Pre-Happy New Year! It’s the end of 2017, and before we hop on a plane to begin our foodie adventures in Europe (follow me on Instagram for frequent moments of food envy), I wanted to share my last DFW restaurant meal of 2017 — Beto and Son at Trinity Groves — you’ll want to check this out. Continue reading “Beto and Son at Trinity Groves”
Today was the first day in a week where the sun was shining and there were no clouds in sight. What better way to take advantage of the break from all the rain than with some simple grilling?!
Today was the first day in a week where the sun was shining and there were no clouds in sight. What better way to take advantage of the break from all the rain than with some simple grilling?!
Ma has been asking me to repeat this stuffed baby bell pepper recipe since I made it a few months back, and instead of broiling the peppers like I did last time, I put a new spin on it by placing everything on the grill. It’s quick and easy with minimal prep time.
Grilled and Stuffed Sweet Baby Bells
2 Chicken Breasts (boneless preferred)
1 Garlic Clove
2 tsp Knorr Caldo de Tomate OR Knorr Caldo de Pollo (bouillon)
1 Bag of Sweet Baby Bell Peppers
1 4oz Soft Goat Cheese
8 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese (1/2 of a 16oz block)
Zest/Juice of a Lime
Place chicken breasts in a pot, cover with water, and add garlic, onion, and bouillon. Bring to a boil, reduce and let simmer until chicken is cooked through, approximately 20 minutes for boneless chicken, longer for bone-in.
While chicken is cooking, start to heat up the grill and then split each baby bell pepper lengthwise and remove the seeds, creating a pocket to fill.
Once the chicken is done, remove from pot and set aside in a large bowl to cool. Shred the chicken using two forks, separating all the meat and removing any bones (if using bone-in chicken).
Add to the cooled, shredded chicken, the goat cheese, shredded cheddar, and zest and juice of one lime. Season the mixture to your taste using paprika, cumin, pepper, and garlic power – mostly equal parts. Mix thoroughly and then salt to taste.
Take the seasoned chicken and cheese mixture and gently fill each sweet baby bell pepper side generously but without mounding the top. Be sure to get into every corner of the pepper to avoid empty pockets.
Depending on your grill, gently place the stuffed baby bells onto the grill, being careful they don’t fall through. Smaller grill lines can be used to help support the baby bells by lining them up parallel to the grill lines without falling through. Use your judgement, and if your grill is too wide, use foil on the grill to avoid any peppers from falling through.
Once all on the grill, close the lid and let heat through, approximately 10 – 15 minutes. Check at least once half way through to ensure the grill isn’t too hot. You can also stuff large peppers, but they must stay on the grill for at least 20 minutes to cook through at medium-high temperature.
Get you a glass of some refreshing sangria, a cold beer, or a tall glass of lemonade, sit back and enjoy popping in those cheesy, sweet bites of deliciousness while you soak up some sun. I know that’s exactly what I did today and loved every second of it!
I may not be “Straight Outta Compton,” but I am straight outta the first day of the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in Seattle, Washington, and it was pretty darn awesome.
For the last six years, Foodista has held this conference for food bloggers everywhere, focusing on writing, food, and technology. And, this is the first year I’m participating in this phenomenally food-centric gathering.
In addition to the conference, I’m also finding some time to hit a few hot spots in Seattle to check out what the locals enjoy on a day to day. Yesterday, I made it to Stateside and Altura, two amazing visits which will get their own features soon, and today, I swung by Purple Cafe and Wine Bar before heading out to my first event with IFBC.
Taking the suggestion of my server, Jessica, I opted for the trio lunch plate that featured a beautifully created fig and Gorgonzola pizzetta, along with a butternut squash soup and a strawberry and goat cheese salad. I love figs and am a huge fan of pear and Gorgonzola flatbread; so, I knew this was going to be a winner. This pizzetta was out of this world. The buttery crust was perfectly crisp on the outside and nice and chewy where it counted. It was the perfect way to start my day’s adventures.
Now, while tomorrow marks the first official day of conference sessions, today featured a few excursions for the attendees. My particular group went to the Miele USA Showroom for a hands-on cooking class featuring their top of the line appliances, including an induction cooktop which we were able to utilize during the class. Their sleek, German-engineered, stylish ranges, coffee centers, wine refrigerators, and dishwashers were front and center during our class and proved to not only be appealing but functional.
Our group was split into five separate stations where we each made a different dish following Miele recipes while being led by our Miele cooking instructor, Mary. Group number two was where I landed, and I was paired up with Suki, a “super duper fantastic” blogger out of San Francisco who joined me in our take on Pasta e Fagioli. I say, “our take” because we put our own twist on the recipe that may or may not have included adding an entire can of tomato paste to the mix versus a few tablespoons. Whatever the case, the soup rocked, and everyone thought it was a hit!
