Nana’s Recipes: All ‘Bout That Pico

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We’ve covered the red salsa and the green salsa in previous blogs, but there’s something about a nice fresh bowl of pico de gallo on the table that just puts a smile on my face. Not only that but when you make a fresh batch, it makes the RV smell so good. Matter of fact, you might want to keep the windows shut so you can keep that smell inside, and not have the neighbors lining up outside your door like it’s a Taco Truck!

I guess the best thing about Pico is you can use it on anything. You can put it on your breakfast tacos, fish or chicken dishes, eat it with chips, or even just eat it straight like a very spicy salad. Unlike salsa though, you need to start eating Pico more, or less immediately. It’ll keep in the fridge of course, but it may start to get a little soggy after a day or so. Anyhow, here’s what you’re going to need: 4 tomatoes, 2 jalapeños, a purple onion, cilantro, lime, and garlic.

You’ll need to dice up the tomatoes, about a quarter of the onion,  the garlic, and both jalapeños (remove the seeds if you don’t want real spicy Pico, leave ’em in if you want to bring the heat). Put all the chopped ingredients into a bowl, chop up about a quarter cup of cilantro and throw it in, juice the lime, maybe add a tiny bit of olive oil, and salt to taste. You’ll need to let it sit for 30-40 minutes and let it all co-mingle and get awesome Then…EAT!

Like Pico de Gallo, PPL Motorhomes features a lot of great products that will add some spice to your RV Life, so swing on by and see what we’ve got cooking!

RV the Billy The Kid Trail

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Billy the Kid just might be the most famous personality of the Old West. Sure you got your Wyatt Earps, your Geronimos, your Buffalo Bills and the like…but all those folks lived long enough to survive the Old West. They were also much photographed, documented, and interviewed where Billy the Kid has one verified surviving photograph and other than court transcripts from the Lincoln County War he appears rarely in any kind of official record. But let’s not have a scarcity of facts or primary sources cloud what is a beautiful drive full of breathtaking scenery and Old West history.

The Billy The Kid National Scenic Byway is an 84 mile loop drive that covers everything from the sites of some of Billy the Kid’s more famous gun battles, to an old cavalry fort, to the birthplace of Smokey the Bear. We’ll start our drive in Ruidoso, NM.

Ruidoso, NM is reached by taking Hwy 70 northeast from Las Cruces (near the junction of I-10 and I-25) and following 70 through Alamogordo, through the Mescalero Apache Reservation and on into Ruidoso. Ruidoso is famous for their art shows, and horse races at nearby Ruidoso Downs.

To continue on the Scenic Byway, keep going on 70 to Glencoe where Fox Cave was once a hideout for Billy the Kid. Hwy 70 continues to the east through San Patricio, where Billy had a few girlfriends and used to attend dances and hide out from the folks in Lincoln, and on to Hondo. Hondo is the easternmost point of the Scenic Byway where you turn left onto 380 and head into Lincoln, or make a brief side trip further down 70 a couple miles to Tinnie to get some lunch at The Silver Dollar.

Lincoln, NM is of course the home of the entire Billy the Kid legend as it is the site of the Murphy-Dolan as well as the Tunstall-McSween stores. The Murphy-Dolan store became the Lincoln County Courthouse from which Billy the Kid escaped twice killing Bob Ollinger and James Bell.

From Lincoln you can continue west on 380 into Capitan, the home of Smokey the Bear and a great place to eat called El Paisano, then head on back into Ruidoso, or you can turn left onto 220 and go through some beautiful country back through Ft Stanton to Ruidoso. If you go through Ft Stanton, you’ll see something that appears very out of place: a maritime cemetery. Ft Stanton was used as a tuberculosis hospital for members of the merchant marine during WWII, and also is home of several German U-Boat sailors who were in a nearby POW camp during the war.

This is a very interesting and beautiful drive, and I recommend hitting the pavement in this part of the world in late May or early June. I also recommend you visit PPL prior to departure for all your parts and accessories!


Texas Road Oddities

Maybe it’s this cold, wet winter weather we’ve had this season. Maybe it’s being tired of being cooped up in the house. Maybe it’s the fact that despite the infinite channels on TV, there’s nothing good to watch. Maybe I just can’t wait for Spring because I want to hit the road! Yep, that’s gotta be it. I’ve been diagnosed with more than a touch of cabin fever and it’s highly contagious. I got to thinking the other day about all the odd stuff you see out on the highway. You know, the World’s Biggest Strawberry, or The THING in Arizona that’s advertised for hundreds and hundreds of miles on I-10. Anyhow, I thought I list some of these goofy roadside attractions here in Texas and tell you a little bit about them.

Here in Texas, the most famous one we have of course is Cadillac Ranch up near Amarillo. It was put together back in 1974 with every year model Cadillac from 1949-1963, and was moved to it’s current location along I-40 from it’s original spot back in the late 90’s to keep it from being endangered by the growing outskirts of Amarillo.

Waxhawian/Flickr Creative Commons

Another oddity here in Texas is down closer to the border in Crystal City, TX county seat of Zavala County. Crystal City claims as it’s raison d’etre that it is the “Spinach Capitol Of The World”. They even host a spinach festival every year. So with all things spinach in town, what sort of giant statue do you think they’d have right there in front of the courthouse? Yep. A statue of legendary cartoon character Popeye!

And, heading back up to north Texas, Decatur TX to be exact, we have: duh duh DAAAH! The Petrified Wood Gas Station! It was built in 1927 with a cafe and several motor court style casitas. Legend has it that famous motor bandits Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow rented one of the cabins during there never-ending-til-they-were-shot run from the law. The cafe shut down in the 60’s the cabins in the 70’s and the station in the 80’s, but the cafe has since re-opened so stop on by! Stop on by PPL before you head out on the highway!

Nana’s Recipes: BREAKFAST TACOS!

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There are those mornings, y’all, when I just want to hit the snooze button with a very large, very heavy hammer. I’m all snuggle-toasty warm, I was having a great dream about being on the beach somewhere that has that almost see-through blue water, and yet this alarm tells me that it’s Wednesday. Early Wednesday at that. Somewhere cold. And I have to put my feet out into that coldness. Yuck! Makes me wonder when someone is going to invent an alarm that just gently whispers, “Breakfast tacos. Breakfast tacos. Breakfast tacos.” at me until I wake up hungry and ready for the day. So I thought I’d give you cold, hungry, tired folks a couple of great breakfast taco recipes to help you with those cold, dark, Wednesday mornings!

They are so simple! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A skillet (of course)
  • Tortillas (flour, corn, exotic…it doesn’t matter, whichever you prefer)
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Salsa (again, whatever kind floats your boat)

Heat up the skillet with a little oil in it, a teaspoon ought to be enough. Scramble the egg (well) with salt and pepper. Then cook the bacon, (some folks like to hit the bacon with some regular old all-purpose flour before they cook it to help give it that extra crunch). Lay out your tortilla, add the bacon and eggs, and salsa combined to suit your spice preference and enjoy!

There are so many different varieties of breakfast tacos that include potatoes, fajita style beef or chicken, all the different veggies, migas, chorizo, huevos rancheros, all that stuff. But even with that entire spectrum of flavor to choose from, when it’s cold and early and you have to make them yourself…those plain old bacon and egg tacos can’t be beat! Did I mention that breakfast tacos were invented in Texas? Folks here like to eat good food, and we’re right next to Mexico, so can you blame us for inventing what many millions of people eat every morning?

Come by and say howdy to us at PPL!


Central Texas Must-See Spots

So many folks from up north travel to Texas for the winter, I thought today I’d spend a little time on a couple of the places here in Texas you could visit while waiting for spring to arrive back home.

Charles Henry/Flickr Creative Commons

Fredericksburg, TX. Fredericksburg used to be a sleepy little German town nestled in the Texas hill country, but it was “discovered” back in the 90’s by the world-at-large and it is now a thriving little German town nestled in the Texas hill country. If you like history, antiques, and German cuisine, this is a must-see place! The main street is lined with antique shops, shops that cater to the cottage trades like candle making, hill country honey and the like, as well as offering wines from the local vineyards. Also in Fredericksburg is the National Museum of the Pacific War so you fellas can go look at old tanks and planes and guns while the ladies are burning through your winter budget on main street!

Goliad, TX. Goliad is one of the oldest towns in Texas, dating all the way back to the 1700’s when the Spanish founded a town and mission on the banks of the San Antonio River. Goliad also figured large during the Texas Revolution by being the spot of the massacre of Colonel Fannin and his men after losing to Santa Anna at the Battle of Coleto. Oddly enough Goliad is also the birthplace of the Mexican general Zaragosa who defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla which is celebrated on Cinco de Mayo, so if you ever wondered what that was all about, there you go! Today’s Goliad hosts two restored and maintained Spanish missions: Mission Nuestra Senora del Espirtu Santo de Zuniga, and Presidio la Bahia. The previously mentioned San Antonio River runs through town, and it is a beautiful place to stop.

Winters are fairly short here in Texas but since winters up north are so long, you have plenty of time to enjoy Texas. While you’re toodling around the boonies remarking on what a beautiful state you’re currently in and how you wish back home was as pleasant and friendly as where you spend you winters, don’t forget to visit us at PPL Motorhomes for all your RV accessories!

RV New Mexico’s Cliff Dwellings

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They don’t call New Mexico the “Land of Enchantment” for nothing, as the place is chock-full of beautiful scenery, natural wonder, as well as history and historic structures going back to before the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500’s. One of the most intriguing combinations of the natural beauty and historic structures are the cliff dwellings that still survive in New Mexico, so today I thought we’d take an imaginary drive to visit a couple of these magnificent sites.

In the southwest corner of New Mexico, north of Silver City is the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. It is reached by taking Hwy 180 north from Deming, NM (on I-10) until you reach Silver City, NM where you take Hwy 15 north to the monument. Once you’ve reached the monument, you can view the dwellings along a one mile long trail. The hike will take about an hour depending on how many photos you feel like taking. One of the amazing things about this particular park is you can actually go inside some of the houses in the cave, and of course you are welcome to look…but not touch. The Cliff Dwellings were fairly recently discovered at the end of the 1800’s, but of course date back to the late 1200’s when the Mogollon (mo-guh-yon) cukture built and inhabited these houses.

In north-central New Mexico, northwest of Santa Fe, is Bandalier National Monument, which is also home to stunning cliff dwellings and pueblo ruins. To reach Bandalier, you take Hwy 84 north from Santa Fe to Pojaque, NM where you turn left on Hwy 502. Follow 502 to the west until it intersects Hwy 4 and turn south on 4 to the Monument. The cliff dwellings at Bandelier were multi-story, and the site abounds in petroglyphs as well as wildlife. Ruins are accessible by trails of course, and the park service recommends packing enough water with you to stay comfortable on your hike.

Spring will be here before you know it and hitting the road again will be so much fun, remember to visit us at PPL Motorhomes for all your parts and accessories!

RV Through Texas’ Wine Country

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No offense California, but Texas has a reputable wine country of its own. Ranging from as far north as San Saba to as far south as New Braunfels, Texas wineries are dotted across the Texas Hill Country. If you’re interested in driving the Texas Wine Trail you’re going to get a two-for-one deal!

