Friday, March 29, 2013

Bistro Steak with Red Wine Sauce

I am getting old and I am noticing some changes.  Sometimes words come out of my mouth and I have no control over them.  Everyone younger than me all look like they are twelve.  I cuss more.  I drink less.  I am still the pleasant, loving, kind, wonderful person I have always been (o.k. that is debatable...the always kind, loving, pleasant, and wonderful part).  Well, you put that all together and I get myself into some awkward situations...not for me, but those around me are feeling a little awkward, I figure that is their problem.

Well, last year my dentist retired.  The same dentist I have had since I was a little girl (did I already tell you this story?  Again, old age and I forget everything.  I need a tag "Embarrassing things I said" but then there would be so many...).  So there I was sitting in the dental hygienest's chair feeling very sad, and this little twelve year old walked in.  She said something like, "Hi, I'm Mary Smith, your new dentist."
To which I so kindly, pleasantly, and lovingly responded, "Oh my God, what are you twelve?"

See what I mean.

She was better with her filter than I was (after all she is only twelve) and said something very professional like, "I can assure you I have been to dental school."

But this is not the end of my tale.  My husband, who was so embarrassed that I said that to our new dentist, had to have some oral surgery.  Our twelve year old dentist sent him to the oral surgeon.  She is also twelve, and three feet tall!  I'm not exaggerating (o.k. maybe a little).  She comes to my shoulder and I'm no towering giant myself (5'4" if I stand really tall).  The twelve year old oral surgeon give my husband something and gets to work.  He start to hallucinate and is grabbing things from the air, telling them stories while she has both hands in his mouth (yes, they both fit) and somehow she gets everything finished she has to do.

I am sitting in the waiting room, getting updates and so happy I have something embarrassing to hold over his head I am here to experience this with him.  He has to go back soon for his follow up.
So, here we are, two old fogeys getting older while the twelve year olds run the world.  At least I can legally buy wine and make this meal for us, while we still have teeth.  I used moose and it was delicious.  The sauce is very flavorful.  Paired with roasted potatoes and asparagus, it was the perfect old-folks-home meal.

I get to see the twelve year old dentist later today, I'm so excited.

Bistro Steak with Red Wine Sauce
Cooking Light, February 2013

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil 
  • (8-ounce) top sirloin steaks, trimmed
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup full-bodied red wine (such as cabernet sauvignon) 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted beef stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. 1. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle steaks evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add steaks to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove steaks from pan. Let stand 5 minutes.
  2. 2. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add shallots and thyme to pan; sauté 1 minute or until lightly browned. Add wine; cook 2 1/2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Add stock; cook 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half and mixture is slightly thickened. Remove pan from heat. Add remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, butter, and mustard; stir with a whisk.
  3. 3. Cut steak across the grain into thin slices; serve with sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
March 29, 2013     Daylight 13 hours, 19 minutes, 10 seconds     Temp. H 41/ L 10° F

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

So it was really a Monday.  I overslept and was late to workout, I was late to work, it was snowing (what happened to Spring?), I forgot I had taken my computer home for the weekend and left it at home (hard to do any work when 90% of what I do involves a computer!), the hem of my right pant leg came undone and I had to tape it, I couldn't find a spreadsheet that I had put someplace "very safe" and my phone was out of battery.

So I plugged in my phone only to get the "you need to update" message.  I tried, but the message then said that everything on my phone was not in my iTunes acct. and I would lose it, so I didn't update because I don't know how to put words with friends in my iTunes acct. and I'm beating my husband right now (that never happens) and I don't want to lose that game...(anyone out there able to help me with the loading onto iTunes thing?)

You see, it was just one of those mornings so I went home and made cookies.  All is right with the world when there are warm cookies on the table and the wood stove is going.  Even if it is snowing at the end of March.
Lobo, snuggled by the fire after his Spring hair cut!

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Sunset  2003
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked dried coconut (4 oz.) 