Together with the rest of our larger group, we created Paella, Steamed Pork Buns, Sliders, Greek Salad, and Gruyere Souffle, a feast fit for kings and queens! Everyone did an incredible job and seemed to truly enjoy our outting at Miele. Now, plenty of food later, it was time for another amazing event, registration and the gift suite expo featuring local restaurants and food businesses.
Now, for me, the highlight of the gift suite expo was meeting the incomparable Armand Batali, father of famed restaurateur and Food Network icon, Mario Batali. Armand, who is actually an icon in his own right with Salumi Artisan Cured Meats in Seattle, was sampling four different salumis, fennel being the featured one in the pic. Not only was the salumi phenomenal, but Armand was, once again, an absolute delight. I’ve actually stood in line for hours to indulge in one of his handcrafted sandwiches made at Salumi, nearly missing my flight many times because I NEEDED that sandwich!
In addition to the ridiculous amount of goodies received, we had the absolute BEST “background” music by this funkalicious Rockabilly group named The Echo Devils. These guys were on FIE-uh! I’m talking blues, funky fab, James Bond groovy jams that took the event to a whole new level.
Now, if all that wasn’t enough, I decided that I would top off the night with a visit to Lark, one of Seattle’s best restaurants that features local ingredients from the very best artisans, produce growers and foragers in the Seattle area. Chef Sundstrom has truly hit his stride at this new location off East Seneca. While my particular service experience was initially questionable, they were quick to resolve any issues, and the food was never in question. From start to finish, the dishes were sheer perfection. Ending the night with a delectable black mission fig puff pastry tart was the absolute highlight of the evening… Told you I was a fan of the fig.
I can’t wait what Day Two has in store…
Note: While all IFBC posts are completely written based on my own experience and opinion, I was offered a discounted rate in exchange for three general posts about the conference.
Since 2009, food lovers, bloggers and the like have convened at the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) to explore food, writing, and technology, all while indulging in some of the best wine and food anyone can find at a conference. This year, I am partaking in the fun and leaving Bear and the cats to fend for themselves for a few days. To ensure the refrigerator doesn’t grow something funky, I decided to create a lil’ something from what we had already in the fridge and leave a good meal behind.
I started out with a large onion and three beautiful Poblano peppers just hanging out ready to be consumed. I French cut the onion and julienned the Poblano, then added about six large cloves of chopped garlic to the mix.
While that was going, I chopped a couple of chicken breasts into bite size pieces and then seasoned the chicken with Knorr Caldo de Pollo (chicken bouillon a la Mexicana), cumin powder, and garlic powder. I didn’t add salt because the bouillon has loads of salt. Once the onion and Poblano mixture was nice and tender, I created a well in the center of the pan and then added the chicken to the center. After the chicken began to start browning on one side, I stirred it all together and created another well.
This time, I added 3/4 cup of white rice to the well and allowed each grain to be coated with some oil and to be toasted up nicely. Once the rice started to turn from opaque to a solid white, I went ahead and combined everything together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the skillet to lift up any fond (yummy tasty bits that get stuck to the pan when cooking).
In a measuring cup, I added the remaining smoky salsa I had made a few days ago, along with two tablespoons of table cream, making about 1 cup of liquid and then added hot water to the mixer to make it just over 1 1/2 cups total. You can use tomato sauce, chicken stock, or even use some of your favorite jarred salsa that you have on hand, as long as it totals double the amount of rice. I simply used what I had on hand. I added the liquid to the skillet and combined well, scraping the bottom of the skillet once again to incorporate that delicious fond.
Immediately, I covered the skillet and reduced the heat to medium low and left to simmer covered for 25 minutes. Whatever you do, DO NOT remove the lid. The key to perfect rice, alone or with a protein or veggies, is to start on medium high, then add one part rice to two parts liquid, let come to a boil, immediately cover and reduce to medium low for 25 minutes completely covered and undisturbed. You will have perfect rice every single time – we can both thank my cousin Normie for that tip. It changed my rice game forever. I even usually just cut the heat off once the time is up and leave it covered until ready to serve. Best rice advice, I’m telling ya. Check out this rice from a few meals ago. ——–> Right!?!
Once the Poblano Arroz con Pollo was done, I sliced a few salad or cherry tomatoes for a pop of color and freshness. Now, I can enjoy the IFBC knowing Bear has some amazing Poblano Arroz con Pollo to devour!
I can’t wait to share what I discover at the conference. From what I understand, we’ll enjoy an amazing tasting of Seattle’s very best restaurants, specialty shops and more, and if that isn’t enough, I have tons of restaurant visits planned… Seattle, here I come!
I’m alive! It’s been too long; I know. So, here’s what gives: I have zero excuses, and I simply ate/cooked a great deal, took pictures, took videos, posted to social media and totally ignored you. I’m an honest engine – what can I say? It’s the truth. I’m also good at dusting off, moving forward and trusting you can do the same; so, let’s virtually shake hands, make up and get Mash’d!
