Foodie Blog Roll 2

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fresh Fig Flowers with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

I just cannot get enough of my local farmer's market! I love going in there with a blank canvas and leaving inspired. This week's inspiration was figs. Uh, actually, so was last week's. We had a bunch of friends over last weekend for a grilled pizza party, and fresh figs were the star of my pizza. Don't worry, that post is coming soon. But for now, you'll just have to settle for these little beauties!

Fresh Fig Flowers with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

Aren't they pretty? They are cut into flowers, broiled for a few minutes, stuffed with creamy goat cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, broiled a bit longer, dressed with a toasted walnut and finished off with a drizzle of honey. 

Is your mouth watering? 

I used Brown Turkey figs for this appetizer. 

To make your fig flowers:
1.Wash figs
2.Cut stem off
3. Cut from the top down, about 3/4 of the way
4. Cut in other direction from top down, about 3/4 of the way

To cook the figs, I placed them in a mini muffin pan, so then did not spread out too much as they got warm.

Ok, so let's get started.

Fresh Fig Flowers with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts
     makes 8 fig flowers
8 fresh figs
4 oz goat cheese
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
8 toasted walnuts
2 tsp honey

Wash figs, cut of stems, cut from top to bottom, about 3/4 of the way down, then cut other direction from top down, about 3/4 of the way down. Do not cut figs all the way down or they will not keep their shape. Place fig flowers in mini muffin tin and broil on low for 3 minutes. Remove from oven and fill each flower with small dollop of goat cheese. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over goat cheese. Return pan to oven and broil on low for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and top each fig flour with toasted walnut then drizzle with honey.
Serve warm. 

Serve these fig flowers as a pretty appetizer at your next party or just make them for a healthy snack. Dress up a plain spinach salad with these to make it fancy or serve them with brunch.

Linked up to Merry Mondays!
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Slow Cooked Chicken and Sausage Cajun Gumbo Topped with Bacon

I was trying to decide what to do with the grilled chicken sausage, fresh okra and chicken breasts that I had in the fridge. Bam! Gumbo!!! I love me some cajun food and I would not wait to make this. I looked through the fridge to see what other veggies and goodies I had and the only things I had to grab from the store were celery and chicken broth. The best part about this meal is that besides cooking the chicken, everything cooks in a crock pot, so you don't have to spend all day cooking.

Slow Cooked Chicken and Sausage Cajun Gumbo Topped with Bacon

I have made soups before, but I wanted this to come out thick, like a traditional gumbo, so I did a little research. To thicken this gumbo, I used okra and also a roux (an equal amount of wheat flour and fat).

I was quite pleased with the thickness of the gumbo! It had splendid flavor and was not excessively spicy. I also had some cooked turkey bacon in the fridge, so I heated it, chopped it up and topped the gumbo with it. (I know, not traditional!) 

Slow Cooked Chicken and Sausage Cajun Gumbo Topped with Bacon
     serves 6
For the Roux:
1/4 C wheat flour
1/4 C vegetable oil
For the Chicken:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bites (about 3 cups)
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
For the Gumbo:
3 1/2 C reduced-sodium chicken broth or stock
2 cooked chicken sausages, sliced then quartered
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks (including leaves), sliced
2 C fresh okra, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 T hot sauce (I use Louisiana)
For the Rice:
1 C brown rice
2 1/2 C reduced-sodium chicken broth
Cooked turkey bacon, chopped

For the roux, use a small sauce pot and pour wheat flour and oil in, on medium-high heat. Whisk together and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. 
Reduce heat to medium, but keep stirring. Cook for another 15 minutes or until the roux turns reddish brown. Do not let this burn! Let roux cool.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, begin cooking chicken on medium heat. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of cajun seasoning and continue to cook until just cooked through. 
Take off heat.
In crockpot, pour in chicken broth and cooled roux and stir to combine, making sure there are no lumps. Add chicken, chicken sausage, onions, bell peppers, celery, okra and garlic. Stir. Add seasonings and hot sauce and stir. Put lid on and cook for 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. (I cooked mine for 5 hours on high and it was perfect).

Meanwhile, cook brown rice in chicken broth, according to package directions. 

To serve, scoop brown rice in bowl, 

ladle in some gumbo,

then ladle in some broth.

Top with turkey bacon, if desired (optional, but actually very good!)

