Making Almond Paste Candies – Easy Recipe

Marzipan is a delicious, sweet, sticky substance made from almonds. It is often called almond paste and looks like a thick, white dough. It resembles fondant but is much more flavorful. In Norway it is often rolled into large disks to drape over cream filled cakes, making them beautifully decorated and also very tasty. Or you can mold it and make beautiful and fun creations. In Norway marzipan it is also sold as candy, in chocolate covered shapes during Easter and Christmas. Almond paste is made mainly from almond meal mixed with powdered sugar and egg whites. It is not easy to make good, smooth marzipan from scratch, so it is recommended to purchase it ready made for various recipes.   During holidays it is fun to roll it out into simple shapes to dip in melted chocolate for a beautiful and tasty treat. I’ve been able to find almond paste at our local grocery store, and Amazon sells it as well. The brand in this link seems to be very high quality and suitable for rolling, while Odense is a cheaper brand that will probably work well for making shapes. With Christmas quickly approaching,  I decided to purchase a piece from our local supermarket along with some delicious European chocolate from Aldi, a discount grocery store chain based in Germany. They have stores all over the U.S. as well, and I happen to live close to one of them and was thrilled to find […] Read more »

Dulce de Leche: Easy, Delicious Caramel Cake Filling Recipe

  And now, presenting a delicious, creamy food that I discovered a while back; you could say a year ago or so, or you could say several decades ago, depending on how you see it. I found this recipe for cake filling not too long ago. People were talking about how easy it was to make, and how different and delightful it tasted. I decided to give it a try. When it was done, I tasted it and discovered that I had made a product I remember from my childhood, a caramel flavored sandwich spread: HAPÅ! It was quite a revelation, the least I expected, and there was no doubt about it! It was exactly like Hapå both with regard to flavor, texture, and color. It never would have occurred to me to use this product as cake filling, however, but why not? It is smooth, sweet, looks and tastes a bit like caramel, glossy and pretty and very easy to prepare. Since then I have discovered the same product at supermarkets, in the Mexican area of the international section labeled “Dulce de Leche”. So obviously it is not really a Norwegian food, but can be found in various countries of the world under different names. But for me it will always be Hapå! It will take 2 hours of your time to prepare although you mostly leave it alone during that time. So if you are going to be at […] Read more »

Malted Milk Cookies, Family Favorite Recipe

      One of the cookie recipes my family has come to treasure the most, Malted Milk Cookies,  is a recipe I originally found in Taste of Home Magazine years ago. These unique cookies quickly became my husband’s all-time favorite. And with good reason: Rich flavor and chewy-crunchy texture, in addition to looking very inviting and simply beautiful! It is an excellent recipe that I have shared with a multitude of people over the years. People go Ga-Ga over these scrumptious cookies, and if brought to a pot-luck or party, they go hunting to figure out who made them in order to ask for the recipe! These cookies contain ingredients that aren’t commonly found in ordinary cookie recipes, but still are amazingly fitting flavor wise, which make them different in a truly special way. If you do try this recipe, I would really appreciate a quick comment with a star rating (option found immediately under each recipe). It helps me out tremendously! Thanks in advance! To give unique, but really special flavor to these cookies, malted milk balls are crushed and added to the batter; and even though I’m normally not a fan of these candies, they are an absolutely fantastic addition to this recipe! But it doesn’t stop there: just a small amount of chocolate drink mix is also added, which boosts the flavor without giving away that it’s chocolate… Sneaky, huh? And 2 teaspoons vanilla, not just […] Read more »

How to Easily Bake Perfect, Professional Looking Cookies

  When serving cookies of different kinds, I am often asked the question “Did YOU make these cookies?” Um… yeah… “How do you get them so round???” Well, that part is easy enough. Here’s what I do to ensure even, just about perfectly round cookies, making them look like they were baked by a professional, and certainly not by me: I use an ice cream scoop, similar to this one (click to buy on Amazon). (Mine is slightly larger; 45mm) I have three different sizes that I use for different recipes: I prefer the middle one (45mm) for most of my cookies. The cookies end up nice and large, but not overly so. They end up anywhere from 2 1/2 – 4 in. in diameter, depending on the type of dough used, and how much the cookies spread out. The larger scoop (55mm) would make jumbo sized cookies. The smaller scoop (35mm), gives cookies approximately the size of an Oreo. I think that’s generally much too small!! (Although there’s a time and a place for that size, too.) I love cookies, and I want a big one, not a little one! And it looks much more generous when you serve others. When being served, I would feel greedy if I helped myself to more than two cookies, and I would imagine others feeling the same way. Taking one cookie is expected. Taking a second shows you really love them! Compliments […] Read more »

Morning in My Back Yard

Looking out of my family room window this morning, this is what I saw: It’s not that seeing deer on our property is so unusual, but seeing a handsome buck standing so still and majestically in the middle of the lawn, where I can get a good shot of him, is not quite as common. We see deer frequently, and as much damage as they can do to our trees and garden, I still never tire of seeing them. They are so beautiful and graceful, and I love taking pictures of them.   They seem well fed around here, though their preferred food seems to be our apple trees or any other tree we have ever planted. They have destroyed approximately 90% of all the trees we have planted; in majority, it’s been maple, apple, flowering pear, and dogwood trees. We love these trees, and so do the deer. It’s a constant battle, but I still love to look at them, and I’d rather have them around than not, even if it meant saving our trees. Read more »

Simple, Fun Christmas Decorating

Last weekend, we, like so many others in the US, decorated for Christmas. Christmas decorating is not really my favorite thing to be doing, though once it is all up, it does look so beautiful and gets me in the spirit of the season. Growing up in Norway, tradition was to decorate on the day we called “Little Christmas Eve”, December 23. Christmas Eve was the major celebration when we’d officially start Christmas, eat a special Christmas dinner, open gifts etc. In December, we’d decorate in purple for Advent, the time in awaiting the birth of Jesus Christ. Then, on the 23rd, we’d change the colors and decorate for Christmas. In the US, in my experience people generally seem to be celebrating Christmas throughout December up until the 25th, then everything comes to an abrupt end. In Norway, however, the week between the 24th and New Years, “Romjula”, is all about Christmas. In fact, the 25th, 26th and 27th are called 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Christmas Day, which are Holidays, and all stores are closed. Families get together, visiting and celebrating. It is a peaceful time with no errands or shopping to be done. Regarding decorating, last year was the year of a new tradition: Let the kids go excitingly at it while I watch in awe and see it all come together! My decorating style is fairly simple, and once I figure out what looks good, I want it […] Read more »

Everyday Luxury; Cold Brewed Coffee Recipe

There are many different ways to make yourself a cup of coffee; some ways are more primitive, such as the way my father used to make it when hiking in the Norwegian mountains; he’d fill a pot with water from one of the many clear, clean streams, then pour in coarse coffee until it looked about right. He’d put a long stick through the handle and hold it over the fire. The grounds would stay on top of the water until hot, and would then sink to the bottom of the pot. The coffee was ready. There was a certain charm to it, most definitely. (Just not the time when he used snow for water, only to find sheep “pebbles” in the pot afterwards…… If you know what I mean by “pepples”…….) But, I regressssss! More traditional ways include the good-‘ol drip coffee maker (this is the one I own, and I love it!), then you can get more fancy and use a Keurig (I love this one as well, but it’s more expensive to use), French press or espresso maker. There are many ways, and real coffee lovers often feel strongly about their preferred method. My father is OK with his electric drip maker these days. Personally, I love cold brewed coffee when I want an extra treat. It’s comforting, smooth, flavorful, and gives me the feel of luxury without the cost. After this discovery, I can get myself a cup […] Read more »

List writer? Save it to help you in future planning

Lists. I love them, I need them, I write them. For everything. Whether it be for errands, to-do at home, list of questions for the doctor, things to bring when going to the beach; you name it. Often times I write out a list right then and there before a given task, just like many other people do as well. Other times I simply print out a list that I have saved from a previous time. These print-outs have been such a great help, a real stress reducer as I just follow the directions and don’t have to do so much planning and thinking. I will touch on two of these types of lists in this post. List 1 Vacation time Before you go on vacation, there’s lots to do, lots to remember. While busily packing and preparing for one of our trips, trying desperately not to forget anything, I simply decided that this amount of work and stress was not worth repeating over and over every time we go on vacation. Why re-invent the wheel? I had already written down everything I believed we needed for our trip, and in addition I also had a list going of things we needed to do before we left, such as: empty the trash, clean out refrigerator to get rid of perishable foods, make arrangements for mail and our cat etc. For packing, there’s the usual; clothing and toiletries,  in addition to […] Read more »

Prevent Washer Build-Up; Alternatives to Softeners

There were times in the past when I felt tempted to stop strangers on the street to ask them what type of fabric softener they used. They’d walk past me, and their clothing smelled so fresh and clean! I would have loved to know what the scent was so I could go get a bottle of it for myself. That’s until I found out that a lot of people experience gunk and buildup in their washing machines due to fabric softeners, which over time can cause problems such as mold and smell. I have had a smelly machine in the past, and there was nothing I could do to get rid of it; the smell could sometimes go away for a couple of weeks if I used products to eliminate smell, but it would always return. Instead of my laundry room smelling nicely of clean clothing, detergents and softeners, it smelled dirty. And the smell came from the machine, there was no doubt about it. When I got my new machine, there was no smell, and as I found out about the possibility of softeners being a culprit, I decided I wouldn’t chance it. I had to find an alternative method to softening my clothes. Downy! Oh, how much I loved the scent on my clothing when using Downy laundry softener!  Before I knew anything about buildup and smell, I used it regularly, until we had a repair-man over for […] Read more »

Caring for Your Wooden Carving Board

  I had an old, wooden cutting board. Just a cheap one. It had a deep crack running through it. I figured it was because it was a cheap board. Front: Back:   I decided I wanted to get a new one, a nice, large, beautiful cutting board. Still wooden, though. Went on-line to check what was available; prices, sizes etc. That’s when I read about oiling, which I had never heard of before. Apparently, if you oil your wooden carving board, you can help prevent the growth of bacteria or other microbes, such as mold. In addition, oiling helps prevent stains and odors, plus it protects it from drying out from the use of detergents, which in return can cause cracks. When looking more into it, I also found out that vegetable oils, such as olive oil, is not recommended since most of these oils will turn rancid eventually. Food grade mineral oil, I read, is very cheap and works well, and it won’t go rancid. Another oil that is very resistant to rancidity is food grade coconut oil, which is what I happened to have on hand. The only thing about coconut oil is that it is much more expensive than simple mineral oil, and now that I found out just how much a board can absorb (close to a full cup!), I will definitely purchase some mineral oil to use for my next applications. Below are pictures […] Read more »