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Megans Cookin: January 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Can Jen float my boat?

When they first announced Lemon Meringue Pie, I wasn't that thrilled. It is not in my top 10. Come to think about it, I don't think it even ranks in my top 20. Funny, I love lemon bars, I love meringue cookies, I love pie. Lemon meringue pie just doesn't float my boat.

Until now!

I waited till the last minute to fulfill my challenge. That gave me ample time to read every one's trial and tribulations on the DB blog. So I expected some weeping of the meringue and puddles of congealed lemon curd. What I got was an amazing pie. I made four mini pies because I thought I could give one or two away. (which I didn't) Besides the fact, that they are just so darn cute!

The lemon curd set up nice without even a hint of ooze.

The meringue, Oh the lovely meringue. It was a billowing melt in your mouth fluffy puff. Yes, I loved the meringue!

The pie crust. Well, as careful as I was not to overwork it, it came out a little tough. But not so tough that it stopped anybody from eating it.
The crust, The pie, I'd like to try again.

A big thank you to Jen of The Canadian Baker for hosting and picking such an awesome recipe.

You made my boat float!

You can find the recipe there. So grab another cup of coffee and go look at all the other pies and start keep drooling over their creations.

I hope you have a lemon meringue kind of day!


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spring Cleaning!

I saw a daffodil blooming and the birds were out playing. Even though its suppose to snow tomorrow (I doubt it will snow in the valley were I'm located but...) I feel spring is in the air! So I did a little spring cleaning. The house and the blog.
1. I tried cleaning up my side bar some. I also added a few things. You'll notice a new blogroll down on the right hand side. I joined the *Great Cooks* blogroll. Check it out and see if you would like to join.

2. I'm celebrating Valentines Day. Sooo...
I signed up for a valentine goody swap. I kind of feel like a school girl hoping for the heart shaped box of chocolates. I never got the candy, only the little paper valentines. Now days, there is candy in every single card. If you would like to join the fun, you better hurry. Sign-ups end Jan.31st.

3. I have a valentinr mailbox to the right.
Valentinr is an online valentine mailbox. You set up your own Valentinr, and place it where your friends can see it. Your friends follow the link and write valentines to you. But their valentines will not immediately be visible to you - they remain hidden. You will only be able to see how many there are. On Valentine's Day (February 14), at 6 AM EST, the valentines will be revealed, and only then will I (and only I) be able to read them.
My Valentinr - meganpires
Get your own valentinr

Will you send me a valentine wish? I don't want to be the only girl in class who doesn't get a card. Just click on my mailbox!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cancer and Comfort

My poor little pup had to have surgery!
Here he is the day he got home, in his pajamas. You know he feels bad if he's wearing anything. He is not a fashion dog!
Earlier in the week. he wasn't feeling well so I took him to the vet. He had to get 2 booster shots, and his nails dremeled anyway. So he was a sick pup and was given a third shot and antibiotics. I showed the doc how this mole was growing, and he said we better take it off. So surgery was 2 days later.

Double whammy for the dog!

So one pathologist bill, and two vet bills later, the doc calls to tell me his mole was a cancerous tumor. He had Canine hemangiosarcoma (HSA). Its an aggressive cancer of blood vessel-lining (endothelial) cells.
He's better now. The P.J's are long gone and the wag is back in his tail. But there is nothing sadder then a sick pup! So we needed some comfort food around here.
This is a cross between mac and cheese and spaghetti. I got the recipe from a friend a few years back and I just call it turkey and pasta. Originally the recipe called for hamburger, but I use ground turkey now days. It also calls for a can of Cheddar cheese soup, but if your an anti-canned soup kind of girl, you can just make a cheese sauce. But then you'll want to pull out a bag of your frozen home made pasta sauce too, cause this baby has a jar of spaghetti sauce in it.
Easy recipe, pantry friendly ingredient list,
and a favorite among the kids.

This is my entry to Monthly Mingle-Comfort foods, hosted by Meeta at What's for lunch, honey?

Turkey and Pasta

1 lb pasta (I use Penne)
1 lb ground meat (hamburger, turkey, chicken)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can Cheddar cheese soup
2 cups cheese.

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain.
Brown ground meat, remove fat.
Add cooked pasta, spaghetti sauce, soup and one cup cheese. Pour into greased casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake 375 untill brown and bubbly.

My daughter likes it just like this but,
You could brown onions with your meat,
You can add any spice, (a little chili powder maybe?)
More cheese to make that cheesy crust on top!
Switch out your favorite cheese
Throw in a veggie, (broccoli would be good, or mushrooms!)

Serve and be comforted!



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Spanish Beef Dips with Carmelized Manchego Onions

When I first moved back to Redding after a 9 year Hiatus, My new husband and I were living a newlywed life.
On my way to get the hubby a birthday gift on the eve of his birthday, the car I was a passenger in, got hit head on by a drunk driver. Back in those days, it wasn't the law to wear a seat belt. A good idea, I now know . I was hurt really bad and had to spend a few weeks in the hospital. Ruptured spleen, torn liver, many broken bones (ribs, foot and arm), and multiple contusions. It took a year before I could even wear a shoe. Those were hard and depressing times for me. Not to mention we had a fire destroy our business and smoke damage our house 2 months earlier.

I had a good friend, bless her heart, who worked down the street from where I lived. Every work day, she would go get lunch and bring it to my house. Together, we would eat and chat and shoot the breeze. I really looked forward to that hour.

Her favorite? French Dip. I think we tried every french dip in town. Many years have passed, and life has taken us down different paths. I only see her once in a blue moon. So in honor of friendships every where, I bring to you this recipe. I just wish I could make it for her. I wish I could make it for you. Its that good!

Spanish Beef Dips with Caramelized Manchego Onions
Recipe courtesy American National CattleWomen, Inc.
created by Patrice Hurd, Bemidji, Minnesota

1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 beef shoulder top blade (flat iron) steaks (about 8 ounces each)

Au Jus:
1 (13 3/4 to 14 1/2-ounce) can ready-to-serve beef broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, cut in 1/2, thinly sliced (3 cups)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 loaf (1 pound) ciabatta bread (I used Dutch Crunch Rolls)
1/4 cup shredded Manchego cheese
1 tablespoon freshly minced cilantro leaves

Combine seasoning ingredients; press evenly onto beef steaks. Set aside.

Combine jus ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 to 18 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1 cup.

Meanwhile prepare onions. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, sprinkle with brown sugar and continue cooking about 10 minutes or until very tender and golden brown, stirring often. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

Heat the same large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet; cook 13 to 15 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally. Remove pan from heat; let stand 5 minutes.

Preheat broiler.
Cut bread loaf in half crosswise; cut each half crosswise in 1/2 forming quarters. Split each quarter horizontally in half. Place cut sides up on rimmed metal baking sheet so surface of bread is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 30 seconds to 1 minute or until toasted and lightly browned.

Carve steaks into thin slices. Place equal amounts of steak slices on bottom portions of bread. Top evenly with onion and cheese. Close sandwiches. Ladle hot jus into cups for dipping. Sprinkle cilantro over au jus.

Cook's Tip: 1 pound boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 3/4-inch thick, may be substituted for shoulder top blade (flat iron) steaks. Pan-broil 10 to 13 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning once.

Cook's Tip: 4 crusty French rolls (about 2 1/2 ounces each), split, may be substituted for ciabatta bread. Toast and fill as directed above.


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Me? A Meme?

Oh no! I've been tagged for a meme. Just when I thought I was safe. I thought no one knows me, I'll never be tagged. I was torn between relief and envy. I was relieved I didn't have to reveal myself, but I envied the people who where tagged because that meant they belonged to a larger group They had friends. People who tagged them. Until now!
My friend Karen was tagged for a meme and she has tagged me. So, here we go!

What were you doing 10 years ago?
1998- Same thing I'm doing now. I worked at our music store, I volunteered at the Y. I lived in the same house, married to the same man. The only difference, I had a 3 year old.

What were you doing 1 year ago? Same exact thing. Wow, I really am ready for a change!

Five snacks you enjoy? well this is sad too. It's all crap. I'm a sugar baby. Cookies, ice cream, Starbucks, Brie cheese and crackers, (finally, something not sweet) kettle corn. To sum it up, sugar and fat!

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to?
1.The song is over,
3.She keeps the home fires burning
4.Rainy days and Mondays
5.Sunshine on my shoulders
Wow, that sure showed my age.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire?
1.I always wanted to be able to just go out and see a needy women (or man)and hand her(or him) a $100 bill. So if I had a million, I could do it many, many times.
2.Get Lasik for me and hubby
3.Travel, NYC would be fun with money in my pocket. Or Italy, or the Bahamas, or...
4.Pay off the debt we've incurred.
5.Buy a new travel trailer.

Five bad habits? Sugar, T.V.time, procrastination, computer time, not returning phone calls and e-mails in a timely manner.

Five things you like doing? Baking,Blogging, camping, scrapbooking, shopping (for fun stuff, not grocery shopping)

Five things you would never wear again?
leg warmers,
Daisy duke shorts (they were called hot pants when I was young)
bikini(your welcome)
sparkly eyeshadow

Five favorite toys? Laptop, camera, MP3, my new kitchen torch, our 5Th wheel trailer

Tag, You’re It:

April Carla Jeena



Sunday, January 13, 2008

Happy Birthday K!

Adolescence can be a challenging time for young women. Their reactions to the physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty often depend on how they feel about themselves. Those with the strongest self-esteem are less likely to engage in socially unacceptable behaviors. While mistakes are made by all teenagers, those with the most self confidence will learn from them and adapt their behavior, rather than repeating the same mistake again.

My daughter just turned 13! Lets pause a moment and say a prayer for her, me. There now, we can go on. I'll be o.k. As I was saying, I have a teenager. More specifically, a teenage girl. Ouch, that hurts just typing it.
She went with me to do childwatch at the Y the other day and she was helping me with the kids.
They were all sitting around coloring pictures when K.(my daughter) drew a picture of what she wanted her birthday cake to look like. Marbled cake with different colored frosting and hearts on the side.
Well,its a women's prerogative to change her mind, so we went with sponge Bob. I don't know why everybody loves an under ware clad sponge.
What is it about Bob that captures the heart? And don't get me started about Patrick.
Here is the finished cake. Not to bad, huh? I know it made one
little girl teenager happy! I aim to please.

The surprise was inside. Oh it was marbled alright. In a checkered pattern. I learned a few things along the way. Like chill the cake before you cut it for cleaner lines. She thought I was a genius. I was feeling satisfied! It wasn't exactly symmetrical, it was my first checkered cake. And without the use of any special pans,

A big THANK YOU to Anne from Simply Anne's She gave me the instructions and the inspiration! Click hereto see her beautiful creation!



Friday, January 11, 2008

Happiness Cake

I was doing some baking and came across an old news paper clipping in the junk drawer. It must have been my mom's. Who knows how it got in my baking junk drawer but there it lay, waiting to be shared. I wish I had someone to credit but there wasn't anything but the recipe. So here it is!
Happeness Cake
1 cup of good thoughts
1 cup of kind deeds
1 cup of consideration for others
2 cups of sacrafice
2 cups of well-beaten faults
3 cups of forgiveness
Mix thoroughly. Add tears of
joy, sorrow, and sympathy. Flavor
with love and kindly service. Fold
in 4cups of prayer and faith.
Blend well. Fold into dailey life.
Bake well with the warmth of
human kindness and serve with
a smile any time. It will satisfy
the hunger of starved souls.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dorie's Allspice Muffins

My girlfriend, Ranae, was having a shing-dig at her church and needed a little breakfast item. Just a little snack like food that was easy to serve and eat. Something that would be complemented by simple fruit and a pitcher of lemon water. I told her I got this new cookbook for Christmas and everyone rants and raves about these recipes. It was Baking From My Home to Yours By Dorie Greenspan. I had seen, where someone on the blogs had made them, and gave them great reviews. So, I suggested these muffins to Ranae. I read off the recipe to her and she had everything the recipe called for except the lemon zest. I told her it was "optional", not to worry about it.
I called back the next day after her trial batch to see what she thought. She said they were bland, even tasteless. Her husband even asked if she forgot the sugar. FORGOT THE SUGAR? TASTELESS? How can that be? I've never heard a bad thing about Dorie's recipes. Well, I had to try for myself.
So, I set out to make a batch for the family. With the words *bland* and *tasteless* in my head, I began measuring and mixing. I made sure I put in the "optional" lemon zest and sprinkled a little extra spice on the tops just for extra insurance!
What came out of my oven was not tasteless. But I could see if you left out that optional ingredient, it could be considered bland.

It was how ever a little flat. And they kind of ran together. That was o.k. My husband said he kind of liked them flat. And square!
These did not last long at my house. We loved the crumb topping and the sweet taste of the allspice.
Dorie is still welcomed in my home. I cant wait for the next time that we get together and bake up lovin from the oven.

Allspice Crumb Muffins
From Dorie Greenspan's Baking From my Home to Yours
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground allspice
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular sized muffin tin or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
To make the streusel:
Put the flour, brown sugar, and allspice in a small bowl and sift them through your fingers to blend. Add the bits of cold butter into the dry ingredients and toss to coat, then use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until you've got irregularly shaped crumbs. Set aside in the refrigerator. (You can make the crumbs up to 3 days ahead and keep them covered in the fridge.)
To make the muffins:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, quickly but gently stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough- the batter will be lumpy and that's the way it should be. Stir in the lemon zest, if using. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle some streusel over each muffin, then use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Contest, Contest Contest.

I'm hoping everyone loves a contest cause I have 2 more for you to check out!
Now I've been very luck lately with 2 wins under my belt. I won the wonderful cookbook called *I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas* by Marcel Desaulniers over at Marye's blog Baking Delights!


The wonderful cookbook called Food to Live By, by Myra Goodman,
won over at Ari's blog Baking and Books

Now it your turn to be a winner!

Go to
So...What else, What else, What else? for your chance to win some goodies from Burt Bees! Ya Gotta love that stuff!


If your blog needs a new make-over, then I suggest you head over to Sandier Pastures for a chance to win just that. A Blog Makeover!

My blog needs a professional up-lift, so I'm on my way to enter!
Wish me luck and I'll see you there!


Sunday, January 6, 2008

It's a Chili Day!

The forecast for this weekend was bleak. A monster storm is hitting us with a vengeance. Hurricane force winds and heavy rain has caused widespread power outages, a levee break in Nevada and two deaths in California.

For me, I'm bundled up at home with my flashlight ready and a fridge full of food. Dinner?

Something to cut the chill and warm ya from within. Nothing says, "let me warm you" like a bowl of chili and a wedge of cornbread.. And not just any chili.

Chocolate Chili!

I've been on a kick putting chilies in my chocolate lately. I've made these truffles and this cake. I decided with a new year, I would move on to another flavor combo.
But then the storm was fast approaching and I saw this recipe from Alanna at Veggie Venture. Chocolate in my chili? It just yelled at me, "Make Me!" So I did! And I'm so glad I did.

There is only a little bit of unsweetened cocoa in it, so don't think of it as sweet. It's not. But between the chocolate and the cinnamon, it makes you ask, What's that flavor. I'll tell you whats that flavor, DELICIOUS!

More rain, snow, and wind on the way for today as a new system affects the region. People are advised to stay home if they can. I have my flashlight and a blanket.

And I have leftover chili!

By:Veggie Venture/Kitchen Parade

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total preparation time: 2 hours
Makes 12 cups

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1-1/2 cup chopped onion
Note: I added 1 can of pinto beans.
1 cup chopped tomatoes (15 oz can)
6 ounces tomato paste
1 quart water (or less for a thicker chili)
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 – 3 tablespoons chili powder (start with 1 tablespoon, add to taste)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 bay leaf
Cook ground beef and onion until meat is cooked. Drain fat. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, vinegar and Tabasco. Stir spices, salt and cocoa powder together in small dish. Stir into chili and add bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1-1/2 - 2 hours. Remove bay leaf.

Serve plain or over hot spaghetti, a baked potato or mashed potatoes.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Cup: 111Cal; 13g Protein; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 7g Carb; 2g Fiber; 633mg Sodium; 51mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points


Friday, January 4, 2008

Win A Stand Mixer!

A Cowboy’s Wife is having a contest on her food blog! You can win a Hamilton Beach® Stand Mixer and she’ll ship anywhere so everyone is eligible!

The Prize:
The winner will receive a brand new Hamilton Beach 4.5-qt. Eclectrics Stand Mixer, Pineapple Yellow!!
About the mixer:
From Hamilton Beach’s “Eclectrics” line, this all-metal stand mixer comes with a host of accessories - a Flat Beater for cakes and cookies, a Dough Hook for bread and a Wire Whisk for whipped cream or pudding. The 4.5-qt. stainless steel bowl comes with a Pouring Shield that helps prevent splattering while in operation. The pouring shield has a built-in chute for adding ingredients. Powered by 400 watts, the stand mixer has a two-way mixing action to ensure all ingredients are incorporated into the mix. The quick-release, tilt-up head assists when removing the bowl. 9 x 14 x 14-in. When you’re ready for a kitchen re-do, don’t call in the carpenters! Instead, “counterscape” your kitchen with Hamilton Beach’s retro-designed, affordably priced electrics in happy, sun-saturated colors. Their “Eclectrics” line includes updates to those classic appliances from the 1950s. All of their “Eclectrics” are available in six colors: Apple Green, Moroccan Red, Pineapple Yellow, Intrigue Blue, Sugar White and Licorice Black.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Contest Alert

New blog, new contest! Check out Barefoot in the kitchen!

And you dont have to have a blog to enter and win!!!

Just leave a comment for one ticket, but mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back to the post, and she'll give you an EXTRA entry.

Good luck!!!


Eggnog Quick Bread

A new Year!


The holidays are over and now were in a new year. I took the dog for a New Years Day walk. We both needed it! I was feeling better and he was tired of being cooped up. We went to the famous Sundial Bridge to take some pictures but of course the battery died. I did get this one for your viewing pleasure! Pretty huh?

So back to this Christmas thing. Did it go by fast this year for you too?
You know the older we get...

Well, What's the rush? You can hold on to the season just a little longer with this recipe.

Easy Eggnog Quick Bread with Buttered Rum Glaze

Next time your at the grocery store,
1. Pick up some eggnog.There trying to get rid of it at the stores, so pick it up now! This stuff actually lasts a long time if you don't open it. Buy it now, so you have it when you need it. Cause if you wait till you need it, there wont be any left. Got it?
I bought eggnog a couple times to make this bread, (cake?) but I always forgot the rum extract. Then the nog got drunk. HeeHee!
2.Don't forget the extract!
Also, I mixed everything up in my stand-up mixer (Oster, not Kitchen-aid yet!) Just beating away when I went to check the recipe. And there it was.
3."stir until just moistened. Don’t over stir." Crap!

I guess that's why I got this giant crater in my loaf. But that was no big deal. It actually worked out to my advantage! See picture below. The recipe also said to let the loaf cool completely before cutting.
Are you kidding me?

Did I mention the Buttered Rum glaze? Talk about the icing on the cake!

This quick bread is simple and delish. I recommend it. You really want to make this one! Get your nog and extract ready because there is no time like the present.

Its the happiest time of the year!
Eggnog Christmas Bread with Buttered Rum Glaze
Found at Baking Delights
Makes: 1 loaf

2 eggs
1 cups sugar
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 9×5x3 bread pans.

Beat eggs, add sugar, eggnog, butter,
rum and vanilla until blended.

In a bowl mix together flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Add to the egg mixture and stir until just moistened. Don’t over stir.

Pour into greased pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out

Buttered Rum Glaze
Make this after bread comes out of the oven:

1/4 c brown sugar
1/3 c unsalted butter
1 teaspoon rum extract

Melt butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan until smooth and sugar looses it’s graininess. Remove from heat. Add extract. Pour over warm bread.



Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008!!!

Happy New Year! I hope every one had a happy and safe New Years Eve.
The above picture was the way my new year was suppose to end. Safe, quite evening at home with some fantastic appetizers and a little bubbly. I have so many appetizer recipes to share, no many good wishes to go out, so much blogging to be done. After all, it is year end.


Here was my reality. Closing year end with a nasty head cold.

No appetizers,
I had chicken soup.
No bubbly!
No recipes on the blog.
(Didn't make anything but warmed up soup!)
No energy.

Just a stuffed up head that couldn't breathe, a nose that wouldn't quit running, and all the energy drained. Nothing an antihistamine, a decongestant, and a couple of ibuprofen couldn't get me through.
I did find the Santa Clause blog. That was my highlight!


Today is New Years Day!!! And I woke up feeling sooo much better.
The sun is shining,
The parade is parading,
And I have some baking to do!!

So I wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous and blessed year. I also thank you for visiting me here and making my little blog so successful.

Happy New Year Everyone!