Thursday, December 11, 2008

And Where Have YOU been?

I know, that's the question all of you have had for me for the past, oh, six weeks or so, right? Well, I've been crazy-busy both at home and work. I know, it sounds like a MAJOR cop-out, but truly, I've been pulled in so many directions lately that I'm starting to look like a Stretch Armstrong doll. I not only missed a Daring Bakers Challenge in November, but didn't even make one post in the entire month of November. I've been blogging for a year and a half now and that has NEVER happened. I feel like such a slack-ass blogger!! *hangs head in shame*

In my defense, I do have a number of reasons I've been so negligent to my blog:
1) My mom got engaged in September and she and her now-husband got married the first weekend in December and had chosen yours truly as her Maid of Honor, so a lot of the last-minute wedding planning details fell on my shoulders. Not to mention the fact that we had to fly out to Seattle the weekend before the wedding to tie up loose ends and prepare for the big day. (I did manage to squeeze in some much-needed retail therapy/Christmas shopping while we were there. Seattle-ites, when did the Southcenter Mall get so awesome?!?!?!?! Sure, you wait til I move 2,500 miles away before you get the mall I so desired for the four years I lived there!! Grrrr!).
2) I am now an official member of my husband's darts team, thankyouverymuch! And I'm actually quite decent! I can hold my own on darts night, even against the big boys. I surprise even myself! Unfortunately, this means missing America's Next Top Model, Top Chef and Project Runway on Wednesday nights, but oh well. I can DVR them.
3) I've been taking dance classes at a local studio on Monday nights, and it's working wonders for my confidence, flexibility, and posture (I'm a habitual sloucher). I missed our Winter Showcase due to mom's wedding, but will most definitely be performing in the Spring recital.
4) A lot of the stuff I've been cooking and baking I've already posted here on my blog. For instance, last night, I made the salmon chowder I posted a while back. It's delicious, and I've got it down to a science, baby! I like being able to tweak it to suit how spicy or savory I want it. I do have a couple new recipes I want to try out this weekend, though, so fingers-crossed, you'll be seeing actual recipes here again, dear readers! (Or reader, as I fear I've only got the one).
5) I'm a pretty adept multi-tasker. I can listen to my iPod, chew gum, read a book and stir a pot of spaghetti sauce all at the same time. That being said, here's what I've been juggling while I'm cooking in my new kitchen:
I can listen to this album on repeat all day long. I have fallen in love with every song on there. And in my dreams, I wish my singing voice sounded like hers.

I am a complete friggin' Wall-E fanatic. I love everything about him. He's just so darn cute, how can you not love him? I love his cute lil voice and his curiosity for things and his undying love for Eve. *sigh* I could watch Wall-E all day long. We got a Blu-Ray player recently and I've been watching Wall-E on blu-ray ever since. A lot, actually. It even came with a digital copy of it so I could upload it to my iPod and watch it, well, whenever I damn well please. :)

Of course, it wouldn't be the holidays without Christmas movie marathons at my house. My favorites are:
So, in order for me to make up for the neglect I've given towards my blog and reader(s), I invite you all over to my house for a Christmas movie marathon!!! However, I feel I should warn you: I live in Kodiak, AK where it's colder than a witch's titty right now, and we have two large dogs who like to greet our guests with lots and lots of slobbery kisses!!
So, hope all is well in your corner of the world, folks! I hope to see you again real soon!
Much Love,
~Mehgan~

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Go Italian!!

Greetings from Alaska, fellow foodies!! Welcome to another round of Daring Bakers yummy-goodness. Let me just say, I was SOOOO excited to do this month's challenge. The hubby and I are BIG-time pizza fans, and so when Rosa of Rosa's Yummy-Yums (link in the blogroll on the sidebar) announced this month's challenge just in time for the NFL season to kick-off, well, the only thing I had to decide was to make it on Sunday or Monday nights!

This month's Daring Bakers Challenge is dedicated to Sherry, of the blog What Did You Eat?, and her memory. Sherry was supposed to host this month's Daring Bakers Challenge along with Glenna from A Fridge Full of Food, however, life's tragic events prevented both from hosting this month. Sherry was an avid blogger, and I used to visit her blog all the time. After her death not too long ago, it was a shock heard round the food-blogger world. She had touched so many lives, and we will forever miss her.



I'm not going to post the recipe here, because it's quite lengthy and you can make it either regular or gluten free. Either way is posted on Rosa's blog and you can find it there.

I made three versions (so far): pepperoni & olive for the hubby, vegetarian for me, and a peanut butter & banana one for dessert. This pizza dough recipe blows my old one out of the water! The crust is tender and chewy and provides the perfect backdrop for a whole host of ingredients. Throw whatever you want at it, this dough can take it.


I did take pictures of me tossing the dough, however I'm having problems uploading them to blogger, but will post them later for sure.
Enjoy!
~Mehgan~

