Friday, April 30, 2010

First Spring Rain

For the first time since we have lived here we might actually be able to say, "April showers bring May flowers".

Strawberry Shortcake Scones

There are two days each year that a person can comfortably sit outside and enjoy a meal in Fairbanks. Once in the spring when it warms up enough and the mosquitoes have not come out yet, and again in the fall after the mosquitoes have left and it has not yet snowed. Of course when we first moved to Fairbanks you could find us drinking coffee on the deck well after the first snow fall. I guess that novelty wore off quick! Two weeks ago we had that one perfect morning, the Sandhill Cranes were flying overhead and we couldn't resist taking our scones outside.
Although I had not planned to make these scones for that one special day, they turned out to be the perfect thing. Things were looking pretty sparse in the kitchen the morning I made these scones. Literally, seven strawberries left in the package from a salad the night before and no dairy products with the exception of our precious half and half for coffee, and some yogurt.
I grew up eating strawberry shortcake on little spongy cakes from the grocery store and honestly must say I never cared for the stuff especially topped with syrupy strawberries and cool whip. It always reminded me of a strawberry Twinkie. I didn't realize how wonderful Strawberry Shortcake could be until I moved a little further south where it was served on a cream biscuit with real whip cream.  If you have ever eaten strawberry shortcake on a biscuit, that is exactly what this tastes like. If there had been some heavy cream in the house it would have taken everything in my not to whip some up and spread it on these scones!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Biscuits

I only get around to making Cinnamon Rolls once or twice a year. Even with my regular recipe that allows me to refrigerate them overnight and just pop them in the oven the next morning, it still requires a bit of planning. Our weekend mornings are usually a little more spontaneous (ok, lazy) than that. So, when a friend with two little boys said she could get this version of cinnamon rolls on the table in under an hour I knew I had to give them a try. They were perfect for our household as David is a huge cinnamon roll fan and me ( I bet you didn't know this) a fan of scones. They were like a cross between the two, a perfect compromise. I got so excited by the idea that I actually tried to make them again using the dough from a scone recipe. Ummm, well not such a good idea, it turns out that scone dough doesn't roll up all that well. I am still thinking about the idea though and will continue on with my search for a Cinnamon Roll Scone.
On a side note...I have been doing some spring cleaning around here (no, my house is still a mess). The last few posts have been sitting around gathering dust in the draft post area for a while. I have been cleaning them out to make was for new spring posts (with real light). I have been working little by little for over a month on a recipe index and welcome page. Who knew it took so long to create links to nearly 200 recipe pages! This place is always a work in process, but this one has been a little more than blowing the dust off. This is the last of the old posts, so sometime tomorrow I am going to make the site private for a bit to do a little re-construction project. I'm hoping to get everything back up on Friday with a great recipe to make use of all those strawberries you have stocked up on. See you soon!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Almond Poppyseed Pancakes

Pancakes are my absolute favorite breakfast food (ok, they tie with scones). The problem is that I am terrible at making them. Either they are burned on the outside or gooey on the inside. I am always in awe of a good pancake, but I must say I am pretty pickey about the ones I like. When I lived in Cincinnati (in another life, or so it feels)I worked at a place called First Watch. Primarily a breakfast place, they made pancakes that I still dream about. My favorite was the Wheat Germ pancakes topped with sliced strawberries and banana, topped with whip cream. When I drove from Michigan to Florida a few years ago I purposely drove through Cincinnati to go to First Watch.
In my own kitchen I am still trying to perfect pancakes. These pancakes from the Mother's Best cookbook are really good. I loved the idea of poppy seeds in pancakes and the almond paste sends them over the edge. Mine were just a wee bit gooey on the inside, but probably my best attempt at pancakes so far. Anyone have any suggestions for cooking the perfect pancake? continue to the recipe...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Experimental Farm

 
I have always thought the Experimental Farm sounded kind of creepy. I imagined three headed chickens and strange hybrid animals. I was in the neighborhood today. Well, all I saw were reindeer, lots of new spring fuzzy ones. They sure are cute.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Whole Wheat Apple Oat Muffins

A couple of weeks ago I was trying to decide what to make for breakfast. David requested some "whole wheat" muffins. It was his way of asking for something a little more healthy than the usual weekend butter filled scones. I had some apples to use up, so a quick google search produced these muffins from King Arthur Flour. I added some oatmeal to give them a little more texture. It was a good decision as I think they would have been a little too cake-like without it. Well sealed, they keep really well. I recommend baking up a batch on the weekend and having them for breakfast all week long.

Whole Wheat Apple Oat Muffins
adapted from King Arthur Flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup oats (not instant), +2 tablespoons for topping
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
2 apples peeled cored and chopped into chunks

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease and flour 12 cup muffin tin.

Whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the regular white sugar with 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; scrape sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the milk (the mixture may curdle, but still turns out fine) Stir in the dry ingredients and the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups., Mix the remaining brown sugar and oats, sprinkle on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing from tin.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fabulaskana

It is that time of year when it seems like there is a new show in the Art Gallery every week. This one really catches your eye and it is nearly impossible to just walk on by. To learn more about this show and see the photos they took at the Musk Ox farm see this article in the News Miner.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tomato Lime Chicken


This recipe is actually called Butter Chicken, but it is unlike any Butter Chicken I have had before. Now, I don't mean that in a bad way.It is kind of like ordering a cola and getting root beer instead (yes, I consciously am not promoting any brand names here). Root Beer is good when that is what you want, but if you were really craving a cola, well Root Beer just won't do! I was really craving Butter Chicken, the good stuff like we used to get in Victoria at The Mint. This recipe is nothing like the Butter Chicken at The Mint or any other Indian restaurant I have had butter chicken. Once I got over the fact that this was not Butter Chicken I actually enjoyed the flavor. I would definitely make it again only I would call it Tomato Lime Chicken, because someday I hope to post a recipe for Butter Chicken like the one from The Mint and I don't want there to be any confusion!! To me this really was bordering on a Mexican dish, not an Indian one at all. Omit, the cardamom and use regular white rice and voila, it is Mexican. Also, I found as with most Pioneer Woman recipes, you can decrease the butter and the cream (you could also use half and half) without any noticeable difference.

And yes, I purposely linked to The Mint three (now four) times hoping they will read this and share their recipe for Butter Chicken, please.

Tomato Lime Chicken
adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients
4 pieces Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
¼ teaspoons Ground Coriander
¼ teaspoons Cumin
¼ teaspoons Cardamom
1 whole Lime, Juiced
1 whole Onion, Diced
¼ cups Butter
1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Tomato Sauce
1 pint Whipping Cream
1 bunch Chopped Cilantro, to taste
2 cups Basmati Rice

Preparation
In a medium bowl combine chicken and next eight ingredients through lime juice, set aside.
Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add chicken mixture and cook about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on. Add the cream and top with cilantro just before serving over rice.

If you like it spicy, add a little more cayenne to taste.

Lily Pads on Smith Lake

This weekend I went on a walk with a couple of friends to Smith Lake on the University trail system. It was unseasonably warm, an absolutely beautiful day to be out. As we walked along the edge of the lake we noticed that the area around the lily pads was melting at a much faster rate than the rest of the lake, leaving them exposed to the surface. I am wondering if this is one of those unique adaptations that only occurs in Alaska lily pads. It was really cool looking, but I have no idea what causes these areas to melt so much faster. Is it just light, or is there more to it? Any of you smarty pants out there know the answer?
 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sweet and Sour Pork with Coconut Rice

Growing up in the Midwest gave me an aversion to anything Sweet and Sour. The only Sweet and Sour I was familiar with was our local Chinese restaurant which served deep fried chicken bits with the thickest and brightest red sauce you could imagine. On occasion I would get Sweet and Sour Chicken with the sauce on the side. It was like chicken nuggets with dipping sauce! Over the years I have learned that Sweet and Sour does not have to be red, completely soaked in sauce, or deep fried. Heck, it doesn't even have to contain chicken! Now, I love the contrast of flavor in this "almost" healthy dish. Don't forget the coconut rice, it is super easy and really makes the dish. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Alpha Dog

Arrluk has been exerting his dominance quite a bit lately. He has become very vocal if we don't get him out of his crate or feed him quickly enough. He has taken to biting Brody's ears, and stealing his food, toys, bones, sticks, and bed. It seems not even a tree is safe from Arrluk's dominant ways...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

English Muffins


I have been wanting to tell you about these English Muffins for a while now. As soon as I found them I knew I would have to make them right away. I had been looking for a good English Muffin recipe for a long time. I knew it was possible to make them without muffin rings and that was the way I was going to do it. Since, I first discovered the recipe I have made them at least 4 more times and they have turned out perfectly each time. So why wait so long to share? Well, I was hoping to get a better picture under all this natural light flooding my life these days. The problem is that English Muffins are a weekday treat. I usually make them after our evening dog walk while it is dark and get up and eat them before work when it is still dark. Of course that will not be the case in a couple of weeks, but I just can't keep them from you any longer.  continue reading...

Going Green

If there is one thing I have learned living in Fairbanks, it is that you have to be adaptable. This theory does not apply only to humans, but all living matter in the tundra. This was quite obvious this weekend on our hike as everywhere the snow had melted there was already bright green in its place.

Monday, April 5, 2010

To See What We Could See...

Yesterday we took a walk over Twin Bears...It was a glorius spring day. Much different than our Easter Walk last year.
Arrluk has quickly learned to drink from the Camelback.
Brody is looking lovingly at David. (Did I mention David is eating cheese?)
 
The view was spectacular from the top.
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