Tuesday, November 29, 2011

White Chocolate Oatmeal Magic

I'm a big believer in sharing recipes - just as food is meant to be shared around a table, the recipes that brought the meal to life should be shared among friends. I always get *very* excited when I open my email to find a recipe from a friend with the subject line reading, "omg, you have GOT to try this" or "Stuffed Mushies to Stuff Your Guests" or "wow, cheeeese" (that one is a personal favorite).

BUT... all that said... I almost didn't want to give you this recipe. I know, I'm a horrible person. But understand, they're my FAVORITE cookies, and I want to hoard them all for myself and not share... it's bad enough making a batch and having to share with my darling huz (they're his favorite, too). I made them to bring to Thanksgiving in Paris and I didn't even get to have one because all the cute kiddos devoured them (yes, this is me whining about not getting a cookie... yes, they're THAT good.)

I was never a fan of oatmeal cookies growing up (probably because I detest raisins - and the oatmeal/raisin combo is somehow the only way most people do oatmeal cookies). 
Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies on the other hand, have completely converted me to team oatmeal cookie. 

A few baking notes:

I reduce the butter to about 1 1/4 sticks. 

I chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before forming them into balls (and, since I only have one oven and one baking sheet, I make them in several batches keeping the dough refrigerated when it's not in use) - these cookies tend to spread out flat when the dough is warm, or if the baking sheet doesn't cool completely in between batches. 

The note that the original author of the post wrote about using real white chocolate is true - I've made them with white chocolate chips, but it's just not the same.... Since being here, I've been spoiled by really good Belgian chocolate, and it really makes a difference. 

Try them. Or come over and I'll bake you a batch. 


Monday, November 28, 2011

Ah! Paris....

le sigh...
I'm not sure there are words to express my love for Paris. In fact, it's probably better I don't try, and save myself the embarrassment trying to describe my love affair with the magical City of Light.

However, I will give you a little glimpse of our weekend...

The trip was short. Too short. But we managed to squeeze in some good wandering, excellent cafe-sitting and people-watching, and one heck of a Thanksgiving feast Saturday evening. 

Walking through Champ de Mars
Beautiful table. Incredible view.
Our lovely hostess with sweet lil Simona, Didz, and a variety of glasses
Vilte arrived in time for dessert - LA girls in Paris
Street view
Sidewalk Art
Light bulb Christmas installation at the Four Seasons
Rue Cler
Sunday lunch spot
Jardin des Tuileries
À bientôt, Paris!

If I had it my way, we would stay forever... but we'll be back soon to sip champagne and enjoy the splendor some more. 

(A big thanks to Nida for hosting such a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had so much fun - aciu! Gros bisous!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


As I sip my coffee on this crisp Thanksgiving morning, I can't help but think of friends and family back home... waking up early to start preparing the feast, gathering with loved ones, watching football, sharing stories and laughs and SO much delicious food (I hope you have elastic waistbands on your pants!)... For the first time since we've moved here, I'm feeling a little homesick...

So in the spirit of the holiday, I thought I would share a short list of the things I'm thankful for today:

our home
my family
chocolate chip cookies
this incredible year abroad
my camera
receiving packages in the mail
clean sheets
Cito (who I miss dearly... purrrr)
all my friends, both here and back home

Happy Thanksgiving!

(photos from Thanksgiving 2009... miss you Gug!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

La Sardina

When Didz and I were in Amsterdam last weekend we popped into the Lomography Shop to check out some lomographic cameras. (If you're not familiar with lomography, check out some examples of lomo magic here). I have the classic Diana - but it unfortunately got left behind in the move, and I miss having the option to play with a different kind of camera... (remember the excitement of getting a roll of film developed?)

Needless to say, I'm very excited about my new toy...

Yes, it looks like a toy camera - but ohhhh baby, it will produce some beauty shots, I can just feel it! I'll take her to Paris with me this weekend, and we'll see what we come up with!
(Be patient, as it may take a few days to get photos developed, scanned, and posted). 

And to my friends back home - Have a very wonderful, happy, and filling Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dinner a la Ariane

We had dinner at our friend Ariane's gorgeous apartment in Brussels last week. Not only is her flat absolutely envy-inducing, she's a tremendous cook and the *ultimate* hostess. It was a fabulous evening... complete with a rack of lamb, lots of wine, and even a hilarious dodgeball game in her gigantic open living room (for the record, I'd like the world to know that at the end of the game it was me vs Didz. We were the last two standing - and I knocked his booty OUT for the win!)
(Good game, darling. Love you.)

