Traditional Swedish Pancakes

My all-time favorite sweet breakfast at the swank restaurant on Holland America’s Koningsdam during our cruise of the North Atlantic Sea last summer was called “Swedish Pancakes.” Ever heard of them?

Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberries

I hadn’t, but they’re delicate, crepe-like pancakes with a cream filling and lingonberry jam, which is apparently a classic in Sweden, although it’s not something you can buy easily here in America. Lingonberries are tart and taste almost like cranberries to me . . . but they are the perfect compliment to the sweet cream inside Swedish pancakes.

Swedish Pancake Batter with Lingonberries

I found some lingonberry jam online to make the pancakes truly authentic, but you can substitute blueberries, strawberries, or cherries and still have an amazingly gourmet treat! Here’s how:

Filling for Swedish Pancakes

Whip in a mixing bowl:
1 cup heavy cream until firm peaks form, then add
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Whip until completely consistent in texture, then chill in refrigerator until you’re ready to fill the pancakes. (You’ll probably have leftover filling; I did, and it set almost like a soft mousse, so I served the leftovers as a dessert later.)

Pancake mix
Serves 6 (makes about 18 medium-sized pancakes)

In a large mixing bowl, add:
2 cups pancake mix (I use Aunt Jemima’s Buttermilk but your favorite works fine)
2 cups milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Beat with a mixer just until well mixed (may be small lumps still). Let it rest a couple of minutes.

Ladle 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto a well buttered frying surface at about 375°F. If you have one, use a crêpe batter spreader to smooth out the circle, making it as thin and large as possible. Fry for approximately 90 seconds on the first side, and then about 1 minute on the other side, or just until browning nicely. (I forgot to photo this, but you get the picture!)

To fill:
Assemble your cream filling, some more confectioner’s sugar and either of these items:
a jar of lingonberry preserves
Or, a jar of blueberry, strawberry, or cherry preserves (or better yet, a sauce made from cooking fresh fruit with equal parts sugar until thickened, and then add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice)
If you have any: some leaves of fresh mint for a garnish on top
Some fresh berries to garnish
Whipped cream for a garnish

You can stack the pancakes up, separated by pastry paper and kept warm in the oven, but make sure you serve them warm.

To assemble:

Lay a pancake on a flat surface and spoon a generous portion of filling diagonally across the middle of the pancake.

If you want the jam inside, add a stripe of jam before rolling them up.

Roll up each pancake, set them on a clean plate, and sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar.

Crown with a generous serving of whipping cream, and garnish with a mint leaf ± some fresh fruit. Serve immediately. Enjoy!!

The berries can be inside, on top, or mixed in with the cream filling.
They’re good every which way!

The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” (Proverbs 16:21; may our speech be as sweet as our food)!

Creamy Chicken Alfredo

Ever wondering what to serve for small children who still prefer all things buttery and salty, easy to digest, and preferably some type of pasta or rice? Here’s a dish that’s fancy enough to please almost all palates, but (especially if you leave out the veggies and herbs) will also get requests for seconds from the tiniest spoon feeder!

Creamy Chicken Alfredo
(Serves 6-8)

Combine in a frying pan:
4 oz. butter (margarine or olive oil can also work, but butter tastes awesome!)
1 pound skinned, de-boned chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium, finely-chopped onion
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon fresh or ground rosemary
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Lawry’s, but your favorite works fine)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground basil (or up to 1/4 cup fresh, chopped; it tastes great!)

Creamy Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli

Fry until no longer pink inside (about 6-7 minutes), then add:
4 oz. butter
8 ounces chopped mushrooms
1 small head of broccoli chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 eight-oz. package cream cheese
2 cups light cream (“half’n’half”). Or, you can use 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup water to replace the light cream; 2 cups of milk also works but isn’t quite as yummy—or caloric, so you can save some cals that way if you want!)
2 tablespoons flour
6 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or any Italian-blend grated cheese you want)


Simmer, stirring often to make sure everything becomes creamy, until the mushrooms and broccoli are tender, about 10 minutes

Pasta:
In a pan of boiling, salted water (according to the directions on the package), add:
12 oz. of fettuccine pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s al dente. Drain off any excess water, and add:
8 oz. butter (or 4 oz. olive oil if you’re watching your weight)
6 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Serve with a tossed salad and freshly baked bread and butter
or garlic bread.

Even small children who are hard to please will usually love this mild, buttery delight . . . particularly if you don’t include the onions and mushrooms!)

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Scrumptious Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
(Makes two pies, each of which serves 8+)

(I made one 10″ and one 8″ pie in this photo)

Make two 9-inch pie crusts:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Crush 2 packages of chocolate graham crackers (about 14 oz), then blend in:
1/4 cup sugar
1 /2 cup melted butter
4 oz. chocolate chips (will still be chunky)
Divide evenly, pat into the pie plates, and bake at 350° F. for 8-10 minutes, then remove from oven and let them cool.

Pie with 4 oz. chocolate chips and 1 cup chocolate frosting
added on top of warm crust

For a special touch, I like to sprinkle another 4 oz of chocolate chips on top plus:
*1 cup hot fudge (recipe here: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/recipe-for-the-best-hot-fudge/
*or 1 cup of chocolate frosting
*or 1 cup of ganache if you like the “death by chocolate” taste

(Ganache can be made by beating together:
1 cup heated (but not to the point of simmering) heavy cream and
8 oz melted chocolate chips; if you make this, use half (warm) on top of the warm crust and the other half on top after the pie is thoroughly chilled or frozen and the ganache has cooled)

Filling:
In a blender, whip
2 cups heavy cream until soft peaks form, then add:
1 eight-ounce package of softened cream cheese
1.5 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 jar (15-16 oz) smooth peanut butter
1 cup milk

Blend until it’s completely smooth, and then divide evenly into the two cooled pie shells. (Make sure they’re completely cool so you don’t melt the filling any.)
Pop into the freezer for at least one hour, or freeze completely (which takes about 2 hours).


Top with:
6 crumbled peanut butter cups per pie
Then cover with either:
1 cup home made hot fudge sauce, or the other cup of ganache (if made above)

This pie can be prepared ahead and frozen for up to a couple of weeks if need be. (Cover it securely with some type of freezer wrap if you do.

Take it out of the freezer to thaw for about a half an hour before serving. It definitely tastes best if served somewhat softened, which really enhances the flavor.

(My grand daughter ate every bite and didn’t get sick . . .
but I didn’t give her very much! 🙂 )

***Warning: This pie is so rich it can make people sick, particularly if it’s served at the end of a large meal for dessert. I’d recommend serving very reserved slices (more like 10 per pie or 2″ at the widest point), and just tell people they are welcome to have seconds if they want more. Think “heavy chocolate torte” or “pecan pie” size. When I served normally big slices, I’d end up wrapping up part of the servings to be finished later . . . but nobody wanted me to throw any of it out! 🙂 )

Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me only food sufficient for me” (Proverbs 30:8, KJ21)

Quick and Easy, Sweet and Zesty Meatballs

Labor Day Weekend (which is this weekend in America) signals the end of all the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer and kicks off the fall season with its flurry of exciting activities.

My German-American grandchildren with their Schultüte
(One is starting first grade this year.)

If you’re young, it’s the beginning of school for the year (and I have lots of grand children who are celebrating the beginning of their schooling for the year). For those of us who are older (did you say OLD? 😦 ), the fall season still picks up with Sunday school (at least for me) and lots more organized social events. If you’re looking for something that everybody will love to eat but takes very little preparation time, here’s one super simple recipe for meatballs that works great either as an appetizer or as a main dish for potlucks and parties:

Sweet and Zesty Meatballs

The recipe is super simple! in a crock pot, combine:
5 pounds of prepared, Italian-style meatballs
1 jar (32 oz.) grape jelly
1 jar (32 oz.) ketchup
8 oz. horseradish
2 T. garlic
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste if needed

Once you’ve unceremoniously dumped everything into your crock pot, cover it and let it simmer for 2 hours on medium-low heat (although it can simmer longer or be reheated just before you serve it). Stir it occasionally (but with gentle care) to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. If you’re going to be simmering it for a longer time, make sure it has enough water so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. After it’s simmered for at least one hour (because it takes about the first hour just to heat everything slowly through to the point of simmering), test it for salt and pepper and “doctor it” up a little if you think it needs more spice.

In fact, I got so busy before our party that I failed to take photos of the finished product, but you can imagine. It should be uniform in color and texture and taste terrific! Hope you like it. We do. 🙂

There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods” (Job 20:21. Talk about taking a verse out of context! 🙂 However, if you’ll forgive my lightheartedness, I did come home with an empty pot when I took these meatballs to the party.)

