October 2011

Dream Vacation

We sure could use a vacation, not having had one in the last 15 years. We probably would spend as much time riding horses as we could fit in. Working for the D.O.C. in Pa. has limited our chances of traveling for a vacation. We both enjoy the outdoors and love to hike in the woods near our house. A chance to spend a couple of days in Colorado would be a dream come true.

Name: Margaret Bensel
Company: Pa. State
City: Leeper
State: Penna.

How you know vacation worked

I have kept this email in my inbox as I just love reading it. Each time I read Jason’s words, I laugh. But it also reminds me how a Vista Verde experience follows people home. While Jason was here with some friends, we talked a bit about how people take their experiences at the ranch home with them, and how that impacts their lives in different ways. Even after 15 years at this ranch, I am still amazed at how it creeps into many people’s lives when they are not here with us. It’s humbling, and exciting to know the ranch has that power. So, for your reading pleasure, I share Jason’s statement after he returned from our fall horsemanship retreat:

I got on the freeway this morning and needed to pass a car in front of me. I shifted my hips in the seat, lifted my left leg slightly, and started to move my right leg in….when I tried to pizza box my hands over the steering wheel it occurred to me that the car wouldn’t pass like I wanted….

Many thanks to the team. It’s always a good time.


The flight from the east coast

Twas the week after Christmas
and on the East coast
I was fighting a cold and munching some toast,
When what on today’s email list should appear
But an invitation to a Vista Verde vacation
I might win.
The mountains were snowy, the horses looked fit,
And I knew in a moment I must enter it quick.
How lovely to win and breathe fresh Western air
So I wrote out this poem and sent it off with a click.

Name: Kate Pennebaker
City: East Hampton
State: NY

Buttermilk biscuits

Makes: 4 dozen


20 oz. -all purpose flour

16 oz. – cake flour

2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. – baking powder

2 tsp. – baking soda

4 tsp. – sugar

2 tsp. – salt

1-lb. butter

3 cups- buttermilk

4- oz.- yogurt

1- Set the oven to 350 F then medium dice the butter and break it up with your hands.

2- Mix together all of the dry ingredients then sift; Cut in the butter with your hands until all of the butter is in small flakes.

3- Add in the butter milk and the yogurt then mix until fully combined.

4- Roll out the dough to about an inch thickness then punch out the biscuits with a pastry cutter of your desired thickness.

5- Place the biscuits on an un-greased cookie sheet about a ½ inch apart and bake until the tops are golden brown, then cool for about five minutes or serve hot

Snowflakes on my Nose!

I used to look at the sky
to catch a snowflake from on high
and wonder why it choose
to make its home upon my nose.

The crisp cold of the air
kept my crystal treasure sitting there
to capture the precious diamond from God
a perfect creation of his love.

Each flake likened to our people
the same as they float pass the steeple
but each one create to be it own by his hand
and then grouped with strength united we stand.

To reflect in the mountains so serene
on the greatness of the master’s scene
a dream to come true in the mountain pass, by chance my longing fulfilled at last.

Name: Barbara Cardinal Sorge
City: Belton,
State: Texas

Sausage gravy


3 tbsp. – bacon fat

1- finely minced shallot

3 tbsp. – all purpose flour

¾ lbs. – breakfast sausage

1 tsp. – sugar

1/8 tsp. – smoked paprika

whole milk as needed

salt and pepper to taste

1- Heat a medium sized sauce pot on the stove then add in bacon fat, melt down then add in the sausage. Once the sausage is almost cooked and broken up add in the shallot and cook until translucent.

2- After cooking in the shallot add in the flour a bit at a time along with the paprika and sugar until a wet sand consistency is achieved. Roux should in general be about equal parts flour and fat.

3- Once the roux is cooked for a minute or 2 add in milk a bit at a time adjusting consistency as the gravy thickens. Cook the gravy on low heat for at least 10 minutes adding more milk as needed. I add the pepper and salt at the end so the pepper does not become too spicy and it is easier to gauge.

My husband needs a vaca

My story is simple – my husband needs a vacation! So the entire stay would be doing whatever he likes to do best! Eating is very high on his list. And, chilling out. The Vista Verde would be a perfect place for us to relax together and enjoy the ranch life!

Name: Cindy Bean
City: Sarasota Ranch Club
State: FL

Grilled peach jalapeno bbq sauce

Makes: 1 cup


3- Jalapenos roasted, peeled, and seeded

½ – peach seeded quartered and grilled

2-shallot small diced

2-clove of garlic minced

½ cup- white balsamic vinegar

¼ cup- rum

2-tbsp. – honey

½ – vanilla bean split and seeded

1-cup of ketchup

1-cup of chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Sauté the roasted jalapenos, shallot, and garlic in a little olive oil until the shallots turn translucent. Deglaze with rum, flame off, then add the balsamic vinegar, honey, ketchup and stock.
  2. Cook on the stove at a low simmer until reduced by 1/3. Puree the mixture in a blender and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary.
  4. Continue to simmer if needed until the sauce reaches the right thickness and cool down for service.


My perfect Vacation.

I would arrive at a lovely ranch with a beautiful barn. I would be greeted by friendly people and happy horses,grazing in there pasture, but curious enough to come over to greet me. I would settle in to an old fashioned room with modern conviences. I would have a wonderful meal that night. The next morning I would meet my perfect horse, he would be an older gentleman, perfectly trained , he would be happy to meet an old cowgirl ready to see the country side. We would ride for hours with a guide that would tell us the history of this land. As we arrive back at the ranch we could smell supper cooking. I would consider it a pleasure to brush my new friend and make sure he is confortable for the night.I would maybe relax in a hot tub before supper, and enjoy good conversation with other guest before bed. What a wonderful day in be in Gods country and enjoy his gift of the horse to man.Sweet Dreams to all

Name: Brenda Casteel
Company: Retired
City: Denton
State: North Carolina

Jalapeno sweet and tangy sauce

Makes: 1 cup


3- Jalapenos roasted, peeled, and seeded

1-shallot small diced

1-clove of garlic minced

1-tsp. – cilantro rough chop

½ cup.-Sherry vinegar

¼ cup- tequila

2-tbsp. – honey

1tsp. – toasted cumin

1-cup of ketchup

1-cup of chicken stock

  1. Sauté the roasted jalapenos, shallot, and garlic in a little olive oil until the shallots turn translucent. Deglaze with tequila, flame off, then add the cilantro, sherry vinegar, honey, toasted cumin, ketchup and stock.
  2. Cook on the stove at a low simmer until reduced by 1/3. Puree the mixture in a blender and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary.
  4. Continue to simmer if needed until the sauce reaches the right thickness and cool down for service.


Winter Love Renewal

Hi. I am in the process of looking for a great winter love escape for my husband and I. We were high school sweethearts, got married when we were just 18 years old and have now celebrated our 34th year of marriage. We have been through a lot of hardships and joy over the years and continue to build memories each and every day.
I am a retreat coach and specialize in taking women, couples and families on horse retreats. My husband, Bob, has been such a trooper in supporting me in this business. He comes with me when I do couple’s retreats because it wouldn’t be right to do a couple’s retreat without a couple leading it! Since we have been together so long, we feel like we should share with others some of the lessons we have learned about marriage and making it work.
I truly love what I do and feel it is a gift from God to be able to offer my life changing retreats to others. There are times, however, when I feel like I need to renew myself just like my participants renew themselves after attending one of my retreats. This winter vacation would do just that because it has all the elements I love: my husband to share it with, snow and cold, horses and a beautiful lodge to stay in.
Bob is in the real estate business and the last few years have been extremely tough. The stress on both of us as a result of this downward spiral of real estate has been enormous. We feel like we have been run over by a truck! We are trying to stay strong and positive, but it is difficult in this uneasy economy.
If we were chosen to be the winners of this awesome gift, we would take the time to just be with each other to renew our love, passion and excitement about life. Our escape from the outside world is sorely needed. We would focus on abundance, not scarcity. We would spend time cuddling by the fire just "being" instead of always "doing," We would go outside to experience the beauty of the snow and feel the strength of a horse underneath us. Bob and I both grew up in snow country but have been living in Atlanta that last 20 years and now miss the snowy landscape and the power of a horse plowing through the snow.
Bob and I would love to be ambassadors for your ranch while basking in the treasures of the dead cold of winter. I hope you can help us renew our relationship and love for each other through this fantastic gift.

Name: Teresa Wolf
Company: Soul Discovery on Horseback
City: Acworth
State: Georgia

Soy Sesame Dressing


4-shallots minced

6-cloves of garlic crushed

2inch chunk- fresh ginger

2cups- soy sauce

1cup- teriyaki

1cup- red wine vinegar

1cup- orange juice

½ cup- rice wine vinegar

½ cup- lime juice

2 tbsp- Dijon mustard

2 tbsp- honey

2tbsp- tahini

2 tbsp- sirachi

3cups- vegetable oil

4cups- sesame oil

2tsp- red pepper flakes

2tsp- granulated garlic

1cup- sesame seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. 1. Mix together the first 13 ingredients down to the line above the vegetable oil
  2. 2. Blend the ingredients until the mixture is homogenized, then slowly add in the vegetable oil first then the sesame oil.
  3. 3. Add in the rest of the ingredients then adjust the seasoning.

