Always Have A Plan B

Over the Memorial Day weekend the whole Taos, and Questa, New Mexico area was overrun with motorcycle riders to the tune of 20,000 bikers descending upon this area. Good for the economy, but that did add to the already busy holiday weekend traffic for the area. So of course, the last thing we wanted to do was get out and add to the traffic congestion. We decided to stay put, and just hang out at the RV Park. But, whatever was I going to do to keep myself busy and entertained? Well, I did what I love to do best… I cooked.

On Friday I made a batch of paleo friendly sweet potato salad,

and a batch of sautéed cabbage and beet greens (a new favorite of ours),

and fried up a batch of crisp bacon to sprinkle on top of those dishes just before serving.

On Saturday evening Bill/papa grilled pork chops, and I served them with mashed cauliflower, with homemade mushroom gravy, and the sautéed cabbage and beet greens. YUM!

On Sunday, we tried to make paleo catfish nuggets, and served them on paleo tortilla’s with carrot slaw. I had to make carrot slaw because I used all the cabbage in the cabbage and beet greens dish.  Carrot slaw was my plan (B) that would have saved the day,

except that paleo catfish was the nastiest thing we ever made, and I could not even begin to gag it down. Bill, on the other hand, didn’t like it either, but managed to eat most of his. That boy has to have a stomach that will tolerate anything, even if he doesn’t like it.

Not me, I not only dumped the catfish out of my tortilla, and replaced it with some bacon I already had fried up, I dumped the rest of the package of frozen catfish as I wasn’t about to try making anything “paleo friendly” with it again anytime soon. Again, it’s good to have a plan (B).

As much as I LOVE to cook, I’m really not a big fan of cooking to this paleo food plan. I find it very difficult to make things taste good when you can’t use the “normal ingredients” that make things stick together…

On Monday, Bill/papa grilled brats, and I served it with grilled onions and red peppers, and the sweet potato salad I already had made. Winner, winner, fabulous dinner.

In the end, over the weekend we made three meals. Two of those meals were delicious, and one that I considered a complete disaster. Some might say two good out of three is not bad.  I say one bad out of three, is still BAD!

Tomorrow we will go grocery shopping in Taos. Thursday we will spend the day packing up, and Friday we will move on down the road to Antonito, Colorado.

Stay tuned!

 

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Enchanted Circle, Again

We loved driving through the Enchanted Circle, in New Mexico, so much so, we decided to do it again. But this time, we started from Taos instead of Questa. The scenery is so beautiful, I could never get tired of looking at it.

Well, not far into our trip, we had an “adventure” in the form of a flat tire. However, as Bill/papa was changing the flat tire, a very nice, older gentleman, stopped just to see if he could be of any help. Then, he gave us a great suggestion of where to go in Taos to buy some new tires. So off we went to get new tires, and while we waited, we walked next door and had lunch. Then, within 45 minutes, we were on our way again, to finish our Enchanted Circle drive.

The first time we came through here (going the other way), I hadn’t noticed this house that is set up to look like a big covered wagon. I thought that was very cool looking.

I love little country stores, so of course we had to stop in and check out this country store, located just outside of Angle Fire.

And, oh look, they happen to need camphosts! If we were looking for a hosting position for the summer, this could have been our home. The little store had all kinds of Native American sculptures and jewelry, and they even have a small restaurant adjacent to the store. I’m glad they are looking for help, because the lack of service we saw when we were there left a lot to be desired. No one greeted us when we entered the small store, but there was a woman on the phone (on a personal call) in the back of the store and she just kept talking even while ringing up our purchase. Another woman came from the opening to the adjacent restaurant, and asked if we needed help just as we were leaving, but no one said good-bye, thank-you, or come back again… I would for sure give better customer service than that. Ha!  I would even be happy to cook up, and sell, all kinds of homemade goodness in that little restaurant for the folks. Jambalaya, anyone?

The little RV Park, located right next to the country store, was nice and clean, and didn’t look like it would take too much to keep it up. We didn’t inquire about the positions, but it looked like a nice little gig to me, depending on the hours, and days, they would want you to work…

As we continued on our way, we saw two deer on the side of the road. We slowed down, and one of them turned and dashed across the road right in front of us, allowing me to snap two quick pictures.

 

The last time we came through this area, we saw the Big Horn Sheep right here. I just love the landscape in this particular area. I find it just so, so, beautiful.

Another fun-filled day on our summer celebration tour.

Stay Tuned!

 

Santa Fe N.M.

Bill/Papa and I took a day trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico yesterday. We have been there before, many years ago, and loved everything about the whole area. So, since Santa Fe is only about 90 miles from where we are staying in Questa, New Mexico, we knew another visit was a must.

