Asking for Help – Social Media and Hotels

Ah, it’s Monday again. A new working day is starting. This also means that I need to work on my bachelor thesis again. I kind of slipped it in a post every now and then, especially when I hadn’t been as active as I wanted to be.mondayThe deadline for my thesis is coming closer and closer, and I am getting more stressed and anxious. It’ll be alright in the end, when I have finally handed it in. Firstly however, I am in desperate need of your help.

For my research, I have created a survey which aims to identify the impact of social media on the decision for a potential guest to book a certain hotel. As you lovely readers are all social media savvy, I am humbly asking you to fill out my survey if you have the time.

It is focused on 4- and 5-star hotel guests, so if you have ever stayed in either one of both of those, then I would definitely want to know about your experiences!

If you want to help me in my research, just click right here for the survey. I will be forever in your debt.

Thank you so much!!!!

Sweet Sunday – Maple Syrup Chocolate Cake

Sweet Sunday is here! It’s been two quiet weeks, I’ve been spending this week sick in bed and haven’t cooked or baked anything. Yeah, it’s been quite boring. However, I did watch the whole first season of How To Get Away With Murder in 1.5 days, so I’ve got that going for me. Seriously though, if you haven’t watched it, do it now, it’s sooo good and nervewrecking.

Anyways, back to business. I’ve mentioned that I was working on a somewhat healthy recipe in my previous post. You see, a friend of mine is studying Nutrition & Dietetics, which I am highly interested in as well. So I called in her knowledge to help me convert a normal Chocolate Cake recipe into a more healthy one. (She also makes incredibly awesome bracelets and rings. All handmade! Check her page here!)



During our talks, I have learned so much! For instance, did you know that honey and agave syrup are not per definition better or healthier than sugar? Your body absorbs the sugars in the honey and sugar the exact same way as it does the regular sugar. So, it’s not better per se to substitute sugar with honey. However, the whole process of your blood absorbing the honey or syrup is more gradual than with regular sugar. This means that you will be less inclined to eat more when choosing honey or syrup.



My first test cake was made by substituting the butter with chia seeds and the sugar with banana. Although I am still completely in awe of the way chia absorbs water and what those little seeds can do, this was not a great recipe. It taste like cocoa powder and like cocoa powder only.

Next try, chia seeds and apple butter. This was actually not too bad. I’ll definitely share this recipe with you too in the future! 

The winner was this one though: made with sunflower oil and maple syrup. Yeah, I know, the maple syrup still has sugar in it and all that. But the big difference is that these are natural sugars, which your body can process without any problems. There are no funny additions, it’s just syrup. Sunflower oil is great for you as it has fatty acids (good for your heart), Vitamin E (great for your skin), and rich in atioxidants. A lot better than butter.



As you can see on the photos, this cake is moist, wonderfully risen and has a subtlety and aroma of the maple syrup. Although it’s a chocolate cake, and rich in flavour, it is not a heavy cake. The Greek yogurt that is also incorporated in the batter for extra moisture, is combined with maple syrup to top the cake off. Pomegranate seeds provide some crunch and colour.



In short, a perfect cake for when you need something sweet, something chocolatey, and something comforting.

Enjoy your day!

Maple Syrup Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 156 ml (5.4 oz) sunflower oil
  • 131 ml (4.6 oz) maple syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 125 grams (1 and 1/8 cup) self raising flour
  • 50 grams (4/8 cup) cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • Optional: greek yogurt and maple syrup, pomegranate seeds

Used kitchen appliances

  • Oven
  • Cake tin of 17 cm diameter
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Wooden spoon

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C or 356F. Grease the tin with a bit of sunflower oil.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the sunflower oil and maple syrup until combined. Add one egg at a time, whisking after each addition.
  3. In another bowl, sieve the flour, cocoa, and baking powder, and combine.
  4. Add the flour to the oil mixture, and stir until combined. Add the two tablespoons of yogurt and combine.
  5. Transfer to the tin form and bake for 20-25 minutes in the middle of the oven. Check to see if it’s ready if a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Optional: combine greek yogurt with a splash of maple syrup, spread over the cake and top off with the pomegranate seeds.

