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.
Where does the time go! It’s been 10 years since I started this time capsule of preserving my family’s favorite recipes throughout the years. Back in 2011 my oldest son Josh earned a degree in Graphic Design but decided he was going back to school and was moving on to pursue a degree in Physics/Astronomy. As he gained his independence he started cooking his own meals and wanted me to share some of the recipes that he could follow and make on his own. One day he surprised me with a newly designed blog to start sharing recipes. I can honestly say I knew nothing about photography or writing a blog. Through his graphic design knowledge he taught me how to take pictures in different lighting, how to crop them and also photoshop. As time went by I became more confident venturing out of my comfort zone and found myself trying new foods and new techniques that I had never dreamed of before. Food has always been about making memories and special events and every recipe tells a story which comes to mind every time I revisit an old post. In 10 years there have been some unexpected surprises and opportunities, along with meeting some wonderful new friends and blog colleagues along the way. Here’s a few of the highlights from some of my favorite moments as well as some of the most shared recipes over the years. One of my most treasured gifts was my very own cookbook (pictured above) that Josh designed and had published for me. Here’s my trip back in time over the last 10 years.
I don’t know about you all but it’s been a particularly hot month of June here in New Mexico. As we head into July we are finally seeing some cooler temps which is a welcome relief. I’ve been looking for something cool and slushy to make and sorbet just seemed like the perfect treat. This lemon sorbet is so refreshing with a little hint of lavender in the back end. It’s a light dessert that is cool and slushy leaving your taste buds wanting more. Sorbet is my summer go to when the heat of the summer kicks in. And most sorbet recipes can be poured into popsicle molds that are kid friendly. So no excuses, make lemon sorbet and if you can find culinary lavender, sprinkle some into the mix for the most tasty and refreshing treat this summer.
As I was making the Blueberry Lavender Jam, I couldn’t think of anything better than to pair them with crepes. It’s been awhile since I’ve made crepes and thought to myself “what better time than now”. These crepes are so versatile and can be filled with sweet jam, cream cheese, or sprinkled with sugar. But as good as sweet crepes are, they are equally delicious with savory fillings. Crepes are so easy to make, the batter is quickly made in a blender and then swirled in a non-stick skillet with melted butter. Crepes are light but hold their shape and appear as if they are lace doilies on a plate. The crisp edges are my favorite part especially when they are freshly made. I’m including a recipe for Chicken Enchilada Crepes for a savory filling that you might enjoy. The filling includes chicken, cheese and a green chile bechamel sauce. It’s topped with the remaining cheese and bechamel sauce and then heated until it’s bubbling hot. It was a delicious savory meal that Joe and I enjoyed immensely. Crepes are so versatile for sweet or savory fillings, or even to enjoy with a sprinkle of sugar.
It’s almost lavender season here in New Mexico. Normally there would be lavender festivals at Los Poblanos Farms in Albuquerque and at Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu over the next few week; however they will be cancelled for a second year in a row due to Covid. Luckily I live close to Los Poblanos which includes the Los Poblanos Historic Inn, Hacienda Spa and CAMPO restaurant that uses their own harvest vegetables to make up their menu. They also have a farm shop with a bakery and many lavender products including culinary lavender and lavender honey. And they make lavender lotions, soap and hand sanitizers plus many more items. Our first lavender festival experience was just after our move back to New Mexico. We went to the Purple Adobe Lavender Festival near Abiquiu. We had a wonderful time and would encourage anyone who has a chance to visit next year in late June or first of July to please check out these wonderful festivals. Earlier in the week I visited the farm shop and picked up some lavender and honey to make Blueberry Lavender Jam. It was a wonderful combination of slightly sweet blueberries with a hint of lavender flowers in the background.
May is truly my favorite time of year. The warm sunshine makes me feel so good being outdoors and enjoying nature. Whether it’s going for a walk or watching the roadrunners and quail stop by to feed in our backyard, it’s the simple things that make me happy. This month has gone by way too quickly and now the Memorial holiday is upon us signaling that summer is just around the corner. I hope you all have a festive weekend and enjoy your time relaxing with family, friends or nature. I’ve been craving something cherry and decided to make some Cherry Cheesecake Bars for the weekend. What a great dessert to cap off the weekend! It’s easy to make and a crowd pleaser for any get together!
For the past few month’s I’ve been partnering with NM Dept. of Agriculture on a campaign to promote local New Mexico products. I try to come up with creative recipes using these products in ways that may seem “outside the box”. This week I tried a soup mix from Cibolo Junction and a dressing mix from Jillipepper. With the weather turning warmer soup isn’t ideal so I used the mix to make Braised Chicken and Rice. The ingredients list is light on the details but it includes different types of chiles, cilantro and lime with rice. It sounds Southwest but Joe and I both agreed that it had a lot of Cajun flavors going on. A possibility might be because I used less liquid and the flavors were enhanced. It was quite tasty and Joe (who loves Cajun dishes) really enjoyed it. This was paired with a simple salad on the side with Jillipepper’s Dress It mix. This dressing mix was one of the best things I’ve tried yet. I used it as a marinade for chicken, a dressing for pasta salad and had a little bit left over for our salads here. The one thing I’ve found is that using good local products helps our economy and can make our meals a bit easier to prepare. Of course I will always enjoy the meals made from scratch but it’s been fun trying out new things and tasting all the local products. Some products come from our local restaurants while others are entrepreneurships that have started out of one’s garden or kitchen. I’ve found some real gems that I would buy over and over again. Even if you don’t live in NM, maybe this will inspire you to try local products from your state that give you new and innovative ideas to incorporate them into your meals.