Juneau Beer, Mexican Thingamajigs, Spice Advice, Unspeakable Cookies, Christmas Eve Empanadas & Potatoes From the Lonestar State

Well…now that the Huffington Post action may have cooled off for a while, I suppose I should return to the blog that bears *my* name.

I just got back from Arizona…where there were plenty of blog-worthy topics.

For one, I was thrilled to find Alaskan Amber at a saloon outside of the Grand Canyon. I admit my love for this beer stems partially from nostalgia…but I haven’t really seen it outside of Alaska (natch) or Seattle, so I was super-excited to find it elsewhere. (Although I was hoping maybe there’d be a place in NY that serves it, too…and found that some guy tried it at the New York, New York Hotel & Casino in Vegas. But, sadly, it appears the stuff isn’t in the actual New York, New York…at least not on tap.)

We also went to a Mexican restaurant in Tucson that served carne seca (“dry meat”)…which tasted a lot like beef jerky (although a quick Google search reveals that a lot of people feel this way and I was in no way insightful). The restaurant was *also* home of the USA Today Chimichanga…which I thought was kind of an amusing name even though it was only because USA Today said it was a really good chimichanga. (And this place in Tucson is also allegedly the home of the chimichanga itself? )

And…this year was exciting because my mother actually asked my advice about pumpkin pie spice! She needed ginger and wanted to know if I thought she could fake it with pumpkin pie spice. (My answer, not surprisingly, was no.) She ended up buying a little baggie of ginger at the grocery store that has good produce…and where a woman offered me a sample of vegan ice cream and I obviously got a little thrill.

We also made the Sweet Potato Queens‘ cat shit cookies. This is one of my mother’s favorite recipes…possibly because it requires no baking. It also yields a hearty cookie that’ll give you a good chocolate fix. Which is probably why the Queens like it, too.

And…instead of more traditional Christmas Eve tamales, I made Christmas Eve empanadas. I couldn’t tell whether my dad actually liked them, but that recipe is still one of my favorites. We used puff pastry instead of empanada dough…so they looked kind of turnover-ish. But my dad’s a big guy (over the 200 pound weight limit and so we couldn’t ride mules into the Grand Canyon!)…so it’s okay that they blew up into these big, huge things in the oven.

We *also* made Texas Potatoes for Christmas…which is one of the dishes in the family recipe book my aunt pulled together a number of Christmases ago…but I’ve never tried. It has always *sounded* really good…so I’m glad I finally got to try them. But…don’t know if it was because my mom used real potatoes instead of frozen hash browns or because she used healthy cream of chicken/mushroom (I think it was chicken) soup…but it wasn’t *quite* as spectaculuar as I had hoped it would be. I mean, it was pretty good…but I didn’t see God.

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Filed under Alaska, blogs, cookies, entrees, holidays

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