December 24, 2010

Chicken Etouffe and Mulled Cider

Merry Christmas!  This was our Christmas Eve dinner, thanks to The Husband for finding the cookbook.  Usually you expect Shrimp Etouffe, but I am not a shrimp fan, so chicken it is.


Brown Sauce

2 c beef stock
Burgundy wine to taste
Beef base
brown roux (flour, butter/margarine blend)

Combine first three ingredients in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 30-60 minutes.  While this is simmering, make the roux by melting 1 c of the butter blend and adding 1 c of flour to the melted butter.  Whisk constantly to ensure that the roux doesn't burn.  If the roux burns, throw it out and start over.  Continue whisking and cooking the butter and flour (adding more flour as needed) until the roux darkens to a reddish milk-chocolate color.  At this point, remove roux from heat and continue to stir.  Add a little bit of stock to the roux to help cool it down (be careful!).  Remove stock from burner and begin whisking in the roux until the sauce thickens, a little at a time.  Adjust consistency with more roux or more wine.  Simmer for another hour to blend flavors.


1/4 c butter
1 T garlic
1/2 T parsley
1 c diced celery
1 c green onions
1 c chicken stock
1 c diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 t hot pepper sauce
2 t thyme
2 T garlic
black pepper
1 c brown sauce
1 chicken breast, cut into slices

Melt butter with garlic and parsley.  Add in celery and onions and simmer until celery is half cooked.  Add stock, tomatoes, bay leaves, hot pepper sauce, thyme, garlic, and pepper and reduce heat to simmer until sauce thickens.  Remove bay leaves and add brown sauce.

Meanwhile, brown the chicken in a skillet with salt and pepper.  Add to the sauce and cook until chicken is done.

Serve over rice.

Mulled Cider

In a crockpot, combine cider with 2 sticks cinnamon, 1/4 c cranberries, 1 orange (sliced and studded with cloves), and a dash of ginger and cayenne.  Cook on low for several hours.

December 20, 2010

Cuban Pork

Every year our school hosts a "Multicultural Day."  This is basically an excuse for the kids to wear something other than their uniforms and for lots of food to be eaten.  Each classroom holds their own luncheon, with food brought in by students.  Since I am not a classroom teacher, I get to wander around and sample all the food.  This year, the best dish by far was the Cuban pork.  I had to try my hand at it!  This takes a few days, but the active prep is very short.  I got the basic recipe from Foodie with Family.  I'm not sold on the sauce, but it's a good start!


1 pork butt 
olive oil 
1 T black pepper
1 T cumin
1 T oregano
2 t salt
1 t crushed red pepper
8 garlic cloves
1/3 c lime juice
1/2 c orange juice

Drizzle the pork with the oil.  Place in crockpot, fat side up.  Toss everything else in, put the lid on, and cook on high for an hour.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 12-14 hours (this is great to do overnight).  Once it is done cooking, remove the crockpot insert and refrigerate for several hours - DON'T SKIP THIS STEP.

After 6-8 hours in the fridge, pull out the crockpot.  The fat should have congealed, remove as much of this as you can and discard.  Place the pork on a cutting board (careful, it's ready to fall apart!) and strain the juices into a sauce pan.

Add to the juices a little lime juice (2 T), a dash of garlic, mustard powder, and crushed red peppers.  Simmer until it has reduced by half to 2/3s.

While the sauce is reducing, shred the pork using your fingers or two forks.  You will find a lot more fat - discard as much of this as you can without wasting meat.  Seriously, I had almost two cups of the stuff!

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spread the shredded pork in an oven-safe container.  Pour the reduced sauce over and cover with a lid or tinfoil.  Heat for 30-40 minutes.

The Cat appreciates the pork!

December 5, 2010

Beer Batter Bonanza

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  Ours was tons of fun.  I didn't do anything this year that I haven't already posted, so you'll have to forgive me for forgetting to take pictures.  Instead, I have other delicious things for you.

I was having sort of a bad day the other day, so I decided to fry some food.  I used this beer batter for halibut, jalapeno peppers, and french fries.  It's absolutely fantastic!  Make sure your oil is at the right temperature, though, and don't overload your pot, no matter how tempting it is!  Also, if your husband decides that it would be a good idea to cool down the hot oil by throwing ice cubes in it, DO NOT LET HIM.  Trust me.


1/4 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 egg
1/2 bottle beer (drink the other half!)
seasoned flour (salt and pepper, plus any other herbs you'd like.  Oregano is good, as is cayenne.)

Mix all but the seasoned flour together.  The batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream - use the beer to adjust the consistency.

For french fries, after cutting the potato, store them in water to keep them from discoloring.  Halibut is great in bite sized chunks or longer strips.  Jalapenos should be sliced into coins.

Heat oil to 350.  Dip halibut and jalapenos into flour, then coat with batter and carefully place in the oil.  French fries can just be dipped right into the batter.  Cook approximately 2 minutes on a side.

