Before the school year started in late August my daughter and I took a last minute trip up to my homeland of Alaska. We got a screaming good deal on tickets (two for $535!) and took a week to go visit the beautiful state and our family and friends. We flew into Anchorage in the midday. Below is a view from the air as we flew in by the Gulf of Alaska. The views were so stunning I had to go to my daughter’s row and wake her up to view the vast fjords. Some folks were sleeping with their windows closed and I wanted to go open them all!
Gulf of Alaska
After one night in Anchorage we headed toward the Peninsula on scenic highway past Turnagain Arm (below). Turnagain Arm is stunning no matter what the weather and even on this day of little sun we enjoyed the views.
We stopped by Girdwood, home of Alyeska Resort, on our way through Turnagain to dine at The Bake Shop. The Bake Shop is a renowned and ever so tasty stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Their sourdough bread, homemade soups and quality of meats are superb. I enjoyed their vegetable soup and my daughter had a good looking ham and cheese grilled sandwich on sourdough. I took along a handful of sourdough loaves for our family and sweet rolls for breakfast.
The Bake Shop
We had a day of visiting in Soldotna and then set out the next day towards Homer. Our destination through a bit of road construction was Halibut Cove. We took the Danny J’s big sister the Stormbird. The seas were high that day but not too high for the Stormbird. It was a great trip over and such an amazing day as you can see from the photo below.
We headed back to Anchorage for the weekend to spend time with family. We were the lucky recipients of an invitation to ride the Aurora car of the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday. We gladly accepted and had a fun, relaxed ride with amazing views from a car with almost solid glass ceilings. The views of the valley were splendid and no parking necessary. The train dropped us at the front gate of the fair. I have to say I haven’t been to the fair in Palmer for 30 years and it was the nicest, cleanest, most scenic fair I’ve ever been to. And the entertainment of Garrison Keillor was a bonus.
Alaska Railroad Aurora
On Monday we took a drive back toward Alyeska to take the tram up the mountain and explore a bit. It was another spectacular day with a view and great memories of snowy times on top of the mountain for me.
View from Alyeska Resort
This recipe has been in my files for years. A version of it came from a neighbor friend and was a big hit in my book. But it got lost in the files and retrieved last weekend when we had a vegetarian over for dinner and I felt I needed a little something more than the roasted veggies we had planned to serve with our salmon. The flavors are very nice and I loved the garlicky, buttery, nutty baked goodness that was the final product.
Savory Baked Mushrooms
- 6 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 2 whole green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- salt and pepper to taste
- 16 medium to large mushrooms (stems will be used as ingredient for filling)
Remove mushroom stems and melt butter in frying pan over low heat. Add the next 6 ingredients plus the chopped mushroom stems, chopped small (the size of the onion). Cook until mushrooms and onions are soft (about 10 minutes on lower heat) and remove filling into glass bowl temporarily. Using the same pan add 2 tablespoons butter and add the mushroom caps for 2-3 minutes. Stir the caps so they are nicely covered with butter. Remove the caps and put in 9×13 baking dish. Add filling to each cap. Bake filled mushrooms at 350 for about 20 minutes or until mushrooms are well cooked and sizzling. Remove and serve warm. Serves 6.
Option: add one small piece of brie to each cap after filling. Bake and serve!
Source: Adapted from my neighbor friend’s recipe.
Nectarines are so good right now and readily available. As a result, I had a surplus. Since I don’t make pies, crisps are my thing. They are easy t0 make and the finished product is always yummy. Here’s a recipe with options. I made our version with the gluten free flour in the filling and almond flour in the topping but you can easily use wheat flour in the topping and the filling. Top this with your favorite vanilla ice cream and serve warm. Mmmm.
Nectarine Blueberry Crisp
Filling – Mix together in a medium bowl:
- 5 ripe nectarines, sliced thinly
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons gluten free flour or all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup honey
Topping – In a medium bowl, combine with a pastry blender, until it resembles a course meal:
- 1 cup rolled oats (gluten free if desired)
- 1/2 cup almond meal or all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces into bowl
In an 8×8 baking dish add the filling, then cover evenly with the topping. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serves at least 6.
Source: Adapted from Kim Cravings – Easy Peach Blueberry Crisp
Being gluten free I always have my eye and ear out for a wheat free baked goods option. The inspiration for this cookie came from the Against All Grain website’s Allergy Friendly Breakfast Cookie. The recipe is changed up quite a bit and does have butter and nuts added, but the outcome was delicious and definitely a gluten free, sugar free baked treat. Enjoy for dessert, breakfast or a snack anytime of day.
Cran-Raisin Pecan Cookies
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 pitted apricots
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons raisins
Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, puree the first 4 ingredients until batter is well blended, about 30 seconds. Add the coconut flour, cinnamon, vanilla, baking soda and lemon juice and pulse a handful of times to combine. Add the pecans and dried cranberries and raisins and pulse two more times. Do not over pulse so that fruit is combined and chopped but not pureed.
Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon batter onto parchment paper and pat into cookie shapes. Cookies will be shaped as they appear when going into the oven as they come out. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove and cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
It’s the sweet strawberry time of year and last weekend I had some leftover whipped cream with strawberries from a shortcake dessert. I cooked oatmeal one morning with my usual add of nuts for a heartier breakfast and topped it with whipped cream and strawberries. It was a hit with a drizzle of honey perfection.
Strawberries and Cream Cooked Oats
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup quick cook steel cut oats
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 6-8 fresh strawberries
- a drizzle of raw honey
In a medium saucepan bring water and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add the oats. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in pecans.
While oatmeal is cooking put whipping cream in high speed blender and whip until a peak is formed. Add a touch of 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Wash and slice strawberries.
Serve warm cooked oats with whipped cream, strawberries and a bit o’ honey on top. Serves 2-3.
Source: Jackie Mack, Lingonberry Lane
I love crock pot recipes and I’ve always loved shredded pork but have never made it myself. After adapting a recipe for shredded pork from Your Home Based Mom I’m a believer that slow cooker shredded pork is a keeper. This was a spicy recipe but you can adjust the heat by adding more or less chipotle pepper.
Chipotle Shredded Pork
- 4 pound boneless pork roast
- 1/4-1/3 cup canned chipotle pepper (in adobe sauce) blended on high in blender – I used 1/3 cup and the pork was zippy but delicious
- 2 four ounce cans fire roasted diced green chiles
- 1 large onion, chopped
- juice of 3 limes + pulp if you desire
- 1/2 cup water
- salt and pepper to taste
Put pork in large crock pot. Blend chipotle peppers in blender and measure desired amount. Add chipotle pepper and the rest of the ingredients on top of the pork. Set crock pot on low and slow cook for 8 hours. Shred pork with forks. Serve with avocado, cilantro and your choice of fixings in a burrito or on top of a salad. Serves many.
Source: Adapted from Your Home Based Mom.
We were so happy to enjoy spring break in Maui again. I love a beach vacation and this was our third time relaxing in Maui so we have our favorite activities for sure (Napili Bay) but we did some new exploring, too. The above photo is from the beach at the Honua Kai Resort and Spa where we stayed.
We spent our beach days at Napili Bay beach in northwest Maui. It’s just a short drive north from Ka’anapali Beach area where we stayed.
Sunset at Napili Bay.
And there was lots of boogie boarding at Napili.
We took a day to explore the Road to Hana. It was a good 3 hour drive each way through the narrow roads to Hana and our destination was the Pipiwai Trail and the Pools of O’Heo. The hike at the Pipiwai Trail was marvelous with the bamboo forest being the highlight. The Pools of O’Heo (Seven Sacred Pools) were what we looked forward to but the water levels were so low there were no pool! We wanted to take a dip after the hot hike. If you explore more on the Road to Hana there are pools to dip in…just do your homework. We had a wonderful break at one of the smoothie/banana bread stands on the way back.
The beautiful bamboo forest. It was quite a site.
We decided to check out Wailea one night. Our destination was the Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk. The walk was lovely and serene and just checking out the Marriott, Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons in Wailea was an experience.
View from the Marriott at Wailea at night.
Our last sunset on Ka’anapali Beach.
All in all we had a wonderful and relaxing vacation. And we are lucky to be back in the sunshine in Portland!
Here’s an option for St. Patrick’s Day in case you don’t have all day to cook your corned beef. The ingredients are similar to the standard Corned Beef and Cabbage except they are cooked in a broth. The soup takes about an hour from start to finish with a bit of chopping. Perhaps the most difficult item to find is the already cooked corned beef. You may check your deli section of your local grocer. Trader Joe’s carries an uncured cooked corned beef that I had bought in years past and heated in the oven for a more traditional fare.
Corned Beef, Cabbage and Veggie Soup
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 4 cups chopped red potatoes
- 1/2 cabbage, chopped
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound (uncured) cooked corned beef, chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- salt and pepper to taste (may not need much salt)
In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium to low heat and add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Sauté until softened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes, cabbage, low sodium broth, corned beef and spices. Simmer on medium to low heat for 30-40 minutes until veggies are softened. Serve with a crusty bread or Irish Soda Bread.
Source: The soup was loosely adapted from Family Fresh Meals.
Yummy. The refreshing flavor of blended frozen strawberries, sweetened with a bit of banana and raw honey. This one is really good and the added coconut water will refresh you. The kids will love it, too. Enjoy!
Blend the following until smooth:
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut water
- 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
- 1/2 banana
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
Makes one generous serving.
Source: Jackie Mack, Lingonberry Lane
Omelettes provide a protein punch in the morning and I created a tasty one this week. I had brussels sprouts, fresh parsley and mushrooms in the fridge and decided to kick up my usual routine omelet a notch. Omelettes take just minutes to make and and are so healthy. I highly recommend this one with good greens and ‘shrooms.
Winter Veggie Omelette
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 good sized brussels sprouts
- 4 good sized mushrooms
- 4 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 eggs
- sprinkle of parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
Rinse veggies. Heat small omelet pan and add the pat of butter. Spread the butter as it melts with a spatula. Cut brussels sprouts and mushrooms into pan and sauté in butter until browned. Add small pieces of fresh parsley at end of the sauté. After veggies are browned (a few minutes) add 2 beaten eggs, spreading egg around by lifting and angling pan. Add parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until eggs are firm to your personal preference. With a spatula, take one side of the omelette and fold over to form a half fold traditional omelette. Serves one immediately.
Source: Jackie Mack, Lingonberry Lane