Friday, March 29, 2013

Cafe Rio Style Sweet Pork

This is my third version of Cafe Rio pork I have attempted, and do believe it is my favorite.  This one has a little bit more of a kick than the others, and heaven knows I like a kick!  

For the other components of the Cafe Rio meal, click here and start enjoying the goodness!

Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa

5-6 lb. pork roast
21 oz. Dr. Pepper (or Coke, do NOT use diet soda)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
7 oz. can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
6-ish oz. red taco sauce (I used hot)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Place roast in crock-pot, cover half-way with water and cook on low for 12 hours.  After 12 hours, drain pork (retain liquid if you want sauce for burritos, simply mix with a can of verde enchilada sauce and away you go).

Mix remaining ingredients until sugar dissolves.  I didn’t keep the actual chilies, I dumped the can into a bowl and added enough Dr. Pepper to get all the sauce off of the chilies, then I tossed them.  I also rinsed out the can with Dr. Pepper for more adobo goodness.  My version had a fairly good kick to it, but if you LOVE hotness, then blend everything + 2 or 3 chilies in the blender.  (Also, the adobo sauce tends to stain plastic, using a glass or metal mixing bowl will make your clean-up of adobo sauce considerably less frustrating).

Add Dr. Pepper mixture to the roast and cook on low an additional 4 hours.

Take out roast and shred, add back into sauce and cook for 2 more hours.  At this point the meat was so tender it practically shredded itself.

Recipe Source:  Heidikins

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Carrot Cake Balls

Do you have your Easter menu complete?  I haven't even started!!  I guess I better get on that ;)  This past week I did make a treat that would be fitting for any Easter weekend celebration.  It's an itty bitty bite of a holiday favorite, so you don't have to feel quite as guilty about eating these.  Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Cake Balls

1 box carrot cake mix

3/4-1 tub vanilla or cream cheese frosting
1 pkg. white Candyquik
Toppings (chopped nuts, coconut, etc)

Bake cake as directed and let cool.  Crumble cake and mix in frosting until desired consistency.  Using a cookie scoop, measure out balls and roll into round balls.  Place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and freeze for a few hours.

Melt Candyquick as directed.  Using 2 forks, dip each ball into the melted chocolate and let the excess drip off.  Place on wax/parchment paper.  After every 2 or 3 balls, place toppings on top before it hardens.  Once set, ENJOY!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Smothered Creamy Green Chile Bacon Chicken

Wow...that title is a mouthful!  

I would have to say Mexican flavors are usually my favorite and what I turn to many nights every week.  Sometimes they are on the healthier side, and sometimes I just crave something creamy.  Here is the indulgent side of my Mexican cravings!  

This dish has plenty of spice with jalapenos as well as green chiles.  May be a little much for smaller kiddos :)  Bacon was a perfect compliment to everything.  Enjoy!

Smothered Creamy Green Chile Bacon Chicken

5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1 (4 oz.) can diced jalapenos drained
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles drained
1 1/2 cups shredded colby jack cheese
1/8-1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Carefully slice chicken in half to make a pocket so you can stuff it. Don't cut all the way through. You just want to make a good sliced flap for stuffing.

Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 pan.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, bacon, jalapeños and salt. Stir to evenly combine.

Divide filling into 5-6 equal parts (depending on how many chicken breasts you are making) and stuff the chicken breasts equally, placing back into the 9x13 pan.

Cover 9x13 with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes or until cooked through.

While chicken is cooking, make sauce. To make sauce melt butter in a large sauce pan. Once melted add flour and stir for a minute or two to make a roux. Once roux has been made, add half and half slowly, stirring constantly, until all has been added and sauce thickens to desired consistency. Remove from heat and add garlic salt, onion powder and green chiles. Set aside until chicken has been cooked through.

After chicken has cooked for 50 minutes and is cooked through, remove foil. Cover chicken with sauce. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and bacon and place back in oven and cook additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Recipe Source:  Chef In Training

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chocolate Chip Mini Scones

In my opinion, the ONLY positive thing about having afternoon church is that I have plenty of time to make breakfast.  I am not a overly domestic mom, and mornings are not my friend.  I am not a mom who wakes up before my family and makes's just not in my blood.  But like I said, now that my Sunday mornings don't start early, breakfast is now a part of our pre-church routine ;)

Homemade scones are delicious straight out of the oven, and they look super impressive.  They are an amazing addition to any breakfast or brunch, and there are so many different ways to mix them up.  These are my kid-friendly version.  Don't let the amount of steps scare you is way easier than it may seem!

Chocolate Chip Scones

2 3/4 cups All Purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold butter, cut in pats
1 cup to 2 cups mini chocolate chips, or finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or the flavoring of your choice (I LOVE almond extract in these)
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup half and half or milk
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
7 tablespoons water, enough to make a thin glaze
1 teaspoon vanilla, optional

1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

2) Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

3) Stir in the chips or finely chopped chocolate.

4) In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla or other flavor, and 1/2 cup half and half or milk.

5) Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together. Stir in additional milk or half and half if the dough seems dry, and doesn't come together.

6) Scrape the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Pat/roll it into an 8" to 8 1/2" square, a scant 3/4" thick. Make sure the surface underneath the dough is very well floured. If necessary, use a giant spatula to lift the square, and sprinkle more flour underneath.

7) Cut the square into 2" squares; you'll have a total of 16 small squares. Now, cut each square in half diagonally, to make 32 small triangles. This is all easily accomplished with a rolling pizza wheel; if you're working on a silicone mat, be very careful not to press down too hard as you cut.

8) Transfer the scones to a parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet. They can be set fairly close together; you should be able to crowd them all onto an 18" x 13" half-sheet pan.

9) For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

10) Bake the scones for 19 to 20 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the scones to cool right on the pan. When they're cool, cut each scone in half once again, to make a total of 64 tiny triangles (I opted to leave them alone, I liked the size).

11) Make the glaze by stirring together the sugar, water, and vanilla. If the sugar seems particularly lumpy, sift it first, for an extra-smooth glaze.

12) Now you're going to coat each scone with glaze. You can dip each one individually, which is quite time-consuming. Or line a baking sheet (with sides) with parchment, and pour about half the glaze atop the parchment. Set the scones atop the glaze, swirling them around a bit to coat their bottoms. Then drizzle the remaining glaze over the top. Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze over each scone, to coat it entirely. The glaze is very thin, so this is easily done.

13) Transfer the scones to a rack set over parchment, to catch any drips. As you pick each scone up, run its sides over the glaze in the bottom of the pan, both to use up some of the extra glaze, and to make sure all sides are coated.

14) Allow the glaze to set before serving the scones.

Recipe Source:  King Arthur Flour

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cadbury Mini Egg Blondies

I am so thrilled with all of the fun holidays coming up.  There are treats out there that have been making me DROOL!  These were right up there, and I'm hoping to pass them along to more of you because they ROCK!!  They are super moist and stay that way for more than just a day or two.  And did I mention they contain the best Easter candy out there?!  

Bake up a pan of these and take some to your neighbors, your family parties, and your Easter celebrations...everyone will thank you!  

Cadbury Mini Egg Blondies

1 C. Butter, Softened
3 C. Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
3 C. Flour
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 bag Cadbury Mini Eggs 

Mix all ingredients except Cadbury Mini Eggs.

Spread in a 10×15 jelly roll pan.

Sprinkle Cadbury Mini Eggs on top. These will sink into the dough as they bake. If you want them on top so you can see them I would wait out the bars are done baking and press them on immediately after taking them out of the oven for a pretty presentation!

Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. The middle takes a while to set and stays a bit gooey, but that's alright with me, it's my fav :)  I put another pan underneath, because a little bit cooked right over the edge...oops ;)

Recipe Source:  Julie's Eats and Sweets

What is your favorite Easter treat?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Shepherd's Pie

It's hard to believe that March is almost upon us!  I have been thinking about the upcoming holidays and what foods I want to prepare for them.  St. Patrick's Day is generally associated with corn beef and cabbage, but today I thought I'd bring you just a traditional Irish dish that would be a great alternative if corn beef just isn't your thing.  

This shepherd's pie is comfort food at it's finest...a real meat and potatoes kind of meal that will feed a crowd.  Shepherd's pies also freeze well, just set them in the refrigerator the day before you want to serve it to thaw and follow the original instructions.  Enjoy!!

Cheddar-Topped Shepherd's Pie

2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4), peeled and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
6 medium carrots, halved lengthwise, quartered if large, and thinly sliced
6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar (6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 450. Place potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover by 1 inch with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high. Add carrots, celery, onion, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beef; cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 1 cup water; bring to a boil, and simmer 1 minute. Set beef filling aside.

Drain potatoes; return to pan. Cook over medium, stirring, until liquid has evaporated and a thin film covers bottom of pan, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; add milk and 1 cup cheese. Mash until smooth; season cheddar-potato topping with salt and pepper.

Pour beef filling into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Drop dollops of topping over filling; spread to edges with a spatula. Using a fork, make decorative peaks; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until topping is browned and filling is bubbling rapidly, about 20 minutes (if topping and filling were chilled, increase to 35 minutes). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source:  Martha Stewart


2 Ingredient Lemon Cake/Bars

I hate to brag for those of you that still have snow on the ground, but we haven't had any since Christmas!  I thought living in Washington we'd get more of it, but nonetheless our grass is bare.  Now that we have been having lots of sunny days and most of them being 60+ degree days I have Spring Fever :)  So for my contribution this week, I'd like to share a delightfully Springtime dessert.  

The stores have been carrying amazing strawberries lately, and when I went though my recipes to try and saw a 2 ingredient lemon cake, I knew what I needed to do.  

This cake is yummy and extremely moist.  You could even just sprinkle it with powdered sugar and call it a lemon bar if you prefer.  Either way, 2 ingredients...come on, you can do this!!!

2-Ingredient Lemon Cake/Bars

1 (1 lb) box angel food cake mix

1 can (15 oz) can of lemon pie filling (I could only find a 20 oz can at Walmart, just didn't use quite all of it.  I used the Wilderness brand)

Mix them together by hand until moist. Be sure not to over stir. Bake in a 9x13 cake pan at 350 degrees until golden brown on the top (about 20 minutes). Cool completely before eating. As they are cooling, you can sprinkle with powder sugar if you wish. They have more of an angel food cake texture than a traditional lemon bar texture.

Recipe Source:  Living Practically

Anyone else experiencing Spring Fever?!


Friday, March 8, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Sometimes I don't feel like making a recipe that has a bunch of steps.  Sometimes I am busy and need a dinner that comes together quickly.  So last night as I was racking my brain on how to use either some of my leftover ham or some of the diced frozen chicken in the freezer, this recipe popped into my head that I had seen earlier this week. 

This would be a great way to use up your leftover ham that most people have for Easter dinner, or just an easy meal on a busy weeknight.  Enjoy!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

6    ounces    bread stuffing ( chicken flavor ) 
10 3/4    ounce    cream of chicken soup ( can ) 
1    tablespoon    Dijon mustard 
4    chicken breast ( cooked and cut into bite size pieces; I boiled mine ) 
3    cups    broccoli florets 
2    cups    chopped ham ( cooked ) 
6    swiss cheese ( extra thin sliced ) 

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Prepare stuffing as directed on package. Mix soup and mustard in medium bowl; stir in chicken, broccoli and ham. Spoon into 2-qt. casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with cheese slices and stuffing. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe Source:  My Recipe Magic