Peanut Butter Cookies


2 ½ cups- A. p. flour

½ tsp. – Baking Soda

½ tsp- baking powder

1 tsp. – salt

½ lb. – unsalted butter

7 oz. – light brown sugar

1 cup – crunchy peanut butter

2 large – eggs

2 tsp. – vanilla

1 cup – dry roasted salted peanuts ground in a food processor to resemble bread crumbs.

  1. Heat your oven to 350 Degrees F. Line 2 baking dishes with parchment paper, and coat them with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together, and set aside.
  3. Whip the butter, and add sugar until fluffy. Add the peanut butter until fully incorporated, then add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.
  4. Ad the dry ingredients in at slow speed, then finally the peanuts.
  5. Roll the dough into 2-in. balls, then place them on a baking sheet 2 ½ in. apart. Press each ball twice with a dinner fork, to make a crisscross design.
  6. Bake in the oven till slightly brown on the edges, about 10 min. Cool down for about 3 minutes
  7.  IF you want add 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips to the recipe.

I’ll be back

As a young college student from Indiana I was very lucky to get a job as a U. S. Forest Service fire fighter based in the heart of the Rockies in Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado. I left to attend my Grandfathers funeral and told everyone “I’ll be back” That was 1980 and after meeting my wife while completeing my education I have yet to show her the beauty and majesty of our Rockies. My three sons could practically recite all of the stories that I have told them of my days out there. This would be an amazing anniversary gift for my wife of 33 years in March. Thanks for a really cool contest. What a great way to promote this amazing vacation spot.

Name: Gerald “Jerry” Wilson
Company: Racers Heating and Cooling
City: Mooresville
State: Indiana

Italian dressing & grilled romaine


1 oz.- balsamic vinegar

1 oz.- sherry vinegar

1 oz.- champagne vinegar

1 oz.- red wine vinegar

1 tbsp.- honey

1 tsp.- Dijon mustard

1 shallot- finely minced

3- cloves garlic minced

¼ – cup divina brand roasted tomatoes preserved in oil

2- tbsp- fresh basil

1- tbsp- fresh oregano

1 tsp.- Italian seasoning mix

8 oz. extra vigin olive oil

4 oz. – oil from preserved tomatoes

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients and let set for at least 2 hours for flavors to combine. Pulsing a few times in a blender works as well.
  2. Toss the romaine lettuce with the dressing and a little salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain off excess dressing in a perforated pan, grill on a broiler cut side down, flip then remove from the grill after another 20 seconds.

I serve this salad with roman style grilled artichokes, pecorino cheese with truffles or tallegio and some sort of toasted nut. Candied pumpkin seeds have been my personal favorite and the tallegio would be my cheese of choice as well.

Southern Winter

Southern winters range from summer to spring. Everyday is a flip flop day for me. Born and raised in the south even when I was in the military I was stationed in Florida. I just always wanted to experience a season other than summer for once in my life. My dream vacation has always been nestled in warm cozy cabin on a nice brisk winter night. Just for once I would like to experience fresh crisp air instead of a muggy humid day. The weather is so confusing in MS you have to wear a hoodie and shorts. The saying goes its never to cold for ice cream; that’s a year round thing.

Name: Amanda James
City: Pascagoula
State: MS

Empanada dough


4 ½ cups – All purpose flour

3 cups – Masa harina

1 tbsp. – baking powder

1 tbsp. – Salt

12 oz. – melted butter

1 ½ to 2 cups – water

  1. Mix together the flour, masa, baking powder and salt in a kitchen aid mixer
  2. Slowly add in the melted butter on medium speed and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add in the water until the dough pulls together but is not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into 3rds and let rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before shaping.

I need a getaway.

I have never been able to take an honest to goodness vacation. When my wife and I went on our honeymoon,we had to take the oldest son with us. Our life right now is like a living hell,what with the problems and struggles we are going through. A much needed getaway would do wonders for our sanity.

Name: Larry Slaughter
City: Oak Hill
State: WV

Chocolate Chip Cookies

From the bottomless cookie jar:

Makes: enough to feed a ranch


6 3/4 cups- all-purpose flour

3 tsp. – baking soda

3 tsp. – salt

1 ½ – lb. unsalted butter at room temp.

2 ¼ cups- granulated sugar

2 ¼ cups- light brown sugar

6- Eggs

3 tsp. vanilla

3 cup- semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Set an oven to 350 degrees F., and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars until well blended and lightened in color.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and blend until fully incorporated.
  4. Mix together all the dry ingredients, and mix into the batter on low speed, then add in the chocolate chips.
  5. Make sure to cool down the batter for about an hour before scooping out and baking.
  6. To make the white chocolate chip macadamia replace the cup of chocolate with a cup of crushed macadamia and a cup of white chocolate chips.

