Bikes and Beers in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia is wild and beautiful, with tall mountains and dark caves, warming dishes and endless vineyards, ancient cobble stone cities and a welcoming buzz that sweeps up visitors wholeheartedly. While there is so much to see and do in Slovenia, Kai and I spent a few days touring around Lake Bled and the mountains, and another day exploring Trieste, an Italian seaside town almost entirely bordered by Slovenia. While visiting Lake Beld was top of my must-do list, we’d heard that spending a few days in Ljubljana was practically obligatory when visiting Slovenia, and wow, and I glad that we did!
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, known for its sprawling green spaces, the peaceful and winding Ljubljanica River, and as home to a jewel box of colorful architecture. Continue reading


Rolo Pancake Kebabs

My last recipe post, 5 Simple Tips for Making Sashimi at Home, was logged on April 10th, 2014. That means it’s been almost a FULL YEAR since I’ve gabbed to you about a new food concoction. What’s up with that? I could blame the lack of sunlight – it’s hard to photograph recipes after work in the winter when it’s dark. I could blame life – I had a rough summer, and blogging wasn’t really my focus. I could blame work – I’ve had a lot more responsibly, which means longer office hours and less time for fun. But really, the truth is, I just haven’t felt inspired to blog. I’ve wanted to be out with friends, dancing, eating, drinking, and socializing. The thought of being at home alone, arranging plates and jotting down new recipe ideas on a weeknight just felt . . . sad.

However, I’m happy to report that the ‘old Ali’ is back in all her boring glory. I’ve been painting after work, dancing inanely to Taylor Swift for hours at a time, organizing cupboards, surfing Pinterest for recipe ideas, and eating way too much dark chocolate while wrapped up in a afghan on the living-room couch. I’ve gone into full-on winter hibernation-homemaking-hideaway mode, and it feels great :) So here is the product of my first recipe back in the saddle, and ohh god, it’s a good one. Are you ready for a whole lotta fluffy, melting, chocolaty, breakfast goodness? Please meet my new best friend(s), Rolo Pancake Kebabs: Rolo Pancake Kebabs 2This recipe came into existence on Sunday, as I was strolling through my local (Dutch) grocery store. My thought process went something like: I’m craving pancakes. I should buy mini pancakes. I bet I could do something cute with those. Put them on cupcakes? Haha pancake cupcakes. Or what about mini pancake sandwiches? Yum! With camembert and bacon and maple syrup drizzled on top?  OR WHAT IF I MAKE mini pancake kebabs!! It felt right, and soon enough, I had a pack of 50 poffertjes in my shopping cart while excitedly wandering through the grocery store, looking for the perfect pancake-kebab accompaniments.

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Salvage BBQ in Portland, Maine

The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. My grandparents live on a beautiful lake, and every year friends and family from all over camp out at their house on the 4th to enjoy bonfires, BBQ’s, boat rides, sparklers, and s’mores. In fact, my favorite childhood memory is laying on their hammock by the water, wearing an over-sized sweatshirt, eating a sticky s’more, smelling the smoky campfire, and watching the Independence Day fireworks explode in the sky as family ohhh’d and ahhh’d nearby. At that moment in time, every human sense I had was satisfied, and I felt filled with love and happiness. After the fireworks, my sisters, cousin, and I would all run around outside playing flashlight tag. Our game would soon evolve into hide-and-go-seek, as Mom and Dad tried to catch us to tuck us into bed. I never wanted the day to end, but thankfully, I was able to re-live this happy moment on the 4th year after year.Lake SunsetAs an adult, I wanted to share this magical day with B and his family . . .

