Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cafe Rio Copycat Recipe

Have you ever been to Cafe Rio or Costa Vida? If you haven't eaten there, you're missing out. It's sooooo good. But you can make it at home! When you're serving 12 adults it's much cheaper to make the salads yourselves, and then you get the leftovers :) This is a super simple, though time intensive recipe for success! There is something to like for everyone. Picky eaters? Yes, they'll eat all or some of this. My picky 7 year old LOVES this meal. Vegetarian? Sure, make it a meatless salad! It's THAT good! And because it is SO good, I can never manage to take a picture before it's all devoured. Here is one from the next day, with half of the ingredients missing because it's the leftovers.

But I did capture a picture of the delicious (and easy) cilantro lime dressing. And a tip for you to cut your cilantro more easily.

Cafe Rio Salad (copycat)
Yield: 12 hungry adults

These salads are typically made with any or all of the following ingredients:

--Fresh Tortillas (uncooked from Costco are the best)
--Pork, chicken or beef
--Pinto or black beans
--Lime cilantro dressing
--Lime cilantro rice
--Romaine and/or red leaf lettuce, cut up
--Grated cheese
--Corn, frozen & thawed
--Guacamole or avocados
--Cotija cheese, crumbled, optional
--Tortilla strips, or tortilla chips, optional

Once you've prepared the meat, rice, beans and dressing prepare the other "toppings." Chop your romaine, cook the corn, make your guac (or slice your avocado), chop cilantro (see TIP below), shred cheese, cut tomatoes, open a can of olives and slice your fresh limes! Yum!  When you're ready to serve, preapare your tortillas on a griddle or frying pan. I cook on one side until brown bubbles appear. Then I flip, sprinkle as much grated cheese as you'd like. Once it's melted, they're done! We like to eat these in pie tins because they are nice and deep. I layer the tortialla, then lettuce then rice, beans and meat. Then all the rest! Yum!!

4 lb. meat
1 qt tomato sauce OR enchilada sauce OR salsa OR diluted tomato soup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 T. cumin
3 cups Dr. Pepper or Coke (2 cans, NOT diet)
3 T. molasses
½ t. salt
Cook meat on medium heat in a crock-pot overnight. The next morning, drain most of the liquid left then shred meat and add the remaining ingredients. Continue cooking on low for a several hours (anywhere from 4-8 hours). After that time, if you're not serving it until that evening, you can change the setting to "warm" or "serve" until you're ready.

5 T. butter
2 1/2 t. salt
1 ½ t. cumin
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
5 T. cilantro, finely chopped
5 c. rice (or "cup" that comes with your rice cooker. Mine is 3/4 cup)
10 cups water (or water equivalent according to your rice cooker)

Add all ingredients to your rice cooker or if you don't have a rice cooker add to a large pot, boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

1 package ranch dressing mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 garlic cloves
5 green onions, cut
½ bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2-3 tomatillos, quartered
½ lime, juiced
4 t. sugar
½ t. salt
½ jalapeno or 1/8 t. cayenne pepper

First, place the garlic cloves in the blender. Blend until it's minced. Chop the green onions into 2" bits. Add that to the blender. Blend. Cut cilantro (as seen in TIP below) and add to blender. Add the remaining ingredients. Blend until nice and smooth. It's best if made in advance and served chilled. The flavors really meld in that time and make for a stronger flavor.

3 cup dry beans
9 cups water
**Read instructions below
4 1/2 cups tomato juice or tomato soup, diluted
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 t. cumin
1 1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. olive oil (revised---it was a typo before, sorry for confusion. 3 cups would have been nasty!)
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1 onion, chopped, optional

Add dry beans and water to crock pot. Cook on high overnight. The next morning drain and rinse the beans. Then add the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for a few hours. If you're not serving this until the evening, after about 6-8 hours of cooking, set crock pot to "serve" or "warm" until you are ready to eat.


TIP to cut your cilantro. I found this in a Cooks Illustrated magazine years ago. To cut herbs or cilantro or parsley, simply tear off the leaf from the stem. Place in mug and chop with kitchen shears. It's that simple. So much easier than chopping. If you're really lazy and don't mind, you can just throw in the whole plant. 

