Friday Links

Its Friday folks!  What do you have up your sleeve for the weekend?

The Kiwi and I will be knocking some projects off our inside to-do list for the apartment since the weather is back to being miserable.  On Sunday, we are hitting up our favorite {and very traditional} brunch place for Weisswurst Frühstück {white sausages, pretzels, and wheat beer} and some great company.  The Kiwi is currently lobbying for wearing his lederhosen.

Have a great weekend!

Kiwi+Peach: Friday Linksphoto credit: The Kiwi
{rosemary from our new herb garden}

A great way to start your day.

My project for the weekend.

Tips for getting a good nights sleep.

How much would you pay for a melon?

Everything you ever needed to know about herb gardening.

…and a clever use for those extra herbs.

A funny infographic.

Handy guide for mixing fabric patterns.

Thought provoking article about greek yogurt.

Cute way to store keepsakes from your travels.

and in case you’ve missed it, a lovely {and hilarious} video of kids trying new foods.

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Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I will preface this post with a disclaimer. These are not healthy cookies. I repeat. These are not healthy cookies. However, the original old family recipe was worse {health wise, taste wise they were phenominal}.  These at least have some fiber and there certain health benefits in dark chocolate {thank goodness}. However, they still have some refined sugar and they still have saturated fat, but, lets be honest, that’s what makes them taste so good.

And they are good. I have about 1,000 middle schoolers {and a few teachers} that will tell you how good they are. When I was teaching, I used a version of this recipe to test my middle schoolers on our measuring and food safety unit. On the first day of class, the most popular question was always “When are we making the cookies?” When the day came, they were giddy; some even brought milk to enjoy them with and all across the classroom a heard a chorus of “Mmmmm. These are so good.” So there you have it, from the mouths of babes.

To settle the inevitable conflict about who’s version of the English language is correct, the Kiwi and I have an agreement about cookies vs. biscuits. If its chewy and soft, its a cookie. If it breaks your teeth, its a biscuit. These, my friends are definitely cookies. And they are absolutely perfect with a glass of {soy} milk. Even better, make yourself an amazing ice cream sandwich. {Take a cookie and flip it over. Spoon a layer of frozen yogurt on it and then top it with another cookie. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.}

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

{makes 9 big cookies}

The Dry
2/3 cup flour {I use whole wheat.}
2/3 cup oats
1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped into chunks {I use 85%.}
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped {optional}
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

The Wet
¼ cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp veggie oil
¼ cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

In a large mixing bowl, measure the dry ingredients. Melt the butter in the microwave and add it, the veggie oil, honey and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix it all together. Spoon onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. When they are finished let cool for a bit to help improve their structural integrity {which the Kiwi questions}.

{substitutions}

For a fluffier and admittedly prettier cookie {see below}; in the same amounts, use all purpose flour instead of whole wheat and white sugar instead of the honey. While the whole wheat flour and the honey are less processed, they do make the cookie a bit dense and give the cookie a strong honey flavor. I love that flavor, but if you don’t, use the sugar!  The original version also used an egg instead of veggie oil, but for this amount of cookies you would need a half of an egg and thats just a pain.

Homemade Spanish Rice

A few weeks ago, as I was planning our Cinco de Mayo festivities,  I found myself nursing a serious craving for some spanish rice.  Which brought on this revelation– I had never made spanish rice from scratch. What?! I know, I was shocked too. I mean, how could someone who has been cooking up ‘Mexican’ food for her Tex-Mex loving family since she was thirteen have never given homemade spanish rice a go?

Then I realized that it was because I never had to. The quick, easy, just-add-water packets of spanish rice had always been readily available. So why make it from scratch?

Now I’m making it out of necessity since they don’t have those little packets here in Deutschland. However, you should give it a go because your homemade version will have tons less sodium, more fiber, more vitamins, and hardly any preservatives. {and you’ll be really proud of yourself and everyone needs a confidence boost sometimes!}

Regardless of the reason for my inexperience {laziness}, it was high time I remedied the situation. After a little experimentation, I came up with this recipe that will be my go to from here on out. I added black beans for a bit of extra fiber {and to make whole proteins since grains and beans are complementary}, but you can leave them out if you would like.

Homemade Spanish Rice

The Rice
2/3 cup brown rice
1 1/3 cup water

The Goodies
1 tsp oilve oil
whatever veggies you have on hand
1/2 cup black beans {optional}

Some of the veggies I’ve had success with:
red pepper {half}, onion {half}, green chilli {half}, fresh kernels of corn {1/4 cup}, and tomato {half}

The Seasoning
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp chilli powder

Boil your jug and put the rice on to cook. Follow the directions on the packaging for length of time but it is usually about 25-30 minutes for brown rice. {The 10 min quick rices will work if you’re in a pinch, but you will lose most of the yummy fiber that you get from brown rice and it’s less filling.}

When the rice has about 10 minutes left, start heating a deep sauté pan on medium heat and dice up your veggies. I just used what I had on hand, but feel free to add other veggies if you’d like. Tomatoes and green chilies would be great in this too. Add a little olive oil to the pan and toss in your veggies. Rinse your beans and add them too. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the rice is finished, pour a little more olive oil in the pan and add the rice. Stir the rice in with the veggies and black beans. Add the cumin, paprika, and chilli powder and mix well. Cook for 2-3 more minutes so all the flavors can get to know each other and you’re finished.

This is a great side for all your Tex-Mex faves like quesadillas, burritos, and enchiladas. Tonight we are having it with baked beer taquitos!

Berlin Food Guide

How the Kiwi and I had lived in Germany for over a year and a half and not been to Berlin is beyond me. Every time it came up we would look at each other say “We have to go!”. So earlier this month, we took advantage of one of Bavaria’s many holidays and went. It was amazing. While I expected the art in Berlin to be much more progressive, I had no idea that the food and beer culture would be too. Munich is a very traditional city and we love that about it. However, sometimes its nice to get a craft beer or try a modern take on German cuisine as opposed to the strictly traditional.

photo credit:  the kiwi

We took the overnight train from Munich and arrived at the crack of 8.30am. We needed some breakfast. After dropping our bags at the hostel, we made our way to a cafe I’d read about on Foodie in Berlin called Aunt Benny. While it was a bit of a hike from our hostel {it looked so close on the map, I swear}, it was so worth it. We split a slice of ginger carrot cake and and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and had a big seedy, toasted bagel each. I had the sun dried tomato cream cheese with mine and the Kiwi had cheddar and olive with his. It was incredibly filling and you couldn’t beat the atmosphere. I kind of wanted to move in.

Kiwi+Peach: Berlin Food Guide, Bagel at Aunt Benny Kiwi+Peach: Berlin Food Guide, Ginger Carrot Cake at Aunt Benny

We also learned our first lesson in Berlin…the place is huge. When in doubt, take public transit. Your feet will thank you later.

That night we hit up Street Food Thursday at Markthalle IX. The huge market hall was full of vendors selling street food from all over the world and hipsters eating said food. Every single thing we had was delicious. We tried all kinds of goodies like spicy korean sushi, mac and cheese with smoked brisket and beer pickles, a shaved smoke pork sandwich, and a pretzel covered in bacon.

Kiwi+Peach: Berlin Food Guide, Mac and Cheese with Smoked Brisket and Beer Pickles at Street Food Thursday Kiwi+Peach: Berlin Food Guide, The Kiwi's Picks at Street Food Thursday

We also tried some of the Heidenpeters beer that is brewed right in the basement of the Markthalle. While Bavarian beer is some of the best beer in the world, its very limited in its varieties. You have a helles {a pilsner}, a weissbier {a wheat beer} and a dunkles {a dark beer}. There is no craft beer culture. There are no IPAs. At least that I have found {and believe me, I’ve looked}. Needless to say, we were excited to try some different varieties. I tried the unfiltered blonde and the Kiwi tried a Belgian style dark beer full of caramelized malty goodness. Needless to say, both were delicious.

Friday night we had reservations at Renger-Patzch for a fancy dinner. The menu is fresh and seasonal and it changes weekly.  Despite how it sounds, our starter of blood sausage and lentils was my favorite part of the whole meal. And not because the rest of the meal was bad either.  Quite the opposite.  I had the lamb while the Kiwi had venison with slightly dehydrated plums wrapped in bacon. Plums wrapped in bacon, I said.

