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Staycations the perfect excuse to splurge

In this economy, when all of us are holding on to our purse strings a little tighter, a fancy vacation just might not be in the budget. But why take a plane, train or automobile when there is so much to do right outside your front door? Of course you will still have to cook, and now is the time to get creative with some great staycation meal ideas.

Staycations are a great way to save some cash but no one said you have to eat the same boring meals. Think back to some of your favorite foods you have had while on vacation and look for recipes online. You may find recipes from famous theme parks or even luxurious hotels that you can make at home in your own kitchen.

Create a themed meal with recipes from a place you would love to visit like Jamaican Jerk chicken, or the foods of India, Thailand, Italy or South America. With just a handful of out-of-the-ordinary ingredients and a little technique, many of these dishes are easily prepared in your own home. You could even put on some background music like Bob Marley, Bollywood themes or Brazilian jazz to get your culinary juices flowing!

For a special staycation breakfast treat, stay up a little later the night before and assemble a custardy egg strata with crusty bread, fresh vegetables, local cheeses and cured meat or sausages. Wake up early the next morning, pop it in the oven and enjoy. Or make a batch of Swedish pancakes that come together in a snap with ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Top with sour cream, traditional lingonberry jam and a dusting of powdered sugar to feel like you have just spent the night at your favorite bed and breakfast.

Plan a daylong hike and pack a simple lunch of crusty Italian bread, fontina cheese, Castellano olives, roasted red peppers and sliced prosciutto de Parma. Stop, spread out a blanket and enjoy while sitting in the sun imagining yourself on a Tuscan hillside.

At the end of the day, sit outside and open a bottle of crisp pinot grigio or pop a bottle of sparkling Prosecco and sip along with a tender and tasty stuffed artichoke as an antipasto. Add a primo of creamy risotto with porcini mushrooms and grilled shrimp and a dessert of local Bonta gelato.

Try this Cochinita Pibil, a roasted Yucatan-style pork shoulder made with sour orange juice, whole allspice and achiote paste. Marinated overnight, wrapped in fresh banana leaves and roasted till fall-apart tender. Serve with Queso fundido, guacamole and lots of Negra Modelo and imagine your trip to Mayan ruins.

Food has the ability to take you anywhere you want to go, so even if you are staying home, you can take your taste buds for a trip around the world.

Yucatan Style Pork Shoulder


6 pound pork shoulder (not lean) bone in* or boneless

3 tablespoons carne asada seasoning

¾ cup sour orange juice

½ teaspoon whole allspice

2 tablespoons achiote paste (available in the Hispanic foods section)

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 large white onion, sliced into thin slices

3 banana leaves


Toast banana leaves over direct gas burner until color changes. Line roasting pan with banana leaves, shiny side down, making sure roasting pan is large enough to hold pork and leaving plenty of overhang to wrap around pork. In a medium bowl mix together the orange juice, carne asada seasoning, allspice, achiote paste, garlic, oregano and sliced onion. Place pork on banana leaves and pour mixture over the top. Wrap tightly with banana leaves and cover pan with foil. Marinate for at least six hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pork in oven for about 30 minutes (to take chill off of pork). Turn oven down to 325 and roast for additional three and a half to four hours until very tender. Remove foil and banana leaves. Serve with warm tortillas and chipotle crema. *Add additional weight for bone

Swedish Pancakes


1 large egg

1 cup milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons melted butter

Oil, for griddle

Sour cream, as accompaniment

Lingonberry jam, as accompaniment


Preheat a nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. Beat the egg and milk in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the milk mixture, stirring to make a thin batter, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the melted butter. Grease the pan lightly with oil or nonstick spray. Pour about two tablespoons of batter into the pan and cook until bubbles form on the top, about one minute. Turn with a spatula and cook on the second side until golden, about 1 minute. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot with sour cream and lingonberry jam.


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