Easy Sunday Listening & An Equally Easy Recipe

September 16, 2013 § 2 Comments

Most of my friends can attest to the fact that I listen to music [overly] loud in the car. But there’s just something about your favorite song playing on blast with the windows open, and sitting next to a friend who know all the words.  When I moved to Copenhagen, I sold my big blue car for a little black bike – a two wheeler I now cannot live without.

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But admittedly, no matter how great it is to zoom around corners with wind blown hair, cruising in my car with the music on will always, always, always top my list of life’s simplest joys. (That and a hot latte in autumn.)

And if I could have another ride around the block, one hand on the steering wheel: anything John Mayer (new album – he’s still got it!), Oh Land’s only Danish song, Marie Key, Amos Lee, Thomas Dybdahl, Jonsi, Sigur Ros, The Shins, Amy Winehouse, Adele….

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Some oldies, but goodies mixed in with some new. I’d like to think I keep recipes around in the same way that I do my music – there are always a few that will repeatedly taste so good, just like the first time you made it. This recipe does just that: one to come back to year after year, that continues to please like a good song.

This is SO not your average sad desk salad. This is dressed up with the taste of Thailand. This has so much crunch, so much raw, so much fresh. And to make sure I give credit where credit is due, this recipe was created by Once Upon a Chef, who I am convinced is a food guru… This salad excited even my carnivorous boyfriend. (For the record though, this wouldn’t taste so bad with a side of beef. Don’t tell him I said that.)

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Due to my love affair with cheese, I will never be a vegan. But sometimes I like to pretend to be that healthy. And when I eat this peanuty, healthy salad, I am more than proud and pleased to fill those green shoes.

thai crunch peanuty salad 

(don’t be intimidated by this long list! it’s worth it. truuuust me.)

original recipe from Once Upon A Chef

dressing

1/4 creamy peanut butter

2 tbs fresh lime juice (one lime)

3 tbs vegetable oil

1 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs honey

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 inch square fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

salad

4 cups chopped cabbage

1 cup shredded carrots

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced in small bite size pieces

1 small cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced

1 cup cooked and shelled edamame

2 medium scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

How to Prepare:

Throw it all together! But really -

Combine all the ingredients (except for the cilantro) for the dressing in a blender. Process until smooth – not watery, but not thick. Chop the cilantro up finely and mix into your dressing. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

For the salad, chop up all the vegetables, and combine in a large sized bowl. If serving immediately, toss in the dressing. If you want to take this salad for lunch the next day (you’ll want to), then make sure to keep your dressing separate until the next day, to avoid soggy salad.

Excuses, Excuses

September 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

I have about ten different unpublished drafts hanging out in the backstage of my blog. They all start with an excuse, of where the heck I am and what I’m doing. The weather was pretty darn nice, but I apparently didn’t even make time to post merely one of ten excuses. This has created Big Ole Guilt Trip, which continues to burn a hole in my big blogger heart.  B.O.G.T.  follows me on sunny, crisp Saturday mornings, when I know I could set out, make an irresistibly oozy and buttery biscuited blueberry cobbler. Or, when fresh donut peaches stare at me, and ask me to take them home (and I don’t) – B.O.G.T trails just behind me in the bike lane, my whole way home.

But summer life (nights out, good books, bikes, lobster, sunny beaches, work work work, wine wine wine… plenty of cozy dinners) happened in full force, and grabbing a camera went down in my list of priorities. (Don’t tell you know who.)

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Just know though, this (Four Seas Ice Cream, perfect, luscious,  choc. chip ice cream, marshmallow sauce, two spoons) sundae did happen. And I did spend two and a half wonderful weeks with family back home in the U.S. I have learned A LOT of dansk. I have worked raaahther hard at work.  And I did have a pretty dang good time taking a break from the The Second Serving. That hurts both me to say and you to hear, but the  feel-good conclusion is coming. There have been pressing thoughts about kitchen adventures –  and B.O.G.T existed for an important reason. Me and this little virtual space here, we ain’t finished yet.

Stay tuned – I am ready to recommit!

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Bruschetta

May 19, 2013 § 3 Comments

When I think back on adolescence, I vividly remember my awkward growth-phenomenon that started veeeery prematurely. After each newly purchased pair of flared jeans I’d sprout two inches unexpectedly, leaving me with forever bare ankles and wrists. Those were the same days I could actually consume an entire box of frosted mini wheats in one afternoon, and never look back. (Ha, sounds AWESOME.) My appetite was so aggressive, homemade dinner was totally not my initiative.

