Monthly Archives

December 2011

Dutch Saucijsjes (aka Dutch Pig in the Blanket)

December 30, 2011

I’d like to take a minute and introduce you to a very special woman, my grandma Dorothy Bomgaars. Dorothy is my mother’s mother and happens to be a very good (Dutch) cook. My mom grew up on a farm in Iowa with four brothers, and my grandma was in charge of feeding a family of seven every day. I can’t imagine cooking for that many people every day.

And although she will be 91 in March, my grandma is incredibly sharp and tech-savvy. She reads Espresso and Cream faithfully and has a keen eye for the stock markets.

While I was home in northwest Iowa over Christmas break, my mom suggested we invite my grandma and cousin, Angela, over so my grandma could teach us how to make a very special Dutch food – saucijsjes (pronounced suh-sigh-shees). I grew up eating these Dutch treats. Although I no longer eat them, I thought it would be interesting to learn the tried and true method of making them from my grandma. Since, as we all know, grandmothers make things better than the rest of us do.

Although the name might suggest otherwise, sausijsjes are actually quite simple to make. They are slightly time consuming. But since the recipe actually calls for you to freeze the sausijsjes before baking them, you can make a double batch and store the extras in the freezer for a quick dinner or Sunday brunch.

What makes these little pig in the blankets so special are the nuances in preparation and method. Things I wouldn’t have learned unless I had my grandma there as a guide. Since the ultra-flaky pastry is chock full of butter, you have to bake the saucijsjes on a piece of paper sack from a paper grocery bag. The paper absorbs the extra grease and prevents the pastry from getting soggy. And don’t even think about skipping the freezing step. It helps the pastry rise and flake when you bake them.

Many of the ingredients we gathered to make the saucijsjes were only available to us because we live in a very Dutch community. At Woudstra Meat Market downtown, you can buy a special meat mixture called ‘saucijsje meat’, and even the bread-crumbs come from a dutch bread called Rusk, which is crumbled into the meat. I’ve done my best to adapt the recipe for those of you who don’t have access to such specific Dutch ingredients, hoping the results will turn out as delightful for you as they did for us.

Dutch Saucijsjes (aka Dutch Pig in the Blanket)
For the Pastry
*5 cups all-purpose flour
*1 1/2 tsp. salt
*2 tsp. baking powder
*1 Tbsp. sugar
*3 sticks margarine
*1/2 cup shortening/Crisco (my grandma used lard)
*2 eggs, lightly beaten
*1 1/2 cups whole milk

For the Meat Filling
*3 lbs. saucijsje meat (or 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef and 1 1/2 lbs. ground pork)
*2 eggs, lightly beaten
*4 Dutch rusk, finely crumbled (or 2/3 c dry plain bread crumbs)
*1 tsp. dried sage
*3/4 tsp. salt
*1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

*Combine all the ingredients for the meat filling until well combined. FOrm into log-shaped pieces, about 2 inches in length (see second photo). Transfer to a large baking pan. Set aside. You should have around 38 to 40 small meat logs.
*For the dough, in a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add in the margarine and shortening and blend with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse peas. Add in the egg and milk and stir until well combine. Knead with your hands to form a soft ball of dough.
*Transfer dough to a well-floured countertop and roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut dough into rectangles big enough to completely cover your meat logs.
*Wrap meat in dough, being careful to seal the seam shut with your fingers by pinching together. Transfer to a baking sheet to freeze, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough and meat.
*Freeze for at least four hours or up to two months.
*To bake, line a baking pan with a sheet of brown paper grocery sack. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place saucijsjes on baking sheet. Brush with egg whites. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 40 saucijsjes

Happy Cooking!


December 27, 2011
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and got a chance to spend a little quality time with friends and family. Joey and I spent the last five days back home in northwest Iowa and packed in as much time with loved ones as humanly possible. 
Maybe we spent a little too much time on the go, because this morning I woke up with a terrible sore throat and just felt pretty crummy overall. I’m hoping that a little extra sleep and a day to rest tomorrow before going back to work on Wednesday will help me mend quickly. 
Here are a few of the highlights from our Christmas…
1. Hanging out with our nephew, Baylen, and getting to help babysit while mom and dad went on a date to celebrate their four year anniversary. 
2. Attending the wedding of a high school friend and getting to catch up with people I haven’t seen in years was so much fun. The bride, Janna, looked beautiful and we were lucky enough to be seated at a great table. 
3. Nutmeg was quite the charmer all week long while wearing her Christmas bow. 
4. Grandma Dorothy came over for Christmas breakfast. My mom, in typical fashion, had a beautifully-set table and amazing food. 
5. Seeing my mom open her gift (an espresso maker) was so much fun! Being the coffee-fanatic that she is, we knew we had found the perfect gift. 
6. Joe and I also managed to take a picture before the Christmas-day festivities began. The weather in Iowa was amazing! So warm that we didn’t even need coats as we traveled to various family functions. As far as I’m concerned, the snow can stay away all winter. 
7. We capped off Christmas night with the traditional Bomgaars family Christmas party. Our entire family was home this year so we took full advantage and snapped a family photo. 

It’s the MOST Wonderful Time of the Year

December 23, 2011

Today is a special day because my mom, Marilyn, has agreed to do a guest post for me! She worked a little Christmas magic in our apartment this year and was kind enough to share a little heart-warming Christmas story to celebrate the holidays. 
How fun is this – guest blogging?  I love this time of year, and as followers of Espresso and Cream, I thought you might enjoy hearing how Madison and Joe’s loft apartment was decorated for their first Christmas as a married couple.
While home over Thanksgiving weekend, Madison mentioned she & Joe would not be decorating for Christmas.   As is typical for most newlyweds, they had no Christmas décor and decided they would take advantage of the after-Christmas sales on trees and decorations.   Consequently, they would be waiting until next year to decorate for the season.  As a parent, I inwardly patted myself on the back thinking the money-management lessons I espoused for years had made an impact after all.
The following week produced the season’s first dusting of snow and during a telephone chat, Madison made a casual mention, “Joe says it doesn’t really feel like Christmas without a tree.”   

Such a confession tugged at my heartstrings (i.e. sweet, young couple trying to be fiscally responsible but missing out on some of the excitement of Christmas).  And then came an “Ahhh” idea, which would also turn into this year’s Christmas gifts for Madison and Joe.  
A trip to Des Moines to attend a special Christmas concert the next weekend was already on my calendar and since I was going to be in the area, I made plans to spend the night with M & J on Friday.  So, before I left home, I rummaged through the basement storage room and gathered extra decorations, greenery, and ornaments.  (Does anyone besides me have lots of unused Christmas stuff in the basement?)  I spray painted branches cut from a backyard hedge and for a brief minute, felt like Martha Stewart.  I located a perfect tall, but skinny, Christmas tree; boxed and in three pieces. And after a quick scavenge of the TJMaxx Christmas section, I felt prepared to pull off a surprise.
The weekend arrived and it was great catching up with M & J Friday night, but a pre-planned trip to visit friends in Minneapolis had them heading out the door early Saturday morning.  I asked them if it was OK if I lingered over a second cup of coffee before I too hit the road and headed for home.  But, the minute their car backed out of the parking space, the ‘elf’ fun began.  Boxes from my car were unpacked and with Christmas music playing, the decorating began.  Pleased with the festive transformation, I headed home on Sunday.
The phone call came on Sunday evening.  With excitement that couldn’t be contained, it was Madison, “Mom, we just walked in the door.  It’s magical.  The apartment is just magical.  Thank you so much, mom.”
I don’t remember giving a gift that felt as meaningful, as perfect, as appreciated and as much fun to give.  Like me, I hope the greatest gift you receive this Christmas season is the JOY that comes from giving freely.  Blessings to all of you.

Healthier Peppermint Cheesecake

December 22, 2011

For those of you that are still looking for a festive dessert over the holidays that is something a little fancier than cookies, this Healthier Peppermint Cheesecake would make a fabulous addition to your holiday table. Joey and I had friends over last week and the finale to our meal was this cheesecake.

Since I figured everyone this time of year gets enough heavy, calorie-dense meals, I wanted to keep the dessert lighter than traditional cheesecake. When I found this cheesecake recipe in a Holiday Diabetic Recipes magazine I picked up a few weeks back, I knew it would be the perfect dessert. Although no one in the group is diabetic, the recipe was lower in calories and fat than any other recipe I’ve come across.

When it comes to taste and flavor, I could hardly tell that this was a healthier cheesecake. It was slightly less sweet, but I found that pleasant when compared to the typical sugar coma inducing cheesecake of the Cheesecake Factory.

In other news, Joey and I have been having a great time with family and taking a little time off from work. I’ll post an update soon on happenings over the past couple days, but for now I’ll leave you with a this crazy-good recipe.

Festive Peppermint Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups finely crushed low-fat graham crackers
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
1/3 cup tub-style vegetable oil spread, melted
1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 (6-ounce) container plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups frozen light whipped dessert topping
6 sugar-free peppermints, crushed
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. For crust, combine graham crackers and flaxseed meal. Stir in melted vegetable oil spread. Press crumb mixture into bottom and about 2-inches up sides of an 8-inch springform pan, set aside.
2. For filling, beat cream cheese, marshmallow creme, yogurt, and peppermint extract until smooth. Stir in eggs just until combined.
3. Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a 2 1/2 inch area around the outside edge appears set when gently shaken.
4. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, loosen the crust from sides of pan; cool for 30 minutes. Remove the side of the pan; cool cheesecake completely on rack. Cover; chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
5. To serve, spread desert topping on top. Top with melted chocolate and crushed peppermints.

Nutrition Facts per serving (makes 12 servings): 258 cal., 12 g total fat, 14 mg chol., 212 mg. sodium, 31 g carb, 1 g fiber, 6 g pro.

Happy Baking!


‘Chicken’ Noodle Soup

December 19, 2011

Lately, I’ve been trying to do a better job about documenting how Joey and I eat together as a mixed vegetarian and omnivore family. With so few hours of daylight these days, there have been a lot of meals that have gone undocumented, since I have yet to master the art of photographing food in artificial light.

That said, once in a while I manage to snap a photo of a lunch or dinner here and there. Last week this soup was a huge hit with both Joey and me. Unlike traditional recipes for chicken noodle soup, this recipe calls for adding in the cooked chicken at the end of the preparation. That way, if someone in your family is looking to eat less meat, you can add as much or as little chicken as you want. I enjoyed my soup sans chicken with a side of toast and hummus for a little added protein. Joey enjoyed his with chicken, of course, and loved it as much as I did.

It amazes me how a little extra time yields results that are so worth making soup from scratch as opposed to buying it premade in a can. And when it gets really cold, I can only imagine we will be enjoying this soup again and again to stay warm and toasty.

‘Chicken’ Noodle Soup

*1/2 cup finely chopped celery
*1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
*2/3 cup diced onions
*3 tablespoons olive oil 
*1 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
*1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
*1/2 teaspoon dried basil
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1/4 teaspoon black pepper
*1 box (32-ounces) vegetable or chicken stock
*1 cup water
*1 can white beans, drained
*1 cup whole wheat egg noodles
*2 large chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces (optional)

*In a large stockpot over medium high heat, combine the celery, carrots, onions and olive oil. Cook for five to six minutes, until onions are opaque and carrots begin to tenderize. Add in the salt, oregano, chili powder, basil, garlic and black pepper. Cook for four to five minutes more, until mixture is fragrant.
*Add in the stock and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine the water and white beans. Blend until well combined and smooth. Add to the boiling stock mixture. Bring back to a boil and add in the egg noodles. Cook until noodles are cooked, about seven to nine minutes. Reduce heat to low and add in chicken, if desired.

Happy Cooking!