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Archive for the ‘Fast Food’ Category

There are so many ways to make a pizza. I prefer to make a more “grown up” version but the family still just wants to have plain cheese or cheese and pepperoni. What to do?? I end up making either “shared” pizzas (half & half) or individual ones. As you might know if you have been following my blog, my husband can’t stand when I make a big pepperoni pizza and make a 1/4 of it a banana curry pizza (my favorite) since he might get a little curry on one of his “sides”…

But I get it. If you like something you like something. And people shouldn’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. So, as you might suspect, I eat these myself. Good, more for me.

Lately I have been working on a food project and have had to come up with lot’s of different “comfort foods” that would work in the US. This is one of the dishes I contributed to the project. It is a challenge when you really would like to make it healthier and more “green” (as in more herbs & vegetables) but still make it the same way it always was made. Since I was not brought up on the typical fast food & comfort foods I flunk all the time. I manage to squeeze in the “wrong” ingredients.

“One” is not supposed to add curry (or any other crazy spices or herbs), fruits or berries to a pizza- A pizza should only have tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni  on it!” my little husband says….

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Orange Walnut Goat cheese Pizza.

Pizza dough.

4-5 small or 2 big yellow onions.

1-2 tbsp. butter.

1 c. goat cheese (the amount is not that important. One package of whatever size you find in the store is fine).

1 orange (grated & squeezed).

1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts.

Sprouts or micro greens for decoration.

1/2-1 tsp. crushed pepper.

Salt to taste.

Directions;

Slice all the onions finely, length wise (cut in half then cut length wise not across).

Fry in a skillet with the butter on medium low heat until caramelized (dark and translucent). This will take some time. You need to be watching the onions since they might burn the second you look away. When nicely caramelized, set aside to cool down.

Roll out the pizza dough into required size (one large round or smaller individual ones).

In a bowl, add goat cheese, orange zest, a splash of the squeezed orange juice,half of the crushed pepper and the crushed walnuts.

Mix well. Taste and see if you need to add more juice, any salt or more pepper.

Spread out all the caremelized onions evenly onto the pizza dough. Top with little dollops of the goat cheese. Bake in a 450-500 F degree (225-250 C ) oven  for about 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

When ready, add the micro greens or sprouts, they makes it fresh and “crispy”.

Enjoy!!

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Basic Pizza dough.

3 – 3 1/2 c. flour.
1 tsp. salt.
2 tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of honey or sugar (the honey/sugar is used to help activate the yeast).
1 package dry yeast (1/2 oz) or 1 package ( 1 1/2 oz) fresh yeast .
1 cup warm water (warm not hot since it would ‘kill” the yeast).
Directions;
Combine honey/sugar, water and yeast into a small bowl. Let sit until the yeast has dissolved).
Use a wooden spoon. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Pour yeast mixture and oil into well and stir in dry ingredients until you have a soft dough.
If dough is too sticky, add a little bit more flour.
Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 8 minutes or until smooth and firm.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled or 45 minutes to an hour.
* If you would like, it is smart to make a couple of batches of pizza dough at the same time and freeze it. If you use frozen dough, take it out the night or two nights before and let it de-frost in the fridge. This way the dough doesn’t become rubbery but nice and “giving”.

 

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Here we go again…

Another Super Bowl game… I had planned to be prepared and know exactly what to serve this year. That didn’t happen. “Something with hotdogs” was the order for this years football finals. Again? Some of the things we did last year were “thin-bread rolls with hotdogs”.

We don’t really eat hotdogs that often since it is one of the most processed foods there is so I rather cook something else. I decided to go with mini versions of pizzas. Everybody loves that so it is an “easy” one. Since I decided a few years back not to fight it for super bowl and just make some home-made fast food my way, it is ok. I can live with it. I actually managed to squeeze in some whole wheat pizza dough for the pizza buns and lot’s of herbs in the crust of the calzones. One does what one can. It is like hiding vegetables from kids.

Instead of eating big slices that drip and are a little harder to handle, I make mini calzones and pizza “buns”.

The recipes are easy . The only “set” measurements are for the dough itself. After that, you just add the amount of topping you like.

Try these mini pizzas and Have a great Super Bowl.

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Mini Calzones.

Pizza dough.

Tomato sauce. A few tablespoons per pizza.

Cheese. I use a mixture of a few different kinds of cheese. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Gruyère or just anything you have in the house. About a handful per pizza.

Smoked ham or Canadian bacon. About a handful per pizza.

