Monday, November 8, 2010

From Kitchen Clueless to Kitchen Chef

Some of you may remember Colin.  For those of you who don't, see below .  Over the next week or so, Colin is going to share with us his stories of success, failure, espionage, and intrigue.  Trust me, you will want to tune in.  Make it even more fun, and try the challenge out yourself.  We'd love to hear from you - send us your stories/pictures to

A recap.

Meet Colin.  Friend, attorney, Texan, editor of Last Resort Press, and all around humorist.

My Challenge.
  Create a custom meal plan - 4 meals - one week.  Simple, health conscious ingredients.  All easy enough for a man who's idea of cooking starts and ends with using a microwave.

The Deal.  1 trip to the grocery store.  Consistent ingredients.  A write/up and summary of each experience - including recipes for all of you lovely readers - and hopefully, just hopefully - an evening where our newbie 'has her over for dinner'.

The Result.  Stay tuned.  Colin will provide unique posts over the next few weeks detailing his experience in the kitchen - along with a few helpful hints and tricks he learns along the way.  I promise you will find his writing and humor . . . well, better than mine.

Want to get involved?  Take the challenge.  As new posts come out - comment, try out the recipes, send us your pictures (  We'd love to hear from you.

Crack open a cold beer and get to work!

Meal One:  (The busy weekday).  Keep it simple, keep it healthy.  Rely on a few store bought/prepped ingredients to make things easy.  When everything hits the plate, you'll feel like you are eating a home cooked meal from scratch - without the work.

Pan Seared Salmon with Brown Rice and Green Beans

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 6 - 8 oz Salmon Fillet, skin removed
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1/2 Lemon
1 Package Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown Ready Rice
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz Can Green Beans

Preheat a skillet/heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Lightly season salmon fillet with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper; add to skillet and cook, undisturbed 3 - 4 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare rice in the microwave according to packet instructions.  After salmon has cooked for 3 - 4 minutes, add the lemon juice, flip fillets, and continue to cook for another 4 - 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add another tablespoon of oil.  Add garlic, followed immediately by the green beans.  Saute, shaking on occasion, while the salmon is finishing - just enough to heat through.  Remove salmon and plate next to green beans and rice.  Serve.

Meal Two:  (Comfort Food).  Remember mom's spaghetti and meatballs?  Of course you do.  Do you really want to spend all that time making meatballs from scratch?  Of course you don't.  Instead, this dish makes use of Italian sausage in place of the meatballs.  Add in a store bought pasta sauce, and you'll have all the comfort of home on your plate in under 30 minutes.

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage

2 Links Hot Italian Sausage
1 Jar Classico Basil and Tomato Pasta Sauce
Kosher Salt
6 oz Dry Spaghetti Pasta
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated

Preheat a skillet/heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.  Add sausage links and brown for 2 minutes on each side.  Pour in pasta sauce, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat a large pot of salted water over high heat.  When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook until just under al dente, about 7 - 9 minutes.  Drain pasta into a colander, and add into the pan with the sauce and sausage.  Mix thoroughly, ensuring the pasta is well coated in sauce.  Add a generous serving of the pasta and sausage to a serving plate.  If desired, slice sausage, every one inch or so before plating.  Add cheese to taste.  Serve.

Meal Three:  (Weekend Night-In) Time to get down to business.  Real men eat steak.  No need to belly up to the bar at your local steak house.  Instead, make this meal at home, and enjoy that solo bottle of wine without any crazy looks from the bartender.  Just remember not to drink and dial your ex after dinner. 

Strip Steak with Baked Potato and Blue Cheese & Chive Tomato Salad

1 Large Baking Potato
Butter (potato topping)
Sour Cream (potato topping)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Tablespoon Crumbled Blue Cheese
1 Teaspoon Chives, thinly sliced
Balsamic Vinegar
1 8 - 10 oz Strip Steak. at room temperature
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Add potato and bake for 45 - 50 minutes.  In a mixing bowl combine tomatoes, cheese, and chives.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Toss to combine; set aside.  Preheat a skillet/heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat.  Season steak liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Add enough olive oil to coat the pan - oil should shimmer and almost smoke in pan.  Add steak, and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes.  Flip steak, and place pan into the heated oven with the potato to heat through, another 5 - 7 minutes for medium rare/medium.  Remove steak from oven and set on a plate to rest and keep warm.  Meanwhile, remove and prep baked potato with desired toppings.  Add a generous helping of the tomato salad, and finally plate the steak.  Serve with copious amounts of your favorite Cab - red wine, for the layman.

