Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Wishing you a very happy and safe Halloween!

We have been baking up a storm today in preparation of our Halloween party. Pizza bread bones, graveyard dip, mummy pizzas. Check us out later this week for our Halloween recipes and pictures. You have a whole year to perfect it all for next Halloween :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Eggs

She went to the store the other day to pick up some eggs and found this...

Now, they might just look like some normal everyday eggs to you, but she hasn't gotten a carton full of white eggs since who knows when - at least a year.

Germany loves their brown eggs and that is okay, the outside color does not change the taste, but she didn't realize how used to brown eggs she has gotten until she was taken by surprise by white eggs. Of course brown and white eggs can be bought in the USA, although she has never gotten brown ones from the grocery store before.  Something she does find a little bit strange (but sensible) is the mixing Germans do. Sometimes, when you buy a carton of eggs in Germany, you get a few white mixed in with the brown. Strange, but an egg is an egg so who cares right?

Apparently she cares, because she could go on and on about the eggs in Germany.

For example:

American (yellow) egg (
In Germany, eggs come in packs of ten not twelve. Reasoning? Who knows?!?

At the grocery store, eggs are not refrigerated in Germany. She runs right home and puts them in the fridge but it seems that some people don't. The eggs even have two use-by dates. One for if you keep your eggs out and one for if you keep them in the fridge. Except for small farmer's markets she has never seen eggs sold outside of the fridge in the USA.

German (orange) egg (

Also, German egg yolks are ORANGE. Like really really orange. Apparently, chickens in Germany are fed Canthaxanthin which makes the egg yolk look bright and healthier. She was pretty shocked about this... isn't the USA supposed to be the country who loves to perfect all their food by adding chemicals? American eggs look pale and sick by comparison, but actually it is because they are not being specially treated. She finds it rather creepy when batter turns orange from the yolks.

-She was inspired to write about eggs this week after making a frittata for dinner to use up soon to expire eggs. Recipe for that is coming soon!-

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Baked Penne

There is nothing like warm cheesy goodness on a cold night. This dish can be done in under 30 minutes and without making much of a mess if you plan well and have a skillet that can be used in the oven. (Sadly, we don't so more dirty dishes for us :(  )

Serves 2-3 (It is no problem to double this recipe if your pan is large enough):

1/2 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
6 ounces penne (ziti also works here)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (we left this out)
1/8 cup fresh basil, minced (we used dried)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 Tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper as needed
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (always optional)

We were in a hurry so we prepared everything before we got cooking. This let us do the actual cooking in under 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 F (245 C) ---> yes hot! Put oven rack in the middle position.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high in a skillet that you can also put in the oven*. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook about one minute.

~*If you are like us and do not have one of these, that is okay too. We just transferred everything into a baking dish when it was time to bake. ~

Add the crushed tomatoes, water, penne (or ziti) and more salt (about another 1/2 tsp). Cover and cook, stirring often (oops, we didn't bother to stir and it worked out just fine). Adjust the heat so it stays  at a vigorous simmer. Cook 15-18 minutes or until the pasta is almost tender.

Stir in cream, Parmesan (we left this out and it wasn't obvious), and basil. Season to your likening with salt and pepper.

~If you need to transfer the pasta into an oven-safe dish do it now~

Sprinkle the top with mozzarella.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starts to brown.

Serve alone or with a side salad.

This recipe was adapted from Cook's Illustrated - Skillet Baked Ziti.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sweet BBQ Meatballs

These meatballs are not for pasta. Instead, they are their own meal. We will definitely be making these again and also use both the sauce and the meatball parts to make other recipes, such as meatloaf.

Don't let the oats scare you. If you didn't know they were in there you would never have a clue! (But they seem to make them a lot more fluffy ---> can meatballs be fluffy?!?)

Oops, ignore the Worcester sauce :)
For two servings:

3/4 lb ground beef
3/8 cup oats
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbs finely minced onion
1  tsp salt
Ground black pepper to taste

Cooking meatballs:
1/2 cup flour
Oil for frying

1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 Tbs vinegar
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbs finely minced onion
Optional - hot sauce (like Tabasco)

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).

Combine all of the ingredients listed under meatballs.

Mix well and roll into small balls. Place on a plate or cookie sheet and freeze for five minutes. This will solve your problem if they seem a little bit too sticky!

During this time you can preheat your oil in a pan on the stove.

After five minutes, remove from the freezer and roll in flour. Brown (don't worry about getting them cooked, you just need them to be nice and brown on the outside).

Place in a baking dish and then mix all of the ingredients listed under sauce (with dash of hot sauce if you want). Mix well so the sugar does not get left in the bottom of the bowl.

Pour over the meatballs.

Cook for 45 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes or another delicious side dish.

(She used the leftovers to make a meatball sandwich and it was awesome!)

This recipe was adapted from the Pioneer Woman.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Shopping Baskets/Einkaufskörbe

Her basket - along with easy grip and zipper :)
We talked about how you have to pay for bags at the supermarket in our Shopping Bags and Checkers entry but we did not discuss the adorable (says she) German shopping baskets. We are not talking about the baskets you get inside the store, for those are exactly the same in Germany and the United States, but we are talking about the medium-sized baskets people bring with them to the store to do their shopping.

From the moment she laid eyes on the German Einkaufskörbe she wanted one. It felt like every German woman had one (and a lot of the men too!). Although they come in a variety of colors, they are all very similar. Solid but collapsible, you can go not only to the supermarket but shopping anywhere with these baskets.

She used to talk about how she would never be a proper "German" girlfriend if she did not have a basket and so, for her past birthday, he got her one. Perhaps as a joke or perhaps it is a hint that she should do more of the shopping :)

She is in love with her cute black German basket. It is handy, stylish (at least it fits in here!), has comfortable handles, and even has a zipper if you want to keep your things out of sight.

Now that we live in a city and walk to the store, she gets a lot of use out of her basket. She even learned from a cute German grandma how to properly carry the basket once it gets heavy (apparently it is all about grabbing the front so your entire arm is taking the pressure).

Would we use a German shopping basket in the USA? Probably not. People in America would probably think we were crazy and have a problem with us putting all of the groceries in a bag or basket before paying. But, for now, as long as we are living in Germany, the basket will get its use and she will fit in as a proper "German."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pretzels and Wurst

This is a pretty typical meal for me when I am feeling tired or lazy and he is away.

Think Germany has rubbed off on me a bit....? :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Couscous Stuffed Bell Peppers

Excuse her photos, usually he is the photographer.
Because he is away for work a lot, she has to often cook for one. Usually, this means she sticks to simple meals that don't take long to prepare and don't leave too many leftovers (How many times can you eat the same thing warmed up?). Other times, she tries something new and something she knows he might not be a big fan of.

He is not a couscous lover (She will win him over someday!). She loves it. Why wait for rice or normal pasta to cook when in a few minutes the couscous is finished?

She made up this recipe from the combination of a few that she saw. Definitely something she will try again.

For two finished bell peppers:

1/4 lb ground beef
1/4 cup couscous (dry)
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup water
2 bell peppers (hollowed out)
1 slice or a handful of grated cheese
salt, pepper, parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C).

Wash, cut, and hollow out your bell peppers. She cut up the extra bell pepper from the top to use inside.

Dice your onion and cook with the ground beef over medium-high. If you are using the extra bell pepper add it in too.

While the ground beef is cooking, cook the couscous according to directions (couscous + water).

Once the couscous is finished and the onions are soft, add the couscous into the ground beef mixture.

Season with a good amount of salt (more than you probably think you will need), some pepper, and a lot of parsley.

Mix everything together and stuff the bell peppers with the mixture. Her bell peppers were a medium size and she had a little of the mixture leftover (She ate it plain and it was delicious!). If your bell peppers are small you can probably get three out of this recipe.

Place in the oven and cook for about 35 minutes or until the bell peppers are tender. She left hers in for 45 minutes and they were too soft. About three minutes before they are finished, remove the bell peppers and cover with cheese. Then back into the oven until the cheese has melted.

Next time she wants to try to mix feta cheese into the mixture before baking. If you do that, you might want to reduce the amount of salt you use.

One bell pepper just would stay standing up!

She ate one as her entire meal. You could also serve them as a side with meat as the main course.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Will That be Cash or Credit?

Cash, credit, or debit?

Actually, she has never heard anyone ask that here in Germany but that doesn't mean you don't have a choice. Compared to even ten years ago, the card culture in Germany has become much more "Americanized," but that does not mean it is just like America. Germany loves cash at a level most Americans can just not understand.
Paying in cash is the norm in Germany. People usually carry around rather large amounts of cash (compared to Americans who sometimes walk around with no or very little cash). It is no problem to pay for things with a fifty or even one hundred euro bill. One hundred euro bills are also common at ATM machines. To help all those cash carriers, Germany does have cool ATMs that let you pick how many of what type of bill you want. If you like to always have small bills (like her), you can choose to get only fives, tens, and twenties.

