Saturday, July 30, 2022

Cooking is Fun...And Easy!! Boriqueño Baked Potatoes


Hi friends!!  If you've been following this page awhile, you'll know that my hubs is Puerto Rican.  Puerto Ricans proudly refer to themselves as Boricua...a person from Puerto Rico or of Puerto Rican heritage.  Hubs also proudly refers to himself as a Nuyorican--because he was born in the Bronx.  His mom came to the Bronx as a toddler from Puerto Rico. of our favorite dishes from his Mami' is the Nuyorican version of Picadillo.  This is a dish common throughout the Caribbean.  We originally learned to make empanadas (large fried dumplings or meat pies) with it, but found that it is FABULOUS over baked potatoes.  Enjoy!!


3/4 jar Goya Pitted Alcaparrado (order from Amazon here).  This is a jarred mix of green olives, pimentos, and capers).  Drain liquid into a bowl, put 3/4 of the jar on a cutting board or into a food processor and coarse chop.  Add leftover liquid back into the jar and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.

1 pound ground chuck

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large garlic gloves, minced

4 heaping kitchen tablespoons of Goya Recaito (order from Amazon here).  This is a jarred green sauce made from Culantro, Green Pepper, Garlic, and Onion

2 large Russet baking potatoes


Salt and Pepper

Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and place racks on the the low and medium setting.  Heat a large skillet, and add ground chuck, onion, and garlic.  Lightly salt and pepper.  LIGHTLY.  Cook over medium high heat until burger is cooked, stirring every so often.  Add Alcapurrado and Recaito and stir in well.  Cook until the liquid is mostly cooked off.  Taste and salt if needed (highly unlikely).  Turn off until time to serve, leave on stove.

Wash Russet potatoes, pierce with a fork or paring knife twice on each site, and rub with a little oil, then salt and pepper.  Place directly on oven rack and put a piece of foil or a cookie sheet below them to catch any drips.  Cook for 1 hour, turning 1/2 turn halfway through.  Will be ready when fork tines slide in easily.  At this point, turn the heat on the Picadillo to medium and heat up.

To serve:  Place potato in bowl or on plate.  Cut longwise, and then crosswise and squeeze the side till the lovely potato fluffs out.  Sprinkle with cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, and pile warmed Picadillo on top.

Buen Provecho!!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Cooking is Fun... And Easy!! Chorizo Tagine with Lentils and Fenugreek

I love Middle Eastern, Moroccan, and Mediterranean food, and got a wild hair the other day and decided I had to have a tagine.  I got a preserved lemon kit in one of my cookbook boxes a few months ago and I've been researching what to do with said preserved lemons, and turns out, they are very popular in tagines  A tagine is the cooking vessel, and also the name of the dish cooked in it.  I bought this one from Amazon, because the bottom is cast iron and it's not as "delicate" as the traditional clay ones.  The top is clay, however.  

Of course, I had to get a cookbook.  This recipe is from The Modern Tagine:  Delicious Recipes for Moroccan One-Pot Meals by Ghillie Basan.

It serves 4-6.

I'll bet you are wondering how a tagine works.  Here's a great explanation from

"The tagine’s conical shape makes a uniquely moist, hot environment for the dish being cooked. The base is wide and shallow, and the tall lid fits snugly inside. As the food cooks, steam rises into the cone, condenses, and then trickles down the sides back into the dish."

Hot tip--you don't have to have a tagine to cook with this book.  A cast iron dutch oven with a well fitting lid will work!

Chorizo Tagine with Lentils and Fenugreek


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound of Spanish chorizo or Merguez sausage, thickly sliced (about 1/2 inch slices).  This is “dry” chorizo, do not sub the Mexican kind, it won’t work.  I used Puerto Rican (Goya Brand) chorizo, because I had some in the freezer.  
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground fenugreek
1-1/4 cups dried brown lentils
1 15 oz can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar (I used Splenda, because we don't keep sugar around)
Chicken broth or water to cover lentils (just)
1/4 cup plus a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Warmed flatbreads or French bread slices and natural whole milk plain greek yogurt to serve


Step 1.  Heat the oil in the tagine base or a cast iron dutch oven.  When shimmering, add the onions and garlic and saute until they begin to color.  Toss in the chorizo slices and saute for 1-2 minutes just to flavor the oil.  Stir in the turmeric and fenugreek and add the lentils stirring well to make sure they are covered in the spices.

