Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Why we love Summer in Tucson!

June 5th, 2014 by pattiebell

83 degree Salt Water!

83 degree Salt Water!

We love Summer in Tucson because everything in general is calmer and more relaxed.

Less traffic ~ The absence of our winter tourists, who of course we love, quiets the byways of our town considerably.

No crowds to fight at our favorite restaurants  ~  For the same reason.  All businesses  are happy to see customers during the summer months in Tucson. It’s a perfect time to experience the many new eateries calling Downtown Tucson home.

Mount Lemmon ~ At 92,000 feet, the highest peak in the Catalina Mountains.  The beginning of the Catalina Highway which takes you there is just a 15 minute drive from El Rancho Merlita.  Hike in the tall cool pines. Enjoy lunch in the village of Summerhaven.  Ride the lift at Ski Valley.  Gaze at the stars from The University of Az’s Sky Center.

http://www.skithelemmon.com/page2.html

http://skycenter.arizona.edu/programs/public/skynights

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s Cool Summer Nights program.

https://www.desertmuseum.org/visit/events_saturday.php?ref=hp

The Ranch House front porch is the perfect place to watch the Monsoon storms roll in. The Monsoon is our summer rainy season. Typically it begins in early July and can last until mid-September, bringing the possibility of rain every day. The storms usually occur in the afternoons or early evening  and are accompanied by plenty of wind, thunder and lightning. They move around the valley swiftly and don’t last very long. Once a monsoon rain has fallen around you the air is cooled and refreshed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Monsoon

Our salt water swimming pool temperature is PERFECT ~  83 degrees.

Taking advantage of our seriously discounted rates means you can splurge on a massage.  Mention you have read this Blog post and receive $10 off One Hour, and $15 off a Ninety minute massage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tucson,_Arizona

http://www.visittucson.org/

 

Farmers Market inspired Salad Nicoise and Tucson’s Own Barrio Bread ~

August 7th, 2013 by pattiebell

nicoise best croppedMy trip this past weekend to one of Tucson’s many Farmers Markets was most fruitful! Well, mostly it was vegetableful - perfect green beans, fresh new potatoes and salad greens, all locally grown. Today I combined them with some other on-hand ingredients to create one of my favorite composed saladsSalad Niçoise

I boiled the green beans in plenty of salted water until tender. This method cooks the beans faster and more evenly than steaming. The potatoes were cubed and tossed in olive oil with salt, pepper and some red bell pepper that needed to be consumed, and roasted in a hot oven until crisp on the edges.  My preferred approach to boiling eggs – place eggs in a pan, cover with cool water, and bring to boil uncovered. Once boiling, remove from heat, cover and allow to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing in cool water.

I can certainly appreciate a fancy restaurant Nicoise with a chunk of seared Ahi Tuna on top, but I also really like the canned stuff. I found a nice variety of pole and troll caught Wild Albacore at Wild Planet Foods

I also had some young homegrown garlic on hand so it went into a simple Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

The beans, potatoes, and tuna are marinated generously and separately in the vinaigrette  (the beans and potatoes while still warm). Place a bed of greens on your plate and arrange sections of each ingredient on top, thus composing the salad as you go. I like them at room temperature but you may want to chill everything first. Either way it is a lovely and satisfying summer meal.

Especially if you have a big chunk of beautifully baked fresh bread, which is what got me to the Farmers Market in the first place. Here in Tucson we are blessed with a unique bread baking venture -Barrio Bread

Barrio Bread is not your traditional bakery! Their business model is a CSB, Community Supported Baker. There is  no retail store, instead the bread is offered at different locations in the community. Don carefully crafts every loaf of Barrio Bread and has a small and dedicated team to assist in the distribution and sales. Production is driven by a pre-order system or a Bread Share at the Tucson CSA. This maximizes the use of resources and minimizes waste and spoilage, thus creating a smaller carbon footprint. The CSB model also ensures the freshest and healthiest bread for the bread lovers of our community. I tried the Cranberry Walnut and Pain au Levain – both wonderful. Can’t wait to try the other varieties, and incorporate them into some of my breakfast recipes for our guests!

Shopping at the Farmers Market gives me a warm glow – both because I am supporting these vital food producing efforts and because it truly inspires me to take better care of myself. And you know, a well nourished innkeeper is a happy innkeeper!

 

 

Fruit from our Peruvian Cereus Cactus

September 4th, 2012 by pattiebell

 

 

While we leave most of them for the birds, we enjoy tasting the light, slightly sweet crunchiness of these amazing fruits!

Eggs are not just for breakfast ~

June 3rd, 2012 by pattiebell

Lately I have been enjoying the virtue of a fried egg or two on top of, well,  just about anything.  Pasta, a corn tortilla slightly crisped with some melted cheese, and salads. This one takes its inspiration from Salade Lyonnaise, with some ingredients I had on hand.  Arugula, red onion, smoked salmon, roasted potatoes, and eggs over easy. Poached eggs are the French tradition, and once I had a marvelous version with a poached egg that had been lightly battered and fried somehow. I love the combination of cold crisp greens and warm runny yoke together. For the greens I simply drizzled some good EVOO and a squeeze of lemon, my go-to salad dressing these days.  A nice summer supper, good and good for you!

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

 

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!

Summer Bounty ~ Red Fruits!

July 23rd, 2011 by pattiebell

Fresh Berries with Yogurt in Filo Cups

June 6th, 2011 by pattiebell

To make the Filo Cups simply stack 4 to 6 squares filo dough, buttered and sprinkled with sugar, and press into muffin tin cups. Bake at 375 degrees until crisp and golden.

COCOA CHILE COINS

July 5th, 2010 by pattiebell

THIS COOKIE RECIPE CAME TOGETHER AS I WAS TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO INCORPORATE MESQUITE FLOUR INTO SOME OF MY BAKING.

SIFT TOGETHER:  1 C FLOUR, ½ C MESQUITE FLOUR, ¾ C UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER, ¼ t SALT, ½ t CAYENNE POWDER, 2 t CINNAMON, ¼ t CLOVES

CREAM TOGETHER UNTIL LIGHT AND FLUFFY (3 MIN. IN ELECTRIC MIXER): 1 C SUGAR, ¾ C BUTTER

MIX IN: 1 LARGE EGG, 1 ½ t VANILLA

ADD FLOUR MIXTURE. MIX UNTIL JUST COMBINED. TURN OUT DOUGH ONTO PARCHMENT PAPER AND ROLL INTO LOG 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER. ROLL LOG IN THE PARCHMENT PAPER. REFRIGERATE AT LEAST 1 HOUR OR OVERNIGHT.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350. REOMVE LOG FROM PARCHMENT. LET SOFTEN ABOUT 5 MIN. ROLL LOG IN RAW OR SANDING SUGAR, PRESSING DOWN TO ADHERE TO DOUGH. TRANSFER LOG TO CUTTING BOARD. SLICE INTO ¼ INCH ROUNDSNN. PLACE 1 INCH APART ON PARCHMENT LINED COOKIE SHEETS.

BAKE 12 MINUTES AT 350, UNTIL SET AND RICH BROWN. COOL COMPLETELY ON WIRE RACKS. MAKES ABOUT 4 DOZEN.

NOTES: IF YOU DO NOT HAVE MESQUITE FLOUR YOU CAN USE ALL REGULAR FLOUR.  TRY USING OTHER KINDS OF CHILE, LIKE CHIPOTLE, WHICH HAS A NICE SMOKY FLAVOR, OR MILDER CHILE COLORADOS.

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