Category: Dessert

Banana Bread – All Year Round

Banana Bread – All Year Round

Whenever I go to the supermarket I always buy bananas. Everyone in my family loves bananas. We definitely eat a lot of it, but in my house bananas means more to us than just a fruit.  It’s a quick snack that’s already pre-packaged and ready to go into the kids’ lunch bags, it’s a natural sweetener for our morning smoothies, it’s that energy boost that I (really really) need right before a run, and with a little dab of peanut butter it becomes my son’s favorite afterschool snack. There are so many ways we enjoy bananas, and as a mom I am happy to know my kids are getting their vitamins from it.  But our ultimate favorite way we enjoy bananas is by using it as the sweet creamy ingredient for our favorite kind of bread…banana bread.

There are countless banana bread recipes available, and trust me I’ve tried many of them, but this banana bread recipe is the one I’ve been making for years, and I have no intention of replacing it with another banana bread recipe. As with all banana bread recipes you must use very ripe bananas, but this particular recipe requires sour cream and lemon juice to further enhance the quality and taste that perhaps not all banana bread recipes have. The sour cream makes the bread super moist every time, and the addition of lemon juice over the bananas not only keeps the bananas from turning brown but it also helps maintain the full sweet banana flavor.

When I make banana bread I always double the recipe and make 2 loaves. It’s such an easy recipe to simply double and everyone will surely love you for making two. Sometimes when I am able to hide the second loaf from my family I like to wrap it up and gift it to a friend, neighbor or colleague. It’s a great way to show your appreciation to someone, or better yet a good excuse to reach out and visit a friend.

Luckily, bananas are available all year round.  Anytime you want banana bread it’s just a matter of letting your bananas ripen. If your family loves bananas like mine does, then you just might have to hide a few bananas to allow them time to ripen.  And if you have leftover bananas that are just too ripe to eat, then you already have the perfect ingredient to make this delicious banana bread recipe.

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French Toast Bake – Happy Mother’s Day

French Toast Bake – Happy Mother’s Day

The French Toast Bake is knock-it-out-of-the-park delicious and it comes out perfectly every time. I am deliberately posting this recipe a few days before Mother’s Day so that you your kids, husband or partner have NO excuse not to make it for this coming Sunday. The ingredients are combined and baked to perfection in a casserole dish so there is no soaking, no frying, no flipping, and no more soggy bread slices. You just put the casserole dish in the oven and forget about it for about 45 minutes.

This is my NUMBER ONE go-to breakfast meal when I need something AMAZING to feed a crowd the next morning (ie. sleepovers, Christmas morning, vacations). It is also something that doesn’t require waking up super early to prepare because all the preparation for this French Toast Bake can be prepared the night before and baked the next morning. No worries though…whether you prepare it the night before (which I highly recommend as it saves you so much time in the morning) or you bake it right away, they both create the same heavenly outcome.

Seriously, if you want to impress a special mom this Mother’s Day, make this French Toast Bake. You can impress her even further by using up some stale left-over bread. Don’t toss it out. Use it up in this recipe. She will appreciate the cost savings efforts, and the taste will be the same, if not better.

CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE

Carrot Cake – Celebration of Life

Carrot Cake – Celebration of Life

It’s spring break (meivakantie) here in the Netherlands, hence my excuse for this delayed post for my carrot cake recipe. I’ve been meaning to post it for quite some time now, at least before it was King’s Day, as it was my way of getting into the King’s Day spirit.

Earlier this week, on April 27th, the entire country celebrated the 50th birthday of our Dutch King Willem-Alexander. It is a Dutch national holiday, King’s Day (Koningsdag) and it is considered to be the biggest festival of the year, from old to young taking part in the celebration. Everyone gets into full gear party mode and nothing is allowed except a big fun crazy party. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that the entire country turns into orange madness (orangegekte). Just about everyone on this day dresses in some kind of orange clothing, sometimes from head to toe, and the crazier your outfit the more you will fit in.

King’s Day is also the only day of the year in the Netherlands when you can trade for free without a license. This is known as the vrijmarkt (literally ‘free market’). The streets turn into a massive street market where locals set up stalls in public places to sell and trade their old and unwanted items. Children also take part in this traditional King’s Day activity, selling their outgrown toys, hand-made creations and home-baked goodies. It’s a fun activity the entire family can do together.