Everything pretty much looked the same as the last time we visited. I did a little research, and learned that “The long shady portal boarding the north side of the city’s historic plaza, the Palace, now part of the State Historic Museum, is a visual icon of modern-day Santa Fe. This portal serves the Native American Vendors Program which has been operating for over six decades. A daily lottery ensures a rotating selection of artisans from various pueblos throughout New Mexico.” Here artisans show their goods on blankets spread out on the sidewalk. One has to be careful taking pictures there because you really should ask permission if you are going to take a close-up photo of one of the locals selling their goods. I totally agree with that rule.

All of the “old town” Santa Fe area is beautiful,

and colorful, and I so love lots of color in my life.

After spending some time getting re-aquainted with the area, Bill/Papa and I went to the local Public Library and asked for a good recommendation for lunch. Hey, if the Library doesn’t know, who else do you ask? We were directed to a “hot spot” called “The Shed”. We had lunch out on their lovely patio.

I had the blue corn tortilla green chili beef tacos, that came with pinto beans and posole (hominy and meat, traditionally pork, and spices). I loved the posole, but I love hominy. Bill/Papa, not so much. But we both overall loved our lunch.

After lunch, we continued our walk around the town square,

going in and out of all the little shops,

and we visited The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi,

a beautiful Cathedral, both inside and out, but unfortunately, I was having a “senior moment” and at the time, could not remember how to turn off the flash on the camera, and no flash photo’s were allowed inside the Cathedral.

While we were shopping, we came across lots, and lots of colorful, full-sized, Mexican Sombrero’s . When we had our home, I looked high and low for a full-sized, colorful Mexican Sombrero to hang on the wall, but never found one I really liked, or I wasn’t willing to pay the asking price. But, score, today Bill/Papa and I found the perfect, colorful, mini-sombrero, that I think works perfectly in our motorhome. Even better score at just $3.00.

And ever since we became full-time RVer’s, we never leave any place we stay, for any length of time, without a magnet for our fridge. So of course, we had to find the perfect magnet to represent our return visit to Santa Fe, and our stay here in New Mexico.

So enjoying our time in New Mexico. Love that we planned a whole month to take our time, and really get to know what this beautiful state is all about. The people are so kind and welcoming, and we are taking every opportunity to get to know the locals, and get a better understanding of the whole culture of New Mexico.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

 

Doing Our Favorite Things

Bill and I had another fabulous week spending time doing some of our favorite things.

We are starting week three of our new Paleo food plan so we planned our menu for the week, shopped for the things we need to cook all our meals, and we washed, chopped, and grilled lots of fresh fruits and veggies for the upcoming week. I think half the battle of staying on any new food plan, where you are required to eat whole fresh cooked food, is planning ahead and having things on hand that are prepped and ready to make a meal.

This week we will enjoy menu’s that include grilled fish, balsamic grilled pork chops, coconut curry chicken, Sheppard’s pie, cabbage rolls with sauerkraut and tomato sauce, warm steak salad, and lots of sides like sautéed leeks and poblano peppers, roasted fresh beets and carrots, grilled pineapple etc. We are both loving this new way of eating, and so far, we have both seen positive results. For the first time in years, Bill said his hands are not hurting him and he can actually make a complete tight closed fist… I am also noticing I’m not having as many little aches and pains.

We also enjoyed an afternoon date at the movies this week. Both Bill and I love going to the movies!

Then, today, we decided to get our exercise in by hiking the Fountain Hills Lake Overview trail. It’s a nice little hike that we had never taken before so we thought we would give it a try today and we are glad we did.

We started off climbing up and around hill,

that allows you to see all the way around the Fountain Hills Fountain Lake,

and all around the town of Fountain Hills.

After leaving the overview hike, we ventured on over to the Fountain Hills Desert Sonoran Botanical Garden which is located right in the town of Fountain Hills. Here is a picture of the hike map through the gardens.

Of course, there are lots and lots of mighty saguaro cactus everywhere. I found this group of cactus interesting because to me, they look like they are all happy to be together, and are going to hug.

This saguaro caught my eye because the more I looked at it, the more I began to see little faces within the rotted out places within the cactus… do you see any faces in it?

Then, much to our surprise, we found out there is actually a historical dam in the garden. Well, blow me over… who knew?

There are also lots of large granite boulders throughout the gardens,

and the green coating seen on many of them is called “desert varnish”.

Bill and I had never visited The Fountain Hills Desert Sonoran Botanical Garden. We thought it is a lovely little walk, and a good way to get some light exercise if you can’t make it to our beautiful McDowell Mountain Regional Park, or you just want to explore some of the surrounding areas…

It doesn’t take a lot to make Bill and I happy. After 30 years, we are still very much in love, are each other’s best friends, and we enjoy anytime we spend together regardless if it’s working, cooking or doing chores, going to the movies, or enjoying the great outdoors. If we’re together, we make whatever we are doing FUN! And really, isn’t that the way love is supposed to be?

Stay Tuned!

 

Sixty-nine And Counting

Today is my husband, and very best friend, Bill’s, birthday. To celebrate, Bill and I met our daughter, Shantel, at her doctor’s appointment, and the three of us went out to lunch to what was once Bill/Papa’s favorite Mexican restaurant, Abuelo’s, in Chandler.

