Monday, January 28, 2013

Copycat Panda Express Chow Mein

You have no idea how long I had been wanting to find a recipe for these noodles.  

I was thrilled to find this recipe and to learn that it wasn't going to be that hard to make them.

The hardest part of this dish was trying to find the Yakisoba noodles (which really wasn't that hard).  I couldn't find them at Walmart and I ended up asking the produce guy at my other local grocery store and he knew exactly what they were.  He said they are a new item that they carry.  Hopefully, you won't have a hard time finding them.

I thought this Chow Mein tasted almost identical to Panda's, which means it is delicious!  Panda's doesn't have a ton of flavor, but part of what makes it so good is the combination of all the different textures from the slight crunch of the celery and cabbage to the soft noodles.  

These are great and I will make them again!
Copycat Panda Express Chow Mein
1/4 c. soy sauce 
1 Tbl. brown sugar
1-2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbl. vegetable oil
around 15 oz. Yakisoba noodles 
   (found in the refrigerated part of the produce 
   section of the grocery store)
2/3 c. celery, chopped diagonally
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 c. (heaping) cabbage, chopped

In a small bowl combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and black pepper; set aside.  Remove noodles from packages and discard the included flavoring packets.  Rinse noodles well, drain, and set aside.  Heat oil in a large wok or skillet.  Add celery and onion and saute for several minutes until onions become soft and transparent.  Add cabbage and saute another few minutes until soft.  Add noodles and soy sauce mixture and heat for an additional 2-3 minutes or until noodles are heated through.  Serve immediately.  Serves: 4

Jenn's Notes:  It might seem like a lot of cabbage when you add it to the pan, but it cooks down a ton and ends up being perfect.  I used Lite Soy Sauce, which has 50% less sodium than regular.   Easy and delicious.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Banana Cinnamon Roll Muffins with Cream Cheese Icing

Brace yourself for what you are about to see.

This could quite possibly be the best thing that ever happened to a banana muffin.  Not only is it an amazing idea by adding a cinnamon and sugar swirl, but adding Cream Cheese Icing too.  Oh man, divine.
The combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch will produce a similar product as when using cake flour.  Cornstarch is also used in these Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies and these Chewy Red Velvet Cookies and I believe that is what helps them be chewy (it's their secret ingredient).  Who knew you could use cornstarch for more than just a thickening agent.  

These muffins are delicious and they are not overly sweet.  They taste great for several days and are the perfect mid-day snack at work!

You might also like:
Banana Cake Roll with Cheesecake Filling
Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Vanilla Frosting
Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes
Banana Streusel Bundt Cake
Banana Cinnamon Roll Muffins
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

2 eggs
1/4 c. canola oil
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbl. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 Tbl. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Cream Cheese Icing
2 oz. cream cheese, softened 
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 Tbl. milk, plus more if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and/or line muffin tin; set aside.  Whisk together eggs, oil, sugar and banana until well blended.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full.  Combine all topping ingredients and divide between the muffin cups.  Use a toothpick and swirl slightly.  Bake for 22-24 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and carefully remove from pan.  Cool completely and drizzle with cream cheese icing.   Yield: 12 muffins.  Refrigerate any leftover muffins.    

For the icing: Microwave the cream cheese for 10-15 seconds or until very soft.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and stir together until smooth and creamy.  Add enough milk, as needed, to reach desired consistency to drizzle over muffins.  

Jenn's Notes: I prefer to bring my muffins to room temperature before eating.  They do not become dry after being refrigerated.  Delicious. 

Banana version from: Eat Cake For Dinner, slightly adapted from: The Teenage Taste

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hashbrown Pork Chop Casserole

We absolutely loved this pork chop casserole.

I made it, ate it and already wanted to make it again.

Using cream of celery soup and a mixture of cheeses switched things up from the usual cheesy potato recipe and it didn't call for any butter.  Usually cheesy potatoes call for butter, but I think I preferred it this way.  I say . . . If you didn't miss it, then why add all the extra fat and calories? 