"THE DOUBLE DATE" - the moment we've all really been waiting for - including a three course meal, shopping list, and recipes.

App:  Anti-Pasti Plate
Main:  Pan Seared Chicken Breasts with Lemon/Rosemary Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach

Dessert:  Yogurt and Fruit Parfait

Shopping List

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/4 lb Thin Sliced Hard Salami or Sopressata

3 lbs Red New Potatoes
1 Package Fresh Rosemary
1 Head Garlic
1 Lemon
2 Bags Prewashed Spinach Leaves
1 Pint Mixed Berries (Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries Blackberries)

1 8 oz Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
3 - 4 Small Containers Non-Fat Vanilla Yogurt

Kosher Salt
Ground/Fresh Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
BearNaked Brand Fruit and Nut Granola
1 Jar Kalamata Olives (Pitted)


White Wine - Pinot Grigio
Red Wine - Pinot Noir / Zinfandel
Beer - Light Amber or Pilsner

Anti-Pasti Plate - no cooking required for this simple appetizer.  put this out on a large plate or serving platter while you are cooking to allow your guests to stave off hunger while you finish cooking.  could not be easier.

1/4 lb Thin Sliced Hard Salami or Sopressata
1 8 oz Package Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
1 Jar Kalamata Olives (Pitted)

On a serving plate, neatly layer salami slices onto 1/3 of the area of the plate.  Slice cheese into thin cuts, and arrange on the other 1/3 of the surface.  Finally, drain olives and place on the remaining 1/3 of the surface.  Serve with toothpicks, if desired.

Pan Seared Chicken Breasts with Lemon/Rosemary Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach - it's all about timing on this dish.  prep your potatoes and get them in the oven first as they take quite a while.  when they have about 10 minutes remaining, start working/cooking your chicken, and as the chicken 'rests', quickly saute your spinach.  Fast, easy, and healthy.

3 lbs Red New Potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Lemon, juiced
3 - 4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary

4 (6 - 8 oz) Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
2 Bags Prewashed Spinach

1) Potatoes - Preheat oven to 425 Degrees F.  Place cubed potatoes into a large glass baking dish or high rimmed baking tray.  Drizzle with Olive Oil an season liberally with Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper.  Next, add the juice of one lemon (no seeds) to the potatoes.  Toss the ingredients well to make sure everything is evenly distributed - taste fingers  to determine if more salt is needed.  Wash hands after tasting.  Gently arrange a few of the rosemary sprigs amongst the potatoes and add to the oven, roasting and shaking pan on occasion for 40 - 45 minutes, or until potatoes are browned and fork tender.  Turn off heat and keep warm while you finish the rest of the meal.  (Discard rosemary sprigs before serving).

2) Chicken - When ten minutes remain on the potatoes, preheat a large cast iron or heavy bottom skillet over medium heat on the stove top.  Drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Add chicken breasts to pan, careful not to overcrowd and cook for 4 - 5 minutes - undisturbed (aka do NOT touch, creating a nice browned sear).  Flip chicken breasts and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes, or until chicken is firm to the touch.  Remove chicken from skillet to a plate and tent with aluminum foil to rest and keep warm.

3) Spinach - With the potatoes finished and the spinach resting, heat a large skillet over medium high heat on the stove top.  Add oil, followed by garlic and saute for 30 - 45 seconds, careful not to brown.  Next add spinach, one bag at a time.  Continue tossing spinach in the pan, as the heat of the pan will cause the spinach to wilt dramatically.  Continue adding spinach and tossing - adding more oil if necessary - until all of the spinach is wilted and cooked through.  Remove from heat and plate immediately.

4) Serve - Plate equal portions of spinach and potatoes on each plate, followed by a chicken breast. 

Yogurt and Fruit Parfait - a fast and easy dessert that requires no advance prep.  if you can't find a premixed assortment of berries at the store, go with a mixture of cut strawberries and blueberries

3 - 4 Small Containers Non-Fat Vanilla Yogurt
1 Pint Mixed Berries (Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries Blackberries)  Washed w/ stems removed.
BearNaked Brand Fruit and Nut Granola

In four separate glasses, add about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of yogurt to the bottom of each glass.  Next, add a generous layer of fruit, followed by a light sprinkle of granola over the top.  Serve immediately.

No comments:

Post a Comment