Well, I think I can call my first attempt at this challenge a success. After much deliberation, I decided to start off with a simple addition: concentrated (store-bought) chicken stock. After talking with my mother, I also added broccoli to the New Stuff list, mostly to see if we'd like it.
This was an easy dinner to make. Carrots, celery, broccoli, chicken, stock, and a dash of white wine aren't exactly exotic, and stove-top nonstick frying pans definitely don't qualify as uncommon. But still, I did what I set out to do and added some new ingredients, used a not-totally-new technique, put it all on a plate with white rice, and ended up with a pretty darn tasty dinner (that did NOT take a zillion hours or cost a zillion dollars).
I asked John to rate the meal, and he gave it a solid B . He said he'd be happy to have it again, and I think we probably will -- it has all the makings of a good mid-week dinner. I might even play with the concept in the future, turning it into a stir-fry with beef or something. We'll see.
So, I'm pretty satisfied with the results of the first week. Did I learn anything fancy or make a ground-breaking culinary discovery? Nope. No big epiphany, but I did confirm that a simple meal with new tastes can be a nice experience for both of us. I have a fabulous new cookbook in front of me courtesy of my wonderful, ever-supportive mother (thanks, mom!) and a few good ideas for next week. Feel free to leave suggestions for ingredients, recipes, techniques, etc. for me, I never turn down a great idea!