Saturday, March 15, 2008

Royal Foodie Joust: You Put the Lime in the Coconut...

Wow, I haven't participated in a Royal Foodie Joust in a looooooooong time! Jenn, the Leftover Queen, hosts the Royal Foodie Joust every month over at the Leftover Queen Forum, and I have just not had the time or inspiration to participate these last few months. However, seeing as how Valli won last month's Joust (congrats!) and chose lime, coconut and "something from the sea" for this month's Joust ingredients, I figured I just had to participate. Those are, like, my three favorite ingredients!! I was so excited upon reading his choices!

I tossed around a few ideas and came to the conclusion that I'd do something traditional, yet put a non-traditional "Mehgan" spin on it. So, here's my entry:

Coconut & Lime Crusted Tilapia with a Lime Tartar Mustard Sauce-


-3/4 cup vegetable oil (more or less, depending on the size of your pan)
-2 tilapia fillets
-1/4 cup shredded coconut
-1/2 cup flour
-1/4 cup coconut milk
-1 large egg
-juice of one lime
-1 tsp Herbs de Provence (I got this in my BBM package!!)
-1/2 tsp garlic salt
-1/2 tsp cracked pepper
-1/4 cup tartar sauce
-2 tsp dijon mustard
-spritz of lime

Instructions: Place oil in a small pan over low heat. On a plate (I just use a regular dinner plate), use a fork to mix together the coconut, flour, and spices. In a small bowl, stir the coconut milk, egg and juice of one lime together. Carefully dip the tilapia fillets in the egg mixture, being sure to coat all sides evenly. Then, coat the fillets with the coconut & flour mixture, and place the fillets in the heated oil. Cook over low heat until both sides of the tilapia fillets are golden brown. While those are cooking, mix together the tartar sauce, mustard and a bit more lime juice. Once the fillets are done, plate them and put a small portion of the sauce on top. Garnish with a slice of lime.

I was so not prepared for how good this turned out. The whole recipe was in my head, so it's amazing to me that this meal actually came to fruition, and in such a successful way! I served it with some sauteed zucchini and squash (used a little lime juice in there, as well), and some Trader Joe's Harvest Blend quinoa, sunflower seeds and rice. My husband LOVED it! We both cleaned out plates, it was so good. The coconut flavor was present, but not overpowering, and the sauce just added to the flavor without masking every other flavor. I am so glad that I picked up a couple extra tilapia fillets at the store today when I was grocery shopping, because I am having so much fun experimenting!!

Good luck to everyone participating in the Joust this month! This was a fun one!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

White Girl Teriyaki

Yep, that's what I'm calling it. The hard thing about being a "mix breed" or "Heinz 57" is that you don't really have a culture. All the food that you learn how to cook growing up is from another culture (well, for the most part). Spaghetti. Tacos. Lasagna. Nothing really felt like it was passed down from generations long ago. I never got to say, "Oh, this is my great, great grandmother's recipe from France." Everything I learned how to cook was either adapted from a cookbook, or made up by combining Top Ramen and a can of chili (yes, that means that we were on Welfare....).

Anyway, since living in Seattle, I've been surrounded by Asian culture. The city I live in, Federal Way, has a very high Asian population. I have within walking distance: four different Chinese retaurants, two Vietnamese Pho restaurants, three Thai restaurants, a Japanese $1.50 store and an Asian supermarket. So, I've been really trying to learn how to incorporate these recipes into my mealtime regimen, but they always come out tasting... like a white girl made it. Not that it doesn't taste good, it's not like I sabotage my meals, they just don't taste as authentic as they could be.

I blame the fact that I don't have access to the freshest veggies. And I'm stickin' to it (well, for now at least... till the farmer's market starts running next month... then I'll have no excuse!!). I do have quite a few Asian friends who have been trying to help me out, so at least I've got them!!

I went to Trader Joe's recently (LOVE Trader Joe's) and picked up some of their $2.99 stir-fry veggies, and thought I'd give them a try. They looked quick and simple, so I figured "what the hell?" And am SO glad I did!

I made up some chicken teriyaki, that I think turned out pretty good! I'll post the recipe, but you might want to change it up a bit to suit your personal tastes.