Mama’s Chicken Cacciatore

Alan used to say he may be Scottish but he has an Italian stomach! Chicken cacciatore is a staple for all of us who love Italian pastas with red sauces. It’s simple to make and lasts well if you have any leftover for another meal.

Mama’s Chicken Cacciatore
(Serves 6-8)

In a large frying pan, brown one boneless chicken thigh per person in hot olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. (You can also use grilled chicken, which tastes marvelous, or leftover baked chicken, boned and cut into bite-sized pieces.)

Add one at a time while frying and cook until tender:
1 large onion, diced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 large red bell pepper, diced (optional; actually most everything is optional of the veggies, although cacciatore is traditionally made with onions, garlic, and tomatoes)

1 cup diced black olives
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine or pressed
1 cup (or up to one jar, depending on how thick you like your sauce) spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed basil (or all the fresh you like if you like it!)
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (your favorite works fine; I used Lawry’s)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

This particular time, I also added:
2 zucchinis, sliced
2 summer squash, sliced (mostly because I had them and wanted to use them, although they will make your sauce more liquid, and they definitely get mushy if you cook them too long, so just let them get tender [about 10-15 minutes], don’t simmer them for hours.)

Various types of pasta

While the sauce is simmering, make your pasta. I happened to have bits and pieces from several types, leftover from summer company, so I threw them all in together, although I wasn’t sure how it would work out. It turned out fine, since the types were all approximately as thick and required similar boiling times. If they require slightly different boiling times, go with the shortest time.)

Cooked, mixed pastas

I tend to use less water so that it is all absorbed and I don’t pour off any nutrients, so either follow the directions on the side of the package or reduce the water to about 1/2. However, if you reduce the water, you have to stir the pasta more often and watch it carefully, adding more water if needed.

At any rate, after you have boiled about 16 oz. pasta until it’s al denta (“to the tooth,” meaning just barely done and you can still feel a little bite to it [aka don’t even think about letting it get mushy!]), drain off any excess water and then add:
8 oz. butter
1/2 cup parmesean cheese
Salt to taste (should have been added to boiling water at the beginning, but if you need more, add it)

Chicken Cacciatore with Garlic Bread and Sides

Serve it immediately, hopefully at least with some garlic bread (bread, butter, garlic salt, and chives warmed or toasted in the oven or under the broiler) to soak up the liquid (and there will be liquid with this recipe). I served it with grape juice, a caprese salad, and a fresh citrus salad, but whatever you have on hand would doubtless be delicious! If you like it, chances are your friends and family will too!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).

Mocktails

I am a big drinker, although I’ve never had a drink . . . if you know what I mean! That is to say, I seem to need a lot of liquid in my diet and enjoy all sorts of different types and flavors of beverages, but I’ve never had an alcoholic drink, and I hope I never do, because the world is full of people who are in unbelievable pain because someone they love has misused alcohol.

Italian Mango Soda with Cream

In this area, I side with fundamentalist Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians. My party line is this: When I get to heaven, if Jesus offers me something to drink, I’ll drink it, but I’m certain it won’t be anything that will make me drunk!

That being said, there is a world of non-alcoholic pleasure just waiting for whosoever will and can! They’ve become popular as “Mocktails” (non-alcoholic cocktails). There are no end of imaginative combinations of flavors that can perk you up on a hot summer day, and this past summer (a year ago now), on our trip cruising the North Atlantic on Holland America’s Koningsdam, the dinner menu suggested over a dozen possibilities, many of which I tried.

The Ultimate Unleaded Margarita (behind the shrimp cocktail)

While we were cruising, I was intent on photographing some of the more succulent dishes and failed big time by not capturing visions of the delicious drinks, but I did take photos of the menu offerings, and they at least give you some ideas if you want to try a few fun and fancy beverages to serve on special occasions (like today, since every day’s a cause for celebration—right?)!

Ginger Mango Splash

Although I really delighted in all the various offerings, I discovered that some of them were like eating fresh fruit, and some of them were so filling they were more like dessert, so I had to be careful with my overall menu plan so that I didn’t end up over full!

