guests. Preppin’ 1 box Pearl Couscous (or 2 cups water and 1 ½ cups traditional couscous) 1 chicken or vegetable bullion cube 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 Tablespoon olive oil Zest from two large lemons ¼ cup

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Karate Chop Steak

Karate Chop Steak

Chopped steak, basically a pan-fried hamburger sans bun, is the ultimate man food. Salisbury Steak has been a Hungry Man frozen dinner option for decades. Simple, but tasty, I used to make this recipe years ago when my husband and I were first dating and he always loved it. Paired with Lemon Herb Couscous and Blue Green Beans, it transforms the meat patty TV dinner of our youth into something grown-up-dinner-party-worthy and female friendly. The meat is given a surprising flavor of soy sauce, to make this not only my husband’s, but one of my kids’ favorite as well. Enjoy

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Cool American Ranch Chicken

Cool American Ranch Chicken

I remember my first few months grocery shopping in the Netherlands. I’d peruse the stores, translating, hoping I’d find the right ingredients, and looking for familiar brands. The familiar brands were few and far between – but my local Jumbo grocery store stocked Doritos. Yum! I eyed each flavour (yes, spelled with a ‘u’). Nacho Cheese, Natural, and what’s this? Cool American? What the heck does that mean? Curious, I exchanged my Euros for a Cool American flavoured bag of tortilla chips and opened it upon entering my house. I reached in, grabbed and chip and took a bite. Ranch!

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Island Margarita Pie

Island Margarita Pie

Cool and salty, like an island breeze, describes this Island Margarita Pie. It’s one of my Mom’s most favorite desserts to bring to potluck functions, especially in the summer. I requested the recipe from her, knowing the re-creation in Europe would be the ultimate challenge – the key ingredient is Cool Whip! Cool Whip – not frozen, not watery, but that perfect consistency every time, is not available in Europe (that I know of anyway). I put my Google skills to the test and ran through a couple of trials with errors. The final result (I’m happy to say) is

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Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar

This one goes hand-in-hand with my Not Your Fergie’s Black Eyed Peas recipe. If you’re like me, I like to make my black eyed as a side-dish for a country meal (perhaps some savory pork chops or fried chicken) but then I have half a pot of beans left over! This is a great way to revamp those peas. I last served this cold as a side salad, but I’ve also served as a dip with a side of tortilla chips. Preppin’ 4 cups (about 650 grams) cooked black eyed peas (if you’re pressed for time, a couple cans of

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Not Your Fergie’s Black-Eyed Peas

Not Your Fergie’s Black-Eyed Peas

Belgians and BBQ – it’s what they do in the summer. Kids hop in and out of blowup pools (and not the kiddie ones you have in your American-mind – these babies are about the size of a hot tub). Guests sip iced tea or glasses of rose’ while the host fires up the grill. Everyone is invited to bring dessert or a side. We were the only Americans invited to a Belgian BBQ a few weeks ago and I thought I’d treat them to one of my favorite, and most Texan, side-salads I could think of – Texas Caviar.

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Strip Mall Salsa

Strip Mall Salsa

Any true Texan knows the best Mexican restaurants in town aren’t off the highway, but tucked into those strip malls in your neighborhood – next to the Kroger, the dry cleaners, and/or the nail salon. These restaurants – with their neon signs and ceiling tiles (painted black, if they’re fancy), rubbery booths and plastic tablecloths – aren’t out to win any decor awards. It’s the fantastic food, always served hot in ridiculously large quantities, the house special margarita, and the salsa that brings the neighbors coming back again and again. I made salsa before. Using a fork, I’d dangle fresh

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Find Your Beach Fajitas

Find Your Beach Fajitas

So, I have a confession to make. My favorite fajita marinade in the whole world is Claude’s. I’ve carried countless bottles of this glorious stuff over the ocean in suitcases. If anyone is looking for a hostess gift when they visit me in Belgium, this is all I want. Well, that and Bath and Body Works hand soaps. But, with my contraband supply depleting and the temperatures rising here in Belgium (thus, making me always think of Texas) we’ve been grilling like crazy. I have been tapping into my backup homemade fajita marinade recipe. I like to call this one,

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