5-Minute Homemade Hummus

Where do I begin to explain my love for hummus? It’s creamy, it’s nutty, it’s spicy, it’s starchy. What is not to love?

To make this wonderful chickpea dip even better, is that you can easily make it yourself! Just grab a food processor, mix all the ingredients, and you’ll be ready to eat in just 5 minutes!

My favourite thing about hummus, is that it incorporates cumin, which is a typical Middle-Eastern spice and my all-time favourite. Whenever I smell it, I imagine standing in the middle of an Arabic souq, my senses going crazy due to all the beautiful colours I see, the various spices I smell, and the murmur of the many people I hear.easy and quick homemade hummusFun fact: The first recorded recipe for hummus has been found in an Egyptian cookbook from the 13th century!

Another ingredient which is particular for Middle-Eastern cuisine, but not yet so familiar in Western kitchens, is tahini. This is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. The word tahini is derived from the verb to grind. It’s a versatile paste, most often used in other recipes. However you could actually serve tahini as a spread or dip as well!easy and quick homemade hummusAs you might know, hummus is actually quite a healthy dish as well! Due to the chickpeas, the dip has a good amount of protein and fiber. The sesame seeds (which is the main ingredient of tahini) contain something called a methionine, which is an animo acid that us humans cannot produce ourselves, thus we have to get it via our food. Also, the sesame seeds actually complement the protein intake of the chickpeas.

easy and quick homemade hummusServe the hummus with grilled pita bread, as an accompaniment to falafel or as a dip with veggies. Or why not alongside the delicious Imam Bayildi, or the Bulgursalad


5-Minute Homemade Hummus

  • Servings: 1 bowl
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 400 grams of canned chickpeas
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 8 garlic cloves (more or less to your liking)
  • 160 ml lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

Used kitchen appliances

  • Food processor with the blade attachment

Preparation

  1. Place all ingredients in the food processor. Mix until combined.
  2. Season to taste. Add some more lemon juice if the mixture is too thick.
  3. Serve with some extra cayenne pepper and fresh parsley (if you’d like)

Tomorrow You Will Wish You Had Started Today

Ah, it’s been quiet over here at Basil and Oil this last week. Life (mainly sleep deprivation) caught up on me once again. I’ve been struggling with my thesis, how to fit in my gym sessions, when to socialize, when to take time for myself. It’s been busy in my life and my head.

However, I have been doing some recipe testing, for a healthy chocolate cake with a dear friend of mine! So that goodness is coming your way soon!

Also, I have been hinting at it on Twitter the past weeks… But I’ve baked something extra special for when I reach 200 followers on the blog (only 12 left! help a girl out!)! I also did this when I gained my 100th follower. Back then, I made an Autumn Coffee Cake, which if you’re living in The Netherlands is still highly applicable. Rain and wind, be gone!

I just want to bake something special, as a token of my love and appreciation for all you sweet people who find my blog worthy enough to be followed. You rock!motivation quote

Finally, I have signed up for the A-Z challenge! Basically, this challenge means that in April, I will be posting every single day. Yeah, I know. Although I am thoroughly excited, there’s also a part of me that is utterly scared, seeing the fact that I am not a big star in planning and organizing. But I aim to better myself, and have already started on writing some posts. I will announce the main theme for my A-Z Challenge in the next couple of weeks, when I am a 100% sure about it!

So that’s enough about me for today.

Have a nice day and an even better weekend!

Sweet Sunday – M&M Cookies

Happy Sweet Sunday!

How was your Valentine’s Day? Or did you celebrate Galentine’s Day just like me? This might be the best thing to have been created in response to a holiday. Celebrate your lady-friends just like they do in Parks & Recreation. Amy Poehler, you perfect human being, what a great day to think of. parks and recreationAnyways I hope you have all had a lovely week, and are prepared for the next one. For this, I can give you a helping hand with these M&M cookies, which are there for you on Monday when everything goes wrong, and will probably not be there on Friday as they will be devoured three days before.

M&M cookiesAmong the ingredients of these cookies are cane sugar and golden syrup, which give them a texture that’s stickier than those of other cookies. Also, the ingredients add that perfect taste of sweetness, which is not too overpowering, yet so satisfying. M&M cookiesThese cookies would be scumptious on their own, but the addition of the M&M’s just adds that extra crunch which makes it irresistible.M&M cookiesEnjoy your Sunday!


