MJ Monday-Meals: Produce

No recipe this month, but rather, an observation about food.

My local supermarket has a program where they’ll shop for you and deliver to your house. My main concern with concept has always been produce. I like to pick out my own.

I like fruits and most vegetables. However, I find vegetables a pain in the butt to cook. And fancying them all up with sauces and cheese and whatever tends to render the healthy aspect of eating them pointless.

But my biggest issue with produce is it’s propensity to go bad.

I food shop once a week. Maybe if I shopped daily, spoilage wouldn’t be an issue. When the children were small, my weekly menu was pretty much set in stone, with only a little room for deviation. Rotting food wasn’t a problem. Now that there are only the two of us living here and our lives are more flexible, me cooking a weeknight meal with the two of us sitting down together is a rare occurrence. So even though I know we should eat more fresh vegetables, I hesitate because I so often have to throw them away before I get an opportunity to cook them.

Yes, I know “they” are doing amazing things with frozen veggies these days, and yes, they are convenient. But some veggies simple don’t freeze well, no matter how amazing they are treated. Winter squashes come to mind. Greens are another.

I’m lucky. My supermarket sells fresh veggies that have been prepped: precut butternut squash, shredded Brussels spouts, chopped Asian “salad” (which is wonderful stir-fried). Doing the prep makes incorporating fresh vegetables into our diet easier.

Now if there was some way they’d stay fresh in the refrigerator.






MJ Monday: MJ’s Meals-Chili

If you are a chili aficionado, you’re going to hate this recipe.

If you are a person who thinks everything should be created from scratch, you’re going to hate this recipe.

If you’re a busy person who sometimes needs a quick and easy meal, this recipe might suit your needs.

I got the “original” of this recipe when I was the executive producer of a cooking/monster movie TV show. It came from a local new anchor, who is a legend in the city where I live. Being me (and having a husband who has definite likes and dislikes), I’ve tweaked it a bit to suit our tastes.

  • Brown 1 lb of ground meat (the original recipe called for ground turkey; we prefer ground beef). Drain.
  • Add 1 can of Bush’s Best Chili Magic
  • Add 1 can of diced tomatoes (the original recipe said stewed tomatoes, but we prefer diced. I used to buy ones with chilies in them, but they are no longer available, so I used store brand “chili style”.)
  • Season with garlic powder to taste.
  • Season with Tabasco sauce to taste. (For years, I used roasted garlic Tabasco, but that seems to have gone the way of diced tomatoes with chilies.)
  • Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with shredded cheese or sour cream.

That’s it. Enjoy!


MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-What’s Cooking?

I’ve seen this movie only twice, but that doesn’t stop it from being my favorite Thanksgiving movie of all time.

It is the story of four ethnically different families preparing for  then participating in Thanksgiving dinner.  As one reviewer said, “There’s stress, there’s food, and there’s stressing over food.” The ensemble cast is wonderful.

My favorite part is the variety of textures. Textures in stories matter a lot to me, and this movie sets the tone for each of the cultures by using textures.

I’m truly surprised the movie isn’t better known.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Meals–Sloppy Joes & Sweet Potato Fries

This is a simple meal my family always enjoyed.

Preheat oven, then bake frozen sweet potato fries per the package instructions.

While that happens, make the Sloppy Joes:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  1. Brown the ground beef and onion over medium heat. (If you want you can add green bell pepper and/or chopped celery at this stage, but I don’t know why you’d want to).
  2. When the pink is gone from the meat and the veggies are tender, drain.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Serve on a roll of your choice, along with the sweet potato fries.


MJ Monday: MJ’s Meals-Chicken with Accessory Vegetables


  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
  • olive oil
  • Sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • garlic, minced
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 jar sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1/2 jar deli sliced roasted red peppers
  • 1 jar vodka sauce
  • 1 box rotini pasta

Cover the bottom of a heavy kettle with olive oil and slowly “melt” the sliced onions, cooking until they are limp and translucent.

Start the pasta water. Once it’s reached a full boil, cook the pasta per package instructions, drain and reserve until “sauce” is complete.


Add the chicken and garlic, cooking over medium heat until there is no pink left in the chicken.

Add the rest of the vegetables to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the jar of vodka sauce and heat thoroughly.

Add the cooked pasta and mix well.

Serve with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.