Thursday, December 24, 2009

Great Breakfast Menu

Here is a great breakfast menu for you to serve to ANYONE from your best friend coming over for breakfast before a big shopping trip, family or even a co-worker's breakfast like we hosted last week when our sales reps were in town. A co-worker Jennie and I prepared a spread to show them some fine Kansas City hospitality. Our menu started with a staple out of one of the great Paula Dean cookbooks that I have gotten over the years, Egg Hashbrown Casserole. The casserole was very easy to put together the night before and just required to be put in the oven the oven and let it works it wonderful food magic. We served this casserole with strawberry muffins and a fresh fruit salad (mandarin oranges, grapes, strawberries and blueberries) with fluffy dip (1 regular size container of cool whip and 1 cup of mayo). Paula's Egg Hashbrown Casserole 1 large loaf of Italian bread (will make 8 cups of cubes) 1 small yellow onion 3 TBS Butter 4 cups frozen hashbrowns 1 pound sausage 1/2 pound Ramono Cheese grated (2 cups) 1/2 pound Gruyere Cheese shredded (2 cups) 8 eggs 1 tsp salt 1 tsp ground black pepper 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp ground mustard 1/2 cup parsley chopped Pull the insides out of the Italian bread and tear up into small pieces, do not use the crust, it will get hard in the casserole. Spray a deep 9x13 pan with cooking spray, I used butter flavor, and place the Italian bread pieces across the bottom. Saute onion in 3 tablespoons of butter in an oversize sauce pan, add hashbrowns and toss with onion and butter, let heat for about 5 minutes (make sure any clumps of frozen hasbrowns are broken up). Pour the onion and hashbrown mixture on top of the bread. Brown sausage, pour over hashbrowns. Spread cheese over the sausage mixture. Mix eggs and remaining ingredients, pour over cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and chill over night. Remove casserole 30 minutes prior to bake and bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly. This is an easy recipe to adapt by adding different meats and cheeses to the mixture, I added the herbs and they were a nice fresh touch. I made an identical recipe to this only substituted the sausage with sauteed baby bella mushrooms and zucchini squash and added cojack cheese instead of Gruyere. For more social settings, prepare the casserole in cupcake tins or individual serve dishes and a nice Bellini. Traveling Cowgirl Code: A great way to show gratitude to a group of people is by filling their stomachs and breakfast is an unexpected treat for anyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Toasty Toes

10 days left of the 2009 Christmas shopping season and I know that some people are still racking their brains on what to get those hard-to-shop for people on their is a great idea for someone who 1) loves hiking and the outdoors and 2) enjoys outdoor activities/sports when it is cold. (or maybe I'm thinking about them because it is currently a negative wind-chill outside and I'm cozied up by the fire in my apartment) I highly recommend UnderArmor wool socks, they are fantastic, come in great girly (and manly) colors and are a great replacement for the typical package of tube socks in your stocking. I wear these socks when I'm working at home and recently I wore them skiing with warm feet all weekend. They also have great wicking and good elastic across the top so they stay up and don't bunch at your ankles. Enjoy giving the gift of toasty toes! Traveling Cowgirl Code: Give a practical gift with a unique twist.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Taking Dinner to the Field

Travel with you meals are sometimes fun to make but get stressful for someone, like a farmers wife during planting or harvest, to keep ideas fresh and easy for those eating to handle. It is pretty well known that farmers like hearty meals and when they have been in the field and trying to beat the weather getting them to stop for 30 minutes to eat on the back of a tailgate can sometimes be impossible. Here are some ideas for unique in-the-field meal ideas for my friend Addie. 1. Triple Meat Burger with Crispy Bacon, thinly sliced ham and white cheese 2. Grilled Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches with Blue Cheese dressing 3. Cuban Sandwich - great because it is already wrapped up in foil - 4. Chicken Cesar Salad wrap - for a lighter appetite...or mix up your favorite salad and put it in a sundried tomato wrap 5. Calzones stuff them with favorite pizza toppings from anything to Italian sausage to pineapple to mushrooms - 6. Pasties are basically a pot pie in a pocket of dough, again use your own variation - 7. Cold Fried Chicken make the chicken ahead of time, chill it and leave it for them in the cooler it is there when they need it 8. Grilled or Breaded/Fried Pork Tenderloins 9. BBQ pulled pork or beef brisket 10. Beef Empanadas Mix up the bread options that you put the sandwiches on and that will make the same meals seem new and exciting. Try different spices in your hamburgers use lemon pepper vs. just pepper or some smoked paprika to give a exotic flavor. If anyone has additional ideas or tricks for all the farm wives out there and especially Addie, please add them as comment. Traveling Cowgirl Code: The quickest way to a man's heart or his temper is through food or lack there of, so be wise and feed them!

Be a Kind Neurotic Christmas Shopper

With only 9 days left people get a little crazy, frazzled and just down-right mean when they are shopping for the last-minute treasures for their family, friends, co-workers or that last White Elephant/Ugly Christmas Sweater party that folks have to attend. So before you go out after work or this weekend people do me (and the rest of the world) take 10 minutes and MAKE A LIST so you know what you are getting and 1) don't over spend, 2) minimize your time on the road, stuck in traffic, in parking lots and in the stores and 3) don't forget anyone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Airport Etiquette, Part 5 - Check-In

I realize that some of you who may not travel a lot do not know the rules, but I have consulted some of my frequent traveling friends and they agree with me so this isn't just me on my soap box this time... Note to all passengers, when there is an open kiosk in the Southwest check-in line and you are next in line please approach the empty kiosk and check-in like a good passenger should. If you want to be a Good Samaritan and the persons or people in front of you are sitting there staring into space or contemplating how awful this meeting is going to be that they are going to…gently remind them there is a kiosk open. If a gentle reminder isn’t working then use whatever extreme force is allowed by TSA.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heifers for Sale!