M&M Cookies

  • Servings: 16 cookies
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 115 grams (1/2 cup) softened butter
  • 110 grams (1/2 cup) cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175 grams (3/4 cup) self raising flour
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup) M&M’s without peanuts

Used kitchen appliances

  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Hand mixer or food processor
  • Sieve
  • Mixing bowl

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C or  356F.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl until soft. Add the syrup and the vanilla and mix.
  3. Sieve half of the flour over the butter mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon. Add the M&M’s and the rest of the flour. Keep stirring until combined and sticky.
  4. Roll the dough into 16 balls and place on the baking sheet. They will spread out during baking, so be sure to leave enough space in between.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Store the cookies in an airtight container for 5 days.

 

 

 

 

 

Stamppot – Mashed Potatoes with Kale and Sausage

First of all…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

eleventh doctor

My actual dancing represented by the 11th Doctor.

Yay, I’m one year older. Again. I have got to admit, contrary to my past belief, I’m not that great at this getting older thing. Mainly because I still feel like a 9-year old sometimes. Funny story which will totally back this statement: yesterday, I accidentally took a sip of cleaning detergent instead of the mouthwater I was aiming for. It took me at least half an hour to get the impossibly gross taste out of my mouth. Not a smart move, Lisa, not a smart move at all.

So yeah, I just turned 9 years old (actually 22, but shh)! All those years ago, when I did turn 9, there was only one thing that I wanted to eat on my birthday. It’s the tradition in our family – as in many others I believe- that whoever is the birthday person (or party pig as we say in Dutch) can decide what we have for dinner. Also, they don’t have to do any chores that day. You can imagine that this is indeed the best day of the year when living with five people and two cats!mashed potatoes with kale and sausage

Anyways, my standard birthday dinner would be something not so festive at all. Namely, a Dutch Stamppot. Mashed potatoes with kale and rookworst (I talked about this in the Dutch Pea Soup post). That was my absolute favourite dinner ever. No fries and hamburgers for me, but traditional ole Stamppot.mashed potatoes with kale and sausageSo, that’s what I decided to have for my pre-birthday dinner yesterday as well! Good times.

As everyone knows, mashed potatoes are incredibly easy to make. In this recipe, I particularly love the creaminess of the mash, combined with the crispy kale and crunchy bacon. It’s a simple dish with the best of several worlds! I am one happy birthday girl!mashed potatoes with kale and sausage

If you want to make it super classic Dutch, go buy some pickled onions (I loooooove pickled onions)! It’s a staple product in the Dutch kitchen, and served with basically any mash that we make! Also, picallili is a perfect condiment with this Stamppot!


Stamppot - Mashed Potatoes with Kale and Sausage

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 kilo potatoes
  • 600 grams of kale
  • 250 grams of diced bacon
  • 2 rookworsten (or any other sausage that you like)
  • 200 ml milk
  • Butter

Used kitchen appliances

  • Large pan
  • Frying pan
  • Potato masher

Preparation

  1. Peel the potatoes, cut them in smaller pieces. Add them to the pan filled with enough water to cover the potatoes. Top it off with as much kale as you can fit in the pan. Bring to the boil, and leave to boil for about 15-20 minutes, adding more kale as it’s slinking.
  2. In the frying pan, cook the bacon on a low heat.
  3. Prepare the sausages according to the package or bake them in a pan (depending on what kind of sausage you chose).
  4. When the potatoes are cooked through, take off the heat. Add the milk and butter to the pan, and mash until combined. Season to taste. For a creamier texture, add more butter. For a somewhat less dense mash, add more milk.
  5. Serve with the sausage, piccallili, pickled onions, and mustard.

Note: To make this mash vegetarian, leave out the bacon and sausage. To have some crunch, you could replace the meat with cashewnuts!

