Category Archives: baking

Sparkling sake cupcakes

Lately my four-year-old son has been interested in science experiments, which consist of his mixing random kitchen ingredients together into a nasty gloop and watching what happens.

Not that I disapprove of his experimenting but I would rather he make a kitchen mess if we were actually preparing something edible.

I suggested cupcakes but we were running low on milk, so I harkened back to my one-and-only successful baking recipe: pink champagne cake. I didn’t have any champagne but I had a delightful little bottle of sparkling sake my husband had bought for me.

Instead of a whole cake I halved the recipe and we made lovely pink cupcakes. You can too! By using effervescent booze the cupcakes turn out airy and not overly sweet.

Sparkling sake cupcakes | delightfully airy and semisweet | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Pink sparkling sake cupcakes

Makes about 12 cupcakes

Sparkling sake cupcakes | delightfully airy and semisweet | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 drops red food coloring
  • 1 cup sparkling sake or champagne

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. With a Kitchen Aid mixer, beat the butter and sugar for several minutes till fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add the egg whites one at a time then mix in the food coloring. Beat for a couple of minutes. Incorporate the flour and sake in alternating batches of three, starting and ending with the flour. This way the champagne won’t curdle (but it’s ok if it does).

Add cupcake liners to a cupcake pan. Pour batter into pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool completely before adding icing. If you’re at a loss for icing, here’s my recipe:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Whip together the sugar and cream cheese. When fully combined, add the whipping cream and beat till you get stiff peaks. Slice up fresh strawberries for garnish.

Sparkling sake cupcakes | delightfully airy and semisweet | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

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Baked broccoli fritters – how to use frozen broccoli for good, not evil

Since starting a full-time job a year ago, I’ve had to get creative with dinners. I have a limited amount of time before I put my son down for bed.

This evening I came home from work with absolutely no plan and a near-empty fridge. My freezer, however, was chock full of random Costco impulse buys: tamales, gyoza, hash brown patties, broccoli.

I contemplated the frozen broccoli. Why, why did I buy this? It’s never as good as fresh broccoli. It’s sort of chewy and crumbly. So I decided to get creative.

I fried up some hash brown patties, chopped up some thawed broccoli and came up with a seriously delicious side dish that’s sure to please the whole family. My husband ate five of them!

Baked broccoli fritters - the best way to use frozen broccoli | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com
Photo Credit: famfriendsfood. Flickr

Baked broccoli fritters

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. frozen broccoli, thawed and set to drain
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 frozen hash brown patties
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 grated sharp cheddar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the butter in a sauté pan and cook the onions till soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds.

Place onions and garlic in a mixing bowl to cool. Place hash brown patties in the pan and brown on both sides. Crumble up and add to the mixing bowl. Finely chop the broccoli and add to the mixing bowl.

Once all the ingredients have slightly cooled, add the egg, bread crumbs, cheeses, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Lightly grease a baking pan (I used a silpat mat instead). Form mixture into small patties. Bake 15 minutes, flip and bake another 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

An East Coast Halloween: 3 tricks and treats

Soon after becoming friends with Kasandra in college I discovered we had one big difference: she celebrated holidays.

An East Coast Halloween | 3 tricks and treats that are affordable and easy from Alaskaknitnat.com

Kasandra is from Connecticut where they have four seasons, a long history, darkness in the summer and tolerable cold in the winter. These reasons are why East Coasters celebrate holidays differently from Alaskans.

“I love that the East Coast celebrates every holiday to the fullest,” Kasandra said. “It makes me look forward to the seasons.”

I visited Kasandra and her husband, Gary, in their hometown seven years ago in May. As she was giving us a driving tour of a road used to deliver mail during the Revolution, I was seeing house after house ridiculously adorned with flags and patriotic banners. I asked, “What the hell is going on here?” and she said “It’s Memorial Day weekend.”

Feel free to contradict me, but Alaskans just don’t celebrate this way. Sure, I’ll carve a pumpkin in October and string up some lights at Christmas, but there isn’t a single house on my block right now with Halloween decorations outside.

So today I wanted to show off a little of what Kasandra has going on in her neck of the woods to hopefully inspire Alaskans this Halloween.

An East Coast Halloween | 3 tricks and treats that are affordable and easy from Alaskaknitnat.com

Kasandra maintains that frugal collegiate spirit but includes East Coast charm and sophistication. All of her crafts are easy, quick and affordable. Here are three that she shared with me.

1. Bedazzled Pumpkin

An East Coast Halloween | 3 tricks and treats that are affordable and easy from Alaskaknitnat.com

Paint a pumpkin. Stick craft store jewels all over it. No glue necessary if the paint is still wet.

2. Mummy cookies

An East Coast Halloween | 3 tricks and treats that are affordable and easy from Alaskaknitnat.com

Melt some white chocolate. Dip Milano cookies halfway into chocolate. Drizzle chocolate over the cookie to make it look like a mummy. Stick on sugar eyes.

3. Monster mouth snacks

An East Coast Halloween | 3 tricks and treats that are affordable and easy from Alaskaknitnat.com

Peel some apples and slice them into wedges. Spread peanut butter on one wedge. Add some yogurt-covered raisins to look like teeth. Top with another apple.

So, get out there, Alaskans, and show some last-minute Halloween spirit!

 

Back to School Recipe: Apple Apricot Bran Mini Muffins

Our son starts preschool this week, which means I’ve got to mom up and start making snacks and lunches. I don’t plan on being some sort of super mom who prepares intricate bento boxes with pandas made out of cheese wheels and olives, but I do hope to serve my son healthy foods. Ok, I admit, we did buy fruit snacks and granola bars during our epic Costco run yesterday. I’m not perfect!

Here’s a recipe I came up with for healthy mini muffins. Apples, dried apricots, wheat bran — who cares what’s in it as long as it’s mini?

Kid-approved apple apricot mini bran muffins | A healthy back-to-school snack from Alaskaknitnat.com

Apple Apricot Bran Mini Muffins

Makes about 48 mini muffins or 24 regular muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups wheat bran
  • 1.25 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups of milk + 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup finely chopped apples, peeled
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots

Kid-approved apple apricot mini bran muffins | A healthy back-to-school snack from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a mini muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, bran, baking soda, sugar, salt and cinnamon.

In a one-quart liquid measuring cup combine the milk, vinegar, molasses, honey, egg and coconut oil.

Pour the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl. The mixture should be like thick pancake batter. Stir in the apples and apricots. Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake for 13 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a drying rack.

Store in an airtight container or freeze and defrost as needed.

Kid-approved apple apricot mini bran muffins | A healthy back-to-school snack from Alaskaknitnat.com

Harvesting Seattle: Blackberry peach pepper pie

Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending time in Seattle. Despite the smoky air, I made it a point to get outdoors and do some urban foraging. Blackberry brambles are abundant around the city. My best friend, her boyfriend, my sister and I headed out to Discovery Park and found several briars laden with sweet blackberries.

Harvesting Seattle: Blackberry Peach Pepper Pie | An adaptation from Alaskaknitnat.com

Harvesting Seattle: Blackberry Peach Pepper Pie | An adaptation from Alaskaknitnat.com

This wasn’t my first blackberry rodeo. Although it was a hot day I made sure to wear pants, shoes and socks. There’s good reason Sleeping Beauty was surrounded by a thick wall of brambles — these bushes are brutal! My friend Matt didn’t heed my pants advice.

Harvesting Seattle: Blackberry Peach Pepper Pie | An adaptation from Alaskaknitnat.com

Harvesting Seattle: Blackberry Peach Pepper Pie | An adaptation from Alaskaknitnat.com

We picked a quart of berries in about half an hour. I got a few unbelievably ripe, juicy peaches at Pike’s Market and we knew that pie was on the horizon.

Harvesting Seattle: Blackberry Peach Pepper Pie | An adaptation from Alaskaknitnat.com

I’m not a baker and I’ve probably made one pie in my life, but I was inspired by the blueberry pie at South Restaurant + Coffeehouse. I tasted it the other day and noticed a subtle, unusual ingredient: pink peppercorns. I don’t know if the pepper was in the crust or the filling, but I found a pretty cool recipe from the L.A. Times that incorporated blackberries, nectarines and pepper. I wanted to try it.

Harvesting Seattle: Blackberry Peach Pepper Pie | An adaptation from Alaskaknitnat.com

A big thanks to my best friend Jess for her pie lattice expertise because this pie was a winner inside and out!

Harvesting Seattle: Blackberry Peach Pepper Pie | An adaptation from Alaskaknitnat.com

We used 3 cups of blackberries and two cups of peeled, sliced peaches. We used honey instead of corn syrup. The ground pepper was incorporated into the crust and gives the pie a bit of zing.

Harvesting Seattle: Blackberry Peach Pepper Pie | An adaptation from Alaskaknitnat.com

After placing the bottom crust in the pan, we set a circle of parchment paper on the crust and used some dry beans as pie weights. Then we baked the bottom crust for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven, let it cool for about five minutes and added the filling.

We brushed the lattice with milk and sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top.

Click here for the original recipe.

Harvesting Anchorage: Rose and rhubarb cookies (and a Rose Collins)

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.

Harvesting Anchorage: Wild Rose and Rhubarb Cookies | A recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com
You can find wild roses just about everywhere in Anchorage in June. This bush is on the on-ramp to the Seward Highway.

Harvesting Anchorage: Wild Rose and Rhubarb Cookies | A recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

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 

Harvesting Anchorage: Wild Rose and Rhubarb Cookies | A recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

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).

Harvesting Anchorage: Wild Rose and Rhubarb Cookies | A recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

I followed this recipe from Nitha Kitchen to make the syrup.

Continue reading Harvesting Anchorage: Rose and rhubarb cookies (and a Rose Collins)

Banana Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Icing

We never seem to consume an entire bunch of bananas. There’s always those sorry two or three sitting in the bottom of the fruit bowl, waiting to be make into banana bread. I don’t even like banana bread all that much, but I hate to waste the darn things.

I decided to spice things up a bit and use my overripe bananas for something a little more decadent than sliced bread.

I basically just made regular banana bread but put it in cupcake liners and topped it with a sweet and salty icing.

My recipe was inspired by this one from Culinary Couture.

Banana bread cupcakes with dulce de leche icing -- an alternative to boring banana bread

Banana bread:

1/2 cup softened coconut oil

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1.75 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. all spice

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

3 overripe bananas, mashed

Banana bread cupcakes with dulce de leche icing -- an alternative to boring banana bread

Icing:

6 oz. softened cream cheese

3 Tbs. softened butter

3 Tbs. Nestle’s La Lechera (sweetened condensed milk)

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

coarse sea salt for garnish

Banana bread cupcakes with dulce de leche icing -- an alternative to boring banana bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer, combine the coconut oil and sugar. Add the eggs and mix well. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture and mashed bananas in intervals to the wet ingredients.

Pour batter into a muffin tin filled with liners or greased well. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

For the icing:

with an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, La Lechera, vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth and aerated. Frost the cupcakes with a knife or with a pastry bag. Sprinkle coarse sea salt on top of each cupcake.

Banana bread cupcakes with dulce de leche icing -- an alternative to boring banana bread