Acklin Cattle Company has 17 bred commercial Red Angus heifers for sale. They were AI bred to Big Sky and our clean up bull is a son of Major League. They are due to start calving on March 9th. They spent the summer on pasture and are in great condition. Call 816-262-9974 (Howard) for more information or for pricing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


No I'm not like Emeril and have an obsession with pork fat, but I do have an appreciation for a good pork loin, piece of bacon, ham or a fantastic smoked pork chop which what I wanted to share today. On a recent MoKan NAMA tour, we visited Kurzweils' Country Meats in Garden City, Mo (thanks to Mindy Hempler who knows the folks there and recommended their wonderful facility for our tour) and as part of our tour we were given smoked pork chops so last night I gave them a whirl and let me tell you what...these could possibly be one of the best smoked pork chops that I have ever eaten. (Not my pork chop, but a picture from their website!) For those of you who have known me for a long time know that I grew up with fresh pork in the freezer (which I guess was our reward for having smelly and noisy pigs out the back door...not literally they were in pens 100 feet from the door, we weren't hillbillies people!) and also know that I am very particular about purchasing meat, especially pork since it can sometimes be strong tasting, but this was fresh and mild tasting with a perfect amount of smoke. So with these wonderful pork chops since they are already precooked I just put mine in a skillet for about 3 minutes on each side until they were starting to caramelize and the meat was warm all the way through and put the wonderful chops with homemade macaroni and cheese which was a perfect and pretty easy way to end a Monday. Kurzweils' is a family owned and run business, some of the family raises the pork, some of the family works in the store and some of the family raises the corn that is fed to the pigs. They are good people that have a great country store with unique items that would make a great gift basket. In addition to the pork chops they have many other items including specialty flavored brats including Greek and Chili Cheese and a lot of great items that can be put on the grill for a tailgate or fun fall family outing. They have a location in Lee's Summit for those of you afraid to venture out of city limits (even though the trip to Garden City would be worth it!) and even have an on-line ordering system, could be a great option for holiday gifts or corporate gifts. Visit their website to see what they have:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dear Parents in Kansas City

I hope this doesn't come back to haunt me some day, and I am sure it will, but I wanted to send out this letter to parents in Kansas City. Dear Kansas City Parents - Please refrain from bringing your children to Target on a Sunday afternoon in their pajamas. And furthermore, put some clothes on yourself, those might be your 'nice' Winnie the Pooh flannel pj pants, but the rest of us don't care. Thank you, Your Friendly Target Shopper

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Proof Reading Emails

So as sponsors of the American Royal Calf Scramble, the American Royal graciously gave the SFP office tickets to many of the activities at the Royal this year, which we are very excited about. So I sent an email out to the office that said such: We have 4 tickets for the American Royal Hunter Jumper Grand Prix in the lower level up for grabs…it is tomorrow night at 7:00. First come first serve…call, email, text, or courier pigeon me! Jennie comes rushing into my office with tears streaming from her office and I thought to myself that she is trying really hard because the courier pigeon line wasn't that funny but whatever... Jennie: Did you read that email before you sent it? Me: Yeah Jennie: Did you read the subject line? Me: Oh no... Email Subject Line: American Royal Hunter Humper Grand Prix Not exactly sure what a Hunter Humper is but I can only imagine and I really don't want to know. It is amazing how many people emailed me back so quickly and props to the guy who got that courier pigeon ready so fast! Anyway...for once I am really glad that I work in a pretty relaxed office because after I could compose myself from laughing on my floor (literally), I went out into the office and everyone had a nice good long laugh about it...even HR. Traveling Cowgirl Code: Always proof read your emails...even the SUBJECT line!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

That's a Pretty Darn Good Bacon Infused Burger

So football season is here and I finally had the chance to actually go to a game with some friends, so as we are planning I offer to make the burgers. I offer to make the burgers for a couple reasons: 1. I have a pretty decent supply of beef at my disposal, considering what my family does for a living that makes a lot of sense, 2. I had an idea I wanted to try out and I was in the mood for bacon, and 3. I was feeling nice for once (hard to believe, but it does happen sometimes). So the response to my burgers was pretty exceptional considering it was raining like a monsoon in CoMo that night and we were lucky we didn't soak our buns (just ask my brother Adam who didn't wear rain pants to the game...he not only had soaked buns but cold ones too), but alas we didn't and the burgers were a hit. And why not they were infused with bacon...bacon infused burgers. To me there are two keys to a great piece of grilled meat. Meat Source/Quality Grilling Method/Griller MEAT - Get your grilling meats from a reputable source. Of course I recommend home-raised and when I say home-raised I don't mean all-natural, organic or grass-fed...I mean the good kind that have been vaccinated, fed corn and soy by-products and raised. If you don't have access to what is now lovingly known as "Howard Beef" by my friends then I recommend you take care when selecting your grilling meats because your taste buds will thank you later because grilling will just enhance the natural flavors of the meat. GRILLING - I'm going to play a little bit of a man card here, even though I'm not a man, but I feel like I'm a pretty decent grill master...key to making these burgers or ANY burgers good is to cook them on a medium to medium-low heat to keep the juices in and also get the burgers cooked even with a nice crust on the outside of the burgers as well. I also suggest to melt your cheese slightly on the burgers before you take them off the grill to get that yummy melty cheese effect, which I will say I would have forgotten if not for Mr. Tower reminding me and almost revoking my grilling tongs. Ok on to the recipe: Pretty Darn Good Bacon Infused Burger 1 pound home raised all-American ground BEEF 1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce 2 TBS A1 Smokehouse Steak Sauce (the only reason to have steak sauce) 1 TBS Gates Grilling Seasoning 4 strips Bacon uncooked (I used the apple wood smoked kind) Combine the first 4 ingredients. Chop the bacon strips into small pieces and combine with the burger goodness mixture, if you like more bacon...add more bacon. Make into patties and grill. If you grill them right then the bacon will cook thoroughly and will get crispy on the inside and outside of the burger. Traveling cowgirl code: Bacon makes everything better...even home-raised, all-American, perfectly seasoned, perfectly grilled burgers.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Yesterday at a tailgate at the Kansas Speedway I shocked a man, fairly hungover from the night before, by telling him I was a team roper...he was shocked and just couldn't believe it. Then he proceeded to be shocked by the fact that I wasn't a CITY girl...REALLY? So as most of you know my last 6 weeks has been relatively crazy, well I'm back and in action and will be putting up new posts hopefully within the week!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What I learned in Southern Virginia

