Category Archives: Holiday

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.

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

Perfect Grilled Corn

When you grow up in Alaska you become accustomed to lackluster produce: flavorless cantaloupe, dry lemons, grey tomatoes and often unsweet corn.

At the beginning of our long weekend we had dinner up at my parents’ place and my dad served the best grilled corn I’d ever had. He’s always got a few culinary tricks up his sleeve and this recipe is no exception.

Sweet, caramelized, and just the perfect amount of char – this recipe is just what you need for your Memorial Day barbecue.

Perfect Grilled Corn | A tasty summer recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Memorial Day Recipe: How to Grill Corn on the Cob Without the Husks

Have you ever tried grilling husk-on corn on the cob? Tastes great, but what a mess you make of your grill what with all the pieces of black, burnt husk which get over everything, including the burgers or franks you’re going to grill next.

Continue reading Perfect Grilled Corn

Grinch-themed birthday party

Our son, Jack, turns 4 this week. Since his second birthday we’ve let him choose his party theme. At 2 it was Pingu (please, have a look at this adorable Swedish claymation penguin show), last year it was the Lorax and when I asked him this year what he wanted, he chose the Grinch.

A Grinch-themed birthday party | Minimal organization and lots of running around is all you need for a fun kids birthday party. A photo gallery from alaskaknitnat.com
Pin the heart on the Grinch. It’s more of a tradition on my part to get me into the spirit of party planning. The kids play with it for about 5 minutes.

During the holidays we took Jack to a local restaurant to see the outrageous film based on the Dr. Seuss character. It was his first big screen experience so it must have left an impression on him.

Continue reading Grinch-themed birthday party

Creamed Corn Casserole – A free recipe

It was the evening before Thanksgiving and I was describing the holiday to my son while driving home from preschool. Jack asked if there would be corn at our dinner.

Our family isn’t a corn family. Occasionally when Costco is selling an eight-pack in the summertime my folks will boil it and serve it on the cob. Creamed corn is definitely not a typical dish on our table.

I looked at several recipes online for creamed corn and most called for either canned corn (gross), or fresh corn. Many recipes listed cream cheese, which I didn’t have. I wasn’t about to brave the grocery store on Thanksgiving eve so I took to my freezer and invented my own creamed corn recipe. I think it’s a hybrid of creamed corn and corn casserole. It’s a little thicker than creamed corn because of the egg, but not as custardy as casserole.

Also, my son had fun helping me make it. I put crackers in a ziploc bag and let him stomp to his heart’s content.

Creamed corn casserole is a simple side dish and is perfect for any holiday table. Bacon grease is the base flavor for this tasty, creamy corn dish.
su-lin via Compfight cc
Ingredients;

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • milk
  • 24 oz. frozen corn
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, stomped on by a child (food processor works too)

Creamed corn casserole is a simple side dish and is perfect for any holiday table. Bacon grease is the base flavor for this tasty, creamy corn dish.
Stock photo of corn. USDAgov via Compfight cc
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fry up the bacon in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Set aside to munch on later and reserve the bacon grease. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté the onions until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add flour and stir frequently for about two minutes. Turn heat down to medium. Add cream and stir until thickened. Add milk if mixture is too thick. You want it the consistency of cream sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a large mixing bowl combine the corn, béchamel sauce and egg until the corn is well coated. Place in a casserole dish.

Wipe the sauté pan clean with a paper towel and melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the Ritz cracker crumbs and stir frequently for one minute.

Sprinkle  casserole with the cracker crumbs and bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Creamed corn casserole is a simple side dish and is perfect for any holiday table. Bacon grease is the base flavor for this tasty, creamy corn dish.
More stock corn because we ate ours too fast to photograph. Rich Renomeron via Compfight cc

DIY Frida Kahlo Costume

Flower crowns are my thing and nearly every time I wear one in public someone comments that I resemble Frida Kahlo, the Mexican feminist and painter.

Photo by Blueberry Hill Photography
Photo by Blueberry Hill Photography

DIY Frida Kahlo Costume | Be colorful and support women with disabilities this Halloween with this easy costume. Flower crown tutorial included from Alaskaknitnat.com

So this halloween I decided to embrace it, unibrow and all. It just took one visit to the thrift shop and a little digging in my closet to come up with a colorful Frida-esque costume.

DIY Frida Kahlo Costume | Be colorful and support women with disabilities this Halloween with this easy costume. Flower crown tutorial included from Alaskaknitnat.com

DIY Frida Kahlo Costume | Be colorful and support women with disabilities this Halloween with this easy costume. Flower crown tutorial included from Alaskaknitnat.com

Continue reading DIY Frida Kahlo Costume

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!