Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Asian Slaw

I saw this awesome Asian Slaw on "Guys Big Bite" with Guy Fieri. It looked so good that I immediately put it on my "to make" list.

Last night, looking for a different way to use the bag of cole slaw mix in my fridge - it dawned on me... I could make this asian slaw - only without all of the ingredients - for me - it's all about the dressing. If I like the dressing, I can make the salad with some or all of the veg components - it turned out amazing - my 6 year old was actually licking her plate clean...

Asian Slaw
1/4 c EVOO, divided
3 T minced ginger
1 T minced garlic
2 T brown sugar
5 T soy sauce
4 T white wine
1 t sesame oil
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1 c thinly sliced napa cabbage*
1/2 c thinly sliced green cabbage*
1 c julienned carrots*
1/2 c thinly sliced red onion
1/2 c thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 c thinly sliced bok choy
1/2 c bean sprouts
1/2 c julienned snap peas
1/2 c julienned green onions
15 wonton skins, fried
Peanuts, for garnish

In a small saucepan add 2 tablespoons olive oil, ginger and garlic, lightly saute until lightly brown. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, and white wine. Saute for 5 minutes and remove from heat. When cool whisk in olive oil, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.
Mix all vegetables in a bowl and toss with dressing. Garnish with crushed wontons and peanuts.

*I used a bag of Cole Slaw mix from the produce department.
**I used Chow Mein Noodles (the dry, crunchy kind) and toasted almonds b/c that's what I had!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

I have made this recipe 1000 times without the cilantro b/c of my husbands adversion to it. A few nights ago, I decided to make it by the 'book' and see if he noticed anything... he did notice. He said "you've never made this dressing before - it's delicious!" So even if you think you don't like cilantro - maybe just maybe it's time to try it again - you may change your mind too! I have listed this recipe under Cafe Rio Creamy Ranch Dressing as well - if you keep up with this blog - you may recognize it.
Cilantro Lime Dressing aka Cafe Rio Creamy Ranch Dressing
1 pkg dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, Original
1 c mayonnaise
1 c chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tomatiolls (peel off husk and wash before chunking into blender sized pieces)
1/3 c milk
1 T lime juice
1 T sugar
1/2 t cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes before serving.

Cafe Rio Black Beans

Cafe Rio Black Beans
2 cloves garlic, minced or pasted
1 t cumin
15 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
¾ c tomato juice
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, salt and pepper. Stir until heated through. Use a slotted spoon to plate.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Couple this rice with the other ingredients listed in Cafe Rio Pork Salad - or serve it as a bright side dish to any mexican feast.

Cilantro Lime Rice
1 c. uncooked rice (I use Jasmine or Basamati)
1 t butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t freshly squeezed lime juice
2 c chicken broth
1 c water
1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
2 t sugar
3 t fresh chopped cilantro

In your rice machine (or saucepan) combine rice, butter, garlic, t lime juice, chicken broth and water. Cook until your ricer alerts you it’s ready – or according to package directions in your saucepan. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine remaining lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

Cafe Rio Pork

This is the main component in the Cafe Rio Pork Salad - my kids also love to eat this meat on a hamburger bun topped with crispy coleslaw.

Cafe Rio Pork
5-6 lb pork roast
1 T cumin
1 c packed brown sugar
12 oz bottle La Victoria Red Taco sauce (mild)
20 oz Coca-Cola (I've also used Dr. Pepper)

Cook roast on low for 12 hours (I do overnight) in crock pot with water added half way up the roast. After 12 hours, drain water off roast and add remaining ingredients and continue cooking on low for 4 more hours. Then shred the meat and cook on Low or "Keep Warm" setting 2 more hours.

*I made this recipe many, many times using the method above. But there have been times that I didn't stick it in the crock pot the night before. In that case - I just cook it with all the ingredients (no water) on HIGH for 6 hours and then check it - then turn it down when it's tender enough to shred. Shred it, put it back in the juice and keep it at low or keep warm until you're ready to eat.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Cafe Rio Pork Salad was the first recipe I posted on this blog over 2 years ago. I also posted recipes for the famous Cafe Rio Pork in the salad Cilantro Lime Rice, Black Beans, and Cilantro Lime Dressing. BUT - I posted them all mixed up - so that it wasn't obvious that all of those ingredients together make the Ultimate Sweet Pork Salad aka Cafe Rio Pork Salad. I have now remedied that:)

Cafe Rio restraunt is in only a few western states - but everyone in the world must try this salad - it really is that good.

