Thursday, December 16, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ummm, this is a really good recipe from my sister :o) Perfect for a Christmas or New Year's Party appetizer. I'm just sayin'...

Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

Buffalo Chicken Dip
1 cube cream cheese, cubed
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
1/2 cup Kraft Roka Blue Cheese dressing
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce (I use Frank's)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients. Put in microwave for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cream cheese is melted and dip is warm. Serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gingerbread Trifle

Disclaimer: We have not made this recipe yet. I will report back when we do...

I was reading my Family Fun magazine for this month and happened upon this page--and I didn't get any further. Can you believe this thing? Doesn't it look AMAZING? I think I am just going to have to make it next week. Twist my arm...

Here's the link if you can't resist either:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Taste of Home's Pumpkin Sheet Cake

My mom made this recipe for my brother's wedding, complete with gold sprinkles on top for their wedding colors (and without the candy pumpkin on top). They were a huge hit at the wedding! We also know they freeze well, because we've been enjoying them this past week as well :o) Click here for the original recipe, or see below with a few alterations... BTW, I love this magazine.

Taste of Home's Pumpkin Sheet Cake
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves

In a large bowl, beat the sugar, pumpkin, oil and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cloves; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased 15x10x1 baking pan (or large cookie sheet with high sides). Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Cream cheese frosting:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Graduall beat in powdered sugar. Spread over cake; garnish with sprinkles or candy pumpkins if desired. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (Or freeze until needed!) Makes 24 servings.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Olive Garden, here we come!

My parents came up for dinner last night before we all headed to the temple for the Christmas lighting ceremony. They've been so busy with my brother's wedding last weekend that I wanted to make something nice for them, but still easy for me :o) So I brought The Olive Garden to our house!

We made my friend Krista's copycat Chicken and Gnocchi soup, my cousin Eleanor's breadsticks, and I tried to re-create Olive Garden's bottomless salad, which we love. Hope you enjoy them, too!

Krista's Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

My friend Krista created her own copycat recipe of Olive Garden's Chicken and Gnocchi soup. We made it last night and it was terrific! The only thing I changed was to double the amount of chicken stock... Actually, I doubled the entire recipe, and then quadrupled the chicken stock. I did not, however, quadruple the amount of half-and-half, so it was more milky than chowder-y, but we really liked it that way :o)

Thanks for sharing, Krista!

Eleanor's breadsticks

My cute cousin Eleanor sent me this recipe a few months ago, and Jeremy made it last night. So glad he did--these breadsticks were awesome... and easy!!! They're a perfect last-minute addition to a yummy soup-and-salad dinner. We paired these with Krista's Chicken and Gnocchi Soup and my re-creation of Olive Garden's bottomless salad. YUM!!!

Eleanor's Excellent Breadsticks
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs yeast
1 cube butter
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
Parmesan cheese
Garlic salt

Combine sugar, yeast, flour and salt. Add water and stir. Knead on floured board for 3 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes. Roll dough into rectangular shape (the size of your cookie sheet). With pizza cutter, cut lengthwise in half and then into inch-wide strips. Melt butter and dip strips in butter (or pour butter over top) and place on greased cookie sheet. Generously sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garlic salt.

Let rise for 15-20 minutes, then bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until Parmesan cheese turns golden color.


Karen's Mock-Olive-Garden Salad

I crave this salad on an almost-continual basis, but as the closest Olive Garden is about 20 miles away, we don't get there very often. Last night, I decided to try and re-create it on my own with ingredients I had on hand, and I think it worked pretty darn well!
Let me know what you think...

Karen's Mock-Olive-Garden Salad
Romaine lettuce
(A mix with red cabbage in it would add extra color)
1 seeded cucumber, chopped
Whole grape tomatoes
Sliced red onion
Sliced pepperoncini (banana peppers in jar)
Assorted croutons (white, pumpernickel, etc.)
Ken's Lite Caesar Dressing
Shredded Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Parmesan Chicken

... not to be confused with Chicken Parmesan :o) This is one of our family favorites--I remember Bennett wolfing it down in his high chair! It is really fast and easy, and it tastes SO good. I modified the recipe from a Kraft cookbook we got for our wedding--who knew it would become such a staple in our home?

My baby brother loves Parmesan Chicken and always has me make it whenever he comes into town. He was searching my blog for it the other night so he could make it for his fiancee, but it wasn't there. Needless to say, he called me the next morning to let me know :o) So this one is dedicated to Freddy and Annabelle, who will get married at the end of this month--we love you guys!!!

Parmesan Chicken
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix (I use Good Seasons)
3 Tbs melted butter (or 1 beaten egg)
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

In a shallow pan (I use a pie plate), pour the butter or egg (or water, if you're trying to cut down :o) In another shallow pan, combine the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and dry Italian salad dressing mix. One by one, dip the chicken breasts in the butter, then coat both sides in the bread crumb mix. Place them in a lightly greased 9x13 pan (I just line it with foil for easy clean-up), and then pour any remaining bread crumbs on top. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

I usually do a rice pilaf on the side, with veggies and a salad. You can also do an angel hair pasta with butter and lemon or something like that... It's a very versatile dish.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

My new favorite recipe blog...

I'm sorry for having been so negligent of this little blog lately. I have lots of yummy stuff I want to put up--it's just that this precious tiny chub of love has taken over my life! I wouldn't have it any other way though :o) I promise to get some recipes up soon...

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know about a new recipe blog I've found that I LOVE. It's from a fantastic restaurant out in Utah that makes fresh, healthy salads, soups and sandwiches called Zupas. I guess they have guest bloggers that post their best/favorite recipes, and the ones I've made so far have been fabulous! Here are some:

The best caramel sauce: I made this to go over apple crisp and vanilla ice cream last week. Ummm, it was sort of heavenly. Reminded me of the caramel sauce on Copper Canyon's "Chocolate Uprising", fellow Marylanders... yeah, it's that good!

Ratatouille: I am trying to learn more about real French cuisine, because in less than 60 days I will have a real French sister-in-law! This one is so so so good, especially as a side to salmon, as the author recommends...

Oven-dried tomatoes: I love sun-dried tomatoes, I could (and do) honestly eat them plain. But they always stored in so much OIL! So I loved this idea of making your own in the oven. You can throw them in pastas, salads, whatever :o) Enjoy!

This one is on my menu for next week. I absolutely adore Indian food, but with nursing I have to be really careful about how much spice I take in. Making my own will enable me to cater to my spice-less needs :o)

Anyway, check the blog out HERE. They posted something about Butternut Squash Soup yesterday--yikes, I am SO excited that it is finally Fall...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pad Thai

For some reason, we have been on a bit of an Asian kick lately. It just sounds so good to me! I wanted to learn how to make Pad Thai, which is just about the most basic Thai dish around, because it's cheaper than buying it :o) So of course, I turned to Alton Brown, because he is the master of doing all things "the right way" in the kitchen. I knew I could get an authentic recipe from him...

I ended up making lots of changes to his recipe, mostly because I just don't have all the stuff it called for. But I've made it 3 times now, and everyone who's had it has loved it! And it's actually extremely fast and easy to make, so that sealed it for me...

HERE'S the link to Alton's original recipe, but I will post mine with the changes below.

Alton Brown's Pad Thai
(with Karen's substitutions)
1 ounce tamarind paste (or 2 TB brown sugar & 2 TB lime juice, mixed)
3/4 cup boiling water
2 TB fish sauce
2 TB palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 TB rice wine vinegar
4 oz. rice stick noodles (I use the Thai Kitchen brand)
1-2 TB vegetable oil
1 cup chopped scallions, divided
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 whole eggs, beaten
1 lb. large shrimp or chicken, cut in bite-size pieces
3 oz. bean sprouts, divided
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped & divided
1 lime, cut into wedges

Combine fish sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl; add to brown sugar/lime juice combination, and set aside.

Follow the directions on the back of the rice noodle box to cook noodles; set aside while you prepare remaining ingredients.

Place a wok or large skillet over high heat. Once hot, add 1 TB oil. Heat until it shimmers, then add shrimp (cook until pink--doesn't take long) or chicken (till browned on edges). Add 2/3 of the scallions, then the garlic, and cook for 10-15 seconds (don't let the garlic burn). Add the eggs to the pan and scramble them. Then add the following ingredients in order, tossing each time you add something new: noodles, sauce, 2/3 of the bean sprouts, and 2/3 of the chopped peanuts. Toss everything till heated through, then transfer to a serving dish.

Garnish with remaining scallions, bean sprouts and peanuts. Add lime wedges for decoration. ENJOY!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just for Garhett...

We love to have our friend Garhett over for dinner because he always gushes over the food :o) Although, I must say that he favors Jeremy's desserts--can't blame the guy! Here are the ones he's requested....

We love you, Garhett!

Lion House Chocolate Sheet Cake

I know, it's really Texas Sheet Cake, but we got the recipe from The Lion House Cookbook, so we have to call it what they call it :o)

This is a Rich Family staple--the Rich family Jeremy grew up in. It is such a staple, in fact, that when the oven went out on the houseboat at Lake Powell, we couldn't just NOT have it for dessert--we actually fired up the BBQ grill and cooked it that way. Not my preferred choice of baking, but it worked! Love you, Riches...

Lion House Chocolate Sheet Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening, softened
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
Dash salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons milk
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Grease and flour a 10X15-inch jelly-roll pan (we just use a large cookie sheet with high sides). Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift
together flour and sugar. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, mix together butter, shortening, cocoa, and water and bring to boil. Pour over flour and sugar mixture; mix well. Add buttermilk, soda, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, and salt; mix well. Pour into jelly-roll pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Five minutes before cake is done, prepare frosting. In a medium saucepan melt butter; add cocoa, vanilla, and milk, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and nuts. Mix well. Frost cake while hot.

**A tip on buttermilk: You don't have to buy it! Just add a tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then use the desired amount in any recipe!

Molten Lava Cakes

Jeremy has become famous for these ones in the last few months... They're "easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy", as Ethan would say, and they taste "divine", as Bennett would say. Here's the link to FoodNetwork for Paula Deen's best recipe ever, in our family's opinion!

Paula Deen's Molten Lava Cakes
  • 6 (1-ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Grease 6 6-oz. custard cups (we use jumbo muffin tins instead). Melt the chocolates and butter in the microwave, or in a double boiler. Add the flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and orange liqueur. Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups. Place in the oven and bake for 14 minutes (I think Jer only cooks them for about 11-12 minutes). The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates.

***Jer's note: make sure you don't cook these too long. They really should be runny in the middle--it's the lava! And they MUST be eaten with a hefty serving of vanilla ice cream on the side; they're really rich. Enjoy!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hi folks!

Sorry it's been a while since I posted... Food really hasn't been on my brain lately--waaaay too much over the holidays :o) But I have a few things I wanted to share this month. Below are my latest findings on trying to re-create the Cafe Rio salad that I miss so much. And later in the week, I'll post some fun food ideas for Valentines Day--one of our FAVORITE family holidays. Hope you enjoy!

Cafe Rio Salad

Doesn't this just make you drool???

I've been playing around with different recipes, trying to re-create my favorite meal in the whole world, the Cafe Rio salad. Fantastic with either chicken or beef, this salad is a delicate combination of amazing ingredients (all of which must be included to get the real effect). Because there isn't a Cafe Rio within 2,000 miles of my house, I have to make do with what I have! I know I posted a while ago with some Cafe Rio knock-off recipes, but I've continued to play around and think I've found some that are better... Let me know what you think!

Here's the all-important order:
1. Toasted tortilla with a little melted cheese
2. Cilantro Lime Rice (the original recipe I posted is still the best I've found)
3. Black or pinto beans (I prefer black, click on "Black" for link to recipe)
4. Romaine lettuce, loosely torn
5. Shredded chicken, pork or beef (click on whichever one you want to make)
6. Pico de gallo, guacamole, tortilla strips, fresh cilantro sprigs, and a lime slice
7. Creamy Tomatillo Dressing (where the magic happens!)

Cafe Rio Black Beans

A very simplified recipe, but it works!

Cafe Rio Black Beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 C tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving, add cilantro.

Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken

This is the easiest of the three meats to make, IMO...

Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken
5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 small bottle zesty Italian dressing
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients together in large crockpot. Cook on high for 5-7 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Reserve a small amount of juice and pour over shredded chicken; keep warm till served.

Cafe Rio Shredded Pork

We made this over the holidays, and it was absolutely AMAZING!

Cafe Rio Shredded Pork
2 pounds pork (I used pork shoulder butt)
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 C brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 C water
1 can sliced or diced green chilies
3/4 can enchilada sauce
1 C brown sugar

Put the pork in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag to marinate. Add about 1 1/2 cans of Coke and 1/4 C brown sugar. Marinate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight. Drain marinade and put pork, 1/2 can of Coke, water and garlic salt in crock pot on HIGH for about 3-4 hours, or on LOW for about 8 hours--just don't let it get dry. Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork.

In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can Coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and 1 C sugar (I used way less--just my preference). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little. Put shredded pork and sauce in crockpot and cook on LOW for 2 hours. Enjoy!!!

Cafe Rio Shredded Beef

I have to preface this with the fact that I didn't make this recipe... but it came from a highly reputable source :o) If anyone wants to try it out and let us know how it turned out, feel free to comment!!!

Cafe Rio Shredded Beef
1 large chuck roast
1 can Coke (NOT diet)
1 1/2 Tbsp ancho chili powder (in the gourmet spice section)
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
Red chili pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and cook in crockpot on HIGH for 4-6 hours (don't let meat dry out), until meat is tender and easily falls apart. Remove from crockpot, shred and put back in crockpot. Adjust seasonings as needed. Turn heat to LOW and cook for about 1 more hour in juices.

Cafe Rio Pico de Gallo

Pretty easy, but makes a big difference...

Cafe Rio Pico de Gallo
4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients and let sit for at least 1 hour. Best when served fresh (not as good the next day)...

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing, Take 2

I posted a recipe for this dressing a while ago, but I think this new one is better. It tastes more like the real thing, in my opinion. It's important, people! Just trust me on this one...

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing, Take 2
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1 C buttermilk
1 C mayonnaise
1-2 tomatillos
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/2 small jalapeno, seeds removed

Blend together in food processor till smooth--NO chunks! Let dressing sit for a few hours for best taste...