04/7/17

Chicken Georgia with Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

 

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This is one of my favorite comfort-food dishes.  Creamy, umami, and enough veggies to keep the guilt away. I’m not, typically, a big fan of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts…but this is the kind of recipe that’s the exception to the rule!

Enjoy,

Chef Perry

Chicken Georgia with Garlic Mashed Cauliflower & Green Salad

Chicken Georgia (4a)
Active Time: 5 min.                                                   Total Time: 35 min.


  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless
  • 4 tsp. butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 pinch ea. salt & black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. minced shallots
  • 4 tsp. flour
  • 2 oz. grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pre-bagged salad

Toss the salad with dressing, and set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 10 minutes. Remove vegetables with slotted spoon.

Dust chicken with flour and add to the pan. Cook 10 minutes on each side, or until tender. Transfer chicken to platter and sprinkle with grated cheese. Return the veggie mixture to the pan with drippings, add a teaspoon or two of hot water, and whisk to create your pan sauce.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving or just until the cheese has melted, top with mushroom sauce.

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, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower (4b)
Active Time: 15 min.                                                     Total Time: 21 min.


  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 3 tsp. cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 dash ea. salt & black pepper
  • 3 tsp. butter

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces.

Place rinsed cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl. No additional water is needed! Cover the bowl with microwave safe plastic wrap, leaving one corner open to vent. Microwave on high for four minutes.

In a food processor (or with a good old fashioned potato masher), puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper until almost smooth.

Serve hot with pats of butter (opt.)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

IMG_3999Check out many more recipe, and next level techniques in my new book, “The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen!”

Part syllabus, part autobiography, part call-to-arms, The Home Chef is about the rapidly evolving landscape of cooking in America, and how to cook real food, the best food possible, in your own kitchen, and more importantly…why you should.

Filled with insider tips and tricks from the professional kitchen, hundreds of links and resources to (free) professional level education, and easy to follow instructions from a professional cooking instructor…

Everything you need, and nothing you don’t, to take your own culinary creations to the next level, while saving time, money, and waste doing so.

The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen is culinary school for the home cook.

10/13/14

Maque Choux (Southern corn casserole) with Bacon

Maque-Choux-with-Bacon-Recipe

Here’s one to make a permanent part of your weekly meal plans!

Any Southerner worth his Moon Pie knows that bacon and corn go great together. I mean, bacon goes great with just about everything, sure, but pair it with fresh, sweet corn and you really have something special!

 This old school, simple side-dish is one of my all-time favorites. Corn and bacon drippings with onion and bell pepper, topped with crispy bits of bacon.

If that doesn’t get your mouth watering, something inside of you has died.

Maque Choux (pronounced “mock shoe”) is a traditional dish of southern Louisiana. It is thought to be an amalgam of Acadian French (Cajun) and American Indian cultural influence, and the name is likely to derive from the French interpretation of the Native American name. Maque choux is usually served as a side; however, it can also act as a base for a main dish by adding bite-sized portions of chicken, shrimp, or crawfish (crazy good!)

Now, you can use regular, thick-sliced bacon, as listed in the recipe below, but if you really want to take this a next level dish, slow roast and chop up some guanciale* instead.

Maque Choux with Bacon

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves 8-10

3 cups fresh sweet corn kernels (6 ears fresh corn)
8 ounces bacon
1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onions (1 large)
1 cup chopped red, yellow, or purple bell pepper
1 tsp. salt
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 firm Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)

Mise en Place

Cut the sweet corn from the cobs. Chop the sweet onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and tomatoes.

Prepare the dish

Cook the bacon in a large saucepan until crisp. Remove bacon, drain, crumble and set aside.

Add the remaining ingredients (except corn) to the bacon drippings and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often, over medium heat.

Stir in the raw corn, green onions, and reserved bacon. Let rest 2-3 minutes, and serve, topped with fresh cilantro.

*Guanciale (gwan-chalie), an Italian-style bacon made from hog jowl, is a prized gourmet delicacy in central Italy. Typically, it’s dry-cured, hand-coated with fresh cracked peppercorns, then smoked over smoldering hickory logs for nearly 24 hours. The result is a meat with a noticeably richer flavor than typical bacon, and is a popular addition to such classic dishes as spaghetti alla carbonara and pasta all’amatriciana. – Check out our Guanciale Bacon Alfredo!

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.

 

 

09/5/14

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!

However…

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
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

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

SAMPLE LETTER TO FRIENDS, FAMILY, & CO-WORKERS

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

04/9/14

Cell Phones & The Dinner Table

Our new SimplySmartDinnerPlans radio spot (if you haven’t heard it, listen here) ends with a funny comment about trying to get the family to put their cell phones away at the dinner table. This got me thinking…

Texting at tableNow, for the sake of honesty…I’m guilty of the occasional email peek myself, so no high-horses here! :)

But, at the same time, I’ve been to dinner at folk’s houses where four kids are plugged into cell phones, ipods, ipads, you name it, and never lift there eyes from the screen through the whole dinner.

