Recipe: Mushroom and Parmesan Chicken

Mushroom and Parmesan Chicken

The initial recipe I made and shared for Dinners With Dan was a chicken dish close to my heart as it was the first recipe I made when I had a kitchen of my own, and it was a recipe I got from my late Aunt.  The recipe was also a nice, easy, and simple dish which was perfect to start with on this blog.  Tonight I’m going to expand on the foundation I laid in that recipe by adding an additional step to the process, and hopefully take you to the next level of baking chicken with my Mushroom and Parmesan Chicken.

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Recipe: Garlic & Tomato Spaghetti

Garlic Tomato Spaghetti

When I got off work today, I felt like coming home and having something fairly light and fresh.  I had a craving for tomatoes, but I didn’t know quite what I wanted to make.  I started looking around to see what I had available.  Garlic? Ok, that’s always a good start.  Pasta? Now we’re getting somewhere…  An idea hit me and after a quick run to the store, I came back and made a Garlic & Tomato Spaghetti.

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Review: Scarpetta

“If you are what you eat, I only want to eat the good stuff.” – Remy, Ratatouille

Last Sunday I took the bus up to New York City to meet two very close friends, Vik and Christina, for dinner at Scott Conant’s Scarpetta.
  I’ve known both of them for over seven years now, and I hold our friendship very dear to my heart.  Vik is one of my mentors, was the professor most directly connected to igniting my interest in sociology and criminology during college, and was the most instrumental person in encouraging me to follow a passion and go to graduate school.  He and Christina, like me, are also driven by a deep desire to not just eat or make good food, but to experience food.  Needless to say, I was pretty excited to see them – and going to a really nice New York City Italian restaurant for dinner with them was the icing on the cake.

What does all of this have to do with a review of a restaurant?  Well, for me, it has everything to do with it.  This is something you should probably know about me going forward: to me, eating is not just about the act of having and enjoying food, it’s about sharing an experience.  At a restaurant, the quality of service, the ambiance of the location, and, of course, the food all combine to create an experience, but it is the people you share the meal with that cement the memories.  This is not to say one cannot enjoy a meal alone, I have done so many times, but it is to say that when reviewing a restaurant or describing a meal, the company I share that meal with is often just as important, if not more important, than the meal itself.  Last Sunday I spent over three hours enjoying not only one of the most wonderful meals of my life, but I spent those three hours with two of my favorite people – and, at the end of the day, that time is just as valuable to me as the memories of the food I consumed.  With that said, let’s dive in and I will do my best to re-create our evening so you can share our experience too.

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Recipe: Aunt Jo’s Cheesy Italian Chicken

A few months ago, when I began seriously considering starting Dinners with Dan, I talked with many friends and asked what kind of content they would most want to see in a food blog.  I’ve already begun to incorporate many of these suggestions, and I will continue to integrate more as time goes on, but the most common response I received was quite simple: Easy, quick, and delicious meals that anyone can make regardless of culinary skill.

So, with that in mind, I thought I would start Dinners with Dan with the very first dish I made from a recipe when I moved into an apartment with a kitchen for the first time.  I got this recipe from my late Aunt and it quickly became a go-to.  There is nothing fancy about this, and there are many many ways you can make this recipe more decadent (and I’ve noted just a couple things I’ve done in the past below), but for tonight, for my first time sharing with you, I made it just like I did when I first made it over 6 years ago.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Start with Fresh Ingredients

Starting a blog is always an exciting venture.  It’s a foray into the unknown.  An unknown with so many questions: Who will read this?  Why will they read?  Is what I write going to be worth my readers’ time?  Can writing something on a page really capture the essence of what is trying to be conveyed?  And, as with all food blogs, will the recipes I make in my kitchen work when others try them?  Will my readers enjoy my thoughts and critiques on food, restaurants, and experiences?  Hopefully all of these questions will be answered with time, but another fundamental question must be answered first: Why am I (finally?) starting a food blog?

Put most simply, I enjoy food and cooking too much not to share my love with others.

At its core, Dinners with Dan will be a culinary blog.  I plan on sharing recipes I make in my own kitchen as well as food I enjoy (or don’t) at restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and elsewhere.  At the same time, I will be sharing tips and tricks to make cooking more fun and enjoyable, and it is my hope that Dinners with Dan provides something everyone can incorporate into their own cooking at home.

I plan on covering the entire spectrum of food: from cooking meat over a fire all the way to completely vegan meals, I want everyone to be able to enjoy, learn new recipes, and take something away from Dinners with Dan.  Some recipes will be easy, and others a little more labor intensive, but I hope all will be worthwhile.  It is my goal to share at least one recipe a week, if not many more, and depending on how successful this venture is, guest posts will certainly be more than welcome!

At the same time, as the name might suggest, this will not be a blog entirely about food.  Food (and drink) brings people together.  And what is a great meal without conversation?  When looking back at meals shared with family and friends, while the food is often amazing and astoundingly delicious, it is frequently the discussion I remember most.  I feel food is best enjoyed with stories, anecdotes, thought-provoking questions and comments, and most importantly laughs.  While Dinners with Dan will always be culinary-centered, from reflections on interesting articles about things that interest me to capturing on a page the meandering thoughts of a 20-something reflecting on life, it is my hope this blog begins to capture the essence of my experiences: the food, the people, the places, and the things that make my life, well, my life.  I invite you to join me on this journey, and thank you for wanting to see life through my eyes.

Look for a new recipe later as well as my review of Scott Conant’s Scarpetta in New York City over the next couple days.

Until next time, cheers!