Monument Valley

Continuing with our November trip, while we had our base in Page, AZ, we took a drive out to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, through the Navajo Nation which covers most of the top Eastern Corner of Arizona and extends up into Utah.  Monument Valley itself is actually in Utah.  This is a place that should not be missed.  The picture above was taken while on the scenic drive through the park. The scenic drive is 17 miles in total. The road is dirt and extremely rutted in some spots so a high seated vehicle is needed, otherwise I would be worried of bottoming out.

Back to the picture – you can see a snow squall coming in from the distance.  This was November and there are areas of the desert and surrounding areas that do see snowfall in the late fall and winter months.


This picture was taken on our way back to Page while in the Navajo Nation.  Forrest Gump could have been running on this very road.

Back to Monument Valley.  Below are two of the most iconic sites in Monument Valley, The Mittens.  Buttes that look like hands, or hands in mittens.

The visitors center at Monument Valley is located at the entrance and includes a gift shop, restaurant and hotel.  We stopped in for lunch at the restaurant and had traditional Fry Bread (mine actually was a Navajo Taco).  Delicious.


As a few of the scenic stops along the drive in Monument Valley, local artisans sell their handmade crafts.  I’m sure during the summer months these stalls are full and even though it was November there were a few individuals still plying their trade.


Finally, here is a picture of the photographer who took most of these pictures, my husband Dave.





New Jersey Wineries

A couple of weekends ago, celebrating my birthday, Dave and I stopped off at one of our favorite New Jersey Wineries, Beneduce Vineyards.  The winery is located in Pittstown, New Jersey and is well worth the visit.

I know what some of you are thinking – New Jersey has wineries?  Yes we do.  There are currently 45 wineries that are members of the Garden State Wine Growers Association, and the list grows every year.  Over the years Dave and I have visited about 30 of these wineries and continue to find some very pleasant wines that we enjoy.   The Association also holds numerous events throughout the year which include a number of the wineries and music.  A couple of big events are the annual wine festivals in Cape May (October) and Northern New Jersey (Memorial Day weekend) – this one now held in our home town over the past two years.

Beneduce Vineyards has an event every weekend called “Group Therapy“.  Saturday night from 6 pm to 9 pm and Sunday afternoon from 2 pm to 5 pm there is live music – normally a band on Saturday evenings and acoustic performers on Sunday.  There is a small cover charge of $10 on Saturday evening as well as a food truck (you are more than welcome to bring your own food).  They will provide you with a wine glass for $2, which you can keep or return for your $2 deposit.  The night we were there the band playing was Crabdaddy (Rock & Roll) along with the food truck Fired Up Flatbread (pizza pictured above).


Alongside our pizza we enjoyed a glass of Three Windows White Riesling.  Our preference for New Jersey wines leads us to the whites – the Riesling’s in particular.  This grape grows well in New Jersey and you can find dry, off-dry and sweet varieties.  I lean towards the dry and off-dry styles.

Sitting outside on Beneduce’s patio, enjoying a nice glass of wine and a really good pizza while listening to a fun band was a great way to spend my Birthday weekend.  Thanks Dave.


Beneduce Vineyards Patio and Fire Pit



Food – Healthy and Not So Healthy

I have been struggling with healthy eating lately, but that’s a different topic and one I explore elsewhere.  I recently celebrated my birthday, both with family and friends.  Pictured above was Pasta alla Norma done my way.  And it ended up being pretty healthy.  I did not use whole wheat pasta here (could have and it would have been still great), but I did use a trick with the eggplant that I found in the cookbook by Joseph Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali entitled  Healthy Pasta: The Sexy, Skinny, and Smart Way to Eat Your Favorite Food.  In their recipe they roast the egglplant instead of frying it (and you know that frying eggplant is just a game of adding oil that the eggplant sokes up like a sponge).  The tomato based sauce was one I had left over and was made with San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, a little olive oil, crushed red pepper and capers.  Add the roasted eggplant and a little riccotta salata and there was my Pasta alla Norma.

Along side of this dish, which I served to my daughter and husband just prior to my birthday, was some jersey fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and beautiful speck I purchased a Artista Salumeria in Chester, NJ.  What a find – I understand they have been there for about a year and a half, but this was the first time (and not the last time) I visited.


Mozzarella, tomatoes and speck (with a little salt, olive oil and freshly ground pepper)

A few days later I baked up a treat for one of my co-workers, whose birthday is the day before mine, and myself a dense chocolate bundt cake.  This ended up to be more like a huge brownie.


Chocolate Bundt Cake

Recipe can be found at Food Scientist Bakery.  This was my not so healthy birthday cake – 1 1/2 cups of butter and 5 eggs just to start and a lot of chocolate.  As I said more of big brownie than a cake.  A couple of words of caution here, make sure your bundt pan is large enough – mine I believe is just a standard size pan and this cake overflowed it.  Thank goodness I had a baking sheet underneath it.  Second, due to the size I baked mine for almost 1 1/2 hours (versus the 60 – 65 minutes indicated in the recipe).  The cake was a hit at the office, very chocolatey, and I did not make the chocolate glaze called for in the recipe, but just sprinkled with powdered sugar.

All pictures taken with my IPhone 6 – not fancy cameras or shots this time – I leave most of those to my husband.

First Post – Banana Foster Crunch Bundt Cake

Being very new to WordPress, please forgive any mistakes I may be making.  I enjoy cooking (and of course eating).  What I really enjoy is cooking for others.  So yesterday I decided to use up some of those frozen bananas that I had saved and looked on my Pinterest pages for a cake to make.  One that I could take into work on Monday.  Because if Dave and I eat the whole thing our efforts to lose some weight would be for naught.  I found this recipe at a site Mr. Food Test Kitchen. My only substitution was Hazelnuts in place of the Pecans.  I used Goslings Black Seal – Bermuda Black Rum for the 1/4 cup of rum required.  For my pictures I used my little Sony Cybershot on the “Gourmet” scene setting.  I am not a photographer like my husband, but my little point and shoot works for me.