Three Days in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam Canals

The first time I visited Amsterdam was about 6 years ago... ouch, that makes me feel really old. It was during my Christmas break, the year I taught English in Madrid, and it was one of the coldest winters in Amsterdam, or that's what people told me or maybe what I told myself?! All I know is that it was so, so lovely and magical because it was snowy and bright and I stayed right by the Christmas market. I honestly didn't venture much further than that immediate area and the museum area because it was cold and that's where all the mulled wine, poffertjes, yummy pastries, and art was. Side note, I def worked hard on adding that extra winter "layer" that year. Anyway, this time around, I really didn't know what to expect other than lots of bikers and gorgeous canals. And guess what, I wasn't disappointed!!

Day 1

I was immediately reminded of how small and walkable Amsterdam center is and how wonderful that is. And after I almost got run over by a biker and Moses almost got run over by a couple more, sorry biker men and women of Amsterdam!, I also remembered that the bikers have the right of way! We started our first day down the street from our Airbnb in the Nine Streets, at Pancakes! Amsterdam, and loved every last bite of my thin, savory, Dutch pancake. Post pancakes, we hit up Rijksmuseum (don't miss that library, it's epic) and Moco Museum before grabbing freshly made stroopwafels and fries covered in piccalilli sauce. The stroopwafel guy told us how his family's the only one making stroopwafels from scratch, so we felt like we went to the right spot (Original Stroopwafels). All fueled up, we shopped our hearts out on the Nine Streets and ended our night at an Indonesian restaurant called Tempo Doeloe (get the rice tables!!). 

Original Stroopwafels at Albert Cuyp Market

Original Stroopwafels at Albert Cuyp Market

Back view of Bloemenmarkt

Back view of Bloemenmarkt

Library in Rijksmuseum

Library in Rijksmuseum

Library in Rijksmuseum

Library in Rijksmuseum

Deep dish Dutch apple pie from Winkel 43

Deep dish Dutch apple pie from Winkel 43

Fresh baked bread at Noorder Farmer's Market

Fresh baked bread at Noorder Farmer's Market

Rooftop of the NEMO building

Rooftop of the NEMO building

Day 2

Another thing we learned was how good the coffee was in all the little in store coffee shops versus actual cafes (not smoke-smoke puff-puff coffee shops) . Our favorite was the coffee shop in Rapha (the bike shop) and they actually had almond milk!! The guys in there were so rad and warm and made a really good latte! After grabbing our morning cup, we walked over to Winkel 43 for their epic deep dish Dutch apple pie and more coffee. Holy mother is that pie good and it's really good for breakfast too! Post "breakfast" we shopped around Noorder Farmer's Market for ingredients to make dinner and then headed back to our Airbnb. We also stopped by the best little grocery store nearby our flat called Marqt. Make sure you stop in when you're in town cause it's awesome. In the afternoon, we visited the Anne Frank Museum, which was a very emotional experience. Staying in and making dinner together felt like the best choice after that, so that's what we did. :)

taken from the canal cruise

taken from the canal cruise

Moses taking in the city view atop NEMO

Moses taking in the city view atop NEMO

Canal view

Canal view

Lunch at Baut & Dreesmann

Lunch at Baut & Dreesmann

DAY 3

On our last day in Amsterdam, we checked out Aussie eatery, Bakers and Roasters. What's rad about Amsterdam is that there's a lot of diversity when it comes to food. You can find everything from Indonesian, to Japanese, to Italian, to everything in between, including Aussie style breakfasts! After breakfast we walked up to the top of the NEMO Science Museum for coffee and a great view. Random awesome fact, it's the highest city square in the Netherlands! And to even it out, we hopped on a boat for a different perspective! I can't remember how many canals there are in Amsterdam, but I know it's a lot, and a canal cruise is a great way to see the city and to get around. We got off our boat right around Bloemanmarkt (the floating flower market) and grabbed lunch at a cute popup called Baut & Dreesmann. Post lunch, we shopped around nearby before hopping back on the boat and heading home to our Airbnb for leftovers. The original plan had been to go to Restaurant de Kas, but we waited too long to snag a reservation, so that gorgeous greenhouse dinner will have to happen next time we get back! 

*Would have been on our list but was booked, so we stayed in and ate leftovers

NEMO Science Museum

NEMO Science Museum

Canal view

Canal view

Pancakes at Pancakes! Amsterdam

Pancakes at Pancakes! Amsterdam

Channeling my inner Harry Potter at Pancakes! Amsterdam

Channeling my inner Harry Potter at Pancakes! Amsterdam

Sun setting over the canals

Sun setting over the canals

Moses capturing a canal scene

Moses capturing a canal scene

Biker riding home

Biker riding home

PS - You can download a copy of our itinerary here

Fluffy Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

Midweek wins: holly and pine trimmings have been picked up and placed in the perfect spots (by Moses) in our apartment, all of Moses' birthday presents are ordered and should be delivered before his birthday on Saturday (fingers crossed), bangs/fringe were trimmed on Monday (I can see again), and my Christmas pjs arrived and are actually and shockingly the perfect length (thanks J.Crew for showing petites some love)! Other wins worth mentioning: I won my Fantasy matchup for the week, beat my alarm yesterday (not today tho), and I made these super quick and easy and FLUFFFY pancakes from my girl, Adrianna's new A Cozy Coloring Cookbook!! 