November 14, 2010

Smoked Turkey

As we will be hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, I wanted to do a test run on the Turkey before the big day!  As usual, the Traeger fills anything it touches with magic!  I'll be using the bones and bits here to make stock for the brine and gravy prior to Thanksgiving.  But first, I get to eat a lot of turkey!


1 pound of kosher salt (weigh it, not all salts weight the same)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 quarts chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
1 bag New Orleans Crab Boil
1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger
1 ½ gallon heavily iced water

Combine everything but the water in a pot.  Boil until salt and sugar are well dissolved.  Refrigerate overnight.  12-24 hours prior to cooking, put the brine into a bucket with the iced water and the turkey.

Day Of Cooking


1 red apple, cored, sliced in 1/8ths
1 medium onion, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
1 clove garlic
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage

Heat the grill on high for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, remove turkey from brine and discard brine.  Pat turkey dry and place on roasting rack.  Rub with olive oil, then with your favorite poultry rub.

Combine the aromatics in a bowl and microwave 5 minutes.  Stuff the aromatics into the cavity.

Put the bird on the grill, lowering the temperature to smoke.  Smoke for at least 5 hours, then at 300 until the breast reaches 170.

November 7, 2010

Smoked Tomato Soup

I used to think that I hated tomato soup.  Whenever we had tomato soup for soup night as a kid, I would make my mom make me a small pot of chicken and noodle.  Everyone else could eat that icky tomato stuff, but not me!

Then I had a revelation at Campobello.  I do not hate tomato soup.  I hate Campbells tomato soup!  REAL tomato soup is actually quite good.  Since it is quite good, I must try to make it better.  How does one make something better?  One smokes it on the Traeger.


1 lb tomatoes
1 dozen grape tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
1/2 onion
crushed red pepper
1 pint chicken stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
4 T gorgonzola crumbles
heavy cream

First, slice and core the tomatoes.  Place them in a pan with the garlic and onion.  Sprinkle with red pepper and smoke until tender.  Remove tomato skins.

Place vegetables in a pot with the stock, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.  Simmer 30 minutes, then carefully puree.  Stir in the gorgonzola and put the whole pot on the smoker for 1-2 hours until thickened.  Remove and stir in heavy cream to taste.  Enjoy!

November 3, 2010

Smoked Chex Mix

"What did you do to it?  Did you like... cook it in bacon fat?!  It's SO GOOD!"
- My boss

Chex mix was a constant during my childhood.  We'd make a giant batch for the holidays, or before any long road trips.  Well, my friends, with the traeger and a bit of cayenne, I have brought chex mix to a whole new level of deliciousness.  And it doesn't even involve bacon (though I'm sure that would be tasty).

Some of you are probably saying "But Heather, that picture isn't chex mix!  It's just chex!"

You are correct.  But guess what?  I'm a grown up and I can make my chex mix however I want!  And I don't actually like all the nuts and pretzels, so unless I'm making it for other people, it's just chex.  Your mileage may vary.


9 c chex (corn, rice, wheat, whatever)
1 c mixed nuts
1 c pretzel bites

6 T butter
3 T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 t seasoned salt
3/4 t garlic and wine seasoning
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t cayenne

Melt the butter and stir in the Worcestershire and seasonings.  Place the chex, nuts, and pretzels in a large pan.  Pour the sauce over and stir until evenly coated.  Cook on smoke for 1 hour and medium for 1 hour, stirring every 30 minutes during smoke and 15 during medium.  I used a mix of alder and apple pellets.

Spread out on towels to dry.  Enjoy!

Caramel Apple-Cranberry Gingerbread

Excuse the horrible picture.  I'm using the little point and shoot and it came out bad so I had to fudge it a bit, but it was too tasty not to post!  Thanks to Bay Area Bites for the idea!

Tip: if your apple slices are too big, a round cookie cutter will fix them!


Gingerbread - use a mix or mix your own!

1 apple, minced
a dozen cranberries, minced

1 dozen apple slices

2 T butter
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 dozen cranberries

Mix up your gingerbread.  Stir in the minced apples and cranberries.  Grease or line your muffin tins and preheat the oven.  Fill the muffin tins.  DO NOT OVERFILL!

In a skillet, melt the butter.  Add in the brown sugar and cranberries, stirring until a caramel is formed.  Dip each apple slice in the caramel, then lay on top of each muffin.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean!

Butternut Squash Soup

I'm just getting into this whole squash thing.  I've never had butternut squash soup before, but it sounded good and it is!


1 butternut squash, sliced and quartered
1 sliced apple

1 pint chicken stock

2 cloves garlic
1/4 c onion
2 stalks celery, sliced

1 can garbanzo beans, pureed

Salt, pepper, oregano, cayenne

Shredded mozzarella or cheddar

Preheat oven to 350.  Roast the squash, apple, and carrots until tender.  Peel and slice the squash, then add it to a pot with the apples, carrots, garlic, onion, celery, and 1/2 c chicken stock.  Simmer until everything is soft.  Transfer to food processor and puree.  Return to pot with the rest of the stock, pureed beans, and season to taste.  Add the cheese to taste.  Simmer until it reaches the desired consistency.

October 27, 2010

Smoked Salmon Dip

Since we now have a smoker, I figured it's a must to make some smoked salmon, right?  And after you've smoked some salmon, what better than some salmon dip?  I tried my best to replicate Moose Tooth's recipe.  It's not perfect, but it's still darned good.  The dip was a total hit at work!


1/2 fillet smoked salmon, shredded
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T onion, minced
2 t dill
salt and pepper to taste
dash cayenne

Combine all ingredients.  Serve with sliced baguette, crackers, or veggies!

October 17, 2010

Apple Crisp Cupcakes

A while back I was complaining about how we can't go apple picking up here and how difficult it is to find good apples.  My mom, being a most excellent mother, went out to an apple stand and mailed me a box full of crunchy, fruity goodness.  In fact, she mailed me so many that I could scarcely eat them all!  I need another use for apples.  I considered a pie, but didn't feel like making a crust.  So, apple crisp cupcakes it was!


Two apples, diced
1 T butter
cinnamon and sugar to taste

1 c sugar
1/2 c melted butter, cooled to room temperature
2 eggs
3/4 t vanilla

1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder

2/3 c milk

1/2 c brown sugar
3 T butter, room temperature
1 t cinnamon
1/4 c oats

To start, make the filling.  Combine apples, butter, cinnamon and sugar in a small saucepan.  Simmer over medium heat until the apple soften and the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, cream the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, mix the flour and baking powder.  Slowly add the flour mix to the sugar mix, alternating with the milk.  Blend well.

Grease your muffin tin, or use liners.  Put one small scoop of batter into each cup, just enough to cover the bottom.  Spoon in some of the apple mixture, then top with more batter.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and oats until they are well mixed.  Sprinkle atop the cupcakes.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

October 16, 2010

Halibut with Peach-Pear salsa, Roasted Pear Salad with Peach Vinaigrette

Hurray!  The photo uploader is working again!  I can continue to share my deliciousness with you!

This is a fantastic dish, tasty and healthy, full of fruits and veggies.  As a bonus, it's really easy to do.  I wanted to do a macadamia crusted 'but for this one, but it's really hard to find macadamia nuts in Alaska.  Go figure.


1 halibut fillet, cut into quarters
1 c seasoned bread crumbs (just add some salt and pepper!)
1/4 c diced onion
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1 pear, diced
1 peach, diced

baby spinach
roasted walnuts
dried cranberries
1 pear, sliced

3/4 c EVOO
1/4 c vinegar (changing the type of vinegar changes the final product... experiment!)
2 T peach preserves or pureed peaches

First, prepare the salsa.  Mix the onion, jalapeno, pear and peach together in a bowl.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Second, the vinaigrette.  Oil and vinegar do not want to mix, as you will see.  I like shaking them together in an old water bottle to force the mixing.  Blend in the preserves as well.

Now, preheat the oven to 350.  Take the halibut pieces and dip them first into the vinaigrette, then coat them in bread crumbs.  Bake until flaky, approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness.  While they are baking, sprinkle the pear slices with vinaigrette and roast in the oven.

While the fish is cooking, mix the spinach, cranberries and walnuts together.

To serve, place a bed of salad on the plate along with a few slices of roasted pear.  Top with halibut, drizzle with vinaigrette, and top with salsa.  Enjoy!

September 30, 2010

Eggplant Caponata

 Burger with eggplant caponata and mozzarella

Dear Blog, I have been neglecting you dreadfully!  I apologize!

You see, Fall is my favorite time of year, but also the busiest.  School has started up, hunting season is in full swing, and college football is rolling again.  Between all of that and my annual fall head-cold, I have been failing in my duties as a blogger.  But no more!  Today, I shall gift you with eggplanty deliciousness!

Earlier in September, two of our friends came up to Alaska to accompany us on our week-long hunting adventure.  We didn't get a caribou, but we did get a bunch of ptarmigan, which were quite tasty.  But I digress.  The day before we left, Stacey made this amazing dish for us.  I'd never had eggplant before, but I was hooked.  This stuff is good on anything!  Toasted bread, as a "salsa" for tortilla chips, and on a burger with fresh mozzarella.  Yummy!

Now, for some strange reason, blogger has changed their photo uploader thingy, and I can't figure out how to work it!  So, picture later.

Note: this recipe yields a TON, even after reducing the eggplant from the 2 called for in the original recipe


1 large onion, diced
1 medium eggplants, diced
4 large cloves of garlic
Water, as much as needed
4 plum tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Ground pepper
1 baguette, sliced and toasted

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, add the onions, garlic, eggplant and 1 cup of water on high heat, along with plenty of salt and pepper. Cook until the eggplant has softened, adding more water when necessary so the mixture doesn’t dry out. When the eggplant has absorbed enough water to be soft and well-cooked, add the tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, along with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 10 more minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, and then serve with the toasted baguette slices.

August 15, 2010

Red Wine Reindeer

I thought I wouldn't be able to post a recipe like this until after the hunt in September!  Yesterday I took a Becoming an Outdoorswoman class on field dressing.  Basically I spent the day with a bunch of other women field dressing a bull and cow elk.  After the class, the instructor gave us some reindeer steaks and ground reindeer from the animals the class before us did!

The steaks spent 24 hours marinading in red wine and garlic.  While the steaks warmed to room temperature, I reduced the marinade with some more garlic, onion, and red pepper.  Then they went to the grill, about five minutes on each side, basted with the reduced marinade.  Fantastic!

August 9, 2010

Baby Got Back!

 Baby got a Traeger grill, too - finally!  My little Traeger Jr. was delivered yesterday evening, and I promptly set out on a cooking adventure today!  Traegers are pellet grills - they smoke, they grill, and they bake.  Jack of all trades!

For my first Traeger adventure, I went with the classic baby back ribs, with a Cajun twist.

Step 1: Soak the ribs in beer for an hour, turning half way through.

Step 2: Get the smoker going.  I used apple pellets.  Rub the ribs with Cajun seasoning and smoke for 1 hour 45 minutes.

Step 3: In a saucepan, blend your favorite BBQ sauce with some Cajun seasoning and garlic.  Set aside.

Step 4:  Brush the ribs with the BBQ sauce.  Wrap in tinfoil with a little beer.  Return to grill over medium (225-275) heat for another hour and 45 minutes.

Step 5:  Remove ribs from foil.  Grill an additional hour.

July 29, 2010

Fireweed Custard

This time of year, fireweed is everywhere.  It's a gorgeous plant, one of my favorites.  As it turns out, it's perfectly edible as well.  Pretty flowers, edible... I had to get in on this game.  I've got a few more things to experiment with, but the first thing I did was a fireweed custard.  I adapted the recipe from the fireweed ice cream recipe at livefromalaska.
I gathered my fireweed from Arctic Valley.  I didn't really know how much I needed, so I just picked several dozen stems.  Now, the custard recipe calls for petals only, so once I'd laboriously de-flowered my flowers I ended up with about three quarters of a cup.
Next, I added the cleaned petals to 1/4 sugar and processed them for a few seconds.
The resulting mixture was a rather gorgeous purple, instead of the magenta of the petals.  I added this mixture to 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup skim milk and 1 tablespoon of honey.  Over medium heat, I kept stirring until the sugar was fully dissolved, then removed to cool.  Meanwhile, I whipped up an egg yolk, then carefully stirred the egg into the cream mixture.  This was then returned to heat, just long enough to thicken, and finally, refrigerated.

Somewhere along the way I lost the nice purple color, but I tried to get it back with some judicious food coloring.
I served this custard layered with chocolate cake.  I wasn't sure how the flavors would work together, so I used a less-chocolatey chocolate cake, but actually I think it would have been even better with a dark chocolate cake - just a hint of bitterness to accentuate the sweetness of the fireweed custard.  The custard cake still won rave reviews from the family, though!

July 12, 2010

Simply Silver

I apologize for the poor quality of the picture, but it was late, I was hungry, and all I had was our little "boat camera."

Anyway, if you've never fished before, here is the best reason to start: fresh fish.  And by fresh I mean "swimming around just a few hours ago, straight from the fillet knife to the grill" fresh.

We'd just spent the day out in Resurrection Bay and beyond, fishing for halibut and coho.  Then we spend a while cleaning our catch and we were exhausted, but one bite of this and we came back to life.  Seriously, it tasted like king crab.  I swear it did.  Best salmon I've had in my life.  And as an added bonus, easy-peasy to make.

After you catch it, that is!

1 fresh salmon fillet, skin on

Sprinkle the flesh side with salt and pepper.  Place skin side down on the grill.  Cook until flesh flakes nicely with a fork.


July 1, 2010

Teriyaki Salmon and Pineapple-Chili Halibut

The Husband's uncle and girlfriend were in town, so we made some inroads on our remaining fish and had a great big seafood extravaganza - necessary, since we're going out fishing again in less than two weeks.  I opened up with white wine clams, then had these two dishes as entrees as well as some king crab legs.  Fantastique!

Thanks to Ed's Kasilof Seafoods for the ideas!

Teriyaki Salmon

Salmon fillets
1/4 c brown sugar
3 T olive oil
3 T soy sauce
1 t garlic powder
1 t ginger
1/2 t cayenne

Blend all but the salmon in a plastic bag.  Add the salmon and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Flip over and refrigerate another 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Pineapple-Chili Halibut

1 halibut fillet, cubed
1 cup sweet chili sauce
1 small can crushed pineapple
1/4 c olive oil
juice from 2 limes
1/2 c rice vinegar
2 t cayenne

Blend all but the halibut in a plastic bag.  Add halibut and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning halfway through.  Bake at 350 until cooked through and flaky, about 8 minutes.  Alternatively, skewer and grill!

Shortcake Roll

This is a great dessert that I got from a coworker a year or so ago.  I tried to make it last summer, but I made the mistake of leaving it on the counter to cool while I ran some errands - who would have thought that cats liked angel food cake?  Mine apparently does!

Use any fruits you'd like for this roll.  The chocolate topping is optional, but my husband's side of the family doesn't consider anything dessert unless it has chocolate in it!

