My Favorite Foodies: An Interview with MJ of MJ’s Kitchen

by Spicie Foodie on February 22, 2014

My Favorite Foodies: An Interview with MJ of @mjskitchen | My Favorite Foodies Series on @SpicieFoodie

On this installment of My Favorite Foodies series we are talking to MJ of MJ’s Kitchen. To me, MJ’s Kitchen, is a gem in the food blogosphere that everyone should know. It’s not only because we share a love for chiles and spicy foods, but also because the kind woman behind this delicious blog has amazing talent. MJ’s recipes are creative, full of wonderful (and healthy) ingredients, plus she makes beautiful photos to go along with them. It is a pleasure hosting her today as well as introducing to you another one of my favourite foodies.

Please help me give MJ a warm welcome and do stop by her blog to say hello.

My Favorite Foodies: An Interview with MJ of @mjskitchen | My Favorite Foodies Series on @SpicieFoodie

Can you tell us a little bit about your blog, what can people expect to find there?

Easy recipes, spicy recipes and flavorful recipes.

The majority of recipes are made with ingredients that are mostly easy to find, and with lots of herbs and spices that will stimulate all of your taste buds.

I do use a few ingredients that may be hard to find outside of the southwest, like New Mexico red and green chile and fresh/frozen posole, but with the internet, those items can be purchased online pretty much anywhere.

Is there a special significance to your blogs title?

My husband, Bobby, actually suggested that name because that it what he has called my kitchen for years. It’s my space, my room, and I am pretty much totally in control of what goes on in it – thus MJ’s Kitchen.

Fiery Chocolate Shots Recipe by @mjskitchen

Why do you like to cook/bake or spend time in your kitchen? Have you always liked spending time in the kitchen?

Spending time in the kitchen just feels natural to me. I basically grew up in a kitchen because that’s where my mother was and I’ve always loved hanging out with my mother. It’s the place where family and friends always gather. Even when I had a tiny kitchen, people stood in the doorway while I cooked.

In addition to the social aspect of being in the kitchen, the kitchen also is where I am the most creative. I love food and I love creating new flavors with the items I have in the pantry and fridge. It’s like the artist who uses the same paints and brushes to create completely different paintings on blank canvases. For those us who love to cook, our blank canvas is an empty skillet.

When you want to treat yourself or loved ones what do you prepare or splurge on?

As you can see from my blog, I don’t make a lot of desserts. However, for special occasions or for those “just because I love you” days, I’ll make a pudding, cobbler, or for a really special day, a pie. Neither Bobby nor I are cake fans, so I can honestly say that I’ve never made a cake.

Southwestern Pork Stir Fry by @mjskitchen

If you had to pick a favorite sweet and one savory recipe from your blog, which would they be?

Sweet – New Mexico Style Chocolate Pudding (http://mjskitchen.com/2013/09/chocolate-pudding-new-mexico-style/#pudding) This is SO easy to make and we both love it!. It’s now our “go to” dessert.

Savory – (this is a hard one!) I have so many “favorite” recipes. I’m going to give you two if that’s o.k.
Red Chile Enchiladas (http://mjskitchen.com/2011/10/red-chile-enchiladas/ ), we have this for those dinners when I don’t want to cook, go out and get take out. It’s SO easy and I always have red chile sauce in the freezer, so we can both be sitting down eating in about 15 minutes.

Shepard’s Pie, New Mexico Style (http://mjskitchen.com/2012/12/shepherds-pie-new-mexico-style/), for when I have lots of time and we want comfort food.

Persimmon Cranberry Parfait by @mjskitchen

What is your most memorable or most special kitchen moment, be it a happy or a disastrous memory?

It was summer, the peaches on some of our peach trees were ripe and I had a lot of work to do. Some friends came over to help. Tasks were assigned and everyone grabbed their tools. I had peelers and pitters, a chopper and another person to help make the jam – stirring, pouring, and sealing. But the person I appreciated the most was the one who accepted the task of keeping the peach daiquiri’s flowing. It was a fun day of endless chatting and laughing with the best music of the 70s playing in the background. By the end of the day, we had gone through a couple bushels of peaches and had made LOTS of jars of peach jam. Everyone left tired and happy, with fresh peaches and a jar of jam.

What is your favorite ingredient, the one you couldn’t live without, the one you use most often? And is this ingredient the one that inspires you the most or is there another?

It’s not a single ingredient – I couldn’t live without a well-stocked herb and spice cabinet. I grow and dry my own herbs, so I have a nice variety of herbs. In the spice section, I have an unusually large variety of chile powders that come from different areas of New Mexico as well as all around the world.

