Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lunchtime favorites

One of the perks to living across the street from Didz's business school is that he gets to come home for lunch every day. With his crazy schedule, and the loads of work he has, it's nice that he gets to come home for a midday break and a healthy meal. Here's a taste of what's for lunch this week....

Other lunchtime favorites include: grilled cheese sandwiches (I could eat them every day), leftovers from last night's dinner, and going down to the cafe around the corner for soup... 

Do you have any lunchtime favorites I should try?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bits of the Weekend

It's starting to feel like spring around here - which made for a very nice little weekend. Didz had some studying to do (as always), but we found time to take a walk, do some grocery shopping, eat pastries, meet a friend for a drink, bake cookies, read (I started The Paris Wife and am convinced I belong in 1920s Paris), and relax.
blue sky! yay! 

bizarre belgian mystery veggies 
quiche - fresh out of the oven
out for a stroll
cookie craving = satisfied

Last night, Didz reminded me that today marks 6 months of bliss as husband and wife... by far, the best 6 months of my life. Can't wait for the next 49.5* years together, darling. 

*at our wedding our priest, Tevas Saulaitis, told us we're allowed to call it quits after 50 years :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sweet Potato Patties

I've been on a bit of a sweet potato kick recently - which is odd since I've never been particularly fond of them (though, that said, I've been caught stealing sweet potato fries off Didz's plate once or twice). These sweet potato patties that I made the other night were delicious and filling! They'd make a great veggie burger substitute, but we ate them bun-less with a side of brussel sprouts. Next time, I think I'd make them much smaller, like little medallions, instead of burger sized.

Sweet Potato Patties:

3 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup flour
I added a few dashes of cayenne, too
bread crumbs

Wash, peel and quarter sweet potatoes - sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil and roast for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and place in medium sized mixing bowl, add beans and mash together until smooth (it may or may not resemble baby diarrhea at this point... yuck! sorry!). Add honey, flour, salt pepper and cayenne and mash until combined. Form into patties, generously cover in bread crumbs and pan fry until golden brown.

Enjoy! And have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Afternoon Tea

It's always a pleasure when Anna comes to visit from Cologne. While our boys are working hard at school we meet up for a glass of wine, or a coffee, and spend hours chatting away. Yesterday I took her to one of my favorite little cafes. Tucked away off the main street, I like to pretend it's my hidden little secret (despite the fact that it's always bustling and busy).

It's quirky and colorful and it's the perfect spot to sit with a friend for hours, undisturbed, talking about life, future plans, goals, dreams, restaurants, tv shows..... anything and everything, while sipping a hot cup of tea or coffee (or beer, like the group of adorable old men at the table next to us).

It was such a delightful afternoon... See you in a few weeks, Anna!

(....and a super wonderful happy birthday to my darling girls mia and mollie.... love you so much... i'm celebrating with you in spirit today! xoxoxo)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday Stroll

Sometimes, when life gets a little overwhelming, a quiet walk to the bakery on a Sunday morning is all you need...

... and then with a clear mind, and a belly full of pastries, you can take on the day. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Postcard Love

postcards at each table

postcard collection box

At our wedding, we didn't have a guestbook. Instead, we asked our guests to write their well-wishes to us on postcards collected by close friends from the cities we love (LA, SF, TO, NYC...). Some of them have wise advice for a successful marriage written on them, some have heartfelt congratulations, and some of them are drunken nonsense... but all of them are awesome and make me smile.

A sampling of them hangs above our couch as a constant reminder of home, and all the people we love. It makes us feel connected even though we're so far away.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? Do you have plans with your sweetheart? Having drinks with your girlfriends? Binging on chocolate and watching sappy romance movies? We don't make too much of a fuss for Valentine's Day (although Didz did surprise me with a bouquet of red roses at lunch). Tonight we'll make dinner and curl up and watch a movie.... and maybe have a glass of wine and eat some chocolate.

my beautiful roses from Didz
Hope your day is filled with love and sweet treats! xoxo

(and a very, very, very Happy Birthday to Sigita!! myliu myliu!)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Champagne & Chandeliers

Going out to noisy bars on the weekends is great - but there are few things I enjoy more than sitting around a table with friends, food and bottles of wine (you may have noticed my affinity for hosting such evenings). On Saturday night we were invited to a wonderful dinner... It was exquisite: champagne and hors d'oeuvres by the fireplace, dinner under a sparkling chandelier, and plenty of stories, laughter and of course, wine.

We talked about travel, languages, culture, wine and food. We received sage advice from our charming hosts on marriage (they've been married 32 years and their love glows like an aura around them - so amazing and inspiring!), and drank and ate like royalty all evening.

dessert: apple cake with homemade vanilla ice cream 
As is too often the case, the evening ended too quickly as we rushed to catch the last train home, but the night has easily crept into my Top 5 favorite evenings that we've had here in Belgium. The cherry on top however, was Sunday morning....

...Didz brought home croissants and cappuccinos (which we enjoyed in bed).

Doesn't get much better than that.

