Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Discovering Santa Fe - the City Different

It’s spring break season and time to escape our chilly Midwestern temperatures. If you’re looking for a getaway that is rich in art, culture and adventure, look no further than Santa Fe, New Mexico, aka The City Different.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is located near the Santa Fe Plaza.

Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, Santa Fe is over 400 years old and is the oldest capital city in the country. The city boasts 325 days of sunshine a year, majestic 360° mountain views and a captivating blend of Spanish and Native American cultures that is reflected in everything from the its food and fashion to its art and architecture. 

A certain spirituality exists throughout the region as the area is dotted with centuries-old adobe structures and churches that are filled with religious folk art and stories of the past.  

Handcrafted Native American jewelry is displayed outside of The Palace of the Governors.

Santa Fe’s mild spring temperatures will beckon you to spend time outdoors and enjoy the city on foot. For starters, head to the historic Plaza district, the city’s heart and soul, where shopping and eating are abundant and designer cowboy boots call your name. Dozens of distinctive boutiques, galleries, cafés and museums will entertain you for hours. 

For a lesson in area history, visit The Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied government building built in the early 1600s. Spanning an entire block of the Plaza, the Palace is also a hub for local Native American artists to sell their handcrafted jewelry. For turquoise aficionados, it doesn’t get better than this.

The original Frito Pie is served at Five and Dime on the Plaza.

Santa Fe enjoys its distinction of being the 3rd largest art market in the country and hosts world renowned events like the Traditional Spanish Market and the Indian Market which are held in the summer months. A trek up and down Canyon Road will reveal historic adobe architecture, fine restaurants and over 100 galleries showcasing contemporary and old-world arts.  

When you’re ready for a bite to eat, you’ll find no shortage of eateries in Santa Fe to help you sample the best of New Mexican cuisine. A notable culinary feature of the state is its ability to smother almost anything in red or green chile – if you ask for Christmas, you’ll get both red and green. Yes, please.

Enjoy margaritas, live music and barbecue at The Cowgirl.

Enjoy the outdoor patio and a cheeseburger topped with green chile at The Shed off of the Plaza, warm sopaipillas with honey butter at Tomasita’s in the Railyard, or venture off-the-beaten path and savor the El Salvadoran Pupusas at Tune-Up Café. And for the best barbecue and live music in town, an evening at The Cowgirl is a must.

Chile peppers are abundant at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in the fall.

If you happen to be in town on a Saturday morning, visit the Santa Fe Farmers Market in the bustling Railyard district featuring fresh baked breads, artisanal cheeses, locally grown produce and handcrafted items. Arrive early so you don’t miss out on the breakfast burritos ladled with, of course, red or green chile.

My husband braves the Box Canyon trail ahead of me at Ghost Ranch.

Pack in some adventure with a day trip to Ghost Ranch retreat in Abiquiu, about an hour’s drive from Santa Fe. A day pass will give you access to miles of hiking trails with glorious mountain scenery. 

Horseback trail rides are available for all skill levels – the Sunset Ride will take you to where artist Georgia O’Keeffe found her inspiration, completed several paintings and owned a home.

Mariachi Buenaventura performs on the Santa Fe Plaza.

All of these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico. There’s so much to experience that you’ll want to return again and again. I know the feeling well as I just made reservations for a seventh trip there.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wake up to Easter brunch

The robins are chirping, Peter Cottontail is hopping down the bunny trail, and your guests are on the way. Make your Easter brunch egg-stra easy by setting the table a day or so early, and relax with this make-ahead brunch dish to share with a few family members or with a crowd. 

Cheesy Sausage and Croissant Casserole
Prepare this rich and substantial casserole the night before, pop it in the oven in the morning, and it will be hot and bubbly by the time your guests arrive.

Serves 9
½ pound crumbled, cooked sausage, mild or spicy
1 ¼ cups shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 green onions, sliced
18 mini croissants, torn
Vegetable cooking spray
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese

In a large bowl, toss together the sausage, Parmesan, salt, onions and croissants and arrange in a 13 x 9 baking dish, coated with cooking spray. 

Whisk together milk, cream and eggs and pour over sausage mixture. Cover and chill eight hours. 

Heat oven to 350 F. Uncover casserole, and sprinkle with Gruyère. Bake 45 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
(Recipe adapted from Southern Living)

Have a wonderful Easter! 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Make it a brunch date

What’s not to love about brunch? If you’re actually having brunch – that meal that was made up to accommodate the time between what is deemed “normal” breakfast time and “normal” lunch time – means that...

(A) you probably got to sleep in a bit, 

(B) it’s most likely your first meal of the day, 

(C) it’s a weekend morning and you are undoubtedly still in your jammies and hangin’ out with your cuddle bunnies, or... 

(D) you’ve invited the entire family of 25 over for Easter morning and well…

Again, I repeat… what’s not to love about brunch?
It’s all good. 

Here are a couple of egg-cellent brunch ideas to feed a few cuddle bunnies or a whole herd of them.

Hash Brown Egg Nests
Servings: 8
15 ounces frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Chives or parsley for garnish
Heat oven to 425 F. In a bowl, mix hash browns, salt, pepper, olive oil and 1 cup cheddar cheese. Grease muffin pan and spoon ½ cup of mixture into each section. Using your fingers, pack them tightly and shape into nests. Bake approximately 15 minutes until edges have browned and the cheese has melted.
Reduce oven to 350 F. Crack an egg into each nest and season with salt and pepper. Top with crumbled bacon, remaining cheddar and chives or parsley. Bake until egg whites set, about 13-16 minutes.

Tomato and Basil Scramble with Fresh Mozzarella

Servings: 4-6
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
12 eggs
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ pound fresh mozzarella, cubed
Toasted French bread slices for serving
In a large frying pan, warm oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Transfer tomatoes to a bowl and cover to keep warm. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, 1 tablespoon of basil, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Melt butter in same pan over med-low heat. Add eggs and cook until they are barely cooked into moist curds. Add tomato mixture and mozzarella and stir to distribute throughout the eggs. Remove from heat and allow eggs to stand about 1 minute. Sprinkle with remaining basil. Serve over French bread slices.
(Recipe adapted from williams-sonoma.com)
Happy Brunch!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Spring is moving in on you, winter

I thought long and hard about it. It was a really tough decision. But the truth is - I'm breaking up with you, Winter. 

It's not you really, or that you were a particularly bad Winter. It's just that you've been hanging around a little too long now. And well, I'm over you. 

I'm ready for a new beginning. I'm ready for flip flops and longer days, and coral lipstick and sun rays.

Luckily, Easter comes early this year. Spring is just around the corner and I'm ready to begin my relationship with a brand new season.

With a big bag of chocolate foiled eggs, giant cabbage place mats, and garden inspired dishes, I am readying our home for the upcoming holiday.


But don't be so sad, Winter. We can still be friends. I just need a break from you for say, eight months.