Simple pleasures

Tag: little gifts

Rocky Road Party Treats

by tableofcolors

These Rocky Road treats have become a regular at our birthday parties. The first reason is that they taste good, the second reason is that they are so simple to make and the third reason is that they store well up to week so they can made a few days in advance if preferred. I’m always on the look-out for great ideas and recipes that are not too complicated to make. It’s a way to cut down on everyday stress.
rocky road 2

This recipe is from a Finnish women’s magazine, Kotivinkki. Click here for the orginal recipe in Finnish.

200 g/7 oz milk chocolate, broken into chunks
250 g/8.8 oz dark chocolate, broken into chunks
1 can (400g/14 oz) of condensed milk
50 g/1.7 oz butter
200g g/7 oz soft black liquorice cut into small bits
100g/3.5 oz mini marshmallows or large ones cut into four
3 dl/1.3 c salted peanuts
Melt the chopped chocolate, condensed milk and butter in heavy bottomed saucepan at medium heat. Stir constantly.

Cut the the liquorice into smaller bits and marshmallows as well if using large ones.

Mix the liquorice, marshmallows and peanuts into the melted chocolate mixture and pour into a parchment paper lined lasagna pan (23x33cm or 9×13”). Place in the fridge and allow the Rocky Road toffee to harden for 4-6 hours.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to week or in the summer I have stored it in the refrigerator.
rocky roadThese would make the perfect little gift to bring along to a party wrapped up pretty in some cellophane and a bow.


The texture of snow and little gifts

by tableofcolors

Snow crystals

Snow crystals

The winters in Finland are dark but on the days the sun comes out it turns into a winter wonderland. Today the sun came out and when I noticed how everything was glistening I was in a hurry to make it outside before the sun would sink behind the trees. But with the little ones, going outside takes time. As we are getting ready, someone informs that they are hungry. A Quick snack and then back to dressing. Dressing properly is key to surviving here in the cold months. School children spend a fair amount of time outside during recess and when we shop for snow pants and jackets they always make sure to ask me if they are water resistant/ or water proof. I know, it gets a bit high tech but they use them everydat from late fall until the end of April.

Snowflake princess

Snowflake princess

But we made it out in time to capture the light! Even though I’m more of a summer person I really do like the snow. I love shoveling snow while the kids play. Since we have a fairly long driveway, I get a free workout while the kids play. When Mom’s happy and the kids are happy!

Winter wonderland

Winter wonderland

I promised the kids that after we come inside and organize the house we could do few Christmas things. During the holidays there is often a situation where a small present would nice to give. Nothing to break the bank but something personal and possibly handmade. Below are the recipes for an easy and delicious caramel sauce, a chocolate ganache and a strawberry and lingonberry or red currant melba. A Perfect gift for a teacher or a neighbor.

Sauces for ice cream and other treats

Sauces for ice cream and other treats

Chocolate ganache
3 dl/1.3 c heavy cream
250 g/8.8 oz dark chocolate, chopped into pieces

Microwave the cream until it is boiling. Remove from the microwave and mix in the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Pour into a clean glass jar. Store in the refrigerator. This will stay fresh for about a week. When serving, heat up the ganache for just a few seconds in the microwave.

Caramel sauce

5 dl/generous 2 cups of heavy cream
4 dl/1.7 c brown sugar
1 vanilla bean partially slit open
2 tbsp butter
dash of salt

Place the cream, brown sugar and vanilla bean into a heavy bottomed pot. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean. Rinse the vanilla bean and allow to dry. It can be reused the next time you make this recipe. Mix the butter and salt into the caramel sauce and stir until smooth. Pour into a clean glass jar. The caramel will stay fresh in the fridge for about two weeks. Before using, heat up the amount desired in the microwave for a few seconds.

Strawberry and lingonberry (or red currant) melba

This recipe is a bit different from the ones above. This is best eaten either on the same day or the next day. The lingonberries or alternately the red currants complement the sweet strawberries nicely with their touch of tartness.

250 g/8.8 oz strawberries (may be frozen)
1 dl/0.4 c lingonberries of red currants (may be frozen)
4 tbsp lemon juice
sugar or a light syrup according to taste

Using a food processor or wand mixer, combine all the ingredients until a smooth melba is formed. Enjoy with your holiday treats.

I’m participating in the online adventure travel magazine’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggersThis week’s Challenge is: Texture in Nature!

