Posts filed under 'recipe'

A Homesick Recipe

I’m calling it homesickness, but it’s mostly just that I am just over Scotland right now. Well, that’s not exactly right either. I am annoyed at expat life (on several different levels), this is the longest I haven’t been home, I missed the excitement of the cubs in the playoffs, I missed my nephew’s birthday, I need a bunch of stuff I have to wait for until I’m stateside…I just want to go home. I am counting down the days already (6 weeks exactly!) which isn’t a good sign.

The sucky part of homesickness is you’re kinda stuck with it. Or, to fix it, it’s really expensive. I mean your options are flying home, having people fly out to you, or buying a bunch of American shit to surround yourself with in hopes of feeling less homesick. All expensive options. Seriously. Even if you’re thinking I just want to eat Lucky Charms for breakfast and Velveeta Mac n Cheese for dinner for my comfort food. IT’S EXPENSIVE.

For example. On rare occasions I do get E one box (of the 3 out) of Lucky Charms from the back of Tesco in the “American” section next to a random selection of foods, some American some not. (In case you’re looking, there is Gatorade there!)   The cost for a standard box of sugary crap.

uk lucky charmsLucky Charms = £5 = $7.63

ON ONE BOX OF CEREAL. That lasts E MAYBE 4 breakfasts.

Or today, with Halloween approaching and plans to eat candy with friends (no one trick or treats out in these parts of the country), I went to pick up some at the ASDA (UK Walmart). What is Halloween to me? Reese’s and peanut m&ms.

uk mandm10.5 ounce bag of peanut m&ms = £1.80 = $2.75

uk reeses

bag with 16 MINI reese’s cups = £2.30 = $3.51


$3.51 for 16 MINI REESE’S CUPS. What the efffffff.

So last week we were having a little party and I’m blaming homesickness, but I was dead set on making Hanky Pankys. Hanky Pankys mean different things to different people. To me and my people, it means little party rye breads with a pork sausage/ground beef/Velveeta mixture on top. I wasn’t raised in a house that had Hanky Pankys, I actually wasn’t raising in a house that ever had even Velveeta in it. But my nextdoor neighbors….they were a Hanky Pank and Velveeta loving house that I benefitted from.

So I swung by the Aberdeen store that I’d been told had American food (specifically Velveeta) last week and was told they didn’t have any of their overpriced Velveeta in stock. I was pretty annoyed but oh well, for I’m sure a little more I can get it from Amazon. I go home and first off, I couldn’t even find plain Velveeta. Secondly, what I did find, was UNGODLY expensive.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 8.04.58 PM

£19 = $29


Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 8.03.51 PM£39.99 = $61.03


But I wanted hanky pankys! I was already making my own pork sausage (okay just ground (or mince as they say here) pork with seasoning). And had already spent £9.90 on some weird German pumpernickel bread to substitute for party rye that I had to throw all away because it tasted like ass. These Hanky Pankys were becoming the most time-consuming, expensive appetizer ever. But how hard could making homemade Velveeta be?

So without further rambling or ado, for my homesick American expats, here’s how I made Hanky Pankys.

IMG_1963Expat Hanky Pankys*

  • 1 lb mince hot pork
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2/3 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb mince beef
  • 1 lb Faux-veeta**
  • ¼ ounce unflavored gelatin
  • 6 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 16 ounces mild Scottish shredded cheddar
  • ½ tsp. Fennel SeedIMG_1990
  • 1 tsp. Oregano
  • ½ Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ tsp. Garlic Salt
  • 2 loaves strange rectangle rye bread, each slice cut into thirds

Make Faux-veeta the night before.

Line a small loaf pan with plastic wrap with extra plastic wrap hanging over the sides. Put gelatin and milk powder in a blender, add 1 cup boiling water and blend until combined. Add in the cheese and puree until mixture is well blended and smooth. Immediately pour/scoop cheese mixture into loaf pan, spreading the top layer so it’s even. Wrap completely with excess plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours. And there you have Faux-veeta. This makes more than 1 lb so be sure to weigh the final product before using it in the Hanky Panky.IMG_1950

Add mince pork to a skillet and add salt, paprika, garlic powder, 1/3 tsp fennel seed, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cooke until browned. Drain fat and set cooked pork aside.

Brown mince beef. Drain fat. Add in 1lb Faux-veeta, ½ tsp Fennel Seed, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, and browned pork. Stir until combined and Faux-veeta is melted.

Spoon onto bread and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes in a 204 degrees C (or Gas Mark 6) oven. Enjoy!

I actually made the Faux-veeta a couple days before and made the entire mixture of stuff the night before and left it in the fridge. It’s really easy to prep it all early and just spread the mixture on bread and toss into the oven.

