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Posts Tagged ‘blueberries’

Some of us keeps these little bags of snacks in a drawer at work or in the house.

I am not much of a snack person, but I do admit, that I need to have a “mellanmål” (“in between meal”) once or twice a day. Or at least one around 9 or 10 in the morning. We get up just after 5am every day. On weekdays I eat breakfast at 5.30am. It is such a routine that I have a hard time during the weekends. Sleeping in means getting up around 7am or so.

My best solution is always to have a hardboiled egg in my bag, but if the “snack nerve” screams, one needs to be prepared. And being a new year and all, I made sure to make a new batch of my favorite trail mix. This time I dried berries and fruits for it as well. It is a little overkill but I like doing it. I know there will not be any sugar or salt added, no preservatives and chemicals. Besides what was on the berries when I bought them. I should say. It is in the middle of the winter and I am able to buy fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. I know that is so fortunate. Not everybody has that luxury.

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Trail mix.

There really is no recipe for making a trail mix. You just mix a whole bunch of dry ingredients such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits and dried berries. You can add anything in any amount. But this is what I usually do it.

Mix;

1 part Hazelnuts

1 part Almonds

1 part Pecan nuts

1 part Pistachio nuts

1 part Cashew nuts

1 part Sunflower seeds

1 part dried Mango

1 part dried Cranberries

1/2 part dried Strawberries

1/2 part dried Raspberries

1/2 part dried Blueberries

Either you buy the dried fruits and berries or you dry them your self.

I am lucky enough to have a food dehydrator. It takes about 1 1/2 day to dry the berries in this. It is really an easy and non messy way but it takes very long. Sometimes I don’t have patience to wait that long. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can just dry the berries in the oven. It works equally good.

You need 1 parchment paper lined cookie sheet for the  sliced berries or fruit.

If you dry raspberries and strawberries, it takes about 3 hours on 150F (70-75C). Half way through, turn them over so that they dry equally on each side.

This isn’t something you do in a hurry. You need to plan ahead. The thicker the slices the longer it takes.

You concentrate the taste if you dry things. I think that it gets a little bit more sour or tart. I like that. Some people sprinkle some powdered sugar over the fruit, but that kind of defeats the purpose. You can just as well buy it in the store then, since most dried fruit has added sugar on them.

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My food dehydrator is great. It is a little slow, but the fruit and berries comes out very good.

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I usually use all 5 layers and dry a bunch of different fruits and berries in “one shot”

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Drying the fruit and berries in the oven is so much faster. It still takes many hours. You can’t have too high heat. You just want to extract the moisture, not cook them.

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I am bringing my bag of new trail mix to work tomorrow.

The only problem now, will be to not finish it up too fast.

Enjoy!!!

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Happy 4th of July!!!

Time do bring out all the red/white/blue, stars and stripes you can find in the house. No need to be modest. Go big for this holiday!

This is of course an American celebration, but I know that Americans abroad celebrate it just as much as a Swede living here in the States ( I wonder who I am thinking of…) would celebrate Swedish events and holidays.

We are making it simple for this holiday. Too much to do, too little time. Don’t I say that all the time?? Perhaps I am a very stressed individual since I always want to cook simple food. Who knows.

My priority this weekend is to relax, spend time with family and friends. Just enjoy myself. We will go to the beach, go to my mother-in-law’s for Curry Goat, BBQ in the garden, so many different things are going on for these 4 days… If I am really lucky, there will also be some time left over for me to have a date with a good book. I haven’t read a book in a very long time. What a shame.

So, we are doing easy stuff for the 4th. Basic BBQ food like , marinated chicken & pork tenderloin, burgers & hotdogs. Corn & salsa.

I will make my Mini Pies filled with strawberries, blueberries and apples. Basic desserts. A little bit of “comfort” food desserts. Well known and familiar but perhaps with a little twist at times.

It is very nice to make a whole bunch of small mini pies instead of making just one big one. This way you can pick and choose what you want.

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Mini Fruit & Berry Pies.

The rule is to use any fruit or berries of your choice. Besides that, there are no rules.

There are no real recipes for this. Since I like to be able to taste the actual produce, I keep it as fresh as possible.

So just make a pie crust or even buy ready made pie crust. For these ones, I use a basic pie crust.

I choose little nice looking ramekins. Since it is 4th of July, I used my star shaped ones.

Add the rolled out pie crust to the ramekins. Well pressed down into the bottom edges.

Add the fruit or berries. Keep them separate or mix them together.

Different combinations;

Blueberries– Use a splash of your favorite liquor.

Strawberries– Add finely chopped candied ginger.

Apples– Add your favorite liquor and some ground cinnamon. (And perhaps a little granulated sugar if you need for it to be a little sweeter).

Peaches– Toasted nuts and a pinch of brown sugar.

These are just some suggestions, you can really combine anything you like.

If you use hard fruits like apples, cut them finer and fry them in a skillet for about 15 minutes or so until soft. Add a little water so that they get some help from the water to soften up. Keep a lid on so that they really cook down faster.

Directions;

When you have added the pie crust to the ramekins pack down the filling well. Cut little stripes of the crust and add about 3 stripes per pie.

Brush some egg wash onto the crust and sprinkle some granulate sugar on top of it.

Bake in a 350 F degree (175 C) for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust has turned golden brown.

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Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

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You can serve some fresh berries on the side and also whip up some heavy cream spiked with some of your favorite liquor.

Add about 2-3 tbsp. per cup of heavy cream. Fold in some candied ginger.

Enjoy!!!

And again, have a great and happy 4th of July!!!

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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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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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Every day can be a fish-eating day in my house.

I try to come up with new versions or combinations of fish dishes. I have always liked to add berries and fruit into a savory meal. One really fantastic fish is Halibut. In this recipe I have played on the blue/purple colors. It is so important to not only make the food taste good you could add a little artistic flair and think of colors.

Maybe I am crazy, but I have notice through the years that I crave or gravitate to food that is bright in colors and is beautiful on the plate. Good looking food makes me happy!  This Halibut is an example of that. I just think that the bright white fish gives room for any other color to accompany it. I love purple potatoes and try to use them for esthetic reasons more than for the taste.

My father and I used to farm at our country house. I went there every weekend. It was such an amazing place. As long as I remember, my father has had a vegetable garden. As expected, he really over did it every year. The neighbours used to laugh at us plowing the potato fields my hand, old style. We had an old wooden plow that one person would pull and the other one would make sure the plow would reach low enough to turn over the dirt. It must have looked like a bad movie when we would get out there. I am note exactly sure, but I think we used to have about 7-9 kinds of potatoes. Really?? One needs that many kinds??? Anyway. It was great and I must admit that if I had a bigger backyard here in Brooklyn, I would most likely grow potatoes!!! There is nothing better than the first sweet “fresh” potatoes!!

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Halibut with Blue potatoes and Blueberry compote.

Serves 4.

4 Halibut steaks. (or 8 smaller ones)(If you can’t find Halibut use any other white fish.)

3-4 small Purple potatoes per person.

Any kind of greens (salad) of your choice. I love a mix of Arugula, Spinach and Romaine.

1 cup of blueberries. Frozen or fresh. It doesn’t matter. I usually use defrosted frozen blueberries. If you like, use more blueberries.

A couple of tbsp of brown sugar or honey. If you can, use less sugar. The berries don’t need much if they are sweet in themselves.

Zest from 1/2 a lime.

1/2 lime, squeezed.

A splash of hot sauce or black pepper. As per your preference.

A couple of sprigs of mint, chopped.

A couple of table spoons of chopped fresh basil. (optional)

Salt & pepper to taste for the fish.

Oil (and butter, optional) for frying.

Directions;

Cut the fish into smaller pieces. It is better to serve two smaller pieces, stacked on top of each other,  than a huge piece that isn’t perfectly cooked.

Clean and dry the fish well. If the fish is dry, you get a better frying surface. I don’t like to bread or dip in flour. I rather just fry it as it is with a little seasoning.

Put all blueberries into a pot. Add lime zest, sugar/honey, mint, pepper (& basil, optional.)

“Melt” or “boil down” the berries. Let them simmer until they become “syrupy”. Make sure to taste it while putting the sweetener in little by little so that you don’t over sweeten them. (You can also add a little sherry or white port into the blueberry compote.)

Salt and pepper the fish. Fry the fish it a medium hot pan. A few minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Plate everything. Squeeze a little lime on top of it all.

I hope you will enjoy this easy and fresh way of cooking Halibut.

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This is my fathers vegetable garden as it is now, at his summer-house. Note that it is for a household of 2!!! AND it is downsized!!!

So there is no big surprise to me or anyone that knows me that I grow stuff any chance I get. It is in my blood you can say. My father and I also have something else in common, we drag up a chair to the little plants and sit and watch them grow.

Now this is happiness and “life on a stick”.

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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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I know. Almost everybody knows how to make a smoothie.

But do you make one??  I love to make smoothies during the weekends. Either for breakfast or instead of lunch. You can really make this any way you want. It is smart to buy fruits and berries when they are in season or on sale. Wash and dry them well. Cut up and freeze in smoothie portions. We have tons of berries in our freezer. For me, blueberry is the power berry. There are no antioxidants lost by freezing them. They have so many great benefits.

Blueberries are ;

Packed with antioxidants.

High in dietary fibers.

Packed with vitamin C.

Good for lowering high blood pressure.

Great against urinary infections.

Great for an upset stomach. 

Has been said to help lower cholesterol.

 If  you can choose between wild or farmed, pick the wild ones. The flesh is blue all the way through, small and sweet.

If you are looking for a healthy good smoothie, this is how I do it.

Makes 2-3  glasses.

1/2 cup of Greek yogurt.

1/2 cup frozen blueberries.

1/2 cup of frozen raspberries.

1/2 cup of frozen strawberries.

4 tbsp of old fashion oats. (optional)

1 orange, squeezed. (optional)

Put the frozen berries in the fridge over night to de-frost.  Poor all into the blender. Blend well. If it is a little thick, pour more juice in or if you like milk, add a splash of milk. (Skim would be good.)

I don’t use any protein powders or sugars. The berries or fruits should do the job.

As they say, “Don’t drink your calories.” So why add sugar if you don’t need it. If you really “have” to have it a little sweeter, add a good honey into the smoothie before blending.

You could add a little cinnamon, banana or oats to make it a little “fuller” in taste. 

Honestly, a smoothie can be made in so many ways. This is just one version.

Enjoy.

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