Peanut butter surprise

Would write something snazzy to accompany this recipe but a handful of people have been barking at me for me to hurry up and blog it! Pushy people I tell you! 


No clue what to call it so it is a surprise...with peanut butter.

2 skinless boneless chicken cubed (I prefer breast, but mix will work fine as well)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 onion sliced
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 can coconut milk
2 cups baby bok choy - chopped large
2 cups arugula or spinach - chopped large
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Cook cubed chicken on medium heat with olive oil, when just barely pink, add garam masala seasonings, salt and onions. Let that cook for approx. 10 mins or until onions are translucent. Add peanut butter and coconut milk, allow to simmer on low heat for 15 mins. Toss in all the greens, mix well. Simmer for an additional 10 mins.

Serve with rice or as pictured, quinoa. Sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes. Enjoy! 


Tex Mex surprise

It has been awhile. I assure you, I've been cooking, even expanded to regular bread making. Cannot bring myself to buy store bread. I'm sure at some point, I will, hopefully just for a random event not permantely. It has brought me great comfort mentally as well as emotionally. This doesn't make sense, does it? Ha, didn't think it did as I look back at that sentence. How can bread bring one comfort?

The kneading brings some sort of meditation. I haven't meditated in years. Too much chatter to tone down long enough to allow some quiet. Even more funny to say this as a deaf person, well mostly anyways. Walking has helped reduce the chatter but something about kneading the dough just puts me in a slight trance. Think my arms will tell you differently. They think it is a torture session. Ha!

The other comfort it brings me is knowing that I am making my family as wholesome of a product as possible. Of course the wheat and other ingredients were not grown and processed by me, but I am very selective about the products I do buy. After doing extensive research, I've decided to purchase stone ground whole wheat flour. Found Bob's Red Mill to be the best choice aside from doing it by hand with a stone ground flour mill. I've looked around, they are very expensive, I think I will stick with buying the flour for now. Before making my own bread, I found Dave's Killer Bread to be a wonderful choice in bread for me and my family. Lower carbs and loaded with natural/organic ingredients and most of all, taste awesome! :)

Oh yeah, this is suppose to have a recipe in it! I got off track, I apologize. *wink*

Remember me talking about all the wonderful spices I bought from a local spice store, Summit Tea and Spice? No? I wrote about it in this post. Chugach Chili Blend is my new favorite spice. I use it in chili, taco seasoning and other random dishes that needs a kick ass spicy taste. I also used it in this dish...

Tex Mex Surprise

1 chicken breast diced
1 large onion sliced
garlic sliced (adjust amount to your preference, I used 1/2 a head)
1 bunch kale sliced
1/2 head cabbage sliced
2 large tomatoes diced
3 cups black beans cooked (or 2 cans)
2 tablespoons Chugach Chili Blend (or other spicy seasonings of your choice)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup pepper jack cheese shredded or diced

Cook diced chicken with a little olive oil on medium/medium high heat, when almost done, add chili seasonings. Stir for a couple of minutes, add onions and garlic. After 10 minutes, add kale and cabbage. Continue to stir frequently for approx. 10 mins. Add tomatoes and black beans. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Serve topped with pepper jack cheese.

May add rice or as pictured, served with a side of wild rice.

If you want to try out dried beans, it is super easy and very tasty! Just toss some dried beans in water in the morning before you take of for work. I never measure, just throw a bunch of beans (approx. 1-1.5 cups for this recipe) and cover. About a half an hour before you are going to cook, drain beans, add to a pot, cover well with water (about 3 inches above beans) and cook on medium high (after bring to a boil) for approx. 30 minutes. Drain and set aside until ready to add to main dish.


Did you see a fat lady jogging this morning?

If are in Anchorage, chances are, you did. No worries, it was just me. Yes, in my bright lime green jacket, scarf wrapped around my neck with a matching bright green backpack and a blinky light thingie attached to the backpack. I've been attempting (a very loose term right now) to jog.

I asked my knees a couple of weeks ago if I attempted jogging if they would give out or not. At first, they laughed at me. When the expression from my face went unchanged, they started to growl, actually, grind is more like it. Perhaps I should have waited a little longer, they are still bitter about the whole elevator fiasco.