IMG_1962 (1)

*Hanky Panky recipe from The Seerups

**Faux-veeta (or homemade velveeta or make at home velveeta) recipe courtesy of The Brown Eyed Baker.

Homemade Pumpkin Creamer

imagesHappy First Day of Fall!

I actually had to Google if the UK’s first day of fall is the same as the states, which might sound stupid but our daylight savings times AND mother’s day are different, so you never know. From what I can tell it’s the same…or the UK doesn’t really care about the exact date because we live in permanent fall minus the beautiful foliage. Or at least Scotland.

You know what I love about fall? PUMPKIN. There are few things I love as much as pumpkin…mainly, s’mores. I am the total cliché white girl when it comes to fall and pumpkin madness. Seriously, my mom brought me some Bath & Body works pumpkin soap on her trip (even though I already have a surplus of 5 of them and will be fully replenished when I get home for Christmas) and I have no short of 7 pumpkin candles in this house. And you don’t even want to see my stockpile of pumpkin puree (which can be found seasonally in the “American” section of some grocery stores here for insane prices, or on I buy anything pumpkin. Errrr…I did when I lived in American and there was everything you can buy pumpkin. I’m smuggled over pumpkin butter, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin m&ms, pumpkin pudding mix, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin cliff bars (yes, they made them), pumpkin tea and coffee…like white girl wasted on pumpkin over here.

Yeah, I would totally buy this.

Yeah, I would totally buy this.

But my heart is still empty because I simply cannot bake the same quality of pumpkin goodness that will be all over America starting this month. It makes me so sad. And I have to use my pumpkin reserves carefully because they can’t be easily or cheaply refilled. I’m already out of pumpkin coffee and the stock on pumpkin oatmeal is dwindling….oh #expatproblems.

Anyway, what I didn’t previously mention is that I also brought over pumpkin coffee syrup…but unfortunately; I just don’t think they’re very good. I even brought over two different kinds but the fake sugar substitute crap they use leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Yes, I can go to starbucks and get the pumpkin Spice latte…but I don’t really go to Starbucks very often and I like my pumpkin coffee at home where I sit and write blog posts with a pumpkin candle lit and go into my own restroom and wash my hands with pumpkin soap and so on and so on.

There’s also that little issue that there’s no creamer in Scotland what so ever (which was in fact one of my first, unsettling expat life blog posts – see here). And that is why I decided to go down the path of homemade coffee creamer. But not just any creamer my friends, PUMPKIN coffee creamer. I wish I could say that the fact that store bought coffee creamers are filled with fake crap helped lead me down this path, but lets be honest, if I could get my hands on a big ole’ jug of International Delight Pumpkin Spice Toxic Creamer…I’d be all over that. (Shedding a little tear for Target as I type.)

So if you’re an expat mourning a morning cup of pumpkin coffee or just want to stop buying the expensive toxic crap creamer…I wanted to share my recipe with you.image1 (8)

Homemade Pumpkin Coffee Creamer

  • 1-cup semi-skimmed milk (US- 1% milk)
  • ½ cup single cream (as oppose to double cream here in the UK)
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup maple syrup

Just blend all ingredients with an immersion blender, hand mixer, or regular blender and refrigerate. Shake well before pouring into your coffee.

This recipe actually isn’t too sweet so don’t be fearful of that…I actually add one packet of fake-sugar-toxic-crap Equal and it is just heaven for me. Go on and embrace your white girl and give it a try!


Coconut Mango Chia Popsicles

Scotland doesn’t have a lot of days that leave one desiring ice cream and popsicles to cool off…but maybe, on a sunny summer day you go for a run and work up a decent sweat and you get the craving for a sweet treat to help you cool off. Or maybe you just want to pretend you’re someplace warm and tropical. Or maybe you want to amp yourself up for an upcoming holiday to blazing Croatia. Or maybe, you just really like frozen desserts.  Or maybe you’re just trying to justify buying these cute little popsicle holders 5 years ago.  IMG_0764

Whatever it is, I got the recipe for you. And it’s good for you!

1 can light coconut milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 mango cut into bite size pieces
1 heaping tablespoon shredded, sweetened coconut
8 drops liquid stevia (or to taste)


  1. Combine all the ingredients and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours so that the chia seeds soak up some of the liquid and expand
  2. Fill popsicle molds with mixture
  3. Freeze overnight
  4. Enjoy!
A perfect sunny day for us to sit outside and enjoy the popsicles.

A perfect sunny day for us to sit outside and enjoy the popsicles.

