Happy Cinco de Mayo all! Cinco de Mayo has always been one of our favorite holidays to celebrate with spicy food and drinks. I have to admit I rarely drink alcohol but I do enjoy a good margarita now and then. It’s just as tasty to leave out the alcohol and make it a mocktail. Mangonada margaritas are made with chamoy sauce and are a favorite among New Mexicans. What is chamoy sauce? Well, it’s described as a salty, sweet, sour and spicy sauce made from a combination of dried fruits such as apricots, mangos or plums with chili powder, salt and sugar. Many of our farmer’s markets or outdoor arts & craft fairs will have a booth selling these tasty chamoy margaritas in a mason jar with lime and Tajin seasoning around the rim. They can be made with other citrus and tropical fruits but mango seems to be the most popular. The explosion of flavors is like nothing you’ll ever taste. I love the tangy salty flavors that are blended with the sweet fruit, spicy chamoy and Tajin spices. And, one day while I was in Spouts Market, I found a bag of spicy chamoy gummi worms . . . OMG they are amazing and fun to put a couple in your margarita! So cute and tasty too. If you haven’t tried one of these tasty drinks, it’s time to make one. You will be happy you did!
Ghost Ranch is one of the most beautiful places on earth in my opinion. New Mexicans call this Georgia O’keeffe county as she painted so many landscapes in and around Ghost Ranch. She first arrived in Taos, NM in 1929 where she first heard of Ghost Ranch. It took her a few years to make it back where she stayed at a dude ranch on Ghost Ranch property. She loved it so much that she came back and stayed as a guest of the owner Arthur Pack who owned and operated the ranch. In 1940 she bought the house in which she stayed. It was called Rancho de los Burros and she acquired it along with 7 acres of surrounding land. She eventually made her home in New Mexico permanent, and purchased another home/studio in Abiquiu which is just a few miles from Ghost Ranch. The land she loved is reflected in many of her paintings. I have always loved her work and am so lucky to wander some of paths she took so many years before and witness the beauty she captured in her paintings. These days you can visit Ghost Ranch by purchasing a day pass or book a stay including lodging or camping with an RV or tent. You can participate in art workshops or book a walking tour or go horseback riding. There is a museum on site as well. This is our first hike inside Ghost Ranch which has many trails to choose from. Since we are getting older we decided to do the hardest trail first because you never know when you might not be able to do it again. The Kitchen Mesa trail is the most difficult and longest hike on the map yet it is described as the most beautiful hike. I have to admit it wasn’t an easy trail with some narrow cracks to climb and steep slippery sandy areas on the edge of a cliff. But we took our time and managed to make it to the top. By the time we got up there I was losing steam and had to have a granola bar with some sugar to get my energy back but it was so worth it. Once we got to the top we had another 1 plus miles to look out over the landscape with the vivid colors of the terrain and sky. On this day there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and 65 degrees for a high. It was magical and Joe and I teased each other that I got to hike Kitchen Mesa before I turned 60 (just barely) and he turned it back on me to say he could still hike it at 60 (just barely). I guess that tells you how old we are but we are loving every minute discovering so many beautiful places in New Mexico that you can only witness from hiking there. I hope you enjoy the beauty of Ghost Ranch and especially Kitchen Mesa Trail.
If you ever have a craving for some giant meatballs stuffed with herbs and cheese, look no further than these chimichurri meatballs. They have so many flavors packed inside and the warm stringy mozzarella cheese makes them even tastier. I wish my boys were here to try them; meatballs never lasted long when they were around. But my audience of one (Joe) loved them. The chimichurri is made with parsley, cilantro and chives along with garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes salt and olive oil. It makes any meatball so moist and flavorful. We found these giant meatballs so filling that 2 were enough for a plate of spaghetti and sauce and also meatball hoagies. This one’s a keeper, plan on putting some up in the freezer. They make an easy meal over the summer when you don’t want to turn on the oven.
On one of our hiking ventures last year, Joe and I stopped at a roadside stand at Velarde, NM which is north of Espanola. Out front were baskets filled with fruit and vegetables for sale with chile ristras hanging all along the front of the building. What we didn’t know was there was a whole store inside an overhang that had all kinds of dried goods; they had a variety of dried beans, dried corn and red chile. We found jars filled with fruit preserves and salsa’s on shelves that looked so good! I ventured over to a table where we discovered packaged ground cornmeal in yellow, blue and red. I’d never come across red cornmeal before and was so intrigued that I had to have a bag. I had no idea what I would make with it but I knew I wanted to try it. It’s been a few month’s since then but I had an idea to make a savory cornmeal scone to eat alongside a pot of beans or soup. Since the cornmeal was red, I decided to enhance the flavor and color by adding roasted red chile and grated Oaxaca cheese. If you haven’t tried roasted red chile, it has a hint of sweetness while still maintaining the heat of the chile. Ever since I discovered roasted red, I’ve been experimenting with new ways to use it in recipes. I really love these scones and think think you would enjoy them too, drizzled with some red chile honey butter alongside a bowl of your favorite soup. I couldn’t decide if I wanted green chile stew or beans so I added some pinto beans to the stew and it was beyond delicious!!
