November 22, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pinwheels

My sweet mother-in-law gave me some AirBake cookies sheets for my birthday, and to my surprise, it they came with a little cookbook.  I glanced through and quickly decided that I wasn't going to make most of them, but one recipe caught my attention.  I thought about how delicious it looked and sounded for several days.  Finally, I just had to make them.  They didn't look quite as picture-perfect as the picture in the cookbook, but they tasted amazing, just the same.  These cookies take a little bit of work, but they are amazing.  Make a big batch!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pinwheels
(a WearEver Airbake recipe)

*Yields approximately 2 dozen cookies

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp water
8 Tbsp (one stick) butter, softened
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 egg

1. Combine the chocolate and water in a double boiler and melt, stirring occasionally.  Or, if you're like the me and don't own a double boiler, just put the chips in a heavy-duty ziploc bag and pop them in the microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds.  Mush the bag, then microwave again for 10 seconds at a time (mushing between each time) until the chips are just melted.  Some people say you can add a bit of water with the chocholate chips, but either way should work.  Set the chocolate aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the peanut butter and the egg, beating until smooth after each addition.  Stir in the flour mixture.
3. Remove a little more than half of the dough and set it aside.  Add the chocolate mixture to the dough that's left in the mixing bowl and stir until mixed thoroughly.
4. On a floured piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, pat each piece of dough into an 8 x 8 square.  If the dough is extremely sticky, put it in the fridge for a few minutes to help it harden up a bit.  Brush the top of the chocolate square with a bit of water, then top it with the peanutbutter square.  Roll up the doughs like you'd roll up a jelly roll, keeping the roll straight and even.  My roll looked a bit...funny.  If any of you have tips for rolling it up so it looks as perfect as it does in the Airbake picture, please leave a comment and let me know how you did it.  Don't worry if yours looks funky though, because it will taste great, regardless.
5. Wrap the dough roll in plastic wrap, and chill it in the refrigerator for several hours (or even a few days, if you're not in a hurry).  I actually let mine rest on the rounded holder that I've got for my rolling pin, so then it held its rounded shape along the bottom, instead of flattening out on one side.  If you're totally confused, this is what I'm talking about...
...except imagine that the rolling pin is actually a roll of delicious, peanut buttery cookie dough...
6. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Slice the roll into 3/16-inch slices and place them on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 14-17 minutes, or until the cookies are firm and just slightly colored.  Let them cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes before removing them to cool on a wire rack.
7. Take these bad boys to your neighborhood Christmas cookie exchange.  Yum.

November 21, 2011

Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing

Here it is!  The dressing that pulls a Cafe Rio-esque salad together and makes it taste delicious.  I must admit, the other day I had extra dressing and extra cilantro lime rice, so I just mixed them together to see what it would taste like, and it was amazing.  I'm pretty sure that anything you put this dressing on will taste amazing.  Enjoy!

(P.S. This recipe concludes my knock-off Cafe Rio recipe series.  Alas, I wish I had more recipes, but this is all I've got.  If you have any other recipes, feel free to send them my way by leaving a comment.)

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Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing
1 small bunch cilantro (stems removed)
2 large or 4 small tomatillos
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
2 cups prepared ranch dressing (if you don't have any handy, you can use this recipe for homemade ranch dressing)

1. Wash and dry cilantro leaves.  You can use a salad spinner or just pat them with paper towels.  Chop cilantro leaves into small pieces (or throw them in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds).  Roughly chop tomatillos.
2. Combine cilantro, tomatillos, garlic, lime juice, and jalapeno (if using) in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until finely pureed.  Add prepared ranch dressing and pulse until combined.  If the dressing isn't quite the right balance for you, try adding another tomatillo.
3. Chill for 1-2 hours, then shout hooray and eat your delicious salad.

November 12, 2011

Cafe Rio Enchilada Sauce

The first time I went to Cafe Rio, my sister actually pulled me aside and prepped me for how to answer the barrage of questions that about to come (and it was a good thing she did, because I couldn't understand anything they were saying they were talking so quickly).  This was what she told me to say:

"Sweet pork burrito.  Mild.  Black.  Enchilada style.  Yes."

If you've been to Cafe Rio before, you know what I'm talking about.  But of all these answers, the most important one--the one I was NOT to mess up--was "Enchilada style."  If you're going to get a burrito, and you don't get it smothered in enchilada sauce, you're going to miss out majorly.  And this, my friends, is why I was so excited to run across this recipe for enchilada sauce.  Now you can smother that burrito at home too with saucy deliciousness!  What are you waiting for?

Cafe Rio Enchilada Sauce
(from Favorite Family Recipes)

1 small (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1 (7 oz) can salsa verde
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Smother that burrito!

Note: You can refrigerate it overnight after simmering, and that way the flavors blend even more.

November 9, 2011

Sweet Pork

Here it is!  The post you've all been waiting for--sweet pork!  I've actually got two different recipes for this one, so take your pick.  Or make both, if you're feeling adventurous.  The first recipe is the one my family uses.  The second came from my awesome friend, Jenny.  With these recipes, you'll be set to make yourself some enchilada-style burritos, salads, tostadas, tacos... You name it!  When I was in college, our apartment decided to have a party and invite a bunch of people over for pork burritos.  I even went to Cafe Rio and asked them if I could a bunch of those tins that the meals come in--just to make it even more authentic.  I think they charged me for a side of pinto beans or something for them.  It was a rockin' party.  The only problem was...we didn't realize just how much people would love the food, and we totally ran out.  So if you're planning on having a knock-off Cafe Rio party, make sure you make plenty of food so it doesn't all get devoured before you get a chance to try any.  With that said, I digress.  On to the recipes!

