Weekend Wrap Up

Hello! Another busy weekend here in Amsterdam. We are hosting some fabulous guests from the States and it has been the perfect excuse for us to take them around the city to our favorite places and, duh, eat our favorite foods.

We had a lovely dinner at home, evidenced by picture #1:

Dinner party

Those Nambe S&P shakers make the setting, don’t they?

We also, duh, strolled through some of our favorite street markets, Noordermarkt and Lindengrachtmarkt, like we do most weekends and indulged in some a dis (#2):

Hot Meat

How great does that sandwich look? More importantly, how great does that photo look? Jaro surprised me with a new camera lens (!!) and we’re having a blast taking some sweet (and savory?) shots with it.

We also tried out a cafe that we have been meaning to get to forever, Cafe Winkel. They are known for their gluttonous glorious apple tart. Can you see why? (#3):

Cafe Winkel's famous apple tart

We were also celebrating a special birthday for one of our guests (that’s you, Seweryn!) and even though he may not have wanted us to acknowledge his birthday in public, it still gave us a good reason to go to one of our favorite restaurants, Balthazar’s Keuken (#4):

Balthazar's. The decor is just as awesome as the food.

Our pictures of the food just didn’t do it justice in the low lighting, so you get this artsy shot of the cool bulbs in there instead. Where can I get these?

Chalk that up to another great weekend here in the ‘Dam. Now if only the temps would get back to where they were last weekend. …Actually, scratch that. We are about to head out this weekend for some exciting travel! Ukraine & Turkey, here we come!

xxx

Weekend Wrap Up

Hey friends. So last week, I was really jazzed about doing this weekly post. Until I really didn’t do much this weekend and don’t have anything to write about… Awkward silence.

Okay, that’s not true. I did do stuff. I do things when my husband travels for work and I don’t tag along. When you live in a foreign country and are not planning on ever currently working, there is no excuse. There is always something new and cool to check out. I will write a separate post about my thoughts on traveling while being an expat wife this week actually. Stay tuned!

So Thursday (my weekends can start when I want them to). Thursday started my weekend. I saw the forecast, saw a bright, sunny sun, and 15 degree temps, so I headed to a popular warm weather destination here is the Netherlands – Scheveningen. This coastal town, just a skip from Den Haag, is our very own version of the Jersey Shore. No, I don’t mean Snooki or MTV, I mean a huge boardwalk filled with tons of sidewalk cafes and lots of activities for the kiddies. Tons of people were strolling around (on a Thursday, suspiciously), and enjoying the sunshine. Like this scene in picture #1:

Scheveningen's beachside cafes

And this is just the very end of the boardwalk. It stretched quite a ways in the other direction (aka: In the direction of the sun. aka: Horrible front-lit photos.) Notice how huge the beach is also? Can’t wait to party here in the summer!

On Friday night, I had some girlfriends over for dinner and cooked the delicious feast seen in picture #2:

Dinner with friends

You can’t tell because I didn’t spend the time to take a decent picture, but it’s stuffed chicken & baked goat cheese salad with bacon-wrapped scallops and a gigantic plate of cheese. Yum!

Saturday was a bit of a bust for me. I’ll admit it. I just wasn’t feeling like going out and the inevitable consequences I would have to deal with on Sunday. So what did I do instead? Maybe picture #3 is a hint:

The Blue Mosque

No, I didn’t escape town for the day, I booked a new trip! That’s right – Jaro & I are going to Istanbul, Turkey! After experiencing the incredible culture of Morocco that I wrote about at length here, here & here, I’m so curious about and excited to visit another Muslim country. Jaro has been there and swears I’ll love it, which makes me that much more pumped. We’re going at the end of April, which I hear is a great time to go. Yay!

Sunday I woke up at 8am. Feeling refreshed, excited and, guess what, not hungover! So I hopped on my bike and pedaled off to Vondelpark and the city was the quietest I have EVER seen it. Pure bliss. It was a bit soggy outside, but I managed to snap this beautiful shot for picture #4:

Spring has sprung in Amsterdam!

When I actually love on my camera a bit, it loves me back! I then had lunch with one of my high school teachers who is also an expat in Europe. It’s incredible to me to have these new connections and re-connections with people here (as in, across the pond) from my life back home. Gives me that good “it’s a small world after all” feeling. Love it.

