Tag Archives: recipes

How to Cook Perfect Beans

Taco night is always a big hit in our family and one of the most requested ingredients from our son is beans. Sure, canned beans are convenient and inexpensive, but there’s often a bit of sodium in them and when you reheat them, they can easily be overcooked.

Many are hesitant to cook dry beans due to lack of experience and convenience, but with a little planning and minimal effort, you can easily cook creamy, flavorful beans to accompany many food genres. And they are much cheaper than canned beans!

How to cook perfect beans | Alaska Knit Nat

Perfect Beans

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

One cup of dried beans such as pinto, great northern or black

1 Tbs. salt

water

How to cook perfect beans | Alaska Knit Nat

Directions:

The morning you want to have beans for dinner, toss your dry beans into a mesh strainer and rinse with cold water. Add beans and salt to a medium saucepan. Fill with water so pan is about 2/3 full. Cover and let sit all day, about 7-9 hours.

Put pan on stove, still covered, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer beans for 1.5-2 hours. Be sure it’s not at a full rolling boil as the beans can get torn up if overly disturbed. Drain and serve.

*Beany tidbit: If your beans appear shriveled after soaking them it means they are past their prime. They will still taste all right but you may want to buy new beans next time.

How to cook perfect beans | Alaska Knit Nat

Chicken-stuffed Eggplant

Eggplant is a foreign food to me. I’ve only cooked with it once before when I made eggplant parmesan a long time back. They looked so irresistible today at Costco — so purple and shiny without a single flaw. I added a $5 rotisserie chicken, mini heirloom tomatoes and mini bell peppers to my cart and knew I’d be able to throw something together.

I made stuffed eggplant almost like a meatball recipe. They turned out flavorful and not too soggy, thanks to a quick technique inspired by America’s Test Kitchen.

Chicken-stuffed Eggplant | Alaska Knit Nat

Chicken Stuffed Eggplant

Serves 2-3

Ingrdients:

2 medium eggplants, sliced down the middle

2 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped fine

3 mini orange and yellow bell peppers, chopped fine

1/2 stalk celery, chopped fine

1/4 cup diced tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tin of anchovies, minced (about 3 filets)

1 egg

1/2 cup cooked chicken, diced

2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

3 Tbs. Italian breadcrumbs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

salt and pepper to taste

Chicken-stuffed Eggplant | Alaska Knit Nat

Directions:

Carefully scoop out the flesh of your eggplants without breaking the skin. Chop the flesh into small pieces. Lightly salt the flesh and hollowed out eggplants. Place eggplant shells in a foil-lined casserole dish and set aside.

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high flame. Add the onion, peppers, celery and tomatoes and cook till onions are soft, about five minutes. Add the garlic, basil and oregano and cook another two minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the egg, chicken, anchovies, parsley, breadcrumbs and sautéed vegetables. Place the eggplant flesh in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Pat dry with a paper towel. This removes excess liquid from the eggplant and makes the filling less soggy. Add the eggplant to the mix and salt and pepper to taste. Add 3 Tbs. of parmesan cheese, mix well and add filling to the eggplant shells. Lightly press the filling and create small mounds in the shells if needs be.

Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese and bake for 45 minutes or until browned.

Serve with brown rice.

Chicken-stuffed Eggplant | Alaska Knit Nat

Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal

I’m trying to eat more healthily these days and thanks to Quaker Oatmeal’s relentless heart-healthy advertising campaigns I am pretty sure oatmeal is on the good-foods list.

I tire of oatmeal. It’s texture and flavor rarely vary and since I don’t own a microwave these days (only because mine broke), oatmeal makes for a crusty, annoying pot to clean every morning.

So, I decided to try out the healthy hipster refrigerated oatmeal trend. Look it up on Pinterest and you’ll find endless recipes for this dish, beautifully displayed in glimmering Mason jars. I used a plastic Rubbermaid container, but what I discovered was a simple way to prepare breakfast that was creamy, tasty and healthy. It doesn’t have the same texture as traditional oatmeal, but I was surprised how soft the oats became and how much liquid they ended up absorbing.

Feel free to substitute whatever milkish liquid you prefer, but I went with good ol’ milk.

Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal | Alaska Knit Nat -- a super simple way to have a unique, healthy breakfast.

Overnight Refrigerated Oatmeal

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not the quick-cook kind)

2/3 cup milk

1 single-serving container of Chobani greek yogurt, flavor of your choice.

Agave nectar or honey to taste

Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal | Alaska Knit Nat -- a super simple way to have a unique, healthy breakfast.

