Let The Birthday Celebrations Begin – Part 2

After dinner at 3 Margaritas in Broomfield, Let The Birthday Celebrations Begin we enjoyed a Flamenco Rock show at our local Broomfield Auditorium.  It is a small performing arts center, but we have enjoyed many performances there.  I have worked for the city of Broomfield for 15 years, and I saw a lot of people I knew at the performance.  It was fun to see so many people from the community supporting local theater and local artists.

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I love both Flamenco and rock music, but I had never heard Flamenco with a rock beat before.  It made for a very good combination.  The show was a bit delayed due to a minor glitch.  There were no lights at first, and the auditorium thought they might have to cancel the show.  But after waiting it out, the lights came back on and everyone was rocked by the music and the dancing of the show.

The show we saw was called El Javi, The King of Flamenco Rock.  His music was from the heart, and was full of passion like all Flamenco music, but it also had elements of rock to it as well that really brought his music to life.

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The Flamenco was the heart and soul of the performance but the band was joined on stage by a dancer who performed a couple of Flamenco dances as well as one belly dancing number.

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The band also brought a violinist on stage to perform with them for a few songs.  It all sounded great together.

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All in all, we had a great evening and it was a fantastic way to start the birthday celebrations.  When we got home, the best part of the evening though, was all the cuddles I got from my big boy, Vinnie.

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Let The Birthday Celebrations Begin

Tomorrow will mark one more turning of the sun for me.  I don’t dare want to say how many times the sun has turned for me, but I am sure many of you already have a pretty good idea.  We are celebrating all week, just the way I like it too.  :).  The celebrations began last night.  I received a coupon for a free birthday meal at 3 Margaritas, a local family owned Mexican restaurant chain.  Their food is always delicioso, and they always serve HUGE portions.  I definitely brought home a lot more than what I ate.  But it was so, so good.  Normally we do not go out to eat all that often, but we have been making up for that lately.  We have been going out quite a bit, and will be doing so both tomorrow and Sunday as well.  Then we will have a lull again, and won’t go out for quite a long stretch once more.

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The family story of how the restaurants got started.

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I just love the brightly colored chairs and settings.

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Chips and margaritas started us off, as is most often the case when in a Mexican restaurant.

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Larry is a big carnitas fan, so that is what he ordered  Carnitas is slow cooked pork.  It was very tender and delicious, just as expected.

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I like to order either something that is different or something I cannot make easily.  I ordered the pollo chulici or grilled chicken in a brandy sauce, with spinach, peppers, mushrooms, garlic and onions.  WOW!  It was very good.  I am sure I will be recreating it here at home at some point in the near future.

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As always, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at 3 Margaritas and you will too.  There are 13 different Margarita restaurants owned by the Morales family.   I have only visited two of them, but will do my best to make it to as many of the others as I can.  The 3 Margaritas we went to is in Broomfield, CO, located at 6896 W. 120th Avenue.  You can reach them at either (303) 410-8705 or at 3margaritas.com/broomfield.  Bring your appetite and a friend or two and enjoy.

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After dinner, we enjoyed a Flamenco Rock show at our local Broomfield Auditorium.  I love both Flamenco and Rock, but had never seen them combined together before.  It was a good show.  More on that to follow.  Stay tuned ……

 

A Lemony Wine Cake

I got the idea of using wine to make my cake from one of our own, Gail, from snapshotsincursive  Gail is another fantastic food blogger.  She always does such fabulous presentations with her food and all her recipes are to die for.  You should definitely stop by and say hi to her.   I was inspired by her recipe for a wine cake, which she called “A Wine Lover’s Vineyard Cake”, so I had to make it too.  After all, you all know I have a definite love affair with wine.  But of course, my recipe was altered somewhat, and I made it my own; mainly because I used what I had on hand.  With all the snow and ice, I chose to stay in rather than go to the store.  You will have to go to Gail’s website to see the difference between the two cakes.  🙂  Larry, my ice cream lover, topped his with ice cream too.

