Saturday, February 6, 2010

Asiago Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

2 c. heavy cream (Whipping cream)
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 tablespoon Asiago cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with equal parts water
1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 (16 oz.) package bow tie pasta (used 12 oz, it seemed right)
¾ c. bacon cooked
¼ c. butter
1 c. butter (I'm not sure where this fit in, so I didn't use it)
1 c. diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. chopped green onion
1 pound grilled skinless, boneless chicken breast, diced
1 c. heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In large sauce pan over medium heat, cook 2 cups cream until just bubbling. Watch carefully, to ensure that it doesn’t boil over. Stir in bouillon and Asiago cheese. Stir with a whisk until dissolved. Add thickened. stirring constantly. Mix in the sun-dried tomatoes. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate for later use.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Place bacon in a large deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

3. Melt butter in large sauce pan over medium heat. Sauté red onion until soft and translucent. Stir in garlic and cooked bacon, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in green onions, chicken and 1 cup cream. Cook, stirring, until cream is heated through. Add Asiago cream sauce and heat through. Toss with cooked pasta until evenly coated, and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

*We might change the name of this at our house to Asiago Sun-ripened Tomato Pasta.  What's not to love with all that cream, chicken, bowties, and bacon?  However, I think fresh tomatoes would be tastey and not as expensive.  My sweetheart did requests less onion as well.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Taco Soup

1 lb. Hamburger
1 onion
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 can kidney beans
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can corn-drain some liquid
1 C. Water
2 small cans tomato sauce

Brown Hamburger and onion. Add remaining ingredients, simmer. Serve with Fritos or tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese.

*I used to 2T taco seasoning and after browning, put all the ingredients in my crock pot for a couple of hours, and enjoyed.  Easy, peasy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Black Beans--Cafe Rio Style

1 can black beans, rinsed
2 Tbs finely minced onions (or 1 Tbs dehydrated onions)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 cup tomato juice
3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil

Fry onion, garlic, cumin in olive oil. Add beans, tomato juice, cilantro and salt. Heat through.  Serves 4 to 6.

*I used cumin seed as the recipe didn't specify. Also, I substituted 1/2 cup tomato paste plus 1/2 cup water for the tomato juice. Be sure to start cooking the onion for a few minutes before adding the garlic as garlic cooks more quickly.

*These were the best black beans I ever had--they were great by themselves as well as in these burritos. To make these burritos: 1. Spray baking dish. 2.Place meat (I used leftover Cafe Rio Chicken), rice (again, leftover from another meal), and black beans in tortillas. 3. Roll tortillas and place in baking dish. 4. Pour leftover sauce strained from beans over tortillas and sprinkle with cheese. 5. Back at 350 degrees until warmed through (20 minutes). 6. Serve with salsa, lettuce, sour cream, etc. These were a definite favorite at our house, Ivan kept asking for more!

Fresh Salsa

*Tasty and good for you!
2-3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 T fresh lime juice
½ small red onion, diced (I've also made with yellow onions and my husband prefers them)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz can green chilies
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
½ t salt
¼ t dried crushed red pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowel. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Makes 2 cups.

*Love the lime and cilantro!  So good, it was hard to wait the hour for it to chill.  Tonight we are having leftover Cafe Rio chicken.  I thought I'd make some special sides so the leftovers would be exciting.  I hope I get lots of tomatoes in my garden this year--this will be a great way to eat them.  Speaking of tomatoes, they are one veggie that should never be stored in the fridge (at least before they are cut) or their flavor will deteriorate.  Here's why.  Store tomatoes at room tempature but not next to bananas.  For that matter, don't store your onions next to potatoes. 
Also, when chopping the cilantro, the leaves AND the stems can be use.  The stems are tenderly flavorful so don't throw them out. 
Finally, I'd like to introduce my new kitchen gadget, the lemon squeezer.  These citrus squeezers actually come in three colors: orange, yellow, and green; or in other words, three sizes: oranges, lemons, and limes.  I saw online that all 3 could be purchased for $26, so I went to Wal-Mart and bought the middle size for less than $5.  It worked great to squeeze the lime, though after the first press, I slit the sides so the lime would lie flatter and squeeze more juice.  If you use a lot of citrus juice, I recommend the investment.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Café Rio style chicken

3 lb boneless, skinless chicken breats
½ bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic

Cook in crock pot for about 4 - 5 hours on low. Shred chicken with a fork when done.

