The Guy’s Guide to the PERFECT Valentine’s Menu

Valentine's Day Recipes for Guys

Hey Ladies…

Don’t find chili-mac particularly romantic?

Buffalo Wings don’t get your motor revvin’?

Chicken on a beer can doesn’t light your fire?

Print my free “Guy’s Guide to the PERFECT Valentine’s Menu” and leave it in his man-cave!

  • 17 Delicious Dessert, Dinner and Brunch recipes, with full color step-by-step photos, designed for all skill levels.
  • Key points on what makes a meal “romantic”…besides the food!
  • Cooking Terms Glossary (just in case…)
  • ..your Iron Chefs can contact ME, personally, if they have any questions!

Act Fastthe “Guy’s Guide to the PERFECT Valentine’s Menu” is only available for a couple of weeks each year.

Just subscribe to our blog and eNewsletter, and the guide will magically arrive in your inbox in just a few minutes!

Sign up now at: www.simplysmartdinnerplans.com

Note to the guys: The management at SimplySmartDinnerPlans (that’s me) takes NO responsibility for this post being forwarded to you, left on your pillow, or stapled to your chest…especially if it came from your wife or girlfriend!

~Chef Perry


Being a Teacher


Many years ago when, as they say, I wore a younger man’s clothes, I was a high school teacher.

It was brief.

I was not…great at it.

OK, that may be an understatement.

In reality, I sucked at it…probably more than anything has ever sucked in the history of sucking.

I can’t say, with all certainty, that I hated every minute of it, but the moments I enjoyed were few and far between.

All these years later, I’m teaching again, and I love, literally, every minute of it.

Maybe I’m just older and wiser (well, one out of two ain’t bad), or maybe it’s just that I have a passion for the subject I’m teaching.

Or maybe, it’s that the kids that I work with now all have a desire to learn what I’m teaching. They enjoy what they’re learning and always seem eager for more.

Truth be told, you probably don’t have to be that great of a teacher, if you have a classroom full of students with great attitudes.

Whatever the case, I am glad that God saw fit to put me back in this role. I really can’t think of anything I would rather be doing with my life.

Thank you for being a part of that!

~Chef Perry

Want to help me feed hungry families, teach at-risk & special-needs kids to cook for themselves and their families, and change lives?

Become a patron!


Home Chef Pet Peeve #756

Too many ingrdients

Recipes that claim to be “3 Ingredients” of “5 Ingredients or Less”, but don’t count things like spices, garnishes, or butter/oil really burn my biscuits!

Not only is it deceptive advertising (as an American media sheep, you think I’d be used to that, lol) but it hurts the very people that I bust my hump to help every day.

You see, people go looking for these recipes because they’re too busy, or too intimidated to to try ones that are more complex.

If you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!

They’re TRYING, they’re dipping a toe in the pool, and these sleazy posters are the piranha that make them run away screaming when they see the actual 25 item list that includes all the seasonings and “optional” ingredients.

This is like coaxing a little kid up to the t-ball stand and then hurling a 100mph curve-ball at him (or her.)

Frankly, it pisses me off.

If you’ve been discouraged by these kind of recipe searches, take heart. There ARE some super-simple recipes out there that can help you test the (salted) water. I have a few, like yesterday’s Thai Grilled Chicken Salad (5ing), our Easy Southern Greens (4ing), and our Simply Amazing Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs  and there are many, many more out there on pages authored by cooks who really do want to help you, not just get another ad-click.

easy oven roasted chicken thighs

Easy oven roasted chicken thighs. Delicious right out of the pan, or amazing as an ingredient in dozens of other recipes!

Many times, the word “frugal” is a better way to find simple recipes, than words like “quick” or “easy.”

If you’re looking for something specific, just let me know. I’ve been tooling along this specific super-highway a long time, and I DO want you to cook.

In fact, I think our future depends on it.

You can comment below, IM me on Facebook, or email me personally at chefperryp@gmail.com

The only dumb question, is the one that isn’t asked.

Now, go cook somethin’!

~Chef Perry


Valencian Paella Tomato Soup

Paella Tomato Soup

One of the great items we grabbed from the swag table at last week’s International Food Blogger’s Conference, is Aneto’s Cooking base for Valencian Paella.

Paella is a classic rice dish of Spain. Rice, tomatoes, saffron, chicken, rabbit, duck, garlic, all cooked together…what’s not to love?  It’s certainly a favorite of mine anyway and, for this Southern boy, very reminiscent of the jambalaya of my childhood, though a little less spicy and with a distinct floral aroma from the saffron that’s used to color the rice.

