Nothing beats a delicious piece of juicy, well cooked beef. Put it in a bun with some great dressing, marinated onions, tomato and lettuce and you’ve got yourself the tastiest burger you’ve ever had to eat. Without any further introductions, here’s how we cook our burgers:READ MORE
A while ago, the lovely ladies in my “mommy group” started a fun little tradition – lunch for five. We do it once a month and I signed up as host for May. When me and the ladybug first got up in the morning, I was sure we wouldn’t have any luck with the weather. But about ten minutes before the guests arrived, the sun came out and the back yard was suddenly sunny and warm enough for the kids to run around and play – that must mean it was meant to be!
I’m sure I’ve told you this many times before, but it’s worth mentioning again – I’m really blessed to have these people and their gorgeous, well-behaved kids in my life. Especially if they come to have lunch with me from half way across the country! ♥
I’m not sure whether it’s a crazy coincidence or if it’s just us – we have the cutest kids in the world!
The Food! I marinated chicken breasts, filled mushrooms with a blue cheese cream and ham, grilled corn, made a fresh melon-feta salad (I’ll do a post on my favorite salad recipes so you guys have loads of side dishes to go with your barbecue this summer!) and for dessert, I grilled halved bananas with some cognac syrup and served them with ice cream, strawberries and melted chocolate 🙂
Having a huge rock at the center of the garden can be a huge benefit – whether you need some quick grown-up-privacy or are climbing it for the sake of the adventure 🙂
Since we were in Finland when it was Triinu’s birthday, we couldn’t give her a proper birthday greeting on her special day so we invited them over for a playdate yesterday to congratulate her and hand over her present. I also made a delicious gooey chocolate cake and covered it with whipped cream (with a hint of rum). Triinu is the world’s biggest fan of Hello Kitty so the choice of cake decor was quite obvious. The eyes and whiskers are made of chocolate, the nose is a piece of lemon peel and the bow is from slices of strawberry!
Probably the cutest couple in the world!
H’s hand reaching for the delicious food
From the top: Onion rings, oven baked and blue cheese filled mushrooms, ham rolls, filled eggs topped with caviar, miniature pulled pork sandwiches, chicken wings (marinated and oven-baked), pasta salad, vegetables and dip.
I wouldn’t have survived the day without Ingrid’s help – the builders finished replacing our radiators (hence the torn wallpaper in the pictures) the night before (we spent the night at H’s mom’s) and I didn’t get home from the flea market until 4 p.m. You can imagine how messy our home was. The guests arrived at 7 p.m. and we had the whole place tidied up and all the food done thanks to this amazing lady (and uncle K, too) in the picture above!
I love how much life and fun there is in these pictures. Amazing night spent in best possible company!
Saturday night was the first time I met her and it will definitely not be the last. We hit it off right away 🙂 Our pal has one hell of a girlfriend!
Why so serious?
When I have no dinner insipration what so ever and I don’t feel like spending too much time in the kitchen, this is my go-to recipe. There aren’t a lot of ingredients and this meal pretty much cooks itself. You can use any spices or herbs you like to season the sauce with or you can serve with rice or pasta in stead – the possibilities are endless.
To cook this for three people you need:
♥ Three chicken fillets
♥ 2-3 gloves of garlic
♥ 1 tablespoon of cognac (optional)
♥ Juice of two oranges (also add a teaspoonful of orange zest for more flavor)
♥ 2 tablespoons of ground ginger (freshly grated ginger is great, too, just add less)
♥ 4 dl of heavy cream
♥ Soy sauce
♥ Salt & pepper for seasoning
♥ Olive oil for frying and baking
Start by preparing the potatoes (they take the longest to cook). Preheat the oven to 200°C, wash and scrub the potatoes (cut out any spots of dirt) and cut them into wedges. Season with salt and pepper, cover the potatoes in olive oil, toss them around a couple of times (to make sure they’re seasoned properly) and finish them off by sprinkling paprika all over them. This will give the wedges a nice bittersweet flavor and a beautiful golden crust. Throw them in the preheated oven and start cooking the chicken.
Pat the fillets dry with a paper towel (very important), heat some olive oil in a large saucepan and sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown (also season generously with salt, pepper and ginger while doing so). When the fillets are seared, add chopped garlic, toss it around a couple of times and then add the (cognac first if you’re using it; if so, make sure you let the alcohol evaporate before adding anything else – you can tell the alcohol has left the pan when you can take a whiff of what’s in your pan without becoming intoxicated) freshly pressed orange juice. Turn the chicken around, allow it to cook in the orange juice for a few seconds, then add the cream. Taste the sauce: does it have a good balance of flavors? Add soy sauce for more depth of flavor and saltiness, a pinch of sugar if it’s too acidic and more ginger if you can’t taste it in the sauce. Trust your instincts, this is the fun part! You can even add curry, if you like!
