Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mexi Can Pie

This is super easy. It's nothing more than chili really, but it was super good. The additions make it a little zippy! 

2 - 15 oz cans Turkey Chili
1 - 12 oz can of beer (We skipped this part)
1 - 4 oz can of chopped green chiles
1 - package of Grands! refrigerator biscuits

-preheat oven to 350
-Mix Chili, beer, and chilies, in a casserole dish
-Place the biscuits on top
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes

P.S. The biscuits didn't cook all the way through when they were on top of the chili. You might cook them separately, then place them on the chili for like the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu: November 22 - 28

I'm back! I've been out of the loop for awhile, but I'm FINALLY settling down into a routine...which means I can start planning menus again! This week's menu is an ode to food storage! We don't have much in our food storage, but I figured a lot of these meals can easily be made from lots of canned foods and other items around the house.

Sunday: Pot-luck Pasta
Monday: '50s - style Creamed Chicken
Tuesday: Mexi Can Pie
Wednesday: Bird on a Biscuit
Thursday: Thanksgiving in Scipio!
Friday: Bombay Chicken 'n' Rice
Saturday: Extremely Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Monday, November 16, 2009

Menu: November 17 - November 23

You won't believe it. I cooked ALL six meals that I planned last week! I must be entering the second trimester or something... ;)

Since last week went well, I'm going to try the same thing this week. Here are the six meals I have planned (sorry, they are all already posted here except one):

Pork and Bean Chalupas (from The Frosted Cupcake)
Chili and Cornbread

Here's to two good weeks in a row!

Friday, November 13, 2009


I read and love The Pioneer Woman's blog. Not only does she make me laugh constantly, but she also makes me hungry. I have enjoyed with complete success every recipe of hers that I have tried. Yesterday her cookbook FINALLY arrived in the mail!

"The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl"
I'm salivating all over the place just looking at it. The book is full of personality, great photography (not just of food but ranch life), funny stories, and of course lots and lots of pictures to explain how to prepare her recipes.

This morning for breakfast I tried out the easiest recipe from the "In the Morning Section". Egg-in-a-hole. I'm a lover of runny eggs, and I'm amazed to say this is my new favorite way to eat them.

1 piece of bread
1 egg
salt and pepper

cut out a circle in your bread (I used a glass) I didn't want to waste the circle, so that bread went into the pan too.
heat skillet- melt some butter
add bread
after about a minute add the egg into the hole
salt and pepper liberally

wait 1 minute
wait another minute or longer is you don't like runny
All done-

Eat and enjoy.

you can find her book on Amazon for 14.95 (instead of 27.50)
Her entire website is worth you time too

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Cafe Rio" Sweet Pork Salads (Complete Recipe)

I finally did it! I've been wanting to try and recreate Cafe Rio salads at home for quite some time. Then, I got a huge craving (really huge, pregnancy style) for them a few weeks ago which was only partially satisfied by going to Chipotle. At that point I knew it was only a matter of time before I decided to be brave and give it a try.

There are a lot of recipes out there that claim to replicate various aspects of the Cafe Rio salad (a quick google search for Cafe Rio recipes will give you a glimpse of what is out there), so after looking at a bunch of them, I decided to try the recipes at Favorite Family Recipes because she had collected all the recipes in one place (the pork, rice, beans, and dressing). Also, I've made things from FFR before, and they've always turned out well!

These recipes absolutely did not disappoint! It was amazing. I took my first bite, and it was like I was back in Provo. Maybe it was a little bit enhanced for me because I'm pregnant, but it was seriously good stuff!

Here's the complete recipe! (Click on the individual components for recipes.)

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salads
large tortillas (I hear the uncooked ones at Costco are really good, but I've never tried them)
grated cheddar cheese (a small handful for each tortilla)
lettuce (not iceberg, I just bought a bag of romaine)
parmesan cheese
tortilla strips (you can buy these at a grocery store next to the croutons in the produce section)

cilantro for garnish
lime sections for garnish
sour cream

Place one tortilla in the bottom of each serving dish (oven safe). You can buy foil dishes like Cafe Rio uses at the grocery store, but we just went with metal pie tins that I had on hand. Sprinkle a small handful of cheese on each one and bake at 375 degrees for about five minutes, or until cheese is melted. Scoop a generous amount of Cilantro Lime Rice and Black Beans on top of the tortilla.