Imam Bayildi – Stuffed Eggplant

Imam Bayildi is a Turkish recipe, that reminds me of those perfect days in the Mediterranean with the most beautiful dishes I’ve ever tasted. This stuffed eggplant is literally one of my favourite dishes. The easiness of the cooking process, the intense depth of the flavours, the simplicity of the ingredients; they all add up to the perfect end result. imam bayildi stuffed eggplantThe recipe originates from Turkey, and is basically a stuffed eggplant. However, it has a pretty amazing story behind it. The tale centers around a Turkish imam. His wife had prepared this particular dish for him. Upon tasting the great flavours, he supposedly fainted. Imam Bayildi translates to “the fainted imam” in English. There are other versions of this story: the imam did faint, but only due to the cost of the ingredients. I prefer to believe the first version, as I got close to that feeling as well when eating this simple stuffed eggplant.imam bayildi stuffed eggplant

Eggplant to me is truly an ingredient of the southern regions of Europe, and the Arabian cuisines. For those who have ever made the Greek mousaka, the preparation of the Imam Bayildi might seem quite familiar. The main common denominator is the olive oil. You are going to need loads of it. The eggplant needs to soak up all the deliciousness that is in the oil. I’d definitely recommend to use extra virgin olive oil for this recipe, just because the flavours and aromas are even more intense.


Imam Bayildi

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1,5 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 185 ml (3/4 cup) (extra virgin) olive oil
  • 2 eggplants
  • 3 onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 400 grams (14 oz) canned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • Fresh parsley (as much as you’d like)
  • 35 grams (1.2 oz) currants
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: feta cheese

Used kitchen appliances

  • Oven
  • Baking dish
  • Large pan with a thick bottom

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 180C or 365F. Heat half of the olive oil in the pan. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Cook them in the pan on both sides for about 10 minutes, or until the inside is golden brown.
  2. Take the eggplant out of the pan, and spoon some of the pulp out of them. Keep the skin intact. Finelky chop the pulp and set aside.
  3. Slice the onions. Heat the remaining half of the oil in the same pan, and cook the onions for 10 minutes on a low heat.
  4. In the meanwhile, finely chop the garlic, and the parsley. Add the garlic to the pan and leave to cook for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, oregano, parsley, currants, cinnamon, and the eggplant pulp to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes. Season to taste.
  6. Place the eggplant halves in the baking dish. Fill them with the tomato-mixture.
  7. Cover the dish with tin foil, and cook for 30 minutes in the oven. After that, remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes. Optional: sprinkle over some feta cheese.

Serve with rice, bread and tzatziki, or a simple green salad. Or try it with this flavourful Bulgur Salad.

Note: You can easily prepare this dish in the morning, and cook it in the oven for dinner.

Traditional Dutch Pea Soup

It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s slippery.

Although I am a big fan of winter, it doesn’t seem like we have any proper ones in The Netherlands anymore. Sure, it’s colder than usual, but we haven’t had a decent pack of snow in years. The last time I was able to skate on natural ice was about 3 years ago. And that’s what winter should be like. Not this fall kind of stormy weather. I do not like it.dutch split pea soupDue to the wind and rain, I sometimes need a little pick me up. This comes in the form of split pea soup. Or snert as we call it in Dutch. Honestly, a recipe doesn’t get any more Dutch than this. It’s one of those traditional classics that just never seem to go out of fashion, as there’s always this wet weather which calls for comfort. Also, it incorporates one of the true Dutch ingredients: rookworst. Basically, this translates to smoked sausage, and it’s what we eat with our mashed potatoes every winter.dutch split pea soupThe pea soup is quite thick, and very filling. But oh so, comforting. The flavour is so earthy, and basic, yet so layered. Besides that, it’s incredibly easy to make. Just boil the peas along with the bacon and pork steak. After about 1 hour, you add the rest of the vegetables, the smoked sausage and some herbs. Leave to boil for another half hour, and you’re done!

dutch split pea soupTraditionally, we serve it with rye bread and smoked bacon (or katenspek in Dutch). Rye bread really is something else though. Personally, I just cannot eat it, I thoroughly dislike the sour taste, but there are tons of people who adore it. If it’s your first time eating Dutch Pea Soup, definitely try to have the rye bread as accompaniment for the full Dutch experience!


