As I mentioned in my previous blog, Brion and I would like to share some more January holiday adventures while they are still fresh in our minds.
Merida, Mexico made a perfect home base for us to enjoy many interesting things. The cultural capital of the Yucatan peninsula, Merida is a city steeped in Colonial history. It has some of the region’s best museums, beautiful historic mansions and architecture as well as many Mayan ruins to make for some amazing day trips.
One tour we took was to the archaeological sites of Uxmal and Kabah. Uxmal (pronounced Ush-mal) covers around 150 acres. The central area is reasonably well preserved due to the high quality of the buildings which are constructed of well-cut stones set in concete. The most famous structure at Uxmal is the Temple of the Magician. This temple was rebuilt three times; this is where Uxmal got its name, which means ‘thrice built’. The structure towers above the surrounding jungle, crowned with intricately carved stonework.
The city of Uxmal was erected with its buildings at precise angles from and in relation to each other. Astronomical, geometrical and metaphysical calculations were carefully considered when the layout of the site was designed.
Unlike many other Mayan sites, no stone quarry has been found at Uxmal. Where the Maya quarried the stone and how it was moved to this site without the help of the wheel or animal strength is unknown. How such a large city could grow up in an area without springs, rivers or cenotes (sinkholes) to provide water is totally amazing. Uxmal residents were completely dependent upon cistern rain water collection systems. This explains their reverence to the Mayan rain god Chac.
The Kabah ruins are also very interesting in their own right. This city is connected to Uxmal by a Mayan ceremonial causeway called a ‘sacbe’. It’s most famous structure is the ‘Palace of the Masks’. The facade is decorated with hundreds of stone masks of the long-nosed rain god.
My recipe for today is originally meant for breakfast but Brion and I enjoyed it just as much for our evening meal.
Hope you enjoy my briefed info as well as some more of Brion’s great pictures.
Overnight Breakfast Enchiladas
Suggested Ingredients for Serving
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, onion, garlic & all spices; cook 3-4 minutes or until softened.
Add chicken sausage & cook, stirring frequently, for another 5-6 minutes or until cooked through, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Once fully cooked, stir in 3/4 cup of cheese.
Spray a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. On a work surface, lay out tortillas. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sausage filling onto one side of the tortillas; roll each tightly. Place seam side down in the baking pan; sprinkle any extra sausage mixture on top.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs & half & half until completely combined. Pour over enchiladas & sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese. Cover with foil & refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove chilled enchiladas from fridge, bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove foil & bake for an additional 15 minutes OR until center is set (eggs should no longer be jiggly) & cheese is lightly browned. If you prefer, leave the casserole covered & bake longer, before removing foil. Serve with your choice of toppings.
Soup seems to be one of those comfort meals synonymous with cooler winter weather. So far, here in northern Alberta, Canada our winter has been very mild. Black bean soup has become one of my favorites. Of course, as usual there’s a little fond memory tucked away that I’d like to share with you.
For the many times Brion and I have spent holiday time on California’s Monterey Peninsula, I’m never quite able to absorb enough of it’s images. There’s something about the sea — the waves, the salt air, the broad expanse of blue, the ambiance of coastal living that forever calls us back.
It was on one of these trips that we were ‘snooping’ around an area called the Barnyard Shopping Village. Built in 1976, this Carmel landmark features more than 45 boutique shops. It’s cascading levels and beautifully landscaped courtyards create such a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. There are about eight locally owned restaurants offering various cuisine options. We came across one called ‘From Scratch’ restaurant. Sounded good, so we went in. There was either outdoor or indoor seating available. It turned out the food definitely had that ‘homemade’ flavor. Over the years we have made a point of always going back to have one of those great meals when we are in Carmel.
One of the first meals I had there was a Veggie Wrap that in my opinion, was to die for. It consisted of romaine lettuce, avocados, cucumbers, walnuts and cream cheese in an over-sized tomato basil tortilla. For some reason it seemed to disappear from the menu so I tried the famous ‘From Scratch’ Black Bean Soup. It was just wonderful! Upon returning home I started making a very easy version. No need to do any soaking of the beans overnight. One of these 4-ingredient recipes using canned beans. Of course nothing like the one ‘From Scratch’ but still tastes great especially when served with some Thai Chicken Rolls.
Black Bean Soup with Thai Chicken Rolls
Easy Black Bean Soup
In a blender, place 1 can of black beans, chicken broth, salsa & cumin. Blend for about 10 seconds to lightly puree.
In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the pureed bean mixture with remaining can of beans. Simmer until hot. Ladle into 2 bowls; top with a dollop of sour cream & a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.
Thai Chicken Rolls (12 rolls)
Unroll dough on a work surface; pinch seams to seal & press into a 12 x 9 -inch rectangle. Cut into 12 rectangles.
In a small skillet, heat oil. Add chicken; cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Stir in water chestnuts, carrot, cilantro, garlic, apricot preserves, soy sauce, ginger & red pepper flakes. Divide mixture evenly between the 12 rectangles; placing some filling on long side of each rectangle to within 1/4" of short ends.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Starting with long side, roll up. Pinch ends to seal; place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg & bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.