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Dinner at Marathonweg

I really, really dislike flying. When I was younger I was prone to anxiety. Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten better at taking a deep breath and finding balance in life. These days, the only time I get that I’m-crushed-I-can’t-breathe-I’m-going-to-die feeling is when I’m on a plane. Usually I squeeze B’s hand so tight, pumped up on drugs and adrenaline. But lately, I’ve been flying more and more for work. At least once a month. This means I can’t take my happy-flight pills because I have meetings. And I can’t squeeze B’s hand because I’m flying solo. So I’m dealing with it, but not in the best way. Every time I get in a plane I have to come to terms with death, which really sucks. I hate not being in control, and the thought of being tossed around in a helpless box way up in the sky with no power over my destiny is a panic-stricken thought. I hate that my mind goes there, I hate turbulence, I hate being scared. But I’m can’t help it, so I’m doing the next best thing – dealing with it. And the best method I’ve found to deal with this fear is via distraction. I read magazines, I snuggle deep into my coat hood, and I write blog posts. So the good part about flying is that I have some spare time where I can catch up with you. Because there’s no wifi or phone reception, I’m not expected to send work e-mails or take business calls. And so it really is a retreat from the real world. A death box sky retreat.

Anyways, now that you know a bit more about me and my biggest fear (which is very ironic for someone who is addicted to traveling!) let’s move on to the point of the post. Last weekend B’s friend Marshall was in town. B and Marshall went to university together. They’re lad friends who get up to mischief and reminisce about the good old days – before Marshall was a financial hotshot in London and B was a pot-smoking strategist in Amsterdam (I kid). Despite living a 45 minute plane ride away, Marshall has never been to visit us – and it’s been more than three years! But he made up for it by kindly taking us out to dinner, to congratulate us on our engagement, and I think also secretly get B drunk enough to rave with him until 5am. Boys will always be boys.

IMG_1773A Friend had recommended Marathonweg, saying ‘Ohh! They have really good sides!’ I’m a sucker for sides (and condiments!) so Marathonweg made it on the to-try list. After an online poke at the menu, we decided it was just the place to take an out-of-town guest – good wine, good food, and good atmosphere, for good company.

Upon arrival we were taken into a back room and seated at a large booth. At first I thought I might be the one with two dates. But after a while, it became clear B and Marshall were the lovers. They cuddled in the booth, split a meal, and went out together afterwards – so I guess I was the third wheel!!

IMG_1753Although the food (which I will get to momentarily) at Marathonweg was good, the atmosphere was even better. The room was illuminated by candlelight, the space was roomy and comfortable, and there were a lot of natural accents – wooden beams, tall plants, and fresh flowers. Just my kinda place.IMG_1772As I said, Marshall and B slid in on the same side of the booth. Two dates for me?IMG_1745Nope. Clearly these two are the ones on the date!IMG_1746IMG_1747Water was brought to the table in a cute Marathonweg branded carafe. IMG_1751And wine was brought to the table as well.IMG_1755Followed by a platter of fresh bread, with homemade butter, homemade aioli, and a tea pot filled with olive oil.IMG_1759We all got starters – I think B had a salad, Marshall had a meat platter . . .  and I had sardines! Served straight from the can with a few lemon wedges. Smeared on some fresh bread with a drizzle of olive oil, this was a fantastic starter. I often wonder why I don’t try to make such simple and delicious meals myself at home!
IMG_1760And then came our dinner.  B and Marshall ordered the steak for two – it was gargantuan piece of meat – the free range kind that is fed delicacies and massaged every day, before being brought to a humane death and aged gently for 30 days. I don’t know if I buy into the cow crap. ‘Ohh, this cow comes from this valley, and lives by this river and eats this diet.’ Sure, the cow’s heritage plays a small role in the taste, but it’s really about what you do with the meat that matters. How it’s cooked, stored, aged. Anyways, point of the story is that this cow was fan-frickin’-tastic. I don’t know what they did with it in the kitchen, but I must learn how to replicate this at home!
IMG_1766I had the much smaller pork belly from a Limburg abbey, served with pulled pork and potatoes.IMG_1770The whole meal was complimented with fries, green beans, and eggplant. Ahh, the delicious sides :)IMG_1768IMG_1756We cleared our plates and then moved on to coffee, and more wine. Between the three of us we had two bottles, so the cab ride home was giddy to say the least. The boys, fueled on the biggest steak known to man, then went out and danced until 5am. I had a slightly different evening and was in bed, sound asleep by midnight. I’m such a snooze sometimes!

