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).