Weekend cooking: Weeknights with Giada by Giada de Laurentiis

Weeknights with GiadaBlurb:

After a full day, Giada, like most parents, wants nothing more than to sit down for a home-cooked dinner with her husband, Todd, and their daughter, Jade. Weeknights with Giada rises to the challenge, delivering soups, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, and meat and fish dishes that come together quickly as stand-alone main courses—most in half an hour or less […] From inventive breakfast-for-dinner dishes and meatless Monday vegetarian recipes—both weekly traditions in Giada’s house—to picnic sandwiches and hearty salad recipes for reinventing leftovers, Weeknights with Giada reveals every secret in her repertoire. Even the desserts are quick to mix and bake, should a craving—or a last-minute school bake sale—strike.

In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     So so

For people who like: cooking, Italian meal ideas that are not run-of-the-mill

My thoughts: 

I like Giada de Laurentiis. We have another Italian cookbook by her about which I talked some time ago, Everyday Italian.  So I thought it might be interesting to have a look at another cookbook about dinner for families during the week.

The subtitle of this book is “Quick and simple recipes to revamp dinner”, but, frankly, I didn’t find the recipes so simple and quick. Filet Mignon with rosemary and mushroom gravy or Grilled fish kebobs with parsley and garlic butter are not really my number one choices for a quick family meal. Also, there are not THAT many vegetarian recipes in the book. OK, it was not classified as veggie book, so I am not complaining about it, but I won’t recreate a lot of those recipes, that is for certain.

There are a few pasta recipes that sound nice, but my sons are rather discerning when it comes to what they eat (in a negative way, I may add. Everything too healthy or elaborate is a no no). Arugula, brown rice and whole wheat penne are no kitchen staples in our house, I am afraid.

One chapter, “Breakfast for dinner” will definitely find the approval of the boys, however. Almond pancakes, peach and cherry frittata or crepes with peanut butter and jam don’t sound like dinner, but will certainly draw them to the table.

Somehow I would have expected easier recipes with less ingredients. But if you love cooking, even during the week after work, you will find lots of inspiration in this book. Then again, if you are a vegetarian, don’t bother!

Product info and buy link :

Title Weeknights with Giada: Quick and simple recipes to revamp dinner
Author Giada de Laurentiis
Publisher Clarkson Potter
ISBN 978-0307451026
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy Weeknights with Giada (release March 27)
More info Giada de Laurentiis’ website

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, and here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Also have a look at Bookchickdi’s review. She liked it better than I did. 

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Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. For the other weekend cooking posts please go there.


Weekend Cooking: Delicious Banana Bread

February 23 was National Banana Bread Day, yes, such a food holiday exists. Not that I knew that when I made this delicious banana bread (Germany has no food holidays – or any other obscure “Groom your pet” days or “Umbrella months”, we are rather uninventive when it comes to things like that).

Anyway, later I learned that it was Banana Bread Day and what better opportunity to share this recipe which I found in the free magazine Schrot & Korn at an organic food store called Basic?!


Banana Bread


  • 120g raw cane sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g yoghurt
  • 75ml oil
  • 4 very ripe, peeled bananas (about 380g)
  • 100g roughly chopped dark chocolate
  • 100g roughly chopped whole milk chocolate
  • 100g roughly chopped walnuts
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • 200g flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt

Mix sugar, vanilla sugar, eggs and yoghurt thoroughly. Add oil while stirring. Mash bananas with a fork and mix in well.

In a seperate bowl mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add chocolate, walnuts and hazelnuts. Stir flour mix into sugar mix, but not too wildly.

Line a cake tin with baking paper and fill in the dough, even it out.

Bake in the middle of the oven at 180°C for 60 minutes, Let cool for ten minutes before taking out of the tin. Eat warm and enjoy!


My variations:

I tried this with various chocolates and nuts and found you can vary the ingredients quite a bit. I used white chocolate instead of dark and liked it even better. I used chopped almonds instead of walnuts or hazelnuts and am planning to use Brazil nuts next time. So, basically you can use whatever chocolate and nuts you have at hand. It will always turn out great.

Make sure you chop the chocolate really only very roughly. That way you will have chunks of chocolate inside instead of tiny little flakes.

I never even used an electrix mixer but just a cooking spoon to mix ingredients. Worked fine!


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend cooking: iPhone edition

OK, until very recently I have been anti-Apple. I admit it. Then my Android phone turned out to be total crap and useless. So I needed a new phone and had a choice between some Symbiant thing and an iPhone (Android being out of the question for good).

I grudgingly ordered an iPhone and have become an Apple convert since. Enough said!

This is my weekend cooking iPhone edition with fun and/or useful foodie apps.

  • Coffee counter app for iPhone. Totally cute and useful for the coffee addict.
  • Evernote food app to keep track of what you eat, where and everything else you might ever want to remember about any given meal. If you are an Evernote user and a food lover this is great for you.
  • Sense Cooking, a cooking simulation game where you have to cut ingredients into halves, spread oil in a pan evenly, guess amounts of water etc. It is supposed to train your sensory motoric skills and sounds like fun.
  • Foodmeter tells you how healthy a certain type of food is, complete with nutritional facts.
  • Easy temperature converter for your recipes with foreign temperatures
  • Learn how to make Sushi with the Sushi Cook

Have you got or do you know of any cute, neat, practical iPhone apps that are food related? Link us up, please!



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Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. For the other weekend cooking posts please go there.


Weekend cooking: Stollen

My 24 days of Christmas

Stollen In my last weekend cooking post someone mentioned "Stollen" in the comments. Reason enough for me to talk about this traditional Christmas cake a little more.

The first time Stollen was officially mentioned was in 1329 as a Christmas gift for a bishop. However, at the time, they were meant for the Christian advent fasting and therefore only consisted of water, yeast and oil. Probably not very enticing!

At the end of the 15th century the pope sent a "butter letter" which allowed to use butter for Stollen, in return people had to pay a monetary fine which was used for the construction of the Freiburg cathedral. A Saxon baker had later the idea to improve the Stollen with richer ingredients, like for example candied fruit. Dresdner Stollen label

The most famous Stollen is the "Dresdner Stollen" from the city of Dresden. Just like with "Nürnberger  Lebkuchen" "Dresdner Stollen" is a protected designation of origin. It has to contain at least 50% butter and 65% raisins (referring to the amount of flour). Stollen used to be called "Striezel" in Dresden, and this is what gave the name to the famous Christmas market in Dresden, the "Striezelmarkt". In 1730 August the Strong had a Stollen baked that weighed 1.800 kg and was divided into 24.000 pieces. This event is the origin of the annual "Stollenfest" at the Striezelmarkt.

Nowadays a lot of bakeries bake their own version of Stollen. Each tastes a little different and varies in ingredients. Some bakers add marzipan, almonds, poppy, nuts, quark, chocolate or they leave out the fruit. Instead of soaking the raisins in rum, they soak them in champagne or wine. There is no limit to the creativity of German bakers.

Now, if you would like to try to make your own Stollen, I have found a Stollen recipe online that sounds rather nice. It is a marzipan Stollen, my favourite kind. I can’t vouch for the recipe though, as I would never make a Stollen myself. Going to the next bakery and buying one is just so easy!

Images: Stollen by su-lin at flickr, label by sludgegulper at flickr.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend Cooking: Lebkuchen

My 24 days of Christmas








It has been a while since my last weekend cooking post. Today I want to tell you a bit about Lebkuchen (gingerbread). As it happens I live in THE German gingerbread city. “Nürnberger Lebkuchen” are very well known, they are exported into many countrie, and the term is a protected designation of origin. We have a lot of Lebkuchen bakeries and factories in town. There are small family owned bakeries that have existed for centuries as well as big companies that produce Lebkuchen as part of their very large product line.

Lebküchner, 16th century Lebkuchen come in a large variety, different sizes and can cost from only a few cents to a few Euros a piece. They either have no frosting at all, a sugar frosting or they come covered with chocolate. At the bottom they either have a wafer or  they are also covered with chocolate. There are the “regular” Lebkuchen and the very high quality “Elisen-Lebkuchen” which are made with either very little or completely without flour. They can contain ginger, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, honey, marzipan, aniseed, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, all spice, cloves, candied orange and lemon peel and much more. The oldest written Lebkuchen recipe is from the 15th century and is stored at the Germanic National Museum in Nürnberg.

You can go on a Nuremberg gingerbread tour where you learn a lot more about those delicious little “cakes”.

If you would like to try out some Nürnberg Lebkuchen yourself, you can order them online in various shops. I was surprised at the prices that American online shops charge for them, though. You will be better off orderingLebkuchenstall directly in Germany, even considering the postage charges. Probably the most well-known shop shipping worldwide is Lebkuchen Schmidt. My company buys from them for Christmas treats, so you can trust me that their products are lovely. And they have nice tins, too. For kids the Janosch-Truhe is a lovely container to store some treasures in after eating all the Lebkuchen. All those tins come out every year, always a little different and some people collect them. 

My favourite Lebkuchen brand is Witte & Ray. They not only have the best regular Lebkuchen, they also have wonderful Elisenlebkuchen with a white chocolate icing that are absolutely yummy.

What are your favourite Christmas treats? Have you ever had Lebkuchen from Nürnberg, and if you have, did you like them?

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Images from wikipedia. Gingerbread stall by Schlurcher


Weekend cooking: Apple butter in the crock pot

Did you notice that cool new button? I got that one from Caite at a lovely shore breeze. Her niece made it and I love it.

As you all probably know by now I am the new owner of a slow cooker and am pretty enthusiastic about it. The other day my mom gave me cooking apples from a relative’s garden and I was looking around for ideas what to do with them. I found this recipe for apple butter in the crock pot. USA-kulinarisch, by the way, is a great site for people in Germany, who are looking for information about US food. It gives you tips on where to order it online, how to convert measurements, how you can substitute products that you can’t find, offers recipes etc.

apple_butter I am sure you all know apple butter, but I didn’t. I had never heard of it and only a search on the net revealed that it actually IS known in Germany under the name “Apfelkraut” (ugly name, that!). It seems to be more popular, however, in the Netherlands and Belgium.

From the pictures I found on the net apple butter is normally smooth, but mine turned out quite chunky. I suppose I could have used a blender afterwards, but I like chunky, so I left it that way.






Apple butter in the crock pot


  • 1.5kg apples, peeled, cores removed and cut into slices
  • 400g sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 200ml apple juice or cider
    Fill the crock pot with apples. Mix spices with sugar, add to the apples and mix thoroughly, add apple juice. Cook on “low” for about ten hours. If the apple butter is a bit too liquid , cook a little longer on “high”.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Image from flickr user stetted, frame N Rowe Janitz 


Weekend cooking: Sweet potato cheesecake

In my last weekend cooking post I already told you about Annik’s divine cakes and gave you the recipe for a super easy cake made from puff pastry.

Today I finally MADE something myself from the book and it turned out rather fantastic.

It is called “Sweet potato cheesecake” and takes a bit of time, but it is worth it.


Sweet potato cheesecakeannikskuchen


For the bottom: 

  • 120g wholemeal butter cookies (the regular wheat flour kind looks like the one on the picture on the right)
  • 70g walnuts, chopped roughly
  • 80g sugar
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 60g liquid butter

For the filling:Butterkeks

  • 400g sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 255g sugar
  • 700g cream cheese, the fatty kind
  • 200g Mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tiny pinch of ground vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp corn starch

For the coating:

  • 300g sour cream
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 pinch ground vanilla

For the icing (I left that away):

  • 70g caramel candy
  • 2 tbsp cream


    0. I started with making a pot of coffee to keep me awake. As you know I am not a passionate baker.
    1. For the bottom grind the cookies finely or crumble them up in a freezer bag. Roast the walnuts in a pan without any oil or fat.
    2. Mix cookie crumbs, nuts, sugar and molasses and add the liquid butter. Stir until everything is humid. Spread evenly on the bottom of the round baking pan and press down firmly.
    3. For the filling peel and cut the sweet potatoes into cubes. Boil them in a pot with water and a bit of salt and 1 tbsp of sugar until soft.
    4. Drain the water and mash potatoes. Use 300g of the mashed sweet potatoes. Eat the rest, it is yummy! Heat up the oven to 130C.
    5. Mix cream cheese and mascarpone in a bowl with your hand mixer at medium speed. Add sweet potatoes, 240g sugar, molasses, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Then add the eggs and at the end corn starch. Once you add the eggs only mix until homogenous. Otherwise the batter will be too airy, would rise too much and then collapse again.
    6. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on the bottom of the cake. Bake 60 minutes at 130C. After that the cake should still move a little in the middle when you push against the edge of the pan. It will get completely firm when it cools down.
    7. Before the end of the baking time, mix sour cream, vanilla and sugar until smooth. Spread on the baked cake and bake another 5 minutes. Turn oven off and let the cake sit in there for another two hours. Do not open the oven if possible! Take out and let cool down at room temperature.
    8. For the caramel icing grind the candy and melt in a pot together with the cream at low heat while stirring all the time. To decorate, spread over the cake with a little spoon.
    Cookie image from wikipedia. Photo template from pugly pixel.