Do you feel like you're not a coloring book kind of person? Maybe like you don't know why adults love coloring so much nowadays... well I was more or less in the same boat until this book came into my life. Guys, coloring is so fun. And it's calming, and seeing those pages colored in is weirdly super gratifying. And then pair that with the fact that this book's got 40 fun and simple recipes to go with all those beautifully, newly colored pages! Well, as if I didn't have enough gift ideas, now I want to buy this book for all my family and friends. And maybe a really rad set of color pencils. Ok, definitely with a really good set, cause guys I have 24 colors and trust me, that's not enough. Oh well, at least I've got pancakes! ;)

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FLUFFY LEMON-RICOTTA PANCAKES

Reprinted with permission from A Cozy Coloring Cookbook

Makes 9-10 pancakes

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

TOOLS

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large glass measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Large skillet
  • Spatula

FIX

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, ricotta, egg, lemon zest, vanilla, and butter. Add to the flour mixture and stir just until combined.
  3. Grease a large skillet and heat over medium-low heat. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet. Cook in batches, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  4. Serve and enjoy (with lots of maple syrup)!

2016 Gift Guide

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I have been blasting Carey, Bublé, Crosby, and, *Nsync since before turkey day, but it is finally beginning to look and feel like Christmas. According to Instagram Stories, all trees have been picked up and all halls have been decked, except for ours. And even though this is one of my favorite times of the year, I felt a little tinge of Grinch creeping in and a tiny bit Scroogy, and vowed that I would not be decorating, gifting, or baking this holiday. Which is shocking, and really only lasted till last night, when I pouted and declared it did not feel like Christmas around here (mind you, I said this while Ella Fitzgerald was singing about Frosty). So as of today, we are on a mission to deck the apartment out. Meanwhile, I owe everyone who's asked about this year's 12 days a huge apology because sadly, that still isn't happening. I promise I'll share a few holiday goodies to make up for it, starting with a guide to all my favorites. I have and love each and every one of these pieces, and you better believe many of my friends and family members have found some or many of these items under their trees!

Staub Essential French Oven

Staub Essential French Oven

Farmhouse Pottery Cheese Stone

Farmhouse Pottery Cheese Stone

KitchenAid® Artisan Mini Stand Mixer

KitchenAid® Artisan Mini Stand Mixer

Williams-Sonoma Bread Board

Williams-Sonoma Bread Board

Vitamix 7500

Vitamix 7500

Williams-Sonoma 10-Piece Glass Mixing Bowl Set

Williams-Sonoma 10-Piece Glass Mixing Bowl Set

Crow Canyon Home Jelly Roll Pan Tray

Crow Canyon Home Jelly Roll Pan Tray

Peugeot Paris U'Select 7-inch Pepper and Salt Mill Set

Peugeot Paris U'Select 7-inch Pepper and Salt Mill Set

Vollrath No.30 Disher

Vollrath No.30 Disher

Poppin Ruler

Poppin Ruler

Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Baking Bars (64% cacao)

Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Baking Bars (64% cacao)

