I grew up in a savory snack household. Give me salami, olives and pickles over any kind of sweet treat. Ever since Costco started carrying those petit cucumbers my dad has set out to master the homemade pickle. He tried garlic and lemon and various herbs, but today when he arrived at our house for a barbecue he proudly presented his tastiest variety – the simple dill pickle.
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.
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.
In Alaska we are pretty seafood-centric. Although we have more than 47,000 miles of shoreline my husband doesn’t like seafood so I rarely cook with it.
I have access to Alaska halibut and salmon, but sometimes I just want a good old-fashioned can of tuna. Recently I was in Mexico and a friend served up a dip made with smoked mackerel. I don’t have any smoked fish lying around my freezer so I tried my own tuna dip. With a tiny amount of liquid smoke and just a few other ingredients I came up with a smoky, delicious tuna salad that’s perfect for a mid-afternoon snack — and it’s healthy too!
I love tuna packed in oil, but that can run pretty expensive at our local fancy grocery store. The big grocery store carries the next best thing for about $2.50 a can.
You can use any can of tuna you’d like.
Smoky tuna dip
1 can of tuna
1 teaspoon of chile in adobo sauce
1.5 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plain, Greek yogurt
1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons capers
salt and pepper to taste
Drain the tuna and place in a small mixing bowl. Combine all the other ingredients. Serve with corn chips or crackers.
In our family, home is where the kitchen is. This week we are visiting family in Pittsburgh. My kid sister just moved into a cavernous brick home in Lawrenceville, coincidentally the neighborhood where my husband was born.
Her kitchen is absolutely Pinterest perfect and I couldn’t wait to cook in there.
This evening we stopped by a farmers market full of squash, zinnia bouquets, goat cheese and apple cider. We picked up some green tomatoes and made them as a light dinner.
Here’s a quick post about how my sister prepares them.
Fried Green Tomatoes
4 medium green tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 thick slices
1/2 cup cream of wheat
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne powder
Pinch of salt
In a shallow bowl, mix together the Cream of Wheat, paprika, chili powder, cayenne, pepper and salt. Whisk the eggs in another shallow bowl.
Add half a fingernail’s depth of oil to a cast iron skillet and turn heat to high.
Dredge the tomatoes in the egg and then in the breading.
When oil is glistening, add tomatoes in one layer in the pan. You may need to fry them in three or four batches.
Fry for a few minutes on each side, till browned. Place on a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Serve as-is or with a yogurt dipping sauce. Recipe below:
Yogurt Herb Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
dash of garlic powder
1 tsp. chopped fresh herbs such as oregano, basil or parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together all the ingredients. Serve with fried green tomatoes.
I love junk food. LOVE IT. But there are lots of reasons why I shouldn’t eat it on the regular.
I’m not a big fan of diet recipes that try to emulate the real deal. Usually they lack in flavor or texture. But I’m willing to try them once in a while.
Here’s a recipe that satisfies my fast food desire: homemade chicken nuggets. Not only are they kid friendly (my son gobbled them up), but they are great for those on low-carb or gluten-free diets.
This is a great weeknight dish since they only take about 40 minutes from start to finish. Serve them with cheesy broccoli quinoa and you’ve got yourself a tasty junk-like meal.
Low Carb Chicken Nuggets
1 pound of chicken tenders (chicken breast would be fine)
1 tsp. baking soda (optional)
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Cut your chicken into two-inch pieces. Place them in a bowl with two tablespoons of cold water and the baking soda. Let sit for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. (This step is optional, but I find it makes a more tender nugget as per America’s Test Kitchen’s advice).
Whisk together the eggs in a pie pan. Combine the dry ingredients in another pie pan.
Toss the chicken pieces in the egg then gently dredge them in the almond flour mixture. Place on the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, flip them and bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a couple of minutes before serving.
With a new year comes New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve decided to join the countless others who resolve to eat more healthily. As a contributor to Anchorage Food Mosaic Project, I was recently asked what my Food Year’s Resolution was. Fewer cheeseburgers was the first thing that came to mind, but also to cut down on carbs and to eat more healthily in general.
My husband and I are trying out the South Beach Diet, which is a low sugar and carb regimen. The first phase is pretty strict, but that doesn’t limit my ability to cook delicious food.
Today’s lunch was quick to prepare and pretty dang delicious. I love me some smoked salmon, but that stuff is expensive. I wanted to make a dish that had the flavor of smoked salmon, but was a little easier on the pocketbook.
