Monkey Chef Otis

kitchenWhen I’m on the road, cooking is among the top five things I miss. I’m no chef, nor do I want to be. I’m also not the best cook in the world, but I enjoy it and I have enough ability and home training to impress the common palate.

I’m now home for six weeks, and I intend to do a lot of cooking in that time. I have three meals planned for this week, but I’m not too excited about any of them. Two of them are mere comfort meals. One of them is vaguely creative, but nothing special. That’s where I hope you can come in.

I need some new recipes, folks.

Now, I know, I know. Some folks guard their recipes like they guard their children. I’m not going to ask you to give up any family secrets. I just need something new. This is not the easiest house to cook for. Why? Well, the boy is a boy and he is picky. We still pretty much force him to eat everything we eat. The wife, however, is more difficult. So, here are the rules for my house.

  1. No red meat
  2. No pork (bacon okay in small doses)
  3. No scallops

Also, keep in mind, the wife is currently all kinds of knocked up, so high mercury foods are off limits for the most part.

See, this is a hard game.

I need a recipe or 12. Got a good one for me? Leave it in the comments or drop it in the contact form at the top of this page. Links, adulations, and other various superlatives will be showered over those who can help me out.

Bon appawhatever.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

You may also like...

11 Responses

  1. Astin says:

    My staples, which are universally loved, and simple.

    Fajitas – either chicken or shrimp (not sure how well shellfish go with buns in ovens). I can e-mail my “recipe” if you wish.

    Breaded chicken breasts (in my house – chicken supreme, but it’s not the usual kind) – egg wash + (bread crumbs + grated parmesan cheese + basil + oregano) – pan-fried in butter until golden on both sides.

    Other options:

    Chicken breast in a mushroom cream sauce (bacon optional) – there’s a recipe on my blog somewhere I think

    Roast chicken with chocolate (again, see blog, but I’d suggest leaving the chocolate on the side for dipping. It didn’t work as a sauce)

    Stuffed chicken breasts (blog)

    Homemade pizza. I have a great, quick crust recipe, and toppings are easy to adjust as needed. I suggest ginger shrimp. My best friend (also my cooking accomplice) and I do these all the time. With a caesar salad side (I’ve got a recipe for a great dressing too 🙂 )

    Sides – baked “fries” (I prefer sweet potato, but kids can be picky), or mashed potatoes, and a green vegetable go with just about everything there. Not necessary for the fajitas.

    All stuff the boy SHOULD be okay with (unless he doesn’t like chicken), and some that will make you look like a star if served right :).

  2. Dr. Chako says:

    I hate cooking. People that like to cook make me just shake my head. I don’t get it. But then again, I play golf and I’m sure it gives people the same reaction.

    That said, there is only one dish I make. Crepes. I use the recipe my dad gave me. It’s simple comfort food and everyone seems to love it.

    4 eggs
    2 cups flour
    Milk (a lot)
    Vanilla 1 tbsp
    Canola oil

    Beat eggs. Add flour and milk. Mix. I use a mixer but my dad stirred by hand. Whatever. Keep adding milk until it’s smooth and runs off the beater in a steady stream. Almost watery. Then add the vanilla. Mix a little more.

    Add oil to a pan on medium heat. I prefer a 10 inch pan with a little heft to it – not one of those flimsy cheapo jobs. The oil should be no bigger than a 50 cent piece (do they still have those?). Move the pan around until the oils covers as much as possible. Pour in just enough batter to make a circle in the middle 1/3 of the pan. Continue moving the pan in order to get the batter to coat the entire bottom. Resist the urge to smooth it out with your spatula. Flip the crepe when it shows small brown dots on the bottom.

    Put it on a plate and butter the crepe. Pour on heated maple syrup. Here is the key – you then put an edge of the crepe in the tines of your fork and roll it up until you have a tight tube. Cut it into about a dozen bit sized pieces and enjoy.


  3. Aaron says:

    This is a favorite at our house. My kids will eat anything you put in front of them, but they love this one. Pour this over rice, noodles or rice-noodles.

    Aaron’s Sweet n’ Spicy Tofu Stirfry


    – 1 package extra-firm tofu, cut into 1″ squares 1/4″ thick
    – sesame seed oil, peanut oil will work here as well
    – small package of stir fry vegetables (or chop up your favorites: carrots, onion, green onion, broccoli, snow peas, red/yellow/green bell peppers. Slice your onions&carrots thin so they’ll soften quicker)
    – 1/2 can tomato paste
    – 1 full can of pineapple rings, save the juice!
    – 1/8 cup light soy sauce
    – 1 tbs minced garlic
    – crushed red pepper to taste (I also have used chili oil or M.F.O. for this)

    In a wok or skillet heat up 1 tbs of your sesame oil on medium heat. You’ll know when it’s ready to go when it runs like water.
    Swirl the oil in the wok to cover the inside, then place half your tofu evenly along the bottom.
    Lightly move the tofu around the wok until it just starts to brown on one side, then flip the pieces over to brown the other side. Be careful not to break up the pieces or else you end up with something that looks like scrambled eggs (just as tasty but don’t look as good).
    Pull the lightly browned pieces out and place them on a paper towel. Do the other half of the tofu the same way.

    Whisk the tomato paste, pineapple juice, soy sauce, garlic and pepper together in a bowl or measuring cup.