  1. In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (bottom of bowl should not touch water), stir chopped chocolate and butter often until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from over water and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add chocolate mixture and beat until well blended. Stir in flour and baking powder, then beat just until moistened. Stir in macadamia nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut.
  3. Drop dough in 1-tablespoon portions, about 2 inches apart, onto buttered or cooking parchment-lined 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.
  4. Bake cookies in a 350° oven just until firm on the edges but still soft when pressed in the middle, 8 to 10 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide spatula to transfer to racks to cool completely.
These are  a new favorite.  They are rich, chocolaty with a lighter texture.  Perfect for a cup of coffee and a good book by the fire. 
Riley has the "next to the fire" thing down.
March 27, 2013    Daylight 13 hours, 5 minutes, 41 seconds   Temp. H 11/ L -13˚F

Monday, March 25, 2013

Carrot Cake Roulade with Pineapple Cream Cheese

One year, for my husband's birthday, I made a steak roulade.  It was a flank steak that had been pounded thin, stuffed with a flavorful filling, rolled, tied and roasted.  It carved into beautiful rolls.  I actually made two because there were so many of us for family dinner.  Both were devoured with compliments all around.  I felt I had prepared a pretty successful dinner.  On the way out the door, my mother in law said, "Well Toni, dinner was a good try."  Apparently, she didn't like the steak roulade!

Another birthday.  Dave turned 50 this year so I wanted to do something a little different.  The kegger for his birthday party was one thing, but we had family dinner with his mom so I made cake.  I thought I should do something a little different, so going with the "over the hill and rolling down the other side" theme, I made a carrot cake roll.  Cake rolls are really easy and a fun way of serving cake.  Just take your time the first time and you'll see there is nothing to worry about.  You'll be serving all kinds of cake rolls before you know it. I guess my mother in law liked this roulade because she ate her piece, took some home and never told me it was a good try.

It seems like there are a lot of steps, don't let that stop you.  Everything is really easy.

Carrot cake, hot from the oven in a jelly roll pan.

Sprinkle generously with confectioner's sugar,

cover with a clean towel,

cover with a clean pan,

invert the whole pile so hot pan is now on top.

Take off pan, and carefully peel away parchment paper.

Roll cake into towel.  (Notice the glove?  I have very sharp knives and cut myself. No blood on this cake.) 

Let rolled cake cool for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, carefully unroll cake and spread frosting to the very edges. 

Evenly distribute diced pineapple.

Reroll cake, without the towel this time.  Notice the little tear, no worries, it sticks back together and gets covered with the next roll of the cake. 

Let cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Dust with more powdered sugar and cut ends to make them even. 

Cut slices, top with a dollop of whipped cream and serve.  Yum!

Carrot Cake Roulade with Pineapple Cream Cheese
adapted from Fine Cooking, April/May 2013

For the filling
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature 
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened 
4 oz. (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar 
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
2 cups finely chopped fresh pineapple (about 2/3 of a pineapple), drained in a sieve 
For the cake
Unsalted butter, softened, for the pan 
3-3/8 oz. (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 2 Tbs. for the pan 
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrots (from about 3 medium carrots) 
1-1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest 
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. baking powder 
1/2 tsp. baking soda 
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 
1/4 tsp. ground ginger 
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
1/8 tsp. ground cloves 
1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
5 large eggs, separated, whites at room temperature 
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar 
To finish
2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar 
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon 