The architecture, design, and details of this place were perfectly executed - complete with a red bathtub in the bedroom.... *swoon*

And a light indicating if the restroom is being used... 

We had such a fun evening - we almost missed the last train back to Leuven (which wouldn't have been ALL bad... the guest room looked quite inviting, and I would've very happily had a nice long soak in the red tub). 

We have plans for another evening at Ariane's after the holidays which I'm excited to tell you about (hint: it involves an empty chalkboard wall that needs some creative attention).... But more on that later. 

I can't believe it's Thanksgiving week back home... We'll be celebrating this weekend in Paris! 

Monday, November 21, 2011


I love Amsterdam. The canals, the energy, the people, the buildings that lean ever so slightly forward... It was short little trip - but it was so nice to get away, and spend one last weekend with Tomas before he went back to Toronto.

Me and TK (photo cred: Didz)
Admittedly, Didz and I didn't do any of the touristy stuff (I had been to Amsterdam once before in 2003 and saw the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum and just about every coffeeshop in the city). This time we just wandered.... and it was lovely.

Friday night we happened upon a gem of a biker bar... where Blue Suede ShoesBye Bye Love and That'll Be The Day among many other 50s hits rocked the bar in between the super amazing live band playing songs from that era, and large bald tattooed biker men flawlessly jumped, jived and swung their partners around to the beats. It was phenomenal. 

Saturday night, after an overly filling three course meal we sat ourselves down at a little bar, and drank gin & tonics until we were the last ones there. It was sad to say goodbye to TK on Sunday morning, and quite a bummer to leave Amsterdam... but I have a feeling we'll be back soon. 

Thanks for a super fun couple of weeks, TommyK! Come back soon.... and stay for good! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Brugge Like A Peach

Sunday we took a little day trip to Brugge with TK. The weather was chilly, and unbelievably foggy - creating a rather eerie backdrop to the medieval city.

We walked around, stopped for lunch, walked some more, popped into a bar to warm up, walked a bit, drank a bit... {and repeat}... until our train took us back to Leuven late in the evening. 

When evening fell, the eerie feeling in the town turned positively haunting... The glowing buildings in the fog, the stillness of the canals, the sound of horses clopping through the narrow cobblestone streets... It was all very surreal. 

Before going, I had heard from various friends that Brugge was lovely, and felt like a fairy tale - the three of us, however, decided our experience evoked more of a 'Jack the Ripper' style nightmarish feel. While I hope to go back in the spring or summer and see the picturesque town in the sunshine, I'm so glad we got to experience it in the foggy haze. It feels like a distant memory, or a strange dream that I can't shake. 


Welcome TK!

Our good buddy Tomas (also known as TOMMY K!, TK, Kuriavicius, and Kurgalva) has been in town all week (hence the my little blogging break). We've had such a great time catching up, showing off our new European life, drinking beer, going out and seeing the sights. We spent Sunday in Brugge (more on that later), and we will be heading up to Amsterdam this coming weekend before we send him back to Toronto on Sunday.

It's a wonderful life here in Leuven.... and we're so happy to share it with you this week, Tommy K!

(ps Tomas sako, "Labas Mama!")

Monday, November 14, 2011

Multi-Cultural Night

Last week (before the arrival of TK -- more on his visit later, and yes, he's still here), Didz's school hosted a Multi-Cultural Night. Every student (or group of students from the same country) brought in traditional foods to share a bit of their homeland. There was a stocked bar of various unknown (in some cases homemade) liquors. We ate, drank and travelled the world without having to get on a plane.

The Bar - stocked and ready

Sampling Greek bites

Some people dressed in traditional costumes, and some prepared presentations, songs and dances. Didz and the Canadians contributed Poutine (a somewhat noble attempt at it, at least) and Rye & Gingers (which were a big hit - probably because the Canadian bartender was pouring them for everyone). 

Didz preparing the poutine

Lovely Marcia from Mexico

Kirsten and Christian ready to dig in

By the end of the night, everyone was dancing and taking shots from around the world... 

It was a huge success, a lot of fun, and made me want to travel to all of these places and experience them fully.... though the homemade plum liquor (some might call it gasoline) is something I hope I never have to experience again.