Thursday, December 30, 2021

Cooking is Fun... And Easy--Chile Relleno Casserole

 

Hubs had a hankering for something New Mexican/Mexican, and this recipe came to mind.  You can find the original recipe (and a very interesting read) in this article in the Washington Post.  I've changed up a few things from the original to suit our taste buds.

*An important note on ingredients:  Many of the items listed below are available from international or Latin markets, Amazon (505 Southwestern and Young Guns Produce are both great Made in New Mexico brands, and 505 Southwestern has an online store as well), and specialty sites like MexGrocer, ChileMonster, FreshChileCo, and NewMexicanConnection.  There's really no substitution for New Mexican chile, so I hope you'll give our wonderful product a try!  Mexican and Mediterranean (Italian) Oregano don't taste the same, I don't suggest substituting.  Mexican and Spanish chorizo are completely different.  I don't care for Mexican because of the very high fat content and the overwhelming spice.  It's definitely a different flavor and texture.  I prefer Spanish-style chorizo, and Goya products are pretty available.

Ingredients


 

1 large (27 oz) can whole poblano peppers, drained. 
1 lb ground beef
3.5 oz (2 small links) Goya spanish chorizo, casings removed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, run through a microplaner or minced
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups 2% milk
5 large eggs, beaten
1 jar mild or medium green chile sauce, heated (I like 505 Southwestern
Sour cream

How-To

Step 1.  Remove casings from chorizo and break up into small pieces, saute with hamburger, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, Mexican oregano, and two or three tablespoons of the green chile sauce until meats are cooked and onion is translucent.  Grease a 9 inch square baking dish with shortening (I keep a little can of Crisco in my fridge for this purpose).  

Step 2.  Remove the poblanos from the can and discard the juice.  Wearing food-grade gloves, gently remove the stems and seeds, and cut the peppers open so they lie flat.  Line the bottom of the dish with the peppers, skin side down, overlapping them to cover the bottom of the dish completely.  Chop the about half of the leftover peppers and set aside.  Layer the meat mixture over the whole poblanos and top with shredded cheese and the reserved chopped poblanos.



Step 3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  While whisking, gradually pour in the milk, breaking up any clumps of flour.  Whisk in the already beaten eggs and evenly pour the mixture into the baking dish.  Use a knife to poke holes in the mixture so the egg can settle to the bottom.  Let sit for 5 minutes to ensure all egg mixture settles throughout the casserole.  



Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until it puffs and browns.  Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice, and serve with heated green chile sauce and a dollop of sour cream.

 


Buen Provecho!!

Thursday 13--Christmas Gifts

 

1.  Salt pig (cellar).  This thing is really beautiful.  It has a sliding cover that will keep the cats out of the salt.  It's made of acacia wood.  I have no idea why chefs call these things "pigs".  

Image Credit

2.  A stunning portrait of our dear girl Ginger (RIP).  She went over the the rainbow bridge almost 3 years ago and we still miss her.  Santa brought us a beautiful 16 x 20 portrait of her in pastels, all the way from Australia from artist Lori Head at Your Pet in Pastels

3.  Alex Guarnaschelli's latest cookbook The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart.  Alex is one of my favorite judges on Chopped.

Image Credit
4.  A new Microplaner--the real thing this time.  My knock-off was falling apart.  These things are amazing for zesting, and turning a clove of garlic into minced garlic in about 10 seconds.  I love mine!

5.  The book from the Holbein exhibition at the Getty in Los Angeles.  I love, love, love portraiture, especially the late middle ages and the Renaissance.  Holbein is probably my favorite artist.  I've been lamenting the fact that there's no way I could see this exhibition, but the book, Holbein: Capturing Character, is the next best thing.  This was a wonderful gift.

5.  A jar opener.  I love gadgets, and the last gadget I bought to open the pesky impossible to open jars did not work as advertised.  So, hopefully this one will.  

Image Credit

Image Credit
6.  Uyen Luu's cookbook Vietnamese: Simple Vietnamese Food to Cook at Home and a bottle of Red Boat Fish Sauce.

7.  A gorgeous sweater from Talbot's.

8.  James S. A. Corey's last book in the great series, The Expanse, Leviathan Falls.  This was 10 book, and a great series on TV, in it's last season now.  I loved these books, this world, it's definitely in the reread pile for me.

9.  A wall map of New Mexico in the style of fantasy maps (like you'd see, for example, on the inside cover of the Lord of the Rings books).  It's stunning.  Check out Lord of Maps....all the states and other countries are represented.  