1 package angel food cake
2-3 cups sliced strawberries (or other fruit!)
2 c whipping cream
2 t vanilla
2 T powdered sugar
powdered sugar for dusting
chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a large rectangular pan (I use the 18x15 disposable oven trays... it needs to be big!).  Mix the angel food cake according to package directions.  Pour onto pan and spread evenly over the whole pan.  Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Sprinkle a cotton towel with powdered sugar.  Place the cake onto the towel.  Remove the pan and roll the cake up in the towel.  Cool on a rack while rolled up.

In a large bowl, combine the whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Whip with a mixer until light and fluffy.

Carefully unroll the cake.  Spread with whipped cream and top with berries, then roll it back up.

Top with powdered sugar or melt chocolate chips and drizzle over top.

June 15, 2010

Garlic-Rosemary Chicken

I used to be afraid of whole chickens.

Now, I am not.  Now, I am a believer in the amazing deliciousness and cost effectiveness of whole chickens.  If you use the carcass for stock, as I do, it's way cheaper than buying breasts or whatever.  Sometimes I'll butcher the chicken and sometimes, like this one, I will roast it whole.  The Husband is quite partial to a roasted chicken!  It's super easy, too!


1 chicken
4-6 T melted butter
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t rosemary

Preheat oven to 425.

Clean out the chicken under cool water.  Remove any remaining giblets and pat dry.  Place on a roasting rack.

Mix melted butter, garlic, and rosemary.

Rub the butter mixture all over the chicken - rub some inside it, too!

Bake for approximately 1 hour.

June 3, 2010

Backpacking Menu 6/5-6/7

We're going backpacking this weekend down by Hope, and I figured I'd post our weekend menu and some recipes.  I've got quite an assortment here, making good use of my dehydrator which has already paid for itself.

Each day has a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three snacks since we'll be putting in significant mileage during the day.


Breakfast - at home
Lunch - Subway, since we won't have to haul it very far!
Dinner - Spaghetti (dried noodles, dehydrated sauce)
Snack - home-made trail mix
Snack -fruit (fresh)
Snack - oreos


Breakfast - cereal with dried milk
Lunch - PB&J for him, tuna salad for me
Dinner - Beef stew (beef and veggies dehydrated at home, stew mix from the store)
Snack - peanut butter/cranberry roll-ups
Snack - fruit leather
Snack - oreos


Breakfast - oatmeal
Lunch - same as Sunday
Dinner - home!
Snack - fruit leather
Snack - home-made trail mix

Now, for the recipes, since that's what this blog is all about!

Trail Mix

This one is easy and entirely customizable.  Here's what I throw into mine:

1. Nuts.  Just buy whatever kinds you like at the store.  I don't like them much, so I buy tiny ones like peanuts and slivered almonds.

2. Fruits.  You can buy dried fruits or dehydrate your own.  I've found that dehydrated strawberries are a HUGE hit, as are dehydrated apples.  I slice the strawberries, and dice the apples as small as possible.  Craisens I just get from the store.

3. Granola crunch.  Because we all need that crunch!  Mix up some granola, applesauce, and spices (salt is quite tasty, actually) in a bowl.  Add some nuts if you want.  Spread thin on a sheet and bake until hard and crispy.  Break into small chunks and toss in the bag!

4. Chocolate.  You can't have trail mix without it!  I like peanut-butter M&Ms, the hubby goes for regular.

Throw everything into a bag and you are good to go!

Peanut-butter Cranberry Roll-ups

I feel guilty even calling this a recipe.  Get the tiny flour tortillas from the store.  Spread with peanutbutter and craisens.  Roll up tightly and seal in a bag.  Easy snack that won't go bad for a few days hike!  High in protein, too!

Leathers and Dehydrated Sauces

I've talked about this before so I'll be brief.  The same idea that works for fruit leather (puree, spread, dry) works for sauces, too.  If you've got a chunky tomato sauce, it's probably a good idea to run it through the processor for a moment to smooth it out.  Otherwise, spread it out, dry, roll up, and you're good to go.  Just toss it into the pot with the pasta and the water!

I'm making four different fruit leathers for this weekend - strawberry/raspberry, strawberry/apple, peach/cinnamon, and mixed fruit.

Dehydrated Beef Stew

Not as hard as it seems.  Take your stew beef, trim off all the fat.  Simmer for an hour or so, until cooked through.  Dehydrated at around 145 for 6 hours or so, until hard.

Dice up all of your veggies.  Dehydrate at 130, 145 for onions.  Toss in a bag with the beef.

If you need more calories, throw some rice or quinoa in as well.

Take a packet of stew seasoning or bouillon cube with you - toss the seasoning, meats, veggies and all into a pot of water, and cook away!

April 24, 2010

Zesty, Fruity Ham and Asparagus Bake

Here's another of my somewhat random "throw things into a pot and see how they taste" last minute meals.  And it is fantastic!  It does not get simpler than this, but still packs quite a punch (both taste-wise and heat-wise).  It's colorful, too!  If you like less spice, simply use a different type of tomato.


4 slices ham, diced
1 can diced pineapple
1 small can diced habenero tomatoes
1 bunch asparagus, diced

Combine all ingredients in a tinfoil pouch.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350.

April 23, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers because it's a great way to get some veggies in and it's never the same twice - at least, the way I make it!  A little of this, a little of that, and tadaa!

To begin, select your pepper.  Red ones are sweeter than green ones, but up here I mostly just take whichever ones look less nasty.  We don't get good fresh veggies at the commissary!  Wash and remove the guts, then set aside.

Preheat the oven to about 350.

If you want a carnivorous pepper, the next step is to brown off your meat.  I used ground beef for this, but anything would work.  Once the meat is cooked, add in some aromatics.  This time I used onions and garlic.  I almost threw some basil in, but forgot about it.  Dice up some veggies and toss them in as well (I used zucchini and yellow squash).  Let the veggies cook a bit, then get the pot simmering with a big of liquid.  You don't need much - a bit of red sauce, or some canned diced tomatoes (habenero for a kick!).  Simmer to reduce a bit, then spoon the mix into the peppers and bake about 30 minutes, or until the flesh of the pepper is tender.

You can add a starch to this as well, rice or quinoa or whatever your favorite is.  I found that this time around I didn't need any, since I had the meat and tons of veggies.  If I was going vegetarian, I'd probably sub some quinoa for the beef.

April 10, 2010

Fruit Leather

Or, as my friend has named it, Heather-Leather.

Essentially, fruit leather is a fruit roll-up. But minus all that crap that you don't want!  This is a very basic, easily customizable recipe. Today was my first time making it. As it turned out, I made the error of spreading it too thin. However, it's still amazingly tasty!

I used 1/2 strawberries for this, with honeydew and kiwi to round it out.  As soon as the weekend market opens, I'm going to get some of those fat white peaches and make cinnamon peach leather!

As a note, most fruit can be pureed simply by running it through a food processor. A few, such as rosehips, require boiling to reduce them to puree.


2 c pureed fruit
1-3 T honey
Spices to taste

Mix the honey, puree, and spices together.  Line a baking pan with microwave safe plastic wrap and set your oven as low as it will go (under 200!).  Spread the mixture onto the plastic wrap, 1/4 to 1/8 thick - don't spread too thin!

Place in oven.  Do not close oven door all the way!  Dry for 4-8 hours, depending on your fruit, humidity, and oven.  Leather is done when it can be peeled from the plastic while maintaining its shape.

Roll up in the plastic wrap.  Store in the refrigerator.

March 27, 2010

White Wine and Cheddar Shells

Sometimes my randomly thrown-together meals work out even better than my well-thought out, planned experiments. This is one such. Last night I just pulled whatever I had out of the pantry and came up with this beauty. It's not hard and it's relatively quick to make. I don't have specific measurements - adjust the proportions according to how many servings you need.


Pasta shells
1 T butter
1 T flour
Pino Grigio or Chardonnay
grated rosemary cheddar (or regular cheddar)
diced ham
baby spinach, coarsely chopped
garlic and wine seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350. Boil the pasta until just al dente - drain and set aside in an oven-safe pan. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once it is frothy, stir in the flour. After the mixture blends smoothly, add a small amount of wine. Melt about 1/2 the cheddar into the wine mixture, adding more wine if needed to produce a thick but still liquid and silky texture. Pour the sauce over the pasta, adding the ham and spinach and stir to thoroughly coat the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the garlic and wine seasoning on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese browns and bubbles.

March 26, 2010

Chewy, Fruity Granola Bars

I hate eating breakfast. I always have. I just cannot eat right after getting up - it makes me feel horrible. Conversely, neither can I make it through a morning teaching small children without eating. Therefore, granola bars and the like have been my solution for years. This was fine until I started thinking more about what I eat and reading ingredient lists. After crossing off brand after brand due to ingredients or nutrition information, I was left with exactly one kind of granola bar regularly stocked at the commissary that met my criteria. And let me tell you - eating one thing every morning for breakfast gets old fast. So I got this recipe from SmittenKitchen and adapted it a bit to my tastes. That's the great thing about granola bars - you can put whatever you want in them!

For my first batch, I used mostly dried mango and pineapple, with coconut and slivered pecans. I also threw in some craisens for color and a few chocolate chips to satisfy my sweet tooth. If you're in the mood for peanut butter, throw 1/3 c into the mix.

Edit, April 24 2010:  I've begun to substitute 3-4 tablespoons of butter with applesauce.  I haven't tried subbing all of the butter for applesauce yet, but I've noticed that subbing about half yields much softer bars, and tastier too, I think!


1 2/3 c quick rolled oats
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/3 c oat flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts
6 T melted butter
1/4 c + 2 T honey
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment, mist with spray oil. Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Press the granola into the pan evenly and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Candied Mango

I've been on a bit of a mango kick ever since Guam. Unfortunately, it's hard to get good mangoes up here. I bought a not-so-good one though, and have been playing around with it. I mentioned in my Proa review that we had a fantastic candied pineapple in Guam. So I figured I'd try something similar with my mango. The result isn't perfect, but is tasty!