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quiche Kick

You know those weeks when it seems like if you didn't have bad luck, you wouldn't have any luck at all? That's exactly the kind of week I've been having. Drama-rama to the max, not only at work, but with my family, too. And then, once the big things start to turn bad, you start to notice all those little things you'd normally let go. Half way to work, you realize you left your cell phone at home on your nightstand. Or you get to the gym, and there are no treadmills left for you to run on. All these little things add up, and towards the end of the week, you just want to shout, "I give up!!!". Yep, I totally had that week. And to top it all off, it snowed last night. Yep, that's Alaska for you, baby.
I was also getting really frustrated, because I had attempted two other recipes for this month's Royal Foodie Joust ingredients (acorn squash, sage and oranges) and had come up with some of the most off-tasting dinners, it was insane. I tried making a cajun rice stuffed acorn squash dinner, but my husband was like, "Why is this dessert salty?". So that didn't work. Then I tried making an acorn squash scone that came out the consistency and taste of a softball. I was not pleased. I had given up.
So, by the time Wednesday rolled around, I was so ready for some comfort food. Something fairly easy, but still feels like a hug. I was just cruising around the internet, looking at different cuisines, and noticed that quiche is a German food (well, in a sense), so considering the fact that my hubby's German just sealed the deal for me. I adapted a couple of recipes to get to this one, so I'll just list how I made mine.
Super-Tasty Quiche-
Ingredients:
For pie crust:
-1 1/2 cups AP flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-3 to 4 tbsp ice cold water
-1/3 cup shortening (like Crisco)
For filling:
-6 large eggs
-1 cup of heavy cream
-1/2 lb sausage
-1 tomato, chopped
-1/2 white onion, chopped
-1/2 cup spinach, chopped (I used fresh baby spinach, you can use frozen spinach, but make sure you drain it really well before you add it to the quiche)
-2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 cup shredded cheese (your choice, I used 1/4 cup mozzarella, and 3/4 cup cheddar)
-salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions: In a food processor, combine all the pie crust ingredients and pulse until it binds together well (looks kind of like scrambled eggs). Gather all the dough into a ball, and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Carefully line the a pie tin with the pie dough and pop in the fridge for about an hour. This allows the fats in the crust to rest so that your crust doesn't melt into a puddle in the oven.
Preheat oven to 425F. In a small skillet, cook the sausage. Drain and let cool. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Stir in the vegetables, salt and pepper. Pull the pie crust out of the fridge and sprinkle it with 1/3 of the cheese and all of the sausage. Carefully pour the filling into the pie shell (don't fill it too full, or it'll spill over as it bakes), then sprinkled the rest of the cheese on top. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300F for 30 more minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for ten minutes (this is an important step, you don't want runny quiche).
My thoughts: I love quiche, but haven't always been so fond of it. When I was a kid, I hated it. Egg pie? Yeah, no thanks. But, since being married I've given it another chance, because it seems like every family holiday I'm at, I get asked to make it for breakfast, so I grew to like it again. I like mine loaded up with good stuff, almost to the point where there's more "stuff" than there is eggs. I like how it's so versatile, you can put anything in it.
Which is why I tried to give this month's Royal Foodie Joust ingredients one more try with some of the extra quiche ingredients I had leftover...
...and made these cute little mini quiches!! Aren't they just adorable? I only made the two, because I didn't have much of the original ingredients leftover. The filling for these is about 3 tbsp cooked acorn squash, 1 tsp dried sage, and just a sprinkling of orange zest on top with the cheese.
It was an interesting combination, that surprisingly worked really well together. The sage and acorn squash brought a nice earthiness to the quiche, while the orange zest gave it that wow factor, a refreshing punch on the roof of your mouth.

Sorry I'm not posting any "carnage" photos of these (you know, like with a bite out of them or cut in half) because they were bite-sized and I just popped 'em in my mouth. Which probably wasn't the best idea when they were piping hot from the oven, but oh well. They were worth the scalded tongue.
What would you add this month's Royal Foodie Joust ingredients to?
~Mehgan~



Monday, October 13, 2008

My Favorite Combination

If you were to ask anyone in my family what my favorite flavor combination is, they'd tell you (without blinking or hesitation): peanut butter and banana. I think it all started when I had an amazing peanut butter and banana smoothie from World Wrapps in Bellevue, WA (what made it even better, is it was free!). I used to live about 45 minutes from Bellevue, so getting my smoothie fix from World Wrapps was a rare occasion, since I never really went there.

So, I went on a search for a yummy replica. Jamba Juice has something similar called Peanut Butter Moo'd, which is pretty tasty, but not the same. Same thing goes for Inta Juice. They had one that was close, but they added chocolate to it. I didn't mind the chocolate, but it seemed to overpower the banana flavor. I even went so far as to try making it at home, but it still wasn't the same. And now that we've moved to Alaska, I have a feeling I won't get to have my beloved peanut butter and banana smoothie for a long, long time.

Out of pure boredom (and desperation, I'll admit), I hopped on over to www.allrecipes.com and plugged "peanut butter" and "banana" into their search engine, and I was bombarded by many recipes that incorporated my favorite flavors. I see I'm not the only one with this fixation!!

Since it was really cold today, freezing in fact it snowed (!), I decided to go with something warmer than a smoothie. I settled on peanut butter and banana muffins, and boy am I glad I did! I always have such a hard time justifying making muffins, because I know they're just a glorified, naked cupcake with little to no nutritional value. Well, these bad boys are actually not that bad for you. They have little sugar, and they also include rolled oats, which are yummy in a muffin for breakfast. Although there is 3/4 cup of peanut butter, it's evenly distributed over 18 muffins, so they can't be that bad, right?

Peanut Butter & Banana Muffins-

Ingredients:

-1 cup all-purpose flour

-3/4 cup quick cooking oats

-1 tbsp baking powder

-1 cup milk

-3/4 cup peanut butter (I'm a JIF fan, there is no other brand of PB for me)

-3/4 cup mashed bananas

-1 egg, beaten

-2 tbsp vegetable oil

-1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

-2 tbsp butter, melted

-2 tbsp packed brown sugar

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375F. Grease or line your muffin tin. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, then slowly add them to the dry ingredients, mixing until just moistened. Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full. In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients. Sprikle topping evenly over poured muffins. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

These muffins came out SOOOO delicious!! The batter was excellent, and after they were baked, they were divine. I'm guilty of slathering a wee bit of butter in the middle of my warm muffins, for some added indulgence. My mouth is watering just thinking about them as I type this.

Enjoy!

~Mehgan~

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Collection

You've seen them everywhere on everyone's blogs. The lists. You know what I'm talking about. The Omnivore's Hundred. And multiple other ones. Everytime I saw one, I'd think to myself, I should do this and post it on my blog! But, after seeing various incarnations of them, it seemed like I'd be posting a new one every other day. So, I started collecting the lists, and had them saved up till I could post them all together. So, what you're getting is a few of the ones I've gotten so far and managed to find the time to change the answers to my own. I'll give a brief explanation of each as I post them.

The ones in Bold I've done, the ones in red I'd never do, and the ones in green italics I want to do.

