This is a lazy post, as was the dinner.  I'm not going to lie.  But really, you should try this pasta sauce.  I've never had anything in a jar that was so good.  The flavors and texture are perfect.  I've also had the vodka cream sauce, which is excellent.  Don't be put off by the cost, it's worth it.
Happy Monday!

Source: Rachael Ray's Thirty Minute Meals (With Changes)
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for the bread)
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 pounds chicken tenders or breasts cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup half and half 
  • 1/4 cup grainy, stone-ground mustard (it's worth it! just buy it!)
  • 1 1/2 cups, about 1/2 pound, seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1 box of couscous
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread
Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat; add olive oil. 

Place flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper then dredge the tenders in flour and add it to the pan. Cook chicken 7-8 minutes until browned. Add wine and scrape up browned bits as wine cooks down and bubbles, 30 seconds. Combine cream and mustard and add to stock. Add grapes to the pan and turn chicken and grapes to coat and combine with the sauce. Simmer 5 minutes over low heat.

Meanwhile, prepare the couscous.  

Slice bread into thick slices and brush with olive oil.  Grill over high heat for about 5 minutes.

Serve tenders and grapes on couscous along side bread.


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard 
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, wine, honey, mustard, salt and pepper until smooth. 

Two 8-ounce heads radicchio, halved and chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 cups baby arugula 
2 ripe but firm Asian or Bosc pears, cored, halved and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices
¾ cup chopped walnuts
To toast the walnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using. 

Place the raddichio, arugula, pear slices, and walnuts in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss until coated. 
If you haven't given Israeli couscous a try, you should.  It is thick and chewy, very similar to pasta but in the shape of tiny pearls.  This recipe needed a few changes to make it a bit healthier.  It originally had 5 tablespoons of butter and 8 oz of bacon.  I scaled it back a bit and this was still a great fast, weeknight dinner.
Source: Rachael Ray Mag
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 box  (6.3 oz.) israeli or pearl couscous
  • 10 ounces frozen corn, thawed
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • ~ 2 cups chicken stock (low sodium, please!)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups (about 8 oz.) grated aged gouda (I would avoid smoked gouda in this recipe as it would overwhelm most of the other flavors)
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees . In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave, then stir in the garlic. Spread the broccoli in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle the the garlic butter. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Cook the couscous according to the directions on the box, but replace the water with the chicken broth.
  3. Add the corn and scallions to the couscous when it is about half way cooked.  When the couscous is tender, add in the broccoli and season with pepper.  Top with cheese.
Source: Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book (with changes)

1 tube of refrigerated pizza dough
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups of shredded fontina cheese 
8 slices of prosciutto
1 cup of chopped dates
1 bunch of arugula, stem ends removed
1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Unroll dough onto baking sheet. Sprinkle garlic evenly over the dough.  Cover with cheese,  proscuitto, and dates.  Bake until crisp for about 15 minutes.  

Toss the arugula with lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper.

When the pizza comes out of the oven, top with greens.  Cut into slices and serve.

This is wonderful with white wine!
This took about five minutes to prepare and was ready when I got home! Love slow cooking!

Source: Everyday Food

  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 3 equal pieces
  • 1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker, combine beef, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high until beef is tender and can be pulled apart with a fork, 6 to 7 hours.

