Monday, September 24, 2012

Better than... Pumpkin Cake

I made this purely to fulfill a pregnant craving that I have had for awhile. I am not usually a huge fan of pumpkin anything. I like it okay, but its never my first choice. Well, if you ever get on pinterest there are about a million pumpkin recipes on there and I guess I had just been looking at all of them for too long, because I desired more than anything to make something with pumpkin. This is the recipe I chose and although it does not taste very strongly of pumpkin, I really enjoyed it, and the craving is gone.
It really is no different than the original "Better than... cake," made with chocolate cake. The only difference is they use a pumpkin/yellow cake for the base and everything else is exactly the same. So it's pretty safe that it is going to be delicious.

Better than... Pumpkin Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small can pumpkin
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 8 oz tub cool whip
1/2 bag Heath Bits
Carmel Sundae Sauce

1. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix and pumpkin until smooth batter forms.
2. Pour batter into a well greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake 350 degrees according to the directions on box.
3. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Using bottom of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
4. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the cake, filling the holes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Spread cool whip over top of cake. Sprinkle on Heath bits, and drizzle caramel over top. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight (best).

Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup (copy cat)

I made two great new recipes yesterday. This is the first. I found this recipe on pinterest awhile back and I was so excited. My sister and I LOVE Cafe Rio's tortilla soup. I have often craved it and wish instead of eating out I could just make it at home. It just didn't seem like it would be so hard, but never looked much further into it. When I saw this, I knew I had to try it out and see if it really was a good replica of the original. I bought some costco Avacodos with this purpose in mind. They ripened faster than I expected so even though Mexican was on the menu the night before we had Mexican again last night. And you know what??! It was DELICIOUS! I dare say better than the original.
It isn't a difficult recipe but it does take a little bit of planning ahead because there are few different elements that go into it. Overall, it was a success, and you can bet I will be making it again and again.
Click HERE to visit the actual website where I found the recipe. In case you need any clarifications. I will include the changes I made here. Also if you haven't tried this item at Cafe Rio, I encourage you to try it the next time you visit so you can see better how the layering of the ingredients really puts it over the top.

Sorry I didn't take my own photo
Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a dash (or two) cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 5 c. chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime (I used a full lime, because I like it!)
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika (I didn't have this in my pantry, and didn't miss it.)
  • vegetable oil (to taste)
  • pico de gallo (Click HERE for this recipe, Note: I always use more lime than called for, and if you don't have the dash of hot sauce, it isn't necessary: Tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime, and salt are the main ingredients you need for a good basic pico de gallo)
  • 2-3 avocados, diced
  • 2 c. pepper jack cheese (I used Monteray Jack cheese and it was delicious as well)
  • tortilla strips (They make their own just by cutting and frying corn tortillas, I used tortilla chips)
  • cilantro (for garnish)
  • lime wedges (for garnish)
  • In a small skillet, saute onion in 1 Tbsp. oil until onions become slightly soft. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and chili powder and saute an additional minute or two.
  • Transfer seasoned onions to a small crock pot (or medium-sized saucepan). Add chicken broth, cliantro, lime juice, pepper and pinto beans to onions and simmer on low-heat for at least 2-3 hours.
  • In the meantime (when you are close to serving), combine taco seasoning and paprika. Brush chicken with oil and rub with taco seasoning/paprika mixture. Grill chicken over medium-heat until cooked through (try to turn only once during the grilling process). Remove from grill and shred. (I don't have a grill, I just marinated the chicken in the taco seasoning and oil, and baked it in the oven and shredded after)
  • In individual bowls layer chicken, about 1/3 c. pico de gallo, 1/3 c. diced avocado, and 1/3 c. pepper jack cheese. Ladle about 1 cup of chicken broth directly over the layers. Top with tortilla strips and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake

I got this recipe from a Relief Society activity and have wanted to try it for awhile. I made it just the other day and it is SOOOOO good. I would recommend making this cake when you are expecting company but know you won't have time make dessert later. It is so good, but it is very rich and you don't have to serve a lot of it, so it turns out to be WAY too much for a family of 3 to eat. It is really really good the second and third day as long as you heat it up in the microwave and serve with icecream. YUM!
It really turns out to be like a molten lava cake with the chocolate sauce at the bottom and the cake on top.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake
1-3/4 cups packed brown sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 TBsp baking cocoa, divided
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 2% milk
2 TBsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla 
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1-3/4 cups boiling water
Vanilla ice cream

1. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup brown sugar, flour, 3 Tbsp cocoa, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine the milk, butter and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Spread evenly into a 3 qt slow cooker coated with cooking spray.
2. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of cake batter.
3. In another small bowl, combine the remaining brown sugar and cocoa; stir in boiling water. Pour over batter (do not stir).
4. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 4 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve warm with ice cream. (Necessary!)

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream

Awhile back we bought a big bag of 4-cheese ravioli from Costco that we haven't really loved. I think it tastes fine, but I guess James has had better (in Uruguay) so he wasn't a fan. However, I was determined to finish off the bag and tried this recipe to do so. It really did make the ravioli taste great. I found it on pinterest so you may recognize it, but this is me recommending it as a good eat. I would make it again, but maybe use a different ravioli or tortellini.

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream

1 20 oz package refrigerated four cheese ravioli
1 16oz jar sun dried tomato Alfredo sauce (I couldn't find this sauce anywhere so I just bought a Classico jar of Alfredo and cut up about 1/2 a cup of sun-dried tomatoes and added it to the Alfredo sauce)
2 Tbsp white wine (I didn't have it so I didn't add it. It didn't seem to make a difference)
2 medium size fresh tomatoes chopped (I substituted with a can of diced tomatoes, drained.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Garnish: fresh basil

1. Prepare pasta according to directions.
2. Pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan. Pour wine into sauce jar, cover tightly, and shake well. Add to saucepan. (Again, I didn't do this). Stir in tomatoes and basil and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes until heated through. Toss with pasta and top evenly with Parmesan Cheese. Garnish if desired.

This sauce I would make again, maybe with a different cheese pasta or even regular pasta with some Italian sausages.