Yes, my herbs and spices do inspire me the most. With a good spice cabinet one can make white rice taste one hundred one different ways.

Red Chile Garlic Bread with Manchego Cheese by @mjskitchen

What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking.

I know this is very cliché’, but it’s chocolate. Don’t tell Bobby but I always have a secret stash of chocolate.

Who is your favorite foodie?

I have to admit that I don’t have a favorite foodie. I just love to see what people do with food and ingredients so I watch a variety of shows (Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef being my favorites) and have a wide variety of food bloggers that I follow. It’s amazing what some people can do with very common, every day ingredients as well as ingredients that I would have ever thought of using or, in some cases, even knew about.

Chile Pequin Pepper Sauce by @mjskitchen

Why did you start blogging? Do you have a goal or what do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

Like many others, originally I was going to write a cookbook, then my husband asked,” Why would anyone buy your cookbook? Who are you?” He followed that up with the suggested of starting a blog. I pooh poohed the idea but then he started sending me links to food blogs and after seeing all of the great things that food bloggers were doing, I changed my mind. And the rest is history.

As far as what I hope to accomplish, right now, I’m just happy sharing my own recipes and introducing people to New Mexico, its ingredients and its cuisine. I’ve always been a teacher; therefore, what I’m doing with my blog is an extension of that. Am I still going to write a cookbook? Maybe someday.

Shepherd’s Pie, New Mexico Style by @mjskitchen

Anything else you would like to say or share with us, tips or advice for fellow bloggers?

Yes, I do have a couple of tips for other bloggers – keep it fun and don’t be afraid to make your own food. Don’t let what others are doing move you in an uncomfortable direction that doesn’t feel right to you. I let that happen to me early on and the fun started to disappear. Way too much pressure! As long as I am sharing what I enjoy cooking and eating, I’m having fun.


Green Chile Pecan Cheese Spread by @mjskitchen


Connect with MJ and MJ’s Kitchen on TwitterFacebook Pinterest Google+ bloglovin


Recipes for images in the graphic and photos can be found in the links below.
(Main graphic top L-R) Southwestern Migas (Scrambled Eggs, Green Chile and Tortillas), Swiss Chard Leek Quiche, Shrimp and Grits, Green Chile Chicken Mushroom Soup, Smoky Polenta with Aged Cheddar, Apple, Carrot, and Pecan Slaw with Curry Dressing
Recipes for photos used in article: Fiery Chocolate Shots, Southwestern Pork Stir Fry, Persimmon Cranberry Parfait, Red Chile Garlic Bread with Manchego Cheese, Chile Pequin Pepper Sauce, Shepherd’s Pie, New Mexico Style, Green Chile Pecan Cheese Spread

All images are the sole property of MJ Willis and MJsKitchen.com. (Graphic design by Spicie Foodie.) Please do not publish images or graphics on your website without prior written consent. Feel free to pin and share on social media. Thank you!


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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sue/the view from great island February 22, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Great interview, and thanks or introducing me to MJ, her food seems right up my alley, and the photos are fabulous!


2 Spicie Foodie February 22, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Hi Sue! Thank you, I’m sure you’re going to love MJ’s blog.


3 Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily February 22, 2014 at 10:53 AM

I love finding new blogs that share a common love for southwestern foods! Lovely list of recipes. Headed over to MJ’s now.


4 Spicie Foodie February 22, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Hi Gwen! Yes, do head over to MJ’s. Here southwest recipes are amazing, enjoy!


5 Victoria of Flavors of the Sun February 22, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Lovely interview and that bottle of chiles makes me drool!


6 Spicie Foodie February 22, 2014 at 4:19 PM

That’s one of MJ’s recipes that is on my list to try. Enjoy, Victoria!


7 Nutmeg February 22, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Can MJ make us dinner?! I may need to recreate some of those recipes very soon.


8 Spicie Foodie February 22, 2014 at 8:42 PM

I always want to invite myself over to her house for dinner, lol!:) Enjoy


9 mjskit February 23, 2014 at 6:07 PM

Come on over ladies!!!! :)


10 Spicie Foodie February 23, 2014 at 8:35 PM



11 yummychunklet February 22, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Great interview!


12 Spicie Foodie February 22, 2014 at 8:43 PM



13 Joanne T Ferguson February 22, 2014 at 7:44 PM

G’day and great interview Nancy, true!
I always enjoy reading and learning more about fellow food bloggers too!
Cheers! Joanne


14 Spicie Foodie February 22, 2014 at 8:43 PM

Thank you and glad to hear it Joanne!


15 Elizabeth @ SugarHero.com February 23, 2014 at 12:28 AM

What a fun series! I love learning about bloggers who are new to me–thanks so much for sharing! Looking forward to checking out MJ’s blog.


16 Spicie Foodie February 23, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Hi Elizabeth! Thank you and enjoy MJ’s Blog.


17 Daniela @ FoodrecipesHQ February 23, 2014 at 3:55 AM

I particularly appreciate Mj’s last tip, it is so easy to be influenced and start cooking what seems to be in vogue. I’m happy I discovered such a passionate cook and food blogger!


18 Spicie Foodie February 23, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Yes, I agree Daniela. Glad to hear it and I’m sure you will love MJ’s blog.


19 Ramona February 23, 2014 at 6:55 AM

Awwww, I love MJ! She has always been such a supportive and caring blogger to me. This was such a wonderful interview to read. :) Thank you both for sharing this with us. :)


20 Spicie Foodie February 23, 2014 at 10:51 AM

I’m thrilled that you know MJ. She is one of the kindest bloggers I’ve meant. Thank you Ramona!


21 Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen February 23, 2014 at 9:34 AM

What a great post! I love learning about new bloggers. Hopping over to MJ’s now!


22 Spicie Foodie February 23, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Great, enjoy her blog. Thanks Kristi!


23 John@Kitchen Riffs February 23, 2014 at 10:54 AM

MJ writes such a terrific blog! It’s one of my favorites. Really fun to get to know her a little bit better. Oh, and MJ — you’re actually writing that cookbook one blog post at a time!


24 Spicie Foodie February 23, 2014 at 12:58 PM

That’s great, John I’m glad to hear MJ’s blog is also one of your favourites!


25 mjskit February 23, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Nancy, thank you so much for interviewing me and presenting my blog in such a beautiful fashion! I’m looking at this and saying “Is this really my blog?” :) You are such a supportive friend and am thrilled to have gotten to know you over this past year. You are the greatest!

Thanks to everyone for such nice comments!!! I hope you get to know all of you soon! Hugs, MJ


26 Spicie Foodie February 23, 2014 at 8:36 PM

Hi MJ,

Your work speaks for itself. It has been great getting to know you and it’s always my pleasure supporting your blog because I like it so much. Hugs and hopefully one day we can sit down to a meal together.


27 Terra February 23, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Oh how exciting, I love love MJ!!! Thank you for sharing, all of MJ’s recipes ROCK! Take care, Hugs, Terra


28 Spicie Foodie February 24, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Glad to hear you are already a fan, Terra. Thanks!


29 Rajat Kochar February 24, 2014 at 3:04 AM

Great interview with amazing pictures.


30 Spicie Foodie February 24, 2014 at 9:12 AM

Thanks Raja!


31 easyfoodsmith February 24, 2014 at 7:20 AM

I am a fan of MJ’s recipes. I always get to learn a new ingredient or a novel way of cooking an ingredient. So good to read more about her here.


32 Spicie Foodie February 24, 2014 at 9:13 AM

That’s great! I feel the same way too.


33 Sarah Grace February 24, 2014 at 10:18 AM

I love all these delicious recipes of yours! They all look absolutely amazing. I love fun surveys like this :)
xoxo Sarah Grace, Fresh Fit N Healthy.


34 rika@vm February 24, 2014 at 10:56 AM

What a great interview! I looooooove herbs, too esp chile powder!


35 Spicie Foodie February 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Thank you Rika, enjoy MJ’s blog!


36 Evelyne@cheapethniceatz February 24, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Great interview and I am glad to say I already follow her blog. She has really great stuff on it.


37 Spicie Foodie February 24, 2014 at 4:51 PM

That’s great, Evelyne!


38 Sandra February 24, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Love these interviews and it was a pleasure to meet MJ. I’ve heard lots about her.


39 Spicie Foodie February 24, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Thank you Sandra, I hope you stop by MJ’s blog.:)


40 sippitysup February 24, 2014 at 7:44 PM

I’ve had a similar “Peach Daiquiri” moment. GREG


41 Yelena February 24, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Beautiful interview, and thanks for introducing MJ me to, very lovely lady!


42 Spicie Foodie February 25, 2014 at 9:46 AM

My pleasure, Yelena!


43 preethi March 2, 2014 at 7:28 PM

I love this interview with MJ’s Kitchen. it’s really encouraging for a upcoming new food bloggers like me.. thank u spiciefoodie..


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