Well, what’s the point of having a “family dinner” if every one is hiding in their own little digital world?

To quote one friend, commenting on this subject: “Talking, texting, or listening to your ipod during a family dinner is just rude. When having a meal, one is supposed to enjoy/cherish the other party’s company. Engage them in a conversation, laugh about things or just sit, eat and drink while appreciating each others presence.

“Appreciating each others presence”…I like that.

No, I love that.

Of course, as the chief cook and foodie of my family, I also enjoy seeing some respect and appreciation for the food I’ve cooked and served (and so should show the same respect and appreciation when my spouse cooks) as well.

Frankly, if you’re going to just grab a spoon and hork it down while “lol”ing with your “bff”, uncaring of what you’re putting in your mouth, I think I’d rather just slop something into a bowl and let you eat it off the floor, as that’s the behavior I expect from the dog.

Actually, that’s not fair – our dog is always clearly appreciative of her food. :) Sorry…that was the chef in me expressing moral outrage, lol.

Finally, from those foremost authorities on good manners, at Emily Post.com:

“If your meal is just about nourishment and you are by yourself in the kitchen, text away. No problem! But if you’re having dinner with friends and family, be with them.”

The dinner table is, or should be, that place where as a family we reunite from our various daily adventures to re-connect, to share, to ask and answer, to seek and give help, and to grow closer as a family. It is where we, as a tribe, commune and break bread with one another, affirming the importance of each member to the whole, where we love, and laugh, and make memories.

Texting3So, here’s what I’m thinking…

While this really isn’t that big of a deal at my house (yet), I do have a six-year-old daughter who is watching and learning, and it’s probably never too early to start setting a good example. I think I’m going to put a basket on our dinner table, and anyone who brings a cell-phone, tablet, etc., to the table, has to put it in the basket.

First one to take their phone out of the basket, before dinner is over, has to do the dishes!

Yes, that includes myself.

So, remember…

Texting2

 

Your thoughts?

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

 

03/19/14

Thank you for helping the kids!

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So, our double pig roast at The Beer Station was a HUGE success! Everyone had a great time for this “Ides of March” party, the food was great (if we do say so ourselves…) the amazing beers flowed freely, and the generosity in donations to MY KITCHEN (our Independent Cooking Classes) was overwhelming.

We want to take the opportunity to express our gratitude to some amazing folks who made this event, and the MY KITCHEN program, possible.

Sparks of Hope logo

First kudos go to our long-time friends over at Sparks of Hope. A wonderful outreach in their own right, they have almost single-highhandedly made it possible to launch our cooking classes next month, by taking us on a mind-bogglingly generous shopping spree for the majority of our kitchen hardware.

We love you guys!

946551_534079563313557_1332576708_nThanks to Rusty Truck Brewing for the amazing beers, and their generous donation of a full keg (the proceeds from those sales were donated to our program).

You guys rock!

And, of course…

THE BEER STATION

 

 

 

01/16/14

What is a “home cook”…?

home cook

Honestly, I don’t much care for the term “home cook”.

(Which may seem strange for someone who does meal planning for a living…but I’ll explain…)

Despite it being descriptively accurate, ie: “a person who cooks in their home”, what should be a badge of honor has become a caste term to designate someone who is “lower” or less skilled that the professional chef. The glitz and glitter of the recent explosion of food television’s popularity has, for many, created a level of misunderstanding and misinterpretation as to what “cooking” really is, and that is having a dangerously undermining effect of home cooking in our society.

But, for lack of a better title (and because I despise the phrase “amateur cook”), I’ll use the term home cook, and do what little I can to elevate it back towards the status it deserves.

2048nigellarachIt’s no secret that many home cooks have skills and experience that matches and even exceeds that of their professional counterparts. In fact, many of the “celebrity chefs” that are well known and beloved in our new food culture,  were never really “chefs” at all. Rachael Ray and Nigella Lawson are two of the biggest names in the culinary world, but neither are professionally trained chefs.

Self-trained and having never worked in a commercial chef position, they are just two examples of skilled and famous “home cooks” who have hit it big.

Oh, add to that list Julia Child, of course. (Julia did attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, but except for her own cooking shows, never cooked in a professional setting.)

Some would say that the title of “chef” has to do with education, which is a ridiculous argument, as culinary schools have only been around for a couple of hundred years (remember, there wasn’t much in the way of a “restaurant industry” before the French revolution of 1789) and teach and revere the methods developed by chefs who never attended any form of culinary school…or in some cases, any school at all, lol.

Many of our modern chefs never received any formal cooking education either, including Paula Deen, Gordon Ramsey, Rachel Ray, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller (!), Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver, Ferran Adria, Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, and the list goes on.

