It’s almost lavender season here in New Mexico. Normally there would be lavender festivals at Los Poblanos Farms in Albuquerque and at Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu over the next few week; however they will be cancelled for a second year in a row due to Covid. Luckily I live close to Los Poblanos which includes the Los Poblanos Historic Inn, Hacienda Spa and CAMPO restaurant that uses their own harvest vegetables to make up their menu. They also have a farm shop with a bakery and many lavender products including culinary lavender and lavender honey. And they make lavender lotions, soap and hand sanitizers plus many more items. Our first lavender festival experience was just after our move back to New Mexico. We went to the Purple Adobe Lavender Festival near Abiquiu. We had a wonderful time and would encourage anyone who has a chance to visit next year in late June or first of July to please check out these wonderful festivals. Earlier in the week I visited the farm shop and picked up some lavender and honey to make Blueberry Lavender Jam. It was a wonderful combination of slightly sweet blueberries with a hint of lavender flowers in the background.
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.
I often make pickled red onions or pickled jalapenos which are the perfect condiment to go with many dishes, especially tacos and sandwiches, nachos or burgers. Recently I’ve noticed that radishes have become popular as a pickled condiment. It made me think, why not make a mix of all three? If you love pickled veggies you’ll love this mix that adds a spicy kick. I added them to tacos and a barbeque sandwich which gave a salty spicy crunch that really elevated the taste. I’m thinking they might be good in potato salad or chicken salad too. After experimenting with pickling red onions I found I like the taste of lime juice over vinegar when it comes to pickling. I came across the lime juice method years ago from Rick Bayless and never went back. This is the perfect time of year to make a jar of spicy pickled radish mix to go with many of your favorite meals.
Posted at 9:11 am by NativeNM, on February 12, 2021
Southwest Chicken Salad also referred to as a Santa Fe Chicken Salad is a healthy alternative for dinner that is loaded with flavors. It’s a popular salad that can be made at home to taste just as good or even better than your favorite restaurant. Nearly always you will find a bed of greens topped with grilled chicken, corn and black beans along with avocado, tomatoes and cheese. These are things that most of us already have in our pantry or refrigerator. The toppings vary and you can always add or leave out ingredients that work for you. The salad dressing is a personal choice but there are many recipes for dressings that enhance the flavors of this salad. I chose a chipotle ranch dressing that paired well with all the toppings and gave it a spicy kick. If you have some or all of these ingredients handy, you too could put together a salad for dinner that is scrumptious and healthy which is ways a plus! Continue reading →
Posted at 9:51 am by NativeNM, on February 5, 2021
Salad is the side dish that we have most often, it goes with almost everything. I miss going out to restaurants and getting those great salads with the house made dressings. They are always so good and you just can’t replicate the same taste from a store bought dressing. So lately I’ve been making more homemade dressings in small batches so that can change it up without taking up too much space in the fridge. One of my favorite salads is the ever popular Caesar salad, however it’s taken some time experimenting with recipes that tastes like the dressing you might eat at a restaurant, or takeout as we do these days. I found a recipe from “Culinary Hill” that checks all the boxes, simple to make, tastes great and no anchovies! I tweaked it a little bit and now it’s my go to Caesar dressing. Once you have a good salad dressing, the rest is simple. Romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese and croutons complete the salad. So what has kept this salad so popular over the decades, it’s the dressing of course! Continue reading →
Posted at 10:14 am by NativeNM, on October 9, 2020
Awhile back I picked up some red plums that were some of the best I’ve ever tasted. They were naturally sweet and flavorful, perfect for making jam. I’ve only made jam a few times but I’m learning more through each process. To preserve the jam I like to pack it in jars and seal using a hot water bath. It’s easy and has so far been very reliable. The one thing I’ve found is that the more naturally sweet your fruit is, the less sugar you need to add. Ball has a “Low or No Sugar” pectin that is an easy way to thicken your jam without all the sugar. Now that I’ve figured that out I plan to pick fruit when it is in season and at the height of sweetness. If you make a few jars here and there you will have a variety of jam to enjoy for several month’s or share with family and friends. Continue reading →
Pimento cheese is a great cheese spread that originated in the south. I can remember eating little finger sandwiches with pimento cheese or served with crackers. These days you might see it added to burgers or BLT’s which got me to thinking . . . what if I gave it some New Mexico flavor with roasted red chile. Roasted red chile can be quite spicy but also has a hint of sweetness that tastes really good in this cheese spread. The flavor is unmatched and enhanced over time as the ingredients blend together. You can also use different cheeses to alter the taste. I made this with cheddar and Monterey jack along with some whipped cream cheese. You can simply blend all the ingredients together for a chunky spread or you can blend it with a hand mixer for a smoother texture. Here in New Mexico chile season is in full swing, the roasters are out and everyone is filling their freezer with green chile. Red chile comes later in the season and is the result of chiles left on the plant which will change in color from green to a vivid red. This is the last of my red chile and I can’t wait until September when I can get some more. Continue reading →
If there ever was a sauce that goes with everything it might be Honey Mustard. It’s sweet and tangy and a little bit spicy. It’s best known as a dipping sauce for chicken fingers, but we like to dip veggies, fries and soft pretzels as well. If you’ve never had pretzels and honey mustard sauce you don’t know what you’re missing. One of our local sandwich shops “Cheba Hut” have a menu full of creative sandwiches, but what keeps us going back are the soft pretzel bites with honey mustard sauce. Joe and I found ourselves addicted the first time we ordered them, there’s just something about those salty pretzel bites dipped in tangy honey mustard that tastes so good. But beyond dipping it’s one of our favorite sandwich spreads and salad dressing. It’s the versatile sauce that you can use for many different things. What’s your favorite way to use honey mustard? Continue reading →
If you’ve ever had Tuscan chicken pasta or pizza you might like to try Tuscan Chicken Lasagna. It’s packed with grilled chicken, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and loads of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Most Tuscan chicken recipes are made with a cream sauce but I opted for a traditional red sauce instead and it was quite delicious. Instead of making a big pan of lasagna, I made two smaller ones and placed one in the freezer for later. We enjoyed a side salad and fresh sliced bread to make this meal complete. It easily made 4 meals for the two of us. Continue reading →
Mongolian beef is one of my favorite take out dishes. There’s just something about that crispy beef covered in a delectable thick sauce that is packed with flavor and clings to every bite. Asian dishes can sometimes be challenging but since I started following “Woks of Life“, I am learning more about wok cooking and trying new techniques that make Asian food taste so good. This is one of their most popular dishes and I can see why. Ever since they posted instructions on how to prepare beef for stir fry I’ve been anxious to try it out. It cooks up with a crispy texture but so tender it almost melts in your mouth. It’s so good you might think it came from your favorite restaurant. If you love Mongolian Beef, I guarantee you will love this recipe! Continue reading →