Next, add the shredded pork. If you're silly like me (or if you just really miss Cafe Rio) yell "Extra Meat!" when making your husband's salad. ;)

On top of that add a generous amount of lettuce. And then top it all off with a scoop of pico de gallo, some tortilla strips, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and a sprig of cilantro for garnish. Serve with tomatillo sauce on the side so that (if you're me) you can keep adding it to your salad as you go because you can never get enough. ;)

I was in a big hurry to eat, so please ignore the sauce splatters and other messes in my pictures. I usually try to avoid showing off the messy-after-cooking kitchen in my pictures. My excuse this time is that Paul was the photographer, and he just doesn't notice these things. ;) Hopefully you will all forgive me once you give these amazing recipes a try!

Oh, and big thanks to Erica over at Favorite Family Recipes! She has provided all of us non-Utah residents a great service by mastering these recipes for us.

Note: I gave this recipe a 1-2 hour time length because I decided not to count the slow cooker time. It was a rather big production, but in the end, I put most of it together in two hours. And I know I'll be a bit faster next time (not looking up recipes at the last second and all that). Enjoy!

Pico de Gallo

I was just going to chop up some tomatoes and onions for our salads last night, but at the last minute, I decided that I wanted to find out how to make pico de gallo. I did a quick search on I found a recipe that was easy, highly rated, AND I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. It was supposed to refrigerate it for at least 3 hours before serving, and I only had 1 1/2, so I just threw it together as fast as I could.

I'm glad I did it, though. It was delicious and just added to the authenticity of our whole makeshift "Cafe Rio" experience. :)

Pico de Gallo
3 roma tomatoes, diced (I only had two, and we survived ;) )
1/4 onion, diced (the recipe specified red onion, but I had a white one and it worked fine)
1 1/2 T. fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 jalapeno, seeded, diced (I just stole a tiny bit of the jalapeno I used for the tomatillo sauce)
juice from 1/4 lime (I just used what I had leftover from the lime I used for the rice)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and refrigerate until needed (at least three hours according to the recipe, but it was still good after 1 1/2). Feel free to taste and add spices as desired.

Next time I will take the time to dice the tomatoes and onion really evenly so that it looks prettier. I was in a big hurry this time. :)

Here's a link to the original recipe (notice that I halved it): Pico de Gallo.

Creamy Tomatillo Sauce (Cafe Rio)

Recipes for this dressing are pretty consistent around the internet. While I found huge variety in the recipes available for the other components of a Cafe Rio salad, this dressing was almost the same everywhere. For that reason, I was pretty confident that it would taste just right.

And guess what? It did! :)

Creamy Tomatillo Sauce (Cafe Rio)
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (TRADITIONAL not buttermilk)
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
2 tomatillos, husks removed, diced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
juice from 1 lime
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced*

*If you want your dressing to be spicy, you can leave the seeds in. We prefer the sauce to be mild.

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix under sauce is smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

For me, this is what makes the salads so awesome. It's the component that ties it all together. I just love it! Oh, and this recipe makes quite a bit of dressing. I'm not sure what we're going to do with all of it or how long it saves, but I'm definitely going to try it out on pretty much anything we eat with a Mexican flavor over the next week or two!

Here's a link to the original recipe on Favorite Family Recipes: Creamy Tomatillo Sauce.

Shredded Sweet Pork (Cafe Rio)

The sweet pork at Cafe Rio was Paul's favorite. As far as meats at Cafe Rio go, the sweet pork was more at the bottom of my personal list. But again, when you search for Cafe Rio recipes, it's the sweet pork that shows up pretty exclusively. Oh well! I will keep looking, of course, and I hope to someday find a good steak or chicken recipe.

Until then, enjoy this recipe for shredded sweet pork, Cafe Rio style!

Shredded Sweet Pork (Cafe Rio)
2 lbs. pork*

about 2 1/4 c. (or 1 1/2 cans) Pepsi (not diet, but we were good since I'm pregnant and bought caffeine free and it works just as well)
1/4 c. brown sugar

To cook the pork:
2/3 c. (or 1/2 can) Pepsi
garlic salt
1/4 c. water

2/3 c. (or 1/2 can) Pepsi
1 can diced green chiles
3/4 can enchilada sauce
3/4 c. brown sugar

*I read that you should NOT use a pork roast for this recipe. The pork should be a more fatty cut. We used boneless pork shoulder ribs, but I also heard that pork butt works well.

Place pork in a heavy duty ziploc bag and add 2 1/4 c. Pepsi and 1/4 c. brown sugar. Marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight (I chose overnight). Remove pork from the bag and place in slow cooker. Discard the marinade. Pour water and 2/3 c. Pepsi over the pork. Sprinkle with garlic salt to taste. Cook on high for 3-4 hours (or on low for 8 hours) until pork can be easily shredded. Remove pork and shred (I find this easiest to do in a pie tin with two forks). Empty excess liquid from the slow cooker and place shredded pork back in it. Prepare sauce by mixing 2/3 c. Pepsi, enchilada sauce, green chiles, and 3/4 c. brown sugar in a blender until sauce is smooth. If it seems too thick, add more Pepsi (mine was not too thick). Pour sauce over shredded pork and cook on low for 2 more hours. (Although now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I left mine on high...oops!)

Wondering what Paul's verdict was? He said the flavor was spot on, but the texture was slightly different. I can only assume this is because Cafe Rio uses a different cut of meat. All in all, though, Paul absolutely loved it. I thought it was yummy, too. :)

Here's the original recipe on Favorite Family Recipes: Shredded Sweet Pork.

Black Beans (Cafe Rio)

Now, both Paul and I prefer pinto beans on our Cafe Rio salads. For some reason, though, the only recipes I have found have been for black beans. I will continue to look around for a good pinto bean recipe, but in the mean time, this one works pretty well!

I can't vouch for it's authenticity, since I really can't remember what the Cafe Rio black beans are like, but these are yummy and flavorful.

Black Beans (Cafe Rio)
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
1 1/2 t. salt
2 T. fresh chopped cilantro

Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cumin and stir for a minute or two (until the garlic becomes aromatic). Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Stir frequently until heated through. Add cilantro just before serving. Serve with a slotted spoon to drain off excess tomato juice.

Notes: I think the key to this recipe is to only cook it until the beans are heated through. I cooked mine too long, so the tomato juice started to thicken and didn't drain off as easily when I served them. This means that the beans should probably be the last thing you prepare for the salads. Also, I'm not sure the cilantro is necessary in this recipe. It didn't seem to add much to me. There's a lot of cilantro in these salads elsewhere, so if you would like to cut back on it in one area, this would be a good one.

Again, I got this recipe from FFR. The original can be found here: Black Beans (Cafe Rio).

Cilantro Lime Rice (Cafe Rio)

We ate well in the Peterson household last night. Oh yes. We had Cafe Rio salads! I'm going to post each recipe that I used separately, and then I'll post a complete recipe with links to the individual recipes so that they can be easily found and accessed in the future.

And believe me, you will want to access these recipes in the future. ;)

So, here's the recipe for the rice. I got it from Favorite Family Recipes, but adapted it to use my rice cooker (she cooks the rice on the stove). If you don't have a rice cooker feel free to follow her recipe, which can be found here: Cilantro Lime Rice.

Cilantro Lime Rice (Cafe Rio)
2 c. (the smaller cup used specifically for our rice cooker) uncooked rice - we used Calrose, because that's what we always have, but her recipe specifies long grain
1/2 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. fresh lime juice
1 can chicken broth (14 oz)
1 T. fresh lime juice
3 T. fresh chopped cilantro
2 t. sugar
If needed: water

Rinse rice in rice cooker. Add chicken broth, garlic, 1 t. lime juice, and butter. If needed, fill to 2 c. line with water (the chicken broth filled our rice cooker right to the 2 c. line, so I didn't need to add water). Push the 'cook' button and walk away. (Oh, how I love my rice cooker!) Once the rice is done cooking, combine the remaining lime juice with the cilantro and sugar. Pour over the cooked rice and fluff it to combine.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu: November 9 - November 15

Check it out! It's a menu!

As most of you know, I'm pregnant (woo hoo!), so my menu this week is a little different. I've been really (and I mean REALLY) bad about making dinners lately. I wonder why? ;) Anyway, fast food and other take out has gotten to be gross to me now, and I'm reaching the end of my first trimester. I'm hoping this combination will mean I'll be better about making dinner this week.

So, in order to help myself have a better chance of succeeding, I've come up with six meals that sound good to me right now--which is a miracle in and of itself--and I'll make whatever meal I want each day (and I even get a free day!). A couple of them are pretty ambitious recipes, so wish me luck! :)

This Week's Meals:
Aztec Chicken - from Favorite Family Recipes
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork salads - from Favorite Family Recipes