Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I cleaned out my freezer today and found some broccoli florets lurking in the back. I love broccoli, but only when I steam it from fresh. When it’s already frozen it can be sort of mushy. It’s perfect for soup!

Here’s a delicious recipe I came up with today. The bacon gives the soup a smokey flavor that accentuates the broccoli and sharp cheddar perfectly. Add in potatoes and canned white beans and you give the soup a little more bulk. Serve this with a crusty white bread and you’ve got yourself a delicious wintertime supper!

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Bacon, Potatoes and White Beans

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Bacon, Potatoes and White Beans

Serves 6, probably

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds broccoli

2 strips of bacon, chopped

1 cup chopped onion

5 garlic cloves, smashed and choppped

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup white wine

4 cups chicken stock

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

12 oz. potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed

8 oz. sharp cheddar, grated

1 oz. pecorino Romano cheese, grated

1 cup cream

Directions:

If using fresh broccoli, steam it until tender. If using frozen broccoli, thaw it under hot water. Roughly chop and set broccoli aside.

Add bacon to a dutch oven and heat over medium till bacon is cooked through but not crispy. Add onions and cook till translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the butter until melted and mix in the flour till a paste forms. Cook this for about 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine and scrape up any browned bits. This will thicken very quickly. Slowly stir in the chicken stock. Add pepper, thyme and broccoli and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it’s a consistency you like. This is up to you. I like a chunky soup so I didn’t blend it very long, but if you prefer a smoother soup, go to town with your immersion blender.

Return pot to low flame and add in the potatoes and beans. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the cheeses till melted. Stir in the cream. Add salt if desired. Serve immediately.

Posole Raquel

My mother spent several of her young adult years living in New Mexico and that’s where she first learned to cook. My favorite of her dishes was always posole, a pork stew with hominy, cooked all day until the pork is falling apart tender and the hominy is soft and chewy having absorbed the flavors of the soup. The house always smelled amazing when she cooked this dish and I could hardly wait to dip her homemade flour tortillas in the red, flavorful broth.

Many posole recipes call for canned hominy, but that just won’t do for my mom. She always uses dried hominy, which she soaked the night before. There’s something better about dried hominy than canned – it’s a texture thing I guess.

My mom doesn’t use a recipe but I never remember how she makes it. She just gifted me some dried hominy and New Mexico chiles for Christmas so I thought I would finally get down a recipe on my blog so I can stop hounding her every time I want to make it.

Traditionally posole is served with flour tortillas and a variety of fresh ingredients such as chopped cabbage, sliced avocado, sliced radishes, chopped green onions, cilantro and lime wedges. Since my mom’s posole is more stewlike than soupy we skip the salad toppings and just opt for the tortillas to sop up the rich broth. I hope you enjoy this meal as much as my family does!

-Natasha

Posole Rojo – in the style of my mother, Rachel

Serves 6

Ingredients:

12 oz. dried hominy, soaked in water overnight

6-8 dried New Mexico chiles, stems and seeds removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2.5-3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into cubes

1 onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped

4-6 cups chicken stock

3-5 cups water

2 bay leaves

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons tomato sauce or marinara sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

The night before, place the dried hominy in a pot and cover with several inches of cold water. Cover and let sit overnight. Drain and set aside when ready to make posole.

Heat a cast iron skillet on high and toast the dried peppers on both sides, being sure not to burn them. Set chiles aside. When cool, use scissors to cut a slit up the side of each pepper. This will make them easier to scrape later.

Heat a large dutch oven with the olive oil. Pat dry the pork, lightly salt it, and add half of the pork to the dutch oven. Brown on both sides, set aside and add the rest of the pork to brown. Set second batch of pork aside, pour out most of the fat, leaving a little bit for the vegetables.

Add the onion, scraping up any fond that developed on the bottom of the pot as the onions release water. Cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add 4 cups of stock, 3 cups of water, the bay leaves, oregano, tomato sauce, pork, hominy and the chiles. If there were any bones with your pork, add them too. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for several hours until pork is very tender and hominy is soft. If the hominy absorbs too much liquid during cooking, add more stock or water to keep it soupy.

When pork and hominy are tender, remove the chile skins with tongs and let cool. If any pulp remains on the inside of the skins, scrape it off with a spoon and place back into the pot. Discard chile skins.

Serve with flour tortillas and accoutrements such as chopped cabbage, sliced avocado, sliced radishes, chopped green onions, cilantro and lime wedges, if desired.

Holiday Cranberry Punch

Every fall I look forward to picking lowbush cranberries. They are my favorite food to forage – easy to pick and they keep perfectly in the freezer until November when I use them to make Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.

I had some leftover cranberries this year and I saw a friend on Instagram share a video of her making cranberry tea. She was kind enough to share the recipe, which she got from a friend in Unalakleet, Alaska named Betty.

