baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2023 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

why winter is awesome

Recipe: mexican red rice

People complain an awful lot about winter. They don’t like the cold. They don’t like the snow. They don’t like the greyness or darkness. But I have a theory… I think a good percentage of those folks would love winter if they knew how good it could be. I treat winter like summer. It’s an opportunity to explore, fill your lungs with good clean (and thin) air, and get off your bum.

all of the footwear we used this past week

Of course, Colorado winter is something else entirely from the winters I’ve experienced in other places like the East Coast or even California. First, there’s sunshine and lots of it. We get fabulous snow of the dry, fluffy, powdery variety. And our forests and mountains… well, see for yourself.

view from the ski lift

my buds on the chair behind us

I’m convinced if winter were this awesome everywhere, then people would share my fondness for this oft-maligned season. It’s the kind of winter that is a joy to get into rather than one to barricade against. The après ski isn’t bad either!

chirashi bowl, please

walking off lunch with my friend andrew in boulder

sweet sweet colorado (boulder flatirons)

Before Jeremy and I moved here, I was unaware of just how many different ways there were to ski the mountains. Now I know… or rather, my legs, butt, back, shoulders, arms, and neck know. It’s great. Winter is great AND you don’t have to worry about being bikini-ready (unless of course you’re dipping into the hot tub), just ski pants-ready. We’ve had a string of cool, windless, sunny days to take advantage of. It’s my favorite way to earn those calories.

on the approach

skinning up

skiing out

It’s right around this time of year when I start digging into my stash of summer goodies like the jams, pickles, and tomatoes I canned in September, or the green chiles we roasted and froze in August. I love a good chile relleno, especially the ones I prepare at home because I remove all of the seeds. But I’m also a sucker for the traditional plate you get in New Mexico with a side of refritos and Mexican rice. And when you’re back from a day spent backcountry skiing, you are craving the works.

mexican red rice: medium grain rice, tomatoes, onion, garlic, broth, peanut oil, mild red chile, salt

everything minced, diced, and prepped

I avoided making any sort of rice that wasn’t cooked in a rice cooker at my elevation for a long time, mainly because stove top rice never cooked through. But like most of my high altitude cooking issues, I’ve tackled them one by one. Certainly, Mexican red rice is among the easier recipes to make, so it wasn’t much effort to adjust it for my elevation.

sauté the onions and garlic

add the rice and tomatoes

The red chile powder used in this recipe is NOT cayenne pepper, so please don’t make that mistake. It’s just ground dried mild New Mexico red chiles. I buy it when I’m in New Mexico by one-pound bagfuls, but you might also find them in the Mexican food section of your local grocer where they have bags of spices and such. The recipe calls for beef or chicken broth, depending on what you are serving the rice alongside – so use your judgment. I went with chicken broth.

sprinkle the chile powder and salt over the rice

add the broth

fluff with a fork

Aside from adding a little more liquid and letting the rice simmer a few additional minutes, I didn’t have to do much else in the way of altitude adjustments. And gosh, homemade Mexican red rice really makes the plate for me because I’m not a serial eater (someone who eats one thing at a time), I eat in parallel getting a little bit of everything on my fork. It’s a natural sidekick to chile rellenos, enchiladas, tacos, you name it.

exercise, eat, repeat

Mexican Red Rice
[print recipe]
from The Border Cookbook

2 tbsps peanut oil or lard
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked medium or long grained rice
2 small tomatoes, chopped (or canned diced tomatoes, drained)
2 cups beef or chicken stock
1 tbsp ground mild red chile
3/4 tsp salt

Heat the oil or lard in a sauté pan or stock pot over medium flame. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the uncooked rice and tomatoes to the onion and garlic, stirring to coat the rice grains with the oil. Add the stock, chile powder, and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and let the contents simmer for 15-18 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. [Note: I added a half cup more liquid and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes at 8500 feet above sea level.] Turn off the heat, but keep the rice covered for an additional 5-10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve. Serves 4-6.

14 nibbles at “why winter is awesome”

  1. Kristin says:

    I have to agree with what you say about winter. Here in KC it is cold enough that you don’t want to do much outside and there usually isn’t snow with which to do anything fun. And it certainly doesn’t look like Colorado in the winter! Glad you’re enjoying yourselves!

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    Love this! And I couldn’t agree more. Winter rocks my world!

  3. Randi Lynne says:

    Recently moved to Pagosa Springs, CO and am really enjoying all your CO pics!

  4. Cindi says:

    The best thing about reading your blog (all the amazing food aside) is your enthusiasm for life. We all can learn from your positive and happy outlook! xo

  5. Kalyn says:

    I don’t think anything could get me to love winter the way you do, but I do love this rice recipe! (And I have that cookbook too.)

  6. Tanya says:

    Jen, you live in such a beautiful place! love those photos! i love winter as well, it’s so much better than summer! will be trying this rice recipe later.

  7. jwen says:

    My husband’s on a strict diet (doctor’s orders) so I’ve been modifying some recipes – I’m going to try this tonight with no salt and short grain brown rice. It looks like it will still be pretty tasty! Oh! And I made the cream of mushroom soup with no salt and using the cashew cream – it was a hit!

  8. farmerpam says:

    Yeah, I gotta agree, winter is awesome! We have lots of snow now, was out today with the pup, she had a hard time breaking a trail, so funny. I couldn’t help but to stop and take it all in, thinking how grateful I am to live in such a beautiful place. When I was younger I thought my paradise was on the shores of Hawaii, I soon found out that, for me, winter just wasn’t winter without snow. I have to laugh when I hear stories about how different the cold is out west. “It’s a dry cold”, everyone told me before I moved to Telluride. But, I’d have to say that 10 degrees below is 10 degrees below, doesn’t matter if it’s West coast or East coast, the car still groans a bit when started, lol. Gotta love it. It’s all good. Ski on stranger-friend.

  9. Deb Kelner says:

    I’m with you all- Winter is Awesome!
    It’s my new favorite time of year. However, if any of the snow Gods, Goddesses and other deities are listening/ reading, I would really LOVE some more snow! I’ll do my snow dance and keep wishing, praying, hoping, for some more fresh snow here in Boulder!

  10. Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up says:

    I live in Southern California and I wish I got a real winter. Seems like such an adventure.

    The rice looks great. Good mexican rice is the perfect side.

  11. Shut Up and Cook says:

    Yes…winter much be something that is embraced rather than endured. Much more fun for all that way. This rice looks spectacular. I love taking something that most people consider filler and making it totally knock your socks off good. This looks like it would do the trick! YUM!

  12. jenyu says:

    Kristin – :)

    Katrina – yay!!

    Randi Lynne – Pagosa Springs is a lovely lovely place. Good snow too!!

    Cindi – oh, you’re such a sweetheart. I think we could all learn a lot from your positive outlook too!

    Kalyn – you crack me up! You live in a winter wonderland as much as I do :)

    Tanya – I like summer too, I just happen to like winter A LOT more ;)

    jwen – nice!

    farmerpam – ski on, girlfriend xoxo

    Deb – yes, we could all use more snow or else I fear we may be in for another tough summer :(

    Bernadette – I used to live in So Cal and winter was sometimes a quick hike up into the Angeles National Forest and sometime it was a 4 hour drive to the Eastern Sierra. Good times!

    Shut Up and Cook – this one is pretty awesome, yes :)

  13. jasmine says:

    how important is the peanut oil vs veg. oil? peanut oil is so expensive here.

  14. jenyu says:

    jasmine – I think you can sub one for the other.

leave a reply