Mehgan's White Girl Teriyaki

-1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
-1 package of Trader Joe's stir-fry vegetables
-1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
-3 tbsp soy sauce
-1 tbsp Aloha Shoyu sauce
-1/2 tsp ginger
-2 cloves minced garlic

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil (this will help with an easy cleanup later!). Combine chicken, sauces, ginger and garlic in a small bowl, then pour that into the baking dish. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes. While that is baking, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan, then pour the stir-fry vegetables into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, covered for 6-10 minutes. Layer the veggies and the chicken over a bed of Jasmine rice, and enjoy! (I should probably mention that I added extra edamame to my veggies for this, since I had some extra lurking in my freezer).

I know it's cheating, but it was soooo good. Especially when followed up by these lovely little ginger snap-like cookies I bought at Daiso the other day.

The gal working there highly recommended them, and I'm glad that I was feeling so open to new foods that day, because these are truly yummy. They're so good that I was half-tempted to dump 'em in a bowl, pour milk over them and dig in! But... I didn't. I'm trying to savor them. I am definitely going to have to stock up on these babies before we move to Alaska in July!!

Don't they look so cute? I got the little strawberry dish from my brother in-law's Japanese girlfriend for Christmas last year, and finally found a good use for them (my blog!).
And this yummy meal was wonderful for my lunch today! I hadn't used my bento box in a while (I've been utterly addicted to PB&J sandwiches for some reason). Yesterday I went to Daiso and picked up these cute little sauce bottles that fit perfectly in my bento box. I also picked up a star onigiri maker, so I could shape my rice into a star. I was definitely the envy of the office today!

I just love that I have more excuses to pack my lunches in my bento box, because it's such a fun and girly way to eat your meals. And I can't believe how cheap the stuff at Daiso is, only $1.50!! I got the most adorable stationary to write to my sister with, OMG, it's so cute.
Stay tuned, folks, I'm on a roll!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Randomness and a Contest

Hello everyone! I just felt compelled to blog today, even though I don't really have much to say that's food-related besides the fact that I have a strong urge to bake tonight. Possibly cookies. My co-workers will love that.

Ok, so I know that being a foodie blogger, you don't really get to know me personally, other than "that crazy girl who cooks and procrastinates on her Daring Bakers challenges." LOL, anyway, I will tell you that I am a total geek. I may not look it, but I am certifiably the geekiest person in my circle. Don't believe me? Want me to prove it? Ok, here's one: I have a Lord of the Rings tattoo on my left foot. Not only because I couldn't live without LOTR, but because it's the same tattoo that the cast got while filming the trilogy. Yeah, I got a double whammy on that one. I can recite the LOTR movies verbatim... which is why no one will watch them with me anymore, because I can't help myself from reciting the script while it's playing onscreen.

Which brings me to my next point: I have just discovered Wil Wheaton's blog ( When I was 4 years old, I declared to my whole family that I would marry him. I watched "Stand By Me" non-stop for about a year of my life. Gordy was my favorite character, probably because he was so relatable, so "real" to me. When I got a bit older, I read Stephen King's novella "The Body" and all I could do was imagine Wil playing Gordy in my mind. I know he's all grown up now and so am I, but every time I see his face, I rewind back to 1986-88 to when I thought I was the girl for him. Is that weird?

And, last but not least, feelow blogger marye over at Baking Delights is holding a contest to win a cookbook by Dorie Greenspan and a $10 gift card! I figured, hey, why not give it a shot? All I she's asking for is a tagline for her blog, since she desires something punch and pizzazz. So, I'm hoping she likes what I came up with, which is:

"Baking Delights: Good enough to take a bite!!"

I was thinking of maybe saying "byte" instead of bite, so it's a play on words, since her blog is online and stuff, but I didn't want it to sound too... dorky. Anyway, keep your fingers crossed!! And marye, I hope you get just what you're looking for from this contest. Gotta suuport my fellow DBers!!


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Blogging By Mail: Makes Me the Happiest, Little Sick Girl In The World!

Greetings! I've been so utterly sick lately, that I haven't had a chance to do anything but sleep and cough the last three days. My couch is my new best friend. Which is why I felt such joy when I received a package in the mail, that I was so not expecting!! I hadn't forgotten that I signed up to participate in Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness' Blogging By Mail event, I just wasn't expecting my package so soon! Here's what I found waiting on my doorstep when I woke up from a Nyquil-induced slumber yesterday afternoon (edited the personal info, I didn't know if it would be cool for me to post addresses):
And inside, were two yummy-nummy recipes (her personal favorites that I can't wait to try out once I'm feeling better) and a lovely colorful letter from Tina at Sweet Designs!!

And here's the loot!! She got me two tins of the Republic of Tea in Spiced Gingered Peach and Blackberry Sage (I'm getting ready to boil some water for some tea right now, my throat hurts so bad), a jar of her favorite Her De Providence (oooohhh, can't wait!), a can of cake mist (in my favorite, pink!!), a beautiful jar of Tahitian vanilla beans in sugar that comes with a wonderful story that I feel so blessed to have received, coffee accents that I will most definitely keep at work to sprinkle on... well, everything!, two mini tart tins (so cute!), two frosting tips (score!), the cutest little jar of Stonewall Kitchen Jam in Wild Maine Blueberry that I could literally drink straight from the jar, a beautiful green spatula (how did you know I needed one?), two adorable kitchen towels, and last, but definitely not least, a bar of Vosges Haute Chocolat that I have been dying to try for the last three years since I saw it on a Food Network special on chocolate.

I just can not believe how spoiled I am!! Even though I can't express how happy I am because I am thisclose to losing my voice, I just want to say a big Thank You to Tina at Sweet Designs and Stephanie at the Dispensing Happiness for hosting this wonderful event. And have no fear, I am putting the finishing touches on my package and it will be on its way very soon!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mom's Birthday Cake-That's a Wrap!

Well, people, I've kept you in suspense for a whole week, haven't I? I knew this post would contain a lot of progress photos, and I wanted to get them just right, plus, have a quiet sit-down where I could write this all out and not be distracted. Well, the time has come. The hubby is asleep. The dog is outside in the morning sun. And I am here, quietly pounding on the keyboard (and hungry, might I add, since I haven't had breakfast yet).

So, without further adieu, here are the step-by-step photos from my mama's birthday cake. After the whole doubling-the-recipe-which-was-already-doubled fiasco, I got my kitchen under control enough to cut my cakes into semi-stackable slabs, chop up the chocolate for my ganache, throw some boiling hot heavy cream onto the chocolate to melt it, then put the first layer of ganache on the bottom cake layer. I carefully put the top layer on and snapped this photo:

Let me pause here to say that my husband and I were watching "Saw IV" while I was assembling these. Not a very positive cake-making atmosphere, but I was running out of time as my mother's birthday party was in less than 20 hours.
After making sure the top layer had adhered nicely, and doing a bit of damage control with toothpicks, I poured some more ganache on top of the entire cake. Initially, I was going to try and keep the ganache from touching the cake circle, but that was impossible, so I went with a more drippy look. It turned out nicely, sort of following the scalloped edges of the cake circle, which I found to be kind of ironic.

Here is one of the cakes ready to go in its very own cake box. I came prepared!! There were two cakes total, but I figured I'd just photograph one so you could get as much detail as possible. I love how shiny the ganache looked, and it didn't lose any of its lustre prior to the party, so it was equally impressive coming out of the box as going in. I used real flowers, rather than artificial or pastillage flowers, which I think gave them more of a Spring-like feeling. I sent my sister a sneak peak via camera phone, and she replied with "Very pretty!". When I showed them to my brother, he said they looked pro! I was very flattered, to say the least.

At the party, everyone was so looking forward to digging into the cakes. I probably should have warned them that they would need a glass of milk, since the birthday girl wanted a chocolate-chocolate-chocolate cake for her birthday. While some complained of it being "too chocolatey", it still went over well, and my mom informed me that people at her work were still raving about it during this last week.
And here's my slice of the cake. Nice and soft, with a rich ganache filling. It was the perfect ending to the wonderful meal I had at the Black Forest Steakhouse in Everson, WA. While spendy, the food is worth every last penny. So delicious. I had to keep myself from gobbling down my meal, so I'd have room for dessert! The food there is very top-notch, I highly recommend it if you're in the area.
And, my mom was not the only birthday girl we celebrated on Saturday! My niece was also having her 3rd birthday earlier in the day.

We went to Jungle Playland in Mt. Vernon, and the kids had a blast. Here she is, ready to blow out her big-girl candles. She's growing up so fast! (And no, I did not make that cake! LOL!)

Well, folks, you came, you saw, you got hungry with me. It's a new weekend, with new adventures. Only three weeks till Spring! Let's go have some fun!