This gumbo was filled with poultry: chicken breast, chicken sausage AND turkey bacon for the top. But for your own twist, some other great options are shrimp, andouille sausage, crab meat, duck, ham or oysters. Or you could even do a vegetarian gumbo, gumbo z'herbes.

If you get the thickness and the spices right, I don't really think it matters WHAT you throw in there, it will be fabulous!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Cowgirl Cocktail

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I've done it. I have created the signature Cookin' Cowgirl drink. I combined my two favorite drinks into one amazing cocktail.

The Cowgirl Cocktail
The classic mojito has always been my favorite drink. Well, that and one other.

My older sister, Jenny, lives in Dallas and one of my favorite things to do with her there is going to Taco Diner and getting their famous Mambo Taxi! It's a frozen margarita with a sangria swirl.

But I'm a simple girl, and sometimes I don't have time to make sangria, so my replacement is Chambord. Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur, made from black and red raspberries, Madagascar vanilla, citrus peel, honey and cognac (thank you, Wikipedia) and swirled into this drink it is fantastic!

Just a side note, if you have a favorite mojito recipe, feel free to use it, or use my "skinny" version, with sweetener instead of sugar/syrup.

The Cowgirl Cocktail
     makes 1 drink
6 mint leaves
2 huge lime wedges
1 packet sweetener
1 1/2 oz clear rum
1/2 oz Chambord
1 C club soda
Pink sanding sugar sprinkles or pomegranate rimmer

Dip rim of glass in water and rim with sugar sprinkles. Put mint leaves, sweetener and lime juice in glass and muddle until mint leaves are slightly broken up. Pour in rum and Chambord and stir. Fill glass with ice and top with club soda. Garnish with lime wedge.

I may have gotten a little carried away with the sprinkles!

If you are making a big pitcher of these I reccomend starting with 6X the recipe, then adding more if you need to. For 6 Cowgirl Cocktails, use these amounts in a large pitcher:

36 mint leaves
Juice from 2 whole limes
6 packets of sweetener
9oz clear rum
3 oz Chambord
6 C club soda
Pink sanding sugar sprinkles

These drinks are so much fun and are such a pretty color. Serve them at at shower or adult birthday party. And how perfect would this drink be for a BACHELORETTE party?! It's so fun and pink!

I guess you could call this a Chambord Mojito, but doesn't Cowgirl Cocktail have a nice ring to it? Ok, so who's coming over this weekend? ;)

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Blueberry Wheat Pancake Muffins with Cherries and Walnuts

I woke up yesterday morning really wanting to make something for breakfast. Usually during the week, I eat cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, so on the weekends I typically want to do something different. I started looking through my pantry and tried to come up with something creative with all the random things I had. What I came up with was pancake muffins.

 Blueberry Wheat Pancake Muffins with Cherries and Walnuts

It was too easy! I have had this box of Hungry Jack Blueberry Wheat pancake mix for a while so I thought I could do something with it.

I didn't really want to make pancakes, for two reasons, One- I wanted to bake something. Two - when I make pancakes, they are UGLY! :( I need a griddle or something cause they always come out crazy looking. All I know is I didn't feel like failing at something on a relaxing weekend morning. I will practice though.

I promise.

Plus, I had these delicious cherries that I wanted to add. Yeah, they're yummy!
Did you know you can make muffins out of pancake batter? Neither did I!

Blueberry Wheat Pancake Muffins with Cherries and Walnuts
    makes 7 muffins (this can easily be doubled!)
1 C Blueberry Wheat pancake mix (I used Hungry Jack)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg, beaten (you will only use 1/2 )*
1/3 C + 3 T milk
2 T + 1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T 100 % maple syrup
1/3 C chopped cherries
2 T chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and put 7 liners in a muffin pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pancake mix, cinnamon and nutmeg. Next pour in half of the egg, the milk, oil, vanilla and syrup. Mix just until combined; do not over mix. Add cherries and walnuts and stir to combine. Fill muffin liners about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack.

* Some of these measurements might seem kind of strange, but it can be hard cooking for two. I added a little of this and a little of that until I felt the batter was just how I wanted it. If you only want a few muffins, use this recipe. For the egg, crack it into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Only pour half of it into the batter, and discard the rest. If you are making 14 muffins, use the whole egg.