I actually really like pork chops, but I only have a few recipes that call for them.  I need to expand that list. 

 I'm always up for suggestions if anyone has any.

Hashbrown Pork Chop Casserole

1 Tbl. vegetable oil
5 pork chops
salt and pepper
1 c. sour cream (I used light)
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of celery soup 
1/2 c. milk
1 (32 oz.) pkg. frozen hashbrowns, thawed
1/2  c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Season the pork chops with desired seasonings (we used seasoned salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and cajun seasoning).  Add pork chops to skillet and brown on both sides.  You just want to sear the outside, but don't want to cook them all the way through.  Meanwhile, place thawed hashbrowns in a large 9x13-inch baking dish; season with salt and pepper.  Combine sour cream, cream of celery soup, milk and shredded cheeses and pour over hashbrowns.  Stir to combine.  Top potatoes with seared pork chops.  Bake, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes or until heated through and pork chops are fully cooked.  Serves: 5.

Jenn's Notes: To thaw my hashbrowns, I microwaved them for 2-3 minutes until they were soft.  You could also add some chopped onion and/or bell pepper to the potatoes if you would like.   I used boneless pork chops.  This casserole was delicious.   

adapted from: Gooseberry Patch, Recipe submitted by: Shirley Flanagan

Monday, January 21, 2013

Red Velvet Crinkle Sandwiches

Oh My GOSH! What a stunning cookie.  The bright red cookie with white powdered sugar spots is sure to catch your eye.  These cookies are amazing and great on their own, but you know me, I gotta involve frosting where I can.  

You can use this "crinkle" cookie technique with any flavor of cake mix, but with Valentine's Day just around the corner, I of course, went with Red Velvet. 
Make these for your sweetie on Valentine's Day.  The cookie is soft and chewy with just enough sweetness. 
Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
1 box red velvet cake mix
6 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted 
2 eggs
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine cake mix, melted butter and eggs and beat until combined.  Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Roll dough into roughly 1-inch balls and roll in powdered sugar.  Place on greased baking sheet.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are set.  

Cream Cheese Filling
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 Tbl. milk, plus more if needed

Beat butter and cream cheese until creamy.  Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, salt and milk and beat until combined.  If mixture is too thick, add a little extra milk.  Spread between cooled cookies.  

Jenn's Notes: I got 30 cookies out of one batch (15 sandwiches).  The cookies will look slightly underdone, but set up just fine.  Try not to overbake them.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Diana's Cheeseball - My Favorite

This is my absolute FAVORITE cheeseball.  This is the recipe that got me hooked on cheeseballs.  Not the store bought kind that I am not even sure what they are made out of, but the good homemade kind.  This recipe comes from my beautiful boss, Diana.  She makes it for us every once-in-a-while for special occasions.   

I made it for New Year's Eve and it was a huge hit.  With "The Big Game" coming up, everyone needs some good appetizers to serve, this one is perfect.    

Diana's Cheeseball
adapted from: Diana J.
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c. green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/3 c. dried minced onion
1 Tbl. Miracle Whip
3/4 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. Accent
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. vinegar
1/2 jar (3 Tbl.) Pimento cheese spread
sliced almonds, for rolling
crackers, for serving

Combine all ingredients (except almonds and crackers) and stir together until well blended.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Pour sliced almonds onto a plate.  Remove cheeseball from fridge and form into a ball and roll in sliced almonds.  Serve with desired crackers.  

Jenn's Notes: After I mix everything together, I leave on the counter for 20 minutes and stir several times to ensure the dried onions get fully hydrated and don't end up crunchy.  Then, I refrigerate until firm and easy to roll into a ball.      

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kelsey's Orange Rolls from Rapid Rise Roll Dough

These rolls turned out great.  The frosting is amazing and I could eat it by the spoonful.  I used this Rapid Rise Roll Dough that I posted the other day and they came together in no time.  Such a fast and easy orange roll that turned out so good.  The roll is soft and flaky and chewy and has an amazing orange flavor.  

