Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli

The temperature outside dropped the other day and the rains came and I thought this would be the perfect soup to make. It's mild and filling and my kids love it so that makes me love it!

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2- 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1- 15 ounce can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1- 15 ounce can great northern beans (with liquid)
1- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1- 12 ounce can v-8 juice
1 T. white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 lb. ditali pasta (or small penne or small macaroni)

Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat.  Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute for 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients except the pasta and simmer for 1 hour.

About 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat.  Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente.  Drain.

Add the pasta to the large pot of soup.  Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more and serve.

Serves 10
*If you're not planning on finishing off the soup in one meal you may want to keep the noodles separate from the soup and just combine into the individual bowls.  As the soup sets, the noodles will absorb the liquid and make your soup less....soupy. So either keep the noodles separate or if reheating the next day plan to add some additional liquid such as v-8.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

There are a lot of great Cafe Rio Pork Salad recipes floating around out there. This is the recipe I've always used and I love it.  The last couple of times I've been to Cafe Rio I've been so disappointed with my meal.  It seems like they either skimp on the meat, it's been super fatty, or the flavor just seems off.  Whatever the case may be, we sure enjoy making this meal at home!

1 Pork Loin or Pork Roast
1 1/2 cans coke (no diet or generic brand substitutions)
1 cup sugar
1- 7 oz. can Chipotle Chilies in ADOBO sauce (since you use the sauce, not the chilies, it is important that you get the chilies in adobo sauce)
1 tsp. dry ground mustard (heaping)
1 tsp. cumin (heaping)
1 tsp. minced garlic

Remove chilies from the can of Adobo Sauce and discard chilies. Rinse can of adobo sauce with coke to get all the sauce out.  Pour sauce and coke into a blender.  Add remaining ingredients (except pork) in the blender. Blend until well mixed.  Place pork in crock pot and pour sauce over it.

Cook in crock pot on low for 7-9 hours or until it pulls apart with a fork.

Salad ingredients: Lettuce, tortillas, pork, pinto beans, rice, dressing, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese. 


1 envelope buttermilk ranch dressing
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 bunch cilantro
2 tomatillos
2 serano peppers with seeds removed
1 tsp. lime juice
1 garlic clove

Blend all together in blender. Let sit in refrigerator to thicken.


1 cup rice
2 cups water
3 cubes chicken boullion
1/2 tsp. dried onion
1/4 bunch cilantro
1 T. oil

Combine all ingredients and cook in a rice cooker.  Add juice of 1/2 lime and mix well.

Steel Cut Oats

I didn't even know what Steel Cut Oats were until this summer when we visited my parents and my mom made this for breakfast.  Then she sent us home with a can and we love making them.  Jason's not much of a hot cereal eater but now whenever I'm cooking oatmeal he asks if it's regular oats or steel cut oats.  Our #10 can came from Honeyville Farms but just the other day at Walmart I saw steel cut oats next to the regular oats. 

1 T. butter
1 cup Steel Cut Oats
1 cup milk
3 cups water
3 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oats and toast while stirring for approximately 3 minutes. Be careful not to over brown. Add milk, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer and cover. Turn heat down to low and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve oats with brown sugar, raisins, chopped walnuts, and milk.


This is Nana's Granola recipe and I've eaten it several times at her house and it's been in the family cookbook for years but I'd never made it myself until 2 months ago and 3 double batches later I'm still loving it! My favorite is eating as cereal with milk poured over the top but it's also great over yogurt, mixed with hot wheat cereal, by the handfuls, or any other way you can think to eat it.  Altogether it's just plain delicious.

4 c. regular rolled oats
4 c. quick rolled oats
2 c. fresh ground wheat flour or wheat germ
2 c. coconut (shredded coconut or I like to use the Philippine brand of Dried young coconut from Costco and chop it)
2 c. slivered almonds
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

1/2 c. butter
1 c. honey
1 c. brown sugar
4 T. molasses

Mix: Dry ingredients in a large bowl. Bring wet ingredients to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Pour wet into dry being sure to stir in well.  Place a thin layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  Granola will be crunchy when cool and dry.

*We double this recipe and store the granola in gallon plastic bags in the freezer.

Apple Cider Caramels

I grew up making lots of caramels; seemed to become a Sunday thing. Most of the time the caramels never made it to the wrapping stage. No one could to wait until they were completely cooled before cutting into the gooey pan of yumminess! I came across this adaptation on Our Best Bites and it's a great change to regular caramels, especially in the fall.

2 cup high-quality apple cider
1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream, divided
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup real butter, cubed

Pour cider into a medium saucepan and boil on high for about 20 minutes or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 c. Keep an eye on might try to run away. Set aside to cool.

Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave about 1" hanging over the edges for easy removal. Coat with a bit of vegetable oil and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine 2/3 c. cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and reduced apple cider. Set aside.

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/3 c. whipping cream + enough water to reach the 1/2 c. line on the measuring cup, and corn syrup. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Insert the candy thermometer and simmer until the syrup reaches 234 degrees.

Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Add the cubed butter and stir until the cream and butter are fully incorporated. Return the pan to heat and re-insert the candy thermometer. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees.

Remove from heat and pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let the mixture cool completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Cut the caramels into 1/2″ squares and wrap each caramel in wax paper. Store in an airtight container or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (I like to store mine in the freezer and pull out one for a quick treat).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Horseradish Dipping Sauce

This horseradish sauce is such a wonderful addition to many dishes. We especially like to serve it over roasted new potatoes.

1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. horseradish
1 T. dried chopped chives

Mix ingredients together and serve with beef and/or potatoes.  Add more or less horseradish depending on your taste.  I use extra hot horseradish. YUM!

Pumpkin Spice Donuts

I'm always on the hunt for good recipes I can make for an after school snack. My son comes home starving every day and it's always better for my sanity if I have something ready and waiting for him. He loves donuts and fall is in the air so this was a perfect treat to make. I found this recipe at The Blue Eyed Bakers.

1-3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk

For Coating:
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1-2 T. cinnamon

Preheat oven 350 F.  Butter a donut pan and set aside. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the mixture and stir until just combined, careful not to over mix.

Using a pastry bag or a steady hand and a spoon, fill each donut cup with the batter.  The donut cups should be fairly full, but not overflowing. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until donuts spring back when gently pressed (if you're using a larger donut pan, allow them to bake for 12-15 minutes).  Turn donuts out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes.

While the donuts are cooling, melt butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another.  When donuts are still hot (but not too hot to touch), quickly dip each donut in melted butter, then coat in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Serve immediately.

*Note: If you're not going to serve the donuts immediately, you can bake them up to a day in advance and store them in an airtight container.  Do not coat them in the butter/cinnamon-sugar mixture until just before serving or they may get soggy.

**Makes 12 regular donuts or 24 mini donuts (depending on what size donut pan you have)

Monday, August 27, 2012


These crepes are so delicious and fun to make for any occasion.

1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. sugar, if dessert crepe
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
4 eggs
3 T. butter, melted and slightly cooled

Combine all ingredients in blender except butter.  Blend 15 seconds, scrape sides, start blender again. Add butter, blend 1 minute.

Spray crepe pan with cooking spray every couple of crepes.

Makes 8 crepes.

Filling suggestions: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, powdered sugar

Pani Popo Sweet Rolls

We recently cooked a Hawaiian luau dinner at our family reunion. These rolls turned out so yummy.   Hope you enjoy!

Rhodes Rolls, 18 ct.
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar (add more sugar if you like it sweeter)

Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay out 18 rolls. Cover with plastic wrap also sprayed with cooking spray so rolls won't stick. Let rise according to directions on package (approx. 4-5 hours).

Mix coconut milk with sugar and pour around the rolls into the pan. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until rolls are done.

Swedish Cucumber Salad

This salad is so refreshing and easy to make. I love using cucumbers and parsley straight out of the garden in the summer time.

2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup vinegar (I've been using the Nakano brand of vinegar that is infused with roasted garlic but regular vinegar is good also)
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
pepper to taste

Mix the salt, sugar and vinegar together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

KFC Cole Slaw

This recipe came from Top Secret Recipes. It's not 100% KFC but it's a REALLY GOOD slaw recipe. 

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
2-1/2 T. lemon juice
1-1/2 T. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 head finely chopped cabbage
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
2 T. minced onion
(*I just used the prepackaged chopped cabbage mix that is found in the lettuce section at the grocery store)

Be sure cabbage and carrots are chopped up into very fine pieces.  Combine the mayonnaise, sugar, milk, buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the cabbage, carrots, and onion. Mix well.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serves 10-12

Oriental Chicken Salad

This is my husband's favorite salad.  He'll eat it any day of the week!

1 head cabbage, chopped
2 bunches green onions, chopped
2 packages Ramen Noodles, chicken flavored, crumbled
4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced (cook chicken in Teriyaki or soy sauce)

6 oz. almonds, slivered or sliced
3 T. sesame seeds
1/4 cup sugar

2 packages Ramen Noodle seasoning
1/2 cup oil
2 T. sugar
3 T. vinegar

Combine salad ingredients into a large bowl.  In a frying pan on medium heat, stir and cook almonds, sesame seeds and 1/4 c. sugar until caramelized.  Combine ingredients for sauce in a separate bowl. Pour over salad and chill for 30 minutes. (*If your head of cabbage is large, you may want to use just half of the cabbage or double the sauce).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

JELLO Popcorn

This is such a great idea for parties. There's so many flavors of JELLO that you'll always have a color to match your theme. In this picture we used watermelon, pineapple, grape and lime. Sooo delicious and your friends will keep coming back for another handful.