If you’re interested in a meal at Marathonweg (which is currently one of my top five Amsterdam picks) you can find them here: Marathonweg 1-3-5 1076 SW Amsterdam. I recommend calling and making a reservation ahead of time: 020 370 3731.

PS. I have a contributor article on The Blog Wander this week, you can read and check it out here. It’s quite insightful if you’ve ever wondered how I met B, and what it’s like living abroad, being away from family.

xo Ali

Elf Cookies

My bestie in Maine has the most beautiful daughter. Her name is Charlotte and every time I Skype with said bestie, Charlotte is  there too, lovingly chiming in to say ‘hello’ to Auntie Ali in Amsterdam. The last time we had a chat, I learned all about The Elf on the Shelf. As I don’t live in the States, I was completely ignorant as to who The Elf on the Shelf was, which is a little embarrassing as apparently he’s somewhat of a legend with the kids these days! The elf is a little guy who hangs about your house, reporting back to Santa on the days leading up to Christmas. If you’re nice, you get presents. If you’re naughty, well, don’t let the elf catch you!! This legend is told via an accompanying storybook, and the elf himself is always on the move. He sits in the medicine cabinet, under your bed, and at the dinner table. He’s everywhere, just waiting and watching, so you better be nice!

Now, I want you to know that I’m a good person. I love rainbows and puppies and sunshine. I hold the door for people, I have great manners, I try to always be a little ray of sunshine, blah blah blah. But that’s not to say I don’t love a good bribe every now and then. Because we’re not all perfect. Sometimes we accidentally swear when a hot pan slips out of the oven. Or we’re sneaky and go clothes shopping on our lunch break. Well unfortunately, this time of year the elf is watching, so if you still want some good Christmas presents, you’ll need a good bribe. Enter, elf cookies!Mini Elf Cookies

The Dutch love kruidnoten. Kruidnoten are small, kibble-like cookie bites that are traditionally associated with Sinterklaas in the Netherlands.IMG_5118They’re dangerous, because they’re sold in a BIG bag from the super market, and you end up eating them like chips, absentmindedly, one after another. During my phone conversation with the bestie and Charlotte last week, I was admittedly munching away. Tis the season! Mid-kruidnoten-nibble, I had a great gift idea – I would surprise Charlotte with a big bag of Dutch kruidnoten for Christmas. Then, we could make mini Elf on the Shelf cookies together as a fun project :)IMG_6091Because it’s really not fair that Santa is the only one who gets cookies on Christmas eve, and the elf hangs around your house longer, anyways. And he’s going to get hungry, and he’s going to need some bribes snacks.

I assumed Elf cookies would be easy, but I wanted to trial my idea before attempting it with a toddler. Elf cookies really are kid-proof, and there’s NO baking required! To get started, all you need are some mini cookies. I used Dutch kruidnoten, but if you’re else where in the world, you could always use Cookie Crisp cereal instead. All you need is a collection of yummy-crunchy-mini cookies to start. IMG_6085I then used Martha’s recipe to whip up some quick royal icing. The ingredients for this are also very sparse and simple – powdered sugar, egg whites, and lemon. Once you’ve whipped your icing into a light fluff, transfer it into a plastic baggie. Then, pipe a dollop of royal icing on top of each mini cookie.IMG_6095The result of this effort will be adorable, frosted gingerbread minis –  little elf cookies!IMG_6118IMG_6114Now, you could serve your elf the cookies like this, but everyone knows that a truly good bribe comes with sprinkles. IMG_6150I went for ‘disco’ sprinkles, because really, I couldn’t resist a product in the super market labeled ‘disco’! If you can’t find badass discos in your area, you could go with sprinkles of any kind – red and green, gold, silver – the idea is to make them resemble human-sized gingerbread cookies as much as possible. Yum!

IMG_6133Give your cookies a good dusting of color.IMG_6143Now, it’s time to share them with your elf. If you skip this last step, you’re going to end up eating a whole batch in under 2 minutes! Remember, he’s watching ;)
IMG_6110Bon appetit!

Elf Cookies

Birthday Dinner at Ron Gastrobar Amsterdam

Throughout my teenage years and into my early 20’s, birthdays were celebrated with loud parties, rounds of shots, and dancing until 6am. But the past two years have been different. I appreciate different things, want different things. If birthdays are a benchmark for the year to come, I want mine to be filled with love and happiness and really good food. Which is why deciding where to go for dinner on the 15th of October was especially important. B wanted to help me kick this year off with a bang, and compiled a list of great restaurant suggestions. This was a present in itself, as we now have our next few dinning experiences mapped out! But we needed to pick just one for my birthday dinner – and so we decided on Ron Gastrobar, Ron Blaauw’s deliciously chic Amsterdam eatery.
IMG_4689Ron Blaauw is a celebrated Dutch chef, one of the few to be awarded two Michelin stars. Ron Gastrobar is his most recent creation, with a modern menu and a classy chic, but not stuffy, atmosphere. We started with cocktails at the bar while we waited for our table to open. B got a Moscow Mule that matched his shirt perfectly!IMG_4690I got a glass of wine that I embarrassingly choked on in front of our waiter.  I had asked for a sweet white wine, but they only had a sweet dessert wine. Sounded great to me – I’m all for starting dinner with dessert!! He poured me a sample and I eagerly took a sip, only to realize that this wine was INCREDIBLY potent and tasted almost like a port!! It burned my throat and in my surprise I somehow swallowed it the wrong way, and burst into an awkward combo coughing-laughing fit!! I managed to mildly keep my cool and give him the thumbs up on pouring a full glass, but needless to say, we kicked the meal off with a good chuckle! Not long after we were shown to our table, which was along the terrace window, giving B a nice view outside and me a great view of the line chefs in the kitchen. IMG_4691v v My date looked very handsome in his new yellow jumper.IMG_4693We made a birthday toast and then surveyed the menu, hungry and ready for a birthday feast! IMG_4694 IMG_4695At Ron, everything on the menu is €15, and dishes range from eel to oysters to ribs. They recommend starting with two dishes each, and then ordering additional dishes at the end if you’re still hungry or have a favorite. Ron is great because you can grab a cocktail after work and have a nibble to share, or you can order four courses and have a culinary adventure. You could spend €30 or €300 and matter what you do, you’re guaranteed an awesome dinning experience.IMG_4698We ordered our food and were brought a little white bag.IMG_4699Inside, B discovered fresh, warm bread.IMG_4700Along with the bread we were served mini pickles and crispy butter to share. Any place that brings you pickles to kick off the meal is a winner in my book.IMG_4701 IMG_4702Our first course was seafood – I got my all time favorite, monk fish. It was tender and flavorful and  just what I had been craving.IMG_4705B got the crispy lobster ravioli – it wasn’t as pretty as my monk fish but it tasted equally delish!
IMG_4708 For the main I got the wild duck and black pudding. I’d had some fabulous duck in Lisbon, and wanted to see how Amsterdam fare would stack up. I have to say, the win goes to Lisbon, but only because of the portion size (3 miniature bits of duck) and the black pudding. One bite into my black pudding I got a bone (or some other small hard inanimate object I would rather not dwell on). Ouch.
IMG_4710B got BBQ spare ribs which were by far the best dish of the night. They were boneless, soft, tender and sweet. You could cut them with your spoon and sip them down like melted butter.IMG_4709We also got tarragon fries, to round off the meal.IMG_4712Absolutely stuffed (and having already had two slices of birthday cake at lunch) we passed on dessert. However, a smiling chef stopped by our table with mini ice cream cones, topped with wasabi peanuts. B was in the bathroom when these bad boys were delivered to our table, and it took A LOT of self control to sit there with his mini ice cream in my hand without giving it a lick. It was crunchy and smooth –  and the perfect way to end our meal.IMG_4713After dessert we lingered at our table, sipping wine and enjoying the lively ambiance. After we settled the bill we made our way out to the cloak room. I have to give Ron props for their funky art and cool bistro ambiance. IMG_4719 IMG_4723IMG_4727Before we hopped onto our bikes we warmed our hands at the door. It was a chilly night but thankfully not raining.IMG_4726If the weather had been nice, Ron would have been ideal. They have a beautiful outdoor terrace for summer nights and cool dry fall evenings.IMG_4730We will definitely be back to Ron in the coming months. And perhaps again in the summer to enjoy the terrace and a drink in the sun. But for now, I’m happy to smile at our evening at Ron, a great birthday meal to kick of a great new year of life!

Hot Tropic Pineapple

Happy Sunday! B has been in Scotland this weekend visiting family, so I’ve had the house to myself. I’ve watched numerous girly flicks, I’ve sprawled out like a big starfish in the bed, and I’ve been testing out some new recipes. This one is a winner – it’s spicy and sweet, the perfect amount of summer heat. I give you: Hot Tropic Pineapple.

To get started all you need are two easy ingredients, a big juicy pineapple and some cayenne powder. Or some paprika if you’re not a fan of spicy-hot.Hot Tropic PineappleFirst, chop off the top and bottom of your pineapple. Then, spinning it as you go, slice off the sides. At first this may seem awkward, but after slicing up pineapple all summer I’ve become quite the pro! You can pick it up in no time. Make sure your pineapple is juicy and ripe, so you can eat every last bit, down to the core.IMG_2814Once your fruit is skinned, lay the pineapple cylinder on its side and slice it into wheels.  You can leave them as such and eat them as flat round pineapple slices, or you can give them another chop. Once they’re sliced to your liking sprinkle them with either your cayenne pepper or your paprika. Now eat!IMG_2600It’s a hot spin on pineapple, and elevates it from a fruit to a gourmet snack with a fiery kick! It’s also healthy and boosts your metabolism – spicy peppers, like cayenne, cause the body temperature to rise. . . . and when the body temperature rises it needs to be cooled. During this cooling process, you burn more calories – delicious and nutritious! IMG_2606It’s warm and refreshing, just like a Hot Tropic, true to its name! I’ve been snacking on this all weekend – B isn’t really a fan of spicy or smoked flavors, so I have to get it out of my system while he’s not around ;)IMG_2729Otherwise I’ve just been a home body this weekend, enjoying the sunshine creeping through the windows, my beautiful flowers that have finally bloomed, and a bit of pampering as well.IMG_2756I’ve definitely done a face mask each night, I’ve painted my toes twice, and I got a hair cut at my favorite new spot in the neighborhood.IMG_3147You know you’ve found a good place when the hairdresser spends just as long styling your hair as cutting it! My hair has been happy and bouncy all weekend – I am loving this end of the summer glowing locks-look.

I’m feeling so rested and relaxed this Sunday night – and I’m actually looking forward to jumping into work tomorrow. I guess a good haircut, some chick flicks, and a ton of spicy pineapple will do that to you! Have a good one x

Summer Mealtime Inspiration

In the summer, meals in my house become a constant picnic. I’m too lazy to turn on the oven, and way too lazy to slave over a hot stove. In the warmer months I like food that is simple, refreshing, and delicious. If it’s a hot summer’s night and you’re in a bind about what to cook, here are some delicious and easy summertime meal suggestions.

Jazz Up Fresh Fruit

Sure, you could eat an apple. But what about an apple, sliced up with some walnuts and gorgonzola cheese? Get creative and you can easily turn a fruit snack into a light summer meal. A few of my favorites are cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, strawberries with ricotta and french bread, watermelon with feta and fresh mint, blueberries with spinach leaves, walnuts & balsamic vinaigrette, a big juicy orange chopped up with beets and walnut oil, honeydew melon with lime juice and cilantro, and grilled pineapple with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. When in doubt, simmer some balsamic on a low heat in a small sauce pan until it’s thick and sweet. You can then drizzle this over the fruit of your choice. It immediately makes your fruit feel more gourmet and adds an element of sweet acidity that’s perfect for a summertime treat!

Ohh You Tart

Another great summer meal that’s super easy to whip up is a tart. Yes, this requires turning on the oven, but overall it’s very low involvement and can be tailored to suit anything floating around in the fridge. Once you’ve got a basic tart recipe down, you can easily make a sweet or savory tart any night of the week. I like CHOW’s easy tart dough recipe. I like to choose tart ingredients based on the fresh herbs I have in the fridge. If I have a bunch of basil, I’ll make a savory italian tart with heirloom tomatoes, parmesan, capers, and smoked salmon. Or if I have some thyme, I might go for something savory-sweet with blackberries, goats cheese, and balsamic. I’ve also man an avocado, egg, and herb tart which was out of this world. Don’t forget to top your tart off with a dusting of quality olive oil, and you’ll be golden. Serve with some sour cream, fresh grated cheese, or a sprinkle of chives.

Dips and Such

This next one is B’s summertime favorite – he’s absolutely addicted to making humus!! When in need of a quick and delicious summertime fix, center your meal around a high-protien dip, and lay out an array of crudite accompaniments. B loves to make homemade humus, and while he blends, I’ll chop up granny smith apples, colorful peppers, zucchini, pita, and chorizo for dipping. You could also easily make a white or black bean dip with all the same accompaniments. I’m a big fan of yogurt and guacamole dips as well. A new delicious dip I have been making often is a sardine spread. Mix a tin of sardines with some fresh herbs, sour cream, a dollop of mustard and some hot sauce or cayenne if you want a kick. This is dip is amazing on bread or with fried eggs, and is also perfect for dunking veggies.

One Pot Wonders

OK, so if you’re going to turn on the oven, make it a one pot wonder. Or a one pan wonder, I should say! Throw in colorful vegetables with a juicy cut of meat, toss your bounty with fresh herbs and olive oil and set ‘er to bake! You can get creative with your combos to make your meal feel more summer than winter – try to shop for produce that’s in season and you’ll end up with a flavor perfect for summer. For example, roast thick-sliced peaches with rosemary, olive oil, and lamb. Or sliced peppers with fennel, onions, and sausages. The whole point of a one pan wonder is to mix something delicious in one pan, chuck it in the oven, and not have to worry about anything else. Try to pair meat with vegetables that take approximately the same time to cook. And remember, fresh herbs are your best friends, and you can never have enough olive oil!

Simple Salads

This one might be a no-brainer to some, but salads make a great meal in the summertime! The simple house salad with carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and cukes might get boring after a while, so mix up your produce, don’t be scared to experiment with fruits or fancy cheeses, and always try to make your own dressing. I keep loads of different oils on hand – sesame, walnut, truffle, olive, and several infused oils as well, as these are perfect for making delicious and unique salad dressings. Add a spritz of acidity to your oil of choice and you’re golden – this could be in the form of lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, red or white wine vinegar, or my personal favorite a good quality balsamic vinegar. I always start my salads by thinking of the kind of meal I am craving. If it’s oriental I’ll make a dressing with sesame oil and orange juice, and will then fill my salad bowl with colorful leafy greens, nuts, chillies, pea pods, mandarin oranges, etc. You can also make a delicious salad based around your favorite whole grain or bean, like quinoa or lima beans. I love chopping up left overs, throwing them on a bed of crisp lettuce, and making a fresh dressing. Simple dinner in 5 minutes? Done.


Icy Cool Concoctions

Sometimes I go a little overboard at the farmer’s market. I just get so excited when I’m surrounded by a rainbow of produce, and I want my basket to look the same! A lot of the time I end up bringing home too much fresh food. So if I have berries that are starting to get a bit soft, or oranges that are starting to look a bit too ripe, I’ll make them into juice for the next day or two. Juice is much easier to finish off, and you wont pay any mind to the maturity of your fruit. Squeeze your oranges and throw them in a jug with some sparkling water. Slice your berries and throw them in an icy cold pitcher with some mint and ice water. Or jazz up your wine and make a spritzer, with some ripe stone fruit, sparkling water, and your wine of choice. These drinks are light, delicious, and the perfect treat on a sweet summer’s night.

Happy mealtime – and if you’re still lacking inspiration, here’s a lovely gallery of inspiration! x

While most of the photos on Pressed Words are my own, this post features lots of beautiful food photos from around the web. You can check out my Pinterest food board for sources and specific recipes :)



Healthy Dessert – Blueberry Chocolate Ice Cream

I suck at diets. Food is just too good! I love to cook, to dine out, and to bake for others. I don’t like putting rules or restrictions on what or how much I eat. Food should be enjoyable, not a stress. That’s not to say I don’t take care of my body. I try to eat whole, healthy things. And I don’t own a car, so I pretty much bike or walk everywhere I go, and this includes an occasional trip to the local yoga studio. But on the flip side, I love a cold, sweet glass of white wine. Artisan bread and cheese are staple foods here in Holland. Warm bread on a Sunday morning? Assorted cheese board after work? Yes please! Ohh, and dessert every night is non-negotiable. I’ve inherited a sweet tooth and am proud of it.

But sometimes my pants start to feel a bit tight, or I eat a porky meal out three nights in a row. And this is when I make a conscious decision to be just a bit healthier for a day or two – to balance things out. That’s not to say I’ll skip on dessert, but I’ll make little modifications, like having grilled chicken instead of fried, or fizzy lemon water instead of Sprite. I have a repertoire of recipes to whip out in these instances, and this next one is one of my all time favorites. Because it’s sweet, it’s filling, and it super chocolaty.

Enter: guilt free chocolate blueberry ice cream.

Guilt Free Chocolate Blueberry Ice CreamI have this at least three nights a week. You’ll need three simple things. Frozen blue berries. Light whipped cream. And Dutch cocoa powder. That’s it!

IMG_2416If you’re like me, you will end up eating half of your blueberries before they touch the chocolate! As a Maine gal, I grew up on blueberries. My grandparents have a big old red house in the woods, and as a kid I spent my summers playing in the forest out back, building forts, collecting pine cones, and eating handfuls of fresh-picked Maine blueberries. Yum!IMG_2417These kind might not be fresh, but they’re frozen – the perfect base for a sweet, guilt free ice cream!
IMG_2464Feel free to nibble, but try to save at least a cup of blueberries for this recipe. IMG_2424To turn your frozen blueberries into ice cream, all you’ll need to do is give them a little squirt of whipped cream. Usually between 2 or 3 tablespoons. IMG_2513You’ll also need some unsweetened cocoa powder. You don’t need chocolate powder that’s loaded with sugar – your whipped cream and berries are sweet enough. Add one heaping teaspoon of chocolate powder.IMG_2441And now comes the messy part – mix! Try not to let your cocoa dust fly everywhere. IMG_2530My blueberries could have been colder as they had been sitting out for a bit (confession: I don’t have a freezer!) BUT, if your blueberries are properly frozen, as you mix, your chocolate will blend in with the whipped cream, and your whipped cream will start to freeze alongside the cold blueberries. IMG_2540You’ll be left with a sweet, delicious dairy desert, comparable to ice cream! You could go one step further and whirl your blueberry ice cream in a blender for 15 seconds to make a smooth puree (closer to ice cream), but really, it will taste the same – and trust me, this is one dessert you are not going to want to wait for! IMG_2573Plop a dollop of whipped cream on top for good luck, and a sprinkle of extra chocolate, and dig in! IMG_2582 IMG_2596This amazingly delicious dessert clocks in at only 107 calories. It’s packed with antioxidants and vitamins, and is totally guilt free. IMG_2588If you’re feeling naughty, you could add some chocolate sprinkles, or even serve these guys in a cone. But I prefer to eat them straight from the bowl, on a hot summer night, ideally while watching an episode of True Blood on the projector. Ah, the little pleasures of summertime! Enjoy! x