Directions:

In a container combine the oats, milk and yogurt. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, stir in sweetener of your choice and any other toppings you like such as cinnamon, bananas or berries. Healthy yum!

What is your favorite way to prepare oatmeal? Leave me a comment!

-Natasha

Creamy Potato Salad

We’ve been having an unusually sunny and warm May, which means it’s time for BBQ food. No BBQ is complete without creamy potato salad. This recipe was inspired by one from Cook’s Country Magazine where they incorporate an egg yolk into the dressing. I’m not usually a fan of hard-boiled eggs mingling with my potato salad, but this time it turned out surprisingly well.

I know everyone has a “method” to cooking perfect hard-boiled eggs. My method is to cover the eggs with cold water and pour in a couple of teaspoons of baking soda. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and boil for 11 minutes. Then immediately drain and cover with icy cold water. Not only are the yolks perfectly cooked, but the eggs peel easily too.

Creamy Potato Salad | Alaska Knit Nat

Creamy Potato Salad

Serves 4

3 medium yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 hard-boiled eggs, one yolk reserved

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. agave nectar or honey

1/2 a celery rib, minced

2 green onions, minced

2 pickles, diced

1/4 cup greek yogurt

2 Tbs. mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Toss your diced potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Add a couple of pinches of salt, cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer till potatoes are just tender — about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, agave nectar, and the yolk from one egg. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a bowl. Pour over half the dressing and gently toss to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Add the remaining eggs to the remaining dressing and thoroughly mash till the egg whites are small chunks. Add the celery, green onions, pickles, yogurt and mayo. Once the potatoes are cooled, add the remaining dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer your salad even creamier, add a little more mayo.

If you’re looking for a healthier potato salad, why not try this tasty recipe I made with red potatoes? Click on the photo for the recipe:

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Low-guilt Nachos

I love me some junk food and nachos are near the top of the list. They are quick, cheap and can pile on the calories if you’re not careful. I like to justify mowing down on nachos by using healthier ingredients.

Here’s what I had for dinner:

Low-guilt Nachos | Alaska Knit Nat

And here’s how I made them.

 

Low-guilt Nachos

Serves 1 hungry person

Ingredients:

A few handfuls of Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips

1/2 cup low-fat grated cheddar cheese

2 green onions, chopped

1 Tbs. Neufchâtel cheese

1/2 of an avocado

1 Tbs. low-fat sour cream

2 Tbs. salsa

Chopped cilantro

Low-guilt Nachos | Alaska Knit Nat

Here’s my no-brainer secret to making perfect nachos in the oven — bake them, don’t broil them. Broiling sometimes burns the chips before the cheese has melted. So, preheat an oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the chips on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top with green onions and cheddar. Dot the Neufchâtel all around the chips. Bake for about 7 minutes, or until the cheddar is gooey.

Remove from oven and top with sour cream, avocado, salsa and cilantro.

This is just a guideline, of course. You can add whatever toppings you like. Jalapeños, black beans, chicken, tofu — the world is your nacho!

If you’re in the mood for a fiesta, try some of my other recipes, such as:

Chicken Taquitos with Spinach & Wild Rice
Chicken Taquitos with Spinach & Wild Rice
Guacamole à la Moña
Guacamole à la Moña

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

Braised Red Cabbage

Around my birthday last month I went to the garage to find something in the chest freezer only to see it full of Omaha Steak Company boxes. Turns out my mother-in-law sent us five meaty meals to cook up with very little prep. One hunk of meat was corned beef brisket. Mmm…corned beef with mustard and cabbage.

I prefer red cabbage not only for its vibrant color, but it’s packed with tons more vitamin A than green. I once had Thanksgiving with a Hungarian guest. She brought a red cabbage dish that was tangy and sweet. She said it was a traditional recipe in her country.

I never got the recipe, but I decided to use Bon Appétit’s as a guideline. The dish was tender, tangy and sweet, just as I anticipated. The julienned granny smith apple rounds out the flavors. This braised red cabbage went perfectly with our corned beef and mashed potatoes.

Braised Red Cabbage | Alaska Knit Nat

Braised Red Cabbage

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Braised Red Cabbage | Alaska Knit Nat

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 head red cabbage, cored and sliced

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/4 tsp. allspice

2 tsp. sugar

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

1 granny smith apple, cut into matchsticks

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Heat olive oil over medium-high flame in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook till onions are soft and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the cabbage, salt, pepper, allspice, and sugar and toss to evenly coat with oil. Cook till cabbage is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, cover and turn down the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the apples and vinegar, recover and simmer another 15 minutes.

Braised Red Cabbage | Alaska Knit Nat