Monday, April 29, 2013

Scenes from Our Hectic Weekend

Wow, can you say jam packed? Our weekend started on Friday afternoon and it was full throttle from there. I am not complaining...it was fun and the boys had a blast. We even managed to fit in a fever and some sick time along with all of these activities.

Above you can see Luka at the Student-Led Conference on Friday. Our boy is going great and he was very proud and excited to show us different activities they do in class. This is the mystery word game. I have a feeling we will be playing a lot at home.

Right after the conference we raced back home to pick up Sam and then we were off to be ninjas at Borja's Birthday Party (Luka's classmate).  Borja's mom really created a beautiful party!
Luka and Sam with their best bud Emilio. I think Emilio and Luka are supposed to be ninjas like in the photo above but they look more like Ninja Turtles...ha ha.
Saturday morning we woke up early to prepare for our first "Dutch Free Market" you can read all about that experience here. Here is a photo of when they crowned Luka the new KING of Holland during the music performance. He had a super cute Queen at his side, no?
From there we raced (we were already fashionably late) to Heath's Pirate Party. We arrived just in time for the piñata. Here you can see Sam trying to break the piñata and JJ trying to stay out of his path of destruction.
Guess what happened at the party...Luka was jumping on the trampoline and kind of kicked himself in the mouth and off came his front tooth...the remaining front tooth. I don't think it was going to fall off for another couple of weeks. It might have been a little painful, but 5 minutes later he was fine. Whew....
From the party it was off to Kid's Cutz for daddy and Sam to get a haircut. Sam loves going there but from his faces in these photos you would never know it.
Sunday morning Luka woke up with a fever and wasn't feeling so well so the boys stayed home for some resting and quality time and I went to a local craft fair with my friend Linda. She is a serious crafter (sewing, embroidery, knitting and much more). I sort of love paper and like to admire everyone's creations. The colors at the event were gorgeous and bought a couple of craft projects to do with the boys. The yarns were amazing...I am seriously considering learning how to knit. 
I was worried about the boys, but look at the photo I received from JJ. Looks like Luka is better and you can see his new beautiful smile minus some teeth.
Another cute toothless photo of Luka...
Once I arrived it was JJ's turn to have fun and he went for a bike ride. When he got back Sam didn't miss the opportunity to put on daddy's gear. I think he really wants to learn how to ride bike.

I tried something knew for dinner. We made Pork Veggie Stir Fry with a sweet sauce made from honey, oyster sauce and light soy sauce. Delicious!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Our First Dutch Free Market

In Holland a "Free Market" or Vrijmarkt as they call is a long time tradition on Queensday (pretty soon it will be a Kingsday) or at some point during that week. There are places designated throughout the city where kids can sell their toys and things. The prices are symbolic and things are given away for almost free. It is a fun family activity celebrated in the whole country.

Luka attends Dutch School every week and they decided to organize their own Free Market to celebrate the upcoming coronation this week...did you know Holland will have a new king and queen? Very exciting stuff...and the new queen is from Argentina! 

The van Herksen family participated in their first Vrijmarkt. Luka & Sam looked through their toys and set aside some things to sell. Although Sam was very hesitant to part with things once we got there. We were also asked to bring something savory to sell...hmmmm I was at a loss as to what to bring. Well I decided to make empanadas for the first time...like ever! I was pleasantly surprised with the results....we sold a ton. I made two flavors: Cuban Picallo & goat cheese, tomatoes with herbs.
Sam was very happy with his popcorn. 
The boys also went around to see if there were any goodies they wanted to buy from their friends. Yes, we came home with some new toys and books.

Sam took his brother's crown for a while...doesn't he make a cute little prince! 
The kids from Dutch school put on a little performance. Luka played the part of the King. They crowned him during the song..he was so proud. But in this photo you can see he was shivering. My poor baby was getting sick...he came home with a fever that day. As always Luka was a great sport. 
Here is the big moment...can you see his grin? He loved every minute of it.
First African king for Holland...
Here is Luka sporting the crown he made at Dutch school. I love that little smirk.
The photo bug has bit Luka. He never misses an opportunity to snap pictures with my phone.
Our first Free Market was a big success and we had a blast. Maybe one day we will be able to participate in Holland.

In a couple days we (I am including myself...kind of honorary Dutch by now) will have a new King and Queen....whoo hoo!

To see more photos from our First Free Market Day click here.

UPDATE: Luka's teacher from Dutch school posted this video. Check out Luka's expression. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Scenes from Our Weekend...

This weekend...we did lots of things, but I seemed to have forgotten my camera...oops! Friday night started off with a bang. We hosted a small dinner for JJ's Birthday. I managed to whip up some appetizers (thank you to my friend Cathryn for the ideas and coaching) and we ordered Sushi from one of our favorite places for the main entree. It was a complete success and we were up late listening to all sorts of music and reminded ourselves of how old we really are. I might have sang Vanilla Ice, but I am not admitting to anything! 

I really should have taken photos...next time I promise.

Saturday, the boys were up EARLY...Like 6:30 am early! Our friends that live far away and didn't want to drive had spent the night so I thought the best thing to do would be to take the boys out. They were particularly noisy. So as early as I could the boys and I were off to yard sales around town (didn't find anything exciting, but did buy a vintage Sleeping Beauty book). We came back for lunch and picked up JJ for a trip to the mall. 

We had an important errand...to pick up this new bad boy.
JJ's birthday present. Thank you to all those that contributed! JJ (we) are really excited to start using the newest member of our kitchen. So many possibilities...

Saturday ended with a new tradition in our house - MOVIE NIGHT! But for the movie night we opened up our couches into beds and cuddled during the whole movie. Luka and Sam thought this was the greatest thing in the world. I can't tell you how excited they were and how they are looking forward to movie night next week. Sometimes making your kids happy is soooo easy.

Sunday was a lazy day...BIG TIME. We didn't leave the house...at all. I had big plans to go on a picnic, but they boys were having so much fun playing and it had been weeks since we stayed home on the weekend. I whipped up a delicious quiche for lunch. I finally know how to make a quiche....yay!

After lunch Luka and JJ went on a bike ride. Luka can know ride all on his own, stop and has great control. Yay Lukkie...you did it! Sam wanted in on the action too so we tried to keep up while Sam rode his plastic scooter. All around a great day!

PS I really wish I would have taken photos while the boys were outside riding bike. The colors were amazing and the street was lined with fallen leaves, but JJ and I had left both our phones at home.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Baby, Daddy & Best Friend (aka JJ)

Today was JJ's 36th Birthday...finally he is starting to sound a little older. I will always be older but now that he is over 35 he doesn't sound so much younger. Maybe I am just crazy! 

As you can see from the photo above the boys were very excited to celebrate with daddy, but before this photo was taken there was lots of preparation...let me give you the photo tour.

I prepared "Skinny" Cuban Picadillo for JJ. I thought he would like this "light" version and I was right. It was a big hit! You can find the recipe here.
But here was the REAL preparation. The boys went to town making "monster" cupcakes for daddy.
Can you just see the joy on Sam's face...
Here you can see what they looked like when they were done. Each cupcake was completely unique. Sam didn't waste anytime in taste testing them. He had to make sure they were good. That boy never met a cupcake he didn't love! I think Luka likes to decorate more than he likes to eat them. 
Baby (I am talking to JJ here), it was a quiet and lovely birthday...we will have a proper shin ding on Friday and this weekend we will get the present! We are saving up for a new addition to our kitchen...more on that later.

PS I just realized the title of this post could read "Baby Daddy" if you take out the comma...ha ha ha. I just meant to call him by all of his "names" at home. I call him Baby. Not one of my better post titles, but "Happy Birthday JJ" seemed boring.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Scenes from Our Weekend...

Friday night started off with our Mozambican Dinner with some friends from JJ's office. We used one of Jamie Oliver's recipe for Piri Piri Chicken with Feta Potatoes & Pastel de Nata for dessert. You can find the recipes here. But I am warning you the recipe was HOT! My favorite part of the meal was the pastel de nata. It brought back so many memories of Maputo. While we were there (but since this place has closed) the best place for a fresh pastel was Cafe Continental...yummy!

Saturday morning we lazied around the house a little and then it was off to the mall to look for a new food processor/mixer...you know for my new found love of cooking. I only have a handheld one and I think life would be easier with a bigger food processor. At the mall we bumped into our friends and had an ice cream break. The kids found a space to sit in front of store...no Luka can't really touch the knives right behind his head. I didn't realize it until my husband pointed them out.
While at the mall I spotted this coffee table. We are in the market for one and haven't found the perfect one yet. What do you think about this one?
After the mall we dropped off Luka at Mampato (Kid's Amusement Park) with his bestie Emilio and his family. Man, does he love that place! A little better than Chuck E. Cheese, but still not one of my favorite places to go.
Sunday morning started off great with pancakes, some TV and laughs...but then the boys decided they weren't going to go to church. I was too tired to fight them on this one and decided to go with the flow. Probably not my best parenting moment. Around noon we jumped in the car to explore the city a little. Apparently Sam was still tired from his early wake-up call and by "call" I mean his internal clock telling him that it is okay to wake up while it is still dark outside.

