From The Archives Friday is LIVE! Come s

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From The Archives Friday is live! come j

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New Site

Hello Friends,

As some of you may already know, I changed my hosting company for my site, which means that I had to do a complete facelift on my blog and start it over from scratch.  If you would like to continue to follow my blog and get email updates, could you please go to www.chroniclesofacoldtexan.com and please re-enter your email in the space provided in the sidebar to the right.  I apologize for the inconvenience.

Thanks!

Ashley

 

Strawberry and Raspberry Smoothie

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I have a confession…..I am addicted to smoothies.  I love my morning smoothie almost  as much as I love my coffee.  There are so many different combinations that smoothies never get boring.

I have another confession.  I really really dislike yogurt.  Everything about it: taste, texture, smell.  Yuck.  However, yogurt is good for me (and you), therefore,  I have to get sneaky on my tastebuds and find ways to include it in my diet.  Smoothies are a great way to hide things you don’t like.

One of my tricks with smoothies is I like to use frozen fruit, that way it doesn’t get watered down with ice cubes.  If you want to use fresh, go for it! It will be equally as yummy.

Serves 4

  • 2/3 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 large fresh banana
  • 1-6oz container of yogurt (plain or strawberry.  If you’re trying to keep your added sugar down, go for the plain)
  • 1.5 cups of milk

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Toss everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Yum!

Farmer’s Market

One of my favorite memories growing up is a couple times a year during the summer my parents and I would leave early in the morning and go to a HUGE farmers market that was about an hour away.  We would spend a few hours there, stopping by each stand, deciding what we wanted to take home, sampling fresh strawberries and tomatoes, looking at plants and flowers.

One of my favorite things about traveling and living in Europe is the fresh markets.  It’s a way of life here.  Every Saturday in the city center where we live, a small market sets up in the mornings.  They have all the local goodness that the season has to offer.  A local musician plays the accordion, almost making me feel like I’m somewhere in France instead of Finland.  A couple of “food truck” coffee shops open up, setting up tables and awnings.  Many of the locals come sip their morning coffee and enjoy pastries, and perhaps do a little people watching.

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Right now we are enjoying fresh berries, carrots, herbs, and peas. I will have to do a special recipe post for the peas; they are so sweet and so fresh.

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A local merchant carries sauna supplies and handmade baskets

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Several tents offered cheerful baskets of flowers

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I can’t wait to see what they have next week!

Quesadilla Night

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of your fridge, staring at a bunch of miscellaneous ingredients, not having enough of any one thing to really do something with it? I found myself in such a predicament yesterday. Except, I was wrong.  I admit, it took some searching on Pinterest to get a little inspiration but thankfully someone on my homepage posted a quesadilla recipe and it got me thinking.  Quesadilla night.  Why haven’t I thought of that before?

So I went back to the fridge and stared at it some more, got on skype and tossed ideas around with one of my best friends and this is what I came up with…3 kinds of quesadillas, 2 savory, 1 sweet (I never tried a dessert quesadilla before but I will sure be doing it again!  YUM!)

#1  The Saltillo Quesadilla

This was inspired by a fajita topping that I used to get all the time at a tex-mex restaurant that we went to pretty frequently in Houston.  It was called “Fajitas Saltillo” and it was made of monterrey jack cheese, roasted poblano peppers, and bacon.  Deliciousness!  Now, I added a little more substance to mine.  I hope you enjoy it.

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Makes 4 quesadillas

Ingredients:

  • Tortillas, I used medium size
  • 1 chicken breast – butterflied
  • 2 strips of bacon, cooked
  • 1-2  limes, juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of salsa
  • 5 mushrooms, sliced (I had cremini, but whatever you have on hand will work)
  • 3/4 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 roasted jalapeno, de-seeded
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • cheese, mild and white (I used plain Havarti)
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Marinate the chicken with the lime juice, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper, in the fridge for 2 hours.  After the chicken is done marinating, cook the chicken with the marinade (use whichever cooking method is most convenient for you, stove top, baking, or grill).  When the chicken is cooked through, let it cool, and then dice or shred the meat.

Saute the onions and mushrooms together. Take them out of the pan and set aside.

Time to assemble your quesadilla. Leaving the salsa for garnish, layer all the other ingredients on to one half of a tortilla.  Use as much or as little of each ingredient as you want.  Fold the other half of the tortilla over the top.  Repeat as necessary.  Using a heated non-stick pan, heat the quesadilla on both sides until the cheese is melted and the outside of the tortilla turns a little golden.  Garnish with salsa.

#2 The California Chicken Club Quesadilla

There is no sentimental story behind this one, it’s just a recipe that evolved from getting excited over each ingredient I kept finding. “I could do a BLT, oh wait I have chicken….and avocado, and bacon!!”

 

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Makes 4 Quesadillas

Ingredients:

  • Tortillas
  • 1 chicken breast, butterflied
  • 1 Tbsp coarse grain mustard
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tomato, diced and de-seeded
  • cheese (again, I used havarti, but use whatever your tastebuds desire)
  • avocado, thinly sliced

Directions:

Marinate the chicken in the mustard for 2 hours, in the fridge. Using your preferred cooking method, cook the chicken, cool and then shred or dice.

Time to assemble your quesadilla.  Layer each ingredient in the amount you desire onto one half of a tortilla, fold the other half over the top.   Repeat as necessary.  In a heated, non-stick pan, heat the quesadilla on both sides until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is a little golden.

 

#3  The Baked Brie Quesadilla

When I was in college I waited tables at  McGonigel’s Mucky Duck in Houston.  Really neat place.  If you haven’t been and you’re in the area, go check them out!  The food is really good.  One of my favorite menu items was their baked brie appetizer.  Melted brie with sliced apples, raspberry preserves, toasted almonds and a crusty baguette. Heaven on a plate.

This past weekend my in laws gave me a HUGE bag of frozen berries.  They had hand picked them when they were in season and froze them.  Wild raspberries and blue berries, sea buck thorn berries, and lingonberries.  I have been dreaming of what tasty creations I can make with them.   So I went to my freezer and pulled out a bag of raspberries to make a raspberry sauce to top my quesadilla.  This step is not necessary if you want to simplify things for yourself.  A berry preserve of any kind would work just as well.

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Makes 2 Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 1/3-1/2 lb of Brie cheese
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • berry preserves or sauce (ingredients below)

For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • granulated sugar

Directions:

For the sauce:  Combine berries and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a small sauce pan.  Turn the heat on med until the juices have released and your berries are simmering, remember to stir occasionally. Once the sauce is simmering, turn the heat down to low.  This is a good time to taste your sauce, try not to burn your tongue.  If you feel the sauce needs it, add another teaspoon of sugar.  Stir, taste, and repeat as necessary until the sweetness is to your liking.  Simmer until most of the runny liquid is evaporated, this should take 15-20 minutes.   Take the sauce off the heat and let it cool.  It may still look a little thin when it comes off the heat, but it will thicken slightly as it cools.

*If you like a more syrupy sauce, mix 2 tsp of cornstarch with the berries and sugar before you put them on the heat. Follow the directions above, but don’t let them simmer so long at the end, take them off the heat once you have the sweetness to you liking and the berries have all broken down to a smoother consistency.

For the Quesadilla:

On your tortilla, alternate thin slices of brie with apples across one half of the tortilla, fold over the other half of the tortilla over the top and in a non stick pan heat both sides of the quesadilla until the cheese is melted and the tortilla turns slightly golden. ***Please note, when brie melts, it’s a little thin, so if you want to avoid a mess, be a little more sparing with it than you might be with other cheeses.

Serve with a healthy dollop of your homemade sauce, or preserves.

 

Juustoleipä

Hello again!

I love exploring the foodie traditions of other cultures, especially things that sound weird , disgusting, or something you never would have thought to combine and it turns out to be really yummy.

My father in law and I were walking through the grocery store on one of our first days living here, and they had cheese out for sampling (Baked cheese? yes please!) . He asked me if I liked it and, of course, I nodded vigorously, and he proceeded to explain to me how they serve it with coffee and you’re supposed to dip it.  I’m pretty sure the face I made was something similar to the face I made when I was willing myself to try escargot (PS, not something I will be trying again. THAT is a texture one does not forget!). Coffee and cheese are two of my favorite things, but for some reason, I just couldn’t imagine that flavor combination.  So, since I’ve never tried this tradition before in previous visits, we got cheese and went home and gave it a try.

The cheese is called Juustoleipä (Yoo-stole-A-pa), which translates into “cheese bread”.   It’s a softer cheese that has been baked or grilled, and you can find it sold that way in the stores.  The flavor is very mild and it squeaks on your teeth when you chew.  If you’re a texture person like me, it makes for an interesting first experience, but definitely not unpleasant.  You can also cut it in to chunks and throw a few at a time in the coffee and just let it sit for a minute or two, which I prefer over dipping because it warms the cheese through a little more.

Another way that Juustoleipä can be served is sprinkled with a little cinnamon and sugar and topped with cloudberry preserves.  Sounds delicious, right? I have not tried this method yet, but, when cloudberries come into season, that’s near the top of the list!

If you want to try this at home but live in an area where this cheese isn’t available, try baking some fresh mozzarella.  It’s the closest cheese I can think of in both texture and flavor.  Buon appetito!

 

 

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The Beauty Of A New Home

I love new beginnings, scary as they may be.  For me, moving to Finland is a COMPLETE  clean slate: new country, new climate, new language, new people, new career, new food, new blog (Thank you for reading), and the list goes on.

We have been here for almost 4 weeks.  I have already had my bouts with home sickness, and frustration over knowing my things (including my warmer clothes, which I desperately need right now) are in a shipping container for at least another 2 weeks.  One thing that doesn’t fail to make me feel appreciation amidst the frustration I sometimes feel with all this newness is simply stepping outside and being instantly surrounded by nature. Not when I cross the street, or drive up the road. It’s there the second I walk out the door. It is some of the most lush and rich foliage I have ever seen in my life.  I know it sounds corny to say that it looks like something out of the movies or fairytales, but it really does.   Dirt paths through the woods, moss covered boulders, glistening raindrops on the leaves, fields of wild flowers……I don’t think I’ll ever be bored with this

dirt path in the forest

dirt path in the forest

Wild flowers on my morning walk

Wild flowers on my morning walk

Lupin flowers and Birch trees

Lupin flowers and Birch trees

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