Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes

I've been making these pumpkin pancakes almost every morning this month. I found the recipe online one day while searching all things pumpkin. They are very easy to make and so delicious! Jack and I have been enjoying them on a regular basis. I've made them for different guests we've had in town, and they have all loved them and asked for the recipe. 

You must give these a try- you will not regret it! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Outdoor Family Fun in New Mexico

One of my favorite things about living in New Mexico is the abundance of wonderful spots to enjoy the outdoors. There are so many beautiful places to hike, camp, bike, climb, and paddle without passing the state line. This summer flew by and we did not get out as much as we would have liked, but we did try making up for it a little in August. 

One weekend we went camping at Morphey Lake State Park just north of Las Vegas, NM, about 2.5 hours from Albuquerque. We went with some friends who have two kids and we all loved it! The park is in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has a beautiful lake with campsites surrounding it.

We got in early on a Friday evening, set up camp, and let Jack play by the lake. He was so excited to throw rocks in the lake. He kept saying, "throw rocks in lake," the entire ride up there. Once it got dark we built a fire and made s'mores. This was Jack's first time to have a s'more, and he loved them!

The next morning we woke up, made breakfast, then went back down to the lake. Jack stayed down there all morning, throwing rocks in the lake, then walking in the lake and playing with the mud with his friends. He would have stayed there all day if we would have let him! All of the adults enjoyed sitting by the beautiful water and watching the kids have fun.

This is the perfect campground for a relaxing camping trip with beautiful scenery. You can enjoy time just sitting by the lake, paddling a canoe, or fishing. It was great with young kids, they all loved it.

Last weekend we drove up near Taos, about 2 hours from Albuquerque to spend the morning playing by the Rio Grande. We found a great spot at the County Line Access area run by the BLM just off highway 68 southwest of Taos. It's at mile marker 24.

We brought chairs, shovels and buckets, and spent our time watching Jack have fun in the water. This is also a popular spot for rafting groups to end their trips since there is a nice ramp, toilets, and picnic tables. We enjoyed watching these groups paddle down the river.

Afterward we drove into Taos, which was about 20-30 minutes from there. We planned on eating lunch there, but did not anticipate how crowded the town would be for Labor Day weekend. So we just spent a little time at Twirl Play Space which is one of our favorite spots in Taos. Jack loves playing there, and we love that it's free and has plenty of comfortable spots for parents to hang out and watch the kids! After that we headed back home, we were exhausted from a busy and fun day!

I loved both of these outings and look forward to many more adventures in the Land of Enchantment!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

I made the Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Noodle Bake a little while back after seeing it on her blog.  It reminds me of a dish my mom use to make when we were growing up. It's very easy to prepare, inexpensive, and can feed a crowd (or at least give you plenty of leftovers). It is also an easy dish to make in advance and either store in the fridge for a day or in the freezer until you want to bake it. Josh and I both enjoyed this and Jack did too! It's definitely one we will keep in the rotation! And I may try it using different seasonings, adding vegetables, or whatever else comes to mind! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Easy & Delicious Meatball Sliders

I recently saw an episode of The Pioneer Woman on Food Network where she made Mini Meatball Sandwiches. I decided to give the recipe a try, and I am so glad I did! I've never made meatballs before, but now I am thinking it will become a regular meal at our house. They were so easy to make and so delicious! Our whole family loved them.

The recipe says to use shredded mozzarella, which I did, but on her blog and the show, she used sliced provolone, which I might give a try next time. I bought mini hamburger buns from Trader Joe's, which worked great for the sandwiches.

The recipe made enough for the three of us to have for dinner (one for Jack and three each for Josh and me), then the following day we put the leftover meatballs and sauce over angel hair pasta, which was wonderful as well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Best Blueberry-Banana Bread!

I recently watched an episode of one of my favorite cooking shows, Giada at Home, and she made Blueberry-Banana Bread. It looked so good and the recipe seemed very simple, so I decided to give it a try. You can find the recipe here.

I brought one loaf to a Bible study I'm in and everyone else loved it too and wanted the recipe. 

I have since made this three more times...and it's only been a week! I'm thinking one weekend this summer while blueberries are still in season and inexpensive I might make about 10 loaves to put in the freezer.

I live at about 6,000 feet in elevation, so baking can be difficult! Thanks to some great tips from a friend on high altitude baking, I knew of some adjustments to make the recipe work. I added a tablespoon of flour for each loaf, used extra large eggs, lessened the baking soda and baking powder just a touch (by about 1/4), and decreased the baking time by 5 minutes.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Easy Summer Blackberry Cobbler

A few years ago, I found this recipe for Easy Blackberry Cobbler in Southern Living. Since then, it's one I make regularly during the summer when blackberries are in season. It's one of the easiest and most delicious desserts I have ever made. And it tastes great with some vanilla ice cream!

This is a great dessert for when you are having friends over for dinner. Just prepare it all ahead of time, then place it in the oven to bake while you eat dinner.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

So I have been a big slacker when it comes to this blog lately. I am 19 weeks pregnant, and for the first trimester I was usually too tired to cook, or nothing sounded good to my uneasy belly. So we ate a lot of take out and frozen pizzas...not the healthiest time for my family. However, I am feeling much better now and have been spending much more time in the kitchen. I am determined to get back to cooking blogging more!

I recently found this recipe for Barbecue Shredded Chicken from the Oven or Slow Cooker and was inspired to adapt the recipe to make it my own. To make my version of Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, you'll need:

  • About 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (this ended up being 6 thighs for me)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • 1 cup of your favorite barbeque sauce
  • Hamburger buns
Place chicken in your slow cooker. Sprinkle chicken with a little salt and pepper, cayenne, and paprika. Pour one cup of barbeque sauce over chicken. Cook on low for 5 hours or until chicken is cooked through.

Once chicken is finished cooking, shred meat using two forks. Place meat on a toasted hamburger bun and drizzle with more barbeque sauce. This will make about 4-6 sandwiches, depending on how much meat you like on your sandwich.

This was one of the easiest and most delicious slow cooker chicken recipes I have ever made. One piece of advice: use good barbeque sauce! I grew up in Texas, so I am very picky when it comes to barbeque sauce. My favorite brand that is available at most grocery stores is Stubb's Original Sauce.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dear Dad

As Father's Day approaches, I wanted to share this letter I wrote for my dad. My hope is that it serves as an encouragement to parents.

Dear Dad, 

Thank you for loving me unconditionally from day one. No matter how dramatic, selfish, or unkind I was, your love for me was constant and full of grace.

Thank you for telling me often enough that I was beautiful that I believed it and felt confident, but not so much that I believed beauty was all that mattered. Thank you for telling me more often that I was smart, creative, kind, and unique. Those are the qualities that last and are most important. You encouraged me to learn, be creative, and serve others. Because of that I have been able to go through life confident in who I am deep down inside, no matter what others may say.

Thank you for not spoiling me (at least not too much!) and telling me repeatedly I was the princess of the world. I knew the world did not revolve around me. You did not give me everything I wanted, but you did give me what I needed (and more). You taught me to work hard, to live a life of humility and kindness rather than regality. You taught me that I was important, but not more important than anyone else.

Thank you for loving mom so faithfully. Thank you for showing me by example what marriage is. It was not perfect 100% of the time, but it was filled with love, forgiveness, and service. I never doubted your love for mom and your desire to love her as Christ loves the church. When I became an adult and considered what to look for in a husband, I knew I needed a man with so many of the qualities you have: a love for God, a love for others, humility, kindness, and graciousness. And I am thankful I found a man who shares those qualities with you!

Thank you for listening to me. Really listening. Not just nodding as I spoke, but truly listening to my heart. You sat with me from an early age, whether it was me talking about my dreams, my fears, or my favorite music. You were always there, even when I would come into your room late at night needing to talk about something that was heavy on my heart. I knew my words had value to you. I knew that you wanted to encourage me in my dreams, calm my fears, and share my interests, even if they were not your own.

