Friday, January 14, 2011

Tres Leches Cake

I thought I'd share this incredible cake recipe today to go along with the mexican theme this week. I first had this dessert at Cafe Rio out in Utah, one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at. And, not surprisingly, this was one of the best desserts I have ever eaten in my life. For those non-Spanish speakers like me, "tres leches" literally means "three milks." Now before you start putting your guard up about the odd list of ingredients, just listen to why I love this cake: It is a very light spongey cake that is drizzled with three milks: sweetened condensed, evaporated, and heavy cream. It is unbelievably moist and rich and it oozes out goodness with every bite. And another great feature is that it will never go soggy! The sponge-like cake holds in moisture just like, well, like a sponge! Trust me on this one guys.. I promise you will not be disappointed. (Recipe and picture adapted from Taste of Home.)


  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Milk Syrup:

  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • fresh strawberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In the meantime, beat egg yolks on high speed for 5 minutes in a large mixing bowl until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup of sugar and butter. Stir in milk and vanilla. Gradually add flour and baking powder to egg mixture (batter will be thick). In a small bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold into batter. Spread evenly into pan and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream together in a small pitcher. Add in vanilla. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork all over. Slowly drizzle a third of the mixture over the cake, allowing it to absorb into the cake. Repeat twice. Let stand for 30 minutes.

To frost, whip heavy cream with sugar until thick and spreadable. Spread over cake and top each piece with a strawberry. Store in the fridge up to one week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

I was craving Mexican last night (go figure) but wanted something different from the regular tacos or enchiladas. I came across this recipe on Our Best Bites and was determined to try it. I changed a few things in the original recipe to make it a little creamier and more suited to my tastes and it turned out great! It was extremely healthy with a lot of fresh vegetables and high in fiber due to the black beans. The sauce was a sweet vinaigrette with a prominent lime-cilantro flavor. It's a cold pasta and would be fabulous for a meal on a hot summer afternoon with a big glass of lemonade. You can also remove the chicken and voila: a perfect side dish! My husband and I both loved it and I've been snacking on the leftovers since dinner last night. (Picture courtesy of Our Best Bites)



  • 1/2 lb. rotini or bowtie pasta
  • 1 14-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium tomato, diced into small pieces
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • zest from 2 limes
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  • 4-5 Tbsp. lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Boil pasta in salted water until cooked. While it's cooking prepare the dressing: Zest your limes and place zest in large salad bowl. Place the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and sugar into a blender. Process until smooth. Slowly add in canola oil while the blender is running on low, until fully incorporated. Add the mayonnaise and cilantro and mix until almost smooth, but with some chunky pieces of cilantro left.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse it with cold water to cool it off. Place the pasta in a large salad bowl with the lime zest. Add black beans, tomato, pepper, onion and chicken and mix together. Slowly pour dressing over salad and mix until all pieces are coated. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in cheese and store in the refrigerator until cold, about one hour.

Makes about 4-6 dinner sized servings or 10-12 side servings.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Creamy Cilantro Dressing

This is my favorite salad dressing of all-time. For those of you who live in the Western United States, you may have heard of a small chain-restaurant called "Cafe Rio." They serve the most incredible salad I have ever had in my life. And the dressing? Well I could seriously drink it straight from the cup rather than pour it on my salad. It's that good. I'm not exactly sure where I found this recipe, but it definitely satisfies my cravings when I'm away from Utah for a few months. It is thick and creamy with a fresh cilantro bite that is perfect over any green salad you have in mind. It's quick and easy to throw together and it stores for up to a week in the fridge. It even has this incredible milky-green color that makes for a beautiful presentation. (Picture courtesy of Our Best Bites)


  • 1 packet traditional Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded (optional)

Pour all ingredients into a blender and mix for about one minute, or until thoroughly blended.

Note: I never actually buy buttermilk from the store so if you don't have it on-hand, simply put 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar in a bowl and pour in enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes until it begins to get a little chunky on the top and pour into ingredients.

I always find tomatillos in the fresh produce section either by the tomatoes or by the spicy peppers like jalapenos and habaneros.