Relaxing Friday in Gent

Since we knew we were going to travel to Koln early on Saturday, we decided to make Friday a nice, relaxing evening.

For starters, we enjoyed a nice home-cooked meal!  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of our meals (mostly because Joe’s had traveled a bit and I do have 2 meals a week at school).  However, I found a new recipe and was very excited to try it!

Balsamic Chicken & Mushrooms (from this blog).  I followed the recipe almost exactly (I didn’t have any fresh thyme so I subbed in some remaining chicken spice plust I added 1/2 an onion).  I then made roasted brussel sprouts as a side!  I still can’t figure out when brussel sprouts are in season here…seems like fall and spring?

Yum, I fo sho had 2nds!

After, we decided to check out Gent’s Christmas Market.  It didn’t open until Friday for some reason (perhaps because I heard most Belgian Christmas celebrations happen after Sinterklaas).  The setting was beautiful – right outside St. Baaf’s Cathedral.  It was significantly smaller than the Brussels Christmas Market, but very cozy and quaint.  There was even a band playing!  Here are some pics:

The Belfort tower nicely lit!

The inevitable "Gluhwein" stand!

And of course, AWESOME hot chocolate - can you see the HUGE marshmallows?

We then walked into the Korenmarkt to see the big Christmas tree.  Definitely did not pass the “squint test,” but still very pretty.  I don’t understand all these carnival rides…

Gent's Tree!

Quite a nice night!

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OM all day…

Ah, Tuesdays…where I have class from 2:30-10:30.  Yes, so long!!!  Unfortunately today it is the same class the whole 8 hours.  Usually it is split up, but not today…that means Operations Management all day…wowza.

I had the pleasure of making this again!  I realized I had another can o’ pumpkin in the cupboard.  This time I added some raisin’s and cereal to the mix.  I’m really liking the crunchy-ness of cereal with the creamy-ness of oatmeal.

Of course, my red cup is close by...

After breakfast, I ran a couple errands.  I rarely take things to the dry cleaners here, but had to take some sweaters.  Guess how much they will cost…6.35 euro/sweater.  OMG – do you realize what that is in USD?!  Like $8 something!  I also went to update my “awesome” pay as you go phone.  I can now call out and send texts – welcome to the 21st century Sarah.

Today I had the pleasure of having a work-out buddy!  My friend from the US met me at the gym and we did some elliptical and some treadmill workouts.  Time flies at the gym with other people!  I still think that people at the gym stare at us when we are talking in English…it might just be in my head, but I really don’t think so!

Anyway, I wanted to share this recipe from the other night – it was delish.

Salsa Chicken: (adapted from Allrecipes)

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup salsa
  • shredded cheese (any kind you fancy)
This is super easy.  Preheat your oven to 190C (375F).  Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish (spray with PAM).  Then, sprinkle/coat the chicken with the taco seasoning (I only used 1/4 of the bag).  Pour the salsa over both chickens.  Heat in the oven for about 30 minutes (depending on how big your chickens are)!  Then, remove from the oven and sprinkle with the shredded cheese.  Heat again for about 5 minutes (until cheese is melted)!
*I served alongside some sauteed veggie’s and tortilla chips!
We both LOVED the flavor/spicy-ness…of course, we miss Mexican like no other!

YUM!

We both only ate 1/2 as these were HUGE.  I had the rest for leftovers today!
***Yes, I’ve put up some of the Holiday decor!  Don’t judge me…they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here so I feel like decor before Thanksgiving is widely acceptable.

First British “pie” and a Birthday!!!

After our day at the choco-fest and our brisk walk through Brugge (it’s definitely winter here!), we were in the mood for some nice warm comfort food.  Luckily, we had the PERFECT meal!

My friend from the UK had made some pies (I think thats what you call them – maybe pot pies?) with chicken, bacon, carrots, celery, potatoes, etc.  She was so sweet to give us two to try and OMG…they were AMAZING.  When they were cooking, they smelled amazing and looked adorable.  I really didn’t want to break into mine – I think anything looks cute in a ramekin!  Here they are:

Before picture...

After picture...look how crispy!!!

Starting to ooze out of the pastry...

And finally...action shot!

We ate these up rather quickly and definitely scraped as much out of the ramekin as possible!  Thank you so much to Sarah – such a wonderful meal!  I would like the recipe! 🙂

In other news…today is my mom’s Birthday!!!  WOO HOO!  Happy Birthday Mom – love you and miss you!!!

Just hangin in the castle!

Happy Halloween!

In honor of Halloween, we watched Scream 4 last night.  I’m not going to lie, I was quite scared and jumped NUMEROUS times.  One time I actually yelped.  I didn’t have high hopes for the movie (4th sequel seems like a lot), but I was very impressed with the shocking twists and turns.  Did anyone else notice that there were a LOT of CW actors in it?!

Love GALE! 🙂

Tonight’s dinner was all about using items up from our fridge.  It turned into a FAVE!!!

Chicken & Peppers with Balsamic Vinegar: (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut in strips)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced (I used red as that’s what I had)
  • mushrooms
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • couple handfuls of spinach

Mmm chopped veggies!

In a large skillet on medium high, heat the olive oil and brown the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  I cooked the chicken almost the entire way through (faster simmering time in the end)!  Once browned, set aside.
In the same skillet, add the other tbsp of olive oil.  Then add all the veggies (any that you want really)!  Allow the veggies to cook until tender (about 7 minutes for mine).  Next add the garlic and cook for another minute or 2 (stir a lot).  Then add the basil and balsamic vinegar and cook another minute.
Add the chicken back to the skillet.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is done.  Again, mine only had to simmer about 5-10 minutes since I cooked the chicken longer at the start.  With one minute left, I added spinach!

How pretty is that?!

*The recipe on Allrecipes says to add more balsamic vinegar at the end.  I opted not to – didn’t think it needed it (personal preference)!
We both REALLY liked this meal – so simple (and colorful)!

Plus some multi-grain bread!

Back to the routine!

Back to the routine…and it feels so good!

This is the first day I feel totally normal and adjusted to the time change.  SO glad because I can start my normal routine again: Blog, Workout, Lunch, Study, Dinner, etc!

So…my breakfast was a quick one before I headed to the gym!  I was VERY excited to workout since I’ve been slacking a lot lately.  A long run on the treadmill felt soooo good (afterward of course – not during)!

Thx for the Almond Butter Jon! 🙂

For lunch, I met up with my American friend, Lisa.  We had a LOT to catch up on!  We hadn’t seen each other since August since our trips to the USA overlapped.  We compared/shared our thoughts on being in the USA and being back “home” in Belgium.  Here are a couple common themes:

  • So glad to be back into a normal routine after vacay!
  • We love and miss our family and friends in the USA every day, but are excited to have friends in Belgium too.
  • Visiting the USA is not what one would call a “relaxing” trip!  Definitely have some learnings for next trip…
  • There is nothing like the town you grew up in…
  • Laundry in America is awesome – I will never complain about it there ever again.
  • Being able to drive is a serious luxury and the independence you feel with it is amazing.
  • Starbuck’s is the best (ok, that’s my thought – but I’m sure she agrees)! 🙂

Veggie soup @ RoOmer Cafe!

This afternoon I caught up on some school work, laundry, and cleaning.  I was also perusing the internet and stumbled upon a new blog (Gina’s Skinny Recipes) that I LOVE.  So, I decided to make one of her recipes:  Chicken Milanese with Arugula and Tomatoes

I only made a couple changes:

  • Kept the chicken as breasts (not cutlets)
  • Left out the milk in the egg whites (had none)
  • Added cheese to the salad (everything is better with cheese)!

Here is a pick of how our meal turned out!  And, OMG, was it delish! 🙂

So freakin' good.

Off to complete my Law presentation slides for Monday.  I’m pretty nervous as I have to present to the class with one of my group members.  I really am not a fan of presenting.  (Side note – You know how when you have to do something you don’t want to do and people say…”OH, but it’s such good experience!”  Do you ever just want to scream, UGH, then you do it).

Anywayyyyyy, we have a “skype” conference call tonight to go over the slides.  I find that really funny (not sure why – just seems odd)!  I wonder if we are going to use the “video” call?  If so, I should probably change out of my oversized sweats…

Happy Monday!

First full day in Tosa!

And, we’re starting it off with:

Homemade Banana Bread!

As I said before, my mother is the best.  She made us a mini-loaf of homemade banana bread for our hotel.  YUM!

I am so excited for today.  Why you ask?  Because I get to see Gma Sue!  She is coming into town so that we can have lunch together.  When I was working in Racine, we’d have lunch at least 1x per month (either at her house, Panera Bread, or Out of the Pan).  Today, I’m opting for good ole’ Panera (definitely one of my most missed restaurants)!

She picked me up at lunch time and of course, there were tears involved! 🙂  Happy tears, that is.  As usual, she was so cute and put together (no red,white, and blue – just leopard this time)!  She’s so stylin.

We headed over to Panera and I ordered my all-time fave:  You Pick 2 (Greek Salad + Garden Veggie Soup + french baguette).  As always, it was delicious.  I will note, however, that I might be a bread snob now.  The French baguette was good…but, it is NO French baquette.  Oh no…Europe, what have you done to me?!?!

After spending a great time with my Grandma, I was picked up by my mom and was off to spend the rest of the day/evening at the house for another home cooked-meal!  But first, it was time to clean out my mom’s closet.  We’re shopping tomorrow and she NEEDS some new key items.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the heaping pile of clothes on the bed we are getting rid of…one sweater was from over 25 years ago!!!  Side Note:  My mom dresses very cute…don’t get the wrong idea.  We just had to do some “fall” cleaning.

Dinner was another delicious meal: Asian Marinated Chicken + Couscous + Baked Brussel Sprouts + Steamed Carrots

Oh so good!

And, as promised yesterday, here is a pic of the fabulous graham cracker dessert.

She's weird.

I opted for a nice helping of the remaining choco frosting + my fave animal crackers!!

Yes, I'm weird.

Another great night was almost complete…but I still had one very important thing left to do.  Make a TARGET run!!!  OMG was it so fun.  I think I almost walked down every aisle.  And of course, the saying that you “can’t get out of Target without spending $100” is totally true!  Here are a few of my prized purchases!

See the red Target circles...so happy.

When I look at this pic, I expect some grand finale song to be playing.

 

 

A week in photos!

Have I been slacking or what?!?!  I’ve been very busy with our visitors so I’m going to do a ‘week in photos’ post to catch up!  Here we go!!!

Tuesday

Of course, I had class, but was able to grab dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Downstairs.  You may remember it from the review!  I opted for the Gent specialty – Waterzooi.  

Like a delish chicken soup!

Followed up by a round of jenever at t’ Dreupelkot!

Pinky's up!

Wednesday

Today was a day of Gent.  We went to the castle, cathedral, had wafels, etc.

Queens! 🙂

Atop the castle!

Wafels anyone?!

Or coffee with freshly whipped cream?!

And then…we had lunch at the Stropke restaurant outside the castle.  I must say that this was a pleasant surprise…you never know how restaurants will be in extremely tourist areas.  VERY delish!

Tomato soup + multigrain bread!

Gent stoverij!

AMAZING brie+pineapple salad!

Wednesday night was pizza and relaxing.  Unfortunately, I do not have a pic of the pizza, but it was really good.  Yes, all we do is eat here! 🙂

Thursday

No pics today…forgot my camera on the way to Antwerp.  But, we took the train to Antwerp, walked the city, ate some mussels and chocolate, grabbed Starbucks (yes!), and shopped ’til we dropped!  I am the lucky new owner of a beautiful striped sweater and Joe has a very nice (stylin) shirt!

Friday

Last night we hosted a dinner at our condo with ingredients from the fresh markets!  On the menu – halibut, brussel sprouts, salad, and bread.  The halibut was cooked on the stove top with a squeeze of lemon and some spices.  We broiled the brussel sprouts in the oven for about 30 minutes on 200C (tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil).  A VERY nice evening in with our guests :-)!

Cheers!

Yum, a home-cooked meal!

Off to enjoy the rest of the weekend!!!  Up next…beer tours and bike rides!

