Cottage cheese with celery and whole grain mustard

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I’m on my second week of trying out the 5:2 diet. It’s probably just the latest silly fad, but there’s something about it that piqued my interest, so I decided to give it a try. I fast on Mondays and Thursdays, that leaves my weekends free for silly stuff, which suits me just fine.

This also means I’m always on the lookout for simple, low-calorie meals. This whole thing works best if I prepare for the fast days, but this weekend I spent the days watching Supernatural and eating cookies and I just completely forgot to think about today being a fast day!

So after getting out of bed and showering (at noon, I suck), I went to the kitchen to find something light to eat and had nothing. I had to improvise!

I ended up tossing together this super simple “salad” and spreading it on two slices of crisp bread. It’s hardly a recipe, but here goes:

Cottage cheese with celery and whole grain mustard

1 heaping tablespoon of cottage cheese
Half a stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

Mix well and eat!

It’s delicious!

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Home made flour tortillas

IMG_1216Someone (Hi Maria!) just reminded me that I have this blog. How silly of me to forget! I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen lately. I made these delicious cookies last night, this amazing egg white salad a few days ago, and today I decided to try these flour tortillas.

I love tortillas. I love doing all kinds of things with them. Hummus and veggies, cream cheese and salsa, cottage cheese with whole grain mustard and cucumber. Whole grain mustard is my new favourite thing, just for the record. I even made tortilla wraps with the egg white salad, lettuce, cucumber and cumin chicken thighs the other day. Heavenly!

Tortillas from the shop aren’t cheap though, much to my frustration. So when I ran into this recipe for home made ones I decided to give it a try, and I do not regret it!

They are very simple to make and the ingredients list is short. I made them with olive oil instead of vegetable oil because that was all I had, but I don’t think it makes a difference. They only take a few seconds to bake on a hot pan, and at first I was a bit worried that they would be too crispy to roll, but it turns out that they are only hard at first and then they soften up when they cool.

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This one had a massive bubble. I thought it was funny.😛

I probably could’ve made them thinner, but I don’t really care, I like they way they turned out. Making them perfectly round was also an option, but that would take much more time and effort, and it’s not a necessity.

Basically, they are just as good as store bought (if not better), you know exactly what’s in them and you get much more for your money. Not to mention the satisfaction of eating things you’ve made yourself! This recipe makes 16 small ones, but you can make them as large as you like. I’m going to toss a few in the freezer so I can use them later.

Click here for the recipe.

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Devil’s Food Cake

954889_10152121450356959_740341566_nStrangely enough, I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake. I like it ok, but I won’t eat a lot of it. I’m a much bigger fan of meringue, or sponge cake with whipped cream and fruit. I really enjoy baking it though, especially if it’s complicated and has multiple layers. I’m weird that way, I tend to enjoy baking/cooking sweet things, but I prefer savoury snacks for eating.

Today I felt like I needed to spend some time in the kitchen. I’m currently unemployed and starting to get a bit bored. I have a job interview on Monday though, so you never know! I’d been really wanting to do something big, to really use my KitchenAid mixer, and I thought of this Devil’s Food Cake recipe.

I found the recipe several years ago and saved it on Evernote (awesome for saving recipes!), and when someone asked me for the recipe I wanted to give them the original source (which was in Icelandic). It seems to be gone however, so I decided I’d just translate it and put it up here so more people can enjoy it.

The cake

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cups cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 grams butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 cups cold water
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cups sugar

Heat the oven to 175°C. Start mixing sugar and butter together until they turn light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one by one and mix well in between. Add the vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt) in a separate bowl and then add them to the sugar mixture a bit at a time with a bit of the water in between until it’s all well mixed together. Mix the egg whites and the last bit of sugar together in yet another bowl until they form stiff peaks. Then gently fold this into the other ingredients with a spatula.

Grease a 24cm round cake form with butter and dust with some flour. Pour in the cake mix and bake for about 60 minutes. Make sure not to over bake it. It’s supposed to be moist and soft. Once done, take it out and let it cool before cutting it into two layers. Cover the bottom layer with icing, add the top layer and the cover the whole thing in more icing. Yum!

The icing

  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 125 g soft butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75 g icing sugar (3/4 cups)

Melt the chocolate and let it cool. You can do this in a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water, or in the microwave (make sure you let the chocolate cool enough, otherwise it will melt the butter once added to the icing and ruin it). Mix the butter alone for about 10 minutes, or until it’s sort of light and fluffy. Then add the yolks one at a time, mixing well. Add the icing sugar and then the chocolate.

According to the original recipe the icing was only supposed to be used between the layers. The whole cake was then supposed to be covered with melted chocolate. I didn’t quite like that so I doubled the icing recipe to have enough for the whole cake. That ended up being too much icing (is there such a thing as too much icing?). It’s really up to you how much icing to make. I don’t mind having a bowl of extra icing to munch on later.

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Coconut Magic Balls

IMG_0978I have a few things that I’ve had all or most of my life, things that I plan on keeping for decades to come. One is a dresser that my mother bought for my baby clothes when she was pregnant with me. I also have old report cards from as early as 1st grade. I also have a huge pile of primary school art work that I can’t bring myself to throw away just yet.

But I also have one thing that is relevant to this blog. It’s a Danish Disney cook book. It’s from 1986, which makes it three years younger than me. I have so many memories of paging through this book that just looking at it makes me smile. It’s in Danish because we lived in Denmark when I was a baby. We moved back to Iceland when I was about 2 and a half, in early 1986. This book must’ve been bought just about then.

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My favourite recipe from this book is the “Kokos-tryllekugler” one from page 43. I’ve translated it as Coconut Magic Balls. It’s super simple, easy to do with kids and incredibly yummy. I’ve made these regularly throughout the years and they never fail to please.

Coconut Magic Balls

100 g butter
3 dl rolled oats
1 dl desiccated coconut
1,5 dl powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp cold water

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. You can do so in a stand mixer, but it also easy (and possibly fun) to do by hand.
  2. Take a small bit of the mixture and form into little balls.
  3. Roll the balls in some coconut.
  4. Let the balls stand for a few minutes.
  5. Eat.

If you want to keep them for later, just put them in a box and keep in the fridge.

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Broken bones and KitchenAid mixers!

I haven’t posted anything since May. Oops.

I have a few excuses, first I had a new job and I was busy and didn’t have much money to do anything exciting. Then in late June I broke my hand which made just about everything impossible.

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The kitchen was a mess, I pretty much only ate bread, and typing one handed is just annoying.

But now I am free of the cast! And although my hand is still swollen and sore I am able to use it and I am excited to get this blog going again. I also got a new KitchenAid mixer for my 30th birthday (on the 11th) and I am so in love with it!

IMG_0925My beautiful sister remembered that my dream is to have a green themed kitchen, so she made sure to get this gorgeous apple green mixer!

So far I have made these oatmeal and raisin cookies and coconut chocolate balls for which I will make a separate post.

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Apple parsnip soup and carrot burgers

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I’ve never been much of a soup person. They rarely make me feel full enough, probably because they usually don’t require chewing. I’m not sure what it is, but if the food I’m eating is entirely liquid (soups, smoothies, etc) I don’t feel like I’ve really eaten. I can often fix this by having some bread with it, but I just rarely feel an urge to make soup myself. I do quite like the kind of soups that are almost like a stew (doesn’t Rachel Ray call them stewps or something like that?), or vegetable soups with pasta and other chewy bits.

However, my favourite kind of soups are the ones where you cook vegetables and then blend them into a thick soup. I’ve had a few of these in the past, I remember one being mainly carrots, one sweet potato (I think) and one had leeks. They were all delicious! SO when I saw this recipe for apple and parsnip soup I just knew I had to make it.

I love food that is mainly savoury but with a hint of something sweet. Unlike many people I do like cooked fruit, like pineapple on pizza. I discovered parsnips when I stayed with my sister in Denmark a few years ago, over there they call them “pastinak”. My sister often roasted them with carrots, sweet potatoes, and jerusalem artichokes (hilariously referred to as jordskokker in Danish). I loved the surprising sweetness of the parsnips and was sad when I couldn’t find them here in Iceland.

I have since discovered that for the longest time parsnips were mistakenly labeled as parsley root, which is different, even though they look pretty similar. I was super happy to find them in England though, and I ate quite a bit of them there.

So today I went to the supermarket to pick up a few things and parsnips were on the list. Unfortunately I couldn’t find them in Bónus and was forced to buy them from (considerably more expensive) Hagkaup. The price was rather cringe-worthy, but I was determined to make this soup, so I bought them anyway.

Making this soup takes a bit of work, since the vegetables and the apples have to be roasted, and then boiled before blending. I didn’t have a blender, but I have a hand blender which worked well enough.

It turned out quite sweet, as was to be expected, and so incredibly delicious. I will definitely be making this one again.

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While I roasted the veggies for the soup I decided to make these chickpea carrot burgers. I wanted to put them in the freezer so I could grab them for lunch packs. This would’ve been easier with a food processor, but the hand blender comes with a processor bowl, so I was able to work through all the ingredients in stages.

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The burgers turned out quite good. They’re not too flavourful on their own, though that might be my fault, next time I’ll play with the spices some more. But with some kind of dressing and fresh salad I’m sure they’re delicious.

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Recipe dump

There are so many recipes I want to try! Here’s a list of a few of them.

