Tag Archives: cooking

On the Menu, Feb 10-13

An abbreviated menu plan this week, due to some Life Stuff that means we won’t be cooking at home.

Sunday: Tortilla soup with heirloom corn meal muffins. We made a roasted chicken on Friday, and the carcass has been in the slow cooker overnight for stock to use in making the soup (we’ll also use the remaining meat from the bird). It’s a great way to stretch the meat budget. I picked up some local, non-GMO, heirloom corn meal the other day, and will be using it to make honey cornbread! I’ll be using this recipe, with some modifications: raw milk instead of soy milk, sucanat instead of sugar, and no dried coconut.

Monday: Venison Mushroom Stroganoff over spaghetti squash. My nephew brought us a bunch of venison from his successful hunting this year, and I have local, dried shitake mushrooms from earlier in the year, too. I’ll combine these with a few meaty portobello caps, for a really hearty dish. Instead of noodles, I serve it over spaghetti squash. Not only is it tasty, but it’s far healthier than pasta.

Tuesday: Japanese Vegetarian Curry. This is a new recipe, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday: Salmon patties with sauteed zucchini & squash, with roasted Brussel Sprouts and salad. We love salmon patties, and I wanted to try out this new recipe (sans the cilantro, since Thadd has a sensitivity to it). I always try recipes on us before adding them to my database for clients.  Salmon patties are a great way to include wild-caught salmon, which has he right balance of great Omega Fatty Acids, into a diet on a budget. It’s also loaded with calcium, as most salmon is canned with the bones, which I leave in when making patties (no, you won’t notice the bones, because they break down in cooking).

What are you eating this week?


Sugar Free New Year On the Menu

garden harvest in January!

To start the New Year off right, fresh-dug sunchokes and leeks from our garden!

Those of you who’ve followed me for the past few years know that I always do a sugar-breaking fast to ring in the New Year. This isn’t a resolution of any kind, it’s me breaking the inevitable sugar addiction that happens to me over the holidays.  Secondarily, I always lose any weight I gained and get an energy boost, so it’s a win all around.

So, what does the “fast” consist of? No processed sugar, which includes sugar in things like bread, spaghetti sauce, etc.  No more than 1 tsp of honey a  day (I take this for allergies). No artificial sweeteners (which I don’t eat anyway).  That’s it, the whole of the rules of the addiction-breaking fast. I can eat all the fruit I want with the exception of bananas, which I limit to 1 a day all the time because they’re so high in starches and sugars. Pretty simple, eh? The first three days are hard, but after that, things get easier.



Monday: Burritos. We’re making a whole pile of these because we have to travel tomorrow, and want something we can take with us so we don’t have to eat out. We use homemade seasoning, which is even more relevant this week because most store-bought mixes contain sugar.

Tuesday: Mediterranean Chicken. This is a slow cooker dish that will be perfect for eating over a quick batch of quinoa when we return from a long day on the road.

Wednesday: Chicken Cabbage Enchiladas. I’m making extra portions of the slow cooker chicken to be used in these. The cabbage is used instead of tortillas, which saves a ton of calories and carbs, if you’re working to lose weight this New Year.

Thursday: Anda Masala. I’ve been “aging” the eggs for those North Indian curry dish for about a week, so by the time I boil them off on Thursday, they should be reasonable to peel.

Friday: Leftovers. Cleaning out the refrigerator!

Saturday: Three Bean Venison Chili. There’s little I love more in the winter than venison chili.

Other Meals

Breakfasts: eggs, vegetables, steel cut oats, yogurt.

Lunches: Leftovers, as always. Tuna salad. Green salad. Various soups (homemade).

Snacks: Boiled eggs, cheese, fruit, nuts, homemade crackers.

On the Menu: Dec 3-9th

It’s snowing on my blog! It is not, however, snowing here in VA. Monday was 70 degrees, today it’s supposed to hit 72.

So, what are we eating this week?

On the Menu

Monday: Beef fajitas. I had some leftover flank steak in the freezer,which is perfect for this.

Tuesday: 3 Bean & Beef Chocolate Curry chili. Yes, I know “real” chili doesn’t have beans, but I’ve never claimed that I only cook “authentic food.” And, we like beans. You can’t really taste the chocolate in this, it just adds a great depth that is really enhanced by the small amount of curry.  This will make great leftover for lunches, because chili gets nothing but better as it rests.

Wednesday:  Pot roast, with potatoes, carrots, and a side salad. My clients are getting a pot roast, as well, and since my spice mix recipe makes enough for two pot roasts, I’ll save a step here.

Thursday:  Catfish over spaghetti squash. Thadd’s night to cook! He’s only cooking once this week, so he has time to study for his finals next week.

Friday: leftovers.

Saturday: Doro Wat stew in the slow cooker. Once in a while, we go all out and do a full Ethiopian feast; but, it’s a lot of work. So, this is a great recipe to tide us overs with the intense, deep flavors of the cuisine but without the time commitment. We’ll serve it with homemade injera.