1/2 mango, sliced evenly
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 350. Layer the mango in a pan with the brown sugar. Dot with butter and bake for 45 minutes.

Cheesy Halibut Spread

I'm still trying to work my way through the 48lbs of halibut my friend and I came home with last summer. I think I've come far enough that the fish is (almost) confined to one shelf in the freezer! Of course, that means I still have over 20lbs to go. Anyway, I got the bones of this recipe from Kasilof Seafoods. This would make a nice little appetizer, served on baguette rounds. I had mine on the marbled rye I made for the BBA challenge.


1/4 lb cooked, shredded halibut
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 pearl onion, diced
1 handful baby spinach, diced
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 T mayonnaise
Several small pieces of sliced bread
garlic, salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the halibut, pepper, onion and spinach together with half the cheese. Stir in just enough mayo to reach your preferred consistency. Add seasoning to taste. Spoon the spread onto the bread, topping with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and browned. Serve warm.

March 19, 2010


Hafa Adai! Here's my second-ever restaurant review!

We met up with our coworkers (I say our, because one of my coworkers is married to one of his, which is why we were all in Guam at the same time, but I digress...) at Proa one night for dinner. Proa is a fairly new establishment, I understand, but the joint is hopping. Don't expect to get in without a reservation. In fact, despite calling several days in advance, we only got our reservations by convincing them to seat us in the front room, which is technically part of the bakery!

I only have one bad thing to say about Proa, and that is that the kitchen is incredibly slow. Of course, it's also incredibly tiny, so I suppose that's something of an explanation. Still, that flaw was tiny enough that we didn't think twice about coming right back the next night!

Now, onto the plusses. The first night I had the special, which was a prime rib. The meat was pretty good, but the real winner was the gravy and the whipped potatoes. I rarely eat potatoes at restaurants (I'm picky, yes), but these were amazing! The cornish hen I had the next time was a bit dry, but again the sauces really stood out. The Husband had a rib-eye, which he loved. Even better than the steak though was the candied pineapple on top, which I am dying to recreate!

If you don't want to deal with the slow kitchen, order one of their hibachi meats. They make these in bulk on the grill and always have some ready. The Husband got a platter - and I do mean platter - the first night. Delicious!

While the food was great, the desserts were simply to die for. They have a dessert menu, but don't limit yourself. There are daily specials filling the display case up front, too! The sampler plate is a nice choice. It includes two chocolate chip cookies (mediocre), chocolate-wasabi cheesecake (good), banana fritter (fantastic!), and mango panna cotta (the best!). The next night, The Husband got the Mint Bailey's Mousse, which he proclaimed the winner. I disagreed, thinking that my spiced apple cheesecake was even tastier.

So, the bottom line is - if you are ever in Guam, go to Proa. Probably several times. And maybe get some dessert take-out too.

March 17, 2010

Blackened Mahi-mahi Lettuce Wraps with Mango-Peach Salsa

It's been quiet on the cooking front, but that's because I've spent the past week or so on vacation, visiting The Husband in Guam. Never fear, though! I did not spend my entire time lying on the beach sipping umbrella drinks. I actually did some cooking! I wasn't planning to at first, but The Husband has a full kitchen and I realized that there was actually fresh fruit available, not to mention freshly caught fish... yeah, I got the bug. We picked up the mahi from the fishermen's co-op, then grabbed some fresh fruit and other produce and I began to mess around. I'm very pleased at how this came out - deliciously light and fresh, a perfect dinner for a hot day.


1 mahi-mahi fillet, approximately 7 oz
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 mango, cubed
1 peach, coarsely chopped
1/4 red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 head iceberg lettuce
dry white wine
seasoning salt
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Remove any bones from the fish fillet. Rub both sides with salt, pepper and seasoning salt. Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet. Sear the mahi in the skillet, approximately 45 seconds on each side. Transfer to a tinfoil pouch and cover with a few tablespoons of wine. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, combine the bell pepper, mango, peach, onion and jalapeno in a bowl. De-glaze the skillet with a few tablespoons of wine and pour over the salsa, stirring well.

When the fish is done, cut it into bite-sized pieces and gently mix it into the salsa. Spoon onto lettuce leaves, using the leaf like a tortilla. Enjoy!

February 23, 2010

Mini Cheesecakes

During my retail therapy expedition to the kitchen store, I also picked up a mini cheesecake pan that I've been drooling over for some time. Basically, it looks like a muffin tin with 12 wells, but the bottom of each is removable - making for painless extraction of the little cheesecakes. Since Civic Orchestra is having a little dessert social tonight, I set out on the cheesecake quest. I made two kinds, cookies and cream and blackberry. Both recipes are here, with thanks to Bake or Break for the first.

PS: Don't worry if you don't have a nifty little pan like mine - use a regular muffin tin with liners.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake


8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c sour cream
pinch salt
6 oreos, crushed
12 oreos, whole

Preheat oven to 325. Beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth, then blend in the sugar. Still mixing, add in the vanilla, eggs, sour cream and salt. Stir in the crushed oreos. Place a whole oreo in the bottom of each well of the cheesecake pan. Spoon in cheesecake mixture nearly to the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Chill before removing from pan.