I have made an effort over the last few months to try and enjoy the local culture and tourist attractions of the places that I am sent on business. I mean an all-expenses paid trip to places like Kearney, NE, Vernon, TX and Colby, KS isn’t just something everyone gets…but I am fortunate enough to be able to see a lot of rural American and I must say I would take a day of driving through the country side over a day of bumper-to-bumper traffic, lines and people any day. This past week I was in Southern Virginia for events at a couple of dealerships that sell our products. I must say that once you are away from DC and Richmond, Virginia is a very nice area that has a lot of similarities, NWMO...good, hardworking people that appreciate the country lifestyle. There however are some very distinct differences, which would include fields full of tobacco vs. our beloved corn and soybeans that I wanted to share everyone. Kind of like an essay all the kids are excited to do as they get back to school...What I Learned in Southern Virginia. 1. Roads are not straight and don’t expect your GPS to assist you. It took me more than 20 minutes to find a Target that was truly less than a 5 minute drive. In the course of 3 days we covered a lot of territory, none of which I could get back to (this is where my friends insert that I have no sense of direction, and I am getting better…but true I never knew which direction was north in CoMo the 4 years I lived there) without a lot of trial and error. 2. Deer stand on the edge of people’s yards at 11:30 p.m. on 2-land county roads like a dog protecting their master’s domain. Thankfully none of them decided to become the ornament on the hood of my Stellar Granny Sable, but they sure liked to give me a good scare every 3-4 miles. 3. In Missouri we have garage sales because usually they are on your driveway and extend into your garage or a yard sale because it is in our own yard…in Virginia they have side of the road sales. They pack up all their goods and set up anywhere there is a grassy area where they can put out tables and people can kind of pull of the road they are trying to sell something. Strollers, clothes, antiques, watermelon, car parts, exercise equipment, puppies…you name it, it is out there. 4. The tooth brush has its place. This is not the norm, but as I was told it takes all types to make up this great nation and well I had the pleasure of meeting the people who made the inventor of the name tooth brush grammatically correct for once. 5. You can assess where someone is from or where they have spent the majority of their life by their accent. I know this is common in a lot of areas, but it was truly evident when comparing the residents from Danville (or Danvuhl to the locals) to the residents from South Boston. I kind of picked up on this change in dialect and accent but it was confirmed by my local tour guide so my southern filter wasn’t just in need of cleaning. 6. They do have unsweetened iced tea, but for fear of being lynched I didn’t dare ask for it but once at a Mexican restaurant, I figured it was safest there. I have to say I have always been a big fan of tea minus the syrup, but after the large amount of time I’ve spent in the Southeast over the past 3 years, I’m almost kind of admitting that I’m kind of sort of starting to enjoy good, true sweet tea. 7. If you like racing you have come to the right place, every time you turn a corner there is a track where you can catch local actions for a cheap fare (I went to two tracks, but never saw a race but I was told you can catch a race on a Saturday night for $5, great cheap entertainment) 8. And last but certainly not least, much to my surprise I am not a Yankee to them…nope I’m from the west and I have to say that I enjoy that much more than the thought of being a ‘northern’. So overall my assessment for rural Virginia a big thumbs up…there is a lot of wonderful history that is ripe for the picking and for the most part, nice people. Traveling Cowgirl Code: Have a local show you around, it is truly the best way to learn about the culture, people and history of an area. If I wouldn’t have had a chauffeur/tour guide I might be wandering around the hills of Virginia trying to find my way out still instead of on a plane back home.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Airport Etiquette, Part 4 - Baggage Claim

As you are praying to the baggage gods (well not that baggage god, god knows we all have enough baggage on our own without asking for more) to ensure your luggage actually made it to your destination, do us all a favor take 6-10 steps back from the turntable, this allows everyone to be able to see the bags as they come through instead of just the 20 people standing directly on top of the turntable blocking everyone else’s view and then get disgusted as people have to reach around you to get their bag and then bash you in the knee with it when they ‘accidentally’ hit you as they get their 72 pound bag off before it is whisked away in the sea of people. Also if you see someone struggling with a giant bag, first of all shame on them for packing a bag that they can’t handle (yes I had a 72 pound bag, but I could handle it), but secondly before they are being drug around in circles please help them out. If you have a piece of luggage that is very similar to many of the other bags (aka black suitcase) putting an identifying tag or handle wrap will prevent you from checking every single black suitcase that comes by. 

