Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pizza Cups

Some friends of mine use to make "taco cups" for their kids with canned biscuits. The other day, Pillsbury biscuits were on sale, so I tried to do something similar. Instead of taco cups, I decided to make pizza cups. They were so simple. And delicious. I made them two nights in a row.

Cook 1 pound of Italian sausage until completely cooked through. Remove from pan, leaving some of the grease. Place 1/2 diced onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic in the same pan and saute until soft. Return sausage to pan and add 1 large can or jar of marinara sauce. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Allow sauce to simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Place Pillsbury flaky layers biscuits in muffin tins, pressing down in the center of each one to form cups. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of sauce into each cup and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of mozzarella cheese.

Cook at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

These pizza cups were so good and will definitely be something I make again. They would be great for a kids' birthday party, game watching party, etc. You could also mix it up by using pepperoni, ground beef, veggies, whatever your favorite pizza topping is.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Mexico Green Chile Hash

After making delicious green chile enchiladas the other night, I had some of the green chile sauce leftover. Because I loved it so much, I could not let them go to waste. So I created this lovely New Mexico Green Chile Hash. It's a simple dish perfect for breakfast or any other meal.

To make it you will need:
  • Olive oil
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and chopped into about 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 egg
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Green Chile Enchilada Sauce (or your favorite salsa)
  • Cilantro
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chili Powder

Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add potatoes to pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and chili powder. Cook potatoes until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, about 5-10 minutes. Push potatoes to one side of pan and add egg on empty side (as pictured above). Reduce heat to medium and cook until egg is over easy or however you prefer.

Place potatoes on a plate, sprinkle with cheese, top with egg, sauce, and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. This would also be great with chorizo, sausage, bacon or other veggies. I was just using what I had on hand that day.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Best Green Chile Enchiladas!

As a New Mexican, I am a huge fan of green chile enchiladas. I've tried a few different recipes but never found anything that I really loved. Until now. A few months back, I read this article about New Mexico green chile which also had a recipe. I finally gave it a try this past weekend, and I wish I would have tried it sooner! It was so delicious! The sauce was amazing on it's own, I kept dipping tortilla chips in it while I was cooking.

I just made a few changes to the recipe. I did not use any chicken and used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth because we were having friends over who are vegetarian. Also, I do not have an immersion blender, so I put the sauce in the food processor and pulsed it a few times. Next time I will probably use the blender because it's bigger and might be a little less messy.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Day in Taos

Last weekend my younger brothers and parents came up for a visit. Josh and my brother decided they wanted to go skiing in Taos on Saturday, so my parents and Jack and I spent the day exploring the town. I love Taos and was so excited to show my parents around since it was their first time there.

Taos is just a little over 2 hours from Albuquerque, so it's a great spot for a day trip or a weekend visit. The drive there is beautiful and takes you through Santa Fe, so you can incorporate a visit there too. We stopped in Santa Fe for dinner on the way back at one of our favorite spots, Rooftop Pizzeria (more on that later).

The guys drove up earlier in the morning so that they could start skiing when the lifts opened at 9:00. We took our time getting on the road, so we got there a little later. We began by driving up to the ski area, which is about 30 minutes from the town of Taos. The town is down in the valley, and has a very "New Mexican" look with adobe buildings, open land, and the beautiful desert landscape. As you drive up the mountain toward the ski area, the landscape changes dramatically. Along the windy mountain road you are surrounded with beautiful alpine scenery and a stream running along the road.

The base area of the ski resort is small compared to those of most Colorado ski resorts, but for New Mexico, it's a good size. There are a few hotels and condos, shops, and restaurants. We met the guys for lunch at Stray Dog Cantina. It's right at the base of the mountain with great views, good food, and a great drink selection. The prices are decent (especially for a ski resort). The food is primarily New Mexican style food as well as burgers, sandwiches, etc. We all enjoyed our food and I'm sure we will try it again next time we are there skiing. I think it would especially be a fun spot for grabbing a drink and food after a long day on the slopes!

After lunch on the mountain, we headed back toward town. Between Taos Ski Valley and the town of Taos is a cute little town called Arroyo Seco. It's a great place to stop for a little shopping and the best ice cream you will ever put in your mouth. Taos Cow is a fun little spot with a wonderful assortment of unique flavors of ice cream. They also serve breakfast and lunch, but I have only tried the ice cream. My parents and I all had the Cafe Ole flavor which is coffee ice cream with cinnamon and chocolate chips. Unbelievable. If this were not 2 hours away, I might eat this ice cream everyday.

After our short stop in Arroyo Seco, we continued on to Taos. It is much like Santa Fe with a main plaza surrounded by restaurants, shops, and art galleries. Although it is smaller, so it does not have quite as many options. But there is still plenty to see and do.

On our previous visit to Taos, we discovered Twirl Toy Store and Play Space. We fell in love with it, but at the time Jack was still an infant, so he couldn't enjoy it. Now that he is 2, this is the perfect spot for him. Behind the cute toy store they have built a great play space in their enclosed courtyard. It is open from 10am-6pm and is FREE!

When we are visiting new places it is always nice to find spots like this where we can let Jack play and burn some energy. He absolutely loved playing here and would have stayed all day if we let him.

This is perfect for toddlers all the way up to older elementary-aged children. There are also plenty of spots for adults to sit and visit while they watch the kids play. I noticed on their website that they have classes and special events too, so we may check that before our next trip to find out if there is something fun Jack might enjoy.

Thanks Twirl for creating such a lovely and fun spot for kids like Jack to enjoy during their time in Taos!

On our way home, we stopped in Santa Fe for dinner. My dad mentioned that pizza sounded good and we needed a place that would be kid-friendly, so we went to one of our favorites, Rooftop Pizzeria. This is a great place for delicious and unique pizzas and great views. It's also very kid-friendly, which is a little more difficult to find in Santa Fe. I split the Number 3 pizza which has Grilled Chicken, Green Chile, Cotija and Asadero Cheeses and Toasted Pinon with Alfredo Sauce on Blue Corn Crust. It was named the best pizza in New Mexico in Food Network Magazine's "50 States 50 Pizzas." This pizza was so delicious with a nice little kick of spice from the green chile, but nothing too powerful. And the blue corn crust was delicious too! I have loved every other pizza I have tried there on other visits too.

Taos Cow on Urbanspoon

Tim's Stray Dog Cantina on Urbanspoon

Rooftop Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fresh Southwest Breakfast

I have always loved to sleep in and was pretty good at it. After having Jack, it wasn't much of an option. He doesn't seem to enjoy sleeping in as much as I do. So in order to preserve our sanity, Josh and I have a system for sleeping in on the weekends. He gets up with Jack on Saturdays so I can sleep in and I wake up with Jack on Sundays so he can sleep in. It's wonderful. I highly recommend it to all parents.

This Saturday was one of those lovely lazy days where we stayed in our pajamas the entire day. After sleeping in I decided I would make some breakfast for Josh and me. I looked around our kitchen to see what was available. Through this process, I created a masterpiece.

Here is the recipe for my Chipotle Sweet Potatoes with Corn, Avocado, & Fried Egg:
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive or canola oil
  • 1 1/2-2 cups sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn (thawed)
  • 2 tbsp. shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1/4 c. diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salsa Verde
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Chipotle powder
  • 2 eggs
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, sprinkle with salt and chipotle powder. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onions and garlic. Cook for a few more minutes until potatoes are crisp on the outside and soft inside and onions are translucent. Add corn and stir in just to heat it up a bit. Remove potato mixture from pan dividing between two plates. Top with cheese and avocados. Sprinkle avocados with salt.

Fry eggs over easy in pan. Place on top of potato mixture. Sprinkle with pepper and chipotle powder.

This would also be great with black beans or other Mexican cheeses such as cotija and some fresh cilantro if you have it on hand.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mango "Ice Cream"

When I made my Pulled Pork with Mango BBQ sauce last week, I discovered something so incredibly delicious, healthy, and easy that I could not resist sharing it with the world. Pureeing frozen mangoes makes the most amazing, ice cream-like treat that you will ever put in your mouth. So after tasting it while making this BBQ sauce, I decided I would have to make it again for Jack and me to enjoy.

To make this deliciousness happen, you'll need one bag of frozen mangoes. Leave them in the fridge for an hour or two to thaw a bit.

Place them in a large food processor. If you have a cute little helper like me, have him turn it on for you.

Puree until smooth.

Place in bowls for yourself and your little buddy.

Enjoy this tasty treat and place any leftovers in a container in the freezer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chipotle Ranch Chicken Tacos

One night last week I was trying to come up with dinner last minute using ingredients I already had in my kitchen. The result was delicious chipotle ranch chicken tacos.  You have got to give them a try. Josh and I both loved them and he asked for seconds!