I used the last of my lowbush cranberries for this delicious tea, which I’m calling a punch because I added a wee kick of rye whiskey. You can use store bought cranberries or even high bush cranberries if you happened to have foraged those in the fall.

This might have to be a new holiday tradition in my household!

Holiday Cranberry Punch

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups cranberries

1.5 quarts water

1 cinnamon stick

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup orange juice

up to 1 cup sugar (to taste)

Rye whiskey (optional)

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, water and cinnamon stick. Heat to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until the berries are soft and have popped, about 10 minutes.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Discard pulp and cinnamon stick. Add the lemon juice and orange juice to the pitcher. Slowly stir in the sugar so it dissolves in the hot liquid, until it’s sweetened to your taste. Serve hot with 1.5 oz. of rye whiskey if desired.

Savory Pumpkin Ravioli in a creamy pumpkin sauce with spinach, white beans and mushrooms

So I should say except for the pasta dough I didn’t measure any of the ingredients for this recipe. Here are some approximations but use measurements that make sense to you! Follow your tastebuds.

Ingredients

For the pasta dough:

300 g. all purpose flour

100 g. semolina flour

4 eggs

For the filling:

1/2 cup puréed pumpkin

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup puréed white beans

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

a few dashes of Trader Joe’s umami powder (or onion powder)

black pepper, to taste

pinch of ground sage

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

salt, to taste

For the sauce:

1/3 cup puréed pumpkin

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup chicken stock

olive oil

1/4 onion, chopped finely

6 crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped

pinch of ground nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

a big handful of fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Pecorino Romano for serving

Directions:

First, mix the pasta dough. Combine the flours in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and crack in the eggs. Lightly beat eggs with a fork while incorporating the flour. Combine until a rough dough forms. Remove from bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and slightly elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime create your filling in a mixing bowl and transfer to a gallon zip top bag. Set aside.

Start assembling the sauce by heating some olive oil in a pan and sautéing the onions and mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Combine the cream, pumpkin and chicken stock in a small liquid measuring cup. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and set aside. Turn off the heat when onions and mushrooms are cooked through and the mushrooms are starting to brown.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Now it’s time to roll the pasta. Work with 100g of dough at a time. Flatten a piece of dough with your hands and run it through a pasta roller on the biggest setting. Fold the dough and run it through again. Repeat this six more times. Then switch to the next smaller setting and run the dough through once. Repeat until you’ve run it through the thinnest setting and the dough is as thin as paper. You may need to dust it with flour now and then to keep it from sticking.

Lay the flattened sheet on a countertop and cut it in half lengthwise. Snip a corner off the filling bag and make 8 dots of filling on one piece of the dough, evenly spaced. Lightly wet the dough around the filling and place the second sheet on top. Gently press the dough to get out air bubbles and seal in the filling. Use a pizza cutter, bench scraper or cookie cutter to cut your ravioli how you like. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough until you’ve used up all your filling. Refrigerate any extra dough for pasta tomorrow.

When water is boiling add your ravioli. Gently stir with a wooden spoon. Reheat the pan with the onions and mushrooms and add the beans and spinach. Cook until wilted, just a couple of minutes. By now the pasta should be ready.

Use a large slotted spoon or spider to remove the ravioli from the water. Divide into 4 bowls. Add the cream, pumpkin, stock mixture to the saucepan and combine till heated through. Pour over the ravioli and top with Pecorino Romano cheese. Serve immediately.

Polenta Lasagna

I mean, doesn’t that look delicious?

I love a good lasagna, but sometimes I don’t feel like wrangling boiling hot noodles. This polenta lasagna is all the flavor of the traditional dish, but with slightly less effort and an added creamy texture. Also, it’s even better reheated the next day (as it appears in the above photo).

Polenta Lasagna

Serves 4

Ingredients:

-Polenta, hot and prepared Bon Appetit Instant Pot style (you start with 1 cup dry polenta if you want to follow a different recipe)

-1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

-2-3 cups marinara sauce

-Shredded mozzarella cheese

-1-1.5 cups prepared béchamel sauce – I recommend Massimo Bottura’s method

-Freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:

First, you’ll need to prepare the polenta. The Bon Appetit recipe I linked above is the best recipe I’ve ever found and it’s perfect for this dish because you add 4 oz. of pecorino Romano cheese, butter and ground pepper – that’s a lot of good flavor!

However you decide to make it, just before it’s done, spray a half sheet pan with cooking oil. Carefully pour the hot polenta onto the pan and spread it into an even layer. This doesn’t have to be perfect. I think my polenta was about 1/4 inch thick.

Let the polenta cool completely. I set it outside since it was 43 F.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat and add the sausage. Cook until browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, prepare your béchamel. Now it’s assembly time.

