Have you ever had the Kung Pao Chicken at Panda Express? I’ve been searching for the perfect copycat recipe for years and finally found “the one”. It comes from Jamie at Drive Me Hungry. Seriously this recipe is as close as you’re going to get to the Kung Pao Chicken at Panda Express. I would even go so far as to say it’s better. I couldn’t wait to hunt down all the ingredients and get started. Joe has never ordered Kung Pao when we go to Panda because it has zucchini in it. But he ate every bite and said that the sauce even made zucchini taste good. I think I may add some different vegetables next time to get added veggies into our diet. There are a lot of ingredients in the sauce with some that were new to me such as Chinese black vinegar and Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp. Every time I try a new Asian dish I learn something new. This version of Kung Pao is a very aromatic dish as well as pleasing to the eye. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Posted at 10:39 am by NativeNM, on October 14, 2021
When I woke up this morning it was 34 degrees! There’s a cold spell rolling through NM with snowfall in the northern mountains. But even though it was near freezing this morning, the sun is out and it feels warmer with every passing hour. With the cooler weather upon us I had a craving for a bowl of soothing pasta. I made a grocery run and picked up fresh ingredients to make tomato sauce with spinach and basil. That combined with Italian sausage and cooked tortellini made a pasta dish that was made for comfort. We had a leafy green salad with toasted bread, olive oil and dipping spices on the side. Simple yet tasty!
On our recent vacation to Wyoming we experienced some wonderful food, both familiar and some that was new to our palate. Josh took us to Calico’s Restaurant and Bar one evening. He had been hearing good things about their menu and wanted to give it a try. I was in the mood for a light meal and ordered their Watermelon Arugula salad. It was a big plate of marinated watermelon chunks with a sprinkling of arugula and goat cheese. The flavors in the honey lime marinade/dressing came through with just the right amount of sweetness. I was so impressed with this salad that I couldn’t wait to recreate it when we got home. I wasn’t sure if I could find watermelon since Fall is upon us. But sure enough when I went shopping they had some good sized watermelons that were on sale. While I was putting this together I kept thinking that this salad seemed familiar and not just from tasting it at Calico’s. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had seen a similar recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Karen at Back Road Journal. Karen’s recipe is a Spicy Stacked Watermelon Salad with Feta and Arugula which is a spicy version that looks absolutely delicious! If you haven’t tried a watermelon salad, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Posted at 11:15 am by NativeNM, on August 27, 2021
Dion’s is a local restaurant chain that has been around as long as I can remember. They are famous for their pizza, especially the“505 Pepperoni and Green Chile” which is a family favorite. They also make salads and subs which are equally good. All of their subs are delicious but the one thing that stands out is the Greek dressing that comes on the side with most every sandwich. There’s just something about adding that dressing that makes their sandwiches so special. My favorite sub is the Roast Beef & Provolone. It comes on a crusty roll with melted cheese, roast beef, red onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, deli mustard and a pickle spear with a side of Greek dressing. Sounds simple but it tastes anything but. I found a copycat recipe online for Dion’s Greek dressing that tastes just like they serve at the restaurant. Once I had the dressing it was easy to recreate the rest of the sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always enjoy eating at Dion’s for their pizza, salads and subs but it’s satisfying to know that I can make a delicious sub at home that reminds me of Dion’s.
I haven’t had a cobb salad in ages They are traditionally made with a bed of romaine lettuce topped with sliced chicken breast, bacon bits, tomatoes, onions, avocado, hard boiled eggs and crumbled bleu cheese. I changed it up a bit to fit our tastes and substituted sliced green onions for the red onion and crumbled goat cheese for the bleu cheese. Joe suggested he would like deviled eggs instead of plain hard boiled eggs so that’s our twist on this classic salad. It tasted so good and with a simple vinaigrette drizzled over top. I prepped the eggs and bacon earlier in the day when it was cooler so as to avoid the afternoon heat. This salad was more than enough for the two of us plus leftovers for lunch the next day. Whether the idea of deviled eggs with a cobb salad sounds intriguing to your taste buds or not, cobb salad is a classic for a reason. You can take this tried and true recipe and change it up to make it your own.
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 →