Monday, August 24, 2009

Sometimes a girl needs steak...

Hello everyone!

So, I've been a major lazybones in the kitchen lately. Like, terribly-ashamed-eating-top-ramen-in-my-kitchen kind of lazybones. Part of it is that I'm trying really hard to save money because I have a major move coming up (going to Miami, baby, yeah!) and also because my man isn't here, so I'm having a hard time just cooking for one. I don't think I've ever had to do that, LOL. I'm one of those lame people who can't go to the store and buy just one steak. For some reason, if I don't buy two, I feel like everyone just knows I'm a single girl living alone. If you think about it, it's kind of smart. That way, crazy-stalker-rapists know not to follow me home because I've got someone there who likes to eat thick cuts of rare meat and can tear them to shreds in 2.5 seconds flat. It's self-preservation, really.
Recently, I've been trying to step it up lately, because I'm getting sick of food that I used to eat when I was in high school. I'm a grown-up, dammit, I should eat like one (even if I am on a budget). This post was supposed to happen about two weeks ago when I first got a hankering for a good steak, but that didn't pan out. My steak came out of the oven rubbery and unappealing and my veggies were limp. It was a sad day. So, I ended up freezing my other steak (now don't go crucifying me for doing so, I looked up the best way to freeze my meet without ruining it, and am glad to say it worked). Over this past weekend, I watched an episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" and the segment with chef Cat Cora devouring that delicious steak had me drooling. It was all I could think about all day at work today (well, that, and missing my man-friend, naturally). I rushed home to pull my steak out of the freezer and defrost it in some water in time to marinade it for dinner.

Now, I didn't let it marinade the optimum time, but I figured an hour was better than nothing. I threw about 2 teaspoons of vinegar, a teaspoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of steak rub in a ziplock bag with my steak. I threw a russet potato in some tin foil and chucked it in the oven at 375F. While my potato baked and my steak marinated, I rushed to Blockbuster to get a good movie to watch tonight. By the time I came back, it was go-time. I threw a pad of butter in a skillet over medium heat and in went my steak. Sizzzzzzle.... oh it smelled so good. A good five to seven minutes on each side seemed about right. Now, I know most chefs put their skillet in the oven to finish cooking their steak through, but mine have rubber handles (and they're KitchenAid) so I didn't want to melt them. I opted to lower the heat on the stove and cover it for a few minutes.

Ahhh nice and rare....

This steak rocked my world. It was crispy on the outside, juicy and yummy on the inside. The perfect amount of pink (for me). I didn't even use A-1. Believe it. I had this with my loaded baked potato and some green beans sauteed in butter with garlic and pieces of bacon. My mom taught me how to make 'em that way, and they always remind me of her when I have them.

Oh mama....

So, ladies, next time you have a craving for some really good steak, don't pussyfoot around it and be like "It has to be baked, I don't wanna get fat......." suck it up and make it this way. You'll thank me. It's delicious. I'm not saying eat steak this way all the time, but come on, it's too good to pass up. Just do it the way the chefs do and quit kidding yourself. And guys, well you probably already know how to make a good steak, but if you wanna put something tasty in your mouth (and who doesn't) make it this way. You'll thank me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hello, Stranger...

Hello! Wow, looks like I took me a hefty little break there, huh? Lots and lots o' changes in the world of Mehgan. I won't get into all the details (I don't want to jinx anything!) but let me just say that I'm very, very happy and there are yet even more changes on the horizon for me.

A little while back, my good friend from work invited me to a barbeque at her house. So, when I asked what I should bring, naturally, they asked me to bring cupcakes. I already knew that I was planning on making Rachel's Cuba Libre cupcakes from her blog Coconut & Lime for an coworker's upcoming birthday, so I decided to go with Magnolia Bakery's vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

I've loved these cupcakes since the first time I made them. I like to refer to them as "tough cupcakes" because they can take a beating in transfer yet still retain their shape. They're just slightly more delicate than a muffin, if I were to make a comparison.

For my own personal challenge, I decided to try my hand at swirling to frosting colors together, and to my own delight, it worked!! I no longer fear the unkown, people. I can do it! *rolls up sleeve like Rosie the Riveter*

And I also have another personal challenge coming up: I'm making my own birthday cake (I think I'll go to Nigella Lawson's cookbook How To Be A Domestic Goddess for inspiration), and another personal challenge that I'll keep secret, save for the fact that recips is going to be entirely my own. I haven't done that in a while. Wish me luck!

Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring Has Sprung In Kodiak

It's been a very good past month for me (obviously, since I haven't been posting, LOL). I've been pretty busy with work. Our transfer season officially kicks off in April, so when you have about 2,500 Coasties all wanting to leave the island at the same time (and just as many incoming to replace them), it can make you feel a little nutso. But, I've managed to make time to meet some new friends, attend a bachelorette party and even had a dance recital in there somewhere. It was such a blur that I barely remember it all! But, it's been a lot of fun, and I'm VERY thankful for that.
I'm also very thankful for the gorgeous weather we've been having here in Kodiak lately. I actually fell asleep laying in the sunshine on my living room floor this afternoon after I got home from work. Like a cat. It was divine.
I don't know what it is, but I've been making a lot of Mexican-inspired dishes lately (well, nothing else has been that noteworthy, at least. I don't count PB&J as a subject worth posting unless I tweak it in some inventive way, LOL). I just love the flavors of Mexican food: the spicy, earthiness just gets me every time.
Anyway, so I was wanting something Mexican tasting, but was burnt out on tacos, and wanted something on the lighter side. I remembered when I was on the USCGC Polar Sea back in 2004, our cooks used to make this awesome spicy chicken & bean soup that I would eat cup after cup of until I felt like puking (but, in a good way). I don't have their recipe, but this is as close as I came to it.
Mehgan's Spicy Chicken & Bean Soup:
-1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
-2 cans chicken stock
-1 tbsp olive oil
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 medium white onion, chopped
-1 can of Mexican stewed tomatoes
-1 can of tomato sauce
-1 can of diced green chiles
-1 can of kidney beans
-1 can of black beans
-1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
-2 tsp cumin
-1 tsp cayenne pepper
-salt & pepper to taste
-shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream to top it off
Instructions: In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil, then add the garlic and onion. Once the onion starts to turn transparent, add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Then add the chicken breasts. Cook through, until the chicken breasts are white and there are no pink juices when you cut it. Using the two-fork method, shred the chicken, then return it to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and allow to cook for about another hour or so. You want the flavors to really combine. When you go to serve it, throw some sour cream and shredded cheese on top, and you're good to go, partner!

My thoughts: pretty darn close to what I had on the ship, but not quite spicy enough, and I would have liked more tomatoes. I think I should have taste-tested it before hurriedly dished it up and subsequently devoured the whole bowl, haha. It was still pretty darn good though. I had mine with a simple chicken quesadilla (made with some leftover Taco Bell hot sauce packets, LOL) to dip in it. And the leftovers the next day were even better, because the flavors got to really mesh well together overnight. I actually have some of this in my freezer for when I get another craving for a hot, steaming bowl of spicy yumminess.
P.S. Don't you just love my turquoise colander? I paid an outrageous amount for it a store in town, but it matched my apartment so well and it was the last one in that color, I couldn't say no. I love it almost as much as I love peanut butter. Almost. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Master Shredder

I live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. I truly do. I took the above photo a few weeks ago, and am just now getting around to posting it. Just look at that view from one of the windows in my apartment! In the very center, just below the highest mountain peak, you can see the silhouette of an eagle flying. Actually, there were about 20 of them just soaring about, enjoying the ocean breezes. It was incredible. A very good afternoon, indeed. And the sunset only got more and more spectacular after that, but I was too busy making dinner to get a good photo of it.

Seeing as how it had been a couple weeks since I made my pulled pork tacos, yesterday I started to get another hankering for those babies. But, my only problem was I didn't have any pork on-hand, nor did I have the time to make them. So, I went for the next best thing and threw some chicken breasts into a stock pot with a couple cans of Mexican diced tomatoes with green chiles, and let that bad-boy simmer away for about an hour and a half while I ran some errands around town.

It was chilly and rainy yesterday afternoon, and I was very glad for the spicy-hotness in this meal. These actually came out a bit spicier than my pulled pork tacos did, I think it's because I used a different kind of diced tomatoes or something, but they were still really good.

Spicy Shredded Chicken Tacos-

-1 tbsp olive oil
-2 cloves of garlic
-2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
-2 cans of Mexican diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
-1/2 cup medium salsa
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1 tsp chili powder
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 medium onion, thinly sliced into strips
-1 red or green bell pepper, sliced into strips
-6 corn tortillas
-assorted toppings (shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, etc)

Instructions: In a medium saucepan or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, chicken, cans of diced tomatoes and the salsa. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 1 hour. Remove the chicken breasts from the tomato mixture, and using the two-fork method, shred the chicken into small pieces, then return to tomato mixture. Then, in a medium skillet, heat the other tbsp of olive oil over medium, and saute' the bell peppers and onions until the onions are transparent and the peppers are tender. To serve, place filling into warm corn or flour tortillas and load on the toppings!!

My thoughts: DELICIOUS! And this makes plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. I wasn't too big on the sauteed onions and bell peppers, they sort of threw off the texture, but the flavor they added was really good, so I didn't mind them so much. I had my tacos with a nice big bowl of warm refried beans with plenty of shredded cheese on top. I could actually eat the filling mixed with refried beans sans the tortillas. It's just that good. Or as a topping for a salad. The possibilities are endless!



Sunday, March 1, 2009

Yep, It's Still Winter...

I realize that I live in Alaska, and I've come to terms with the fact that winter here lasts much, MUCH longer than it does in other regions of the US, which is why I get so giddy whenever it's sunny here. And it has been quite sunny recently, I won't lie, and I have been enjoying that. However, the sunshine also means that the daylight sun melts the snow, which turns to ice over night. Anyone who has met me can tell you that 1. I am extremely clumsy and accident prone, and 2. Me walking on ice looks like Bambi just after he was born. It's frightening. A disaster waiting to happen.

Needless to say, though, I am enjoying this winter. I have found my own ways of coping with the never-ending cold. I have great friends, my apartment is within walking distance of wherever I usually want to go, and I have a fabulous view of Kodiak harbor from my window. I recently gave my old Canon Rebel 35mm to my mom and had some film leftover on the roll inside the camera, so I decided to take a few quick shots before I popped the camera in the mail. Unfortunately, it wasn't sunny that day, but it was still pretty beautiful. There was a heavy mist settling in, and since it was the weekend I didn't have to work, which was even nicer.
I truly live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Even when the weather is dark and gloomy, I'm still thrilled by it. My eyes are really sensitive to sunlight, so whenever there's a cloud cover that just means I don't have to worry about toting my sunglasses with me everywhere.
It got especially chilly and windy here yesterday, so I decided to make some spicy chili to warm me up. I was craving something hearty and delicious, and this hit the spot. Here's my recipe for Chilly Turkey Chili:
-1 lb ground turkey breast
-1 medium onion
-1 medium green bell pepper
-1 tbsp chopped garlic
-2 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp oregano
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 can kidney beans, drained
-1 can pinto beans, drained
-1 can diced green chiles
-1 can diced tomatoes
-1 small can of corn, drained
-2 or 3 shakes of Tabasco sauce
Instructions: In a large pot or slow cooker, brown the turkey on medium, then add the onions and garlic. Once the onion starts to turn translucent, add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 to 2 hours. Serve hot with your choice of toppings.
My thoughts: This chili came out fantastic. I was so full after eating a huge bowl of it, yet I still wanted more! I served it with sour cream, shredded cheddar and monteray jack cheese, and some cornbread slathered with butter and lots of honey (I like the juxtaposition of the sweet cornbread and spicy chili, delish!). This chili really hits the spot when you're 4 months into a cold winter and Spring is still weeks (or even months, in my case) away. I used turkey in my chili, since I don't eat beef, but you can use ground beef or deer even, as I've heard some of the locals do. You can vary the ingredients a lot, depending on how spicy you want your chili, for instance, you could add a diced jalapeno or habanero pepper. I added a few spoonfuls of hot salsa, just for added flavor and kick. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to go heat up another bowl of this delectable chili, as I have TONS leftover!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm Back, Baby!!

Well, hello there! Did you miss me? I've got big changes going on in my life right now: some good, some bad, and some very, very ugly. However, I am the eternal optimist, so let's focus on the positive. First of all, I got some pretty sweet new glasses. See, I had PRK laser eye surgery way back in 2006, but for some reason my eyes decided to progressively get worse even after the surgery. I finally admitted I couldn't see while driving and paid a visit to my eye doctor. While my vision isn't nearly as horrible as it was pre-laser eye surgery, I still have to wear glasses for long distance seeing and such. And, due to the laser eye surgery, my eyeballs are too flat to wear contacts which bummed me out hardcore. I wanted to get topaz colored contacts like the gorgeous vampires in the Twilight films, but alas, I'm not a candidate for contacts anymore. So, I decided to get glasses with topaz colored rhinestones on the sides. Close enough for me.

Secondly, I have a new, badass camera, courtesy an excellent recommendation from the one and only Bakerella. It's a Canon Digital Rebel XTI 10.1 megapixel. Or whatever the hell that means. It takes bitchin' photos, and I'm super stoked to use it. It is my new best friend. I love it like no other camera I've ever owned before. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I could have something so incredible to take photos with. I've been playing around with it for a few days now, and I'm still getting the hang of it. Today I decided to experiment with food photography, and am more than impressed with the results.

The first recipe I decided to try was pork tacos, aka carnitas. See, I am a realist who knows that Cinco de Mayo is coming up soon. I haven't really had any Mexican friends in the past to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with, so I didn't really celebrate it. Well, that's all changed, my friend. I have a friend at work who I plan on celebrating Cinco de Mayo with, and I really want to impress them with a stellar dinner. What better day than Fat Tuesday to practice? I literally ate four GIANT servings of these babies, one right after the other (in between swigs of margaritas, naturally). Here's my recipe for Pulled Pork Tacos (aka Carnitas):


-2 lbs pork shoulder roast
-1/4 cup white vinegar
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 tbsp chopped garlic
-1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp black pepper
-1 can of chicken stock
-1 can of diced tomatoes (I used the garlic kind)
-1 can of chopped green chiles
-1 16oz jar of medium salsa

Instructions: The night before you want to have tacos, combine the vinegar, oil, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Put the pork into a ziplock bag, then pour the mixture over it (I had to squish it around a little in order to coat all the sides of the meat with the mixture). Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. The next day, place pork in your crock pot with the can of chicken stock. Cook on high for about an hour, then reduce the heat to medium/low and allow roast to cook for an additional 4-6 hours. After that time, remove pork from crock pot, let it stand for about a half hour, then shred the pork using the two fork method (or if it's not too hot, you can use your fingers, but be careful). Place shredded pork into a heavy-bottomed skillet with the diced tomatoes, green chiles, salsa, and any remaining juices from the crock pot (you may want to add a bit more chicken stock to get it real juicy and tender). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to cook for about an hour. Once the juices absorb into the meat, it's ready to eat!! Serve on corn tortillas with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro and lime.

My thoughts: these were absolutely delicious!! And I couldn't ask for a better subject to photograph, I mean, hello! My mouth is watering just looking at them, and I'm not even hungry! Man, it feels so good to be back in the saddle again. I was having cooking withdrawals! I have a couple more recipes on deck that I can't wait to get started on. See you back here real soon!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Long Overdue

Hello again, it's me, Mehgan, that girl whose blog you used to read but you've stopped visiting since she hasn't posted anything new in AGES. Anyway, I'm writing to let you all know that I won't be posting for a while...well, anything food-related at least. See, the husband and I have decided to separate and are now going through a rough divorce, which makes cooking/baking and posting the results here all the more difficult. Especially since I have moved out of our house and am now living in a studio apartment.

I realize this is just a transitory time for me, and I'll get back in the swing of things in no time. Cooking and baking seems to be my therapy, so for me to not be able to conquer the recipes I've been holding onto forever and ever really sucks, but I will get to them eventually. But, for now, I'm having to cook for one, which is interesting in and of itself.

So, I'll be posting infrequently for a while here, but have some faith in me, I shall return. In the meantime, check out my fellow Daring Bakers blogs located in the Foodie Blogroll in the sidebar. Holy Moses, we have grown!! And don't miss the monthly Royal Foodie Joust hosted by Jen the Leftover Queen, each Joust is getting more and more competitive!!

Your Fellow Foodie,