There are really cute luggage handle wraps at specialty stores that can help you identify your bag quickly...if you are an advertiser one of the best items I've ever received was a branded luggage handle wrap or people are now giving away luggage tags that have their brand on it as well. This is a site for luggage handle wraps:

Traveling Cowgirl Code: Be nice, step back and no one will get hurt at baggage claim.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thank You Phildelphia

Well that is probably a sarcastic title to top off a fairly sarcastic morning....and I'll get to that in a minute but I do honestly want to talk about Airports for a second and airport bathrooms in particular. I want to thank the Philly Airport for having bathroom stalls (in the women's side at least, the guy I asked to check out and report about the men's side looked at me like I was crazy so to say the least I didn't get a report back...hopefully you have huge urinals!) that could house a small family, it was nice to be able to put your stuff on the nice hanging racks that they have provided a go to the bathroom without trying to hold you stuff off the floor or prevent it from falling off the hook they provide that is only a 1/2 in long. Another airport bathroom that I think has come a long way in design is Kansas City. You all know I LOVE the Kansas City airport and for those of you who do not your haters and jealous of the ease and convenience that those of us who live there have with our airport. But back to the bathroom stalls, the doors open out, not in so it allows you to get completely inside with all your junk (trunk junk included) and are still able to close the door without dropping all your belongings in the toilet bowl. Most airports aren't designed like this and you may think I am crazy for critiquing airport bathrooms but someone has got to do it and in all honesty it keeps me sane. So back to sarcasm...thank you Philly Airport for being right on the water and having fog problems that creates a ground stop so my inbound plane from Rochester is 5 minutes too late from me catching my connection to Kansas City...thank you Philly for your nice roomy bathrooms and all the interesting shops to peruse through it will keep me entertained for the next 3 hours as I wait for my next flight into Kansas City...thank you Philly for the guy walking around the gate area with a Shakespeare's t-shirt on, great now I want Pizza (shout out to all the CoMo Alumni)...thank you Philly for having seats that could be a bench so very tired travelers can lay down and snore as they sleep off last night waiting on their flight and annoying people who are sleep deprived, who have missed a flight and are bitching about it on their blog....thank you to the girlfriend or wife that just called snoring man to wake him from his bear like slumber...thank you Philly for giving the lady who drives the handicapped cart a bike bell, that has just made everything better...and (back to seriousness) thank you Philly for FREE wireless Internet, a really nice gate agent who took pitty on me and gave me his last available seat to KC at 1:30 and for having a massage parlor inside your terminal, chair massage here I come. Traveling Cowgirl Code: Look pathetic when trying to rebook a flight with a male gate agent, even pull out the tears if every time (well most the time).

Friday, August 7, 2009

I LOVE OREOS - Recipe #1

Yes it is true, one of my very favorite cookies is Oreos...because I see Oreos as the way for me to get my calcium intake. I'm not a big fan of milk (sorry to all my dairy farming friends and those that support and produce goods for the dairy industry, I LOVE cheese so I make up for it there!!!) to drink but I have to have me good cold milk when I'm eating my Oreos.
But I see Oreos as a very versatile food because they can be made into a variety of sweet treats. One of my favorite Oreo treats is of course a cup cake. Hard to believe I know...and I can't take full credit for this recipe, but I have taken a unique twist on the recipe...again hard to believe...but I did...I'm such a rebel.
The original recipe which was extremely good was to take a white cake mix and mix as directed on the back of the box, then stir in large chunks of Oreo into the cake batter and bake. They also mixed in chunked Oreo into a can of white frosting and frosted the cupcakes with the crunchy mixture. Honestly it was hard to frost the cupcakes with chunks of Oreo in the frosting and the Oreos in the frosting were soggy when you ate them a few hours later...some people like that and some don't. I personally do not...and I wanted a little more Oreo flavor to my cupcake. This also creates a really light and airy batter so make sure you use paper liners.
So take these for a spin if you like the black and white discs of joy.
Outstanding Oreolicious Cupcakes
1 white cake mix and all the stuff to make the cake
1 row of Oreos crushed up (varying sized pieces and crumbs)
1 can of frosting (I used whipped white)
In a large mixing bowl put the white cake mix, oil/water, eggs and Oreo pieces. Mix as directed. (key is to get the Oreo in the mix at the beginning so the cookies get all through the mix) Bake as directed. Once the cupcakes are completely cool frost with the frosting of your choice and then top with half an Oreo.
I'll have many more recipes with Oreos in them in the future.
Traveling Cowgirl Cooking Tip:
Use a freezer zip lock baggie when crushing cookies, they are thicker than the regular storage baggies and won't bust open as easily...also make sure the air is completely out of the bag or you will have a major mess on your hands!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hosting a Luau on a Budget

I recently read an article in the SPIRIT magazine (Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine) about a lady in LA who threw a party for $2 per person and it made me think of all the thrifty ways you can throw a party or a gathering without breaking the bank. Here is an idea based on a office lunch we had at SFP back in June, we threw it together in a few days and I don’t know the exact cost per person but I made some stuff up and you have to read to the bottom of this post to see the result. It all started with a pre-marinated vacuum packed pork loin that I bought at Sam’s. I had purchased a couple over the weekend – froze one immediately and planned to make the other during the week but just ran out of nights before I was back on the road again and instead of freezing it up I thought I would be a great base for a Friday summer lunch at the office. I asked everyone to bring a side dish which ultimately cuts down your costs…your friends (if they are like mine) would be all for bringing a dish to a party because we like to cook and experiment recipes on each other…but you may not want to do that with your friends if they aren’t into cooking or would feel put-out if you asked them to a party but their admission ticket was a covered dish…so asking them to bring their favorite bottle of wine or 6 pack of beer would be a great way to shift some of the cost off you and not make your guests be upset about your invitation. The next thing that I usually get carried away with is decorations and before I know it I could blow $100 on fun plates and napkins…I blame you Crate and Barrel and Christa Anderson an former roommate of mine from Chicago who started my fetish for fun napkins…there just so darn fun though! Short of it is, I just think it is fun to decorate for anything and everything, but again with the short notice and not a lot of time (or desire to spend my own money on decorations for an office party) I went searching through the house when I got home. I grabbed my beach towels out of the closet and pulled out some of the leis and plastic coconuts that I had left over from my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party last summer (if you have the room you should throw all your post party decorations in a rubber maid tub, you never know when they will come in handy again). Beach towels make a great table cloth because they are bright and colorful and you can throw them in the wash when you are done and they are ready to go back to the pool or beach.
So now that I have jumped on and off the budget party reservation a number of times, I’ll get back to the main event…the food. So preparing the pork loin was a no-brainer so I won’t provide you the boring details about how I opened the package, put it in foil, then into a baking dish and then into the oven. It cost $8.95 for a 3# pre-marinated pork loin so less than a dollar a person.
One other recipe that I put together for this event was a new cup cake recipe for the occasion that combined the clean taste of white cake with the freshness of store-purchased (oh how I wish I could say home-grown, but maybe someday) strawberries. This recipe would work great with any berries, just use what is fresh and appropriate for the occasion. It was also an easy incorporation of low-cost products to make something that tasted very special, all together the ingredients were about $7 for 18 cupcakes…less than 50 cents a serving that would cost you well over a dollar a serving or more at a bakery or dessert shop.
So with a couple of side dishes (coleslaw salad, Caesar salad, broccoli-cheese casserole, fresh pineapple, etc.) thrown in we were probably looking at around $3 per person…so I didn’t beat the woman in LA in the SPIRIT magazine, but we were able to have a lot of fun without a lot of pressure to spend money on high priced foods.
Here is the recipe for the cupcakes…and a fun picture of them too...they were truly sassy.
Sweet and Sassy Strawberry Cupcakes 1 white cake mix bake per directed with 1/3 cup less water
Add 10 or so strawberries add 2 or so TBS sugar mash up and let stand so juices develop
Add 2 TBS triple sec or orange juice
Bake the cake as decorated on the box. Let the cupcakes cool completely and top with butter cream canned frosting and strawberry slices or a whole strawberry. If you don’t like butter cream flavoring then you can use a white whipped frosting, but I recommend adding a little bit of vanilla or orange flavoring to the frosting to give it dimension. (have a very easy hand with artificial flavorings because a little goes a long way)
Traveling Cowgirl Tip:
Party decorations don’t have to be complicated and expensive, use things found around your home to create a festive tablescape or theme without breaking the bank.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gold Street Caffe - Albuquerque, NM

On a recent trip I had a scrumptious breakfast at this great little sidewalk cafe and bakery in Albuquerque, NM. Thanks to my traveling partner Christy Sallee who had once been stranded in ABQ (sorry it is too hard for me to spell out ever time and I usually operate in airport codes better anyway) for the better part of a day waiting on the Rail Runner (their train system) she had time to scope out the great places that were open and lucky for me she suggested we hit the Gold Street Caffe appropriately on Gold Street in downtown ABQ. We were able to sit on the sidewalk on this quiet street and peruse the breakfast menu where everything sounded like a tasty slice of the southwest.
After a lot of thought and watching a woman in white shorts, white jacket and white loafer shoes biff it coming out of the cafe door we both settled on the Cowboy Breakfast, appropriate for the two of us...the description from the restaurant for the Cowboy Breakfast is 'the hearty cowboy breakfast: a huge green-chile cheese biscuit stuffed with scrambled eggs, smoked ham and house-made mascarpone' description for the breakfast was pure cowboy heaven on a plate. The biscuit was amazingly flaky with ribbons of cheese and green chili running through it with fluffy, light scrambled eggs and smokey juicy ham with a little mascarpone to cool down any hot spots all topped with some of the freshest salsa I have ever tasted. The breakfast was served with a side of fresh fruit and some greens (which we realized were on all plates in New Mexico, odd). I wouldn't have changed one thing about this breakfast, it was unbelievable and if you are ever in ABQ I encourage you to stop by and try it.
We had a couple of other interesting meals in New Mexico...
Ore House on the Plaza - Santa Fe, NM - Cool cantina feel with an entertaining bartender. Sit at the bar and order the guacamole and spicy beef burrito top it off with a nice margartia or Corona to cool you off.
Route 66 Diner - ABQ, NM - Very nostalgic with neat memorabilia and oldie but goodie tunes. Good burgers and excellent Cherry Cokes and Cherry Sprites, but go there for the environment...not the food.
Traveling Cowgirl Code:
When going to a new place take someone with you who has been there before or ask friends who have been to the area for suggestions, sometimes the best places are off the beaten path or won't be the recommendation you get from the hotel desk attendant.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cruise Control

Here is the deal, if you have cruise control on your vehicle...and unless there are other circumstances that prevent you from using your pulling a trailer, your cruise control is broken, your testing your skills like numchuck skills...then use it.
By not using your cruise control you are choosing to be that obnoxious maroon Grand Am with Montana plates that passes, slows down, we pass you, you speed up again, then slow down again, we pass you again, over and over again through the foothills of the New Mexican mountains until you give US a dirty look because YOU act like WE are the ones driving like idiots forcing us to roll our eyes at you and say nasty things about you before we intimidate you to slowing down enough to create distance between us and you.
Road trips are a lot of fun and I highly encourage everyone to take some time out of their usual hectic schedules to take a road trip with your besties (I believe that is what the kids are calling their close friends these days). It can be a short drive to no particular destination at all or it can be a long-distance trek across the barren lands of New Mexico, regardless you can't beat driving on the open road (with your cruise control on of course) listening to the tunes of your past (or present whatever works for you).

It helps if you have a great co-driver to share the driving duties is my co-driver from the weekend and from many, many previous road trips over the course of the last 11 years.