These are not cupcakes, they are muffins. They are lightly sweet. So if you think you're going to get a sugar high with these, well, you're not. But guess what they DID taste like? Exactly like pancakes. :)

I had a slight problem naming these muffins. Here were some choices:
Cherry Walnut Pancake Muffins
Wheat Blueberry Cherry Pancake Muffins with Walnuts
Wheat Blueberry Pancake muffins with Cherries and Walnuts
Cherry Walnut Wheat Blueberry Pancake Muffins
Blueberry Wheat Pancake Muffins with Cherries and Walnuts

What do you think? Did I choose the right name?

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Pumpkin Blog Hop Results

First of all, I would like to say a huge cowgirl THANK Y'ALL too all those who participated in my first linky blog hop! How much fun! I chose pumpkin as the theme for a few reasons. I love just about every pumpkin dish I have ever had and it's never too early to start gathering new pumpkin recipes for the fall. There were so many yummy recipies and beautiful pictures that it was really hard for me to pick my 3 favorites. I want to try ALL the recipes! Please visit these lovely blogs and show them your love. :)

With out further adu, here are the winners, in no particular order.

These darling little whoopie pies have a creamy cream cheese frosting filling and they are topped with Rebeca's homemade roasted almond brittle.

Combining her two Starbucks favorites, Monica slow cooks a big batch of these pumpkin lattes with real maple syrup.

For the ultimate "fall meal," Erika has combined a homemade chili with pumpkin for a fall lovers dream!

Try these other recipes also when you just can't get enough of that lovely, orange squash.

Pumpkin Short Ribs by In Erika's Kitchen
Pumpkin Spice Lattes by Macaroni and Cheesecake
Alice's Teacup-Pumpkin Scones by Just Desserts NYC
Pumpkin Rice Pudding by In Erika's Kitchen
Pumpkin Cookies by Sweet Peas & Pumpkins
"Cuppa" Pumpkin Latte by Lynn Coulter
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies by Puma Life 
Pumpkin Pancakes by Everything Pumpkin Blog 
Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo by Jenna's Everything Blog
Pumpkin Spice Lattes by Oh Boy Karen Cooks
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by Mandy's Recipe Box
Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts by Life is Still Sweet
Mini Pumpkin Muffins by Everyday Sisters
Mini Pumpkin Bundt Cakes by Recipes From My Mom
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins by Sheep, Spinach and Strawberries
Pumpkin Pie French Toast by The Double Dipped Life
Better Pumpkin Curry Alfredo by The Double Dipped Life

xoxo ~ Cookin' Cowgirl

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

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This post has been a long time coming. I don't mean I made these a long time ago and am just now blogging them. No, I mean they have been on my bucket list for months now and I'm just now getting around to them. This is actually the second time I have made them this month, but the first time they didn't turned out right. It all started when I picked up some green tomatoes at a farmer's market and asked for some tips on frying them. The women that sold them to me told me about this Whistle Stop batter mix that was the "best thing to fry the tomatoes in." So, of course I gave it a try. I was reluctant at first because I thought, "If I use a batter mix, I can't really blog about that. I wouldn't have made anything." Yeah, that should have been the least of my worries.

Have you ever heard the expression "If you want something done right, do it yourself"? I should have done it myself! The batter mix just made a coating of hard shell around the tomato. When you bit into it, sheese! It was like biting a brick! There was no texture except "hard," and no real flavor either. So, I was on a mission to do it better. And I did.

Fried Green Tomatoes

The two things I really wanted out of the tomatoes were texture and flavor! So I bought a cast iron skillet, and used bacon and cornmeal. "Yeah," I thought. "That oughta do it!"

I sliced up my tomatoes,

set up my breading station, 
and got to work. 

Fried Green Tomatoes
     makes 16 slices
1 lb bacon, (I used turkey)
Vegetable oil (optional)
2 medium, firm green tomatoes
1/2 C milk
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Other seasonings (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C cornmeal

Use a mandolin to slice each tomato into 8, 1/4 inch thick slices. Cook bacon in cast iron skillet. Remove bacon and leave grease in the pan. Add additional oil if necessary and heat to medium. 

Meanwhile, set up breading station using 4 shallow dishes. Milk in the 1st; flour, salt, pepper and seasoning in the 2nd; eggs in the 3rd; cornmeal in the 4th. Dip a tomato slice in the milk, then the flour mixture, then the egg, then the cornmeal. Fry tomato slices for 2 minutes on each side. If they are browning too quickly, turn the heat down. They will need about 4 minutes total for the tomato to become slightly softened on the inside. Repeat for all tomato slices. Remove tomatoes and drain on paper towel covered plate. Serve warm.

The texture of these were amazing! Crispy outside, creamy tomato inside. Perfect. 

Don't worry about them looking perfect. It adds character. :)

Boiled peanuts AND fried green tomatoes in one week? Watch out world! This mid-western cowgirl is turning southern!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cajun Boiled Peanuts

One of my favorite things to do is go to a farmers market and pick up some local, fresh produce. Luckily for me, there is a really good one near my house. Andy's Garden and Farm Market is located in Vestavia (Birmingham), Alabama and it's open all year around. They always have fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, and it's just a 3 minute drive from my work. I like going there and picking up a few things to eat with lunch or grabbing some fresh goodies on the way home. As wonderful as I know this place is, I was shocked when I called last week and they said they DID have raw, green peanuts. If you aren't familiar with these, don't worry. Until I moved to the south, this cowgirl wasn't either. What are they used for, you ask? Why, boiled peanuts, of course!

Cajun Boiled Peanuts

They don't look much different than peanuts you would buy at the store, but believe me, you can't eat these things raw.

Like I said, I had never had these before I moved here. In fact, before I left Oklahoma, I had never even heard of a boiled peanut. Some gas stations around here will have them just cooking away in a crock pot and you can grab a cup full of them for not much more than a dollar. 

Some people think they are better the mushier they are, but that is a personal preference. The first time I had them, yuck! I didn't like them at all. They reminded me of a mushy bean or something. But Chris really likes them so I thought I would try making them. I came up with a way to prepare them so that we BOTH like them.And for $1.99 a pound? Winning!

Cajun Boiled Peanuts
     serves 8
2 pounds, green peanuts, raw*
1/4 C salt
1/4 C seasoning salt
1/4 C Cajun seasoning

Rinse the peanuts and pull off the stems. Place them in a large pot or French oven. 

Cover the peanuts with water, then add a few more inches of water; the peanuts will float. 

Bring the water to a boil and add salts and seasoning. Cook for 30 minutes and stir a few times. 

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2- 2 1/2 hours, or until desired texture. 

A few tips: I liked them after they cooked for a few hours and were slightly cooled. Chris liked them the next day after they sat in the seasoned water, in the fridge overnight. I do not eat the shells, but there were a few in the batch that were soft enough to eat. Yes, Chris ate them. (He must be a CrAzY CaJuN!) *No, the peanuts aren't really green.

So here is the final product. Definitely NOT a mushy bean, but not crunchy either. Just....boiled. :)

If you don't like Cajun seasoning, leave it out and use another 1/4 C of salt. I like spicy things, but these were by no means spicy.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Island Pork Meatball Kabobs with Grilled Pineapple Cilantro Salsa

Here's another healthy summer meal to show your grill how much you love it. :) These gingery island meatballs are fun to eat and the grilled pineapple makes this salsa feel fancy. Give it a try!

Island Pork Meatball Kabobs with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Island Pork Meatball Kabobs   
      serves 8
1 1/2 - 2 lb ground pork
1/2 C cracker crumbs (I used Toll House, whole wheat)
1 egg
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 C onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T light brown sugar
2 T soy sauce (reduced sodium)
1 tsp sriracha
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix pork, cracker crumbs and egg together in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well, use hands if desired. Roll into 32 balls; they should be about 1 inch in diameter.

Place on skewers and grill. Grill for a few minutes, until meat is cooked through. 

I was a little worried that the meatballs would fall off the skewers, but they stayed on just fine.

Grilled Pineapple Cilantro Salsa
4 - 1 inch pineapple rings
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
Juice from 1 whole lime
Cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste

Grill pineapple rings for a few minutes on each side. 

Let cool slightly, then chop and put in bowl. Add the onion, jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro and salt. Stir to combine.

This salsa would also be excellent on fish or in tacos. I used the left overs in scrambled egg whites for a  delicious breakfast.

This is a quick and simple meal to entertain with. I'm sure these meatballs would be great cooked in the oven also.

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