AICAIEphotoshootNow, let me be clear here…if your goal is to work as a professional chef, in a commercial kitchen, and you haven’t grown up in kitchens or worked your way up from dishwasher (which is the true “classical training” everyone likes to yap about these days) then culinary school is a wise, likely necessary option for you.

You will learn skills and techniques in speed, multitasking, bulk cooking, food purchasing, business skills, and planning that are absolutely essential for running a restaurant kitchen…but are almost completely disconnected from, and unnecessary to, the home cook.

Again…one is not better than the other, it’s a completely different set of requirements, at the heart of which are some common skills. You can be a great cook without being a chef, just as you can be a chef without being a great cook (and we’ve all ordered THAT dinner…)

The point is that if you take away all that “other stuff”, then YOU have, or can develop, all of the same cooking skills in your home kitchen, to cook great food, and you can do it as good as anyone I’ve mentioned here. If fact, without the pressure of high volume cooking, the drive for turn-over, the constraints of menu, the need to multitask, and the need to cook at a profit…you should be able to cook BETTER food than a chef in a commercial kitchen!

One of the best arguments we have for the legitimacy of the home cook comes, ironically, from the same cable networks that seek to elevate the term “chef” to a level of celebrity.

If you’ve ever watched a food-centric show that involves travel outside of the United States, you know what I’m talking about. Every time a chef or “host” visits a home and is offered a meal, it is invariably the best meal of the trip, regardless of how many world famous chefs or restaurants they’ve visited. Hosts ask chefs where they learned to cook, and the answer is almost always in their mother’s, or grandmother’s kitchen.

Even that age-old kitchen game “If you have 24 hours to live, what would your last meal be” is answered with simple yet beloved dishes from the childhood home kitchen, and not some fancy Michelin star restaurant’s tasting menu (a fact that is usually pointed out in no uncertain terms by the show’s host.)

So, what then makes a “home cook?”

The home kitchen is the primal hearth from which all cooking was born, it is where most of us first watched, and touched, and tasted, and smelled the delicious alchemy of earth and water and fire and flesh, and it deserves a higher honor in our society than to have become the repository of canned “food”, frozen “meals”, and boxes of fill-in-the-blank-Helper.

Processed-Food-500x375If we are to reverse the current trend of disdainful disregard, we must first agree that the definition is NOT anyone who cooks at home. My four-year-old daughter could pour boiling water into a cup of noodles, or spread peanut butter on bread, if we agree that this makes her a “home cook”, then we are as responsible for that disdain, as anyone.

Just as a “home mechanic” can have as good, or even greater skills than a professional mechanic, they still both must know how to take an engine apart, put it back together, and have it run, to be considered a mechanic…a home cook must know how to cook. Not thaw and nuke, not dump and stir…but COOK.

If we do not hold the term to a certain standard, then we are part of the problem.

Here is one of the best descriptions I’ve found for what, beyond financial compensation, makes a chef…and I would say the same goes for what I consider a home cook…

“A chef has to be responsible for the soul of the food. A chef should have a deep understanding of how to cook many types of food, what flavors go together, how to handle kitchen equipment (knife skills, etc.,), and so on. A chef should not require the directions part of a recipe, and usually shouldn’t require the amounts in a recipe, either.”

In other words, it’s all about the food, knowing what to do with it, and having a passion for making it great…just like the home cook.

Your thoughts?

-Chef Perry

03/30/13

Hautemealz.com featured in Oregonian Newspaper

Hautemealz gives subscribers plenty of meal choices

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Excerpt:

A Oregon-based company has devised a creative and healthful answer to that daily question, “What’s for dinner?”

Oregonian Article (764x1024)Hautemealz (pronounce “hot meals”) is a weekly subscription-based recipe and meal planning service that lets subscribers choose from one of four menus: traditional, lighter, diabetic-friendly or gluten free. The company emails a weekly meal plan and shopping list, organized to correspond to the grocery store aisles, with corresponding nutrition information and “serving size” math for a choice of two, four or six portions.

Chef Perry Perkins believes this system will save at least $5, the cost of a monthly subscription, in grocery bills since most families find they all but eliminate the waste that occurs when shopping without a clear plan.

Their personal touch extends to the company’s mission: They aim to donate 30 percent of their profits to charity. Already, the team provides its cooking expertise to organizations such as Father’s Heart Street Ministry, Impact Northwest and the charity auction organized by Amy Roloff, of “Little People Big World” fame.

“That’s what I love the most … seeing the light in people’s eyes when we feed them,” says Perkins, acknowledging that growing up in a food insecure household helps drive this interest.

Read the complete article on The Oregonian Newspaper’s website.

 

01/21/13

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

first-birthday-boys-cake-party
hautemealz.com signed up our first customer, (Thank you Mrs. Smith!) one year ago today!

We’ve come a long way, cooked a lot of great food, and met a lot of awesome folks along the way!

Here’s to many more years of amazing food made easy!

Thank you for making this a GREAT first year…

Chefs Perry, Terry, Chris, & Maryse