September 28, 2012

Blackening Seasoning

We have tons of white fish (halibut and tilapia) in our freezer. Although this fish tastes great without much seasoning, sometimes I like to add some heat to the fish. I've used this blackening seasoning a number of times in the past. A combination of a number of recipes I found on the internet, this recipe is now a staple in my cupboard, usually mixed together and sealed in a mason jar.

Blackening Seasoning
  • 1 heaping tbsp paprika
  • 1 heaping tsp garlic powder
  • 1 heaping tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I like to add between 1/2-1 tsp for more heat)
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
This seasoning is perfect for fish or chicken and can be easily modified. If you like a bit of salt in your seasoning, 1-2 tsp would be sufficient.


September 24, 2012

Hawkeye football @ The Peanut Farm

Most Big Ten football games are not televised on national television. Since the local cable network does not support the Big Ten Network, many Saturday mornings in September through November are spent at The Peanut Farm, a local sports bar and restaurant.

Why The Peanut Farm? Because they serve breakfast beginning at 6 AM every morning...including sports fans have a place to go and watch their favorite teams.

Because Anchorage is three hours behind the Midwest, an Iowa Hawkeye football game that starts at 11 AM central time, is kicking off at 8 AM Alaska time...that means breakfast for us. Matt didn't have to work on Saturday, so he joined me for the game. I'm thinking he was more excited about ordering breakfast than he was to watch the Hawkeyes...

I, on the other hand, was ready to cheer the Hawks to a victory...errr....wait, never mind. Ugh!!!

It was a pretty fall day though, so after the game and to cheer me up, Matt and I took a stroll by Chester Creek, which runs right behind the Peanut Farm. Anchorage has had TONS (x's 100000000) of rain lately, so the river was really high.

It wasn't long before the rain started to fall again...and it didn't stop all weekend.

Now you know where we are on Saturday mornings. Go Hawkeyes!!!

Homemade Applesauce

I've been enjoying all things fall lately...pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, football, etc. So, after my mom told me she was making apple pies this weekend, I decided to make applesauce. I love applesauce but hate the added sugars in the store brands. I have heard that applesauce is pretty easy to make, so I began searching for recipes online.

Combining a few ideas from a couple different blogs, I came up with this crockpot version of applesauce that has no added sugars. The only time consuming task was peeling the apples, which was much easier than expected.

Homemade Crockpot Applesauce
  • 10 pink lady apples (any kind of apple will work...I went with a sweeter apple because I didn't want to add any sugar to the recipe)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
Peel, core and chop apples into cubes. Place apples in Crockpot. Mix cinnamon, allspice, lemon juice, water and salt in a bowl and pour over apples. Stir with large wooden spoon. Cook apples on low 4-6 hours. Apples will become very soft. Mash apples to desired consistency.

I peeled the apples while I watched the Minnesota Vikings beat the San Francisco 49ers...perhaps this is why the task went so well.

After peeling the apples, I cored the apples using an apple slicer, cut the apples into cubes and added them to the crockpot.

I did my best to keep the ingredient list very short.

I poured the ingredients over the apples and turned the crockpot on low.

I stirred the apples occasionally to make sure all ingredients were evenly combined. This is what the apples looked like after about 2-3 hours of cooking.

After about 4-5 hours of cooking, I stirred and mashed the apples with a flat whisk, keeping very small chunks in the applesauce (a blender would also work).

This recipe made 6 cups of applesauce (I stored the applesauce in two mason quart and one pint...and placed in the refrigerator). 

Not too sweet and with just the right amount of spice, the applesauce turned out exactly as I had hoped...while making my condo smell delicious. I love how the cinnamon and allspice turned the applesauce a beautiful golden color.

I can't wait to add this to my oats in the morning or combine the applesauce with greek yogurt for a yummy snack.


September 06, 2012

Labor Day recap

Three day weekends are my favorite. Yes, it is only one more day to the weekend, but it seems like that one day allows for so much more time to play outside and get things done around the house.

Matt had to work through Sunday, so the outdoor activities didn't start until Monday, which was fine with me. Neither of us had ever been to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and since a strong chance of rain lingered in the forecast, we decided touring the Conservation Center and then going for a hike would be a perfect way to spend Labor Day.

According to the AWCC website...

"The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, public education, and quality animal care. AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals year-round and provides spacious enclosures and quality animal care. Animals that cannot be released into the wild are given a permanent home at the center."

The musk ox were far away but relatively active...

In my personal opinion, the AWCC was incredible. For anyone traveling to Alaska, $10 is definitely worth the educational narration and live view of Alaska's wildlife. Feedings happen periodically throughout the day and visitors are welcome to watch. Grizzlies, black bears, musk ox, elk, caribou, moose and other animals are all a part of the Conservation Center, which is vehicle accessible and walker friendly.

These moose were found after being abandon by their mother just days after being born.

The brown bear was my favorite. 

She was so fun to watch...moving from the stump to the rock...standing up and sitting down. I swear she was showing off for the crowd.

Couldn't agree more...


A bald eagle was rescued after a wing had been shot off...

These lynx were rescued as kittens by a firefighter after their mother was killed in the fire.

In addition, AWCC hosts the Wood Bison Reintroduction Program. With the only wood bison herd in North America, which was brought to the center from the Yukon Territory in November of 2003, AWCC has brought the wood bison population back to Alaska after more than 100 years of extinction.

(photo courtesy of AWCC)

Interestingly, AWCC has played an integral part in film productions, specifically when animals are needed for certain footage. National Geographic has visited the center multiple times. Sean Penn worked with AWCC when producing "Into the Wild," which required the transportation of a bull moose, caribou and calf, porcupine, bald eagle, pheasants, and red squirrels to film on location off of the Denali Highway near Cantwell. All animals were provided by AWCC who trailered the animals, set up temporary fencing and handled the animals appropriately under the observation and inspection of the Humane Society. One scene involved the actor shooting the moose with a rifle, partially butchering the animal, then coming back later only to find the carcass had gone rancid and scavengers had taken over.  

Matt and I really enjoyed the center and will probably venture back periodically for special events.

After visiting and lingering around AWCC, we drove down Portage Road for breathtaking views and decided to stop for a quick and very easy hike along the Trail of Blue Ice, which was more for the benefit of Rio, who desperately needed a bathroom break after having to stay in the car while we visited the AWCC.

A fun and fulfilling day (paw prints on the car seat = evidence)...

...Labor Day officially marks the beginning of fall in Alaska. Snow has fallen on the mountain tops, which means winter is just around the corner...