Although summer is still a few months away, olives will bring bright, robust flavor to dinner any time of year. Have some as an appetizer while you prepare dinner. Maybe even in a martini?


Food Ideas

Love to Cook: Classic Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook

Weeknight Reality: Caesar salad with olives and grilled chicken (or fish)

Need a Miracle: Take-and-bake bread, a selection of deli cheese and meat, and a jar of olive tapenade

Recipe Links

Chicken Marbella – The Silver Palate

Radicchio, Fennel & Olive Panzanella – bon appetit, via Epicurious

Two Olive Caesar Salad – Food & Wine

John Besh’s Green Olive Tapenade – Food 52

Parting Thought

“They can do without architecture who have no olives nor wines in the cellar.”

Henry David Thoreau



Prompt Recap: March 1, 2015

Missed a day or want a full set of ideas in one place? Here are six prompts to help you make it through the week, whether you have plenty of time to cook or need a miracle nightly. Click the one word prompt to go to the full set of ideas and recipe links.

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Garlic Something stout and pungent to ward off evil spirits


  • Love to Cook: Whole Roast Chicken; Aioli with Roasted Vegetables
  • Weeknight Reality: Garlic Shrimp with Linguini (or Beans)
  • Need a Miracle: Grazing Platter with Olives, Dried Salami, Garlic Hummus, Garlic & Herb Boursin Cheese, Crackers & Fresh Vegetables

BrothWarm savory liquid, stocked with goodness and flavor

Italian Wedding Soup

  • Love to Cook: Italian Wedding Soup; Whole Grain Peasant Loaf
  • Weeknight Reality: Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup with Cheese Toasts
  • Need a Miracle: Minestrone (from the grocery deli); Take-and-Bake Garlic Bread


CreamSomething rich and soft, well-blended


  • Love to Cook: Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce; Braised Leeks
  • Weeknight Reality: Sautéed Beef Tips with Creamed Spinach, or Baked Eggs with Herbed Cream
  • Need a Miracle: Grilled Chicken Kebabs (store-bought); Berries with Fresh Whipped Cream

ContrastSomething with sharply contrasting but complementary flavors or colors

Swiss chard 2014

  • Love to Cook: “Christmas” Enchiladas or Burritos (alternating red and green chile)
  • Weeknight Reality: Bow-Tie Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce; Swiss Chard Salad with Dried Fruit
  • Need a Miracle: Take-out Hot Wings with Celery and Blue Cheese Dressing


MintSomething bright and clean with a clear finish


  • Love to Cook: Lamb Kebabs with Mint Pesto
  • Weeknight Reality: Spring Rolls with Vegetable Fried Rice
  • Need a Miracle: Grilled Chicken Salad with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream for Dessert


Toast Something warm with a crisp edge


  • Love to Cook: Brioche French Toast with Maple Syrup and Grilled Sausage
  • Weeknight Reality: Turkey Burgers with Cheddar & Avocado on Toasted English Muffins
  • Need a Miracle: Toasted French Bread Slices with Deli Platter (Prosciutto, Gorgonzola, Fig Jam & Arugula, etc.)


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All words and images belong to Jennifer Balink, 2015. Want to borrow? Please ask first.


A jumble of flavors & textures that work well together

market cart

Food Ideas

  • Love to cook: Fattoush with lamb patties
  • Weeknight Reality: Pasta with sausage & wilted bitter greens
  • Need a Miracle:Asian or Southwestern slaw kit tossed with sliced chicken tenders

Recipe Links

Parting Thought

“Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.”

Anna Quindlen


Something with softness that carries through the meal


I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.

W.C. Fields

Food Ideas

  • Love to cook: Boeuf Bourguignon, fresh baguette, haricots verts, arugula salad with lemon/olive oil dressing
  • Weeknight reality: Wine-braised chicken thighs, fresh baguette, steamed green beans
  • Last minute miracle: Baby spinach salad with bacon and red wine vinaigrette, espresso torte (from the bakery)

Recipe Links


Dinner on the table, without much delay

fall greens 2014

Be quick, but don’t hurry.

John Wooden

Food Ideas

  • Love to cook: Baked Parmesan chicken, roasted fingerling potatoes, sautéed broccoli rabe
  • Weeknight reality: Chicken tenders sautéed in butter, herbed couscous, Caesar salad
  • Last minute miracle: Cheese & sausage plate with deli pickles

Recipe Links