Zebra-tailed Lizards

June 1st, 2012 by pattiebell


This morning on my 2 mile walk along the Tanque Verde Wash I saw dozens of these distinct lizards. I have never seen so many of them in one outing – they were all over the place!  With their rapid movement and tails curled up high, they reminded me of big scorpions scurrying about. It is the beginning of the season and I guess their numbers are high until Mother Nature pares them down by attrition.

Blueberry Blintz Souffle

February 25th, 2012 by pattiebell

Light and rich at the same time, this dish offers the beauty of blintzes in an easy casserole. I assemble the day before, refrigerate, and bake it off in the morning. Always a big hit!

BLINTZ BATTER:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1/2 cup orange juice

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

FILLING:

2 cups small curd cottage cheese

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sour cream and orange juice. Combine flour and baking powder; stir into egg mixture. Set aside. Combine filling ingredients in a small mixing bowl and beat until blended. Pour half of the batter into a greased 9 X 13 baking dish. Top with filling and remaining batter. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

SAUCE:

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup orange juice

3/4 cup white sugar

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, lemon juice, orange juice, and sugar. Stir gently, and bring to a boil.

In a cup or small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons cornstarch and ¼ cup cold water.

Gently stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberries so as not to mash the berries. Simmer gently until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Sauce may be thinned with a little water.

Bon Appetit!

Parry Penstemon

February 21st, 2012 by pattiebell

A real show stopper when planted in masses in the garden, spring-blooming Parry penstemon sports light to dark pink flowers on 3-4 foot flower stalks. Not only is it attractive in bloom, it is also easy to care for. An added feature is the tubular shape of the flowers which are perfect for attracting hummingbirds.  Parry penstemon grows along washes, on desert slopes, and in canyons in southern Arizona and in Sonora, Mexico, generally at elevations from 1500-5000 feet. You occasionally see it in masses in the wild, but it is more common to see one or two plants here and there. This area is irrigated, which allows for abundant spreading as the plants drop their seeds each year.

New Year Violets!

January 5th, 2012 by pattiebell

Where I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, violets peeking through the last of winter’s snow announced the arrival of Spring. This little patch of them growing right outside the Ranch House entrance (possibly planted by Merle herself in the ’50s?) seems to be wishing us a Happy New Year!

Our Tree

December 21st, 2011 by pattiebell

Last year was our first Christmas at the Inn. We rounded up a few of the family’s Western ornaments and added some traditional Scandinavian straw stars that I found at our Unicef store. Mitzi, our massage therapist and neighbor, contributed her lovely bird collection. Then we went to town baking and decorating gingerbread cutout cookies in cowboy boot, cactus, chile pepper, and all the holiday shapes.

These I packed up and stored and was happy to find very much in tact a year later.  Next a shopping adventure at Borderlands, a great importer of all things Mexico. They have opened a big new location right around the corner from the Inn. There I collected a nice variety of painted tin cutouts, and some really sweet tiny hand blown glass bulbs.
Diana forged out on a cold and rainy day and chose this absolutely perfect spruce that reaches almost to our ceiling. A crackling fire and the Rat Pack Christmas album set the decorating mood. The candy canes are a nod to the Bells, but I must admit I draw the line at tinsel when it come to honoring family traditions!

A Most Admirable Amaryllis

December 21st, 2011 by pattiebell

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the appearance of these floral favorites.

Every year I adopt one and enjoy the process of seeing it burst into bloom. This year’s may be a record breaker ~ SEVEN blossoms at once!

I have to keep adjusting it’s stance just to prevent it from toppling over.

 

Peppermint Kisses

December 20th, 2011 by pattiebell

These little delights are on the cover of December’s Bon Appetit magazine. I thought I’d give them a try.

Light, minty meringues, with their cheerful red swirls…what’s not to like?!

I just followed the recipe. Here’s the link. Lots of other good cookie offerings there as well.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/12/peppermint-meringues

 

The last piece of Carrot Cake…

December 4th, 2011 by pattiebell

I meant to take a picture of the whole cake, sitting regally on it’s stand before I served it Thanksgiving day, but that didn’t happen. So here it is… after all the guests are gone, along with the rest of the leftovers. The last piece of Carrot Cake…

As I savor the moment before I indulge I think about all the Carrot Cakes I have known.  If you are my age you remember the time BCC, that is before there seemingly was such a thing. You probably also remember how suddenly every restaurant you visited, every birthday party and special event you attended had a Carrot Cake to offer.

I have made a few and tasted many. In my catering days there was the ubiquitous Carrot Wedding Cake ~  prettily piped and adorned with fresh flowers. I especially and fondly remember the one I watched the Cream Cheese Frosting flow from as it awaited it’s ceremonious serving at an unrefrigerated beach wedding in North Florida (not to be confused with the rest of Florida).

It was certainly a first for me to serve one at Thanksgiving, and it was a big hit. I perused quite a few recipes and settled on this approach ~ carrots, crushed pineapple, shredded coconut, walnuts and no raisins.  The frosting was 2 to 1 cream cheese to butter, plenty of vanilla, and just enough powdered sugar to put a dent in the zingy tartness. Two layers were sliced into four with very thin applications of frosting between and on the sides. A little extra on top to make it look pretty and some more nuts pressed on the sides to cover any bare spots and voila!

I am going to miss having a polite slice every day, but it is, after all, time to make room for Christmas Cookies. More on that soon…

Mexican Wedding Cakes

September 6th, 2011 by pattiebell

Mexican Wedding CakesThis is one of my favorite simple traditional cookies recipes!

1 C. butter, room temperature

1/2 C. powdered sugar

2 t. vanilla extract

2 C. unbleached flour

½ t. cinnamon

½ t. salt

1 and 1/2 C.  finely chopped toasted pecans

1 and 1/2  C. powdered sugar for rolling and dusting

Cream butter and 1/2 C. powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Sift together flour, cinnamon and salt. Beat into butter mixture until just blended. Add the nuts and mix until evenly distributed. Press dough into a ball, flatten and chill 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Form dough into 1 inch balls and place an inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 16-18 minutes until set and golden brown on the bottom. Allow to rest on baking sheet for just 5 minutes. (If cookies cool too much put back in the oven for a couple of minutes to reheat.) Roll while warm to coat in powdered sugar and cool on wire racks. When cooled dust again with powdered sugar.

Makes about 3 dozen.  Enjoy!

Simply Sublime Shortbread

August 2nd, 2011 by pattiebell

Sometimes simple is simply the best! I have added everything from sesame oil and seeds to fresh rosemary and orange zest to this shortbread, but sometimes this unadorned basic recipe is all you need!

Cream 2 sticks room temperature butter with 1/2 cup white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Gradually blend in about 2 cups unbleached flour until dough pulls together and is soft and smooth and no longer sticky. Form into a ball and cut in half. Pat each half into a buttered 9 inch pie pan until flat and even. With the tines of a fork score the edges all around. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until golden.  As soon as you remove the pans from the oven, cut each into 12 wedges and poke the decorative holes with fork tines. Allow to cool. Can be stored in pans tightly wrapped for a few days at room temperature.

You can experiment with adding different extracts, zests, spices and nuts for a variety of flavors and textures. Or not. Either way, enjoy the buttery crunchiness of this lovely traditional shortbread!

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