I decided the secret to a good orange frosting is adding the orange zest.  That zest sure kicks up the flavor. 

Make these this weekend! 
Kelsey's Orange Rolls
adapted from: Kelsey Nixon
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

Rapid Rise Dough
3 (.25 oz.) packets active dry yeast (about 2 Tbl. + 1 tsp.)
1 3/4 c. warm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. melted butter, plus more for brushing
2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, beaten
4-6 c. all-purpose flour, plus more if needed

Orange Filling
3/4 c. sugar
zest of 1/2 an orange
2 Tbl. fresh orange juice (1/2 an orange)
4 Tbl. unsalted butter, softened

Orange Frosting
2 c. powdered sugar
4 Tbl. unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbl. fresh orange juice (1/2 an orange)
zest of 1/2 an orange

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Let it activate for 5 minutes until bubbly.  If it does not get bubbly, start over.  Stir in the honey.  On low speed, add 1/2 cup of melted butter, salt and eggs and mix until well incorporated.  Slowly add the flour, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.  Add more flour if it is too sticky.  Cover bowl with a towel and allow to rise approximately 20 minutes or until doubled.  Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface to a 15x11'' rectangle.  

For the filling: combine sugar, orange zest and orange juice and mix until incorporated.  Spread softened butter over dough and top with orange filling mixture, leaving a 1/2'' border around the edge.  Starting with the long side, roll up as tightly as possible.  Pinch seam to seal.  Cut into 18 slices, about 1/2'' thick.  Place in 2 (9x13-inch) greased pans and cover with a kitchen towel.  Allow to rise about 20 minutes or until doubled in size.  

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until tops are golden, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.  Combine all frosting ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy.  Either spread over the warm rolls for an icing or spread on cooled rolls for a frosting.  Yield: 18 rolls.  

Jenn's Notes: I made half a batch of the rapid rise dough and used 3 cups of flour total.  I made some into regular rolls and the rest into orange rolls.  I cut my orange rolls thicker than 1/2'', because I wanted big rolls.  I baked for 20 minutes and allowed them to cool completely before I added the frosting.  These are delicious.   

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kelsey's Rapid Rise Rolls

The flavor of these rolls is outstanding.  The outside was perfectly chewy and the inside was so soft and delicate.  I was wishing I would have made the entire recipe rather than cutting it in half, because I wanted all of these rolls to MYSELF!  Sorry family . . . you don't get bread with your dinner tonight :) 
No . . . I shared.  I had to make sure everyone else thought they were as good as I did.  It was a unanimous decision that these were delicious.  These are a must to try.

P.S.  Just incase you are wondering, I used a small skillet since I made a small batch and that is why there are only seven rolls in the pics.  A regular-size skillet should not have any problem fitting 12 rolls.

Kelsey's Rapid Rise Rolls
3 (.25 oz.) packets active dry yeast (about 2 Tbl. + 1 tsp.)
1 3/4 c. warm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. melted butter, plus more for brushing
2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, beaten
4-6 c. all-purpose flour, plus more if needed

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Let it activate for 5 minutes or until bubbly.  If it does not get bubbly, start over.  Stir in the honey.  On low speed, add 1/2 cup of melted butter, salt and eggs and mix until well incorporated.  Slowly add the flour, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.  Add more flour if it is too sticky.  Portion the dough into 24 even servings.  Form the rolls into desired shape and place into two greased cast iron skillets or on a baking sheet spaced evenly apart.  Set aside, cover with a towel and allow to rise approximately 20 minutes or until doubled in size.  Brush the rolls with melted butter.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter.  Yield: 24 rolls.

Jenn's Notes: I made half a batch and used 3 cups of flour total.  I made some into regular rolls and the rest into orange rolls.  I used my kitchen scale and made each roll 2 ounces and formed them into round balls.  Mine took longer than 20 minutes to rise, but my house was fairly chilly.  I baked for 25 minutes, but probably could have went 23-24 minutes.  I thought these rolls were delicious!    

