Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cinnamon Oatmeal Biscuits

I'm still researching that perfect cross between a scone and a cinnamon roll. This is very hard work, not only for me but my  taste testers. They cry out and beg me not to make them eat another warm, light, flaky, cinnamon filled breakfast pastry. I continue on with the punishment, I'm cruel like that! These things are torture. I hope you can all sympathize.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meyer Lemon Ice Cream

Wow, I made this recipe for Gingersnap Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches so much more difficult than it needed to be. The original recipe is just scoops of ice cream between two cookies. Of course I had a work event (a sandwich buffet) to bring them to and I wanted them to be all pretty. They were pretty, but they took me four days to make!
Day one I made the ice cream and put it to chill in the fridge. Day two I made the cookie dough and let it chill in the fridge and churned the ice cream and put it in a pan in the freezer. Day three I rolled, cut, and baked the cookies and left them to cool. Day four I cut out the ice cream with the same cutter to make the pretty edges and assembled the sandwiches, they went back in the freezer overnight. All this for pretty edges and the freezer at work doesn't freeze very well and all the pretty edges melted out anyway! Honestly, these were too good for all the fuss. These are meant to be slapped together and eaten on a warm summer day. The next time I will just make the Meyer Lemon Ice Cream and serve it with my favorite gingersnap cookies crumbled on top.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yellow Tofu with Green Rice

Recently, I came across a site called NoTakeOut. I think it is a really great idea for folks who don't cook much. It gives you step-by-step detailed instructions including when you should pour yourself a glass of wine and what type would go best with your meal. All of the posts I have seen so far have looked really great and simple for a week night. The thing is that I actually do cook a lot and have my own way of doing things, so I found all the extra directions to be a bit distracting. I also had a hard time working with a shopping list rather than an ingredient list when it came to the actual cooking. The end product  was really great and I recommend you give it a try. I loved the contrast of the green rice with the yellow tofu. . I recommend checking out their site for other menus as well. If you do decide to make something let me know what you think.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Morning Musings

There are chives in my garden already. I swear it was last week that there were barely buds on the trees. If I lived in Fairbanks for forty years I don't think I would get used to how quickly things happen around here. This summer I am working four days a week, which gives me a lazy Monday morning to gather my thoughts and get the house tidied up a bit for company (ok, the place looks like a tornado touched down and I am bracing myself for the scrubbing and vacuuming ahead). I sat down with my cup of coffee and the computer and a pile of cookbooks to compile my grocery list and think about what I wanted for breakfast. That is when I found scrambled eggs on toast with goat cheese on Smitten Kitchen. Really there is no recipe, just goat cheese smeared on toast with scrambled eggs and chives. It really is lovely, I don't know why I never thought of it before.
I also came across a quote this morning on Jamie Smith's Ink and Snow Blog. I went to his site in hopes of a morning chuckle (which I found), but I also found a post about cheesecake that I really enjoyed along with this quote:
"Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music." - Julia Child
I also wanted to announce that I am combining my blogs. I have wanted to for a while, but had a hard time taking the plunge. You may have noticed that earlier this week I imported all the posts from the other blog on to this one. For now, the other blog will stay up. I am just finding it challenging to expand this blog beyond food when I have the other blog, it is much easier to say this blog gets all the recipes and that one gets everything else. Now, it will all be here. I promise I will try and take it easy on the dog photos...
 Sometimes, no matter how hard I try they still end up in the picture.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Banana Macademia Nut Pancakes

When I was in my early twenties I went through a phase where I wanted to travel the world (ok, I'm still in that phase). I would decide on a place I wanted to go and buy every guide book and search every internet site and plan my whole trip. I would make itineraries, list restaurants I wanted to eat at, and museums to visit. Because I was young and poor (yes, still poor), and spent all my money on travel books I never really was able to go anywhere. With such detailed research I felt like I had already been there, a sort of virtual trip. We only children have very vivid imaginations. When I finally did get around to traveling I discovered I actually did not enjoy having everything so planned out and being restricted to what I found in guidebooks. Plus, it leaves more money for the actual traveling part.
Of all those places I virtually traveled, the one trip that stands out the most is Hawaii. In addition to that beautiful kayak trip along the Napali Coast, I remember reading about a restaurant that served Macadamia Nut pancakes. I never forgot about them, of all the virtual restaurants I have eaten at, that place with the Macadamia Nut Pancakes was the best. Of course I don't remember the name of the place, but I am sure that Macadamia Nut Pancakes wouldn't be too hard to find in Hawaii. These days I take my virtual travels through cooking. Since finding this recipe I don't need to go to Hawaii (yeah right), I can make them in my own kitchen. When you make these, put on your flip flops and just see how hard it is not to hum a little of the Jack Johnson Banana Pancakes song. Enjoy your virtual trip to Hawaii.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chicken and Broccoli Braid with Mushrooms and Peppers...

This recipe has become an old stand-bye in our house. I only found the recipe two weeks ago, but I have made it two times in two weeks and see it finding its way to our dinner table again very soon. It was even swapped out for pizza night with no complaints. It may not be the healthiest meal out there, but I would think with all those veggies it is at least better for you than pizza. I see a lot of possible combinations, feel free to add or take away whatever suits your tastes. The original recipe calls for canned crescent rolls, but I used Peter Reinhardt's biscuit recipe and Molly over at Batter Splattered used pizza crust. Bread dough would probably work too. Really, you can't go wrong with this one. It makes a great presentation as well.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tahini Crusted Sirloin Steak with Green Tea Soba Noodles

It is amazing how much social media has influenced my life. Besides the fact that I have reconnected with people I probably never would have spoken to again, I get regular updates about what's on sale at my local market, and in turn friends share recipes about what to do with the stuff on sale at the market. I rarely buy sirloin steak for anything but fajitas. When a friend mentioned marinating it in tamari and fresh ginger and serving it over green tea soba, well that just sounded too good not to try. I adapted the idea a bit and made more of a crust for the steak. The results were one of the best tasting steaks I have ever eaten.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Storm

In some parts of this country they have large tropical storms that they give  names like Hurricane Rita or tropical storm Andrew. Sometimes, these storms are so severe you find people's deck furniture in the middle of their lawn.
 Then you will find large chunks of wood from the wood shed and the dog dish from the pen clear across the other side of the property.
Then there is the brush from the woods, the garden stakes, and the burned bits from the fire pit sprawled everywhere.

Since we don't have any tropical storms here in Fairbanks, we just call it Arrluk. Sometimes, after he has scattered debris from one end of the property to the other and dug up the garden he feels fulfilled and actually takes a nap.

Sorry sir, did not mean to wake you!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Corn Bread

Because I have a food blog, I put a lot of pressure on myself for things to be perfect when cooking for others. Yet, there are two mistakes I make over and over again. One is making recipes that I have never made before for important events and two is not tasting things before I serve them.
Last November David and I went to the Kenai Peninsula to stay with a group of his friends. The whole weekend was a little overwhelming meeting so many new people. David asked if I would cook for everyone one day, so I made the only recipe I knew of that serves 24 people. I have never actually made the entire gumbo recipe, usually I make half and we still eat it for days. It is also one of the few things I can make without a recipe. The only thing I was struggling with was corn bread, I didn't have a recipe with me and I don't really have one that I use regularly. We were staying with David's good friend Sara, she suggested I just use the recipe on the Bob's Red Mill package.
Now, in this scenario you would think it would be the corn bread that I have never made before that I screwed up and not the gumbo that I have made 10,000 times. That is not quite how things went. It turns out everything was going well as we all sat down to dinner with our bowls of gumbo, passing the corn bread around the table. Then I took the first bite. It took everything in me not to yell out, "Noooo, don't eat that". I wanted to scoop up everyone's bowl and dump the gumbo back in the pan, but that might make me appear just slightly crazy. So, we all sat quietly eating our gumbo with terribly crunchy undercooked rice. I thought about apologizing, but sometimes I thing it is better just to let these things go. Everyone said it was good, but I'm pretty sure they were just being kind. Well, at least now I know what good people David's friends are. I'm sure they are still scratching their heads about my gumbo. I felt so bad, but the saving grace was the corn bread I had never made before. It was great and I knew I had finally found my regular corn bread recipe.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Strawberry Balsamic Salad