As a non-Dutch I never understood why the free market occurs on King’s Day. Why do the Dutch celebrate their King’s birthday by selling their old stuff? What does this mean, and what’s the connection? Shouldn’t we be doing something more appropriate to celebrate the royal family? Perhaps dress rather in our nicest clothes and act more appropriate (doe normaal), especially on this particular day??

Upon this wonderment it occurred to me (just this year) what King’s Day is all about. It’s not just about the birthday of the monarch, nor a day to acknowledge the royal family, and certainly not about patriotism. Despite the name, it’s about community and friendship. For one day we can all be the same, equal, free, and most importantly celebrate life together.

You’re probably wondering how the carrot cake I mentioned earlier has anything to do with King’s Day. It really doesn’t, other than the fact that it is an orange cake. Carrot cake is still new to the Dutch but slowly rising in popularity. Maybe one day it will replace the famous ‘tompouce’, the more popular orange pastry eaten on King’s Day.

After years of searching for the best carrot cake recipe, I have finally found it. I normally tweak a recipe and never follow it precisely, but with this one I did not change a thing. I was disciplined and followed it exactly and good thing I did. It’s really REALLY good. Make it for a birthday, holiday or any other occasion. Enjoy and celebrate life. Cheers!

CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE

Blueberry Muffin – A Muffin With My Coffee

Blueberry Muffin – A Muffin With My Coffee

I never knew coffee was such a big part of the Dutch culture until I moved to the Netherlands. Just about everyone drinks coffee here, and not just one cup. Actually on average the Dutch consume 1.84 cups/day (6.7kg/capita) according to an article published in Worldatlas. This ranks the Netherlands #3 for top 10 coffee consuming nations, following Finland and Norway taking 1st and 2nd respectively.

Since living here I have learned that coffee is not simply just for drinking. It is also offered to welcome someone into your home or office, and it is used as an excuse to get together with a friend or colleague. Coffee is an integral way of starting a conversation with someone, and sometimes it is a way of bringing a cozy (gezellig) feeling into a room. At my children’s hockey games there is always a line of parents along the sidelines drinking coffee. You can say that coffee is very much ingrained in the Dutch psyche, where a cup of coffee is appropriate and very normal anywhere and at any time.

As for me, an American who used to drink coffee with a lot of sugar and some kind of flavored cream, I now prefer my coffee black. Yes, I’ve drank so much coffee in the past 7 years that I have acquired a taste for just the coffee itself. I still however like my cup of coffee with an American blueberry muffin instead of a Dutch apple pie, but unfortunately the Dutch don’t do blueberry muffins!

So, you guessed it, I now have the tastiest blueberry muffin recipe and can bake them whenever I feel like having them. The ingredients in this recipe are very simple and I usually have most, if not all, the ingredients on-hand. Whether you have access to a bakery that makes blueberry muffins or not, you can’t compare it to a freshly baked version you make yourself at home. The best part about baking them yourself is that you can make a BIG batch, allowing you to treat yourself to more than just one muffin per cup of coffee.

SEE RECIPE

Baking Outside The Box – Strawberry Cake

Baking Outside The Box – Strawberry Cake

Before I moved to the Netherlands in 2010 I never imagined baking a cake from scratch. I thought it was normal to bake a cake out of a box. All the dry ingredients perfectly measured and provided for you. All you had to do is add some eggs, butter and water. My cakes always came out perfect.

Well, in the Netherlands they don’t sell Duncan Hines nor Pillsbury. How was I going to bake cakes then???!! I just didn’t.

Few weeks later while at a friend’s party I was served a piece of her birthday cake. It was my first piece of cake in a while, and it sure was delicious. I asked her where she had purchased it and surprisingly she told me she had baked it herself. Before I left her party that evening she had printed out a copy of her cake recipe and kindly gave it to me. Since then I’ve been baking all my cakes…from scratch!

The recipe is from Ina Garten’s Parties cookbook. The ingredients and instructions are all simple, and the whipped cream filling and the fresh strawberries give this cake a light and fresh twist. And what’s so great about this recipe is that although it makes two 8-inch cakes, you can use just one of them (should 2 cakes be too much) and store the second cake in the freezer for up to 6 months. I usually bake a few in advance and freeze. When I need a cake on short notice I usually take one out of the freezer.  While it is thawing (around 30 minutes) I use that time to make the filling and prepare the strawberries.  Don’t worry, the second cake that was frozen comes out just as good as the unfrozen cake.

SEE RECIPE