Thank you for teaching me that my body was not something to be flaunted like the world was telling me. Thank you for encouraging me to dress modestly and find my worth in who I was rather than in my looks.

Thank you for teaching me that time is important. This is something that is obviously important to you, and I know this is why people love you. Your relationships are deep because you take the time to get to know people. You find out who they really are, what’s important to them, and you share your life with them as well. You did this with others, and you did it especially well with all of your children as we were growing up. Family vacations, daddy “dates,” family time at home, there were so many wonderful times we shared together.

Thank you for loving my husband and immediately accepting him as a member of the family. He loves you dearly and enjoys the times we get to spend with you. I know it is because you believed that love, not intimidation, was the right way to treat your daughter’s husband.

Thank you for loving Jack. He loves spending time with “Pop.” You shower him with love and fun! And what a blessing for him to have such a godly man to look up to!

In this world so many fathers are either absent, or if they are present, they pay little attention to their children. You have shown me that being a parent is about not only showing up, but getting your hands dirty, serving your children, disciplining them, and loving them.

I am the woman I am today because God entrusted me to you. Thank you for never giving up on me. I never doubted your love for me.

I love you.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Holy Cow Burgers

On Monday Jack and I met Josh for lunch at Holy Cow. This is a great spot for burgers and fries near downtown Albuquerque. I love the atmosphere, it's very casual and cool. We came once before for a date, which was nice, and it was also an easy place to bring Jack! 

We both ordered the Holy Cow Burger, which has pecanwood smoked bacon, American cheese and thousand island. It was delicious! The burger was thick and moist, and the bacon and thousand island gave it an incredible flavor. We also ordered sweet potato fries, which I really enjoyed, and Jack loved them too!

If you're looking for a good burger in Albuquerque, give Holy Cow a try!

Holy Cow on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Texan Gals' Pasta Salad

If you've spent much time around girls from Texas, you might have noticed their love affair with ranch dressing. We like to say, "everything goes better with ranch." It's not just for salads. I dip my pizza in it, fries, chicken strips, and anything else I can think of. So, when I was looking for recipes for pasta salad and came across this Corn and Pasta Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing I was inspired to make my own version. I added black beans, grilled the corn, roasted the tomatoes, and used store bought ranch (my favorite from Dion's here in New Mexico) rather then making my own.

Begin with these ingredients:
  • 8 oz. rotini pasta
  • 3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (add more if you are a bacon lover or if you are sharing your pasta with hungry guys)
  • 2-3 cups arugula
  • Chili powder 
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 tbsp. Ranch dressing
  • 1 cup black beans rinsed and drained 
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes or grape heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 ear of corn, husks removed
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cool water. Set aside. Place tomatoes in a bowl and toss with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Pour tomatoes into foil and wrap them up loosely. Brush corn with olive oil. Place corn and tomatoes (in foil) on grill over medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes, just to char it a bit. Remove corn from grill and cut kernels off.

Place pasta, bacon, arugula, corn, tomatoes, beans, and ranch in a large bowl. Toss so that dressing coats everything. Add chili powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Cool in fridge until ready to serve.

This is the perfect pasta salad for summer. It's easy to prepare in advance and take to a picnic or barbecue. It's also something you can make on Sunday so that you have lunch prepared for a few days. You can take it to work or when you're on the go in the car. This pasta is easy to make your own. Want more spice? Add grilled jalapenos or roasted green chiles. More meat? Add cooked chicken or shrimp. The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Buffalo Pasta Bake

The other day I was trying to figure out what to make for lunch with the limited supplies in my kitchen. I remembered seeing a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake, on Pinterest recently and thought I'd give it a try. I made about 1/4 of the recipe in a small Corningware dish for a single serving. I did not have any chicken, so I left that out, and I used rotini pasta instead of penne. Other than that I followed the recipe and thought it was great! I wanted garlic bread, so I improvised by toasting an English muffin and spreading butter on it with a little garlic salt. It was great for dipping in the extra sauce.

This pasta was creamy and delicious with just a touch of spice. It's one I will make again in the future. Very easy, inexpensive, and tasty!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Watermelon Slushie

Last summer Jack and I were at a play date and one of my friends made us watermelon slushies. They were so refreshing and delicious, I decided it would have to become a regular summer treat at our house. So now that watermelons are back in season, I have been making this for Jack and me all the time.

Here is what you will need to do:
  • Freeze cubed watermelon in zip top freezer bags. I usually freeze half of each watermelon I buy and use the other half to eat on it's own. This way you are not stuck with way too much watermelon!  
  • Place about 2-4 cups of frozen watermelon in a blender. You may have to use a knife to break the pieces apart.
  • Add 1-2 cups of water or coconut water and about 1-2 tablespoons of sugar. 
  • Blend together until smooth. You may need to add more water as you go. 
This makes plenty for Jack and me. You can also add lime or lemon juice. And if you have simple syrup, you can use it instead of sugar. Or you could add tequila and triple sec for a margarita! 

This is a wonderful, healthy treat, perfect for a warm summer day!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Best Burgers!

Last night we enjoyed a beautiful Memorial Day by grilling burgers and corn for dinner. I looked around online for burger grilling tips and recipes to see if I wanted to try something different. I decided to try this hamburger recipe from Bobby Flay. It is the easiest, yet most delicious burger you'll ever cook! I plan on using this recipe every time we grill burgers from now on. 

Now that corn is in season, it is super cheap. I found ours for $.20 each at Albertson's. I love grilling corn, and when you are already grilling your meat, it's a much easier and less messy way to cook it. Just brush the corn with canola oil then grill it over medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes, moving often to cook evenly. Just watch it, you want a little char, but not too much. After cooking mine, I spread a little butter on it and sprinkle it with Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning. It gives the corn a great flavor and a little kick!

My only regret with this meal was buying the cheap hamburger buns, which as you can see, were a little small for our burgers!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fajita Night

A few weeks ago, we had some friends over for dinner. We were going to be busy most of the day leading up to dinner, so I wanted to make something I could easily prepare ahead of time and not have to spend much time cooking once they arrived. One of my go-to meals in situations like this is chicken fajitas. You can marinate the meat ahead of time, so all you have to do is throw it on the grill when your guests arrive. And who doesn't like fajitas?

I have come up with my own fajita marinade that I adapted from one my mom often made when I was growing up. It's so simple, and you can add or subtract different ingredients to suit your tastes.

In a bowl, combine:
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Generous dash of pepper
Place 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a baking dish, zip top bag or other container. Pour marinade over chicken. Flip chicken over and move around to ensure marinade covers all of the meat. Cover dish. Leave chicken in marinade for at least 2 hours or longer, up to overnight.

Grill chicken until cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from grill and slice diagonally. Serve in warm tortillas. We warmed our tortillas on the top rack of the grill. It's easy to warm them on the grill, just don't do it directly over the flame...charred tortillas aren't too tasty! Add the toppings of your choice. We had black beans, cheese, guacamole and some of my homemade salsa

I usually cook extra chicken when we make fajitas because the leftovers are great for quesadillas or nachos the following day.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Farina Alto

For Mother's Day, I requested that we go out to dinner at a new spot in our area of town called Farina Alto. This restaurant opened recently, and is the second location (the first is in EDo). I love the original Farina, and when I saw that they were opening the new location closer to our house, I was really excited. I have visited the original Farina a few times and always thought it had the best pizza in town, but because it's a little more out of the way for us, I did not get to go there as much as I would like.

Farina Alto has the same great menu as the original Farina, but with a larger wine menu. The restaurant itself is much larger than the original. The inside has plenty of seating as well as a nice bar. There is also a great patio with beautiful mountain views. It was a little rainy when we went, so we ate inside, but next time we hope to be able to enjoy the patio. The interior is very nice, it would be great for a date night but was also good for a family dinner.