Pull beef apart with a fork and serve on sandwiches with mayo or bbq sauce, or in large pieces with rice.
This one is all Matt's.  I worked late so he made the whole thing and it was delicious! We'll definitely be making it again.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 jalapenos, finely diced (we left this out because we don't like a lot of spice)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes 
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (this seemed like too much chicken!)
  • 2 limes, juiced, plus wedges for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 (8-inch) flour tortilla, grilled, cut into thin strips
  • 1 avocado, pitted, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Monterrey cheese
DirectionsIn a large saucepan heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Once the onions have softened add the garlic and jalepenos and cook for another minute. Pour the chicken broth, tomatoes and beans into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer and add your chicken breasts. Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes. Once chicken is cooked remove from pot. When cool enough to handle shred it and set it aside. Add lime juice and fresh cilantro to the pot. In a serving bowl add a mound of shredded chicken. Ladle soup over chicken and top with a lime wedge, grilled tortilla strips, avocado slices and cheese.
Snowday!  (Maybe...hopefully...) Here's some comfort food in preparation for the weather!  The soup mix is from Bob's Red Mill.  I love this brand; it is my go-to for whole grains.  This mix is delicious and easy to make, but takes at least 3 hours to simmer on the stove after soaking the beans all night in water.  Have it with a big serving of this wholesome spoonbread! 
Texas Spoonbread
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (I suggest increasing this to at least 3 tablespoons) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I would increase this to 1 tablespoon) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs, separated
  1. In a saucepan, scald the milk, heat to 180 degrees F; stir in cornmeal. Reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in butter, sugar, salt and baking powder. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks. Gradually stir a small amounts of the hot mixture into yolks; return all to pan and mix well. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into hot mixture until well blended. Pour into a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until well puffed. Use a spoon to serve.
On Feb 14 we headed out to beautiful Rockett's Landing for our four course meal at M Bistro.  I love Rockett's Landing - it's a little area at the edge of the city overlooking the James River and is just a few minutes from our house.  It's easy to get to, there's no traffic, and parking is easy.  
The restaurant has a great atmosphere and big comfy chairs.  Seating is tight, so be prepared for that.  We came early and they placed us about 12 inches from another couple and all of the other tables were empty.  We asked for a booth but those were "reserved."  However, I think the restaurant's other features made up for that.  That night we were even treated to live jazz musicians being there as well!
The special menu was set for the occasion with about five choices for each course.  I love going to special restaurant events like this because I think it gives you an opportunity to try a little bit of everything. 
First, we were offered an hors d'oeuvre; a fast bite of an artichoke cake with a pomegranate sauce.
Next up, an appetizer: Southern Spoon Bread and Bruschetta that had a sweet cornbread taste.
After that, Bistro Crab Bisque with Grilled Lobster; it was sooo creamy with perfectly tender bites of seafood.
For my entree, I chose the Bistro Crab Cake and Bacon Wrapper Sturgeon.  I loved the fish - it had a texture like rockfish and was perfectly cooked.  The crabcake somehow tasted like bacon, however.  I couldn't really figure out why since the bacon was on the other side of the plate.  But overall I liked the entree which was finished off with mashed Kennebec Potatoes, Broccoli Rabe, all  topped with a foamy Lemon Emulsion.
Everything was finished off with a poached pear armagnac in puff pastry with cream and strawberries.  I devoured every bite. 
I loved M Bistro and Wine Bar.  Though small, it is modern and has a romantic candle lit ambiance. M's wine list is adequate with a nice variety of selections by the glass and bottle, all reasonably priced.  The service was fantastic - our waitress did a a great job on a night I can imagine was stressful for the staff.  Finally, the food was creative, presented well, and was delicious.  I can't wait to go back!
M Bistro & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
I make this very simple but tasty and filling dish when I'm pushed for time.  I made it healthier by skipping the butter and using whole grain couscous.
Source: Real Simple 
  • 1 10-ounce box of couscous (prepared according to its instructions) 
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 4 scallions, chopped 
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined 
  • 1 15.5-ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed 
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and scallions and cook for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they begin to turn pink, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the beans, parsley, lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  4. Cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with the couscous.
Frico Salad Shells
Source: Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book (with changes)

1 1/2 cups of Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon of flour
Salad with dressing (I used romaine with a lite peppercorn dressing)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix together cheese and flour. Spread half of the cheese mixture onto a baking sheet covered in foil, sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat onto a second sheet.  Bake for 6-8 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.

Quickly remove carefully and lay over a bowl turned upside down.  Allow to cool then carefully remove and fill with salad.  Makes two shells.

This is tough but worth the effort!  
Tenderloin with Red Winy Gravy and Cracked Garlic Jumbo Shrimp
Source: Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book (this recipe is for one person - adjust portions as needed) 

1 tenderloin steak (I wrapped mine in bacon)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of dry red wine
1/4 cup of beef stock
2 large garlic cloves, cracked and peeled
2 jumbo or colossal shrimp, peeled and deveined
A couple spigs of fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon of hot sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat a small skillet over high heat.  Preheat oven to 400F.

Drizzle the meat with a little oil and season it liberally with salt and pepper.  Sear the meat in the skillet for 2 minutes on each side, then transfer to a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 8 minutes for medium rare.  Cool the skillet for 1 minute, then return to the stovetop over medium heat.  Add a drizzle more oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter and, when it melts, add the shallots and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the flour to the shallots and cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the Worcestershire sauce and red wine.  Stir for 30 second more, then whisk in the stock and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

While the meat cooks, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil and the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the cracked garlic and toss around the skittle for 1 minute. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, add the shrump to the skillet, sprinkle in the thyme and hot sauce, and cook for 3 minutes, until the shrimp are opaque.  Douse the shrimp with the juice of 1/2 lemon and remove to plate.   

Spoon gravy over meat before serving.
Carytown Cupcakes!

These delicious little pieces of heaven are made fresh daily.  They have a few flavors on the menu but each week also offer specialty cupcakes and we were lucky to snag some Valentine's Day treats.