I gave them a week to moan and groan, literally. I felt like such a wimp! I'd jog for about 5 seconds and about want to die! Damn those joggers, they make it look so effortless!! I jogged a few more times in 5 second intervals. Thought, this has to look like a joke! A 200+ pound woman jogging?! I'm sure folks don't know whether to cry or laugh...probably both....cry from laughing. I would quickly retreat from jogging as soon as I would see a vehicle approaching.

Gave up for a few days. I'm just too fat! My husband was bewildered I even tried to run, jog, whatever! What possessed me to do it? I explained I had a dream that I ran everywhere. Not the running from monsters or vampires, just joyfully and effortlessly running everywhere. Sigh.

Woke up to a dense fog this morning. Something stirred in me as I ventured out for my morning routine of walking to work. The urge to jog surfaced again. Peering into the deep fog, I looked around. Maybe there is a vampire watching me? After laughing at myself, felt that a warmup is required. Approached the main road, looked around again for vampires (or other vehicles). Started to jog. Granted it is very low impact kind of jogging but, I was doing it!

Saw headlights approaching...QUICK! What should I do?! I didn't want to stop, so my feet kept on with the jogging. Made it nearly 2 blocks then had to walk a bit. Wow. I just jogged more than 5 seconds! Made it pass some buildings, then the long stretch to work. Took turns for a half mile, jogging and walking. Shins were starting to burn, ankles getting numb. I think I felt safe under the blanket of the fog, not overly concerned if someone saw me. My knees did pretty good considering. They were not happy with my decision to climb the stairs. Oh well!

Felt a little bit sad that my friend who lives clear across the country was not there to share it with me although, I did tell her about it on facebook. I think we'd make fabulous walking/jogging buddies. She already said hell no to moving here. Maybe if I just tell her how totally awesome this place is, she'll have no choice but to move. Yeah, right. Hahaha!


Bagels !!

A friend of mine posted a challenge to make bagels. She made hers yesterday and they looked fabulous! I set out the challenge to make a whole wheat version since I'm not a regular flour fan. She found a recipe that gave me a baseline but I wanted to research more. Seemed the ingredient list was different than of regular bagels.

I have to say, I never had this much fun making bread before. *laughs at self*

I did something I've never done before, a narrative photo blog entry. I hope you decide to make this. It looks complicated but truly it's not. Does have more steps than I normally would make in a recipe. Time is precious to me so I don't like to spend my time with tedious steps but this is worth the extra couple of steps!!


First...the ingredients!

4.5 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons raw honey
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoon oatmeal (not instant!)
2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1.5 water (boiling)

2 tablespoon yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water

Boil water, add salt and honey. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Mix yeast and lukewarm water well. Add yeast to honey mixture when reached lukewarm temperature.

Add 2.5 cups of flour, oatmeal and sesame seeds to the liquid mixture. Stirring frequently for approx. 5 mins. Should look a little gloppy like picture below.

Transfer dough to a flat surface with approx 1 cup of flour. Knead flour into dough.

This is the longest process of the whole recipe. The kneading. I believe I kneaded for approx 15 mins. Working approximately 1 more cup of flour into the dough.

See? I'm a kneading fiend. 

See how nice and shiny it is? That is when you know you've kneaded the dough correctly.

Divide into 12 balls, stick your finger down the middle and spread out a bit. Should resemble a doughnut. Knowing it will rise a bit, I make sure the hole is a little big and shape it as I work my fingers around the outside of the bagel dough.

Once you have them all shaped, allow to lay flat covered with a cloth towel for approx 30 mins. One of the things I love about working with a whole wheat recipe, you do not have to rise the dough first before shaping. This is only needed after you've shaped them.

I'll admit, this part just freaked the hell out of me. Boil a large pot of water (I added a little salt). Once you have a rolling boil, turn down to a low boil. Drop about 3 bagels (my picture shows 4 and it got a bit crowded as you can see) in the water. Yes, IN.THE.WATER. Weird, I know! I thought for sure my dough was going to turn to mush. Sure enough, they didn't! After about 4 mins, with a slotted spoon, turn them over. Cook for an additional 4-5 mins. Lay onto a cookie sheet until all bagels are boiled.

