Thursday, December 29, 2011

French onion soup dip- no mix!

I know I have mentioned before how we have some great groups of friends here in Belgium, and today I am going to talk about some more...

There is another couple of Turks here who are about the same age as us, and are expecting their first baby. We have been come very good friends with them, although I will confess that when we are together, I don't feel as 'cool' as them!

That's another story...

One of the things we like doing with each other is just coming together to watch movies in the evening. Last week we watched Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, very good. Last night we watched the new version of True Grit, not my favorite.

Whoever's house we are at, they put out a little spread of snacks (the usual suspects of cheese and crackers, chips, olives etc.).

Last night they came over to us, I was craving veggies and dip, (and chips and dip). I absolutely love French onion soup dip. Previously, I made it with soup mixes, but last night I didn't have any mixes, and really doesn't everything taste better from scratch anyway?

This dip sure does, my friend and I ate the whole bowl (luckily I made lots, and had kept another bowl in the fridge to be eaten today!)

Well here is the recipe, just in time for new years...

French Onion Soup Dip

3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
1 cup fresh cheese
1 cup plain yoghurt (I use this amazingly cream Turkish yoghurt)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a frying pan, caramelize the onions in the oil until they are a bit crispy. It takes a bit of time. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

In a bowl, mix together the cheese and yoghurt, add the cooled onions and the salt, pepper and thyme.

Let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the flavours can all come together.

Serve with veggies, chips or a spoon!

Monday, December 26, 2011

38 weeks....

Well, here I am on the other side of Christmas, still pregnant, but feeling great. My belly is huge, and hard (basically it looks like I ate a basketball).

Life is pretty much as usual here in pregnant Belgium. I am still out and about with Alara and Seyfi, walking daily, doing yoga, cooking, cleaning, visiting friends, even the occasional driving.

I'm sure you are wondering why I am still carrying on, and not just relaxing. There are two main reasons:

1~ I'm trying to help the baby along in the 'dropping' department. I read that the more I move around, the more the baby is likely to find the 'right way out'... When I was at the hospital for my monitoring last week the midwife told me that I was having contractions, but the I was closed up tight, and I would like to change this situation.

2~ With the gestational diabetes, the more I move around, the better, the more I can eat. With the holidays, I have been wanting to eat a lot more treats, so I am trying to find a balance between activity and good food!

Part of me has no idea why I am trying to move the process along, my parents don't get here until next Sunday. I only sort of have things organized for the first days after the baby comes, if it comes early, and more importantly I still haven't packed my hospital bag.

Today I am doing the laundry so that I can put some clean things I to a bag to take with me, but to be honest, I'm not really sure what I am going to need for the three to four days that I will be at the hospital. Pjs, toothbrush check- but do I need jeans? What about a pillow? Snacks? I need to get this sorted out.

The baby's things are packed, so I guess I just need to get a bag packed for myself, something together for Alara if we need to drop her off with friends, and Seyfi will need something, especially if I do get to have my water birth, he will need something for a 'wet' situation.

Well, 38 weeks, it isn't quite the end, but coming close... I'm not going to start panicking yet...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have a fabulous weekend

I can't believe that it is Christmas eve!

Since I've been having weird contraction pains for the past few days, our weekend/christmas will be quite relaxed. I think it'll involve last minute grocery shopping today and watching Christmas movies this afternoon. I was planning on making a lasagna for dinner tonight... We'll see how that goes.

On Christmas day, we have been very lucky to have been invited to friends' for Christmas dinner. They are a great couple, the wife is Turkish (and due the day before me) and the husband is British. He is preparing the feast, and has told us not to bring anything! I'm very excited.

Also, the Downton Abbey Christmas special will be on tomorrow night! That is the best christmas present of all! Well a bit of snow would be nice as well...

Alara is over the moon with thoughts of Santa Claus coming to the house. For a kid who has asked for next to nothing, she sure does want him to come!

I guess I should get out of bed, and get the weekend started.
Hope you all have a fabulous weekend,
And a merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chocolate chunk Blondies

When I first moved here and stopped working, I thought to myself, I'm going to be one of those moms who brings baked goods to every event.

So far this year, I brought cupcakes for the teachers once (I had made them and then learned about by gestational diabetes, and didn't want them in the house), and I made cookies for the kids Halloween party.

Now, tomorrow is Alara's class' Christmas party, and really I wanted to make something super special, and Christmassy, but really, with being this late in the pregnancy, I couldn't be bothered.

What's the next best thing though, that hasn't been bought at the local bakery? Why brownies! Who doesn't love brownies?

I'll tell you who doesn't love brownies, a person who hasn't got any cocoa in the house!!

Ok, so what is the next, next best thing? Blondies!!!