This time of year I want to have salad with every meal. I prefer to keep them simple, some nights it is only mixed greens with a sprinkle of feta or gorgonzola and a simple vinaigrette. The easiest combination I find that still feels like you made an effort is the fruit, toasted nut, and cheese combo. I have used everything from the traditional store bought mandarins with gorgonzola to apples and brie. This salad follows that equation and nets some fine results.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Does he sink or swim?

We still aren't sure yet. We will let you know when we find out.

Paneer and Peas

I have this idea in my head of what this blog would be like if I had all the time in the world. There would be a weekly post from the Farmer's Market in the summer. One of the weekly features would be a new curry recipe each week. I absolutely love all kinds of curry. It is also my favorite thing to cook for company as the spread of raitas and chutneys that can be made days ahead of time are always sure to impress. So, why don't I make curry more often? While it is true that there are many recipes that can be made quickly, I still prefer the recipes that direct to add one spice at a time building up the wonderful smell that fills the house. Also, I can not make curry without making Naan which always adds to the overall cooking time.
Paneer is something of a novelty here is Fairbanks as they don't sell it in any of our grocery stores. Lately I have been having David pick it up on his trips to Anchorage. Honestly, pressed extra-firm tofu works just as well in any Indian recipe that calls for paneer. Sometimes I use both in the same dish. This recipe is fairly quick and can be made on a week night.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Evening Light

Oven Fries

 
I realized today that I have been posting on this blog long enough that I am having a hard time remembering which recipes I have already shared. There are now over 200 posts on this site. I can hardly believe it. So, I had to take a look and see if I had already shared my oven fry recipe and apparently I have not. Although I am not sure they are really any healthier than their deep fried cousins, they make me feel better about eating french fries. I have made this recipe with both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes and both turn out great. They do require a bit of patience in cooking time, so start them early. The original recipe says to cut them all the same size so they cook evenly, but if you like some of them a little burned and crunchy like I do, cut them unevenly. You can also cut them super thick to make potato wedges.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Winter Again!


We had a wonderful summer here in Fairbanks. Almost two weeks long, although it came a little early this year. Today, we are going to start waxing our skiis and making our Christmas lists.

Lemon Pull-Apart Loaf

 
Rarely, do I even give a second look to a recipe as fussy as this one. I kept seeing the Sticky Lemon Roll version of this recipe ev ery where. They looked so beautiful, every time I saw someone write a post about them I swear I could smell them baking. In my house cinnamon rolls are a thing you don’t mess with, they rank right up there with pizza. I was afraid if I presented something that looked like a cinnamon roll, but wasn’t one…well there might be a revolt. I thought about making the recipe and then splitting it in half with one small pan being cinnamon and the other lemon. Then I realized that the Sticky Lemon Roll was actually an adaptation of this original recipe from Flo Braker. Once I found this out, I knew I would have to make it. Honestly, it wasn’t as hard as it looks. Yes, there are a lot of steps and a lot of sitting and rising. Let me say the rise was lovely, never have I had something rise as well as this loaf. It is not something I would make often, but for special occasions I see this making an appearance again. It really makes a spectacular presentation. The finished product was a delightfully light and lemony loaf. It has the fun factor of the pull-apart pieces, kind of like monkey bread. The smell of it baking was exactly as I imagined, definitely worth the effort.  

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Meyer Lemon Margaritas

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I love this holiday. Well,  maybe I just love margaritas. This is not an authentic one, but it is a good one!

Meyer Lemon Margarita
(I don't like them super strong, so adjust to meet your taste preferences)
3 oz. Meyer Lemon juice
2 oz. Tequila
2 oz. Grand Marnier (triple sec will also do just fine)
coarse sea salt
ice cubes

Dip rim of glass in lemon juice and then coarse sea salt. Fill glass half way with ice cubes or crushed ice. Add lemon juice, tequila, and grand marnier. Find yourself a spot on a warm, sunny beach and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Red Rice with Black Beans and Sausage

 
 This is not a political blog, I try to stay away from the "issues". It's all muffins and scones here! I try and keep things light, well everything but the cooking!
Lately, there are two "issues" that have really been bugging me. One is an article I recently read that condemned the many celebrity chefs touting 30 minute meals these days, saying they are only one step away from fast food. The issue was people who say they don't have time to cook. The article was trying to prove in this day of Facebooking (and blogging) that is not that we don't have time to cook, but we choose not to. Now, I don't disagree with that at all. I love to cook, but honestly not every night. There are evenings that cooking ranks right up there with laundry and vacuuming. I know that there are people who feel this way pretty much every night. I know plenty of people who love to eat, but still hate to cook.
The second issue is with a local non-profit educational farm that I love in every way with the exception of their latest campaign to get people to stop ordering fruit/vegetable boxes from Full Circle Farm in Carnation, Washington. Full Circle Farm provides weekly shipments of fresh organic produce year round to Alaska communities. They ship to some of the remote villages of Alaska. I order from them most of the year, but discontinue my box during the months our local Farmer's Market is open. The main reason I order is to get some unique items that I can't find in our local grocery stores. They also carry Mt. Townsend Creamery cheese which is one of the many things I miss about living in Port Townsend, Washington. The local argument against Full Circle is the fact that many people are ordering from them year round and not supporting their local farms.
Really, I think in both of these situations we need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture (no pun intended here). Obesity is a huge problem here in Fairbanks along with the rest of the country. I am a huge supporter of eating local food and slow cooked food. One of my favorite meals is a big pile of veggies mixed with tofu and slow roasted in the oven while David and I chat about our day over a beer. The one thing I realize is this is not realistic for everyone, nor is coming up with the lump sum funds for a subscription to a local CSA. Honestly, is anything that is getting boxes of fresh organic produce into Alaskan homes or introducing people to cooking for themselves (and not eating fast food) really that bad? Personally, I think there is a bit of food snobbery going on here. In a perfect world we would all have our own gardens and feed ourselves year round from our own backyard, should we then condemn people for shopping at the Farmer's Market? Shame on you for not growing your own lettuce!
So, here's a tasty recipe for a 30 minute meal. Use local veggies if they are available, but if they are not...I won't tell!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Incredible Shrinking Dog Bed

March 14

March 22

March 28

April 12

May 2

Carrying Capacity Chocolate Chip Cookies

 
I know it wasn't that long ago that I told you a person only needed one chocolate chip cookie recipe. Now, here I am with another recipe less than a year later.
Recently, I was reading about the importance of delayed gratification. They were talking about the experiment from the 1960's when they gave the kids a marshmallow and told them if they could wait 15 mintues they could then have two marshmallows. The researchers then left the room. Turns out they followed up with these kids later in life and all the ones who were able to wait were smarter, happier, and more well adjusted. The thing is that things always taste better when you have to wait for them, just think about Thanksgiving dinner.
When David Lebovitz's new cookbook "Ready for Dessert" came out a few weeks ago. It was this chocolate chip cookie recipe that immediately caught my eye. The recipe calls for letting them sit for 24 hours. Wow, that is a long time. When I looked at the ingredients, 3 cups of chocolate and 2 cups of nuts I wondered if these would even form into cookies. It seemed to me these cookies would be beyond their carrying capacity with just one more chocolate chip. I could think of nothing more sad than a collapse of the chocolate chip cookie population. I forged ahead to see if one cookie could take all that chocolate and nuts. You see, it was all in the name of science that I made these cookies. 
Here's the thing...they did form into cookies, very good cookies, but I still don't know is whether it was the delayed gratification or the carrying capacity that made these cookies so good. So, now I have two chocolate chip cookie recipes, one for the days that I need a cookie NOW, and another for those days when I am willing to delay gratification for a cookie that meets its carrying capacity.
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