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...