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Non-Traditional Sides for Your Holiday Table

Non-traditional sides, starters and desserts for your holiday table from MJ's Kitchen. @mjskitchen


We’re going a little non-traditional this year for the holidays, forgoing the turkey and sweet potatoes, and even the cranberry sauce.  So just in case you too are looking for something different this year, here are a few non-traditional sides for your holiday table – from my kitchen to yours.

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Spicy Smoked Chicken Tetrazzini

Classic chicken tetrazzini made with smoked chicken and roasted green chile |

If you find yourself with leftover chicken or turkey, which we all do at one time or another, then you should make a tetrazzini. It’s such an easy dish to thrown together and is quite versatile.  This particular chicken tetrazzini is made with leftover smoked chicken and a few vegetables.  To give it a little kick, spicy, but not hot, roasted green chile is added.  The roasted chile gives the dish a bit of a spicy bite and is a complementary flavor to the smoked chicken.  We’ll be smoking a turkey on Thanksgiving so I can’t wait to make this with leftover smoked turkey.

Hope you enjoy!

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Pasta with Broccolini, Leeks and Preserved Lemon

A quick, easy, healthy pasta dish with fresh broccoli, leek, herbs and preserved lemon |


Looking for a seriously quick pasta dish bursting with flavor?  Here it is!  This Pasta with Broccolini, Leeks and Preserved Lemon is so simple, healthy, tasty, aromatic, and pleasing to the palate that you’ll want to have it every week.  Whenever I see young broccoli or broccolini at the market, I make this dish.  It’s just too easy and too good to pass up.  This past dish has a light sauce consisting of olive oil, water from the pasta pot, and a bit of preserved lemon juice. The ingredients are simple and few, and the pasta can be whatever you have in the pantry.  And if you don’t happen to have a jar of preserved lemons in the refrigerator, you can always make a quick small batch in about 24 hours.  Hope you enjoy!!!

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Quick & Easy Meal Ideas

Quick & Easy Meal Ideas @MJ's Kitchen |


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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Fennel Spiced Ham and Mushroom Pasta

An easy pasta dish with leftover ham, mushroom, greens and spices. @MJsKitchen


Let’s talk pasta….About once every two weeks I’ll make a pasta dish.  At times it’s my fallback dish Capellini with Lemon, Garlic and an Egg (quick, easy and delicious), but most of the time I just throw a pasta together using a “little bit of this and little bit of that” from the fridge and pantry.  This fennel spiced pasta with ham and mushrooms was the result of last week’s throw together.

When I made it, I didn’t measure anything because I wasn’t expecting to post it.  However, since it turned out SO good, I thought I would post it as a lead in to how to make a delicious pasta dish without a recipe, using what you have and needs to be used.

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30+ Recipes Using Preserved Lemons

A host of recipes that used preserved lemons


Do you have a jar of preserved lemons sitting in the refrigerator feeling ignored?  Well, it’s time to quit ignoring it and put those lemons to use.  If you don’t have any preserved lemons, do not fret – one of the following recipes tells you how to make a small batch in just 24 hours.  Following are at least 30 luscious recipes that take advantage of the unique and absolutely divine flavor of preserved lemons.

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Pasta With Leek Confit and Mushrooms

A vegetarian pasta with leek confit, mushrooms, and sweet red peppers #pasta


Today’s pasta with leek confit and mushrooms was inspired by a wonderful leek confit that I saw over at The Wimpy Vegetarian back in January. I’ve made this confit several times, using it as the base for pizza and a toss for vegetables and rice – always resulting in a delightful dish.  However, one of our favorite uses is tossing it with pasta.  In this dish, mushrooms and sweet peppers are added to the confit during the last 10 minutes of simmering. The vegetables are then toss with pasta and topped with Pecorino Romano.  The resulting dish is a delicious, hearty and healthy meal, a great dish for Meatless Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, or any day of the week.

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Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Farfalle with a no cook tomato sauce. Just fresh tomatoes, basil, olives, cheese and a few other ingredients.


Now that your mouth is burning from the green chile I’ve been serving up this month, I thought I would help cool things down a bit and introduce you to another of my tried and true recipes – Farfalle with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil (a no cook tomato sauce).  This recipe was inspired by one I saw many years ago in Gourmet magazine (I think).  Over the years I have taken the original recipe and tweaked it a little here and there, playing around with different cheeses, pasta, and a variety of ingredients.   The recipe I’m sharing with you here is the best of them all, and a recipe that I am not allowed to change. 🙂  During tomato season I make this three or four times, then once the fresh, local tomatoes disappear, we wait until next year to have it again.

This dish requires fresh picked, quality, ripe tomatoes and fresh picked basil. The tomatoes and basil are mixed together in a bowl with a few other ingredients, allowed to rest for at least an hour, then tossed with hot pasta.  (If you can’t eat pasta, rice works just as well.)   The hot pasta melts the cheese and provides a base for this wonderful no cook tomato sauce.  I think you’re going to love it!

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Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese with Asparagus

Macaroni and Cheese


For some reason my craving for macaroni and cheese has been escalating.  Maybe it’s because of all the wonderful mac & cheese recipes I’ve been seeing online lately.  But the one that pushed me over the edge was Zsuzsa’s stovetop Creamy Macaroni and Cheese.  When I first saw her picture, I knew that was the mac & cheese I wanted to eat.  Her recipe looked fabulous and the video she provided in the post was a great tutorial on how to put all of the components together for a creamy outcome. You definitely need to check it out.

For this recipe I used Zsuzsa’s for the most part, but purely out of habit I ended up making the béchamel (white sauce) the way I normally do. I added a couple of herbs to the dish because I love herbs, and then cut back a bit on the cheese. For the finishing touch and to create a complete meal for Bobby and me, I added my Simply Asparagus dish which you’ll find later in this post. Each plate was served with a serving of macaroni and cheese and about 5 to 6 spears of asparagus.  We cut the asparagus into bite size pieces and ate a piece with each bite of mac & cheese.  It is quite tasty!

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