Sunday, 28 August 2016

Bicycle tour and visiting friends for the dinner

It has been some time now I have been stressing my husband for buying some bikes, so we make bicycle tours when we are in Sweden. This year I finally got them and by now we have been doing some tours around the area. On Friday, do not really know how we came up to this "funny" idea, we decided to bike to the beach. At first the idea seemed to be so cool and we all were super excited. I prepared a small picnic for us, we packed the food, drinks, our beachwear and picnic blanket and headed our way. The beach is about 13 km away from the house and going there by car would not be more then 15 minutes. This was mostly the reason why we thought its going to be a super duper easy thing to do. We would use the bikes, do something for our bodies and will get a super reward at the beach.

After 15 minutes on the bike I started to doubt the whole super cool idea... our first hill up came and I was hardly able to ride my bike. There is a funny fact about driving the car, you never realize the ups and downs, but you feel those hard time when you are riding a bike. It turned out that almost the whole road to the beach would go up, sometimes less sometimes more, where I really needed to push my bike instead of riding it. OK, OK in my defense, I have not been riding a bike for more than 10 years now, so it was a bit more challenging as I initially thought. The good thing was that we actually made it to the beach, (not really telling you how much time we needed to come there). I gave up on this idea after the third hill up, my husband however would speak sense and hope to me, so I would continue towards our goal.

The reward was magnificent... as soon as we came to the beach and put all our staff down from the bikes, I headed towards the sea... it was such an amazing feeling, after all this groan and dross and all the swearing, jumping into the cool water, relaxing and let the waves take me with them. 
We had couscous salad and cheese sandwiches for picnic and the rest of the vanilla sponge with cream and blackberries cake, I made the day before. Couscous salad is my all time favorite, which is ideal for picnics. It is done within couple of minutes, it always different depending on the ingredients you like or have, it is super nutrition, a perfect healthy snack at the beach after a long long long bike ride.
Couscous salad

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cane of corn
  • 1 cane chickpeas
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 1 handful fresh chives
  • 2 limes (zest and juice)
  • olive oil
Put the couscous in a medium bowl, sprinkle the stock powder on top and pour in the hot water. Steer quickly, cover the bowl and let the couscous absorb the whole liquid. Meanwhile cut the bell pepper in small cubes, add them to a big bowl. Add the corn, chickpeas, roughly chopped coriander and chives. Combine the ingredients. Add the couscous, zest and juice of the limes and some olive oil to the rest of the ingredients. Steer and season with some more salt and pepper if needed.

I made some cheese sandwiches to serve with the salad. The bread is homemade (you can find the recipe HERE), my mother in law bake it for us.... she added different kind of nuts and some dry apricots to the original recipe, which went just perfect with the cheese.

Pablo and I had plenty of fun in the water, we still do not consider it being cold (my husband thinks bit different about it) and use every sunny day to get to the beach. Pablo is in the age (not sure all kids are the same, but my mom says I did the same) where he just love to seek for stones, which will be then collected for later, hence it is just a paradise for him at the beach. So many things, or better said treasures, he can find there... some of them will be thrown back into the sea, some will be hidden in my bag. We played who can throw the stone much further, trying new tricks and some different ways of doing it. It is too cool to see how much fun kids can have with something simple as that.
With all the fun and seeking for treasures time went quick and we needed to go back home, making us ready for the dinner with friends. Finally we biked about 26 kilometers in total and by the time we came home I was not sure I would be able to make it through the rest of the day. Again, remember I am not a sport freak and not really in my best shape, so 26 kilometers are quite a challenge for me. After I managed to drag myself under the shower, everything started to look better... I managed to make myself ready, picked a basket of fresh blackberries for the kids and soon we were sitting in the car on the way to the dinner.

It was a perfect evening for this special day. We were spoiled with delicious food and lovely company. Kids were having the fun on their own, being allowed to stay up a bit longer, while we grown ups were talking about this and that, enjoying a nice glass of red wine (final reward of the biking :-)...

My conclusion of this day: I still am able to bike 26 kilometers, have lot´s of fun with my son at the beach and still look acceptable for a dinner with friends...