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Lemony Wine Cake

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1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 3/4 cups flour

3/4 tsp salt

1 3/4 tsp ground ginger

1 3/4 cups sugar

4 eggs

3/4 cup sweet white or rose wine of your choice – I used a sweet rose

1 tsp lemon extract

1 small container of lemon yogurt

1/4 cup brown sugar

 

The Glaze

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp lemon extract

2 TBSP same wine you used for the cake

candied pecans, optional for topping

 

Mix everything together and drizzle over the cake once it has cooled.  If using the candied pecans, place them on the top.  If you have any glaze left, drizzle some on top of the pecans too.  Not only will this enhance the flavor, but it will help secure them onto the cake a bit more.

 

Preheat the oven to 325* F.

Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.

Spread the chopped pecans around the bottom of the bundt pan evenly.

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Mix all the dry ingredients together well and set aside.  Then mix all the wet ingredients together in a mixer.  Add about half the flour mixture to the wet mixture, and mix at a medium slow speed, then add the remainder of the flour mixture and continue to mix everything together thoroughly.  Do not over mix, or the batter and cake will be tough.

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Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick that has been inserted into the middle comes out clean.

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IMG_0444When the cake has cooled, carefully remove it from the pan.  Drizzle the glaze on the cake.  I had some left over candied pecans that I placed on the cake too.  With or without ice cream, this cake is so delicious.  It is very moist and full of flavor.  You can use lemon, orange, or even lime if you like, and it will still be very, very tasty indeed.  Mix it up.  Make it different every time.  Use different sweet wines too.  Even if you are using the same recipe, it will taste like a new and different cake each time.

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Thank you Gail, for this fabulous idea.  I had never thought of adding wine to my cake mix before.  But I will sure do it again.  I LOVE IT!!!!!  🙂

 

 

 

 

No Grilling Today!

Our Colorado weather is back up to its “normal” antics once again, which only means it is anything but normal for anyone who is unfamiliar with our crazy, unpredictable weather.  Sunday, the weather was almost perfect shorts weather.  We tied the record high from 1934 with 74* F weather.  It was warm and sunny with beautiful blue skies. Then … BOOM!  Overnight, literally, we had a 50+ temperature drop, and it has been snowing pretty much non-stop ever since.  I am looking out my office window at the moment, and we have about 6 inches of snow.  Today’s high is only supposed to be in the low 20’s at best, with our low tonight at or around ZERO.  BURRRRR!

This cold front that has hit us means that whatever I will be cooking needs to be something warm and comforting, and definitely will need to be cooked inside, preferably from the oven.  NO GRILLING TODAY!  Even if I wanted to grill something up, I couldn’t since our grill is buried in snow.  It doesn’t help that Larry forgot to put the grill cover on either.

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The snow started yesterday morning, around 10 ish, and only stopped for a short bit before resuming.  It is still coming down a bit right now, but not so much.  As long as I am not driving in it, it is beautiful.  But I did have to drive in it early this morning.  This is what my car looked like when I pulled into the garage.

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My assistant, Nicodemus, was telling me how bad the weather was from her point of view.  She says this is perfect weather for cuddles, and mommy is to busy right now, not giving her nearly enough cuddles.

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Yesterday it was a good soupy kind of day.  I had shrimp down, and I was just about to start making something completely different with the shrimp, when Larry said he wanted soup instead. One of the best lessons I ever learned from my many, many years in the restaurant business is flexibility and being able to think on the spot.  Anything can AND will change in the blink of an eye.   So …. I made a delicious shrimp, corn and tomato bisque instead.  That and some leftover stromboli made for a perfect winter meal.  A Stromboli Eruption  A bisque is something between a brothy soup and a thick, chunky chowder.  It just hit the spot.

With the weather being so frightful outside, I had no intentions of going out, for any reason.  So I was going to have to make something from what I already had on stock.  Fortunately, my kitchen is always well stocked with just about everything, so this is not really a difficult thing to do.  I went upstairs to my library, and “checked out” a good Cajun/Creole recipe for a shrimp, tomato and corn bisque.  This is how most Cajuns, Creoles and people from the South cook anyway …  What do I have?  What can I make?

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Shrimp, Tomato Corn Bisque

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Start with a blonde roux, which is just butter and flour.  I used 6 TBSP butter that I melted in a hot skillet, and added 1/2 cup of flour to it.  Stir constantly until all the flour is absorbed into the butter, and it forms a paste.  To make a darker roux, continue to cook until you get the color and flavor you like.  The darker the roux, the more nutty the flavor will be.  For this recipe, I wanted a blonde roux.

