Tuesday, September 8, 2009

cafe rio

what can i say about the cafe rio salads that hasn't already been said a thousand times? that i pine for them, and dream about the day when i will go back to utah for a visit and eat a dozen of them?

ok, that might seem a bit extreme, but i seriously miss these salads.
i'm sure all of you that have had one will agree/commiserate with me. yes?

we used to eat there at least two times a month, more if i could convince rory. so, since we don't have them here in cali, i tried the knockoff recipes circling the web. it was soo good. the dressing was spot on. it tasted just like i'd remembered it. the thing you must do with this salad is layer. layer layer layer. first a tortilla (we love the ones you cook yourself from costco), melt some cheese on top of that too, yum. then comes the black beans, lime cilantro rice, and meat. then the lettuce, tomatoes (or pico de gallo), avocado if you have it, more cheese...and tortilla strips. i forgot those, but it was still delish! next time i won't forget them!

now, i know you can't see the good stuff, and it just looks like some lettuce with dressing. but what lurks underneath that healthy stuff is the deliciousness.

now on to the recipes.

Creamy cilantro tomatillo salad dressing adapted from Becky Higgins

1 packet dry hidden valley ranch dressing
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 c. mayo or sour cream
2-3 tomatillos (peel off outer leaf/shell)
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
juice from 1 lime (about 2 tsp.)
salt & pepper

Blend all ingredients in the blender. Refrigerate.

Cafe Rio Lime Cilantro Rice adapted from various recipes on the web

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups water (mixed with 3-4 tsp chicken bouillion)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp butter

Saute garlic and butter until soft, don't let it burn! Add rice and cook for a minute or two, on medium heat. Add water and bouillion mixture, and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. After it begins to boil rapidly, reduce heat to low and cover with lid. Stir occasionally, and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Lime Chicken from The "I don't cook" syndrome cookbook (so not really a "cafe rio" recipe, but it was very tasty!)

1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Mix all ingredients and let chicken marinade in the fridge for several hours. Cook chicken however you like, grill, stovetop, or oven.

Or try it with some pork barbacoa!

Pork Barbacoa
from Wonder Mom Envy

2 pounds pork
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can sliced green chilies
3/4 can RED enchilada sauce
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.

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