Dansk Kobenstyle Saucepan

Dansk Kobenstyle Saucepan

Hay Branch Trivet

Hay Branch Trivet

Best Manufacturers 8-inch French Whisk

Best Manufacturers 8-inch French Whisk

Emile Henry 9-inch Pie Dish

Emile Henry 9-inch Pie Dish

Vermont Farm Table Handmade French Taper Rolling Pin

Vermont Farm Table Handmade French Taper Rolling Pin

Hario Ceramic Coffee Dripper

Hario Ceramic Coffee Dripper

Hario Buono Pouring Kettle

Hario Buono Pouring Kettle

Blue Bottle Blend Box

Blue Bottle Blend Box

Shun Kanso 7-inch Asian Utility

Shun Kanso 7-inch Asian Utility

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Molly On the Range

Molly On the Range

Florentine

Florentine

Easy Gourmet

Easy Gourmet

The Food Lab

The Food Lab

Ruhlman's Twenty

Ruhlman's Twenty

Scandinavian Comfort Food

Scandinavian Comfort Food

Juniper Books Cook's Books Set

Juniper Books Cook's Books Set

Small Victories

Small Victories

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

Alternative Baker

Alternative Baker

The year of Cozy

The year of Cozy

Plenty More

Plenty More

Shinola The Canfield 38mm Watch

Shinola The Canfield 38mm Watch

Rebecca Minkoff Julian Backpack

Rebecca Minkoff Julian Backpack

Miss Jones Baking Co. Bake it Easy Sweatshirt

Miss Jones Baking Co. Bake it Easy Sweatshirt

Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm

Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm

Janessa Leone Vincent Felt Hat

Janessa Leone Vincent Felt Hat

Paul Green Jillian Booties

Paul Green Jillian Booties

& Other Stories Striped Shirt

& Other Stories Striped Shirt

Warby Parker Glasses

Warby Parker Glasses

Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfume

Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfume

Topshop Moto Borg Lined Denim Jacket

Topshop Moto Borg Lined Denim Jacket

Levi’s Wedgie Icon Jeans

Levi’s Wedgie Icon Jeans

Catbird Threadbare Rings

Catbird Threadbare Rings

Cardamom Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream

Hope you all had an epic Thanksgiving holiday! I'm hoping you dog showed it up, ate lots of turkey, Black Friday'd or Small Shopped Saturday'd (if you're in that), binged Gilmore Girls, and generally relaxed. And speaking of Gilmore, can we talk about it? I know, I know, spoilers, so if you want to talk about it, email, text, FB/IG/anything message me. I'm sitting here like, wait I kinda, sorta, really hated Winter, Spring, and Summer, and then WTF Fall and it's over. And now, I just want to talk about it. Lol, but really, so get at me.

Speaking of Gilmore Girls, CUPCAKES. Because cupcakes cure all, right? Especially when they come straight out of what I like to call one of the greatest baking books of the year, Sarah Kieffer's The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. Sarah is pretty much the queen of baking, so anything she says or does, I'm like yes. Her book is all about everyday favorites and reinventing the classics and I'm all about it. Take these cupcakes for instance. Her method of dropping in the butter piece by piece into the dry ingredients vs. straight up creaming it, both scared and intrigued me, and in the end,  I said, 'yes, queen, anything you say' and ran with it. Of course, my cupcakes came out perfectly light and fluffy with the perfect crumb. And then, her brown butter buttercream, has both heavy cream and cream cheese and is pretty much the creamiest non-meringue buttercream on the planet. Gold. I'm obsessed with this book and bottom line, I think Sarah's a genius. 

Ps - We (Moses and I) are scheduled to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter tomorrow and I'm so excited I'm not sure I'll sleep tonight. Ok, who am I kidding. Of course, I'll sleep (and nine hours, no less) but YAYYYYY.

Pss - I shared these cupcakes with the front desk staff and security of my building, and they were gone in less than a minute. I think there were about 10 of them. Everyone loved them so much they took a second or third, or "share". :D

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CARDAMOM CUPCAKES WITH BROWN BUTTER BUTTERCREAM

Reprinted with permission from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

Makes 24 - 25 cupcake

INGREDIENTS

CUPCAKES

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. sour cream
  • 1/4 c. buttermilk
  • 2 c. (284 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c. (297 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks; 227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

BUTTERCREAM

  • 1/2 lb. (2 sticks; 227 g) unsalted butter, cold, for browning 
  • 1/2 lb. (2 sticks; 227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 oz. (57 g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 c. (452 g) confectioners' sugar

TOOLS

  • 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Stand mixer
  • Wire cooling racks
  • Light-colored, heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan
  • Rubber spatula
  • Offset spatula

FIX

CUPCAKES

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place liners in two standard 12-cup muffin tins. 
  2. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk.
  3. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cardamom on low until combined. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles a coarse sand. With the mixer still running on low, slowly add half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds (the batter may still look a little bumpy). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times. 
  4. Fill each up a little more than halfway full. Tap the pans gently on the counter 2 times each to help get rid of any bubbles. Bake 16 to 20 minutes, until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Gently removed cupcakes from tin and place on the rack, and let cool completely. Once cool, the cupcakes can be frosted.

BUTTERCREAM

  1. Melt the butter in a light-colored, heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Swirl the butter around with a rubber spatula as it melts and starts to bubble. When it starts bubbling, increase the heat to medium and keep stirring the butter until it boils and begins to foam, 3 to 5 minutes. It will smell nutty and you'll start to see little brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring, making sure to gently scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula as you do. Ad this point, the butter will begin to quickly change from light brown to dark to burned, so keep a close eye on the pan. Once it is golden brown, remove from the heat, and pour the butter and any bits or flecks on the bottom of the pan into a heatproof, freezer-safe bowl and let cool for 10 minutes. Then place the bowl in the freezer and let chill until solid, about 30 minutes (you can also put it in the fridge to cool, but it will take a bit longer). When the butter is solid (but not frozen!), transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle.
  2. Add the remaining 1/2 pound of butter to the brown butter and beat on medium until smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium until smooth and creamy. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and mix on low to combine. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar and beat until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, 6 to 8 minutes. Using an offset spatula, spread the top of each cupcake with a heaping layer of buttercream.

