Monday, March 30, 2015

15,330 dinners... give or take!

As I celebrate another dinner, I thought I would share a little math regarding it.  Simple math but, you may need a calculator to figure out your own data or not...  42 years today times 365 days (avg) equals 15,330 each of breakfast, lunch and dinner for a grand total of 45,990 meals since I arrived on this rock!!!
Now, that figure is based on the fact that I actually ate each meal each day of my life.... we all know that that number assuredly will decline.  Minus sick days.  Minus the fact that I don't really eat the most important meal of the day in breakfast, minus the fact that most lunches are working which include snacking and not really a meal.  This leaves dinner.  My favorite meal, the diversity of  ingredients available, the most memorable meals for sure happen in the evening.

Over time, as our palates change, so do our favorite meals.  Just like that best rock concert you've ever seen... until the next one comes along because your 15 years older and in a completely different musical place...  But, as in true rock concerts fashion, here's my set list of meals including the band members who played with me:

1. Lola - Chef Bill and Chef Rocco  (beef cheek pierogies and crispy bone marrow)
2. OTS (Old Town Social) Bill, Rocco, Todd, Jeff, Mike and a band of others - anything charcuterie, duck wings, craft beers, amazing cheeses
3. Bar Cento - Sheri, Karen and Josh  (charcuterie, homemade pasta and pizza) prefix tasting menu.
4. Topolobampo  - Chef Tim, Skidge, Michelle  (grand tasting menu)
5. St. Elmo's - Matt, Richard and Tom  (shrimp cocktail)
6. Greenhouse Tavern - Jermaine, Chef Curtis, Bob, Scotty(niiice), (roasted pig's face) Sheri (animal fries)
7. BOCA - Chef Tim, Skidge, Michelle  (grand tasting menu)
8. Ray's - Terry, Alina, Sheri, Amy, MC, Tracy, Steve, Richie, Jenny, Rob (burgers and long islands and purple hooters)
9. Poogan's Porch - Sheri (cheddar pimento fried cheese, short ribs)
10. Rose Pistola - Sheri (foccacia truffle bread with manchego cheese)
11. In N Out burger - Sheri, Karen, Josh, Mike, Gina (double double animal style)
12. Frantoio - Sheri (Arancini)

Encore --

SCOPA - Sheri (Nanna's Chicken and burrata)
Ronin - Chef Bill and Chef Rocco (sushi)
The Purple Pig - Chef Bill, Chef Rocco, Jennifer (crispy pigs ear salad)
Girl and the Goat - Chef Rocco, Chef Steve (bucatini bolognese with quail egg)
Cork and Cleaver - Sheri (Chef Adam's amazing board of sweet)

I am sure that there are plenty of other classics that were missed but, like a rock concert, the set list can change pretty quick!

What's your set list?


Warm summer salad

1 bag broccoli slaw mix
1/4 c. shredded carrots
1/4 c. shredded Brussels sprouts
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. rice wine vinegar
1 small bag baby Yukon gold potatoes (quartered)
3 T. butter
salt and pepper
6 Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 yellow onion, chunked
1 T. smoked blue cheese

1.preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. in oven pan, place Yukons and season with salt and pepper. add butter. roast for 10-12 minutes.
3. add tomatoes and onions to potato mixture and continue heating for 8-10 minutes.
4. in saute pan, heat remaining ingredients for 2 minutes.
5. add potato mixture to saute pan and plate.
6.garnish with smoked blue cheese.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Training Days

I believe in strength.  Strength of the mind is one of the most important things we have.  With training, comes strength.  Whatever your craft is, you should train to gain the wisdom & strength that molds your mind to be the best at your craft!  I have picked up on Saturday cooking to help me "mold my mind".  Often, I try and involve my boys by tricking them into helping me... and, when that doesn't work, I'll actually ask them.  I will work on things in the kitchen that I see as an opportunity to grow; whether it be pork belly, desserts or just making something new for dinner; my mind is clear of the regular stuff on Saturdays.  It has become a personal happy place!

Here's a fresh springtime sandwich that is surprisingly addictive!!!

Cheers to you and your own personal continuing education!


Bahn Mi sandwich

4 hoagie buns
2 pc 3 oz boneless pork chops
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 c. olive oil
1 bag broccoli slaw
fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, sliced thin
3 T. Korean BBQ sauce
1 t. sriracha sauce
1/2 t. sesame oil


1.slightly toast hoagie rolls bowl, mix together flour, ginger and cinnamon.
3.dredge pork in flour mix
4.pan fry in olive oil, 2 minutes each side. reserve. separate bowl, mix slaw with BBQ, sriracha and sesame oil.
6.slice pork into strips.
7.lay pork into hoagie rolls, top with slaw mix and finish with fresh jalapeno slices and cilantro.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Keep Your Kids Happy :)

Last night was "Boys night"!  The self proclaimed evening where my 3 sons are with me only.  Mom is out, and I have added responsibilities...  This means, a personal, higher self-induced stress level, shortness of conversations and NO ipads, ipods or anything that has the letter "i" in front of it!  I usually just take them out for dinner because.... well, sometimes, I'm just lazy that way.   But, my wife started to assist in making one of my signature kids dishes and kinda forced me into not taking the lazy way out.  Thanks honey for that ;)

I can take these boys nights for granted all to often and let them slip away too easy.  I shouldn't, plain and simple.  And, starting last night, I won't!!!  All my boys sat around the table eating all of their green beans(without me threatening), all of their rice and of course all of their chicken.  I credit Grandpa for a bit of it due to his good conversation without technology during dinner but, also, when you find a good meal that makes your kids happy, even though, it might not be what you want to make or do...... as the commercial says.... JUST DO IT!

I love my boys and will not take these boys nights for granted again.  After all, the clock is ticking and soon, they will have their own '"Boys nights".  All I can hope is that I have instilled the desire and need for them to continue this Important tradition!



 Pretzel crusted chicken chunks

4 chicken breasts, 6 oz (cubed)
1/2 c. honey mustard
1/4 c. heavy cream
2 c. pretzels
1/2 c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 T. grated Romano cheese
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1. in bowl, mix mustard and heavy cream.
2. place chicken chunks into mustard mixture, coating completely.
3. in food processor, grind pretzels with bread crumbs and cheeses.  transfer to bowl.
4. heat saute pan with vegetable oil on medium heat.
5. dredge chicken into pretzel mixture.
6. fry in oil to brown on both sides, 1-3 minutes.
7. transfer to oven pan.  add a touch of water and heat in oven 8-10 minutes or until chicken just cooked through.
8. serve with a favorite side.  ours is green beans with almonds and chicken flavored rice.