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1 cup onion, diced fine

1 TBSP garlic

1 small bag frozen okra, optional

2 cups of mixed peppers diced – red, yellow, orange or green bell pepper – I used red and yellow

2 cups frozen corn

2 tomatoes, diced

2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tsp black pepper

salt to taste

1-1 /2 tsp cayenne pepper or depending on your taste

6 cups chicken broth (3 cans)

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp each dried thyme and marjoram

green onions, sliced for topping

parsley, chopped for topping

 

Cook the roux in a hot skillet.  In a separate soup pot, start cooking the onions, corn, okra and garlic, in either olive oil or butter.  When the onions are translucent, add the roux to the vegetables and mix together thoroughly.  Then add the chicken broth and seasonings, and mix again.  I also added the rest of my salsa rouge to kick up the flavors a bit more.  Puerca o Cerda con Salsa Rouge

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Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the shrimp, tomatoes, milk and cream and mix everything together well.  Continue to cook at a low to medium heat for about 10 minutes, again, stirring frequently and cook until the shrimp is completely cooked.

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It is ready to serve when the shrimp are completely cooked and are pink.  Top with green onions and parsley if you desire, and ladle it up.  I gar-ron-tee, you are going like it a lot!

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A Day in the Mountains – Part 2

The whole purpose of going to Breckenridge was for our open horse sleigh ride, that Larry had purchased for us for Christmas, through Breckenridge Stables.  Because it is an open horse sleigh ride, it is pretty much limited to doing it only in the winter months, when there is enough snow for the sleighs.  The drive going up was beautiful and it was even prettier once we got to there.  For being the middle of winter, the weather was actually pretty mild.  There was no snow on the roads, though the mountains were blanketed in a beautiful covering of pristine white snow.  The temperature was was quite comfortable.  We didn’t put on our heavy coats and gloves until right before we got onto the sleigh.

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We booked our sleigh ride through Breckenridge Stables.  They currently have about 30 different horses they use for their two locations.  In the summer, they do trail rides too, but they usually use quarter horses for those.

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They use the big draft horses, and mainly the Belgian draft horses or the Percherons for the sleigh rides.  The Belgians are known to be one of the largest and strongest horse breeds around.  Each horse can pull up to about twice their weight.  The Percherons are well muscled and are known for their intelligence and willingness to work. They said they occasionally use the Clydesdales too, but they found them to be very lazy; pretty to look at but no work ethic.

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Our fearless equine leaders were two big Belgian draft horses, Summit and Big John.  Big John was most definitely BIG!  He stood at 18 1/2 hands.  Each of these horses weighed between 2500 and 2800 lbs.  That is a whole lot of horse!  All of the horses eat about 60 lbs of hay everyday, plus about 15 lbs of additional grains and oats.

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We followed a manicured path through the beautiful residential area of Breckenridge so the sleigh would not sink.  The snow that was not manicured was about 18 inches-2 feet deep.

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This is a bridge that covers a little stream.  You wouldn’t know it by looking at it because it was covered with snow.

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Fortunately, our ride was a peaceful one, with no vicious enemies to be found.

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Cody, our wrangler, Summit and Big John all took us safely on our journey through the winter wonderland.

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Big John and Summit were very gracious hosts and loved posing for pictures.

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We had a very enjoyable day.  This is a fun family activity that be can shared by all.  The tour took us around the back of Peak 9.   When the original settlers came to Breckenridge, they were not very creative on naming the mountain peaks.  They are named 1-10, and are on the Ten Mile Range.  The sleighs are all custom built for the area and for Breckenridge Stables by the Amish and they will carry you over the river and through the woods in comfort and style.  You can do an intimate sleigh ride for 2-6 people or you can ride with a group up to about 16.  You can contact Breckenridge Stables at (970) 453-4438 or (970) 389-1777 or info@breckstables.com

 

 

 

A Day in the Mountains – Part 1

Larry and I love to do our little day-trip getaways.  We go all over our great state of Colorado and see many beautiful and wonderful things.  Our state is so full of beauty and unique activities.  We are doing our best to experience them all.  For Christmas, Larry got us a Groupon deal for an open horse sleigh ride up in Breckenridge.  Breckenridge is one of our elite ski areas that people flock to from around the world.  For us, it is only about 1 1/2 hours away from home.  It was so beautiful up there.  Before our sleigh ride though, we stopped for lunch at a little family owned and operated pizza place, called Spinelli’s Pizza & Subs.