We ordered the antipasto platter for an appetizer which had a delicious assortment of cured meats, imported cheeses, roasted artichokes, peppers and olives. It was served with wonderful grilled bread. This was a great appetizer and I look forward to ordering it again. 

We split the Salsiccia pizza, which had tomato sauce, local fennel sausage, oven roasted onion, mozzarella and provolone cheese. It was amazing. Once again, Farina impressed me with their wonderful pizza. The tomato sauce tastes so fresh, the sausage was full of flavor, and of course, the crust was delicious and crisp. 

If you are looking for the best pizza in Albuquerque, give Farina Alto a try. You will not be disappointed.

Farina Alto Pizzeria & WIne Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 13, 2013

Travel Tips Guest Post from Charissa

Today my friend Charissa from Mudpie Magnolia has written a guest post with some great travel tips just in time for summer! 

Charissa and I met eight years ago when we were both working for Reformed University Fellowship just out of college. We became good friends very quickly, and although we have never lived in the same city, we still stay in touch.

Charissa now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Robert and their dog Rufus. 

I hope you find her tips as helpful as I have! 

I travelled a LOT over the past three years. Most of my travel was work-related, and for a while, it seemed I was in a hotel bed more than my own.

My first trips in this stretch were a little stressful. I’m a planner, and there’s any number of things that can go not-as-planned on a trip. Once I learned some key things, I felt almost as comfortable in a TSA line as lounging in my hammock. (Okay, not exactly...but  I made some definite improvements).

Here’s a list of things I found helpful while traveling...and hopefully you will too, whether it’s a family trip or girls’ weekend.

 1.  Sign up for loyalty programs
It can feel a little overwhelming to try to pick a hotel or a flight out of the millions of possibilities. I found that narrowing down my favorite brands made those choices much easier. Almost every loyalty program for airlines, hotels, or rental cars is free, so you have nothing to lose...and upgrades to gain. I decided that I would focus on two hotel groups: Kimpton and Starwood, two airlines: Southwest and Delta, and two car services: Hertz and Alamo.

Thanks to simply creating an account, I’ve gotten car upgrades, room upgrades, and way more free drink coupons than I can use on flights.

2.  Let your phone know your itinerary
I do have preferred airlines (Southwest & Delta). I use the apps that they provide. Most every airline has an app that, at the very least, will let you view your itineraries. It only takes a few minutes to download the app and enter your account information for your preferred airline.
The advantage is that these apps will give almost-immediate updates for gate changes or delays, as well as showing your boarding pass. Most of them let you check your loyalty rewards as well so you can think “I will be earning 2 million points for this mess” while you’re spending the night in LaGuardia airport because Delta made a big mistake...not that I speak from personal experience or anything.

3.  Compartments
I keep all my stuff in little modules so that it’s easy to switch them in between suitcases or bags. I have all my tech equipment in one bag, my toiletries in a clear zippered plastic bag from the Container Store (ideal for when you take a carry-on and the TSA smells your lotions), and a small “quick needs” that holds some medicine, lotion, a Tide stick and mints. Whenever I switch between backpacks, purses, or suitcases, I can just grab these modules instead of trying to re-find and then re-pack each item.

4.  Pack snacks
I’m always a happier camper when I’ve got a little something to snack on and drink on the plane/car/train (especially if it’s a long haul). Since I usually travel by plane, I’ll grab a few healthy snacks (and some chocolate) and some coconut water once I pass through security. My new favorites are the Go Picnic meals ( which you can buy before you get to the airport or sometimes once you’re there if you fly out of a bigger airport. I love them because they’re shelf-stable, cheaper than buying food on a plane, and they cater to dietary needs like gluten-free, vegetarian and kosher.

 5.  App it up!
My favorite (free) apps for travel (besides the ones for the airlines and hotels) are:

Hotel Tonight: Does just what it sounds like...helps you find a last minute hotel at steep discounts.
TripIt: Combine all your travel plans into one platform. I keep track of my cars, hotels, and flights simply by forwarding your email confirmations to TripIt.
GateGuru: Tells you where shops and food are located in your airport of choice. This has been a lifesaver in helping me to find snacks on long layovers.
Embark: If you’re in a large city with public transit, Embark is my favorite way to master the transit system with minimal worried. I use it in New York and my current home, San Francisco.
Kindle: Reading material! I use an iPad with the Kindle app, and will download either the Kindle free features (sometimes they’re truly awful), pick a book I’ve been wanting to read, or e-borrow something from my library.
Zinio: I subscribe to magazines through this app (Yay, Texas Monthly!) Between Kindle and Zinio, I’m not carrying a bunch of extra weight in reading material.

6.  Enjoy.
The best thing I’ve learned is that I’ll eventually get where I need to go. Being friendly to the travel industry always makes them more understanding and more willing to help you if something doesn’t go as planned.
Travel is as fun as you make it. Say hello to your seatmate, try taking the train, keep a journal...and enjoy your trip!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hiking and Hamburgers


On Saturday we went to one of our favorite spots here in Albuquerque, the Elena Gallegos Open Space for a family hike. This park is a short drive from our house, but once we are there, we feel as though we have escaped the city. It's a beautiful park full of trails for hiking and mountain biking. There are also great picnic spots. It's a great place for a quick and easy hike, a family picnic, or a full day hike. 

Last year we went on many hikes with Jack, but at just over a year old, he was content to ride in our hiking child carrier pack, the Little Life Freedom Carrier. We loved this pack if you are looking for one for your little one. Josh and I both used it to carry him and found it very comfortable. Jack seemed to enjoy it too! He would smile and look around at the scenery as we hiked, and often fell asleep in the pack. It was easy to go on longish, somewhat strenuous hikes and carry him. I use to backpack often in college, so carrying him wasn't too different. 

This year, it's a different story. Not only is he much heavier (about 35 pounds), he is also much more active! So we have decided that this summer our hikes will be to spots that are a little more geared toward him. Elena Gallegos is perfect for this stage. Many of the trails, especially those parts of them that are near the parking area have wide, somewhat flat trails. You can also stay pretty close to your car and the restrooms just in case you need to rush back in the event of a meltdown! 

So when we arrived, we let Jack loose, and he ran (literally), the entire trail. I'm convinced he will be an Olympic distance runner one of these days. His endurance amazes me! He absolutely loved it, and we had a great time as well enjoying watching him having fun doing something we love and soaking in the beautiful surroundings.  

During the hike, Josh asked what was for lunch. I informed him that I am failing in my duties as a housewife and had nothing at home. Being the wonderful husband that he is, it didn't phase him. He suggested we try out a new spot in our neck of the woods called Freddy's.

When Freddy's opened up here in Albuquerque, I didn't think much of it. I was in no hurry to give it a try. But when he mentioned it, I figured we might as well check it out. Josh dropped the marathon boy and me back at home so I could get him fed and down for a much-needed nap, then drove through Freddy's and brought our lunch back to the house.

As you may have noticed in the picture above, I had already taken a bite out of the burger when I took the photo. I was a little hungry after chasing Jack through the desert mountains. That's my excuse for that and for eating all this fatty food. 

I got a Single Steakburger California Style with fries. I noticed that most burgers on the menu were double or triple which seemed a little strange, but once I got mine, I saw that the patty is very thin. It was plenty of food for me, but those with bigger appetites would most likely prefer the double. It came with their "Freddy's Sauce," which is like the special sauce at In-N-Out, basically thousand island dressing, which I liked. The burger was better than the typical fast food burger, but nothing incredible. The fries, however, were delicious! They are shoestring-style fries, which are my favorite, so they easily won me over. I also ordered a vanilla concrete (custard) with Oreo for dessert. It was good and very similar to other custard I have tried other places I have lived like Caliches in Las Cruces and Sheridan's in Lubbock.

Overall, I thought Freddy's had great fries, a good burger, and good custard. Although it's not the best burger I've had in Albuquerque, it's still a good spot for a quick meal, and I am happy to have something new close by.

Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers on Urbanspoon

Pimiento Cheese & Bacon Paninis

Last night I decided to make an easy Sunday night dinner. I made my pimiento cheese and spread some of it on two slices of Trader Joe's sourdough wheat bread. Then I put two slices of cooked bacon between the slices of bread and cooked it in my panini press. This is a wonderful meal for a lazy Sunday night or a weekday lunch. My pimiento cheese recipe will make plenty so that you can make sandwiches for your whole family and/or have some leftover to use throughout the week. It's also great as a dip with crackers.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Lunch

Today for lunch I decided to make something with the few things we had on hand. Black beans, cheese, and tortillas made quesadillas an easy choice. I also had some salsa I had made last week. So we had an impromptu Cinco de Mayo lunch party.

I changed up my salsa just a little this time, based on what I had on hand. I used:
  • one can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles (original), drained
  • one can diced tomatoes, drained
  •  1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2-1 cup hot diced roasted green chiles
  • dash of salt
  • dash of cumin
  • one garlic clove, pressed
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until you get the consistency you prefer. 

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend with your family and friends like we did!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Guest Post

Check out my guest post over at my friend Charissa's blog, Mudpie Magnolia. Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Southwest Roast Chicken Breasts

The other night I was planning on making some Tandoori Chicken using this recipe I found in Cooking Light last year. However, as the afternoon began to turn to evening, I realized it was not going to happen. I had not marinated the chicken ahead of time and there was no way we were going to have the energy to grill. For some reason, grilling on a Wednesday night seems to take an extra amount of effort.

So I decided to try making roast chicken breasts with a southwest twist. Baking the chicken with the skin on gives you crispy skin and moist chicken. These were very easy to make and tasted delicious! I look forward to making them again.

To make my Southwest Roast Chicken Breasts, you will need:
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. chile powder (or a little more if you want extra kick)
  • 1-2 tsp. chopped cilantro
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine butter, garlic, chile powder, cilantro, a generous dash of salt, and a dash of pepper in a small bowl. Carefully spread half of butter mixture underneath skin of each chicken breast. Sprinkle salt and pepper over each chicken breast and drizzle with olive oil.

Place a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom of a broiler pan then put the broiler rack on top of it (you could also use a wire rack on top of a baking sheet). Place chicken on top of pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let chicken rest for about 5 minutes after baking.

When I made this, I only put salt and pepper on top, not in the butter mixture. I realized it needed more salt, so I think adding it to the butter mixture as I mentioned in the recipe above will help. Also, if you have limes around, squeeze some fresh lime juice on the chicken after baking.

I served ours with my favorite roasted asparagus. This time I minced some garlic and mixed it with olive oil and salt and pepper, then poured it over the asparagus. I also baked it at a higher temperature, 400 degrees, for about 10 minutes which made the asparagus and garlic nice and crisp.

This is a great meal for a busy weeknight or when you have guests. You can prepare the chicken ahead of time and stick it in the oven just before your guests arrive. This way you can visit and not have to worry about cooking when everyone arrives.

If you have any leftover chicken, it would be great for making my green chile chicken spaghetti

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cauliflower Soup

I recently discovered the wonderful blog, The Kitchn, which is the foodie version of Apartment Therapy (also good). I love all the wonderful recipes, ideas, and great kitchens featured on it.

While perusing the site, I found a recipe for Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup. It sounded really good, healthy, and pretty inexpensive, so I figured I'd give it a try. It turned out very delicious and was easy to put together. The only changes I made were with the garnishes. I used cilantro instead of parsley and I did not add any cashews, although I do think it would have been good. Josh and I both enjoyed this soup and it was especially good with some grilled naan for dipping. Another change I might attempt next time is sauteing a serrano pepper with the onions to add a bit more spice and flavor.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lemon Chicken Piccata

Last week I made one of our favorite meals, Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata from a recipe I found in Cooking Light a couple of years ago. This is a go-to meal for us when I want to make something easy, tasty, and light.

The recipe calls for Meyer Lemons, but I use regular lemons and they work fine. I usually serve it with whole wheat thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta and veggies, this time it was broccoli. I usually pour some of the extra sauce and a little olive oil over the pasta.

Jack enjoyed it too, I just gave him some without the sauce over it. I didn't think he would be a big fan of capers!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

White Sands

Last weekend we went down to El Paso to visit my parents.  We have been wanting to take Jack to White Sands National Monument, and figured this would be a good time of year to go. So on Saturday morning, we all drove from El Paso over to White Sands, which is about an hour and a half to two hour drive.

When we lived in Las Cruces, we went to White Sands often since it was just about 45 minutes away. It is such an incredible place to visit, unlike anywhere else on earth. Even if you have visited other sand dunes, none compare to these. We knew Jack would love going too given the fact that it's like a gigantic sandbox. Plus my parents had never been.

We all had a wonderful time. Jack loved sledding down the dunes, digging in the sand, and running around. My parents couldn't believe how soft and white the sand was. We played in the dunes and had a wonderful picnic. When we left Jack kept saying, "More White Sands, more White Sands."

If you're planning on visiting White Sands, here are a few things I recommend:
  • Check the National Parks website ahead of time for hours, directions, pricing, and other details. 
  • Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats for everyone in your group. The white sand reflects the  bright New Mexico sun, so if you do not have sunglasses, you will be miserable.
  • Check the forecast before you go. Spring afternoons can be very windy. I went one time on a windy day and it was terrible with sand blowing everywhere. Also, summer can be very hot, so go very early in the day if you are planning a summer trip. 
  • Bring plenty of water and if you would like to have a picnic, there are lots of picnic tables if you drive all the way to the end of the park road. There are drinks and snacks available at the visitor's center, but you will pay a little more for them.
  • If you have a sled bring it or borrow one from a friend. You can buy them at the visitor's center, but they are a little pricey.
  • If you have little ones, bring shovels, buckets, and other sand toys for them.

There is no camping at the park, but up the highway in the Organ Mountains is Aguirre Spring Campground. If you would like to stay in a hotel, Alamogordo is the nearest town, and Las Cruces is close as well. There are more hotel and restaurant options in Las Cruces plus Old Mesilla, which is a nice historic plaza with shops, restaurants, and other fun spots. Think a smaller version of Santa Fe. You could also go a little further to El Paso which is a much larger city.

If you have not been to White Sands, consider it the next time you are in the southwest. It's a beautiful spot and a wonderful place to make fun memories with your family and friends (not to mention, it's budget-friendly too)!

Broccoli Snack

A few weeks ago I came across this recipe for roasted broccoli and decided to give it a try for a late afternoon snack. It was unexpectedly delicious! It had a nice crunchy texture and salty taste. It was super easy to make and very inexpensive. It's definitely something I will make again!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cocina Azul

Last weekend Josh and I had a date night. Once you have kids, date nights are rare, but amazing. It's incredible how much easier it is to have a conversation without a blonde 2 year old stealing our attention.

This time we decided we wanted to try something new, but were trying to find a place that wouldn't be too pricey. After reading reviews online, we chose Cocina Azul. We had driven by this restaurant before and thought it looked good. It's just down the street from Explora, which we frequent with Jack. It's a great children's science museum. If you have young kids, I highly recommend it.

Cocina Azul has a simple but bright interior with lots of natural light from the large windows. It's very family friendly and the service was great. We ordered the chile con queso for an appetizer, which was served in a crispy tortilla bowl. The queso and salsas served with them were very good, although not too spicy, especially if you're a New Mexican.

We split the carne adovado enchilada plate for our main course. We chose the red sauce with sides of beans and potatoes. The meat was tender and delicious, and although the sauce was mild like the salsa, it was still very tasty. The portions were huge, so we were very glad we decided to split it! 

Overall, we thought Cocina Azul had great food, good service, and good atmosphere. It was a great place for a casual date, and would also be a good spot for a family meal. They are open for breakfast as well, so I am thinking the next time we go to Explora as a family, we may have to stop at Cocina Azul for breakfast.

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