Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cafe Rio Chicken

Apparently there's a chain restaurant in Utah called Café Rio which has a great following.  I had run across a couple of copy-cat recipes in which everyone raved about their food.  I had to try it.

An odd combination of zesty Italian salad dressing and an envelope of Ranch Dressing mix, plus some other seasonings, it was an intriguing recipe to try.

A local market has some split chicken breasts on sale for $.99/lb so I picked up a package and used it to make a batch.  It's a really interesting flavor combo which you could use for tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, or salads.  This batch gave me four 8-oz servings (I froze three of them for quick meals in the future) and used this batch to make chicken tacos.

It's a great recipe to make and leftovers freeze very well for future quick dinners.

P.S.  I also have a recipe for their salad dressing which is great for a green salad to serve with Tex-Mex meals.  I'll post that soon.


2 lbs chicken breasts
1/2 cup zesty Italian salad dressing
1/2 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
1/4 cup water
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin

Place chicken in a crock pot. 

In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken.

Cook on high 4-6 hours on low 6-8 hours. 

Remove the chicken from the crock pot and shred (have you tried using a hand-mixer?  Great trick!!!  Just start on low and check often or it'll turn into chicken mush!)

Remove half of the liquid from the crock pot and put in a bowl.  Add the chicken to the crock pot and combine with the liquid left in the crock pot.  You want the chicken to be nice and moist.  Add more of the liquid if needed.

Serve in tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas, etc. 

Recipe Source:

Friday, April 28, 2017

Turkey Shepherd's Pie

I had some leftover frozen mashed potatoes and ground turkey in the freezer looking for a new home.  I ran across this recipe on AllRecipes and it was a perfect combination.

The recipe called for canned mushrooms which I never have, but sliced some fresh mushrooms and sautéed them with the ground turkey.  You could add some more vegetables (corn, green beans) for a bit more color.  Surprisingly, the tiny 1/4 tsp of dried thyme really added some flavor (I'll probably increase it a tad more next just because I like that added punch of flavor).

Easy and quick to assemble (especially if you have any leftover mashed potatoes).  Serve it with a steamed asparagus (or other green vegetable) or a green salad and maybe a good baguette or artisan bread for a perfect meal.  This could easily be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake.


3 large potatoes, peeled
2 Tbsp butter, room temp
1/4 cup warm milk
ready-made mashed potatoes

1 Tbsp EVOO
1 onion, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1 large carrot, shredded
1 (4.5 oz) can sliced mushrooms (or 8 oz package fresh mushroom, sliced)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp dried thyme, or more, to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 Tbsp AP flour
S&P to taste

If making freshly-made mashed potatoes, boil potatoes until tender, 15-20 minutes.  While potatoes are cooking, gather other ingredients.

Mash potatoes with butter and milk.  Season with S&P to taste.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; stir in onion.  Saute onion (and fresh mushrooms, if using....otherwise, add canned mushroom later on) until it has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in ground turkey, carrot, mushrooms, parsley, thyme, garlic, and chicken bouillon.  Cook and stir until meat is broken up and cooked through.  Add S&P to taste.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute more.

Transfer meat mixture to a deep dish pie pan or casserole dish.  Spread mashed potatoes over meat and swirl with a fork.

Bake in a preheated oven until tops of mashed potatoes are lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Recipe Source:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Maple Bourbon Pecan Chicken

After reading Kristin's review of this recipe (see link below), I knew I had to try this recipe.  Maple. Bourbon. Pecan. Chicken.  Over mashed potatoes.  Why wouldn't you try it?!!!

I will let her flaunt the attributes of this delicious dish, as well as her beautiful photography.  But it's a recipe I just had to share.

Maple Bourbon Pecan Chicken (4 servings)

1 1/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup flour
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp bourbon (I, too, used Maker's Mark)
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 chopped pecans
3 Tbsp maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers

Add flour to a shallow baking dish and season with S&P.  Dredge each chicken thigh in the seasoned flour then shake to remove excess and place onto plate. 

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together chicken broth, maple syrup, pecans, Dijon, vinegar, soy, and rosemary and set aside.

Heat olive oil in 12" cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add chicken thighs and then sear until golden brown on one side, 1-2 minutes, searing in batches if needed to not overcrowd.  Flip then sear until golden brown on the other side and then transfer back to the plate (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point).