Traditional Dutch Pea Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 500 grams (17.6 oz) split peas
  • 1 pork steak (shoulder part)
  • 250 grams (8.8 oz) bacon
  • 1/2 celeriac
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 potato
  • 1 smoked sausage (rookworst)
  • 20 grams (0.7 oz) celery leaves
  • 20 grams (0.7 oz) parsley
  • Optional: rye bread and smoked sliced bacon

Used kitchen appliances

  • Large soup pan

Preparation

  1. Boil the split peas in 2 liters of water along with the pork steak and bacon. Let it simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour or until the peas are cooked through.
  2. In the meantime, dice the celeriac and potato, and slice the leeks. Chop the celery leaves and parsley. Add the vegetables, 3/4 of the herbs, and smoked sausage to the pan when the peas are done. Take out the pork steak, and remove the bone. Chop the meat and put back in the pan. Let simmer for another 30 minutes.
  3. Take out the smoked sausage and bacon, and slice. Add them to the soup. Season to taste.
  4. Top it off with some chopped herbs. Serve with the rye bread and smoked bacon slices.

Note: it might be that the split peas available in your supermarket need to soak in water overnight. Check this with your vendor, or the instructions on the package.

Sweet Sunday – Chocolate Chip Muffins

Goodday, my lovely readers!

It’s time to bring some sweetness in your lives! As I’ve been craving chocolate for days, I’ve decided to do something about it.

The result? chocolate chip muffinsChocolate Chip Muffins. Hungry yet?

As always, I try to make my sweet recipes just a tad bit healthier by not adding butter or using white flour. Same with this one. It incorporates whole wheat flour, which makes the muffins denser than with white flour, but also leaves you with a more satisfied feeling. You can still eat them all if you’d like, there’s no judgement here at Basil and Oil.chocolate chip muffinsThere’s cocoa powder in the batter to give the muffins a subtle chocolatey flavour. But the showstopper has to be the chocolate chips. Slightly melting in the oven, they provide a surprise element while eating the muffins.

What I love about making muffins, is that the end result doesn’t have to be pretty. It’s easy to make, and it actually adds to the charm if there are some lumps and uneven tops after taking them out of oven. I’d like to call this rustic baking.chocolate chip muffinsAre you in need of even more chocolate? I’ve got you covered! Try the crunchy Chocolate Peanut Rocks or classic Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Enjoy your chocolate Sunday! 


Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients

  • 360 grams (1 and 1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 360 ml (1 and 1/2 cup) milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 100 grams chocolate chips

Used kitchen appliances

  • Oven
  • Cupcake tin
  • 12 cupcake liners
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium mixing bowl

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C or 400 F. Line the cupcake tin with the liners.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder in the large mixing bowl. Add in the chocolate chips, and stir.
  3. Beat the egg together with the milk, sunflower oil, and vanilla in the medium mixing bowl.
  4. Transfer the milk mixture to the large mixing bowl, and mix until combined.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners with the batter. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Note: if the batter becomes too dry during mixing, add some more milk so you’ll get a pourable batter.

 

 

Pizza con Verdure – The Easy Way

The title says it all. Although this recipe is a lot less fancy than it actually sounds in Italian. Basically, this is one of the pizzas I make after a long day of work when I’m way too tired and lazy to prepare anything.

It’s not often that I use something ready made. But for these pizza crusts I do not mind to make an exception. You can buy them in the supermarket, toss anything on that you like, pop it in the oven, and finito!pizza con verdureBesides the easiness, I love the fact that I can fully customize my pizza. Most of the time I put any veggies that I happened to have, or any meats that are left over. It’s a great way to use up all the “old” ingredients in your kitchen.

pizza con verdureWhat are your favourite pizza toppings?


Pizza con Verdure

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 pizza crust with tomato sauce
  • 1 bell peper
  • 1 red onion
  • Handful sundried tomatoes
  • Handful capers
  • Grated cheese
  • Handful of rocket lettuce

Used kitchen appliances

  • Oven
  • Pizza cutter

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C or 390F.
  2. Slice the bell pepper, onion, and sundried tomatoes.
  3. Scatter them over the pizza crust, along with the capers. Sprinkle over the cheese.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.
  5. Top it off with rocket lettuce and olive oil.

Note: if you can’t find any pizza crusts with tomato sauce, you can find the recipe to make the sauce right here