So there you have it. My weekend wrap up. Did you all have a good weekend? Anyone else out there flying solo and making the best of it?

xxx

Penne with goat cheese cream sauce

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Yum!

Made this looker recently based on a recipe I had talked about here. Instead of rigatoni, I used whole wheat penne. Much healthier and you can’t really taste the difference! I just notice the texture is a little different in whole-wheat pasta, but that is not a big deal. Also, I jazzed this up with some sauteed mushrooms & green beans and some shredded roasted chicken. Roasted chicken sounds fancy, but it isn’t. Trust me. All I did was throw it (“it” being three whole chicken breasts) in a baking dish, coat with olive oil, red pepper flakes, S&P, and lemon slices. Then, you bake it for about 45 minutes at 160 Celsius. Viola. Finito. This is a good meal to make a huge batch of and then eat for lunch for the next day rest of the week!

xxx

Romanesco

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Creepy food hall of fame

Have you ever seen this before? I didn’t think so. I had never seen it in the U.S., but it’s all over the place here. It’s called Romanesco, a strange monster-like head in an even creepier pea-green color. If broccoli and cauliflower were to… you know… breed, I think this would be the love child. It makes me nervous just looking at it. Nevertheless, we bought one at the market and cooked it. I’m always up for trying a new food, despite (sometimes ugly) appearances. While I don’t have any pictures of the final product, we just roasted it with its parents and some carrot for about an hour. And actually, it was quite tasty. I’m even starting to think it’s pretty (must be the accountant in me, it has the Fibonacci sequence in it, nerd alert!). Call me smitten.

Spaghetti & (mozzarella-stuffed) meatballs

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One of our favorite meals

You want a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs? Look no further. We use the (in)famous Scott Conant’s recipe for his mouth-watering Scarpetta spaghetti. You can check out a pretty good adaptation of the recipe here. It all comes down to the ingredients. As in, they better be the freshest of fresh. We took it a step further and even used fresh, handmade spaghetti noodles found at our Noordermarkt, but that’s your call. Just don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

As far as those huge balls of meat, we like (who is surprised) Giada’s recipe found within here. They are each stuffed with a perfect oozing cube of mozzarella. Do yourself a favor and make sure that is fresh too. You won’t regret it!

Vietnamese chicken soup

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Perfect rainy weather meal

Amsterdam is known for its constant rain, so a good way to combat the winter blues? A hearty soup! I sort of made this up as I went along, but basically boiled vegetables (hearty ones like carrots, celery & onions) in chicken broth and in a separate pot, boiled pieces of chicken in water. Once both were done, I threw the chicken in the soup and used its water to boil vermillion (you can sub this for rice noodles) and added that to the rest once it was cooked. Go ahead and salt & pepper to your own taste (for me, a lot). For garnish on top, I added cilantro, mint, bamboo sprouts and a squirt of lime juice. The lime juice is essential! It really gives the dish its Asian flair.

Cool American

Here is a good lesson in how the rest of the world views Americans. No, not that they (we?) like ranch dressing, just that they (again, we?) are cool.

Behold:

Not Cool Ranch. Cool American.

Ranch? What is ranch? The rest of the world may never know (or care). And it doesn’t matter, because they are (I guiltily confess) delicious. Way to go, Americans. Keep on being “cool”.

Egg salad tea sandwich

The other night, my girlfriends and I got together for a tea party. I use the term “tea party” loosely because our “tea” at this party was actually a warm tea cocktail with rum and lemons. That’s just how we roll. Naturally, I wanted to make something that was still on point for the occasion so went with this: The egg salad with salmon and dill… tea sandwich. Otherwise known as the tea sandwich not for wimps. Yes, it was complete with triangular portions & removed crusts which I consumed at a later time. And naturally, I neglected to take pictures of it at the party. Thankfully (more for me than for you), I had enough ingredients to make it again. This time, on toast for brunch. You won’t hear me complaining about having it twice in one week.

You can find the recipe HERE. (Note: I really like their egg peeling technique. I also really like peeling eggs in general. It’s so satisfying! …No?)