I’ll never stop promoting Costco rotisserie chicken. It’s only $5 and not only is it delicious hot off the shelf (I sometimes don’t even bother with a plate or silverware), but the leftovers can be used for myriad dishes such as pesto lasagna roll ups, quick matzo ball soup and homemade chicken stock.
Tonight on the menu is white chili. My friend Danielle introduced me to the notion of non-tomato chili about eight years ago and when I thought of the dish for tonight I was surprised I hadn’t blogged about it yet.
This one-pot wonder has similar flavors to traditional chili. With the addition of salsa verde and sour cream you give chili night a new twist.
White chili with chicken
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 can diced green chiles
leftover rotisserie chicken meat, shredded
1, 16-oz. jar salsa verde
1.5 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 cans great white northern beans, drained
1 cup sour cream
Heat oil in a dutch oven. Sauté the onions and peppers till onions are soft, about 7 minutes. Add the chiles, chicken, salsa, stock and spices. Bring to a simmer, turn to low and simmer one hour.
Add the beans and cook another 10 minutes. Add the sour cream just before serving. Top with cilantro sprigs and shredded cheddar cheese.
My old college friends are here for a visit this week and of course they arrive on the first cloudy day in two weeks. This morning we had planned on making my creamy tomato tortellini soup, but by mid-afternoon the sun finally came out and it was evident that soup was inappropriate. We decided on pizza on the grill.
This is a dish my mom is an expert at preparing. She makes the dough from scratch, but we didn’t have the time. I discovered that my grocery store sells balls of pizza dough in the bakery section for just $3. This makes pizza a quick, easy dish.
Good pizza tends to be cooked in a really hot oven and my oven just doesn’t get hot enough. My gas grill, though, can heat up pretty well. Pizza on the grill is easy and the crust comes out wonderfully crispy. The secret is to use a pizza grate, which looks a bit like a fan filter and only costs a few bucks at a restaurant supply store. The other secret is to grill the rolled out dough on one side before adding the toppings.
Pizza on the grill
2 balls of pre-made pizza dough
shredded mozzarella cheese
simple tomato sauce
toppings of choice such as Italian sausage, mushrooms and Kalamata olives.
Pizza grate (can be purchased at restaurant kitchen supply stores)
Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Heat gas grill to hot for 15 minutes. Turn down burners to medium-hot.
Flour and roll out the dough till it’s pizza size and place on pizza grate. Place on the grill and close the grill for about 3-5 minutes, until the side down is browned. Flip and remove from grill. Add tomato sauce, cheese and toppings and place back on the grill until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes and bottom of the pizza is browned.
When I was asked to pick up a last minute wedding gig this week, I was more than thrilled to accept. A chance to work with white peonies and garden roses? Yes, please!
Bride Emily wanted a forest look to her arrangements, so I did the sensible thing and I foraged from the forest. I gathered dwarf hemlock from Glenn Alps, which I incorporated into the woodland fairy-like crowns, the delicate boutonnières and corsages and the perfectly-sized bridal bouquet.
Wild geranium, wood ferns and forget-me-nots mixed perfectly with the centerpieces of queen Anne’s lace, veronica and lisianthus.
Emily’s biggest desire was to have a big bridal flower crown of peonies and garden roses. When a fully bloomed peony is the size of a large grapefruit, a large crown is LARGE. My first draft was a little too big, I could barely hold my head up. After I downsized, I made Emily a smaller crown in case the original was too gigantic.
Every time I travel to Mexico I can’t resist buying a meter or two of brightly colored oilcloth. You see it everywhere down there, mostly as cheerful tablecloths. I use it for just about everything. I cover cans with it, I reupholstered my dining chairs and I love to use it for coin purses.
I have a simple pattern for my coin purses. You could use any fabric you like, but since the oilcloth is so thick I don’t have to use any stabilizer. That cuts down on project time, which is good because I have a really short attention span for sewing.
Oilcloth coin purse: a free tutorial from Alaska Knit Nat
2, 6×8-inch pieces of oilcloth
one long, nylon zipper (9 inches or longer makes it easier)
As part of my personal challenge to forage at least one edible plant a month this summer in Anchorage, I decided to revisit wild rose petals. Several years back I collected these perfectly pink petals and made a just-OK jelly out of them. Thing is, I don’t eat jelly. I’m not a toast and jam kind of gal, I guess.
This time I opted to make rose petal syrup. It was easy to prepare and resulted in a gorgeous pink concoction that tasted as good as roses smell.
The wild roses are in full bloom here in Anchorage and it’s hard not to find them. I picked petals on the side of the highway, on my street and in my back yard. They have been in bloom since the first week of June and will probably be around for another week before they fade, fall and begin to turn into rose hips (and that’s another foraging adventure!)
Rose Petal Syrup
To make one bottle of syrup I collected about 2 gently packed cups of petals. Be ready to encounter some caterpillars, bugs and spiders (I lost about a cup of petals when I spotted an arachnid creeping around my collecting jar).
As a lifelong Alaskan I am familiar with how unpredictable the weather is. We tend to hope for the best and plan for the worst, which is why I’ve decided to design a winter hat in the summertime.
Fourth of July in Alaska can be a bit of a downer. For one thing, the sun doesn’t really set so fireworks are pretty lame. Also, it’s sometimes cold, rainy and windy; but we Alaskans don’t let a little crappy weather get in the way of summer holiday fun.
So I’ve designed a Fourth of July hat. No one in the rest of the contiguous 48 states (or Hawaii, for that matter) would find this hat particularly useful in the middle of summer, but hey, you can be patriotic year round, right?
Old Glory Slouchy Hat — a free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit Nat
Last fall I attended a networking getaway in Homer hosted by The Boardroom called End of Summer Camp. It was a weekend full of meeting and making new friends. During that time I met Crystal and Carrie, owners of Toast of the Town event planning. I told them I was a flower lady and they said they would keep me in mind for future events.
Six months later they set me up with Charlee, a whimsical bride who wanted her flowers colorful, unkempt and carefree — just my style!
I had so much fun putting together the florals for Charlee and her fiancé Marc. I got to work with nearly a dozen different types of flowers from the most fragrant mauve garden roses to my favorite accent flower, craspedia.
I got to do something new, which I’m calling “hair flair.” Charlee had wanted hair combs with fresh flowers for the bridesmaids, but after a hair trial with another bride I discovered that the plastic combs I was using were not easy to work with. What I decided to do was make teeny flower bouquets with wire and floral tape to be pinned into the bridesmaids’ hair.
My niece and I made about 35 pieces of hair flair so the bridesmaids could pick and choose the flowers they liked best for their hairstyle. It was a lot of fun.
I delivered the flowers to Glory View Farm in Wasilla where Crystal and Carrie were setting up the most magical hootenanny.
Congratulations to Marc and Charlee and I wish them all the best!