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Cafe Rio Sweet Pork #1

5-6 lb pork roast
1 Tbsp cumin
1 cup brown sugar
20 oz bottle Dr. Pepper (caffeine free works just as great too)
12 oz bottle red taco sauce

1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Cover, and refrigerate overnight to marinate the meat.
2. In the morning, pour the contents of the bowl into a slow cooker (or at least the roast and enough marinate to cover it).  Cover, and cook on low 6-8 hours.  Remove the roast, shred, and return it to the slow cooker.  Cook for another hour on low.
3. Sweet pork heaven!

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork #2

Pork roast
1 can Coke
1 cup brown sugar
1 small (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
1 (7.75 oz) can green el pato sauce

1. Place the roast and just a bit of water in a slow cooker, and cook on low overnight.
2. In the morning, shred the roast and place it back in the slow cooker, along with all of the remaining ingredients.  Cook on low all day (or until you just can't take it anymore and you HAVE to have some sweet pork right now!).
3. Sweet pork heaven!

Pico de Gallo

This is another knock-off Cafe Rio recipe that you could use for all sorts of things.  It's simple and delicious.  It's like one step...two if you stretch it.  Have fun!

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Pico de Gallo

4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Yum.

November 7, 2011

Cilantro Lime Rice

My mom had us all over for dinner last night for knock-off Cafe Rio.  If you haven't had Cafe Rio (or Costa Vida), then get yourself to a state that has one and eat some delicious food!  We did our own little version of their pork salads.  I was in charge of bringing the rice.  I was a bit skeptical about making a knock-off recipe, but it turned out amazing.  As part of a pork salad, it's to die for, but it also makes a nice side dish for any Mexican-type meal.  If you are a poor, unfortunate soul that hasn't ever tasted Cafe Rio, make this.  Actually, everyone should make this.  I know, I know, this is only the rice, but there are more Cafe Rio-ish recipes to stay tuned!

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Cilantro Lime Rice

2 cups rice
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth also works well)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (with stems removed), snipped into small pieces

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and rice, and saute, stirring, until it starts to get golden brown.  Remove from heat, and stir in broth, water, and salt.
3. Pour the mixture into a 9x13 baking dish, and spread it all out evenly in the pan.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 1 hour.  When I made this, I was running late, so I just upped the temperature to 375 and baked it for 45-50 minutes, and it turned out just great.  
4. Meanwhile, juice your lime.  When the rice is finished baking, stir in the lime juice and cilantro.  Serve immediately (hopefully as part of your amazing sweet pork salad--recipe to come!).

November 3, 2011

Orange Rolls

This recipe comes to you straight from the lovely ladies at my church.  These orange rolls are delicious, and maybe I just haven't been around enough in the orange roll world, but I've never seen orange rolls assembled this way.  I think I actually said, "Whoa!" when I saw how they were putting them together.  And boy, were they tasty.  I ate so many of them that I actually started to feel sick.  They were amazing.  Enjoy!

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Orange Rolls

2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 pkgs yeast (or 4-1/2 tsp yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
3 eggs
7 cups flour

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
zest of one orange (just grate it on the small side of your cheese shredder)

1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp butter
Juice of one orange
Powdered sugar

1. Scald milk by heating it in a small saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan.  Don't get it so hot that it boils.  Technically, since we have pasteurized milk now, you can skip this step, but it actually breaks down the proteins in the milk, which gives you a better dough in the end. Throw your cold stick of butter into the milk.  This will melt the butter and cool the milk to the right temperature.
2. In small bowl, combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water.  Let it sit and dissolve for a moment while you mix together the sugar, salt, eggs, and flour in a large mixing bowl.  Add the yeast mixture and the milk.  Mix until well-combined, cover it with a towel and let it rise until doubled in size.
3. Make the filling by combining butter, sugar, and the zest of one orange.
4. When the dough has doubled, roll it out into a big rectangle and cover it with the filling.  Cut dough into 1-inch strips (a pizza cutter works great here).  Stack 3 strips on top of each other until you've used up all of the strips.  Now take the pizza cutter and cut each strip into 1-inch squares.  Place the squares turned on their sides into greased muffin tins (one square per muffin spot).  Cover, and let rise until doubled.  It should look something like this...

5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake rolls for 12 minutes.
6. While the rolls are baking, combine vanilla, almond extract, butter, the juice of the orange you zested, and enough powdered sugar to make it the right consistency.  This will depend a lot upon personal preference.
7. Glaze those rolls!  When your rolls come out of the oven (if you have incredibly heat-resistant fingers, which I do not), you can grab them and just dip the top of each roll into the glaze.  This will just barely coat it and leave it shiny and delicious-looking.  If you're like me and can't take the heat, just wait for them to cool and then drizzle it on.
8. Eat them now before everyone else does!
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