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.

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!

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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

Creamy Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings is a meal I have only ever had as an adult. Growing up, my family would enjoy matzo ball soup once a year and that was as close as I got to this comforting wintertime stew.

When my best friend Kelly and I started cooking dinners together, she introduced me to her version of chicken and dumplings. Creamy, chicken soup with veggies and thick noodle-like dumplings made with biscuit dough.

Over the years we’ve made this dish several times without paying attention to how we prepare it. After making chicken and dumplings this week an Instagram fan asked for the recipe. I figured it was about time I wrote this down.

Creamy Chicken & Dumplings | A recipe from alaskaknitnat.com

Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

Serves 6

Cooking/prep time: about 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. butter or olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots cut into small chunks
  • 1 pound of chicken (I like the breast tenderloins), cubed
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1.5 cartons chicken stock (about 48 oz.)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (or 2 Tbs. fresh)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Your favorite biscuit dough recipe

Creamy Chicken & Dumplings | A recipe from alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Melt butter in a dutch oven. Add onions, celery, carrots, chicken and flour and cook till onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the cream of chicken soup, chicken stock and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and simmer while you prepare the biscuit dough.

Make biscuit dough according to instructions. Roll out dough to ¼ inch thick and cut into 2-inch rectangles (doesn’t have to be exact).

Drop the dough into the soup, cover, and cook for 30 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through.

Add the peas and simmer for a few minutes until they are heated through. If the soup is too thin, create a slurry of ¼ cup milk and two teaspoons of flour, pour it in the pot and simmer for another minute or so.

Serve on a cold day.

Creamy Chicken & Dumplings | A recipe from alaskaknitnat.com

Pickle and Potato Salad

I’ve discovered I’m picky when it comes to potato salad. I don’t like celery, I don’t like hard-boiled eggs, or caraway seeds, or big hunks of onion, or mushy potatoes — ok, ok I’m a potato salad priss!

I needed to use up some thin-skinned potatoes in my pantry so I turned to Pinterest and couldn’t find just what I was looking for. I did find something close. This recipe from Mrs. Happy Homemaker calls for pickle brine instead of vinegar or lemon juice. That piqued my interest.

So I came up with my own version and it was everything I’ve always wanted in a potato salad. It’s creamy, tangy, salty and has a good bite.

Pickle and potato salad - a perfect potato salad recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Pickle and Potato Salad – the perfect potato salad without celery or eggs

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds small, thin skinned potatoes
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles
  • generous 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup pickle brine
  • 1/3 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Place unpeeled potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for about 12 minutes until potatoes are fork tender but not mushy.

Drain potatoes and run cold water over them to cool.

Combine the pickles, mayo, brine, mustard, and green onions in a large bowl. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When potatoes are cool enough to touch, slice them half lengthwise and then slice into 1/4-inch wide pieces.

Add potatoes to the sauce and mix until potatoes are completely coated. Serve warm or chilled.

Pickle and potato salad - a perfect potato salad recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Spinach Bacon Quesadilla

I didn’t have the energy to grocery shop or cook today so I dug through the fridge and pulled out some flour tortillas, cheese, spinach and bacon and set to make something with minimal effort and maximum flavor. Success!

Bacon Spinach Quesadilla - a quick and simple dinner from Alaskaknitnat.com

Bacon Spinach Quesadilla

Makes one quesadilla

Ingredients:

  • 1 large flour tortilla
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • cream cheese
  • pinch of granulated garlic
  • pepper
  • Mexican-style grated cheese
  • Handful of baby spinach

Directions:

Fry bacon in a medium pan. Meanwhile, spread a thin coat of cream cheese all over the tortilla. Season with garlic powder and pepper.

Set bacon aside to drain on a paper towel and add spinach to the pan. Cook until spinach is wilted.

Chop the bacon into bits. Sprinkle the grated cheese on one half of the tortilla. Add the bacon and spinach. Fold tortilla in half and place back in pan. Brown on both sides until cheese is melted. Cut in half and devour.

Bacon Spinach Quesadilla - a quick and simple dinner from Alaskaknitnat.com

Mulled Cider

Nothing says “the holidays” like spiced booze. Here’s a recipe I came up with last week when we went trick or treating with our son and some family friends. This recipe has no alcohol in it but add a glug of your favorite spirit and you’re good to go!

Mulled cider

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon apple cider or juice
  • 3 strips of orange peel
  • 3 strips of lemon peel
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger
  • 5 or so peppercorns
  • 4 or so allspice berries
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 4 or so whole cloves
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for an hour or two. Pour into a thermos and enjoy while out in the cold!

Lowbush Cranberry Tart

The holidays are nigh and it’s time to get creative in the kitchen! Last year for Thanksgiving I served a cranberry curd tart offered up by The New York Times. It was tangy and sweet but the recipe was burdensome, from the peeling of the hazelnuts to pressing the cranberries through a sieve. I thought I’d do my own version for this year’s Thanksgiving table using my own handpicked lowbush cranberries.

Cranberry Tart by Alaska Knit Nat

I opted for a vanilla wafer crust and made a couple of other changes. You can of course use store-bought cranberries and this recipe would turn out just as vividly red and delicious. This is a great alternative to the often-overlooked cranberry sauce.

Harvesting Anchorage: Lowbush Cranberry Marmalade | This is a delicious cranberry orange jam recipe that's perfect for Christmas and holiday gifts for teachers, friends and family. Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Cranberry Tart

Inspired by The New York Times recipe

Cranberry Tart by Alaska Knit Nat

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 60 vanilla wafers
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Ingredients for the curd:

  • 12 oz. lowbush cranberries (store bought is fine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

Directions for the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place wafers in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Place in a bowl with sugar and melted butter and stir till combined. Press the crumbs into a pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes and set aside for later.

Directions for the curd:

Peel the orange with a vegetable peeler and juice the orange. It should be about 1/2 cup of juice. Place juice, peels, cranberries and sugar into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries are popped and softened. Press the berries with the back of a wooden spoon now and then.

Remove the peels and place the mixture into a blender. Blend until smooth. You should have about 2 cups. Pour back into the saucepan with the butter and stir until butter is melted.

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup or so of cranberry mixture to the eggs to temper them, then mix the eggs back into the saucepan.

Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened and nearly bubbling, about 10 minutes. Let mixture cool completely. You can place the curd in the fridge overnight, if you’d like.

Spread the cooled cranberry curd into the pie pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Cranberry Tart by Alaska Knit Nat