Tag Archives: easy

Weeknight chicken scallopini with asparagus

Now that I work full time I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy meals. Sometimes I rely on tradition and make this simple chicken dish inspired by my favorite Italian cook, Marcella Hazan.

Weeknight chicken scallopine with asparagus | a 40-minute meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Every member of my family has her own copy of this fabulous cookbook. Her recipes are not overly complicated. They are realistic and wholesome.

Several years ago my mother adapted her veal scallopini with asparagus recipe to include chicken instead of veal. It has become one of my family’s favorite chicken dishes. And it’s just perfect for hectic weeknights.

Weeknight chicken scallopine with asparagus | a 40-minute meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Continue reading Weeknight chicken scallopini with asparagus

Advertisements

Pinterest Perfect: DIY Rustic Headboard

I wish my house were magazine-worthy. I wish one interior wall were made of raw brick. I wish I had large windows with endless natural light. I wish I had crisp white linens. I wish I had 11-foot ceilings. I wish I had a subway tile kitchen backsplash.

A woman can dream, right? And that’s what Pinterest is for.

I’m usually a practical pinner. I pin recipes I’ll actually make, knitting techniques I reference over and over, but once in a while I just want to be dazzled by what I call “Pinterest perfectionism.”

My friend Julie’s “For the Home” board is just that — a virtual cork board of immaculate kitchens, bedrooms and dens that are seemingly unattainable. But Julie is a DIY-er. I’ve seen her tackle several projects that require power tools. I’m a crafter, but I can’t get myself to pick up anything heftier than a staple gun.

I thought of Julie last summer when my parents were tearing down their 25-year-old cedar deck. My husband meticulously planed every board that came off of that wrap-around deck. He was left with quite a bit of cedar, which he used to build our son’s playhouse.

In the spring I invited Julie to stop by and pick up some planks because it just looked Pinterest worthy. The last month she sent me photos of what she created — a rustic headboard with personality.

DIY Rustic Headboard | just a few unsanded cedar boards are all you need to easily create your own rustic headboard. Free tutorial from alaskaknitnat.com

I guess this post is an ode to those who actually do it. Her bedroom is a DIY, Pinterest-perfect dream come true. Well done, Julie!

Here’s what Julie had to say about how she made her too-easy-to-be-true, step-by-step instructions for a super cute headboard.

1. Get some awesome friends (wink wink) who offer you already sanded and planed cedar planks AND cut them to the length you want. I did some measuring prior to that and decided how long and tall I wanted the pieces.

2. Lay out your pieces how you want them and use wood glue to glue the sides together. I will admit, it was a little tricky because it was hard to apply enough pressure so that the wood would adhere together. A table with clamps would work a whole lot better than what I did!

3. Once all the pieces are glued together, I waited 24 hours to let the glue set, according to the instructions on the bottle.

DIY Rustic Headboard | just a few unsanded cedar boards are all you need to easily create your own rustic headboard. Free tutorial from alaskaknitnat.com

4. The last thing I did was take the special piece I had picked out to go across the headboard and nail it down. I picked out some 2-inch galvanized nails. I really liked the way they looked with the raw cedar.

DIY Rustic Headboard | just a few unsanded cedar boards are all you need to easily create your own rustic headboard. Free tutorial from alaskaknitnat.com

5. For installation, I was lazy and just set it up behind my bed. But you’re probably more motivated than me and might want to actually take the time to attach some longer pieces on to the sides to give the headboard some more height and screw those into the frame. I’ll probably do that…next summer.DIY Rustic Headboard | just a few unsanded cedar boards are all you need to easily create your own rustic headboard. Free tutorial from alaskaknitnat.comSo that’s it! There’s your new headboard! There’s a lot of creative license with this you can take, so just have fun and make it your own! Enjoy!

 

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!

 

Super quick baby gnome costume

It’s week two of our Halloween Blog Party and the theme is “Woodland Creatures.” So far we’ve had fairy flower crown and forest garland tutorials, a woodland fairytale mix by DJ Spencer Lee and today I’ve got a super quick baby costume that requires minimal crafty skills and a shoestring budget.

This was my son’s first Halloween costume and I love it so.

Super quick baby gnome costume | a DIY Halloween craft from alaskaknitnat.com.
“Step off. Don’t make me sick my Jeremy Fisher on you.”
A while back AK Shopgirl was inspired by our little gnome. She decided to dress up her twin baby boys as more traditional David the Gnome.

Super quick baby gnome costume | a DIY Halloween craft from alaskaknitnat.com.

Here’s all you need to achieve a gnome-tastic baby outfit:

  • 1 piece of white felt (24 cents from Wal-Mart)
  • A large mug
  • pen
  • scissors
  • safety pin
  • a dark-colored onesie
  • pants
  • booties
  • gnome hat (knitting pattern here)*

*If you aren’t a knitter, I suggest making a gnome hat the way AK Shopgirl did using a sheet of red craft foam fashioned into a cone, adhered with a hot glue gun. Ohhappyday.com has a free template here, if you want to get technical.

How to make the beard

Super quick baby gnome costume | a DIY Halloween craft from alaskaknitnat.com.

Place the mug upside down in the middle of the white felt, 1.5 inches down from the top edge. Trace a circle for the neck hole.

Super quick baby gnome costume | a DIY Halloween craft from alaskaknitnat.com.

Use the mug to shape the corners of the beard bib.

Draw a line at the top of the neck hole to the top edge of the felt. This will be the opening of the beard bib. I just love saying “beard bib.”

Super quick baby gnome costume | a DIY Halloween craft from alaskaknitnat.com.

Freehand the shape of the beard. Cut out your beard bib.