Lord of Maps - New Mexico

Image Credit

10.  A bench scraper.  These things are so damn handy for handling chopped food into a bowl, cleaning up after, and separating dough and the like.  

11.  Christopher Kimball's The Complete Milk Street TV Show Cookbook.  I've never seen this show, but we ran across this cookbook a while back in the bargain books at Barnes and Noble.  I flipped through it and thought the recipes were doable and interesting.  

12.  A Fullstar Ultimate Vegetable Chopper kit.  I love gadgets.  This is the ultimate gadget--we'll see if it performs as advertised.  

Image Credit

Image Credit
13.  A new stainless steel spider.  That's a cooking thing.  Ours had a bamboo handle which has split.  It needed replacing.

It was a very chef-y, gadget-y Christmas.  I feel blessed by such abundance, and grateful that we're able to do this.  Much fun was had by all, and everyone seemed happy with their gifts.  Even Maddie, our dog, got a prezzie (a snuffle mat).  The cats got treats, and new little wool mice.  Hubs got all sorts of new toys.  Mom enjoyed her new sweatshirt from Talbot's and the stained glass hummingbird made by a local artist, among other things.  

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!
 



Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Cooking is Fun... And Easy--New England Boiled Dinner a la InstantPot

 

We had this dish a lot growing up--while I grew up mostly in Mississippi, my parents are from New England.  Specifically, an area known as the South Shore--between Boston and Cape Cod.  My father's family owned a roadhouse in Pembroke and were lobstermen out of Denisport.  My mother emigrated after WWII and landed in Carver, land of cranberry bogs.  This classic dish was a favorite of theirs, anytime of year, not just the traditional St. Paddy's Day.  Fortunately, our local grocer stocks corned beef year around, so I decided to make this for our Mom Dinner tonight.  It's been gloomy, cloudy, and cold here in New Mexico, and a hearty dish like this is just the thing.  It's super easy in a pressure cooker like the InstantPot.  My recipe is adapted from this one.  Gotta give credit where credit is due--I thought the onions as trivet thing was a great idea to impart flavor.

Ingredients

1 large red onion, quartered into wedges
3 large garlic cloves, whole
1 2 to 3 lb flat cut corned beef, with included seasoning packet.  Rinse the beef and pat dry.  Do not season.
4 cups chicken stock
1 small head of cabbage, cored and cut in 1 inch thick wedges
1-1/2  pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, skin on, halved or quartered to relatively even size (I had large-ish Yukons, so I actually cut them more into eighths.  They key is to have all the pieces be somewhat the same size).
16 baby carrots, halved on the diagonal (or 4 medium carrots, sliced into 4 pieces each on the diagonal)
3 tbsp salted butter
Salt and Pepper

For the sauce (make at least 1 hour ahead for the flavors to marry)

3 tbsp mayonnaise (I love Duke's--it's got a great tang that works with this dish)
2 tbsp stone ground mustard
2 tbsp deli-style horseradish sauce (I like Beaver)

How-To

Step 1.

Place the quartered onion on the bottom of a 6 quart InstantPot or pressure cooker of your choice.   Throw the garlic gloves in between the onion pieces.  Place beef on top of the onions, season with the seasoning packet that comes with it, and add chicken stock, pouring around the edge so as to not wash the spices off the beef.

Cover, and pressure cook on high for 90 minutes.   Natural release for 12 minutes, then quick release and remove the corned beef and onions to a sheet pan or plate and cover to keep warm.  Leave the liquid in the InstantPot.  

Step 2.

Add cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and butter to the InstantPot.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set to pressure cook on high for 4 minutes, then quick release.  

When ready to serve, slice corned beef in thin slices across the grain.  Give everything a taste, adjust seasoning, and arrange on a platter.

Serve with sauce over the corned beef.


Great for corned beef sandwiches the day after, too!  I also saved the cooking liquid to freeze for some other InstantPot Beef Roast-type thing.

I'm happy to say we ALL cleaned out plates (even Mom), it came out so good.  Definitely will be making this again.

Buen Provecho!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Ten on Tuesday

From The Healthy Maven, as modified by Kwizgiver.

1. What were highlights from 2021 where I’ve felt deep gratitude?

Having a hypomanic episode after at least of decade of stability was a little scary.  I’m so very grateful that I’ve gotten to the point in my life where all I want to do is make cookies for the entire neighborhood and talk (and write) a mile a minute, instead of some more negative things.  I scared myself a little and realized that I needed a med adjustment, stat.  I have deep and abiding gratitude for my wonderful psych NP who fit me in right away and fixed me up.  My brain feels back to normal, finally.

2. What have been my greatest learnings from this past year?

That I’m not too old to learn a completely new profession, that I can feel incredibly humbled by that, and that I am absolutely not perfect and never will be, and it’s ok.

3. How did I grow as an individual over 2021?

I learned to love cooking again.  Really love it.  I now cook about 50% of the time, instead of 0% of the time.  Our marriage has improved because of it (not just the cooking, but sharing recipes, techniques, etc.—it’s so fun to be in the kitchen together).

4. What were the best decisions I made in 2021?

To leave a job that I loved, but that was using me.  Pay me for what I do or don’t, but if you don’t, then don’t expect me to stick around, and then don’t whine like a bitch afterwards. 

5. When did I feel the most alive?

Every damn day, when the COVID stats come across the work email.  Thank you, universe.

6. When did I feel the most exhausted?

Right before I went in the hospital in November.   A sodium of 118 (normal is 135-145) is not conducive to feeling normal.

7. What were the low points of 2021?

Two hospital visits and one hypomania.  Feeling overwhelmed by COVID in general.  I’m ready for a new year.

8. What one thing would I do differently and why?

Stop spending so much dang money.  Obvious reasons.

9. In what ways was I ‘waiting’ to get ______?

“back to normal”.  This is the new normal, and I might as well get used to it.

10. Who really made an impact on my life in 2021? Write down why you’re grateful for them and the role they played this past year. 

My mom.  Having her nearby to spend time with has been a great joy and comfort this year.  I’m glad I can be here for her at this stage of her life, not 3 planes away.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Currently...

I am….

Reading:  The Lions of Al-Rassan, by Guy Gavriel Kay.  I’m re-reading this for the eleventy-millionth time.  Everything Kay has written is eminently re-readable.  This particular book is set in an allegory of Spain, just after the fall of Granada.  It’s high fantasy at its best. 

Listening to:  Hubs play Call of Duty.  I just hear him moving the controller—he thankfully mutes the sound.  Neither Maddie nor I can tolerate the gunfire.

Loving:  Feeling better.  Hyponatremia is no joke.  Dry heaves, constant nausea, and horrid headache is no fun.  I’m religiously limiting my water intake, although I really don’t find milk all that refreshing, it’s what I can drink.  I’m going to give almond milk a try also.  I literally drink 64 to 84 oz of water a day (it’s New Mexico, it’s dry AF here!), so I’ve got to halve that and substitute something not water based if I want to stay out of the hospital.

Thinking:  What a nice Christmas it was.  Mom came over, we had a nice walk with Maddie, opened presents, and had a lovely dinner of posole rojo with all the fixins.  Tasty.  Then we called my brother and his family.

Feeling:  Grateful as always.  Super grateful that I didn’t have to be in the hospital over Christmas.  I was so strict with my fluids while there, hubs even brought me a cooler with a gallon of milk.  I found it interesting that the staff kept trying to give me water.  What part of NO free water is hard to understand?!

Celebrating:   The new side gig is going well.  I’m working as much as they’ll let me and I passed both of my first two T&Ts (testing and training—required to do the job).

Grateful for:  Biden’s extension of the student loan repayment forbearance.  Now I can use side gig money to pay some bills.  Huzzah!

Weather:  Cloudy and warm for this time of year.  I’m ready for it to a) get cold again, and b) for the sun to come out, and c) for a little snow. 

Enjoying:  Getting some stuff done yesterday (laundry, I’m looking at you).  It’s amazing how much one can get done when one doesn’t feel like shite.

A quote I want to share:  I love this one from Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  After Clark finds out he’s not getting the fat Christmas bonus he’s come to expect, and is, instead, enrolled in a jelly-of-the-month club.  One of the most hilarious speeches in a hilarious movie.

“Hey. If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is. Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where's the Tylenol?”

Here's a clip if you've never seen it.


 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Sunday Stealing--Holiday Questions (and a Catch-up)

First, a bit of a catch-up.  I've not been feeling well, and ended up back in the hospital on Dec. 22nd with hyponatremia (low sodium).  It's very frustrating, because we KNOW what's causing this (my brain meds) and I absolutely CAN'T stop taking them.  It's taken years, literally, for me to get on the right medications that keep me on an even keel for the most part.  Anyhow, thank God I was discharged Christmas eve day.  I wish you all a VERY happy holiday, and pray that the New Year will be full of good things for everyone. 

