Article and photo by Lisa Crockett
A few weeks ago, my kids and I stepped into the kitchen to try something new. Chipotle, the fast-casual restaurant chain that has popularized fresh and wholesome Mexican food, recently released the recipe for its signature guacamole.
According to the Chipotle website, a single batch of guacamole for the restaurant calls for 48 avocados. After making the home version – which calls for just 2 avocados – I wondered if perhaps we needed to make a restaurant-sized batch, since the guacamole was gone mere seconds after it was mixed, leaving the family hankering for more.
Fresh and light, the recipe embodies the quintessential flavor of summer; the creamy avocado perfectly balanced by the tartness of the lime juice and the pleasant spiciness of the jalapeño and red onion. At just 230 calories for a four-ounce serving, this treat can substitute for a delicious dessert and you can feel good about the ingredients.
Our original batch of guacamole was accompanied by a newly-opened bag of chips from the grocery store. But making something so tasty from scratch and then mingling it with something so processed seemed wrong, so for the next round (which we whipped up just a few days later), I made a quick batch of oven “fried” chips. Fresh and hearty, their crunch was a perfect complement to the soft richness of the guacamole. Deep fried chips are, of course, more consistent with what you would get at the restaurant, but I think deep frying is best left to the professionals. It is tasty but also pretty messy and high in calories, so I do not do it at home.
After trying to make chips at home several different ways, this method produced the results I liked best. While the chips you get are not quite as light as deep fried, the chips are yummy and sturdy enough to hold an impressive amount of dip. Much as I would love a version that uses less oil than this one, tortillas baked dry produce results that are gummy, tough and generally unappealing; a generous amount of oil is necessary to crisp the chips. It is also important to sprinkle the chips with salt (I like kosher salt) as soon as they come out of the oven, since the salt adheres to the chips better when they are warm.
After a little trial and error, I also determined that for best results, chips should be turned during the bake time to ensure that one side does not remain soggy while the top browns and crisps. I use olive oil in the recipe because I think it tastes best, but regular vegetable oil would work fine, too.
I think these chips are best eaten soon after they are cooled, but they can be made up to a day ahead. However, if your house is anything like mine, your chips will not last an hour, much less 24. Especially if you make a fresh batch of creamy guacamole to go with it.
For Chipotle’s official guacamole recipe, visit www.chipotle.com/guac-recipe.
– Olive oil
– Corn tortillas
– Kosher or sea salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour three to four tablespoons of oil into a rimmed baking sheet and spread oil evenly to coat the entire bottom of the pan. Using a pastry brush, coat tortillas evenly with olive oil, stacking tortillas eight to ten tortillas high. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the entire stack of tortillas into wedges. Place tortillas in a single layer on the pan. Tortillas will shrink as they bake, so they can overlap slightly, but do not stack them directly on top of each other or chips will not crisp properly.
Bake chips for 10 minutes, then use tongs to turn them. Put chips back in the oven to bake for another 5 minutes or until chips are lightly browned around the edges. Remove chips from the oven and immediately sprinkle with kosher or sea salt to taste. Allow chips to cool before serving.
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By Lisa Crockett; photos courtesy of Pam Jones
School is out for the summer, but before the final bell rang for 44 graduating seniors at area high schools, they got all dressed up for a night out – with their teachers. High school seniors who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Douglas County were invited to honor a favorite teacher from any time in their educational career at a special event. Students from Castle View, Rock Canyon and Highlands Ranch High Schools turned out in force to say thanks to the teachers who have influenced their lives.
Students and their teachers, parents, school administrators, and district officials gathered at the event, which was held in Castle Rock. The highlight of the evening was a keynote address given by the Honorable Vincent R. White, who recently retired from the 18th Judicial District. Judge White pinpointed his educational success to one teacher, Marla Coleman, who showed interest in him and urged him to succeed in high school and then to attend college. “A teacher should have a brilliant capacity to connect, not just teach, and inspire students to understand,” he said.
White emphasized the importance of education to individuals and to society as a whole, noting that a significant number of criminals entering the court system had not obtained a high school education. He quoted Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”
In the culminating award presentation, students individually honored their teachers by explaining how the teachers had influenced their lives. Senior Logan Draper honored Karly Bloom, a language arts teacher at Rock Canyon High School.