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Spinelli’s Pizza & Subs is a cute, little family owned and operated restaurant that specializes in pizza, calzones and subs.

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We were served by the owner, Nathan Martinez, who said he has owned the restaurant for about 4 years.  Nathan’s wife did all the artwork on the sign.  There is nothing better than finding a delightful, independent, family owned business.  They are part of their community, and by visiting them, you are helping their community, which in turn helps out everyone.  I will take these small, independent businesses any day over a large corporate business if I can.

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The company motto is proudly displayed so everyone can see how dedicated they are to serving the best and freshest ingredients everyday.  This says a lot about the restaurant and the quality of food.

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Spinelli’s is very clean and welcoming to guests from both far and near.  One of the first things you see when you walk through the doors is a rustic painting of our Colorado flag.  The rustic factor sums up the Colorado spirit perfectly.  We are a wild, independent bunch that pretty much likes to live by our own rules.

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Then you walk to the counter and order from the selection of delicious menu items.

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Dining al fresco was an option, but it was only for the very hardy today.  Yes, that wall is a sheet of ice.

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While waiting for our pizza, we enjoyed the beautiful view.  I don’t know of that many pizza places with a spectacular view like this.  It was truly magnificent.

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And in no time at all, our pizza was delivered to our table.  We ordered the meat lover’s pizza, and it was loaded with meat.  It was hot, straight out of the oven and baked to perfection.   When in Frisco or Breckenridge, I definitely recommend a stop at Spinelli’s for some great pizza, either before or after a day of skiing.

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Spinelli’s Pizza and Subs is located at 842 Summit Blvd., Suite #38, Frisco, CO.  You can contact them at spinellispizzafrisco.com or by calling them at (970) 668-8138.  

 

 

 

 

 

Super Bowl Sunday

Here in the United States, football is huge and Super Bowl Sunday is a National tradition.  Even if you are not a big sports fan, there is no way to escape Super Bowl Sunday.   It’s a massive event and is celebrated all across the country and is shown in 170 countries around the world.  Some might even put it up there with Christmas celebrations.   This tradition started in 1966 between the AFL (American Football League) and the NFL (National Football League).  It is a battle between the best.  Originally it was called the AFL-NFL Championship Game, but that was not catchy enough, so it was changed to the Super Bowl, and it has been the Super Bowl ever since.  Today is the 54th or LIV Super Bowl game.  Super Bowl Sunday is an iconic part of American culture.

You don’t have to look to hard to find a Super Bowl Party.  Everyone is either having or going to a Super Bowl party.  We are celebrating with one of Larry’s brothers and his family and friends.  Most of the time, these parties are full of snacks and high caloric goodies that are just perfect game foods, and other times they are big fancy affairs.   We used to host a big Super Bowl party every year, but then we started traveling a lot more during that time, and have not hosted one in quite a few years.  When the Super Bowl was first created, it was played in late January.  Today, the Super Bowl is played on the first Sunday of February, so it is usually right around my birthday.  Super Bowl 50 fell on my birthday, and our beloved Broncos won it all that year.  Happy Birthday to me!

This year, we are a divided house.  Our Broncos had a dismal year so they are not in it.  Better luck next year Boys!  This year the battle is between the San Francisco 49er’s and The Kansas City Chiefs.   My favorite player, Emmanuel Sanders, who used to be a Bronco, is now playing for the 49er’s, so I am rooting for them.  Besides, I am originally from California, albeit Southern California, but still California,  so I going for the California team.  Larry is originally from Kansas, so he is cheering for the Chiefs.  Either way, it should be fun.  Let’s just hope it is a good game.

The game starts at 6:30 PM Eastern Standard time, 4:30 PM Central and Mountain time and 3:30 PM Pacific Standard Time.    Let the battle begin.  May the best team win!