Seriously the best…

Stew I have EVER tasted.  (Ok, besides the goulash my babysitter made when I was like 4).

I got the idea from one of my favorite blogs: Sweettoothsweetlife.  She had made a lentil soup and I explored the link she gave and found this bad boy!

Vegetable Lentil Stew: (From Taste of Home)

  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 2 cans (reg size) diced tomatoes (mine had little peppers in them!)
  • 1 can (reg size) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (reg size) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsps chili powder
  • 2 tsps dried basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 bag fresh spinach

Sooo many ingredients!

Combine all the ingredients (except the spinach) into a HUGE pot–mine almost overflowed.  I was getting nervous!  Bring to a boil and then cover, lower heat, and simmer for 35-40 minutes.  Stir occasionally!  At the end of the simmering, the veggie’s, lentils, and potatoes should be tender.  Stir in the spinach until mixed and wilted (like a minute)!

Simmerin'

We enjoyed this with some bread and a sprinkle of cheese!

So freakin' good & great for the cold day!

Obviously, we had a TON of leftover since it was just the 2 of us.  We def froze it for later! 🙂

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Wonderful Weekend in Watou!

Even if you are a Belgian, chances of you knowing Watou are slim…but, thanks to our awesome neighbors, we had the chance to explore this wonderful little town this past weekend.

Driving only about 1 hour from Gent, we stayed at the ‘Het Brouwershuis.’  This B&B is situated next to its owner’s brewery, Sint Bernardus (Joe’s fave)!  Honestly, I’ve never been to such a cute and relaxing place!  Actually, I’ve never been to a B&B before so I didn’t know what to expect, but, this FAR exceeded any expectations I had.  As you arrive, you drive through a nice vine-archway.  You come upon 2 buildings each beautiful with vines and plants growing everywhere (not overgrown – strategic).  It’s so hard to explain how nice it was…so…here are the pics.

Look at that red color!!!

Is that welcoming or what?!

The “main” house had a beautiful living room with games, books, a fireplace, and…unlimited beer (St-Bernardus of course)!  There is also a nice room for the breakfast (which was awesome – no pics on that but think breads, yogurt, fruit, eggs, cheese, ham, etc)!  On the other side of the breakfast room was a pond full of large goldfish!

Sitting room...

So cozy!

Mmm, breakfast.

The bedrooms were adorable as well.  Nicely decorated with cute accents – not too many knick-knacks.  Each room has a separate bathroom (apparently not all B&B’s do that).  Only thing I was disappointed with was that there was no shampoo/conditioner (which I totally forgot to bring)!  But, we only stayed 1 night, so it was ok for me.

Cute!

Thankful for our own bathroom!

Nice, but...lots of spidey's...

*I will add one comment – take it as you will.  As you can see from my pic above, the spiders were in FULL effect.  Definitely NOT indoors, but they were quite a few outside (shocker, right?…spiders outside in a farm area?).  No one else cared, but I have a severe case of arachnophobia (sp?), so I  did get squirmy when walking by trees, chairs, etc.

Anyway, we spent the day using the bikes from the B&B (after finally adjusting the adult bikes to the lowest seat level for me, ugh).  We rode into the town of Watou (very cute town square)!  We stopped for a couple drinks and lunch.  I had a delicious melon and proscuitto salad.

Relaxin'

So fresh!

We then rode our backs in the opposite direction to Abele.  We stopped for another drink (see a theme?) at a cute place in France.  Yes, that’s right…we crossed the border.  We were pretty exctied…:-)

Indian summer?!

Me & Babe.

After all the biking, we were ready to relax at the B&B before heading out to dinner…will post the dinner next (one of the BEST dinners we’ve had in a long time)!  Wow, Watou…we’re impressed!!!

Baked Chicken with Chickpea Salad

Growing up, Sunday night dinner was the BEST.  My mom and dad would always make a nice dinner for the family.  I’m not sure if it was because they did not have to work that day or what, but the meal always seemed more in-depth than the week night foods (more ingredients, longer cooking times, etc).  The 5 of us (I have 2 little sisters) would sit down and talk about what was going on during the upcoming week.  As I moved out and got married, Joe and I were invited over for Sunday dinners very often – awesome.

Now that we are living in Belgium, getting to Sunday night dinners in Milwaukee has posed a little problem.  SO, Joe and I have taken it upon ourselves to sit down and eat a nice home-cooked meal every Sunday evening.  We also talk about what our plans are for the week…of course, the conversation for Joe is typically about his work schedule.  My plans are more, hm…undefined (who am I lunching with this week, what happy hours, etc).  BUT, that will change as I start my MBA 2 weeks from today!

Anyway, here is what we had this Sunday.

Baked Chicken with Chickpea Salad:

For the chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • cayenne pepper
  • garlic powder
  • salt/pepper
Preheat oven to 350F (276C).  Place the chicken in an oiled baking dish.  Sprinkle with herbs/spices.  Honestly, this is essentially chicken with whatever spices you want.  I do not measure them out…Joe and I like spicey, so I tend to go heavy on the cayenne.  Depending on the size of your chickens, cook time is approx 30 minutes.
For the Chickpea Salad:
  • 1 15oz can of chickpeas/garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cucumber, quartered
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c red wine vinegar
Just mix!  I usually make ahead of time (like that afternoon) and put in the fridge to let the juices combine.  SUPER easy.
For Dessert (sorry no pics…ate too fast) we tried out the ‘Damass Bvba’ ice cream parlor in the Korenmarkt.  Flavors tried:
  • Vanilla yogurt
  • Strawberry sorbet
  • Stracciatella (vanilla with choco shavings)
  • Gingerbread (had actual chunks – YUM)
  • Speculoos (Belgian favorite – think spiced cookie)

Friday night-in

Shockingly, we decided to stay in this Friday night…not very common for us, but was very relaxing.

Of course, being Friday, I wanted some “appy’s” before dinner to go with our wine/beer.  I bought an extra can of chickpea’s this week since I was craving the roasted chickpea’s from one of our favorite restaurants in Milwaukee – Roots.  Side note – we will DEF visit this place when we visit home!

Simple Roasted Chickpea Snack: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Simple-Roasted-Chickpea-Snack/Detail.aspx?prop31=1

Here are the results (I obviously did not watch them close enough as some were a little “charred”).  Also, they were not spicey enough for me, so I would add some cayenne pepper to the mix next time.

We ate these plus the obligatory veggies and hummus with our wine/beer before dinner.  I loved them, especially the crunchy taste.  Good and bad, they are full of fiber…but, that meant I was not TOO hungry for dinner.  We were making quesadilla’s and I opted for only 1/2…

Our quesadilla’s were filled with whatever we had in the fridge (mushrooms, tomato’s, onions, and feta/mozzarella cheeses).  I pre-cooked the mushrooms and onions on the stove before heating the tortilla’s.  Joe ate 1/2 of his quesadilla before I had the chance to take a pic…

THEY WERE delicious with some salsa…the mozzarella melted perfectly, but the feta only softened.  Whatevs…it’s cheese.

Dessert was more wine…and eating the leftover Funfetti frosting right out of the container…with my finger.  So good.   Off to watch “Something Borrowed” with Kate Hudson.  OBVIOUSLY, my movie choice