As I didn’t want to come in second fiddle should one of my amazing fellow food bloggers from IFBC decide to actually make paella with this imported (from Spain) paella base, I tried to think of something unique that I could use this flavorful base in.

Then…fate intervened…and my seven-year-old daughter breezed into my office and announced that she would like tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Paella Tomato SoupThis was not a request.

Eureka! What better base to make an awesome tomato soup than that box Aneto’s paella broth?

Plus, it’s super simple, as all of your spices and flavorings are already included in the base.


Now I make a pretty tasty bowl of tomato soup, but the the paella base added who new neighborhoods of flavor…deep, rich and creamy, with a savory, meaty finish exotic with saffron, celery, and rosemary.

Seriously, I’m sure it makes amazing paella as well, but make sure to pick up TWO boxes…and save one for this tomato soup!

Valencian Paella Tomato Soup

2 Tbs. olive oil
12 oz organic, low-sodium tomato paste
1 sm. sweet onion
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 box (33oz) Aneto Valencian Paella Cooking Base, warmed
2 cups of milk (or water), warmed
2-3 Tbs. fresh basil, chiffonade
Finishing salt (optional)


In a large pot, heat oil on medium-low and cook the onions and garlic 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent (do not brown your garlic.)

Stir in tomato paste and let it cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

Want to take the hassle out of meal planning? For super-simple, healthy and delicious dinner recipes, check out our FREE weekly meal plans and shopping lists!  Your free membership helps us teach as-risk youth valuable life skills!

Paella Tomato Soup

Slowly add the warmed paella base, then milk or water (to taste) whisking constantly. Increase heat to medium and bring to a low simmer, stirring.

Top with chiffonade basil and pan toasted croutons (optional).

Serve as is, or along side a delicious grilled cheese like this one with extra-sharp cheddar, pan crisped prosciutto, baby greens, and spicy homemade peach & red pepper  jam.

Come back tomorrow for that recipe! :)

Paella Tomato Soup and Sharp Cheddar Melt


Big Changes at SimplySmartDinnerPlans!

Free weekly meal plans

Dear SimplySmartDinnerPlans Friend:

Please read this whole message. I promise it’s NOT a sales pitch…though it might start out sounding like one, lol.

I want to let you know about a major shift that’s happening with our SimplySmartDinnerPlans.

After almost three years of sending folks simple, delicious, healthy dinner recipes for each night of the week, along with itemized grocery shopping lists to make store trips quicker, easier, and more affordable…we’re changing some things up.

We love what we do, and the positive feedback we get from our customers on a weekly basis tells us that we’re on the right track!


We’ve come to realize that, in our current economic times, even a $10/month commitment is a stretch for some folks, and people are becoming more and more leery about having their credit card information stored somewhere online. As Chef Terry, Chef Chris, and I continue to grow our outreach programs to feed the hungry, mentor at-risk youth, and teach young people how to cook healthy and affordably, we’re struggling more and more with the idea of charging people, even this small amount, for a basic life-skill that we passionately believe that everyone needs and deserves.

So…and please don’t think we’ve gone crazy…effectively immediately, the weekly meal plans and shopping lists will be FREE.

Yes, you read that right. No more monthly subscription fees, no credit cards, no PayPal required. The weekly plans and shopping lists, as well as the usual access to blog posts, recipes, and Q&A will be completely free of charge!

The Plan…

Our plan is that, with this new offer, we’ll not only be able to help folks feed their families healthier meals (without adding an additional burden to their budget), but that we’ll attract enough followers and visits to the blog to begin building a lucrative ad income, and attract corporate sponsors to help support our own families, and continuing outreach programs like our MY KITCHEN classes.

This is where YOU come in…

To make this work, we’re going to need YOUR help!

Please take this opportunity to let your friends, family, and co-workers know about who we are, and what we do. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social media groups, please let them know that they can sign up for SimplySmartDinnerPlans at no cost or risk, effective immediately. I’ve added a very brief form letter, below, that you can copy and personalize, or post as-is, to spread the word, if that helps.

To sign up at no cost (ever), just go to THIS LINK , and choose which menu you would like. You can check out the meal plan options at the Meal Plans tab at the top of the website, as well.

Obviously, you can cancel this no-risk subscription at any time, with one simple email.

