Welcome to Principalchef.com!

My wife Jill and I do a lot of cooking and entertaining in our home. My older son Ryan is living on his own and now teaching me some new tricks, and my younger son Dawson can handle himself in the kitchen and on the grill as well. It’s a way of life in our home. My cooking influences are my Mom, my Arkansas roots, my friends and amazing cooks in our neighborhood in Malibu (thanks Chris, Karen, Laurie, Pete, and Sheri!), and my California living since 1980. I love using this site to share recipes and stories with my family and friends. I am a school administrator by day (and often by night), and I love to cook whenever I get the chance, hence the name – principalchef. Cheers! – Mike.

Fried Rice

I love fried rice. For us, it’s not a side dish. It’s a one bowl meal. The key is thinking a little bit ahead and having some one to three-day old rice in the fridge. If you keep some shrimp (Trader Joe’s Argentinian) in your freezer, or if you have some crab (Costco) in your fridge, you are ready. Take stuff that’s already in your fridge, freezer, and pantry, add some cooked rice from the night before, and go out there and be a fried rice hero!

Not That Bad for You Banana Cream Pie

That pie shaped empty space that’s been in my life so long? It’s all good now.

When I was in my mid-forties, I remember telling Jill that I missed the days when I could eat anything and my weight just remained constant. I told her, “I was living the good life and I didn’t even know it.” Well, those days are long gone, but, to quote Joel Goodson’s dad in Risky Business, “Every once in awhile you just got to say, ‘what the heck’ and take some chances.” It’s a pretty sad testament to my risk taking at this point in life that banana cream pie is up there. But there you have it. I just have repeat my Stuart Smalley mantra, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it people like me.”

Skillet Apple Blackberry Pie

I adapted this recipe from the amazing chefs at Cooks Illustrated. It’s fun to use when you have fruit, and you ALWAys have apples and frozen blackberries. It’s super tasty, it’s easy, and it’s one more chance to showcase your cast iron skillet.

BBQ Chicken with Balsamic Glaze

BBQ Chicken. It’s a pretty perfect food. The only food more perfect than BBQ chicken may be fried chicken. And I don’t have that perfected yet. But it will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine.

Where was I? Oh yes, the virtues of BBQ chicken! You can serve it at a dinner, a lunch, a picnic, or anything, and if you do it right, it makes great leftovers. Don’t be that chef who cooks the chicken over a hot grill, ending with the outside burned and the inside raw. You’re better than that! Here’s my version.

Heather’s Crab Cakes

My friend Heather is well known as the person who does just about everything in our school district. She’s amazing at work, and to top it off, she’s a spectacular cook! This is one of her favorite recipes, and now that she’s shared it, it’s one of mine too.

Pizza with Homemade Pizza Dough

Pizza Night is a big deal in our house. And you can buy dough at Trader Joe’s or your supermarket, and it’s just fine. But why settle for just fine, when making great pizza dough is so easy to do! And when people ask if you made the dough yourself, you calmly answer, ‘Why yes I did.” It feels good.

You need at least 90 minutes of time, and preferably two hours, but 90% of that time is waiting for it to rise. Try it out!


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