Blondies, for the baker with everything but cocoa.

So, that is what I made today, and let me tell you, gestational diabetes or not, these Blondies are amazing. Very similar to a giant chocolate chip cookie, only the portion sizes can be cut bigger or smaller, I was so happy with how they turned out.

Tomorrow, Alara will take them to school. I don't know how they will go over here in Belgium, but really, what kid doesn't love a chocolate chip cookie?

If they bomb in Alara's class, I'm just going to take them home, a put themin my freezer. I've got other plans for the leftovers.

What's my big plan?

I'm going to pull them out of the freezer on my way to the hospital to give birth, and eat them while I am holding my new baby girl!!

I can't wait!

(any suggestions on how to make the baby come faster???? I really want to eat these without worrying about having a twenty pound baby!)

Here is my recipe for Chocolate Chunk Blondies

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tbsp molasses (or 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar)
226 grams butter (2 American sticks) room temp
2 eggs
1tbsp vanilla
A splash of milk

1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks (I mixed bitter and milk chocolate chunks)

Combine all your dry ingredients and set aside.

With a mixer, blend together your sugar and molasses so that there are no chunks, and it seems fluffy (or just use light brown sugar). Add in your butter and then your eggs and vanilla. At this point I thought it was too thick so I added a splash of milk.

Slowly add your dry ingredients, and then stir in your chocolate chunks.

Line a cookie sheet with backing paper, and put the batter on it in a rectangle shape.

Bake at 180C for 20 minutes. Don't over bake and let it get hard.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pregnancy Yoga

I thought that i would never meet another foreigner in the small village I live in, the belgians here are wonderful, we 'bonjour' everyone we see, but with my limited French, it isn't easy to make a 'friend'. Then a couple of months ago I met two amazing women who live right here in my small community. We all are from different countries, living here in Belgium, our children all go to the same school, and we all speak English.

It has been really great to meet these ladies and share our experiences, and help each other out. Especially since one of the ladies has been here for longer then the rest of us. She know where everything is, and the best thing she has shared with us, is that there is a yoga studio around the corner from my house!

During my pregnancy with Alara, I did yoga a few times a week for the entire pregnancy. I truly believe that it helped me through a lot of the stress of the pregnancy, and made my body ready for the birth.

With this pregnancy I hadn't been doing any yoga, sure I walk a lot, and try to stay fit, but nothing has the same benefits as yoga. To be honest, I was feeling guilty that I hadn't done any, and worried that the birth would be terrible this time around.

So, after learning about the studio, with a bit of nervousness in my little French skills, I went to the local yoga studio, and got down to business. I couldn't be happier with the results!

My teacher has been wonderful, she doesn't currently offer a maternity yoga class, so she has adjusted every movement for my needs. She is always there to support me, and is making my sure that I am comfortable with each step we go through.

I'm really enjoying this yoga, it is relaxing me, while at the same time challenging me. My body has reacted positively from these classes, I feel less tight and have less aches and pains. It has also helped me with my breathing, making it easier to control my stress and my health. I feel so much better about the birth, and most importantly the guilt is gone. I would definitely recommend yoga to anyone who is pregnant.

Isn't it wonderful to think that in just a few months my local support group has grown to include these new wonderful women in my life, and that my little village feels so much more like home.

Monday, December 19, 2011

37 weeks...

I honestly can't believe how quickly this pregnancy has flown by, especially considering that it has been nothing like my first. With Alara, I worked, I could eat anything I wanted, I was in Turkey, i spoke a different language at the hospital and they weather was beautiful at towards the end.

With this pregnancy, I've been in Belgium, I have been a homemaker, I have gestational diabetes and am on a pretty strict diet (more on that later), I have a fabulous English doctor and the weather has been terrible.

I just got home from the hospital, where I learned that although things are going well, the baby is not coming anytime soon.

Part of me is happy, I would like to be able to wait until my parents are here, and I have everything ready (I still haven't washed a thing for this baby).

But there is a very big part of me that I ready to get on with our second baby, but more, I am done with the diabetes. It's really hard work!

The doctor suggested that I do some squats, that they might help get things moving along, so that is what I'll start doing now, my daily squats- good times!

I'll keep you all up to date on how things go, but nothing is likely to happen anytime soon...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Have a fabulous weekend....

Being thirty six and a half weeks pregnant, Seyfi has said there will be no more weekend road trips for the family. Apparently he doesn't want this baby to come on the side of the road, or worse in a different country.

Thankfully, the weather here in Belgium has not been the greatest, so all I really want to do is stay home, clean the house, cook, and maybe have some friends over for a football (soccer) match on Sunday night.

