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Archive for July, 2012

And so it is finally here. The 2012 Olympics!!!!!!

I love watching the Olympic games. Unfortunately everything else around me has to take a backseat during these weeks of competitions. The routine and organization around the house and my time keeping go out the window. In the morning you can tell which people in the subway and at work has been up all night watching the games.

In my house we have three teams to route for; Sweden, USA & of course S:t Lucia. It is great to have “choices”. But ultimately of course, I will sit and cheer for the Swedes. Sorry, but I have to do it.

I think there will be lot’s of “take outs” and “sandwich or non-cooked” dinners going on around the world.

Or, you could do as I do, prepare multiple meals ahead of time. I cook weekly meals and just pop them in the micro wave or the oven. It is all about speed & simplicity during sports events, right??

And, to make sure we last through our days, here are some home-made “Olympic Power bars” and some Trail mix for all of us.

Just a little note. I have used a whole lot of different berries, fruits and nuts in both the power bars and the trail mix. You really don’t have to do that. It is just that I have so many different kinds in the house that I have the luxury of using such a variety. For example, for the power bars It is just as good to only use raisins, oats and almonds if that is what you have at home.

Enjoy the games!! May all your favorite (or all the Swedes) win!!!

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Home made Power bars.

Makes about 14-18 bars.

1 c. old fashion oats.

1 c. dried fruits & berries. I used a mix of dried cranberries, bananas, pineapples, figs, blueberries & mangoes.

1 c. of chopped nuts. I used a mix of hazelnuts, raw cashews, pecans & almonds.

1/2 c. dried coconut flakes or shredded coconut.

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon.

2 tbsp. chopped Gojji berries. (This is not necessary, but I always have it in my food pantry so I used it.)

1/2 c. low or non-fat greek yoghurt.

1 tsp. ground ginger. Fresh or dried. (optional).

1/2 -1 egg (optional).

1-3 tbsp. good tasting honey. 

Dark chocolate (optional).

Directions;

Chop up nuts, fruits & berries. Add to a bowl. Mix in the coconut, honey, yoghurt, and all the rest of the ingredients.

If you add the egg, they become more chewy and dense and a little bit more “baked”. But, the egg keeps the bars better together.

I have made both with and without the egg. I actually prefer without.

Add the mixture to a parchment paper lined large pan. Spray the paper with cooking spray so it is easier to get it out after baking. Make sure to press the mixture down and distribute it well into corners all around.

Bake in a 350 degree oven (fahrenheit) for about 25-30 minutes, or until you see it is drying up very slightly at edges.

Take out of the pan and put on a cutting board. Cut perfect squares. Add them to a drying rack. Let the bars cool down and dry out a little.

If you would like to, melt some dark chocolate and dip one end of the bars into it. It looks really good and professional.

Well, that is really it. These bars are great to keep around the house.

Store them in air tight containers.

Enjoy!!!

Trail mix.

To make your own trail mix, you just need to mix nuts, dried fruits/berries & seeds together.

It is healthier if you use “raw” nuts. Not toasted.

Use any amount you would like too. Just remember to balance it with somewhat equal parts nuts and fruits/berries.

I used;

Dried mangoes, bananas, cranberries, apricots & blueberries. Cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds.

Cut up the dried fruits & berries if needed. Mix all of it together. Portion it into small “snack bags” for easy access for when you are “on the run” or just a big air tight container.

Enjoy!!

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At home, we have huge cruise liners going between Sweden & Finland. It is a little “tacky” to go on these boats, but everybody does it. We go to buy tax-free alcohol and candy. One usually goes on a 24-hour one or a shorter day trip.

A big thing with these boats or should I call them by their real names, cruise liners, is to go and eat the buffet. There are a couple of “sittings” and you need to plan it well. I love this buffet because they have tons of shrimp.

I have a system for it though. One should not eat any bread, potatoes, meatballs, hotdogs or other simple and filling food. The key is to go for the Swedish shrimp, smoked salmon, caviar and stuff like that. Like my head “buffet eating” coach (mother) would say, “Potatoes I can eat at home…”.

One can eat a lot of shrimp in one sitting. It is all about not feeling any shame that the other passengers will get less (You snooze you lose.)  After all, it is their choice to eat ribs, potatoes and meatballs…

When I come home to Sweden, I eat shrimp and seafood almost for every meal. Can’t get enough of it. It tastes different for some reason. Fresher and cleaner. It might just be my imagination though.

If I had to choose between lobster & shrimp, I would choose shrimp every time.

Here is a recipe of a shrimp dish I make all the time. I just start the marinade when I get home from work and have dinner ready in 20 minutes. Fast and furious.

Grilled Shrimp with Quinoa rice.

Serves 4.

1 1/2-2 lb uncooked shrimp. Any kind.

1/2 c. of quinoa.

1/2 c. of rice. (I prefer Basmati rice but any kind is fine)

2 c. water.

1 stock cube. I use chicken stock.

1/2 bunch of cilantro. Chopped up well.

1 lime.

2 tbsp. Mirin.

