Personalization. I’ll tell you what it means to me. Simply, when you are a client of The Dinner Belle, dinner is made the way you like.

First, I give you a detailed questionnaire to fill out that lets me know exactly how you like to eat and any restrictions that you have. I will then tailor your menus exactly to your needs. Do you have 3 teenagers or 2 toddlers? Serving size definitely means different things to different families. Since I price my service fee separately from your groceries, you have serving sizes that work for you. On weight watchers? I’ll measure all your ounces so that you can track your points. Gluten free? Dairy sensitivity? I’ll make sure that your menus follow any restrictions while still being delicious and diverse.

Second, the service is flexible. Do you need meals each week, a couple times a month or just once in a while? I do not make my clients sign contracts like many meal service providers. I want to provide you meals when you need them and not over burden you with a freezer full of food to which you will never get.

Third, I will shop for the ingredients that YOU want to use. Some people only want grass fed organic beef.  Others value buying what brand is on sale. I individually shop for each client so that you have control over your food quality and costs.

Like I said, Personalization. It’s why I call myself a personal chef. Having my service makes your life easier not harder. Everything is done as you would do, if only you had the time. Contact me. I’d love to put together a meal plan for you so that you can try out my service. You’ll be amazed at how much you look forward to coming home in the evening when you know that someone else has already taken care of dinner!

Chef Cami Chaplick

Thedinnerbelle@me.com

303-898-4090

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You’ve heard the idea that kids will eat what they cook themselves and having kids help in the kitchen is a great way to get them to try new things. Well, I have stumbled across the realization that this is true! I am somewhat of a kitchen hog and have not been good about inviting my children to help me except for the obvious cookie or pancake making. We tend to be busy in the afternoon, like most families, and I usually have dinner prepped and ready to go way before they are off the school bus.

Last week my 10 year old informed me that we are not spending enough time together. Really? ” Ok, why don’t you help me with dinner and we can chat?” He agreed. It turned into him doing all of the dinner and me sitting on the bar stool and chatting with him. Turns out he got the kitchen hog gene. My plan that evening was chicken pasta soup and a chopped salad. I had made the salad prior so it was the soup that was left to be made. I chopped the onion, carrot and celery and left the rest to him.

Now you must know that my son is not a soup guy. Too bad for him because his mom is soup crazy. I can really see owning a little soup cart somewhere and dishing out steaming bowls of goodness for hungry customers. I love all soups. I love the idea of soup and all the nutrition and flavor you can pack into one bowl. Soup is the ONLY reason I tolerate winter. Whenever we have soup for dinner, he has a few bites and then reverts to a peanut butter sandwich. He just doesn’t get it. Well that evening after carefully simmering vegetables, tasting the difference between a raw carrot and a caramelized one, building his soup and adjusting the seasonings himself, he got it!  He said ,” Wow Mom, this is really good!” That night he ate his whole bowl and didn’t go to the cabinet for peanut butter once. Amazing.

Here is the recipe for Chicken Pasta Soup. My kiddo added and adjusted the seasonings himself and didn’t measure, so I’ll try to approximate what went on.

Chicken Pasta Soup

serves 8

Chicken from one rotisserie chicken, chopped into small pieces (save the carcass for roast chicken stock)

1/2 onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup frozen peas, thawed (or not, it really doesn’t matter)

1/4 cup soup pasta per person

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onions. Cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and turn the heat down to medium low. Stir occasionally for about 25 minutes. Add the dried spices and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Meanwhile combine chicken and vegetable stock and heat on low. (no use adding cold stock to the soup) Add the stock and peas. Stir all together over medium-low heat. Cook for 10 minutes and add the chopped chicken. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.

Boil water and add soup pasta for the time instructed on the packaging. You can use any type of pasta you wish. You only want to cook pasta for the number of servings you need. Any leftover soup will be saved without pasta being added because the pasta will absorb all of the liquid. Divide pasta between the soup bowls and ladle the soup over top.

Enjoy!

Recently, I was at a friend’s house and I noticed that she was thawing a dinner from one of those meal assembly kitchens. You know the kind, where you go and assemble meals from a handful of choices, place them in baggies and take them home to cook or freeze. I have been a patron of this type of business in the past and have had varying results from the meals but I understand the connivence it offers. Now that I am in the business of providing meals, I see the dinner thawing on her counter in a whole new light.

