Winter Wonders & Christmas Market

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Winter Wonders & Christmas Market

Winter Wonders & Christmas Market

One of my family’s most favorite things to do and see is the Brussels Christmas market in the heart of the city.  We’ve spent the past three Christmases exploring the city and it never disappoints. This year we loaded up the front wheeled sleigh to partake in one of the most wonderful of Christmas traditions – the viewing of the lights and tree in Brussels’ Grand Place. The Grand Place has the most fantastic lights display. Last year the beautiful lights danced to a soundtrack from Belgian’s own Lost Frequencies, which was, inevitably, very cool. This year it’s SIA. The

Continue Reading

Antwerp Zoo China Lights

Antwerp Zoo China Lights

The first week my 5-year old son was enrolled in Belgian school, he went on a field trip to the Antwerp Zoo. “But Mama, we didn’t take the tram, we took a school bus,” he jumped around like a kangaroo when I picked him up from school that day. He loved the zoo – the animals, the playground, the bus ride. A few months later, as he blew out his candles for his birthday, he wished the whole family could go to the Antwerp Zoo. On a chilly day in December, Sinterklaas rang our doorbell and scurried away on Amerigo

Continue Reading

Love You the Most French Toast

Love You the Most French Toast

My mom’s special French toast was always my favorite. Slices of Roman Meal wheat bread were dipped into beaten eggs and milk and then she’d add her secret ingredients. She’d press the egg-dipped slices into a mixture of crushed corn flakes and sweetened shredded coconut. She’d melt butter in a skillet to brown on both sides then serve with a generous amount of maple syrup. It was heavenly and I thought that’s how all French toast was made. Imagine my surprise when I ordered French toast at a restaurant as a teenager and found they had forgotten the corn flakes

Continue Reading

Menu Planning

Menu Planning

My cooking skills have evolved over time. Like with most things, it takes hours of practice – trial and error, and some helpful hints along the way. My mother sent me off to college with a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and xerox copies of her favorite recipes. (I still have them, of course). Over the years, I cut recipes from a Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens magazines. I’ve used a 3-ring binder with page inserts to keep these (mostly) organized. I expanded my cookbook collection and I researched recipes on-line. But I never really knew how to

Continue Reading

Leftover Guacamole

Leftover Guacamole

Guacamole, the fresh green yumminess, can easily turn into an unattractive shade of brown. If by chance, you have any guacamole after serving it (this is a rarity in our house – my middle child is a guacamole-eating monster!) the best way to store it is by placing it in a small bowl or other glass container and covering it with plastic wrap. The key is to not allow any air to get between the wrap and the guac. Smush the plastic wrap and then let the edges cling to the sides. Refrigerate.

Continue Reading

Molcajete Curing

Molcajete Curing

The first time I moved overseas, I left my Great Aunt’s cast iron skillet in storage (shameful!), but brought my comal. My college roommate’s Hispanic family introduced me to the comal, a flat cast iron pan, in which to heat tortillas on. (Please white people, stop microwaving your tortillas right now! Those chewy things have no contest on a nicely warmed tortilla from the comal). I bought it in San Antonio before we headed to the Netherlands. We hosted a number of Tex-Mex nights for the expats I’d met. Using the comal, I made perfect quesadillas for my kids and

Continue Reading

Benchwarmer Beer Dip

Benchwarmer Beer Dip

My good friend, Tess is originally from Minnesota and she gave me this recipe years ago when I got married. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made it – but Texans, Dutch, Cajuns, Belgians, Estonians, Chicagoans, Romanians, and Italians have munched on this cheezy goodness with pleasure. Of course, it took me a while to figure out a substitute for Velveeta in the Netherlands – “What IS a substitute for Velveeta?!” Tess gasped when I told her my dilemma – but once I did, I’d stock up when I found it. Preppin’ 8 oz. (180 gram) cream cheese,

Continue Reading

Slutty Brownies

Slutty Brownies

A few months after returning to Texas we had a housewarming party, of course! Like any good southerner would do, we invited everyone from high school to college to old co-workers, and bring your friend or two! In Texas, it’s customary to bring a contribution to the party – either an appetizer, dessert, or drink. Well, my good friend Caroline, brought these little goodies, and oh my, they were the HIT of the event. I’ve made these slutty brownies several times over using box mixes in the U.S. and from scratch in Europe, and no matter what, they aren’t a

Continue Reading

Strawberry Bread

Strawberry Bread

I have a whole slew of quick breads in my repertoire but this one is probably my all-time favorite!  It’s great year-around but it’s so much fun for Valentine’s Day. Years ago, I whipped up a whole batch in mini disposable loaf pans and distributed them to my auditing co-workers for Valentine’s Day. (Yes, I was THAT kind of accountant? Weird.) Anyway, my best friend Carrie, who is as thin as a rail, sat down in her cube, grabbed a fork and ate her whole mini loaf in one go. It’s just love in a pan! This recipe makes enough

Continue Reading

Shrimp & Chorizo Stew

Shrimp & Chorizo Stew

One of the first things I noticed after moving overseas was that the winters in the Netherlands are long and cold. “We ain’t in Texas, anymore” The second was the energy I expended daily just living in Europe – the walks to and from the store (the library, school, the train station, etc.) are just as long and cold as the winters! My old days of a simple canned soup and grilled cheese sandwich for dinner were quickly unfulfilling. “I’m so famished, I’m about to faint!” I’d tell my husband after pushing a double stroller through the streets of Leiden.

Continue Reading