I love…Friday’s

Another Friday…I used to love Friday’s because it meant I had the weekend off of work.  Of course I technically have all days “off” so…now I love it because Joe has the weekend off from work.

And because of this…

Friday Appy's!

I decided to try a new recipe tonight.  I’ve found that I’ve not been cooking as much since school started (school provides my meal on Monday and Tuesday nights).  Anyway, today grabbed this recipe from my daily “Allrecipes” email that I get…

Baked Chicken and Zucchini: (Allrecipes – I modified it for 2 people)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • shredded mozzarella
  • basil (fresh if you got it, I didn’t…so, hello spice cabinet)
Preheat your oven to 400F or 200C (in my case, I pre-heated my combo micro, oven, grill…seriously still in awe of this machine)!
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, water, 1/2 tsp salt and the pepper.  Then, dip the chicken in the mixture and place in a re-sealable bag (Ziploc brand prefered of course…ah, the SCJ days)!  Add the bread crumbs (reserving 1 tbsp) and shake it up!
Spray your skillet with PAM and cook the chicken over medium high heat for about 2-3 minutes per side.  Set aside.  Toss in the sliced zucchini and cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Next, add the zucchini slices to the bottom of a greased (PAM) 9×13 baking dish.  Sprinkle the reserved 1bsp bread crumbs over the zucchini and top with the tomato slices.  Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the veggies (I didn’t measure this but can tell you that I was VERY generous with the cheese)!  Lastly, add the chicken on top and cover with foil.  Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.  Remove cover and sprinkle MORE cheese on top and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  DING…it’s done!

Mmm, cheese.

SO GOOD! 🙂  After dinner, we decided to go check out a new bar that Joe’s boss recommended.  We were really skeptical because it is a movie theater…but he did NOT lead us astray.  AWESOME, definitely a new fave!  We can’t wait to show our friends:  Studio Skoop  Check out the link!  The decor is great.  If you can see in the pic, the chairs against the wall are old movie theater seats.  Plus, the menu has movie trivia!  Score!

Check the chairs!

Obvii...trivia was in English.

 

Guest chef – Maggie’s Chicken Enchilada’s!

We had the pleasure of having a home-cooked meal (NOT prepared by Joe or myself)!  Our wonderful visitor, Maggie, decided to make us dinner…and since Mexican food is RARE here in Ghent, she decided to prepare us a little treat….CHICKEN ENCHILADA’S!

Chicken Enchilada’s a la Maggie:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (for 3 peeps)
  • 5 tortilla wraps
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • shredded cheese (we used gouda and mozzarella)
For the sauce:
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper (cayenne pepper)
Preheat the oven to 450F.  Next, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Once boiling, add chicken breasts too the water and heat until cooked through (about 15 minutes).  Once the chicken is finished, shred the breasts using a fork.
Meanwhile, in a pot, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce and bring to a boil.
Assemble the enchilada’s by placing the shredded chicken in the middle of the tortilla.  Sprinkle with chopped onions and shredded cheese and pour a little sauce over the toppings.  Then, roll the tortilla and place in a 9×13 baking dish (we lightly greased with PAM).  Continue the process until all 5 tortillas are in the baking pan.  Then, top the enchilada’s with the remaining sauce and cheese.
Cook the enchilada’s in the oven for 35 minutes (or until the cheese and tortillas brown – ours took about 30 minutes)!
Joe and I LOVED these!  We also enjoyed a side salad with our meal (used the left-over relish from last nights dinner as the topping of our salad).  AND, of course, what Mexican meal is complete without chips and salsa!
Thanks Maggie for the great meal and new recipe! 🙂

A little behind…

With my friend Maggie in town, I’ve been a little behind on the posts!  Sadly, today is her last day in Ghent…but that means that I will have time to fill you in on our weekend together.  A few things to look forward to:

  • Salmon + relish
  • Julie’s House! OMG
  • Chicken enchiladas…a la Maggie!
  • Pumpkin Oatmeal
  • Belgian Wafels (spelled the Belgian way – so you don’t think I’m a bad speller)
  • In Bocco Lupo
  • Lunch in Antwerp
To be continued…