(oh wait, it does.... Lakers beat the Raps.... Sorry Didz. Woohoo!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Just a little something I was dancing in the kitchen to while making dinner last night... Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Robbie's Birthday

Monday evening we hosted a little Birthday get-together for our good friend Robbie. It was thrown together last minute (Sunday night I sent out an emergency email to my three kitchen-savvy girls back home for quick recipe ideas), and after a super-speedy grocery shop Monday morning, I spent the day in the kitchen prepping for the evening.

The Menu:

- Cheese & Crackers (as Annie says, "No cheese platter, no party!")
- Meatballs
- Bite-sized Twice Baked Potatoes
- Onion & Mushroom Tart
- Caprese Bites
- White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
(And I threw together a pizza later on in the evening with onions, mushrooms, zucchini and pesto.)

The timing of it worked out brilliantly, as everything could be prepared throughout the course of the day and then re-heated or set out just as people were arriving.

Everything was delicious, but the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake was by far the biggest hit. I'm so happy I found this recipe - the only change I made was in the crust, I used Speculoos cookies (a traditional Belgian cookie) instead of chocolate cookie crumbs. Next time, I'd like to use fresh raspberries, but I really can't complain about the result using raspberry preserves. This is absolutely going into the "must make again soon" file.

All this in addition to some beer, wine, bubbly (and a shot of whiskey) made for a very happy birthday boy... Cheers, Robbie!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

From Sunday

Sunday morning was dreadfully cold, but we decided to get out of the house a bit, take a stroll, sit at a cafe and read. I started a new book, which I didn't want to put down... while Didz read pages and pages of business stuff, which he would have gladly put down. It was nice to spend some time together, even if it was in silence (occasionally looking up to comment on the ridiculous early 90s hits the cafe was playing). I hope the weather looses its bitter sting soon, but I do like having an excuse to get cozy, sip coffee and spend long hours reading.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Crostini, and Endives, and Wine... Oh My!

Last week, Didz had a crazy schedule. Thursday night he had barely a 30 minute break between class and an evening event to come home for dinner. Since I was already planning to have my friend Anna over for wine and cheese that night, I decided to invite a few of the guys over to munch on some appetizers before (and after) their event. My goal was to make a selection of finger foods that would be both healthy and easy to eat given the limited time they had. Aside from the usual cheese plate, I made Crostini, Shrimp and Endive Salad Bites, Caprese Skewers, and a Rosemary Potato Pizza.

I plan on tweaking the Rosemary Potato Pizza recipe I used - so I'll share the new and improved version with you in a few days, but below is the recipe for the Shrimp and Endive Salad Bites (shared by Mama - taken from Martha Stewart Living magazine):

Sprimp and Endive Salad Bites
Makes approx. 24

20 Medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tbsp Lime juice
2 tbsp Scallions, chopped
1 Jalapeno, chopped (I omitted this and sprinkled in a generous amount of red pepper flakes)
1 tsp Sea salt
1/2 Avocado
2-3 Small Belgian Endives

Cook shrimp in boiling water for 1 minute
Cut into 1/4in. pieces
In a bowl, mix shrimp, lime juice, jalapeno, salt
Refrigerate for 30 minutes
Cut avocado into 1/4in. pieces and fold into shrimp mixture
Add 1 tsp of salad onto each endive leaf


Friday, February 3, 2012

Have a nice weekend!

winter wonderland
Today I'm taking it easy after a very fun evening (I'll share stories and recipes next week), and enjoying the view of the dancing fluffy snowflakes from the comfort of home. We don't have any grand weekend plans - Didz has a bunch of work to do - but I might have to ambush him with snowballs in the park tomorrow. I think it'll be a nice weekend for reading, letter-writing, baking and maybe going out to dinner to our favorite pizza place.

waiting for spring
I hope you have a great weekend! Do you have anything fun planned?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicken & Corn Chowder-ish

My parents like spicy food... like, reeeaaaally spicy... grown men have cried at their table, one guy even jumped into the pool to try to kill the heat in his mouth (but that's another story). One evening, when I was in high school, my parents were making a spicy sauce to go with whatever dish they were preparing. Well, they over did it. It was completely inedible, even to their accustomed palettes. So they started to dilute it, little by little, adding this and that and broth and cream, going from small sauce pot to large stock pot..... and eventually invited all their friends over for a huge pot of moderately spicy soup.

That's sort of what happened to me last night - except I started with a pot of soup, and ended up with... a larger pot of soup. My creamy corn chowder, turned into not so creamy soup. Still delicious, still 100% Didz approved, but it lost its creaminess in the diluting process because I went a little overboard with the cayenne and the little devil chili peppers and added a lot more chicken broth to water it down.

I won't share my recipe (if you can even call it that), but I'll tell you this: I had browsed a lot of different cooking websites for recipes - and the ones that spoke to me most were the ones that included a bacon topping, and honestly, it was such a wonderful added surprise that I'll go out on a limb and say it should be required. The bit of saltiness, against the sweetness of the corn and the spiciness of the broth was perfect.

I haven't tried the leftovers yet, but I'm fairly sure it will be phenomenal after allowing the flavors to meld overnight. Also, I'm tucking this "recipe" away to try again in the summer when corn is in season and it will no doubt be monumentally better.

Happy February! The year has only just begun, but already it's flying by, right?