Bake them on a ungreased cookie sheet (basically the pan you set them on after boiling) at 350 degrees for approx 20 mins or until nice and golden brown.

For lunch, I made sandwiches out of them! Egg, ham and spinach bagel sandwiches with fried green tomatoes and fresh blueberries! Yum!

Teriyaki pork w/blueberry salad

After spending the day making bagels and fried green tomatoes, I wanted something light for dinner. Since the weather has been absolutely fabulous, bbq was the only way to go!

Visited the butcher that is located just down the street from me yesterday. Picked up some boneless pork chops. They looked delicious and begging to be put on the grill. Because they are thick, I sliced them in half and marinated them in a homemade teriyaki sauce. Grilled to perfection and served with a beautiful blueberry/spinach salad.

Doesn't it look pretty?

4 thick pork chops, sliced in half to make thin slices
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon Frank's hot sauce
2 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

(min) 1 cup spinach per person
1/4 cup blueberries per person
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
garnish with sesame seeds

Let pork chops marinate for a minimum of 1 hour. Toss on hot grill. Cook a few minutes on both sides, serve with salad (recommend blueberry spinach salad).

Pork roast via crockpot

Finally decided to pull the crockpot off the top shelf and dust it off. After all, it has been at least a couple of years since we used it. I have a love/hate relationship with it.

Love the ease and carefreeness of using it but hate that it takes *cooking* away from me. Can't experiment or anything of that nature. I mean you can but won't find out the results until hours later and will be too late to try and fix it.

I've made no secret that summer has been crappy here in Alaska this year. We hit another cold raining week (this weekend has been beautiful!). Had a big ole pork roast sitting in the deep freezer calling my name. I'm coooooold, please warm me up! Ha!

Waiting to cook the roast until I got home would mean we wouldn't eat until 9pm and that is entirely too late for the little one to be eating dinner on a school night. It is then when the crockpot from up above hollered at me. Oh what the hell!

Made homemade cheesy bread and fresh vegetable melody to join the party on the plate! Even made gravy using whole wheat flour! I'm sure mashed potatoes would go lovely with this. I didn't want the added carbs but did think about it! Ha!

No *recipe* is really needed but if you have any questions, feel free to ask!


Homemade hamburger buns

Something has happened to me! Help!


I'm in that mode where I want to try and make everything from scratch! Not only is it cheaper and healthier, I downright enjoy it! Feels great to know each and every ingredient in the food I feed myself and my family.

On a board I frequent, someone had posted a little booklet in a pdf format about making bread. Thought what the heck, I'm far from an expert...took a peek at it. Contained a number of ingredients I don't foresee myself using but there were some yummy combinations I'd like to try. There was also a couple of instructional in preparing the dough. I'll admit, even though my trials have been fairly successful so far, I've been afraid of messing around with the dough too much. After reading the booklet, dared myself to knead the dough farther than I'd ever dreamed of. Okay, that was a little overly dramatic but you get the idea. Ha!

Had some leftover pork from a roast I made the night before (turned out delicious), wanted to make bbq pulled pork sandwiches. Was not in the budget to buy ready made hamburger buns and I was out of fresh bread. Scoured the internet for recipes in how to make hamburger buns. They all seem to require ingredients I either didn't have or want to use. Took chances and got messy. Nearly held my breath the entire time.

Don't they look pretty?! I was so proud of myself in how they looked. Now the real test was slapping some of that yummy smelling bbq pork and taking a bite. Of course I waited for the boys to try it first...beamed with excitement. These are good!! No wait, they are terrible! So terrible, I want a second one. Whew! I feared they would be too dense but despite how heavy they appeared, they really were moist and delicious.

This made 6 nice size buns.

2 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar or raw honey
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup warm water

Mix well. Allow to sit covered for approx. 30 mins. Knead dough between 5-8 mins. Allow to rise covered again for another 20 mins. Divide into 3 parts, knead one part for an additional 5 mins or until dough has a nice sheen to it. It's okay, I was worried about over kneading as well. Trust me, you can do it!