We arrived, and were seated promptly, and everything looked to be the same as the last time we were there last year.

Bill ordered an appetizer of jalapeno cheese fritter balls, served with a sauce. They were delicious.

We were served warm chips and three kinds of salsa, just like always.

I ordered grilled sea bass taco’s that were the bomb! They were served with a side of rice and pinto beans cooked with bacon.

Shantel had one chicken and one spinach enchilada, served with beans and rice. She loved the chicken enchilada, but said the spinach one tasted like “tea leaves” to her.

Bill ordered a green chili smothered beef burrito. That was always his favorite, and the only reason he wanted to go there for his birthday lunch (the other option was Cheesecake Factory that was just across the street). Unfortunately,  the recipe changed, and what he was served was not anything like what he remembered, and loved so much in the past… He ate it, and said it wasn’t awful, but he was just really disappointed that it wasn’t what he remembered it to be…

But, as with all things in life… or at least this is what we try to live by…, it’s not about what you get, or what happens…, it’s more about how you react and deal with all of it… Bill, Shantel and I all agreed that today was not about the food, it was about taking the time to spend quality time together to celebrate another important event in our lives…, Bill/Papa’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Bill/Papa, we love you!

Stay Tuned.

 

Christmas Cookie Baking 2017

Today Bill went to our daughter, Shantel’s apartment where he spent the day helping Shantel, and her best friend, Jaz, bake Christmas cookies for Christmas Eve, and to take to our family friends home for Christmas Day. This cookie baking day is an annual event for Bill, Shantel, and Jaz.

They made Neiman Marcus and Ginger Snap cookies, and a lot of them! They also made a batch of fudge for the Christmas celebrations.

Shantel loves, loves, loves, to bake. Bill captured the pictures below that show how well Jaz and Shantel work together to accomplish the job. Shantel and Jaz met when they attended the same college, and they have been best friends ever since. Bill and I feel so blessed to have Jaz in our lives as Shantel’s best friend. She is a very special young lady, and we love her like one of our own daughters.  Bill was helping with the cookies as well, but he had to stop every now and then to capture pictures to send to me so I could document the event on my blog for Shantel to read back on over the years. I just love seeing that big smile on Shantel’s face!

Shantel has no problem working in her kitchen. When she is cooking or baking, she likes to keep the cabinet doors open (so does her papa) but when I’m there, I have to keep asking her to shut the cabinet doors because I tend to walk into them… Funny how she is blind and doesn’t hit her head on the open doors, and I can see but seem to always walk into the open doors… Ha!

 

This next picture shows Shantel placing cookies on her coffee table to cool, and placing them in the storage tins after they were cool. She so loves to know that there are plenty of cookies for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and beyond… 🙂

From the looks of the first storage tin, I don’t think she is going to have to worry about not having enough cookies!

After all the cookies and fudge are made, the next part of the annual cookie baking tradition is that Bill takes the girls out to lunch which is the perfect ending to their perfect Christmas Cookie Baking Day!

I so love that Bill, Shantel, and Jaz, have this time together every year to bake and bond. They all look forward to it.  And, since I don’t like baking, it allows me an opportunity to have some “me time” without having to be involved in smelling the cookies I don’t eat, bake, or be involved in cleaning up the mess that goes along with it… Win, Win…

I spent my “me time” today making coconut curry chicken for our dinner, took a nice long walk, did some laundry, and posted this blog post… And now, I’m headed to happy hour!!!

Merry Christmas!

 

Goat Cheese, Cranberry, and Walnut Stuffed Pork Chops

So easy and simple to make and, OMG! It really is as delicious as it sounds…

All I did was mix one package of goat cheese with a good handful of chopped walnuts, and dried cranberries.

 

Then I took thin, bone-in pork chops, and just pressed them out with my hand to make them a little bit bigger… I was going to stuff the pork chops but I didn’t buy them thick enough… so I went to plan (B). There is always a plan (B) if you want one…

then I put  about a handful of the goat cheese, cranberry, and walnut mixture into the center of each pork chop, pressed the mixture out a little, and rolled them up.

Then I dipped each pork chop roll into an egg and milk mixture, then into a mixture of Panko breadcrumbs that I seasoned with a little smoked paprika, and black pepper.  Next, I placed them on a copper rack that fits into a copper tray, them put them into our outside oven on 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Thirty minutes later we had the a delicious pork chop roll up meal that was tender and moist, yet also had a crunchy panko crust. I served this with potato salad, that my sister, from another mother, Holly, made, and peas. Big shout out to my sister, Holly, who loves to cook as much as I do, and who always cooks too much, like I do, and always shares what she makes with Bill and I…

So loving this beautiful Christmas season of spending time with family and friends.  Cooking is what makes me happy, but sharing what we have, no matter what that might be, with those we love is what always warms my heart, not just at Christmas, but all year-long…

Merry Christmas!

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