Foodie Blog Roll 2

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Homemade Fruit Leather - In the Oven

Have you ever seen a picture and thought, "I want to make that!" So you click on the link, only to find out that the blogger or chef has some SUPER fancy machine or tool that you would never have in your kitchen? Yeah, bloggers are so annoying.

Homemade Fruit Leather - In the Oven


Well, I happen to have a dehydrator, that was super inexpensive, that I kind of love. But it's circular so it has a hole in the middle. It's great for drying fruit like apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, and other stuff like that. But I'm a tad compulsive about things and fruit leather dried on a circular dehydrator is just, well, weird. I want it to come off the tray and be pretty and have straight sides. I know, I need help. It all tastes the same, but it's just not.the.same. So, to the oven we go!

raspberry fruit leather

I am actually excited about this because my grandad always made homemade fruit roll ups when I was growing up, so these hold a special place in my heart. He had a rectangular dehydrator, with no hole in the middle, lucky! He would use applesauce and make tons of them, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them for when we came over. It was such a fun snack for my siblings and me, while feeding us a healthy treat at the same time.
blackberry fruit leather

You can use a lot of different kinds of fruit when making fruit leather or fruit roll ups, but some do work better than others. Berries generally work well and so do apples and pears. I haven't experimented with many other than those, but I have some great tips for you. This will serve as my basic post for fruit leather and I will probably get into more fun recipes and combos as more fruits become in season. For this post, I did one batch of raspberry fruit leather and one batch of blackberry. You will notice that I put "optional" down below for most of the ingredients. That's because if your berries are in season and ripe, ALL YOU REALLY NEED IS THE FRUIT! The add-ins are just extra little flavor bonuses, according to taste. I love adding some citrus to brighten the flavor of the fruit. Cinnamon is another favorite. And of course, you could always use a sweetener of your choice.

Homemade Fruit Leather - In the Oven
4 C raspberries OR blackberries {fresh or frozen}
   *optional add-ins:
     -1/4 t cinnamon
     -up to 1 T sweetener of choice {I've used honey and stevia. Could also use agave or sugar}
     -up to 1 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 200º and line baking sheet with either a silicone mat/silpat or with parchment paper.
{If you have a convection oven and are doing more than one row at a time and you choose the "convection setting, your oven might change the temperature to 175º and that's fine.}

Heat berries in a sauce pot over medium heat and add sweeteners and other options. Keep stirring until sugar/sweetener is incorporated, being careful not to scorch fruit. This will only take a few minutes. {The idea here is not to cook the nutrients out of the fruit, but just to dissolve the sugars}. After everything is incorporated, transfer to food processor and blend until smooth. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and level out with an offset spatula. Bake for 3-5 hours. The leather should peel off easily and will be sticky to the touch but not wet.
raspberry - on parchment paper


 blackberry - on silicone mat




 raspberry on left, blackberry on right

I showed these side by side so you can see how they looked when they were done. In my opinion, the silicone mat worked better and made the leather easier to remove. The parchment paper worked fine and they still tasted great, but if you are going to be making these a lot, I suggest investing in a silpat or even an inexpensive, no-name brand silicone mat. 

Last tip, it is much easier to cut these into desired strips with kitchen sheers or scissors instead of a knife or pizza cutter. 
Wrap these in plastic wrap or little baggies for easy snacking! 

Aren't those seeds just lovely? Do me a favor and don't strain them out. They are the best part and they set these fresh beauties apart from the processed store bought ones. Mmmmk? Thanks! 


So is anyone else just DYING for berries to be cheap and delicious and in season? What is your favorite dried fruit or fruit leather flavor? Want to see a combo flavor? I'd love to hear from you! 




Saturday, March 29, 2014

Now on BlogLovin'!

Just a quick note. I'm now on BlogLovin'! Anyone else out there on BlogLovin'? Post your log in the comments below so I can follow you!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thanks!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Scandal Wine Glasses - ON SALE


Are you a Scandal fan? As in the TV show that airs on ABC? Well, Gladiators get ready for this!

The famous wine glass that Kerry Washington is seen using multiple times on every episode is ON SALE now at Crate&Barrel.

*Update - This sale ended April, 10th.*


For someone who has not seen the show, this may not seem like a big deal. But oh, is it ever. I have seen these long stemmed beauties in person and they are so lovely and delicate! I've been looking for some new stem wear for a while and these are exactly what I was looking for. I wanted something with a lovely bowl shape and something with a very long stem. 

These glasses are part of the Camille collection at Crate&Barrel. They normally retail for $14.95 but they are on sale now for $11.96. (And I actually saw an article for the same glasses sold last fall for $12.95. So they have increased their base price $2 over the past few months. Supply and demand, you know). I don't know how long this sale lasts, but I'm sure it's not more than a few days. 

***These red glasses are on back order, but you can still order them for the sale price and they will ship them to you when they are available. And BETTER STILL, if you live near a store, have them shipped there for free and pick them up. Even more money saved! 

The red wine glass holds 23oz and the white wine glass holds 13oz. And they are seriously beautiful! 


Get the "Olivia Pope wine glasses" now! Cheers!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Roasted Poblano Guacamole Chicken Salad


Happy first week of spring! I love this time of year when things start to warm up and more and more of my favorite fruits and vegetables start to become "in season." 
But, truth is I'm trying to hold back laughter right now because as I sit here and type this, it's still 34º here in Kansas City and I'm trying to figure out how I can jump into my mug of coffee! Brrrrr. Ok, enough about my rough life. But do you know what are always "in season," as long as you have enough patience to let them ripen on the counter? You guessed it, AVOCADOS! 

Roasted Poblano Guacamole Chicken Salad 

Another thing that I think is kind of spring-y is chicken salad. And I have several recipes for different types of chicken salad. Usually the base of chicken salad, besides the chicken of course, is mayonnaise. But I like to play with that and mix it up. I've used Greek yogurt for the base before to increase protein and decrease fat. I've also used low fat mayonnaise but one of my favorite things to use is avocado. It gives you that creaminess you expect from chicken salad and it is loaded with fiber and healthy fat. 

For this guacamole version of chicken salad, I roasted two large poblano peppers and used 3 chicken breasts. 


Roasted Poblano Guacamole Chicken Salad 
    serves 4 as a meal or 8 as a snack
3 chicken breasts, seasoned, cooked and chopped
2 ripe hass avocados
2 large poblano peppers, roasted and peeled, seeded and diced
Juice from 2 limes
Handful of cilantro leaves, torn
Guacamole seasoning to taste*

In a large bowl, mash 1 1/2 of the avocados and add guacamole seasoning mix. Add the lime juice and stir. Add chicken, diced peppers and cilantro and combine. 

Chop the remaining 1/2 avocado into cubes and gently mix them in.

Taste and add additional seasoning or salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. 

*I like to keep a few guacamole seasoning packs on hand for those quick guacamole cravings. They can be found in the produce section, usually near the avocados. If you don't have any of those or don't like using stuff like that, feel free to spice this up with ground cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, onion and garlic powder, and some salt. 



The fun thing about making chicken salad this way is all the options you have for eating it. Eat this stuffed in a pita pocket or rolled up in a tortilla. Use it as a dip with tortilla chips or crackers. Toast bread and eat it as a sandwich or just eat it by itself. 

So what is your favorite way to gobble up chicken salad?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ham and Spinach Strata with Wheat French Bread


Any meal that can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner is, in my opinion, the best meal ever.
Besides kettle corn. That counts as a meal, right?
Thought so.

Ham and Spinach Strata with Wheat French Bread

I feel like people say that a lot but don't really mean it. "You can even have this breakfast dish for dinner..." but I actually made this for dinner. Then had the leftovers for breakfast. And the great thing about this meal is that because it can be covered in the fridge for a few hours to several hours, so you can make it ahead of time if need be. 

I think Chris described it best when he said this dish was like a breakfast stuffing! I think the flavor of the thyme reminded him a little of Thanksgiving. Yum! 

Ham and Spinach Strata with Wheat French Bread
      adapted from Williams-Sonoma
      makes 12 servings
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
10 oz box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 1/2 lb loaf of wheat French bread, cut into 1" squares, toasted until dry
12 oz ham, diced
8 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
10 eggs
2 1/2 C low fat milk
1 T fresh thyme

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat, add onion, and season with 1/2 tsp salt. Stir and caramelize onions. 

Transfer onions to a very large bowl. Add drained spinach and mix. Add the diced ham, cheese, and bread cubes. Transfer to a 4-qt baking dish. 

In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, milk, 1 tsp salt and thyme. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture. 

Cover with foil and place in fridge for 2-16 hours. 
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is browned and egg is cooked through, about 40 more minutes. 

When I was mixing everything together I was thinking this would be the perfect recipe for an Easter brunch! It's got everything you need to make a lovely meal: ham, eggs, cheese, bread, veggies. Plus it's pretty! 

If you are watching your carbs but are still interested in the other flavors of this dish, try my Green Eggs and Ham Frittata! It's loaded with spinach, ham and eggs and you won't even miss the bread! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sweet Potato, Apple & Cranberry Hash


I have made several versions of sweet potato hash and I like them all. But this time I was pairing it with pork, so it only seemed right to toss some apples in there too.

Sweet Potato, Apple & Cranberry Hash


Because I microwave the potato cubes for a few minutes first, it really speeds up the cooking process and makes this a quick week night side! This sweet and savory combination is really one of my favorites. I love the smokiness the paprika adds, and the sage just reminds me of the holidays.




Sweet Potato, Apple & Cranberry Hash
       serves 8
2 lb sweet potatoes (about 2 large or 4 small)
2 T walnut oil
1 red onion, roughly chopped
2 red apples, cored and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
1/4 C chopped walnuts {or pecans}
1/2 C dried cranberries, divided
Chopped sage

Cut sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 4 minutes, or until slightly softened.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add walnut oil. Sauté onion for a few minutes. Add apple and sweet potatoes, stir to coat in oil. Add smoked paprika, cinnamon and cloves and stir. Let the sweet potatoes cook for a few minutes with out stirring. Give everything a quick stir, then leave alone for a few minutes. This should allow the sweet potato cubes to get a nice little crispy char on them. Add the salt, chopped nuts and sage and about half of the cranberries. Cook a few minutes longer, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Top with additional sage and cranberries.

This would be the PERFECT side dish for Thanksgiving! And don't let this one fool you. It seems like a "dinner" only dish with the sage and salt and what not, but the best meal on earth is BRUNCH so I'll fill you in on the little saying playing over and over in my head.....
"Hash, it's not just for dinner anymore!"



Serve this in the morning with a side of lovely sausage and a heaping mound normal amount of french toast, and Come.To.Mama.


What would you serve this on the side of? 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

King Cake Coffee Giveaway

Woooo hoooo!! It's my 30th birthday! And I LOVE to give things away, so today I'm giving away a bag of my favorite "fancy" coffee. Yes, I have more than one favorite kind of coffee. My favorite regular kind is the cinnamon vanilla nut from Target. My favorite to have while I'm out and about it the hazelnut from Panera Bread. And my favorite fancy coffee, that is only available once a year, is the King Cake coffee from PJ's Coffee of New Orleans. It has a rich cinnamon-cream flavor and honest to goodness smells like french toast. YUM! And it's only available right before Mardi Gras. In fact, the winner will be announced ON Mardi Gras! SO, tweet about it, comment below, or like me on Facebook for a chance to win a free 16oz bag of King Cake coffee, and as they say in New Orleans, "Laissez Les Bon Temps Roule" - Let the Good Times Roll!


I just wanted to say a special thanks to the nice people at PJ's Coffee for providing this for me to give away! You guys are awesome!


Enter below for your chance to win. There are 4 easy options:
1. Tweet Enter Cookin' Cowgirl's for a chance to win a free bag of King Cake Coffee for Mardi Gras!
2. Comment Below about your favorite coffee.
3. Comment below about how you celebrate Mardi Gras
4. Like Cookin' Cowgirl on Facebook
a Rafflecopter giveaway


***Update, March 4, 2014....And the winner is, Allie Ziemann! Congratulations, Allie!***
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