Posted at 10:39 am by NativeNM, on October 14, 2021
When I woke up this morning it was 34 degrees! There’s a cold spell rolling through NM with snowfall in the northern mountains. But even though it was near freezing this morning, the sun is out and it feels warmer with every passing hour. With the cooler weather upon us I had a craving for a bowl of soothing pasta. I made a grocery run and picked up fresh ingredients to make tomato sauce with spinach and basil. That combined with Italian sausage and cooked tortellini made a pasta dish that was made for comfort. We had a leafy green salad with toasted bread, olive oil and dipping spices on the side. Simple yet tasty!
On our recent vacation to Wyoming we experienced some wonderful food, both familiar and some that was new to our palate. Josh took us to Calico’s Restaurant and Bar one evening. He had been hearing good things about their menu and wanted to give it a try. I was in the mood for a light meal and ordered their Watermelon Arugula salad. It was a big plate of marinated watermelon chunks with a sprinkling of arugula and goat cheese. The flavors in the honey lime marinade/dressing came through with just the right amount of sweetness. I was so impressed with this salad that I couldn’t wait to recreate it when we got home. I wasn’t sure if I could find watermelon since Fall is upon us. But sure enough when I went shopping they had some good sized watermelons that were on sale. While I was putting this together I kept thinking that this salad seemed familiar and not just from tasting it at Calico’s. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had seen a similar recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Karen at Back Road Journal. Karen’s recipe is a Spicy Stacked Watermelon Salad with Feta and Arugula which is a spicy version that looks absolutely delicious! If you haven’t tried a watermelon salad, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Posted at 10:31 am by NativeNM, on October 1, 2021
September is one of the best times to travel. The summer travelers are headed back to work and school plus the weather is cooler. It’s been over 2 years since we’ve had a true vacation and I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed our time in Wyoming. Jackson Hole is where Josh calls home these days and we can truly see why he loves it so much. And to make our vacation complete, Cameron, our youngest son took some time off and joined us for the week as well. We all enjoyed the sights as Josh served as our tour guide taking us to picturesque places to hike and breathe the fresh mountain air. We had the most amazing weather, cool mornings with peaks around 75 degrees for a daytime high. But when the sun begins to set you better have a jacket nearby. One day was reserved to go to Yellowstone National Park. Between all of us we took hundreds of pictures of the many attractions along the way. We expected to see buffalo, moose or elk during our drive through Yellowstone but that didn’t happen until late in the day. As we started to head out of the park we spotted a lone buffalo who had us in stitches as he swam across a river and then promptly found a sandy spot where he rolled and rolled in the dirt. That was a highlight moment for sure! On other days we walked the shops in Jackson Square, went to one of Josh’s favorite places for stargazing near Mormon Row, and hiked along beautiful lakes with the most pristine clear blue/turquoise water you’ve ever seen. And the food . . . well, it was an experience in tasting new things and delighting in the discovery. But my favorite thing of all was the latte that Josh made especially for me.
Posted at 9:42 am by NativeNM, on September 3, 2021
Labor day for some signals the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. I love grilling outdoors and this year I bought a pellet smoker which has been so much fun to smoke ribs, burnt ends and pulled pork. So now I thought it would be fun to focus on one of our favorite side dishes. . . barbecue baked beans. There’s a lot of flavors packed into these beans including bacon, onion and jalapeno along with some sweet molasses and brown sugar. They are not just for outdoor picnics or family barbecues alone. I made enough for a meal or two and plan to freeze the rest in smaller portions that we can have later. If you are celebrating with family or friends this coming Labor day weekend you might want to make a pot of delicious barbecue baked beans to serve alongside.
Posted at 11:15 am by NativeNM, on August 27, 2021
Dion’s is a local restaurant chain that has been around as long as I can remember. They are famous for their pizza, especially the“505 Pepperoni and Green Chile” which is a family favorite. They also make salads and subs which are equally good. All of their subs are delicious but the one thing that stands out is the Greek dressing that comes on the side with most every sandwich. There’s just something about adding that dressing that makes their sandwiches so special. My favorite sub is the Roast Beef & Provolone. It comes on a crusty roll with melted cheese, roast beef, red onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, deli mustard and a pickle spear with a side of Greek dressing. Sounds simple but it tastes anything but. I found a copycat recipe online for Dion’s Greek dressing that tastes just like they serve at the restaurant. Once I had the dressing it was easy to recreate the rest of the sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always enjoy eating at Dion’s for their pizza, salads and subs but it’s satisfying to know that I can make a delicious sub at home that reminds me of Dion’s.
Posted at 10:03 am by NativeNM, on August 20, 2021
I’ve only smoked meats a few times and while the outcome has always excelled my expectations, the method of using charcoal was difficult. Using charcoal to smoke is tiresome and difficult to regulate the temperature that you need to maintain over so many hours. After many month’s of debate with myself, I decided to get a pellet smoker. I did a lot of research and weighed the pros and cons before deciding on a Z-Grill. I’ve used it 3 times now and the meat has come out excellent, the cleanup has been fairly easy and has made the overall experience of smoking meats much more enjoyable. Recently my sister Kat gave me a bag of Gourmet Pistachio flavored pellets made here in New Mexico. I couldn’t wait to give it a try and thought smoked carnitas sounded so good using a pork butt roast with a red chile rub. I couldn’t have been more happy with the results. After 11 hours in the smoker, it reached the desired internal temperature of 203 degrees. I left it wrapped and set in a cooler to steam and rest for 2 additional hours. The moment I unwrapped the aluminum foil, the aroma of smoked pork permeated the kitchen. It smelled so good and we couldn’t wait to pick off a little piece to try. It was moist and tender and pulled apart so easily. The bark with all the spices is my favorite part. We set aside enough to make tacos and vacuum sealed the rest in half pound packages for the freezer. You can make so many meals with smoked carnitas. Try making tacos, taquitos, wraps, nachos, quesadillas, or a burrito bowl with rice and beans. Maybe I can convince anyone who is considering smoking meats that a pellet smoker is the way to go. It’s like a whole new level of cooking. I find it a fun experience from the first couple of hours when the aroma starts to infuse the air until the moment you take that first bite.
Posted at 11:02 am by NativeNM, on August 13, 2021
It’s August and that means it’s green chile season here in New Mexico. It’s the time of year when the aroma of roasted chile is in the air. We pack our freezers with enough chile to last a whole year until the next years harvest and then we do it all over again. And there’s always a debate about who makes the best green chile cheeseburgers. NM even has a cheeseburger trail marked with a map to locate the the best green chile cheeseburgers in the state. I recently saw a burger on Instagram from the NM State Fair that had a Zia symbol branded on top of the bun. It was one of the most appetizing burgers I’ve ever seen with melted cheese and chopped green chile and if that wasn’t enough, it had a fried green chile on top. I showed it to Joe who immediately said, “I can make you a Zia for the bun”. He has a laser cutter that can burn an image onto all sorts of things. So I took him up on his offer and recreated the burger which I named the Zia Burger. This is the ultimate green chile cheeseburger, at least Joe and I think so!
Posted at 10:50 am by NativeNM, on August 10, 2021
The Jemez National Recreation Area is located within the Jemez Mountains which is approximately 50 miles north and west of Albuquerque. Jemez is an easy 1 hour drive for Joe and I. We’ve explored many cultural landmarks as well as gorgeous landscapes that includes geological formations of granite and red rock as well as volcanic rock. The mountains are full of peaks and valleys, mesas of every color and box canyons to explore. Over the last couple of years we have taken many day trips to Jemez. Every path leads to something different such as old railroad tunnels, water falls, hot springs, a soda dam, historical ruins and a goblin colony. These are just a few of the many sights to see in Jemez. The mountainous areas are gorgeous with Cottonwood trees along the rivers and streams that attracts fly fishermen and Aspen trees in the higher elevation areas. The people who live within the Jemez Pueblo maintain many of the customs and traditions of their ancestors. It’s easy to see why the people of the Jemez Pueblo would make this area their home. In the summer Joe and I love to escape to Jemez where the mountainous areas are a good 10 to 15 degrees cooler than in the city. The Jemez area includes little side roads, many of them dirt roads, that will lead you down a path of awe and bewilderment. It’s hard to capture the beauty of this enchanted area but I hope you can imagine it and maybe one day have a chance to experience it in person.
I haven’t had a cobb salad in ages They are traditionally made with a bed of romaine lettuce topped with sliced chicken breast, bacon bits, tomatoes, onions, avocado, hard boiled eggs and crumbled bleu cheese. I changed it up a bit to fit our tastes and substituted sliced green onions for the red onion and crumbled goat cheese for the bleu cheese. Joe suggested he would like deviled eggs instead of plain hard boiled eggs so that’s our twist on this classic salad. It tasted so good and with a simple vinaigrette drizzled over top. I prepped the eggs and bacon earlier in the day when it was cooler so as to avoid the afternoon heat. This salad was more than enough for the two of us plus leftovers for lunch the next day. Whether the idea of deviled eggs with a cobb salad sounds intriguing to your taste buds or not, cobb salad is a classic for a reason. You can take this tried and true recipe and change it up to make it your own.
El Malpais National Monument is located approximately 80 miles west of Albuquerque off of Interstate 40. There are two exits off of I-40 that will take you to different sights and things to do along those roads. For the El Malpais Overlook and La Ventana Arch, take exit 89 South onto Hwy 117 for approximately 15 miles. The overlook point stretches for miles and miles across a landscape that is covered in old lava flows and sandstone bluffs. The view is amazing, showcasing a valley of lava fields with colorful Mesa’s surrounding the area. We hiked from the top down to the area below for a little over 2 miles. It was a beautiful walk that we enjoyed immensely. A few miles further south on Hwy 117 is the La Ventana Arch. La Ventana is one of the largest arches in New Mexico and is very easy to get to with a short half mile hike. It’s a stunning sight from afar but as you get closer you will be in awe of the enormous beauty of this arch. Across El Malpais on the west side you can take exit 81 off of I- 40 and travel south along Hwy 53 from Grants, NM where you can hike trails through lava tubes and old lava flows. There is a “Big Tubes” area in which you will need to stop by the El Malpais Visitor Center to obtain a wild cave permit in order to explore the caves. Currently all the caves are closed due to covid until further notice with the exception of the privately owned the Bandera Ice Cave and Crater. There is a small Trading Post on site where you can get tickets. A couple of years ago we took Cameron (our youngest son) to see the Ice Caves and Bandera Crater which is located along the continental divide. It’s known as the land of “fire and ice” with the Bandera Crater and Ice Cave where the cave temperature never rises above 31 degrees. It seems the more we explore New Mexico the more there is to discover.