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Smoked Chicken with Herb and Chile Rubs

Hickory smoked chickens with two types of dry rubs | mjskitchen.com

 

It’s the time of year for grilling and smoking, long weekends, holidays, outdoor family gatherings and all those events that scream outdoor cooking. So in celebration of being able to cook outdoors it’s time to introduce Bobby’s smoking, new toy – a Pit Barrel Cooker.  For years he has used his gas grill as a smoker, but, even though the results have been great, the process is rather cumbersome.  The pit barrel cooker has simplified the setup, the cleanup, the overall process, and the results…fabulous.  It’s hard to say what I’ve enjoyed most – the pulled pork, pork ribs, or these smoked chickens.  Everything that comes out of the barrel is mouthwatering, but the herb smoked chicken is the epitome of smoked chicken.

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How to Make Red Chile Corn Tortillas

How to make red chile and corn tortillas #tortillas | mjskitchen.com

After years of frustration trying to find corn tortillas that don’t fall apart when steamed or dipped in sauce, I started making my own.  I tried several methods that worked o.k., but it wasn’t until I tried the method that I found in one of my favorite cookbooks Gran Cocina Latina, that I was able to consistently turn out great tortillas.  I usually make regular corn tortillas, but it’s fun changing them up a bit and making flavored tortillas like these red chile corn tortillas.  The method and the recipes are basically the same. The only difference is that you substitute some of the water with red chile sauce.  The outcome is a beautiful red tortilla with a red chile flavor and a little spiciness in every bite.

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Red Chile Cheese Tamales

Red Chile Cheese Tamales #tamales mjskitchen.com

 

A mix of spicy red chiles, onion, garlic, and cheese give these vegetarian Red Chile Cheese Tamales a savory, chile sweet and spicy flavor that make truly killer tamales.  The flavor and texture of these tamales are so good that no sauce, salsa, or toppings are needed.

When I first started making these red chile cheese tamales, I used roasted fresh New Mexico red chile and Parrano cheese.  Recently I used Turkish antep aci dolma peppers (peppers in bowl) that I received from my friends at Fords Fiery Foods and Plants. These peppers paired with cheddar cheddar yield a more exotic tamale’, richer and a little sweeter than the New Mexico reds which have a fruity and more earthy flavor.

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Brown Rice Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

This brown rice salad is a healthy salad with brown rice, a mix of peppers (sweet & spicy), nuts and herbs, tossed with a Lime Dressing. #grains #brownrice #salad #recipe @mjskitchen

This weekend we had a wonderful meatless meals that was totally unexpected. I had made this Brown Rice Salad with a Lime Vinaigrette and was planning on serving it with chicken.  Then Bobby walked in with a bunch of green tomatoes from our garden so I couldn’t I resist making a batch of fried green tomatoes. To heck with the chicken. What a great meal that this salad with the fried green tomatoes made!

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Peaches with Fried Grits and Pecans

A breakfast of fried grits, sliced peaches, toasted pecans and mint, topped with maple syrup #breakfast #grits #peaches @mjskitchen

 

Do you find yourself stuck in a rut for breakfast at times, bored with another smoothie or bowl of cereal with fruit?  If so, then I think you’ll find this breakfast – Fried Grits with Peaches and Pecans – quite refreshing. What’s not to love about fresh peaches and grits?  This is a hearty, but light breakfast.  It’s sweet and savory with lots of texture and flavor, and it’s also quite versatile in that you can use just about any fruit you have on hand.  We just really like it with peaches and peaches and grits is a great combo.

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Quick & Easy Cherry Jam

A quick & easy cherry jam, no pectin, just cherries, sugar and lemon juice | mjkitchen.com

 

Very seldom do I get a special request to make something, but last week Bobby came home with 2 pounds of fresh cherries and asked “Will you make me a cherry jam?”.  How could I refuse?  The 2 pounds gave us enough cherries for a pint of jam, plus a few to snack on.

The recipe below is one of my quick & easy jams made with fruit and no pectin.  It makes one jar of cherry jam that is intended to be refrigerated and eaten, not sealed and stored for the winter.  There are three ingredients – cherries, sugar and lemon juice.  The process requires no large pots of boiling jars and lids, and only about 20 minutes of stirring.  The most time consuming part is pitting the cherries.  The result of about 45 minutes of work? … a pint of cherry heaven!

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New Mexico Red Chile Mole

A red mole' sauce made with New Mexico red chile, pecans, pistachios and an assortment of spices. | mjskitchen.com

 

A few weeks ago a friend and I took a cooking class at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy.  The class was on mole and was taught by Chef Fernando Olea, a well-known Santa Fe chef, originally from Mexico City.  The class was a demonstration of Chef Olea making his family recipe for Mole Poblano while engaging the class in a discussion on the different types of moles and the endless variety of ingredients.  Chef Olea encouraged us to create our own family recipe for mole, addressing our own tastes and using local ingredients.  Chef Olea was so inspiring, that when I got home, I did just that.  The main ingredients in the New Mexico Red Chile Mole recipe below are mostly local, New Mexico ingredients. The primary chile is dried New Mexico red which gives it more of a red color than the dark chocolate color that one might get from a combination of other dried chiles such as pasilla, mulato, and ancho.

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Quick & Easy Meal Ideas

Quick & Easy Meal Ideas @MJ's Kitchen | mjskitchen.com

 

We all have the need for a variety of quick & easy (Q&E) meals to fall back on for those nights when we just don’t have the time or the energy to put together an elaborate or time-consuming meal.  However, because we still want to eat good food that tastes like we did put a lot of effort into it, our quick & easy meals need to be delicious.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite meals and meal ideas that I’ve been using for many years. They all take less than 45 minutes from start to finish and most take less than 30 minutes. I’ve also included links to some Q&E meals that I have on my list to try. I hope you find a few that you too, can use to make your life a little easier.

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Sweet Pepper Stew (aka Peperonata)

A peperonata stew with sweet peppers, tomatoes, capers | mjskitchen.com

 

Sweet Pepper Stew is a version of the Italian dish – Peperonata – that is normally made in the fall when there is an abundance of different colored sweet peppers. However, several years ago Bobby made this lovely dish for me for Valentine’s Day and it’s been our traditional Valentine’s Day dinner every since.

Buying organic fresh sweet peppers this time a year is not cheap, but this dish is well worth the price. To the peppers we add frozen tomatoes and basil from our summer garden, along with a few capers.  After resting in the refrigerator overnight, this sweet pepper stew becomes quite “juicy” from the tomatoes and flavorful from the melding of all of the wonderful ingredients.  You can eat it by itself, or serve it with a nice baguette or homemade bread.  It’s also quite good over creamy polenta.  Finish your meal off with a Coffee Scented Chocolate Pot for a delicious and memorable Valentine’s Day home dining experience.

What is your traditional Valentine’s Day meal?

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