There are a few things that we may end up doing, if I decide to leave this cocoon. There are a few local christmas markets that I would like to see. One is a Dickens themed market in the local town of Soignes, which is also where my hospital is. I've heard that at his market, there is a toboggan hill and raclette (melted cheese served over potatoes or bread). yum.

The other market is at one of our most favourite hid always in Belgium, Parc Enghien. A manor house set on a beautiful piece of property that has a forest to rabble through, ponds to walk around and gorgeous gardens to envy, they too will be hosting their Christmas market today.

Or maybe I will suggest we head into Mons, hit up our favourite gluten free/ organic shop, get Seyfi organized for the week, and then head over to our favourite organic cafe, sit at the 'table communal' drink something organic and work on our French with some new friends.

Since it is 8:30 Saturday morning, and the sun is picking its nose out, the weekend is our oyster! So much that could be on the table, so much that we could just leave behind....

What will you be doing this weekend?
I hope you have a good one!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Has it been almost a year?

I can't believe that almost a year has past since I last wrote something, but I'm hoping to start over with a recap of what is up with each of us...

Alara- almost three and a half, working on her third language and getting ready to be a big sister. She is becoming an amazing little girl, so interested in the people in her life, trying so hard to be a big girl, absolutely hilarious at times, and sensitive at others. She is a fabulous little girl, I couldn't be happier to be her mom!

Seyfi- Belgium has been good for my celiac man, we have found some wonderful gluten free products, and it has made it easier for him to take care of his health. Busy with his job, my amazing husband has started working on his second masters, and at my encouraging, has joined a yoga class.

Me- well I am three weeks away from having our second little girl. This pregnancy has been completely different than the first, but still a positive. Belgium has also been treating me well, I've meet some of the most amazing friends here, joined a book club and a yoga class for the firtst time and feel really good with life.

Now that life is about to change again, I figure it is time to dust off the old blog, and get started again...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bisquick Ultimate Chicken Fingers- Gluten Free

When I first moved to Turkey, the girl I lived with would go on and on about how much she missed biscuits and gravy. She would say that if she could just get her hands on some Bisquick, she would whip some up and show us. Unfortunately, there was no Bisquick, and therefore, cravings for biscuits and gravy went on until she left Turkey.

I actually have had many American friends over the years who have told me all about the many things that they have made from Bisquick, but to be honest, I had heard of Bisquick, but I had never seen it, let alone baked with it, because it isn't (or wasn't) available in Canada.

Here is Beligium, I again have met some Americans who rave about the wonders of Bisquick and what they make from it. In fact, the other day a friend of mine told me that she has a whole cookbook of Bisquick recipes that her mother in law gave her. She says she uses it all the time, and loves the product.

This made me wonder, so I was talking to another friend about this Bisquick world that I had no idea of, and told her that I had never heard of Bisquick, she said I was weird and that she would get me a box, but then I remind her that it didn't matter, we are a gluten free home, and bisquick had gluten in it, so she didn't have to bother. She left, but two days later she came over with something amazing- GLUTEN FREE BISQUICK!

I honestly didn't know what to make with it! I had no idea where to start, the box had some recipes on it, so I thought I would start there. I was making lunch for us, and thought that I would try the Ultimate Chicken Fingers recipe.

I prepared everything the way that Bisquick told me to, the only difference being that I didn't use chicken strips, rather I used, what I would call, chicken chunks.
I baked up the chicken, and let me tell you, it was amazing!! They were so great. We haven't had breaded chicken in over a year now, and this was a taste for sore tongues (sight for sore eyes...does that work? )

Here is the recipe-

3/4 cup Bisquick Gluten free mix
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp salt
3 boneless chicken breast cut into strips (I used chunks)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 tbsp butter or margarine melted

Heat the oven to 230 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Stir Bisquik, cheese, paprika and salt in shallow baking dish. Dip chicken in eggs and then in mixture and repeat. Place coated chicken on cookie sheet and drizzle with butter.

Bake 12- 14 minutes, turning after 6 minutes.

This recipe is super easy to do, and really yummy. Alara must have eaten about half the chicken. I am recommending gluten free Bisquick for all your coated chicken needs. I am so greatful to my friends for recommending and giving me this product! I am a lucky lady to have met them!

Now, I would love if you could suggest some other recipes or ideas for gluten free Bisquick!

**** Bisquick gluten free, has no idea who I am, they are not sponsering this blog post, however, if they would like to send me free products, or can tell me how I can get a hold of some more Gluten free bisquick when I am back in Turkey or if they would just like to get a hold of me- they are always more than welcome to!***

Monday, April 11, 2011

Life has been busy...

Boy, working at one job is a lot easier than being a housewife! And I am not a very good housewife at that!