Remove skillet from heat then carefully add the bourbon.  Most of it should evaporate very quickly (use caution if you have a gas range as the alcohol could flame briefly).  Return skillet to the heat and then add the maple syrup mixture.  Turn the heat up to bring the liquid to a simmer then turn heat down to medium and nestle the chicken back into the skillet.  Loosely cover the skillet with a piece of aluminum foil then simmer until the sauce has reduced and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes, flipping the thighs once or twice.

Place chicken on plate the scoop sauce over the top and serve.

Recommended:  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Recipe Source: Iowa Girl Eats

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

22nd Anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing.  On that day I stood on the 21st floor of the First National Bank Building, 2 blocks south of the Alfred P. Murrah Building.  The blast was so strong that it made me fall.  Someone in my office said "that's the Federal Building."  I said, "NO!  My brother works in the Federal Building."

I'll never, ever forget that elevator ride to the first floor.  I was exhilarated.  I hated my job and the women I worked with.  A day off!!!!  Our family was so close and Oh! So lucky!  Nothing like this could have ever happened to us.

I drove from downtown OKC to my parents' home, going down East Reno Ave. as the interstate (I-40) had already been blocked by OKC's finest (see The Oklahoma Standard).  I got to Mom and Dad's house.  They had heard and felt the explosion but weren't worried.  We lived near Tinker Air Force base and had experienced several plane crashes during the Vietnam War.  But the plume of smoke was in a different direction.  Dad stayed out in his garden.  I remember the television was on and was showing the chaos downtown.  Our friend, Mrs. Johnson, called to say her son had seen Paul helping out and we were so relieved.  I wanted to page Paul (this was before cell phones) but my dad said "NO!"  We need to stay out of the way and let him do his job.  Dad stayed in the garden, but Mom and I were inside.  She sat on the sofa and I laid down next to her with my head in her lap.  I think we both knew.

Some time after, Dad became concerned.  This feeble old man decided he needed to go downtown the St. Anthony Hospital which was the "clearing house" for bombing info.  And can you believe it?!!!!  On the "Treated and Released" board was the name "Paul Ice!"  Oh, how happy we were.  But where was he????

A couple of nurses who were assigned to help family members came to Dad's aid.  It turned out that there was a Paul Ice who was a janitor at the church across the street.  Now, you have to realize what irony this was.  Ice, especially in the 50's, 60's, 70's in relatively small-town OKC was an incredibly unusual last name.  And we were all related.  And Paul was not a very common Christian name.

Our panic grew.  Some hours later, we learned that Paul's secretary had been rescued and was in St. Anthony's.  I went.  She cried and said Paul was standing in front of her at the time of the blast.  She didn't think he had survived.

I made it back to Mom and Dad's.  And there we waited eight days before Paul's body was recovered.

OKC was lucky in that, unlike 9-11, all of our victim's bodies were recovered.  Does that make it any easier?  After 22 years I can tell you "NO."  I didn't just lose a brother I came to adore, this country lost a man who served his country as a Lt. Col. in the Marines and as a Senior Special Agent with U. S. Customs (now called ICE.......oh! how he would have loved that!)

When you see a police vehicle, I hope you will always remember my brother: Paul Ice (POL-ICE).  He loved his job as a soldier and a law enforcement office.  We were all blessed to have him in our lives, if you knew it or not.

P. S.  Forrest Gump was one  of his favorite movies and the "Feather Theme" was the song that was one his answering machine the morning of the bombing.  There were so many messages on his machine when we went into his home that evening.  Everyone who called heard him say, "I'm not here, but take a minute to listen to this music."  What I wouldn't do to have that recording again.

He was just the nicest guy in the world and I miss him terribly, even 22 years later.  Doggone it.

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Paul Ice

Forrest Gump Theme Song

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Southern Squash and Shrimp Quiche

I was looking for something different for Easter dinner.  Since there's just the two of us, I really didn't want to go down the traditional ham dinner route (not that I don't love that, there's just too much leftover).

I happened upon this on the Publix website and thought this sounded like a good alternative.  So right!  It had been a while since I made a quiche and I don't know why.  But this is a great choice right out of the gate.  It is a great combo: shrimp, squash, Old Bay Seasoning, and fresh basil.

I served it with steamed asparagus, fruit cup, and a crusty baguette.


1 medium yellow squash, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
8 oz peeled/deveined shrimp (tails off), coarsely chopped
1 frozen deep-dish pie crust
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 large eggs or 1 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp hot pepper sauce

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut squash into small cubes (about 1 1/2 cups); chop basil and shrimp.  Place piecrust on baking sheet for ease in handling; bake 5 minutes or until sides are set.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in medium, nonstick saute pan on medium heat.  Add squash, cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender.  Remove pan from heat, set aside to cool slightly.

Combine in large bowl eggs, mayo, sour cream, 1/4 cup each of the cheddar and mozzarella, Old Bay, and hot sauce; whisk until blended.  Stir in basil, shrimp, and squash.  Pour egg mixture into piecrust.  Top with remaining 1/4 cup of each cheese.  Bake 30-35 minutes (NOTE TO SELF:  Mine took a bit longer, at least another 15 minutes) or until center is set (it won't jiggle).  Transfer to a wire rack and let stand for 15 minutes to set.

Recipe Source: Publix Aprons

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Chicken Fajita Pasta


2 Tbsp EVOO, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 envelope (3 Tbsp) taco or fajita seasoning
2 cups diced onion (about 1 whole onion)
2 cups diced bell peppers (2-3 peppers; use green or a green and a red)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup regular or heavy cream
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles or 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (for a less-spicy version)
8 oz (about 3 cups) uncooked penne pasta
1/2 tsp salt

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Season with half of the taco seasoning.  In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil is very hot, carefully add the chicken in a single layer and cook without stirring until one side is seared and browned, about 1-2  minutes.  Flip the chicken to the other side and cook until browned.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining Tbsp of olive oil to the skillet with the heat still on medium-high.  When the oil is very hot again, add the onions, peppers, and remaining taco seasoning.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are slightly blacked.  Turn heat to low, add minced garlic, and stir until fragrant and well-combined, about 30 seconds.  Remove the veggies to the plate with the chicken.

In the same skillet, add the broth, cream, tomatoes, uncooked pasta, and salt.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then cover, turn heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes until pasta is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed.  Add the chicken and veggies back into the skillet and stir to combine until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I love lettuce wraps.  They're delicious, healthy, and fun to eat.  There's a bunch of different recipes so you can customize them to suit your tastes. 


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

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook and stir ground beef or turkey in cooking oil in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly.  Drain and discard any grease; transfer to a bowl.

Cook and stir onion in the same skillet used for beef/turkey until slightly tender, 5-10 minutes.  Stir in hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chile pepper sauce into onions.  Add water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef/turkey; cook and stir until the green onions just being to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center.


1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp chile paste, or to taste
sugar, to taste
green onion, green part only, sliced, optional

Recipe Source: AllRecipes

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Broccoli and Rice

Another 30-minute one-pot (well, one pot and one saucepan) meal that's got it all: color, texture, and taste!  So easy to put together.  For step-by-step photos, see the link below.


8 sliced regular or turkey bacon, diced
12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 cup diced onion
12 oz (about 4 cups) broccoli florets, roughly chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (10 oz) cans Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles or 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes (for less spiciness)

For the rice:

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups water
1 tsp salt


2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup extra-sharp shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp each S&P

Add the diced bacon to a very large skillet or dutch oven and turn heat to medium-high.  Cook the bacon until crisp, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, dice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Season generously on both sides with S&P.

When the bacon is crisp, use a slotted spoon to remove to a plate.  If needed to grease the bottom of the pan, add butter and olive oil to the skillet.  Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for five minutes, flipping once halfway through.  Remove the chicken to the place with the bacon.

Add the rice, water, and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 14 minutes.  When done, remove from heat.

Meanwhile, add the onion and broccoli to the skillet where you cooked the bacon and chicken.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until broccoli is tender and onions are brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add in minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Top with tomatoes, rice, chicken, and bacon and stir to combine.  Reduce heat to keep warm

For the sauce:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the flour until just combined.  Add in the chicken broth and stir well.  Increase heat to high and cook until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat and add in cheese and S&P.  Stir until cheese is melted, then pour in the skillet with the chicken and rice.  Stir to combine and serve.