Weekend cooking: Super fast and easy cake

I found this wonderful baking book in the library the other day. As you might know I am neither a talented nor a passionate baker, but this book brought my baking spirit to (a theoretical) life. I must admit, I haven’t baked anything out of it yet, but I am planning to copy quite a few recipes. The book covers simple cakes to complicated, multi layered masterpieces and makes your mouth water. annikskuchen

It is called “Anniks göttliche Kuchen” (Annik’s divine cakes). Annik  Wecker is the wife of a well-known German musician and a baker who creates and produces cakes for bakeries and private customers.

As we are all pressed for time and busy with all sorts of things at home and at work I chose to introduce you to the simplest and fastest cake Annik knows. It is called “Puff pastry tarte with fruit” and looks and sounds delicious.

Puff pastry tarte with fruit


  • 1 pack of puff pastry from the cooling rack of your grocery store (270g)
  • 1 egg
  • 40g grated almonds
  • 500g fruit, cut into pieces or slices according to your taste
  • 80g sugar

Heat the oven to 200C. Roll the pastry onto your baking tray. Cut off a 1cm wide strip all around. Whisk an egg and brush it onto the edge. Put the cut off strips on top of the edge and brush with egg as well.

Cover the pastry inside with almonds evenly and place the fruit on top. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the fruit and the edge. Bake 25-30 minutes. 

Annik says it is easy to vary, make it round or cornered or in small pieces. You can use almost any sort of fruit you like. Sometimes she sprinkles crumbled amarettini on top of the fruit (plus the sugar) or a mix of sugar and cinnamon or coconut flakes or little slices of almonds…. the possibilities are endless. 


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend cooking: 50+ recipes to help

I don’t know whether you have heard about this cookbook already or not. “50+ favorite bloggers – 50+ favorite recipes” is a collection of favorite recipes from bloggers that looks pretty awesome, sounds delicious and is for a good cause. 100% of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross, and the price for the book is a real 50+ recipesbargain.

The book costs $10 as an e-book or $10 + postage as a printed book, not much at all. When I think about all the delicious dishes that I heard about through my weekend cooking fellow bloggers I think this cookbook would be a very good investment.

You can have a look at all the pages of the book at Papercoterie, where you can also order the print edition (I am sorry to say I haven’t figured out how, though. The shop’s buying system eludes me). The e-book can be bought at a separate website called “recipes to help“ built specifically for that purpose. Recipes include for example “indoor s’mores”, “peach cobbler muffins”, “the perfect cream cheese frosting” (you might remember my cry for help some time ago), “stuffed French toast filling” and many many more.

Check it out!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Cookbook image from recipes to help.


Weekend Cooking: Dinner for Busy Moms by Jeanne Muchnick

dinner_for_busy_moms Blurb:

How do you improve your family’s health and relationships, save money, and raise happier kids who get better grades and are less likely to do drugs? Family dinners! These easy strategies will get your family back to the table.

In a nutshell:

I liked it:     Yes       No    x  So so

For people who: want to get their family around the table to eat, but are totally clueless about anything even remotely cooking related. 

My thoughts: 

This book is for the absolute beginners. If you have cooked for a family for some time and have something that looks somewhat like a family life then you are probably already too advanced for it.

Let’s look at some of the things this book explains:

  • It describes the situation as it is in a majority of households
  • It describes the advantages of family meals
  • It gives tips on how to accomplish a family dinner
  • It offers tips what kids of all ages can do to help in the kitchen
  • It offers time saving tips
  • It suggests how to organize the pantry
  • It tells you how to construct a shopping list and how to shop
  • It helps you to plan weekly meals
  • It talks about must haves for the kitchen
  • It tells you how to deal with likes and dislikes of kids of all ages
  • It gives you sanity savers for yourself
  • It offers a few recipes & web resources
    In fact it tells you many things that the average reasonable person knows. I mean, come on, who doesn’t know that a home cooked meal around the dining table is healthier than having a TV-Dinner lounging on the couch while watching a cartoon?
    The manifold advantages of a freezer? Check. How to store seasoning? Check. Reading food labels before buying is recommended? Check. Cheaper stuff is in the lowest aisle? Check. Buying in bulk when on sale? Check. Using coupons? Check. I am not saying that this book is useless. Not at all. If you are a woman who just had her first kid, who has never cooked for more people than two, who only ever defrosted her dinner in the microwave, go ahead and read this book! It is a useful resource for how to organize your kitchen and your family meals. If you are an experienced mother, but still feel you are wasting hours or a fortune in your kitchen, likewise. If those criteria don’t apply, then don’t bother!
    The recipes are ok, but nothing too fantastic, the web resources might be useful now, but given the short lives of websites, the list might be outdated in six months. Both could have been left out without any regrets, I am sure.

