Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Strawberry pizza

I just made this last night and it is already gone!  That could tell you I am really fat or that it is really delicious... ;)

Strawberry Pizza

sugar cookie dough (that comes in a tube at the store)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 C sliced fresh strawberries

1 C sugar
1/4 C cornstarch
2 C crushed strawberries

Spread sugar cookie dough onto a pizza pan for crust and bake as directed. It should start to become a little golden. I usually do a toothpick poke in the middle to make sure that it is cooked. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar and spread over the crust. Arrange fresh strawberry slices on top.
Bring sauce to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool slightly. Spoon over fresh strawberries and refrigerate.  I like to refrigerate it all before serving so that it is all cool.

Cafe Rio Chicken

Debbie and I were comparing our recipes of the Cafe Rio Chicken vs. the Pork and so we both decided to post them. There really isn't that much of a difference and I think the rice is exactly the same. Anyway, she can make the chicken one, while I make the pork. Enjoy.

Café Rio Dressing
1 buttermilk ranch dressing packet (make as per recipe)
2 tomatillos
1⁄2 bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeño

Use a food processor (or blender) to blend all the ingredients well. Refrigerate.

Cafe Rio Chicken
1 small bottle of Italian Dressing
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. cumin
3 cloves garlic—minced
5 lbs chicken breast

Cook all together in a crock pot for 4 hours, shred meat and cook 1 additional hour.

Café Rio Rice
3 cups water
4 tsp. chicken bouillon
4 tsp. garlic –minced
The other 1⁄2 bunch of cilantro
1 can green chilies or fresh, about the same amount
3⁄4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. butter
1⁄2 onion
3 cups of rice- if you are not making instant rice, you might need a little more water

Blend cilantro, green chilies and onion together in food processor. Bring water to a boil and add all ingredients, simmer covered 30 minutes.

Take a flour tortilla and melt some cheddar cheese and Monterey jack cheese on top and layer everything else the way you like-or just make a taco type of thing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

BBQ Pork - Cafe Rio Style

I'm sure many of you have seen this recipe circulating in one form or another and while I love Cafe Rio, I can't say for certain whether this recipe is in fact authentic or not. No matter, it is very good and I recommend trying it out. It looks complicated but it's really not. In preface, I want to add that I substitute the pork with chicken. I'm not a big pork fan AND sorry for the layout of the recipe. It was given to me this way and I'm just too lazy to rework it.

Pork loin-place in crock pot and cover with water. Cook on high for 5 hours and then drain the water and add sauce.

1 large bottle Pace's Salsa
1.5 cups Apple Juice
1.5-2 cups Brown Sugar

Cook another three hours. Then remove, shred and return to sauce.

3 cups water
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 bunch Cilantro
1 can green chilies
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups rice

Start a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes OR throw all the ingredients into the rice cooker and cook according to rice cooker directions.

1 Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Packet. Make as directed and then mix in...
1/3 jar La Victoria Green Salsa
1/2 bunch Cilantro
1 clove Garlic
1 lime squeezed
Jalapeno, optional

Blend all ingredients in a blender.

Serving: Top a tortilla with pork, rice, black beans, dressing, chopped lettuce, cheese and fried tortilla strips.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemons were on sale this week, a quarter a piece, so I bought a bunch in anticipation of making this pie yesterday. I LOVE this pie!! And best of all, Brian loved it and ate half of it last night. Although, maybe that wasn't so good because now I have to make another one.... And once again, I forgot to take a picture, but there are a few slices left, so I'll try to snap a few before they are devoured.

Lemon Meringue Pie
1½ cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
3 Tbs. flour
Dash salt
1½ cups hot water
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 Tbs. butter
½ tsp. lemon peel (I add more when I'm using a fresh lemon)
1/3 cup lemon juice (I also use about half a cup of fresh lemon juice)

In a saucepan mix sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt. Slowly add hot water and bring to boil stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half of the sugar mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Pour all the egg yolks into sugar mixture and bring back to boil, stirring constantly. Cook at boiling for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie shell, spread meringue and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until meringue is golden.

3 egg whites
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
6 Tbs. sugar

Beat egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar until mixture becomes stiff and glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I got this from Reader's Digest. I am telling you ladies, I am totally in love with it. But my kids didn't like it at all. I went a little crazy with the lime juice though. :o) It really is yummy.

You Will Need
3 corn tortillas (6 inches each), cut into 1/4-inch strips
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup frozen corn
1 can (4 1/2 oz.) chopped green chilies
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 tbs. lime juice

What to Do

1. In large resealable plastic bag, combine tortilla strips, 1 tsp. oil, and salt. Seal bag and shake to coat. Arrange tortilla strips on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp, turning once. Remove to paper towels to cool.

2. In large saucepan, sauté chicken in remaining oil until lightly browned. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Add broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add corn, chilies, cilantro, and pepper, and heat through. Stir in lime juice. Top each serving with tortilla strips.

Yield: 6 servings ($1.62 per serving)

-- M. M., Traverse City, Michigan

Nutrition Facts: One serving (1 1/2 cups) equals 221 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 33 mg cholesterol, 757 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 19 g protein.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Grandma Swain's Sausage Soup

This is Grandma's famous soup, talked about in hushed and reverent tones at family gatherings. We all adore this soup. It is fantastic. I usually have the ingredients on hand so I can whip this up anytime. Okay, I keep the ingredients on hand specifically so I can make it often. There have been fights over the last bowl.

1 lb. uncooked breakfast sausage links
1 small to medium sized onion, chopped
1/3 c. chopped green pepper (I often leave this out since the kids don't like them)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. water
18-oz. can tomato juice (2 1/4 c.)
16-oz. can kidney beans, drained
1/2 c. long-grained rice (both white and brown work; brown just takes a little longer)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 to 1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
dash pepper

Cut the sausage into bite-sized pieces and brown in a large saucepan. I usually throw the onion (and green pepper if I'm using it) in at the same time and let it cook with the sausage then add the garlic right at the end. Add water, tomato juice, beans, rice and seasonings. Simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. We wipe out the entire pot in one sitting. This does not hold up well as leftovers since the rice turns super mushy. If you will have leftovers cook some rice separately from the soup and add a little to each bowl as you serve it.

Russian Potato and Mushroom Soup

This is so light and lovely, but filling at the same time. This soups makes me feel happy and healthy after eating it.

5 tbsp. butter, divided
2 leeks, chopped - clean those suckers well because they hide a lot of dirt
2 large carrots, sliced
6 c. chicken broth
2 tsp. dried dill weed
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced (Yukon Gold is the best, really)
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 c. half-and-half
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
fresh dill weed, for garnish (optional)

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Mix in leeks and carrots, and cook 5 minutes. Pour in broth. Season with dill, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Mix in potatoes, cover, and cook 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but firm. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Melt the remaining butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the mushrooms 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir into the soup. In a small bowl, mix the half-and-half and flour until smooth. Stir into the soup to thicken. Garnish each bowl of soup with fresh dill to serve.

Olive Garden-like Zuppa Tuscana

Or something like that. I like to serve this with breadsticks and salad and pretend we're eating out. Maybe I should tip myself....

1 lb. ground Italian sausage - mild or spicy, your preference. I can only find the links so I remove the casings and chop it up
1 large diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced or about 2 tsp. minced garlic from the jar
1 quart water
2 cans chicken broth (14.5 oz each) OR 3 2/3 c. homemade chicken broth OR the equivalent in bouillon
2 or 3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced (Yukon Gold works too)
1 c. heavy cream (the whipping kind works well as does evaporated milk)
2 cups or so chopped Kale or Swiss Chard
4 tbsp. real bacon bits (or a few strips cooked bacon)
salt and pepper to taste

Brown sausage, breaking into small pieces. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, place onions, potatoes, chicken broth, water and garlic in a large pot. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add sausage, bacon bits, salt and pepper to taste and simmer another 10 minutes. Turn to low heat and add kale and cream. Heat through. I've made this with turkey sausage and it tastes just as wonderful.

Russian Borscht

The funny thing is that one of my kids is Russian by birth and he doesn't like this soup at all. The rest of us love it. I make it several times a year, in hot or cold weather.

1 to 3 lbs. bone-in beef shank (depends on how meaty you want it - I use 1 lb.)
1 onion, chopped
6 c. water
1/2 lb. carrots, cut into bite-size pieces (I use baby carrots)
2-4 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 medium head cabbage, shredded (I use half a package of shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix)
1 lb. beets, peeled and shredded or julienned
1 c. tomato juice (one of the pop can sizes of juice works perfectly)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. white sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

In a large pot, add beef, onion and water. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Watch this as I've often needed to add additional water. Remove meat and let cool, then cut meat into bite size pieces. If you want to defat the broth, set in fridge overnight then lift the fat off. When ready to cook, stir remaining ingredients into broth; add more water if needed to come just to the top of the veggies. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Add meat and heat through. Serve with sour cream.

This makes great leftovers and can sit in the fridge for days without getting all mushy. Do wear an apron when you're working with beets as they have a nasty habit of staining clothes, and hands!

Baked Oatmeal Squares

We eat this at least once a week, usually more. I can stir this together in minutes and relax while it's baking. If we have any leftovers the kids like to eat them cold like a soft granola bar.

2 eggs
3 c. quick-cooking oats
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional
1/2 c. raisins, optional
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
milled flax seed - a large spoonful or two

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cut into squares. My kids like theirs in a bowl with milk, or not. One kid hates milk on his. I like to put craisins and almond slivers on mine. I typically don't add the raisins and nuts to the baking process as all 4 of my kids hate cooked raisins. They take after their mama.

I've made this with applesauce instead of the oil/butter and the kids didn't like the apple flavor. Yours might. I also have forgotten to add the butter and it's turned out just fine, just a little drier than normal. To add further complications - I have done half butter (1/4 c.) and half applesauce (1/4 c.) and they seem to be okay with that.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ivory Cake

Ivory Cake

1 pkg. white food cake mix (I used butter this time)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup water
½ cup oil
4 eggs
1 large pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix

Mix all ingredients for 5 minutes at medium speed. Pour into a greased and floured bundt, rounds or 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 for 55-65 minutes if using a bundt. I used two rounds and it probably took about 30-35 minutes or so, I just checked it at 20 minutes and then reset the timer. I'm not sure about a 9x13....

I frosted the cake with the normal chocolate buttercream frosting on the back of the powdered sugar box, except that I added much more cocoa powder. You are supposed to just use white, when I do, I add a little almond extract. I have to say, next time I make the frosting I am NOT going to use an entire stick of butter in the frosting, it was WAY too buttery for the cake (of course I also used a yellow butter cake mix instead of a white...). Anyway, Brian likes it and that's all that counts in my house!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jucy Lucy

We were watching Man v. Food the other night. They featured someplace, somewhere, that makes what is called a 'jucy lucy', no spelling error. Anyway, we made one last night and it was great.

Basically it's just a hamburger stuffed with American cheese, but since I hate American cheese, we used cheddar and I had chipotle cheddar in mine.

So, you take 2 patties (we thought 1/4 lb. each was way too big, so next time we'll go with a fifth or so), put A LOT of cheese stacked in the middle of one and sandwich them together. Toast your buns (hamburger buns, not tanning your own buns). We preferred grilled burgers, but didn't have time last night, so we fried them on the stove. Then you know, put whatever you want on top. It's pretty hot, so the kids might want to let it cool, but the cheese just oozes out. I couldn't get my mouth around it, so I'll make them flatter next time. Anyway, just a twist on a hamburger, but still pretty tasty.

My kids were pretty excited about eating cheese in a hamburger. Sneaky....