alaskafoodmom

Food made easy for busy moms.

Blueberry Lemon Cosmopolitan May 9, 2013

Filed under: Drinks,Thoughts for the Day — alaskafoodmom @ 8:25 pm
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We have had a very, very long winter in Alaska this year. So long in fact that we have had nine months of accumulated snow, 217 days in a row of the temperature not reaching 50 degrees breaking a 100 year record, and in six more weeks we will begin to lose daylight. I have gotten to the point that I really don’t believe that summer is even going to arrive this year. My 6 year old daughter keeps reminding me that we don’t have spring like everyone else. So depressing…..

So, I have decided to bring summer to me and stop waiting for Mother Nature. (I do have some choice words for her at the moment, but I will let you use your imagination on what those words are.) Nothing says summer to me more than blueberries and lemons.

The inspiration for this drink came a couple of months ago when my sisters and I enjoyed a wonderful happy hour at Orso’s. It was a beautiful winter afternoon of shopping in downtown Anchorage and then enjoying an early lunch/dinner. They had a Blueberry Lemon Cosmopolitan drink special and I liked it so much that I felt inspired to recreate it when we got home. The end result was so yummy that we had a very hard time making ourselves stop refilling our glasses that night.

Tonight was the perfect night to bring summer to me and resurrect this drink. It sure made me feel a little better and I hope it can do the same for you if Mother Nature has failed you like she has me.  Enjoy!

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Blueberry Lemon Cosmopolitan

1 oz Cointreau or orange liqueur
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice, about 1 lemon
1 oz Odwalla Blueberry B juice
1 1/2 oz blueberry flavored vodka

Add all ingredients to a cocktail mixer and add about 1 oz crushed ice. Shake for about a minute until very cold and frothy. Pour into cosmopolitan or martini glass and top off with lemon-lime seltzer water. Garnish with lemon slice and/or frozen blueberries.

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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.

 

What’s in your seasoning cabinet? May 5, 2011

Filed under: The Basics,Thoughts for the Day — alaskafoodmom @ 7:21 am
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A conversation happened at work today which got me thinking.  What is in your seasoning cabinet?  What I would expect in a basic seasoning cabinet is not the same as what someone else might think.  Whenever I visit Minnesota I encounter this very scenario.  My mother-in-law’s version of a seasoning cabinet is vastly different than what my version is.  When I say vastly different, I mean in some other solar system.  Thankfully I have been fortunate enough to visit her and save her cave of a cabinet and populate it with the basics.  Word of warning, I have been accused of collecting spices like I collect clothes.  It may look like I am out of control, but I have a plan for every single purchase.  At least this is what I tell my husband.

The Basics

Kosher Salt – This is a larger grain salt then its iodized table salt cousin you might be accustomed to.  The salt is more grainy and flaky than table salt and doesn’t have an aftertaste that table salt can create due in part to the iodine that is added.  I keep my kosher salt in a salt pig next to my oven for easy access.

Pepper – I believe that pepper should be freshly ground for maximum flavor.  Do a taste test with a chicken breast and season with table salt and prepared ground pepper and the other chicken breast season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  I guarantee you will taste the difference.

Granulated Garlic – I use granulated garlic on just about everything.  This is simple flavor enhancer and you really can’t mess up a simple sauteed chicken breast seasoned with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and granulated garlic.  Don’t be tempted to buy garlic powder in place of granulated garlic. This is dried garlic ground into a fine powder and is far harder to control in your cooking.

Chili Powder – With as many Mexican dishes as I prepare, I can never be out of this staple ingredient.  Most chili powders are a blend of chili pepper, spices, salt, and garlic.  There is a hotter version which is called New Mexico Chile Powder.  I will sometimes use this in chili and soups where I want more of a punch. Ancho chili powder offers a nice smokey flavor to dishes. Chipolte powder also offers a nice smokey flavor, but can be a bit hotter. I could start an entire spice cabinet with various chili powders blends that are available.

Cumin – Again, with the dishes that I cook, I could never live without having cumin in my cabinet.  This spice is a cousin of coriander and gives your dish a smokey, almost lemon flavor.  If you find you are missing the mark on some of your Hispanic dishes, it is often cumin.

Lemon Pepper – This is a great seasoning to have on hand to give your food a little zip that you might be craving.  Surprisingly, I often use this on my steaks to give a bit of flavor kick.  Look for a mix that isn’t so heavy on the salt content.

Custom Mixes – I am a big fan of mixes that don’t contain a lot of salt, or in some cases, no salt at all.  One brand I use a lot is Mrs. Dash.  They are a great way to give chicken, pork or steak a quick flavor enhancer without all of the salt.  The extra spicy blend works well in chili, hot wings and fajitas.  Another brand that I have discovered recently is the Simply Organic in the organic section of the grocery store.  Both the chicken and steak blend have been great to use both on meat as well as in soups and stews.

More later…

 

Artisan Bread May 4, 2011

Filed under: The Basics,Thoughts for the Day — alaskafoodmom @ 6:01 am
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Unfortunately, I have not started making my own bread.  One day I will achieve to be as great as my sister-in-law Alex.  In the mean time, you can still pick up a loaf of artisan bread from most grocery stores or, even better, a local bakery.  We always seem to have a loaf of pre-sliced artisan garlic bread on hand in our refrigerator for meals.  We will brush the slices with olive oil and lightly grill.  A great way to use leftover artisan bread is to make croutons and bread crumbs. Many times I will shop the bakery for their day old selections that are typically discounted by 50%.

 

Welcome to Alaska Food Mom!

Filed under: Thoughts for the Day — alaskafoodmom @ 5:15 am
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Welcome to Alaska Food Mom!

This is my blog of recipes, tips, and basically all of those things that everyone has ever asked me to write down. I hope that some of my tips and tricks will inspire you to cook more for your family and realize that it really isn’t hard with some planning. Enjoy and keep checking back often.