Here are the ingredients:
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 tbsp. ranch dip mix
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Canola oil
  • Shredded Mexican, cheddar, and/or Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Flour tortillas
Heat canola oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with chipotle and ranch mix. Add to pan. Cook until chicken is completely cooked through. You could also do this on a grill, but leave chicken whole and cut afterward. Add beans to pan and cook for about 1 minute, just to heat them up a bit.

Place cooked chicken and beans in tortillas and sprinkle with cheese. I put mine in the panini press to heat the tortilla and melt the cheese, but it's fine either way. This should make enough for about 6-8 people. Adding the beans helps stretch it a little further. This would also be great served over rice or with veggies for a healthier option.

And I enjoyed using the leftovers to make nachos the following day!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pulled Pork with Mango BBQ Sauce

This weekend we had some friends over for dinner and games. As I tried to think of what I should cook, I knew I wanted to do something that I could prepare in advance so that I was not trying to get everything together while everyone was arriving.

As I have mentioned before, I love watching Aarti Party on Food Network. One of my favorite recipes from her show is her Pulled Pork with Mango BBQ Sauce. It has such incredible flavor, and is one of those meals you cook ahead of time and leave in the pot until guests arrive.

Just a few notes on this recipe:
  • I use to be able to buy mango puree at Trader Joe's, but they no longer sell it. Instead, buy a bag of frozen mangoes, let them thaw in the fridge, then puree them in a food processor or blender.
  • If you do not want to cook this on the stove, you can use your slow cooker. Prepare the sauce as instructed. Place the pork in your slow cooker, then pour the sauce over it. Cook on low for about 10 hours or high for about 6.
  • If you are unable to find boneless pulled pork, cook it with the bone in. It's very easy to remove once the meat is tender. 
  • I can't seem to find brioche buns, but regular hamburger buns work just fine.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Easy Fried Rice

I have seen a lot of recipes lately for fried rice and decided it was time to give it a try. After going through various recipes, I have come up with my own version. If you are the type of cook that likes exact measurements, you won't like this recipe, sorry!

Fried rice is really easy to put together, and if you are short on time during the week, it's something you can prep on the weekend and easily put together for a tasty weeknight meal.

Here is what you will need without measurements, just adjust to your taste and the amount of people you will be serving:
  • Cooked white rice. Prepare this a day or two ahead of time. Leftover rice actually works best (I'm writing more at the end of this post about using a rice cooker to simplify things even more). 
  • 1/4-1/2 diced onion
  • Frozen peas and carrots. You will want to either thaw these ahead of time, or heat them according to the package directions, subtracting a few minutes (you will heat them more in the pan so there is no need for them to be completely cooked)
  • Eggs, about one for every 2 people. Lightly beat in a bowl. 
  • Sesame oil (pictured above). This can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores. It adds great flavor. 
  • Canola or vegetable oil. 
  • Soy sauce. I prefer low sodium to keep it a little healthier. 
  • Chili paste with garlic. Just to add a little spice.
  • Chicken breasts or thighs cut into small pieces. You don't need much, maybe one for every 2-4 people. It's great without chicken too or you could add pork, shrimp, or whatever protein you have on hand.

Heat a little canola oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add onion, chicken or other meat, sprinkle with a little sesame oil and soy sauce and heat until meat is completely cooked through. Push chicken and onion to the side or remove from pan. Add egg(s) and gently scramble. Add rice, veggies, and return chicken and onions to pan. Pour a little sesame oil and soy sauce over mixture and stir. Add chile paste one teaspoon at a time. Taste and add more soy sauce or chile paste until you have the flavor as you like it. If your family prefers different flavors or levels of spice, let each person add additional chile paste and soy sauce to their bowl.

The ingredients for this meal are easy to keep on hand so that you can cook it anytime you are not sure what to make or when you are trying to save money (it's very budget-friendly!). 

I recently bought this Aroma 12-Cup Digital Rice Cooker and Steamer from Target. Rice is not difficult to cook, but I feel like when I am making dishes that include rice I tend to forget about it until the last minute. So I decided to get a rice cooker and this way I can either make it in advance, like I do for this fried rice, or let it cook on it's own while I am preparing a dish to serve with it. It's nice because after it cooks it will stay warm in there. You can also use it to steam vegetables and other food. I would say it was $30 well spent! There might be better rice cookers out there, I did not do much research ahead of time. I had a Target gift card and figured this inexpensive version would suit our needs just fine, and it has.