What this means…

You will see an occasional ad or banner on the main page of the blog, or imbedded into a post or recipe. You will NOT be receiving 3rd party ads, offers, or SPAM of any kind via email, nor will your contact information EVER be shared with any other company. Any advertisements that you choose to click on, or visit, will be totally up to you, and require your action to do so (for you web-savvies – this means there will never be an auto-redirect to an advertiser’s website…ever.)

Thanks for reading, and please let me know if you have ANY questions. As always, we will be available at any time via Facebook, email or text, to answer any meal plan or cooking questions you might have.

Thank you everyone, we’re very excited about this new phase of SimplySmartDinnerPlans, and we’d love to have YOU be a part of it!

Chef Perry

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Dear Friend’s Name,

Hey…I just wanted to let you know about this fantastic meal-planning deal. I’ve been a subscriber to SimplySmartDinnerPlans for a while now, and I love their healthy, easy-to-prepare dinner recipes and shopping lists.  It makes planning the week’s meals SO much easier!

Well, they just announced that, starting today, their weekly meal-plans will be free!

To join SimplySmartDinnerPlans at no cost, just go to THIS LINK  , and choose which menu you would like. You can check out the meal plan options at the Meal Plans tab at the top of the website, as well.

They include Classic, Heart-Healthy (& diabetic friendly), and Gluten Free plan options!

Have fun!

Your Name


Check out our new Meatless Meal Plan…for free!

Hey. we’re trying out a brand new “meat free” meal plan this week, and we’d love to share it with you and get your feedback!

Here’s what’s on Chef Terry’s amazing meatless menu this week:

~ Curried Egg Salad Wraps with Spinach and Mushroom Salad
~ Pasta with Mushroom Ragú, and Pear, Walnut, & Blue Cheese Salad
~ Sautéed Zucchini with Garbanzo Beans
~ Skillet Eggs with Squash
~ Mushroom & Spinach Tart with Asparagus & Zucchini Crudite
~ Gracie’s Scramboli and Cheesy Toast
~ Red Pepper Pizza and Simple Caesar Salad

Mushroom Spinach Tart

Mushroom & Spinach Tart

Here are the three serving-sizes from our most popular plan, the “Lighter Side”… just click the link to open the meal plan PDF, then print or save it!

Remember, our custom shopping list allows you to quickly and easily shop for any number of this week’s dinners without having to recalculate and reorganize your whole list…try 3, 5, or even all 7 of this week’s delicious dinners!

Please try them out and let us know what you think. If the menu garners enough interest, we’ll add a “meatless” category to our regular rotation, and maybe even create a whole new weekly plan!

Please feel free to share with your friends and family!


-Chef Perry






Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Shallots


What a great class this week! We took the youth to the local Fred Meyer (They’ve been amazingly generous with our program, so we like to reciprocate whenever possible!) and cruised the aisles talking about how to shop, fresh vs. not fresh, checking labels, how to stretch your budget and still eat real food, etc.

Then, to REALLY get them out of the box, we gathered up all of the ingredients for braised Brussels sprouts with Bacon (recipe below), and then went back to the kitchen to learn how to cook these always popular (ha ha) little cabbages!aPost - Copy

THEY LOVED ‘EM! (Even Mark, our fearless leader from Impact NW who was…dubious, to say the least! LOL)

Next class is the appreciation dinner, where the kids will prep, cook, and serve a 5-course gourmet dinner for the Impact NW staff, their own foster parents, and other VIPs!

Thank you!

Chef Perry

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Shallots1½ lbs. Brussels sprouts
½ lb smoked bacon
1/4 cup shallots, diced
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp butter
Kosher salt to tasteTrim the stems off the Brussels sprouts, then slice a small “X” in the stem end, about 1/2 inch deep.Dice the bacon and add to a cold sauté pan along with the diced shallots.
Heat slowly over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the fat starts to render and the meat turns golden brown and crispy but not burnt.Add the Brussels sprouts and sauté over medium-high heat for a few minutes, or until they’re slightly browned.
This caramelization will add a lot of flavor to the recipe.Add the stock, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half (5 to 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Stir in the butter, season with Kosher salt and serve right away!

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.



Trip for 2 to New Orleans still up for grabs!

kpam logo15 amazing Grand Prizes have been eliminated so far from the AM 860 KPAM game board…and SimplySmartDinnerPlans is still in the running!

Check it out for your chance to win $86 instantly, and maybe even our awesome 4-day trip to New Orleans!

Good luck!

– Chef Perry