This salad recipe is chock full of nutrients and with the use of smoked paprika, it fulfilled my craving for smoked salmon. I purchased my canned salmon at Costco, but if you’re lucky to have an Alaska fisherman friend, you could certainly make this with fresh-cooked salmon!
Smokey salmon lettuce wraps — A South Beach Diet phase 1 recipe
Homemade crackers are surprisingly easy. When I saw this recipe from Sheknows.com I just had to try it. I added a pinch of smoked paprika, which made for a deeper flavor. I happened to have a goldfish cookie cutter, so I wanted to see how homemade goldfish crackers would live up to store bought.
What came out of the oven was flakey, crunchy and downright cheesy.
4 oz. cheddar cheese or mixture of cheddar and parmesan, grated on a micro plane or rasper
1/8th tsp smoked paprika
2 Tbs. butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. or so cold water
Add the flour, salt and paprika to a food processor and pulse till combined. Add the cheese and butter and pulse till just combined (it will look like crumbly flour). Turn on the processor and slowly add the water. Let the machine turn the dough into a ball. It should take less than a minute. If it doesn’t turn into a ball add a tiny bit more water. Remove ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface till it’s pretty thin. Either cut into Cheez-it like squares, or use a decorative cookie cutter. Place on two parchment-lined cookie sheets, with a little space between each cracker. Bake about 15 minutes, till slightly puffy and beginning to brown.
Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.
I’ve not cooked much with my 21-month-old son, but last week he did a great job of sprinkling cheese on some focaccia I was baking, so I knew he’d be able to assist in the salmon cheddar grills we whipped up for lunch. When I mentioned I would need his help in the kitchen, Jack explained to his dad, “Help mama make snack,” so he knew something special was about to happen.
These salmon grills are perfect if you’re introducing fish to your little picky eater as the fishy taste is almost completely disguised by the cheesiness. Jack eats just about anything so I knew they’d be a hit. They were easy to prepare and after a few minutes in the toaster oven we had lunch for two.
2 oz. light garlic and herb cheese spread (Alouette or Laughing Cow is good)
2 tsp. green onion or chive, finely chopped
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 English muffins or slices 0f rustic bread
Drain the salmon and break it up with a fork in a mixing bowl. Add the cheese spread, green onions and half the cheese. Add pepper to taste. Mix well. Spread onto the bread and top with more cheddar. Place in the toaster oven or broiler till cheese is all bubbly. Enjoy!
I’m not a big fan of peanuts. I can do without peanut butter and I’ll munch on the roasted kind if it’s the only thing available at a bar, but the one type of peanut I really adore is the boiled peanut.
The first time I had them was about six years ago in Seward, Alaska. Someone was selling them at a local bar. They are salty and soft — a little like edamame.
Fast forward to present day. I really didn’t think pregnancy was affecting me in the cravings department, but when my step sister-in-law posted on Facebook a photo of a Georgian boiled “P-nut” stand, that is the only thing I ever wanted to taste.
The reason I’ve never been able to make them myself is that you need raw peanuts — ones that haven’t been roasted. You just can’t get them up here.
Thanks to my mother-in-law’s thirst for online shopping, she was able to have some shipped up to me via Amazon.com.
I didn’t know what to expect. I was worried they would be fresh like sprouts where they could go bad very quickly. When I opened the box, I surely thought she had mistakenly sent me roasted peanuts because they were dry and hard. Then I read they were cured and raw so I knew I was good to go!
Give yourself an afternoon to make them, because it takes several hours. The longest, easiest snack this side of the Mississippi!
Directions: Place about a pound of raw peanuts (still in their shells) into a large pot. Fill the pot with water and add 1/2 cup of salt. Put the lid on and bring to a boil. Turn heat down so your peanuts are still simmering and cook for hours until they are soft to your liking.
They can be stored for up to 10 days in the fridge and I’ve read you can freeze them for even longer.
Our wedding anniversary is coming up so I forced Stephen to bust out last year’s gift from me to him: our deep fryer. I mean, who actually uses a deep fryer? It is somewhat a waste of space, but we have a lot of cabinets. Even though it was only the third time we’ve used it and the oil reeked of falafel, we ended up with some tasty fries:
I made sure to soak them in super cold water and to dry them off as best I could before dunking them.