 Join us here.

1. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?

Being with my family.  Here in New Mexico, that’s Mom, Hubs, Me, and the animal kids.  I wish my brother could be here, but I wouldn’t want them traveling during all this pandemic shite.

2.  What’s the most annoying thing about this time of year?

Nothing about the holidays really annoys me.  If I could pick anything, I wish it wouldn’t start right after Halloween…let’s give Thanksgiving a chance!

3.  Who do you celebrate the holidays with?

Mom, Hubs, and the animal kids.

4. Do you travel during the holidays?

Oh HELL no.  I’ve never been a fan, and with COVID, traveling has become Russian roulette.  I’ll pass thanks.

5. Do you prefer giving or receiving gifts?

Giving is a blast…seeing the joy on someone’s face letting you know you picked the perfect thing…that’s fun.

6. Who is the hardest person to buy a gift for?

My Mom.  She pretty much has everything she could want, and if she doesn’t have it, has the means to buy it.  The limited space in her apartment makes it a challenge as well.  This year, I went with a top from her favorite store, Talbots, and a handcrafted stained glass hummingbird to hang in her window.

7. What is your traditional holiday meal?

It changes every year.  This year, we went very traditional New Mexican, which is posole with all the fixings.  It’s usually eaten Christmas eve, but since I was in the hospital up until noon on Christmas eve, we pushed our celebration off until Christmas day.  You can find my recipe for traditional New Mexican Posole Rojo here.  Doesn’t it look YUMMY?  It came out beautifully.  We also had Coquito while opening presents, which is a traditional Puerto Rican holiday drink…think eggnog, without the eggs.

 



8. Does your town get decorated for the holidays?

Individual neighborhoods more so than the town itself, it’s pretty spread out.  Our neighborhood goes pretty all out, and this year, our street was more lit than ever before.  The young family across the street and us were the first houses on this street to put up Christmas lights several years ago, and I’m happy to see the tradition taking hold.  It’s festive!

Albuquerque, on the other hand, really does it up.  Luminaria all over the place and of course, the BIG tradition, the Albuquerque BioPark's annual fundraiser--River of Lights.  According to USA Today, it's one of the top 10 light displays in the whole country.  The BioPark is our Zoo, Aquarium, and Botanical Garden.  Due to the pandemic, all the displays were in the Botanical Garden.  We went for the 1st time this year and it was STUNNING.  Here's just a few of the hundreds of displays we saw.  









9. Do you have a Christmas tree?

Yes, a 9 foot pre-lit, bought on sale after Christmas at Lowe’s.  I LOVE that tree.  I would never have a “real” Christmas tree again.  The planet needs all the trees we can muster.

10. If you have a tree, what is on top of it?

Well, in past years it had a topper that Mom gave me several years ago—a lit star, with a contraption that had Santa in a biplane flying around and around the top of the tree, towing a banner that says “Believe”.  Last year, the motor gave up the ghost, so I disconnected the biplane from the contraption, and sort of placed it at the top, with a spray of 3 gold sparkly things at the top.  Going to have to find something new to go up there….

11. Do you decorate the outside of your house with lights?   

Yes.  It’s something we really love to do.  It makes me happy, every single day, seeing those lights.  This year, we added a new element, colored lights down the east wall of our lot, and around our big chamisa bush.  We did not put up the luminaries—they are a giant PIA, and I was having trouble with my arm, so decided to forgo spending all the time hammering them into the ground so the wind didn’t carry them off.  It’s VERY windy here, everything has to be staked down, if you don’t want it ending up in the next county.

 


12. What is your favorite holiday memory as a child?

I don’t really have a single favorite memory of the holidays.

13. What is your favorite holiday dessert?

I’m not a big dessert eater, but I do love a really good pecan pie.  The best I’ve ever had was pastry chef ex-husbands.  Not a drop of syrup in his…cream, sugar, pecans, butter.  It was scrumptious.  He NEVER gives up his recipes, although I asked, through my daughter, a few years ago.  Predictably, he lied and said he’d misplaced his recipes.  Yeah, whatever. 

14. Do you have a favorite holiday movie?

Favorite(s) plural.  I have several I ALWAYS watch.  Added a new one this year, Gremlins.  My favorites are National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Trading Places, Die Hard, and always on Christmas, the original Boris Karloff version of The Grinch that Stole Christmas (not technically a movie).  I also manage to watch Sound of Music during the holidays too.

15. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Putting up the outside lights.  I love doing that.