Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chalupa and taco seasoning

Before I got married, my sisters gave me a really nice bridal shower. In the invitation was a card to bring a recipe for the bride. So, this is the recipe that my Mother in Law, Pat wrote out for me. It was Carl's favorite meal that his mom made when he was growing up. Ive had it a couple times when Pat made it, but I had no idea how EASY this is. And its so tasty! Pretty much anything served over Fritos chips would be yummy, but this is a really great, hearty, satisfying meal. You could probably sub beef or chicken in this and it would turn out really good. Pat's recipe calls for taco seasoning and since I didnt have any in the pantry that day, I got a recipe for it off of and made my own! It was tasty and could easily be used in place of the taco seasoning envelopes you buy in the spice aisle in your store. Also, this recipe says to cook in a pan on the stove, but I threw everything into the crockpot and it came out wonderfully.

Chalupa (Pat Cunningham)

2-3lb boneless pork loin roast
1 lb pinto beans (soak overnight or bring to a boil, cover and turn off heat and let set 1 hr, drain and rinse beans)
2 packets of taco seasoning (or your could easily make your own)
1 can diced green chiles
salt to taste
1 bag of Fritos chips
grated cheddar cheese
sliced green onions
sour cream

In a large pot, add roast and beans. Cover with water and add taco seasoning mix and green chiles. Cook all day, take the meat out and let it cool, then shred it and return it to the pot. Simmer with top off to thicken it a bit. Serve over Fritos chips and garnish with cheese, green onions and sour cream.

Taco Seasoning (from
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twice Baked Potatoes

This is such an easy versatile side dish. Its a great way to dress up the boring old baked potato. This is the first time I have cut the potatoes in half and made 2 servings out of each one. I used to just have each potato be whole and it was always such a huge side that would fill you right up. I filled these will fresh rosemary, bacon, sour cream and cheese. You could put anything you have into them and they would be yummy. Be sure to be generous with your salt and pepper, potatoes need a lot of seasoning.

Twice Baked Potatoes

3 baking potatoes cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup grated cheese
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs
1/4 cup crumbled bacon
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
dash of paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub each potato with with little bit of olive oil. Bake for 1 hr. Take out of the oven and cool 10-15 minutes, then scoop out the insides, leaving nice little potato skin shells. Now mash up the scooped out potato with the rest of the ingredients. Mash until smooth and well blended. Stuff back into potato shells and sprinkle with a dash of paprika. Bake another 15 minutes until browned nicely on top. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Waffle Style French Toast

Yesterday was Sam's Birthday and I wanted to make him something special for breakfast. This is a recipe I saw on The Nest. Its from a book called French Toast, by Donna Kelly. This was really yummy. Cutting the bread extra thick, then cooking it in a waffle iron instead of on a griddle was a cool twist! It gave the crusty sides, more surface area and lots of places for butter and syrup to stay hidden. Everyone loved theirs, so I will probably be making this again soon.

Waffle Style French Toast

4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 (1-inch-thick) slices day-old Challah or French bread

Preheat a waffle iron and spray generously with nonstick cooking spray. In a pie pan or other shallow pan, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar and salt. Dip bread slices in egg mixture until well soaked. Cook slices in the waffle iron one at a time until lightly brown. Serve with warm syrup, powdered sugar and/or fresh fruit as a garnish.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Green Rice

Here is a yummy side dish, and a great way to sneak some spinach into the meal! I threw this together after reading a bunch of recipes on I served this with some swordfish steaks and it was so yummy with lemon juice squeezed over the top. Be sure not to be shy with the salt, rice and spinach needs lots of salt.

3 cups cooked rice (I used 1/2 brown rice and 1/2 white)
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves of garlic, smashed then chopped
1 package of baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup french fried onions
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chopped spinach and cook a minute, until wilted. Add the rice and stir until well combined. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Continue to cook and stir the rice for a few minutes. Then turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and basil. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with french fried onions. bake 375 degrees for 2o minutes

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ina's Coconut Cake

Today is my Grandma's Birthday. My mom had us over for dinner and to celebrate and she asked me to make the cake. Now I know that my Grandma loves cakes made from scratch so I set out to find a yummy one that she would love. I also know that she loves Hawaii and the flavors of the Islands, so I decided to go with coconut. When I found Ina Garten's recipe, I had to try it out since every recipe Ive ever tried of hers has been awesome. Well, I was not disappointed. This makes a great, buttery, moist cake with a pretty light texture.

I did make some changes to the recipe based off other's reviews. Instead of using 3 sticks of butter, I used 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce in place of one of the sticks. I cut the sugar from 2 cups to 1 1/2. I also used buttermilk instead of regular milk and coconut extract instead of almond (in the cake and the frosting). Also, mine was done after 35 minutes, I think the original 45-50 minutes would have been way too long. This turned out perfect with just enough coconut flavor. I will be making this many more times.

Coconut Cake (inspired by Ina Garten)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the Frosting

  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure coconut extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Beat in the applesauce until well mixed. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and coconut extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the butter milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 35 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).

To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Mexican Pizza

Here is another great recipe from I always find good ones on that site. This Mexican Pizza is a nice change from the same old tacos and tostadas we usually have for Mexican night. It is a lot like the Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell. The only thing I changed was that I used green chili enchilada sauce for the red sauce, since it was all I had on hand. I also didnt think that pizza sauce sounded very good on this. Also, I added taco seasoning to the ground beef, instead of just seasoning it with salt and pepper.

Mexican Pizza (from Allrecipes.)

  • 8 (6 inch) Mission® Fajita Flour Tortillas, cooked into crispy tortillas
  • 1 cup refried beans, prepared
  • 1 pound ground beef, chuck, raw (with taco seasoning)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons pizza sauce, prepared (I used green chile sauce)
  • 1 cup Mexican Cheese Blend, grated, prepared
  • 1/2 cup Roma tomato, fresh, small chop
  • 4 teaspoons cilantro, fresh, rough chopped
  1. To make the Mission® Crispy Tortillas: Place all 8 tortillas directly on the oven rack of a 350 degrees F oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve on your work surface.
  2. Heat the 1 cup of refried beans for 1 minute in the microwave to get hot and reserve for the recipe build.
  3. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper and saute for 8 minutes in a non-stick pan, drain and reserve hot for the recipe build.
  4. To build 1 Mexican Pizza: Place 1 crisp Mission® tortilla on work surface.
  5. Evenly spread tortilla with 1/4 cup hot refried beans.
  6. Evenly top refried beans with 1/4 (approximately 4 ounces) of the cooked ground beef.
  7. Top ground beef with second crisp tortilla and evenly spread 1 heaping tablespoon of pizza sauce over the tortilla.
  8. Evenly top the pizza sauce with 1/4 cup grated Mexican cheese blend and 2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes.
  9. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for remaining 3 servings.
  10. Place all 4 pizzas, at one time, in 350 degrees F oven on a cookie pan/flat pan, and bake for 2 minutes to melt the cheese. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro evenly over the top of each pizza. Serve each pizza whole.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Rich Hot Cocoa

I had such a sweet tooth tonight. After going through the pantry a million times and finding nothing that suited my fancy, I finally decided to make hot cocoa from scratch. So, I found this recipe at and boy oh boy is it GOOD. Sooo rich and creamy. I served this to my parents and Carl and Sam and everyone loved it. We only had big marshmallows to put in it, but it was so yummy. I will definitely be making this in the future. Its so quick and easy.

Rich Hot Cocoa (from

  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 1/2 cups hot water
  • Mini marshmallows (optional)
In large saucepan over medium heat, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Slowly stir in water. Heat through, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Top with marshmallows, (optional). Store covered in refrigerator.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Beans and Ham

I had a big ham bone left over from a Honey Baked Ham that we had on Christmas Eve. I decided that I was going to make some beans. This is such a simple, easy, filling recipe. Pinto beans are so good for us, I want to get my family to eat more and more of them, and not just in the re fried fattening way we love. Serve it up with some corn muffins.

Beans and Ham

2 cups dried pinto beans
1 ham bone or other leftover meaty piece
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste.

Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with 1 inch of water. Soak overnight. Or instead of soaking overnight, bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cover and let set for 1 hr. Discard soaking liquid. Now add 7-10 cups water and bring to another boil. Add onions and garlic and let simmer for 1 hr 30 minutes. Season with lots of salt and pepper.