5.21.2015

Hormel Chili Tundra Tostadas




When I was asked to represent the great state of Alaska for Hormel Chili Nation, a chili pairing for each state, I started thinking about WHAT distinctly Alaskan food I would pair with their Hormel Chili. My first thought was SALMON, it's what we're famous for but then I thought 'EW' that doesn't even sound good together. So I kept thinking, I asked my friends and they were all stumped too. Then out of the blue it struck me, PILOT BREAD. Alaskans eat MORE Pilot Bread than any other state, in fact you can't get it in stores except in Alaska, Washington and Portland, but fear not you can order it online, I checked!




In Alaska you pretty much need to be ready. You need to be ready for a week long windstorm that will knock your power out. You need to be ready for earthquakes. You need to be ready for three feet of snow. You need to be ready for spur of the moment camping trips. Or even the invasion of hungry teenagers, which is universal and occurs anywhere teenagers reside. In all of those cases, no matter what, you still have to eat. You may not have power but you will need food and the wise will have stores of food that will keep for a long time and still taste good. Hormel Chili is a great thing to have in your pantry along with canned meats, canned beans, canned soups, canned smoked salmon, canned fruit and vegetables should be in there too. One thing most Alaskans keep alongside those canned products is Pilot Bread. A large round hardtack cracker that keeps almost indefinitely and can be used in various ways, like as a cracker, as a slice of bread, crumbled in soup, toasted and buttered. I like to think of it as an edible plate, load it up and chow down.





Hormel Chili Tundra Tostadas

1 15 oz can Hormel Chili with beans
6-8 pilot breads
assorted toppings:
grated cheese
chopped hot peppers
chopped lettuce
sour cream
chopped tomatoes
salsa
hot sauce


heat the chili over medium heat
set out the pilot bread
assemble your toppings
form a sort of 'make your own' bar with the toppings
when the chili is heated through
invite your family to make their own Hormel Chili Tundra Tostada
be sure to help small ones who need it otherwise everyone else will enjoy modifying their tostada to their own preference


See how seamlessly Hormel Chili and Pilot Bread go together? This is a Chili Nation pairing that's a sure winner. You can stock up your pantry(that's a coupon link!) and eat whenever an emergency strikes and whether that emergency is hunger or extreme weather you'll be prepared.
















Giveaway Jelly Belly Bean Boozled

We went on a "first day of summer" outing the other day which usually includes a stop at Alaska Wild Berry where the boys each pick out a little something. One year it was a giant chocolate coin, last year it was Jelly Bellys and so on. They LOVE the 20 foot chocolate fall (who wouldn't), it's a pretty awesome sight. The kitchens have big windows into them so you can see what's going on in there, this time we saw a massive caramel slab being cut down to 1/4 sheet cake size, yum. They also have an AMPLE sample platter where you can try a little piece of their hand made chocolates, or many little pieces, ahem.





This year the boys chose Jelly Belly Bean Boozled as their treat, a small box of jelly beans, 1-2 ounces, maybe. The idea behind them is that they make awful flavored beans that look exactly like delicious flavored beans so tutti fruitti looks JUST like stinky socks and chocolate pudding looks JUST like canned dog food.




Lawn Clippings or Lime?!?


OH!! LIME! Whew.


 Baby Wipe or Coconut?? EWWWW Baby Wipe!




My kids spent the entire ride home giggling about the trying the beans, first one tasted was skunk spray NOT black licorice. Hilarious. They tried to pass them off to us, my mother and me, and we politely declined who wants to accidentally get rotten eggs instead of buttered popcorn? Not me. But the kids didn't mind at all.



We bought a box for my husband, thinking he'd LOVE it but alas he tried a few from the boxes the boys had and he'd had enough. So we have this extra box. It's never been opened and we didn't know what to do with it. My husband suggested giving it away here and the boys heartily agreed. So here we are, the prize isn't HUGE but do it for the kids! Winner must be a resident of the USA so we can mail it to you. Just leave a comment about WHO you'd try to fool or WHICH flavor you'd actually eat. And if you don't mind we'd love a share too, but it's NOT necessary to win.



Here's the back of the box so you can see all the choices.


Good luck! Giveaway ends on Memorial Day and we'll mail out as soon we hear from the winner.

5.17.2015

Thrifter Share

A post to share your thrifted finds, whether you plan to give them, keep them or sell them, share them here first.


Summer break starts tomorrow, so soon and yet not soon enough! We've already been camping and spent a day on the lake kayaking and had cookouts with friends, summer's going to be great if it keeps on like this. The weather is spot on perfect, except that windy night we went camping, wind at 50 mph an hour tore our tent to shreds so we ended up changing plans and half of us continued truck camping the other half headed home after a fun 'day camping' experience. We were lucky enough to spend the night at the Reindeer Farm, a unique family run farm in Butte Alaska and even if you don't get to reserve the field for a big campout you should really go to take the tour, it's a wonderful farm. And the view from above their place is to die for. 









And I hit the thrift store late one night just to "drop stuff off" and of course I ran in. No one is surprised I'm sure. I found 3 pairs of athletic pants for the 9 year old who went from a size 8 to a size 12 in one school year. He completely skipped size 10s, ungrateful kid! They are somewhere in the wash line or you'd see pictures of them, but you can imagine what they look like for kids, dark bus with a strip down the side, see just as good as a photo!

I also snatched up this wonderful old enamelware wash bin. Or dish pan. Or whatever. Maybe vintage probably NOT antique but cool and rusty in the right spots. And I've already used to haul things around in so it's a total KEEPER. 



What did you find this week? Link 'em up, leave a comment and go visit your fellow thrifters!






5.13.2015

Easy Spanakopita Triangles

The decision to make these Easy Spanakopita Triangles was completely based on two facts

  1.  I tried Spanakopita once and loved it 
  2. and I needed to bring something to our fifth grader's Greek Pentathlon Feast. 
What's better than saying you'll bring a dish you've never made before to a potluck for 100 plus people? Promising to bring a dish and realizing you despise working with an integral part of the recipe, that's what! Whoops. That's never slowed me down before, sometimes you win in those situations and sometimes you lose. This one was ALL win. All win because I used PUFF PASTRY instead of Phyllo/Fillo/Filo dough and everything tastes better wrapped in Puff Pastry amiright?






So basically I pursued a bunch of recipes and quickly discovered that other people used Puff Pastry instead of Phyllo/Fillo/Filo and they'd lived to tell the tale of making what I've come to call (in my head) a cheater's Spanakopita. In fact theirs looked so great that I fully committed to making the Easy Spanakopita Triangles by hitting the dreaded "reply all" button on the email going around.

Apparently everyone loved the flaky crispy crust filled with feta cheese and chopped spinach as evidenced by their rapid disappearance from the tables, I'm thinking roughly 8 minutes flat and all 96 hand pies were gone. Have no fear I am not giving you a recipe for 96 Easy Spanakopita Triangles but rather 32 which is still enough to feed even a gaggle of preteen boys and maybe even get one for yourself.

Or not.






**be aware the spinach AND the Puff Pastry Dough need to thaw before use--I left them in the fridge to thaw and they took roughly 6 hours**


Easy Spanakopita Triangles
Oven 350˚
makes 32 hand pies

1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 TBSP butter
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 cup feta crumbles
3 eggs, divided-2 yolks for the filling, save the remaining for brushing on as a glaze
2 sheets Puff Pastry Dough--thawed

break up the frozen spinach, rinse with cool water and squeeze out the water, leave to drain while you cook the onions
in a skillet over medium heat melt the butter and cook the onions until soft and translucent
while the onions cook mix the feta and the egg yolks in a mixing bowl
mix the remaining egg and egg whites together to make an egg wash and set aside
when the onions are done mix them with the cold spinach to cool them off
then mix them into feta and eggs
roll out one Puff Pastry sheet to roughly 12 inches square, score the sheet into 16 squares approximately 3x3 inches
divide the filling in half in the bowl and then split one of those halves between the 16 squares
fold each square over to form a triangle and then use a folk to crimp the edge
transfer the hand pies to a baking sheet, brush lightly with the egg wash and bake in a 350˚ oven for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through
repeat with the remaining puff pastry and filling
makes 32




Of course if you have a lot of people to feed triple the recipe like I did or even quadruple it. They're good served chilled so even if you have any leftover, highly doubtful, they'll still be good the next day.


5.10.2015

Thrifter Share


A post to share your thrifted finds, whether you plan to give them, keep them or sell them, share them here first.


Oh I summer break is coming, we've got a lot of BIG plans for summer, for the first time in a few years we're going to do a bit of traveling around the state. We're going to hit interior Alaska, the Kenai Peninsula and possibly maybe Valdez. I think a cruise or a ferry trip may be in our future too. We've got lots of hiking plans, biking plans and even (gulp!) camping plans, summer is going to be great!

My kids are also excited about garage sales, which is weird because for the last 4-5 years it's always been a groan and moan situation. "Ohhh mommmmmmmmm do we have to stop here?" Now they've figured out they can spend their own money and that makes it so much more interesting. And fun. For all of us really because when they spend their OWN money they really have to shop and think about it not just be told no, yes or maybe, it's a choice THEY make. 

We hit a rummage sale this weekend. I found a few things and so did they. When asked if they wanted to buy the things they we're looking at one said yes, and he bought a fish finder that turned out to be a dud. We knew it probably would be because it didn't have any directions or wires or a way to make it run, but now he has lots of things to take apart. The other boy declined to buy a perfectly good .25¢ rubies cube he didn't really need. 

I bought a 6 foot runner for our mudroom. I paid 3 bucks for it and I know new it would cost about 25 because I just bought the exact same rug, same pattern and all LAST spring. It's looking a bit ratty since the mastiff has adopted it so this will make a nice replacement. Did I take a photo? No, no I did not. Probably had a 150 pounds of dog on it. 



I did take a picture of the afghan I bought. I paid 2 dollars for it at the same rummage sale. I know how many hours went into this thing and wow two bucks is a bargain. 




I got really creative and original and hung over the back of a chair. But hey it matches the other chair with it's thrift store afghan. 






Um come to think of it every single thing in this picture is thrifted except the wire the maps are hung and the binder clips, well I like old things (and I can not lie!?!) I guess. 


Link up your thrifted finds, go visit your fellow thrifters and leave a comment if you LOVE thrifty things!

5.06.2015

Costco Line Stress

Few things strike fear in my heart like a run to Costco.


Why? It's a friendly enough place, the employees are helpful and knowledgeable. The products are solid, if they sell it they stand behind it. The carts are gloriously big enough to hold enough food for a family with two soon to be teen boys, and I know what I speak of because our 22 year old ate like there was no tomorrow. And if you're at the other end of life with kids well the carts come with two seats for kids and that's nice too. There is nothing scary about the place but once my shopping is done Line Stress pops up, truth be told it's an underlying issue during any Costco run but I can usually quell it by ignoring it, that always works for problems, doesn't it?


On a recent trip to the 'Co I took note of what bothered me about checking out:

First stress, finding a line. HOLY hell which line to choose? every single line is long, snaking back, doubling over on itself filled with people who just want to the beep out of this building, asap. They all have equally full carts and while they're pretty damn happy to be done with shopping, and they'll gladly let a person with 1-2 items go ahead of them, they want out. FAST. Maybe they have to get to work, maybe their kids are d.o.n.e with this shopping trip or whatever, it's genial line but the underlying feeling is one of get-me-out-of-here-now.



Second Stress, unloading. The conveyor belts are incredibly short, they're seriously more normal grocery store length and not 'I'm shopping to feed an army of (2)children whose favorite past time is playing followed up by eating, with snacking coming in third' I tell you, that belt is too short. So you stand there in limbo, half your order on the belt, stacked like a drunk got into your cart and wanted to see what was at the bottom. "Oh bread was on top of everything in the cart so OF COURSE it goes on first, with the 5 pound wedge of Jarlsberg right next to it with the cereal balanced on top of the cheese, barely touching the bread, I'm making progress with unloading the cart!" This form of semi-intelligent unloading quickly escalates to"Oh my god I'm next and my cart is still full, who cares just start slinging crap on the belt, tampons, a dozen roses, 5 pounds of bananas, frozen chicken on top of that, a swimsuit and a case of motor oil to top it all off. Screw the croissants that were cosseted for the entire trip, its go time bitches."


Third Stress: Card Stress. Heart pounding, I've just stacked most of my very important purchases like I just don't give a rats ass, and at this point I don't, because I WON, most of my things are no longer in the cart. BOOM! Card? What card? "Oh that card it's right here in my wallet...wait no it's not in here? Where the hell is my card?" Full pat down commences. "I HAD to have it to get in the building but now where is it? MY CARD oh ha in my back pocket where I put it for safe keeping" Right, here's my card.



Fourth stress: Box Stress. Do you want boxes. Do I? Yes? No? Maybe? I DON'T KNOW, enough with the hard questions. I mean if I DON'T get boxes its 1-3 items at a time to haul in. And regular reusable grocery bags are just as bad, they only hold 1 of the mega sized products. So do I want boxes?? Yes, maybe one for frozen stuff?



Fifth Stress: Money Stress. This is probably ALL ME but I have this fear that I'll spend more money than by debit card limit will allow and I will hold up the line. That's the worse possible scenario (to me!) is to hold up the line and be the reason for the line stalling out. SO I'm scrupulously careful to stay under or right at the banks imposed daily debit limit.



Sixth Stress. Receipt Stress. I made it! I shopped, I stacked, I got a box, I paid. I'm outta here and oh what hell is this, where is my receipt?? WHERE is it? The second full body pat down reveals nothing, not one scrap of paper is found to be on my body, anywhere. Pull over out of the line of full bulging carts pushed by confident people happily holding their receipt in their hand. In their hand, while pushing the cart. Why can't I do that? Where the HELL is my receipt, seriously. Found it wrapped around my Card in my wallet right where it doesn't belong. Merge back into line get to the door and hand them my card when they really want the receipt. OH GOD where is it? Oh hahhahaha clutched in my hand, sweaty and smudged but it's there nonetheless. And out the door I go.


I know, I'm probably the only one who feels like this because when I mentioned it to my sister, who works there by the way, she laughed at me. Seriously, my stress is her humor but it made me think, maybe I'm the only one? But I can't be, can I?






5.03.2015

Thrifter Share




A post to share your thrifted finds, whether you plan to give them, keep them or sell them, share them here first.


It's been a really busy week around here, the end of school is drawing near, summer is coming on fast and there is so much to do and get done. Our spring has been long and mostly dry and you'd think, THINK, I'd have everything done outside by now. But ohhhh noooo I'm still futzing around like it's April and the snow just melted. I have lawns to rake, gardens to clean out, sticks to pick up and generally everything to do outside. Luckily the weekend was amazingly warm and clear, perfect for working outside. It was so nice out I even hauled my thrifted goodies outside to take a quick snapshot. 



I had to run to Anchorage last week and so I whipped into a little thrift store I really like and found two cool things. A milk crate from the defunct Matanuska Maid Dairy. My grandparents were part of the original Co-op here in Palmer and I pick up these milk crates whenever I see them. I use them for hauling things around the house or holding projects I'm working on, I even use them for working in the garden when I'm trying to stay clean I'll sit on a milk crate and weed. 





I also grabbed the Rubbermaid bin because I have another one just like it. They can be stacked on top of each other. I think now that I have two I'll stack them and use them in my pantry for holding small packets, boxes and other little stuff. Maybe one as a snack bin? 

I was working outside yesterday,(read drinking an iced coffee and talking to my husband while he worked) and my 11 year old came roaring up on his bike. He'd been off to find a neighborhood garage sale and see what there was to see and boy was he excited. Turns out he'd found a violin and wanted to buy it for his little brother but didn't have enough money to buy it. We jumped in the car and zipped off to have another look at it and found that while it need a little work it seemed to be mostly cosmetically damaged, faded/worn off finish was the major problem. So we bought and even though it only had 3 strings on it at the time he was able to play Ode to Joy for the ladies hosting the sale. They swooned and told him the girls were going to LOVE him someday. For once he didn't gag, choke and fall over he just smiled. I love that kid!