2 tbsp. Soy sauce (low sodium if possible)

1/2 – 1 fresh hot pepper (optional)

Directions;

Put the uncooked rice & quinoa together in a fine meshed sieve and rinse very well. (If you only have a regular sift, just rinse the rice since the quinoa will slip through the holes in the sift.)

Boil up 2 c. of water with the stock cube.

When the water is boiling add the rice and quinoa. Take down the heat to very low. Boil for about 20 min. or untIl ready. Scrape with a fork when ready to let it “air out” and mix well.

Add the Mirin, Soy sauce, the zest from the lime, the lime juice, finely sliced pepper & chopped cilantro. Add the shrimp into mixture. Let marinate for 20 minutes. You could also make this a little ahead and let marinate for a couple of hours.

When the rice is ready, heat up a grill pan or a regular skillet on high heat, (make sure the fan is on since the grill pan usually is a little smoky to use.)

Take all the shrimps from the marinade and put them in the grill pan. Grill a minute or two on each side. They are ready when they are all pink and feel firm to touch.

Serve right away with the quinoa rice.

You can make a dipping sauce with the same kind of ingredients as you used for the marinade. (Note- Don’t use the marinade you just used since it had fresh uncooked shrimp in there.)

Enjoy!!

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You know how you sometimes would like to make a pretty and impressive dessert but don’t really feel like putting in the time???

Well, look no further. Here is a super easy and a really beautiful dessert that would impress everybody.

Always try to keep some puff pastry in the freezer. It has saved me many times.

If my guests would give me some warning, I defrost it over night in the fridge. If no warning, you can defrost it in the micro wave. Just be careful not do defrost too much so that the puff pastry looses it’s flakiness.

Either you use that every so handy cookie cutter, a regular pastry cutter or why not just a knife, to cut out a preferred shape.

Put your cut out shapes onto a cookie sheet. Parchment paper or silk mat.  I love using the silicone silk mats. They are perfect for almost all baking. Things do not stick and they are easy to clean (bonus round right there).

You can make this any time a year. It works for summer just as well as for Christmas, Thanksgiving or any other occasion.

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Puff Pastry Berry delicious.

1 package of frozen puff pastry.

1 egg.

Powdered (confectioners’) sugar.

Heavy cream/whipping cream.

Fresh Berries. I used blueberries and raspberries.

Jam. I used a Blueberry jam.

Sprigs of mint for decoration.

Directions;

Unfold the puff pastry. Cut out any desired she and put them onto a lined cookie sheet.

Brush lightly with an egg wash (wished egg).

Bake in the oven at 400-450 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool on a rack.

Whip the heavy cream and mix it with a great tasting jam.

When the puff pastry shapes has cooled down, cut them length wise in half. Fill it with the whip cream jam.

Place them on a serving dish. Place berries all around. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

That is actually it super easy. 

Enjoy!!!

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You might have noticed that so far, I have not posted one single chicken dish.

The reason is, my husband doesn’t like chicken!!! Yes, you read it correctly. He doesn’t eat chicken.

To tell you the truth, before I met him, I had never met anyone that didn’t like this fantastic little bird.

I love chicken. There are so many things you can do with it. But, It is not fun to cook one thing for the family and another for him. So, I stay away from chicken.

But, every now and then, it has happened that I made something out of chicken or turkey and pretended it was pork…ooops. For example an enchilada. If you mix it up and slap a lot of mexican spices into it, one could easily make the mistake of thinking it was pork, right??? I have gotten away with it. I guess until now, since the cat is out of the bag.

Something I have always loved, is lavender. We have a big pathway full of lavender in front of our house. In the summers, we also go out to long Island and visit a lavender farm. It is fantastic, so beautiful. I dry the flowers and make little lavender sachets. I also make my own “Herb de Provence” mixture since I grow and dry lot’s of other herbs.

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Lavender Chicken.

Serves 4.

1 Whole chicken. If possible, organic.
2 tsp. of dried lavender flowers.
1 tsp. orange zest.
1 tsp. lime zest (optional)
1 orange, cut into slices.
A couple of sprigs of rosemary.
1/2 tbsp. of honey.
Salt & pepper.
Directions:
Put the chicken in an oven safe dish. Rub a little salt on the chicken.
Mix the lavender flowers, orange zest, orange slices, lime zest (optional), honey and rosemary sprigs (save a couple for the top of the chicken) together and put into the cavity of the bird. 
If possible, tie the chicken legs together for a better looking result.
Add the rosemary sprigs on top of the chicken. Sprinkle a couple of lavender flowers and squeeze over some orange juice over the chicken.
Bake the chicken in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour or a little bit more. Make sure to let it bake until golden brown. The chicken should feel firm to touch.
When it is done, cut off the strings if you have tied the legs of the bird. Take out the orange slices and the herbs from the cavity of the bird.
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You could serve the whole chicken as it is and cut pieces at the table. This is a little bit more rustic. Or, perhaps you would prefer to serve roasted potatoes or vegetables to this.
I served it with mashed cauliflower & potatoes. By mixing the two together, you make it a little healthier than regular mashed potatoes.
But, it is your choice. 
Just enjoy!!!
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The lavender path in front of our house.

The scent is fantastic. I can’t help but touch the flowers every time I pass them.

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Lavender from the farm on Long Island.

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