The biggest cluster of wineries and vineyards are nestled between Johnson City and Fredericksburg on Hwy 290. Alongside the wineries, there is plenty to do in this region as well. Johnson City is famous for antiques, bed and breakfasts, and being home to former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s family ranch (located just west of town). As you drive west from Johnson City through picturesque little central Texas towns such as Hye and Stonewall, you’ll see plenty of old style German/Texas stone houses, neat, tidy farms, roadside stalls selling peaches, orchards, and of course vineyards as well. Those of y’all familiar with country music will recognize the turnoff for Luckenbach, TX where Waylon and Willie and the boys used to play, and they still feature live music regularly.

Once you get to Fredericksburg, also famous for antiques as well as German/Texan culture and cuisine, there are more activities to partake in. One natural wonder nearby is Enchanted Rock, which is due north of town on ranch road 965. Enchanted Rock is an incredible place to have a walk and a bit of a climb. It’s a beautiful exposed granite dome that is legendary throughout Texas history. As a matter of fact early Texas Ranger, Captain Hays, surrounded by Comanches, was able to climb to the top of Enchanted Rock and defend himself until the Comanches suffered such losses they had to retire from the field. From the top of Enchanted Rock you feel like you can see all the way to Mexico.

But getting back to the wineries, many of the wineries in and around Fredericksburg offer lodging as well as dining. If you are interested in making a day of it, don’t forget to hydrate, have a little something to eat in between tastings, and maybe even have a designated driver, wink wink.

What is your favorite Texas wine? Please feel free to tell us about it in the comment section below, and don’t forget to swing by PPL Motorhomes and say howdy!

Nana’s Recipes: The Green Salsa

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As a few of you may know, there are some places in the US where you are still asked whether or not you want red or green salsa. I love those places! There are even a few places left with “salsa bars” with a dozen or so different varieties of salsa, all available for your chip dipping pleasure. So today I thought I would pass along a pretty good green chile salsa recipe that requires a little grill time — and who doesn’t like a hot grill on a cold day?

To get this delicious process started you will need about 3 pounds of tomatillos (husks removed and tomatillos rinsed), a couple ears of fresh corn still in the husks, a jalapeño, a red onion, some cilantro, a lime, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne.

What you need to do first, of course, is get the grill going at high heat. While the grill is warming, get the tomatillos husked and rinsed. Once the grill is ready, simply place the tomatillos on the grill and let them char slightly. Turn them every now and then until they’re charred in 2-3 places, and you’ll know they are done when they change from bright green to an olive green color. Next, throw on the corn with husk still in place. Since they’re fresh, the need to water them is not required. Turn and grill until the husk is charred all over. Once they’re done, pull them off the grill to let them cool, then peel the shucks off and cut off the kernels.

After that little bit of grilling, it’s all easy. Chop the cilantro, a clove of garlic, one jalapeño, and mince the red onion. Throw the tomatillos into a blender, add about a quarter cup of the cilantro, a pinch of cayenne (big pinch if you like), a pinch of cumin, a couple teaspoons of salt, three or four tablespoons of lime juice, and pureé. After pouring into a bowl, add the corn kernels and about a half a cup of the minced onion and stir it all together.

If this salsa doesn’t remind you just a little bit of Santa Fe or northern New Mexico, may I suggest you plan a trip there next summer and try some yourself! Village Café in Santa Fe for example can cure what ails ya! And before you leave, don’t forget to visit us at PPL Motorhomes for all your parts and accessories!

Working With Your Galley/Kitchen Space

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Do any of you folks reading this own an RV or trailer where the kitchen is just too darn big? Show of hands? Anyone? Anyone? Yep. Nobody. If your kitchen is too big, then maybe you’re just too small, ha!

I thought today I could give y’all a few tips on how to keep that kitchen/galley area organized and cook-friendly, because there is a lot of activity in that small a space.

