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Posts by Patti

The Burger Den–Site of The First Del Taco

Most High Desert residents know that Barstow was the home of the first Del Taco restaurant, but what they may not realize is that the very first Del Taco wasn’t in Barstow Proper.  The very first Del Taco was founded in Yermo in 1964.   This was when Arrowhead trail (also known as U.S. route 91) was the main road to Las Vegas.  During that time, Yermo was home to multiple gas stations, motels, and restaurants.

When interstate 15 opened in 1968, the town of Yermo was bypassed and,  like many small towns across America, a large number of the businesses which relied on the patronage of travelers closed.   The first Del Taco was one of those businesses, but while Del Taco closed, another business rose in its place.      On the site of  the original Del  Taco stands the Burger Den.

Burger Den at the site of the first Del Taco READ MORE »

Recipes to Make Valentine’s Day Sweet

Valentine’s day is just around the corner, so we thought that it was only appropriate to gather up a few recipes to celebrate the day.   We have begun a search for some ideas for dinner and dessert for you to share with the ones you love.

I don’t know about you, but I always think of pasta as a romantic dinner.  Maybe I watched “Lady and the Tramp”  too many times as a child, but I know that I’m not alone in thinking that pasta dishes are romantic.   Here are a few recipe selections from around the web that I thought might be nice for Valentine’s Day.

  •  Shrimp in Love Pasta–This recipe for Kraft Foods is very creamy and delicate.   It was featured on their site a few years ago as the perfect Valentine’s dinner for your sweetheart.  shell pasta baked in a creamy cheese sauce wtih added shrimp and spinach
  •  Baked Shrimp and Shells–This is similar to the first selection, but is baked in a casserole dish instead.

Garlic Cheese-Chicken Spaghetti Squash

Any of these pasta dishes served with a delicious salad would make a delicious and well balanced meal.

Of course, no romantic dinner is complete without dessert.  I think that chocolate is the perfect solution, so I have selected four chocolate dessert ideas for finishing off your meal.

If you want something that isn’t chocolate, this recipe for a pink lemonade bundt cake looks delicious, or you can check out this list of Valentine’s day treats.  These recipes are so simple that you can even make them with your kids.

We hope that you like our suggestions.  What is your idea of a perfect romantic dinner? Leave a comment below and let us know.

More Superbowl Menu Ideas

Hosting a Superbowl party is a great way to bring people together, but the responsibility of putting together a menu for game day can be challenging.    First, the food must be easy to eat while camped out in front of the TV.  A few weeks ago, High Desert Blogging posted a list of recipes to help with your menu selection, but we have found a few more that are worth sharing.

Simple ingredients produce a delicious corn and black bean salsaFirst, we have corn and black bean salsa from SimplyHealthyEats.com.   We like this recipe because it’s similar to a salad.  Light and refreshing, it tastes good when eaten with a fork, but it’s a substantial and chunky salsa that’s sure to please all the men in your life.

If you’re looking for something different, give the recipe for Creamy Tacos from KitchenHospitality.com a try.  The final product is similar to queso dip, but with the addition of meat,beans, and corn, it makes for a hearty filling for a tortilla.  We rolled ours up burrito style.  The best part is that it can all be made in a crockpot.  Creamy TacosOur next selections are some stuffed jalapenos that we found over at PattyCakesPantry.com.  The first one is stuffed with cream cheese and bacon and topped with crushed tortilla chips. tortilla crumb topped stuffed jalapenos with cream cheese and bacon fillingThe second is stuffed with Tuna Salad and topped with cheese before being baked in the oven.  tuna stuffed jalapenosDid you know that chili is one of the most frequently served menu items at Superbowl parties?  No list of menu ideas would be complete without including a few chili recipes, too.

A good thing about chili is that it can be made a couple days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Then, pull it out and reheat it in your slow cooker on game day.  The flavors tend to intensify and blend together when chili is made ahead.  This means that the leftovers have more flavor than the fresh chili.

For a traditional chili recipe that can be made in the slow cooker, check out this recipe at chow hound.

imageWant a vegan chili option for your guests? This recipe from Simply Healthy Eats fits the bill nicely.

The opposite of vegan is this recipe for a paleo friendly chili from meatified.  The recipe uses 5 pounds of meat, so it will keep your carnivores happy.

yak meat in black bean chiliIf you want to impress your friends with your trend setting tastes in sustainable food, check out this recipe for Yak Chili. (The recipe can also be made with chunks of beef or with venison.)