Using a paring knife and possibly a measuring tape, determine what size you should cut your polenta. I made my sheets 5×7 inches, which meant two pieces per layer with three layers. I didn’t cut them too wide or long because I didn’t want them to break as I lifted them off the pan.

Lightly spray a smallish casserole dish with cooking spray. My dish was 10×7″. Ladle some marinara into the bottom of the dish and distribute evenly.

Carefully lift your polenta pieces from the pan using a fish spatula and place them into the casserole dish. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the sausage. Pour 1/3 of the béchamel over the sausage and use a rubber spatula to spread it out across the polenta. Pour on some more marinara and spread it out too. Sprinkle lightly with shredded mozzarella (or heavily if you desire).

Repeat with the remaining polenta, sausage, béchamel, marinara and mozzarella. Sprinkle the top layer with grated pecorino.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 if you want the top to brown a little. Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes or until you can’t stand it anymore.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave for ultimate second day satisfaction.

Chicken Pot Pie Chowder

The season is shifting here in Alaska and that means soups, stews and chowders are on the menu. Here’s a delicious chowder that uses the entire ear of corn to create a stock that sweetens and enhances the overall flavor. After adding peas to the mix I realized I had made something that was an awful lot like chicken pot pie, so I decided to name it as such.

Chicken Pot Pie Chowder || A recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Ingredients:

  • 4 fresh corn cobs
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 strips bacon, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 russet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1.5 cups leftover chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • cream or evaporated milk, for serving

Directions:

Cut the kernels off the cobs and reserve for later. Place the cobs in a pot with 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Discard cobs and reserve remaining stock, which should have reduced to about 2.5 cups.

In a medium Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium-high heat. If the bacon doesn’t render enough fat, add the butter. When bacon is cooked through, add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme and reserved corn. Coat with the bacon fat and cook until onions are soft and transluscent, about 5 minutes.

Add the corn stock, chicken stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add cubed potato and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the 1/2 cup water and flour. Ladle in about 1.5 cups of soup, including the potatoes and veggies, and blend with an immersion blender. Return this mixture to the pot. Add the chicken and frozen peas and simmer until peas are cooked through and the chowder has thickened. You could also add a drained can of white beans at this point if you’d like.

Remove from heat and serve into bowls topped with cream or evaporated milk.

Strawberry Rhubarb Curd

Our new home has a rhubarb plant – the first one I’ve ever owned. And that means so many possibilities…for crumbles, crisps and pies. I’m not a fan of crumbles, crisps or pies, so I’m on a mission to find other recipes that use this super-tart plant.

I came across this recipe for a curd, which is sort of like a pudding. I tweaked it slightly and accidentally doubled the sugar, which turned out quite nice! Turns out curd is a really forgiving recipe, so it’s ok if you have more or less of an ingredient.

This turned out so perfectly delicious. Tart, sweet, creamy – a wonderful alternative to the typical strawberry rhubarb fare. I enjoy it straight out of the jar, but you could put it in crêpes, on toast, on pancakes, the world is your rhubarb curd!

Strawberry Rhubarb Curd || A delightful dessert from Alaska Knit Nat

Strawberry Rhubarb Curd

Makes about 4 servings.

Strawberry Rhubarb Curd || A delightful dessert from Alaska Knit Nat

Ingredients:

  • 150 g chopped rhubarb, fresh or thawed
  • 100 g chopped strawberries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on your sweetness preference)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Strawberry Rhubarb Curd || A delightful dessert from Alaska Knit Nat

Directions:

In a small saucepan, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, zest and lemon juice. Heat over medium flame till simmering, cover and simmer on low for about 7 minutes. Mash with a potato masher after a few minutes to break it up as it softens.

Purée the mixture using either a food processor or immersion blender. Set aside.

Using a double boiler or two small saucepans that can stack, fill the bottom pot with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer, turn to med/low flame, and add the other pot on top. Whisk together the eggs, yolk and sugar until sugar is well incorporated.

While constantly whisking, slowly add the rhubarb purée. It will thicken as you whisk, turning a lighter color. Whisk until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in the butter till melted. Pour into small jars, add lids, and let cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge. Curd should keep for a couple of weeks, but it may get eaten up before then!

Strawberry Rhubarb Curd || A delightful dessert from Alaska Knit Nat

Sunny Side Up Cowl – A Free Knitting Pattern

I had to do a deep scroll on my blog to find the last knitting pattern I posted. It was more than three years ago! But with my city’s non-essential business closure mandate I’m unable to operate my floral business, so that means I have more time to knit!

I logged into my Ravelry account (again, it’s been more than three years and I’m so glad my computer remembered my password) and found this lovely cowl pattern that implements a very simple lacework pattern to create a pretty pattern and scrumptious texture.

I augmented the Ravelry pattern by using lighter weight yarn, one variegated skein instead of two contrasting colors, and smaller needles.

Sunny Side Up Cowl - A Free Pattern from Alaskaknitnat.com

It’s a special time of year in Anchorage that we call “break up,” where the snow is melting, river ice is breaking up, and everything outside is mucky. There’s still a chill in the air and this cowl is just right for break up season.

Sunny Side Up Cowl - A Free Pattern from Alaskaknitnat.com

The Lion Brand Scarfie yarn is the perfect amount of wool to make it fluffy and a nice amount of acrylic to make it not itchy. This project knits up pretty fast and I recommend it if you’re looking for a simple stitch pattern that won’t make you count so you can binge watch your favorite show and not lose track of your work.

Sunny Side Up Cowl - A Free Pattern from Alaskaknitnat.com

Sunny Side Up Cowl

Materials:

Sunny Side Up Cowl - A Free Pattern from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Cast on 100 stitches. Place marker and join in round.

Knit 1 round.

Purl 1 round

Start pattern:

Round 1: *Place yarn in front of work, slip 1 stitch, place yarn in back of work, k1. Repeat from * to end of round. Slip marker.

Round 2: K round, slip marker.

Round 3: *K1, place yarn in front of work, slip 1 stitch, place yarn in back of work. Repeat from * to end of round. Slip marker.

Round 4: K round, slip marker.

Repeat this pattern until work is 9 inches tall from cast on edge or until it’s the height you prefer. End with either row 2 or 4.

Purl 1 round

Bind off. Weave in ends. Block if you feel like it, but I never do.

Sunny Side Up Cowl - A Free Pattern from Alaskaknitnat.com

Roasted Corn Chowder

Hi Blogfriends!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I got really really busy with my floral business but in light of recent events I’ve had to close my business and now I have more time for other creative endeavors, such as remaking some of my favorite knitting patterns and cooking.

I’ve been making a lot of recipes using easy-to-find ingredients. Last night I came up with a tasty soup that I wanted to share. It’s a flexible recipe. Add different kinds of veggies if you like and change up the seasonings if these don’t suit you.

Roasted Corn Chowder | A Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Roasted Corn Chowder with Chicken and Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups frozen corn
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped crimini or button mushrooms
  • salt
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Trader Joes umami powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 cup leftover rotisserie chicken pieces, torn into chunks
  • 3 cups chicken stock, 1/4 cup reserved
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup cream

Roasted Corn Chowder | A Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Thaw the corn in a strainer under hot water and drain in a salad spinner. Place corn on a baking sheet and broil until corn is browned. Set aside.

Melt butter in a 4 quart soup pot over medium high flame. Add the onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté until moisture is gone from the mushrooms, about 7 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, umami powder, thyme, oregano and pepper to taste. Sauté another few minutes until mushrooms start to brown.

Add the corn, potatoes, chicken, 2.75 cups of stock and the milk. In a small liquid measuring cup whisk together the 1/4 cup stock and the flour to make a slurry. Pour that into the pot and bring everything to a simmer. Do not let it come to a rolling boil as this can cause the milk to curdle.

Partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream.

If the soup isn’t thick enough for your liking, create another slurry of cold stock and flour and add to soup and simmer for another 7 minutes.

Roasted Corn Chowder | A Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Farro and Arugula Salad with dried Cranberries

My friend Katelyn is a grain salad person. She’s always serving the tastiest salads with barley or wheat berries mixed together with other delicious morsels.

Last week my sister hosted dinner and served a tasty orzo and arugula salad that I absolutely loved. I decided to adapt her recipe by using farro and it turned out wonderfully. I served it to Katelyn alongside this Chicken Piccata recipe from Homemade Italian Cooking. She asked for the recipe, so here we are. 🙂

The magic ingredient in my salad (that’s completely optional) is reconstituted porcini mushrooms chopped up finely. It adds depth to the dish and the lemon, feta and dried cranberries bring in a brightness that complement the spiciness of the arugula.

This is a wonderful side dish to serve at Thanksgiving as it incorporates cranberries, grains, and has a look of good cheer on your plate.

You can of course replace the farro with any grain such as brown rice or couscous.

Farro and Arugula Salad with Feta and Cranberries

Farro and Arugula salad with Feta, Cranberries and Porcini

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 2.5 cups cooked farro, cooled
  • A few big handfuls of baby arugula (or baby spinach/arugula mix)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup Craisins
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice from 1/4 of a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Splash of white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Farro and Arugula Salad with Feta and Cranberries

Directions:

Place dried porcini in a small bowl and cover completely with boiling water. Place a plate on top of the bowl and let sit for 20 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Chop finely.

Add all the ingredients to a salad bowl and toss until everything is well coated. Add more olive oil if it needs to be loosened up a little.

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