All posts by alaskaknitnat

Welcome to Alaska Knit Nat! I was born and raised in Anchorage and have always had a passion for making useful things, whether they are eaten, knit, crocheted, sewn or randomly glued and assembled. I received my bachelor’s degree in French and journalism from the University of Alaska Anchorage and work almost full time at a nonprofit and way over time as a mom.

Hungarian Sausage & Pepper Stew

I love when my friend Mat takes over my kitchen and invents dishes. It’s like I get a night off from thinking about dinner and I play sous chef: dicing veggies, finding him utensils or even just lazing on the couch while he does all the work.

Mat has been living the Keto lifestyle for five years so I know whatever he concocts will not only be delicious but also nutritious (or sometimes it’s just cheese; let’s face it, cheese is good.)

Today was rainy and chilly – a perfect evening for a warming stew. We raided my fridge and made the most of a Costco rotisserie chicken.

What Mat came up with was just what we needed on a night like this.

Hearty Hungarian Stew | A Perfect Fall Meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Sausage, Pepper and Paprika Stew

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 5-7 baby bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • A couple of dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound kielbasa, sliced
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cups sour cream
  • rice for serving (if Keto isn’t an issue)

Hearty Hungarian Stew | A Perfect Fall Meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high flame. Add the onions, celery and carrots. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook another few minutes.

Add the paprika, tomato paste, bay leaf, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, and kielbasa. Cover, bring to a boil and turn down heat to remain at a simmer. Add pepper to taste.

Simmer for 30 minutes. Toss in the chicken and simmer another 10 minutes. Stir in the sour cream.

Serve over rice and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Hearty Hungarian Stew | A Perfect Fall Meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Advertisements

Foolproof Home Fries

It’s Saturday morning and I have a bag full of potatoes that are bound to go bad soon (thanks, Costco). I love me some home fries that are soft inside and crispy outside; but really my favorite thing is the crispy bits that develop in the pan as you cook the potatoes.

Here’s a recipe for home fries that will ensure they are cooked through but also perfectly browned.

Perfect home fries | a foolproof recipe from alaskaknitnat.com

Perfect Home Fries

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 5 thin-skinned potatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Perfect home fries | a foolproof recipe from alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Place potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Carefully drain and set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add the potatoes and gently stir them in the pan so they are evenly coated with butter and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook potatoes for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula. It’s ok if some of the potatoes stick – that’s where the crispy bits come from!

Add the smoked paprika and onion powder and turn potatoes till thoroughly coated.

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are a deep brown and are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. If browning is occurring too quickly, turn down the heat slightly.

Serve with sour cream or ketchup alongside fried eggs and breakfast sausage.

Swedish Meatballs Stroganoff

The other day my husband requested Swedish meatballs for dinner. Having thought I had this recipe down pat, I proceeded to make meatballs seasoned with nutmeg and allspice, coated in a delicious mushroom sour cream sauce. When my husband sat down for dinner he asked, “Wait, did you make beef stroganoff?” I realized I made a sort of Frankensteined recipe. It was so good I thought I would share it.

Meatballs aren’t photogenic AT ALL, so here’s a meatball photo I took back in 2011. Trust me, this recipe was really really good.

Swedish Meatball Stroganoff

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices good white bread soaked in milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound raw Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoons allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Marsala or white wine
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 pound egg noodles

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. After the bread has soaked up the milk, squeeze out any excess liquid and break up the bread with your hands. Place into a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl along with the beef and Italian sausage. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high. Add the onions, salt and pepper and cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

Add to the mixing bowl the eggs, allspice and nutmeg. When the onions have cooled, add to the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.

Form into golf ball-sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, set a large salted pot of water on the stove to boil. Now we’ll make the sauce while the meatballs are baking and the noodle water is coming to a boil.

Add the butter to the same pan as you cooked the onions. Set to medium-high heat. Once butter is melted add the mushrooms and sauté until their moisture has evaporated and they start to brown, about 10 minutes. If there’s no more butter in the pan, add another tablespoon. Deglaze the pan with the marsala and let it bubble for a minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir. Cook for 1 minute.

Pour in the chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and let thicken. If it isn’t thick enough, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon flour with 1/2 cup cold chicken stock and pour that in.

Cook the noodles until al dente and drain. Remove meatballs from oven and set aside. Add the peas and sour cream to the sauce just before serving and heat until peas are hot.  Adjust sauce for salt.

Toss in the meatballs and coat them all over with sauce. Serve atop the egg noodles.

Hearty Italian bean and pasta soup: Pasta e Fagioli

It’s officially fall and after an unusually sunny early September, the weather finally settled into the typical cool, windy Alaska autumn.

It’s perfect soup weather. There’s something so satisfying about making soup from scratch. Usually I have all the ingredients I need and it’s a therapeutic process to chop, sauté and simmer until you have a meal that warms you through and through.

The recent issue of Cook’s Country magazine has a simple recipe for Pasta e Fagioli. I made it this week and added my own flair to the recipe.

Pasta e Fagioli | An easy weeknight meal from alaskaknitnat.com

Hearty Italian Pasta and Bean Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2, 15-ounce cans of white beans such as cannellini, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped fine
  • 2 carrots, washed and chopped fine
  • 2.5-3 oz. pancetta, chopped fine
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 ounces mini pasta shapes such as shells or ditalini
  • 3 handfuls baby super greens, chopped
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Pasta e Fagioli | An easy weeknight meal from alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Place one can of rinsed beans and the water in a blender and blend till smooth.

In a dutch oven or large saucepan, add a glug of olive oil and heat until oil is shimmering. Add the onion, celery, carrot, pancetta, salt and pepper and cook until veggies are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add tomato paste, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the broth, basil, other can of beans, and pureed beans. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.

Add the pasta and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When pasta has cooked for 5 minutes, stir in the greens and increase heat if needs be to remain at a boil. When pasta is al dente, remove pot from heat and stir in the cheese.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of cheese.

Cold Sesame Ginger Noodle Salad

Last Saturday my husband and I decided to spend date night shopping around Costco, which was surprisingly mellow at 6 p.m. I came across a package of millet and brown rice ramen noodles that looked like it might fulfill my never-ending craving for pasta while not being totally unhealthy.

I came up with this cold noodle salad that is perfect for a weekday lunch.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad | A simple weekday lunch from Alaskaknitnat.com

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 bricks of millet and brown rice ramen (or regular cheap ramen would do fine, just toss out the spice packet)
  • 6 mini bell peppers, julienned
  • 3 green onions, chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup diced English cucumber

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil the noodles according the package directions. In the meantime, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar.

Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking. Toss noodles, bell peppers, green onion, cilantro and cucumber in a mixing bowl. Pour dressing over the noodles and toss well. Serve right away or refrigerate until lunch time.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad | A simple weekday lunch from Alaskaknitnat.com

Lavender Gin Fizz

I know I shouldn’t complain. I know it’s like 102 degrees on the East Coast. But right now it’s 80 degrees outside my Alaska home and it’s TOO DANG HOT.

All we can really do is sit around and complain about how hot it is, so we might as well drink while we’re doing it.

I came up with this delightful fizzy concoction that’s sure to quench your thirst on the most sizzling day.

Lavender Gin Fizz

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1.5 oz. pineapple juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 oz. lavender simple syrup (rose syrup would be tasty too)
  • Club soda

Lavender Gin Fizz - a delightful cocktail from alaskaknitnat.com

Fill a tumbler with crushed ice. Add the gin, pineapple juice, lime juice, lavender syrup and top with soda. Stir and serve with a lime wedge.

Enjoy!

Fresh Fettuccine with Hooligan Marinara Sauce

My local library was showcasing their newest cookbooks last week. I checked out “Passione: Gennaro Contaldo’s Italian Cookbook” because it looked authentic and, let’s face it, I liked the font. When I saw his simple recipe for pasta dough, I had to try it. Flour, semolina and eggs. It sounded more authentic than pasta dough recipes I’ve made in the past. That he provided the gram weight of the flours made me think it was going to turn out perfectly. And it did.

My friend Ivan came over with a jar of smoked hooligans he and a friend had caught and canned last summer. They tasted a little like anchovies so my thought was to make a simple marinara with the umami flavor of the hooligans in the background. After simmering the sauce for a few minutes I tasted it and knew it needed one special ingredient to make it just perfect – capers. The sauce instantly became a bright, flavorful combination that reminded me of my dad’s puttanesca sauce.

Combine that with the best homemade pasta I’ve ever created and we had a heavenly dish that I think Gennaro Contaldo would be proud of.

Fresh fettuccine with simple marinara from alaskaknitnat.com

Fresh fettuccine with a hooligan caper marinara

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for pasta dough adapted from “Passione: Gennaro Contaldo’s Italian Cookbook”:

  • 300 grams (or 2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams (or 2/3 cup) semolina flour
  • 4 eggs

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 smoked hooligans, chopped (sub anchovies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped

Directions for pasta dough:

In a Kitchen Aid mixer, combine the flour and semolina. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients till combined and a shaggy dough forms. Turn onto a counter and knead for 3-5 minutes until a smooth ball forms. It should be firm and not sticky. Dust with flour and continue kneading if it’s too sticky. Divide into two balls. cover in plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

For the sauce:

In a large skillet, add the oil and heat over medium. Add the garlic and sauté until garlic is soft and fragrant, about two minutes. Be careful not to let it burn. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper, hooligans and capers. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, while you make the pasta.

Place a large pot of salted water to boil.

Using either a hand-crank pasta roller or a Kitchen Aid pasta roller, begin to make your pasta. Divide each ball of dough into four equal balls, covering the ones you aren’t working with. Flatten the ball with your palm. Run it through the largest setting on the pasta roller. Fold the piece into thirds and roll it through again. Do this about five times till the piece is evenly shaped and smooth. If it’s too sticky dust each side lightly with flour.

Move the roller to the next setting and run the dough through once. Continue running the dough through each smaller setting till it’s the thinnest it can possibly be. On the Kitchen Aid roller it’s setting 8. Drape the sheet of pasta on a laundry drying rack while you continue rolling out the remaining balls of dough.

When all the dough is rolled out, switch to the fettuccine roller. Roll all the sheets onto a tray dusted lightly with semolina. Boil the pasta for just a couple of minutes, until al dente.  If your pot isn’t large enough you may need to boil in two batches. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and add it to the sauce along with the chopped basil.

Drain the pasta and toss with a little bit of the sauce to keep the noodles from sticking. Grate some fresh pecorino Romano cheese over your pasta and serve with a simple salad.

Fresh fettuccine with simple marinara from alaskaknitnat.com