Step 2.  Stir in the tomatoes and sugar, and then pour in chicken broth or water to just cover the lentils mixture.  Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low simmer, and put the lid on the tagine or dutch oven and cook gently for about 25 minutes, adding more water/chicken broth if necessary, until the lentils are tender but not mushy.  (I make my own chicken broth, and I'm of the mind that chicken broth makes EVERYTHING taste more rich and tasty)

Step 3.  Toss in 1/4 cup cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Scatter the rest of the cilantro across the top, and serve with warmed flatbread or French bread slices and natural yogurt.

Sunday Stealing -- Hodgepodge


Join us here.

1. What's something you've recently accomplished solo? 

Finishing a Masters in Nursing and a dual Masters in Business and Healthcare Management in 2 years.  I busted my ass on that, and it was all ME.

2.  What's one product you use that never ever fails?

Dawn Powerwash.  The best cleaner ever.

3. Have you found your place in the world? Where is it?

Right here, in New Mexico.  I’m happy to be back doing Utilization Review instead of auditing—I missed it a lot, and enjoy it much more than auditing.

4.  Worst movie you ever saw?

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.  I literally turned it off about 5 minutes in.  I don’t watch horror movies anymore.

5. What's the last fun thing you did?

Took Maddie to the dog park this morning.  There were no dogs, which is what she prefers, and it’s always fun to watch her sniffing around and exploring.

6. What's your favorite Italian dish?

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage and Broccolini from the America’s Test Kitchen Mediterranean Instant Pot cookbook.  YUM!

7. Have you ever been to France? Any desire to visit there, and if so what would site or city would you most want to see?

No, I haven’t.  I’d love to go to Provence and see the various Roman cities and ruins there.

8. Have you ever been to Disney, any of the parks at all? Are you a Disney superfan or something less than that? They're open right now so tell us, would you go if you had the time/money/a free trip?

I’ve been and have no interesting ever going.  Not really a fan.

9. Your favorite place to go when you want to be quiet as a church mouse? Would those who know you well describe you as more church mouse or perhaps more like mighty mouse?

Mighty Mouse, I think.  But my favorite quiet spot is out here on the patio, or in my office on the couch.

10. Do you bake your own bread? Last time you had hot out-of-the-oven homemade bread? What's your favorite kind of bread?

Nope.  We’ve tried, and the altitude (we are higher than Denver, believe it or not) gets us every time.  We really need to do some research into high altitude baking.

11. What's something you might say is 'the greatest thing since sliced bread'?


12.  Share with us five little things you're grateful for today. Small blessings. One catch-they all must start with the letter T.

Tea (Iced).  I love Tetley’s Decaf made into iced tea.  Not dehydrating and tasty!
Trade.  I love my job as an RN, and have for over 30 years now. 
Tribe.  My family, friends, and other people I have things in common with.
Turf.  My home, my town, and my state.
Thesaurus.  How I figured all the above words out, lol.  Also very handy for writing papers.

13. Tell us where you were and something about what life was like when you were 20- 21.

I was married to my first husband and working at a big shipyard in Virginia.  We didn’t have much, and life was tough.  We weren’t suited for one another at ALL, and divorced after three years.

14. What's on the menu at your house this week?

Ooooo, I got a new cookbook and cooking thing so tonight I’m making my first Tagine.  Stay tuned for a Cooking is Fun and Easy post!   Hubs made Japanese Kara-Age (fried chicken) last night.  On the menu is chili, fish fillets, something with shrimp, and a pork roast.  We’ll use the leftovers to make Cuban Sandwiches and pulled pork sandwiches.

15.Something you recently purchased where a coupon was involved? Do you regularly shop with coupons?

Nope, can’t stand ‘em.  I want to buy what I like.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Saturday 9 -- Diamonds

Join us here.

Saturday 9: Diamonds (2012)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Rihanna sings that when she looks at her lover, she sees the light in his eyes. The internet is filled with makeup tips for making your eyes look brighter. Drugstores sell eye drops that promise to get the red out. Are you bright-eyed this morning?

I’m pretty much always bright-eyed, since I’m an early bird by nature.  This morning was no exception.

2) She likens him to a shooting star. Astronomers tell us that shooting stars aren't that rare at all. They occur when dust, asteroids or comets enter the earth's atmosphere, and are often visible on clear, pollution-free nights. Have you ever seen a shooting star?

Yes, many.  Especially on trips in Alaska, the Great Basin, and Canyonlands.  No light pollution.  The sky was AMAZING.

3) In ancient Rome, shooting stars were considered good luck, especially for those going into battle, while some tribes in East Africa believed shooting stars were a harbinger of doom. Are you superstitious?

Not so much.  I’m more a believer in Karma (both good and bad), than I am anything else.

4) The singer of "Diamonds" hosted a lavish Diamond Ball to raise funds for education programs in Malawi, Senegal, and the country of her birth, Barbados. Rhianna named her charity initiative the Clara Lionel Foundation after her grandparents. If you were to name your foundation after your grandparents, what would it be called? What would you ideally like to do in their honor?

The Elfriede Helmut Society.  I would like to provide services for new immigrants to the United States who were displaced from their country of origin by war.  When my mother emigrated to the United States in 1952 as a displaced person after WWII, her family was basically dropped off in a shack on a cranberry bog.  No services, they didn’t speak English, and had little money.  The local elementary school principal took pity on my Mom (who was 12) and would drive out to the boonies where they lived to give her lessons in English.  It shouldn’t be that hard.  They had already walked across Europe, endured refugee camps, death, and destruction.  A little help when they got here would have been nice.

5) Rhianna recently had her first baby, a boy. According to the Social Security Administration, the top names for baby boys in 2021 were Liam and Noah. Is there a Liam or Noah in your life?

Nope.  I see lots of very interesting baby names in my job though—I do chart review on babies in our hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.  People can be very….. creative.

6) When she was still in her teens, Rhianna entered a beauty pageant on a dare, and won! Can you recall a time you acted on a dare?

Not a dare specifically, but I’ve done a lot of stupid shit in my time.  I seem to have gotten smarter or wiser as I’ve gotten older.

7) While on tour, she likes to sneak out into the audience, just to get the vibe from out there. To disguise herself, Rhianna slips on a black oversized hoodie. Are hoodies a staple of your wardrobe?

My hospital system is one of the biggest sponsors of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and we can buy limited edition hoodies every year.  I always get one, they are perfect when the house is a little cooler in the winter.

8) In 2012, the year this song topped the charts, London hosted the Olympic Games. If you won a trip to London, what would you like to see?

The National Gallery first.  I love portraits. 

9) Random question: Did either or both your parents go to college?

My father did not.  He went in the Navy Submarine Service.  My mother started, then left to raise me, then my brother.  When she was in her 40s, she completed her bachelors degree in business at Augusta College.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Catching Up

It's been a while since I actually put down a post that wasn't a recipe or a Currently.  I've been busy.  I didn't realize how much switching to four 10s would impact things like blogging, for example.  Or having Mom over during the week.  I'm pretty much toast after 10 hours of work, and just want to sit on the couch and watch some TV.

On the other hand, I have a whole day to devote to Mom things, which was what I was shooting for when I changed my schedule.  It's a trade-off for sure, but in the long run, I think it will work out.  Work is pretty weird right now, since my new (old) boss got down-sized a week after I got back to the department.  I have no clue what is going to happen with our group--I'm thinking we'll probably get out-sourced like my last department.  At least I'm back doing something I really, really enjoy, so I could handle being outsourced with this bunch.  I try not to think to much about what's going to happen and just live in the moment.  I'm still working the side gig, also, except now I have to cram 10 hours into 3 days.  Le sigh.  First world problems for sure.  I like the money too much to quit, so I'll just have to quit whining on that one.

We just got back from 5 days in Ruidoso, New Mexico.  This was our second year, and wowza, the AirBNB we got this time was head and shoulders above last year.  It was stunning.  Spotless.  In a National Forest.  Trees and green everywhere (a sight for sore eyes, our part of New Mexico is high desert).  It's so cool to drive 3-1/2 hours away, be in the same state, and be in a completely different biosystem.  We had a lot of fun--did a lot of shopping, went to our favorite corny Wild West Show with the great chuckwagon dinner, and spent a day at the races (Ruidoso Downs), where we won a little lost a little.  We also saw Mule Deer, Elk, and Wild Horses--literally in our front yard.  And skunks.  Which, unfortunately prohibited Maddie from enjoying the fenced back yard.  C'est la vie, she had a good time, and no fireworks were heard.  Huzzah!!

I have the rest of the week off, so we are laying around, collecting spoons (energy), and today, headed out to get some Chinese food at our favorite joint.  I may even get a pedicure.

I'm trying to process the stuff that's happening in the world right now, and that's sucking a few spoons out of me.  I don't want to stick my head in the sand, but on the other hand, I only have so many spoons.  It's a challenge.  

I hope ya'll are all well.  I'm going to get back into my weekend blogging, as I've really missed connecting with other people.  Tonight, I'm even going to cook a thing, so stay tuned for another great InstantPot recipe (I've made this before, but didn't post it at the time).