Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!

I fulfilled another one of my fall bucket list goals a couple weekends ago when Dan and I spontaneously decided to head to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! Now, my dad is FROM Albuquerque and both sides of my extended family LIVE in Albuquerque, so needless to say, it's been a second home to me my ENTIRE life! Yet, even being a native New Mexican with so much family in Albuquerque, I had yet to attend a Fiesta in my 26 years on this earth!

This year, I decided I wanted that to change. It was something I've always wanted to do, but just figured I would eventually go. Well, inspiration hit last year when my very talented and creative uncle made his yearly self-made photographic calendar with the Balloon Fiesta as its theme! The beauty and colors of all the hundreds of balloons really reminded me that I needed to follow through with that goal. So, I added it to my fall wish list this year and we decided to act quickly upon it!

We drove down on Friday morning and stayed with family that evening. Then the next morning we got up at 3 AM to drive to the Fiesta Park where we were going to witness Dawn Patrol - a group of balloons who ascend before dawn to determine weather patterns and whether it's safe for the rest of the balloons to ascend. It was mesmerizing to have the only light coming from a handful of balloons who all rose together {along with everyone's cameras trying to capture the moment!}.

As the sun rose, so did the rest of the balloons. It was unbelievable to watch and I just stood there looking up in awe as 500+ balloons slowly inflated, did their tests and then ascended during Mass Ascension.

I kept trying to pick a favorite, but each time I thought I had it, another ascended and caught my attention! {A couple of the contenders, Darth and Yoda, are below}

This trio was just so adorable. They were all fun, unique balloons that almost made you forget that people were riding in baskets below them! You can also see Pigasus above their heads to the right! {one of three flying pigs that I saw - there could have been more, though!}

This was pretty much my view since the first launch.

And of course we had to capture Spider Pig and another flying pig. {Not pictured: Pigasus - seen in a previous picture}

Right afterward, we drove back up to Denver making for a whirlwind of a short trip!!

It was an unforgettable experience, and although exhausting, I think we will be going back again. The New Mexico skies are the perfect backdrop to showcase the sheer awe-inspiring wonder that is manned hot air balloon flights.

Now, when can I go in one of these?!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Green Chile & Cheese Stew

One of the things on my Fall Goals was to make this recipe.

It's a favorite in the Barrio household. It's been adapted from my mother in law's recipe {thanks, Dianne!} and it's really grown to be a staple of fall/winter. I wouldn't say this is a typical "stew" per se. But you know, whatever you call it, it's so darn delicious.

It's one of my favorite ways to welcome cooler weather and is one of my favorite comfort foods/party dishes - since it pretty much can feed thousands {although in our household, it probably only lasts for a max of 2 days}. Fair warning: this is NOT something to make if you are wanting to walk away with a little room on the waist of your pants ;) However, I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.

Here's what you'll need for our Famous Green Chile & Cheese Stew:

1. CrockPot
2. 4 medium potatoes, cubed
3. 1/2 package Velveeta, cubed & separated
4. 1 can Rotel tomatoes {or just diced tomatoes if you are in a pinch} 
5. 1 medium onion, diced & separated
6. Meat of choice {we switch between chicken and beef, but you can also leave out if you prefer}
7. 3-4 Green Chiles - or more!{anything from New Mexico, naturally. You'll thank me later}
Pro Tip: Rinse your roasted green chile under cool water to remove the seeds inside and remember to not touch your eyes after handling them!
8. Salt, pepper, & garlic powder {to taste}
9. Chips or tortillas

I like to layer the ingredients in the order above, but it's a CrockPot, so really there's no wrong way to do this. Toss all the ingredients (except the chips/tortillas) into the crockpot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.

I layer the bottom of the crockpot with potatoes since they take the longest.

I add about half of the cheese on top of the potatoes and add the rest at the end

I add the tomatoes

I add about half of the onions on top of the tomatoes

I brown the beef with a quarter of the onion

I put these bad boys everywhere I can - brown them with the beef, layer in the CrockPot and sprinkle on top

Don't worry - I have a freezer full of those bags! {Thanks, Mom!!!!}

I add the mixture of beef and green chile

I top with MORE green chile

I add in all the rest of the "leftover" ingredients including the cheese, onions and any additional green chile!

If possible, about midway through, stir it all up {and make sure it's edible of course!}.

Serve with chips or tortillas & a cozy seat on the couch next to the fireplace. Then go back for seconds! Happy Fall Y'all!

Stay tuned for updates on the rest of my Fall Goals list!