 Product info and buy link :

Title Dinner for Busy Moms
Author Jeanne Muchnick
Publisher Plain White Press
ISBN 9781936005000
I got this book from Netgalley because I am – among others –  a busy mom
Buy link Buy Dinner for Busy Moms


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads






 Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.


Weekend cooking: Apricot jam with chocolate

I love making jam at home. No, I love having my bread baking machine make jam for us.

This week I got two books from the library with recipes for making jam, one of them is the one you see below (sorry, it is German).


It has so many delicious recipes in it I didn’t know where to start. So I started with what I had at home and made apricot jam with chocolate. Actually, that recipe is not even in the book, it gave the recipes for either raspberry-chocolate jam or strawberry-chocolate jam, so I adapted them a bit for my purposes.

The result is more than yummy!

Here is my recipe (only a small amount, I don’t make jam to last 5 years for a family of ten):

Apricot-chocolate jam

  • 600g apricots, without stones and cut up into small cubes
  • 300g jam sugar (2:1)
  • a bit of lemon juice
  • 100g chocolate, grated to flakes (I used less than the recipes said)

jam1Set the chocolate aside. Make jam from the remaining ingredients as usual (I just throw everything into my bread baking machine and wait until it beeps. When it is done and gels, add the chocolate flakes and fill them into the containers, put the lid on, turn them on their heads for a few minutes. Let cool down. Enjoy!

For labels I used the wonderful round labels by Cathe Holden. I normally put them on the lid, because they cover whatever is on the lid and they fit perfectly. On her blog Just something I made Cathe shares a lot of great designs to use for your craft projects. Check her out!


Weekend cooking: Crock pot, first experiences

A few weeks ago I asked about what crock pot to buy since I am a total newbie when it comes to slow cookers. After taking to heart everything you told me and after carefully balancing expenditure and required features I went for a British make, Morphy Richards. I ordered it in the UK since the price there was, even with postage, much better than in Germany.

It is large, oval, has three settings and a removable pot. The only thing I didn’t get was the digital thingy, but it just was not worth the added expense in my eyes.

This is my new baby:



And this is it in real life (and bigger):


First experiences:

  • Inaugural dish was Beans Bourguignon (spelled wrongly, but that didn’t matter).  It was quite nice, but I think I need to know more about the amount of liquid in a dish. Somehow it was a tiny bit too much for my taste.
  • The next day it was Vegetarian Crockpot Layered Dinner. Can you tell I am excited about my new baby? The family ate it and liked it but I was not at all pleased with the soy sauce taste. Somehow it didn’t work for me. Next time the soy sauce has to go.
  • Then I felt I needed a timer to try out the oatmeal. Not that we couldn’t make porridge really quick after getting up, but I wanted to see what it’s like in the slow cooker. And, of course, I didn’t want to get up at 5 am to turn the thing on. As it turned out, the timer worked fine (cheapest thing in the shop, cost me €4,00) and the porridge was OK, but gooey and somewhat rubbery. Porridge made fresh at 8am on the stove is definitely better.
  • Now my favourite so far…Slow cooker vegetable curry from BHG. I had to adjust the recipe quite a bit because, believe it or not, I had no curry powder, but I had kurkuma, garam masala and what not, so I just tossed a few of those Indian spices in there. The second time I added some ginger and cardamom, also fine. The tapioca I left out, this is no pantry staple over here, so it goes without saying I didn’t have it. I didn’t have green beans, so I took zucchini instead, and I didn’t use tomatoes, but tomato puree. So, in fact, this is a completely different recipe. But it worked out well.

Since I liked the curry best I went and bought The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. That book is going to be the topic for another weekend cooking post though.

My verdict

All in all I am more than pleased with the slow cooker concept. It is time saving and practical; you can do other things all day, smell your dinner getting ready and then sit down and eat without slaving over the stove. Perfect! Thanks everybody for your advice!


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend cooking: Elder blossoms


A couple of weeks ago we went to the annual Elder Blossom Festival elder_blossomin one of the surrounding villages. The specialty there are deep fried elder blossoms. Not that they are anything too delicious, they taste like, um, deep fried something, but it sure is a nice and romantic idea. This is what the dish looked like:


At the festival the drink of choice would be either elder water or elder liquor. Elder water is quite tasty and has a certain flavour that I had never met before. At the same time it is very refreshing. It’s the perfect drink for hot days when plain water just isn’t good enough.

I had a look around for a recipe and found a very simple one. This is not for syrup that needs to be diluted later, but this is ready made to drink.

Elder water


  • 7 large elder blossoms
  • 5 l water
  • 250g sugar
  • 3 untreated lemons

Boil water with sugar and pour over elder blossoms. Cut lemons into strips and add to it. Let rest over night. Pour through a very fine sieve and bring to a boil again. Fill up into bottles.

Some recipes add a little bit of vinegar. I suppose this depends on the personal taste.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Elder blossom image from flickr.  


Weekend cooking: Crock pot – what to buy?

This week I have no ideas or recipe to share, but rather have some questions. In the last months I have read quite a few posts about crock pots or slow cookers.

I must admit that I had never heard of slow cookers before and nobody else I know has one. They are not too popular or common in Germany (or maybe I just know the wrong people).

It seems a very convenient way to cook, so I decided to get one for myself. The first (and only) source – apart from some dubious sellers – is amazon. I looked around and found a rather small selection. crockpot_amazon

There are only two brands, it seems, that are worthwhile looking at, Morphy Richards and Crock Pot. Never heard of any before. Do you know them? Which brand do you have? Which do you prefer? Are there any differences at all (except maybe the price)?

Then there is the size. There are 3.5l (3.7 quarts) and 6.5l (6.87 quarts) pots available. 3.5l sounds small to me, is that big enough for a family of four? If I want to cook to freeze some on top of what is being eaten right away, do I need a 6.5l one?

I am clueless as to what to buy! Can anyone help me out and give me a few tips?

Your advice is much appreciated.

Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish reads.  


Weekend Cooking: Zucchini Bread

Judith’s last weekend cooking post about carrot cake reminded me of a delicious vegetable cake I discovered a number of years ago.

The recipe was in an issue of Papercrafts magazine, in an article about foodie gifts and their decorative wrapping. It was interspersed with a few recipes, one of them was by Stacy Croninger for a “Zucchini Bread”. It sounded very nice – and easy, so I gave it a try right away and have made it ever since.


Zucchini Bread

Ingredients (for 2 loaf pans)

  • 3-4 eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups finely grated zucchini
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar

Mix eggs, sugar, oil and zucchini well. Add additional ingredients and mix well again. Fill into the loaf pans. Bake at 150C for about one hour!

That’s it! Enjoy!


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Zucchini image by graibeard @flickr


Weekend cooking: Sweet Lasagna

I got this recipe at a Tupperware party. If you like noodles and desserts, the combination of lasagna noodles, peaches, curd cheese (German: Quark – not the same stuff as the cheese curds discussed previously) and cream is definitely worth trying out. It is easy, quick and serves a lot of people.




Sweet Lasagna


  • 3 eggs
  • 75g Sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar
  • 300ml cream
  • 500g curd cheese (Quark)
  • 1 lg. can of peaches (or fresh peaches, but preferably without the skin)
  • lasagna noodles

Cut the peaches up into small chunks, the juice is not needed.

Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla sugar and cream. Add curd cheese. Add the peach chunks.

Layer noodles and the filling in a dish. I always finish with a layer of filling.

Bake in the oven at 175C for about 45 minutes.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend cooking: Cream cheese frosting recipes anyone?

Cupcakes have only recently come into fashion over here. No, not even into fashion, it’s more like that they have come to our attention. Most people are happy with a muffin, any add-ons and luxury ingredients would be considered almost extravagant.


However, the other day I found a baking mix for cupcakes and decided to give those little treats a try.  They turned out quite well and were quite delicious, even though they were fairly plain.


The frosting was especially nice and I would like to recreate it myself (it was made with some powder mix from the package and cream cheese and a very small amount of butter). I had a look around for a recipe for cream cheese frosting and there was an insane amount of them. So I thought I’d ask you whether you have a favourite recipe for cream cheese frosting that you could point me to. Is there a secret ingredient that makes it especially good?

Hot cross buns

Cupcakes made and eaten, this weekend I am trying to make hot cross buns, a sweet fruity bun traditionally eaten on Easter. Not that we are religious in the least, quite the opposite in fact, but who doesn’t like a sweet bun with raisins? I looked around for a recipe and found one by Nigella Lawson whose recipes I trust 100%. Just look at the look of the buns on the wikipedia site and Nigella’s! Which ones would you rather eat?

