Saturday, 29 March 2014

Fragrant Tomato Soup

OK, so when it comes to tomato soup, I can be a little funny. I like the ones that come in a can *hangs head in shame*, and sooooome tomato soups that they serve in cafês and restaurants, but usually not homemade tomato soup. Why? I think I had one of those strange incidents with it once when I had made it myself.
BUT! I reckon I might have been cured! And I will give you the secret.... follow, follow....

Fragrant Tomato Soup
(Serves 2, 3-4 as a starter)

1 tsp coconut or olive oil
1 big onion (I used two small red ones)
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 can whole tomatoes (I used big plum tomatoes)
1 tbsp tomato pureê
200-250 ml vegetable stock (Marigold's all the way!)
1 tsp paprika (smoked paprika if you have it)
1/3-1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Handful basil, roughly torn (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optionally serve this with boiled eggs (deeeelicious! And a great way to add a bit of protein, not vegan though!)

- Simply heat the oil in a medium casserole, and add the onion, garlic and tomatoes. Soften for about five minutes.

- Add the rest of the ingredients and heat through until it's boiling, about minutes. Now, whizz the soup smooth either with a stick blender or a food processor.

- Serve with a nice hardboiled egg in the middle, and some good crusty bread on the side, or enjoy it just as it is! It actually reminds me of the tomato soup they serve at my favourite coffee chain Caffe Nero *smiles*

Oh! And... I noticed this in the shop last week!

Ta-dah! Laughing Cow has now come out with a light BLUE CHEESE version! I was so happy when I saw it, as these little cheesy triangles are perfect to have as part of a snack, take with you to work or school for lunch, and you don't to open a whole tub of normal cream cheese. I have only tried it on it's own so far, but it will go great with any other toppings of choice too, mmm It tastes of a mild blue cheese, so nice and creamy! You'd think I'd work for them, but really, I am just stoked that I spotted it!

Original source:
Sunnere & Sterkere med Proteinrik Mat, p. 22

- Jules

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Marbled Banana Cake

So I may have completely failed with the actual pattern of this cake. I ended up laying first the plain layer and then the chocolate layer on top and turned a spoon aroun in it, but it all just blended together. Next time, I'll pay closer attention to the recipe...

A gluten free little treat for any day! I like how the banana in it made sure it didn't go dry when baking it, mmmm!

Marbled Banana Cake
(Cuts into 6, serves 2-3)

OK, so it got a bit of a marble pattern, it was definitely funkier than I feared it would be when I took it out of the oven!

1 banana, mashed
1 egg
3 tbsp low-fat yogurt (or an egg white)
1 tbsp Sukrin gold or xylitol (optional, I didn't use it)
3-4 drops stevia vanilla
20g (1 heaped tbsp) coconut flour
20g vanilla protein powder
2 tbsp milk or water
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 drops stevia chocolate

- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

- In a bowl, mash the banana, before adding the egg, yogurt/egg white, sukrin, stevia, coconut flour, protein powder and the milk/water.

- Transfer half of the mixture into another bowl and mix in the cocoa and chocolate stevia.

- In a small cake tin or quiche tin (about 12 cm), add layers of each batter on top of each other until you run out of the mixture. DON'T do like me and swirl, just pop it in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. If you're using muffin tins, check in on them after 15 minutes and give them another five minutes if they aren't cooked properly through.

- Take out and cool slightly before serving, and enjoy!

At your service! I can imagine it would be lovely with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate too!

Oh and I finally got around to trying the pecan pumpkin butter the other day!

It was a lot sweeter than I imagined it to be, so I would recommend serving it on a good slice of wholemeal bread as opposed to the already sweet apple and cinnamon rice cakes I used. It had a lovely flavour though, and I cannot wait to try some more of it!

Do you have a favourite nut-butter? Perhaps one with a twist like this?

Later on I will try a new recipe I was lucky enough to get when I was in New Jersey, if it turns out right, it might just turn up on the blog tomorrow, fingers crossed! Stay tuned, and have a lovely weekend!

Original Source:
Sunnere & Sterkere med Proteinrik Mat, p. 40

- Jules

Thursday, 20 March 2014

New Jersey with a Twist of the Big Apple

After having been outside of Europe for the first time ever, New Jersey to be precise, I decided I would write a little post about it! Apologies for it being more like a journal post than anything, but if you've ever been to New Jersey (The Lambertville side of it!), or even New York (I got to spend two days there and travelled through Princeton on the way back to NJ), then you might recognise some of the spots here!