Make the fillingIn a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until well combined and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually sift in the confectioners’ sugar, beating and scraping until well combined. Add the vanilla and mix to blend. Reserve the pineapple separately.
Make the cakePosition a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
Butter an 18x13-inch rimmed baking sheet. Line the pan with parchment. Butter the parchment and sprinkle the 2 Tbs. of flour over it, shaking the pan for even coverage and knocking out the excess.
Put the carrots in a 1-quart saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain well. Purée in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, add the orange zest, and cool to room temperature
In a small bowl, sift together the 3/4 cup flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger, pepper, and cloves. Add the salt and stir to combine.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the carrot purée and mix on low speed, scraping down the sides as necessary, until just combined. In three additions, add the flour mixture, mixing on low speed, and scraping the bowl as needed, until just combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
In a clean stand mixer bowl, with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold one-third of the beaten whites into the carrot mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining whites until the batter is evenly colored, with no streaks of white. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, gently spreading it with an offset spatula.
Bake, rotating the pan about halfway through, until golden-brown, set to the touch, and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, 16 to 18 minutes. Immediately loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a paring knife. Sift the confectioners’ sugar evenly over the cake.
While the cake is still hot, lay a clean, unscented, lint-free kitchen towel over it. If the towel is long, extend one end about 1-1/2 inches beyond a short side of the cake and don’t worry about the other end. Invert a large rack or cutting board over the towel. Holding both the baking sheet and the rack with protected hands, invert the cake. Remove the baking sheet and parchment.
Using both hands and starting from the short end with the shortest towel overhang, roll the cake and the towel up together. Let cool for 30 minutes.
Carefully unroll the cake; it should look wavy and both ends should curl. (It’s OK if there are some small cracks.) Let cool completely, 10 to 15 minutes.
Using an offset spatula, spread the filling over the cake to within 1-1/2 inches of the far short edge and to within 1/2 inch of the other  edges. Distribute the pineapple over the cream cheese mixture. Be sure to coax the filling into the interior of the  closer curled end so that when the cake is sliced there will be filling in the center of the spiral
Reroll the cake without the towel this time. The filling may squish out of the ends a bit, which is fine.
Finish the cakeWith a serrated knife and a sawing motion, trim the ends of the cake. Using 2 large spatulas, transfer the cake to a serving platter.
Combine the confectioners’ sugar and the cinnamon. Just before serving, use a fine sieve to generously dust the top of the roulade with the sugar. Slice the cake with the serrated knife and serve.

March 25, 2013  Daylight 12 hours, 52 minutes, 12 sec.   Temp. H 13/ L -9°F

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Why is it that my comfort foods are not always the healthiest choices?  When I am tired, cold, overly hungry, sad, celebrating,consoling myself, or rewarding myself I want some good old-fashioned comfort food (wow! that is almost all the time).  My comfort food?  Let's see, I love macaroni and cheese, cherry pie, chocolate cake, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried I need to go on?  One of my all-time favorites is pasties.

I guess this is a mid-west thing, or at least a Montana thing.  Both my mom and dad grew up in Montana and this is something I remember my mom making and my grandma making. My mom always makes them (really, now she buys them at the store) when I go to visit. When I really want to comfort myself I make pasties and wash them down with chocolate chip cookies.  Then add a few spoons of Nutella...but I digress.

So, the other day, I was feeling a little sorry for myself because my dear baby brother texted me a picture of his weather forecast (74°F) and I texted him a picture of mine (-9°F).  So I channelled my grandma and made pasties.  I think this is one of those recipes that everyone has their own variation.  Ours is very simple, ground meat, potatoes, onion, salt and pepper, and pie crust.  I even bought the crust because I was really feeling sorry for myself and didn't want to make any.  I have heard some people put carrots in theirs, that must be a Michigan thing, not a Montana thing.  How ever you make it, I hope you enjoy it soon.

Grandma's Pasties

1 lb. ground burger (I use moose)
1 onion, diced or grated
2 med. russet potatoes, diced or grated
salt, pepper to taste
2 pie crusts
1 egg plus 1 Tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Mix burger, grated onion, grated potatoes, and salt and pepper.  Divide meat mixture in half.  Roll out one pie crust in about a 12" circle.  Place half the meat mixture on one half of the pie crust.  Beat egg with water.  Brush egg wash over unfilled side of pastry.  Fold pie crust over meat and close side.  Fold and pinch crust to seal meat in crust.  Cut vents on top of crust and carefully transfer to cookie sheet. Brush top of pastry with egg wash. Repeat with second crust and the rest of the meat mixture.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, until meat is cooked through and pastry is golden brown.

Serve with brown gravy and/or ketchup (my favorite).  Feel better soon.

March 21, 2013     Daylight 12 hours, 25 minutes, 17 seconds     Temp. H 21/ L-2 °F

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tequila Sorbet

If there is one thing you should know about me is that I love dishes.  I love dishes of all kinds, it is almost an illness, but it's dishes so how can that be wrong?

