Friday, September 28, 2012

Pork Chile Verde Burritos

I love Mexican food! As my last class in Culinary Arts we ran a Restaurant called Greg's,on the weekends in the McKay Events Center at UVU.  During the week we learned about a certain cuisine, got our assignments for the restaurant and started prepping for the weekend. During Mexican week I was on line 2 and had to prepare 2 of the 4 appetizers and 2 of the 4 Entree's. One of which was Pork Chile Verde Burritos, along with all the sides. Lots of work! On Thursday, just before dinner service, I finish up adding the chile's and put the lid on for it to simmer. I started going over my recipe to make sure everything was right and I realized, I put the WRONG chilies in. The recipe called for Pablano Chile's and I added Serrano. I was going to die...I didn't know what to do. Pablano chile's are pretty mild and Serrano's are some of the hottest chile's there are. I was so nervous but it was too late to remake everything! I let it finish cooking while finishing the other sides. 5 min before dinner service Chef Troy came around to taste everything. I held my breath, still deciding if I should say something, when he said "good job, it tastes great!"  Few, I felt like a ton of bricks was lifted off my shoulders. Half way through dinner service,  Chef Greg, who started the Culinary Arts program and the Restaurant, got up from his table, came into the kitchen and yelled "Who made the Chile Verde Burritos?" uh, oh..I just new I was in trouble. I sheepishly raised my hand, not knowing what to say and he then said "This is the best chile verde I have ever tasted, Great Job!" and then walked out. Best night ever... in Culinary school! A couple nights ago My mom had a ton of tomatillos from her garden that she didn't know what to do with so I decided to recreate my success.  My school book is in storage right now since we are in the process of moving and so I found this recipe from Food Network and gave it my own little twist. Hope you enjoy! 

Pork Chile Verde

Source: Adapted from Food Network


  • 4 pounds pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 green bell pepper, Roasted 
  • 3 Serrano chilies, finely chopped
  • 2-3 jalapenos, seeds removed, and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves or 3 T of already minced Garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock


Season the pork meat generously with salt and pepper, lightly flour. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat and brown pork chunks well in small batches, on all sides. Spoon pork out of pan and place in a wide soup pot. Turn oven on to broil. 
Roast the green pepper over the burner until black. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge to sweat. 

Place the Tomatillos,1 chopped onion, 2T garlic, 1 Serrano pepper and 2 jalapenos in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven for about 10 min. Remove the charred skins from the tomatillos and peppers. (including the green pepper) and blend in a food processor with all the juices from the pan. Set aside 

Place the remaining onions and pepper in the same skillet that the pork was browned in and sweat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until limp, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the chilies and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, then add the rest of the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.
Add the Sauteed vegetables, chopped roasted tomatillo mixture, dried herbs and cilantro to the meat, cover with the chicken stock and bring up to a boil and reduce to a slight simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork is fork tender. Fill tortillas with the Chile Verde, Best Spanish Rice, and Rustic refried beans and roll up. Top with more sauce and cheese,  then melt under the broiler or in microwave. It's like being at a restaurant but better! 

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

For my internship I worked at a Reception center called White Willow, located in Provo, UT! It is a great place and I loved it there. This Parmesan crusted chicken was one of my favorite things that we made there. At White Willow we made it with roasted potatoes but I think it's wonderful with any side, especially pasta! I made this as one of the Entrees that I served at the Graduation party with Anniversary Bow-tie Pasta and my Easy Garlic Breadsticks.

Parmesan crusted chicken

1-2 bags of garlic croutons crushed in a food processor or blender
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Caesar dressing
Creamy Italian dressing

Instructions:Mix equal parts of the dressings together.
Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together.

Dredge chicken in dressings and then in crumb mixture.

 Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 min

Anniversary Bow-tie Pasta

Anniversary Bow-tie pasta

Adapted from Favorite family Recipes


1pkg. Bow tie pasta
1/2c. Butter
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4c grated Parmesan cheese
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 pint heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2lb bacon, crumbled
Toasted pine nuts to taste
Instructions:Boil pasta until al dante. Don't overcook. In a wok or heavy skillet melt butter. Sauté garlic for a min. or so and add Parmesan cheese and bouillon cubes. When bouillon cube is dissolved, slowly stir in cream and S&P. Add cooked pasta to cream sauce and toss until covered. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon,pine-nuts and Parmesan cheese. Toss together and serve.

Serve with Parmesan Crusted Chicken, and  Roasted Asparagus or Green beans.

Easy Garlic Breadsticks

These are so fantastic and easy if you don't want to make your own dough. My family always had Rhodes rolls so this was a easy way to have something different than just your basic roll!

Easy Garlic Bread sticks


Rhodes rolls
melted or room temp.butter
garlic powder
Italian spices
Parmesan cheese

  • Let rolls defrost/rise for 1-1 1/2hrs. stretch them out and then holding the ends of both sides twist in opposite directions 

  • Mix butter,garlic,Italian spices, and Parmesan cheese to taste. Brush over the top of dough. Spray one side of Plastic wrap with Pam and cover dough and let rise until double in size.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min or until desired brownness. 
I grew up in a family of ranch fanatics so we like to dip them in Ranch but they are delicious with any kind of Italian dipping sauce.

Island Pork Tenderloin

Congratulations!  When my husband, Porter, graduated from Notre Dame we had a Graduation Dinner with a big group of friends, who were all graduating. Each couple paid $20 and I went all out! I made this with Basic Rice Pilaf, Cooked apples and pears, green beans, Roasted Red pepper coulis, and Candied orange zest as a garnish. I don't always cook this way, with the full 5 components of an entree, but when I'm cooking for an event I usually get a little over excited!  The other Entree I did for this party was Parmesan crusted chicken and Anniversary Bow-tie pasta, with a Pesto Sauce on the side. Appetizers:Tomato Basil Brochetta, Bacon wrapped water chestnuts, and Shrimp Cocktail.  Desserts: White Chocolate Brownie Trifle, and Creme Brulee.  We had such a great time!

Island Pork Tenderloin

Adapted from P90X cookbook
2lb Pork tenderloin 
1T oil 
1 t Salt
1/2 t pepper
1 t Chile powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1T fresh Garlic, finely chopped
1T Ta patio hot sauce (any hot sauce will do)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Clean Pork and coat with spice rub (by clean I mean..cut off fat and silver skin. The silver skin is the dark silver layer. When cutting it off you don't want to dig into the pork,it's just a thin layer. Insert the knife underneath the layer of silver skin and carefully slice to one edge, then with one had hold the loose piece up and take the knife back in the other direction. )
3. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat and brown pork on all sides
4. Place in roasting pan. Stir together glaze and spread on top of tenderloin. Bake in oven for 20-30min.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Candied Orange Zest

Candied Orange Zest

  • 2 oranges
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • additional sugar for dredging zest strips
  • Wash oranges thoroughly.  Carefully trim zest (orange outer layer of peel) in wide strips using a small knife or vegetable peeler.  If zest strips have any pith (the bitter white layer of the peel) on them, carefully cut or scrape the pith off with a small knife. Cut zest strips lengthwise into thin julienne (long) strips.
  • Place zest strips in a small sauce pan and cover with cold water. Cook over medium heat until water comes to a simmer.  Simmer for 6 minutes.
  • Drain strips and then return to the sauce pan and add 1/3 cup of water and 1/3 cup of sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook over low heat for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, until strips turn translucent and the sugar and water begin to thicken.
  • Remove from the heat, and using a fork, take the strips from the sauce pan and place on a sheet of wax paper.  Separate and spread out the strips on the wax paper and allow to cool slightly. Then roll the strips in sugar until well coated and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
 I remembered doing this in School but couldn't remember exactly how to do it. Luckily I found this recipe! I like to use this as a garnish on the Island Pork Tenderloin or just eat it as candy!

Cooked Apples & Pears

When I was planning the menu for our Graduation Party I was trying to think of different flavors that would play off each other. The sweetness of these apples and pears is so good for any topping but paired with the spicy, savory flavor of the Island Pork Tenderloin it is fantastic.

Cooked Apples & Pears   

2 apples (cored, pealed, and diced)
2 pears (cored, pealed, and diced)
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Add all the ingredients to the pan and let cook to your liking. The apples and pears will produce their own juices but if you would like it more syrupy then add a little water.

Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

This is one of my favorite things I learned in school because you can do so much with it. You can use it as a design on a plate, a sauce over pasta or chicken, add it to soup..the possibilities are endless!

Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

2 large red peppers
1 small onion
2tsp minced garlic
1c Water
1 chicken bullion cube

  • Roast the red peppers on the burner of the stove. Once they are completely black loosely wrap them in saran wrap and put them in the fridge. This will allow them to sweat and make it easier for the charred skin to come off. 
  • Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in butter, until translucent. 
  • Dissolve the bullion cube in the water and then add to the onions and garlic a little at a time, Letting it reduce until there is about a half cup in the pan. 
  • Once you've added all the broth, pour it into a blender. Unwrap the peppers and peel off the blackened outside skin, cut the stem out and add to the blender and blend.
  • Serve hot over pasta, meat, or whatever you like. you could also  pour into a squeeze bottle to make a design on a plate.

Basic Rice Pilaf

I  have never been a big rice person but I love rice pilaf. I like to make this all kinds of different ways. sometimes I'll add diced mushrooms or peppers to the vegetables or at the end I will add in chopped cashews and Parmesan cheese. You can also use chicken broth or stock in place of water and bullion cubes. It usually just depends on what I have in my house that day.

Basic Rice Pilaf

1 small onion,diced
2 carrots, small diced
2 stalks celery, small diced
2 cups white or brown rice
4 cups water
4 chicken bullion cubes
Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Over medium - high heat, saute vegetables in butter until translucent.  
  2. Add rice and saute while mixing it in with the other vegetables. 
  3. Add water and bullion cubes. let it come to a boil then cover and turn temp. down to low
  4. let simmer for 15-20 min or until the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and fluff with a fork. 
Serve with Island Pork Tenderloin, Parmesan crusted chicken or eat it by itself. The sky is the limit! 



 I'm just going to through this on here just in case some of you don't know how to prepare an artichoke.  Once I picked some up at the store and the Lady next to me started asking what they are and how you cooked them. I told her about it and she decided she would try it. I hope she liked them!
Wash and boil for 30-45min depending on how big they are. When it is done you will be able to pull firmly and the leaf should come out easily. You want to eat the bottom of the leaf and just scrape the meat out with your teeth. Dip in melted butter or mayo. once you get to the middle the leafs start getting very small and then there is a fiber like hair that you pull or cut out to get to the Heart. The heart is the best part.

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

By far this is my favorite Summer salad. Sometimes I will add other berries to it and it reminds me of the Nuts about Berries salad from Zupas Cafe.

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

5oz Romain or mixed greens
5oz fresh Spinach
1pt. Strawberries,sliced
optional: Diced fresh pineapple, blueberries, or raspberries. (not in picture)
Wash and combine greens, strawberries and nuts. Coat with poppyseed dressing. Toss gently

Poppy Seed Dressing:

1/4c Sugar
1t. dry mustard
2 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 T poppy seeds
1 tsp. Salt
1/3 c. Vinegar
1 c. Salad Oil
Combine sugar, salt, mustard, vinegar, and onion in blender. Slowly add oil. Once combined stir in Poppy seeds. Refrigerate until ready.

Caramelized Pecans or Almonds:

1/2c. sugar
1/2c. nuts
Combine in saucepan. Slowly cook until all sugar has melted onto nuts and they are browned. Put on wax paper to cool. When cooled break up and sprinkle desired amount on salad. I did this salad for the Graduation party on individual plates and added Pineapple and blueberries to it. It's delicious!

Sour Cream Potatoes

Sour Cream Potatoes

By Denise Smoot
Some people know them as Funeral Potatoes

8-12 Medium Potatoes
2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup
1c Sour Cream
1/2 c. Chopped onion (can used minced, I like fresh)
1c. Grated cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
3/4c. buttered, crushed Corn Flakes
2T melted butter, sprinkled on top

  • Wash Potatoes and boil until almost done. approx.30min.
  • Peel and grate into a large bowl
  • Add onion, chicken soup, sour cream, cheese and seasoning. Mix together and spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish. 
  • Crush cornflakes in a zip lock bag and add 1T butter sprinkle over Potato mixture and pour 1T butter over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min. 
I like to serve with the Mushroom Brisket or Easy pot roast. 

Best Guacamole

My mom has been making this for years. My brothers would always be so excited when she made it and would eat it all, in one sitting! Delicious with my Chile Verde pork burritos and Best Spanish rice.

Best Guacamole 

Source: Denise Smoot 
4 ripe avacados
1 small minced onion
dash of lime juice
salt & pepper to taste 

Best Spanish Rice

Mexican night with the Family! After making the Chile Verde for Burritos and Rustic Refried Beans my Mom and I decided we needed a quick recipe for Spanish rice. We had just made our favorite Salsa and had plenty to spare so this was the perfect recipe.

Best Spanish Rice

2 T oil
2T chopped onion
1 1/2c chicken broth
1c chunky salsa or my homemade Salsa

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent, about 5 min. 
Mix rice into skillet, stir often. When rice begins to brown, stir in chicken broth and salsa. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 min, until liquid has been absorbed. Serves 5

Rustic Refried Beans

I love bacon! You can add bacon to pretty much anything and it will be better. In school we had a Mexican Restaurant night and the Chef told my partner and I to make some refried beans, I had never made them before and didn't have a recipe. Chef gave me a basic way of softening and cooking the beans and then said "Just throw whatever you think would be good in"....So here it is! Serve with Chile Verde pork burritos ,Best Spanish rice and Best guacamole.

Homemade Rustic Refried Beans

1lb bag Pinto Beans 
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and cut into pieces
2 cups chicken broth
1t  minced garlic

  • Soak pinto beans overnight or cook in water for 1 1/2 hr. Drain and rinse. 
  • Saute onions and garlic until translucent. Add bacon and saute for another minute to get the flavors mixed. 
  • Add the pinto beans and chicken stock/ broth and simmer for another 1 1/2 hrs. When the beans are soft enough to mash I like to blend them with my electric  hand blender, but you can mash them with a potato masher or mixer. 

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Does anyone like Houston, Texas? We spent our first married summer there while my husband sold security systems. it hot and humid! I know we only spent a summer there and if we had been there longer and actually had time to explore and get to know the area, I'm sure I would have liked it more. I worked in the office scheduling the installations for the technicians as Porter was out selling in the Houston heat.  Some days it would poor rain and we would come home to little baby frogs all over our apartment. We lived on the bottom floor of our apartment building, so I'm sure that was part of the reason. One night a pillow fell off our bed, in the morning it was completely covered by ants...gross! I promise I kept the apartment clean..I vacuumed almost everyday! They were nice apartments too so I came to the conclusion that this was just Texas. One of our friends invited people over one night and made cookies. She left the plate on the floor during the night and the next morning got up, not really looking at the plate, picked up a cookie, took a bite and swallowed. She then felt something tingling in her throat and then little pinches. She looked down at the cookie, and to her surprise there were ants all over it.  Luckily these don't have any ants on them. After being the only one in the office and working 12 hour days we finally got another girl to come work with me and so I got to have some time off. Some days I would go to my friends apt. and we'd make these delicious cookies. She always had cookie dough in her freezer and we had to be careful or we would eat the whole batch.

 Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1c Shortening 
3/4c sugar
3/4 brown sugar
2 eggs
1t vanilla 
1t baking soda
1t salt
2 1/2c flour
2c chocolate chips

Cream together shortening and sugars. Scrape down to make sure it is all mixed.  While mixing at 1 egg at a time, make sure it completely mixed in and add the rest of the ingredients. Scoop into balls and bake at 350* for 8min. I love mine really gooey so I take them out right at 8 min. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mushroom Brisket

 Birthday Dinner! Mine and my husbands families live just across the street from each other and both have 3 younger brother whose ages fall right in between each others. I then have 2 sisters just younger than them and we both have 1 older sibling, Porter's is a Brother who has 2 kids of his own and lives in Arizona and mine is a sister with 2 kids and they live in Cedar Hills, UT. Right now there are only 3 of those siblings who are still at home but on the weekends we get a good group together. Especially now during Football season with Fantasy Football going.   Anyway...We all love to get together and get along really well so it makes it very convenient for Birthdays and Holidays! We are continually running back and forth from house to house and sometimes we will just combine and have Sunday Dinners together. My husbands Birthday was one of those days, and we made him one of his favorite meals. Brisket, Sour Cream potatoes, a Strawberry Poppy-seed salad and Artichokes! It was delicious!

 Mushroom Brisket

Adapted from: Tracy Tonks Brisket
5lbs or more Brisket
8-16oz package of fresh Mushrooms,sliced
1 Lipton onion soup mix envelope
1-2 cans of beef broth
Rinse meat in cold water. Put in oven roasting bag and sprinkle with Lipton onion soup mix.Place in roasting pan and cover with lid or foil and bake at 400* for 15min. Reduce heat to 325* & bake 3hrs. Take meat out of bag and pour juices into roaster. Let meat cool then slice thinly. Put meat back in pan and add 1-2 cans beef broth and cover with sliced mushrooms. Cover and bake an additional 1 1/2-2hrs. Uncover for last 15 min.

I know it takes a long time to make but it is so worth it and very easy. It's a great Sunday meal because I can let it cook during church and once we get home I can finish it up and prepare the rest of the meal, while it finishes cooking.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mixed Berry Peach Cobbler

Sunday Sept. 16th we celebrated my wonderful husbands 29th Birthday! He wasn't too excited about being older and has been trying to stay healthy, so he didn't want a big cake! We thought and thought of what we could do and finally he decided that this Mixed Berry Peach cobbler and Vanilla frozen yogurt would do. Even though I'm not sure how much better it is for you.

 Mixed Berry Peach Cobbler

2 quart sized jar of canned peaches
1 bag of frozen mixed berries
1 1/2-2 white or yellow cake mix
1/2 c Butter

  • pour peaches and berries into 9"13' baking dish
  • sprinkle cake mix over the top. (I love the crust so i always put extra) 
  • melt butter and drizzle over the top 
  •  Bake at 350 degrees. Check after 30min and if the sides are bubbling and the top is browned then it's done if not leave it in for another 10min.



Friday, September 7, 2012

Cream Potatoes & Peas

This recipe brings me back to a simpler time when the demands of life weren't so crazy. It was a time when you couldn't get on a computer or just pick up your smart phone and search for a recipe to make for dinner. This was a time when everything you consumed was produced from your own hard work. My grandmother used to pick all of the ingredients from her own garden and make this soup for my mom, and my mom made it for me.  Although we are unsure of the recipes origins, it is inexpensive and delicious. All you need are 3 main ingredients!

Cream Potatoes and Peas

4 cups Water
8-12 Medium Red Potatoes,cut into 4ths
small package of Peas
1 can of canned milk
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4c cold water
Seasoned salt & Pepper to taste

  • Boil Potatoes in water until soft
  • add peas and canned milk without draining the water. It should thicken up a little bit.
  • Meanwhile, make a slurry by combining the cornstarch and cold water. Slowly add the slurry a little at a time letting it thicken. You may not need to add all of it.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste. I like seasoned salt because it adds a little more flavor!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

White Chocolate Trifle

This is such a great dessert! It's so rich and creamy, you just can't get enough. This was one of the desserts I did for our Graduation Party but I made  individual servings in water glasses. I'll have to make the individual one again to get a picture!  


White Chocolate Trifle

Source: Adapted from


  • 1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 3/4 cups cold milk
  • 2 (3.3 ounce) packages Jello instant white chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 cups frozen cool whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee bars, chopped


  1. Prepare brownies according to package directions, except add 1 extra egg than it calls for. Bake and cool completely. Cut into 1 inch cubes.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and pudding mix until mixture begins to thicken.  Fold in whipped topping.
  3. Fill a piping bag with pudding mixture
  4. In a glass serving bowl, layer one-third of brownie cubes, one-third of pudding mixture and one-third of candy. Repeat layering until all ingredients are used. Chill 30 minutes in refrigerator before serving.