So I went over to the States to visit my good friend Matt aka Lazy Guy from Lazy Guy's Somethings! I stayed mostly with him and his lovely family, and here is what I got myself into whilst there *takes out her random little notes scribbled down in notepads and a Sudoku leaflet*

Day 1:
Pretty much arrived late at night, was greeted warmly by my hosts and now very good friends. I was poured a glass of red and served some blue cheese in classy fashion before excusing myself to just let my head hit the pillow. Thankfully both the flights went super smoothly, and I had managed to cram in watching both The Bookthief and some other movie that has completely slipped my mind now!

Day 2:
I woke up and had breakfast with a beautiful view out at an open plain field, the birds feeding outside. Seeing cardinals and blue jays were like spotting these exotic birds to me, but my favourites were the mourning doves, such petite little things.
My coffee loving friend and I decided to just let me ease into the whole holiday by visiting the nearest town, Lambertville. So we walked into Lambertville and stopped at Lambertville TRading Co. coffee shop, and were greeted by a lovely woman behind the till. I got my cappuccino on, and also snuck to mini Ritter chocolates with me to have with it. Afterwards, we decided to walk over the bridge to Pennsylvania. One day into my stay and I had already been in two States - how's that for prolific!
We found this nice little restaurant called Sprig & Vine, which served up lovely vegetarian meals. An older lady told us that we HAD to try the chilli, and I was immediately convinced. I am usually so indecisive that I was easily persuaded by this little tip. And so I had a monster of a burrito filled with a delicious chilli, mmmm. Who says vegetarian food can't be soul food?
We wandered around for a bit, and came across this little peculiar shop called Mechanic Street Mugs, and I was immediately intrigued! As we entered, we were greeted by a lovely elderly man who was surrounded by a couple of friends and probably at least a thousand different mugs in all shapes and sizes. I decided that I HAD to get one, it was the perfect souvenir, and after about half an hour (did I mention I am indecisive?) I settled for a genuine Kent Harris mug! I don't know how famous he is, but I have decided he has great things in store! We then, went to a little vintage shop around the corner from it, and got talking to a really nice woman working there called Jackie. On the way back again, we pretty much invaded this organic shop called Big Bear Natural Foods, there were sooo many goodies there! In the evening, we had a lovely salmon dinner, home made margheritas courtesy of the (Mix) Master of the house, and later we played poker and gambled with mini peanut butter cups - why waste money, right? Plus, these were darn delicious, which made the competition even more interesting.

Lambertville Trading Co. Coffee place and the menu for Sprig & Vine

From top left: A creepy entrance to a house, that looks like something like a neon version of Walking Dead, then on the top right you have the Mechanic Street Mugs! Love that shop *smiles* At the bottom, you see two funky houses, and it's true - most houses there have at least one rocking chair outside on their terrace!

Why would you gamble with anything but mini peanut butter cups?! Exactly... Mmmm!

Day 3:
OK, one thing you must understand is this - if in New Jersey and think you've spotted a majestic eagle or is 99% chance that it's "just" a turkey vulture. This is in no way a nice name for any creature to be named, and if I was a turkey vulture, I'd be offended. They were lovely though, and all over the place!
We went for a walk in the neighbourhood, and walked up to Woods Edge Yak, Alpaca and Llama farm. Unfortunately they were closed, but I later got a hold of a pair of alpaca socks - score! Apparently alpacas are less fortunate when it comes to intelligence, and therefore they needed the llamas there to see them through. The yaks seemed to be in a bit of a mood that day, and made a lot of grumpy noises.
Later on that day, we went out to a shooting range (in a Hummer no less....passing a trailer containing nothing less than a BATMOBILE!), I got my sharpshooting on, and got bull's eye at least once. I was a happy bunny, and later on we went out to a great little diner/pub called the Cassville Tavern. The staff there were great, and we ended up with awesome burgers, and tasty drinks. I discovered the Malibu Baybreeze, and we bought some of the glasses that we had pints in. The evening consisted of watching The Heat in my friends' friends' house, as they had a home cinema in the basement (with the most comfortable seats, I might add!), it was such an eventful day, and the people could not have been any nicer if they tried!

Yaks and alpacas!

Day 4:
...was Shopping Mall Day! Not officially, but....unofficially! The Bridgewater shopping mall was visited, and Quest bars were bought, we had dinner at this nice little place in the food court called Bajo-B-Que! After a couple of hours of wandering around, we called it a day, and went back to the house. It was National Meatball Day, and so we had that for dinner, it was deeelicious! Cookies'n'cream White Russians were served up for dessert. I think I was still a little tired from the whole travelling half the world, and so we had a pleasant and quiet evening.

Might have gone a little overboard with the Quest bars here....

Day 5:
I got my college on and we visited the College of New Jersey! Then, we dropped by the infamous Dunkin' Donuts before cinema times. I had a cappuccino, a delicious egg and cheese toast and....ONE cinnamon munchkin. I didn't know you were supposed to order a plastic container or box of them, and one with the coffee was enough for me anyway, hehe. American Hustle was watched (set in New Jersey, we didn't know!). When we got back Lazy Guy cooked up a delicious turkey chilli, which I WILL be sure to make in the near future and post up here. He deemed it a little to much effort for his Lazy Guy's Something's blog, and so I have taken the responsibility to post this delicious dish up, I just hope I do it justice when the time comes - no pressure or anything... I had some Blue Moon to go with it, and the rest of the evening consisted of playing Spyro the Dragon and watching Walking Dead.

TCNJ ball! And a Julie being super touristy next to it!

Day 6:
Because the Big Apple was awaiting us the following day, we decided to get our Lambertville Part 2 on, and it made for a pretty good day! I got some second hand clothes from Greene Street, and we bumped into the Mechanic Street Mug man again! We asked him where to go for good lunch, and his friends swore by Fran's Bar down the road, and so our quest was given to us and off we went! The food there was delicious, and on the way back I found a bouncy ball and gum ball machine and got one of each... I'm such a child! In the evening there was home made pizza a la Mix Master and we watched Serenity. I think I had watched that movie three times before, but it's just. so. good!

They sell newspaper in vending machines in Lambertville! For some reason this amused me, haha. And the crow was part of an art exhibition at Bucks coffee shop a little down the road from the other cafe we had visited a few days earlier. It was my favourite piece of the gallery.

Day 7:
New York, New York
So we took the train into New York, and the first thing we didn was to track We needed it though, as we had to both find the hotel and check in at the hotel AND pick up tickets to go and see Wicked. The latter wasn't done with ease, as we got there before the tickets (which apparently were dropped off only an hour before the show..peculiar). The Bread Factory supplied us with great coffee, and after having checked in at the Marriott (room 2831) and had lunch at a deli down the road from Broadway, the tickets had finally arrived and we got our play on! It was incredible, the set-up, the flawless acting, and it wasn't until the second act that I realised there were musicians underneath the stage, it just seemed to be too well timed to be live music. I really enjoyed it, and felt honoured to be there, were so many great actors and people alike have been throughout the years. In awe? You bet I was!
When the play finished, we decided to explore the shops, and I ended up buying a few t-shirts. I am a sucker for souvenirs and at least these were practical, right? When wanting a Yankees t-shirt with Gardner on the back, they asked me (in both shops) "Why Gardner?!" He must be one of the least acknowledged Yankees players, and so I figured I'd give him a bit of credit. A loyal shadow and great addition to the team who has been playing for them for quite some time now, I'd say he deserves it!
Afterwards, we tracked down this great sushi restaurant in the city centre called Kodama. A woman there recognised my accent and told me that she was originally from Glasgow herself, but had moved over to New York. She said it was nice to hear the Glaswegian accent again, and I was quite surprised that I actually do pull off the accent despite being a simple Norwegian. Later on we had a few drinks in Roxy's, followed by a lovely Irish bar called O'Donohue's. I got an Appletini in true Ross Geller fashion (except not as easy on the "tini"), and they played great music there too. Just what was needed after such a hectic day!

Broadway, Kodama, and the result of a Julie let loose in the shops of New York City, ooops!

What New York looks like on a rainy evening, and what a Rumrunnin' Punch looks like! Getting my five-a-day at Roxy's before heading over to O'Donohue's!

Day 8:
....Was less hectic, but it was bloomin' freezing! Minus 2 degrees celsius, and I had not prepared for that. After breakfast (which we discovered after having had it - was not included in the price...oops), we booked out and braved the weather. We managed to get to Central Park, saw a rock, decided to climb it and then head back, just so I could tick off that box. We found cheesecake in Marilela's, provided by the Bread Factory no less, and we heated up a bit, before hurrying down to this place called Lansdowne, to see the Yankees play the Orioles. And you know what? The food was great, they served tea, Mister Gardner was playing, and the Yankees won 6-0!
We caught the train to Princeton, and then the Dinkie further into Princeton, where we walked through Princeton University, were no other than Einstein once went. Dinner was had at the Triumph Brewery there, and I had a New York Strip in true NY style. It wasn't the best steak I've had, but I was just happy from being inside, sheltered from the cold. On the way back to Lambertville, we went through Trader Joe's, which had all sorts of temptations. All I tried was one of the Clif Bar Mojo with delicious nuts, mmm! Once back in the house, I was pretty much defeated and had to once more excuse myself and jump into bed. I put up a good fight though, and New York was immense!

I spilt coffee creamer on the table the next morning, and it looked suspicious, as you can tell from my suspicious looking face. The other picture is the view from the rock we climbed in Central Park!

Lansdowne and GARDNER! Followed by the Triumph Brewery and a New York Strip steak, had to be done...

Day 9:
A leisurely day after crazy crazy New York! I slept in, then we played some Spyro, and finally Wolf it Down and Lazy Guy got their cook-off on! It wasn't so much of a cook-off as it was team work though! We made Foul Mudammes, Zingy Avocado Hummous and served it with some quinoa crisps in courtesy of Big Bear Natural Foods, unfortunately this lovely little tapas meal was not photographed and immortalised, but it was pretty darn tasty!
Afterwards, we went for a walk around the park, and then I got to see and play some Journey, a really artsy game. I preferred watching it though, as it was quite relaxing and had some neat music playing in the background.
My official "take-out" thankfully didn't consist of a box of burgers and barrel of fries, but rather - sushi! It was a sight for sore eyes, and I might also have had some sushi for breakfast the following day, just maybe. Thor 2 was watched, and that was the end of that day!

Day 10:
This day, the road took us to a little town called Lahaska. It was a neat little place with lots and lots of nice shops. We almost went to a bakery where they had selv-service coffee, but we decided to hang in there, and quite luckily so, because a little further down the road, we got to The Coffee House!
Then, we made our merry way to the Giggleberry fair, high on caffeine. I played on some of the token machines and in the end had 100 tickets. Now, I thought that would give me an epic prize, but I might have ended up with a tiny, green bead wristband. Nothing wrong with that though, I just...sort of...wanted a stuffed teddy bear or something s'all, or at least one of those Eagles that you can place on the tip of your finger and spin around. I hunted down some chocolate truffles to have for dessert later on. Mediterranean chicken, and buffalo chicken wings was on the menu, with all sorts of delicious sides. It was the last meal in the house as we decided to go out on the final night of my stay. The food was amazing, and a bottle of Wolf wine was opened on the occasion... So it's not so much of a secret that I like wolves, I gerrit! The wine was delicious though! We watched Gravity later on, and called it a night shortly after.

The dining room at the Lazy Guy's residence, I'm telling you - that family has class!

Day 11:
My last full day in New Jersey - sigh! We took it easy like a Sunday mooooorning in true Lambertville fashion. Then, we headed to a local vineyard around lunch time, the Unionville Vineyard no less! We got to try eight different wines each, and the Riesling and the Fields of Fire were definitely my two favourites! I bought yet another t-shirt, along with some pecan pumpkin butter that I cannot wait to try!
Later in the day, we headed to a lovely American restaurant called Jake's. I had the infamous swordfish that thankfully was on the specials menu, followed by a bourbon pecan pie - it was definitely a great last meal before travelling across the seas the following day. When we got back, we watched some more Walking Dead, had popcorn and then I packed up, and set my alarm to 3:45 am.

Unionville Vineyards! And the amazing logo, it was such a nice thing to do before preparing myself for returning reality the following day ^ ^

And so here I am, puzzled, still slightly jet-lagged, and many many life experiences richer. It seems like I have come back from some parallel universe, and going back to work today certainly was interesting.

Beef jerky, sweets, quest bars, pecan & pumpkin butter, and a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. cookbook with hot sauce and spice mix included! I cannot wait to try out the recipes!

My new collection of t-shirts, a Bubba Gump bag, a lovely wolf ornament Matt gave me, a Killians glass from the Cassville Tavern, Alpaca socks, Bubba Gump shrimps and chapsticks, the cork from the Wolfwine, and not least - the Kent Harris mug!

Whilst unpacking, I took a few snaps of what I got on my journey. It's funny how they immediately bring flashbacks. I know it was only a few days ago, but all these impressions have yet to fully sink in. I had an amazing time, and I thank my friends for having me over, and also you - U S of A! You're a bit of not bad!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Ever made oat porridge in the slow cooker? Neither had I! Turns out though, it's delicious! And takes close to no effort at all... Score!
I decided to start cooking it right after dinner, knowing that it would take a couple of hours... That way, I could test it as a delayed dessert in the evening AND I am now sorted with breakfast for the next coming days, yar!

Apple Pie Oatmeal
(Serves 3-4)

1 cup oats (I used a tea-cup)
3 cups water
1 cup/185ml unsweetened apple sauce
2 apples, cored and chopped into dice
A pinch of salt
Cinnamon for dusting when serving
Natural yogurt, ice cream (more for dessert than breakfast, but I wont judge...), and granola to serve.

- Get the slow-cooker out! Turn it to High and add the water, apple sauce, oats and chopped apple and cook for 2 1/2 hours later. Stir every half hour or hour so it cooks evenly.

- How tricky was that ey? Serve a bowl of this goodness up with a couple of dollops of yogurt, granola, syrup, a good dusting of cinnamon, and you're ready to go! I hope you like it as much as I did *smiles*

What's your favourite type of oatmeal?

Original source:

- Jules