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Cookoffs and cooking contests

By Jane Butel  July 28, 2021

I know of a few women who earn over 6 figures yearly winning cooking contests.  There are even at least two newsletters that promote all the details about entering cooking contests.  For the past few years our companies have sponsored the International contest at the state fair.  Entry details can be found at the State Fair Expo website.   Go to State Fair, then select Participate on the Home Page, then go to Home Arts and select the International contest for the rules and deadlines.  The category is eclectic. You can enter any foreign derived dish of any sort--from appetizers to desserts and anything in between.  Men, women and children are encouraged to enter.  The prizes we offer are one day of a weekend class, a gift basket of one of my cookbooks and Pecos Valley Spice Co products and the third place winner gets an autographed cookbook.

A new cookoff has been launched in Albuquerque.  The Festival  is in it's third year and called the  Prickly Pear Festival  set for September 4 and 5, 2021.   This year is the first year for a recipe contest.   Here is the website  New Mexico Prickly Pear Festival   and the link for entering  is Here's .  The recipe must include prickly pear fruit, juice or the Nopales or cactus leaves. 

Our next day class is the Grilling class at 5 pm this Thursday and still has a few openings.   Our ever popular Green Chile Fiesta is set for 5 PM on August 26.   This class features two Green Chile Stew winners, our famous Green Chile Apple Pie and much more.  It always sells out, so you will want to register soon.


In Old Mexico, grilling corn is generally the preferred way to prepare corn on the cob. The flavors are enhanced by the caramelization of the corn as it grills to a “brown flecked perfection”. Try the toppings for a real sizzling taste sensation! Watch out, you’ll likely to get “hooked” on the amazing flavor.

Following are two of my favorite grilling recipes. 

You can grill corn this way on an outdoor grill, under the broiler, or on a stovetop grill. The various toppings really make it fun. 

Cooking Time: 12 to 15 servings 

Yield: 4 servings 

4 large ears fresh, sweet corn

2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil 

Select fresh corn by pressing a finger nail into the kernels. If they squirt a milky like substance, the corn is very fresh. The green husk should also look fresh, not wilted. 

Preheat the cooking surface. Husk the corn and remove the silk. Lightly oil each ear, then place on the grill and cook until the kernels, when pierced, are firm and not milky. The outside edges of the kernels should be a bit blackened. Serve with your choice of the following toppings. 

Per Serving: Calories 103, Protein 3 g., Carbohydrates 19 g., Fiber 2 g., Fat 3 g., Saturated Fat 0 g., Cholesterol 0 mg., Sodium 13 mg. (Analyzed without the toppings.) 


Fresh Lime and Caribe Chile

1 lime, cut into wedges

4 teaspoons crushed red caribe chile 

Serve lime wedges—2 per person per ear—along with a small bowl of the chile. 

Per Serving: Calories 8, Protein 0g., Carbohydrates 2 g., Fiber 1 g., Fat 0 g., Saturated Fat 0 g., Cholesterol 0 mg., Sodium 0 mg. 

New Mexican Herbs

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon ground Mexican Oregano

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon crushed pequin quebrado chiles


Before grilling the corn, combine the oil, oregano, cumin and chiles. Serve with the hot corn. This topping can also be used for dipping bread. It will keep for several days at room temperature. 

Per Serving: Calories 62, Protein 0 g., Carbohydrates 0 g., Fiber 0 g., Fat 7 g., Saturated Fat 1 g., Cholesterol 0 mg., Sodium 1 mg. 

Mexican Hot Mayonnaise 

4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) mayonnaise

1 small jalapeno, minced (or ¼ teaspoon pequin, chipotle, caribe or other chile to taste) 

Combine the mayonnaise with the chile. Serve hot with the hot corn. 

Per Serving: Calories 103 g., Protein 0 g., Carbohydrates 1 g., Fiber 0 g., Fat 11g., Saturated Fat 2 g., Cholesterol 10 mg., Sodium 76 mg. 

Reprinted with permission from Jane Butel’s Quick and Easy Southwestern Cookbook.


The fresh orange juice lacing the dressing makes it a particularly nice accent for any poultry or pork main dish. Heating herbs in oil intensifies their flavor.

Yield: 4 servings

1 red bell pepper, rinsed and left whole

1 green bell pepper, rinsed and left whole

1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into ½ inch-thick slices

1 small yellow summer squash, cut lengthwise into ½ inch-thick slices

1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into ½ inch-thick slices

1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut crosswise into ½ inch-thick slices


2 Tablespoons good-quality olive oil, preferably Spanish

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange-juice

1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat grill to medium-high or 400F (205C) if not already hot. Place bell peppers on grill rack. Arrange remaining vegetables on separate skewers for ease in turning. Lightly brush with oil and place on grill rack. Grill bell peppers until evenly blackened and blistered, turning often. Grill remaining vegetables 5 to 7 minutes or until charred on edges and grill marks are apparent.

2. Place grilled bell peppers in ice water to cool. Drain and peel, then cut into about ¾ inch squares. Place squash, eggplant and onion on a cutting board and slice into matchsticks. Prepare dressing. To serve, place vegetables in a large bowl and toss with dressing


1. In a small pan that will not get blackened by grill, heat oil with cumin and coriander about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.






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