Couples Who Cook

Jill & Jeff Allen

Date Night Pizza

We cooked a meal together for the first time after our first date: A Phish show in Atlanta. We were at our family’s lake house, and it primarily involved Jeff cooking, since I wasn’t as kitchen savvy back then. He cooked steaks, pasta, and sautéed vegetables. I sat on the counter and fell in love.

Today, even with a new baby, we hang on to our kitchen traditions. We light a candle, turn on some music, and have a Tito’s. We can turn a weeknight dinner at home into a date night pretty easily. Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, but you have to commit to it. It is an opportunity to be creative and connect with each other and the ingredients. – Jill

Ingredients:
Crust

4 ovals of naan bread (Nope, we don’t make our own, but you can if you want!)

Pesto

1 clove garlic
1 tsp. salt
3 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese
1/2 cup good olive oil

Toppings

6 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
5 oz. container fresh spinach
2 cups roasted chicken (grocery rotisserie works perfectly)
1 roasted red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 cups fresh baby bella mushrooms, sautéed
8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 500 degrees (yes, that’s hot). Add all pesto ingredients, except olive oil, to a food processor, and process until basil and garlic are coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and pulse until smooth. Set aside.

Using tongs, place naan directly on oven rack for about two to three minutes, until warm. Remove from oven to a perforated sheet pan or a cookie sheet with rack insert. Spread each naan evenly with a thin layer of pesto. Dot with mozzarella and begin adding toppings as desired, ending with the goat cheese. Place back in oven for four to six minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is beginning to brown.

Remove to cutting board and allow to cool for five minutes. Leave whole, cut into strips or halves, and serve. Make it a meal by adding a simple salad dressed in oil and vinegar.

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Jack & Danielle Greer

Mediterranean Stuffed Pan-Seared Chicken Breast

We’d only been dating a few weeks when we came up with the idea to cook a meal for our good friends as a way to express our gratitude for introducing us. We still cook together now, and always look forward to weekends when we have more opportunities to prepare meals together. One of our most memorable kitchen moments was when we hosted an international cook-off in our home. There were three chefs and three menus from three different countries. The chefs prepared food for 60 of our closest friends, and Jack won with a coastal Spanish meal. It was delicious, but I’m looking forward to a rematch. – Danielle

Ingredients:

1 small package feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
salt and pepper
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved
1 small container of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped

In a small bowl, combine feta cheese, lemon zest, and salt and pepper and mix well. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a slip across the largest part of the chicken breast to create a pocket-like opening. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Divide the feta/lemon zest mixture into thirds and stuff each chicken breast. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté one minute. Add the chicken breast and cook about five minutes on each side or until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil to the chicken pan and toss a few times.

Remove pan from heat. Transfer chicken to cutting board and cut chicken into several thick slices for pretty presentation. Serve atop lemon wilted spinach with herb roasted baby new potatoes.

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Christopher & Tracie LeSar

Apple Pancake

We first started cooking together on our first date. That date is probably my favorite kitchen memory of ours – we both knew it was meant to be. I later made this apple pancake for Chris when he was a resident and it quickly became one of our favorite go-to suppers – money was tight, and the ingredients were inexpensive but the end product was beautiful, tasty, filling, and so easy. The recipe is from a place in our hometown called The Original Pancake House. We’ve been making it now for 20 years and it has become our oldest daughter Cora’s favorite dish. – Tracie

Ingredients:

2 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
8 tsp. butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup skim milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

In an ovenproof sauté pan, place apple slices and 2 tsp. of butter and sauté until tender (two to three minutes) over medium heat, tossing gently.

In a separate bowl mix flour and milk, then add eggs and whisk well. Pour the egg mixture over the apples and put pan in the oven at 350 degrees for roughly 25 minutes, until the pancake puffs up.

Take remaining butter and melt in microwave. Mix sugars and cinnamon together.

Pull pancake out of oven and sprinkle sugar mixture over the top evenly. Drizzle the butter evenly over the sugar. Place the pan back into the oven increasing the temperature to 450 degrees.

Watch the pancake carefully so that it does not burn. It takes about five minutes to caramelize the sugar and the pancake will puff up to two to three times its size.

Remove from oven and serve immediately. To indulge a bit more, top with vanilla ice cream.

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Anne-Marie & Jay Jolley

Curried Rice Salad

Cooking dinner together is tradition for us, as we typically eat in five nights a week. Even before we were married, we loved to cook together – I still have the champagne cork from the first meal I cooked for Jay. We both grew up with our moms cooking every night and our families all sitting down together at dinner, so it’s something we expected once we got married and had a family of our own. Having our parents over on a regular basis to join us is common now.

Since most of the meals we cook are eaten by two adults, we have a lot of leftovers. I try to be creative with what we have and am good at transforming one night’s dinner into something totally different the next day. This recipe is great because you can have an Asian dinner one night and use leftover rice the next. Any leftover grilled veggies are good in it as well, but the sweet crisp corn and the dried currants go really well together. – Anne-Marie

Ingredients:

4 cups basmati rice (leftover is best)
2 cups corn kernels (about two cobs worth)
1 cup green onions chopped
1/2 cup dried currants (or chopped raisins)
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Combine first four ingredients in a bowl. Whisk following ingredients then toss with rice mixture. Allow to sit for 30 minutes or longer.

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Mike & Suzy Costa

Baked Lobster Tails

The first meal I cooked for Suzy was on Valentine’s Day in 1986. It was lobster tails, asparagus, and fettuccine. Once we got married, we started sharing cooking duties on holidays – I’d do the main dish and Suzy would whip up desserts. Any way to spend time together creating something great is well worth it. You don’t have to be a great cook, you just have to relax and have fun. We’ve recreated that special first home-cooked meal here. – Mike

Ingredients:

kosher salt
2 lobster tails
1 stick of butter
paprika

Take each lobster and fan the tail. Insert the point of a large chef’s knife at the base of the fan and the tail. Slice through the shell and half way through the tail meat. Pull the meat through the shell without dislodging so it lies on top of the tail.

Transfer tails to a greased baking sheet. When the oven is heated to 350 degrees, bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the meat is opaque. Do not overcook. Remove from oven and plate. Garnish meat with melted butter and dash of paprika.

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Ju-Hsin & Todd Lusk

Asian Lamb Chops

Todd and I began dating during college and one of the first meals we cooked together was steak and biscuits. The steak turned out great, but the biscuits came out as a heavy lump of hard concrete. Todd used them as a doorstop for the longest time! Cooking together has always been a tradition for us, and it gives us a chance to talk about work, the kids, and upcoming events.

This is one of our favorite recipes that we created together. The inspiration came from sherry honey lamb chops that we had at a local restaurant. They were wonderful, but Todd told me that he bet I could make them better. So, we started experimenting. I knew I wanted to add Asian flavors so I added fresh ginger, a few drops of sesame oil, and came up with the equal parts of soy sauce, honey, and sherry. – Ju-Hsin

Ingredients:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sherry
1-2 Tbsp. ginger, peeled and finely julienned
1/8-1/4 tsp. sesame oil
2 racks of lamb ribs

Combine first five ingredients to make the marinade. Trim fat from lamb and cut into rib chops. Marinate for a minimum of 24 hours, but 48 for best results. Grill chops on a Green Egg until done to your preference.

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