    Turn the heat to high on the wok and put a little more sesame oil in it, just enough so the veggies don’t stick. Dump in your Veggie pack and pineapple rings. Stir fry until the carrots start to soften. Pour in sauce you just whisked together and mix it well with the veggies. Add your tofu and lightly get them in the sauce as well. Let the stir fry start to boil again then reduce the heat down to a simmer for 10 mins.

  4. Aaron says:

    Also, my ol’ man just got me a great book for Xmas called “The Flexitarian Table”… for those of us who still eat meat on the weekends. If you want different, this may get you out of a cooking rut.


  5. BG says:

    I have this weird idea that I’m going to take a can of fruit cocktail and turn it into a sauce for chicken. I may give it a shot and blog it this weekend, just fair warning.

  6. KenP says:

    Receipts are for cakes, cookies, and young girls. My recipe book is the refrigerator and pantry. If I got it and it matches up with something…voila a recipe is born.

    My favorite winter Sunday is Chicken and Dumpling. Poach and cut up chicken breast. Chop an onion or two and the same for celery and carrot. While the chicken is poaching you braise the veggies. Yeah, I know fancy french name… I throw it all together and add a can of cream of celery or cream of chicken or both if the dutch oven is a 6-qt. Then dump on some frozen peas. You are now about 4″ below the top of the dutch oven. (Only Measurement) Season to taste. I do like quite a bit of Telicherry peppercorns milled not too coarse. Bit of spices or a bay leaf for variety at times. Parsnips kill as another ingredient. You like corn? Throw some of that in.

    The dumplings are simple. Half Bisquick and short half instant potatoes. Throw in a couple of eggs and moisten with milk. Dollop big spoons of mix on top of bubbling stuff mentioned. Options in the dumplings include dill or various spices or maybe chives. There are a ton of spices you can use along with parsley or Basel. Sprinkle a bit of paprika on top if you want to get fancy.

    Cover and complete cooking the dumplings over low heat. I diffuser isn’t wrong here. You want it barely bubbling through the separations.

    If you ever go for the other white meat. Try my grandmother’s German Chutney. A bit of bacon grease and apples with the skin on. I use one of those core and section deals. Throw it in the pan together. Put brown sugar and some nutmeg on it. (Variety, bit of a nice, sweet vinegar.) Cook them soft. If you’ve got some quality bacon dripping, it is hog heaven.

    You can try it with something different but it is great with a nice poker roast browned and garlicky and cooked off to pull apart goodness.

    Quarter some small read potatoes. In a plastic bowl, nuke em covered with plastic wrap–cook then dry. Skillet with bacon grease again on medium-high. Put the potatoes in. (You could use left overs or boiled then dried.) Brown.
    Cover with baby spinach and remove from heat. Use a nice wine vinegar to taste and toss. Spinach should be noticeably but still partly wilted. Good with bland meats like chicken for the meat course. Nice with ham too. You’re too yuppie for that–I guess–even with the fat removed. Good counterpoint to the German Apples with a ham. (Ham allowed for Easter?) lol

  7. KenP says:

    On the apples, cook covered. You want a broth/glaze from the apples and brown sugar. I’ve added Bourbon, Rum or Cognac for variety at times.

  8. KenP says:

    Hey, BG. Hit the fruit cocktail with some Cointreau or Triple Sec mixed with a bit of corn starch or arrowroot. A few orange supremes would add a fresh variation and work nicely with the liquor.

  9. BG says:

    Ken, we’re thinking similarly – I was thinking orange juice and white wine, which gets me to a similar place as Cointreau to be sure, but the liquor is under advisement.

  10. TeamScottSmith says:

    I’m going to second Ken’s suggestion of Chicken and Dumplings. However, I will suggest a change that I have found makes Chicken and Dumplings a little easier and much, much tastier. Use a rotisserie chicken! Maybe not even the whole chicken, if you get one of decently large size. Eat 1/2 chicken previous night, but make sure to carve the pieces off, and save all the bones and skin. That is flavor, baby! The leftover half is for the dumplings. If it was a smallish chicken, use the whole thing.

    Pull the meat off (set aside) and boil bones and skin, and such for 45 minutes or so to make the tasty broth that is the base for the dumplings. You could also throw in a couple of celery stalks, a carrot, and half an onion with above. Strain out bones and veggies (throw away), reserving stock, and return stock to pot. Add meat and boil for another 20 minutes or so (if you boil all the meat too long, it will dry out).

    You can go by Ken’s recipe from here, and I do highly recommend the dill weed in the dumplings as he mentioned. It gives it a unique, fresh flavor. Adding a little cornstarch mixed with a little water right before dropping the dumplings will thicken the broth nicely. Make sure you cover it at the end and have a slow simmer, allowing the dumplings to steam.

    Mm mm, tasty. I’m going to have to make this again soon myself.


    If you feel adventuresome, ask Shep how to make his Gumbo Ya-Ya. That stuff will make you smack your Mama.


    BG, you ever make a fruit cocktail dish with curry? Here’s a link to something similar to a dish I make,,1619,154184-250203,00.html . Tastes good cold or warm; by itself or over vanilla ice cream. But I imagine you could put it over pork or chicken, and it would be great. I’m really imagining it over a roasted pork loin.

  11. pokerpeaker says:

    Try stir fry.
    You can sautee veggies in Olive Oil, a bit of butter and garlic powder.

    And are you interested in a corn cheese bake I make? If so email at and I’ll give it to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *