Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

My new favorite kitchen gadget (a Christmas gift from my ever-so-generous mother-in-law), makes amazing salad dressing and I was able to put it good use when I made this dish last week:(Cuisinart Elite Die-Cast 12-Cup Food Processor- Williams Sonoma)

I love love love this recipe! Even though we now have Cafe Rio in southern California, I still love making this at home for my family. It's the perfect Sunday dinner if you plan on hosting a large group of people and you can even freeze the leftover dressing and use it later.The pork is very easy-just stick it in the crock pot and let it cook all day. I serve the salad on a warm torilla (I buy the uncooked pre-made tortillas at Costco and cook them right before I serve the salad), with rice, black beans, shredded cheese, avacadoes, diced tomatoes, tortilla strips, tomatillo dressing and a lime on the side.
Pork Barbacoa
3lb pork roast
16oz salsa
2 cups Dr. Pepper
1 cup brown sugar
Put roast in crock-pot. Mix Dr. Pepper and brown sugar. Pour over roast, along with the salsa. Cook on high 8 hours; remove pork and shred with fork. Return shredded meat to marinade in crock pot and keep warm until ready to serve.
Mexican Style White Rice
3 cups water
4 t chicken boullion
4 t garlic-minced
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 can green chiles
3/4 t salt
1 T butter
3 c rice
juice from 2 limes
Blend cilantro, green chilies and onion in food processor or blender. Bring water to boil and add all ingredients, simmer covered 30 minutes (or until rice is soft).
Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
1 cup mayo
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 chopped tomatillos (peel paper off)
1/3-1/2 cups buttermilk, to consistency
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Put all ingredients in blender or food processor and mix

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm convinced any recipe sounds better when it includes the words "cream cheese." This frosting recipe is no exception! The cookies are equally amazing and are so soft and thick, you could eat them without any frosting and be happy. Thank you to my great friend Krista for sharing this recipe. I doubled both the cookie and frosting recipes and was able to cut out over 60 large heart cookies and have more than enough frosting for my Valentine's party. The cookies also freeze very well. I made mine 4 days ahead of time and pulled them out of the freezer a couple hours before the party and they tasted just as fresh as the day I made them.

Sugar Cookies:
  • 2 & 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 & 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 4 & 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 & 1/4 tsp. salt


  • Cream sugar and butter.
  • Add eggs, vanilla, and milk.
  • Add flour and dry ingredients.
  • Roll out and use cookie cutters to cut into shapes.
  • Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. (I like to under cook my sugar cookies a little because if they cook too long, they become hard and crunchy).

Cream Cheese Frosting:


  • 4 cups powder sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup)butter
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk


  • Cream powder sugar, butter, and cream cheese together.
  • Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the consistency you like.
  • Keep frosting refrigerated. Before use, remove frosting from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for approx. 10 minutes so it's a spreadable consistency.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Creamy Fruit Dip

My mom's been making this fruit dip since I can remember and I made it for a Valentine's party I threw last week. Everyone loved it and asked for the recipe. It's by far the easiest recipe I've ever posted. It seems that most people make/have a version of this recipe, but this one is my family's favorite.

Creamy Fruit Dip
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • 1 jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 small jar maraschino cherries


  • Mix cream cheese and marshmallow cream together in a small bowl. (I use my hand mixer and a stainless steel bowl so it stays cold).
  • Add just the juice from a jar of maraschino cherries, to taste-approx. 2-3 tablespoons, and mix well. Be sure not to add too much juice or mixture will become runny.
  • Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Easy French Bread

This recipe came from a cousin of mine. Last year I made it for some friends and it has since become one my most requested recipes for parties or get-togethers. I love to make it and wrap it in celophane with a ribbon and give it away to the ladies I visit teach because you can easily get 2 big or 3 smaller loaves from one batch of dough. It's also great to accompany any soup dish or with butter, jam, or honey for breakfast.

Easy French Bread


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tbsp. yeast
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


  • Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl (I use a Kitchenaid so I just dump all the ingredients in my mixer and let it do all the work).
  • Add water and oil.
  • Add 2 tablespoons yeast.
  • Let dough rise uncovered for 15 minutes.
  • Add 7 cups flour and let mixer run on low for 6 minutes.
  • Form the dough into 2 big or 3 small loaves on greased cookie sheets. (Dough will be sticky so put some flour on your hands and form the loaves into oval shapes).
  • Cover with a towel and let rise until double in size, about 2 hours.
  • Make 3 diagonal slits with a knife into center of each loaf to avoid air bubbling on top of the loaf. (and it also looks pretty).
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes.
  • Let it cool on racks, slice, and serve.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Perfect Valentine's Day Dinner:

I can't take all the credit for this one because it was my sister's idea, but she said since Valentine's Day falls on a Monday this year, she and her husband and kids were going to have a fun family night together instead of leaving the kids with a sitter. I loved the idea and have been thinking of dinner menu options that are all red and pink ever since. Here's what I've come up with:
Appetizer: Bruschetta
Main dish: Grilled salmon with fresh herbs
Side dish: Strawberry Feta Salad (reipe below)
Dessert: Chocolate fondue with strawberries, marhsmallows, graham crackers, bananas, and rice krispie treats.

Strawberry Feta Salad:

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 package caramelized pecans (I do the caramelizing myself with some butter, sugar, and a broiler).
  • 3 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 head lettuce
  • feta cheese to taste

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 part red onion
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt


  • In a large bowl combine all salad ingredients, except for the feta cheese.
  • Blend all dressing ingredients in a food processor.
  • Add feta cheese on top of salad, to taste, and pour dressing before serving.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sandra Lee's Sugar Cookies

I am a huge fan of Sandra Lee, as is my 3 year old, and the two of us discovered this fabulous sugar cookie recipe while watching her show together one morning. I'm in the process of tripling this recipe and making heart-shaped cookies with red and pink M&M's for the Valentine parties we have coming up this week. I got a little antsy and just had to post this recipe before I could snap a picture of the finished product, but these butterfly cookies that Sandra Lee made on her show were absolutely darling and would be perfect for Easter or any other spring party!Semi-Homemade Sugar Cookies:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 (17-ounce) bag sugar cookie mix
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon strawberry extract
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag mini M&M's


  • Heat cream cheese in a large microwave safe bowl for 1 minute on 80 percent power in microwave to soften. Add sugar cookie mix, 1/4 cup flour, egg and extract. Stir with wooden spoon until dough is well combined and forms a ball.
  • Sprinkle a flat rolling surface with 1 tablespoon flour. Divide dough in half and roll out onto lightly floured surface using a rolling pin. Roll the rolling pin back and forth, turning the dough as needed so it does not stick. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
  • Take cookie cutter and dip cutting edge into a shallow bowl of flour. Then press cookie cutter into rolled out dough. Begin cutting out shapes at the center of the dough and work your way towards the edge, cutting shapes as close together as possible. Once the entire slab of dough is cut, use a small spatula to remove cookies from rolling surface and place on un-greased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining half of dough.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Decorate each cookie by pressing mini candies into dough. Refrigerate cookies for 15 minutes to prevent spreading while baking.
  • Using oven mitts, place cookies in oven on top rack. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven using mitts and let cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute before moving them to cooling rack.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homemade Mac n' Cheese

If there's one food I can count on my kids gobbling up, it's macaroni and cheese. Their dad is to blame for this. When I have meetings on Sundays after church and leave him with the kids, he will always make them "Easy Mac" for lunch. I can't complain though because, hey, at least I don't have to come up with something! When I was cleaning out my pantry last week and saw that I had a large bag of elbow macaroni that expired in 2 days, I immediately thought to make a big pan of mac n' cheese. It was super quick to prepare, super tasty, and I felt much better about my family having something homemade on Sunday afternoon.Mom's Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
  • 1 (16 ounce) package macaroni
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pound shredded colby cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  • Place macaroni in a 2 quart casserole dish. Stir in cheese soup and milk until well combined. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly.