search abirdsdailylife

Sunday, January 31, 2016

My January Read


It`s quite been a while, since I did my last what I read this month post. Honestly it has truly been a long time I haven`t read any books for fun at all. Sad me I know, but sometimes this happens, you just don`t feel like reading. I mean doesn`t it to you? Well it happens to me sometimes, but this time it unfortunately has been for quite a long period. Definitely needed to change things up, because reading a good book is so much better than watching a movie or a series, you just get lost in the story and time just flies by without you even noticing it. I just realized how much I really miss reading by picking it up again. So far this January I read two books, which isn`t a lot, but hey, at least it`s something.

First read this month - "Christmas on 4th Street", written by Susan Mallery - turned out to be a casual one. Easy to read, well written, unutterably lovely story. Actually I read it in German and just couldn`t put it aside. It`s a love story taking place in a little town called Fool`s Gold around Christmas time. You heard right around Christmas time, just perfect since it was freezing cold and snowy too here. Whilst reading I kind of discovered that "Christmas on 4th Street" isn`t a stand alone novel, but a sequel of Susan Mallery`s Fool`s Gold book series. Well so now I definitely know a bunch of books I want to read in the future.
So far I can really recommend the book, especially if you are into cute love stories including a winter wonderland. You will definitely get the whole plot without reading the previous volumes, but I guess it would be perfect if you started with the first one (here`s a list). And you will absolutely love all the people from Fool`s Gold, they`re just adorable and kind, especially the two protagonists Gabriel and Noelle. 


picture from goodreads.com

Second read this month was "Fly me to the moon", an book written by Alyson Noël (I actually read the ebook). Obviously another love story, this time it`s about the stewardess Hailey, dreaming to become an author and finding her way through life as she recently became single. Pretty easy and casual to read as well, the writing style is a little bit more colourful in terms of the language, but the storyline definitely is entertaining. Again couldn`t put it aside and read the 200 pages within hours I got hooked up that much. 

Should you read "Fly me to the moon"? Yes, absolutely, all thumbs up. Same goes for "Christmas on 4th Street". 
What are you reading lately? Please share.

xoxo 

Quote of the Week #4

quote of the week #4 - J.R.R.Tolkien

Quote just says it all....
Love you guys and wish you all a happy and fun start into the new week.

xoxo

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sautéed Turnips with Fine Herbs


Today we`re keeping it simple with this fine herbs on sautéed turnips recipe, which can be considered more of a side dish rather than a main one. Actually a very versatile side dish, as turnip works just fine with lot`s of other dishes and ingredients due to it`s mild taste. Besides that turnips contain a lot of vitamin C, niacin and folic acid, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium and they`re low calorie food. Or to give you the short form, turnips are healthy, whilst tasting really good.

Have you ever prepared turnips? Well then you know, that it`s no big deal, as they`re pretty easy to work with. You`re going to make this dish within a short amount of time, but let me show you.



What you need (for one serving, meant as a side dish):

  • 1 turnip
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 branch parsley
  • 20g chive
  • salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground
Instructions:
  • wash and peel turnip
  • slice turnip 
  • heat canola oil in a frying pan
  • sautée the turnip slices until can pierce it easily with a knife
  • serve on a small plate 
  • season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • rinse off parsley and chive
  • finely chop and sprinkle them over sautéed turnips
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: approximately 5 minutes


If you want to serve this as a main dish just double the amount. It will work pretty fine, turnips are quite saturating believe me. Of course you can switch the turnips by any other vegetable you love or prefer, like carrots, leek, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chard, I could go on and on and on, but enough rambling, just try the recipe, share your thoughts and read you soon.

xoxo

Friday, January 29, 2016

Calzone Hawaii


calzone Hawaii

Lately I`m into making my own pizza dough, because pizza and any variations of it - like calzone, which I share with you today - are a big obsession of mine. Any pizza obsessed folks out here? Yes? Then tell me about your habits. Do you make your own dough? If so, do you knead it by hand or with a blender? Or are just like the old me, using bought pizza dough 99%? If later is the case, don`t be afraid to start making your own dough. This may sound weird, but I just said don`t be afraid, because the same thing happened to me. All the time I was afraid to make my own dough, because I believe it`s one of the most difficult baking skills to do perfect without messing it up. Actually still do, but it`s all about experimenting, working out what works for you and getting better. So don`t be afraid and start trying!

So first time making pizza dough, I used a recipe from Betty Bossi, which actually worked pretty well. I believe it will do the same for you, just give it a try, make a yummy pizza or a calzone, like I did.
For those of you who don`t know what a calzone is, it`s a folded pizza, that`s kind of it. For my first try I decided on a classic pizza variation - pizza Hawaii - transformed into a calzone. This means pineapple time! Yey, pineapple is so good on pizza or calzone! Of course you can do any other combo you like...You might even want to share them with me? Maybe? If you`re vegan just leave out the ham and the cheese, still a taste adventure.

making your own pizza or calzone dough

fresh ingredients for calzone Hawaii

What you need (for one calzone):

dough:
  • 250g white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 25g yeast
  • 150ml water, tepid
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
calzone:
  • 5 tablespoons tomato sauce, I made my own with ripe tomatoes, fresh parsley, salt, freshly grounded black pepper and dried oregano
  • 2 brown champignons, sliced
  • 100g precooked ham
  • 1 handful pineapple, cut into pieces
  • 75g mozzarella
  • 75g parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
filling a calzone

Instructions:

dough:
  • mix yeast with a little bit of the water until completely dissolved
  • mix flour and salt in a bowl
  • mix olive oil with the rest of the water
  • add water and yeast to the flour, mix everything
  • transfer dough onto a flat surface and knead well, the dough should be really smooth and shouldn`t be sticky
  • put in a bowl, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel
  • let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour
  • flour your flat surface and roll out the dough, mine was about 1cm thick, but you can roll yours out even thinner
  • place half of the dough onto a baking tray
calzone:
  • preheat the oven at 200° Celsius
  • spread tomato sauce on the half laying on the tray
  • rinse off and thinly slice brown champignons, lay out on the calzone
  • cut ham into pieces, put on the calzone
  • peel and cut a fresh pineapple into pieces and sprinkle one handful over the calzone
  • tear mozzarella into thin stripes, sprinkle over calzone
  • grate parmesan cheese and sprinkle over calzone as well
  • season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • top of with a teaspoon of oregano
  • now fold the calzone by turning over the other half overlapping your baking tray
  • roll up where the dough comes together to tighten the ends, whilst slightly pressing down the dough
  • bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until your dough gets firm and crunchy
Preparation time: 1 1/2 hours
baking time: 30 minutes 
calzone with pineapple, ham, cheese and mushrooms

Although a well known classic, this combo always works, one big taste adventure and that`s why you should totally make this calzone. The mixture of cheese and pineapple is one way to go if you ask me and the mushrooms and ham just take it to the next level. One cheesy, fruity and salty experience, which I`m definitely going to make again. What ingredients would you use?

Read you soon,
xoxo

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Russian Salad with Alaskan Salmon

Russian salad with smoked salmon


Guess it has been a while I`ve done a salad recipe as a post, although I eat salad all the time, I just don`t blog about it every single time. But when things come to Russian salad, I just had to make an exception. Mainly because this very salad has a nostalgic flair to me. I remember my granny making this salad almost every lunch when I was a little kid. I absolutely loved it, still do. 

Enough me talk, let`s get into Russian Salad. Honestly I don`t even know why it`s called like that, it`s just the name of the canned product and although we prepared it fresh, still named it like that, as we used the same ingredients, which mainly are potatoes, carrots and peas. Just to spice things up a little bit I added smoked salmon. You won`t believe it, but with the salmon and the creamy dressing - which kind of is the best part of the whole salad - this Russian salad turned out to be spectacular. The salmon just gave it a slightly salty and smoky taste and that`s why this is going to be my new version from now on. 
Although you guys might even come up with a better version,which I probably will like even more, so please share your Russian salads. Now let`s get into cooking...

Russian salad with smoked Alaskan salmon


What you need (for 2 to 3 servings, depending if main or side dish):

salad:
  • 350g potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 150g garden peas
  • salt 
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled
  • 100g smoked Alaskan salmon
dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 200g heavy cream
  • 30g chive, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground
 
creamy dressing for Russian salad

Instructions:

salad:
  • rinse off and peel potatoes and carrots
  • cut carrots and potatoes into little pieces
  •  bring water to a boil, add carrots, potatoes and a few minutes later the peas
  • cook the veggies until they are soft, for about 5 minutes, just remember that the peas only need a few minutes (like 2 or 3)
  • strain off water, season with salt and freshly ground pepper
  • let cool down for 10 to 15 minutes and prepare the dressing and boil the eggs in the meantime 
  • tear the smoked salmon into bits, add to the salad
  • rinse off the hard boiled eggs with cold water, remove the shells
  • cut eggs into pieces, add to salad
  • drizzle over dressing, mix well, serve or let sit for an hour to get more intense flavours
dressing:
  • rinse off and finely chop the onion and chive
  • mix together all the ingredients for the dressing, I used a jar to mix the dressing, which I shook to produce a very homogeneous dressing
  • refrigerate for 10 minutes, if you like you`re dressing on the cooler side
Preparation time: 30 minutes, cooling time included
Cooking time: approximately 5 minutes

Russian salad with Alaskan salmon

What do you think? Are you going to give it a try? Or did you already make your own Russian salad? Please share your thoughts, as I like to read about them.
I for sure liked the salmon in this salad, which I had never tried before. This is the main reason why I love cooking and baking, because there`s always something new to discover even when you don`t expect it.

