Monday, November 26, 2012

Green Smoothie

As I have mentioned before, I am not very good about getting in my daily servings of fruits and veggies so one way I have discovered to help me consume more fruits and veggies (besides juicing), is to make these green smoothies. They taste pretty good and are super easy. Plus, the Greek yogurt adds lots of protein.

The recipe below made one glass for me, a sippy cup full for Jack, and a little leftover to give Josh when he gets home. Jack loves smoothies and drank it all! It's a great way to get kids to have more fruits and veggies too! You can tell them it's a "Monster Smoothie" or a "Christmas Smoothie" if they need a little more coercing. Please forgive my not so exact list of ingredients. I just eyeball it every time and add more of whatever I need.
  • Handful of kale
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2-1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 cups frozen fruit (I like the tropical fruit mix from Target, their Market Pantry brand)
  • About 1/2-1 cup water, juice, soy milk, or other liquid of your choosing
Blend until smooth, adding more liquid if too thick or more frozen fruit or ice if too thin. If it isn't sweet enough you can add honey or use flavored yogurt instead of plain. You can use whatever leafy greens you have around in place of or in addition to the spinach and kale. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


We did not decide to do another reboot this week, as you have probably noticed looking at what I have cooked, but we are still trying to juice on a regular basis. It is such an easy and delicious way to get your fruits and veggies!

This morning I made juice with these ingredients (pictured above):
  • 4 green apples
  • 4 fuji apples
  • 5 large carrots
  • 4 oranges
  • a few handfuls of kale
This made plenty of juice for 2 adults and one hungry toddler. Jack loves when we juice. When I am making juice, he yells, "Ju!" with such enthusiasm. Although we find it completely adorable and hilarious, I am afraid he will yell it in public someday and people might get offended. So, if you ever happen to witness this, please realize he just likes his juice and is still working on developing his speech. We love all people :)

The Land of Chile

I live in New Mexico, not only known as "The Land of Enchantment," but as I am sure any New Mexican would agree, it is also the Land of Chile. That's chile with an "e," not an "i." Chili is what most people are familiar with, the stew-like food made of various peppers, meats, beans, etc. Chile refers to the peppers, which are a huge part of New Mexican cuisine. The best peppers and most popular are from Hatch, New Mexico, which is in the southern part of the state. They harvest them in late summer and at every grocery store in the state you will see big roasters outside. Most people buy them by the bushel and have them roasted, which softens them and gives them a delicious flavor. Then they bring them home and freeze them so that they can use them throughout the year for enchiladas, rellenos, salsa, or to add to a burger or hot dog (really, it's good in so many things)!

It's difficult for non-New Mexicans to understand the the whole chile obsession, but if you move here or spend any significant amount of time in the state, you will most likely be converted, as I was when I originally moved here over seven years ago. The problem is, once you're converted, it's very difficult to live without it. The first time I moved to New Mexico, I lived in Las Cruces for three years then moved back to Lubbock, TX. While Lubbock is only a couple of hours from the New Mexico border, they did not have green chile (in the quantity I desired with the option of having them roasted). I was so distraught imagining a year without my chile, that I drove two hours away to Clovis, NM to buy some (crazy, I know). Our third year in Lubbock, the wise folks of West Texas finally came to their senses and began selling and roasting Hatch green chile. My dreams had come true. And the following year we moved to Albuquerque, where I would never lack my beloved pepper. In fact, I even bought a deep freezer this year so that I would have plenty of room to store them. I know, it's a little crazy. Although, I have to admit, a deep freezer comes in handy for storing many things, and if you have seen the movie Bernie you might be thinking of other things that some might store in their deep freezer (side note: this is one of the funniest movies I have seen in a long time, if you haven't seen it, DO IT!).

I know now you can find fresh Hatch chiles many places throughout the country, especially in the southwest, and most likely in many larger cities in other regions as well. However, if you are not so lucky, most grocery stores at least have the canned version, and if you can find the canned Hatch chiles, chose those over other brands (trust me, I have experience here).

Last night I used our plethora of peppers to make The Pioneer Woman's Lazy Chiles Rellenos. This is not the traditional way of making rellenos, which usually involves stuffing the pepper and frying it, but it is a tasty and much less time-consuming alternative. As she mentions in her post, she is not lucky enough to have the access to fresh green chiles that I do, so she makes hers with canned chiles. I used mine from our freezer, but other than that I followed the recipe. She said to cook 30-40 minutes, I had to do 40, which may have been my oven (which is older than me), the altitude, or something else altogether. I served mine with flour tortillas because it was all I had on hand, and some black beans.

It was really delicious, Josh and I both liked it. I bought the hot chiles this year (you can buy them in mild, medium, or hot), and they were super spicy! When I have made enchiladas with them, they were almost too hot, but I liked this recipe because I think the milk and eggs helped mellow them out a little, yet they still had a kick. When I had the leftovers for lunch today, I bought some tortilla chips and those were really tasty with them. I think it might also be good to fry tortilla strips and bake them on top of the rellenos. I may try that next time. That way it also has the crunch that traditional rellenos would.

All in all, this was a great recipe, easy, inexpensive, and I was able to prepare it ahead of time, then throw it in the oven that night. It would be great for when you have company or would like to bring someone a meal.

So give this recipe a try, and if you are not from New Mexico but might find yourself visiting here someday, EAT CHILE! You'll be happy you did!

Leftover Lunch

I have enjoyed my leftover tortilla soup for lunch and added a grilled turkey and cheese on ciabbatta. It was a great combination! The sandwich was good grilled, but if I had a panini press, I think it would have been even better. So many kitchen gadgets I want to buy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Parisian Date

This weekend Josh and I had a wonderful lunch date at P'tit Louis Bistro in downtown Albuquerque. The atmosphere was wonderful, the food was great, our waiter was awesome, and overall it was a wonderful date! I've heard some people describe the place as reminiscent of Hemingway's 1920s Paris, and I would agree.

We ordered the three cheese plate for an appetizer and let the waiter chose the cheeses. They have a different list of cheeses to chose from each day we didn't want to go for ones we had eaten before like brie or gouda, so we were happy to let him decide. I don't remember the names of any of them now, but they were all incredible (and pictured below, although now looking at the picture I remember the one the the dark specks had truffles which was amazing). Just thinking about it now is making me crave them again! We also each ordered a glass of red wine. They just have a house red, white, or rose, but it didn't bother us not to have a selection and we enjoyed the wine we were served. It reminded us of being in Italy and always just ordering the house red wine (which never disappointed). I had the croque madame for lunch which was so delicious, and Josh had the spinach quiche and liked it as well (but he thought mine was better). Overall it was great food, great service, and a lovely atmosphere. I highly recommend it, and hope to return soon!

By the way, we also saw the movie Argo. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out. So good. 

P'Tit Louis Bistro on Urbanspoon


Here's another shot of the tortilla soup. Looks even better by the fire, right?

Yumminess in a Bowl

Fall finally decided to arrive here in Albuquerque (a little late this year). This weekend the temperatures dropped, we even got a light dusting of snow last night.  Last week it was in the 70s...crazy. With the cooler temperatures, I have been wanting more warm foods, and these are two of my favorites lately.

I have been making oatmeal for breakfast for Jack and me this week. It's healthy, inexpensive, and quick. I just buy the big canister of quick oats, no brand loyalty, just whatever is least expensive! Doesn't get much better than that, right? I enjoy eating oatmeal, but cannot take it plain. So I like to add a little brown sugar to sweeten it up (just a pinch, well a heavy pinch) and I use different fruit, depending on what I have around. The bowl above has dried cranberries. It was pretty tasty, and Jack loves it too!

Today with the snow and cold I was craving soup. One of my favorite soup recipes is one that my grandmother shared with me for tortilla soup. It's full of fresh flavor and perfect for warming up by the fire. In fact, it was so great, I had two bowls. I don't know where she originally got it (I guess I'll have to ask her if it's her personal recipe or one she was given by someone else). Anyway, all that to say, I am unsure of the original source, so for now I'll give credit to my sweet grandmother for this bowl of deliciousness. Here is the recipe:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (I used 2 because I prefer spicier food)
  • 2 tbs. oil (canola, vegetable, whatever you have around will do)
  • 2 cans (or one carton) beef broth
  • 2 cans (or one carton) chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice or sauce (I used our juicer to make fresh tomato juice with 3 tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped (I just used a store bought rotisserie chicken to make it easier)
  • 1 large tomato peeled and diced
  • tortilla strip, fried crisp
  • avocado slices
  • Monterrey jack cheese, grated
Heat oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and jalapenos (my grandmother adds the jalapenos later with the broth, but I prefer to saute them), and saute until onions are translucent. Add spices, broths, tomato juice, and worcestershire. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer one hour. Add chicken and tomato and cook for another 5 minutes (you can also let it sit longer if needed). Garnish with tortilla strips, avocado, and cheese.

If you have not fried tortillas before, you should definitely give it a try! It's easy, cheap, and so good! Cut corn tortillas into strips. Heat canola or vegetable oil in a pan on medium high heat. Make sure there is enough oil to cover a single layer of tortillas. Wait until the oil is very hot, then place strips in a single layer (you will most likely need to do a few batches, depending on how big your pan is and how much you want) in the oil. You'll know it's hot enough if you drop the strips in and the oil bubbles. The tortillas should be crisp after a couple of minutes, you can just watch them (or take one out to test). Once they are nice and crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate or tray. I sprinkled mine with salt and chili powder too for extra flavor. This is such an easy and tasty way to make a meal special. You can also do this to make your own tortilla chips. Instead of cutting the tortillas in strips, cut them into eighths, like you might a pie or pizza. I don't make chips that way often because it's a little more labor intensive, especially if you need a big batch, but every once in awhile it is nice to have fresh chips (or if you want chips and only have corn tortillas around).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Last week Josh and I did a "Reboot." A Reboot is a way of attaining a healthier life by eating more fruits and vegetables. The idea began with the documentary "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead." In this film, Joe Cross loses 80 pounds and cures his chronic illness by only consuming fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days. I had heard of the movie but never watched it, but we had friends who had done this and thought it was great (if you want to learn more about it, you can go to the Reboot Your Life website). I always thought it was strange to just drink juice, so never had any desire to do it. 

So I heard everyone's stories of weight loss and healthful, produce-loving lives, and just continued in my downward spiral of eating a diet that was mostly meat, dairy, and processed foods, with a very small amount of fruits and veggies sprinkled in. That was, until Josh got some sort of stomach bug and I started thinking more about all the junk we consume. Then I read my friend Charissa's blog where she mentioned doing a reboot that included not only drinking fresh juice but eating fruits and veggies too.  This idea intrigued me. So I began doing more research and discovered I could cook the fruits and vegetables and use spices as well. This reboot thing began to sound better and better!

We committed to a five day reboot. We planned it around events that we knew would be coming up, things like a friend's birthday party, where we knew we would want to enjoy the good food. We did it during the week so that it would not interfere with that and other activities. The weekend before we started we went to Costco and loaded up on fruits and veggies. It was a great place to stock up because not only do they have large quantities of produce, but they also have a good selection, including many varieties of organic produce. There were only a few things I could not find there, so I went to Trader Joe's and Albertsons to buy the rest.

In addition to our plethora of produce, we also needed a juice maker in order to do the reboot. So I asked around and did some research online. We decided to go with the Breville Juice Fountain Multi-Speed from Williams-Sonoma. This juicer had great reviews, and seemed like a good machine at a moderate price (juicers can cost anywhere from $40-500+). Once we brought it home, we tested it before we started the reboot, and it was great! It's easy to use, easy to clean, and most importantly, makes great juice!

Overall, we felt really good during the reboot. I didn't miss my normal food like I thought I would, and I never felt hungry. The thing I liked about it was that you do not stop eating, or turn away from food all the time. You can eat as much as you would like (as long as it's fruits or vegetables), so you don't go hungry. We usually did a juice for breakfast, then later in the morning I would have some fruit for a snack. One thing I enjoyed for lunch a couple of the days was a salad of  roasted asparagus, tomatoes, and avocado. I cut the asparagus into pieces about 2 inches each, and cut cherry tomatoes in half. Then I drizzled olive oil and salt and pepper on them and roasted them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Then I mixed them with chopped avocado and squeezed fresh lemon juice over it. This is definitely something I will make again and was very filling and tasty!

As I mentioned before, I like the idea of the reboot because I could still cook and eat good meals using fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also use small amounts of olive oil and spices (and I used a little canola). However, I knew this would be a challenge since I could not use dairy, rice, wheat, etc. So I looked through one of my favorite new cookbooks, The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. Using a slow cooker is something I do often. It makes my life much easier. A friend recommend this book to me awhile back, and I have enjoyed testing some recipes. I thought it would be a good resource for our reboot because it has so many vegetarian dishes. So, I looked through it ahead of time and found some good recipes that would fit within the  parameters of the reboot and put those on the menu for the week.

The first recipe I tried was her Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes (Aloo Gobi). This turned out really good! It had great flavor and was very filling. I am sure it would be even better over rice (when we are not rebooting). If you want the recipe, buy the book or see if your local library has it.

I also tried her Spicy Butternut Squash (paitha). This was tasty, but I don't think I will ever cut a butternut squash again in my life. It was not an easy task. And my hands looked as if I had contracted some strange skin disease for the next 24 hours. Next time I will pay a little more and get pre-cubed butternut squash.

All in all, the reboot was a good experience. I stuck with it from Monday morning to Friday morning, and Josh did it as well except for about a 24 hour break (Monday night through Tuesday afternoon) when he had to travel out of town for work, in which he ate junk and drank loads of caffeine on the road. He resumed the reboot when he got home, and by Thursday he had a bad headache. We are assuming it was the lack of caffeine. I never had any issues like that, and the only time I really wanted to quit was Thursday night. Josh and I both just wanted to eat junk and watch TV, but we didn't, amazingly. We are not very determined people, so this was big!

The results of the reboot included both of us losing exactly 3.5 pounds (kind of funny that we were so in sync), we loved the juice, and have been having it for breakfast almost every morning this week, and now I crave fruits and veggies much more than before. Which is the most important result to me, because I was not a big fan of veggies before all this. 

Now Josh is talking about doing another 5 day reboot next week. I am warming up to the idea as well. Might be a good pre-Thanksgiving move...