alaskafoodmom

Food made easy for busy moms.

New Year, New Resolutions January 1, 2012

I know, I have been absent for a while. Summer happened, work happened, life happened. It’s very hard to get back into the groove of things when you get out of the groove. So, being that it is New Year’s Day, my resolution shall be to try to post at least once a week. Key word in all of this is try.

Seeing as how I had foot surgery two weeks ago and can’t walk without crutches for six weeks, it has been rather difficult to feel inspired in the kitchen. Shouting out directions to the hubby has been rather challenging. My one trip to the grocery store was humiliating and rather stressful. Since I can’t keep my foot down for more than 15 minutes at a time, I resorted to the fun electric cart. I felt like a leper in the grocery store. Not only was the hubby totally embarrassed by me and getting rather grumpy, but people wouldn’t make eye contact with me as I would try to get around them in my very cool cart. Not the highlight of 2011 for me. Good thing we are on to 2012.

So, with me gimped out and my husband not really happy in the kitchen, especially when I am around critiquing his every move, I am trying to keep things as easy as possible. A very easy go to dinner at our house is burrito night. This is completely doable for me at this point, of course with some help from the hubby.

Many of us remember the nights when our mom would bust out the taco seasoning packet and get very excited. I liked those nights as much as everyone else, but as I got older I realized how much sodium is in those packets and that I could create a better product with what I have in my pantry. Feel free to add more, or even less of the following depending on your taste buds and heat tolerance. We tend to like things a bit spicy at our house. We use moose in our house, but you can easily substitute ground beef or ground turkey.

Burritos

1 pound of ground moose, beef or turkey
1 yellow onion diced
1 red pepper diced
1 green pepper diced
1 small can diced green chilies or 1 seeded and deveined jalapeno pepper

Brown meat with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the meat is almost cooked through, add onion and peppers. Saute for about 5-7 minutes until the onion is softened.

Add in the following seasonings:
1/2 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

Sometimes I will add in red pepper flakes if I want some added heat. Smoke chipolte powder is another great addition. Really any of your favorite chili powder based mixes would work well.

Mix the spices into the mix, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow the flavors to mingle. I will usually add in about 1/8-1/4 cup of water, chicken or beef broth, beer, or tequila to the mix to give it some moisture. If you have little ones and are worried about cooking with alcohol, the alcohol will cook off in the process and give it some nice flavor.

Serve with flour tortillas or hard shell tacos. In our house we serve the burritos with saffron rice, refried beans, guacamole (recipe to come), salsa, fresh cilantro, and fresh lime.

It’s a hit every time. Enjoy and happy New Year!

 

Just another Saturday night… June 4, 2011

Saturday night seems to be that night of the week that my brain completely shuts down and has no clue what to cook for dinner. If I had my way, my four year old would sustain herself on the protein that she picks from her nose. I’m pretty sure that my six year old could figure out something from the bottom drawer of the refrigerator (think cheese and salami). Thankfully, I thought ahead and made my marinara sauce to wait for me in the freezer for these very days. I figured out my brain was on full shut down mode when I grabbed the can opener and actually placed it on the wine bottle to open it. Yes you read that right. So, pasta night it became. I opted to go with no meat tonight, my Buddhist vegetarian sister would be so proud.

Let’s begin with the basics; pasta preparation. I know many people who insist on putting oil in their water so that the noodles don’t stick together. I also know people who immediately rinse their noodles in fresh water. You don’t need to do either of these “tricks” for your noodles. The trick is to use an adequate size pot with enough water and a good handful of kosher salt. I typically shove my hand in the salt pig to grab about 2-3 tablespoons of salt. Bring the water to a full boil and then add in the pasta. Follow package directions for the amount of time for the noodle you are using. I like my noodles to be al dente (to the tooth), when in doubt bite a noodle to try it out. I tend to not use a strainer once my noodles are done and merely pour off as much water as I can.

Yes, you could use the basic marinara sauce recipe as is if you want or you could be like me and tweak with it. I decided to dice up half of a red pepper and a green pepper, slice up the five organic mushrooms that my husband picked up from Homegrown Market, sliced up kalamata olives, added in about 2 tablespoons of capers, and about 1/4 cup red wine (I was drinking Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 this particular night). I let this come to a simmer and just before serving I added in finely chopped flat leaf parsley and basil. Top with freshly grated Parmigino Reggiano (please splurge for this) and you have an excellent meal. Enjoy and here’s to those thoughtless nights.

 

Irish Eggs May 14, 2011

Filed under: Breakfast,Comfort Food,Vegetarian — alaskafoodmom @ 11:26 am
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I was recently flipping through a Martha Stewart Living magazine at the dentist office and came across a beautiful picture of eggs with tomatoes and melted cheese. I glanced at the recipe very briefly and tried to make a mental note of the name of the recipe, which I thought was Eggs a la Kevin. However, when I returned home and searched the website I came up with a dish that was completely different from what I had envisioned. Either Martha is getting very good at hiding her recipes on her website or I had a complete mental block on what I thought I had read. Either way I came up with this version which turned out to be very good. My husband even gave it a shot and said he liked it. I gave it the name Irish Eggs because I used one of my favorite cheeses, Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese, which is imported from Ireland. You can locate it at your local grocery store in the imported/specialty cheese section. Feel free to play around with the types of tomatoes you use. Heirloom varieties from the Farmer’s Market would be delicious in this and would give it some great color. You also don’t have to use full size tomatoes, cherry tomatoes sliced in half would be yummy as well.

1 tablespoon butter (please don’t substitute margarine, it’s not the same)
2 eggs (see Thoughts for the Day on buying eggs)
1 tomato sliced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Aged white cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat oven broiler on high. Move oven rack to within 6 inches of heater element. In a small oven proof saute pan heated over medium heat, melt butter until bubbly. Add in whole eggs taking care to not break the yolk. Cook until the egg whites just start to turn white. Nestle the sliced tomatoes on top of the eggs between the yolks. Season with salt and pepper. Top with sliced cheese and place into the oven. Cook until the cheese is melted and slightly golden, about 2-3 minutes. Be sure to watch the eggs, as you don’t want to overcook them and you will want a runny yolk. Serve with sliced artisan garlic bread that has been toasted.

 

Potato, Leek and Corn Soup May 11, 2011

Filed under: Comfort Food,Soup,Vegetarian,What's for Dinner? — alaskafoodmom @ 7:37 pm
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I concocted this last night after being done with this horrible Spring weather that Fairbanks has been doling out to us. I really needed something to warm me up from the inside and I figured this soup would do the trick. On my way home, I envisioned the ingredients that I was craving and the recipe quickly came together in my head. My husband ended up eating two bowls for dinner and in my world that means it was a successful recipe. Also, I didn’t get the “I wouldn’t ask for it again” comment that I tend to get when I am feeling particularly creative. Give a try for yourself and let me know how it works for you. I have some afterthoughts at the end for some different variations on this soup.

1 pound bacon, diced
1 medium sweet onion or yellow onion, diced
1 leek, split lengthwise and slice*
4 stalks celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 medium russet or Yukon gold potatoes, diced (really any potato you have will work)
4 cups organic free-range chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups skim milk (can use 1% or 2% milk too)
1 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Optional: 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Finely chopped parsley

In a large stock pan, brown bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and drain bacon on paper towels. Drain off oil and reserve 1 tablespoon. Saute onion, leek, celery, and garlic until translucent. Add in potatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. In a blender, blend together 1 cup frozen corn and 2 cups milk until frothy. Add to soup along with additional cup of frozen corn, cumin, salt and pepper to taste and cayenne if you are using. Be careful with the cayenne, it tends to pick its heat level as it cooks. Make sure to taste the soup to ensure that you have enough salt and pepper; potatoes tend to suck up salt. Warm up soup until just hot, you do not want to bring the soup to a boil once you add in the milk/corn mixture or the soup will break. Add in the reserved bacon. Serve with chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

*If you are unfamiliar with leeks, they are a vegetable in the onion family. You will need to split the leek lengthwise and rinse under running water in between the segments. Leeks tend to hold dirt between the segments which can be a little tricky when washing.

Afterthoughts: For those of you that are vegetarians or just watching the calories; feel free to omit the bacon. You can saute the onion, leek, celery and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil. The chicken broth can also be substituted for a tasty vegetable broth or you could use a hearty mushroom broth.

 

Rustic Italian Chicken May 4, 2011

Filed under: Chicken,Comfort Food,What's for Dinner? — alaskafoodmom @ 7:04 am
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I created this dish recently after craving something comforting and looking at a whole chicken in my refrigerator.

Afterthought: Some additions to this dish that might step it up a notch on the comfort factor is to add in a can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans or white beans and whole pitted kalamata olives just before placing into the oven. Finish the dish with shredded fresh basil and/or coarsely chopped flat leaf/Italian parsley.

Whole chicken cut up and extra fat removed
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Garlic, granulated
Italian seasoning
½ cup flour
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion in large chunks
1 red pepper in large chunks
¾-1 cup dry Marsala wine
1 can chopped tomatoes in juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large cast iron pan or heavy bottom, oven safe pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning.  Dredge chicken in flour and tap off extra.  Add chicken to hot pan and brown on both sides.  Add onions and peppers and continue cooking for about 2-3 minutes.  Add in Marsala wine and tomatoes with juice.  Continue to cook until sauce is boiling.  Transfer pan to the oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until onions and peppers are soft.  Serve with pasta or wild rice and garlic bread to sop up juices.

 

Banana Bread

Filed under: Breakfast,Comfort Food,Dessert — alaskafoodmom @ 6:59 am
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When I met my husband, he went on and on about how great his Grandma Uthe’s banana bread was.  I asked for the recipe and tweaked it a bit as I always do with recipes.  I don’t use a mixer for this recipe; rather a sturdy fork does all the work.  Great exercise for your arms and you get a better feel for when the ingredients are done being mixed.  Serve bread with butter, cream cheese or cranberry-banana jam.

½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar together until a light yellow color with a fork or mixer.  Mix in eggs and whip until the batter begins to double.  Fold in mashed bananas and vanilla with rubber spatula.  Sift in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Fold in dry ingredients until just incorporated.  Pour mixture into a greased bread pan or 3 mini loaf pans.  Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until center comes out clean with a tooth pick.  If bread begins to brown too quickly, lightly tent with foil.  Cool and slice to serve.

 

Turkey Breast

Filed under: Comfort Food,The Basics,Turkey,What's for Dinner? — alaskafoodmom @ 6:58 am
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This is such an easy way to cook turkey and it turns out perfect every time.

5-10 lb turkey breast, bone-in (ensure that the turkey will fit with cover on in your crock pot)
Kosher salt to taste
Lemon pepper to taste*
Garlic, granulated to taste
½ cup water or chicken broth

Rinse turkey breast in cold water and place in crock pot.  Season turkey with salt, lemon pepper, and garlic.  Add the water or chicken broth to the bottom of the crock pot.  Cover and set crock pot on low.  Cook for 8-10 hours.  Reserve juices for use in gravy.

*Can be omitted.