Four words: Fried Chicken and Ribs.
I’ve known about this place for a while and thought it was about time I went in to see what all the hub-bub was about.
Mash’d features American fare with a twist, infusing a library of house-made moonshines into a variety of unique offerings across the menu. Their bar and beverage menu is killer. Every drink we ordered stealthily delivered a mighty wallop with every smooth and graceful tasty sip. They incorporate infused moonshine into just about everything, and it works. Watermelon-infused moonshine, blueberry-infused moonshine, vanilla bean house-infused moonshine – good Lord, these people have caramel moonshine for those special occasions where you need a little more sugar with your alcohol! It’s brilliant!
Their moonshine magic also works its way into their mussels and bbq sauce. Mmmmm, bbq sauce. Their Bootleg Ribs are no less than spectacular. I’ve eaten a lot of ribs. These moonshining masters know what they’re doing with these babies. They’re fall-off, lip-smacking, finger-kissing, hum-while-you’re-chewing spectacular. And, it’s not like bbq-place ribs. Totally different animal. (well, not different animal but you know what I mean) These are more like “slow-roasted, basted in moonshine bbq and finished on the grill individually” sort of amazing. The flavors are sweet and spicy, tangy and salty, smoky and rich but not smokehouse sort of ribs. And, they’re served with a fresh and crisp coleslaw and “MASH’D tators” that need a little MASH’D makeover.
Those potatoes were the ONLY thing on the menu we tasted that were sub-par in comparison to the bar the other dishes had set. The appeal was that they were named as if they were some sort of special treat, and when they reached the table, they were just plain ol’ slightly garlic and cheese enhanced potatoes plopped on by a scoop that someone at Luby’s may have lost. They were just out of place, man. Totally out of place with everything else they had going on. So, if you get any dishes with the spuds, sans the Shepherd’s Pie, sub them out with coleslaw. Believe me, you’ll be happier for it and not feel like you just saw your childhood hero pick up a $20 bill someone else dropped and put it in his own pocket. Those tators were just wrong for the brand this place has clearly worked hard to build. All it would take is a little lemon zest – just sayin’.
But, let’s move on because that little side dish incident shouldn’t deter you from enjoying every other damn thing on the menu. And, let me say that the use of the potatoes on the Shepherd’s Pie is fabulous. They slather spiced meat and veggies on a pastry crust and top it all off with Parmesan-loaded mashed potatoes, a huge punch of flavor in a creamy bite.
Another killer dish was The Chicken. They serve up hot, crispy, juicy marinated fried chicken atop a soft bun with fresh, cold coleslaw and pickles. Chick-Fa-Who? Chick-Fa-What? This sandwich is just what the doctor ordered – she may not be AMA certified, but trust me – she wants you to eat this.
Overall, a killer vibe, outstanding service and badass food that will require some serious naptime after consumption.
It was that time of year where we found ourselves in the Land of Enchantment nestled in a sea of green chilies, and I just couldn’t get enough. One morning, we decided to make a quick stop for breakfast before heading out towards Ruidoso. And, instead of grabbing a sure thing and getting on the road, we were in a gambling mood and decided to try somewhere we’d never been, La Nueva Casita Cafe. Winner! We hit the jackpot!
The second we walked into the doors, we suspected it would be an amazing experience, and they did not disappoint. The deceptively small but charming adobe building is located in the historical part of Las Cruces and is on the legendary El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the Royal Road of the Interior Lands. The restaurant has been “a timeless tradition with a modern-day flare” since 1957, according to their menu.
As we entered the building, we were kindly greeted and ushered to the open dining area where the masa-colored adobe walls, Mexican ranch-style wooden chairs and tiled wooden tables created a statement of comfort. The distinct aromatic flavors of Mexico danced in the air and made me a little giddy, knowing we were in for a treat.
Our server, Diana, introduced herself cheerfully and offered us menus to review. I immediately noticed their choices were few and unique, like a specialty menu. In my experience, for the most part, the smaller the list of items, the better quality of food. Although they do have a breakfast menu, you can order from the lunch or dinner menu anytime. We decided to stick with breakfast choices and then ask for a few side dishes to try the lunch and dinner items that stood out the most.
Bear enjoyably devoured their Chile Relleno omelette, and I snuck in a bite (for research purposes only, of course). When someone describes a cheesy dish as warm and gooey goodness, they’re describing this dish. From first to last bite, the fluffy, light omelette filled with warm, green chile and smothered in melted cheese delivered an ooey, gooey experience with every lift of the fork. Needless to say, there was absolutely no remnants of ooey or gooey cheddar or green chile after a few minutes with Bear.
As he focused intently on the relleno omelette, I turned my attention to the abundantly filled corn cups with green chile beef, topped with perfectly cooked over easy eggs and melted cheese, Huevos Compuestas. Oh. My.
Once the yolks were released, they slowly nestled into every crevice of the green chile beef to blanket it all, adding a creamy finish to the already cheese laden dish. To say the first bite was delightful, unctuous and warm with spice would be a terrible understatement. I vaguely recall hearing by name being spoken moments after that first bite and slowly drifting back to reality from this pillowy green chile dream sequence. It was damn good.
And, because I knew this would be a short visit and I’d likely not have another chance to try many other items on the menu, we managed to build a nice, solid rapport with our already phenomenally accommodating and sincerely service-oriented server, Diana. Believe me, it wasn’t that difficult to create a bond, and I give full credit to Diana for what I’m about to tell you.
When we explained it was our first visit, that we’d likely not return for a year, then ordered a small side of fideo to taste, plus obsessively kept taking photos of our food, she immediately began to offer tastings of their best dishes… just because!!! Needless to say, I leveraged this opportunity to our advantage.
First up to taste, we tried the fideo. For those unfamiliar, this is a very simple, traditional Mexican staple that involves toasting vermicelli noodles in oil and then creating a seasoned light broth in which the noodles fully cook. Some people may add beef or chicken to fideo, but the most common version is a tomato-based broth with noodles. At La Nueva Casita Cafe, they took this comfort food to a whole new level by creating the broth mainly with steeped, then blended, red chiles and only enough water to cook the noodles. I was convinced they’d added some sort of thickener, but Diana confirmed the only thickening agent came from the red chiles which provided this incredible slow, warming, spectacular burn as it made its journey to become nourishment. And, the finishing touch was fresh, diced tomatoes suspended in this magical, flavorful tomatoey potion that had me so transfixed!
Another magical potion was their menudo! We were able to get about five spoonfuls total from our tasting, and it was amazing. Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup or stew created with beef stomach lining, hominy and spices. The soup is usually very light and fluid, but this menudo had a similar texture as the fideo and was teaming with warm, spicy red chile flavor that thickened the broth to this ridiculously addictive consistency. You couldn’t get enough! It wasn’t soupy; it wasn’t creamy or too thick; it was the absolute perfect consistency, and we ate it up!
Just as we thought the tasting was over, Diana walked over with a tiny bowl of calabacita. This is another traditional vegetarian Mexican dish but is very different from the calabacita I grew up eating in Texas. Where I’m from, the base of all calabacita is the calabaza or green squash that can be found in any market. Next is the corn, onions and tomato. They’re stewed in a tomato based salty broth, rich in flavor, and is oftentimes combined with chicken and ends up more like a very hearty stew where the squash sort of melts into the dish and becomes… well… squashed.
This calabacita was the New Mexican version and very different from what I’d experienced. While the base was mostly familiar with calabaza, freshly cut corn, and tomatoes, this calabacita replaced onions with green chiles and thickened the broth with cheese, creating this unbelievably velvety finish with every bite! And, what truly impressed my palette was the amazing balance of freshness from the brightly colored vegetables against that creamy, intoxicating broth. I’m salivating just thinking about it. You better believe I’ll be doing this dish at home on a regular basis.
So, after the tasting parade was over, Diana (who was just a total bad ass at her job), did what any great server would do when facing two people who had already eaten way too much, she offered us dessert! And, we did what any two people would do after tasting all those amazing dishes – we said, “Yes!”
After Diana listed every house-made sweet treat, Bear landed on ChocoFlan, a combination of a rich, chocolate cake topped with a creamy caramel flan and garnished with whipped cream. I’m sure you can’t tell by the look on his face just what he was thinking. He was thoroughly impressed and did not leave a single bite of that unique dessert combination on his plate. Thankfully, I got first bite dibs, and I can tell you, the cake was very dense but moist and flavorful, while the flan created this fantastic balance of texture. I don’t blame him for the face. It was well-deserved.
And, I decided to go with a cherry empanada. Diana explained that their back of house baker used to own his own bakery and when that didn’t pan out, he started work at La Nueva Casita and brought his delicious Mexican pastries to the menu. The moment she placed the empanada in front of me, I could smell the anise and cinnamon in the dough, teasing my senses and calling me to duty. I did not hesitate. I have to say, I could not get enough of the light, delicate dough that was gently wrapped around the filling and preferred it much more than the filling itself. Come to find out, the filling was pre-made. While I did absolutely find the empanada flavorful, I was surprised it didn’t fall in line with all the other house-made items on the menu.
So, when you’re in Las Cruces and are looking for a comforting meal with genuine personality in a relaxing environment, check out La Nueva Casita. I can’t wait for next year!!
La Nueva Casita
195 North Mesquite St. Las Cruces, NM 88001