Dinner Date at Caffe Milo

On Thursday night, Amsterdam was HOT. It was one of those sticky-humid nights where you dread the thought of turning on the oven, and end up eating cold cereal for dinner instead. As much as I love a big bowl of Frosites, B had a better idea. He initiated an impromptu date night, keen on cool white wine and a shaded patio. Enter Caffe Milo, B’s brilliant Thursday date night idea.

IMG_1908Tucked away on the south-east edge of Oosterpark, Caffe Milo is a balmy oasis from the hot city heat. They have a large, breezy outdoor patio, and live music every Thursday night. Hello new favorite Amsterdam spot!IMG_1915We opted for a small table on the edge of the patio, perfect for people watching and listening to some cool acoustic tunes.
IMG_1790We were brought back to our Cannes trip over some fragrant, chilled white wine.IMG_1791 IMG_1814IMG_1801And then got down to dinner! The menu at Caffe Milo is Mediterranean inspired, with everything from focaccia to pannacotta. We ordered the antipasti for two, set on having a lazy, delicious dinner.
IMG_1843IMG_1810 IMG_1875The inside of Caffe Milo is also quite groovy, and although the patio is probably the biggest draw in the warm summer months, we would definitely come back in the autumn or winter to sip a cocktail or cozy up in one of their big cinnamon colored booths. We also noticed that Wednesday night is cocktail night with buy one, get one free deals. Girls night anyone?IMG_1852IMG_1849IMG_1857IMG_1845^ ^ B is a far more artistic photographer than me!IMG_1862When our antipasti arrived, we were greeted with three tiers of high-stacked goodness . . . IMG_1890 . . . . meats, bread, tapenade, anchovies, olives, calamari, and tons of other Mediterranean delights. Delizioso!IMG_1894IMG_1905IMG_1902IMG_1900For our main, we plumped for the special – artichoke ravioli. 
IMG_1919I could eat buckets – it was heavenly!IMG_1926As the sun started to dip and the air began to cool, we lingered over the last of our wine, contemplating dessert. We asked if they had any sweet, chocolate treats, and boy, did they deliver!IMG_1954Gooey molten chocolate cake, sweet ice cream, red berries and a dusting of pistachio – a sweet end to a lovely meal.IMG_1936 IMG_1938IMG_1972As we were leaving, the folks next to us were served some deliciously colorful cocktails. When we asked what they were (for Wednesday buy one get one free cocktails perhaps ;)), we were told they were a unique Caffe Milo creation. The ‘strawgasme’ is a yummy-sweet cocktail in celebration of Amsterdam’s Gay Pride week. Caffe Milo, along with many other Amsterdammers, are decked out and ready for Gay Pride – an awesome pride week of street festivals, parties, and a colorful canal parade. . . . which I may tell you all about later ;)

IMG_1974Even though I’ve lived in Amsterdam for a few years now, I’m still finding new restaurant gems, like Caffe Milo. It was a great, unexpected date night out with my favorite. . . . and biking home, through Oosterpark and across the Amstel was a great way to wrap up the evening! v v IMG_1976If you’re interested in a yummy meal, drink, or listening to some chill tunes at Caffe Milo, you can check out their website here. There’s an English version (yay), where you can book a table, check out their menu, or find updates on their music lineup. It seems like they have something fun on most nights of the week, so you’re definitely in for a treat! x