Friday, July 25, 2008

{taco salad}

Salads are some of the best things about summer, although this particular recipe can easily be enjoyed all through the year. The rice makes it not only very filling, but helps it go a long way. This is a great recipe to serve to a crowd, as well as your own family. It makes a lot, but can easily be halved if necessary.


2 lbs. hamburger
2-8 oz. cans tomato sauce
4-8 oz. cans water
3-6 oz. cans tomato paste
2 c. cooked rice
1 can red beans
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin (I use more!)
4 T. sugar
Garlic salt

Brown the beef with the onion. Add everything else except the rice. Simmer 1 hour, adding rice the last 10 minutes. Assemble your own taco salad--layer chips, lettuce, meat mixture, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, etc.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

{crockpot chicken cacciatore}

I can't say enough good things about my crockpot. :) I use it a lot in the winter, but it's also wonderful in the summer--when you're busy, outside all day, and just want to come in and eat without much fuss. This is a great recipe for that reason, and it's just really good!


2-3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 jar Prego sauce (or equal amounts homemade sauce--the Italian Tomato sauce I posted would be delicious with this recipe)
green pepper, julienned
red pepper, julienned
onion, chopped
minced garlic, to taste

Place chicken in crockpot, then pour sauce over the top. Add vegetables and garlic. Cook on high until chicken is tender. I like to cut the chicken into pieces to serve--easier for little mouths! Serve over pasta, with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

{no-bake cookies}

This is hands-down the best no-bake cookie recipe I have ever tried. A friend gave this to me several years ago when we were at the University of Utah, and I haven't found a better one yet! It's the perfect mix of chocolate and peanut butter, and just plain delicious. They don't sit around too long at our house!!


2 c. sugar
2 T. butter
2 T. cocoa
1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
*3 1/2 c. oats

Bring the first four ingredients to a rolling boil, then remove from heat. Add peanut butter and mix well, then add the salt and vanilla. Add oats last. *I actually don't measure the oats. I like my cookies to be a certain consistency--not too dense, and not too runny. I add them a little at a time, until it's to the point I like them to be. Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray, then let them cool to room temperature. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

{mexican chicken casserole}

It's camping season, and along with that comes Dutch oven cooking! This is one of my favorite Dutch oven recipes, but it can be baked in the oven at home too. The jalopeno gives it just a little bit of a kick, and the Fritos give it great flavor and crunch. Yum!


2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 can evaporated milk
1 jalopeno pepper, chopped (for less spice, de-seed the pepper)
1 small bag Fritos
8 oz. cheddar cheese

Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Grease bottom of 8-9 inch baking dish, or line bottom of Dutch oven with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place Fritos evenly in the bottom of the dish, then pour the chicken mixture on top. Cover with cheese.
If using a baking dish, bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese is bubbly and casserole is heated through. For Dutch oven, cover an area underneath your Dutch oven with approximately 12-15 coals and place 10-12 coals on top of lid. Cooking time is approximately 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

*For a camping trop, this can be done beforehand and frozen. The chicken will remain frozen for several days, so this meal can be planned for later in the trip.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

{fruit dip and apple dip}

I love summertime because of all the yummy fruit, and these dips make a great side for parties, picnics, and BBQs. The apple dip is also perfect in the fall--school parties, Halloween parties, and any other time!


1 package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
half of a bag of Skor or Heath bits

Beat the first 4 ingredients welll; stir in toffee bits.


1 package cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
16 oz. strawberry flavored Cool Whip

Whip condensed milk and softened cream cheese together until smooth, then fold in Cool Whip. Serve with fresh fruit.

Monday, July 14, 2008

{cafe rio shredded pork salad with creamy cilantro dressing}

Oh my goodness, this is so, so delicious! I have had these recipes for a long time, but it wasn't until my good friend Erica tried them a couple of months ago that I became inspired to try them myself. I'm not sure if I thought they would be too time-intensive or what, but it actually didn't take long at all, and since the pork goes in the crockpot, it makes it that much faster to put together.


6 lbs. pork loin (I used a smaller roast and adjusted the other ingredients)
1 16 oz. jar salsa
1 can Coke
2 c. brown sugar

Mix last three ingredients together and pour over roast after it has been placed in the crockpot. Cook for 3-5 hours, or until meat is falling apart. Shred with two forks.


There is a different recipe for this dish, but I condensed it to make a shorter version. It's perfect as a layer on this salad.

2 c. uncooked rice
4 c. chicken broth
1/4 tsp. salt
cilantro, chopped

Bring the water and salt to a boil, add rice and cilantro, then cover with a lid. Simmer covered 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.


1 buttermilk ranch packet, prepared according to directions
2 tomatillos
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno (it's already pretty spicy without the seeds, but you can add them for extra spice)

Blend all together in food processor or blender, store in fridge.


Layer romaine lettuce, cilantro rice, black beans, and the shredded pork on a plate. Top with the Creamy Cilantro Dressing. ENJOY!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

{italian tomato sauce}

This is an AMAZING recipe! You can use canned tomatoes, or fresh ones from the garden, and if you make big batches, it can be frozen for later use. This recipe came from a friend, who adapted it from The Moosewook Cookbook. I had this sauce both on spaghetti and lasagne this week, and my mouth is still watering!


2-3 T. olive oil
2 c. chopped onion
1 medium-sized bell pepper, diced
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 (29 oz.) can tomatoes (or use equal amounts fresh tomatoes, chopped)
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 T. honey
Lots of black pepper
4-6 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. freshly minced parsley

Heat the olive oil in a big pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, bell pepper, herbs and salt; saute over medium heat until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes. ADd tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20-30 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 10 minutes more.

At this point, the sauce can sit for several hours, or be refrigerated for up to a week. Add parsley at the last minute. Serve over spaghetti or other pasta, or use as a sauce for lasagne. You can add 2 chopped celery stalks, 1 pound chopped mushrooms, 1-2 diced zucchini, and a handful of freshly chopped basil leaves to make a marinara version.