I went to Anchorage for work a couple weekends ago and I had dinner with my sister-in-law.  One of the things we like to do is go to the antique shop downtown and look around.  I found these lovely glasses for spring!  They needed a special drink to "break them in" so I decided tequila with sorbet.  I got three flavors so you can mix and match, or try several drinks.  I chose lemon, mango, and raspberry.  A scoop in the glass, a shot of tequila on top and a little mix, you are ready to go.

I served these for family dinner on St. Patrick's day.  I know there is nothing Irish about tequila, but my mother-in-law drank two and I didn't even throw any sausages at her this year!  It was a success.

Tequila Sorbet
assorted flavors of sorbet
your favorite tequila

Scoop sorbet into glass, top with a shot of tequila.  Mix well and enjoy.

March 19, 2013     Daylight 12 hours, 11 minutes, 49 seconds   Temp. H 12/L -15°F

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Parmesan Tilapia

Last summer, after the blond boy's wedding, we took the Oregon boys and their chicks to the San Diego Zoo.  It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, everyone was happy.  We spend a wonderful day together.  One of the things we did was take the bus tour.  About 40 minutes on a bus stopping at different animal areas and the driver giving out information about each area.

We got to the hippo ponds.  There were those giant animals lounging in the crystal clear water with about a million fish swimming around their hind quarters.  The fish were tilapia.
"What are they doing there?" the driver asked us with a smile.  "Why, they are cleaning the tanks.  Think about that next time you order tilapia."

And he ruined it for me.  I haven't been able to eat tilapia since.

Well, I bought some at the store and decided to force myself.  I like tilapia, it is a very mild fish and tastes like what ever you put on it. So I thought if I put something on it and think about anything but hippos, I would be fine.

I seasoned the fish with Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper, added a creamy parmesan topping and baked it.  With about 5 minutes of cooking time left, I added some seasoned bread crumbs and finished it in the oven.  It was delicious.  Dave, the fish hater ate it and said it was good, so I consider that a success.  We didn't even think of hippos at dinner.

Parmesan Tilapia

4 large tilapia fillets (about 2 lbs.)
Italian seasoning
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup parmesan
1 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Spray pan with cooking spray.  Rinse tilapia fillets and blot dry with paper towel.  Place fish in pan with room between each fillet.  Season with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Mix mayonnaise and parmesan together, top each fillet with mayo/cheese mixture, covering to the very edges.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness of fish (it should start to flake with a fork).

Meanwhile, melt butter in small saute pan, add garlic.  Add breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown.

Take fish from oven, cover with breadcrumbs.  Bake an additional 5 minutes.

March 13, 2013     Daylight  11 hours, 31 minutes, 26 seconds     Temp. H 9/ L -16˚F

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quinoa Blondies

Oh the joys of changing our clocks ahead.  Why do we continue to do this?  Just to mess with our internal clocks?  I'm all messed up, when it is 4:00 is it really 5:00 and was it 6:00 or 3:00?  Am I really going to bed on time if I go to bed at 8:30 or is that really 7:30 or 9:30?  I just can't keep up.

The worst part about it is when there was light, now there is not.  When we drove to work last week we drove in the light.  This week we will be in the dark again, or at least dawn.  We are gaining about 7 minutes a day so we will be in light again after this week, but there isn't any reason to go messing with the clocks in this day and age.

So, after all the clock turmoil,  I needed a treat and something a little healthier than cookies...girl scout cookies are in and yes, I can eat a whole box of thin mints, by myself, in on sitting.  I found this recipe for quinoa blondies.  I always have quinoa, and I just ground what I needed in my clean spice grinder (I keep an extra coffee grinder for spices, grinding oatmeal, and now quinoa).  I ground raw quinoa in small amounts until it measured what I needed.

The original recipe called for almond butter, I had cashew butter so I used that.  You could use peanut butter or sunflower seed butter if you wanted to or if that is what you had.  These are super yummy, gluten free (if you need that), easy and I had everything on hand.  I'll be making these again soon.

Quinoa Blondies
adapted from Eating Well, April 2013

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth or crunchy natural almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Coat an 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Spray again.