Roll dough until it is 1/2 inch thick, cut a large circle (I used a large mouthed mason jar (no laughing!)). Place circle on a greased cookie sheet, ball up the remainder amount and roll out for a second bun. When all 6 buns are placed on a cookie sheet. Turn on the oven at 350 degrees. Allow to heat for 5 mins, turn heat off. Wait 5 mins, put cookie sheet inside. Allow to rise for an additional 10-15 mins.

Remove buns from oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for approx. 15 mins or until nice and brown.

**Yes, those are kale chips you see in the background! :o)


Getting the itch...

It's a good thing I'm too broke to initiate any possible relocation scenario.

I'm a military brat. I get that *itch* every couple of years. Surprisingly, as a military family, we moved very little in comparison to how long my father's service was. It was when we became a divorced family, the frequent moving surfaced.

It's not that I am unhappy here. I think this is probably the one place I've felt the most happy (currently 10 years). Sure I've had my fair share of unhappiness and will continue to, location will not change the flow of life's lessons. I left my old state to escape my dysfunctional family. The visits *home* made it painfully clear that my family did not truly know me. In the passing of my mother, my siblings became estranged from me. Didn't like it, but they made their positions clear, respected that and left it alone. Even a reconciliation started blossoming and I quickly squashed it. I'm getting too old for self righteous crap.

I thought in marrying my husband, his family would become sort of a replacement. Silly, I know, but don't know how else to explain it. Then we had a trauma occur, again, became painfully clear where I stood. To a level it was obvious but on the other hand, it was disappointing. Since then, that boat is easily rocked. They have their own form of dysfunctions. My husband knows it, chooses to just live at arms length.

At one point in time, we had enough money saved up, we could have financed a move. I hesitated greatly due to our young son. Even though we have very little involvement to my husbands family here, my son feels very strongly tied to our life here.

I think what we crave most is a community. Even while loving Alaska, we don't feel a sense of community. We don't have close family or friends. For many years, I blamed my weight as the deterrent. Maybe it is me after all. I know it is me. Not necessarily in a bad way. I've never conformed to any way of life. So in that, it is hard to find others who don't either let alone, a family.

Have you ever felt that way? Feel the *itch* to start a new life somewhere?  Near? Far?

Is there a place for folks like me, my family? If so...tell me where!

Cheesy bread rolls

While the rest of the world seems to be enjoying beautiful record breaking warm weather, us Alaskan's have not been able to partake in the festivities. I hear the heater kick on every morning and we have even had a handful of fires in the fireplace. It is clear, we've been shorted out of our short summer.

Had the desire to bake something today. Any excuse to turn the oven on! *wink*

My hands went to work. Threw some flour in a bowl, tossed a bit of this, a bit of that.

Viola! The boy was upset that I did not make enough (when trying something new, I tend to make very small batches so food is not wasted) and even more upset I saved a couple for his father whom was sleeping in. Poor kid, so so rough. Ha!

1.5 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 tablespoons oatmeal (not the quick cooking kind!)
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup chopped cheddar cheese (can use shredded)

Mix all ingredients except for cheese (add additional water as needed). Allow to set covered for approx 20 minutes.

Turn oven to 350 degrees.

Knead dough for approx 5 mins. Cover and let set for additional 15 mins. Add chopped cheese and knead well for an additional 5-8 mins. Tear into 2-3 inch balls, smoosh flat with your hand and lay out onto a greased baking pan. Bake for approx 20 mins or until brown.


Tortellini and veggies

Found a package of tortellini in the deep freezer as I was moving the fish around. We seldom have pasta (too high a carb item for me) but since it has been awhile, what the heck! I gave myself a much smaller portion than the boys.

Nothing fancy, but plenty tasty!

1 package tortellini (enough for serving 4 people)
1 head garlic sliced
1/2 onion sliced
1/2 head cabbage sliced
1 large bunch spinach
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon tarragon
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Cook tortellini according to package instructions. Drain and set aside when finish.

In medium high temp, cook garlic and onions in a little bit of olive oil for approx 5 mins. Add cabbage and seasonings. Frequently tossing for approx 10 mins. Add pasta. Simmer for 10 mins. Before serving, add spinach and stir well.

Serve sprinkled with some freshly grated parmesan.