Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Puree of Green Pea & Mint

For two years in a row, our cousin Devin has made these delicious hors d'oeuvres for us at some point during his and Gina's visit. I love it when Gina & Devin & the girls come visit!

This year, I wasn't too drunk to pay attention while he listed the ingredients. He only told me the names of the ingredients, mind you, not the amounts. So this is my best guess. A pretty good guess if I do say so myself.

This batch turned out a bit mintier than Devin's, but one out of two boys like it so I'm calling it good. If you'd like less minty flavor, just use one sprig. Or maybe don't pluck fresh mint sprigs from your garden two seconds before you make this, which is what I did...

I made an Artisan Bread baguette for this, but you could buy a baguette at the store, if your store sells baguettes. My store does not.

Easy, fast, delicious and even healthy! Make some today! Seriously, I can pack away a lot of these beauties...yum. I used frozen peas, but you can use fresh peas instead. Just blanch them a bit first so the texture will be soft and smooth.

Puree of Green Pea & Mint
Adapted from Devin's creation

Thinly sliced baguette (or crostini if you plan a bit ahead)

14 ounces peas (if frozen, cook according to package directions and let cool)
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
leaves from 1 to 2 sprigs fresh mint
kosher salt

Parmesan cheese

Add peas and mint leaves to food processor, along with about 1/4 cup olive oil. Puree until smooth, adding more olive oil as necessary to achieve a nice consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, I just tossed some in.

Serve a generous dollop of pea puree on top of each baguette slice, topped with a thin slice of Parmesan.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Godiva Chocolate Coconut Truffle Iced Coffee

As part of Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I received two bags of Godiva coffee: Chocolate Truffle and French Vanilla flavors! I was asked to create a special iced coffee drink. Of course I started with the Chocolate Truffle Coffee...

If you'd like an iced coffee drink that doesn't get watered down, plan ahead and freeze coffee cubes in an ice cube tray. Otherwise you can use regular ice cubes. From there, you can use them whole or throw your ingredients in a blender for a yummy frozen coffee. Your choice.

Chocolate Truffle Coffee, dark chocolate sauce, and coconut syrup combine to make a luscious and refreshing Chocolate Coconut Truffle Iced Coffee!

Godiva Chocolate Coconut Truffle Iced Coffee
Serves 1

Godiva Chocolate Truffle Coffee, brewed and cooled
Ice Cubes or Frozen Coffee Cubes
about 1 tablespoon Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce
1 ounce Monin Coconut Syrup
Half & Half, to taste
Whipped cream, optional...or required...

Add Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce to a 16-ounce glass and fill glass with ice cube. Godiva Chocolate Truffle Coffee, filling up to about 1 inch from the rim. Add Monin Coconut Syrup, top off with half and half, and stir well until all chocolate is stirred in.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lobster Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

We had another package of Lobster Ravioli to eat. (Sadly, I am not sharing a recipe for Lobster Ravioli). I have already posted this sauce recipe, when I made the brown butter sauce to go with some Wild Mushroom Agnolotti.

And while I do prefer Lobster Ravioli with this delicious Citrus Chardonnay Sauce, we were completely out of Chardonnay. I know, I couldn't believe it either! So we made Brown Butter Sauce again, with Italian parsley.

The photo turned out so good, I just had to share it. (NOW you know why you're here!)

Follow the links for the other recipes, and let me know what sauces you would pair with these fancy pastas! Or if you have a pasta to recommend, by all means let me know about it!

*Someday I will make my own pastas, but someday isn't here yet...*

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bad Girl Review: Voila! Garlic Chicken

Want an honest product review? You'll always find them here.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I received a free sample of Birds Eye Voila! which are "delicious skillet meals made in minutes." Thank you Foodbuzz and Birds Eye! Birds Eye's website says there are 17 varieties of Voila! available, including chicken, shrimp or beef meals. My teeny tiny grocery store currently carries two varieties: Garlic Chicken and Three Cheese Chicken. For tonight's dinner, we chose Garlic Chicken. There was 1 pound and 6 ounces in what I assume is the "regular size" package, just under 4 servings, according to the nutritional information.

The chicken and vegetables come out of the bag looking bright and fresh. It's easy to make, just add 1/4 cup of water to a pan along with the contents of the bag, and start heating! The instructions said to reduce heat to medium-high and cover. This turned out to be too high, after half of the 7-9 minutes, it started to stick a bit when I opened the cover to stir. I ended up reducing the heat to low to finish cooking, and despite frequent stirring, it still stuck just a bit. Not too bad though.

As you can see, the dinner looks appetizing and fresh, even after cooking. I asked my family to report their opinions.

I thought the chicken, pasta and vegetable combo was surprisingly fresh-tasting, and had a light sauce with good flavor. The chicken had a good texture, not chewy or rubbery, and even the pasta was good. It makes a decent, quick, last-minute weeknight option. I would rather throw it together from scratch, a fresh meal from fresh ingredients, but I sure couldn't do that in 10 minutes!

H-Bomb, age 8, possessing a truly sophisticated palate, said that the chicken had "a spicy aftertaste," and he didn't care for the pasta, but he finished his dinner. He said "I just liked the broccoli."

Sawed Off, age 5, tasted only one bite and said he didn't like it. Even the promise of dessert couldn't convince him to clean his plate. It's possible they would prefer the Three Cheese Chicken, but I don't know.

Number One, my husband, said it was "good, for a frozen dinner." He would eat it again.

I may use one of the coupons I have, just to stash a couple bags in the freezer for a desperate school night. Speaking of which,

I do have a BUNCH of
Buy-One-Get-One-Free COUPONS
from Foodbuzz and Birds Eye,
so if you're interested in trying Voila!,
"like" my page on facebook
& leave a wall post about Voila!
I'll give coupons to
the FIRST 15 people to do so,
and will contact you to find out
where to send your coupon!


Now to the ingredients. I feel like I need to disclose this, even though I am submitting this post to the Birds Eye people and to Foodbuzz. Food companies have to know how consumers truly feel. Even though we did eat this ONE meal.

It doesn't help that we received this product after we'd recently taken a stand against ultra-processed, ubiquitous corn and soy products. Last year, we may not have given it a second thought. But it's been nagging at me to the point I just can't stand it anymore: I just don't understand WHY every single processed food product MUST include corn AND soy in MULTIPLE variations.

If you don't care about the abundance of corn and soy in every single food product in the USA, by all means, go buy this one, it tastes better than a lot of things.

I do care. So for your information, should you choose to read it, here's the breakdown of soy/corn from the ingredients list:

(*I haven't gotten so far as to analyze or discover the chemical or other names for soy or corn, so these are only the obviously listed "corn" and "soy" products. For all I know, there could be even more*)

  • Isolated soy protein
  • Corn flour
  • Corn starch
  • Defatted soy flour
  • MORE Corn starch
  • Partially hydrogenated soybean oil
  • MORE Partially hydrogenated soybean oil
  • Soy lecithin

Do you see what I mean? EIGHT various forms of corn and soy?? There aren't even that many REAL ingredients, at least there shouldn't be: Chicken. Pasta. Broccoli. Corn (kernels!). Carrots. Garlic Sauce.

Add all eight forms to all the other processed foods a person in America likely eats in a day, and it's staggering. I don't like it. I don't trust it. I don't see how it's necessary or why it's done, and it must stop. There is a reason so many of us are unhealthy. And I didn't even touch the sodium or sugar levels. I'll just say they're both more than in there, Read The Labels for yourself.

The end.

Bayou Eggplant and Shrimp Dressing

A friend of a friend posted this recipe on facebook, and I had all the ingredients (except cornbread!) so I decided to try it. The recipe comes from food.com, follow the link below.

I chose a new cornbread recipe to try out for this dressing, a true Southern unsweetened corn bread. I baked the cornbread in the morning, crumbled it and let it dry most of the day (rather than overnight).

For some reason this took some time to put together, longer than I expected. Perhaps in part due to peeling the shrimp? Or maybe because I recently moved my computer out of the kitchen (what??) and refused to print out the recipe...Anyway, allow yourself some time for this. It is a colorful dish when it's going together, and smells great.

On first taste, I have to admit I wasn't impressed. It was okay, but I didn't know if I'd make it again. But this dressing grew on me, and by the end of the dinner I was in definite *like* with it...more and more. I can now say that I really like it. And I can't wait to taste it tomorrow, as a leftover.

Bayou Eggplant and Shrimp Dressing

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
10 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread (dried overnight)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs, beaten
1 -1 1/2 cup chicken broth (or as needed) or 1 -1 1/2 cup turkey broth (or as needed)
3/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper, to taste

Heat the oil (medium heat) in a large non-stick skillet. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute/stir for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the eggplant, stir to combine. Cover and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes or until the eggplant is tender; stir frequently.

Add the shrimp and Cajun seasoning; cook/stir for 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp are pink. Put the shrimp mixture into a large mixing bowl; add in the crumbled cornbread and parsley.

Gradually stir in the eggs and approximately 1 cup broth, until the mixture is evenly moist but not soggy. Season to with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a buttered casserole dish; drizzle with 1/2 cup broth.

Cover and bake in a 350° oven for about 30 minutes; uncover the last 15 minutes of cooking time if you want a crusty dressing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sylvia's Ozark Cornbread

A couple years ago, I received The Cornbread Gospels cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon in the mail, a gift from the author herself. Pretty cool, right? I haven't made much cornbread in those two years, admittedly neglecting this informative cookbook, but recently someone posted a link to a recipe for a cornbread-based dressing, featuring eggplant and shrimp. I was intrigued, and I will be making and posting that recipe shortly. In the meantime, I needed to make some cornbread on which to base the dressing!

Out of the hundreds of cornbread recipes in the "Gospels," I chose this one. For reasons I can't explain, other than it looked pretty simple and I had all the ingredients.

Upon mixing up the batter, the consistency had me a bit worried, it seemed very thin. I needn't have worried, the cornbread baked up perfectly. It's a delicious cornbread with a lovely crumb, however I'm going to show my decidedly Northern roots when I say that this "Southern" cornbread needs just a bit of sugar for my taste, if I were eating it plain. Luckily I'm mixing it into that other recipe, so the lack of sugar is just fine.

Make this if you're in the mood for a true Southern, healthy cornbread. I have to admit, the more cornbread I ate, the more I liked it...let me know what YOU think!

Sylvia's Ozark Cornbread
Makes 8 wedges

Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk, preferably measured into a 4-cup measure
2 eggs
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spray a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with oil, add the butter, and put it into the oven to heat. Meanwhile, stir together the cornmeal, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

In a smaller bowl, or in the 4-cup measure, beat the buttermilk with the eggs and oil.

Combine the two mixtures. As always, be careful not to overbeat, stirring until wet and dry are just combined.

Scrape the batter into the hot skillet and bake the cornbread until it is golden brown and crusty at the edges, 23 to 27 minutes. Serve hot, in wedges.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I don't know about you, but these triple digit heatwave numbers have me craving NOT TURNING ON THE OVEN OR STOVE!! That said, this watermelon salad with prosciutto chiffonades really hit the spot tonight.
chiffonade - Literally translated, this French phrase means "made of rags." Culinarily, it refers to thin strips or shreds.  It usually pertains to leafy vegetables, but in this case we are cutting the prosciutto into very thin strips.
watermelon chunks
prosciutto chiffonades
green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra light extra virigin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
  • In a small food processor whip together the vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Gradually add the oil until well blended.
  • Pour over sald makings and toss gently.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Taste & Create Partner List

Here is the T&C partner list. Please remember to submit your creations to Nicole's Taste & Create website by August 24th, 2011!

If you have any questions or problems, check out the How it Works page, or please feel free to email
me at cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Have you heard of Taste & Create? It's a monthly food blog event in which participants are randomly paired off, and must choose and create a recipe from their partner's blog. It is great fun! A picture of everyone's creation and a brief "review" gets posted on the Taste & Create website, linking back to your own blog post.

If you'd would like to sign up for NEXT month, please email me by the 8th of the month. You'll be randomly paired with another food blogger, and the fun will begin!


Always Eat on the Good China & Tasteful Diversions

No Reason Needed & Searching for Spice

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy & Study Food

Mom's Sunday Café & The Bad Girl's Kitchen

Monday, August 8, 2011

Best. Salad. Ever.

OK, so I'm not sure that this truly is the best salad ever created, but it is most definitely one of my favorites. I had forgotten about this old friend until about a month ago when I was responsible for bringing a salad to a party with friends.

The great thing about this salad is that it can be paired with a steak or fish, or can be a meal in and of itself. I tend to eat it as my meal, but you can do whatever works for you. It has enough protein and richness that it's satisfying, but it's also light enough so that you don't feel weighed down after eating it.

I got the recipe from my mom years ago, and since it didn't have an "official" name, I've named it "Yummy Spinach Salad". It's not as simple or quick as a plain ole' green salad, but don't let that stop you! The prep time and thinking ahead is totally worth the finished product... it is amazing!

Yummy Spinach Salad
Active prep. time: 20 min. Total prep. time: 20 min. plus min. 2 hrs resting time for dressing.
*** NOTE: Below is the recipe as it was given to me, but I do things a little differently. I'll list my tweaks at the end of the recipe.

1 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 med. purple onion, thinly sliced, in dressing AFTER mixed. Let sit at least 2 hrs.
* You don't actually use all of the dressing on the salad below, but it's so good, you can save it for another day!

2 bunches/bags spinach (washed and dried)
1 head iceberg lettuce, broken in small pieces
3/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 cups graded swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups cooked bacon, cut into small pieces
1 cup cottage cheese
3 hard boiled eggs, diced

Prepare the salad just before eating. Apply dressing just before eating.

My little changes:
  • I don't use the amount of sugar called for. I actually use Splenda because I try to stay away from sugar. But whether you use the real thing or a sugar substitute, I only use about 1/3 cup.
  • I find that Canola oil works best. I have NOT liked Olive Oil in this recipe. I also use a little less oil than called for AND I use a little more vinegar than called for.
  • With the onion, I take half and cut into slices as directed. I take the other half, cut into cubes, put into dressing after all of the other ingredients have been added, and then use a hand mixer/blender to chop and puree it. I think it gives the dressing a great taste AND makes the dressing a pretty pink/purple color. After using the hand blender thingie (yes, that is the technical name), I add the onion slices that I've set aside and let them sit in dressing overnight. Remove the onion slices from dressing with a fork before serving.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bruce Paltrow's World-Famous Pancakes

When I noticed that Gwyneth was coming out with a cookbook, I was intrigued. I have subscribed to her GOOP newsletter almost since the beginning, which has featured some great recipes in it, although honestly I don't think I've ever actually tried any of them...

I ordered the cookbook anyway. My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness, by Gwyneth Paltrow, begins with an essay of sorts, essentially about Gwyneth's late father, their relationship to food and to each other, and it is very touching and heartwarming.

There are many recipes in this book that I WILL be making. For now, I tried the "world-famous" pancakes. Besides being a pancake fan myself, Gwyneth's description of them touched a chord with me:

"Now if there is one image of my father that is the most "him"--that is to say encapsulates all of his elements and delivers them in one picture--it would be him over his cast-iron griddles making his world-famous pancakes. These things have been legendary in our house for decades. He first got the recipe out of the Joy of Cooking and adapted it over the years to utter perfection. The recipe below is so truthful to his pancakes that it's almost hard for me to eat them, I keep expecting him to walk into the kitchen."

Just beautiful sentiment. Food is very powerful in evoking memories.
(This book may inspire me to resume work on my own family cookbook...whose entire layout was unfortunately irretrievable from my late laptop...)

One of the nice things about this recipe is the fact that you mix them up the night before. It does make a LOT of pancake batter, so I will report back as to how it performs after being refrigerated for a couple days. The recipe is easy to put together, don't forget you can make your own buttermilk by adding vinegar or lemon juice to milk! Just let the milk sit while you mix up the other ingredients.

The only issue is that the level of heat for the griddle is not listed...I used a medium-low temperature.

While these pancakes are not quite "legendary" yet in our house, they are darn good. I ended up adding about 1/2 cup milk this morning to the batter, and the consistency was just about perfect.

Our boys like their pancakes with whipped cream on top, in case you're wondering. Enjoy!

Bruce Paltrow's World-Famous Pancakes

Yield: 3 dozen 5-inch pancakes
Active preparation time: 20 minutes
Total preparation time: 20 minutes plus overnight resting

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons fine salt
3 cups buttermilk (OR 3 tablespoons white vinegar OR lemon juice, plus milk to make 3 cups)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more butter for cooking
6 organic large eggs
Up to 1 cup milk, as needed to thin batter
Real Vermont maple syrup, warmed, for serving

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk, butter and eggs together in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking just enough to combine (small lumps are okay). Let the batter sit, covered, overnight.

The next morning, heat up your griddle or favorite nonstick pan and slick it with a little butter. Add enough milk to the batter to thin it to the right consistency--the thicker the batter, the thicker and heavier your pancakes; the thinner the batter, the more delicate your pancakes--neither is wrong.

Cook the pancakes on the griddle, flipping them after bubbles appear on the surface of the uncooked side. Let cook 2-3 minutes more, then remove, and eat with lots of warm maple syrup.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin