7 Cafe Rio Cilantro Lime Rice Copycat

Cafe Rio has a rice that pairs well in a loaded burrito smothered with enchilada sauce or in their Mexican salads.  I usually have it on the side along with my Pork Barbacoa taco.
I could never figure out what the green woody things were, but after reading the recipe from Favorite Family Recipes, it must be cilantro.  I like this recipe better than the one at Cafe Rio, which tastes a little too lime-y to me. 
Uncooked long grain rice is combined with butter, garlic and lime juice.

Look my post for my secret to fluffy rice.  I did this simple step in addition to the recipe.

This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon + 1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice, which is perfect for me.  Now who has 1 Tablespoon of fresh lime juice on hand?

Fortunately, I found a bunch of limes on sale last year, squeezed them and put them in ice cube trays.  Another great tip!

While the lime juice was thawing out, I prepared my chicken broth.  I love the chicken base from McCormicks that you can keep in your fridge for a long, long time.  Costco has now begun selling another brand that is lower in sodium, which I haven't tried yet.  The recipe calls for 15 oz. canned broth and I made 2 c. with the chicken base.

I added 1 teaspoon of lime juice to the rice mixture and brought it up to a boil.  I love these glass lids that let me know when it's boiling!      Reduce the temp to low and cook for 20-25 minutes (rather than the 15-20 as the recipe states).

I put 1 teaspoon of lime juice into the rice mixture.

I had 1 T. of lime juice left, to which I added 2 t. of sugar.

O.k. Now the recipe needs 3 T. of fresh cilantro.  Did you know you can freeze it too?  Just wash well and spin dry (or towel dry) in a salad spinner and freeze in a freezer bag.  Another tip for ya!

The leaves are chopped and added to the lime/sugar juice.  Very fragrant....
The rice is done and the lime juice mixture is added.  So good!
      Thank you, Family Favorite Recipes!
Cafe Rio Cilantro Lime Rice Copycat   
adapted from Family Favorite Recipes


9 Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa Copycat

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, is it not?

I found this recipe on Favorite Family Recipes after a bunch of gals in our neighborhood cooked this up.  This is cooked in a slow cooker, but you can save time with a pressure cooker.

So what is Pork Barbacoa?  It is a sweet, spicy shredded pork that is great in a stuffed burrito, in a Mexican salad, or just by itself with cheese in a flour tortilla.

I have made it a couple of times.  The first time, while it tasted good,  made WAAAAY too much sauce.  I either needed to cut down on the sauce or double the meat.  Speaking of meat, not any old pork will do.  Gotta have the rib meat or shoulder in order for it to shred.  The pork tenderloin from Costco won't do the trick!

The original recipe calls for 3 cans of diet Coke.  For this recipe, I cut it down to 2 cans total.  The first can is put in the marinade...

along with 1/4 c. brown sugar.  After looking at the recipe (which also includes another cup of brown sugar and 2 cans of Coke), I decided to dial DOWN the sweetness a bit.  The meat is put in and allowed to marinate overnight.  If you are lucky and have a FoodSaver, it will only take 20 minutes to marinate!

The original recipe state to discard the marinade and add more Coke and brown sugar before cooking.  Why?  I just avoided more sugar and Coke by dumping the meat AND the marinade into the crockpot.  Sure, the liquid didn't cover the meat entirely, but it still worked out great!  I shredded the meat with 2 forks. Or...use your Kitchen Aid mixer with the flat paddle for FASTER and easier shredding! 

Here's where the last can of Coke comes in.  With the enchilada sauce.  I opted to use my own Enchilada Sauce recipe, which I substituted the water for the Coke. This is not hard to make at all...

That definitely helped cut down on the extra liquid!  Of course, you can follow the original recipe by purchasing a can of your favorite enchilada sauce and using 3/4 of it...

I put just enough sauce (probably about 2 c.) to cover all the meat.  I think I had about 3/4 c. left, which is better than an additional 2 c. from the first time I made it.

My hubby and boys like their Pork Barbaco burrito style.  I made Cilantro Lime rice (recipe to come) and put it inside with black beans and the pork barbacoa.  Folded it up and put original Enchilada Sauce (not the barbacoa sauce) on top with some Mexican Blend cheese.

Here's the glam inside shot.  My boys were happy!  They said that it was good, and maybe better, because it was not as sweet as Cafe Rio's is.

And for me?  I am a simple gal.  Sprinkled some Mexican Blend cheese on a warm flour tortilla, spoon some pork barbaco on top, and I'm good.

That's all I need.  I'm happy.  Make this AND flatter your family ~

Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa  Copycat


7 Crispy Baked Taco Shells

I have grown to love white corn tortillas.  One of these days, I am going to learn how to make them successfully from scratch.  Anybody out there have a great recipe?  I'm all ears!

What I love even better is a crispy white corn tortilla shell.   Not those store-bought stale shells that crumble with the first bite...

I have a pair of these tongs that I haven't even used yet.  I haven't been able to dig out my deep fryer and use them...

I considered buying one of these taco racks to use in my oven, but I came across another blog (sorry, I can't remember which one) that had another option to baking some crisp, corn tortillas...

using the oven grates to hold and bake the tortillas!  What a genius of an idea!

First, the corn tortillas need to be softened.  I put 4 tortillas on a microwave safe plate, cover it with plastic wrap and microwave it on high for about 1 minutes.  (**on the left is 3/4t. chili powder mixed in with 1/4 t. salt)
I spray just a little bit of canola oil on one side of the tortilla...Previously, I did both sides of the tortilla, but all that did was create a greasy gunk on my baking racks...

and spread the oil all over with a brush.  **You can sprinkle some chili/salt powder on one side, if you like. 

Then I quickly hang it on the grates of a preheated 375ºF oven to bake for 7-10 minutes.  Be careful not to burn yourself...

Looks like there's enough space for your favorite taco filling...

Crispy, a little chewy...just how I like it!


9 Kitchen Tip: Three Ways of Measuring Shortening

This is a great gadget for measuring peanut butter or shortening.  But I have to hand wash it... Don't have one?  That's okay.  I am going to show you two other sure fire ways of measuring shortening AND getting it out.
I needed 1/3 c. of lard for my tamales.  The lard was in a block with NO measuring guides.  What to do?  Just fill up a see-through liquid measuring up with 1 c. of cold water.

Then add shortening/lard until the water line reaches the desired measuring mark.  See the water touching the 1/3 line?  That means I have 1/3 c. of lard.  Make sure the shortening or lard is NOT sticking to the sides of the measuring cup.  Drain the water and you're good to go!

Don't have a liquid measuring cup?  Here's my 70's style Tupperware cup, packed tightly with shortening.  I take the straight edge of my table knife and push it all the way down the side...

and go all the way around the edge of the cup...

and repeat going all the way around the edge of the cup...you will see the shortening start to come out...You will only have to go around the edge of the cup about 4 times.

The shortening will just magically "pop" out.  No scooping.  No scraping.  See how clean that is?  Give it a try!


10 Homemade Cream Puffs and Eclairs...Yes, it is possible!

After my college roommate made homemade vanilla pudding, she further amazed me by making eclairs.  Yes.  Eclairs.  If she didn't already have a boyfriend, she would've had boys lined up the door. 
Now you know our secret for having guys come over to our apartment.  We cooked.  We baked.  For boys. 

If you want to impress someone, make these.

Are they difficult?  No.  Just watch...

Put water, salt, and butter in a pan...

Bring it to a boil...

Add all purpose flour,

and stir it till it forms a ball.   Easy, huh? 

Next, add in an egg...

and mix it in well.

Then add in another egg; mix.

Then another one; mix.

And one more.  Your arms will get a nice work out...

If you want an eclair shape, you will need a pastry bag.  If not, you can use a large spoon and make round eclairs.  They will taste the same!  I put the pastry bag in a tall drinking glass to hold it while I fill it...

then gradually pull up the bag as it gets full...

I piped these on a parchment piece of paper.  4" long, 3" apart.  Next time, I'll make them "bite sized"...maybe 2" long.

Baked these for 30 minutes.  Boy, they really puffed up!

While the cream puffs cooled, I got the chocolate glaze ready.    Semi-sweet chocolate chips and butter were melted in the microwave...
Sifted some powdered sugar...

and added a few tablespoons of hot water.

Stir it all together to make a drizzling glaze.  Thin with additional water, if necessary.

Took a cream puff and split it down the side...

see how airy and pretty it is?  Man, that can hold a boat load of filling! 
I put in my homemade vanilla pudding.  You can use whipped cream, fruit, whatever your heart desires...the possibilities are endless!

Top it off with the dark, rich, chocolate glaze...

Mmmmmm....can't you just taste it?

I called my oldest guinea pig....er....son over for a taste.  See how quick he is?

I had to hurry for an "inside" shot...it was gobbled down quickly!  
Remember my secret?  I cook for boys.  All three of them ~

Eclairs with Chocolate Glaze  (4x6 printable recipe)   (full page recipe)

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