Super quick baby gnome costume | a DIY Halloween craft from alaskaknitnat.com.

Dress up baby of choice in the onesie, pants and booties. Use a safety pin to connect the back edges of the beard bib. Place pointy hat atop baby.

Super quick baby gnome costume | a DIY Halloween craft from alaskaknitnat.com.

Presto. Baby gnome.

White Chili – a simple weeknight meal

I’ll never stop promoting Costco rotisserie chicken. It’s only $5 and not only is it delicious hot off the shelf (I sometimes don’t even bother with a plate or silverware), but the leftovers can be used for myriad dishes such as pesto lasagna roll ups,  quick matzo ball soup and homemade chicken stock.

Tonight on the menu is white chili. My friend Danielle introduced me to the notion of non-tomato chili about eight years ago and when I thought of the dish for tonight I was surprised I hadn’t blogged about it yet.

This one-pot wonder has similar flavors to traditional chili. With the addition of salsa verde and sour cream you give chili night a new twist.

White Chili | A simple weeknight dish from Alaskaknitnat.com

White chili with chicken

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • leftover rotisserie chicken meat, shredded
  • 1, 16-oz. jar salsa verde
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cans great white northern beans, drained
  • 1 cup sour cream

White Chili | A simple weeknight dish from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Heat oil in a dutch oven. Sauté the onions and peppers till onions are soft, about 7 minutes. Add the chiles, chicken, salsa, stock and spices. Bring to a simmer, turn to low and simmer one hour.

Add the beans and cook another 10 minutes. Add the sour cream just before serving. Top with cilantro sprigs and shredded cheddar cheese.

White Chili | A simple weeknight dish from Alaskaknitnat.com

Lazy Lasagna

My family requested lasagna for dinner yesterday, but I didn’t get home till 5 p.m. so it would have been a mad dash to get lasagna on the table by 6:30.

Here’s what I made instead. Although it’s about the same ingredients as lasagna I didn’t have to take the time to layer everything out. I just threw it all together, topped it with cheese and stuck it in the oven. Easy peasy.

Lazy Lasagna | A delicious and simple recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Lazy Lasagna

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. lasagna noodles
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb. loose Italian sausage
  • One bunch of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 large jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water boils break up the lasagna noodles into irregular pieces and add to the pot. Cook according to box instructions, about 12 minutes.

In the meantime, heat oil in a large, ovenproof skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté until some of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt. Sauté until spinach is wilted, another minute. Set mushrooms and spinach aside.

Without cleaning the pan, add the sausage and brown. Add the sauce, mushrooms and spinach. Combine well. Drain the noodles and add to the skillet. Add half the cheeses and mix well. Top with the remaining cheese, cover and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

 

Lazy Lasagna | A delicious and simple recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

The Aspen Ascot – a free knitting pattern

Happy Easter! It’s currently snowing here in Anchorage, which makes today’s pattern just perfect.

I was scrolling through some old knitting patterns on my blog and I came across my Chunky Ascot Pattern, which included a terrible Hipstamatic photo (before Instagram existed). I decided it was worth making a new ascot just to update the photo.

This pattern uses chunky yarn or you can knit two strands of worsted weight yarn together. It takes very little yarn, so it’s a great way to use up any leftover high quality fibers. I used Malabrigo and Manos de Uruguay worsted alpaca.

The Aspen Ascot is just right for a chilly spring morning when you don’t need a bulky scarf. The two spade-shaped ends create a lovely bow look.

The pattern isn’t difficult, but it does require thinking outside the box. You’ll use three double-pointed needles for the part where you create the loop. The instructions sound sort of whack, but trust the way it’s written and it should make sense in the end.

The Aspen Ascot | A free pattern from Alaska Knit Nat. Perfect afternoon project! The Aspen Ascot | A free pattern from Alaska Knit Nat. Perfect afternoon project!

The Aspen Ascot – a free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit Nat

Materials:

One ball of chunky alpaca, or two strands of worsted knitted together

3 size US 10 double-pointed needles

darning needle

Abbreviations:
M1FB — make 1 stitch in the front and 1 stitch in the back of the same stitch, thus increasing the piece by 1 stitch

k2tog— knit two stitches together

Directions:
Cast on 2 stitches. M1FB of the first stitch, K the next stitch.
Continue to M1FB of the first stitch of every row till you have 16 stitches.
K 12 rows in garter stitch. I slip the first stitch of every row to keep the rows neat and even.
Next row: *Knit the first stitch, transfer the second stitch to the third double point needle.* Repeat * to end of row. You should have 8 stitches on each needle.
Starting with the needle that has the working yarn, K1, P1 for 9 rows. Cut yarn, leaving a 6-inch tail.

The Aspen Ascot | A free pattern from Alaska Knit Nat. Perfect afternoon project!

The Aspen Ascot | A free pattern from Alaska Knit Nat. Perfect afternoon project!
With the other needle holding 8 stitches, leave a 6-inch tail and K1, P1 for 9 rows, but don’t cut the yarn when done.

Next row: *Knit the first stitch from both the front and back needles together, then knit one from the front and one from the back.* Repeat * till there is 1 stitch on each needle. Knit these two stitches together. You should now have 12 stitches on one needle.

Knit in garter stitch till the work is long enough to go around your neck and touch the loop you just created, about 12 inches.

Next row: *K1, K2tog* Repeat * to end of row. You should now have 8 stitches again. K1, P1 for 9 rows.

Next row: M1FB in each stitch. You should now have 16 stitches.

Knit in garter stitch for 12 rows.

Next row: K1, K2tog, K to end of row. Repeat the last row till there are 3 stitches remaining.

Bind off. Weave in tails. Sew on decorative button to one side of the loop if you desire.