Notes: I'd recommend browning the butter before you start baking your cupcakes. Also, I used a disher, size 30, to mound 2.5 ounces of buttercream onto each cupcake.

Cheese Camp with Vermont Creamery

Remember that time I went to Vermont for Cheese Camp with Vermont Creamery? And then I promised I'd tell you all about it, but then went on a million trips and didn't? Well, let me start by saying, prior to my visit in August, I was a Vermont virgin and was not prepared for how gorgeous and sprawling it is. Even though it's clear across the country and the Pacific, it reminded me of Hawaii in a lot of ways. The air felt so clean and crisp, and all I could think as we drove around (long distances on one-lane roads) was how do I live here? Of course, I was there in August when it was 80°F and sunny, not 40°F and dropping, so that may have played a role, but... rather than delving further on that, let's focus on all the magic of Cheese Camp in Vermont with a rad crew of babes: AyseKristenKateAmandaCarey, and Krissy.

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The camp kicked off in the best way possible, starting with a tour of Vermont Creamery's facilities, where we learned all about the history of the company and how fresh and aged goat cheese, butter, and créme fraîche are made. Joey, who supervises the aged cheese, walked us through the many steps of his process while keeping us entertained with an endless stream of jokes + mad knowledge. He even let us scoop curds, which was easier said than done. I've got a new-found appreciation for curd scoopers--that's tough business! 

After all the learning, we were treated to an epic lunch spread, cheese tasting, and some end all mascarpone-swirled brownies (scroll on down to droll over 'em) made by Betsy, who is both a ray of sunshine and my baking soul sister. I still dream about those and should probably, definitely make some this week. We spent the afternoon at the home of Vermont Creamery co-founder, Allison Hooper. We were immediately "Hoopered," which can basically be defined as being welcomed with open arms by her entire family. Don, Allison's husband took us hiking through their sugaring trees. We hung by the pool whilst sipping Stonecutter Spirits cocktails, gorged on a feast fit for kings prepared by our amazing "camp counselors" Betsy, Kara, and FM, and ended the night with a bonfire. 

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During my visit, I had such a wonderful experience discovering the depth and how many people are involved in the cheese-making process along with Vermont Creamery's engagement with the community. The education continued on through the second day... We headed over to Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, to learn the importance of starting with the best milk possible, and of course, to pet baby goats—Eeeee they are so cute! I about died and was tempted to figure out how to get two extra plane tickets (goats like to hang in pairs) home when I saw them. We picnicked in Woodstock then spent the afternoon with Farmhouse Pottery, for a tour that lead to making our very own pieces!! I made a shallow bowl, which I'm way too proud of, that is prominently displayed in our apartment.  Zoe and James, owners and founders of Farmhouse Pottery, have the most enviable aesthetic and create pieces you can build your home around. I loved spending the afternoon, crafting and learning from the talented team there. The day ended with a lovely meal at NECI (New England Culinary Institute) on Main, with a Vermont Creamery themed menu (each dish had something VC!).

On our final day of Cheese Camp, we treated to some cooler weather, it even rained! We toured Citizen Cider, where all ciders are made from locally sourced apples and without added sugars. After their team dropped some dope scientific cider distilling knowledge on us, they treated us to a cheese and cider pairing lunch, where we enjoyed the fruits of their labor (literally, lol). And just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, we headed over to Shelburne Farms, a farm and non-profit organization, which also happens to make crazy good cheddar cheese. They toured us through the farm and spoiled us with trays of perfectly braised, roasted, and/or pickled veggies (grown there, of course). We met baby brown Swiss cows, mini donkeys, all the chickens, sheep, and I saw my first chipmunk ever (ohemgee, it was so cute). We learned about sugaring, and then ended the day at their Inn with a ridiculous decadent meal and a gorgeous sunset. Pretty much the best way to end Cheese Camp!

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If you're a Vermont Creamery newbie and looking for a good place to start, honestly you can't go wrong with any of their products. I'm a huge fan of all of their cheeses but if I had to go top three, I'd say their newest cheese, St. Albans, is up there along with Bonne Bouche, and Bijou! And of course, they make the best crème fraîche, their mascarpone is aces, and I'm obsessed with their cultured butter. It's an honor and great privilege to work with brand that I admire and respect both inside and out. If you've got any questions, don't hesitate to shoot 'em over! This post was not sponsored, though Vermont Creamery did host me for their first annual Cheese Camp! Oh and if you want to read more bout Cheese Camp, check out Ayse's post!