Happy Easter!


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend cooking: Carol’s Beef enchiladas, veggie style

In one of the latest weekend cooking posts Carol posted a recipe for beef enchiladas. They looked so delicious and sounded so nice that today I decided to prepare them, just a little different – vegetarian style.

Enchiladas filled with nothing but enchilada sauce and a bit of cheese would be a bit boring and not very filling, so I used small flakes of soy (I am not sure that this is what they would be called in English, in German = Sojaschnetzel) to replace the minced meat. They are first soaked in vegetable broth and then fried in a pan, just like the meat and are a great substitute. Other than that I followed the recipe and it turned out wonderfully.

We were enthusiastic about those enchiladas; I will definitely add Carol’s recipe to our family’s favourites.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend cooking: Cookie of the Day

I suppose I can be forgiven that I only recently discovered Martha Stewart’s website. Over here she is not at all known, so even though I have heard about her I was never particularly interested.oatmeal_crisps Since I sort of stumbled across her site I am a huge fan. I subscribed to various newsletters, including the “cookie of the day” one.

There have been some great recipes coming into my mailbox, one that I immediately tried out are the Oatmeal Crisps. They are so easy to make, take only about 30 minutes from start to finish and are so good. Don’t they look delicious stacked like that?

Mine below don’t look quite so yummy, but were very nice nevertheless.

 oatmeal_crisps3 oatmeal_crisps2

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend cooking: Conversion made easy

I am sure I am not the only one who sometimes struggles with recipes from US cook books or websites. In Germany we don’t use ounces, cups, sticks of butter or Fahrenheit, so it is difficult to exactly convert the measurements without the help of online tools or their bookish equivalents. Difference engine

So, for my own benefit as much as for anybody else’s who is not in the US and uses another system I compiled a list of websites today that will convert just about anything to anything.

I hope it will come useful to all my fellow non-US cooks.

Conversion tools

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Image of the difference engine by drmatiz at


Weekend cooking: Zingerman’s guide to good eating


One of the first weekend cooking posts I read was by Caite where she talked about Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating by Ari Weinzweig. It sounded so good and mouth watering that I had to get it for myself. The subtitle of this book is “How to choose the best bread, cheeses, olive oil, pasta, chocolate and much more”. Who wouldn’t want to know how to do that?


Indeed, the book is a very comprehensive guide to various types of food. It tells you everything about it, where it comes from, how it is grown/produced/made and how to tell the good from the bad. The book is well structured and comes with a lot of background info in neat little boxes and sidebars. I like the whole concept of it.

The foods that are covered are:

  • Oils, olives & vinegars
  • Grains and rice (bread, pasta, polenta, Italian rices, Spanish rices, wild rice)
  • Cheeses (Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cheddar, mountain cheeses, blue cheeses, goat cheeses)
  • Meat and fish (Prosciutto, Serrano ham, salami, smoked salmon)
  • Seasonings (Pepper, sea salt, saffron)
  • Honey, vanilla, chocolate, tea

Every section also provides a number of recipes, some very easy, some more complicated. I am going to share an easy one that still is delicious and great “to go”.


Spanish fried egg “sandwich”


  • 2 tbsp fruity extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 slices crusty country bread
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet. They will bubble around the edges, making them crisp. Break the yolks with a wooden spoon and spread them over the whites a little and cook until set, 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the bread and brush it with the remaining olive oil.

Place 1 egg on each slice of bread and sprinkle with salt and plenty of pepper. Serve hot.

Suggestion: Wrap them and take them with you for a brown-bag lunch.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Caite at A lovely shore breeze


Weekend cooking: 3-minute-muffin

I am totally excited about this recipe! My husband stumbled upon on it and forwarded the link to me. It is by no means a gourmet recipe, just a very regular muffin, no finesse and certainly no skill is needed to do it. BUT – it is tasty, it is extremely quick, kids love making it and you need no oven and no dishes, bowls, measuring devices, just a table spoon, a mug and a microwave.




  • 4tbs flour
  • 4tbs sugar (possibly a little less sugar if you don’t like it super sweet)
  • 2tbs cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 3tbs milk
  • 3tbs oil

Mix flour and sugar in the mug. Add cocoa, stir (1). Add egg, stir (2). Add milk and oil, stir. Put mug into microwave and heat up for ca. 3 minutes at max. power (I used 800W, the most my microwave will do). Stop when muffins stops rising (3). Eat with spoon straight out of the mug. Enjoy!

  muffin2 muffin3


You can find the original recipe (or at least the one that we found) here

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend cooking: Imam bayildi Greek style

Greek Cookery: 300 Traditional Recipes ” looks like the cookbook that they produce for tourists and sell in every tourist shop in Greece. It is published by a company called Greco Card Ltd. that also publishes postcards, calendars, posters and other tourist items. The cover photo looks a lot like a stage rather than a real restaurant. greek_cookeryHowever, the book is nicely done and covers many recipes, a lot of them vegetarian. Very helpful, not only for the recipes in this book, is a little chart with oven temperatures in Celsius, Fahrenheit and gas mark.

The following recipe is for a rather famous Turkish dish called “Imam bayildi” (“The imam fainted” – I assume from sheer delight) Greek style. There must be hundreds of different recipes for it out there, this is a fairly simple one.

Melitzanes Imam bayildi


  • 1.5 kg aubergines / eggplants (long and narrow type)
  • olive oil for frying
  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 0.5 cup olive oil
  • 500g onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • pinch of sugar

Clean and wash the aubergines and make cross-shaped incisions on them. Lightly fry the whole aubergines. Heat the oil in a pot and sauté the onions. Add tomatoes, peeled and put through a food mill, the garlic, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes. Stuff the aubergines with the onion mixture. Place them in an ovenproof dish and pour the remaining sauce over them, adding a little water. Bake them in a moderate oven (according to the chart 180-190 C or 350-375 F) for approx. one hour. This is a dish usually served cold.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend Cooking: Lentil-Vegetable-Pie

I finally got over my weekend cooking slump. Here is a recipe I found in a German food magazine. It sounded so delicious and looked so great that I had to try it out immediately.

It is called lentil – vegetable – pie and is perfect for vegetarians.  




Lentil – Vegetable – Pie


  • 500g mixed root vegetable (e.g. carrots, celery)
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp demerara sugar
  • 125ml red wine
  • 150g lentils (the recipe calls for Tellerlinsen, no idea what that is in English; I used red lentils)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml vegetable broth
  • 300g potatoes
  • 500g sweet potatoes
  • salt
  • thyme
  • 4 eggs
  • pepper
  • 50g Cheddar cheese
  • 2 egg yolks


1. Peel vegetable and cut into 1 cm large cubes. Cut onions into 0.5cm wide half rings. Chop garlic. Heat oil. Steam onions in medium heat. Add vegetable and cook for 5 minutes while stirring. Add garlic, tomato puree and sugar. Cook for a little while. Deglaze with wine and let it reduce almost completely. Add lentils, tomatoes and broth. Let it boil up and then simmer for 45 minutes at small heat.

2. Peel potatoes and sweet potatoes and cut into cubes. Boil potatoes in salt water for 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and boil for another 15 minutes.

3. Add thyme leaves to the lentils after half of the cooking time. Boil eggs for 10 minutes and peel them. Cut them in halves.

4. Season lentils with salt and pepper and put evenly into a baking pan. Distribute eggs on top evenly. Drain potatoes and let them cool down a bit. Press them through a potato ricer. Add cheddar, then egg yolk. Salt slightly. Put on top of lentils and even out with a spoon.

5. Bake at 220C in the middle of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool down for 10 minutes before serving.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Weekend cooking: Italian homemade bread

For one of my Thursday 13 posts I was looking for an image of bread and came across one at Stock Exchange. The photographer had not only posted the picture but also gave the ingredients to make the bread. Not that it was complicated anyway, just a basic yeast bread. But the bread looked yummy and I thought how hard can it be to make bread out of four ingredients.

So I made it the same afternoon and it turned out quite lovely. There, stock photo sites can even broaden your cooking horizon.

Italian homemade bread


  • 500g flour
  • 30g fresh yeast
  • 300ml water
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • I added: some salt

bread1 Just prepare a yeast dough as usual, after letting it rise, form some balls –they don’t need to be particularly round or even –, put them on a tray and let them rise a bit more. Then bake in the oven. I baked them at about 200C for ten minutes and at 170C for another 25 minutes. Someone suggested to put a pot with water at the bottom of the oven to make the bread more crusty.



bread2 The bread did turn out quite crusty, but I don’t know whether it wouldn’t have anyway, even without the water.







Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads