Recipes And More From The Fancy Navajo
Alana Yazzie, a lifestyle and “chic” food blogger from Diné (Navajo), elevates her New Mexico childhood recipes and puts a twist on tradition with new recipes on her blog, TheFancyNavajo.com. Yazzie is known for her recipes that incorporate blue corn, such as her blue corn cookies, blue corn filling, and more. It also shares native products and businesses to continue to highlight and support local communities. Yazzie answers a few questions for us and shares her Blue Corn Cupcake recipe.
Cowboys & Indians: Why did you start your food blog and what led you to food and cooking? Yazzie: It happened by accident when I created an Instagram in 2014. There was a huge interest in what I was sharing, which largely revolved around food and fashion. At the time, Instagram was limited in its services, and there weren’t many Native American food bloggers. So, I created TheFancyNavajo.com as a way to share more with my audience.
Food and cooking have always been a big part of my life. I grew up in a family that loves to cook, bake, and throw parties. At a young age, I realized how food brings everyone together, and at a young age, my family involved me in the cooking process. As I got older, I became more interested in learning about native foods and how to cook them after moving house to college. Now I’m focused on finding new ways to make native foods and with each new creation, I like to add a “Fancy Navajo” touch.
C&I: What’s your favorite recipe to make? Yazzie: My favorite recipes are the simplest and most versatile recipes like Fancy Navajo Magic Bread, which makes tortillas, fried bread, and cookies. It’s like magic! It was also one of the first recipes I learned to make as a kid, so it’s a very nostalgic recipe.
C&I: Would you rather cook or bake? Yazzie: I’m definitely more of a baker than a cook. Baking is one of my favorite things to do. I love making muffins, scones and cupcakes. I love baking because you can change ingredients according to changing seasons.
C&I: What is your process for creating a new recipe: cooking and baking? Yazzie: It really depends on the type of recipe you’re creating. If I’m sharing a new native recipe, that requires a lot of testing because I’m creating a new recipe from scratch. Therefore, it takes a lot of trial and error to discover the right ingredients in a format that is easy to replicate. Other times recipes are classic staples that I have made many times and are often recipes in which I never write down measurements. For those recipes, they’re a little easier to create since I’ve made them several times before.
C&I: What are some recipes that come from your Navajo upbringing? Why is blue corn prevalent in your recipes? Yazzie: Many of the recipes I share are family recipes I grew up having like Fancy Navajo Mutton Stew and Fancy Navajo Magic Bread. However, many of the blue corn recipes are new recipes that I created. Blue corn is a prominent ingredient in many native and indigenous cultures. I grew up eating blue cornmeal in porridge or pancakes that we ate for breakfast. There were only a couple of ways I had seen him prepared. Many of the blue corn baking recipes are new recipes I created to show other ways to prepare this staple. Using blue cornmeal has become a popular ingredient in TheFancyNavajo.com and in recent years, we’ve shared a variety of ways to use the ingredient, such as Fancy Navajo Blue Corn Cupcakes and Fancy Navajo Blue Cornbread Stuffing. It’s one of those ingredients that excites everyone and it’s an ingredient that can be easily incorporated into everyday foods.
C&I: Why is it important for you to highlight other products made by Native Americans, not just in the culinary industry? Yazzie: Personally, I think it’s important to support local communities. We often don’t hear much about products made by Native Americans, but they’re out there. Through social media, I’ve learned that there’s a lot of interest in others who want to support Native American businesses, but don’t know where to buy these items. There are so many native companies and they are all creating so many wonderful products and services. Through social media, I can present and share authentic products made by Native Americans that are not only related to food but also to everyday items.
C&I: How have you adapted your blog and content over the years? Yazzie: The fun thing about having a lifestyle/food blog is that you can tailor the content to your changing lifestyle. Over the years I’ve covered a variety of topics, from fashion to travel to recipes. There’s a lot of flexibility in what I can share. It’s been amazing to see how TheFancyNavajo.com has grown from an Instagram/blog to include hosting in-person and online events such as cooking/baking demonstrations.
C&I: What do you expect in the coming years for your blog? Yazzie: I look forward to more in-person events. We slowed down a bit during the pandemic and put some things on hold, one of them being bakery/cooking classes. I hope to get started soon and share the magic of Fancy Navajo with everyone. We’re also always eager to share more recipes that incorporate native foods.
Navajo Blue Corn Cupcakes
Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup roasted blue corn flour (I use the Navajo Pride brand. Navajoland’s Shima and Tamaya Blue sell this online, but I’ve seen blue cornmeal in a few specialty grocery stores.) 1/4 cup white sugar 5 teaspoons baking powder 1 pinch salt 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature 2 eggs, smoothies 1 cup milk 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Sift all dry ingredients (flour, blue cornmeal, baking powder, salt) together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the unsalted butter at room temperature and the sugar together until fluffy. Then add the eggs, milk and vanilla until combined. Slowly add the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Place the dough in 3/4 cupcake coatings on top with a spoon or ice cream spoon. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until the lids are light golden brown and a toothpick can be inserted in the center and removed clean. Let cool for 10 minutes.
Frosting Ingredients: 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter 3 cups powdered sugar 2 – 4 tablespoons heavy cream 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract pinch of
Directions: Beat butter and salt together in medium-high until light and fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar until the mixture begins to clump together. Add heavy cream and continue adding powdered sugar until the consistency of the frosting is desired (if the frosting is too thick, add more heavy cream). Frost your beautiful blue corn cupcakes. Optional, tops with a pinion.
Find more recipes, lifestyle blogs, and native articles on thefancynavajo.com and Instagram on @thefancynavajo
Recipe: courtesy of Alana Yazzie from TheFancyNavajo.com
Photo: (All images) courtesy of Alana Yazzie, Jennifer Hubbell and Hannah Manuelito