Needless to say, since we’re dealing with a limited amount of space, we can only bring a limited amount of cooking gear out on the trail with us. Since some folks are part-time RV’rs, one thing that will help simplify life out on the road is to dedicate one set of pots, pans, plates, cups, and cutlery for permanent use in the RV. If you can do this, it prevents that forehead slapping moment when you’re camped in Flagstaff, AZ, and you suddenly realize that your skillet is back home in Waco, TX, for example. That same concept holds true for the spices and condiments you use most regularly — store them permanently out in the RV and they’ll be waiting for you when you open the pantry at the campground.

Also, if you’re only using the RV or trailer part-time for weekend getaways and camping activities, stocking it permanently with all the non-perishable items helps ensure that you forget less when you leave the house. Stock the pantry with all the canned fruits and veggies, rice, pastas, energy bars, cooking oils, beans, coffee, teas, etc. If you’re able to do this, all you need to bring with you when you’re ready to leave the driveway is the fresh ingredients like your meat and fresh vegetables, milk, eggs, etc.

Hopefully these common-sense concepts will help make those occasional RV trips less stressful, and the trips to the grocery store less frequent, allowing you to enjoy the campsite more. If you have any tips, please feel free to leave a comment below, and please visit us at PPL Motorhomes for all your RV needs.

Nana’s Recipes: Texas Style Chili con Carne

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Did y’all know that the great state of Texas has an Official State Dish? Back in 1977, the Texas State Legislature did one of the smartest things it ever did in it’s 168 year history, made Chili Con Carne the official dish of Texas because, to quote the legislature: “in recognition of the fact that the only real ‘bowl of red’ is that prepared by Texans.” Y’all hear that Cincinnati? It’s in our laws that we make better chili, simple as that. Another proud Texas fact about chili is that it did not originate in what is now called Mexico, it originated right here, slightly north of the Rio Grande. Anyhow, now that all the requisite Texas-style chili saber rattling has been completed, let’s talk a little bit about just how we go about making this stuff.

Chili is, in my opinion, one of the best cold weather meals ever invented. Not only does it warm you up from the inside out, but you also get to use an iron skillet and that sure helps warm up any kitchen, and RV kitchens aren’t too spacious so it should help warm the whole place! While no two Texans will ever agree on what’s really authentic Texas Chili, I thought I’d post the recipe below because it belongs to Debbie Ashman, winner of the Terligua International Chili Championship and was published in Esquire magazine. If that doesn’t carry some weight, nothing will!

Deb’s Hot Rod Chili Recipe

  • 2 lbs. of coarsely ground meat
  • 1 8 oz. can of “El Pato” tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can of beef broth

Mix the following spices for dump 1:

  • 1 Tbsp onion powder*
  • 2 tsp garlic powder*
  • 2 tsp beef crystals
  • 1 tsp of chicken crystals
  • 1 Tbsp of Pacific Beauty Paprika*
  • 1 Tbsp of Mexene Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne*
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper*
  • 1 package Sazon Goya*

Mix the following spices for dump 2:

  • 1 Tbsp of Mexene Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp of Hatch Mild Chili Powder*
  • 2 Tbsp Cowtown Light chili powder*
  • 1 Tbsp Mild Bills dark chili powder*
  • 1 tsp cumin*
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper*

Mix the following spices for dump 3:

  • 1 tsp onion powder*
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne*
  • 3/4 Tbsp Cowtown Light Chili Powder*
  • 1 Tbsp cumin*


1. Gray the meat and drain grease. 2. Slow boil meat in beef broth and 1 equal can of distilled water. 3. Add dump 1 and medium boil for 60 minutes. 4. Add dump 2 and medium boil for 45 minutes. 5. Add dump 3 and medium boil for 15 minutes. In last five minutes taste for heat — adjust as required.

* These spices available from Mild Bill’s Spices, etc.

I can’t wait to try this out myself because it’s cold out there! If you have a favorite Texas Chili recipe or see anything our champion has missed, please feel free to drop us a line in the comment section below, and if you feel like heading to Terlingua there at the bottom of Big Bend to compete in the chili cook-off, don’t forget to swing by PPL Motorhomes for all your parts and accessories!