One Dream

Dream! One has to do that. Life doesn’t ‘necessarily hand out wonderful experiences like Santa gives out candy. Going to Vista Verde would be like the most wonderful Santa present ever.
It would be our country lifestyle but without the work!!! and experiences we have only dreamed about. It would be the wonderful trail horses that are so quiet as you go down that snowy road and watching the reining horses do their magic! It would be snowshoe trails with new vistas opening before our eyes and sleigh bells ringing, calling us to come for a ride. It would be enjoying wonderful meals and giggling over a glass of wine in the evening as we remembered the days adventures. It would be three days that would take us away for a wonderful, once in a lifetime, experience. One that would be written in our hearts forever and be a light and delight for us to remember when we return to our "real lives".

Name: Toni Wilhite
City: Cranbrook
State: British Columbia


Makes: ½ sheet tray


3 cups- all purpose flour

2 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. salt

¾ lb. butter

3 cups- brown sugar

4- Eggs

3 tsp. vanilla

2 cups- chocolate chips

1 cup- chopped pecans

  1. Let the butter set at room temperature for about a half hour, then cream it together with the sugar until it is light in color. Add in the eggs one at a time until it is fully incorporated along with the vanilla.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients into the mixture on slow speed, and then add in the chocolate chips, and pecans.
  3. Spread out the mixture on a well greased ½ sheet pan lined with parchment, and well greased.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees, until golden brown, then cool, cut, and enjoy.


Snow for Sand

Being a Horse Ranch owner in the tropics certainly has it’s high points. No more blankets or clipping winter coats, sometimes I miss those days. However, it has its own set of challenges… We miss the days of getting up, breaking up water buckets, trekking miles through the snow in the mountains and then falling asleep next to the fire place. It’s all the things we turned in from horse life and careers in the United States to be here in Costa Rica with the rescues (we now have 10). It would be an amazing experience to go back, if only for a few days. I know we would enjoy that break and a nice walk down memory lane.

Name: Jennifer Dalton
Company: Tierras Nativas
City: Bejuco, Guanacaste
State: Costa Rica

Wintertime in Colorado

Oh, winter time in Colorado
My heart is there, and there I should go
Yes, Vista Verde, majestic glower
So much like heaven, just a little lower
Both places, some day I want to be
In Colorado and eternity

Name: mike morgan
Company: Yellowstone River Music
City: Roundup
State: Montana

Off season at the ranch

I got a laugh out of the staff room board yesterday morning (you may have to click on it to see it better). In many ways it represented to me what off season means to many of us here. During the guest season, we are happily totally immersed in taking care of all of our wonderful guests, and focused on what needs to be done each day. Come off season, the pace slows down a bit for most around the ranch, and it becomes a time of projects and checking items off the to-do list. Some of the projects are expected, some unexpected, like a water leak that interrupted Bill’s vacation plans (hence, the cussing).

The past couple weeks have been filled with beautiful weather, for the most part. Every once in a while we would get a cruddy, rainy, snowy, sleety day. But, other than that it was blue skies, mild temperatures and sunshine. All of us have been soaking it up as much as we can, as we know it wont last. Over the weekend, which most of us take off (except for a few who have to feed the horses still), and get to enjoy what it’s like for a weekend to be a weekend. Naps were taken on the lawn in front of the bunkhouse, leaves were raked at my house, some of us squeezed in the last bike ride or hike of the season, and we all just enjoyed the beautiful days. Now it’s gently snowing, and it’s time for a fire in the fireplace.

Speaking of fires in the fireplace, in a couple weeks, we’ll be hosting Jo and Javin’s wedding in front of the fire in the Great Room. Whether it’s snowing or sunny, we’re excited for a wonderful day for the two of them. Yes, photos will follow.

Dace has been busy working on finishing his hiring for the winter season. Between all of his interviews, reference calls and my reservation calls and inquiries, yesterday the phone rang off the hook. Both of us stopped and looked at each other at one point and laughed…..we thought off season was supposed to be relaxing! But, it’s exciting to be putting together another great team for the winter season, and I’m excited to have so many great folks interested in joining us- whether that be this coming winter season for a Colorado winter resort experience, or next summer for a dude ranch vacation. Both of them are filling up, so come on and join us if you haven’t made plans already!

Off to put another log on the fire. It might be time for a hot chocolate break for the ones working outside in the snow today…..I can always be coerced into joining them for a little afternoon pick me up.