Sweet Potato Gnocci with Short Ribs, prepared by the chefs at Vista Verde Guest Ranch.

Chef’s Corner: Bison Short Ribs with Sweet Potato Gnocci

If you want a fun fall dish to impress all your friends, try this one from Chef Cholly!
Red Wine Marinade:

2 carrots

1 leek

1 yellow onion

1 small celery root

1 tablespoon salt

1 bottle (750mL) red wine


1. Clean and roughly chop the vegetables.
2. Cover with red wine and simmer for 4 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and cool together, then strain and discard vegetables and reserve liquid.


Marinated Short Ribs:

Red wine marinade (recipe above)

2 pounds boneless short rib

1 head garlic, halved

1 yellow onion, quartered

2 carrots, peeled

8 quarts beef stock, hot

1 rosemary sprig

2 tablespoons salt


1. Pour cold red wine marinade over the short ribs and let sit for 2 days, rotating meat twice a day.
2. After the second day, remove the beef from the marinade and place in a roasting pan with the garlic, onion, and carrots. Cover with hot beef bouillon; add rosemary and salt. Place a sheet of parchment paper over beef and weigh down slightly with a 10” plate. Place in a 250° F oven for eight hours.
3. Once beef is fork tender and almost breaking apart, remove from bouillon onto a draining rack. Save bouillon for a great soup or your next beef braising dinner.


Sweet potato Gnocchi

1 ½ pounds Roasted and Pureed sweet potato

6 ounces “00” Flour

1 egg


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove. Peel and Cut the sweet potatoes in half, season well and roast until tender.
2. Dry the sweet potatoes thoroughly and run through a food mill or potato ricer.
3. Sift the flour and incorporate with the egg into the sweet potato and taste for seasoning.
4. When the water has come to a boil, roll the dough out into a long cylinder about a half inch in diameter and with a knife cut one inch long pieces and plunge into boiling water until the gnocchi begin to float.
5. Skim the floating gnocchi off the water and into an ice bath to stop the cooking.
6. Drain all the gnocchi onto a towel to dry.
7. Heat a sauté pan on the stove, sauté the gnocchi in olive oil until crisp on all sides.
8. Serve.


After our wedding March 4th, my time would be spent with the person that has chosen to spend the rest of their life with me.

Name: Grace
City: Colorado Springs
State: Colorado

Dreams of Winter

Dear Vista Verde,
In a humble, agricultural community in Central California, there lives a quiet man and wife. In this little town, the man works in a local hardware store, encouraging others with humor and advice. His wife works at a local high school as a nurse, giving students smiles and care. They loyally earn their keep to provide for their daughter’s university education, as well as call and support their son, who fights for a career miles away in New York City. Their lifestyle is simple, full of long workdays and quiet dinners together. Every night, before they drift off to sleep to recharge for another day, they dream about a time of relaxation—of a temporary break from it all. And they deserve it.
As their daughter, I deeply appreciate their guidance, and admire their strength to provide for our family. I also know about their secret desire to briefly escape to the outdoors, and their beautiful love for each other. I have seen them sigh over the photos of Vista Verde, dreaming about its comforts but honorably pushing it away to fulfill priorities. Now that the dream can be a reality, and you ask, “How would THEY make most of your Vista Verde winter vacation?” Well, this is what I envision…
Their gasps as they take in Colorado’s winter wonderland.
Joined anticipation of time in your lovely cabins.
A snow trek in the morning, a sleigh ride in the evening.
Clinking glasses at a dinner not made by their own hands.
Skiing and spa time, horse-back riding and exploring.
Joy and rest, that before was impossible.
A trip away from all they have ever known.
To a place they cannot, but would love to forever call home.

Name: Dani Corona
City: Visalia
State: California

Dream 30th

I would love to do something so very special for my wonderful wife for her 30th birthday! Not only has she given me 5 amazing years of marriage, but our little girl was born in October 2012. Now I want to give her something that she’ll remember for the rest of her life. I want to show her that I care and adore her like she deserves to be.

We both love the Colorado winter and love being in the mountains, especially so near “Dreamboat.” There just isn’t any other place we’d rather be. Skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and relaxing are all on a list of our favorite things to do. And what about a romantic sunset snowmobile tour? I think so.

Please help me make this dream 30th come true.

Name: Harry Krewson
City: Fort Collins
State: CO


we would come to your ranch to spend some quality family time. take in the beauty of your state, city and countryside.
frolic in the snow, drink some hot chocolate, and cherish the memories that fade so quickly

Name: steve dunlap
Company: pegsat communications
City: austin
State: TX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bringing back memories.

Hey Vista Verde, It’s me Lexie Carie. I was blessed enough to have meet you all through U of M. I came to your resort two summers ago. It was the week of my birthday. I enjoyed myself a lot and all the staff I miss dearly, you are all fabulous. If you dont remember me I was the one who wanted to ride the horses so badly but could not because of my hip. A few months after arriving home I went to ER because I had the start of pnemonia. When I got to the ER they took my tempature and I had spiked a really high fever just on the way to the hospital. They took some blood tests and my bone marrow transpplant doctor came in. He had tears in his eyes..He told me "it was back" at first I didnt believe it but thinking back me and my mom saw signs when we were at the ranch. The hip was one and I was having trouble walking sometimes. I am currently still in treatment but I will be done in November. One thing I will never forget about Vista Verde is even though I couldnt ride a horse Steve King took me on my very first dirt bike ride, It was so amazing to view Colorado that way. I told my mom the minute we got on the plane that we had to come back..I had to ride that horse. Not any horse because I can ride horses somewhere by home. I had to ride THAT horse. Months before we knew about the trip I would tell my mom about all the things I wanted to do when I got there and the only thing that made me the most excited was to ride one of your horses. I have pesterd my mom about taking a 3 day winter trip because they were cheaper and she said it probably wasnt going to happen, I was pretty bummed but I understood. So from that moment on I decided Vista Verde was going to be my honeymoon destination if you were still up and running. Thankfully I am friends with you all on facebook and realized this great oppertunity! I love to write and I was going to write a story but I feel it may end up being too long to read. I have never been to Colorado in the winter but I LOVE THE SNOW, winter is my absolute favorite season. Mainly beacuse of all the activites. Plus in december I got a hip replacement and hopefully will be able to enjoy life a little more, like riding horses and I really like snowboarding! I was looking at all the things you offer for the winter and I saw you offered sleigh rides, I think that is so cool. I have always wanted to go on one, In a way I find them magical! and what a great way to spend time experiencing Colorado. My stay would consist of a lot of horseback riding, sledding, sleigh ride and snowboarding if it is offered, I love being outside in the winter and I would love to seey you all again and experience Colorado in a whole new way! I understand that because I have already been here you probably will give the prize to someone else and thats fine, everyone deserves to have a trip like this, its once in a lifetime but when i saw this offer I thought hey maybe twice in a lifetime…IT COULDNT HURT!! I have already thought about the other person I would bring if I won. My Dad. My mom wouldnt probably like that but my dad really likes winter too and he would really enjoy it. My dad was supposed to come with me and my mom that summer but his job was really bad and he didnt have any money so he had to go to work, It was hard to have him miss out because I know he would have enjoyed it. He played it off like it was no big deal but inside I could tell he knew he just passed up a once in a lifetime oppetunity. I would really love to give him that oppertunity again. He really deserves it, He works hard and doesnt do much for himself. He never has the money too. I would love to come back to the ranch with my dad and see all of you and spend some good quality alone time with him. I think it would lift his spirits a lot, It has been a rough year. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this. It does mean a lot and I hope someday I will see you all again!
Ps. I attached some pictures of when me and my mom came.

Name: Lexie Carie
City: Chesterfield
State: MI

Our vacation

Our time at Vista Verde would be a time of romance for us. We’d spend time renewing our love for each other. We;d do some outdoor activaties such as learning to snow ski.

Name: Robert Bridges
City: Jacksonville
State: NC

Long Winters Rest

After all the craziness of Christmas is over, Nothing could be better than snuggling, alone with your lover, while sitting inside with the warmth of the fire in our cabin, watching the huge flakes of snow seems like Heaven. Nothing on Earth could bring us greater delight , than spending three nights and days at Vista Verde, starting tonight! We love all of their elves, who delight in our pleasure and would love to be there again to enjoy sweet leisure. So please, chose the Blankenship family again. We love and miss Viste Verde- can’t wait to be there again!!!

Name: Cheryl Blankenship
City: Clarksville
State: tn

Life Goes On with Ups and Downs

I have great memories of a visit several years ago with my best friend from high school. It was a special birthday for each of us and we had not seen each other for many,many years. We left our families and had a wonderful reunion there. Time has passed and I recently was diagnosed with breast cancer – an epidemic among women these days. My husband and I are going through all the treatments together and the normal routines. A visit back to the Ranch would be a great present for my loyal, loving and very supportive husband. And it would be a joy to me to experience the place again and relax for a few days with the wonderful staff and environment.

Name: Suzanne Faustlin
City: Tucson
State: Arizona

Back home

My childhood background is that of the high altitude Carpathian Mountains of Romania, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth (in my humble opinion)! I would love to live back home for a little while again. Oh to relive the joy of the mountains’ beauty, of fresh white snow, of sledding, and of sleigh raids under the stars!
The description of your ranch and the wonderful activities available at Vista Verde took me back in time to my childhood for a few moments. If I should win this winter getaway, I would love to share a little piece of my magical childhood with my husband who has never had the opportunity to experience such beauty. I would spend the three days horseback riding, sledding, improving my skiing skills, but most of all, taking my marriage to the next level!
Thank you very much for considering my entry!

Name: Maria Petersen
Company: Mayo Clinic
City: Rochester
State: MN