Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012 Winter Menu

2012 Winter Menu
*Below is just a sample of the possible meals you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Your personal menu is by no means limited to just these options.


Smokey Tomato Soup 
Pumpkin Bisque
Vegetarian Noodle Soup
French Onion Soup (Vegetarian or Beef)
Wild Mushroom Soup
Chicken Chili


Winter Salad with Hoison Dressing
Caesar Salad
Vintners Salad
Roasted Beet Salad
Warm Lentil, Arugula & Mushroom Salad
Mexican White Bean Salad


Crab Cakes
Cod in Tomatoes & Capers
New England Baked Haddock
Provencal Seafood Pie
Shrimp Kabobs with Wild Rice
Herbed Fish Fillets
Spicy Broiled Salmon


Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms & Almond Puree
Chicken Fajitas
Chicken Parmagiana
Roasted Turkey Breast with Cabbage
Rigatoni with Chicken Sausage & Broccoli Rabe
Turkey Burgers


Italian Meatballs with Marinara Sauce and Pasta
Guinness Beef Stew
Pan Seared Steak with Red Wine Sauce
Southwest Burgers
Steak/Beef Fajitas
Family Style Roast with Seasonal Vegetables
Smokey Sirloin Tips with Mexican White Bean Salad


Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers
Brined Pork Chops with Balsamic Glaze
Pork Tonkatsu with Light Asian Slaw
Pork Medallions with Sweet Potato and Apple Hash

Vegetarian Fajitas
Mushroom “Meat” Loaf
Veggie and Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers
Baked & Stuffed Winter Squash
Root Vegetable Gratin with Indian Spices
Shepherdess Pie
Black Bean Burritos

Side Dishes:

Mexican Cannellini Bean Salad  
Feta and Lemon Orzo
Pan Seared Brussel’s Sprouts with Pancetta
Herbed Wild Rice
Seasonal Quinoa Salad
Seasonal Couscous Salad

Salads, breads or rolls, and desserts can all be added for a small additional cost per serving.

They say it's your beet-day

So, Allie's birthday is coming up. Casey is taking her to Florida. The rest of us are insanely jealous ...

Well, I do get my own time away when I head to San Diego in February. I'm attending my first ever APPCA conference on February 10th. Mom is coming with me. It's going to be magic. I can't tell what I'm more excited for: mingling with my personal chef peers, hanging out with my mom, all the eating we'll be doing, or just running in 70 degree weather. Be still, my heart. And then Mark goes to Vegas at the end of February. Seems the draw of warmer climes has gotten the best of us.

But, I digress.

The Clean Plate Cook Book Club celebrated Allie's birthday this past Sunday and made every effort to elevate the fare to her standards (the woman can cook like you read about).

I think Hanna hit the jackpot with her Beet and Chocolate Cake, topped with candied beet chips. It was heaven. The by-product of the beet chips was a bright red, beet tasting syrup that- in the 11th hour of drinking- was turned into a few rounds of Allie's Beet-day Booze ... a combination of the beet syrup, citrus vodka, regular vodka, ginger ale, and a squirt of lime.

Strong? Yes. Surprisingly delicious? Even more so. 

Thank goodness I made more sliders for dinner than should be allowed for human consumption. We needed a tasty "booze mop". For fun, I stuck a bit of cheddar cheese in the middle of each mini patty. The next night, Allie turned the leftovers in to Chop Suey and a killer Mexican style layer dip.

Do you see why I hang out with these women all the time?

That's my Cook Book Club right there! xo

In other news, Bear and I have had quite the running week. No walks in the woods due to warmer than average temperatures and what's sure to be a slush-fest once we hit the tree line. Nope, just paved and salted sidewalks for us these days. At least we have Abby to keep us company. She's a great running partner- significantly faster than me, but very patient.

I've been on a crazy brown rice kick the past few days. I think it was sparked by the sirloin and rice dish I made for Melissa and Matt, which they enjoyed last night. So, in preperation for my Asian cooking class I'm teaching on Wednesday AND because I just had the craving AND because we had lots of left-over pork, I made veggie and pork fried brown rice last night. It was delicious. Here's the recipe:

Vegetable Fried Brown Rice
You can also add any proteins you wish to this dish (pork, beef, chicken, etc.)- a great way to use leftovers!
Makes 6 servings.
2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 ½ cups water
3 Tbs peanut, vegetable, or stir fry oil
2 egg whites (optional)
1 – 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
3 scallions, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 cup bean sprouts
2 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce OR oyster sauce/fish sauce (or 1 to 1 of each)
1 Tbs dark sesame oil

Combine rice and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let sit for 30 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Set rice aside and allow to cool (the best method is to spread rice on a baking sheet- or you can use rice made a day ahead of time).

Heat one Tbs of oil of your choice in a pan. When hot, add your egg whites. Cook them until they are scrambled, but not dry. Set aside when done and wipe out pan.