From Amanda J.

*I made this with Italian Dressing Mix.  We ate it like chicken tacos with fried tortillas, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream with mangos on the side--can't go wrong with those ingredients so of course we enjoyed it.  I don't think it was quite like Cafe Rio, but then I didn't use the real dressing either. 

*Burrito variation.

Italian Dressing Mix


1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt


1. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic salt, onion powder, sugar, oregano, pepper, thyme, basil, parsley, celery salt and regular salt. Store in a tightly sealed container.
2. To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/4 white vinegar, 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix (makes 1 cup of dressing).

Adapted from allrecipes.
*I used this to make Cafe Rio Chicken. 
To make the dressing zesty, I added a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sweet Cinnamon Biscuits

I had made these all wrong.  Here is a link to do it the right way from Grandma's Kitchen:

2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1 t. salt
¾ cup sugar
¼ t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
8 T butter
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk, optional

Combine all dry ingredients, then oil and buttermilk. Knead dough on floured surface. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough out and prepare just like cinnamon rolls. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Pour milk over top if your heart so desires.

*"Mmmmm...," Jacob likes these.  Much easier than regular sweet rolls, though not a replacement.  I mixed the dry ingredients, cut in the cold butter, then added the wet ingredients (in place of buttermilk, I used 3/4 cup regular milk with 3/4 T of white vinegar mixed in, let set for 5 min).  The dough was very wet and I probably mixed in another 1 cup plus of flour while kneading.  I did roll the dough out (as if making cinnamon rolls), spread some melted margarine on it and sprinkled brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins on top (though less than I normally do with regular cinnamon rolls).  The biscuits were moist and flakey and very good with cold milk.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Shrimp Pasta

½ c Balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 lb shrimp, peeled, divined
2 c chopped fresh tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes, or substitute with 14.5 oz can untrained diced tomatoes)
½ c fresh basil leaven, chopped, divided
4 oz cream cheese, cut up
¾ lb fettuccine, cooked, drained
¼ c shredded parmesan, Romano, and Asiago Cheeses

1. Pour dressing over shrimp in small bowl; refrigerate 20 min to marinate. Remove shrimp from marinade; discard marinade.

2. Heat large skillet on medium heat; add shrimp. Cook 3 min or until shrimp turn pink, stirring frequently. Remove from skillet using slotted spoon; cover to keep warm. Set aside.

3. Add tomatoes and half of the basil to same skillet; cook and stir 3 min. Stir in cream cheese until well blended. Add shrimp; cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.

4. Place hot fettuccine on large serving platter. Top with the shrimp sauce. Sprinkle with remaining basil and the shredded cheese.

Serves 6.

*This is always a pleaser at my house.  Tonight I made it with some improvising and it still turned out very good (though if it is the season, garden tomatoes and basil just can't be beat).  I used 10 ounces of frozen shrimp and marinated it in homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  In place of the fresh basil, I used about 2 T of dried basil and the canned tomatoes.  I was a little short on cream cheese so I added about 1/2 cup whipping cream in its place.  Then I let it simmer to reduce the sauce before adding the shrimp back.  To top it off, just plain parmesan cheese.  It was gobbled up quick!

French Baguettes

Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 25 Min
Ready In: 1 Hr 50 Min
12 Servings 
From allrecipes

Original Recipe Yield 2 baguettes

1 cup water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

1. Place 1 cup water, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast into bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer. Select Dough cycle, and press Start.

2. When the cycle has completed, place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

3. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16x12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8x12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water; brush over tops of loaves.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
*This recipe came with high reviews.  I had misread it though and added the egg yoke with the other ingredients (and I think I can cook!  Ha ha!).  After 18 minutes, the baguettes were done.  Fortunately for me it turned out very tasty.  We had it for our FHE treat.  Jeff and the kids had the warm bread with butter and I ate it with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Prep Time: 10 min
Serves 6
From allrecipes


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 clove crushed garlic
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 pinch salt
1 T honey or sugar
ground black pepper to taste


1.  In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, garlic, and mustard powder. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir in minced fresh herbs if desired.
*I very much enjoyed this.  I used half of it as a marinade in Shrimp Pasta and some of the remainder as a dip for French Baguettes.  I only had regular balsamic vinegar (not white) and regular mustard.

Pictured with white balsamic vinegar and ground mustard.  Beautiful.