I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!

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Skål! To a gorgeous couple and a Swedish food adventure

The love of two people is truly a magical thing, and I was both happy and honored to witness the love of two friends take the next steps in this thing called life. And in a gorgeous part of Europe no less. I traveled by trains, planes and automobiles to a small town in Sweden and toasted the newly wed couple in a beautiful and memorable celebration. “Skål!” (Cheers!) was shouted over and over while loved ones toasted the happy couple during the dinner portion. Smiles were a plenty, laughs were had (even when we didn’t understand what was being said!) and new memories with new friends were made. The wedding was gorgeous. And the next best part was being able to explore their home country and go on yet my latest food adventure. 

Where do I even begin on this one? First I guess the flight! With a layover in Finland, I can’t say I explored that country at all, just looked out over the beautiful countryside as we landed and grabbed a coffee at the airport. Maybe on the list for a future trip?

But on to Sweden. My friends grew up in a town called Borås outside Göteborg which is where my first stop was. Staying at a hotel in the middle of town, despite how tired I felt from the flight (even though I actually slept!) I needed to get out and explore right away.  The city has a strong history in textiles, with there being a couple of textile museums to learn the history. There were art pieces all around the city, a canal which ran through, cobble stone roads, and a Pinocchio statue called Walking to Boras. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this city, and the food was so good (I’ll get to that!). The wedding was held at a beautiful venue in the countryside about a half hours bus ride from town. Set in a barn on a lake, a little rain showered the closing of their wedding vows, but the sun shone brightly for them after. 

A train ride north to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, brought a whole new atmosphere and wonderful city to explore. Exploring this beautiful archipelago must be done on foot, as there’s so much to take in that traveling from place to place by cab would be a huge disservice. Also recommended is some sort of canal ride or tour to really get a sense of the archipelago. Made up of 14 islands, some are far more touristy than others, but we took it all in. A boat ride to the closest of the islands from downtown Stockholm, Fjäderholmarna, made for a great afternoon. This island was a sight to be seen between the water, the greenery and the little shops and artisans, including a small brewery. For the rest of Stockholm, I made sure to take in the sights, visit the all famous Vasa Museum, visited the touristy yet a must-to-be-seen Gamla Stan (Old Town), walked past the Palace and visited some parks. 

I also visited the oldest foodhall in Stockholm. Unfortunately it was under construction, but it was fun to walk around the temporary space across the street. 

Now, on to the best part. The food. And oh my was it good. There are a few key dishes that Sweden is known for. Of course, meatballs is a must have. Served with the all famous lingonberries. 

Or on a stick at a wedding! 

Swedish cheeses on Swedish flatbread. Västerbotten is the most famous, similar to a parmesean. 

Anything fish from fish soup, toast skagen (shrimp on toast), smoked salmon, cured salmon, fish roe, herring and shrimp salad. 

Chanterelle mushrooms were in season so this on toast was a popular dish. With of course lingonberries and cheese. 

Had to try reindeer. 

Swedish chips were a quick grab and perfect snack. 

Candy candy candy. Swedes love their pick-and-go candy bars. My favorite was the heart gummies. 

A variety of local beers and ciders were fun to try. Including the brewery on the island. 

And of course, my favorite, cinnamon buns. I love cinnamon buns. And no you American people, it’s not just an IKEA thing. This is a very traditional pastry to have during their “fika” which is a sociable coffee break. Well, I can say I had my fair share of these. 

So that concludes my amazing Swedish food adventure. I checked just about everything off my food list. “Tack” (thank you) to my lovely friends for inviting me to witness their wedding and for sharing their beautiful country with me. I can’t wait to go back! 

Oh, and no layover in Heathrow Airport is complete without the purchase of plenty of English chocolates. Because English chocolate is the best. And I really need my (good) Dairy Milk fix 🙂 


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A new month begins

A new month is brining new opportunities, one of which is starting in a new job this week. But first, cake. I promised to share with you the themed cake I made for my niece and here it is. Cookie Monster! While it took awhile to frost and I need to work on my eye making (they look a tad misshaped lol), it came out pretty good and she absolutely loved it! Thank you Pinterest for this idea. 

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A Flank Steak Surprise

Sometimes, taking a chance on something pays off. In life and in food. This flank steak I’m about to share was one of those food times. I have no picture to share with you all – is that completely terrible that I’m still posting this? I mean, some cookbooks don’t have pictures for every recipe, right? Can this be one of those recipes? To be honest, I didn’t take the photo because it wasn’t the prettiest looking dish. And since I threw it together on a chance that the combination of ingredients may work, I was surprised at the great outcome. Again, life and cooking pretty similar… 

So here’s what I did. I slow cooked a piece of flank steak in my slow cooker with a marinade of 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tbs yellow spicy mustard, 1-2 tsp sriracha sauce (depending on your spice level), salt and pepper. Threw in 1 large garlic clove cut in half, 1 half of a medium yellow onion also cut in half, and 2 carrots peeled and cut into chunks. Slow cooked that on low for 10 hours.  And oh such a yummy surprise dish. 

Try it out. A different combination of ingredients isn’t such a bad thing! Enjoy and take those chances. And sorry about the no photo 🙂 just trust me on this one. 

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Chicken with a beer mustard sauce

When I make chicken in the oven, I tend to stick to similar flavors. This is a mash-up of other dishes I’ve made in a way, so I debated even posting about it. But it was too good not to share. It’s a great dish to cook solo, for a couple, or for a group since it’s a throw it in the oven and forget it meal – just adjust how much you make! And being home early enough to throw this in the oven is even better. The flavor combination of the mustard and beer with the chicken really makes your taste buds happy. This is definitely the dish to try, especially as autumn will be moving in soon! 

Chicken pieces – I picked up a dark meat mix (3 legs, 3 thighs), but use whatever kind you prefer
1 can of artichoke hearts, cut in half
3 carrots, sliced
1 bottle of beer
1 tbs stone grain mustard
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
Chili powder

In a large baking dish, place the chicken pieces which have been seasoned with chili powder, salt and pepper. 

Add the carrots and artichoke hearts to the dish. 

In a measuring cup, whisk together the beer, mustard, garlic and Worcestershire sauce which has been seasoned with pepper. Pour over the chicken. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour and a half. Serve over pasta, or rice if you prefer, with your choice of vegetables. Sautéed Swiss chard and roasted paprika spiced cauliflower are perfect pairings. 

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Bread Dip that’s perfect for the game or game night!

Football season is almost here so it seems fitting to share the most amazing, perfect for football Sunday bread dip. Not that I’m trying to rush summer by any means, but some people enjoy pre-season so thought I’d get this posted. To be honest I’m surprised it took me this long! My mom had this in her recipe book as St. Anthony Bread Dip, although I’m not really sure why as I have been told it’s a version of Mississpi Sin Dip. Either way, it’s delicious – the perfect blend of creamy yet spicy. This is definitely my go-to Super Bowl dip, but it’s great for any party or game night! 

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
16 oz sour cream
1/4 Virginia ham sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped pickled jalepeno
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 3lb round unseeded Italian bread

Carve out a 4 inch diameter circle in the top  of the bread. Lift off the top and remove most of the inside of the bread, leaving the inside intact. Reserve the inside for later. Mix all the other ingredients together and fill the bread. Place the top back on the bread. Wrap the bread in tinfoil and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 400 degrees. Serve hot. Dice up the bread insides to use for dipping as well as cut into the sides. Enjoy! 

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Birthday Fun

Not sure how already, but my adorable, sassy, fun-loving, smart, funny, beautiful little niece is 2. They are having a party for her in a few weeks, and I’ve been tasked with making a cake themed off her favorite tv show. Damn you Pinterest… I love yet hate you all the same time! Stay tuned for this masterpiece (or mess!) to come! 🎉

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Gym Fuel Shakes

So I recently joined the gym. I know, what? It’s my first “real” gym membership. I joined the gym at my last job and went for a few months.  But this is legit. I’ve been wanting to join for awhile but never went through with it. Between working late and having a long commute home I never knew when I’d have the time or energy. But it helps to have a gym buddy to motivate you and that is what finally got me going. I tend to stick to the elipitical, but that thing really is a good work out! But I do like the leg machines from my days of running track many moons ago. But no matter if you’re doing cardio or lifting weights, a quick shake either before or after the gym will get you the energy you need. I simply mixed together some fresh berries, almond yogurt and almond milk to make this shake. You can mix it up by adding almond butter or if you want some extra bulk get some protein powder. But for something light, keep it simple. We’ll see how long this gym thing lasts, but I’ll say this shake thing may last forever! Happy working out y’all!