On Fridays and Saturdays Markthalle IX is home to a great market {hence the name} where you can get fresh produce, meat, and flowers, but it is also the permanent home of Big Stuff Smoked BBQ. On Saturday they are only open until 4, so we headed that way for a late lunch. Thankfully they still had some food by the time we got there. I had the pulled pork sandwich and the Kiwi had the pork belly sandwich. Oh. My. Stars. It was like I was back in the South y’all. It was moist and tender and smokey and perfect.

While at Street Food Thursday, we saw a flyer for the Lange Nacht der Kulinarik {Long Night of Cuisine} that Saturday night. What perfect timing? A bunch of different restaurants, cafes, bars, and specialty food shops in the neighborhood where we were staying had special samples to offer. While this is not a weekly event, I’m including the places we visited, loved, and would have gone back for a proper meal had we had time just in case you might want to check them out.

Our first stop was Brauhaus Südstern where they had brewed up two lovely IPAs and a rye ale. We got to try these three beauties and the braumeister told us all about their brewing process. He also talked a bit about the growing craft beer culture in Berlin which I found really interesting {Unfortunately, it was all in German, but I got the impression that they would have translated the presentation had it been necessary or someone had asked}.

We needed some food at this point, so we made our way to Wahrhaft Nahrhaft where they had the grill set up out on the street and were grilling bratwursts and supposedly corn too {they were out by the time we got there}. The Kiwi maintains that was the best brat he has ever had and I agree. It was tasty and cheap.

Next we checked out Schwarzer Hahn and it is one that I really wanted to go back to for a real meal. The special was the most tender, melt in your mouth pork I’ve ever had with mustard cream cucumbers. I’d be curious to see if the rest of their menu is as mouth watering.

Our last stop was Cafe Sellberg where we got to try a ‘sampler’ of their three most popular cakes. If that was their sample size I’d like to see the normal size–they were huge! Neither of us were fans of the cheesecake or carrot cake which was disappointing, but they are on the list because of their out of this world brownie. It was the perfect balance of cake vs fudge and had just the perfect amount of crisp on the top and sides.

On our last night in Berlin, we wanted to fit in one last great meal before we got on our overnight train to go home. I read about Lokal, a modern German place, on Berlin Food Stories {I’m linking to their write up because Lokal doesn’t have a website} and really wanted to check it out. I’m so glad we did. We didn’t have reservations, but didn’t have any problems getting a seat as we were there when they opened for dinner at 6. I don’t think they were quite ready as they were still printing the menu for the day, but they welcomed us regardless and took our drink orders. The rustic, minimalist design was cozy and beautiful–I didn’t mind waiting for a menu {okay, maybe I whined a bit}. The drinks were good {spicy ginger beer}, the starter was good, the main was good; I was kind of sad to leave, Lokal and Berlin.

{Other Berlin Advice}

If you want a crash course in Berlin history do the free walking tour. While free in name, the guides do work for tips, so you tip them how ever much you think the tour was worth. Our guide, Sam, was a british expat historian working on his doctorate at Humboldt University.  Excellent, quality information and  a very entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

Do the Reichstag, if not for the history, for the views. Its free, but you do have to register. Registering in advance online is definitely the way to go so you don’t have to spend an hour waiting in line like we did.  However, if there aren’t any appointments online for the days you are going to be in Berlin, don’t worry.  Go to the the reservations booth {the one you have to stand in line for} as there will undoubtedly be availability. At least, that was our experience.

Linked with Travel Tuesdays

Blue Cheese Burgers

Happy Memorial Day friends!

We aren’t letting the fact that we haven’t seen the sun for a week or that today isn’t a holiday in Germany stop us from a little celebration. So if you need a little last minute inspiration, we are here to help.

It doesn’t get much more American, food wise, than burgers and baked beans, so that is what I’m throwing together tonight. Only, being the sophisticated American that I am {stop laughing}, any old burger and beans just wouldn’t do. This burger is stuffed with blue cheese and the beans are full of apples and maple syrup bacon. While grilling for us is out of the question due to the lack of a grill and the downpour that is happening outside right now, I bet these would be amazing on the grill. Try it. Please? Then you can tell me all about how the smokiness of the grill and the blue cheese went together like peas and carrots–because that is what is happening in my head and its making my mouth water {not the carrots obviously}.

