Cooking ideas while housebound

As we adjust to our “new normal” of spending lots and lots of time in our homes, cooking can be a great distraction.  I did so much cooking last weekend that our freezer is quite well-stocked and Keith told me that I needed to stop.  So the new idea is to use this as an opportunity to pull out some gadgets or cooking tools that you don’t use often.

To that end, we had fondue for dinner tonight.  Our fondue pot spends most of its life in the basement.  It has emerged a few times and we have made cheese fondue as well as beef.  Samantha was disappointed – she thought when we said fondue, we meant the cheese.  That is just too many calories for 3 people and of course, we can’t very well invite anyone to help us eat it.  So we got 2 small filet mignons and 8 medium shrimp.  We heated the oil over the stove (in the fondue pot) and then moved it so it was over the fondue heat source.  Everyone can cook their protein to their liking and we had a variety of sauces from the refrigerator (jarred Bearnaise, pub sauce, horseradish, etc.)  I roasted asparagus so we had something healthy.  It was fun and delicious.

This got me thinking about other projects.  I’m thinking I may pull the pasta roller out of the basement and make some raviolis next weekend.  (they won’t take up that much space in the freezer.)  Samantha is going to make madeleines tomorrow (yes, we have a madeleine pan).  She already made macarons so we have checked that box.

Think about a kitchen project you have always wanted to tackle or a specialty appliance that is rarely used (homemade waffles anyone?)   This is the perfect opportunity to wipe off the dust!  Add a comment with what you made.

Menu plan for week of 3/22

Last week I was so pleased with 3 new recipes.  This week is so different from last week which was so different from the week before.  Things are changing really fast.  This week I am focused on cooking ahead and comfort food.  I asked everyone to nominate a favorite meal and purchased ingredients to make chicken pesto lasagna and crab soup for the freezer.  As Keith said, “We can’t completely protect against coronavirus, but we won’t starve.”


Roast chicken (because they had roast chickens when I went to the store on Saturday morning and they were the first whole chickens I had seen in the store) with mashed potatoes for Samantha and Keith and asparagus for me


Shrimp and black bean quesadillas (Keith’s choice)


Oyster stew (because we went to the seafood market for crab and I figured I might as well get oysters too)


Spicy chicken pizza (Samantha’s choice)


Crawfish etouffe (because it is in the freezer from New Year’s and I just put chicken lasagna in the freezer so something needs to come out)

Grocery list week of 2/9

Here is the grocery list for the week:


  • 4 – 5 yellow onions
  • garlic
  • dill
  • parsley
  • red onion
  • celery
  • avocados


  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • sour cream
  • grated Cheddar cheese
  • grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • half and half

Meat and seafood

  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 lbs sirloin
  • 8 oz either hot or sweet Italian sausage (for the pizza – I’m doing a mix of the two)
  • 1 pint oysters
  • bacon
  • 1 whole bone-in chicken breast


  • pizza crust
  • 1 12 oz can tomato paste
  • ground cumin
  • chili powder
  • Dijon mustard
  • dried basil
  • dried oregano
  • 3 lbs canned Italian plum tomatoes
  • lemon juice
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can light red kidney beans
  • 2 cans black olives (5 1/2 oz)
  • cajun seasoning
  • corn tortillas
  • 15  oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Check your pantry and buy if you don’t have:

  • olive oil
  • Old Bay
  • flour
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • chipotle chili in adobo sauce
  • vegetable oil

Menu plan for week of 11/10

Here is the menu plan for the week


Chicken Tikka Masala with spinach and rice


Crabcakes and sauteed zucchini


Flank Steak Salad


Pumpkin Ravioli with brown butter sauce


Mexican Chicken Soup

Menu plan for week of 10/27

Here is the menu plan for the week:


Grilled rockfish tacos


Crab soup and salad


Sausages and Sauerkraut


Grilled yogurt chicken and roasted cauliflower with cumin

Super Bowl Sunday

For us tonight’s game will be largely about the food and the commercials.  I’d prefer to see the Falcons win but I don’t desperately care and my Super Bowl pool is a pretty low stakes one.  We are having chili and I am making guacamole.  We’re having Keith’s beef chili but here are a few options (along with the guacamole recipe).

