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Cold Cantaloupe Cucumber Soup

A chilled summer soup with cantaloupe and cucumber, mint and white pepper. #cantaloupe #cold #soup | mjskitchen.com

 

I think everyone will agree that all melons  – watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew – are best eaten in their prime, when they’re sweet and firm.  But sometimes, you’ll buy a melon that has gone past its prime or one that, you can tell, is just never going to get there. Either the melon is overripe and mushy or under ripe and not very sweet.  When this happen, a chilled soup is a great way to save the melon and actually enjoy it.  My favorite is this Cold Cantaloupe Cucumber Soup.  This soup makes a great starter, a palate cleanser, or a complement to a grilled cheese sandwich.  The sweetness of the cantaloupe is balanced with the spiciness of pickled pepper vinegar and the savory bite of ground white pepper.

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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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Red Beans and Rice with Tasso

A hearty bowl of Red Beans and Rice with Tasso, a spicy Cajun pork | mjskitchen.com

A few weeks ago when we were in Louisiana, we dropped by Bergeron Boudin & Cajun Meats on our way out of Shreveport and picked up some cajun meats to bring back home.  We filled our ice chest with boudin, andouille and tasso, some of which we shared with our New Mexico family and friends. We’ve been using the rest to make some of our favorite Louisiana dishes.  Last weekend Bobby planned to make a pot of red beans and rice with some of the tasso and andouille; however, once he cooked down the beans with the tasso he found that no andouille was needed.  The tasso added both the spicy and the meaty components to the beans while delivering a different, but just as delicious flavor as we get when he uses andouille.  The recipe below is Bobby’s Red Beans and Rice with Tasso.  It is pretty much the same recipe he uses for his regular red beans and rice, so I’ve indicated the differences in my Kitchen Notes. And yes, red beans and rice is Bobby’s dish because he makes it SO GOOD!

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A Tantalizing Collection of Soups and Stews

A Tantalizing Collection of Soups and Stews | mjskitchen.com

When the cold weather just doesn’t want to go away, there is nothing better than a steaming bowl of soup or stew.  Below is a collection of recipes that will not only warm you up, but make you feel good inside and out.  And no matter what your diet – vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or carnivore – you’ll find several soups to keep you warm, healthy and happy. Continue Reading →

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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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Thai Green Curry Shrimp

A quick and easy Thai Shrimp Curry with green curry paste | @MJsKitchen

Most of the time when we get a craving for Thai food we go out to eat.  However, this Thai Green Curry Shrimp dish is the exception.  I found a basic Thai Shrimp Curry recipe years ago in Bon Appetit (Feb 2008).  I loved the “base” of the dish (the coconut milk, broth, and Thai flavorings), but I wanted more vegetables. The Bon Appetit recipe only uses onion and tomato, and I’m not a fan of tomato in my curry dishes, especially green curries. So as you can see here, I’ve changed it up a bit.

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Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup

Pumpkin Beer Cheese soup with Zamorano and Parrano cheese | mjskitchen.com

 

This Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup was inspired by my Conversation with a Cheesemonger (Derrick Sanders).  During this conversation I asked Derrick for a cheese that could be used as a topping on my Roasted Pumpkin and Red Chile Soup, a sweet and savory, spicy soup.  After looking at the recipe, he recommended a “hard, salty grating cheese: Piave, Parrano, Podda, Capra sarda, and Zamorano.”  All of these cheeses sounded so good, and gave me the inspiration to start from scratch and come up with another pumpkin soup that was still sweet, savory and spicy, but also, deliciously cheesy.

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Refrigerator Chicken and Vegetable Soup

How to make Chicken and Vegetable Soup from what you have in the refrigerator |mjskitchen.com

 

Do you ever find a refrigerator full of a little of this and a little of that?  Well, this happens to me 2 to 3 times a month.  Once the refrigerator gets to this point, it’s time to make a pasta or soup.  This week the ingredients screamed SOUP.  This Chicken and Vegetable Soup was made using the last of a roasted chicken from which we had already had two meals, some leftover green beans, and fingerling potatoes, and few other fresh vegetables I had in the fridge.

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Posole’ with Italian Sausage and Kale

Posole' with an Italian twist - Fresh posole', Italian sausage, tomatoes, and Kale | mjskitchen.com #posole #kale #recipe

 

Accepting the end of summer is very hard for me, but last week when the night time temperatures dropped into the 40s, I had to relent. Visions of soup started popping into my head and pictures of posole’ started popping up on the internet.  With every picture my craving for posole’ increased and finally increased to the point where I succumbed to the craving.  I knew I had some posole’ in the freezer, so using other ingredients on hand, I threw together this soup which we’ll call a Mexican-Italian fusion of posole’, Italian sausage and kale.  I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to work, but it did.  Bobby, who is as picky about his posole’ as I am, loved it! The depth of flavor in this soup keeps going and going and going, and the richness of the soup stock … well, just look at it.  I could drink the stock and make a meal out it.

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