May is truly my favorite time of year. The warm sunshine makes me feel so good being outdoors and enjoying nature. Whether it’s going for a walk or watching the roadrunners and quail stop by to feed in our backyard, it’s the simple things that make me happy. This month has gone by way too quickly and now the Memorial holiday is upon us signaling that summer is just around the corner. I hope you all have a festive weekend and enjoy your time relaxing with family, friends or nature. I’ve been craving something cherry and decided to make some Cherry Cheesecake Bars for the weekend. What a great dessert to cap off the weekend! It’s easy to make and a crowd pleaser for any get together!
For the past few month’s I’ve been partnering with NM Dept. of Agriculture on a campaign to promote local New Mexico products. I try to come up with creative recipes using these products in ways that may seem “outside the box”. This week I tried a soup mix from Cibolo Junction and a dressing mix from Jillipepper. With the weather turning warmer soup isn’t ideal so I used the mix to make Braised Chicken and Rice. The ingredients list is light on the details but it includes different types of chiles, cilantro and lime with rice. It sounds Southwest but Joe and I both agreed that it had a lot of Cajun flavors going on. A possibility might be because I used less liquid and the flavors were enhanced. It was quite tasty and Joe (who loves Cajun dishes) really enjoyed it. This was paired with a simple salad on the side with Jillipepper’s Dress It mix. This dressing mix was one of the best things I’ve tried yet. I used it as a marinade for chicken, a dressing for pasta salad and had a little bit left over for our salads here. The one thing I’ve found is that using good local products helps our economy and can make our meals a bit easier to prepare. Of course I will always enjoy the meals made from scratch but it’s been fun trying out new things and tasting all the local products. Some products come from our local restaurants while others are entrepreneurships that have started out of one’s garden or kitchen. I’ve found some real gems that I would buy over and over again. Even if you don’t live in NM, maybe this will inspire you to try local products from your state that give you new and innovative ideas to incorporate them into your meals.
The Bisti Badlands are located in the four corners area of New Mexico south of Farmington off of Hwy 371. The Bisti’s have been #1 on my bucket list for many years, but for different reasons we haven’t been able to go until now. You can look at photos and watch YouTube videos but there is nothing like seeing this landscape in person that makes you feel transported into another place and time. Much of the landscape appears black and white or sepia tone. It’s dry and desolate and the heat becomes a factor much of the afternoon so hiking in this area is best in the mornings. We carried several bottles of water with us knowing that there were no water stations to refill our bottles. The area is 45,000 acres and 60 square miles so unless you have an idea where to go, you could wander for hours. We did our research and decided we needed a GPS to coordinate areas and also keep track of our path because there are no trails and many of the footprints are blown away with the wind. We parked at the south parking lot and entered our coordinates into our GPS with 3 areas that we wanted to see; the Wings, Cracked Eggs and the Petrified Logs. We made it to those areas but we were also lured into other areas that we wanted to explore. There’s just so much to see, much more than we could even imagine in the few hours we were there. I hope you can imagine being transported to this enchanted land that was shaped by time and mother nature!