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.  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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Bean and Red Mole’ Pizza

A simple pizza made on a flour tortilla and topped with beans and a spicy mole' sauce | mjskitchen.com

After making the New Mexico Red Chile Molé that I shared with you last week, I used it in a few new dishes before freezing the leftovers.  This Bean and Red Molé Pizza was one of those dishes.  It is a variation of a Mexican-style pizza that I usually make with red chile sauce.  The molé completely changed the flavor of the pizza making it a totally different experience and just as delicious.

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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 molé 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 Molé Poblano while engaging the class in a discussion on the different types of molés and the endless variety of ingredients.  Chef Olea encouraged us to create our own family recipe for molé, 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 Molé 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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Pickled Vegetable Salad

A salad of pickled cucumbers, daikon radish, and carrots | mjskitchen.com


I don’t know about where you live, but here in New Mexico we went from cool spring temperatures to the heat of the summer overnight.  This week the temperatures have been in the triple digits, a real challenge for our swamp cooler.  As a result, meal criteria is now “easy to make, at least one cold dish, and any cooking is on the grill”.  Last night’s meal met this criteria to a T:  grilled soy-ginger chicken and this Pickled Vegetable Salad – two very complementary dishes.

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Chorizo and Eggplant Skillet Pie

It's like Frito Pie - Chorizo and eggplant topped off with chips and cheese | mjskitchen.com


This dish was inspired by an eggplant casserole that my mother used to make when I was a kid.  The recipe, in “A Cook’s Tour of Shreveport (1973)” cookbook, is a simple side dish calling for eggplant, onion, bell pepper and olives, sauteed, then topped with bread crumbs and cheese. I loved this dish, but like many of us, I just can’t leave well enough alone. I have been playing around with this recipe over the years making it more than the original.  This Chorizo and Eggplant Skillet Pie is the result.

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The Loop to Pie Town, New Mexico

Pie Town, New Mexico | mjskitchen.com


Have you ever driven 2.5 hours for a piece of pie?  People do it quite often here in New Mexico and some people drive even longer.  Last week Bobby and I took the day off and drove to Pie Town, New Mexico, for lunch.  Pie Town is on Hwy 60, west of Socorro, NM and north of the Gila National Forest. It’s one of those towns that if you end up there, then that’s because you were headed there.  Why else would you be out in the middle of nowhere?

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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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Black Bean Tamales with Spicy Mango Sauce

Black Bean Chipotle Tamales with spicy mango sauce #vegan| mjskitchen.com


It’s time for another tamale recipe!  I don’t know about you, but I love making tamales. Some people enjoy spending a couple of hours making a cake, but me, I’d rather spend it making tamales.  These Black Bean Chipotle Tamales were made with black beans, a little onion, sweet pepper, and a chipotle seasoned masa.  For this batch, I used canola oil, but I’ve also used melted butter. I quit using lard in my tamales years ago.

If you’ve seen my other tamales recipes you know that I prefer to mix the filling in with the masa rather than apply them separately.  It makes the assembly process much easier and faster. It only takes about an hour to make the filling and the masa, and to assemble the tamales.  Once that’s done, you just place the tamales in a steamer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, and go relax, read a book, have a beer.

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Asian Style Sweet Chile Sauce

A quick and easy sweet and spicy chile sauce | mjskitchen.com

Once you see how easy it is to make an Asian-style sweet chile sauce (aka Thai sweet chili sauce), you’ll never buy it again.  I’ve been buying this for years and have gone through many, many bottles, but after looking through a variety of recipes and seeing how easy it is to make, I decided to give it a try. Using a few standard items from my pantry, the process from start to finish took less than 15 minutes and the result was better than what I have been buying!  By making it from scratch, I was able to adjust the sweetness, the spiciness, the flavor, and thickness to my preferences.

The recipe below makes just short of a cup of chile sauce, is less sweet and thinner than what I buy.  I find the store bought sauce too thick for my needs so I’m always adding water to thin it.  If you like yours thicker, then just add an additional teaspoon of cornstarch to the recipe below.

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