Posted at 1:41 pm , on March 29, 2019
On our recent visit to the Florida Keys we enjoyed some really tasty seafood. On the last day we packed our bags and started the drive back to the mainland to get ready to catch our flight home. We stopped in Islamorada to have lunch and found this lovely restaurant called Lazy Days where we enjoyed an ocean view lunch from the second story patio. I was intrigued when I read the description of the “Billings Salad”. It was a big bowl of salad greens topped with Coconut Shrimp, Fried Cream Cheese, Apples, Grapes and Caramelized Walnuts with a Raspberry Vinaigrette. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had never heard of fried cream cheese except in a Won Ton and as it turns out, the cream cheese filling tasted just like that. Their fried cream cheese was in the shape of large flat triangles and was warm and creamy. The shrimp and cream cheese completely covered the top of the salad. This salad looks very similar to the salad I had at Lazy Days although I made a couple of substitutions. It’s such a hearty salad and the warm cream cheese really compliments the rest of the ingredients. Whoever created this salad is genious! I’ve never had anything quite like it.
Posted at 11:40 am , on March 22, 2019
Today I’m sharing two of my favorite things. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of favorites going on in this bowl, but the main event is a well seasoned skirt steak and fries. I’ve always loved layers of flavors and this bowl has it all, including melted Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, green onion and cilantro with a dusting of queso fresco cheese to top it off. I can vouch for these fries, I’ve been making them for years. They are baked in the oven, yet taste as if they were fried. They are lightly seasoned and stay crisp throughout the pile of layers. Now that it’s officially Spring, I’m looking forward to longer daylight, warmer days and more time to spend outdoors grilling. A good skirt steak is one of my favorites to grill, it tastes so good in dishes like this that can be sliced or cut into bite size pieces. I’ve been seeing a range of new recipes combining steak and potatoes sometimes called Steak Frites or Loaded Steak Fries which inspired this bowl. Remember when rice bowls were all the rage; I can’t wait to see these pop up on menus around town!
Posted at 1:23 pm , on March 12, 2019
As promised, I have another way to use the sauce that makes the best Al Pastor tacos. Taquitos are something I grew up on and have loved all my life. They are basically rolled tacos made with corn tortillas and filled with anything from ground beef to chicken to pork to steak; really you can fill them with anything that tastes good. And the fun part is that they are the best finger food made for dipping. Usually I dip them in guacamole or salsa but today I am going with green chile dip. Pork is the traditional meat when making Al Pastor and I’m going to take a small pork roast and cook it low and slow until it will easily pull apart with 2 forks. It may not be the traditional way of making Al Pastor pork but it’s just might just be the tastiest to roll up inside a tortilla yet. There’s not much else to say, except you gotta try these!
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!!