Its Time for a Colorado Road Trip

We enjoy packing up the car and heading on a road trip to see places near to where we live. With travel restrictions the way they are right now, it is pretty much our only option, so we will make the best of it. Road trips can be a lot of fun and sometimes it is as much about the journey as it is the destination. For this particular trip, we are heading to the southwest portion of the state and staying a few days in Telluride. As we pack our bags for the first time in several months, we decided to look back at some of our favorite road trips that we’ve taken in recent years.

Cathedral in the Center of Santa Fe
  1. Historic Santa Fe, New Mexico – If you want to visit a place that has a thriving art scene, some of the best food in the country, and a relaxing atmosphere, then Santa Fe, New Mexico, might just be the place for you. It isn’t all just art and food, though, there is plenty of history as well with both the oldest church in the United States as well as the oldest, continuously occupied public building in the United States. There is also a house that claims to be the oldest in the United States, but if nothing else, it one of the oldest houses depending upon the information that we have seen.
The Famous Delicate Arch
  1. 2. Arches National Park and Moab, Utah – Located just outside of Moab in Utah is the stunningly beautiful Arches National Park. The geology of the park is quite amazing with many different multicolored bluffs, free standing rock formations, and of course natural arches. The name of Arches National Park is certainly well deserved as there are over 2,000 stone arches located within the park, but the other formations are equally impressive. Although it is possible to simply drive through the park and stop at the many pull-offs and parking areas to see some of the amazing sights, but if you get a chance to hike some of the many trails, it will give you an even better sense of the park.
Quaint Village of Beaver Creek
  1. 3. Beaver Creek, Colorado – Beaver Creek is a resort town located in the Colorado high country that is a perfect place to visit regardless of the time of year. During the winter, it has wonderful skiing and snow boarding as well as an ice-skating rink in the center of the village. In summer, you can find golf, biking, and hiking for those who enjoy outdoor activities. We have been to Beaver Creek several times and have never had a bad experience. It can be a little bit more expensive than some other resort towns in Colorado, but for the extra cost you get the benefit of reduced crowds.
Mount Rushmore
  1. 4. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota – One of the most iconic places to visit within the United States is Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. With the enormous carvings of the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, it is quite an amazing site to see in person. In addition to Mount Rushmore, there is also Custer State Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Wind Cave National Park. Since we drove from Colorado through Wyoming on our way to South Dakota, we also included a trip to Little Bighorn, the site of Custer’s last stand.
Southwestern Artwork
  1. 5. Scottsdale, Arizona – Located on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona, Scottsdale is a resort and retirement community that is a relaxing place to visit. In some ways, it reminds us of Hilton Head, South Carolina, only it doesn’t have the beaches. What it does have is a lot of excellent golf courses, upscale resorts, and restaurants galore. Summertime is actually their off-season due to the intense heat and the possibilities of a haboob, which is dust storm that can blanket the entire area with a wall of sand.
Tombstone of Billy the Kid
  1. 6. Carlsbad and Roswell New Mexico – Several years ago, we had taken a road trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and when taking long trips by car, we will often stop at places of interest along the way.  On this particular trip our journey took us past Fort Sumner New Mexico, which is the location of the tombstone for the infamous Billy the Kid, as well as Roswell New Mexico, the site of a supposed UFO crash that the government is covering up.  We knew that we wanted to stop at Roswell, but stopping at Billy the Kid’s tombstone was a spur of the moment decision when we saw signs on the road for the attraction.  While visiting the caverns was definitely the purpose of the trip, those added stops made the entire trip that much more interesting.
The Breckenridge Troll in Colorado
  1. 7. Breckenridge, Colorado – Breckenridge is a resort town in the Colorado mountains that is quite popular for skiing during the winter and hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities in the summer. With so many things to do in Breckenridge, it is a great place to spend at least several days, if not an entire week. Not only are there plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, but the town also has many wonderful restaurants as well as stores offering collectables, clothing, and art. Most everything can be found right off of main street, which is surrounded by a variety of condominiums, rental homes, and hotels.

Spicy Corn Pudding

Dishes made from corn are common in many different parts of the world, but it is definitely a staple here in the United States. Especially in the southwest with the different blends of cultures that include influences from Mexico. We have made corn pudding in the past, but we decided to spice it up with some jalapeno pepper. It is a wonderful side dish, but is hearty enough to be eaten as a main dish if you prefer. We paired it with one of favorite summer meals, chicken marinated in a tequila-lime sauce. There are quite a few ingredients, but it is really a pretty simple recipe and very easy to make. One trick to cutting corn off of the cob is to use a Bundt pan to hold the cob as well as to catch the kernels as they fall.

Cutting Corn into a Bundt Pan

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz Unsalted Butter
  • 2 1/2 cups Fresh Corn – cut off of the cob (about 3 ears)
  • 1/4 cup Shallot – chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper – seeded and diced
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-Half
  • 1/4 cup Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Fresh Basil – chopped
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese plus a little more to spread on top – shredded
  • 1 tbsp Sugar – *Optional if your corn isn’t sweet
Fresh Out of the Oven

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease the inside of an 8 inch by 8 inch baking dish. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the shallots, jalapeno, and corn. Sauté the vegetables until tender, about 4 to 6 minutes and then set aside to let cool. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and half-and-half together. Continue whisking in the cornmeal and ricotta until fully blended. Add the basil, salt, pepper, and sugar (if using sugar). Stir in the vegetables and half cup of cheddar cheese. Pour into the baking dish and then top with the additional cheddar cheese. Place the baking dish into a larger baking dish and fill about half way up with hot water. Carefully put the baking dishes into the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife can be inserted and come out clean. Cut into individual servings and serve.

Sauté the Corn, Shallot, and Jalapeno Pepper
Corn Pudding Batter
Corn Pudding with Tequila Lime Chicken

Spicy Southwest Mac and Cheese

One of the meals that we ate when we were in Scottsdale, Arizona, was a spicy mac and cheese with sausage and red peppers. It was a nice change of pace from traditional mac and cheese, so we decided to try and replicate the recipe ourselves. Making homemade macaroni and cheese isn’t very difficult and tastes better than anything that you can get out of a box, but we rarely take the time to do it. Fortunately, it is easy to find seasoned varieties of sausage in the grocery store these days, so we didn’t have to go to the trouble of making our own sausage. We found a nice Cajun spiced andouille sausage that paired nicely with the chipotle chili. One nice thing about a recipe like this is that you can easily modify it to feed a larger crowd or reduce it for a meal for one or two. We decided to cook ours in individual crock bowls, but cooking it in a casserole dish would certainly be ideal as well. You can also use different types of pasta for the dish, but we used a Cellentani noodle as it has ridges to help hold the cheese. This is definitely a recipe that we would do again in the future.

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Picante Macaroni and Cheese with Sausage in Scottsdale

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups of Cellentani Noodles (or elbow macaroni)
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 4 cups Milk
  • 1 Red Pepper – sliced into strips
  • 2 Links of Andouille Sausage – cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp Chipotle Chili Powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 1/2 cups Four Cheese Blend
  • 1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

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Sausage and Red Peppers

INSTRUCTIONS

Cook the pasta according to the directions, drain and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, red pepper, and sausage. Even though the sausage is already cooked, frying it will caramelize it and add more flavor. Cook the sausage and pepper for about 5 to 7 minutes until the sausage is browned and the pepper is soft. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and then whisk in the flour to make a roux. Be sure not to let the roux start to brown. Heat 2 cups of the milk in a microwave for 90 seconds and then slowly whisk it into the roux, making sure to whisk out any lumps. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Microwave the rest of the milk for 90 seconds and then whisk that into the rest of the milk mixture. Add the chipotle powder, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper, ensuring to mix thoroughly. Add 3 cups of the cheese, whisking until it is smooth and creamy. Stir in the pasta, sausage, and peppers until the pasta is completely coated with the cheese sauce. Spoon 1/4 of the pasta into 4 oven proof bowls that have been sprayed with a non-stick spray (or transfer to a medium casserole dish). Top with the remaining cheese and bread crumbs and bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Serves 4.

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Whisking Cheese Sauce

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Pasta, Sausage, Peppers, and Cheese Sauce

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Individual Serving before Topping with Cheese and Bread Crumbs

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Enjoy a Creamy Dish of Mac and Cheese