And the all-important self-portrait to
prove you were in the car too!
Traveling Cowgirl Roadtrip Tip: Go barefoot and crazy for a while, you're only young once....but watch the sun coming through the windows it can burn the tops of your ghostly white feet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Airport Etiquette, Part 3 - Food on Planes

Procrastination is the root of all evil and instead of packing like I should be I wanted to post this very important comment about food on planes because when I get on a plane at 7:20 this evening I am pretty sure that I will run into this problem and after the day I have had...insert lack of sleep, laundry, packing, work, truck making awful noises that required Ford to come get it to look at it...and I am sure that the post I would make after the experience might not be appropriate for the G rated audience. So here it is... If they don’t serve food on the flight, which fewer and fewer flights are serving meals then you MAY be expected to pay for your snacks (you think that is bad Delta stopped carrying Ginger Ale for like 8 weeks this spring, talk about traumatic…they must have had enough complaints and must have been notified of the nausea soothing benefits of the wondrous drink of Ginger Ale) or you can always bring your own snacks. I just ask for the sake of me and all the other people on the plane that may have motion sickness issues 


Smelly foods constitute for anything that could have a pungent odor that could be offensive to people not in a confined area like…Chinese, Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian…ok so maybe anything that could be warm and smell. 

Traveling Cowgirl Code: Be healthy, pack your own snacks at home that won't disrupt your fellow passengers.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Airport Etiquette, Part 2 - Be Patient While Standing in Lines

One of the most frustrating parts of any airport experience is the lines…lines at ticketing, lines at TSA, line at Starbucks on Monday morning at 7:10 a.m. Here are a few helpful (and polite reminders) on how to best handle the lines that you may be facing. 

 Ticketing – People who work ticketing have a fairly thankless job (similar to IT professionals, no one wants to talk to them they only want to bark at them because something is wrong). Make friends with the ticketing people because if there are ever opportunities to upgrade or if the flight is oversold and you have flexibility to be able to take a later flight they will be more willing to help you out. If you know that you are going to take a lot of time with the agent and there is only one person behind you offer to let them go first; also if you can tell someone is frantic and in a hurry and you have some extra time let them go in front of you building up Karmic credits doesn’t hurt anyway. 

TSA – First rule, DON’T MESS WITH TSA, true story I once saw TSA bring in the cops, bomb sniffing dogs and sequester a guy’s (8) bags because he was in the ticketing line and left his luggage in a pile away from him…when asked whose luggage it was he smarted off to them and they hauled it away. DON’T MESS WITH TSA. A few things to keep in mind, what they say goes and not every airport (regardless of what they say on TV or the TSA people tell you) has the same rules so be prepared to be flexible. Again, this is a great place to build up your Karmic credits…be patient with those who don’t travel often if you are a frequent traveler and praise God when there are the separate lines for Expert Travelers, Casual Travelers and Families/Medical Disabilities lines. When there are these lines…select your appropriate line, don’t step out of your class. 

Boarding and getting off the plane Here is the deal…we will all get to our destination at the same time so your impatient nature to get on or off the plane is one of the most annoying parts of traveling. I commend Southwest for their new boarding process which prevents people from camping out up to 45 minutes before a flight leaves so they can get the first seat, now you can pay to get on first if you are that uptight about where you sit on the plane. There is a method to how most airlines board their planes, for example those that assign seats typically board 1st class first and then they start from the back of the plane and move their way forward…really a very smart move and makes a lot of sense and prevents people from getting bruised foreheads from bags or elbows catching them on their way by. When you are traveling and I understand that some people refuse to pay the additional money to check their bags but please be courteous of the size of the bag that you are putting in the overhead bins. If your bag is pretty big for the space then turn your bag upside down and place it in with the wheels up, that will allow for the maximum space to be utilized. Also if you have purses (like giant ugly white hobo style purses that you place in the overhead and prevent someone from their bag going up and then they have to check their luggage, not that I’ve been in that situation before or anything) or jackets hold them until everyone is on board and they will easily slide around the other luggage that is up there. If there is someone trying to put an item in the overhead bin that looks like they may struggle offer to help them instead of looking disgusted at them as they struggle to hurry and get their bag in place. When the flight has landed…wait your damn turn. I don’t know who is so special that they need to jump out of their seat and rush to the front of the plane taking out any unsuspecting blue hair that might be trying to stretch their legs. If you are that important then you should have a private plane. If you have a close connection flight then say something to the stewardess before the plane lands so she can alert the gate when you arrive or she can ask for everyone to stay seated so you can get off and get to your connection. Traveling Cowgirl Code: When handling lines at the airport remember rules you were taught in Kindergarten; be patient and wait your turn; be nice to your neighbor.