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mini Breakfast Pizzas

I almost didn't take a picture of this dish.  Last minute, I decided to snap a few shots.  BOY am I glad I did, so I could share it with all of you.  I LOVED these mini pizzas and they were SO SIMPLE to make.
What a genius idea using biscuits as the crust.  They were so easy to roll out and turned out buttery and flaky and soft and chewy!

If your family has a weekly pizza night, this would be such a fun twist on that.  I always love dishes that are easy to customize per each family members taste and everyone can be happy.  We decided to go the Mexican flavor route and it was AHH-MAZING!
Mini Breakfast Pizzas
This version from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
Inspired by: Inspired By Charm
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

4 Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layers Butter Tastin' Biscuits*
5 large eggs
1/2 lb. breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
3/4 c. Pepper Jack or Monterey cheese, shredded
4 Tbl. Feta cheese
green salsa
chopped cilantro

*These biscuits come in a 16.3 oz can with 8 biscuits.  The recipe above is only for 4, so I just baked the remaining biscuits plain and served them with honey for dessert.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a floured surface, roll out biscuits into a 5-inch circle.  Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Meanwhile, scramble eggs until almost done.  You will want them to still be moist and slightly underdone so they don't get overcooked and rubbery in the oven.  Remove biscuit crusts from oven and divide scrambled eggs between the four crusts.  Top each with cooked sausage, Feta cheese and grated Pepper Jack or Monterey.  Return to oven for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and drizzle with green salsa and garnish with chopped cilantro.  Slice and serve.  Serves: 2-4 people.

Other variations:
-Combine 2 Tbl. dijon and 4 Tbl. mayo for a sauce
-Use Bacon instead of sausage
-Ham and Swiss cheese
-Ham, chopped green pepper and Cheddar cheese
-Cheese and Veggies only (onions, peppers, tomatoes)
-Any type of cheese (Monterey, Cheddar, Mozzarella)

Jenn's Notes: These were absolutely delicious.  I made the version that I typed above, but I think any variation would be delicious.   

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cajun Chicken Alfredo with Guiltless Alfredo Sauce

Here is another prime example of how this Super Easy Guiltless Alfredo Sauce is so versatile and is a recipe that every single cook needs to have in their reportoire.  I have made regular Alfredo, Tomato Alfredo Pasta, Easier Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole and now this Cajun Alfredo all using the same base sauce recipe.  I even have another recipe to share in the next few weeks.  I just love it and you can't go wrong with it.  Not to mention, it seriously can be made in a matter of minutes.    

This entire meal is super fast and simple.  Perfect for a weeknight.  The longest part of this dish is waiting for the pasta to cook.  

Cajun Chicken Alfredo Pasta
idea adapted from: Semi Homemade Mom
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

3 boneless chicken breasts
3 1/2 Tbl. cajun spice, divided
1 c. diced red & green bell peppers, opt.
16 oz. fettuccini, cooked according to pkg. directions

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce
adapted from: Our Best Bites
2 c. low-fat milk
4 oz. light cream cheese (or fat free)
2 Tbl. flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbl. butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

Rub 3 Tablespoons of the cajun spice onto both sides of chicken breasts (one Tablespoon each).  Grill on the George Foreman.  In a blender, blend the milk, cream cheese, flour and salt until smooth; set aside.  In a large saucepan, melt butter on medium heat and add the peppers, saute a few minutes until tender.  Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning.  Add the milk mixture to the pan.  Stir constantly for a few minutes until it comes to a simmer.  Continue simmering until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.  This should only take a few minutes.  Once sauce has thickened, turn heat down to low.  Add the remaining 1/2 Tablespoon of cajun spice and the Parmesan cheese.  Season with pepper to taste.  When chicken is done, slice into strips or cut into cubes.  Serve sauce over noodles and top with cooked chicken.  Serves 3-4  

Jenn's Notes:  I forgot to add the red and green peppers to mine, but I do think it would be delicious with them.  The chicken was delicious.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Almond Poppy Seed Bread with Orange Glaze

We love this bread!  It has one of my favorite flavor combos - orange and almond.  All you have to do is mention a recipe with orange and almond in it and I will make it!  Do you have any :)  I've had this recipe forever and I'm pretty sure everyone has their own version of it.  I have no idea where it originated from, but I would love to find out if anyone knows?  

