Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stockholm, Part I

And now... another travel post! Our whirlwind tour of a small area of Sweden was very nice, and we hope to see more of the country during a future visit.

This photo was taken from the café in the Nobel Museum, through the window onto the square. Many interesting displays there taught us about prize winners in science, literature, and peace. Though small, the contents were comprehensive and meaningful.

We found the food in Stockholm to be outstanding. Prices were more along New York City lines with the exchange rate, and we splurged a few times while electing bargains other days. These meatballs and lignonberries were served at the Vasa Museum, both of which every tourist should experience (unless you are vegetarian, in which case Hermitage in Old Town provides a superb meat free buffet for a reasonable price). The restored ship in the Vasa Museum is tremendous and interesting.

We took hundreds of photos of the local scenery, including church spires, cobblestone alleys, ships in the harbor, and the animals at Skansen park. Stay tuned for another post, and in the mean time, I leave you with a table for two, complete with the ubiquitous candles we saw, glimmering in the early darkness.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cheesecake Brownie Cupcakes

I’ve been making cheesecake for many years, and have loved experimenting with different types of crust (graham crackers, small round wafers for cheesecake cupcakes, crushed chocolate crème sandwich cookies, etc.) and fillings- baked, no-bake, with pumpkin, with chocolate, and on and on! 
I’ve found that large group event attendees prefer cupcake sized desserts instead of large slices of cheesecake, so I decided to combine two recipes from my trusty Philadelphia Cream Cheese cookbook of 1989. The brownie cheesecake recipe was an old friend, with notes scribbled in my handwriting about adjusting the ingredients to make a 9x13 pan instead of a round springform. Ditto the cupcake version…for a dozen, be sure to double the recipe, and so forth. 
Here’s what I used; you go ahead and adjust for your needs:
One 10.25 oz package of brownie mix, prepared according to the package directions will yield 17 cupcakes if you put 1/8 cup batter into each paper liner. That results in a decent layer of brownie as the crust. Feel free to use the entire batter for 12 thicker brownie cheesecakes, but you’ll have less space for cheesecake batter.
While the brownie layer is baking at 350 for 12 minutes (!), prepare my adaptation of the recipe: beat together two 8 oz. packages of reduced fat cream cheese, between 1/3 to ½ cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, one egg, and ¼ cup egg substitute.
Pour ¼ cup cheesecake batter over the brownie layer, then microwave 1 cup of any type of chocolate pieces for one minute.  Stir the partially melted chocolate and microwave again for about 30 seconds as needed, for melted and smooth chocolate.
Stir ½ teaspoon of melted chocolate into the unbaked cheesecake batter, then bake them for 30 minutes. I used white chocolate chunks, but would recommend for visual appeal and flavor that you use chocolate chips or chocolate/ peanut butter/ butterscotch chips.

Monday, November 11, 2013


I plan on using these photos to create cards, but haven’t printed them out yet. As snow is starting to fall in some parts, here is a sunny reminder of summer months. 
As much as I like large bouquets which include roses and other elegant blooms from time to time, these small bunches from a local farm are so cheerful and friendly. 
They lasted a few days and put a smile on my face each time I passed one of the petite arrangements. 
I added a few new flowering plants to the garden for next spring and summer, with hopes for bright colors to supplement all the green. Meanwhile, the leaves are falling, in “tree showers”, as Mr. Spice calls them. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Scalloped Potatoes with Thyme, Rosemary, and Oregano

I’ve wanted to try a recipe from Pioneer Woman for a long time, so I was glad to have two pounds of potatoes on hand from the farm share, and find this stupendous posting:
As usual, I modified the ingredients slightly, but would recommend that you try the original version for full flavor! Since I don’t have a vegetable slicer, I hand cut the potatoes, and boiled the slices for a few minutes to tenderize them. 
Here’s my version: I didn’t have any ham (leftover or otherwise), but next time would substitute bacon - a freezer staple - in the absence of ham, for additional flavor. Slice 2 lbs potatoes, boil in water for a few minutes. Sautee an onion in oil or butter for a few minutes, add one clove minced garlic, add 2 cups whole milk. When milk is warm, add ¼ cup flour and stir to blend in. Add 1 – 1 ½ cups grated cheese, turn off heat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper,  rosemary, thyme, and oregano. I had freshly dried herbs, so didn’t measure the amount of leaves I pulled from the sprigs (probably about ¼ teaspoon each, but more is fine).
Grease 9x13 baking pan and layer the potatoes and milk/cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Next time I’ll use more garlic and herbs. I made mushroom soup the next day, and put leftover scalloped potatoes into the soup- yummy!