Monday, July 6, 2009

She's My Cherry Pie Cupcakes

Even the best of ideas can be lost in development, but on the flip side they actually can turn out pretty smashingly good with a few tweaks. So with the 4th of July being yesterday I was feeling extra patriotic so I thought what is more patriotic than Cherry Pie (ok so maybe apple, but I didn’t feel like cutting up apples today) and Cupcakes (of course cupcakes, it is a religion at this point). So I set out to make She’s My Cherry Pie Cupcakes with the thought that I would make a simple cupcake, (trying a new recipie…no I didn’t make the cupcakes from a box this time, but probably won’t try it this way again unless I’m really trying to impress someone) with cherry pie filling on top and a small lattice of pie crust to mold over the top of the cherry topped cupcake. Sounds simple enough right? Well yes and no. The cupcake recipie was easy to make but the final outcome wasn’t the nice fluffy cupcakes that I am used to producing. After I got the cupcakes out I realized that the cherry pie filling wasn’t going to stick without a glue, so I added canned cream cheese frosting pretty thickly…then I was able to add some of the cherries and the glaze from the cherry pie filling can and they stuck to the frosting. So that all sounds pretty simple huh? And it was…where I had a problem was my lattice pie crust. I made the pie crust (yes from scratch using lard, egg, vinegar, flour and water…just like my mom does) and then cut it into strips and laid out my lattice work on the counter, problem was it was really hard to cut the circles (a biscuit cutter would have been great but of course I didn’t have one of those), so I scrapped the circles of lattice and just baked my little strips and then added them in an abstract way on top of the cherries. Now did the cupcakes look cute? Yes they looked very cute and very American. Where the cupcakes yummy? Yes they were but tasted more like a cherry cheese cake because of the cream cheese frosting and the cherries. Moral of the story…you can make them, they are cute…but I wouldn’t take the time to make pie crust, let it chill in the humidity, roll it out, cut it into strips, bake the strips, let them cool and then add them to the cupcakes. Traveling Cowgirl Code: When your loop doesn't go on smooth over the head, remember that all you need to be concerned with is beef in the loop...and you never know when you might have created a DIFFERENT recipe…Cheery, Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Airport Etiquette, Part 1 - Attire

What would the traveling cowgirl blog be without a few posts about traveling? My first installment is for everyone those of you who may go through airports once a week or once a year because I think we all need a few reminders on how to keep our (and those around us) travel spirits up. It seems like we have made a full 180 turn from 40 years ago when people truly dressed up to get on a plane or had a traveling suit when traveling…now we are lucky if the person sitting next to you isn’t wearing their pajamas. Now I understand that no one LOVES to travel in a suit and heels, but at times it is necessary. And I also understand that when you are traveling for leisure you want to be comfortable, but puhlease refrain from wearing your flannel pajama bottoms and Victoria’s Secret PINK cami with your Uggs, anything that looks like you work out in it or smells like you've worked out in it (ok, so those that can get away with this is traveling sports teams who wear their warm-up uniforms, completely acceptable) or anything with a hole in it that wasn’t in the garment the day you purchased it. First of all you just don't look good dressed that way, secondly you should be slightly concerned if you have broken any of the above rules in the last 24 months that you might be on the nomination list for the next edition of What Not to Wear, Stacy and Clinton would have a hay day with you and I can't say I would blame them. A couple of other reminders: 

1. Planes typically are cooler than what most people feel is comfortable and some airlines are no longer providing blankets or pillows so pack a sweater or light jacket so you will be comfortable. 

2. When going through the TSA line remember that you will have to take off any item of clothing that isn’t required to cover you up so be prepared to remove your jacket, cardigan or open shirt and you will also have to remove your shoes (no matter what kind of shoes they are) so try and wear something that is comfortable to walk throughout the airport but also easy to remove and get back on while you are in line. 

Traveling Cowgirl Airport Tip: Roll a pashmina or thin sweater and leave it in your carry-on bag so you always have a cover up when the plane is like Alaska on New Years Day.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mind over Stiletto

I can’t take credit for the title, it comes from a friend Colleen McDowall who may have the greatest shoe collection of any woman I know and could possibly rival many of the ladies in New York. They are fun, flirty and always colorful yet tasteful and classic. Plain and simple she has a fantastic shoe collection, but at times they look so painful that it almost makes me cringe to see her feet in them. One day, while working a bovine (cattle for my city friend) veterinarian tradeshow in Salt Lake City, UT with her, me in my low heeled loafer shoes and her in 3 inch pointed-toe cheetah print pumps, I asked how she could wear those shoes and she said to me, “It just mind over stiletto my darling.” So I am writing this because my mind must need more practice…I currently have 4 blisters on my feet due to my new pair of cute shoes (and I am not just saying they are cute, I had a total of 4 compliments from people whose taste and style I respect and even envy at times so it is fact that my shoes were cute). When I spotted these cute zebra printed wedges in the store I almost passed them by, you are probably asking if they were so cute then why…well, they looked like they would hurt my feet, but being a sucker for zebra print I decided to try them on and to my surprise they were shockingly comfortable so I proceeded to walk around the store in them for about three minutes and decided that they were actually going to work. As I leave the store I am smiling because I not only found what I considered (and later determine it was not just my taste buds that watered from the looks of my zebras) to be cute shoes, but they rang up $13 cheaper than the price tag…what a deal!! Now I am paying the price for my good taste in cute shoes but probably bad taste in quality of shoes I ask myself why oh why do women wear such painful shoes? I guess there are many reasons why: they want to look taller, they are in style, they match that dress that you can’t find anything to go with, men like them, they were on sale and I only have 8 pairs of black pumps and the list could go on forever but whatever the reason we usually have sore feet, blisters and if you don’t that means you have lost all feeling in your feet from years of foot abuse. I want to commend each and every one of you out there who can painlessly (or outwardly painlessly) wear those cute trendy shoes that give blisters and pinch your toes. As for me will I keep wearing those kinds of shoes? Of course I will, but makes me appreciate my Ariat cowboy boots more and more each day. Traveling Cowgirl Code: Pedicures are the best cure for aching feet and cowboy (or cowgirl) boots are a cowgirl’s best friend.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recipe 2 - Running Rum Runner Cupcakes

Some people think I have an obsession with cupcakes and I probably do. I think they are truly the perfect dessert because they are easily served, require no utensils or plates and provide endless decoration possibilities or can be personalized to suit individual party guests. You will see a lot of cupcake recipes show up in this blog but I am starting out with a tropical summer time flavored cupcake that was developed base on a drink that I was introduced to by my sister-in-law April. White cake mix isn’t my favorite cake flavor…but it is a great base to create unique flavors. I’ve never had a preference in cake mixes, but Christy swears by Duncan Heinz. RunNinG rUm RuNnEr cuPcaKes 1 White Cake Mix (add eggs as directed, water less 3 TBS and ½ the amount of oil) Coconut Milk (the other ½ of the full amount of oil) ¼ cup crushed pineapple drained 1 TBS dark rum or rum extract 1 TBS orange juice Mix all ingredients together well with a mixer and bake as directed. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting. Frosting: 1 can white frosting (I think whipped goes on easiest) 1 TBS Marciano cherry juice Mix the frosting and juice and then frost cupcakes.
Decorating: The best thing about cupcakes is that you can decorate them in so many different ways. Here are a few suggestions on decorating these Running Rum Runner Cupcakes. Dip cupcakes in coconut flakes Top with a Marciano cherry Top with a candied orange slice Dip cupcakes in sand colored sprinkles or sugar and put a cocktail umbrella in the top to resemble the beach Traveling Cowgirl Cooking Tip: People eat with their eyes first, purchase colorful or theme appropriate cupcake tin paper liners to entice your guests with their eyes before you knock their spurs off with flavor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Recipe 1 - Not Your Grandmamma's Caprese

So the recipes that will appear in this blog may not be revolutionary, may not be the most rugged or the most classic, but they are guaranteed to be crowd pleasers and for the most part fun. I come from a line of great cooks (my mom still makes her wonderful pie crusts from scratch using lard, an art I have a hard time mastering, but have fun trying) and I don't claim to follow closely in their footsteps, but I do like to take twists on 'traditional' foods and make them my own. I'll also be featuring many of my friend's and family's highly requested dishes so you all can try them on your friends and family.
*Note: Much to my mother's dismay I rarely have exact measurements for some items, but I will do my best to put approximates for those who prefer an exact road map vs. turn left by the old white school across from the oak tree.*
Today's recipe hopefully will come in handy especially with the summer backyard parties. Caprese Skewer Appetizers 1 container of grape tomatoes, cut into half 1 package mozzarella (from the deli section), cut into cubes smaller than the grape tomato halves 10-15 fresh basil leaves, roll basil together and cut into small strips that look like ribbons 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar* 2 TBS olive oil* Place tomatoes, mozzarella and basil in a gallon size zip lock bag. Whisk together the vinegar and oil and add a pinch of salt (I use kosher because that is what all the people on food network do and it makes me feel cool) and pepper to taste. Pour the vinegar and oil mixture into the zip lock bag, seal and work around to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight...the longer it marinates the better the flavors. Skewer the tomatoes and mozzarella on small tooth picks (I like bartending picks with decorative tops) in any arrangement you choose and arrange on a pretty plate before serving to your guests. Traveling Cowgirl Cooking Tip: Try out new recipes on your coworkers...they are always excited for free food and you will know if the recipes were a failure because there will be food left in the breakroom at the end of the day.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Where did my ticket go?

So as I mentioned in the description of this blog there are things that happen to me that even the most creative novelists couldn't make up and an event that happened yesterday is a perfect example.
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May I headed out to Kauffman to watch the Royals (lose, I wonder if I'm a bad luck charm) with Jason and David and in true fashion we tailgated in preparation for the night. But to truly set the stage I would need to explain that it was replica stadium giveaway night, so since you can't go in and come back out...but they only give out replica stadiums to the first 20,000 people the boys had a plan to purchase cheap tickets use those to go in and grab our replicas and then go out and tailgate and use our original tickets to get back in for the actual game. A new concept to me, but it made sense so I went along with the plan.
So we have our tickets, we have our replicas and we are back at the truck tailgating. Jason's newest addition to our tailgating supplies is a Potty Tent. ( We made fun initially, but then realized that the Potty Tent is a pretty great idea. I had my 'good' ticket, a.k.a. ticket I didn't use to get my replica so ticket I needed to use to get into the game, in the back pocket of my jeans and after going into the Potty Tent I realized that I didn't have my good ticket anymore so we begin searching around the tailgate area for my ticket when David realizes that my ticket is in the Potty Tent Pee Bucket. Yes I lost the ticket I needed to get into the game out of the back pocket of my jeans in a bucket filled with urine. Now what does one do when their ticket is floating in a bucket of (with the help of Jason and David) dump out the bucket and pick up the ticket with already used cooking utensils, proceed to rinse off the ticket with a can of Miller Lite (that was part of a case that was left in a Wataburger parking lot in Dallas, TX that Jason and David picked up two weekends ago on a road trip) and leave the on the parking lot in the sun to dry out.
How does one get that ticket to the stadium without being completely grossed out about what you are carrying...put it in a zip lock baggie and have the nice ticket man scan you ticket through the baggie and then proceed to throw the baggie away immediately inside the gate.
This brings me to a good topic, I'm a planner and I have a Tailgate Supply Kit that is always ready to go when duty calls. I highly recommend this for anyone who goes on a lot of picnics, tailgates or weekends at the lake. I use a shallow Rubbermaid type container and always have the following items to be left in the kit at all times:
Aluminum Foil
Zip Lock Baggies
Paper Plates
Cooking and eating utensils
Clorox Wipes
Plastic Table cloth
Hand sanitizer
Long-handled lighter
Salt, pepper and/or seasoning salts
I am sure that you will have many other items that you will include in yours that you find important like my giant serving bowl or my collapsible plastic wine glass, but having a kit ready to go when your friends call with an extra ticket to the game will allow you to worry more about finding your lucky jersey and less about where that lighter is to start the grill.
Traveling Cowgirl Code:
Be prepared, you never know when you will need a zip lock baggie to hold a ticket that has been peed on and rinsed off with a beer picked up in a fast food restaurant parking lot.
HaPpY tRailS!