8 cups popped popcorn
1/4 cup butter
3 T. light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1- 3.5oz box jello, any flavor (not the sugar free kind)

Preheat oven to 300°F.   Line a jelly roll pan with foil or parchment.  If using foil, spray lightly with non-stick spray and set aside.  Pop popcorn into an extra large mixing bowl.

Add butter and syrup to a sauce pan on medium heat.  Stir until butter is melted.  Add sugar and Jello and stir to combine.

Increase heat and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat so it just simmers and cook for about 5 minutes.

After the sugar mixture has simmered, immediately pour over popcorn in bowl.  Mix right away and keep stirring so everything gets well coated. *It is really hot so be careful! Spread mixture onto prepared pan and spread out evenly.
Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.  Remove pan from the oven and as it cools, break into pieces and enjoy!

*You can definitely eat this without baking in the will just be soft and gooey.  Definitely bake it if you’re going to pack it up for sharing, or serve it as party food so it will be light and crunchy.

Spinach Salad

This is one of our favorite salads. It has so many yummy ingredients and is very filling so we sometimes just eat this for dinner.

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup red white vinegar
1 1/2 T. red onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. poppy seeds

Combine above ingredients and then add:
1 cup oil

Stir dressing well and then add to Spinach Salad.

In our salad we like: romaine lettuce, spinach, cranberries, feta cheese, strawberries, candied almonds and bacon.

Red, White and Blue Jello Cups

These jello cups are super easy, fun and festive! Change up the flavors depending on what holiday your celebrating!

2 large boxes (6 oz.) Strawberry JELLO
2 large boxes (6 oz.) Blueberry JELLO
Fresh strawberries, chopped
Fresh blueberries
1 can of squirty Redi Whip  whipped topping

Make JELLO according to instructions on the box for JELLO Jigglers. Pour flavors of JELLO into separate pans. Add chopped strawberries to red JELLO and blueberries to blue JELLO. (I throw in about a cup of berries to each 9 inch square pan).

Let JELLO set up in the refrigerator.  Once JELLO is set, cut JELLO into small cubes. Layer into cups with squirty Redi Whip in between. Top with sprinkles! Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Spring Mix Walnut Salad

Salad Recipe - Learn How To Make A Salad With Spring Mix Lettuce

A couple months ago we went to a local restaurant and enjoyed a yummy salad that I just had to go right home and try to recreate. Here's my version that I think turned out super tasty!  

Spring Mix Lettuce
Red Onion
Granny Smith Apple
Candied Walnuts
Goat Cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp. white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Combine mayonnaise, honey, vinegar, and sugar until well blended. Gradually pour in the vegetable oil while mixing until fully incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Chocolate Creme Brulee

Whenever I go to a restaurant I always scan the dessert menu for Creme Brulee.  It's probably my favorite dessert. I've never once seen Chocolate Creme Brulee on the menu but I thought for sure if I made it at home it would be a winner. Of course, it was so good!!!

1 cup heavy cream
2 T. plus 1/3 cup sugar
2 oz. Semi-sweet Chocolate, finely chopped
2 extra large or jumbo egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Prepare some boiling water.  In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, 2 T. sugar and chocolate.  Cook, stirring occasionally until small bubbles appear around edges of pan.  Set aside.  Stir to dissolve any remaining chocolate pieces.

In a bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla until smooth and light.  Pour hot chocolate mixture into egg yolks, a little at a time, beating continuously until well blended.  Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Divide mixture among 4 oz. ramekins.

Arrange ramekins in a baking pan and place on the middle shelf of preheated oven.  Fill pan with boiling water to halfway up sides of ramekins.  Cover pan loosely with aluminum foil.  Bake until custard is just set, about 25 minutes.  Chill for 2-3 hours.

Sprinkle remaining sugar evenly over top of cooled custards.  With a cooking torch, move the flame continuously over the surface of the ramekins, in a circular motion until sugar melts and becomes golden brown and bubbly.  Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.

Watermelon Slush

Another great recipe from mom! She says, "Here's a refreshing fruit concoction that keeps for weeks in your freezer and tastes as fresh as summer. Enjoy it piled into a dessert bowl, too!"

2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1-12 oz. can frozen fruit punch concentrate
5 cups cubed watermelon (seeds removed)
1 T. lemon juice
Lemon-lime carbonated beverage, chilled
Lemon slices, optional

In a large saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil gently for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in frozen fruit punch concentrate until dissolved. In a blender, blend until smooth, half of the cubed watermelon and half of the lemon juice. Repeat with the remaining cubed watermelon. Stir the watermelon into the fruit punch mixture. Pour into two freezer containers and freeze at least 8 hours or overnight until firm. To serve, scrape the top of the frozen melon mixture with a spoon to form a slush. Spoon into cups and pour chilled lemon-lime soda over top. Garnish with lemon slices. (Makes 8-12 oz. servings)