Posted at 4:04 pm , on February 22, 2019
I may have mentioned that we vacationed in the Florida Keys recently. We met up with Joe’s brother Chuck and our sister in law, Melody (whom I affectionately refer to as my sister of the heart). Mel found a little cafe tucked in the heart of Key West called Cuban Coffee Queen. She was an instant fan of their coffee and sandwiches and I am so glad she suggested we stop by for a quick bite. Her favorite is the Cuban Mix which is a more traditional Cuban sandwich with Mojo pork, sliced ham, cheese, pickles, mustard; you know what I’m talking about. But they also made some sandwiches that varied a bit from the traditional Cuban. I was intrigued by the Jose Marti which was loaded with Mojo pork, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and a horseradish mayo. Joe loves the traditional Cuban but I talked him into splitting a Jose Marti with me and it was fantastic. I immediately wanted to recreate it when we got home, of course Joe wanted his traditional Cuban with mustard and pickles so I made one of each. I researched how to make Mojo pork and found there are two ways to go about it. I could cook it low and slow in a citrus marinade until it pulls apart like shredded pork or marinate the pork first then roast it until the outer layer has caramelized leaving the inside of the pork moist and tender. I chose the latter and cut it into small bite size pieces to pile on our sandwiches. They tasted so good and much like the sandwiches we ate at the Cuban Coffee Queen. I can’t wait to make them again!
Posted at 2:12 pm , on February 19, 2019
Joe and I recently took a few days to visit family in the Florida Keys. We loved the warm sunshine and tropical weather. The ocean is beautiful, the food is great and family time was the icing on the cake. However, traveling included early wake up calls and long flights which was tiresome. I needed caffeine and sugar to keep me alert when I couldn’t get moving on those early mornings. After we went through TSA security I treated myself to a pastry and coffee. It’s one of those things I only have occasionally because I’m so addicted to it, hence the coffeecake. I’m still trying to reign in my indulgence, but until then I’m going to eat cake! What goes better with coffee than a sweet slice of coffeecake. I tell myself the blueberries are to make it healthier although I doubt anyone would believe me. It has such a moist texture and the warm blueberries just melt into the cake. Lemons are notoriously tasty with anything blueberry so I drizzled a lemony glaze over top. It’s like a little slice of heaven on a plate!
Posted at 11:43 am , on February 1, 2019
Lately the weather has been a bit on the extreme side, don’t you think! While the Polar Vortex is chilling the Midwest and our Eastern shores, we here in the Southwest are enjoying mostly sunshine and 50 degree temperatures. My boys are both in KC and have said it can be brutal one day and feels almost balmy the next at 20 degrees or better. I remember those times when it was so cold. We would hunker down in front of the fireplace with a good book and a bowl of soup. This is my comfort soup, the soup for the soul or maybe the soup that just makes everything better! It’s rich and creamy with loads of flavor and a little kick of spice at the end. And to top it off, add a touch of bacon bits, grated cheddar and sliced green onion. Where ever you are, stay safe and stay warm!
Posted at 1:52 pm , on January 28, 2019
Tacos Al Pastor are usually made with pork rather than chicken. And usually the meat is sliced thin and wrapped around a large skewer, then grilled on a spit. To me it resembles the way gyro meat is cooked. I love these tacos but for me, it’s really not feasible to make them the traditional way, especially for just the two of us. The sauce used to marinate the chicken has many of the ingredients of a Mexican adobado sauce, including dried chiles, achiote paste and pineapple juice. I made enough to put up in the freezer just like I do for red or green chile sauce. I didn’t have pork on hand but did have a large chicken breast that I thought would be a good compromise. I brushed a good amount of the sauce over the chicken and let it marinate overnight. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to grill it outdoors since it is Winter after all, but we were blessed with a day full of sunshine that made it possible. Who knows when we will have another day as nice as this! I heated the grill to about 325 degrees. The chicken was quite thick and needed to cook a bit slower and longer to keep the moisture inside. It took about 25 minutes to reach the safe internal temperature of 165 degrees. I turned it often so as not to burn the marinade, but rather let it caramelize and seal in the juices of the chicken. These chicken tacos taste so good paired with a citrusy tropical pineapple and mango salsa and a spritz of lime juice. With quite a bit of sauce left over for future recipes, I’ve been contemplating all the possibilities in which to use it. I’ll keep you posted . . .
Posted at 10:17 am , on January 18, 2019
I can’t tell you how much Joe and I have enjoyed being back in New Mexico. Everything old seems new again!! Don’t get me wrong, I will always miss KC and all the memories we made over 25 years. Things change over time and we have found that many of our old favorite places to eat are no longer open. We have inspired to try out a new restaurant, cafe, diner or local favorites each week to see all that Albuquerque has to offer. One that stands out is “Hannah and Nates Market Cafe” in Corrales, NM, which serves breakfast and lunch daily. The first time we tried H & N’s was with an old friend from high school, which made it all the more memorable. The atmosphere is so homey, actually it’s located inside an old house with several rooms throughout with an old kiva fireplace that makes you feel right at home. The menu has something for everyone and it’s hard to choose with so many delectable choices. Their lunch menu has many toasted sandwiches plus some New Mexico favorites. I ordered the New Mexico BLT and it was the best BLT I have ever tasted!! Seriously I love just about any BLT but this BLT with green chile, avocado and Monterey Jack cheese put it over the top. And for $1 more you can add an egg which is very New Mexican. This has to be the easiest sandwich I’ve ever recreated at home and one of the tastiest by far. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to top this NM BLT!
Posted at 6:14 pm , on December 26, 2018
I have memories of my Mom making traditional peanut brittle around the holidays. Everything she made always tasted so good. She used to make several different types of candies but the peanut brittle was always my favorite. That was back in the day, times have changed and now you can find red or green chile brittle here in New Mexico and it’s quite the addictive treat. Let me tell you about the green chile brittle. It has sweet and hot flavors coming from the spices on the pistachios along with green chile powder. Instead of using peanuts I added green chile pistachios which I think makes this brittle so special. First you taste the sweetness of the hardened sugar and corn syrup, next up you taste the flavors of the pistachio nuts and the heat from the chile powder coming on the back end. I’m a little obsessive compulsive and don’t know when to stop so I made another batch, this time adding red chile flakes and Pinon nuts aka pine nuts. I took some local NM dried red chiles and ran them through a grinder to get the fresh flakes that would spice up the brittle. The Pinons were roasted but unsalted so I added a hint of salt which helps balance all the flavors. Actually the red chile flakes were a bit hotter than the green chile powder which was a surprise to me. I couldn’t pick one over the other, they are both so good and such a treat this time of year. And the other thing about this brittle is how easy it is to make. I found a great recipe from “Veggie Obsession” who made brittle in the microwave. One bowl is all you need, just add the ingredients and microwave. Find the wattage of your microwave and use a conversion chart to find out how many minutes is necessary to microwave. Once you have the ingredients it only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.
Posted at 12:05 pm , on December 10, 2018
One of my favorite things to snack on is cheese and crackers. And with the holidays just around the corner it’s time to think about appetizers. Many years ago I would make a cheese ball around the holidays, but in recent years I found other things to make and the cheese ball became a distant memory. I’ve forgotten how good it tastes and think it’s time to bring the cheese ball back!! It’s not just the green chile that makes this cheese ball so special. Many of the ingredients are grown or produced in the state of New Mexico. It’s so easy to assemble, just pack all the ingredients into a food processor and blend. Once chilled the flavors meld together and the flavors are enhanced. It’s addictive to say the least, we are having a hard time saving it for snack time. It’s so good we could make a meal out of it . . . just kidding!!
Posted at 9:29 am , on November 20, 2018
For the first time in many years Joe and I will be spending Thanksgiving by ourselves. In years past we always spent the day with Joe’s mom. Our boys would also be there to feast on the traditional turkey and stuffing. This year has been a transitional year, Joe and I moved back to New Mexico about 6 month’s ago. Josh spent a year “down under” for the adventure of a lifetime traveling throughout Australia. He spent 6 month’s working at an observatory near Coonabarabran, which he called his second home. He met so many folks from all over the world and along the way made some lifelong friends. Cameron remains in the Kansas City area and is now part of the management team at Monster Mountain where he continues to share his love of rock climbing indoor and outdoor. He maintains and creates routes for the wall and coaches a group of young climbers that he is so proud of. We have a lot to be thankful for. Josh arrived back in the states on Halloween just in time to pass out candy and stayed with us for the past couple of weeks. He made plans to spend the holiday in California, but before he left for “The Golden State” he wanted us to share a Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. I just couldn’t see cooking a turkey with all the side dishes for just the three of us so we cooked up a smaller version that tasted just as good as having a traditional meal. It’s pretty simple and takes way less time to make. We layered slices of toasted artisan bread with baked chicken or (sub turkey breast) layered with stuffing, gravy and a dollop of cranberry sauce. Of course I had to have mashed potatoes and gravy on the side. It is the most delicious meal to make if you want to make a feast for just 2 or 3 people. Also this would be a great way to use any leftovers for those who have a traditional roasted turkey with all the trimmings. Whether you are entertaining for two or want a way to make your leftovers taste just as good as your Thanksgiving meal, give this layered open faced sandwich a try. Happy Thanksgiving!!
Posted at 9:25 am , on November 14, 2018
It’s apple season and I for one can’t think of anything more delectable than an apple cinnamon roll with a bit of caramel sauce and caramel glaze drizzled over top. And for a little crunch add a few sweet cinnamon pecans to the mix. What a way to welcome friends and family around the holidays with the aroma of cinnamon and apples fresh from the oven. I’m making a batch of sweet rolls to put in the freezer for the holidays. They can easily be thawed and reheated in the oven for a delicious breakfast or brunch. And if by chance there are any left, break off a piece to dunk in your morning coffee, it’s a real treat!
Posted at 9:41 am , on October 29, 2018
There are a lot of versions of Shepherd’s Pie, depending on where you grew up or what part of the country you reside. I’ve always viewed it as a casserole made up of seasoned ground beef and mixed vegetables topped with buttery mashed potatoes. It’s been forever since I’ve made a traditional Shepherd’s Pie simply because Joe doesn’t like many of the vegetables. However, the one thing that will entice him to taste something new is to add green chile, so I made a Shepherds pie with green chile as the main event. And to my amazement he liked it, so much so that I didn’t have to eat leftovers all week. Here in New Mexico the leaves are changing color and it’s damp with rain showers that are welcome, however the fall temperatures are dropping which sometimes makes it feel more like a winter day. On days like these I find myself yearning for some comfort food to take away the chills. Sitting in front of the fire with a warm shepherd’s pie takes away that chill, at least for a little while.