In the USA, large bills are looked at suspiciously and often not accepted. For the most part, you would get a less strange look if you paid for something that was only five dollars with a debit or credit card than a fifty or one hundred dollar bill.

If you do not pay with cash in Germany, you almost always pay with a debit card. Germans use their debit cards like Americans use their credit (and she guesses also sometimes debit) cards. It is not strange to a German to give someone your account information so they can deduct payment from your account or to pay online through ebanking. She has even ordered stuff in Germany (from big companies like H&M) and gotten the bill in the package to pay online later. Germany does not have checks so ebanking and debit cards are very important for business .

YES! Americans still use checks. It might not be the most sensible, but who does not love having pretty pictures on their method of payment?
 :) :) :) :) :)

Credit cards are rarely used in Germany, although more common than in the past. Large department stores accept credit cards, and you have to have one to rent a car, but some places where you would expect credit cards to be accepted they are not. Last week she was at IKEA and was shocked to find out that they only accept cash and debit (hence the idea for this entry was born). Many German websites, including discount airline sites, do not accept credit cards or charge you an extra fee (a few euros) for using them. Most of the Germans she knows do not have a credit card. This is probably because they all seem to charge a yearly fee.

In America, credit cards are accepted almost everywhere (at least if you are spending over five dollars). It is also no problem to get a no-fee credit card. Some Americans are very anti credit card but she does not get it. If you are going to pay it off on time every month, why not go for that extra cash back cards like Discover offer?!?
What's the most common thing between Germany and the USA when it comes to payment? Money speaks, and everyone is goes out of their way to find a method of payment that gets the money into their hands.

Personally, we take cash, debit, credit, checks, or precious metals :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Velveeta Cheese Dip

For the most part we try to make things from scratch, (or mostly scratch, as in plain tomato sauce with our own herbs and spices) but some days you just got to go for the unhealthy processed tastiness.

Thanks to the amazing care package from a good friend from Texas (Texas t-shirt and all!) she was able to introduce him to the deliciousness of Velveeta cheese dip. He was very skeptical until he started eating...then he couldn't get enough.
Thanks Heather!

All you need is a small block of Velveeta cheese and one can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies. If you do not have these two things you can try using regular cheese and cut up tomato and chili pieces.

Cut the cheese into small chunks.

Add the diced tomatoes and chili pieces (we didn't want to make too much so we used half of the Velveeta and half of the Rotel can).

Heat over medium, stirring to make sure that it does not get burned to the bottom of the pan.

We wanted our dip a bit more spicy so we added a few dashes of Cholula sauce. Yum!

Once everything is melted, serve with tortilla chips.

Don't knock it until you try is delicious! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Easy Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu

We're back!!!

Between moving to Frankfurt and having no internet for the past 10 days (perhaps a future Mix-Up Monday post) we just have not been able to get on and blog lately. That does not mean we haven't been busy mixing up some new recipes though.
Like this one...Easy Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu.

This recipe is just as easy to make for two as it is for twenty two, all you need to do is increase the ingredients to fit what you need and you are good to go.

We tried to keep this pretty healthy so we skipped the butter, but if you are one of those people the calories just slide off of, go ahead and make it as juicy and tasty as possible :)

For two people we used:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 slices of ham (we didn't have any real ham so we used sandwich meat... :( )
2 small (or one giant) slice of cheese (we used some cheese from her holiday in the Alps)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt, pepper, oregano, basil
OPTIONAL - 1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C)

Slice your cheese and ham (or folding it over works too) so it will fit inside your chicken breast.

Wash and pat dry your chicken and then slice the chicken longways through the middle. Do not cut all the way through (you want to make a pocket).

Stuff your ham and cheese inside the pocket (don't let any hang over the sides).

If you are like us and just sliced without real accuracy, you may need to use toothpicks to keep everything in.

Pour the breadcrumbs out onto a plate or shallow bowl. Add a good amount of salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Mix well.

[If you are using butter, melt the butter and roll your chicken in the butter before rolling it in the breadcrumbs.]

Roll the chicken in the breadcrumbs so that it is well covered. It should still be a little damp from rinsing it off earlier so there should be no problem with the breadcrumbs sticking.

Place on a baking sheet and cook for 40 minutes or until golden brown. If you did not use butter (like us) your chicken will not be as nice and golden as if you did.

These can be served with almost anything. We ate ours with couscous (her current food addition) and green beans. Mashed potatoes also go really well with chicken cordon bleu.