Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cafe Rio Copy Cat Recipe

6 large Tortillas
Shredded cheese, Mexican blend
Cafe Rio Rice (see below)
Cafe Rio Pinto Beans (see below)
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork (see below)
Lettuce (NOT iceberg, use leafy green or Romaine)
Diced tomato, onion, and cilantro (pico de gallo)
Guacamole (see below)
Sour cream
Tortilla Strips (see below)
Cotija cheese, crumbled (or you can use Parmesan)
Cafe Rio Cilantro Ranch (see below)

 Cilantro Lime Rice
1 c. uncooked rice
1 tsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

Pinto Beans
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can pinto 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 stir in the cilantro. 

Cilantro Lime Dressing
1 buttermilk ranch dressing packet (make as per recipe)
2 tomatillos (tomato like vegetable with a husk around them)
½ bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno (Use the seeds too if you like it spicy. You could substitute a few drops of green Tabasco for the jalapeno.)Use a food processor and blend all the ingredients well. Refrigerate.

Sweet Pork
(I love the pork but in the picture I used the beef that I make for the Mexican tacos.  It was awesome)
2 pounds pork (we like to use boneless pork ribs)
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can diced green chilies
3/4 can red enchilada sauce
1 c. brown sugar

Put the pork in a heavy duty Ziploc bag to marinade. Add about a can and a half of coke and about 1/4 c. of brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours or 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 until it shreds easily, but don't let it get TOO 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 remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste..). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little.

Put shredded pork and sauce in crock pot and cook on low for 2 hours. That's it!

3 avocados
Red onion, chopped (about 1/4 c.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (or to taste)
1 large ripe garden tomato (or 2 smaller tomatoes), diced
juice of 1 lime
4-5 shakes green Tabasco sauce
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Pit avocados and mash in a bowl. If you like your guacamole kind of chunky (that's how we like it), coarsely chop with the side of a fork instead of using the fork to mash it straight down. Carefully stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed. That's it!

Tortilla Strips
Cafe Rio uses corn tortillas for this but I prefer flour tortillas.  Which ever you like they will work great.  Cut your tortilla in 1/4 inch strips and fry in canola or vegetable oil until light brown and crispy.  Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain excess oil.  Sprinkle immediately with a pinch of salt.  Set aside.

Here is how to put it together.  I buy fresh tortillas that are not cooked yet but you can use your favorite flour tortilla. I quickly cook the tortillas in a skillet on the stove.  Then lay the tortillas on a baking sheet (or if you want to be just like Cafe Rio you can buy the aluminum pans at the store) and sprinkle with cheese.  Put into a 375 degree oven until the cheese melts.  Add the beans, rice and pork.

Then add the lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, tortilla strips, Parmesan cheese and some cilantro leaves.  Serve with the dressing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot Beef Sub

One of my husbands favorite meals is a Philly cheese steak sandwich.  I do not always have the time to make one so I came up with this quick and easy substitute.   Dan said that is passed the test.  The pepper jack cheese adds a great kick and an awesome flavor to the sandwich.  I hope you like it!

Hoagie Rolls
1 pound deli roast beef, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 TBS olive oil

Chop the pepper and onion.

 Heat oil in in a large skillet.  Add onions and peppers and saute for about 5 minutes or until just soft. Season with salt and pepper. 
 Add the mushrooms and saute for another 3 minutes

Add the chopped roast beef and blend all of the ingredients.  Let the roast brown and then scrap up all the good flavors off of the pan.

Add 1/2 cup cheese. Stir until the cheese melts.

Spread a small amount of butter onto the hoagie rolls and toast under the broiler.  Spread the meat mixture on the buns and your done! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Steamed Turkey Wontons

A wonton is a type of dumpling commonly found in a number of Chinese cuisines.
Wontons are made by spreading a wrapper flat and placing a small amount of filling in the center.  The edges are then sealed into the desired shape by compressing the wrapper's edges together. The wrapper is sealed by moistening the wrapper's inner edges, typically by dipping a fingertip into water and running it across the dry dough to dissolve the extra flour. As part of the sealing process, air should be "burped" out of the interior to avoid rupturing the wonton from internal pressure when cooked.
These wontons are super easy to make and are also low in calories and fat.  They can be great as appetizers or they can be combined with fried rice to make a meal!

1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
1 egg
2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
16 wonton wrappers

1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 tsp sesame oil
1 garlic clove, pressed

For the wontons, combine turkey, egg, soy sauce, bread crumbs, garlic, ginger root and cayenne pepper in a bowl.  Using a small scoop, place a scoop of turkey mixture on the wonton wrapper. 
Spray the inside of your steamer with a nonstick cooking spray/  Place the wonton wrappers on a butting board.  Using a small scoop, place the filling in the center of each wrapper.  Lightly brush the outer edges with water.  Bring the corners up toward the center and seal.  Place in the steamer.
For the sauce, combine all the ingredients and mix well.  When wontons are done serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dutch Oven Breakfast Hash

Dan and I went camping with the kids a few months ago and we made this for breakfast one morning.  I did not take a picture to show you, but it was one of the best camping breakfast either of us had.  

1 pound bacon
1 pound sausage or cubed ham
2 packages (20-24 oz.) of frozen southern-style hash browns
8 ounces of sour cream
4 eggs, beaten
grated cheddar cheese

Brown the bacon and sausage in the dutch oven.  If you use ham do not add until the bacon is cooked.  Once your meat is cooked through, add the hash browns.  (Do not drain the grease from your meat.  The potatoes will  soak up the oil and use it to brown.  Cover your dutch oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  You will want about 10 coals on the bottom and 15 coals on top.  

In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream and beaten eggs.  Pour over the hash browns five minutes before they are done.  Recover and let cook until the eggs are cooked through.  When they are done, remove the lid and sprinkle with the cheese.  Replace the lid until the cheese melts

Soft Gingersnap Cookies

I have never loved gingersnap cookies until I tried these.  They are soft and have a great flavor!  They go perfect with a nice cold glass of milk!

3/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup butter shortening
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Grandma's Molasses
2 eggs
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp clove
 2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour

Cream together the shortening and sugar.

Then add the eggs, one at a time.  Followed by the molasses.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  

Roll into golf size balls and roll in sugar.  Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes.  Over baking will make the cookies hard, so watch them carefully.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fresh Fruit Crepes

I am not a huge breakfast eater but this is my personal favorite breakfast treat!! These crepes are light and fresh and hit the spot on a beautiful summer morning.


  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 TBS melted butter


In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and eggs until smooth. 

Slowly beat in the milk and melted butter.   Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Brush melted butter on pan with a brush. Pour a small amount of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove.  I like to put them on wax paper.  Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone.

Fill the crepes with your favorite fruit.  My favorite is strawberries, banannas, blueblerries, blackberries and raspberries.  
Top with freshly whipped cream. YUM!!


  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream


Place the whipping cream into a bowl and either hand whisk or on medium speed beat just until the cream reaches soft peaks.  Then add the sugar and vanilla and beat until it forms stiff peaks. Store any unused portion in an airtight container for up to 10 hours. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fancy Scrambled Eggs

Our family is pretty picky about eggs and we love these.  These scrambled eggs are extra fragrant and put a little spark into your traditional scrambled eggs. I hope you enjoy.

***TIP: don't season your eggs until they are almost completely cooked.  If you add salt and pepper to your eggs before you start cooking them it will make them watery***

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 diced red onion
1 cup diced and seeded plum tomatoes
8 eggs
1 TBS fresh or dried dill
salt and pepper to taste

In a nonstick medium pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  The the diced onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute.  Set the mixture aside.

In another bowl whisk the eggs.  Pour the eggs back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring continually until the eggs are almost set.

If there is water in the tomato mixture drain it.  Add it to the eggs and then season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Banana Nut Streusel Muffins

These muffins are great for a snack or for breakfast.  They are moist and delicious.  The streusel topping add the perfect amount of texture.  I hope you enjoy them.

1/4 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
3/4 cup milk
3 TBS vegetable oil
1/2 tsp.vanilla
1 egg

6 TBS. instant oats
5 TBS flour
3 TBS brown sugar
3 TBS melted butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Place the walnuts in a small saute pan over medium heat.  Stir continually until oils begin to be released from the nuts and they turn a golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl combine the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  

In another bowl combine the bananas, milk, oil, vanilla and egg.

Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until all the ingredients are combined.  Chop the toasted walnuts and fold them into the batter.

Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins to about 2/3 full.  

To prepare the streusel, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together.  Then add melted butted and stir well.  Sprinkle over the batter.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Huevos Rancheros

These are awesome for a a brunch or even for dinner.  I made this for my husband for breakfast on Father's Day.  The salsa is amazing and is great just with chips.  If you make the salsa the night before, it gives it time for all for all of the flavors to marry. Happy cooking!


For the salsa:

  • 2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Black Bean Puree:

  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 (12-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 8 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • 4 small ramekins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl mix together, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic, juice, olive oil, hot sauce, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a food processer, blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

To assemble: Stack tortillas on a cutting board. Using the bottom of the ramekin as a guide, cut 8 circles out of the tortillas. 

Spread the bean puree evenly on 1 side of each tortilla round. Place a round in each ramekin, bean side up.

Crack 2 eggs into each of the 4 ramekins.

 Then add 1/4 cup of salsa, and 1 tablespoon each of Cheddar and jack.

Cover with another tortilla round, bean side down. Do not jam the dishes with too much. The eggs will expand during cooking and overflow. Brush tops of each tortilla with butter and bake on a sheet tray for 35 minutes. Top with remaining cheese during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Cheese should be melted and golden on top. To serve, top with sour cream and salsa.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Carrot Cake

This is my mother-in-laws recipe.  It is easy, really moist and a favorite around our house.

3 cups shredded carrots
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 beaten eggs
2 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp all spice
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups flour

Shred the carrots with a food processor or you can do it by hand with a grater.

Mix together the carrots, oil, sugar and beaten eggs until well incorporated.  

In a separate bowl combine flour, soda, cinnamon, salt and all spice.  Add the fry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Chop the nuts and fold into the batter.

Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 inch pan or two 8 inch round pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the middle of the cake has set.  Remove from oven and let cool on cooling racks.  

4 ounces softened cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound of powdered sugar

Cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.  Add the vanilla and salt.  Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.