Thursday, February 28, 2013

Afternoon in Santa Fe

A couple of weeks ago, Josh and I headed up to Santa Fe for the afternoon. My mother-in-law was in town and happily agreed to stay home with Jack so that we could get away. I always love going to Santa Fe even with Jack in tow, but it is very nice to enjoy the city without an active toddler. We are able to eat at restaurants that might not be as child-friendly and take our time exploring the city and all that it has to offer.

One of the first spots we stumbled into during this visit was Collected Works Bookstore. We could have spent the entire day here looking through the wide variety of books and gifts, drinking coffee, and relaxing.

We also strolled up Canyon Road, which is well-known for its wonderful art galleries. I recently met a man from Santa Fe on a flight from Houston to Albuquerque. He mentioned he has an art gallery on Canyon Road. He gave me his card and I told him I would visit the gallery the next time we were in Santa Fe and I am so glad I did! The Zaplin-Lampert Gallery has a beautiful collection of primarily western art from the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a treat to walk around and look at the incredible pieces. Although I could only afford them in dreams, I still enjoyed dreaming!

No visit to Santa Fe is complete for me without a stop at Design Warehouse. It is filled with wonderful modern furniture, gifts, and accessories I love to walk around and drool over. If I win the lottery someday I plan to furnish my entire house with their goods. And if you're ever in Santa Fe and would like to buy me a gift, anything from this store will do.

After daydreaming at Design Warehouse, we decided to walk across the street and enjoy some tapas at La Boca. I have been there before with friends and wanted to go back and let Josh try it. Once again, I was very pleased with my meal, and Josh loved it too.

We decided to order three different tapas to share. We asked them to bring them out one at a time so that we could take our time enjoying each one. We had the potatoes and chorizo with a fried egg, the shrimp tacos, and the bruschetta  with mushrooms, fried egg, truffle oil & reggianito. 

The food was all delicious once again, the service was great, and the atmosphere was wonderful! This is definitely on my list of Santa Fe favorites and I look forward to returning there soon!

La Boca on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 25, 2013

Aloo Gobi, the Miracle Meal!

Some dishes are so delicious, simple, and healthy, they just have to be part of your regular line-up. The Aloo Gobi (spiced cauliflower and potatoes) from The Indian Slow Cooker is one of those dishes in our family. I have made it before and talked about how much I love this cookbook. If you have not purchased this book or checked it out at your local library, do it now! You will not regret it! It's so nice to have tasty Indian food recipes that can be prepared easily.

One of the things I love about this dish besides its wonderful flavor and healthiness (it's vegan), is the price. I spent under $5 on this entire meal (which is about 6 servings). Cauliflower and potatoes were on sale at Sprouts, but even when they are not, it's still inexpensive. Feeding a family of six a healthy and delicious meal for under $5 is amazing (or 2 adults one meal plus plenty of leftovers)!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Roast Chicken

Last week on Giada at Home, Giada made a beautiful Garlic-Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables. I decided I should give it a try.

It was my first time to make a roast chicken. This was very easy and tasted incredible! Josh and I both loved it and I will definitely make it again. It would be great for company too. Plus the leftovers are perfect for throwing in other dishes the following day!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Land of Enchantment

Tonight's sunset on the Sandia Mountains was amazing. It's not hard to see why New Mexico is called "The Land of Enchantment."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Green Chile Chicken Spaghetti

Tonight I wanted to make dinner with ingredients I already had available in my kitchen. It snowed last night, and I was too lazy to get out in it to go to the store. Most of it melted by the afternoon, but I grew up in Texas, so snow automatically keeps me from doing anything productive. Plus, we are trying to budget better this month, so the less trips I take to the store to buy unnecessary ingredients, the more money we save!

In New Mexico we like to put green chile in everything. It adds such a wonderful depth of flavor and spice, so we are always thinking of ways to incorporate it in new dishes. You can read more about my love affair with green chile in this post. So today as I made a mental list of what I had around, I decided to make a green chile chicken spaghetti. It was amazing.

  • About 3 cups of cooked, chopped chicken
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 3-5 whole roasted green chiles, peeled, stems & seeds removed, & diced
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 box of thin whole wheat spaghetti, broken into thirds (the box I used was 13.25 oz.), cooked just short of al dente
  • Seasonings- salt & pepper, chile powder, cumin, season salt, garlic powder, & onion powder
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • In a bowl, combine chicken, soup, green chiles, 1/2 cup cheese, noodles & a dash of each seasoning. 
  • Spray an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place noodle mixture in dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese, chile, & cumin. 
  • Place in 350 degree oven and bake 45 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lovely. 
  • Sprinkle fresh chopped cilantro over each serving.
This will make 4 servings. If you do not have fresh roasted green chiles, you can buy them in a can either diced or whole. You will need about 1/2 cup. I used hot chiles and it made it nice and spicy, but you can also use mild chiles if you prefer.

You can prepare this dish in advance and bake when you are ready to eat. I made ours during Jack's nap, placed it in the fridge, and baked it later.  It was much easier than trying to prepare it when he was up and running everywhere.

I've linked up with Living Well Spending Less for Thrifty Thursday. Check out other great budget-friendly recipes and ideas!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Simple Spanish Flavor

When I was in college I studied abroad in Seville, Spain with a group of students from my university, Texas Tech. Because we were all from Texas, we had to learn during our time in Spain that although they speak the same language as Mexicans, they are very different. Just like we are very different from the British even though we speak the same language.

There are words that are different, like the Spanish call bathrooms "aseos" while Mexicans call them "banos." The Spanish say "zumo" for juice but Mexicans say "jugo." Besides vocabulary and the obvious differences between Europe and North America, the food was also something new to me. For some reason, before going I assumed Spanish cuisine would be much like Mexican (this may seem like a no-brainer to some of you, but I had never heard of Spanish food). I soon realized the two countries had very little in common when it came to their comida. I tried much of the food in Spain, especially when our Spanish "mom" that I lived with along with two other students would cook for us. Looking back, I wish I would have been more adventurous when eating out too, but at the time I was a little more narrow-minded when it came to food. Guess it just means I have to go back!

Spanish food is very delicious, and during my travels one of my favorite dishes was the tortilla. This is nothing like the Mexican tortilla. It just happens to have the same name. We asked our Spanish mom how to cook it, and although our Spanish wasn't quite at the level to understand everything she said, I enjoyed watching her make it. Since then, I have looked at many recipes, experimented, and finally come up with my own version.

You will need:
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium russet potato peeled and sliced very thin
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Manchego cheese- this is a Spanish cheese which you should be able to find in most grocery stores with artisan cheeses. You can leave it out or substitute parmesan if you are unable to find it. 
  • Chopped cilantro, parsley, or other fresh garnish. 
Sprinkle a little salt and pepper into bowl of eggs. Using a hand grater, grate about 1 tablespoon of cheese into bowl. Stir together.

Drizzle a medium size (about 8 in.) non-stick pan with olive oil and place on medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Saute until tender and translucent. Add potatoes to pan and cook on both sides until tender but not browned. Remove about half of the mixture, just enough so that there is one single layer on the bottom of the pan. Turn heat down to medium.

Pour egg mixture over potatoes. Place remaining potato mixture evenly over eggs. Sprinkle with a little more cheese if desired. Let this sit until the bottom is set. This time will vary, it should be around 5 minutes. You can test this by taking a small spatula around the edges to see if they have set.

The next step is the most difficult. It requires flipping the tortilla so that the other side can cook. Take a large plate, one that is bigger than your pan and place it on top of the pan. If you have a friend or family member around, you may want to ask for their help at this point. You will need to hold the plate firmly over the pan, then flip the pan upside down. I had my mother-in-law help me. She held onto the handle of the pan while I held the plate with one hand and with a potholder held the bottom of the pan. We were successful for the most part, only spilling a little! It's best to do this over the sink just in case you spill. If this makes you nervous, you can also just place the pan in the oven and let it cook for a few minutes to let it set a little better.

Once you get the tortilla on the plate, return it to the pan so that the uncooked side can cook. This will just take a few minutes. You can check on it using a spatula to lift the edges. When it is set on both sides, carefully slide it onto a serving plate. I topped ours with cilantro, which is not traditionally done, but it gave it a nice fresh touch and some color. Then slice it like you would a pie. It makes 8 small slices, so depending on what else you are serving and everyone's appetite, this should feed 4-8 people. There were 3 of us eating, and we ended up with one leftover slice.

You can change this up by adding meat, like chorizo, vegetables or spices. The possibilities are endless!

I served the tortilla with roasted asparagus. This is my favorite way to cook asparagus. Slice off the ends, place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. I also sliced a couple of garlic cloves and sprinkled them on it as well. Bake at 375 for about 10-15 minutes. This gives the asparagus a lovely flavor and texture.

This makes a great meal on it's own, or serve small portions as part of a tapas party along with jamon de serrano, various cheeses, or other tapas of your choosing.

I've linked up with Living Well Spending Less for Thrifty Thursday. Check it out for other great budget-friendly ideas!

Monday, February 18, 2013


I love recipes that are passed down through family. You know, the ones scratched down on a piece of paper in familiar handwriting, the ones that bring feelings of comfort and good memories? When I married Josh, one of the first meals I was introduced to by his family was their version of jambalaya. My in-laws are originally from Louisiana, so Cajun food naturally falls into the category of comfort food for Josh and his family. Although I grew up just over an hour from the Lousiana border, cajun food was not something my family ever made. But after a couple of trips to New Orleans and time spent with my in-laws, I love it!

Josh's parents have altered the traditional jambalaya recipe to make it their own. So to some of you, this may not be the type of jambalaya you are accustomed to. And although it may seem a little unusual, you should give it a try! I have changed up just a few things from the original recipe my mother-in-law wrote down for me above.

The proteins in this jambalaya are one whole chicken and one package (16 oz.) of Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage. Both are on sale often, and I have also found coupons for Jimmy Dean sausage, so if you time it right, this can be a very inexpensive meal. For instance, this chicken was on sale for $.77/lb., so I ended up only paying $3.46 for it.

Begin by emptying out the insides of the chicken, placing it in a large pot and covering it with water. I add in a couple of garlic cloves and some salt to flavor it. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool so that it's easier to handle. Tear meat off of chicken and either shred with fingers or chop with a knife and set aside.

This is a very simple way to prepare chicken to use for recipes such as this. If you don't like handling a raw chicken or don't have the time, a store bought rotisserie chicken works great as well.

Next brown sausage in a large dutch oven or other pot. Remove sausage leaving grease. Add one chopped onion to the pot, sauteing until tender and translucent.

Then return sausage and chicken to pot with onions. Add 1 cup of white rice and 2 cups of water. Sprinkle in a little salt and Creole seasoning (such as Tony Chachere's). Bring water to a boil. Stir until rice puffs and most of water is gone (this time will vary depending on what type of rice you use).

Cover, lower heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, Creole seasoning, and cayenne. This will make about 6-10 servings depending on your appetite. Josh loves this so much and serves himself very large portions, so it doesn't make quite as many servings for us!

Each person can add more Creole seasoning and Tabasco sauce if they would like extra spice. The leftovers are delicious, so it's a great meal to make on Sunday and enjoy for a few more days! You can also change it up by adding bell peppers, tomato sauce, or different meats.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Reliving My College Days

Once upon a time, I frequented coffee shops. I would read, study, and just enjoy hanging out. After having Jack, this stopped happening. Bringing a toddler along is not ideal and paying a babysitter so that I can sit in a coffee shop is not quite in the budget. So since my sweet mother-in-law is in town this weekend, I asked her if she could watch Jack today so that I could indulge in some "me time."  She said yes without hesitation. It doesn't take much convincing to get her to spend time with her grandson!

So I went to Satellite Coffee and ordered my favorite drink, the Carmel Java. This drink is amazing. Delicious frozen sweetness. Sometimes I drive through Satellite and order this as a treat to myself. When Jack was a baby and a little fussy or it was just a long day, I would take a drive to pick up a carmel java and listen to NPR as I drank it. It was my way of finding peace in the midst of spit up, diapers, and a crying baby.

But rather than experiencing Satellite via the drive-thru, I was able to enjoy my drink in the cozy environment inside. It was wonderful, peaceful, and rejuvenating (and not just because of the caffeine).

I'm thinking I need to do this more often.

Satellite Coffee on Urbanspoon

Happy To Eat My Greens

I tend to avoid restaurants that focus on salad as the main course. They conjure up images of either wilted greens in a buffet-style restaurant complete with early 90s decor or the type of place only girls who don't like food would frequent. Those who see food as an enemy rather than a friend, i.e., not me.

My opinion of this was altered when I saw a new restaurant open up here in Albuquerque. And after checking out their website and reading reviews, I knew I had to give it a try. Vinaigrette is a salad bistro that started in Santa Fe and recently opened up a second location here in the Duke City. My parents and sister were in town last weekend, so I suggested we give it a try for lunch.

The atmosphere is bright, colorful, modern, and fresh. Just like the incredible food. I ordered the I Yam What I Yam Salad which is baby greens with pancetta, pomegranate seeds and a haystack of maple-glazed yam shoestrings with maple mustard vinaigrette. Amazing. This was the best salad I have ever eaten. It was fresh and flavorful and I did not leave any of it on my plate! I'm not generally a huge fan of salad, but I could eat this one everyday. It was perfection. Vinaigrette has the salad down to an art. Each is perfectly dressed, not drowning in dressing, a little in every bite, just enough to add a hint of flavor. I also appreciate that each ingredient in their salads are proportionate to one another. Some restaurants try to make their salads look like works of art by slapping huge ingredients on top of a bed of greens. But the problem with that is it becomes very awkward to eat as everything is a different size and you wonder if you should be using a knife.

The menu is primarily salads, but there are a few sandwiches, soups, and other items. My sister ordered the Cuban Torta, which is mustard-roasted pork shoulder and green chile ham, griddled with red onions and Swiss cheese on a split roll with avocado and mayonnaise, chipotle and sweet relish. She had a side Greek Salad with it as well. It is chopped cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, red onion and crumbled feta cheese, with a classic vinaigrette. She loved hers as well. My parents loved their meals too.

After  a wonderful first visit, I had to go back. My mother-in-law is in town for the weekend, and I thought she might enjoy it as well. So she, Jack and I decided to head there for lunch today. In the photo above you can get a better idea of the interior and notice Jack eating his goldfish with a spoon as we waited for our meal. The mind of a toddler is fascinating.

We ordered Erin's Mac and Cheese for him and he absolutely loved it. Much better than the goldfish. We liked it too (we each tried a bite). It was served with fruit and veggies on the side. 

I ordered the sandwich and salad duo with the Morty and Cheese which is Mortadella and tangy melted robbiola with scallion yogurt sauce, on griddled and pressed ciabatta and a side Cobb Salad. I asked for baby greens because I'm weird and don't like romaine. They kindly obliged. The sandwich was delicious and the salad was too!

My mother-in-law ordered the soup and salad combo. She chose the soup of the day which was a green chile corn chowder and the Omega salad which is leafy greens chopped and tossed with sweet corn, diced bell pepper, tomato, avocado, red onion, cilantro and toasted pine nuts with blue cheese vinaigrette. She raved about hers as well.

I love that Vinaigrette serves fresh, flavorful food that is perfectly portioned. You leave feeling satisfied, not stuffed. If you find yourself in Albuquerque (or Santa Fe), give it a try. You will not regret it!

Vinaigrette on Urbanspoon