Blue Cheese Burger

{adapted for two from Simply Recipes}

The Burger
1/2 pound ground beef
1/4 of a sweet onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp whole grain sweet mustard
1 tsp whole grain spicy mustard
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

The Bun
2 fresh buns {I used a pretzel roll or, auf Deutsch, ein Laugensemmel}
1 Tbsp butter
lettuce, tomato, onions for dressing your burger up

Start heating up your pan on medium high heat.

In a medium sized bowl combine all of your burger ingredients except the blue cheese. Once they are all mixed together, pat out 4 thin patties {about 1/2 in}. Pile the blue cheese crumbles in the middle of two of the patties and then top with the others. Pinch the sides together so that none of the blue cheese can escape once it starts melting. Put them in the pan and cook until they are at your desired level of doneness {about 10 minutes on one side with the lid on and like 3 on the other without the lid for us}.

While the burgers are cooking, slice your bun and butter both sides. Once the burgers come out place your buns in the pan to toast them for a bit. Then load your bun up with the burger and whatever toppings and condiments you like. I used lettuce, tomato, and leftover apple salsa from the baked beans.  Grab a glass of tea {or a shandy} and enjoy.

Cashew Chicken Noodles with Coconut Peanut Sauce

For better or worse, one of my favorite things to eat for lunch is a PB&J. I think it stems back to my high school days when our lovely lunchroom ladies whipped up this magical concoction of peanut butter and jelly that was a party in my mouth, and put it on two pieces of Sunbeam {the white bread to beat all other white breads}. They would only sell this amaze-balls delicacy AFTER you had eaten a real lunch. Fortunately, I was told early in my high school career, that if you flash a lunch box and a smile they would sell it to you anyway. And so began my love affair with peanut butter and jelly. My lunch time PB&J {or rather peanut butter and honey} has come a long way since the days of those super refined, albeit tasty, sandwiches. However, when I moved to Germany, I had a bit of a crisis.

You see, Germany does not share my love of peanut butter. When I first moved to Germany, I was living in a small village with my host family. After searching high and low for peanut butter in said small village, I decided to give ‘Erdnuss-Sauce’ a go. For future reference, ‘Erdnuss-Sauce’ is satay sauce—not peanut butter–and it tastes awful when mixed with jam.

After complaining about it incessantly to my English speaking friends and a failed attempt at making my own, I eventually found the American aisle at the stores in the city and now have a healthy supply of peanut butter on hand. I know you were worried.

However, I still had this jar of satay sauce in my cupboard waiting to be used. This recipe was the perfect thing. It is a super quick meal that is perfect for a busy week night and has become one of our go to meals. When we finished up that jar, I decided to try my hand at making my own healthier, less processed version. It was perfection and, even with making my own satay sauce, it still can be knocked out in less than 30.

Cashew Chicken Pasta

{Adapted for two from Armommy}

The Pasta
4 ounces {100 grams} whole wheat pasta
½ of a red pepper, cut into strips

The Protein
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 chicken breast
salt and pepper for seasoning
¼ cup of cashews

The Sauce
{barely adapted from Kitchen Thymes}
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp soy sauce
juice from ½ a lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
sriracha sauce to taste {we use about 2 tsp}

Start by heating up a deep sauté pan on medium heat.

Put the pasta on and cook according to the directions on the package {usually 11 to 13 minutes}.

While the pasta is cooking, slice your red peppers and set them to the side. You’ll add the red peppers to the pasta for the last 4-5 min of cooking.

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan and throw in the chicken. Cook until the chicken is nice and brown {about 4 minutes on each side if your pan was good and hot}.

While the chicken and pasta are cooking you can whip up your peanut sauce. Add everything {except the sriracha sauce} to a bowl and whisk until it is all mixed together. Add a bit of sriracha. Whisk and taste. Repeat until you have the right amount of heat for you. {If you don’t have sriracha sauce red chili flakes will do the trick too.}

Once the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the element and add the cashews and drained pasta and peppers. Mix in the peanut sauce, add a bit of fresh black pepper, and you’re finished!