Let simmer on low to medium heat until the sauce thickens and the potatoes are done. Serve with a fresh salad if you like and enjoy – you will absolutely love it! H told me all night what an incredible woman I am for having served him this meal. Don’t tell him how easy it was!
The preparations for my birthday turned out to be just as chaotic and stressful as everything else I ever plan suddenly seems to become – the illness set me back by two days and the carefully calculated schedule was a mess. I got to go shopping for all the necessities (food and wine) Thursday night and stayed up until very late o’clock, trying to get everything ready for Friday. Luckily my girls came to my rescue early in the afternoon, helped me clean, cook and take care of the baby. H took himself and the baby to grandma’s house so we got to prepare and party on our very own like the big girls we are now, hihi.
The very ambitious menu I had put together consisted of:
♥ Two different types of bruschetti (classic tomato-garlic ones and the other one with serrano ham and a ruccola-orange salad)
♥ A pasta salad
♥ A greek salad
♥ Oven-baked mushrooms filled with a blue cheese cream
♥ Beetroot and goat cheese in puff pastry
♥ Cognac-cured salmon
♥ Toast Skagen
♥ A cheese platter
♥ Vegetables and dip (a home-made tzatziki)
♥ A chocolate cake
♥ Wine (I was the only one drinking red wine, I still can’t believe it)
♥ Strawberry Margaritas
When everyone had arrived (and after the make-up artist had been here to do my make-up) I took out the curlers I decided to use to save time (so I didn’t have to interrupt my party preparations to use a curling iron) and discovered that they had turned my hair into a pretty disgusting looking afro. That, together with the fact that the dress I ordered looked nothing like I had imagined, put me down quite a bit. The problem was solved by borrowing auntie G’s little black dress (thanks for saving the day, sugar!), creating a nice little messy updo and making a large batch of strawberry Margaritas.
We got the party started, put on the playlist we had put together early on and everyone started getting to know each other. All my girls clicked almost instantly and we had so much fun when everyone was introducing themselves by saying their name and then telling the story of how they met me. Noone was really able to stick to the topic because me and my girls have a l o t of “war stories” to tell. Then I dealt out the goodiebags, we ate, drank wine, discussed all kinds of existential matters and childhood stories to then move on to the trivia I had planned – I picked out three team captains who then got to put together their teams. Everyone got colorful party horns, pen and paper for the team and the competition was on. I asked them a question about myself and whoever lost the round (by answering incorrectly or too slowly) got to carry out their punishment. Some had to call a friend and ask them to help pick out a good secret agent name, some got to read their texts out loud and some drew cats on each others’ shoulders.
We had soooooooooo much fun and for some reason the time really flew by fast as hell and before we knew it, it was already 3 a.m. and if we wanted to go dancing, we’d have to move quick. We ordered a large taxi cab and went out. I didn’t stay out too long because there was really nothing there and I was exhausted, but I can at least say I was there!
When I got home I opened all the presents (I asked my guests to fit my pressies into envelopes so I could arrange the best party ever), got all weepy and happy and then went to bed. When I got up in the morning I had a very special and exclusive after party coming my way – cleaning it all up. God was it worth it!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, sweet girls – my 22nd was probably my favorite birthday ever and nothing thrills me more than knowing that all the people I love get along really well and that you’ll remember our little celebration for a long-long time. Now light a scented candle and pour a glass of bubbly – you deserve it! 😉
We created a nice, romantic ambience with loads and loads of candles. Looks cozy, doesn’t it?
“Congratulations on my birthday” – There can’t be a glamorous party without goodiebags!
My sweet-sweet Svea
Put my afro up in a messy knot and I think it looked pretty okay!
Ethel and Ingrid – part of my gorgeous glam squad 😀
Triinu looking pretty serious and badass, but I promise she really did have fun!
Ingrid and Janika
Team Blue feeling the pressure of the competition – they didn’t win, but they sure put up a good fight!
Kristel’s friend thought that a good secret agent name for her would be “Alarm”, that’s how subtle he thinks she is!
Team Kristjaana (Kristel+Janika) being punished a g a i n for being slow as hell. Here: dialling a number to call people in the middle of the night and make complete asses of themselves. Guess how hard we laughed?
We were supposed to take lots of really glamorous photos but we ended up, well, having fun in stead. We decided to correct our mistake by doing the photoshoot at the end of the party. Big mistake 😀
♥ a chicken
♥ a lemon
♥ a bunch of fresh thyme
♥ dried sage (if you’ve got fresh, go for it)
♥ four to five large cloves of garlic
♥ a tablespoon of honey
♥ olive oil
♥ salt & pepper
If your chicken still has some offal inside it, scrape it all out and wash the chicken inside and out. Preheat your oven to 240°C, wipe the chicken skin dry with a paper towel and season it generously with salt and pepper. Use a knife or fork to stab holes in the lemon (all around so the juice can get out), then shove it into the chicken’s cavity together with the garlic and herbs. Use cotton thread to tie the chicken’s ankles together and then do a loop around the wings to tie them close to the body (this way the bird will keep all its moisture and won’t become rubbery and dry). Sprinkle olive oil all over the chicken and rub the honey across the skin. Give it another pinch (or two) of salt, lower the heat in the oven to 175-180°C and put the bird in. Cooking it will take about and hour to an hour and a half (depending on the size of your bird).
Your chicken is cooked when you pierce it close to a wing and the liquid that runs out is clear.
The chicken is best served with Basmati rice. If you want a delicious, creamy (and easy-to-make) sauce to go with it, you need:
♥ 2 dl of heavy cream
♥ a teaspoon of curry powder
♥ half a teaspoon of honey
♥ salt and pepper
♥ chicken stock (or better yet: whatever juice was left at the bottom of the pan you cooked your chicken in)
If you’re using the fluid from the chicken roast, sift it into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil and whisk in the cream (if not, start by heating the cream and then add stock until it’s salty and flavorful enough; no more salt will be required). Then add the honey, curry and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer until the sauce thickens and voilà! You have an absolutely amazing sauce to go with your meal.
I’ve had one of the laziest days in a long-long time today, I guess it’s because of the stress release. I’ve been all wrapped up (pun intended) in Christmas preparations, making presents, cards and handmade gifts and now that it’s all done and over with, I feel really relaxed and filled with the joy of giving (receiving isn’t too bad either…).
We spent a delightful Christmas eve at H’s mom’s house, we listened to Christmas carols, ate great food and then, of course, we opened up all our presents after dinner. What we had for dinner? For the first course I made roast beef, a beetroot salad with goat cheese, filled eggs and ham rolls (classics)H’s mom made cognac-cured salmon and a fresh ruccola-based salad. The main course was a beautiful carré d’agneau with oven-baked potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes and a nice red wine sauce to top it all off. After opening our presents we enjoyed H’s mom’s delicious trifle for dessert. She always makes an extra portion and I always claim it with pride. Santa had been almost a little too generous this year so the heap of presents was almost taller than the tree… 🙂 Can’t complain though, the kid in me was crazy with excitement unwrapping all the stuff!
Then we went on to spend Christmas day in Tartu with H’s grandparents. We decided to bring some of the food so H’s grandmother could enjoy the company of her (great-grand)children rather than standing in front of the stove the whole entire day. My assignment was to make the huge pork roast and it turned out great! Once we were done eating all our delicious food and handed over all the truffles and presents we had made for the family, it was time to visit my grandparents and auntie Ethel. Again, time well spent, especially with auntie E. She hadn’t seen the ladybug for a while and baby was a bit confused at the beginning but when E grabbed her from her car seat and cuddled her, she calmed down as if she was thinking “well, if you’re THIS confident holding me, it must mean I know you!”. E gave us a box of bath-goodies, a beautiful photo album for the baby and a yummie Escada perfume for me. She had great news for us and we left filled with excitement and anticipation! I love when people I love have great things coming their way.
But without further ado: here come some pictures from our holiday season! Enjoy!Our beautiful tree – I went for a simple, plain white style of decor for the tree because it’s probably the last coordinated tree I’ll get before the kid takes over the upcoming years. Gorgeous, isn’t it? I love the birds 🙂 Finally done wrapping – some of the presents we gave our loved ones. Our cozy home all lit up with Christmas lights. We have another set, a strand of colorful disco-Christmas lights around our hallway mirror, but I forgot to take a picture. Making and sending off the cards – they didn’t reach their destinations in time for Christmas, but I hope they’ll bring joy nonetheless!
Ready to send off mommy’s present to Sweden – we gave her a woolen hat and mittens (with fluffs of rabbit fur), an album of baby’s first year and the handmade card.
Got everything we needed to make our Christmas dinner, a pork roast for Christmas lunch at H’s grandmas, two cakes, truffles etc. Was one looong shopping list!
All happy and Christmasy with our little themed outfits – not the best of pictures, but we were eager to start eating. Sorry!
The truffles I made for our loved ones – chili truffles, classic cognac truffles, white chocolate and peppermint-truffles and ones with domino-cookies (oreo’s). Turned out great!
The Face – baby loudly smacks her lips , grins and looks really proud when she’s eating. Here: eating the filling out of a ham roll, then finishes off the ham itself. Christmas dinner – a cook takes pride in a perfectly cooked lamb rack 🙂 A glimpse of how spoiled I am – H had remembered I mentioned these a while ago and told Santa… it’s official, H is the perfect man! I’ll show them to you later! “A huge colorful box that I can lean on when I need to stand up! How did they know this is what I’ve always wanted?!” Handmade sauna-soap with pine-eucalyptus oil, shea butter and sea salt on one side for peeling. A great easy-to-make present for loved ones 🙂 Truffles all boxed up and ready to be handed over. The cones contain roasted spiced almonds for the kids 🙂 Also handmade! Tonight’s snack table: how we eat Christmas leftovers in our family. Roast beef, cognac-cured salmon, a cream cheese spread (made from Philadelphia we had left over from the trufflemaking , herbs, peppers and garlic) …
I’ll show you what Santa brought for me and the family tomorrow! Let’s just say tomorrow is going to be like another Christmas Eve for our family, I’ll tell you why in our next post!
Until then, why don’t you tell me how your Christmas has been? I’m curious:
1) Do you send/receive Christmas cards? Do you make your own and do you appreciate handmade cards? 2.) What did you get for Christmas? Do you have a tradition of making presents in your family? 3) What’s on your Christmas dinner table? 4) Do you go to church for Christmas? If so, why?
I promised one of my guests I’d write down the recipe for this quiche after our lunch date, but never really got to it. Now I’ve put it off for a little too long so I thought I’d post it here. You guys like recipes, don’t you? 🙂
250g plain flour
a pinch of salt
a couple of tablespoons of cold water
For the filling:
300-400g of good quality canned tuna (i use Abba’s)
2 dl of heavy cream (can be replaced with milk)
salt & pepper for seasoning
a tablespoon of butter for frying
To top it off:
a tablespoon of fresh dill (chopped)
100g grated cheese
10 cherry tomatoes
Start by making the dough: chop (I use a food processor to do the chopping for me) the cold butter, flour and salt together to a crumbly mass, then add a tablespoon or two of cold water (until it comes together and becomes a rollable dough). Roll the dough out into a round flat larger than the bottom of your springform cake pan (which you’ve covered with baking paper). Carefully lift the dough into the pan, press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. To ensure your quiche becomes nice and crispy, leave the dough-covered pan in the fridge to cool for as long as possible (at least half an hour).
Pre-heat your oven to 220°C, poke tiny holes into the bottom with a fork or toothpick and bake the crust for 10 minutes. While it’s in the oven, prepare the caramelized onion: cut the onions into thin slices, heat butter in a saucepan, throw in the onion rings and add a tiny pinch of salt and (brown) sugar. Stir-fry until golden. Then lower the heat in the oven to 180°C , mix together the eggs and cream in a bowl, season the mixture with salt and pepper. Take out your crust, spread the onions across the bottom, add the tuna (break it into even pieces if the chunks are too big) and pour the cream-egg mixture over the filling. Quickly (I mean it, do this fast or the cream will soak your dough and make it soggy) sprinkle it with dill, add the halved cherry tomatoes and lastly sprinkle the grated cheese all over it.
Bake in a 180°C (not a degree more) oven for ca 40 minutes (until the quiche isn’t too wobbly and the cheese is nice and golden), let cool and rest for 10-15 minutes and serve with a nice fresh salad.
If you want to make my spinach-feta quiche, in stead of caramelizing the onions you fry your spinach together with three or four chopped gloves of garlic and a generous amount of thyme (dried is fine). In stead of the tuna your second layer is diced feta cheese. The rest is the exact same! 🙂
I have to get ready to go to the movies with Ingrid, but I just wanted to show you a quick picture from the lunch and baby playdate I hosted today. What you see in the picture is my delicious mousse au chocolat served in a little chocolate basket. More pictures of delicious food and the world’s prettiest babies coming up tomorrow. Now: make-up!