All that’s left to discuss is dessert.  No Superbowl party menu is complete without dessert.  Here are a few of our favorites.Chunky Banana Pudding

Chunky Banana Pudding always works well for feeding a crowd.

Another option is the Texas Sheath cake.  I can’t believe I went my entire life without ever hearing about this delicious chocolate cake.

If you’re looking for more figure friendly and healthy dessert options, there is always the option of a fruit platter served with creamy coconut fruit dip, or Baked Maple Cinnamon Tortilla Chips served with Sweet White Bean Dip.    I know that last one sounds really weird, but it was delicious.  It goes well with sliced apples, too.

There you have our updated list of menu ideas for your Superbowl party.  What are your favorites from our list?

The Traffic Generating Experiment–Blog vs Blog

pattycakespantry.com versus kitchenhospitality.com in a traffic generating contestAnyone who has ever started a blog knows that one of the biggest challenges is getting traffic to your blog, and traffic is essential if one hopes to monetize their blog.  There are various recommendations on the web regarding how best to draw traffic to a blog, and after reading through several of these, it’s easy for a new blogger to feel overwhelmed and confused by the conflicting information.

A few years ago, I listened to Bill Belew speak at the HDCWC meeting in Apple Valley.  At that time, he recommended multiple short posts (100-150 words long) per day to generate traffic.  He shares similar information regarding the success of mutiple short posts per day at Search Engine Journal.   Another site suggests longer posts (300-350 words) two or three times per week are best, and one claims that Google considers posts of less than 200 words to be “thin content”.  Another site recommends a combination of regularly scheduled  quality content on your own site paired with guest posts on a blog that has more traffic than your own. There are sites that list specifically how long a tweet, facebook comment, and a blog post should be in order to be most effective.  These list the best  content length for a blog post at 1600 words.  When you’re looking for a definitive answer, all of this seemingly conflicting information can be very confusing.

Even regarding the topic of page rank, there is disagreement.  There are those who say it’s vital to get traffic to your site, but is it really? READ MORE »

Food for the Big Game

It’s almost that time of year again.  You know, the time of year when friends get together to to watch two amazing football teams face off against each other to determine if the AFC or the NFC has the best team this year.

My house will be exempt from a large gathering for a Superbowl party because our TV is smaller than the ones owned by most of our friends.    Unfortunately, many of my friends know that I’m a good cook, so I get lots of calls during the weeks preceding this asking if I can bring something or if I can tell them how to make something that will impress their guests but that won’t be too difficult to put together.

I’ve been scouring the internet searching for easy ideas for Superbowl menus and I’ve come across quite a few ideas.

This pizza pull apart bread is from pattycakespantry.comA popular idea last year was the pull apart pizza bread.  It’s easy to make, and easy to eat.  We liked this recipe from StockPilingMoms.com.  A  review of this recipe can be found at PattyCakesPantry.com.  I know this is last years big idea, but it was well received, so why change it?  We served ours with a side of easy marinara sauce for dipping.  It was very good.

Another simple solution is to have hot dogs heated in some water in a crock pot.  Did you know that the method of cooking hot dogs by submerging them in water is called “the dirty water method”?    Of course, Mario Batali from The Chew adds a few extra ingredients to his water.  This adds extra flavor to his dogs, but I’m content to just submerge my dogs in plain water.

The idea behind a crock pot full of hot dogs is that you can then set up a hot dog bar with traditional toppings like onions, relish, mustard, and ketchup.  You could also have another crock pot with some chili, a bowl  of shredded cheese and some jalapeno coins.  That would let your guests make chili dogs as well.  shredded cheese and jalapeno coins top the chili dog.  Photo credit PattyCakesPantry.comThis same hot dog bar could also be expanded to be a nacho bar by adding a large bowl of tortilla chips that people can top with chili, cheese, sliced green onions, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and black olives.  I know that it’s strange, but I also like to put some shredded lettuce on top of my nachos.  It makes me feel less guilty because it’s like I’m eating a nacho salad.  A bowl of salsa and another containing guacamole would be great here, too.  Chili cheese nachos topped with lettuce, tomato, green onion, sour cream and black olives.   Photo credit pattycakespantry.comThere’s a post at Patty Cake’s Pantry that discusses Make Ahead Recipes for the Big Game that includes recipes for two ingredient chicken wings, three ingredient crock pot meatballs, and stuffed mushrooms.   superbowl plate 3If you or your guests are on a low carb diet, you can find tons of tips and links to recipes for Low-Carb Super Bowl Party Foods over at About.com.   I really like the recipe for spicy pecans.

For those who are trying to watch their weight and eat healthy, Lisa Lillien, the Hungry Girl, has some tips and tricks for eating healthy at a  Superbowl Party.    We always try to put out a tray of fruit and one of vegetables in addition to the other foods.

These are a few of our favorite ideas for putting together a Superbowl party.   We always consider that the guests will be eating and drinking in the living room, so foods need to be easy to eat with a plat balanced on their laps.

Please click on the links above and  give these recipes a try.   Leave a comment to let us know what you think and share some of your favorite Superbowl menus and recipes?

Last Minute Halloween Treats

All of us get overwhelmed with the events of life and find ourselves scurrying at the last minute to put together something to take to a Halloween Party or to feed guests that we invited over.  Sometimes, when the responsibilities of work take more time than they should,  I find myself at the last minute trying to hurry and put together something just for my family.

What follows are five simple ideas that I’ve found on the internet that I think can help solve the question of what can I make?  Warning:  I really like candy corn, so it may be unfairly featured here to the exclusion of other types of candy or food.

Harvest DecorThe first item in our roundup is a simple mixture of candy corn and nuts that I found  at Kitchen Hospitality. The combination is nearly addictive.  It can be placed on a table for guests to serve for themselves.

candy corn, a hug, and a pretzel make halloween candy.The next recipe is for a simple candy that ‘s great to make with your children because the ingredients are so simple to put together.  We found this combination of Candy Corn, Hugs, and Pretzels from Patty Cake’s Pantry, and it was a hit with everyone.

Monster mash snack mixHow about some Halloween themed snack mix?  Check out the recipe for Monster Mash Snack Mix at Our Three Peas.   This combination of treats is both delicious and scary.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-zfpV30hXR2U/TneTrL_zgZI/AAAAAAAAAa8/J202xvJtLqI/s1600/Monster+Mash+Popcorn+Mix1wm.jpgAnother version of Monster Mash Snack Mix can be found  at In Katrina’s Kitchen.  This Monster Mash Snack Mix is composed of clusters.  They are delicious even if they look like melted chickens.

Ghosts in the Graveyard Image 1Lastly, I present my family’s favorite Halloween Dessert, Ghosts in the Graveyard.   The recipe can be found at KraftFoods.com.  It goes by many different names.  Some people just refer to the recipe as mud, and as you may guess, mine is always topped with some candy corn, mallow creme pumpkins, and of course, cookie tomb stones.

We hope you enjoy this list of Last Minute Halloween Treats.  If you are looking for something a little healthier or with a little less sugar, try making the mud with sugar free Oreo type cookies and use sugar free pudding.  If you eschew artificial sweeteners and want more natural foods, check out our previous post A Healthy Twist on Halloween Treats.

Please leave a comment below and tell us about your favorite Halloween Treats.

**Patti, the author of this post, in addition to guest blogging at HighDesertBlogging.com, is a frequent contributor at SimplyHealthyEats.com, a website dedicated to helping people make healthy food choices.  It features recipes,  many of which are gluten and dairy free.  She can also be found at PattyCakesPantry.com where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful. 

A Healthy Twist on Halloween Treats

Halloween is one of the biggest party times for adults.  It’s also a huge party time for kids. Unfortunately, Halloween is not considered a time for good nutrition, but it should be. I have collected a few healthy ideas from around the internet to help you celebrate without sacrificing good nutrition.    These treats were well received by both adults and children in our test group.  In fact, these treats prove that it’s possible to have fun food that’s healthy, too.

http://i2.wp.com/www.simplyhealthyeats.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/FullSizeRender_2.jpg1.  First up is a really disgusting looking ear wax covered q-tip that I found over at SimplyHealthyEats.com.  It’s made from jicama and the “ear wax” is nut butter.  While it looks disgusting, it’s surprisingly tasty.  The “gross” factor is just what was needed to get our kids to try them.

Frankenstein Kiwis Recipe – (Another!) Healthy Halloween Treat {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}2.  Next up is an idea that’s too cute to resist, and it’s extremely healthy, too.  Frankenstein Kiwi from TwoHealthyKitchens.com.    Did you know that you can eat the skin on a kiwi after you rub off the fuzz?