A pinch of Italian seasoning or dried Thyme and Oregano on the filling. You would need a little more if you add it to the crust.

Directions;

Take the pizza dough. Divide it into portion sizes (the size of a tennis ball or the size of your choice). Roll them out very thinly  (you can add dried herbs to the crust by pressing it in while rolling out the dough). Spread a little tomato sauce onto one half, a couple of tablespoons per pizza. Make sure not to go all the way out into the edge. Place some cut up ham as a “stripe” across the middle of the dough. Add a handful of cheese on top. End with the herbs or seasoning. Fold the “lid” over. Pinch the edges very tight so that the calzone can “puff up”.

Bake in a 450 – 500 F (225-250 C) oven. It will take 5-10 minutes. You should bake them hot and fast. If you have a pizza stone, use that.

Note that you can use any kinds of cheeses and fillings for this pizza. The amount is also up to you. Just don’t over stuff them. They need a little space to be able to “puff up”.

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Place the tomato sauce, ham and cheese horizontally across the dough. Fold over the “lid”. Pinch the edge well so that the calzone is nice and airtight.

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Keep them whole or cut them into halves.

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IMG_2868_2“Pizza Buns”.

Pizza dough.

Tomato sauce.

Pepperoni.

Cheese. I use a mixture of a few kinds. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Gruyère or just anything you have in the house. About a handful per pizza.

Directions;

Roll out the pizza dough into a rectangular shape. It should be about 1/4″-3/8″ (about 1/2 cm) thick.

Spread tomato sauce onto the dough as if you were making cinnamon buns. Cut the pepperoni into small pieces. Spread it evenly all over the dough. Use as much as you would like. Add the cheese. Start rolling up the dough from one end to the other (it must be tight so that the filling doesn’t fall out when it is cut up into pieces). Make sure to pinch the end very well so the roll stays closed. Place the dough with the end facing down into the counter. Cut pieces about 3/4″ (2 cm) thick. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 450 – 500 F (225-250 C) oven. It will take 5-10 minutes. You should bake them hot and fast. If you have a pizza stone, use that.

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Roll up the pizza dough with all the filling just as if you where baking cinnamon buns.

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Cut the pizza roll into pieces.

Basic Pizza dough.

3 – 3 1/2 c. flour.
1 tsp. salt.
2 tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of honey or sugar (the honey/sugar is used to help activate the yeast).
1 package dry yeast (1/2 oz) or 1 package ( 1 1/2 oz) fresh yeast .
1 cup warm water (warm not hot since it would ‘kill” the yeast).
Directions;
Combine honey/sugar, water and yeast into a small bowl. Let sit until the yeast has dissolved).
Use a wooden spoon. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Pour yeast mixture and oil into well and stir in dry ingredients until you have a soft dough.
If dough is too sticky, add a little bit more flour.
Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 8 minutes or until smooth and firm.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled or 45 minutes to an hour.
* If you would like, it is smart to make a couple of batches of pizza dough at the same time and freeze it. If you use frozen dough, take it out the night or two nights before and let it de-frost in the fridge. This way the dough doesn’t become rubbery but nice and “giving”.

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Enjoy!!

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I just love my garden!!!

I am at the end of all my “farming” for this year. I have a small garden but it is well planned and we get lot’s of fruits, vegetables and herbs from it all through the summer.

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A great harvest.

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I have a lot of herbs. Basil is of course one of the staples.

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Herbs cut for drying. I make my own “Herb the Brooklyn” mixture.

It includes dried basil (Genovese, lemon/lime, Greek,cinnamon basil), Thyme, Lavender, Oregano, Mint, Rosemary, Sage (purple, golden & regular Sage), Chives, Mexican coriander (recao is another name for it) & Marjoram. This mixture is my every day spice. I use it for everything. You can call it one of my secret weapons.

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Lavender.

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I also make a more “Swedish” mixture of dried Dill, Parsley & Chives. This herbal mixture is great for any seafood but you can also use it for many other things.

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A great tip for herbs is to cut them fine and pack them into glass jars. All through the winter, you will now have “fresh” herbs. Just take the jar out and scrape with a fork directly into the food you are cooking. Or perhaps you are making a cold sauce that needs some herbs. Just add some from the frozen jars. I always have Dill, Parsley, Cilantro & basil in jars all over my freezers (yes I have 2 freezers. One in the kitchen for an everyday” use and one in the basement for all my bulk purchases and harvesting.

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All sorts of cherry tomatoes. I keep them on my deck so that there is an “easy access”. I don’t have to go into the garden itself to snack on some sun ripe cherry tomatoes.