“I had seen my brothers nominate teachers to be honored at this event, so I had already given it some thought even before my senior year,” said Draper of the event which is held each spring. “I’ve had Ms. Bloom as a teacher several times and she’s someone I can talk to about anything.”
After each teacher had been publicly honored, a dessert reception and photo session capped off the night.
“The teachers at our schools put in so much time and effort for us,” said Draper. “It’s really great to have a night where we can honor and thank them.”
By Elean Gersack; photo courtesy of Andrew Abner
On May 31, more than 300 community members from Castle Pines and Castle Rock spent the morning on a mission to service area schools, neighborhoods, parks and more during the New Hope Presbyterian Church (New Hope) Hands of Hope service day.
Buffalo Ridge Elementary School (BRE) was one of eleven service sites selected. “Weeds were pulled, gravel was raked, bushes were trimmed and the gardens were cleaned out,” said Castle Pines resident and New Hope congregation member Katie Abner.
It was a family affair for sure. “I went to school at Buffalo Ridge Elementary,” shared 16-year-old volunteer Ethan Crock. “Helping clean up the area around the school brought back a lot of fun memories of my days at BRE. I’m glad we’re able to help keep the school looking good. Plus it was fun to help with some of my friends and even the principal of Rock Canyon and his family.”
According to Ethan’s mom, Saralyn Crock, in addition to the work at BRE, other teams re-painted playground asphalt games (such as Chutes and Ladders and checkers) at Soaring Hawk Elementary; cleaned windows at the Early Childhood Center; helped with trail development and maintenance at Philip S. Miller Park; and landscaped at local homes where residents needed extra help. Other locations served included Sky Cliff Center – an adult day care and stroke support facility, Bonaventure of Castle Rock senior living facility, Douglas/Elbert Task Force, and the Castle Rock Senior Center.
According to Reverend Dr. Erik Holm, associate pastor at New Hope, this is a visible way to show others love right in their own community. This will most likely become an annual event based on the response.
New Hope Presbyterian is located at 3737 New Hope Way in Castle Rock (near Meadows Parkway and Prairie Hawk). Members of two long-time community churches, Sedalia Presbyterian Church and Louviers Community Presbyterian Community Church established New Hope in 1989. For additional information, visit www.newhopepres.org.
Article and photos by Lisa Crockett
A typical school field day includes classic events like sack races and the 50-yard dash. At Sage Canyon Elementary in Castle Rock, there are a few new wrinkles on those classics, which means students are equally likely to be carrying a rubber chicken as running a race. In keeping with school tradition, all the day’s events – 25 stations in all – were designed and run by the school’s sixth grade students.
“For field day, we really try to put the kids in the mindset of a teacher,” said sixth grade teacher Sarah Johnson. “These kids have seen this done when they’ve been participants, and we really encourage them to put their creative twist on things.”
Those creative twists meant kids played their hearts out for a full day carrying water on their heads, playing flag football on scooters, and getting their faces painted.
“When we looked at making up our station, we had to look at the available materials and then decide what we wanted to do,” said sixth grader Diana Torres. “We had to think about what kids will like to do and how we’d make the day fun.”
At the center of the events, P.E. teacher Lance Schoenwald and fitness instructor Cindi Blicharz not only ensure that the day’s events run smoothly, but also observe the unique game elements that the sixth graders were introducing, often for the first time.
“A lot of these stations are based on things we’ve done throughout the year in P.E.,” said Schoenwald. “I look at new elements, though, and I sometimes incorporate them into things we do next year.”
For Blicharz, that student-led aspect of the event is what truly makes the day special.
“This is more than just a field day,” she said. “The 110 sixth graders who run this day are learning teamwork and collaboration, and those are really important life skills.”
By Kathy Fallert; photos courtesy of Liz Fletcher
The Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) Cheer and Poms Teams hosted the Junior Jags fundraiser last month at the high school. This year cheer and poms decided to join forces and offered a spirit camp, which included two days with the RCHS Cheer team on June 12 and 13 and two days with the Poms team on June 16 and 17.
The girls ages five and older learned two cheer and two dance routines and then performed for their parents at the end of the second day. Games, crafts and snacks were all part of the fun as well as a free Junior Jags t-shirt for each participant.
Poms camp organizer and Castle Pines resident Liz Fletcher commented, “The camps are a lot of fun and we have a lot of the same girls return year after year. I can remember my children going to the camp in elementary school and now my older daughter Paige is on the team and is helping to run the camp. It is such a fun community event that helps support the spirit organizations!”
The Junior Jags fundraiser takes place three times per year in the summer, fall and spring. The upcoming fall dates have been set for September 10-11 for cheer and October 24 for poms. For more information, e-mail the poms organizer at email@example.com or the Cheer organizer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rachel Zetwick, RCHS intern writer
This school year, Sharon Majetich’s eighth grade Explorers team at Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) partnered with The American Museum of Western Art – The Anschutz Collection to bring more attention to student engagement at the museum and to allow for a project-based learning experience.
Majetich assigned her students to create a project that allowed them to work for the museum while learning about the West. “[The students] were asked to design, interoperate, discuss, and evaluate a real situation and provide feedback to actual people,” said Majetich. The students were able to create their own marketing strategy to market the museum to young students.
It all started in March of 2014 when Majetich met with Kristen Fong, the educational coordinator at the museum. The museum was seeing a lack of attendance by schools from around Castle Pines and other Denver areas, and Fong wanted to create a market that would attract more educators to bring their students to the museum. Majetich suggested that she and Fong team up with Majetich’s students to create a program where their peers could learn about the museum and its importance to the Denver area while increasing school attendance.
Majetich’s suggestion turned into the social studies unit “Art and the American West.” Students in each group were assigned a position in order to engage more museum attendees while informing young people about Western Art and its influence in Denver. The eighth graders became educational consultants to the museum, in addition to enhancing their education through exhibits and working with the museum faculty.
“I believe the students loved expressing their opinions and knowing that a real organization was looking for and respecting what they thought. It helped them approach the project in a real-world manner,” said Majetich.
After students on the team completed their projects, they presented to teacher and student judges who selected 30 to take to the Museum Board. Ultimately, four student products were chosen to be featured. AJ Bacon, Coco Wang, Kaetlyn Cranney and Casidee Gonzales all had projects that will be used to promote the museum.
RHMS plans to continue working with the museum in the years to come. “If it wasn’t for the open-mindedness of Kristin Fong, this may never have happened,” said Majetich. The students’ work may be found on the museum’s website at www.anschutzcollection.org/education/project-based-learning.
By Kathy Fallert; photos courtesy of Julie Lamb and Stacie Sneider
The Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) baseball team won its first ever 5A state championship after a 9-2 win against the Chatfield Chargers on May 27 at All City Field in Denver.
Seven of the varsity players are Castle Pines residents and have been playing together for years: Ben Sneider, first base/pitcher; Bryce Dietz, pitcher; Adam Schiller, outfield; Nick Lamb, third base/second base/shortstop; Daryl Myers, infield/outfield; Bobby Rexroat, outfield/pitcher; and Walker Owens, third base/catcher.
HOA1 resident and RCHS senior Sneider had a successful day with an RBI and two scores. Sneider remarked, “The state championship was amazing. Many of us had played together since we were in little league and even back then, we felt this might be our year. That vision came together this season!”
Julie Lamb, in true mother’s intuition-style, recalled, “Nick was not a starter but a team player and motivator. I told Principal Abner and a few parents I thought they would make it to state, win state, and Nick would get a chance to help make it all happen.”
Daryl Myers (left) and Tanner Reidy (right) have some soggy fun with Coach Steve Tschetter (middle) who has been coaching for RCHS since the school opened in 2003. This dousing is a sports tradition where players dump a bucket full of liquid over the head of their coach after a meaningful win.
Sure enough in the top of the seventh inning, the Jags were in the lead when Lamb came in to pinch hit. Julie Lamb continued, “Everyone in the stands was on their feet chanting for Nick and he hit an RBI single to make the score 6-2. Two little old guys with world series rings asked me who Nick was, and when I stopped crying I told them his story. They, too started chanting for Nick. This isn’t about Nick, it is about a great group of boys who worked hard together. But it was certainly the greatest experience of Nick’s life thus far!”
Hidden Pointe resident and former Colorado Rockies pro baseball player and Little League coach Mike Myers commented, “Watching the boys mature on the baseball field and understand the mentality and work ethic it takes for success is very rewarding. These boys deserve all the credit for making the effort to improve as ball players and as men.”
Myers’ son Daryl recounted, “It was great playing with all the guys I’ve looked up to since I was in eighth grade and watching my older brother play on varsity. The seniors this year were the best thing any program could ask for, and I’m blessed to be able to say I won a state championship with them!”