Monday, April 28, 2014

Gettin' Down and Derby

It’s time to dust off my Derby glass collection, pick up a couple of bottles of bourbon, and tie a new bow on my hat because Kentucky Derby week is here! 

Derby Party
In Louisville the celebration begins early in the week with parties and festivals, all leading up to that one very special race on the first Saturday in May.   

Kentucky Derby Pie bars
My love affair with everything Derby began while living in Kentucky during my high school and college years.  Although folks in the Midwest don’t celebrate The Derby with quite the same exuberance (there are some diehards here though), I’ve managed to stay true to my Kentucky past and start my own traditions. 

One tradition is “the making of the Derby Pies,” (translation:  chocolate bourbon pecan pies).  As if pecan pie could be any more sinful, down south we felt the need to add chocolate and bourbon. 

Traditional Derby Pies
This year, I am revising my tradition a bit and am making Derby Pie cookie bars instead.  All of the principle ingredients remain – bourbon, chocolate, pecans and brown sugar, only now it’s a finger food that’s much easier to eat while juggling your tip sheet and Mint Julep. 

The official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby

And with that....I'm off to the races.  Happy Derby Day!   

Derby Pie Bars
For the cookie base:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the topping:
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 Tbsp. bourbon
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet morsels

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper, and butter the paper and sides of pan. 

Cream together butter and sugar until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Stir in egg yolk and vanilla.  Sift together flour and salt and stir into butter mixture.   Press dough into prepared pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cookie base is lightly golden.  Let cool for 10 minutes before topping.

Whisk together eggs, brown sugar and bourbon.  Whisk in flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in pecans and semi-sweet morsels.  Spread topping evenly over the cookie base.  Bake for 20 minutes, until topping is deep golden brown.  Cool before cutting into bars. 




Monday, April 14, 2014

Blue Corn Pancakes de Chimayó

We were thrilled when we received our first New Mexico Magazine in the mail this week – oh, the little things...  Much to our delight, one of our favorite restaurants is featured this month – Rancho de Chimayó.

The restaurant - Rancho de Chimayo' in rural New Mexico 
Rancho de Chimayó is located in the small rural town of  Chimayó - about 30 minutes north of Santa Fe, New Mexico nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  The restaurant, a culinary landmark and beloved site for both locals and tourists, is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. 

Blue corn pancakes from the restaurant's new cookbook
The article highlights a Blue Corn Pancake recipe which is from the restaurant’s new cookbook.

The blue corn gives these pancakes gorgeous color

I am a very lucky cowgirl because my cowboy made these pancakes for me for breakfast on Sunday morning. 

The blue cornmeal provides such wonderful flavor and a nutty texture.  I probably will never go back to traditional pancakes after these.   You can view the article and recipe here

I have great memories of my Dad making the family pancakes on the weekends.  We are going to have to make this recipe for him sometime - he will love them.
The Santuario de Chimayo'
In addition to having a wonderful restaurant, the village of Chimayó is home to the Santuario de Chimayó, an adobe church built in 1816. 
Many believe that the church is a site of miraculous healings.  Perhaps so as it is one of the most spiritual places that I have ever been.  It's also a must-visit place each time we are in New Mexico.  
A small river and cross sculptures at the Santuario
I love how a simple pancake breakfast brings such wonderful memories of one of our favorite places - the little village of Chimayó.
Have a wonderful week and a very Happy Easter!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Easter Brunch for Two

I woke up today to find two beautiful Mallard ducks in my front garden – a male and a female.  With no major water source around our home and no other ducks in sight, I wondered if the pair was either lost or confused. 

Easter brunch for two
Perhaps they were just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company - just the two of them. 
How sweet…just the two of them alone exploring this great big world.
With Easter around the corner, we are presented with an opportunity to celebrate our holiday with the ones we love the most – our favorite “peeps”. 
It is a blessing to be able to celebrate holidays in big-family-gathering style, where there is no shortage of “dishes to share” on the buffet bar and lots of lively conversation with parents, siblings, nephews and nieces.

Brunch casserole with mimosas - see recipes below

But then we are also blessed to be able to sneak in a little extra holiday celebration that’s just the two of us alone - enjoying each other’s company and exploring this great big world.

Have a wonderful Easter!

Cheesy sausage and egg casserole

Brunch Casserole
5 or 6 thick slices crusty white bread - cut in 1 inch cubes
1 ½ c. fully cooked sausage or turkey sausage crumbles
½ c. finely diced onion
1 ½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
½ c. diced bell pepper (any color) optional
2 tbs. flour
1 tsp. dry mustard
4 eggs, beaten
2 c. milk

Grease a 9” x 13” pan.  Place bread cubes evenly in pan.  Sprinkle with sausage crumbles, diced onions (and peppers if desired) and cheese.  Combine flour and dry mustard, and sprinkle evenly over cheese.  In a medium bowl, combine milk and eggs and beat well.  Pour over casserole.  Sprinkle with paprika. 
Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Bake at 350° for approximately 50 minutes or until browned.  Allow casserole to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Serve your casserole with fresh fruit and juicy bubbly mimosas*. 

*Fill champagne glasses halfway with orange, peach, pomegranate or your favorite fruit juice.  Fill the rest of the glass with chilled, bubbly champagne.  Garnish with fresh fruit. 

Happy Easter!