Joe and I recently visited a Vietnamese restaurant here in Albuquerque and tried a Bahn Mi sandwich. It was good but it didn’t have the explosion of flavors that I’ve always heard a great Banh Mi should have. I did a bit of research and came up with a recipe that I think captures the flavor that I was expecting. Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich made with a crusty roll or a baguette, loaded with a marinated protein such as pork, chicken or beef, seasoned pickled vegetables and a tangy spicy dressing. One bite, and I knew this sandwich had exceeded my expectations by far. There are so many layers from the tangy salty flavors to the sweet and spicy tones. There are 3 preps that you need to do a few hours ahead to marinate the meat, brine the veggies and mix the sandwich spread. When it’s time to put it all together, you only need to stir fry the meat and lightly toast the baguette before building it. I hope this version of the Banh Mi Pork sandwich appeals to you as much as it did me!
Posted at 10:22 am by NativeNM, on February 23, 2023
There’s a cozy little restaurant “Hannah and Nates Market Cafe” that serves some of the best breakfast and lunch dishes in Corrales and Albuquerque. One of their signature dishes is the Heavenly Hash which is a mound of hash browns topped with cheese, bacon, sausage or ham, eggs cooked your way with red or green chile. They also make some of the best Eggs Benedicts in town. I always have a hard time deciding whether to order the Heavenly Hash or the Eggs Benedict, so today I’m combining the two with my own version of the perfect breakfast dish. It starts with hash browns that are cheesy and crisp on the outside topped with perfectly poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, crispy bacon bits and diced green chile. The combination is heavenly all right! Joe and I ate every bite, it was so good! But if you want a healthier version, ditch the hollandaise sauce as it is very rich in butter and egg yolks. I took several short cuts to make this timely dish easier with less mess. For instance using dehydrated potatoes cuts down the time it takes to make hash browns from scratch. Microwaving the bacon in less than 5 minutes while leaving no mess on top of the stove is a big plus! And I can’t say enough about using poaching bags; they are the way to go for perfectly poached eggs in only 4 – 5 minutes. It shouldn’t be hard to make breakfast this good!
Posted at 1:47 pm by NativeNM, on February 17, 2023
I am not sure if you would consider this grits or polenta with both being made from ground corn. Even my package of Bob’s Red Mill is labeled “Corn Grits also known as Polenta”. However, after looking at several online sources I decided my dish was a polenta dish. Recently Joe and I took our boys out for a seafood dinner which has become our tradition when we get together. Joe ordered blackened mahi with cheesy grits and sweet corn that was so so good! He gave me a taste and I wished I had ordered a side to take home, it was that good. The addition of sweet corn was what made this dish. I loved the contrast between the sweet corn and the savory butter and cheese flavors. After giving it some thought I decided to make a NM inspired polenta that included roasted sweet corn, cheddar cheese and green chile. I paired it alongside some red chile stewed pork that I simmered in my dutch oven all day. I thickened the juices from the pork with a bit more red chile sauce which acted as a thin gravy for the polenta. It was so delicious! We had a bowl of pork and polenta every day until we ran out of polenta. I froze the remaining pork to keep for another day.
Posted at 1:00 pm by NativeNM, on February 3, 2023
I love making pizza on a cold day. I crank up the oven to 500 degrees and heat up my comal as the kitchen becomes warm and toasty. And then there’s the aroma of pizza baked to perfection that will linger on within the kitchen. I’s been awhile since I’ve posted a new pizza, but I think this one is more than worthy of a post. It’s packed with healthy ingredients as well as flavor. Instead of tomato sauce, I brushed spinach pesto over the crust which goes perfectly with the spinach, artichokes and cherry tomatoes. I added some cooked chicken on top for Joe. I could go full vegetarian but he likes to have at least one meat on his pizza. The flavors blend so well together as they bake into the pizza. A sprinkle of toasted pine nuts over top gives it a little texture in every bite. As far as pizza goes, this one is at the top of my list.
Posted at 9:39 am by NativeNM, on January 27, 2023
What goes better with pasta and meat sauce than a warm crusty breadstick. Breadstick dough is pretty close to pizza dough, some say they are interchangeable. I find that most breadstick recipes add more sugar than pizza dough. Also breadsticks are baked at a lower temperature than pizza. But whatever the differences, wouldn’t you agree that breadsticks pair perfectly with pasta, soup or a salad. I did use my favorite pizza dough recipe as a guide but made a few tweaks that I think worked out pretty good. These breadsticks are crispy on the outside with a soft airy texture on the inside. Once they are out of the oven, brush some melted butter over each breadstick and sprinkle a mix of parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and Italian seasonings over top for the ultimate flavor burst. I could make a meal out of breadsticks and marinara sauce but I will try to curb my cravings. But I do think soup, salad and pasta with breadsticks will be on the menu this week until they are all gone!
Posted at 10:23 am by NativeNM, on January 20, 2023
It’s been a crazy busy time the last couple of month’s. Over the past few weeks we’ve had family in town to celebrate birthdays and the holidays. It’s the time of year when I can’t wait to be in my warm kitchen with the music cranked loud while baking pastries and pies to my hearts content! Joe’s family came in December to celebrate their Mom’s 90th birthday which happens to be on Christmas Day. Joe and Josh also celebrated birthdays just a few days later. Josh and Cameron didn’t make it here for Christmas as they are always busy with work over the holidays, but they took time off in January to come home and spend a few days. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my boys and that’s just too long! They both have limited kitchens and need an easily prepped meal after a long day at work so this recipe is for them. This is an easy go to meal that you can make in the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. It’s made with fresh ingredients that tastes incredible. It’s also interchangeable in that you can add more veggies to the sauce or change the protein. A side of leafy greens or roasted veggies makes this a complete meal.