This is the end game - so I'll go ahead and tell you how to assemble this bad boy.
1. Nice fresh tortilla warmed on a dry skillet on the bottom of the plate
2. Thin layer of the Cilantro Lime Rice
3. Thin layer of the Black Beans
4. Layer of the Sweet Pork
5. Layer of the romain lettuce
6. Spinkling of pico de gallo
7. Dollup of both guacamole and sour scream
8. Sprinkled with cojito cheese* and tortilla strips.

The perfect salad.

*Cojito cheese can easily be found at your supermarket - it will be in with the specialty cheeses. I have seen people mention that parmesan cheese can be substituted for cojito cheese (I assume b/c they look similar) but I disagree. Cojito has it's own distinct mild flavor and texture.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Grilled Watermelon Salad

Watermelon has been a great deal at my grocery store lately - and we've been eating it by the pound. I saw this interesting take on a watermelon salad. I have to say that I'm not a fan of arugula - it has a very zesty, bold, bite to it and needs to be paired perfectly - I'll have to say arugula is a great compliment to this dish.
I made this for me - but my husband ended up eating just as much of this as I did! We both remarked that it was very good - but very different - surprisingly different - in a good way. Try it and let me know what you think...

Grilled Watermelon Salad
1/2 (5-pound) seedless watermelon
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper
2 cups fresh baby arugula, washed and dried
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled*

Stand the watermelon half cut side down on a cutting board and slice away the rind, leaving a solid block of melon. Turn the block on its side and cut it into 8 squares, roughly 3 by 3 inches and 1-inch thick.
Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to a thick syrup consistency. Set aside.
Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle just enough olive oil over watermelon slices to thinly coat and place on hot grill pan. Grill each side about 2 minutes until grill marks appear; transfer to a plate and season with salt.
To assemble the salads, put about 1/4 cup of baby arugula on a serving plate, followed by a grilled slice of watermelon in the center, and top with a tablespoon of crumbled cheese and another 1/4 cup arugula. Add another watermelon slice and another tablespoon of cheese. Finish each salad with a very light drizzle of olive oil and balsamic syrup. Dust with black pepper and serve immediately.

The bite of the arugula, the crispness of the watermelon, the creaminess of the feta (or goat cheese) and the sweetness of the balsamic reduction are an incredible mix. You may fall in love at first bite like I did - or it may take you 2 or 3 bites to find your groove - but it is definetly worth a try - especially with all the watermelon we consume this time of year:)

*I didn't have goat cheese on hand - but I did have crumbled Feta in the fridge - which I have to say was a great stand in.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tortilla & Black Bean Pie

This is a very easy, flavorful, vegetarian dish. My kids all loved it - asked for seconds and then asked me today if we could have it again for dinner tonight!

Tortilla & Black Bean Pie
4 flour tortillas 10"
1 T oil
1 large onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced (deveined and deseeded)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t ground cumin
2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c water or stock
1 1/2 c frozen corn (I LOVE Bybee foods Organic sweet corn, Costco)
4 scallions, thinly sliced - plus more for garnish
2 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a paring knife to trim the tortillas to fit a 9" springform pan - use the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno, garlic and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is softened - 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beans and the stock to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated - 10 minutes. Stir in the corn and scallions and remove from the heat. Spray bottom of pan with PAM. Fit a trimmed tortilla in the bottom of the pan. Layer 1/4 of the bean mixture and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat 3 times, using 1 cup cheese on the top layer.

Bake for about 20 minutes - or until the cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

*I only had a 8" pie pan on hand - so I only got 2 layers. I divided the pie into 4 (me + 3 kiddos). When I make this again, I will either buy a 9" spring form - or make two 8" pie tins - to make sure there is plenty to go around.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shrimp Scampi

This is Ina Garten's recipe for Shrimp Scampi - it is SO AMAZING.
I literally made this stunner in less than 15 minutes - what else could you ask for? I served it with my go to baguettes referenced HERE... When I started my water, I turned on my oven to 400. The baguettes take about 10 minutes - so everything is done at the same time! Plus, those baguettes are perfect for mopping up that delicious sauce.
Ina Garten's Shrimp Scampi
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
3/4 pound linguine
3 T unsalted butter
2 1/2 T good olive oil
1 1/2 T minced garlic
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/8 t hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jalapeno Cuties

Don't shy away from these because you think they will be too spicy. I do not like spicy food. The way to ensure that the spice factor doesn't blow your mouth out is to deseed and devein them. Of course, if you like it hot - feel free to leave them in according to your pallet.

Jalapeno Cuties

Jalapenos sliced in half (lengthwise) deseeded and deveined
Crumbled feta cheese

Spoon feta into the jalapeno 'boats'. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. The feta won't melt - in fact, as you can see in the picture above, the feta will retain its shape. But, when you bite into it, it will be nice and creamy.

I like a little 'bite' to my jalapeno - so 20 minutes was perfect - I just tested it with a fork.

Pull out of the oven, plate and drizzle honey on top.

The bite and little spice of the jalapeno, the creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness of the honey make this easy appetizer on you've gotta try!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Asian Noodle Salad

This is a recipe I got from Jamie Oliver. He is such a fantastic chef and has such an amazing culinary point of view. I watched the 1st season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last year and (although it is on hiatus until June) have watched every episode from season 2. I can't wait to see how the season ends. If you haven't already, please link HERE and sign his petition that states "I support the Food Revolution. America's kids need better foods at school and better health prospects. We need to keep cooking skills alive." There are also links to watch episodes, recipes, and to get involved in your community.

My husband went on a hard core 4 hour mountain bike ride and was star-ving when he walked through the door. He said "I feel like a BIG STEAK and a baked potato for dinner" when I informed him that dinner was ready and sitting in the fridge, he looked a bit disappointed - but the great guy that he is - sounded positive and thanked me for making a great dinner (when he didn't even know what was for dinner yet).

I plated this nutritious, healthy, veg filled delightfulness for all of us and we sat down to eat. Huband's comments were "this is so good" "this is so refreshing" "this really hit the spot" and the kids loved it too.

Delicious, filling AND vegetarian too!

Asian Noodle Salad - Jamie Oliver
16 oz. linguine, cooked according to package directions, rinsed & cooled*
½ head Sliced Napa Cabbage
½ head Sliced Purple Cabbage
½ bag Baby Spinach
Red Bell Pepper, bite sized
Yellow Bell Pepper, bite sized
Orange Bell Pepper, bite sized
1 bag/can (drained and rinsed) bean sprouts
Cilantro, chopped to taste**
1 bunch green onions, sliced
3 cucumbers sliced
Cashews, lightly toasted***

Juice of 1 lime
8 T Soy Sauce
2 T Sesame Oil
⅓ c Brown Sugar
3 T Fresh Ginger****
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Jalapenos, seeded, de-ribbed and minced

Mix salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on a platter.

I only mentioned my husbands predisposition and comments b/c they just kept coming. He probably thanked me for dinner (average 3 x a night) 10 times. Not like - "thanks for dinner." Like - pulled me aside (several times), kissed me and thanked me for making dinner. This recipe was very, very different than the tastes we usually have for dinner - but it was so delicious and different - it was really a refreshing change.

*I used/love Barilla PLUS Multigrain Pasta with Omega 3 – or you could use whole wheat pasta as well
**Hubs has a serious aversion to cilantro – so I omitted it tonight
***I didn’t have cashews on hand so I used sliced almonds instead
****Hubs & I have an aversion to ginger – also omitted tonight

I actually cut this recipe in half and it was still A TON OF FOOD! I could def get a dinner and a lunch for the fam out of 1/2 this recipe.

Herb Garden

I planted my herb garden this weekend! I've had one for the last 3 summers - but the previous 2 summers herbs and veg were planted in whiskey barrels - which are a much safer bet than these plastic containers, but having fresh herbs right in my back yard is so amazing, I thought I'd give these a try...
Sweet Basil. I. Love. Basil. He's looking a bit sad - but I hope he'll perk up in a few days once his roots have a little time to stretch...
This is going to be the first year I've planted cilantro - my husband has a serious aversion to cilantro, but it has been in a few things lately that he has liked - so I'm going to give it a go...
fernleaf dill - ahh dill. So great for dips and fish.
Rosemary. For the last couple years, my rosemary bush was HUGE! Hope this one is just as strong...
...and although tomatoes aren't herbs, I am going to give these a try too...
You can do this too! I suggest whiskey barrels or planting right in the ground. Living here in the extreme desert, the ground is not a good idea and since I no longer have my whiskey barrels - I got these - at Wal-Mart. 10" plastic planters for $8 each. They come in a bunch of fun colors. Since I'm taking a chance on this plastic, I chose to plant only a few herbs. Each little potted herb (they come at the size seen here) for $3 each. The tomatoes came at this size as well and already in a 10" pot - that cost me $10.
Hopefully all goes well and I'll have mounds of fresh herbs in my garden in no time! My girls and I had such a great time planting together. They always love to check on their progress and help out watering and caring for them. Their favorite thing to do is be sent into the back yard to retreive fresh herbs. Even my 3 year old knows what each of the herbs smell like! When we use fresh herbs from our garden - my girls love to tell Daddy why dinner tastes so good... "Dad - can you taste the basil? I picked it fresh from our garden..." and that, my friends, gives me a big ol' smile every. single. time.
Do you have any gardening tips, tricks, suggestions, adventures??

Friday, May 13, 2011

BASICS: Cutting On A Bias

Do you know why you cut veggies or protein on a bias? Well, because it looks pretty - but more importantly - it is so more surface area is exposed to the heat source.
When I cut on the bias, I also like to cut the protein or veg fairly thin - that way with all the surface area exposed it cooks faster as well!!
*Pic borrowed from the internet

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pasta Primavera

Yum yum yummers.

Something I recently learned - it is best to use the smaller sized squash and zucchini when you sautee b/c there are few to no seeds. True.

I am going to list the veggies I used tonight - but as always - the possibilities are endless...

*One tip to keep in mind. Vegetables sautee at different rates b/c of their density/structure. So, I sautee my veggies in small groups. Sautee like veggies with like veggies. I did 4 batches - garlic and onion, carrots and asparagus, squash and zucchini, broccoli and bell pepper - that way all your veg is cooked to perfection.

Also, for some reason I always make dinner like I am cooking for an army. This meal would feed 6-8 as a stand alone dinner (no sides). All veg cut into bite sized pieces.

Pasta Primavera
3 zucchini
2 yellow squash
3 carrots
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion, diced
2 t minced garlic (the stuff in the jar at the grocery store)
1 bunch asparagus
12 oz pasta
Alfredo Sauce
2 T Basil
1 T Oregano
1 t parsley

Slice and dice your veggies. Set your water to boil for the pasta.

Sautee the veggies in EVOO and butter *see note above. Use a 1 to 1 ratio. Each time you sautee veg to your liking, pour them into a big bowl - and start with the next batch.

As soon as your water comes to a boil - cook pasta according to package directions. Start your alfredo sauce while the pasta is cooking.

Add drained pasta to your bowl of sauteed veggies. Pour alfredo sauce over pasta and veggies. Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes

My husband is the breakfast master. For Mothers Day, we had friends over for brunch and along with the Sleepin' In Omelette I made, my husband made these babies. Our kids LOVE pancakes!
Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes
Krusteaz brand pancake mix
Quick Oats
Prepare pancake mix as directed on the box. Add 1/4 c quick oats for every 1 c of pancake mix. Mix well to combine. You may need to add water to get the consistency you want.
Ladel the batter onto your griddle. THEN add the blueberries. You have to kind of huck them on the pancake - so they get down in the batter and don't burn on the griddle when you flip them. Wait for the batter to bubble - then flip - about 90 seconds per side.
They are really filling and so delicious!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan 5/8

It is heating up here and I am super excited to try some new spring/summer recipes! How bout you??
Sunday: Brunch - Sleepin' In Omelette; Dinner - Queensland Salad Dessert - Fruit Pizza
Monday: Pasta Primavera
Tuesday: Jamie Olivers Asian Noodle Salad
Wednesday: Pasta Chicken Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Spinach and Bacon
Friday: Cornflake Tilapia and grilled asparagus
Saturday: Chopped Salad with Salsa Verde Dressing and grilled chicken
As always, I will post pictures as I make these babies all week long. I am so excited to try the new pasta primavera recipe and am completely drooling over Jamie Olivers Asian Noodle Salad - he's such an amazing chef!! Happy cooking!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sleepin' In Omelette

We all love Pioneer Woman - I used to check her food blog a few times a week - but I haven't checked it in a while. Considering tomorrow is Mothers Day, I wanted to do something a little extra special for breakfast - but not have to do any of the work! I remembered that I read PW's "Sleepin' In Omelette" a few years ago - so I went on over to her blog, looked it up and just finished making it.

The picture is borrowed from good ol' Pdub - since mine is sitting in the fridge soaking up all that goodness and won't be cooked until tomorrow.

I made a few changes b/c I didn't want to run out to the store...

Sleepin' In Omelette - Ree Drummond, PW
6 whole Onion Rolls*
1 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese
1-½ stick Butter
10 whole Eggs
2 cups Milk
1 teaspoon Chopped Chives**
½ teaspoons Dry Mustard
½ teaspoons Salt
1 dash Cayenne Pepper
Preparation Instructions
Generously butter an 9×13 baking dish.
Tear onion rolls into chunks and place them in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, then tear cream cheese into small pieces and place over the top. Cut 1 ½ sticks butter into pats and place over the top.
Mix remaining ingredients and pour over the top of the dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, bake at 325 degrees, covered, for 45 minutes. The remove foil and continue baking at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

*First substitution - I didn't have onion rolls - but I did have regular rolls. I tore the rolls up, then sprinkled them with a little garlic powder, dried minced onion and black pepper.

**Substitution 2 - I also didn't have fresh chives - so I just cut the green parts of some green onions into little pieces.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Coyote Quesadillas

I saw these on Guy Fieri's "Guys Big Bite" on the Food Network the other day. Guy Fieri happens to be my 8 year old sons "favorite chef" as I have just recently learned... I didn't even know he was aware of that tv genre!TWO pictures for you - we all loved these so much - it really deserves 2 shots...Coyote Quesadillas
1 (6oz) boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 T Blackening Spice, recipe follows
1 T vegetable oil
6 oz canned refried beans
3/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 c shredded pepper jack cheese
2 T chopped green onion
1 T finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 Roma tomato, diced
3 large flour tortillas
Black Bean Salsa, recipe follows
Chipotle Ranch Dressing

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Rinse and pat dry the chicken breast, trim off any excess fat, and rub with 1 tablespoon of the Blackening Spice. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat, add the chicken and cook until brown and cooked through, about 6 minutes on each side. Remove to a cutting board, cool slightly and slice. Cover to keep warm.
Heat the beans in a small pot over low heat until heated through and keep warm. Prepare the remaining ingredients and have them ready for assembly.
Heat a griddle or cast iron pan to high and toast the tortillas on both sides until crisp (if you try to fold them, they will crack).
Lay out 1 tortilla on a cookie sheet and evenly spread it with half of the beans, 1/3 of the cheeses, 1/2 of the blackened chicken, 1 tablespoon of the green onions, and cover with a second tortilla. Repeat this layering order with the remaining ingredients. Finish with the third tortilla and garnish with the remaining cheese, cilantro and diced tomatoes. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and portion with a slicing knife into 4 wedges. Serve with the Black Bean Salsa and Chipotle Ranch Dressing.

Blackening Spice Rub:
1 T granulated garlic
1 T freshly crack black pepper
2 t granulated onion
2 t ground cumin
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t paprika
1/2 T salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container.

Chipotle Ranch Dressing

This dressing is what Guy Fieri suggests to drizzle over your Coyote Quesadillas. My husband loved the dressing - I asked him what he like about it specifically and he said "the chipotle" - I interpret that as the smokey, slightly spicy, deep flavor.

Chipotle Ranch Dressing:
1 cup ranch dressing, store-bought *I actually used my homemade ranch
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chipotle peppers
Process all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour the dressing into a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.


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