We were off to the market and Sam was already in Dreamland! 
The market was great. We stocked up on a couple of items that we knew were more expensive at the grocery store. We saved a ton by buying some of our veggies, fruits and nuts at the "feria." Some of the things have a 50% mark-up at the grocery store...kind of crazy. Life in Chile is ridiculously expensive.
From there we went to lunch. We tried out a new place for the whole family - Cafe Arbret. The food was okay, but the boys had a "ball" playing there for over one hour. Who knew that a pit of plastic balls could make my boys so happy. We had the place to ourselves...apparently Sunday is a slow day.

We ended our Sunday with a "Leftover BBQ" with our favorite neighbors. We invited our friends over and cooked our left overs from the week. Once we combined our freezers and pantries we ended up with a tasty eclectic menu:
- Brazilian Beef on the BBQ
- Turkey Burgers Patties
- Penne Rosa Pasta (also a Gluten-Free version)
- Avocado/Tomato Salad
- Oven Roasted Potatoes
- Ice cream & Chocolate Rice Krispy Treats for Dessert

The best part of Sunday leftovers is that we had enough left over for everyone's lunch tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Fisherman Pie


Disclaimer: Okay, not my photo. I forgot to take one and I had to find something that looked similar. Sorry about that I just hate to post without a photo.

Everyone has one time or another (unless you are a vegetarian) had a delicious Shepherd's Pie. It is one of those delicious comfort foods. Well a couple of weeks ago when my mother-in-law was in town she introduced me to her version of this. I will call it "Fisherman Pie" because it is done with seafood...so I thought it would be an appropriate name. As you can see I am not that original.

It was delicious. More importantly my boys loved it and I can rarely get them to "love" fish. So here goes the recipe. Good luck and enjoy!

FISHERMAN PIE

INGREDIENTS
-       milk (500 ml)
-       1 onion small halved onion
-       dried bay leaf (1 large)
-       fresh thyme (about 3 twigs)
-       potatoes peeled and halved (1 kg)
-       butter (100 g)
-       cream (300 ml)
-       salmon fillet peeled in 3 cm chunks (500 g)
-       white fish fillet (in 3 cm chunks 500 g)
-       fish or chicken bouillon (250 ml)
-       flour (40 g)
-       parsley cut (15 g) & extra for garnish
-       shrimp, peeled and cleaned (250 g)
-       3 hard boiled Eggs cut in 1/4

DIRECTIONS:
1.    Put milk, onion, bay leaves & thyme in a pan and bring to boil. Once boiling then turn off heat and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes pour contents through a strainer and separate the liquid. You can toss the other things.
2.    Pre-heat oven to 180° C.
3.    Cook potatoes in water with salt four about 20 minutes or until soft.
4.    To make mash potatoes mix the potatoes with 50 g of butter, 200 ml of cream and salt & pepper to taste. Mash it up, using a masher…don’t use food processor because it will get too mushy.
5.    Place salmon and white fish in oven safe dish with stock and cover with aluminum foil. Cook at 180° C for 12 minutes.
6.    Once fish is done take fish out of dish with slotted spoon to separate the fish from the broth. Keep 80 ml of the broth for later use in recipe. The rest you can toss. Place the fish back at the bottom of the oven safe dish (this is where you will build your pie).
7.    At this point once you are ready for your first layer. Place the fish, hard boiled egg chunks and shrimp.
8.    Now for the cream center…Melt 40 g of butter in pan over slow heat, then add flour while stirring. Keep stirring until all dissolved. Then add the cooked milk from Step 1…about 300 ml. Keep stirring…until it is a THICK sauce. Then add the 80 ml of the broth you separated out. Finally add 100 ml of cream. Finally once all thickened up add the parsley and mix. And salt and pepper to taste. Now place this cream sauce over the fish, shrimp and eggs. This is your second layer.
9.    Now your third layer is mash potatoes you have made.
10. After you spread out the potatoes place 10 g of butter in small portions over the mash potatoes. You can use a teaspoon to plot the butter.
11. Cook pie in over at 200° C for 25 minutes.
12. At the end let pie sit for about 10 minutes to cool…it comes out super hot and garnish with parsley.

Viola, you are done!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Fabulous & Kid-Friendly "Surprise" Frittatas

This frittata recipe was inspired from a South Beach Diet recipe I had stored in my memory. Here is the original recipe.

It is Sunday and we spent the entire day out about about on the town. I still haven't done the grocery and our fridge is EMPTY...sort of. I saw we had eggs and told the kids we were going to make an omelette. 

In Bolivia we had an informal tradition of making an omelette on Sunday with ingredients we had in the refrigerator. That was the idea today...but then I started thinking that an omelette was difficult for the kids to make and honestly I am awful at making omelettes...not once have I been able to make it look like a real omelette. It is really quite sad.