This time, I decided to try some applesauce in place of the oil, you know, to be healthier for the new year.  It turned out amazing.  I think I even like it better that way.  It is still soft and moist and stays that way for several days.  I will be making it this way from now on.
Almond Poppy Seed Bread with Orange Glaze
3 eggs
1 c. + 2 Tbl. vegetable oil
   (or half applesauce and half oil)
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. butter flavoring
3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 Tbl. poppy seeds

1 - 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
a few Tbl. fresh orange juice
grated zest of one orange, opt.
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat eggs, oil and sugar until well blended.  Add the vanilla extract, almond extract and butter flavoring.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.  Add flour mixture alternately with the milk to the batter and mix until just combined.  Stir in the poppy seeds.  Divide batter evenly between two, well-greased, 9x5-inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow bread to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then invert to wire rack and cool completely.  Combine all glaze ingredients, adding enough orange juice to reach desired consistency.  You can either drizzle over the loaves while the bread is still warm or allow the bread to cool and add the glaze.  Yield: 2 loaves.  

Jenn's Notes: For the oil, I use 1/2 cup of applesauce and 1/2 cup + 2 Tbl. of oil and I prefer it that way.  My loaf usually takes 1 hour and 10 minutes or so to bake.  I like to add my glaze when the bread is completely cool, that way, it stays on top as a glaze and doesn't just get absorbed into the bread.     

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Copycat Olive Garden Chicken and Potato Florentine Soup

The past few days have been so cold.  I can't even handle going outside.  Wouldn't an automatic remote start be nice to have in your car?  Heat it up a few minutes before you have to leave.  Then, you can sprint from your house to the car and only have to be cold for a few seconds and the icy windows would be melted enough that you can just turn on your windshield wipers and not have to scrape them.  

For cold days like this, all I want is some warm and cozy soup.  
I have only had this soup at Olive Garden once and I LOVED it.  After I tried it, I immediately came home and searched for a copycat recipe with no such luck.  At the time, it was a new menu item, so I figured no one had a chance to duplicate it yet.  

I never forgot about it.

Then, I found this copycat recipe the other day.    

It turned out better than I remembered it being, which is telling you something, because I remember it being way good, but this copycat version is WAY WAY Good!  There might be just a few differences (like lots of cream cheese), but I believe it is for the better!    

It is totally restaurant quality and the cream cheese really takes it up to another level.  I adjusted the measurements and ingredients from the original recipe with what I knew I would like and I loved every single thing about it and I would make it the exact same way next time. 

Copycat Olive Garden Chicken & Potato Florentine Soup
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 (14.5 oz.) cans low-sodium chicken broth
3 tsp. Italian seasoning, divided
1 Tbl. + 2 tsp. dried minced onion, divided
2 tsp. paprika, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with juice
4 med. carrots, finely diced
6 red potatoes, unpeeled, diced
2 c. water
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained
3-4 c. fresh spinach, chopped
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 1/2 - 2 c. Mozzarella cheese, grated

Add chicken breasts, chicken broth, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 Tablespoon dried minced onion, 1 teaspoon paprika, salt, pepper, diced tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and water to a large saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer until the chicken is cooked through (registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer) and the veggies are tender.  Remove chicken breasts, shred and add back to the pot.  Add the beans and heat on low for 30 minutes.  Add the fresh chopped spinach and cook for 5 more minutes.  If soup is too thick for your liking, add a little extra water (I prefer mine super thick and chunky).  Taste and add the remaining 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 2 teaspoons dried minced onion and 1 teaspoon paprika, if needed.  Stir in the cream cheese until completely combined.  Last, add the grated Mozzarella and stir until combined.  Serve with crusty bread.  Serves: 6-8

Jenn's Notes: I typed the ingredients above with the measurements that I used.  I actually started my soup out in the slow cooker.  I added everything except the spinach, cream cheese and Mozzarella to the slow cooker and I cooked on low for four hours.  My chicken was done, but the vegetables were still crunchy.  So, I poured the mixture (except the chicken) into a large saucepan and boiled for about 10 minutes until they were soft.  Then, I stirred in the shredded chicken and spinach and cooked for a few minutes.  Then, I stirred in the cream cheese and Mozzarella cheese.  The flavor of this soup was out-of-this-world.  I can't wait to make it again.  

very slightly adapted from:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Copycat Cafe Rio Shredded Beef Tacos

It's 2013!  
The year 2012 seemed to fly bye, yet when I think of certain things that happened throughout the year, they seem so long ago.  I have a good feeling 2013 is going to be an amazing year.

*First things first, I have a few housekeeping items to get out of the way* 
I finally signed up for Google+.  If anyone has any tips with how to use it, I'd love to hear them.  

Next, you asked and I listened.  I kept getting requests to add a "pin it" button to my posts and I finally did it.  I added the button to each of my pictures.  If you find it isn't working properly, please let me know.

Now, onto the good stuff!
If I order a taco at Cafe Rio, I get their Shredded Beef and I always order a side of the house dressing.  I have seen (and tried) so many copycat Cafe Rio recipes, but this was the first time I had seen a copycat recipe for their shredded beef.  

The flavor was delicious.  My only problem was I either undercooked my roast or overcooked my roast, because I wasn't able to shred it.  It was still juicy, it just didn't fall apart like usual when I cook a roast.  I blame it on my slow-cooker.  I ended up cutting it into strips (like their steak).

When topped with the copycat dressing, it tasted pretty darn close to the real thing.  I just need to figure out how to cook my roast properly and I think this will become a new favorite. 

Next on my list to try is a Copycat Cafe Rio Rice Recipe.  Anyone tried one and liked it?      

You might also like:
Cafe Rio Type Salads
Copycat Cafe Rio Shredded Beef Tacos
1 small onion
2 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast
1 c. low-sodium beef broth
1 Tbl. ground cumin + extra to taste
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14 oz.) can green enchilada sauce
1-2 Tbl. tomato paste
salt, to taste

For serving:
tomatillo dressing, see recipe below
soft corn or flour tortillas
black or pinto beans
spanish rice
diced tomato
chopped cilantro
Feta cheese
Monterey or Cheddar cheese, shredded

Cut the onion into large, chunky slices; place on the bottom of slow-cooker.  Place the roast on top of the onions.  Combine broth, 1 Tablespoon cumin, garlic and tomato sauce; pour over the top of the roast.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.  Transfer meat to a cutting board; use two forks to shred the beef.  Strain the juices from the slow-cooker, reserving the juice.  Transfer shredded meat back to the slow-cooker and pour some of the strained juices over the shredded beef (as much as you prefer).  Stir in the enchilada sauce and tomato paste (I added one Tablespoon).  Season with salt and extra cumin, to taste.  Serve in taco shells with desired toppings.  Serves: 8  

Tomatillo Dressing
1/2 (1 oz.) pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch mix
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. mayonnaise (I used light)
2 medium tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed well
1/2 - 1 garlic clove, to taste
1/2 small bunch cilantro
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 small jalapeno, seeds removed

Put all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust any flavors as needed.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Yield: about 2 cups

Jenn's Notes:  I wouldn't change anything with the above ingredients and measurements.  I loved the flavor of the beef and the tomatillo dressing.  

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