We even shared with Stella

We even shared with Stella

Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Cake

I have not posted a recipe in months! I cook so much {almost nightly} but get caught up and forget to take pictures or document my recipes. It doesn’t help that traveling to Turkey, Lisbon and moving took me out of the kitchen quite a bit the last 2 months. But I’m back at it until we head to Croatia in August.

I came across THIS recipe when a friend posted it on facebook. What led me to click on it was E had just brought home 2 huge cartons of fresh, organic strawberries from his run club. A woman there was helping sell them for her kid. In Scotland, they don’t sell packaged cookies….they sell organic strawberries. Take note America.

Anyway, I haven’t baked for ages. And have been jonsing to really break in my new, super huge {conducive to my style of baking and mess-making} kitchen with wonky green double oven that uses gas marks instead of degrees. I mean really jonsing because in one day I not only made this cake, but also chocolate chip cookies and homemade waffles. The other two recipes aren’t perfected but I was pretty pleased with this one that I changed just slightly from the original recipe on Food.

I will say I looked for a bundt pan at a couple of different places in Aberdeen but couldn’t find one.  And I’m going to say that

a) The bundt pan would make much better presentation

b) I’m assuming the bundt pan is magical and wouldn’t stick as much to the pan

This is the professional picture, obviously.

This is the professional picture, obviously.

1 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 lemon, zested
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces strawberry-rhubarb yogurt
12 ounces fresh strawberries, diced
1 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven to gas mark 3 {or 325 F for you Americaners}. Grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan.  Like really, really grease and flour because my first attempt ended up with half the cake stuck to the pan…and even the second attempt wasn’t perfect.

Sift together 2 ¼ cups of flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in lemon zest and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the yogurt.

Toss strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup of flour and then gently mix into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then let cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cooled, mix remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with powdered sugar and drizzle over the cake.

The frosting I think is optional, because this cake was sweet enough.  But it does help make the cake more presentable if yours gets stuck to the pan.

My picture....when I remembered to take a picture after eating had commenced.

My picture….when I remembered to take a picture after eating had commenced.

IMG_0407 (1)

Is it as pretty as the first picture?  No.  Definitely not.  But it really did taste good and I love the addition of a subtle rhubarb flavor with the yogurt.

Meatless Monday: Lentils & Goat Cheese

I’m pretty much officially back in the kitchen and cooking to my full potential. E’s happy to be fed and I’m happier to be eating healthier. So everyone’s happy. Aside from the fact that scheduling is a bit different here; we actually have things going on at night. I golf Monday nights (for another 3 weeks), Erik has a running group on Tuesdays, and I have sewing class on Thursdays (for the next 5 weeks). And I’ll be starting running club when golf ends. So scheduling around that- either having crock-pot meals on those nights or leftovers or prepping the food in advance and eating late has definitely been a challenge.

For every week I plan about 5 meals and not until after shopping, etc do I look at the week and roughly plot when I’ll cook what. Which might always change, and a night or 2 I like to plan for leftovers. Other leftovers go for lunches.

This weeks menu:

Inspiralized: Spicy Eggplant & Sausage Zucchini Pasta

Inspiralized: Chicken & Chickpea Broccoli noodles

Maple Dijon Chicken thighs & Cauliflower Fritters

Guinness Beef Stew

Chicken Parm Meatloaf “Cupcakes”

Lentils & Goat cheese

Looking like a pretty solid week for me & E. But let’s talk about tonight’s Meatless Monday: Lentils & Goat cheese. Somehow, it’s one of E’s favorite dishes ever. It’s actually filling enough for him and there are a lot of great flavors and textures coming together.


Lentils & Goat Cheese

  • Green Lentils – ¾ cups
  • 1 ½ Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 carrots – sliced
  • 3 carrot stalks – sliced
  • 4 roasted red peppers – chopped
  • 10 oz baby spinach
  • 4 oz goat cheese broken into pieces (125 g in Scotland)
  • 3 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cook lentils according to directions. For ¾ cup lentils use about 3 cups of water to boil. Once cooked, drain. Personally, I always cook the entire package of lentils- I hate a half open bag of lentils because they always seem to spill, and I just refrigerate the lentils I don’t use for a beet salad later in the week- they hold well. Also- if you are in the vicinity of a Trader Joe’s (I am so-so jealous of you!) you can just get 2 boxes of their Steamed Lentils if you’re feeling lazy.
  • Heat olive oil and spread around in a large pan on medium heat. Add in all your sliced and chopped veggies (all except spinach) and let cook until tender. You still want a little crunch.IMG_0406
  • Add spinach to the pan and then lentils on top of them. Stir to combine and turn heat down to low. Add vinegar. Keep on heat until spinach is wilted to desire. Shouldn’t take long because the heat of the lentils speeds up the process.IMG_0407
  • For the goat cheese you have 2 options. You can either break up the goat cheese into chunks and add it ALL into the pan at the same time- stirring so it’s all creamy and melty. Or you can do as I do, and just add as much or as little goat cheese as you fancy to your individual bowl.IMG_0408

Black Bean Quesadillas

After what started as a glorious post-birthday/Sunday Hike, the weather quickly changed after some showers moved through and the temperature dropped hard.  Even though the sun came back out, it was the chilliest it’s been since we came over.  After eating lunch out, I wanted to cook…but I was exhausted and my sous chef was napping on the sofa himself.  So I opted for some quick black bean quesadillas.  This recipe made my menu list because it’s limited ingredients, utensils, and time-needed.

