alaskafoodmom

Food made easy for busy moms.

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.

 

Terriyaki Sauce June 3, 2011

Filed under: Chicken,Fish,Pork,The Basics,Vegetarian,What's for Dinner? — alaskafoodmom @ 12:41 pm
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Why buy bottled terriyaki sauce when you can make your own? This is a basic recipe and can easily be modified by omitting the sesame oil. You can also add pineapple juice (1/8 cup) to give it a different spin. This recipe can be used with skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chicken breasts, or pork tenderloin. Allow the meat to marinate for at least 8 hours. I will usually prepare this in the morning and allow to marinate while I am at work. I recently tried this on a portabella mushroom for my sister who is a vegetarian. It turned out great. This is also great on salmon fillets. The salmon should only marinate for about a half hour. I often double this recipe because it is so well loved at my house. This goes great with white rice and Asian Cabbage Salad

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped (about a 1 inch piece)

 

Pear, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Salad May 24, 2011

Filed under: Salads,Vegetarian — alaskafoodmom @ 5:47 pm
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Sometimes the best things are the most simple things. This salad is super easy to put together and really shines with some key ingredients. I prefer to use organic ingredients whenever possible. The dressing is a very simple drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar. If you haven’t discoved this amazing reduction in a bottle yet, I would highly suggest you run to the store and locate it. http://www.balsamicsauce.com/ It is well worth the price and I use it for a quick dressing on salads, over blanched asparagus, roasted pork tenderloin, grilled chicken, really just about everything I can think of really. It is my new obsession.

Organic baby spring lettuce mix
Organic pears, thinly sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced
Blue cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
Pecans or walnuts, lightly roasted in a dry pan over medium heat
Cucumbers, sliced (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic sauce
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

 

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.

 

Bavarian Apple Torte May 8, 2011

Filed under: Dessert,Vegetarian — alaskafoodmom @ 5:06 pm
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I acquired this recipe from my sister-in-law Alex about 10 years ago and I still refer to the recipe written on bright pink paper because this was all we could find at the time. I believe it came out of one of her Bon Appetite magazines. This dessert has served me well over the years and is very easy to prepare. The dessert can look quite fancy when cooked in a 9 inch spring form pan, but also works well in a 9 inch square pan. It can easily be doubled, cooked in a 15×20 inch cake pan and cut into squares to serve.

Crust:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together until it takes on a light yellow color. Blend in flour. Spread dough onto bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan.

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream cream cheese and sugar together. Add in egg and vanilla, combine until mixed completely. Pour filling into shell and spread evenly around.

Top:
2 golden delicious apples, peeled and thinly sliced long
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Arrange apple slices on top of filling to create a spiral effect and completely covering the filling. Mix together sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Generously sprinkle sugar mixture over apples (I usually have a little left over).

Place torte in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and continue to bake for 25 more minutes.

You can serve this dessert as is or with fresh whipping cream sweetened with a bit of brown sugar and a teaspoon or more of Grand Marnier or Cointreau (both are orange liquors).

 

Nutella Dumplings May 6, 2011

Filed under: Dessert,Vegetarian — alaskafoodmom @ 5:20 am
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This might quite possibly be the easiest dessert and the most yummy.  If you enjoy Nutella, you are already on board for this dessert.  For those of you that have never discovered this delicious spread, you are in for a treat.  Nutella is found by the peanut butter at the grocery store and is a hazelnut chocolate spread.  It satisfies any craving you might have for chocolate and is great with Ritz crackers or pretzels.  (Obviously satisfying both my sweet and salty taste buds.) Make as many or as little of these as you want.  The skies the limit!

Square wonton wrappers
Nutella spread
Canola oil
Powdered sugar

Heat canola oil in a heavy stock pot over medium high heat.  Take a wonton wrapper and place a teaspoon of Nutella in the center.  Lightly wet the edges of the wrapper with warm water using your finger.  Gently press the edges together to create a triangle.  Be sure that the dumpling is completely sealed; fried chocolate is not pretty and doesn’t smell very good, speaking from experience.  Test the heat of the oil either by dropping the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and if it creates bubbles your oil is ready.  Another method is to take a small part of a wonton wrapper and drop it into the oil.  If the wrapper immediately floats to the top and starts bubbling, the oil is ready.  If the wrapper drops in the oil, you will want to wait a few minutes and then test the oil again.  Once the oil is ready, reduce your heat to medium so your oil doesn’t get too hot.  Drop the dumplings in the oil, no more than four at a time.  Fry until lightly golden brown and place on paper towels to drain.  Allow to cool slightly and dust with powdered sugar.  Serve as is or with a scoop of high quality ice cream.  Enjoy!