Enough rambling, read you soon,
xoxo

 

Get Ready For One Smoothie A Day



Today we`re going to talk about a little healthy challenge starting next Monday, here on velvet & vinegar. It`s the one smoothie a day challenge, in which you prepare one fresh smoothie every day. It`s the second time I`m doing this challenge (check out the first one) and I would really love for you guys to give this a try. And here`s why you should absolutely do this challenge with me: it`s a super easy and quick way to get a bunch of healthy fruits on your table, which will provide you with lot`s of vitamins and antioxidants. Further it will help you keep up a healthy lifestyle and can easily be incorporated into your daily morning routine without taking up too much time. Are you in with me? I promise you it`s going to be manageable!

All you need are a bunch of fresh fruits - or frozen ones, if you don`t have the time to shop for ingredients, although I would really go for the fresh ones, just tastes better if you ask me - a blender and some yogurt or milk. Don`t worry if you`re vegan or don`t consume dairy products just use almond milk, coconut water, rice milk, oat milk or just simple water. That`s about all you need, so you see this is absolutely doable. If you want to take your smoothies a little bit further or even take them to the extreme you`re definitely require more than mentioned above. But no need of that, you can just keep it simple as well.

picture from pinterest

Naturally I have a few smoothie ideas for you that would go perfectly with the one smoothie a day challenge. To get inspired check out these 23 smoothie recipes,  a ton of ideas from Martha Stewart and allrecipes ideas. Of course I`m going to share my creations as well, so next week there will be coming up a smoothie recipe every day. 

Now tell me, are you thinking on taking this challenge? I definitely hope so...
Read you soon,
xoxo

Snowflake Chocolate Chip Cupcakes


snowflake chocolate chip cupcakes

Since a few days there`s snow everywhere, temperatures have dropped below zero and it`s that time, when you just want to stay inside the house. This calls for baking right? There`s nothing better to do on days like these, than making some yummy delicious treats in the kitchen, like these snowflake chocolate chip cupcakes for example. Don`t they have just the perfect look to go with the snow outside? They blend in perfectly with the white surroundings.

But the most adorable thing about these cupcakes are definitely the paper liners. Found them a few weeks ago and just couldn`t resist on buying those, due to the cute snowflake print they come with. Those should definitely be on your shopping list for the next Christmas, what do you think?

Enough talking of paper liner, when it comes to the ingredients of these cupcakes, I decided to keep it clean and simple, as I wanted them to be white like snow, at least mostly, as I couldn`t leave out on the chocolate. Chocolate just makes everything way more better, especially in terms of baking. Despite their simpleness these cupcakes aren`t just cute looking, they are pretty flavorful, not only chocolaty, but with a notable taste of vanilla as well.
But let`s dive directly into making these little snow beauties.

chocolate chip cupcakes batter


What you need (for 12 cupcakes):

cupcakes:
  • vegetable oil, like sunflower oil
  • 50g margarine or butter, butter at room temperature
  • 100g white sugar
  • 1 egg, medium size
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 120g chocolate chips
  • 150g white flour
  • milk
  • muffin tin
  • winter themed paper baking cups  
frosting:
  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g confectioner`s sugar
  • piping bag
  • star nozzle
  • 30g chocolate chips 
making chocolate chip cupcakes

Instructions:

cupcakes:
  • preheat your oven at 180° Celsius 
  • grease your muffin tin with vegetable oil using paper towels
  • add butter or margarine and white sugar in a bowl, mix well until smooth (by hand or with a blender)
  • add one egg after another, immediately mixing them in 
  • add vanilla extract, salt, baking powder and chocolate chips, mix your batter once again
  • now it`s time to combine the liquid and the solid part of your cupcake mixture, if you`re using a blender just add the flour to your batter and mix until well combined, if you`re making your cupcakes by hand slowly pour your liquid part of the batter into the flour whilst constantly mixing, make sure to avoid flour clumps forming
  • if your batter is to solid, add a few tablespoons of milk until your batter has the right texture, I added about 2 to 3 tablespoons, your batter should have the consistency of cookie dough, it shouldn`t be runny but still have a creamy texture
  • place your winter themed paper baking cup in your muffin tin
  • fill each cup with 2 tablespoons of your cupcake batter
  • bake for approximately 20 minutes, use a toothpick to check out if your cupcakes are ready, insert it into one of your cupcakes and if it comes out clean they`re ready
  • take cupcakes out of the oven, let cool down for 10 to 15 minutes
  • in the meantime you can prepare your frosting 
frosting:
  • add softened butter and confectioner`s sugar into a bowl, mix until smooth and quite stiff, you can do this by hand or with a blender 
  • fill frosting into a piping bag, pipe it onto the cooled down cupcakes in circular motions
  • carefully sprinkle over the remaining chocolate chips
preparation time: 15 minutes
baking time: 20 minutes
decorating time: 20 minutes, cooling time included

winter themed chocolate chip cupcakes


You can eat these sweet winter goodies right away or store them in an airtight container up to 3 days. Just make sure to take a picture of them in the snow before you enjoy them all by yourself or give them away as little winter treats to your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues.
Wish you an enjoyable snowy baking time and read you soon. Oh wait! Do you even have snow in your hometown? Almost forgot to ask...

xoxo