Celebrating Colorado Day

It’s that day again, National Colorado Day. Comes around every year on April 12. This year it just happens to take a back seat to Easter. Still, I did not want to overlook the 38th state of the Union.

There is so much to Colorado, from the Rocky Mountains to the Fossil Beds and amazing cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde. Colorado is one of my favorite places to visit. It is breathtaking.

The Spanish were the first to explore Colorado in the late 1500s. They were seeking a legendary city with streets paved in gold. These explores gave the area its name, Colorado, for its red-colored earth. As it turns out, Colorado’s streets are not paved in gold, or any other precious metals for that matter. But Colorado did have both gold and silver booms.

Creede ColoradoIn June of 1850; a wagon train bound for California, crossed the South Platte River just north of the confluence with Clear Creek. The train followed Clear Creek west for six miles, then stopped. A man named Lewis Ralston, headed to pan in California, decided to dip his pan in a stream flowing into Clear Creek. Much to his surprise, he found nearly $5.00 worth of gold with his first dip. For whatever reasons, Mr. Ralston continued on to California seeking his fortune. He did return 8 years later, touching off the Rocky Mountain Gold Rush. The real boom began in 1879 with the discovery of silver. Over 82 million dollars worth of silver was pulled from the mines.

In 1860; when tuberculosis was a major deadly disease, eastern physicians recommended that their patients relocate to sunny, dry climate for their lungs. Colorado was over-run with a population of homeless, ill people. By 1880; Denver was nicknamed the “World’s Sanitarium”. By 1900, one-third of Colorado’s population were residents of the state because of tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis Patients

In the early 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan was an important political force in Colorado. Yet they were unable to get any of their proposals enacted into law, and the Klan died out by the 1930s. It was about this same time that the Ski Industry took off. Colorado continues to be a ski destination with such resort towns as Vail and Aspen.

Since Colorado was first explored by the Spanish, it seems only fitting to celebrate the day with a delicious Spanish-Mexican inspired meal.

Sizzling Colorado Menu
Spicy Pork Tostadas
Cheese Enchilada Verde
Authentic Spanish Rice
Super Easy Fried Refried Beans

Spicy Pork Tostadas
3 teaspoons Mexican Oregano
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
3 lb bone-in Pork Loin Roast
3 large Yellow Onions
3 Garlic Cloves
1 medium Jalapeño Pepper
1/2 cup frozen Corn
1/2 cup canned Whole Black Beans
4 tablespoons Canola Oil, divided
1 cup thick Salsa
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 teaspoon hot Pepper Sauce
1/4 cup minced fresh Cilantro
8 (6-inch) Corn Tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat oven to 325-degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the oregano, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Rub over roast, working into the meat. Place fat side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Let rest while the oven comes to temperature.

Bake, uncovered, in the heated oven for 2 hours or until a thermometer reads 160-degrees.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the onions. Set aside. Peel and mince the garlic. Set aside. Stem the Jalapeño Pepper, split in half and remove seeds, if less heat is desired. Dice the pepper, set aside. Rinse corn under cold water to thaw, set aside. Rinse black beans, set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onions in 2 tablespoons oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the jalapeno pepper, salsa, corn, beans, paprika, pepper flakes and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the sauce simmers, mince the cilantro, set aside. When the sauce is ready, stir in the cilantro; keep warm.

Shred pork with two forks; keep warm. In a large skillet, fry tortillas, one at a time, in remaining oil for 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Place tortillas on large rimmed baking sheet. Top with shredded pork; salsa mixture and shredded cheese.

Heat broiler element in the oven. Place tostadas under the broiler just long enough for the cheese to melt.

Transfer tostadas to serving plates and enjoy.

Cheese Enchilada Verde
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup Onion, finely chopped
2 Celery Stocks, finely chopped
3 cups Shredded Cheese (Monterey Jack or Quesco Fresco or both)
1 cup Shredded Cheddar or Colby Cheese

Heat oven to 350-degrees. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Chop onions and celery, set aside until ready to use.

Once the oil is hot; sauté onions and celery until tender and translucent. Place in a large bowl. Add cheeses, combine to incorporate cheeses with vegetables. Set aside.

Pour enough Enchilada sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish to coat well, set aside.

2-1/2 cups Green Enchilada Sauce (homemade or canned)
16 Corn Tortillas
Cooking Spray

Heat a griddle sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Place tortilla on griddle, brush with Enchilada sauce. Lightly fry tortilla to soften, flip and brush lightly with Enchilada sauce. Place on a plate, repeat with remaining tortillas until all have been softened, coated with Enchilada sauce.

Place tortilla on a flat work surface, spoon or sprinkle about ¼ cup of cheese mixture down center of tortilla and fold/roll tortilla around cheese. Place, seam-side down, in casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas until all the tortillas and cheese have been used. Nestle Enchiladas close together in the casserole dish to help them hold their shape.

Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas.

Finishing Touches
1 Cup Mild Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup Monterey Jack
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
3 Green Onions, chopped

Mix cheeses together. Sprinkle a heavy layer of cheese mixture over tops of the enchiladas. Place casserole dish in the oven and bake until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, garnish with chopped green onions. If desired, dollop with some sour cream.

Serve along side rice and refried beans for that true restaurant presentation.

Authentic Spanish Rice
1 Roasted Jalapeño Pepper
1/2 Spanish Onion, see note
1-1/2 cup Long Grain White Rice
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 can Diced Mexican-Style Tomatoes with Chili Peppers
32 oz Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon Cumin (or to taste)
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste

Note: If unable to find a Spanish Onion, use a sweet yellow onion instead.

In a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat, roast jalapeno peppers until the skin begins to blister and blacken. Remove from heat, place in a sandwich bag to cool and sweat. Once cool to the touch, remove from bag. Rub skin to peel. Stem, core and dice the pepper. Set aside.

Cut large onion, unpeeled, in half root to tip. Reserve half of the onion for another purpose, peel remaining half. Trim ends, lay cut side down on the cutting board. Slice into slivers lengthwise, the cut cross-wise to dice. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-heat. Add rice, brown slightly.

Add Diced tomatoes with juices, chicken stock and season to taste. Throw Jalapeño Peppers into the pot. Stir well to distribute the peppers. Bring pot to a rolling boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until liquid has evaporated and rice is soft, about 30 minutes. Stir as needed to prevent the rice on the bottom from browning.

Super Easy Fried Refried Beans
1 Can Refried Beans
1 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings
2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning, if desired

Heat a small amount of bacon dripping in a skillet over medium heat. Spread refried beans out in the skillet, reduce heat to low heat.  Stir and season, cook until hot. Serve as a side or add to other recipes as desired.

Note: Since you have some whole black beans left over from the Tostadas, why not mash them and add to the refried beans for added depth of flavor? 

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

3 thoughts on “Celebrating Colorado Day”

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