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Butterscotch {Cookie Dough} Fudge Bars

Wow! I could not stop eating these. These butterscotchy, fudgy cookie doughy bars are such a treat. I adapted it from this pin. I didn't have enough toffee chips so I substituted them with butterscotch chips and M&M's. They turned out so delicious! Worth the two hour cooling period to enjoy!

Butterscotch {Cookie Dough} Fudge Bars
Recipe by Bonne Nouvelle

Yield: 24 2" bars
1/2 C butter, melted (revised 11/12)
2 1/3 C graham cracker crumbs 
(about 2 packages plus 3 more crackers), DIVIDED (revised 11/12)
1 1/2 cup butterscotch chips, divided
1 roll refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough, or half batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough
1 12oz. bag chocolate chips
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 T butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup mini M&M's

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 
If using store bought cookie dough, allow the cookie dough to sit out for 10 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, grease 9x13 glass dish. 

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup of melted butter, 2 cups of the graham cracker crumbs (reserve 1/3 cup for topping) and 1 cup of butterscotch chips. Pour mixture into the greased pan and press evenly until mixture covers bottom of pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the fudge.

In a 2 qt saucepan, heat the milk, chocolate chips and the tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Stir frequently until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. With a spatula, spread the mixture over the graham cracker crumb mixture.

In another medium mixing bowl, break up the cookie dough and stir in the remaining 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs until blended. Crumble the mixture evenly over the chocolate layer and the sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup butterscotch chips on top. Then sprinkle M&M's on top.

Bake for about 25-35 minutes or until it's golden brown. Cool completely before cutting, around 2 hours. 

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Potty Treat Tutorial

Marshmallow & Doughnut Potty Treats

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make these cute little potty's from the Potty Training Party.

1. Gather Materials. 
--Gigantic Marshmallows
--Cooking shears, sprayed with vegetable spray, like PAM
--Decorating gel, or you could try Nutella or peanut butter or frosting
--Small powdered sugar doughnuts

You're done!

If you look closely you can see the yellow decorating gel oozing out of the seat.....it looks kinda gross, so if you don't want that look, put less gel on those seats.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Potty Training Party

Photos by Cirina. Tutorial for potties here.

I applied to host a Potty Training Party with Huggie's Pull-Ups via houseparty.com. Have you heard of them? They're a company that allows you to host a party, based on a theme, and they provide the host with goodies for you and your guests. I went to one last winter for Shutterfly and walked away with two free photo books! So I signed on and applied to the parties I was interested in. I found this potty training party to be particularly applicable as my youngest just turned 2. So I applied and was chosen, with many others, to host on one of three weekends. And I was sent a box in the mail with all the free goodies. So then I just had another excuse to throw a party!

And perfect timing, this party from Creative Juice, came up with a brilliant potty training celebration for her daughter's completion complete with a diaper toss, treats, and prizes just in time. I had a small pizza party for my son when he graduated to this next step, which was a big deal, because it took a year to train him!! So we celebrated. But not in style, like this. Thank you to my guests for attending and having fun! And a big thanks to my sister-in-law who happened to be in town with her son in training. She helped me the night before and the day of to set this all up. Thanks Jana!

Here are the photos! For more description about why I hosted this, please read below. And here is my Pinterest board I used for inspiration.

Thank you to Tiff Keetch for creating and providing the labels, you can print them for your own! Check our her blog for the printables. You may have already seen her talents all over Pinterest. 

Most of the photos below are courtesy of my friend, Cirina. 

I made these little toilets out of doughnuts and gigantic marshmallows. They were admittedly a big hit. The simple tutorial is here if you'd like to make them for your next potty training experience. 

Gable boxes filled with their Huggie's Pull-Ups kit. Before they went home they were able to take home a "magic drink" and "potty treats" jar. The labels were made by my fabulous friend (and attendee) Tiff Keetch. You can grab your free printables here. She thought it would be best if she stuck the labels on with clear packing tape, for waterproofing. Great idea! 

When I potty trained my first two children, we tried the "potty training in a day" method. It didn't really take one day but a few more. But the treat incentive, sticker chart and lots of liquids certainly helped. Hence the "magic drink" to be refilled with whatever the mother wants to fill it with to keep their child full and ready to train. 

Potty Treats. A mason jar with a scrapbook papered lid filled with purple (to go with the theme), yellow (pee-pee) skittles for going #1 and large chocolate kisses (a resemblance) for #2. 

 Oreo Truffles on a stick. I used this recipe. 

 The mini truffles for the children were not meant to look like, well, you can guess. But my sister-in-law and I surveyed our children, and they preferred oreo truffles without the white coating, so the little bit sized truffles for the kids were kept dark and the larger ones were for the "trainers" (ie, mother's). 

 The kit included coupons, a dance mat, an inflatable guitar, a sticker chart a few large stickers, and the DVD. 

The kits came with these inflatable guitars for each child. Here they are practicing the potty dance.

Why? And what is a potty training party?
My daughter just turned 2 and I was motivated to start training. But I wanted to give her a boost first to show how exciting it can be to be out of diapers. And to be surrounded by other children who are in the same position. Houseparty and Huggies gave us suggestions for games and such and provided me with a CD for the potty dance. Because this was a potty training party, it was not a celebration for completion but more of an avenue to pump my daughter (and my friend's children) up to get excited about potty training. To give advice and ideas of how to potty train (most of the guests were first time potty trainers) and to provide treats and tools to inspire the children to begin. As a hostess, I did not instruct or teach the children or mother's how to potty train. I left that up to them to use tools such as the free DVD from Huggie's and other resources like the many self-help books out there to find a method that works for them.

Budget: $52 minus $15 Target Hostess gift card = $37
Gable Boxes (Xpedx): .40 each/10 $4
Mason Jars (Target): .75 each/10 $7.50
Water bottles/"Magic Drinks" (Target): $2
Oreo Truffles (Walmart/Joann's): $5
Paper Straws (Amazon): $1/20
Toilet Treats (Walmart): $4
Potty Treats (Walmart): $5
Candy: $7
Yellow Ribbon (Michael's): $1
Paper Lanterns (Zurchers): $6.50
Cupcake liners (Michael's): $1
Paper cups & fake flowers (Dollar Tree): $3
Yellow Streamers (Zurchers): $1
Purple tablecloth (sheet) (Goodwill): $4

Thank you to houseparty.com and Huggies and Target!


Creative Juice Facebook page! 


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Friday, February 10, 2012

Super Bowl Party 2012

This year's Super Bowl Party was great....I didn't watch any of it! I ate, talked with some great friends, monitored our playing children and got to host a little party. My husband is part of a fantasy football team with his law school buddies so we invited them all over. Then he performed the unveiling of their official trophy. He had it custom made. Each year that their fantasy football wins, they get their own name and team name put on a little plaque and attached to the side of the trophy. Then, as we are all moving onto our separate ways after graduation this spring, the winner this year will be responsible for mailing it to the next winner next year and so on for many years to come.

Chalkboard play chart thingy. I am not sure what the official name is. I just googled it and copied their layout. It's a chalkboard written on with a chalk marker. 

It was a potluck dinner party. You can see my Super Bowl Pinterest board for my inspiration and more ideas. Tyler and I made Bobby Flay's pulled pork and coleslaw. We still have leftovers!

I had seen this "doughnut on a thread spool stand" at Celebrations at Home and thought it was so clever. I thought they would work well for this sports themed party.  So I did a play on that. I used two small thread holders and used them as stadium stands. The doughnuts are the fans, if you couldn't tell. White jerseys on one side and blue on the other. The little Hostess powdered sugar doughnuts fit perfectly over the hooks. I worried the doughnuts would gunk it up (because I use mine for thread) but it didn't. I just brushed off any crumbs and rinsed off any icing.

For the tablecloth I made a 50 cent football field. I saw this online too for the idea. But instead of using paper numbers I used a chalk marker (white out would work great too). I bought a 50 cent plastic disposable tablecloth at the grocery store, glued on white crepe paper (with a glue stick) and labeled the lines! Easy and just toss away when the party is over.

I labeled each cup ahead of time. I know it's kind of tacky, but it's football! Plus, with the amount of children (10) and adults getting drinks, I didn't want a bunch of cups floating around the living room. It's just easier. 

Happy Footballing!
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