1. Touched an iceberg
2. Slept under the stars
3. Been a part of a hockey fight
4. Changed a baby’s diaper
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Swam with wild dolphins
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said “I love you” and meant it
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris – would LOVE to go there
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game – Go Seahawks!
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty – can you even do this anymore? I thought they closed the top of it off after 9-11.
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Taken an ice cold bath
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Ridden a roller coaster
31. Hit a home run
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
33. Adopted an accent for fun – It helped me win #62.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment
36. Loved your job 90% of the time
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Watched wild whales
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach
41. Gone sky diving – also on my list of things I want to do in my lifetime
42. Visited Ireland – I have been to Scotland, but not Ireland (yet).
43. Ever bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight – yeah, right!
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabetized your personal files
48. Ever worn a superhero costume
49. Sung karaoke
50. Lounged around in bed all day
51. Gone scuba diving – one of my biggest fears, no thank you!
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Done something you should regret, but don’t
56. Visited the Great Wall of China – also on my list of things I want to do.
57. Started a business – another of my personal goals
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Been in a movie
60. Gone without food for 3 days – I was VERY ill last March.
61. Made cookies from scratch- um, hello, look who you’re talking to!
62. Won first prize in a costume contest- Yes, I was dressed as an elf from the Lord of the Rings along with my best friend when we were 17. It was awesome.
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Been in a combat zone
65. Spoken more than one language fluently
66. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone- I’m counting verbal arguments.
67. Bounced a check- I was young and still getting used to managing my own finances.
68. Read - and understood - your credit report
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over- Just this past summer!
73. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money
77. Broken a bone
78. Ridden a motorcycle
79. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
83. Eaten sushi- I LOVE sushi.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read The Bible cover to cover
86. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school
89. Changed your name
90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes- I made these myself, as well as used store-bought. I love them.
92. Read The Iliad- Not the whole thing, but excerpts. I still count them, though.
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch
94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
99. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair- my family had a booth at a farmer’s market, does that count?
102. Dyed your hair- I’ve been dying my hair since I was 13.
103. Been a DJ
104. Rocked a baby to sleep- I love doing this.
105. Ever dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all fours
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people
108. Brought out the worst in people
109. Worn a mood ring
110. Ridden a horse
111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap
112. Prepared a dish where four people asked for the recipe
113. Buried a child
114. Gone to a Broadway play
115. Been inside the pyramids
116. Shot a basketball into a basket
117. Danced at a disco
118. Played in a band
119. Shot a bird
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train- It really is underappreciated. I love riding the train.
123. Brought an old fad back into style- I’m constantly looking for vintage fashion.
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need- Hello, timeshare! But, in retrospect, I do think it was a good purchase, we love vacationing.
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant
127. Published a book
128. Pieced a quilt- I’m working on this one.
129. Lived in an historic place
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage
131. Asked for a raise
132. Made a hole-in-one- It was a fluke.
133. Gone deep sea fishing
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon
136. Learned to surf
137. Invented something
138. Flown first class- So much better than coach, but I rarely get to do it.
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite
140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa- really want to go.
142. Sang a solo
143. Gone spelunking- helped me get over my claustrophobia.
144. Learned how to take a compliment- my mom taught me to just say, “Thank you very much”. (Not, “I know”. That’s just rude).
145. Written a love-story
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted-I’ve been sketched, but not painted.
148. Written a fan letter- I was a crazy tween.
149. Spent the night in something haunted
150. Owned a St. Bernard or Great Dane- Cody thinks he’s a Great Dane.
151. Ran away
152. Learned to juggle
153. Been a boss- I’ve been a mentor/supervisor, but not a boss (yet).
154. Sat on a jury
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet
157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox
160. Gotten food poisoning
161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks
164. Gone to the opera
165. Gotten a letter from someone famous- I’m counting an e-mail I received from Johnny Whitworth (he was in Empire Records).
166. Worn knickers
167. Ridden in a limousine
168. Attended the Olympics
169. Can hula or waltz and polka.- I can belly dance, though.
170. Read a half dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books
171. Been stuck in an elevator
172. Had a revelatory dream
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life- I helped someone after a car accident, but I don’t think it was life or death.
176. Eaten raw whale
177. Know how to tat, smock or do needlepoint
178. Laughed till your side hurt
179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival- I’m counting the Renaissance Fair.
182. Sent a message in a bottle
183. Spent the night in a hostel- this will most likely change once we travel more.
184. Been a cashier
185. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma
188. Built a campfire
189. Kept a blog
190. Had hives
191. Worn custom made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation
193. Taken a Hunter’s Safety Course
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube
196. Know CPR
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend
199. Helped solve a crime
200. Responded to a NJP newsletter

This next one is very similar to the last one. Everything I've eaten are in Bold, the things I've eaten and love are in Bold Green, things I would never eat are in red, and things I'd like to try are in green italics.

1. New York pizza
2. Hoppin' John
3. New Mexico green chile
4. Homemade buttermilk biscuits
5. Tasso
6. Whole Maine lobster
7. Calabash-style shrimp and hushpuppies
8. Kansas City barbecue ribs
9. Hot glazed Krispy Kreme - I don't eat these very often, though, I restrain myself because I know they are satan donuts, but still, they're very tasty.
10. San Diego fish tacos
11. Cheese curds
12. Key lime pie
13. Philly cheese steak
14. Memphis pork barbecue sandwich
15. Lowcountry boil
16. Huckleberry pie
17. New England clam chowder
18. Boiled peanuts
19. Buffalo burger
20. Eggs Benedict
21. Pastrami on rye
22. Corned beef and cabbage
23. Pancakes with maple syrup
24. Everything bagel with cream cheese and tomato
25. Thin Mints
26. Frito pie
27. Potato knish with mustard
28. Silver Queen corn on the cob
29. Soft pretzel from a street cart
30. Fresh-picked blueberries
31. Sourwood honey
32. State fair funnel cake
33. Chesapeake crab cakes
34. Candied yams
35. Oyster dressing
36. Snow cone or snowball
37. Wild Alaskan salmon
38. Sautéed morels - I hate mushrooms.
39. Persimmon pudding
40. General Tso's Chicken
41. Frozen custard
42. Italian sausage with peppers and onions on a hoagie bun
43. Chili dog
44. Buffalo wings with blue cheese
45. Spam musubi
46. Saltwater taffy
47. Fluffernutter sandwich on Wonder Bread
48. Black and white cookie
49. Frybread
50. BLT with thick-cut applewood bacon
51. Baked beans
52. Pumpkin pie
53. Collards with vinegar and Tabasco
54. Tex-Mex fajitas with skirt steak and sautéed peppers
55. Fried green tomatoes
56. Succotash (I hate lima beans)
57. Shrimp and grits
58. Hot water cornbread
59. Barbecue chicken pizza with red onions – I love Pyramid Alehouse’s in Seattle.
60. Chicken fried steak
61. Carnitas burrito
62. Apple butter
63. Geoduck
64. Soft-serve ice cream cone dipped in chocolate shell
65. Pecan pie
66. Catfish supper at a church or fire station
67. Oysters Rockefeller
68. Homemade cranberry sauce
69. Pimiento cheese
70. MoonPie washed down with R.C. Cola (well, without the RC Cola)
71. Pickled watermelon rind
72. Cracker Jacks at the ball game
73. Smithfield ham
74. Meatloaf and mashed potato blue plate special at diner
75. Chicken and waffles
76. Po'Boy
77. Green bean casserole with French's fried onions
78. Stuffed sopaipillas
79. Turducken
80. Shad roe on toast
81. Sweet potato casserole with or without marshmallows
82. Cioppino
83. New York cheesecake
84. Pan-fried river trout
85. Jambalaya
86. North Carolina pig pickin'
87. California rolls
88. Burgoo
89. Penuche fudge
90. Fried peanut butter and banana sandwich (the Elvis)
91. Scrapple or livermush (I have had haggis, though)
92. Elk medallions in red wine reduction
93. Muscadine grapes
94. Cheeseburger at backyard barbecue
95. Open-face turkey sandwich
96. Chicago deep dish pizza
97. Cobb salad
98. Peach pie a la mode
99. Macaroni and cheese with Tillamook sharp cheddar
100. Root beer float

The next one is very similar, so I'm including it:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (I have had ‘gator, though)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle (my dad bought me some for my 20th birthday)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras (I refuse to EVER eat this)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper mama didn't raise no fool!
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/€80/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

This next list is much the same as the others, but about books.

1) Bold those you have read.
2) Put an asterisk next to those you started but didn't finish.
3) Italicize those you intend to read (or have started and intend to finish).
4) Red the books you LOVE
5) Reprint this list in your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky *
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen*
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (I put this one in red because it was my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia collection, but as a whole, Chronicles of Narnia wasn't my favorite)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

(Boy, was that a pain in the butt to put together, no wonder I waited so long!!)

Well, there you go folks! Four VERY long and complicated lists of things I've done, eaten and read, a few that I'd be willing to try. As you can see, I'm very open-minded to new adventures, whether they be tasks, dishes or books, I'm up for pretty much anything! Hope you liked it!

~Mehgan~

Monday, October 6, 2008

I Love Pancakes!

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a serious breakfast lover. I wasn't always like that, in fact, a few years ago, the closest thing to breakfast I ate on a normal basis was a venti caramel macchiatto from Starbucks. That is sad. Especially since my mom was always harping on the fact that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day". Goodness, I can hear her in my head!

I typically eat a small breakfast during the work-week, but go hog wild on weekends. That's when I can really flex my cooking muscles and branch outside the usual english-muffin-with-cream-cheese-and-fruit rut and try new things. Not crazy, insane, huge breakfasts, but you know, the good stuff.

I had some extra cooked pumpkin hanging around my fridge from the Pumpkin Spice Muffins last week, and really wanted some pumpkin pancakes. I've been seeing these bad boys everywhere. Except one thing: I was cooking for one. I didn't need a huge stack of pancakes (though, that would have been gluttonously satisfying), so I tried to cut the recipe down a bit. Probably not a good idea. There's no easy way to half an egg (which I ended up omitting, which is most likely the root of my problems). But, the end result wasn't repulsive, just a more dense/heavy pancake, which was fine by me.

I adapted this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Pancakes/Detail.aspx , but I added a dash of cardamom for a little something extra. It was delicious. I had my pancakes with a healthy slathering of maple syrup, a side of vanilla yogurt and sliced strawberries and a nice big glass of OJ.

Oh, breakfast, how I love thee.

Cheers!

~Mehgan~

Monday, September 29, 2008

An Autumn Expirement...

Greetings! Recently, I decided to treat myself to some beauty essentials from Sephora.com, and one of my favorite product lines (Philosophy) has released their Fall products, and I just knew I had to get me some Pumpkin Spice Muffins body wash. See, it's a shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath all in one. I don't use it for the shampoo, though, but I do use it for shower gel/bubble bath fun. I've used their products for years, especially their food flavored stuff (cinnamon buns, strawberry milkshake, and the gingerbread man body scrub are also my favorites).

My husband has been on a real pumpkin spice kick lately, we've got scented candles everywhere and even some plug-ins that are pumpkin spice scented. I think it's because we're getting our Fall season much earlier here than the rest of the country. It's been chilly since the end of August, and when we woke up this morning to go jogging, there was frost on the ground. After our run, I took a shower, and used the Pumpkin Spice Muffin body wash, and as it filled my shower with its lovely aroma, I decided I just had to make some muffins to go with this bright and shiny Fall day. Lo and behold, Philosophy has so generously provided a recipe right there on the bottle!! I love them.

I couldn't believe how much these muffins smell exactly like the body wash, it's insane. And not only do they smell like it, but they taste like it too! They're not too sweet like the muffins you'd get from Costco or Starbucks, they're more of a hearty breakfast muffin with some yummy spice to them. Here's the recipe:

Philosophy's Pumpkin Spice Muffins-

Ingredients:
-2 cups of flour
-2/3 cups brown sugar
-1/3 cup sugar
-1 tbsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp ground ginger
-1/2 cup melted butter
-1/2 cup cooked pumpkin (I used the kind from a can and they turned out fine)
-1/3 cup buttermilk
-2 eggs, slightly beaten

Instructions: Heat oven to 400F. Stir together all ingredients except butter, pumpkin, buttermilk and eggs in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Stir contents of medium bowl into flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan (or muffin cups). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan.

Three words: delicious, delicious, DELICIOUS!!! My goodness, I love these muffins. I think I found a new trusty muffin recipe. They're so moist and yummy, slightly dense with a real spice to them. This recipe made 18 muffins almost exactly, and I have a feeling they'll go fast. I should have doubled the recipe, darn it! Oh, well, I'll just have to make them again and fill my house with the super mouth-watering pumpkin spice muffin smell again!

Note: the two photos above are my "moody-muffin" shots, so I'm including this one below for a clearer shot of the muffins with their namesake product.

Enjoy!

~Mehgan~

Sunday, September 28, 2008

And I'm Late!

It totally figures that the one Daring Bakers Challenge that I actually completed at the beginning of the month, I end up posting a day late!! I don't know why I thought our post day was Sunday instead of Saturday, I must have been completely frazzled when I read about this month's challenge. Which is sad, because we're making Daring Bakers history here, people!

This month's challenge, brought to you by Shellyfish of the blog Musings From the Fish Bowl and Natalie from the blog Gluten A Go Go, is a savory one. And there's a catch, it had to be vegan and/or gluten-free. I was a little scared at first, because I really wanted to make a cream cheese and chive dip to go with the Lavash crackers, but I found a way to make a divine vegan hummus. For the recipe, venture on over to the Daring Bakers blogroll to their blogs and you'll find everything you need, even a recipe for a really yummy Honeydew Peach Salsa.
(My apologies for the crappy photos, once again, I was without a digital camera and had to use my cell phone, but rest assured, I've got the digital camera back from my husband, so no more lackluster photos!! Yay!)
I went with a vegan hummus which I just came up with myself while I was waiting for the crackers to cool. I threw a can of garbanzo beans (drained with about 1/2 cup of the juices reserved, just in case) three cloves of garlic, the juice of one lemon, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper into my food processor and let 'er rip! It was sooooo good and so simple tasting. I loved it with some chopped up roma tomatoes, red onion and cucumber (which isn't pictured above because I remembered it only after I took the photo). These crackers have a lovely snap to them, and are really hearty tasting. I made one salty batch, and the second batch I sprinkled with a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and cardamom and it's really good dipped in some blueberry jam!
See you next month!
~Mehgan~

Monday, September 22, 2008

My favorite time of year...


Ahhhhhh, Autumn. How I love thee. Today marks the official first day of Fall, folks, and seeing as how I love it so much, I just had to make a divine soup to commemorate it. I didn't want just any old chicken noodle soup, I wanted something new and slightly exotic, while still comforting and hearty. I was given a recipe for Thai-Spiced Salmon Chowder by a co-worker, but I didn't have some of the neccessary ingredients on hand, so I tweaked it a bit to suit what I had in my kitchen already. The results were fabulous. I can't stop eating this soup!! I made a loaf of homemade bread to go with it, and the combination is pure ecstasy. I don't know if that's because I was STARVING or it truly is that good, but I ended up eating three helpings of this bad boy, and would gladly have licked the pot clean, but I felt guilty, so I reserved some for lunch tomorrow. Here's the recipe:


Mehgan's Salmon Chowder-


Ingredients:

-2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
-1 medium onion, chopped
-3 to 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
-2 cans chicken stock
-4 red potatoes, cut into cubes
-1 small bag of baby carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
-1 or 2 filets of salmon
-3/4 cup heavy cream
-1/2 tsp curry powder
-pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
-a few sprigs of parsley

Instructions: In a medium pot, over low-medium heat, combine the olive oil, onion and garlic until the onion starts to become slightly clear. Add the chicken stock, potatoes, and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the veggies become tender. In the meantime, heat your oven to 350F. On a lightly oiled cookie sheet (I line mine with aluminum foil as well) place the salmon skin-down and season how you like it. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the salmon is fully cooked through (will flake with a fork). Once the salmon is ready, let it set a couple minutes while you add the heavy cream and curry powder to the soup. Bring back to a boil, then add the salmon. Allow to simmer a few minutes to get the flavors to really combine. Serve garnished with the parsley.

I could eat this soup all week, and probably will, too! It's just so yummy! And the curry powder, while not overwhelming, adds that certain "something" to it, without it being overly present. Variations I've seen incorporate coconut milk in place of the heavy cream, and Thai spices in place of the curry, which I imagine is just as tasty. I'll definitely have to try that next. But, for the time being, I'm enjoying my yummy-nummy soup!!

Enjoy!

~Mehgan~

Friday, September 12, 2008

In a Jam...

... or jelly. Since my loving husband has robbed me of the digital camera, here's a recipe for some
really delicious salmonberry (or, any berry, for that matter) jelly that not only tastes good, but is really easy to make as well.

My birthday this year went really, extremely well. My husband had to fly out the night of my birthday, so he treated me to a nice day while he was here, and I had to take him to the airport that evening after dinner. It was barely even 6:30pm, so I called a new friend of mine to see if she'd like to make some salmonberry jelly with me. She had just won the blue ribbon at the Fair the previous weekend, so she was more than willing to show me the ropes.
I was amazed at how simple it was to make jelly. The hardest part for me was getting enough juice out of my salmonberries that I had collected this summer. See, I froze mine (it makes the skins more willing to break and release those yummy juices) but they weren't quite thawed out by the time I got to her house. I took some elbow grease on my part to get those bad boys beat into submission, but I managed!!
My first attempt came out a little on the sweet side, but I have such a major sweet tooth that I was like, "Bring it on!". Amazingly enough, I ended up giving away 5 of my 7 jars of salmonberry jelly I made to my dear friends and family, so it's a good thing I picked lots more berries this week so I can make another batch!! I've already gotten requests from all over for jars of my jams and jellies I'll be making. I don't want to get too ahead of myself, I just started doing this!

Anyway, if you've been fearing jarring/canning, trust me, if I can do it, you can do it. Just take it step by step (like a Daring Bakers challenge!!) and make sure you have adequate time and equipment and you'll do fine. Here's the recipe:

Berry Jelly-
Ingredients:

-4 cups of your favorite berries (I used salmonberries, but blackberries/raspberries/etc will do just fine), if you prefer seeds in your jam, don't strain, but if you're making jelly, then you'll need to strain the juice out of your berries and discard the pulp and seeds
-4 to 5 cups of sugar
-1 box of pectin
-mason jars (you can pick the size- mini, regular, jumbo)
-lots of water

Instructions: In a large pot, heat enough water to cover your jars. Place your jars face down, and make sure you put your lids and rings in the water too. Once it boils, allow to boil for 10 minutes (10 minutes seems to be the rule of thumb for canning). Carefully remove the lids and jars from the water and allow to rest on your counter while you make your jam/jelly. In a medium/large saucepan over medium heat, combine the juice, pectin and sugar. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Once the mixture bubbles, continue to stir for about a minute. Remove from heat and ladle into your jars (my friend used a really cool funnel for this, but you don't have to if you're careful). Fill to the lower ring (about 1/4" inch from the tippy-top) and screw on the lids and rings hand-tight, but not super duper tight. Place in the boiling water for 10 more minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool on the counter. You'll hear the lids pop, that's a good thing, that means they're sealed. Allow to cool overnight prior to re-tightening their rings.

This was so much fun! A very girly thing to do on my birthday. I decorated mine with some flannel and ribbon. Word to the wise: when decorating jam jars, don't use slippery ribbon. You're better off using twine or something that's grippier than ribbon. You would not believe the sheer amount of expletives I uttered when trying to tie those damn flannel squares on the lids. But, in retrospect, they sure do look purdy.

I'm looking forward to this weekend where I'll get to do some more canning, and then send them out to spread joy over the Earth! Have a good weekend!


Cheers!

~Mehgan~

From The Archives

Well, I know I had promised that since September is my month that I'd be posting a lot more, which is why it hurts to say that I am without a camera for much of this month. See, my husband had to go out of town on business and won't be returning for three weeks, and managed to make off to Yorktown, VA with our digital camera!! Luckily, though, I managed to find some old recipes that I had saved to my compter before our move to Alaska, so I'm able to at the very least, post those.

When we lived in the Seattle area, we had a Trader Joe's (my FAVORITE store, I could spend hours in there, which is pretty amazing because it was on the small side as far as grocery stores go) within walking distance of our house, and I became really used to having such luxury at my fingertips. One of my favorite meals was a variety of the basic Indian dishes they sold there. Our favorite by far is their Punjab Choley: garbanzo beans in a spicy tomato-y sauce. I'd serve it with some curried chicken, jasmine rice and a piece of Trader Joe's naan bread (we LOVE naan, and I can make it on my own using my George Forman grill -haha, I'm crafty!- but if I was in a hurry I'd pick up a bag of naan for like $2.50).

So, if you're in a pinch and you're fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe's nearby, I highly suggest picking up one of their Indian Fare side dishes. You won't be disappointed. They cook up really fast (we're talking 2 minutes in some boiling water and there's your side dish) and are a nice complement to curry dishes.

Mehgan's Chicken Curry:

Ingredients:

-1 can of coconut milk (if you want to cut down on calories, you can use 1/2 can coconut milk and 1/2 can 1% or fat free milk)
-1 to 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, thawed if frozen
-1 packet of curry seasoning (believe it or not, I find my curry packets by the Mexican seasonings at the grocery store)
-pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions: Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow to marinade covered in the fridge for about an hour. In a medium sauce pan, over low-medium heat, cook the chicken until the chicken is done. Don't worry about the sauce getting thick, because you can use it on your rice, but do make sure that the sauce is bubbling so you know it's hot enough. Serve over jasmine rice, with naan and your choice of sides.

I love this dish, it's just so easy, but it tastes like it took forever in the kitchen. Judging from the photos, you can probably tell that I made this either when I first started food blogging, or during the winter months. Anyway, I hope you try incorporating more ethnic dishes into your meal routine, you'll love it!!

Enjoy!

~Mehgan

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Another Year

Hello people! Well, it's my birthday again, and I can't believe it's been a year already. It seems like just yesterday I was baking up a batch of Cuba Libre cupcakes and toting them to work with me. This year is turning out to be much the same, except now I'm in Kodiak instead of Seattle, and in place of Cubra Libre cupcakes I made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Red velvet is bar far my favorite cake, and cream cheese frosting just sets it off perfectly. They go together like peanut butter & bananas, Bert & Ernie, or peas & carrots.

My boss let me off a few hours early, so I ran home to bake up a batch of these bad boys, which in my world is perfect Friday afternoon. The sun was shining, and my house smelled like baked goodies. YUM! I got the recipe from one of my favorite cupcake bloggers (which, unfortunately, she's no longer posting new recipes, but has kept her site up) Chocylit from Cupcake Bakeshop.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting-makes 36 cupcakes
-3-3/4 cups cake flour
-1/4 cups cocoa
-1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
-1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder or 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
-3/8 teaspoon salt
-1-1/2 cups buttermilk
-3 teaspoons vinegar
-1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
-1/2 ounce red food coloring paste
-2-1/4 cups sugar
-3/4 cups butter
-3 eggs

Instructions: preheat oven to 350°F. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder (or cream of tarter), and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring in small bowl to blend. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well fluffy, 3 minutes
add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended. After each addition, about 30 seconds
beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions. Scoop into cupcake tins and bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.


Cream Cheese Frosting-

Ingredients:
-12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
-1/2 stick butter
-4-5 cups sifted powdered
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:
Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment. Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add 4 cups of the sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla (I used clear vanilla, I didn't want a brown tinge to my frosting) and beat until combined. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like, then fill frosting bag and pipe onto cupcakes.
I love, love, LOVE these cupcakes, however I forgot to halve the recipe and ended up with WAY too many cupcakes than I need (like that's ever a problem) so now my fridge is full of these pretty babies. And it never fails that whenever I go to make cupcakes, I NEVER have enough powdered sugar, so I end up with runny frosting/glaze. But, that's ok, because I tend to prefer my cream cheese frosting more on the cheesy side than the sugary side anyway.

I encourage everyone to make cupcakes for themselves on their birthday. That way, you get what YOU want and won't feel guilty about it (well, not much at least). Ok, so I'm not going to stay long, because I really must go devour one of these NOW!!

Enjoy!

~Mehgan~

Friday, September 5, 2008

Scampi anyone?

Well, hello there! It's been a while since I've made a dish using shrimp (with the exception of the paella a while back) because I cooked so much shrimp in the summer of 2007, my husband got totally sick of it and asked that I not make anything with shrimp for a while. I obliged, but since it's been a while, I figured I'd start sneaking it back into our kitchen here and there.
I don't know about you, but I much prefer my shrimp un-breaded and not deep fried. That's unlike most people, who the only way they'll eat shrimp (or any kind of seafood for that matter) is if it's piping hot from Long John Silver's fryer and into their dinner baskets. No, thank you!

I've been craving shrimp scampi for about a week now (those darn Red Lobster commercials! we don't even have a Red Lobster here!), and seeing as how it's Friday night (and the night before my birthday) I'd give it a go. But, I didn't want your traditional scampi, laden with butter and no veggies in sight. So, I threw in a few of my favorites that I love and know would freshen up the dish. The results were delicious, and I think it has everything to do with the fact that I made sure I used a splash of the wine I just bought for the sauce.

Mehgan's Shrimp Scampi-


Ingredients:
-1 lb fresh or frozen, uncooked and deveined shrimp (if frozen, make sure you thaw them out first).
-3 to 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 white onion, chopped
-3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
-1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
-1/4 cup dry white wine
-a pinch of salt and pepper
-two roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4" pieces
-a few sprigs of parsley or cilantro (depending on what you like, I happen to be a big cilantro fan)
-grated parmesan cheese
-2 servings cooked pasta (angel hair pasta is popular, but I used some stuff I got as a gift that was made from dried mushrooms)

Instructions: Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, then add the onion, garlic and bell pepper. Once the onion starts to get transparent, slowly add the wine. Let that cook down for about five minutes, then add the shrimp and seasonings. As soon as the shrimp start to get a bit pink, turn off the burner and cover (the shrimp will continue to cook even though the burner is off. This keeps them from getting rubbery). Pour the sampi over the pasta and garnish with tomatoes, parmesan cheese and parsley/cilantro.

I've seen folks cook their tomatoes for this dish, but I don't like to. I like the fresh pop of flavor they add. I served this with a simple green salad with feta cheese and homemade Italian dressing. It was fabulous! And not to mention super easy, too. Yummy! See you all next time.

Cheers!

~Mehgan~


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Salsa...

Welcome to Day 2 of My September, everyone! I can't guarantee there'll be a new post every day this month, but I'm sure going to try to post a lot more often than I have been, that's for sure.

Today, while surfing around the internet, I got to thinking about a birthday gift I just received from my lovely husband: a KitchenAid 12-Cup Food Processor (in pink, of course, to match my stand mixer). What should I make with my pretty new toy, hmmmmm? I bajillion thoughts ran through my mind, but I kept coming back to salsa. I wanted FRESH salsa, nothing pre-packaged, I wanted everything to be as fresh-tasting as possible.

I couldn't settle on just one recipe, so I decided to just wing it and threw a bunch of stuff into my food processor, and voila! Salsa! (It made me want to dance around like Eminem at the end of the "My Band" music video, but I restrained myself. If you know what I'm talking about, you're probably laughing to yourself at the thought of me dancing around my kitchen like that, going "My salsa!").


Anyway, back to the story: I couldn't just make salsa. I had to make dinner, duh! So, I decided on something easy-peasy, that my husband could totally make even if I weren't here. Also, my dear friend Angee is getting ready to prepare a dinner-date at her house for her new man-friend, and requested a guy approved recipe from me. And, since my husband gave me the two thumbs up on this one, this is the recipe I recommended to her.


Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas with Homemade Salsa and Guacamole (A Mehgan Original):

Ingredients:

For the salsa:
-1 white onion
-1 jalapeno pepper, minus the stem & seeds
-3 to 4 Roma tomatoes, juices squeezed out
-juice of 1/2 a lime
-5 to 10 sprigs of cilantro (depending on how you like it)
-1/4 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp garlic salt
-pinch of pepper

For the guacamole:
-2 ripe avocados
-2 to 3 scoops of the salsa above

For the quesadillas:
-4 taco sized flour tortillas
-1 1/2 cups monteray jack cheese
-1/2 can of corn, drained
-1/2 can of black beans, drained
-1 small can of sliced olives, drained
-cumin, garlic salt and pepper for sprinkling
-a few dollops of sour cream
-softened butter or margarine

Instructions: If you have a food processor, combine all the salsa ingredients and pulse until you achieve the consistency you want (some people like it chunkier than others). If you don't have a food processor, don't worry, you'll just have to do all that chopping by hand. You can make it as chunky or as runny as you like. To make the guacamole, slice the avocados in half the long way and pull the halves apart. To get the pit out, place your avocado face up on the cutting board and swiftly hit the pit with the blade of your knife and then twist the pit out. Scoop the avocado into a bowl and mash it with a few spoonfuls of your salsa.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread a thin layer of butter onto one side of a tortilla. Place the tortilla butter-side down, then layer on the cheese, seasonings, corn, black beans, olives, a few leaves of the cilantro, then more cheese. Butter another side of a tortilla, and place it butter-side up on top of the rest of the quesadilla. Carefully flip it over and brown on both sides of the quesadilla till they're golden brown. Cut into fourths (I like to use a pizza cutter, it's faster and cleaner than a knife), and then garnish with the guacamole, salsa, dollops of sour cream and sprigs of cilantro.
I really hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. I made mine a bit spicier than the recipe calls for (I made mine with two jalapeno peppers, instead of just one), which my husband loved since he loves all things spicy. This recipe gives you a lot of creative freedom: if you want more onions, go ahead, throw in some more. It's all up to you and your tastes. Lemme know how yours turns out if you do try it!!
Enjoy!
~Mehgan~

Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome To September

Hello there, everyone! I'm very happy to welcome you to MY month, yes that's right, September is my month! My birthday is this month, and I am a true September baby to the bone. As well, I did some modeling in the past and got chosen to be Miss September for our promotional calendar, so right now our calendar in the kitchen is showing my bright shiny face. And one last thing, I also got married in September, so this month holds a special place in my heart. So, in order to ring in the new month in a big way, I decided to make a dish that I've never tried before (never cooked it, let alone eaten it anywhere), yet I've been wanting to make for a long time.

I've been eyeing different variations of tagines since I saw an episode of "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" back in June when he made a trip to Morocco. I had a tough decision to make: should I make it vegetarian (which is how I've been eating lately) or should I make it the traditional way with lamb? I decided to make it the traditional way, even though it almost made me pass out when I had to slice the meat off the lamb shanks last night!! It was worth the effort, though, because the result came out delicious! The lamb was tender and flavorful, thanks to marinading it in the olive oil and spices overnight, and the rest of the dish just came together so beautifully. Besides ommitting the meat, there's not a thing I would change about this recipe.
I found the recipe on Allrecipes.com (one of my favorite places I turn to for new recipes) and only had to tweak a few things here and there due to availability to products here in Kodiak. So, without further ado, here we go!
Lamb Tagine (adapted from Allrecipes.com):
Ingredients:
-3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
-2 pounds lamb meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
-2 teaspoons paprika
-1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1 pinch saffron
-3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
-3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
-2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
-1 package baby carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
-3 cloves garlic, minced (I used some already minced garlic from a jar)
-1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (I ommitted this)
-1 lemon, zested
-1 (14.5 ounce) can homemade chicken broth or low-sodium canned broth
-1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste (I instead used a small can of tomato sauce, to create a more saucier dish)
-1 tablespoon honey
-1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
-1 tablespoon water (optional)

Instructions:
Place diced lamb in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and set aside. In a large resealable bag, toss together the paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, ginger, saffron, garlic powder, and coriander; mix well. Add the lamb to the bag, and toss around to coat well. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. This is VERY important so that the lamb becomes nice and tender and infused with the spices.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of the lamb, and brown well. Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining lamb. Add onions and carrots to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger; continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Return the lamb to the pot and stir in the lemon zest, chicken broth, tomato paste/sauce, and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.
If the consistency of the tagine is too thin, you may thicken it with a mixture of cornstarch and water during the last 5 minutes. (I didn't need this last step, it thickened up just fine on its own).
I served this with some herbed pine nut couscous, and it was dangerously delicious!! My husband and I actually ended up arguing over who got to bring the leftovers to work tomorrow for lunch! (He ended up winning, for the record).
It is my pleasure to welcome you to My Month-September, and hope you enjoy your stay with me this month, because there is plenty more to come, my friends!!
Cheers!
~Mehgan~

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Go French!

Hello again, folks! It's time for another Daring Bakers Challenge! And this month, we go to Meeta (from the blog What's For Lunch Honey?) and her "Sugar Daddy" Pierre Herme and his chocolate eclairs.

I admit, when it comes to Daring Bakers Challenges, I always have a mini-panic attack when the recipes are announced at the beginning of the month. I mean, you just know the recipe is going to be about 4-5 pages long (sometimes longer), but still, I always have my super-wince ready.

This month's challenge was special to me, because I got to make my eclairs in my new kitchen!! I was so stoked when I saw that my new kitchen is about twice the size of my old one, with a gas range and stellar lighting (for taking those glamour shots of my food, of course).

I shouldn't have been afraid of this recipe at all, it was super easy. I took the advise of my fellow DBers and took the steps one at a time. I made the choux pastry dough the night before I assembled the eclairs, and they baked up like a dream. I warn you, if you do freeze your dough beforehand, allow them to bake about twice as long as the recipe calls for. If you want the recipe, go on down to Meeta's blog, I have it on my personal blogroll, as well as the Daring Bakers Blogroll.

Here's a nice shot of these babies just before they came out of the oven.
And after glazing, my little eclair sitting pretty, just waiting to be eaten up with a nice cup of tea.
I also made cream puffs. Those little devils! I can't stop eating them!! I like how in this pic, you can see the delish vanilla beans in the pastry cream. While we're on the topic of pastry cream, I pretty much wore about half the pastry cream when I was piping it into my eclairs. The darn tip on my frosting bag was so narrow, that instead of the pastry cream wanting to pipe into the eclairs, it decided to squirt itself back out the other side and onto my arm. Several times. I'm lucky I had enough leftover to finish the challenge!

If you haven't yet, you really should try this recipe out. You will NOT be disappointed! I'll be taking these darlings to work with me, because as my husband puts it, "Those are dangerous!" I am not to leave any in the house, they must all come with me to work, haha. Anyway, enjoy!

Cheers!
~Mehgan~


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pass the Paella!

Hello, my friends! At last, we have moved into our new house in Kodiak, AK, and my new kitchen is divine!! Thank goodness our new house came with a gas stove, I cook so much better using a gas range than an electric one. It's taking us a while to unpack all of our stuff, but I made sure to unpack the kitchen first!

I remember, on one of our hotel stops on the way from Haines, AK to Homer, AK, I was staying up late one night and caught an episode of "Throwdown With Bobby Flay" on the Food Network, and his challenge was paella. I didn't stay awake long enough to see how Mr. Flay did with his, but I did end up dreaming about blissful platefuls of warm, spicy paella. And I've never had any until I made some tonight!!!

I know for certain, I will be making this again. I know there's some speculation going around the 'net about whether or not you need a paella pan to make a good paella. Well, I don't have one, I made mine in the largest skillet I had on hand, and it turned out just fine. I even had that yummy scorched bottom that everyone raves about.
I got the recipe from trusty ol' Allrecipes.com, I just searched for "paella" and about 1,000 recipes came up! I searched around for the one that best suited the ingredients I already have on hand (like we all do, lol), but I still had to go and get more seafood. I love that with this sort of recipe, you can tweak it a little here and there to suit your needs. My needs being that I had to include a whole grain (I used Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley with barley and radish seeds, too), ginger (I added about 1/2 tsp of ground ginger) and citrus (the lemon slices, which when cooked are super easy to squeeze all the yummy juices out of) for this month's Royal Foodie Joust. I haven't been able to participate in Jenn the Leftover Queen's Royal Foodie Joust in months, simply because this move really threw me for a loop cooking-wise.
I'm very happy with how this turned out, and like I said, I will definitely be making this again!! Here's the recipe (with my little tweaks added in):
Seafood Paella (adapted from Allrecipes.com)
Ingredients:
-4 tablespoons olive oil
-1 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
-1 (5 oz) package uncooked Mahatma saffron rice
-7 oz Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley
-5 cups chicken broth
-1/2 cup white wine
-1 pinch saffron
-salt to taste
-ground black pepper to taste
-1/2 bag of frozen baby octupus, thawed and cut into 1 inch pieces
-2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
-1/2 cup frozen green peas
-15-20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
-1 lemon, sliced

Instructions:
Heat olive oil in paella pan over medium heat. Add in onion, garlic and bell pepper; cook and stir for a few minutes. Add diced chicken and rice; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 3 1/2 cups stock, wine, and saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes; stir occasionally.
Taste the rice, and check to see if it is cooked. If the rice is uncooked, stir in 1/2 cup more stock. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally. Stir in additional stock if necessary, up to 2 cups additional stock, 5 cups total. Cook until rice is done.
Stir in octopus, tomatoes, and peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Arrange shrimp and lemons on top. Cover with foil, and leave for 3 to 5 minutes. Once the lemons become slightly tender and the shrimp are nice and pink, it's ready to serve!
Next time, I'll definitely add chorizo sausage, some mussels and perhaps a little bit of cilantro. I think I'll also substitute regular brown rice for the Trader Joe's Medley, it seemed a bit off in texture due to the radish seeds. Otherwise, it was a pretty wonderful meal!! I can't wait to have some more with some homemade sangria!
Cheers!
~Mehgan~

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Still In Transit

Greetings everyone! Just popping in to let you know that no, I haven't fallen off the face of the planet, the husband and I are still in the process of moving into our new place in Kodiak, AK. Our new house won't be ready for the next few weeks, so we're staying in a hotel till then, which means (sadly) no cooking for me. And I'll tell ya, I'm so sick of eating out!!

I will give you some recommendations for yummy places to eat in Alaska, if you're interested:

1. Crabbie's in Homer: Fantastic smoked salmon chowder. Their Crow's Nest chicken is super yummy, it comes with garlic mashed potatoes on top of their gorgeous sea glass plates. Their halibut & chips is to-die-for. They also have a great dish where they batter some crab and lobster pieces and fry them up. Very yummy.

2. The Sourdough Express in Homer: FABULOUS breakfast! Tons of organic choices. Their business started a couple decades ago when they rolled into town in a Sourdough delivery van with $48 in their pocket and a dream in their hearts. And here we are in 2008, and their Plain Jane breakfast had me wanting more and more. I also ordered a side of their French Toast, which was divine. If you go there, definitely have some of their jam on your sourdough toast, you'll thank me. Oh, and don't forget to grab a piece of their carrot cake on your way out!

I'll have more recommendations once we eat out a bit more at places I like (there have definitely been some lackluster dining-out experiences on this trip, I'll tell you what!!). Thanks for being so patient everybody. Oh, and I'm sorry I missed this month's Daring Bakers Challenge, but, fingers-crossed, we'll be moved into our new house in time for me to complete August's Challenge.

Cheers!
~Mehgan~