Category Archives: dessert

Unicorn treats

If you aren’t aware, unicorns are amazing. Starbucks will tell you so. During an evening with friends the other night we discussed the rainbow frappuccino that is sweeping the social media nation. What other foods could we transform into unicorns? The answer was simple: rice crispy treats. We brainstormed the ideal unicorn treat. Obviously it would need fruity pebbles to make it rainbow.

Then my husband made them. I was stunned as I’m usually the cook in the family. So join in on the unicorn craze and make this deliciously fruity unicorn treat.

Unicorn Treats | a delightful spin on the traditional Rice Krispies treat from alaskaknitnat.com

Unicorn Treats – A spin on the traditional Rice Krispies treat

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 2 cups Fruity Pebbles cereal
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • a couple of handfuls of Lucky Charms marshmallows
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows

Unicorn Treats | a delightful spin on the traditional Rice Krispies treat from alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Coat a casserole pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mini marshmallows and stir until melted.

Remove from heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Unicorn Treats | a delightful spin on the traditional Rice Krispies treat from alaskaknitnat.com

Using a buttered spatula spread the mixture into the pan. Cool and cut into squares. Go grab a unicorn frap and feel the sugar high.

Unicorn Treats | a delightful spin on the traditional Rice Krispies treat from alaskaknitnat.com

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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

Harvesting Anchorage: Fireweed Honey + Wildflower Tea

My old friend Ivan Night is a man of many talents; he’s a musician, an educator, a sound technician, a beer brewer, but for the sake of this blog post we’ll stick to just one of his titles: an apiarist.

Harvesting Anchorage: Honey + Wildflower Tea | A profile of Ivan Night, Alaska beekeeper and mead maker

Ivan has been keeping bees for about eight years. His family has owned and operated Alaska Wild Teas for more than three decades, so honey is a natural side project. Check the bottom of this post for a homemade tea recipe.

Recently I visited Ivan’s home to see how he harvests honey from his busy little bees.

Harvesting Anchorage: Honey + Wildflower Tea | A profile of Ivan Night, Alaska beekeeper and mead maker

Harvesting Anchorage: Honey + Wildflower Tea | A profile of Ivan Night, Alaska beekeeper and mead maker

Continue reading Harvesting Anchorage: Fireweed Honey + Wildflower Tea

Wild Cranberry & Lemon Muffins

This is my favorite time of year in Anchorage. The air is crisp and smells of earth and cranberries. Cranberries are my favorite wild berry to pick because they are durable, high in nutritive value and they freeze well. They can also be substituted for any recipe that calls for commercial cranberries.

I only pick low-bush cranberries, also called lingonberries. These short plants can be found in most Anchorage forests. They have round, shiny leaves and if there’s enough sunlight during the summer they bear tart, red berries. High-bush cranberries, which are abundant in Anchorage, have a similar flavor but they have a large seed in each berry, must be strained during processing and aren’t pleasing to eat whole.

Wild Cranberry & Lemon MuffinsWild Cranberry & Lemon Muffins

One would be inclined to harvest low-bush cranberries when they are at their brightest red color, but it’s best to wait until after the first frost when they’ve turned a deep wine red. I don’t know the science behind it, but the berries become juicier after they’ve endured a frost.

I found buried in my freezer a pint of last year’s cranberries. So to make way for this year’s harvest, I decided on a simple muffin recipe based on this one from Simple Nourished Living.

I’m not much of a bakist, so I was surprised by how thick the batter was. Have no fear, for these muffins were fluffy, tart, sweet and zesty. It’s like a party in my mouth!

Wild Cranberry & Lemon Muffins | Healthy Recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

 

Wild Cranberry & Lemon Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

scant 1/3 cup sugar

zest of one lemon

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 cup melted coconut oil, cooled

1 cup low-bush cranberries, frozen or thawed

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients and the lemon zest.

In another bowl combine the milk, egg and oil.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The batter should be lumpy and wet, but almost the consistency of dough. If it’s too dry add a little more milk. Fold in the cranberries and divide batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool for a few minutes before removing muffins from tin and placing on a cooling rack.

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

Lemon Almond Quick Bread

I don’t bake much. That seems to require a little more precision than normal cooking, where you mix flavors together. With baking everything has to be just right or things come out too dense or too dry and crumbly.

But after my second successful attempt at making almond milk I was left with a quantity of byproduct — almond meal, which I dried in the oven and stored in a plastic container.

So I decided to venture into the baking world. I looked up various recipes using almond meal and came across one with so few ingredients I didn’t think I could screw it up.  It was for a quick bread. I like the word quick. It makes me think “less effort.”

I actually wanted a little more zing in my bread, so I added some lemon zest. Also, I didn’t have enough almond meal so I subbed white flour for the remaining I needed. When I mixed everything together it was really thick and pasty, so I decided to add some of my own almond milk to make it more dough-like. For the yogurt I used my very own concoction of honey yogurt I made earlier in the week. I also wanted some sweetness, so I put in some honey.

Success! This dessert bread came out moist and flavorful. I think I’ll make it every time I make almond milk.

To make the almond meal yourself, just follow this recipe for almond milk and save the almond grounds. Spread the grounds on a cookie sheet and bake in a 275-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the grounds are dried out.

Almond meal after straining out the almond milk

Place the dried meal in a food processor and process till it’s as fine as you can get it, sort of like corn meal.

Otherwise, just buy almond meal or flour!

Lemon Almond Quick Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups almond meal or flour
1.5 cups white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup melted butter
zest of one lemon
2/3 cups almond milk
1-2 Tbs. honey

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bread loaf pan. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium bowl then add to the dry ingredients. Pour batter into the bread pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool on a drying rack then slice up and serve with butter and jam.

Guest Blogger — Li’l Sis’ Unsweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies

My little sister, Alex, made some delectable chocolate chip cookies for my baby shower last Sunday. I’m going to let her take over from here.

Hey there. This is my first post ever, and I’m honored to make my first step on my big sister’s blog.  Now let me talk about cookies. Much like Tasha, I prefer cooking to baking, but chocolate chip cookies has always been an exception. During the winter,  I would make cookies nearly on a weekly basis with my best friend who lived down the street. As a result, I have the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe memorized. The point is, I love chocolate chip cookies. Have I made that clear?

Last summer,  I found a cafe in my neighborhood in San Francisco. It served the best chocolate cookies I’ve ever tasted. I couldn’t identify what particular element in them made them so remarkable. Then, after my third cookie (I only got one cookie per visit, I do have some self control), I figured out that the bakers used unsweetened baking chocolate. The sweet cookie dough contrasted with the sharpness of unsweetened cocoa makes for a pretty profound cookie experience. Since then, I’ve only made chocolate chip cookies à la SF cafe.  Here’s what I did for Tasha’s shower.

Makes about 36 cookies

Ingredients:
2 1/4 c. all purpose white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c white sugar
3/4 brown sugar
2 sticks of butter (substitute coconut oil if you feel adventurous.  Tastes yummy)
2 eggs
1tsp. vanilla
2 c chopped up unsweetened baking chocolate
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In one bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, mix the softened butter with the brown sugar, eggs, white sugar, and vanilla in that order (to avoid a clumpy mess). Slowly add in the flour/salt mixture until you have a soft, gooey, golden mixture. Finally, mix in your chocolate. I chop up the chocolate into small pieces. You’ll inevitably end up with some chocolate powder, which is totally awesome. When you mix the in chocolate, you’ll see that your cookies look speckled rather than just “chipped.”

With a spoon, scoop out your cookie dough and place on lightly greased cookie sheets.  Let bake for 10 minutes.

Eat more than you expected.