So in an attempt to involve my kids and have a "prettier" meal I opted for frittatas. I remembered I had done this like a billion years ago when I was doing the South Beach diet. I really didn't remember the recipe just the general idea. So I just decided to invent something.

The boys were very excited about making mini-omlettes in the cupcake pan. They had a blast "decorating" the frittatas. First we scoped out the fridge to see what we could find. Luka picked Gouda cheese and salami slices. I got some Parmesan cheese and red peppers.

So this was my recipe to make roughly 5 large frittatas (I used a muffin pan, larger than a cupcake pan).

Ingredients 
- 8 Eggs
- Red pepper
- Salt
- Pepper
- Milk
- Gouda Cheese
- Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Salami Slices

Directions:
PREHEAT OVEN TO 180 degrees Celsius.
1. Beat eggs and add a couple of splashes of milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Cut 1/2 a red pepper into tiny pieces...along with the salami, Gouda cheese. Basically anything you want to throw in there just chop up.
3. Butter the pan. I would have used Pam, but I can't find that here.
4. Pour the eggs into the pan.
5. Now is the fun part...go ingredient by ingredient and ask the kids to sprinkle in each egg cup.
6. The last think I do is sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the top.
7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until you see the top brown a little, but not too much because then it is dried out. I would follow the time on the original recipe just to be sure.

That's it...there you go. Dinner for whole family!

I went ahead and spruced it up a little with some things I had in the fridge. Cucumbers for arms and legs. Carrot for lips. Raisins for eyes. Some cooked rice I had left over for the hair.

The boys loved it. Maybe next time I will follow the original recipe more closely, but it was fun to experiment. I think next Sunday we will make Surprise Frittatas again..surprise because you never know what we will have left in the fridge next Sunday. I am secretly hoping we have goat cheese or feta and maybe some prosciutto. Yum!

As I wrap up this post I am also thinking this would be a quick and super fun way to make eggs for a brunch. You could offer some options for vegetarians and meat lovers alike. Oh, I really want to host a brunch now.

PS Oh, oh I hope I spelled Frittata correctly, if not I misspelled it a bunch of times...ha ha.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Update from Our Kitchen

Yes, I am still alive and I have not been swallowed up by the kitchen. Some of you might have thought that since I don't really know the difference between convection or microwave oven...ha ha. And yes I have been cooking up a storm, but that is not what has kept me away from the blog. 

We have had visitors...whoo hoo! For the first time in two years and we had them back to back for the last three weeks. First JJ's Mom (Oma Joke) came to visit then it was the Miranda Family (5). Everyone just left on Sunday so life at the van Herksen household is getting back to normal. I kind of miss being a tour guide.

Back to normal means cooking. Well, actually this is our "new" normal (first time in seven years I use our kitchen to make dinner during the week). Blanca our new "empleada" doesn't really know how to cook and after my crash culinary course with my mother-in-law, combined with my secret desire to ROCK it like Nigella in the kitchen I have decided to create a weekly menu and try to stick with it.

Today's selection was a complete hit with the boys...and really I decided to make this dish for them more than anyone else. Can you tell from my presentation? Sam's reaction was "Comer Monstro." Luka  said "Wow." I say that is an extremely positive response.

I made Apple Turkey Fingers and Sweet Potato Fries (please note that sweet potatoes in Chile are white). Just click on the links for the recipes. 

They are super duper easy and so quick. The prep time is like 5 minutes and then you just have to let them cook. In total about 25 minutes (refer to the recipes here and here).

I can't tell you how yummy it was. JJ also loved it and although we technically don't eat dinner (we love our Herbalife shakes) we couldn't help but sneak a few bites of this dinner. Luka asked if I could also put it in his lunchbox for tomorrow...SCORE!

I think what sealed the meal was the dipping sauce, otherwise known as the "nose." Neither recipe included a dipping sauce, but I knew the boys would ask for mayo so in an attempt to stimulate their rather timid taste buds I invented something. After all I did need something for the nose people!

So here it is...I will call it Kick Ass Curry Sauce. I just started adding things as I went along, but this is the basic recipe:

Kick Ass Curry Sauce
- One part light mayonnaise
- Two Parts Plain Natural Yogurt
- Dijon Mustard
- Curry Powder
- Honey

Basically just mix the mayo and yogurt together then add about a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and sprinkle some curry powder...just keep playing around with it until you get the combination that tickles your taste buds. Then add the honey at the end. Just start with a couple of drops and see how sweet you like it.

Really delicious, easy and healthy dinner the whole family can enjoy!

I also froze a couple of the turkey sticks to use on a night where we need a quick dinner for the boys.

Just in case you were wondering the eyes are raisins.

Bon appétit!

I promise to post about all the fun places we went with our houseguests soon...