Happy Father’s Day

by tableofcolors

Tomorrow is Father’s day in Finland and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce the great father of our five children. Over the years it has been wonderful to watch him grow into fatherhood. Every parent grows into parenthood at their own pace. There are the rewarding moments and sometimes mistakes are made. I think the most important part of that process is being able to say to your child that I made a wrong decision in haste. I really don’t think it undermines a parents authority. It’s really all about showing your children problem solving skills and accepting your imperfection without letting it get you down. It is all right to try again. Each child is a separate little person with their own personality waiting to shine in their own way. Finding that way for them to shine is the reward for a parent. I have enjoyed having you, the Father to our children, by my side to help discover what makes each of our unique children shine.

I’ve decided to call him Hunter, since that is his passion. I must admit that even though I am the official author of this blog and do write each post, he has been nearly as involved. Coming up with many great ideas and letting me know if the swans or the cranes are on the fields next to our house or stopping the car quick because the light was “just perfect” for a shot.


The kids have been bringing home cards and little gifts that they have made at school for Father’s day. They are all put away in our little secret place to await Sunday morning when Mom and the kids creep downstairs to make breakfast and coffee for Dad. We try to be extra quiet. 🙂 Then we all creep upstairs to our room where he is sleeping, or at least pretends to. We sing him a song to wake him up and then he gets to finally look at the all of the cards and little packages and enjoys breakfast in bed. The kids truly enjoy this ritual. They have no trouble waking up on this particular morning.

Some of the kids were asking to make gingerbread cookies. They are our first batch for this holiday season. Since Hunter is huge fan of gingerbread I thought that this could double-up as baking for Father’s day. We follow a recipe that is from a cook book from Hunter’s childhood. It has become my favorite. (Tule Mukaan, Leivomme Anni-Helenan kanssa)


2 dl/0.8 cups molasses
2 dl/0.8 cups sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cloves
(I only put in half of the spices above)
250 g/8.8 oz butter
2 eggs
10 dl /4.2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

I usually make a double batch and freeze half. As the holiday season progresses and suprise company show up, the dough is ready to roll out after thawing for a little while.

Bring the molasses, sugar and spices to a boil. Take off heat and add the butter to the hot sugar mixture, mixing meanwhile. Allow to cool a bit.
Next mix in the eggs one at a time. Add the baking soda to the flour and mix it into the warm sugar mixture. Cover and refrigerate until the next day. Bake at 200 C/390 F for about 7-10 minutes. Since I used the convection oven and I like a lighter cookie, my bake time was only 4 minutes. Remember if using the convection oven to decrease degrees to 180 C/360 F.

Little helpers

Cut-out cookies

The little taste tester

Our little one-and-a-half year-old pumpkin assumed the role of master taste tester. She made a few “rock-shaped” cookies and ate the rest of her dough, which kept her happy and occupied.

Gingerbread cookies

Cookie jar

There is a reason for the ribbon around the cookies, other than it makes them look cute. I can be fairly certain that those cookies will remain untouched until Sunday. Mom is trying to be smarter than the kids.

Traditional filled cakes are not Hunter’s favorite and so I decided to make cream puffs with a lemon-flavored cream filling. After making them, I just popped them in the freezer. There they will stay safe and not get eaten. They are very fast to thaw. I will take them out before making breakfast and they should be ready to go by the time we head upstairs with the kids.

The recipe is from an old book, The American Peoples Cookbook, published in 1956. The introduction tells that the book was the result of a recipe contest that was organized by the Peoples Book Club and Sears Readers Club. The result was a book 600 pages long full of recipes, some simple and some a little more intricate.

Cream Puffs

Bring 1 cup/2.4 dl water to a boil. Add 1/2 cups/110 g butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and one cup of flour beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the sides and forms a smooth ball. Remove from heat. Quickly beat in eggs, one at a time. Continue beating until thick and smooth.

Dough after the addition of eggs

Cream puffs before baking

Using spoons drop dollops of dough onto a lined pan. Bake at 450 F/230C for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 F/175C and bake for another additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack.

Lemon flavored cream filling

3.3 dl/1.4 cups heavy whipping cream
1.2 dl/ 1/2 cups lemon curd

Whip cream and fold in the lemon curd. Fill cooled cream puffs and refrigerate or freeze for later use. Enjoy with coffee.

Filled cream puffs

Part of keeping the family is happy is taking care of our relationship. We have opportunity to take off for a few days next week, just the two of us. I’ll try to post some photos of the landscape and nature from northern Sweden. Hunter has been there numerous times, but it is a first for me. Let’s hope for a little sunshine and clear skies.

Happy Father’s day to all of the special Fathers near and far! Hope your day is a special one!