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We love to always have a variety of tomatoes. They are just so delicious to use as they are or to cook with.

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I am always looking forward to my home-made tomato sauce. It is a mixture of all my different kinds of tomatoes and a whole bunch of herbs like Basil, Oregano & Thyme.

I cut it all into small pieces and then boil it down to a good consistency. I also add a few very finely cut fresh hot peppers. To keep the sauce for the winter I pour it into extremely clean glass jars. I always boil the lids separately to make sure there is no bacteria hanging out. Then, I put the jars in a water bath in a large pot (the water should only reach up to the lid). Let them come to a boil and then simmer for about 25-35 minutes. It depends on how long I boiled the sauce itself. When done, take the jars up and but on a dry towel to cool down. When you hear a little “pop” from the pressure of the lid, the canning of the tomato sauce is done. Keep in a cool and dark place. You might want to check the jars ever so often to make sure the sauce is still good.

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Physalis. Just be careful with it.  It is one of those plants that ones you plant it you will always have them in your garden. They replenish themselves greatly.

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Asters. My mothers favorite flower. I always plant them for her, even though she is in Sweden.  I always have Asters & Bleeding hearts my mothers favorites, Lobelia my fathers favorite & Ranunculus my sisters favorite.

Happy fall to all of you.

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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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4th of July must be one of, if not the biggest BBQ weekends in the US.

Obviously not everybody knows what the reason for the celebration is, since I have been asked many times if we celebrate 4th of July in Sweden. What does one answer to that???

Anyway, So, I have not been celebrating this holiday more than in the sense of it being a day off from work, a bonus day.

I never liked fireworks. I know someone who blew off a couple of fingers as a kid, trying to make fireworks himself. Really scary but it made a lot of us not really like fireworks. If one looks at the bright side of that, I never have to rush to get a great spot to watch it. I could stand way in the back. No problem.

As I am getting older, 4th of July means something else for me than just a celebration. It reminds me of what it took for this country (America) to become what it has become. When I became a citizen, we had to study the history of the country and it made me more aware of things. I feel very lucky. Lucky that I am here, lucky that I was born in Sweden, lucky that I live now and not way back when…

This 4th of July we are going to BBQ. Our neighbourhood goes bananas for any opportunity to be out in the backyard and get those grills going.

I am breaking the holy rule of this weekend. I am making salmon/Mango burgers. My husband said “No, we should have real burgers, ribs and hot dogs and things.” Lucky for me, he changed his mind. We are going with the Salmon/Mango burgers.

To make the whole thing very “4th’y” I am going all out with the stars and stripes…

A little overkill of red, white and blue doesn’t hurt.

So here it is, my healthy and really delicious salmon burger.

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Salmon/Mango Burgers with Stars & Stripes Fries:

About 6-8 burgers, depending on how big you make them.

About 2 lb. fresh salmon.

1 Mango, cut up into small pieces.

2 tbsp. of toasted pine nuts (optional)

2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs. I used mint, thyme, dill, sage and chives.

1 hot pepper. Any kind. You can also use season pepper/ a mild pepper just to get that pepper taste.

Splash of hot sauce (optional)

1 egg. (to keep it all together since the mixture is very loose.)

Panko crumbs (or other kind of bread crumbs)

Salt & pepper to taste.

Some mango ketchup (optional You boil 1 diced mango, 2 tbsp. of tomato paste, 4 tbsp. of water or pomegranate juice, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, salt pepper. Any other kind of herbs and spice you have in the kitchen. Boil it all down to a thicker paste. Taste and make sure you like it. Add anything you feel like. Blend with a hand mixer. Let cool.)

Directions;

Mix the salmon in a blender. Make it some what fine. You can leave a couple of “chunks” out and mix in them later, just to get a more interesting texture.

In a bowl, mix the mango that has been cut up into fine pieces, pine nuts, and all the other ingredients.

Pour Panko crumbs into a deep dish. Season with salt & pepper.

Shape the burgers. Dip into the crumbs. Turn and make sure they are well breaded. When done, place the burgers into the fridge to make them “settle” slightly before frying or bbq’ing.

Note that this mixture is very loose and you might want to fry on top of the stove unless you have a good grill.

Fry the burgers. Build the burgers on top of a good bun . I used an 8 grain bun from my bakery around the corner.

Add lettuce a little mayo if you like, the burger and some mango ketchup or regular ketchup. Top with a few slices of onions.Yum, Yum….

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The Stars & Stripes Fries are so easy to make.

If you have been following my blog, you know by now, that I think it is “wild and crazy” to use cookie cutters to do all sorts of things.

This time it is star-shaped fries and just regular cut fries, baked in the oven with a little salt, pepper and thyme on them.

To make sure for them not to be dried up due to the irregular shapes, I first boiled them for a few minutes.

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Varg tass (Wolf paw) is a very common drink at home. It is really yummy. You just take one part lingonberry juice concentrate (if you can’t find lingonberry juice use cranberry juice), 1 part vodka and fill up with seltzer water. I had to be a little particular for this drink, so I made my own shot glasses in ice. Now that is really overkill. I found these molds in a store and almost fell over of happiness. The Swedish “Ice hotel” serves their drinks in their “Absolute Ice bar” in ice shot glasses and I have always loved them. Now I can make my own. Lucky me.

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I was thinking of making this really crazy dessert, but I ended up making something I love and that is more of a summer thing. Frozen yoghurt. You could just as well make or buy ice cream, but I like to make it a little healthier (some times.)

Frozen Yoghurt with blueberries, strawberries and coconut.

A large container of vanilla yoghurt. I used Greek Vanilla yoghurt. You should use the kind you like best. Plain or Vanilla.

1 c. of mashed fresh Blueberries.

1/2 c. of mashed fresh Strawberries. 1 tbsp. of honey.

1 tbsp. of shredded coconut. I used large flakes that I soaked in water for an hour or so.

A couple of squares of dark chocolate.

Directions;

Use an ice cream maker or just mix it and freeze it.

Mix the yoghurt, berries, honey & coconut.

If you use an ice cream maker, follow the directions for the machine.

if you don’t have that, just put the mixture into the freezer. Keep stirring ever so often to make sure it freezes evenly.

You can make the frozen yoghurt ahead of time.

I used wafer cones from the grocery store. I just printed out an American flag on paper and cut out a “cover” for the cone. Very easy and it looks really cute.

Finally, I shredded a little dark chocolate over the top.

Enjoy and Happy 4th!!!!

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The pizza I am used to, is a very “thin crusted huge one person pizza.”

My husband was shocked when he saw it in Sweden for the first time. “Are you sure??  Eat the whole thing??”

Let me put it this way, you have to practice, but yes, you have the whole pizza to yourself!!

The crust might be thin but we load it up with toppings.

I have my favorite pizza place “Birka Pizza “and I always order the same thing, a Tropicana with curry, banana, onions, ham and black olives. YUM! Others would say yuck.

I think you really can put anything on a pizza crust, make them any size and really have fun with it.

At home I either bake individual pizzas or make a hug one with sections of toppings. The “rule” though is for my bananas and curry NEVER to touch my husbands pepperoni.

Try my desert blueberry pizza. Great as a snack or desert. Even as a little bite if you get unexpected visitors.

Almost every grocery store sells pizza dough. Fresh or frozen. To save time, just buy that. I buy the frozen whole grain and let it de-frost over night in the fridge.

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Blueberry pizza.

1 package of frozen or fresh pizza dough.

1 cup of frozen or fresh blueberries.

1-3 tbsp. of brown sugar.

A few sprigs of fresh mint.

Directions:

Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface.

Move it over to a pizza baking sheet. Pour over the blueberries. Note, if you are using frozen ones you don’t have to de-frost them.

Sprinkle over the sugar.

Bake in a 450 degree oven. Bake until  the crust starts to turn slightly golden brown.

Either rip or cut pieces of mint and sprinkle over the pizza.

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Banana pizza.

1 Package of frozen or fresh pizza dough.

1 cup tomato sauce. I make it easy for myself and use spaghetti sauce.

1 cup of shredded cheese. Use your favorite or a mixture of a couple or 3 kinds of cheese. I tend to use a nutty cheese like Jarlsberg, some easy melting cheese like Edam and a sharp one like parmesan or Gruyère. You can also use mozzarella. You can use less or more cheese. Your choice.

1 ripe banana. 

1 tbsp. curry powder.

Pepper to taste.

Fresh basil, julienned (shredded).

Directions:

Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface.

Move it over to a pizza baking sheet. Add the tomato sauce. Spread it all the way out into edges. Cut the banana in thin slices. Add to pizza. Cover with the cheese. Sprinkle over the curry powder. Bake in a 450 degree oven until the melted cheese is getting nice & brown.

Shred or julienne the basil and add to the pizza.

Enjoy.

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