Friday, October 21, 2011

Shepherd's Pie



  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed tomato soup
  • 1 (15 ounce) can green beans, drained
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel and quarter potatoes, and introduce into boiling water; cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef and onion until beef is brown. Drain. Stir in tomato soup and green beans. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Mound mashed potatoes in a ring around the meat mixture (do not cover meat). Sprinkle potatoes with shredded cheese.
  4. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes, until potatoes are golden.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad

6 large Tortillas
Shredded cheese, Mexican blend
Cafe Rio Rice
Cafe Rio Black Beans
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork )
Lettuce (NOT iceberg, use leafy green or Romaine)
Diced tomato, onion, and cilantro (pico de gallo)
Sour cream
Cotija cheese, crumbled (or you can use Parmesan)
Cafe Rio Cilantro Ranch

Here is how we put it all together: First of all, we bought the aluminum deep-dish pans (they had these at the grocery store, you will know when you see them.. they look JUST like the Cafe Rio tins). Lay a tortilla in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle cheese on it, and put in the oven at 375 for about 5 min or until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven, add beans, rice, pork, then lettuce and a little scoop of diced tomato and onions (pico de gallo). Add guacamole (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) and sour cream. Add crushed tortilla chips, a shake of Parmesan cheese, and top with a few cilantro leaves. Serve with the cilantro ranch or vinaigrette dressing and there you have it! (makes about 6 salads)

(scroll down to see the rice, beans, pork, and ranch recipes all together...)

2 pounds pork (we like to use boneless pork ribs)
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can diced green chilies
3/4 (1ooz) can red enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso brand, medium spiciness)
1 c. brown sugar

Put the pork in a heavy duty Ziploc bag to marinade. Add about a can and a half of coke and about 1/4 c. of brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours or overnight.

Drain marinade and put pork, 1/2 can of coke, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily, but don't let it get TOO dry). Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork.

In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can Coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste..). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little.

Put shredded pork and sauce in crock pot and cook on low for 2 hours. That's it!

1 c. uncooked rice
1 tsp. butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving stir in the cilantro. (**NOTE** we added a can of corn, drained, to the beans with a dash of cumin and chili powder, it was AWESOME! We recommend doing this even though it's not "traditional Cafe Rio")

1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not BUTTERMILK)
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno (we like it SPICY so we kept the seeds in it, if you like it mild, just remove the seeds)

Mix all ingredients together in the blender. That's it!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Asian Lettuce Wraps


  • 16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • Asian chile pepper sauce (optional)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil


  1. Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef; continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
  3. Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter, and pile meat mixture in the center. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!
PF Changs Dipping Sauce
1tsp sesame oil
2T soy
2T rice vinegar
1T chile paste
green onion slices

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (frozen)
1/2 ( or 3/4) jar of spaghetti sauce
1 can tomato paste
1/2 green bell pepper chopped
1/2 diced yellow onion
fresh sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons fresh garlic
light-medium sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes
heavy sprinkling of oregano
light-medium sprinkle of black pepper (can always add more later)
fresh basil leaves torn up.

Put ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Thursday, September 15, 2011



  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • cooking spray


  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour".
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Crate and Barrel Living Room

I really like this room.  The colors are beautiful and relaxing and the furniture is comfortable enough for my family to enjoy it.  Crate and Barrel is one of my favorite place to get ideas.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Christmas Table Setting from Good Housekeeping

Striped runners, made in minutes from ticking fabric, set the scheme for this color-coordinated table. Rudolph-red ribbons, chargers, and winter berries continue the harmonious hues.

Pine Cones for Christmas from Good Housekeeping

Form a 12-inch-long ribbon into a loop, and hot-glue to the pinecone's base. Tie another 12-inch-long ribbon into a bow, and hot-glue over the ends of the first ribbon.

Christmas Ball - for tree?

I love this Christmas ball.  The original site (Good Housekeeping) said to use it as a kissing ball but I think it would look darling on a tree decorated with pine cones and a red and white striped candy garland. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Halloween Decor Ideas

I love the word on the mirror, leaves, and pumpins with candles! 
The umbrellas are great too!

Black beans with the orange pumkin candle are so fun! Love the lanterns too!

Pumpkin Votive from Country Living

For an autumn table, carve out jack-be-little pumpkins and insert votive candles. This festive decoration can be used for Halloween parties, as well as Thanksgiving feasts.

Candy Corn Candles from Country Living

Use mason jars and anchor pillar candles in a bed of candy corn or black and orange jelly beans for a simple and festive Halloween decoration for the tabletop or porch.

Phantom Presence from Country Living

Keep up ghostly appearances with this witty reflection. Draw a figure on the back of a sheet of frosted window film (Remlor, $14.95 for a 24"W roll; Cut out the silhouette, as well as its eyes and mouth, with an X-Acto knife. Apply the film to a mirror, smoothing as you go.

Guazy Ghosts from Family Fun

It takes practically nothing to make this family of mischievous sprites.
  • Different-size plastic milk jugs or juice bottles
  • Laundry starch
  • Aluminum foil
  • Paper towels
  • White gauze or cheesecloth
  1. Top each jug or bottle with a ball of crumpled aluminum foil.
  2. Cut white gauze or cheesecloth into 18-inch squares (one square for each ghost). Dip the gauze squares into a bowl filled with laundry starch. Pull them out one at a time and squeeze out the excess moisture. Drape a square over each bottle.
  3. To shape the ghosts' shoulders and arms, loosely pile crumpled aluminum foil near the bottle and drape the gauze over it. Flare out the lower edges of the gauze and let dry overnight. (To make a dog, simply drape a small square of gauze over shaped foil.)
  4. Once they've dried, carefully lift the ghosts from their bottles. They should stand freely on a flat surface.

Waxed Leaves from Family Fun

Give the colorful leaves of autumn some serious staying power by dipping them in wax. Use the preserved leaves to decorate a table or make a fall-inspired mobile.
  • Paraffin wax (we used about 1/4 pound)
  • 2 clean cans, one smaller than the other (ours were 13 1/2 and 28 ounces)
  • Newspaper
  • Colorful leaves
  • Waxed paper

  1. Waxed Leaves - Step 3Place a piece of paraffin wax in the smaller can, and place the smaller can inside the larger one. Add warm water to both cans, filling them to about a half-inch below the rim of the small can. (When melted, the wax will float on top of the water.)
  2. Simmer the water over medium heat until the wax has melted (a parent's job). To avoid spatters, don't let the water and wax come to a full boil.
  3. Use pot holders to remove the cans from the stove and put them on the newspaper. Hold a leaf by its stem, carefully dip it into the wax, then lay it on waxed paper to harden.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Seeing Things from Better Homes and Gardens

    Conjure up the illusion of haunted spirits with this easy project. Sand a corner of an old mirror down until it is clear, feathering it at the edge. Copy a photo of a frightened face onto translucent paper and again on white paper. Tape the translucent print to the back of the mirror, then tape the white one behind it, slightly off-center for a ghostly image.

Spooky Silhouettes from Better Homes and Gardens

    Framed as portraits, these spooky silhouettes add Halloween flair. To create the characters, download our free patterns, enlarge to desired size, and trace onto black cardstock. Cut out the silhouettes using small, sharp scissors, glue to off-white cardstock, and frame.

Pumpkin Lantern from Martha Stewart

I love this idea! It would work for either Halloween or Thanksgiving!

Tools and Materials 
Sugar pumpkin
Miniature saw
Hurricane glass
Wax pencil
Fleshing tool
Floral frog
Taper candle

1. Using miniature saw, shave pumpkin's bottom to create a flat, stable base if needed.
2. Place hurricane glass over stem, and trace with wax pencil.
3. Using miniature saw, cut a hole in top of pumpkin, following pencil line.
4. Clean the inside of pumpkin with fleshing tool, removing seeds, pulp, and fibers.
5. Place frog inside pumpkin. Insert candle to test height; trim candle base if needed so that the wick is in line with wide portion of hurricane glass.

Secure candle in frog, and slip glass over candle and into pumpkin (make sure it fits snugly inside hole).