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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Copycat Cafe Rio Tortilla Strips

It's the little things that really make the cafe rio salad, and in my opinion it's the tortilla strips, and i'm sure my kids would agree with me that they are a necessity.  These are super easy to make and they just add a great touch to the whole cafe rio salad.

10-12 corn tortillas
oil for frying
Kosher salt

Cut tortillas into strips using a pizza cutter. You can cut 2-3 at a time pretty easily. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Place strips into hot oil and fry until they become crispy. When nice and crispy, remove from oil and place on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt after each batch.

Copycat Cafe Rio Black Beans

So for my black beans I usually use canned black beans, but since I got my instapot I have been doing more dry beans since it makes it so quick to prepare dry beans to fully cooked.  These are amazing when paired with the rest of our Cafe Rio copycat recipes.  Give them all a try, you won't be disappointed.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
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.

If you care cooking your beans this is how I do it in the instapot or other cooking method.  I saute the garlic with olive oil in the bottom of my instapot while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.  I soak the beans overnight or at least for an hour or so that morning.  Then add the black beans, cumin, tomato juice, salt and 2 quarts of chicken stock to your instapot, close it and pressure cook them for 40 minutes.  For firmer beans use the quick release, valve on pressure cooker for softer beans let them gradually release the steam.  

Copycat Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa

Living in Utah we have a restaurant called Cafe Rio, and if you have never eaten there, you are missing out.  They are a fresh mexican restaurant that serves heavenly food.  This is the sweet pork recipe that I have found that is the closest to the real thing.  This recipe is heaven!! The meat freezes well, and thaws out tasting exactly the same, so don't be worried if you want to cook up a huge pork roast, but don't have an army to feed it to.  It easily can make more of less.  Try it... you won't be sorry you did.

2 -3 pound pork roast
3 cans Dr. Pepper (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can diced green chilies
3/4 (10oz) can red enchilada sauce (add spicy is you want a little kick to it)
1 c. brown sugar

  • Put the pork in a heavy duty ziploc bag to marinade. Add about 1 1/2 cans of Dr. Pepper and about 1/4 c. of brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours or overnight.
  • Drain marinade. Place pork, 1/2 can of Dr. Pepper, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours, or on low for 8 hours, or until the pork falls apart and shred easily. Remove pork from crock pot and drain any remaining liquid left in the crockpot. Shred the pork.
  • In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can Dr. Peppe, green 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 Dr. pepper till it reaches the consistency of a runny enchilada sauce.  It will thin out a little when it cooks. 
  • Place the shredded pork and the sauce in crockpot and cook on low for 2 hours. 
  • Serve either with a salad, or wrapped in a tortilla with our copy cat Cafe Rio black bean and cilantro lime rice, or make it into a quesadilla.  Yummy!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Two plus Two's

Growing up my mom would often make this recipe for us, and it's safe to say that they disappeared almost as quickly as they appeared.  The name comes from the fact that all of the ingredients are done in 2's.  They are a yummy soft oatmeal bar with delicious chocolate frosting.  They are a tried and true family favorite for me, hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

2 sticks of butter (1 cup total)
2 cups of brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups of flour
2 cups of oatmeal

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and beat well, then add the flour until well mixed, then add the oatmeal and mix until well incorporated.  Press mixture into a greased 9x13 pan.  Place pan in pre-heated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  

2 sticks Butter, Softened
4 cups Powdered Sugar
3/4 cups Cocoa Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Heavy Cream (more To Taste)

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter until totally soft and smooth. Sift together the powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt, then add gradually to the mixer, scraping the sides as you go. (When combined, mixture will be very thick/crumbly.) Drizzle in cream and whip on high until smooth, scraping the sides as you go. 

Once bars are completely cooled, frost with chocolate frosting.  Then cut and enjoy their yummy goodness!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pork Carnitas/Chile Verde

We had a last minute dinner with friends a few months ago on a Sunday.  We were trying to decide what to eat with the ingredients we had on hand.  My friend Connie raved about her recipe for pork Carnitas, and so we tried them out.  I will never be satisfied with another recipe for carnitas.  This recipe has ruined me for good.  It's so simple, yet amazing!!  I have since made these multiple times and can truthfully say these are a favorite!  Hope you enjoy them!

2lbs boneless pork shoulder or sirloin roast
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Freshly grond pepper
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion chopped or 1 tsp. onion powder
4 cloves of fresh garlic minced, or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 4oz can diced green chiles
1 diced jalapeno (Optional)
1 orange cut in half

In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and olive oil.  rub liberally into roast.  Place roast in slow cooker.  Top with onion and garlic.  Add can of green chiles and jalapeno to the top of the roast.  Squeeze oranges over top of roast, then add both halves of the orange to the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Shred the roast*, then add meat back into sauce.  Remove orange halves and once again squeeze the juice from the orange.  Discard the orange halves.  Serve with tortillas, rice, beans and your favorite fixins. I recommend queso fresco, fresh salsa, cilantro and some fresh lime juice

*If you like your carnitas dry you can fry the meat in a frying pan with oil after it's cooked and shredded and discard the sauce.  However I would tell you that the sauce is what makes these so amazing and it would be a sin to discard it!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Herb Rubbed Pork Roast

So, my mother in law introduced me to this amazing recipe.  We have had it at her home several times and we've made it at our house many, many, many times.  The original recipe came from Mary over at BarefeetIntheKitchen.  She uses the rub on a pork sirloin tip roast, which is amazing!  I have round that it is also wonderful on chicken, steak, beef roasts, shrimp, potatoes, and pretty much anything you would grill, or cook in your oven.  It's definitely a keeper! Hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Herb Rubbed Pork Roast

1.5 - 2 lb sirloin tip pork roast
1 1/4 tablespoons smoked paprika
1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt  (Less if you want it less Salty)
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

I like to brown my roasts before applying the rub.  Heat a large skillet with a small amount of olive oil on high heat, when pan is hot add roast and rotate roast until you get a nice browned crust evenly over entire roast.  Then remove from pan and allow to rest/cool slightly. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and whisk or stir well to combine. Allow this mixture to rest for 15 minutes. It will become a bit thicker and turn into a paste-like consistency. (you can also do a dry rub and without adding the oil)

Line a small baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack over it.  Rub the spice mixture all over the roast, completely covering all sides with spices.

Roast 1 - 1.5 hours in the preheated oven in a roasting pan, or a large baking pan covered with tin foil. Remove from the oven when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Let the roast rest 15 minutes before slicing. 

Be careful not to overcook the meat as it will become dry and less juicy.