Beef and Sausage Chili (courtesy of Keith – adapted from The Silver Palate)

This is the chili that converted me (I was not a fan of chili prior to tasting this one.)  It makes enough to serve 15 – 20 people so you’ll need a good sized stockpot (we use a 12 qt pot).

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 lb of chopped yellow onions
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 lbs sirloin, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tsps fresh ground pepper
  • 1 12 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 TB minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 oz cumin
  • 2 oz chili powder
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB salt
  • 2 TB dried basil
  • 2 TB dried oregano
  • 3 lbs canned  plum tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 4 TB lemon juice
  • 1 dash Tabasco
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (5 1/2 oz) of pitted black olives, drained

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot.  Add onions and cook over low heat, until tender (about 10 minutes).

Add sausage meet, ground beef and sirloin cubes and cook over medium high heat until meat is well browned.  Drain as much fat as possible.

Reduce heat to low and add all ingredients except olives.  Stir well and simmer for about 25 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Add olives and heat through.  Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped red onions and jalapeno peppers (for those who like it spicy) and cornbread.

Turkey Chili (courtesy of Gill)

  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 can of tomato soup
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • chili seasoning to taste

Brown onions and garlic in oil.  Add turkey and cook (do not drain).  Add remaining ingredients and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and corn bread.

Chicken Chipotle chili

  • 3 TB canola oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small cubes
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 TB chili powder
  • 1 TB ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained of about 1/2 of liquid
  • 3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans black beans

Heat oil in a heavy sauce pan and brown chicken cubes (about 5 minutes.)  Remove chicken and drain on paper towels.  Pour off fat leaving about 1 tablespoon in pan.  Add onions and brown about 4 – 5 minutes.  Return chicken to pan.

Stir together flour, chili powder, cumin and salt and sprinkle over onions and chicken.  Stir and cook about 1 minute.  Add stock, tomatoes and chipotles and simmer covered about 30 minutes.  Add black beans and cook another 10 minutes.

Let cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with sour cream and tortilla chips.

White Chicken Chili  (courtesy of Julie)

  • 2 cans (15 1/2 oz. each) of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 -2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 TB minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 4 oz can chopped green chili
  • 1 poblano chili, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Dash of hot pepper sauce
  • 4 cups poached boneless, skinless chicken, cubed

In a large pan combine  the beans with the chicken broth.  In a small saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in oil until soft and translucent.  Add chilis and seasonings and mix thoroughly.  Add onion-chili mixture to the beans.  Add the chicken cubes and cook over low heat about 5 minutes or until chicken is heated through.  Add more chicken broth if needed.  Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped scallions or salsa.

Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup small red beans
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large can of plum tomatoes (including juice)
  • 2 – 3 cups of water

Pour all ingredients into a pot and simmer over low heat for several hours.  Serve.


  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 TB lime juice
  • 1 TB sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 TB salsa
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • cilantro (optional)

Mash avocados, add remaining ingredients and mash until well combined.  (This is the part of cooking where toddlers excel!).  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  This is one of the few recipes I make where I don’t skimp on salt.  Salt and the chili powder are the two “magic” ingredients that you should consider adding.  Let sit in a bowl with the avocado pits in the guacamole until ready to serve.  (That keeps it from turning brown.)

Healthy dinner

This pizza has lots of flavor for the calories.  I actually made the topping last night and refrigerated since I had a long commute tonight.  Keith loved it – it’s been a while since we’ve had it but I’m thinking it won’t be too long before we have it again!