First let’s talk about the contents of her bags. In one was a handful of raw unseasoned chicken tenders, the next was a baggie of sauce and the third was a baggie of cashews. The instructions were worded well and easy to follow. They basically said to cook the chicken, heat and reduce the sauce, add nuts and pour the sauce over the cooked tenders. The price on this meal was $20. Now that sounds pretty good until you realize there was no side dish and my friend was required to do all the work! She had to cook the entire meal and then wash and clean up afterward. Her $20 was buying her the convenience of someone else portioning out raw ingredients and telling her what to do with them.

On the other hand, a meal from The Dinner Belle requires little to no work on my client’s part. Usually heating the oven and throwing away the container at the end of the meal is the most work required. I take the time to carefully prep, season and cook your meal to perfection. An example of this would be the Smoky Turkey Shepherd’s Pie that I made for a client this week. For this dinner, I shopped for the freshest ingredients, chopped, prepped and slow cooked all of the filling, cooked and hand mashed the potatoes and put it all together in an oven proof disposable pan. All my client needs to do is preheat the oven, put the dish in for the required time and serve it to her family. During the time that it is heating, she can help her boys with their homework and be truly present for her family. She’s not trying to multi-task while making sure she doesn’t burn the chicken tenders!

Experience the difference The Dinner Belle can make in your busy life. All the meal planning, shopping and cooking is done for you. Plus you can feel good about what you are feeding your family as I never used processed ingredients and everything is made from scratch. Contact me to see how I can bring peace back into your evening routine.

303-898-4090                 Thedinnerbelle@me.com

Special Promotional Pricing $249!

How does this sound  for your ski weekend? You’ve battled ski traffic and you finally get to your house for the weekend. While unpacking, you put your handmade Dinner Belle meal into the oven and let it cook while you are getting yourself settled.  After you are settled in, pour yourself a glass of wine and dinner is served!  Next morning, you take a healthy, hearty breakfast out of the fridge and it cooks while you are getting all of your gear ready for a day on the slopes.  Don’t foget to fill your pockets with nutritious Dinner Belle granola bars before you head out the door.  Back home again and dinner is waiting. All you have to do is preheat the oven and pop it in. Toss a side salad and you can focus on your family, board games and snow ball fights. Next morning, homemade scones, muffins and fresh fruit await to enjoy with your coffee.  No hostile mountain restaurants and no waiting in long lines for an over priced dinner! Sound good? The Dinner Belle’s Ski Weekend bundle offers:

Two Dinners

Two Breakfasts

Homemade Granola Bars Snacks

(all meals are 4 servings)

All for $249 including groceries! The Dinner Belle will come to your house on the day you leave for the weekend with a cooler full of good food. Just grab and go. On Monday just leave the cooler on your front porch and I will pick it back up. That’s right, door to door service!

What? You love that Winter Park sushi place? No problem! Take one of your meals and leave it in your home refridgerator to have on Sunday night after your long drive home. Anyway you look at it, The Dinner Belle’s Ski Meal Bundle makes a trip to the mountains a breeze.

Choose From:

Dinners

Baked Chicken Pastina

Hearty Chicken and White Bean Chili

Honey Mustard Pork Roast with Bacon

Lemon Chicken Soup with Spaghetti

Baked Chicken with Baby Vegetables, Capers and Lemon

Italian Sausage with Peppers and Rigatoni

Rustic Italian Lasagna

Orange Beef with Veggies and Steamed Rice

Foil Baked Tilapia with Cilantro, Ginger and Sesame

Breakfasts:

Blueberry French Toast

Egg Strata with Sausage and Montery Jack Cheese

Egg, Pepper and Potato Bake

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

Handmade Muffins and Scones with Fresh Fruit

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Fresh Fruit

Contact TheDinnerBelle@me.com or call 303-898-4090

Need a last minute gift for the neighbors? Try this easy and delicious chutney. These cute glass jars came from The Container Store and have dozens of uses once the chutney is all gobbled up.

Sweet and Savory Fruit Chutney

Yield: 6 4oz jars

1 bottle Crystallized Ginger

2 6oz bags dried apricots

4 oz. dried blueberries

3 oz dried mango

1/2 cup golden raisens

3 oz. dried cranberries

2 1/2 cups apple cider

3/4 cup orange juice

2 fresh pears peeled, cored and diced

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

salt to taste

Chop the dried fruit and crystallized ginger into a small dice. Cook the fruit and juice in a large pot over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes. Add sugar and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add vinegar and salt to taste.  Cook 5 minutes more, then remove from heat and cool. Spoon cooled chutney into jars and refrigerate. This chutney will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks and is great with strong cheeses and grilled meats. It pairs exceptionally well with spicy foods too.

Chef Notes: You can use any combination of dried fuits that you desire. I’ve also used dried apples and they work well. Make sure to taste and adjust the salt and vinegar as needed. You might need more than indicated depending on your fruit mix.

Do you have family or friends coming in town for the holidays?  A great time saving idea is to have meals from The Dinner Belle in your freezer, ready to heat. Having homemade meals from wholesome ingredients all taken care of ahead of time frees you up to focus on being with your family during this busy time of year. No need to order pizza or pick up a prepared meal full of processed high calorie ingredients from the grocery store. Your personal chef service will create any meal you want in the perfect portion size for your family. Are you going to the mountains for the holidays? Let me stock coolers full of meals to bring with you to save you the hassle of expensive and crowded resort restaurants. If you are in the Denver area and want me to make your holiday easier, please contact TheDinnerBelle@me.com.

Here are just a few of the premade meals you can have in your freezer, ready to go:

Chicken Tortilla Soup: Perfect for the freezer. Fresh tomatoes,spices,chicken stock and slow roasted shredded chicken make this soup a perfect combination of healthy and hearty. Topped with Monterey Jack cheese and crunchy tortilla chips this soup is Mexico in a bowl.

Roast Salmon with dueling sauces: Two fresh pieces of salmon. The first will be prepared fresh with a creamy avocado sauce. The second will be prepared for freezing with an Italian Puttanesca sauce made from tomatoes, olives, and capers.

Indonesian Ginger Chicken: Honey, soy sauce and fresh ginger are the key flavors of this incredible delicious chicken, hot or cold. Prepared for the freezer, just defrost and bake. Use the left-over the next day in a sandwich or salad.

Crispy Maryland Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade Dressing: I lived in Maryland for 8 years and learned how to make crab cakes from the best. Jumbo lump crab meat is mixed with seasonings, dressings and fresh corn to form delicious and tender crab cakes. These come to you fully cooked and just need to be reheated in the oven.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Sweet, nutty and loaded with vitamin A, this offbeat chili has a fantastic flavor. Chili is topped with a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro and paired with mini corn muffins with or without jalapenos. Gluten free and high in fiber.

Chicken Marbella

This classic chicken dish is straight from the Silver Palate gourmet store in Manhattan. Whole chicken pieces marinated in red wine vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, olives, prunes and capers make  a light but luscious sauce that  keeps the chicken moist and is fabulous for dripping crusty bread.

Curried Pork Stew with Potatoes and Green Beans

This stew is hearty but light, high in fiber and only 250 calories per serving. Boneless pork is cooked with green curry paste, potatoes, carrots and green beans. This dish is served with warm naan bread and cranberry-apricot chutney.

Farfalle with Roasted Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

Tender roast chicken is tossed with savory sun dried tomato pesto cream sauce. This dish is family friendly and great for kids.

Autumn Chicken Thighs with Squash, Yams and Dried Apricots

Moist chicken thighs are sautéed with autumn seasonal vegetables to create a hearty Moroccan one-dish meal. This dish is loaded with vitamins and minerals and low in fat.

Orecchiette with chicken meatballs: “Little ears” is the nickname for this fun pasta. Rustic tomato sauce paired with whole milk mozzarella and hand rolled chicken meatballs create a delicious but light summer pasta dinner

Award Winning Two Bean Chili: What award you ask? My neighborhood chili contest, of course! You pick your heat. I can make this as spicy or as mild as you prefer. Kindney and black beans, beef, tomatoes, spices, brown sugar and larger beer create complex flavors that are screaming for a football game.

Roadhouse Burgers: I’ve been making these burgers for years. Top quality beef is mixed with spices, mustard, egg, breadcrumbs and other special secrets to make the most moist and flavorful burgers you’ve ever tasted.  No really, try them!

I am from outside of Boston and my husband is from New Jersey. Therefore we do not agree on what is “true” clam chowder. For me it is comforting creamy goodness, full of clams, potatoes and bacon. For my husband it is spicy and brothy, red and bold. We do not agree. Last night, I made my version of New England clam chowder. It came out delicious with a smokey depth of flavor, chuck full of small dice red skinned potatoes and little neck clams. Next week I will make my Aunt Henny’s Manhattan clam chowder. ( She was from Jersey and a wonderful cook). It will not solve the debate but is a good excuse to eat great soup and continue the fight…

The Dinner Belle’s Clam ChowderDSC_0006

6 servings

3 dozen clams in the shell, rinsed and scrubbed

8 slices thick cut bacon

¾ cup dry white wine

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 leek, including tender green parts, washed and thinly sliced

1 ¾ tsp. dried thyme

1 bottle clam juice

2 cups water

2 cups heavy cream

1 lb red potatoes, not peeled, cut into a small dice

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives (for garnish)

Sauté bacon in a large heavy pan over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon and transfer to paper towels. Crumble bacon when cool enough to touch. Remove drippings from pan and reserve 2 tablespoons. Heat pan back up and pour in wine, scrapping up brown bits. Simmer for 3 minutes and set aside.

Heat reserved bacon drippings in a large pot. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Adds leeks, garlic and dried thyme and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add wine (from bacon pan), water and clam juice. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down a little and add clams. Cover and steam for 7-10 minutes, or until they just open.

Remove clams from the broth with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl, discarding any that did not open or have cracked.

With the liquid simmering, slowly add cream and stir until incorporated. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender over medium heat, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, pull the clams from the shells. If they are large, cut them into ½ inch pieces.

When the potatoes are tender, add clams and bacon back into the pot and simmer for 2 minutes more until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chives. Serve with crusty bread.

This past week I have had the supreme privilege of being a guest at the 4 Sisters LoneTree Ranch in Montana. I have always enjoyed trips to Montana and this private remote ranch just added to my love of that great state. Good friends and wonderful hosts, not to mention insanely beautiful scenery, more than made up for the long drive to get there. One memorable meal that we had on the ranch was delicious oven fried chicken. Flavorful and crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, it was better than any traditionally made fried chicken I have ever had. I made it again for my family last night and my husband could not stop eating!  Try it and let me know what you think.

4-Sisters  Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken4-Sister's Chicken

1  1/4 C. buttermilk

1/4 C. olive oil

3 T. dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 T. hot pepper sauce

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 large onion, sliced

12 chicken pieces

1 C. unseasoned breadcrumbs ( I used fresh breadcrumbs)

1/3 C. parmesan cheese

1/4 C. flour

2 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1/2 C. melted butter

Wisk buttermilk, oil, hot pepper sauce, mustard, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add onion and chicken, cover and chill at least 3 hours and up to one day.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, flour, thyme, paprika, cayenne and 1 tsp salt in a large dish. Roll each piece of chicken in the mixture and place on a rack on a sheet tray. Let chicken sit for 30 minutes.

Melt butter and pour over chicken. Bake for 50 minutes at 400.

This can be served hot or cold. We baked it in the afternoon, let it chill and ate it “picnic style”. You can also do this with boneless chicken breasts, just reduce cooking time to 20 minutes.



Guess what? I had a comment from the Deli Diva ( http://thedelidiva.wordpress.com ) on my last post. She is starting up a deli in the Tampa, FL area and wanted to try out my chicken tortilla soup recipe. If she uses it, she will call it Camilla’s Tortilla Soup on her menu. Isn’t that a kick? Start a blog and you can connect with someone who names a soup after you! If any of you are in the Tampa area,( Aunt Jan, that’s you!) look up the Deli Diva and if you see my soup, give it a try.

I had a blast cooking for my first 2 clients. I started the day at the grocery store at 7:45 and was completely cleaned up and finished by 3:30. I think I need to get good shoes to work in because when I woke up this morning my feet were killing me. A flashback to my waitressing days where I couldn’t afford good shoes and would be on my feet for hours in cheapos from Payless. I will not often bore you with my menus but since it was day one, I’d love to share what I made.

Chicken Tortilla Soup: Perfect for the freezer. Fresh tomatoes,spices,chicken stock and slow roasted shredded chicken make this soup a perfect combination of healthy and hearty. Topped with Monterey Jack cheese and crunchy tortilla chips this soup is Mexico in a bowl.

Roast Salmon with dueling sauces:  Single serving pieces of salmon. The first will be prepared fresh with a creamy avocado sauce. The second will be prepared for freezing with an Italian Puttanesca sauce made from tomatoes, olives, and capers.

Indonesian Ginger Chicken: Honey, soy sauce and fresh ginger are the key flavors of this incredible delicious chicken, hot or cold. Prepared for the freezer, just defrost and bake. Use the left-over the next day in a sandwich or salad.

Baked Potato Soup and Filet of Beef Sandwiches: Creamy potato soup made with farmer’s market potatoes makes a nutritious and hearty meal. Topped with applewood  bacon and cheddar cheese. This is paired with beef sandwiches on multigrain rolls with crisp lettuce and a tangy housemade blue cheese spread.

Orecchiette with chicken meatballs: “Little ears” is the nickname for this fun pasta. Rustic tomato sauce paired with whole milk mozzarella and hand rolled chicken meatballs create a delicious but light summer pasta dinner.  Side dish: Steamed broccoli with lemon. Prepared ready to freeze or bake.