I truly thought that once Alara started into her preschool, I would have so much time to myself, all alone at the house, keeping it clean, making delicious meals, and reading all sorts of wonderful books. I was wrong, apparently when you don't have your child with you, you find all sorts of new ways to fill your time!

I am taking a French class now. Learning on my own was not working for me, I met a great woman, and we are taking the class together. Through the class, my French is improving, and I have met many more great people. I have realized though that I am a may be a good teacher, but I am a terrible student! I am what you would call the class clown! Oh la la!

Alara is doing really well at preschool, picking up French herself, meeting children from all over Europe and North America, learning how to do crafts and sing songs. She is loving it! At home she is constantly talking and singing in both English and Turkish, playing and getting over her fear of 'scary' movies. We watched Tangled this weekend and she loved it! (I did too!)

Seyfi is also doing well, his French is amazing! His celiac seems to be under control, no more gluten at all for him (his choice). I think the turning point came at two moments, after reading Elizabeth Hasselback's G-free diet book and finding gluten free croissants that are actually delicious!

The weather here has been amazing! My vegetable garden is all dug out and the peas are sprouting! My flower garden is in bloom, the tulips and daffodils are finishing up, making room for the summer flowers, the lilac and jasmine trees are a bud and any day now we will be smelling their sweet scents! I'm very excited.

So today's post is just a very long overdue update, I am going to take the time to write more now that life is finally in some sort of routine!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The best chicken soup...

Seyfi is really into soup these days. I'm not sure if it is because he is coming home for lunch everyday, and a bowl of soup seems to hit the spot, or if it is because Belgium has the kind cold that goes right to your bones, and a bowl of soup warms up your soul, but he would like to have soup everyday, and I try to make sure he gets that. (Since I love him so much...)

At least once every week, I make a roast chicken. It is something that we all really love, and I always take the bones, add in a few more things and make a really lovely stock from them. Usually, I am adding in a carrot, an onion, some garlic, herbs and salt and pepper. This base really makes for the best soups.

However, lately we have been getting a bit bored of our roast chicken dinners, so I decided to glaze the chicken with a barbecue sauce (that I had made), mixed in with a bit more brown sugar and then watered down abit with some apple juice. I brushed my glaze on the chicken every ten minutes while it was in the oven, and the end result was a really lovely tasting chicken.

Now, I was not about to go without making my stock for my soups for the week, so I took the barbecue sauce bones and made my stock from that, but this time only adding some salt and pepper. The end result... a delicious, sweet, dark stock.

What I will share with you today is my recipe for the barbecue glaze and the ingredients that I added to the stock...

Barbecue Glaze

1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
8 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1 tablespoon soya sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Bring to a bowl. Turn down and simmer for at least half an hour. If it seems too thick for glazing, add some more apple juice.
Brush on chicken every ten minutes while it is roasting.

Best Chicken Soup

1 carrot
1 leek
1 cup of cauliflower
1 celery stalk
1 tablespoon olive oil

Finely chop the vegetables and saute them in a stock pot in the olive oil.

6 cups of chicken stock (I use my barbecue glazed stock, but any stock is fine.)

Add to the sauteed vegetables, and bring to a boil.

1/2 cup green lentils

Add to the boiling stock, and let the soup simmer for at least 45 minutes.

1 cup soup noodles (I used some gluten free ones that I had made)

Add to the soup ten minutes before you want to serve it. Enjoy!

This soup really did turn out surprisingly delicious. I served it to a friend who also said it was wonderful, but the toughest critic of all, Alara ate two bowls of it so it must have been really good!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Holidays at home...

I'm sorry that I haven't been writing for so long, I'd like to say that it is because I have been so busy, but really I haven't been all that busy.

Over Christmas and New Years, Seyfi was off, so we had that opportunity to do some traveling. However, between all the snow, and how ill all of us got, we didn't get too far at all.

One thing that we did to was visit all of our neighbours at Christmas. This was a real highlight for us. It was very nice to be able to go to everyone and visit, and get to know the lovely people who live around us. What was even nicer was when they came to visit us as well. We had decided to live in a little community like this so that we could meet the people around us, to learn about Belgium from Belgians, and it seems that we are on the road to doing this.

We were also invited to our landlord's home to celebrate the Epiphany, or Three Kings on the sixth of January. We sat with them and ate Frangipane (an almond pie) and drank Champagne (with a blackberry syrup for the ladies). One of the fun things about the night was that there was a statue of the king hidden in the pie, and while we were eating, who ever found the statue was the king of the night. Guess who was the king- my lucky husband! He spent the rest of the evening wearing a crown!

I guess that we did have a quiet holiday, but I wouldn't have changed it for the world. We could have gone anywhere, but by staying home, we learned so much more about the country we are living in, and the people who live here.