Apple Mummies Recipe … A Healthy Halloween Treat {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}3.   This idea for Mummy Apples also comes from TwoHealthyKitchens.com.  The expression about an apple a day being good for you certainly continues to apply on Halloween, right?

leaves and a stem on an orange jack-o-lantern4.  This orange jack-o-lantern requires some work on the part of the diner.  They will have to peel it, but it looked like a fun idea.

orange pumpking and orange jack-o-lantern5.  If you don’t want your guest to have to work to eat their food, there’s always the option for a peeled orange with a celery stalk stuck int the top.  I, personally, think this works best with mandarin oranges or tangerines.   I saw the original idea over at 100 dollars a month.

Pumpkin Veggie Tray Recipe6.  How about a vegetable tray shaped like a jack-o-lantern with cute little dishes of dip for the eyes and nose.   This idea came from taste of home.

7.  This skeleton crudite is one of my favorites, but it’s always reduced to something unidentifyable within minutes of being served, so we make several when we have a large group over.   This idea came from  Feeding Frenzy.

Curried Devil's Eggs8.  A little protein goes a long way to prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes, so deviled eggs make an excellent addition to your buffet table.  These came from HiCookery.com.  You may think I linked to the wrong page, but scroll down.  The devil eggs are on the bottom of the Easter Egg Post.

9.  There’s a secret to these deviled eggs from I Lived I Loved that makes them look scary.   I love the use of red to make the eyes appear bloodshot.

10.  Trying to cut down on cholesterol, try filling the center of the egg whites with guacamole like this idea from food.com.  (Sorry.  No permission to use the photo was received prior to publication.)  Follow the link and you’ll see what I mean.  A slice of ripe olive on top of the guacamole gives the appearance of an eye.

There you have it.  Ten healthy Halloween recipe ideas.  I hope you consider adding some fruits and vegetables to your Halloween Party Buffet.  It’s good for you and for your guest.  Happy Halloween.

Leave a comment to let us know what you like to have on your Halloween Buffet.

**Patti is a frequent contributor at SimplyHealthyEats.com, a website dedicated to helping people make healthy food choices.  It features recipes,  many of which are gluten and dairy free.  She can also be found at PattyCakesPantry.com where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful. 

My Favorite Salads In a Jar

Last week, I shared how making salads in a jar has helped to simplify my mornings and ensure that I take a healthy and nutritious lunch with me when I leave for work in the morning.  I really am in love with salads in a jar because the possibilities are endless.  I grab the jar, a plate (or use a paper plate), and something to drink, and my lunch is packed in under 5 minutes.

I’ve been told that it’s possible to shake the jars to mix your salad, but I tend to overfill mine, so I have to pour them out into a bowl or on a plate in order to be able to experience the entire salad instead of one layer at a time.

This week, I thought I would share five of my favorite salad in a jar recipes.  Each of these recipes has it’s own unique flavor, so I don’t become bored by eating the same thing every day.  Click on the links and check out the salads.  Let us know which ones are your favorite.

The first salad in a jar that I made was this Chinese chicken salad recipe.  As I headed out the door,  I grabbed a small container that I had packed with crispy chow mein noodles to sprinkle on top of this salad for some extra crunch.    I really enjoy this salad and make it frequently.chinese chicken salad in quart and pint jarsThe next was this delicious taco salad in a jar.  I love that this salad packs all the flavor of a taco salad without the need for meat.  Again, I grabbed a baggie full of tortilla chips to sprinkle on top of the salad after I poured it out onto a plate.  This salad is delicious.  Vegetarian Taco Salad in a JarI love Italian food, so this antipasto salad in a jar was also very good.  The down side to this salad is that unless you use low fat pepperoni and salami, the salad packs more fat than the others, but if you use a low fat or fat free Italian dressing, it helps to off set the extra fat in the meats.  Antipasto salad in a jar copyright 2014 patty cakes pantryI don’t know about anyone else, but I really love salad bars, so this trip to a pizza parlor’s salad bar in a jar was great.  I really loved the addition of  the three bean salad.finished salad bar trip in a jarLast, but not least, is the spinach salad in a jar recipe.  I was worried about the spinach wilting in the jar.  Spinach leaves bruise easily, and then they begin to wilt.  I didn’t want to take any chances, so I don’t leave this in the fridge for more than two days each time I make it.  http://i2.wp.com/www.pattycakespantry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Blue-Canon-Pictures-1541.jpgThere you have it five of my favorite salad in a jar recipes.  If you want to try making some salad creations of your own, here are the basic instructions for making a salad in a jar.    Grab some wide mouthed mason jars and give them a try.

