Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oooh Balloons!!

For those of you that don't know much about Albuquerque, NM, here is something that we are definitely known for, and something everybody should come see at least once in their life! I'm talking about the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!! The Fiesta brings balloonists from all over the world to take part in the WORLD'S biggest and most popular balloon fiesta! The biggest event that we boast during this week long event are our Mass Ascensions. These take place every morning where, I kid you not, hundreds and hundreds of balloons gather early, early in the morning, inflate, and take off from the balloon fiesta park, giving the most spectacular view you will ever see. This year, Albuquerque had it's largest turn out EVER with over 800,000 people visiting the park during the entire week!! And it's no wonder why! As you're walking through the rows and rows and more rows of balloons that are filling up with air, you can't help but get wrapped up in the excitement. The first noise that everyone hears out on the park is the sound of the fans. As the fans blow air into the once flat balloons, your suddenly aroused by the site of these massive balloons actually coming to life! Once the balloons are filled up with enough air, the fun begins. The roar of burners fill the air and the comforting heat, bursting off of each gondola warms your body, as the amazing sight of the balloons is what warms your soul. Suddenly out of no where whistles begin to blow! And as any balloon fiesta regular knows, it can only mean one thing...Zebras! No, not real zebras silly...balloon fiesta zebras! Zebras are responsible for clearing the path for the balloons to take of from the field safely. So, there kind of like referees but they take their outfits to the extreme, whether it's hats with zebras, zebra leggings, zebra face painting, I've seen it all! The most amazing part of the balloon fiesta is that as the first rows of balloons take of, the virgin balloon fiesta go-er would think that that's it...but oh no!! You would be way wrong! As one row clears, another round of balloons lay out on the filed and begin to inflate, allowing us to see about 300 balloons in the air!! And I'm not talking just regular 'ole balloons, well we do have those. But then you have the Special Shapes, and these are the coolest balloons! They range from the Creamland Cow, known as Arabelle, the Wells Fargo Stage Coach, Flying Pigs, Darth Vader, Flying Bees, The Colosseum, A Giant Tree, Witches, Pumpkins, Owls, a Stork, Turtles, Elephants, Beer mugs, Champagne bottles, the American Flag, a Space Shuttle and sooo much more!!

The other cool event that the balloon fiesta has, and is the second most popular event is the Glow-deo. And this is when all the special shape balloons come out to the park just before sunset and have, what we call a Balloon Glow. You see while the sun is setting the balloon fill up, and tons of people pour on to the field. And as the sun goes down, it of course gets dark outside, and this is when the magic happens. The burners from the balloons ignite, and make the balloons "glow", hence the name balloon glow. If your breath has never been takin away, please, please, please come to see a balloon glow and you will be absolutely breathless. I have been going to balloon glows since I was a baby, and the sight of all of these balloon glows in the brinks of sunset still bring tears to my eyes. It is a feeling, a sight an experience that words cannot do justice for. The balloons of course "glow" on their own, whenever the pilot needs to fill the balloon with hot air, but the pilots also participate in All Burns. All Burns are counted down from ten-nine-eight-seven...and when the announcer gets to one he says ALL BURN!! And EVERY single balloon out on that field pulls their burner and you are surrounded by dozens of balloons glowing all at once! And that is when you will be left totally breathless, speechless and in total awe!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pumpkin Patch

With the air getting a little crisper in the morning and the leaves slowly changing colors, it can only mean one thing. Fall is here! And with Fall comes pumpkins, and I mean lots of pumpkins! So to get a jump on my pumpkin baked goods, I decided to try out two recipes that really grabbed my attention.

The first was a scrumptious looking recipe from the wonderful Peabody, whose blog (culinary concoctions) is one of my favorites. Peabody made these adorable little pumpkin muffins but had the surprise of chocolate covered raisins inside! I can't tell you how simple this recipe was to make. And the pumpkin was spot on, you know how sometimes you'll have a pumpkin loaf and the taste is just overwhelming? Not these babies, they were absolutely perfect. And the smell of pumpkin baking in my oven was enough to make me pull out my hair. I just love the smell of fall baking flavors filling the house. It just reminds me so much of the holidays, family and plain ole good memories. My only complaint with this recipe was the fact that I couldn't quit eating those damn chocolate covered raisins!! I should've wait to open the bag until I was ready to dump them all into the batter, but for those of you that have been keeping up with my posting, you would know that batter covered chocolate raisins wouldn't even have stopped me :)

The only thing that I changed in this recipe was to make my muffins in a mini muffin tin. I planned on taking them to work and wanted to make sure that I would have enough to go around. The mini muffins were a perfect bite sized portion, but only helped to make me think that eating 7 of them was ok, since they were so little :) Damn those muffins!! Check out Peabody's blog, Culinary Concoctions for this amazing recipe!

The second pumpkin recipe that I made was a take on the classic Pumpkin Pie. I saw this recipe on the cover of Holiday Baking and almost wet my pants I was so excited!! This pie is a triple layer pumpkin pie!! Yes, that's right...T-R-I-P-L-E L-A-Y-E-R!! The first layer is a cream cheese base, infused with orange zest. The second layer is the pumpkin pie layer. And the top, most amazing third layer is a mixture of chopped pecans, chopped health bars and brown sugar. TO DIE FOR!! I cheated a little and bought a pre-made Pillsbury pie crust, which I have never used before, and am amazed at how good the crust was. That is definitely a product I will use for future pie projects! Can I just say this pie was so yummy, and the textures and flavors were out of this world! My tongue and brain couldn't figure out if I was having pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie with pecan topping, or pumpkin cheesecake with pecan topping! But I will tell you one thing, my stomach was not at all confused, all it knew was that this recipe was a winner and belly pleaser!! With a nice dollop of whipped cream on top, this pie was a no fail way to kick off fall!!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Tailgating Treats

As you all know, when fall rolls around that can only mean one thing...FOOTBALL!!!!! I don't know if I love football more for the game, or more for the snacks :) Any time we have a football or tailgating party, I'm always in charge of the desserts (obviously), and with the biggest college rival football game for New Mexico coming to Albuquerque I could not disappoint. I thought long and hard about what to make and decided to stick to the classics. Rice Krispie Treats and Smores! I have been a Rice Krispie Treat fanatic since I was a little girl, and who does not like Smores? Both have one of my most favorite flavors/tastes/textures and that is a ooeey gooey melty marshmallow! (I think the pictures say it all).

These are the easiest snacks to make, and can be done in a variety of flavors. There's even a new Chocolate and Vanilla Rice Kripsipe Treat Mixed Cereal available now! I decided to keep it simple this time and stick to the original, which was outrageously amazing, as usual!

3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 (10 oz.) package regular marshmallows
- or -
4 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies®
1. Melt margarine in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.2. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.3. Using buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cut into 2-inch squares when cool. Best if served the same day.

As for the Smores, I found this recipe while looking at the Betty Crocker website. It's a peanut butter cookie base and then has the chocolate, marshmallows and Honey Grahams cereal on top. I was a little worried that the mixture would have the tasteof peanut butter, due to the cookie dough, but to my surprise this tasted EXACTLY like a Smore! This was great too because I could just it into bars and serve it to the tailgating crew! Not as exciting as roasting marshmallows over the open flame and waiting until they catch on fire, but hey it'll work :)

1pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® peanut butter cookie mix (
Water, vegetable oil and egg called for in cookie mix directions)
1container Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy chocolate frosting
2cups miniature marshmallows
2cups Golden Grahams® cereal
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Make cookie dough as directed on pouch. Press dough into ungreased 13x9-inch pan.
2. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown around edges.
3. Spoon frosting into microwavable bowl. Microwave uncovered on High 15 to 20 seconds; stir frosting until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup. Pour remaining frosting over warm bars. Sprinkle marshmallows and cereal over frosting.
4. Bake 3 to 5 minutes longer or until marshmallows are puffed. Cool 15 minutes. Drizzle reserved frosting over bars. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows.