Mexican Caesar Salad with Cilantro Pepitas Dressing

– johanna | July 16th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

One evening, we decided to stop off at a local taco place for dinner. We love it because we can get three tacos for a dollar. For two dollars, we can feed our whole family. That night, however, I noticed they had a new salad on the menu and decided to try it. I had never heard of a Mexican Caesar salad. It seems logical since the guy who theoretically invented the Caesar Salad, did so in Mexico. The salad was delicious. I asked the manager if I could have the recipe for the dressing. Unfortunately for me, he did not know it because the dressing comes into the restaurant premade. Apparently, I was not the first to ask him for it either. I found this recipe for the dressing on thefeastwithin.com. Pepitas are used in both the salad and the dressing. Therefore, toast the 1/4 cup called for in the dressing plus extra for the salad.

Creamy Cotija Cilantro Chile Dressing:
2 Pasilla or other fairly mild large chile peppers, roasted, skinned and seeded
1 small bunch cilantro washed and stemmed, about 1 cup
1/4 of a small wheel of Cotija Cheese, about 1/4 cup packed.
1/4 cup Pepitas (roasted salted pumpkin seeds)
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
3/4 Canola or mild tasting olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
Large pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt
A little water to thin, if necessary

Roast the chilies using your preferred method. Remove the skin, stems and seeds. Place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic, cheese, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper and the pepitas. Pulse, 15 seconds until smooth. Add the cilantro leaves. Pulse off and on and then let run until smooth. Mix in the Mayonnaise until creamy. Place in a jar in the fridge- will keep about 3-5 days. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to thin for drizzling if it sets up. Serve over all kinds of salad -it’s really good over grilled chicken or pork.

The Salad:
Cooked grilled seasoned chicken or already cooked Rotisserie chicken, chopped
Toasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Tomatoes, diced
Lettuce
Coljita cheese or other cheese such as parmesan or feta
tortilla chips or strips

Place the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat or in the oven at 350. Toast until light brown color about 3-5 minutes. Remove the seeds from the pan to a small bowl to cool. In a bowl, tear or cut the lettuce into bite size pieces. Add the tomatoes, pepitas, cheese and chicken. Top with the tortilla chip strips.

***To make the homemade version of tortilla strips cut corn tortillas into strips. Fry in heated oil until light brown. Or coat with olive oil and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

| No Comments »

Roasting Peppers

– johanna | July 16th, 2008

Filed under: KITCHEN SCIENCE

A few weeks ago, a friend and I got together to start a monthly cooking class. Her theme for the class was “Cooking in Season”. Our menu consisted of “Fruit Skewers”, “Greek Steak Salad with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette“, and “Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Cake“. One of the ingredients for the Steak Salad was Roasted Red Pepper. We both agreed we disliked the taste and texture of the bottled roasted red peppers; therefore, we omitted it. The salad turned out great, but it was definitely missing the red peppers. Another recipe I absolutely love that calls for roasted peppers, is Mexican Caesar Salad with Cilantro Pepitas Dressing.

Roasting peppers can be done several ways; on the grill, the oven and on a gas stove.

Gas Stove
Wash the peppers. Use cooking tongs to place the pepper on the burner of a gas stove. Roast over medium to high heat, turning until all sides are charred.

Oven
Coat peppers lightly in olive oil. Place under the broiler for five to ten minutes until the skins is blistered

To Peel
Seal the peppers in a plastic baggie, bowl or a pot with a lid. The steam will help loosen the skin. After ten minutes, take the peppers out and carefully peel or scrap off the skin. It is ok if you do not get all the skin off. It will add a little flavor to your dish.

***when roasting hot chili peppers use caution and always wear gloves.

Technorati Tags: ,

| No Comments »

Pudding Punch Bowl Cake

– johanna | July 12th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

This is my mom’s famous punch bowl cake. Once I tried making her delectable coconut cake, but it turned out to be a mess, because the layers were slipping off each other. So, into the bowl they went with all the ingredients for mom’s punch bowl cake. Turned out great.

1 angel food cake
1 can crushed pineapple in natural juices
1 large pkg of cook-&-serve vanilla pudding
1 can cherry pie filling
nuts
Cool whip

Cook pudding and cool. Divide cake into three pieces. Break one piece into small pieces in the bottom of large glass bowl.  Spread a layer of 1/3 of the pudding, 1/3 of the pie filling, and 1/3 of the pineapple. Sprinkle nuts. Repeat two more times.  Cover with whipped cream and decorate with cherries, nuts, or whatever. Refrigerate for at least three hours.

Alternatives: try using pound cake or white cake instead of the angel food cake. Sprinkle some coconut flakes between the layers and on top.

I bought this trifle bowl for a friend a could of years ago and I loved it so much I bought one for myself. Considered it an early Christmas Present. The price was great and I love the sides are straight and tall. Makes for a nice presentation.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

| 1 Comment »

Rhubarb

– johanna | July 11th, 2008

Filed under: THE GARDEN

The ancient chinese believed the roots of the rhubarb plant contained medicinal properties. Today, however, the stalk is generally used in sauces and desserts. Rhubarb looks like a red stalk of celery. Unlike celery, rhubarb is sour and requires a generous amount of sweetener, which is why it is better known as the “pie plant”.  While you can eat the stalk, the leaves are extremely poisonous if eaten. Keep them away from pets and children.

When choosing rhubarb look for a firm crisp stalk. To prepare, remove the leaves, trim the ends and cut into pieces just as you would a stalk of celery. Rhubarb can be used in sauces, chutney, compotes, pies, cakes and jams. Pair with another sweet fruit such as apples, raisins or strawberries. Any left over rhubarb can be cut up and frozen.

Recipes:
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Cake

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

| No Comments »

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Cake

– johanna | July 11th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

If you have never tried rhubarb before, this recipe is the perfect introduction. This recipe is from makeandtakes.com.

Cake:
3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
2 tbsp butter/margarine, softened
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 t. vanilla

In large bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Cut in margarine, to resemble fine crumbs.
In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients. Spread 1/2 batter in greased 9 x 13″ pan or dish. Add filling then spoon remaining batter in small mounds on top of filling.

For the Filling:
3 cups fresh unsweetened rhubarb, cut into 1/2 pieces or 1 (13 oz) pkg frozen unsweetened rhubarb
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced or 1 (16 oz) frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/3 c cornstarch

In saucepan on low heat, combine the rhubarb and strawberries. Cook fruit covered about 5 minutes Add lemon juice. Add the sugar and cornstarch. Cook and stir 4 – 5 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Cool. Spread over the bottom layer of batter.

Topping:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup margarine

Combine sugar and flour; cut in margarine. Sprinkle sugar crumb topping on top of batter in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and devour!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

| No Comments »

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

– kami | July 8th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish, RECIPES - Soup / Salad

This is my personal favorite pasta salad. It’s easy, filling, tasty, and a cinch to make!

1 pkg. Spiral Pasta (Rotini)
1 pkg. Italian Salad Dressing Mix (Plus enough Oil, Vinegar and Water for the mix)
1 pkg. Pepperoni
2 Cups Cheddar Cheese Chunks
1/4 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, cut up
1 Cucumber
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse pasta with cold water. Meanwhile, chop up pepperoni into fourths, cheese chunks, dice tomatoes, quarter cucumbers, and dice bell pepper. Prepare salad dressing according to package directions. Mix it all together in a big bowl and chill before serving or serve immediately.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

| No Comments »

Seven Layer Salad

– kami | July 8th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

This is one of my all-time favorite salads. The recipe was given to me by a very good friend but she was vague about the amounts so use as much or as little as you prefer.

Iceberg Lettuce, chopped
Celery, chopped
Peas
4-5 Hardboiled Eggs, sliced
Mayonnaise with a little sugar
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Crumbled cooked Bacon

Layer salad into a bowl in order listed with lettuce first and bacon last. It’s beautiful to look at through a glass bowl and a tasty salad to serve at parties!

Technorati Tags: ,

| No Comments »

Orange Julius

– kami | July 8th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Beverage

Some of my best memories of summertime included my dad making Orange Julius for everyone. It’s a simple recipe and better than the kind you get at the mall in my opinion.

1 1/2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 Cup Milk
1 tray Ice cubes
6 oz Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate

Blend together all but the Orange Juice first, then add the Orange Juice Concentrate and blend well. Enjoy!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

| No Comments »

Movie Night at the Drive-in

– johanna | July 7th, 2008

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES

I have always loved movies. Some of my clearest childhood memories are of going to the movies. I can remember the whole family going to the drive-in and another time sitting on my dad’s lap watching Raider’s of the Lost Ark.

During the summer, our local movie theater hosts a free movie day every week. The feature films are all G-rated kid friendly films. I have not attended a free movie day yet because, the thought of my kids taking off in a packed theater does not interest me at all. However, a couple of years ago we met a couple who told us about one of their favorite summer family activities. As we were sitting on the couch in their front room, they excitedly told us about one of their favorite things to do during the summer, is going to the drive-in theater. The best part was when they told us that they take their work truck and load the couches on the flat bed to watch the movie in comfort.

Another way to enjoy the comforts of home, is to host your own drive-in theater. If you have younger children, help them make their own cars out of cardboard boxes. Set up a “Snack Bar” and a ticket booth. Set a price for each item. Give each child enough fake currency to buy a ticket and snacks.

If you have the money, teenagers and are tech savvy an inflatable projection screen for the backyard is worth checking out.

 

Technorati Tags: , , ,

| No Comments »

Texas Blue Bell Dump Cake

– johanna | July 6th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

At the time I was living in Texas, Dump Cake and Brisket were the stars of many a backyard barbecue. The cake mix dotted with butter creates a rich crust similar to a Betty or cobbler; but extremely rich. The religious rite required a scoop of vanilla Blue Bell ice cream to top it off.

1 box pudding in the box yellow cake mix
1 can chopped pineapple
1 can cherry pie filling
1-2 sticks of butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350°. In a 13X9 baking pan pour in cherry filling and pineapple. Casually stir around. Pour dry cake mix over fruit, completely covering fruit. Slice butter into thin slices and place over cake mix, slices should touch. Bake for 1 hour until top is browned. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

| 1 Comment »