Hello Hesperia. This month I'm celebrating my second year with the Hesperia Star. I can't believe how fast time goes by and what a great experience I'm having. Each month has been so fulfilling. I couldn't do it without the staff and they know it too! In celebrating, they're sharing some of their recipes with me. Thank you to Sharon, (couldn't do it without you), Peter, Beau, Sheila and Al. Its' great working with "great" people.

Hesperia Days was wonderful. I went to the Wranglers Championship on Friday night. It was dedicated to Val Shearer. Saturday, I loved the parade. So many people attended, and then it was out to Hesperia Lake. The fireworks were fabulous. There were also activities all day Sunday at Hesperia Lake. What a great way to spend the weekend.

Also, I'm sending a get-well wish to Richard Lupton (President of the Hesperia Recreation and Park Board). We all miss you and hope you get back soon.

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Al Moller, Star courier: Al likes to throw these spicy peppers on the barbeque. A cold, blended beverage, helps to wash them down, he added.

Al's Jalapeņo Poppers
1 dozen jalapeno peppers
8 ounces cream cheese; softened
1 pound lean bacon
toothpicks

Split jalapeņos and clean out seeds. Pack insides with cream cheese. Wrap one piece of bacon around the chili. Pin both ends with toothpicks. Barbeque peppers over low heat until bacon is cooked.

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"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." - Albert Einstein

Sheila Mockett, Star advertising rep: As a side dish to Mexican style entrees, Sheila enjoys rice and beans, but the out of the can refried beans heated up just don't cut it for her. Here is Sheila's take on refried beans. Her husband likes them mixed with the rice and rolled up with cheese, in a flour tortilla burrito.

Sheila's Kicked Up Refried Beans
1 large can refried beans (26 ounces)
3/4 cup your favorite salsa
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
Dash of cayenne or splash of hot sauce

Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Cover pan and heat, stirring occasionally until all ingredients melt together. Serve warm with grated Mexican queso, cheddar or jack cheese on top.

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With a closet full of home canned tomatoes and a husband that loves rice and bean burritos, Sheila was in search of the perfect red rice recipe. Finding a variety of recipes but none quite to her liking, this is the one she created from the others, with her personal additions. It is not too spicy but can be with the addition of more cayenne and/or hot sauce. The rice has a smoky flavor to it from the addition of the cumin.

Sheila's Tex-Mex Rice
1 16-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, with juices
Water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Dash of cayenne
Leaves from 2 to 3 sprigs fresh cilantro for garnish

Place tomatoes and their liquid in a 3-cup measure. Add enough water to equal 2 1/2 cups liquid; reserve.

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and green pepper, cooking until vegetables are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add rice, stirring to coat grains evenly. Cook about 5 minutes or until rice and vegetables begin to brown. Add salt, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne; stir to coat all ingredients.

Gradually stir in reserved tomatoes and liquid. Be careful to avoid spatters. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 14 to 16 minutes. Garnish with snipped cilantro leaves.

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"Only through dedicated work does a man fulfill himself." - William S Carlson

Beau Yarbrough, Star reporter: Beau's wife, Jennifer, got this recipe from her college friend, Jincy Schar. Jincy loved to cook and ended up going to cooking school after graduation. Her enchiladas were a big hit in the dorm. The girls wanted to see how she cooked them and the guys wanted to eat them.
The only thing, Jennifer does differently is buy a large can of enchilada sauce (20 or 24 ounces) and skips the tomato sauce. Sometimes she sprinkles extra cheese on top. This is a nice and simple, easy to make dish.

Jennifer's Chicken Enchiladas
1 9-ounce package medium cheddar cheese
1 8-ounce package Monterey jack cheese
1 10-ounce can mild, enchilada sauce
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 package flour tortillas (10 count)
4-5 chicken breasts
1 can chilies (optional)
1 can sliced black olives (optional)

Boil chicken breasts in a large pot for 30 minutes. Drain water and cut chicken in small pieces.

Shred the cheeses and combine in a bowl. Mix sauces together in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wet a tortilla with sauce on both sides. Add some chicken and cheese inside. Roll up and place in casserole dish. (Optional: add some chilies, with chicken and cheese.) Repeat until all tortillas are filled.

Pour remaining sauce and cheese over entire pan. (Optional: top with black olives and shredded cheese.) In a preheated, 350 degree oven, cook for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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"Kind words cost no more than unkind ones...and we may scatter the seeds of courtesy and kindliness around us at so little expense. If you would fall into any extreme let it be on the side of gentleness. The human mind is so constructed that it resists vigor and yields to softness." - Jeremy Bentham

Sharon Strickland, Star office administrator: This recipe is from Sharon's friend, Linda Burrows of Hesperia. Linda's father-in-law, Earl, taught her how to make Bunuelos. Linda always shared this very crispy, sweet treat, with her co-workers (Sharon included) every Christmas.

Linda's Bunuelos
1 package egg roll wraps
Crisco (use the original kind in the blue can)
Cinnamon (to taste)
Sugar (to taste)

Mix together cinnamon and sugar until desired consistency. Put in a sugar shaker and set aside. Cut egg roll wraps on the diagonal and set aside. Cover your counter top with paper towels.

Heat the Crisco in a heavy skillet. While frying, you'll want to keep about one inch of Crisco in your pan. Fry wrap, turning over often, as it begins to bubble. Don't let it get too dark. When wrap stiffens, remove from heat and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Move to clean paper towel to cool.

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Peter Day, Star editor: A self-described "salsa addict," Peter regularly attempts to make his own salsa. The outcome is hit or miss, but this simple salsa verde is always seems a winner. This common recipe uses tomatillos. Although they are small, as the Spanish language "illos" indicates, tomatillos are related to gooseberries not tomatoes, Peter says.

Peter's Salsa Verde
8 tomatillos
2 jalapeņos
Cilantro, chopped with a knife or torn by hand
1/4 onion, diced
1/8 teaspoon salt

Roast the tomatillos and jalapeņos in a skillet with or without a small amount of cooking oil. (Roasting also can be done in the oven.)

Put all the ingredients in a blender. Blend gradually using the "pulse" setting. Don't overblend, which can cause the concoction to become a green goo. Chunky is OK.

Transfer salsa to a decorative bowl. Grab a bag of tortilla chips and enjoy!