Blackberry Cheesecake


8oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 eggs
pinch salt
1 T blackberry jam
12 nilla wafers

Preheat oven to 325. Beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth, then blend in the sugar. Still mixing, add in the vanilla, egg, salt and jam. Place a nilla wafer in the bottom of each well of the cheesecake pan. Spoon in cheesecake mixture nearly to the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Chill before removing from pan.

Poach Pods

Not really a recipe, but still pretty neat. I found these at the kitchen store. I've always been strangely afraid of poaching eggs, after hearing so many horror stories. These babies make it a cinch though! Just spritz them with cooking spray, heat up some water, crack an egg into the pod, and watch it float around in the bubbles for a few minutes until it's done. Voila!

February 13, 2010

On Chicken Goop and other things to eat when you are sick...

When you're sick, the last thing you want to be doing is cooking. And when you're alone and sick, food is just not going to happen if you don't do it! Since I've spend the weekend in this position, I thought I'd post some of the staples that I must have in the house in the event of a sudden illness. No pictures today, because that is also not high on my list of things to do when I cannot leave the bathroom for more than five minutes at a time.

1) Sparkling jello

This is great to have around. The only downside is how long it takes to set, but it's definitely worth it. All you need is a package of your favorite jello and some ginger ale. Boil the water as directed on the package and stir in the jello mix. DO NOT ADD COLD WATER. Instead, refrigerate for 10 minutes, then instead of cold water, add the same amount of cold ginger ale. Refrigerate until set.

2) Chicken Goop

Once I've gotten past the jello stage, I need some real calories - but nothing too hard on my stomach. Chicken Goop is where it's at. All you need is a package of Uncle Ben's 90-second Roasted Chicken Rice and a can of Campbell's Soup at Hand Creamy Chicken. Microwave both according to the directions on the package and stir together in a bowl. The only downside is that you may have to defend this meal rather vigorously against a feline companion.

Dijon Chicken

Some days, you just need something quick and easy for dinner, especially when you're cooking for one. This is my go-to recipe for a quick, easy, and tasty chicken. Preparation is fast, less than five minutes, and it only takes 20 minutes or so to cook. The best part is that it very versatile. Don't like Dijon? Switch it out for some BBQ sauce. Bored with that? How about ranch or Italian dressing? Really, any sauce works!


1/2 chicken breast
1 T melted butter
1 T Dijon mustard
1/4 c bread crumbs
1/4 c Parmesan cheese

Combine the bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl or baggie. Stir together the butter and mustard in a second bowl. Dip the chicken into the mustard mix, then coat in bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

February 6, 2010


Having become a recent fan of hummus, the next logical step was to try my hand at pitas. My first attempt was an utter failure - my second, a success. I'm not sure if the success was due to the changes I made in the recipe, or just experience, but who cares? They're delicious! Especially fantastic when stuffed with spicy hummus and baby spinach! As an added bonus, this is probably one of the most fun breads to make, since you get to watching it puff up in the oven. Thanks to the Fresh Loaf for the basic recipe.


1 c wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c bread flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 T honey
1 packet yeast
1 1/2 c water

If using active dry yeast, activate it in warm water.

Meanwhile, mix the flours and salts together, then add the honey, water, and yeast. Stir until a loose ball forms. Remove to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Form into a boule. Grease a bowl and roll the dough in it to coat the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, approximately 90 minutes.

Gently degass the dough and divide into six even pieces. Shape each section into a small boule, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place a stone or an upside down cookie sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to at least 500. Hotter is better!

After the dough has relaxed, gently roll each section into thin circles. They should be between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.

Bake pitas 2 at a time on the stone or cookie sheet. They should puff up in 3-5 minutes. Remember, opening the oven allows heat to escape, so wait several minutes between batches.

January 10, 2010

Tiramisu Cheesecake

I've recently discovered the deliciousness of cheesecake. So this weekend, with the craving full on me, I decided to make one. A few weeks ago we'd had a fantastic mascarpone cheesecake at Crush. Since I have such a love affair with mascarpone anyway, I decided to go that route. This recipe isn't quite perfect, I've still got a few kinks to work out. Despite that, it's quite tasty!


8 oz mascarpone
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 T brandy

12 ladyfingers, crushed
2 T melted butter
1 T espresso
2 T sugar
2 T cocoa powder

Chocolate shavings

Take the cheeses out of the fridge so that the can warm to room temperature. Meanwhile, mix the ladyfingers with the butter, espresso, sugar, and cocoa powder. Take this mixture and press it firmly into the bottom of a 6-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and cool thoroughly.

Meanwhile, whip the cheeses and sugar together until smooth. Add in the port and egg yolks, reserving the whites. Whip the egg whites and fold into the cheese mixture. Pour into the pan and bake at 350 until done, roughly 1 hour. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for another hour. Once it has cooled, top with shaved chocolate and refrigerate at least overnight.