P.S. Anna och Tommy tack so mycket för trevlig kväll!!!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Early mornings and blackberries pie

You got to love the early mornings at the countryside.... the sun rises up, filling everything with light and warmth. Everything around you slowly wakes up, starting to get busy for the day. The air clear and fresh, it is quite and peaceful. I always enjoy those moments, they seems to be magical, my time of the day where I can just relax, without much thinking and only enjoy the beauty around me. 

While my boys are still sleeping, mornings are the time of the day which are reserved just for me. I get started for the day by planing the activities we could do and think what can I cook or possible bake. Being here in Sweden in the countryside the chooses are endless, both for cooking as well as for special activities. There is beach, there is forest, there are bicycle tours and of course going to the city. For me there is also plenty of country flea-markets, which I simple cannot ignore.... even so I have to admit that this is the least favorite activity my boys do actually like. 

These days I also use my morning time with picking some fresh blackberries for breakfast. The other morning when I was hiding the way to the bushes I realize that it was raining during the night. I saw the beautiful water drops still hanging around the greens, flowers and even spider nets.... I run back into the house to take my camera, as I wanted to catch the beauty of it.

After my photo shoot around the house, I went back to my previous task and picked some of the blackberries. With all the blackberries right now, there is a lot of baking with blackberries going on in our house and today I am going to share one of  the easiest berry pie recipes with a little twist, which is such a delight for the late summer days. Our family loves to eat this pie with vanilla ice cream on top, but it is super delicious on their own. Try it, you won´t regret it....

Blackberry pie
  • 275 g flour
  • 125 g cold butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
Cut the butter in cubes, put flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and blitz for couple of seconds. Add egg and blitz once more, till the dough forms a ball. If the dough appears to dry, add some milk to it....spoon wise. Let the dough chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.  Take the dough out on a floured surface. Roll it out, big enough to cover the baking dish. 
  • 400 g blackberries 
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 100 g sugar (add more if you would like to have it sweeter or the berries are too sour)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Put the blackberries in a big bowl. Zest and squeeze the limes, add zest and  juice to the blackberries. Sift the sugar and flour steer till all ingredients are combined. Pour the filling into the baking dish, covered with pie crust, decorate as you wish. Brush the pie crust with some egg-wash (egg with some milk) and bake for ca. 40 minutes, till the crust gets golden brown and the berries are starting to bubble.


Monday, 22 August 2016

Sun, beach and picnic

There are going to be many pictures today, as I loved them all and could not decide which once should be skipped. Sweden is spoiling us with nice weather and since I was shopping for new picnic dishes the other day, a picnic was on order. We went to the beach near by and had some splendid couple of hours with nice food, lovely scenery and crab fishing (something super exciting for my son...and my husband...and me actually too).

I made some halloumi cheese sandwiches with grilled bell pepper, simple baby spinach and arugula salad, warmed up some of the köttbullar (Swedish meatballs) and baked couple of vanilla blackberry (which I have been collecting this morning in the woods) muffins for dessert. All packed into the old fashioned picnic basket from my mother in law. We grabbed our son, the cameras, some equipment for the crab fishing and made our way to the beach. 
As soon as we arrived there, I started to look for a nice spot to make some pictures, not really paying much attention to the people around. In one point a man came over to see what I was doing as he was wondering why I would making so many picture of a certain spot from different distances and from up and down. He saw the picnic basket and was smiling, my husband jump in and explained to him what I was doing.... I guess there are not many people around here, who actually do many many pictured of their food before they are eating. This habit however became a tradition in our house already, even my son knows that and something when I would skip to make picture, he would wonder why not.
Halloumi cheese and grilled bell pepper sandwiches
  • halloumi cheese
  • bell pepper (red or yellow)
  • Swedish polar bread (or any other bread you like)
  • cream cheese
  • chives
  • fresh arugula
Preheat your oven to 180C (use grill function if available). Cut the cheese in slices. Wash the bell pepper, deseed and cut in half. Put everything on a baking tray and sprinkle some olive oil, salt and pepper over the bell pepper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Take the cheese after 10 min, it should be golden brown and crisps on the top by then. 
Spread some cream cheese on both bread slices, sprinkle some of the chopped chives on top. Now put some of the cheese slices on one f the bread slice, top it with some fresh arugula, lay the grilled bell pepper and top it with the second bread slice.
Easy baby spinach and arugula salad
  • baby spinach
  • arugula salad
  • hand full cherry tomatoes
  • parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 limes
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • honey
  • mustard
In a bowl put together baby spinach and arugula salad leaves together. Wash and cut the tomatoes in half, add them into the bowl. Shave some of the parmesan cheese.
Prepare the dressing in a small maison jar. Zest and juice the lime/s. Add some olive oil, salt, pepper, teaspoon of honey and 1-2 teaspoons of mustard. Close the jar with a lead and shake it till all ingredients are well combined. Taste it and adjust if needed. Take the dressing and pour it over the salad, shortly before you are going to eat the salad.
Vanilla blackberries muffins
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 60 g butter melted
  • 2 teaspoons yogurt
  • vanilla sugar
  • 150 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • hand full blackberries
Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla sugar till doubled in size. Add melted butter and yogurt, mix briefly. Sift in the flour and baking powder, Combine all the ingredients. Finally fold in gently the blackberries. Distribute between the muffin tins and bake for about 20-minutes, till golden brown on top. Dust it with some icing sugar. 


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Vacation and brown butter chocolate chips cookies

My vacation started this Monday and while my husband is still working for more couple of days, Pablo and I are already enjoying our time off. Actually Pablo´s holidays started already two weeks ago, and for the last two weeks he was spoiled by his grandmother the best way you can be spoiled as a grandchild. While my husband and I still needed to work, he spend the days with his granny telling her what he would like to do and of course he got it all. I guess this is the way how it supposed to be... we all would most likely not really remember "this kind of spoiling" from our parents, that´s why it is so cool to see them both to have the time of their life.

For the last couple of days Pablo and I were spending some mother and son quality time, basically meaning going out for lunch, going out for shopping, visiting playgrounds, playing, relaxing and snacking... Today however we did something cool, so very cool for Pablo at least, visiting Papa at work. We slept in, had late breakfast, baked a bunch of chocolate chips cookies and drove to Papa´s work to visit some of our working colleagues. 
It is was so cool to see how excited he got. He took it pretty serious and was excited about everything he saw. After visiting Papa, we both drove for lunch in our favorite restaurant and had not only a very delicious meal served, but lots of fun and tons of selfies. I do cherish those times a lot...

Today a recipe for chocolate chips cookies, which are maybe not the most healthiest snack you could have in the summer, but boy they are just amazing and really worth to be made... especially when you are going to visit your work colleagues who still struggles at work, while you are having your time off already. It is the first time I am making cookies with "brown butter", I heard so much about recipes with brown butter already, but never cooked with it so far. I got my inspiration for these cookies from Ree Drummond (Pioneer woman), whom I am following since recently. I sightly changed the recipe, as usual fitting it more to our taste and what I could find home as ingredients.

Brown butter chocolate chips cookies
  • 125 ml brown butter
  • 125 g butter (room temperature)
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 100 g white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 350 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100 g dark chocolate chips
  • 100 g hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
Brown butter preparation: On medium / high heat melt 125 g butter and cook it for a minute or so. After butter will melt it will start to bubble, as soon as the bubbles start to disappear and clear up, you are done. Take the pan from the hear and pour the butter in a separate bowl (use a fine sieve) and let it cool completely.
Preheat your oven to 180C. In a bowl of a stand mixer whisk together butter, brown and white sugar till it becomes fluffy and light in the color (I used pedal attachment). Slow down the speed of the mixer and pour slowly the cooled brown butter. Crack in the eggs, one at the time, mixed till all well combined. Add the vanilla. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt and add everything at once to the butter-sugar mixture, mix briefly. Finally add chocolate chips and hazelnuts, give it another stir. Scoop the cookies (use cookie or ice cream scooper for this) on a baking tray lined with baking paper, placing them bit apart as they will melt during the baking. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Take the tray out of oven and let it cool for a minute or so. Transfer the cookies at the cooking rack and let them cool out completely. 

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