The smoothies were especially wonderful . . . and so filling they were almost a meal in themselves. Some of these combinations—particularly if made at home with Greek yogurt (which is super high in protein)—can make a perfect breakfast. When I used to visit Mommu (a spiritual mother to me), we would often enjoy a smoothie for breakfast and feel completely satisfied. (The older I get, the less it takes to fill me up.)

Frosty Chocolate Mint Buzz

The ultimate dessert mocktail was competition for a gourmet chocolate malt, and I learned pretty fast that I could not have such a fabulous mocktail and still finish a nutritious dinner. Since coming home and experimenting with beverages, I’ve concluded that specialty drinks are fun, but for me, at least, they need to be reserved for truly special occasions, not just every day pleasure.

Virgin Pina Colada

One of my favorites is a “Virgin Pina Colada,” and it’s super simple to make! Here’s how: In a blender, for each drink, add:
1 cup ice cubes
1 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup coconut cream (or 1/2 cup coconut milk). Blend until the ice is is small chunks and pour over ice cubes in your glass. Top with 1/2 cup more pineapple juice and a dollop of whipping cream. If you like it sweeter, you can add a little sugar. Some people add crushed pineapple, shredded coconut, heavy cream, or some type of sparkling water/Sprite/lemon-lime soda, so if the way I make it is too simple for your taste, experiment. To me, light and not too sweet is more refreshing unless you’re trying to make a dessert out of it!

Virgin Pina Coladas

Nutritionists say “Eat your fruit and drink your water!” Good mantra for me.

In a world where being overweight is the cause of more deaths than being underweight (except in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, according to the Whole Health Organization, January 2019), I have a renewed determination to serve milk or cold water rather than fancy drinks with my meals. Way better for myself and my grand children!

“Eat your fruit and drink your water!”

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).

Home made Pizzas

If you’re ever looking for a yummy dinner to make with your kids or grand kids and don’t want spending the extra hours to make pizza dough from scratch, you can defrost one-pound loaves of frozen bread dough.

While watching three of my grand daughters yesterday, we decided to have a pizza party for dinner, so I set out three loaves of bread dough after breakfast and covered them with saran wrap.

By 3:00 pm, they were completely defrosted and room temperature, which makes them easy to press into buttered pizza pans.

(I don’t butter the very edges of the pans, though, because the dough is very elastic and won’t stick to the edges if they are buttered but instead will pull away from the sides.)

Let the dough rise in the pans on the counter for about an hour. Meanwhile, prepare whatever toppings you want. We made one supreme for the adults, one with pepperoni and cheese, and one pan of bread sticks. It’s super easy, and home made pizza has a lot less fat and salt than those from pizzerias! For all homemade pizzas, preheat your oven to 350° while you’re preparing the ingredients.

First, spread 1/2 cup of your favorite spaghetti sauce (or tomato sauce, or tomato paste) on top. Or, for bread sticks, spread 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

Next, arrange whatever ingredients you want on top. My little gals all have different tastes, so we made one pizza half cheese with bacon and ham, and the other half with just pepperoni.

Whatever else you put on, cover the pizza with a generous portion of shredded mozzarella (or your favorite Italian cheeses). You can add anything else you want, but if you have little ones who really like it plain, it might be good to go just like that.

For our supreme, I precooked the veggies, which were mushrooms and onions. (Peppers are also great, but I didn’t happen to have any). I used to heap tons of fresh veggies on top, but the liquid they released while cooking would make the crust soggy, so I’ve personally switched to sauteing veggies lightly first, except for spinach, which I still add fresh.

This one also had pepperoni, ham, and bacon (precooked to crispy and chopped into bits). Obviously, other favorites include black or green olives, pickled yellow peppers, sausage, and about 50 other possible additions according to taste, including herbs like oregano. Whatever else you do, be sure to add 8 ounces of shredded cheese and sprinkle parmsan cheese on top!

To make bread sticks, coat the dough heavily with melted butter, add a generous coating of parmesan cheese, and season well with garlic salt. After it’s done baking, I coat it again a second time with melted butter and offer spaghetti sauce or melted garlic butter for dipping sauces.

Once your creations are complete, pop them in your preheated oven (350°F.) and bake them for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Give them about 5 minutes to cut and cool down, but I try to set the table and prepare whatever sides I want, so that as soon as they’re out of the oven, we can eat.

Add a tossed salad and some fresh fruit, and you’ve got a first-rate “fun food” dinner that is sure to please even your youngest diner!

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs” (John 21:15).