Be My Valentine

10 Chocolate Treats for your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is about so much more than finding the perfect someone to spend the day with. It’s about being there for your friends and family and showing them a little extra love, sending a card to someone you haven’t seen for a while, and well, in our opinion, it’s about eating food in the shape of a heart. Especially when it’s made with chocolate, and even more so when it’s warm and gooey.

Whomever your Valentine is this year – and maybe it’s you! – we invite you to feast your eyes and tempt your taste buds with these delicious, easy-to-bake, fun-to-make treats and put a little love in your tummy.

Captain Sea Mart’s Favorite Treats:

  1. Chocolate Covered Strawberries – it doesn’t get much easier than melting chocolate, dipping and refrigerating until the chocolate hardens.Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  1. Lava Cake – a treat that is a little more involved, but scrumptiously good, and we’ve taste tested that it tastes better in a heart shape. Trust us.Chocolate Lava Cake
  1. Heart Shaped Brownie – grab your favorite box of brownies, bake and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut them out. Add strawberry frosting and sprinkles for a little added fun.Heart Shaped Brownie
  1. Hot Chocolate – we know you’ve seen baristas make those fancy hearts out of frothed milk. If you’re like us, a little artistically challenged, cut giant marshmallows out in the shape of hearts instead.Hot Cocoa with Hearts
  1. Chocolate Covered Shortbread – buy shortbread, melt chocolate, dip, eat.Chocolate Covered Shortbread
  1. Fruit Pizza – bake sugar cookie dough in the shape of a giant heart, cover with chocolate, slice your favorite fruit and pile it on.Fruit Pizza
  1. Nutella with a side of toast – no seriously, one slice of toast, one jar of Nutella, it’s the perfect ratio.Nutella Toast
  1. Oreo Truffles – Oreos, milk, chocolate chips. That’s all you need for these delicious, bite-sized treats. Although, they taste even better when covered with sprinkles, now that we think about it.Oreo Truffles
  1. Chocolate Donuts – the best part of Valentine’s Day…eating sweets for breakfast.Chocolate Dipped Donuts
  1. Chocolate Bark – layer dark, milk, and white chocolate, then top with sprinkles, conversation hearts or pretzel pieces for a delicious snack.Chocolate Bark

Have a favorite treat we missed? Share it in the comments below.

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Baby it’s Cold Outside…

It can be cold, rainy and sometimes dreary during the Sitka, Alaska winters. As the holidays continue to quickly approaches, we encourage you to spend time with your families and friends indoors. You can stay warm and experiment in the kitchen while really enjoying your time together.

Fondue Night

Broth, cheese or chocolate – you really can’t go wrong! Fondue is a great way to gather your family around the table and make an activity out of your meal. Get everyone involved by setting out several cutting boards and handing out tasks in the kitchen. If you’re making a cheese fondue – someone can grate cheese, cut fresh veggies, slice bread, boil the shrimp, and pour the wine! We also love adding crackers, breadsticks, figs and grapes to the dipping mix.

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Craft Beer Cheese Fondue
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • ½ clove of garlic
  • 1 c. craft beer
  • 8 oz. shredded gouda
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar
  • 1 tbs. cornstarch
  • Dash of pepper
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dipping munchies of choice

Directions:

  1. Rub the fondue pot with garlic clove.
  2. Add the craft beer and heat until steam begins to rise from the beer.
  3. In a small bowl, toss together the cheese with the cornstarch.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low, then gradually add cheese to the beer.
  5. Stir continuously until the mixture is melted and smooth.
  6. Season with black pepper and nutmeg.
  7. Eat up!

It’s a Pizza Party!

Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s one of our favorites, a classic dinner that has endless possibilities. The idea behind make-your-own-pizza party is that you supply the dough, sauce, mozzarella and brews. Then you ask your friends and family to bring their favorite toppings. Now, don’t get us wrong, olive oil, buffalo sauce, blue cheese dressing and pesto all make bases too – you can either have people bring those with them or provide them as alternatives. We figure about half a pie per person, once you have one in the oven the next person can start tossing out their dough. The idea here is full-size pies cut into 16 slices so everyone gets to sample each one. This is such a fun way to get everyone in the kitchen and trying something new!

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Homemade Pizza Dough
Makes 2 pies

Ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1-1/4 c. cold water
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4-1/2 c. unbleached bread flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water, let stand 5 minutes until it turns foamy.
  2. Combine cold water, oil and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Add wheat flour and 1 c. bread flour to wet ingredients and start to mix. Continue adding 1 c. flour at a time until the dough becomes heavy and sticky.
  4. Flour your work surface and knead the dough until it forms a ball (about 15 minutes).
  5. Place ball in a greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (about 2 hours).
  6. Punch down dough and separate into 2 or more pieces, let them rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Roll out your pies and top with desired toppings.
  8. Cook at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
  9. Eat up!

Roll your own Sushi

One of the more challenging dinner party nights, but definitely a fun way to get guests out of their comfort zones. You supply the rice, seaweed papers (and roller!), sauces (think soy, peanut, something spicy), wasabi and Saki. Have friends and family bring over their favorite things to put in sushi like veggies, seafood, avocado and other meats. Or get creative. Ever tried a dessert sushi? Everything tastes better with chocolate. This is a great way to get everyone in the kitchen at the same time. You can even prep ahead of time and make some spring rolls for people to munch on while they are rolling.

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Peanut Sauce Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 tbs. Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • ¾ c. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. ginger

Directions:

  1. Place peanut butter in a mixing bowl and slowly add 6 tbsp. warm water until texture is liquid.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Eat up!

There you have it! Those are some of our favorite ideas to stay inside and have fun in the kitchen with your family. Share your photos with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Hot Cinnamon Spice Toddy

Hot Cinnamon Spice Toddy

Hot Cinnamon Spice Toddy

A delicious beverage, perfect for the Sitka, Alaska weather!

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. of your favorite bourbon
  • 8 ox. Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • Garnish with an orange wedge

Instructions:

  • Pour hot tea and bourbon into a mug.
  • Stir in the honey.
  • Garnish with an orange wedge.
  • Drink up!

Day After Thanksgiving Casserole

… a Hames Family Favorite!

Grab all your Thanksgiving leftovers and bake up this delicious casserole for a second helping.

Ingredients:

6 Slices Sourdough Bread, cut into 1″ cubes
2 C. Turkey (or chicken)
1/4 C. Green Pepper, diced
1/2 C. Celery, chopped
1 Small Onion, diced
1 Can Water Chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 C. Mayonaise
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 Eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 C. Milk
1 Can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
Grated Cheese, our favorite is Jack and Cheddar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease the bottom of a 9×13″ pan.
  2. Spread 2 slices of bread cubes on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Mix together in a bowl: turkey, green pepper, celery, onion, water chestnuts, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.
  4. Spread the mixture over the bread cubes.
  5. Top with remaining bread cubes.
  6. Use a spatula to spread the canned soup over the bread cubes (do not dilute the soup!).
  7. Bake for 50 minutes
  8. Remove from oven and top with as much grated cheese as desired and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

Hames Family Tip: Prepare the casserole the night before and place it in your refrigerator for later baking!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Sarah Nell’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Mary’s mom made a Pumpkin Chiffon Pie that was so delightful, the name on the recipe has worn off from years of baking. With a light, airy texture, this pie is a delicious alternative to traditional pumpkin pie. We think it tastes pretty amazing the morning after thanksgiving too with a little bit of Irish Coffee.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Sarah Nell’s Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

3/4 c. brown sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
3/4 c. milk
1-1/4 c. canned or mashed cooked pumpkin
3 egg whites
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 9″ graham cracker crust

Directions

  1. In saucepan, combine brown sugar, gelatin, salt and spices.
  2. Combine egg yolks and milk; stir into brown sugar mixture. Cook and still until mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in pumpkin.
  4. Chill until mixture mounds slightly when spooned (test every now and then so it doesn’t get too stiff).
  5. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add granulated sugar, beating to stiff peaks.
  6. Fold pumpkin mixture thoroughly into egg whites.
  7. Turn into crust and chill until firm.
  8. Garnish with whipped cream, drizzle with vanilla caramel sauce.

Share your favorite pie recipes below. Happy fall baking season!

Quinoa Bowls

Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls

Stay warm this fall with delicious quinoa bowls. Quinoa increased in popularity in 2013 and has been touted as one of the healthiest foods in the world. The whole protein grain is nutrient dense and contains healthy fats like mono saturated fats. This grain is the perfect base for many dishes. Just add squash, hearty veggies, seeds and nuts and you can create unique combinations to last your all winter long. One of our favorite combos with sweet potatoes is below, happy cooking!

Quinoa Bowls

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato
Avocado oil or vegetable oil
Ground cinnamon
Ground cumin
Chili powder
Salt & pepper
Cooked quinoa
Hearty leafy greens (like kale or chard)
1 Tbs garlic
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
½ cup pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds)

Directions:

  1. Cut the sweet potato in half. Rub with avocado oil, cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, salt & pepper and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes or until soft.
  2. Strip the leafy greens off the stems. If using kale, discard the stems, if using chard chop the stems in ½ inch pieces. Chop the greens into medium pieces. Sauté the stems for a couple minutes on medium heat in some avocado oil. Add the greens, garlic and apple cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Finish sautéing all ingredients until the greens are wilted but not mushy.
  3. Put the sweet potato halves into two bowls and smash with a fork a little. Top with quinoa, sautéed greens and finish with the pepitas.

Let us know what you think and share your favorite quinoa bowl recipes in the comments below.

Pineapple Ham

Mom’s Pineapple Ham

Pineapple Ham

Our very first “Win the Ingredients” contest was a hit. We loved hearing from so many of you and it was fun to see what you are up to in your kitchens. Our winner was a home cooked family recipe that we are sharing on the blog today. Stay tuned on social media for more upcoming contests – there are two more chances to win great prizes in October!

Ingredients

2 cans of crushed and 1 can of sliced pineapples
6 t cornstarch
1 t mustard
1 t lemon juice
2 cups brown sugar
1 butt portion ham

Directions

Bake ham on low, covered, for 4+ hours, or until it is falling off of the bone. Remove from bone and place in pieces in a baking dish.

In a pot, bring the 2 cans of crushed pineapples and the juice from the can of sliced pineapples, along with the remaining ingredients to a boil. Continuously stir for 3 minutes.

Pour pineapple glaze over ham, layer reserved pineapples slices on top, cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with rolls and potato salad.

SeaSalts

Best Salt Uses

SeaSalts

We know you’ve seen them, but do you know how to use them? We have many different salt varieties, and we’re here to help you navigate how to best use them in the kitchen.

Sea Salt Crystals

Even if it weren’t for our location, this would still be our favorite. Sea salt adds great flavor to just-cooked foods. Plus, it complements seafood really well, and that’s our favorite! (But, we know you already knew that)

Sea Salt Flakes

Although a little different from their crystal cousins, they still taste great on freshly cooked foods. Our favorite tip is to crush them between your fingertips and sprinkle it over fresh veggies and shellfish. We promise you won’t regret it.

Kosher Salt

It dissolves quickly and disperses throughout the dish easily; use it on everything from your favorite steak to cookies.

Himalayan Pink Salt

The pink in Himalayan pink salt comes from the 84 naturally-occurring minerals found in it. Since the crystals tend to be bigger, we recommend using it for seasoning meats. If you’ve never tried a salt roast, it creates a richly flavored dish that we know you will love!

Hawaiian Red Salt

This course sea salt gets it color from Alaea Clay and has an earthy taste. It tastes great as a rub on prime rib or as a garnish on dips and potatoes.

Grey Sea Salt

This Italian salt is made of hefty, moist crystals that maintain their moisture. It is a great finishing salt for meats or hearty root vegetables.

Although we could go on all day, that’s the rundown of our favorite ways to cook with salt. Share your favorite recipes below!

peach-bluberry-tart-on-table

Delicious Peach Blueberry Tart

Peach Blueberry Tart

Tart Ingredients:

1 package of puff pastry
2 tsp butter
5 peaches
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbs corn starch
2 tsp tapioca flour
3 Tbs sugar
1 egg, beaten
1-2 Tbs coarse raw sugar

Tart Directions:

Grease a pie tin or tart pan with butter and line with the puff pastry. Put the fruit, corn starch, tapioca flour and sugar in a bowl and toss with your hands. Place the fruit mixture in the pan on top of the puff pastry. Fold the extra puff pastry in on the edges, brush with the egg and sprinkle the crust with the raw sugar. Bake at 400° for 30-40 min or until the crust is golden.

Find more recipes on our blog.

Bacon bleu burger

Throw a Bombtastic Barbecue

With all the sunshine we’ve had recently, it’s hard not to daydream about picnics and barbecues while we’re sitting at work. With Father’s Day ahead of us, we’ve put together some of our favorite ideas on how to host the perfect barbecue to celebrate the perfect man in your life.

First, let’s be honest, almost everyone loves a little competition so don’t forget the entertainment. Some of our favorites include ladder toss, corn hole, croquet, and horseshoes. Let the games begin!

Croquet

With all the gaming, it’s important to stay hydrated. We recommend mixing in sodas, lemonade, juice, and water with all your adult beverages. Have you ever tried sangria or margarita pitchers? Those can be made ahead of time and are great to have on hand as guests are coming in, allowing you to easily greet everyone.

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Our perfect, simple lemonade recipe includes:
6 lemons, juiced
½ c. sugar
4 c. water
Just mix the ingredients, pour them into your favorite cup, and add a straw!

While your guests are enjoying themselves, you’ll want to be mingling too. What barbecue is complete without burgers and dogs? A great idea for a main course that you can set up ahead of time is a burger bar. Here’s a list of some of our favorite ingredients, to get you started.

Bacon bleu burger

The big cheese – feta, bleu, cheddar, swiss, and pepper jack.

Make it vegelicious – lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, avocado, jalapenos, and pickles will help make sure your guests don’t go hungry.

Get saucy – ketchup, mayo, and mustard are musts, but don’t forget the hot sauce, bomb sauce, and try some garlic mayo, it will help make the flavor combos unique!

Buns for days – potato buns and sesame seed buns are both delicious, but add in some other options too. Pretzel buns are a favorite of ours, and we also like adding in focaccia or tortillas. Taco burger anyone? Let your guests get creative!

Make the sides count. Spice up your potato salad with some of the garlic mayo and, we promise, guests will love it. We love cooking up some tortellini to give our pasta salad a cheesy kick. Quinoa and orzo are two other great bases for salads, and they can both be made ahead of time. Add some Latin flair to your grilled corn by adding lime juice, cotija cheese, and cilantro. Deviled eggs, grilled asparagus, coleslaw, and grilled potatoes are fun to add in also, leaving your guests with plenty of options and fully satisfied.

A great way to keep the “hangries” away is to offer chips and dips ahead of time. Don’t forget must-have party dips like guacamole and salsa, but give guests options by adding in Cowboy Caviar, loaded ranch, spinach artichoke, greek yogurt, or 7-layer bean dip.

Two great things to have on hand are sunscreen and bug spray (in case you party into the night), both of which will help keep guests comfortable while enjoying the outdoors.  Happy Summering from our family to yours!