**Patti can also be found at PattyCakesPantry.com where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

Simplifying a Healthy Lunch

For those of us who work outside of our homes, sometimes the morning challenge of putting together something to take to work  for lunch is nearly impossible.  Working mom’s who struggle with making sure their kids get out the door with everything they need often find that they took care of everyone’s needs except for their own.

The kids had a healthy breakfast and left with a nutritious lunch in their hands, but Mom often leaves the house empty handed.  Even the intention of packing a lunch the night before sometimes falls by the wayside while helping kids with homework, and ensuring that everyone is bathed and tucked in for the night.

In my household, I sometimes pack up dinner leftovers into containers that I can then take for an easy lunch that can be reheated in the break room microwave.  This is a good solution,  but what happens when there are no leftovers?

As children turn into teenagers, they begin to eat more.  It’s not uncommon for a growing boy to devour two or three servings of dinner.  No leftovers means no easy fix for lunch.  No easy lunch means either grabbing something from the vending machines, or picking up fast food.  Neither of these options is nutritionally sound, and can have negative consequences in terms of your health if it becomes a habit.

The solution in my house to have a quick and healthy lunch for each day of the week is to put together Salads in a Jar.

I can assemble the salads on Sunday evening.  By preparing all of the salads in one day, I only have to chop vegetables once.  I arrange them in the jar, varying them slightly for variety, and I have a quick lunch solution that I can grab for the next four days, and the salads have never wilted or turned brown before I ate them.

The best part is that because I made the salads myself,  I can ensure that they are made correctly to guarantee that the salad has the perfect nutritional content.

Give Salads in a Jar a try.  You’ll be glad you did.

**Patti can also be found at PattyCakesPantry.com where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

High Desert Hosts Its First Harmony Circle

Participants in the first harmony circle of Ellie Drake's 2015 Harmony Circle TourA group of women gathered in Victorville Saturday to meet with Braveheart Women’s Ellie Drake and participate in the first Harmony Circle of the 2015 Harmony Circle Tour.  According to event host, Donna Mass of Victorville, the purpose of  a Harmony Circle is to bring women together to connect in a better, deeper, and more meaningful way.  This deeper connection is the mission of Ellie Drake.  In fact, the mission statement of Braveheart Women is “To connect the Women of the world together in order to receive and give Inspiration in the areas of Self-Esteem, Empowerment, Purpose, Passion and Personal Prosperity while enhancing the world by being Brave Women who live from the Heart.”

The high desert's first harmony circle was hosted by Donna Mass

Saturday’s event began with the group of women introducing themselves and sharing one or two details about where they were in their lives at that moment.  Afterwards, Ms. Drake explained to the group about two very different hormones that are present in the body.  Oxytocin and Adrenaline.  Most of us have heard of Adrenaline, the hormone secreted by our bodies in conditions of stress which increases circulation, breathing, and prepares muscles for exertion.  This is referred to as the “flight or fight” hormone.  Ms. Drake described Oxytocin’s effect on the body as the exact opposite of adrenaline.

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She further explained that, for men, the anxiety, and adrenaline rush that comes with it, actually helps to push them forward so that they can accomplish the task.  For women, however, this is not the case.  Women do not work at their best potential under a high stress, adrenaline filled, weight.  As a group, we were instructed how to do “Oxytocin Breathing”.  According to Drake, this type of breathing stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin and helps us to be more receptive to connecting with one another on a deeper level and helps us to move beyond our inclination toward mistrust.

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The next component of our experience included a brief introduction to Dybo.  Dybo is a dance that stands for Dance Your Buts Off.  This does not refer to the butts on which you are sitting.  Instead, it refers to getting rid of the excuses that keep you from accomplishing all that is within your potential to achieve.  The Dybo process consists of 5 parts–recognizing, unraveling, releasing, restoring, and rejoicing.  It was high energy and very fun.

Finally, the afternoon concluded with the Harmony Circle where two concentric circles of women faced each other as the outer circle rotated slowly around the inner circle.  Afterwards, one participant stated that she hadn’t felt such a deep and sincere connection with other women in a very long time.  The whole experience was very different than what I had expected, but it was very educational and extremely worthwhile.  I look forward to the High Desert’s next Harmony Circle.

For more information about BraveHeart Women click here

For information about free Dybo Classes in your own home via Skype contact Donna Mass at (760) 308-0404

**Patti can also be found at PattyCakesPantry.com where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

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