Tag Archives: recipe

Peanut Butter Cookies

5 Apr

Oh wow.  This has been a week full of white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with hazelnuts and even 99% cocoa chocolate.  My kids have been eating it on their bread for breakfast (they’re half Belgian), straight up for snacks and even popping a few Easter eggs for bedtime snack.  I’ve declared it “chocolate week” and I want them to enjoy it to its fullest.  Plus, I want it all out of my house by next week when they return to school and I return to my no-sugar lifestyle.

But it’s not all bad.  From what I’ve been reading dark chocolate  is the new super food that can help with everything from depression to anemia (my pharmacist told me that the other day).  And I recently found out dark chocolate can actually prevent tooth decay.

To put a little protein into their chocolate diet I decided to make them some Peanut Butter Cookies with, you guessed it, chocolate.  Usually I don’t make peanut butter cookies due to the extortionate price of peanut butter over here (I pay 6 euro for a tiny jar) but since I was brought a huge jug from America I thought I would use some of it to make these delicious cookies.

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All of my Italian and European friends aren’t familiar with Peanut Butter cookies and even look slightly disturbed by the thought of them.  But once they try them they usually can’t get enough.  These cookies are rich, buttery and have a slight saltiness to them.  I love them to no end.  And you will to.

Read on for recipe… Continue reading

Hot Cross Buns

26 Mar

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It has been pretty silent around here on this blog the last week.  I have my (wonderful) in-laws here at the moment and we’ve been busy doing all sorts of things together.  Lots of walks, trips to Milan, delicious meals together and board game playing.  The kids are in heaven with the non-stop playmates (and chocolate givers).

This past week-end the weather was rainy and miserable so we ended up spending the entire Sunday inside the house.  For vieruurtje (Dutch for afternoon-snack and literally translated as “little 4 o’clock”) I made the clan some good ol’ Easter Hot Cross Buns.

This is a basic recipe and much simpler than the traditional recipes that seem to include a ton of steps.  Usually I would also add some candied citrus peel or currents to the dough but unfortunately my kids would disown me for life and run out the door and never come back if they found such things in their buns.


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I took a basic white bread recipe and added some extra sugar and cinnamon (similar to the Cinnamon Swirl Bread from last week).  These buns come out really soft and spongy and actually keep fresh for a day or two.  Before putting them in the oven I take a sharp knife and slash a cross on the tops.  That way there is a perfect indentation for the ever important icing to settle into (after cooled).

Nothing really gives me that Easter feeling more than a pan of fresh-out-of-the-oven Hot Cross Buns (and a sunny garden full of blooming flowers of course).  Throw in some kids wearing pastel coloured spring dresses and straw hats and it’s absolutely perfect.

Read on for recipe.

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Cinnamon Swirl Bread

15 Mar

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For ages I’ve been wanting to try and re-create a bread that we ate often when I was little.  Cinnamon Swirl Bread.  I remember my mom used to buy it on the week-ends and I’m pretty sure my brother and I could polish off a whole loaf in one sitting.  If there happened to be some left over (rarely) we ate it the next day toasted with butter (almost better than eating it fresh).

Yesterday when the loaf came out of the oven and I sliced into it so I could take some photos I knew it was not going to be possible to wait until the week-end to give it a try.  This no-sugar-during-the-week thing that I’m doing is great and I admit that I’m feeling much better in general.  Geesh, it has been almost six months that I’ve resisted the urge to eat everything from chocolate cake to fruit pies to bags of my favorite candy.  But the taste of that bread yesterday was probably the best thing I have eaten in my entire  life (have you noticed that I tend to exaggerate slightly sometimes?). No regrets here.

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When my kid’s arrived home from school famished I served them this and they were ecstatic.  “Mama, it’s like a gooey cinnamon bun in the middle of a  loaf of delicious bread!” and “Mama, this is absolutely the best things I’ve ever tasted in my entire life!” (the exaggeration trait was apparently passed on to a few of my kids).

So my advice to you all is to make this bread this week-end and let your families/friends/pets shower you with praise, love and thankfulness.

Read on for recipe…

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Guest Post: JOELIX

19 Dec

{Note from Jillian: Today I have our first guest post on the blog.  Many thanks to the uber-talented Judith from JOELIX for whipping up this amazing Christmas recipe.  I seriously can’t wait until my arm is well enough to make these.  They involve two of my favorite things…mincemeat and cheesecake! Make sure to check out her blog JOELIX and be prepared to be inspired.  She’s one talented lady. }

Bonjour Jillian In Italy readers, I’m Judith from JOELIX.com. Jillian asked me to share something festive with you, while she is recovering from surgery. I hope she’s doing fine, because not being allowed to use your right hand for 6 weeks must be really tough! Especially with 3 kids… Big hugs Jill!

You all know that Jillian is a talented cook, so I decided to share my favorite christmas recipe with you today. I never cook myself (although I do enjoy baking & making desserts!), but I’m blessed to be surrounded by some amazing chefs. My all time favorite christmas treats are my mom’s mini cheesecakes with mincemeat. They taste very christmassy & sweet and look super cute. Plus they are not too big, which is perfect after a rich christmas meal.

So here is my mom’s recipe:

What you need:
200g digestive biscuits
120g melted unsalted butter
250g firm cream cheese
200ml crème fraîche
75g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml whipped cream
100g dried candied cranberries
2 tbs brandy
400g mincemeat

What you do:
Line a 12-hole muffin pan with cling film. Mix the crumbled biscuits with the butter in a blender until combined. Press biscuit mixture into the base and sides of the muffin holes. Press firmly with a spoon. Place the muffin pan in the freezer while you make the filling.
Combine the cream cheese, crème fraîche, sugar and vanilla extract in your blender and beat until smooth. Mix with whipped cream using a spoon.
Fill the muffin pan with spoonfuls of the cream filling. Freeze for another 30 minutes.
Gently heat the cranberries and brandy in a saucepan over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Then add mincemeat and warm through for another 3 minutes. Remove from the stove.
To serve, carefully remove the cakes from the muffin pan and serve with mincemeat topping. Bon appétit!

You can buy ready-made mincemeat at this time of the year, but my mom suggested it tastes much better when you prepare the mincemeat yourself. She wrote down her recipe and I made an easy downloadable recipe of it!

If you are going to try making these mini cheesecakes, let me know how you liked them! And of course: may your days be merry & bright! Gros bisous from France!

Rhubarb Ginger Chutney

25 Oct

During the whole summer I proudly showed off my garden to anyone who dropped by the house and every single time I showed my overgrowing rhubarb plants I would say I was just about to make chutney with it.  I started saying this 5 months ago and yesterday I finally got around to actually making it.

I’ll be honest.  Rhubarb isn’t on my top 10 list of favorite fruits (is it even a fruit?).  It’s actually not even in my top 20.  The tartness of rhubarb usually makes my jaw ache and I personally find it tastes like what I think a mouthful of maple leaves would taste like.

But we planted it a few years ago and now we have a thriving supply of it all summer long.  I made a surprisingly lovely Cherry Rhubarb Lavender Jam (the jam that almost killed me!) and a few tarts as well.  But considering we live in Italy and down the street from an amazing fresh cheese farm I wanted to try making a chutney to accompany all that wonderful sheep and goat cheeses that we eat on a daily basis.

I first saw this recipe on Raincoast Cottage months ago and  it’s originally from Martha Stewart.  I had to change up the recipe slightly but in the end it turned out quite tasty and the perfect accompaniment with cheese, crusty ciabatta and assorted sliced meats for dinner.  Click for recipe…

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Miniature Pretzel Bites

15 Oct


It’s cold and rainy over here today.  It seems as though the summer is finally over and that the heating system might need to be put to work again.  I have to admit that I’m absolutely not looking forward to winter and cold weather.  I’m one of those people who can never feel warm in the winter months.  I walk around the house with double wool socks, thick scarves and lots of fleece and I have the thermostat on 23 degrees and the fireplace on.  It’s one of the main reasons I moved away from Canada actually.  So wish me luck this winter and let’s hope for a short one.

To beat the chill I can usually be found baking.  Last week I made these miniature pretzel bites and they were devoured within minutes of being out of the oven.   The extra step of boiling the dough before baking is daunting for some people but it’s really not that bad!

I came across the idea to make pretzels over on Say Yes to Hoboken and the recipe is from the Our Best Bites site.  I decided to make the dough into miniature balls so that I could make several different flavours.  For this batch I made some savoury ones with sesame and poppy seeds and some sweet ones with cinnamon and sugar.  They really are so chewy and tasty.  My kids are asking for them on a daily basis now.

There’s nothing like Fleischmann’s quick rising yeast packets from Canada.  Good thing my mom arrives in a few weeks with some more.

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Cakes

4 Sep

Today is the first day I have the house to myself in two months.  The kids started school this morning and everyone was a little emotional.  The kids were excited and nervous and I had the end of summer melancholy that goes with sending the little ones off on the bus and returning to an empty and quiet house.

More than anything it’s the silence that I always have to get used to.  I’ve been used to hearing footsteps up and down stairs, kid’s conversations and giggles, lego being poured onto the floor and doors being opened and closed.  And now….nothing.

So to fill this empty and quiet house I decided to make some muffins for the kids to celebrate their first day back at school.  Just the sound of the mixer running and the oven on was enough to make me feel a little less alone this morning.

These little cakes (or muffins…I’m not sure what they would be classified as) are really delicious and moist.  And FULL of vegetables.  Seriously, there are 2 cups of grated zucchini in them!  The zucchini gives them a rich, dense consistency and leaves absolutely no zucchini taste at all.  I’m curious as to whether my kids will notice the little green bits that you can see every now and then in the cakes.  Continue reading for recipe.

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