Beat butter and nut butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until creamy.  Beat in eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.  Whisk quinoa flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Mi the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spred the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it, about 25 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for 45 minutes before cutting.  Let cool completely before storing.

March 11, 2013   Daylight 11 hours, 17 minutes, 57 seconds    Temp. H 23/ L -8˚F

Friday, March 8, 2013

Maple-Mustard Chicken

So it is almost Spring in Fairbanks.  We have over 10 hours of daylight and there is a little heat behind the sun.  We will still have snow for a couple of months but there is hope in the air that winter will finally end.

Dave has been busy outside moving snow around.  He has a big 0 birthday coming up and we are having a party and a bonfire so he is making extra room in the back.  Pretty soon he will be snow blowing the front yard so he can see green grass as soon as possible.

Dinners right now are kind of spur of the moment.  Usually, I plan meals for two weeks.  Lately, I look in the freezer and think, "what can I cook?"  I bought several packages of chicken thighs when they were on sale, so this morning I pulled a package out of the freezer and hoped Dave wouldn't mind too much. (After all, we did just have prime rib and red meat every night since)

This is an old time standby (I can't say favorite because anything with chicken will never be a favorite for Dave).  He eats it, I like it and it is pretty easy.  The mustard coating adds a lot of flavor and the chicken thighs ensure a juicy end result.  I do make this with chicken breast for myself sometimes, but again, Dave doesn't like chicken breast, it is too dry for him.  This is a nice light almost-Spring dinner.  Pair it with a salad and some asparagus and you are set.

I hope the snow is starting to melt where you live.

Maple-Mustard Chicken
adapted from Ellie Krieger The Food You Crave

4 chicken thighs (I use boneless skinless)
1/2 cup grainy mustard
3 Tbsp.  real maple syrup
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. marjoram

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Spray 9X9 pan with cooking spray.  Place chicken in pan.
Mix mustard, maple syrup, garlic, and marjoram in a small bow.  Spread over top of chicken, covering completely.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Sunset from my back deck.  I make it home from work before dark now!

March 8, 2013     Daylight 10 hours, 57 minutes, 43 seconds    Temp. H 35/ L 12˚F

Monday, March 4, 2013

Prime Rib

There is an old favorite restaurant in Fairbanks called the Turtle Club.  They specialize in prime rib.  They have this awesome salad bar that comes with dinner.  There are a couple of other things on the menu, halibut and deep fried prawns, but you go there for the prime rib.  At least we used to, until Dave started making this about 8 years ago.  This is the most delicious meat I have ever eaten (and we eat a lot of meat).  Dave has always been in charge of this and I make the supporting dishes (like twice baked potatoes).  We have this every year for Christmas dinner.

This year we had prime rib several times...every time one of the boys came home.  So, we had it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.  As good as it is, we were a little prime ribbed out!

My brother in law purchased one of the roasts and it was so big Dave had to cut some of it off so it would fit in the roasting pan, 8.5 lbs. of it off!  It was a huge roast in itself.  We saved it for later in the year when we could look at prime rib again without groaning.

Well, the time had come, so for family dinner on Sunday we pulled this from the freezer to fix it. Dave was helping our oldest work on a house project so it was left to me to fix this roast.  I was terrified.  I had never done this before.  Dave always did it and I never paid any attention to what he did, what if I ruined it?  I must say, it was the easiest, and so delicious roast, I have ever made.

What was I afraid of?  Basically, you rub it with garlic, spices, soy sauce, and worcestershire sauce, put it in the oven, and don't open the door for hours.  There is some timing stuff with turning the oven off, not EVER opening the door (Dave used to tape the door to give everyone a visual reminder not to open it), and turning the oven on again at the end.  The hardest part is making sure you don't need the oven for anything else for that meal (or have two ovens).

Try this for a special dinner, or not so special dinner, it will be a memorable meal.

Prime Rib
Dave wouldn't let me share his recipe, so I search other recipes for you...

Sorry for no recipe...Dave is a little tight lipped about his special recipe.  If you have one you love and are willing to share, let me know.  I'm going to make another one sometime, yours might be better than Daves.

March 5, 2013    Daylight 10 hours, 37 minutes, 27 seconds   Temp. H 25/ L 3° f