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But there was a specific afternoon after school, when the infamous Puttanesca dish occurred – an unforeseen venture in my culinary world.  It all went down in Hannah’s kitchen. Next to their oven was a parade of dried herbs I couldn’t pronounce and a tin of  never-before-seen kitchen tools. It started innocent, and ended with pot after bowl after can after spoon dressing every countertop. It was essentially a perfect nightmare for her parent’s 5:00 p.m. return to home. I probably had tomato in my hair and between my toes.

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We spent hours deep in our recipe. But when it was over, we didn’t know the difference, and were so proud.  After a couple Puttanesca repeats, we declared it our signature dish.. Probably not knowing it was Italian.

Ironically, nothing has changed about my ways in the kitchen – many would attest that it is ALWAYS a hot mess scene when I get cooking. I have this special ability to make a one-pan-dish into ten (dishes..), and practically use every knife in the drawer. But it wouldn’t taste as good if not, riiiiight??

This bruschetta  is a simple sampling of that very first Puttanesca dish, with a few ingredients left behind. It’s easy to put together – especially if you think of roasting ahead for later. The best part is – no silver ware necessary – the key to conquering the dish washer blues!

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roasted tomato & garlic bruschetta

a full head of garlic

olive oil

tomatoes

herbs de provence

parmesan cheese, flaked

italian bread

 a bundle of basil

a small handful of capers

Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, or 350 Fahrenheit.

Chop the top off the head of garlic, so that all the cloves are exposed. Do not peel off it’s outer, paper-like skin. Drizzle olive oil over it, with salt and pepper. Wrap it into tin foil, as a small bundle.

Halve tomatoes if large or do not chop at all.  Drizzle olive oil generously over them and sprinkle herbs de provence.

Cook for roughly 30 minutes, or until the tops of tomatoes are splitting and sizzling – and maybe get slightly blackened (it’s up to you!). The garlic can stay in for 45 minutes.

Cut italian bread into small halves – making them easy to pick up as finger food. When the garlic is done, take the cloves out of their skin, and mush them together in a small bowl with a fork.  Spread the garlic over the italian bread.

For the tomatoes, take them off your roasting pan, and put them in a mixing bowl. Gently cut them with your fork – but not a lot! You want them to be chunky with the skin on. Throw some capers into your tomato mix. They are salty, so use sparingly.

Meanwhile, toast the garlic bread lightly, so they are still soft but have a crunch on the crust.

Now you’re ready to assemble – put the tomato and caper mix onto the garlic bread. Throw on a basil leaf, and a piece of flaked parmesan.

Enjoy!

Parsnip, Apple, & Raisin Muffins

March 24, 2013 § 6 Comments

When you start a new lifestyle in a new country, it’s nice to be aware of the little things that make you feel not so far from home.

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Those little things are the ones that make you GO, make you happy, make you smile. They are a reminder of why you wake up for that 7 AM alarm. You know what I mean? These are a few of my favorite things…

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1. Reading a book just because.  Right now, it’s Gone Girl. It is everything every (girl on the beach from last summer) one said it was. Juicy, page turning, suspenseful, sneaky, and well-written. I’ve mistakenly asked every person I know, twice, if they’ve read it. I am that annoying book obsessor that wants everyone else to be obsessed.

2.  Painting my finger nails, REALLY RED, to be exact.

3. Cleaning (questionable) to Beyonce. The dishes just fly right into the cabinets! Please note: this cleaning thing is NOTHING without B. Not even a distant dream.

4. This little page right here! Blogging is my ish. My thing.  That thing that makes me go and that thing that wakes me up.  It’s my splash of cold water and the sand in my toes.

5.  Fresh freaking bread. Explanation not needed. You can’t get this stuff in Boston.

6. Well-achieved mornings at work give way to much-needed lunch breaks and a good cup ‘a tea. All three are equally pleasing.

7. The beauty in the city around 5:00 when walking through. The days are getting longer, and more people are out and about.  In such a small city, I see the same people.  The same street performers still tempt me to stop and listen. The cobblestones, still charming.

8. A good pair of new boots. Making all those old clothes new again!

These are definitely girly thoughts. These cupcakes speak to that. These cupcakes are no.9: baking foods that are both healthy, and delicious, satisfying, and mouth watering.  These are all that and beyond. These are dazzling 7 am and that monotonous train ride, and refreshing the ass-groove embedded in your swivel chair. Watch and learn, peeps.

