Today is Arizona Day. It seems fitting that Arizona Day coincides with the Summer Solstice and National Daylight Appreciation Day. After all, when it comes to sunshine, what more beautiful place is there than the desserts of Arizona at daybreak?
Arizona is home to the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America. The village of Old Oraibi on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Navajo County is believed to have been established around 1000 AD. The Hopi tribe is one of the most sequestered indigenous people in the United States. Today the Hopi Reservation is a small area surrounded by the much larger Navajo Nation. Historically, the Hopi and their Puebloan ancestors once inhabited Grand Canyon and much of the surrounding lands.
The Grand Canyon is not to be missed. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend taking a helicopter tour out of Las Vegas. As you approach the canyon, your pilot will dip down, hiding the canyon from view. At the last moment, he’ll raise up and suddenly there it is – so breathtaking you’re heart will skip a beat.
The first time we took Kiddo to the Grand Canyon, he was at that age when earning a Junior Ranger Badge was a big deal. You had to take a tour with a ranger, perform a few “ranger” duties such as picking up trash or coloring a picture for the bulletin board, and fill out the handbook. At the end of the tour, the ranger then presents you with a plastic ranger badge complete with the name of the National Park. When we did the tour, it was us and one other couple, no other children. I’ll never forget when the Ranger asked if anyone knew how the canyon was formed. The woman raised her hand, all excited to answer the question. She said thousands of years ago, the river was at the top of the canyon and eventually the waters evaporated until all that was left is a shallow river at the bottom of a huge canyon. Kiddo started to speak up, his face clearly expressing his dismay. I whispered for him not to correct her, it was the rangers job. As we drove away from the ranger station, Kiddo commented that for a grownup, she wasn’t very smart.
Woven into the desert landscape of the 42nd state are whispers of towns that were once booming, but today are ghosts of their former selves. If you like to step back in time, Arizona has much to offer.
For me, the draw to Arizona has to be the deserts. These high deserts hold more rugged beauty than any other landscape. The sunrises and sunsets are fiery with colors only God could paint. And God must hold Arizona in a special place in his heart, for He paints with colors you can only see in an Arizona sky.
Summertime is the perfect time for America’s favorite food – the All-American Hot Dog. Nearly every state has it’s unofficial official hot dog. Arizona isn’t any different. The Sonoran Dog (named after the desert) is a yummy blend of beans, bacon and all beef dogs. Here’s to Arizona and all it’s delicious beauty.
Bacon Wrapped Sonoran Hot Dog
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sour Cream
1 tablespoon Milk if necessary
4 slices Bacon
4 Beef Hot Dogs
1/2 tablespoon Cumin
1/2 White Onion, diced
1 Roma Tomato, diced
1 can Whole Pinto Beans in Chili Sauce
4 Hot Dog Buns
Nacho Jalapeno Peppers as desired
1/2 cup Spicy Guacamole
In a small bowl, mixt together mayonnaise with sour cream. Thin with milk if necessary for a squeezable mixture. Place in a zip-lock bag or small pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Wrap each hot dog evenly with 1 slice of bacon. Secure the bacon slice to the hot dog with a toothpick at each. Sprinkle with cumin and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to help bacon adhere to the hot dog.
Dice onions and tomatoes, set aside until ready to use. Gently warm beans, keep warm until ready to assemble.
Once the hot dogs have finished chilling, grill the bacon dogs about 8 to 10 minutes, until the bacon is crisp but not burnt. Turn hot dogs as necessary until grilled on all sides. Plate and keep warm.
Split buns open. Scatter Jalapeno Peppers as desired on the bottom portion of buns. Spread guacamole on the top portion of the buns. Scatter warmed pinto beans down the center, top with hot dogs. Scatter diced onions and tomatoes over the hot dogs. Drizzle with Mayonnaise Mixture and serve.
As an added bonus to this delicious day, it’s also National Peaches and Cream Day. While Arizona is filled with summer sun, Peaches and Cream is the luscious flavors of summer. How could we resist?
Peaches and Cream Summer Trifle
French Vanilla Cream Pudding
2 (5 oz) boxes Instant French Vanilla Pudding
6 cups cold Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Empty pudding mix into a large mixing bowl. Add very cold milk and vanilla extract. Whisk to blend, then stir until soft set. Cover with plastic, place in the refrigerator until fully set, about 20 minutes.
8 medium fresh Peaches
3 tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water comes to a boil, prepare an ice bath.
With a sharp knife, score an X on the bottom of the peaches. Carefully lower the scored peaching into the boiling water for 30 seconds but no more than a minute.
Remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon, transfer to the prepared ice bath to cool for 1 minute.
Place cooled peaches on paper towels to drain, pat dry. The X should be curled back. Pull on the skin to remove, then slice and remove pit. Cut slices into bite-size pieces, set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add peaches, sugar, and cinnamon, and cook over medium heat until peaches are softened and sugar is dissolved, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool.
4 cups (1 quart) Heavy Cream
1/3 cup Sugar
Chill stand mixing bowl and whisk attachment for 20 minutes.
Pour heavy cream into the chilled bowl. Whisk on low, adding sugar. Increase to medium-high and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
Reserve 2 cups of the whipped cream for the finished trifle, fold remaining whipped cream into the pudding.
1 Pound Cake
Mint Leaf garnish
Cut pound cake into bite-size pieces, set aside.
Set aside about 1/4 cup of the peach mixture for a garnish.
Layer 1/3 of the cake pieces on the bottom of the trifle bowl. Evenly spread 1/3 of the peaches on top of the cake. Evenly spread 1/3 of the pudding mixture on top of the peaches.
Repeat two more times for a total of 3 layers. Finish with reserved whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving, garnish with reserved peaches and some mint leaves. Serve and enjoy.