Shrimp and Creole Pizza

  • 1 pizza shell
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves minced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 14 1/2 oz can diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 1 TB Cajun seasoning
  • 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • dried parsley flakes

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Add canola oil.  Add onion, garlic and pepper and cook, stirring until veggies are soft (5 – 8  minutes).  Add tomatoes and Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring another 5 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook stirring for 3 – 5 minutes until shrimp are just turning pink.  Remove from heat.

Spread mixture over pizza crust and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 450 for about 6 minutes and top with parsley flakes.

Shrimp Creole pizza

Thai night

We’re having friends over for dinner tonight and I know they love Thai food.  For appetizers, I made the Thai lettuce wraps (one of our favorites and a good appetizer for a small group – it’s messy for a large group).  We’re having steak salad and Keith pointed out that there wouldn’t be a starch and asked for some fried rice as a side.  Since we’re going to use this for leftovers Tuesday, I was happy to oblige.

Thai lettuce wraps

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
  • 1 TB canola oil
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • Thai soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • 1 Kaffier lime leaf, minced
  • basil leaves
  • mint leaves
  • cashews
  • iceberg lettuce, torn into leaf “cups”

Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a nonstick pan.  Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring until light brown.  Add lemongrass and ginger and stir to combine.  Add chicken and cook stirring until chicken is cooked through and browned.  Add soy sauce and fish sauce to taste and then minced lime leaf.  Serve chicken in a bowl along with lettuce, mint and bail leaves and cashews.

To eat, fill a lettuce “cup” with chicken and top with a basil leaf, a mint leaf and a cashew.  Roll up the lettuce and pop into your mouth.  Enjoy!

Thai steak salad


  • sirloin steak
  • 1 TB chopped lemongrass
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • Thai thin soy sauce


  • juice of 3 limes
  • 2 TB fish sauce
  • 2 TB water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp toasted Thai chili powder
  • 2 TB chopped lemongrass


  • Romaine lettuce
  • mint leaves
  • parsley
  • toasted sticky rice powder (this is probably the point where you are losing interest)  🙂

Pound lemongrass and peppercorns into a paste and add soy sauce.  Rub into steak until it’s well coated.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Grill steak until medium heat and let rest for 5 minutes.  Carve thinly against the grain and serve on Romaine lettuce with dressing, thinly sliced shallots, herbs and sticky rice powder.

Shrimp fried rice

  • 2 TB sesame oil
  • 1 sweet onion minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and split lengthwise
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 TB low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup leftover rice
  • 1 red pepper minced
  • 3 scallions, minced

Heat sesame oil in a wok over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until golden.  Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are just turning opaque.  Add soy sauce and when bubbling, add eggs and stir as eggs set.  Add rice and stir well to combine and adjust with additional sauce as needed.  Spoon onto serving plates and top each serving with minced scallion.

Grocery list for week of 10/2

Here is the grocery list for the week:


  • shallots
  • lemongrass
  • limes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • onions
  • broccoli
  • garlic
  • scallions


  • Parmesan cheese
  • eggs

Meat and seafood

  • sirloin steak
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
  • 1 lb crabmeat


  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 2 cans black beans
  • chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Check your pantry and buy if you don’t have:

  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • chicken stock
  • dry mustard
  • Old Bay
  • panko
  • mayonnaise
  • butter

Apres golf dinner

As we try to squeeze the last bit of summer, today was a great day to play golf.  It’s a bit tougher during the school year to pull off Sunday afternoon golf because everyone needs to have their ducks in a row for Monday.  Samantha had two late nights so she needs to get to bed early tonight.  Keith grilled the strip steaks and then we topped them with herb butter (I mashed some minced garlic and minced rosemary and thyme into softened butter and then refrigerated.  After the steaks were grilled, I put a pat of the butter on each steak.)

We split a baked sweet potato and I sautéed some spinach with minced shallots and a little butter.  A delicious dinner after a beautiful afternoon on the course.