Add two Tbs of oil to pan. When hot, add onion, garlic, carrots, and peas. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice, scallions, eggs, soy sauce and/or oyster sauce. Allow the dish to heat through. Finish with sesame oil.

Garnish with sesame seeds. 

I didn't take any pictures of it because we ate it too quickly. I'm a hungry girl. So, just imagine what it looked like. Doesn't it look amazing??

Busy days are ahead ... so much to do, I wish I could hit a magic pause button so I could continue about my tasks without losing so much daylight. 

If you ever find yourself feeling this way, call me. Making dinner doesn't have to be on your to-do list. Hire me to make your meals and you'll instantly gain anywhere from 5 to 10 hours a week in extra time on your hands. 

What's not to like?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Samples

Standard half pan size = four servings = FULL and happy

My husband and I share a house with my sister, Melissa, and her boyfriend Matt. 

We love living together (when we get to see each other). Mark and I had been living by ourselves for a while. This trip back to having roommates has proven more fun than we anticipated. That could have a lot to do with the fact that we all like each other ...

Now, Melissa and Matt have allowed me to make them my guinea pigs. What's more, they are both in the trows of some serious work out regimens and a strict diet.

No problem. I am so thrilled with the way the menu and food came to fruition ... in a special addendum to their menu, I also created some lunch options for them out of the meals that became their dinners. Instead of having straight up left-overs the next day, they at least got to taste the food in a new way. I made all of the food on Monday and they needed meals for Monday through Thursday and a lunch on Friday ... here's how it went:

Monday night:

Baked breaded chicken breasts with hearty spinach salad.
     * I'm tellin' ya', this salad was loaded with good stuff. The chicken was lean and portioned, but it was the salad that made the meal. Spinach, red onions, tomatoes, canalinni beans, parmesan cheese, red peppers, basil ... nutrient dense and high in fiber and protein, this salad left them feeling full. I recommended they dress it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. For lunch, I took two of the chicken breasts (unbreaded) and created some chicken wraps for them for lunch with spinach, red cabbage and red onion.

Tuesday night:

Vegetarian fajitas with the works.
    *This recipe blew my mind at only 51 calories per serving (without the tortillas and cheese). Tri-colored peppers and mushrooms sauteed in some olive oil, garlic, cilantro and lime juice. The other half of their filling option was sweet potatoes and black beans, some mexican chili powder, salt, pepper ... both had different flavors, but paired well together. Both would be great sides to a Mexican seasoned steak or beef tips, maybe a bed for some grilled chicken. For lunch I made them some quesadillas, a fun spin on any Mexican leftovers. 

Wednesday night:

Grilled sirloin tips on brown rice with a red wine and mushroom sauce.
    *This entree was the calorie heavy hitter because of the nature of the red meat. 300 calories for every .25 lbs is a lot, especially when we all tend to over eat when it comes to proteins on our plates (I'm guilty of it, that's for sure). The brown rice was a great bed for all of those flavors, a nice vehicle for whatever sauce remained. For lunch I set them up with a hearty salad to throw the leftover sirloin on to. Salad always tastes better when there's protein involved. And we stay fuller longer!

Thursday night:

Roast chicken breasts with roasted seasonal vegetables.
     *Because Matt's birthday is this weekend and Melissa is taking him out for dinner, this will be the last meal they get from me this week. It's a nice note to end on- warm and comforting, but packed full of nutrients and tummy filling fiber. I roasted butternut squash, baby potatoes, red potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes in olive oil, garlic, salt, thyme and sage. The poultry I did separately to help cut down on the calories transferred to the veggies. For lunch, a vegetarian spin on shepherd's pie: mashing up those vegetables and putting them over a bed of corn and beans, then topping it with some cheese and popping it in the microwave to heat ... that's heaven in a bowl, one you can feel good about.

Now ... guess what all of this would have cost them?

If you have read my previous posts, you would know it would have only set them back $175. I would only have charged them an extra $25 to concoct those lunches for them, too.

Yes, I'm serious. And it was a blast to do. I put on some Pandora radio and cooked my little heart out. I was very proud with the finished product- it was all food that keeps them on their diets, leaves them feeling satisfied, and they didn't have to do anything! And I can't wait to do it again ... and again ... and again.

Will your kitchen be next? If you want to talk shop, give me a call. I'm always available. 603-568-2741

Wishing you a healthy and filling week, everyone. xo

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How your meals become reality.

You know what good food is. Everyone has a favorite dish or meal that sits in their minds like a gleaming beacon- that trigger to a place most primal. Good food is paramount to our quality of life.

So often I see friends and colleagues sacrificing their meals to make up for other aspects of their lives. A busy schedule, the kid's sports games, too much paperwork, not enough hours in the day ... I've been victim to the same problems, I've made bad food choices as a result. I didn't know a personal chef at the time.

Had I known the benefits, perhaps life would have taken a few different turns. I'm glad it didn't, though, because now I can provide my clients with a freedom they may be unfamiliar with: good (nay, GREAT) food that they can feel good about, with little to no effort on their part.

Looking for portion control? No problem.
All organic/whole food diet? No problem.
Food allergies? No problem.
Want to loose weight? No problem.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Great meals can be yours. 

Folks keep asking about my pricing structure and I thought posting a blog would be helpful with those of you out there who are interested, but aren't sure if you want to "bite the bullet."

So .. here's the breakdown:

First things first, I need to get to know what my client's needs and wants are. I like to meet clients in their homes, not only so I can see where I will be spending my time cooking, but also so I can get to know their likes and dislikes in an atmosphere that's most comfortable to them. You may never have been asked about food the way I need to. It's a lot of fun to have that conversation!

After I get to know my clients, I give them some menu items to browse to give them an idea of what I can create for them, but the possibilities are endless. Special requests are welcomed and encouraged! With my client's feedback I can create a custom menu of entrees and side dishes that fit them perfectly.

On our specified cook date, I arrive with groceries in hand. When my clients return home after work, the only signs that I've been there are heating instructions on the fridge and the smell of cooking in the air.

Not too shabby, right?!

I know what you're thinking ... 

What does it cost? 

Well ...

5 dinners (4 servings each): $300*
4 dinners (4 servings each): $275*
3 dinners (4 servings each): $250*

5 dinners (2 servings each): $200*
4 dinners (2 servings each): $175*
3 dinners (2 servings each): $150*

Dinners mean an entree and a side. I can also provide salads, breads and rolls, desserts, anything a client needs to make their meals exactly what they want.

*Prices include the cost of food. Pricing can change if a client requires strict and complex dietary needs. These charges are assessed per individual client. 

There it is. That's the run-down. Do I still have your attention?

Awesome. Call me. There's no need to be shy- even if you just have questions. I like having conversations with people about food. It brings us to a different place ... everyone's gotta' eat. What a beautiful, grand equalizer. What a way to connect. So let's connect. It might well be the best decision you've made all year. 

Thanks for reading. Please reach out. Comments welcome. Appetites required.

Monday, January 9, 2012

70 for 70

So, a lot has happened in a few days. I'm pleased to inform all of you that, with the help of a few key people, I have pulled off the largest event of my (short) career thus far. It was really thrilling- wonderful in fact. You know an event is going well when you're eerily ahead of schedule right off the bat.

I'm habitually early for things. It may drive some people crazy, but I figure that if you're early, you're on time; if you're on time, you're late; if you're late you probably shouldn't show up. 'Cause that's embarrassing. Maybe it was my sorority days that instilled this in me, though I remember being victim to a stubborn internal clock at an early age. Fear of the unknown usually encourages me to be the first one at the party- then I'm less surprised than everyone else. At least, that's how it works in theory.

So, Saturday ... Mr. Cook turned 70 and his daughter, my dear friend Debbie, threw him a surprise birthday that was just incredible. I was honored to be a part of it. We had a very unique menu based around the tastes of the guest of honor ...The usual crudites, crackers and cheese, of course. Then we had:

Meatloaf Bites - they resembled meatballs, but had the flavor of meatloaf, served with chutney for extra sweetness.

Deviled Eggs - Grammy's recipe is a show-stopper. These were the favorite. Hands down.

Chicken Satay Skewers - these were fun to serve and were garnished with a peanut sauce. They were a huge hit, from what I'm told.

Caprese Skewers - an oldie, but goodie, that I pulled from a previous employer (which I've put my own spin on). These were one of the most popular items, for sure.

Then there was the Crepe Bar - Deb's dad LOVES crepes, so we offered them up with a bunch of different filling options to appeal to all tastes. The strawberry and raspberry sauces were the most popular by far.

Tapioca Pudding - I made this from scratch to accompany the large sheet cake. It was a nice supplement to the super sweet birthday staple. I was very proud of how it turned out.

The whole party was a great success- of which I owe all credit to the people who helped me: My mom, Mark, and my mother-in-law Diane. We were a dynamic foursome that day. Their support and effort were paramount. And I love them all dearly. I am a very blessed woman to have them in my life.

And now ... Pictures!

Mom passing our meatloaf bites- so fancy!

We work very well together.

Three strong women in a huge kitchen. Recipe for awesomeness.

Aren't they lovely?!

Lovely veggies are as good for the eyes as they are for the belly.

It was a great spread and the food went fast!

Conspiring greatness.

As you can see, we had a great time. The guests were lovely, the day was breath-taking. It was a perfect event. I couldn't have planned it better myself. 

Now, on to the next challenge. I am invigorated by what the future may bring.