Love carrot cake? Enter PARSNIPS.

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parsnip, apple, raisin muffins 

makes 6 large muffins

original recipe from bbc

130g/ 1 cup flour

130g/ roughly 1 cup plain whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp dried or fresh minced ginger

one pinch salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

70g/ roughly 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 parsnip (about 125g pre-peeled weight), peeled and grated

1 small apple, grated

75g/1/2 cup raisins

5 tbsp honey

100ml apple juice

frosting

125g/ roughly 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

125g/1/2 cup cream cheese

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a muffin tin accordingly.
Mix the flours, baking powder, mixed spice and salt together in a bowl.
Whisk together the egg and butter in a separate bowl. Stir in the grated parsnips and apple, raisins and honey.   Then, add these to the dry ingredients. Add the apple juice and stir to combine, but do not overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins and bake for 30 minutes, or until risen (check after 20 minutes).

For the frosting: beat the butter in a bowl until smooth and creamy.
In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until creamy.  Stir in the honey and vanilla extract. Add the creamed butter and stir to combine. Make cupcake art!

** Americans – I’m sorry I’ve switched to grams! Such a traitor I am.  I just have to say it’s a worlds easier over here…

Salmon & Guacamole Sandwich

March 3, 2013 § 18 Comments

A quick rundown of life in Denmark Part 3.

On language. Two times a week for roughly 3.5 hours each time, I go to a class where I stretch my face into strange facial positions. I watch about 15 other people try it, too. Imagine a group of diversely cultural people, all struggling to pronounce words where half of the letters are not sounded out, and the other half are transformed into other oos, awwhs, and llthhhhh sort of sounds.  There are also a lot of giggles of exhaustion, frustration, and just pure ridiculousness. This is called Learning Danish Chapter 1! More to come…

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On a friend note.  Last Thursday, I jumped and ran into Emma B’s arms! Felt so good to squeeze a best friend, to drink wine, talk forever, stay out late, and get back to the feeling of May. And – as she put it – to have worlds collide.  Is there truly anything better than having two of your most loved ones meet each other?  I really don’t think so… I felt spoiled.

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And then there’s the weather.  When it turns 43 degrees by March, and you’re accustomed to 15 degrees cooler and frozen fingers, you start sitting outside on your balcony to make new freckles. You still can’t peel off your sweater, but if you close your eyes for just a moment you’ll feel like you’re on a beach.  A really breezy one.

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Tulips are not a figment of my imagination any longer. And at this point, I am ignoring any sort of  frozen bodies of water.  I’ve got a springy state-of-mind. Soon enough, I’ll be eating ruby red Danish strawberries one by one.  I’ll be headed off on a Tall Ship Sailing trip. (Thank you, DIS.) I’ll bike through wind without a jacket!! Shorts will happen. Barbecues!

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If you promise to play along with my glass-half-full-weather-forecast, then I also promise to bring this to the barbecue. Green, pink, and bacon! Happy spring, coatless, carefree, friends.

salmon & guacamole sandwich

original recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof 

serves 2

4 slices bacon or applewood-smoked bacon*

2 ripe avocados

the juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 tbs jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1 tsp minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

2 pieces of salmon, skin on & size to your liking

olive oil

2 rolls sour dough bread

leafy greens

optional (to make plain bacon have a sweeter taste)

 a little more than 1/8 cup of brown sugar

1 tbs mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Place bacon on a baking sheet; roast for 15 minutes. If you prefer to give your bacon a sweet taste to contrast the salt and zing of the guacamole, create a glaze with brown sugar and mustard. Put into a plastic bag, along with bacon. Shake until slices are fully coated.

Prepare guacamole: mix avocados, lime juice, red onion, jalapeño, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. It will have a serious punch! Do not be afraid.

When the bacon is browned, take out of the oven and place to the side.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. Pat salmon fillets dry with a paper towel, and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper seasoning. Place the fillets skin side up and cook them (Ina says without disturbing – I like it!), for 2 minutes. Flip over after two minutes.

With your oven still on and ready, put the salmon into aluminum foil packets and cook for 2 minutes (exactly!). They will cook more once they are out of the oven. When your two minutes is up, place them aside, keeping them in their foil.

Toast bread as you desire.  Assemble sandwich by smearing guacamole on the bottom, placing salmon carefully over, bacon, and a small amount of leafy greens for the top.

Enjoy with some lemonade! And a scarf…

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