What are you eating this week?

From the Archives: Magic!

Whenever someone new hears that I am a chef, I immediately get “I wish I lived at your house!” This is followed up by “I’d love to eat gourmet meals every night!” and “I’d be so much thinner/fitter/healthier if I lived with a chef, because you could make things I like healthier!” Read More…

Why I Do What I Do: Notes From a Client

As a Personal Chef, I cook for many people each year. Some for a short time, some for a longer time, some for health reason, some for personal reasons, some for time reasons, some just because they like having a Personal Chef. Clients move, have a situation change, or are done with their medical treatments and can resume their lives cooking for themselves (which is always the goal, really), and while they’re always missed, it’s great to see their lives moving on in a positive direction.  Even more wonderful is when I hear from clients that used my services in the past, as recently happened when a former client commented on my Personal Chef Services page:

“Hi Shawn –
I never thanked you for what you did while I lived in Lynchburg. I broke my ankle, my mother suffered from dementia and you provided the most delicious meals for us. You even have me now eating mushrooms and olives, two things I would have never eaten. The creative way you cooked meals live with me today. I eat greek yogurt, cook quinoa and steel cut oats and that is all because of your influence. Thank you for helping us.” -Gretchen

It’s these things that keep the smile on my face, that keep me loving my career. Helping someone discover new foods, change their eating habits, or just make it through a difficult time makes my every day brighter. People often ask, , “Don’tyou get tired of cooking everyday?”  And the answer is that some days, as with any career, I’d rather be doing something else; but overall, there’s nothing I’d rather do than this.

What I Eat: Aug. 28th

Breakfast: banana, almond butter, almond milk. (I didn’t feel well this morning due to allergies, so I had to pretty much force myself to eat).

Lunch: leftover Thai Tempeh curry and brown rice.

Snacks: boiled egg, nuts, almond milk, melon.

Dinner: Bahn Mi sandwich, grapes & melon, tomatoes.

On the Menu: August 26-Sept 1

This is the vegetarian/piscean two weeks again, meaning no meat other than fish, and no dairy. This is also the week that Thadd went back to school, and I started some certification training on top of my other stuff; so, we knew we needed meals that would be reasonably quick, too.

In addition to all that, Thadd’s been having problems maintaining his weight with the two weeks of vegetarian foods (especially since we eat little in the way of simple carbs), and is pretty continually hungry.  The reality has been similar for me, and I’m not looking to lose weight. We don’t eat processed foods, we have to be careful on the soy because it interferes with my adrenal medications, and it kills me to not eat cheese. On the other hand, my abs look awesome; but, I have to be very careful to not to lose much weight (about 3% of my body weight) or it messes with my medication dosages.

I’ll be honest, this new diet two weeks a month is difficult, especially on limited time. We’re not sure how it’s going to go,  but, this is our stab at it for the first week of back-to-school and new work stuff. Wish us luck!


Sunday: Potato & Cauliflower Burritos, with sausage for Thadd. These have more carbs than I usually like, but it’s what we have time for tonight. And, they’re really yummy.

Monday: Slow cooker Thai Tempeh Coconut Curry.  Tempeh needs wet cooking, in my opinion, to be good. Dry tempeh is…well, dry. I have to be really, really careful about soy; but, I can treat myself once in a great while, and this is that treat.

Tuesday: Ban Mi Sandwiches.  Another tofu dish, but this one is okay. Non-GMO tofu locally processed at low temps by hand, which helps limit some of the things that interfere with the absorption of my medications.  This is a vegetarian take on a Vietnamese street food that I’ve been wanting to try forever.

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Lentil & Kale Stew, with Bratwurst for Thadd. This is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, which bodes well. Again, a new one for us. While we eat a lot of meatless meals, we don’t tend to do a lot of meat-and-dairy-free meals, so I’ve been digging through recipes for the last few months.

Thursday: Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry. Indian is always one the top of my list of vegetarian foods to love!

Friday: Leftovers.

Saturday: Lentil Sloppy Joes with Slow Cooked Baked Beans and Veggies. A vegan (yes, vegan) take on sloppy joes.  I’ll see what I get for fresh veggies from the market, and I’ll make my own bakes beans in the slow cooker.


LUNCHES:  leftovers. Vegetarian salads with chickpeas for protein.  Tuna and egg salad.

BREAKFASTS:  eggs, egg and veggie breakfast burritos, steel cut oats, fruit.

SNACKS: hardboiled eggs, roasted chickpeas, nuts, raw vegetables, fruit, olives, almond butter.


LUNCHES:  Leftovers. Meat, tuna, and egg salad wraps.  Frozen meals (we freeze lunch portions of leftovers, so we have some already in the freezer).

BREAKFAST:  Breakfast casserole, sausage breakfast burritos, steel cut oats, yogurt, fruit.

SNACKS: Smoothies, nuts, milk, yogurt, fruit, olives, peanut butter, cheese.