This asparagus and pancetta quiche. I have a thing about quiche.

This kaytucky chicken. Chicken filled with cream cheese and bacon and wrapped in puff pastry. Are you kidding? I’m salivating at the mere thought of it.

This strawberries and cream pie. NOM!

This chicken with pepperoni marinara sauce. I don’t think I need to explain why I want to taste this, do I?

This vegan peanut stew. Hey, I have all the ingredients for this (if I substitute regular onion for the white and chickpeas for the garbanzo beans).

This shrimp salad. I love shrimp.

This spinach and bacon filled puff pastry. Anything puff pastry is just going to be awesome.

This herbed ham and lentil soup. Filling and healthy and yum.

This chicken and dumplings recipe. I’ve wanted to taste chicken and dumplings for quite some time now. It’s so American to me somehow, but it just looks like it should be delicious.

This nut encrusted pork tenderloin. *drool* I think I need to make this for my dad. And serve it with some kind of cold salad with apples. Yes, I’m thinking apples.

This chocolate orange mousse. Chocolate orange is amazing, and making it into mousse is just brilliant.

This cookie dough greek yoghurt. I love greek yoghurt, and cookie dough is always my favourite flavour for anything. So mixing the two in a healthy way sounds like heaven.

These snickers cupcakes. SNICKERS! CUPCAKES!

Also, I have recently (read: yesterday) discovered the wonder that is FRESH DATES! My life will never be the same.

 

 

 

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Cooking quiche and veggie pies for the freezer

I have this thing about having a lot of food in the freezer. As much as I enjoy cooking, I sometimes have days where I just don’t feel like it, and I love being able to just pull something from the freezer and toss it in the microwave.

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In England shopping for the freezer was easy and cheap. Unfortunately the freezer space I had there was TINY, which sort of made it complicated. In Iceland frozen foods aren’t always very cheap, probably because most of it has been shipped in from somewhere far away, and when it is produced here it’s made with imported ingredients and for a very small market. Moreover, cheap, frozen food isn’t always made with the best ingredients and so doesn’t make for very healthy eating. So when I can I like to make my own frozen foods.

Yesterday I spent hours on my feet in the kitchen making quiche and mini veggie pies. I took my laptop with me and managed to watch two episodes of Hannibal and one episode of Criminal Minds. I also somehow managed to wash four loads of laundry. I am the lord of multitasking!

I recently made some quiche lorraine from scratch for the first time. I fell in love with it while in Sheffield and the fact that it’s pretty much nowhere to be found here in Iceland has been eating me up inside (not really). I had somehow managed to convince myself that it’s really complicated to make, but it’s not. It takes a bit of time, but it’s well worth it.

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The recipe I worked with comes from here. I decided to make two quiche lorraine (cheese and bacon), and two with spinach and cheese. I used the same recipe and just substituted spinach for the bacon. Spinach quiche is probably generally made slightly differently, but I couldn’t be arsed to find out. This worked for me.

Half-and-half, as I understand it, is basically half milk and half cream, so it’s easy to just use those. The first time I did this I actually did split two of the eggs and just use the egg yolks, but it felt wasteful because I knew I wasn’t going to use the egg whites. I made four quiche last night and that would’ve left me with 8 egg whites, so I just used whole eggs.

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Tablespoons as a measurement for butter is very strange to me, especially when the butter is supposed to be cold. I don’t know how butter packaging works in the US, but here they all have markings for 50 or 100 grams. I did calculate it though, and 7 tablespoons are 98 grams.

Making quiche is a little messy, particularly the crust. Mixing just under 400 grams of cold butter into flour with my hands took a while and left me quite sore. It’s probably much easier to do it in a stand mixer. Then I had to make two separate bowls of the egg mixture, and I had quite a bit left over of both once I’d filled up the crusts. I poured the leftovers into muffin forms, so I now have a few mini-omelettes of sorts.

I used aluminium forms which might be a bit smaller than the 9 inches recommended in the recipe. The edges are also a bit low. This might account for the leftover egg-mixture. But it worked out all right, so it’s fine. I used rice as pie weights, which worked out just fine. I baked two of the crusts at a time and once the first two had been baked I simply transferred the parchment paper and weights over to the others.

They all turned out absolutely lovely. I left them in the fridge over night and today I cut them into quarters and put all but two of the quarters into the freezer. So I now have up to 12 meals sitting in there.

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I also made mini veggie pies based on this recipe. The recipe is dairy free, but I just ignored that and made them with dairy products. I approximately trebled the recipe, and instead of using ramekins or pie forms, I simply rolled out the puff pastry and cut into sheets large enough to fill muffin forms. I then topped the filling with another small sheet of puff pastry. For the filling I made do with frozen broccoli mix veggies, I just chopped them up smaller once they’d thawed.

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These turned out really well. The bottoms were a little soggy once I took them out of the oven, even though the tops were starting to burn a little. Next time I might try to bake them at a lower temp for a bit longer. Or I’ll bake the pastry for a bit before putting the mix in. They taste good anyway. I’ve eaten a few, but I still have about 12 of them in the freezer now, and they are perfect for lunch packs. I can just grab one or two and put in a box with some fresh veggies, they’ll have thawed by the time lunch rolls around.

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Birthday parties, kittens and Pasta Primavera

I slept late this morning. Actually, morning isn’t quite the right word. I didn’t wake up until 1pm. Usually when I sleep that long (yes, I’ve been known to stay in bed waaaaaay too long), I’ve woken up briefly a few times throughout the morning, but stubbornly decided to stay with my dreams a bit longer. This time I was pretty much dead to the world until 1pm. The walk home with the groceries yesterday must’ve worn me out more than I thought.

My plan was to make this Pasta Primavera recipe for lunch (and eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow), and then have skyr for dinner. Instead I went to my cousin’s 3-year-old son’s birthday party. There was lovely company and yummy food to be had, chocolate sheet cake for the kids, delicious meringue cakes, cheese and crackers, carrot cake, and this hot asparagus/mushroom/cheese bread roll thing1.

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Much to my joy there was also this adorable little kitten called Mia. She spent ages in my lap chewing on my hands and all I could do was smile and indulge her.

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Despite all the eating I’d already done, I still wanted to make the Pasta Primavera, so I got to work as soon as I returned home.

It turned out quite good. It wasn’t quite as delicious as I had hoped, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be because of the recipe. It’s sometimes hard for me to follow recipes that require piles of vegetables. The recipe can say something like “medium sized zucchini”, but while the zucchini I pick out is “medium” sized to me, it’s huge compared with what the writer of the recipe had in mind.

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So I ended up with this massive pile of Pasta Primavera, and I’m not sure I’ll manage to eat it all before it goes bad. I quite enjoyed making it though. There’s something so very satisfying about cutting vegetables. So if I ever end up making it again, I’ll make sure to make a bit less of it, and add more spices.

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The Skyr can wait until tomorrow night; it’s a lovely replacement for the frozen pizza I had previously decided on having for Sunday dinner.

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1 In the Scandinavian countries there’s almost always a kind of bread cake thing at every party. They can be hot or cold. The cold ones are often like sandwich “cakes” with tuna salad or shrimp salad, decorated with fancy cut veggies. Hot ones often come in a kind of bread roll, or as casseroles of sorts. It’s usually ham, asparagus and eggs with mayonnaise and/or sour cream, and then topped with cheese. There are all kinds of these.

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Buying food for the month

I was going to go to Bónus (supermarket) yesterday, but it was my first day at a new job and I had just bought myself a new MacBook Pro (which is shiny as hell!!). So I didn’t go. Instead I went today, after work.

I had written a long list of things to buy, based on my food plan and I only bought those things (except for some hygiene products). It ended up being quite a lot, and then I had to carry it all home! Thankfully it wasn’t far; it’s only about a 10-minute walk. Still, I am quite beat up right now and I’m going to enjoy the heck out of sleeping in tomorrow morning.

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Technically I could get away with much less than what I did buy, so I’m not going for as-cheap-as-possible. Instead my aim is to eat well, and not waste anything. I bought all dry ingredients and things that last a while. I also bought quite a bit for the freezer. I have set aside some cash, which I can use throughout the month to buy fresh vegetables and dairy products and other short shelf life things.

I bought what I need to make four quiches, two cheese and bacon, and two cheese and spinach. I also bought the ingredients for mini veggie pot pies, and chickpea and carrot burgers. These I will make on Sunday and throw in the freezer. I’m also planning on making some sweet things to keep in the freezer, such as cinnamon rolls and banana bread.

I bought a bag of frozen chicken breasts, frozen hamburgers, frozen minced beef, and 3 cheap frozen pizzas. This makes several chicken meals (i.e. curry), and the minced beef will make enough lasagna and shepherd’s pie for several meals as well.

I bought a lot of vegetables, both fresh and frozen, and some fruit. I bought staples such as pasta, olive oil, spices, rice, soy sauce, etc. So some of what I bought will last longer than just this month.

My food plan includes breakfast and snacks, so I also bought greek yoghurt, Coco Puffs (for weekends!), muesli, oats and such things.

This is turning into a boring shopping list, but I hope you get the picture!

The plan was a bit up in the air this week, since I didn’t go shopping until today. But I will be stricter about sticking to it from now on and I will talk about how it goes and write some posts about some of the meals I make.

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