IMG_0235Finding black beans in Scotland is no easy feat.  I had been tipped off to this lack of legumes so I shipped 3 cases of canned black beans (More on stocking up to come at a later post) here…that of course won’t arrive for another month.  I tried finding real black beans to soak and cook myself at ASDA, but even those weren’t available.  Thankfully I had done some research that black beans in a box can sometimes be found at Sainsbury!  I got two boxes which was just enough for this recipe. 

  • 2 boxes (or 15 oz cans if you live in America) black beans
  • 8 soft shell tortillas
  • 200 grams (7 ounces-ish) shredded “Fiery Cheese Mix” (or taco cheese blend or Monterey jack if in America)
  • 200 grams of salsa (we used hot salsa to give it a little extra heat)
  • 1 Avocado
  1. Rinse and drain your black beans.
  2. Put rinsed black beans in a bowl and mix with shredded cheese and salsa.IMG_0234
  3. Heat a pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Place 1 tortilla in the pan, spoon ¼ of the black bean mixture onto the tortilla and top with another.  Cook about 5 minutes, checking periodically on the color of the tortilla and cheese melting.  Then flip and cook another 5 minutes.
  5. Cut into fourths and compliment with sliced avocado and more salsa if desired.  IMG_0238

Easy, peasy Salmon

It’s Sunday (or in my case, it was Saturday) night and all of a sudden you realize how late it is and how hungry you are.  And I’ll go one more…you realize you have very minimal ingredients and cooking utensils, and everything is unfamiliar in a temporary housing flat in a foreign city.  Of course it’s easy to get some take-away or throw in a pizza…but what if you want something hot AND healthy in a jiff?  I am here to solve your problems.

I probably make this dish 1-2x a month even when I’m in my fully stocked kitchen.  But when we were shopping for the first time in Tesco and I had to think of something easy to make with whatever utensils might be in my kitchen, this is what I went for.

Lemon-Garlic (and normally caper) Salmon!

  • Salmon (as much as you fancy eating tonight)
  • Lemons
  • Garlic
  • Capers
  • Butter or Olive Oil

And the list of supplies you’ll need is even shorter:

  • Foil
  • Oven
  • Knife
  • Fork
  • Garlic press
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (or if in Scotland, 230 C)
  2. For as many salmon filets you have, cut sheets of foil (should be half baking sheet size- big enough to wrap up your filet)
  3. Place a few small chips of butter on each filet, or brush with olive oil.  In the motherland, I just use a spritz or two of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray…but ya know, across the pond I don’t see that happening.
  4. Crush your garlic and (depending on how great your love of garlic is) slather on each filet.
  5. Squirt a quarter of a lemon on each piece of salmon, and leave the lemon next to the salmon in the foil.

    Lots of butter for E.

    Lots of butter for E.

  6. If you are lucky enough to have capers, throw capers on dat fish!  Capers are delicious, they hold forever, and they give a great flavor for cheap.  Seriously, do not be scared of the capers.  Do you like salt? Oh you do, then you’ll like capers.  I unfortunately didn’t run into them on my first Tesco trip, but I have faith they will make their way into my fridge soon.
  7. Wrap up the foil around the fish and lemon wedge like a nice little hobo-dinner packet.  Put it in the oven, directly on the rack.
  8. Bake for 10-20 minutes depending on thickness of filet.  Mine took 15 minutes.  But no foul in pulling out the packet, opening it up and checking the inside.

Throw some steamed veggies on the side, and you got a healthy meal!  If your husband needs some carbs and you have a roll of biscuits around, throw em on it.  I did not…and not sure if Grands Biscuits are available here regardless.  But fewer calories are a win for me.


Scots are all about portion control. Even in their veggies. This bag contains 4 adorable little frozen veggie packets for individual consumption.

As this is my first recipe post, and it wasn’t really thought through (hence easy, peasy)…I actually forget to take a picture of the after!  It was late, and I was hungry after all.  I also only have an Iphone here at the moment.  But since I make this so frequently, I’ll be sure to snap a shot of the after soon.