A great way to serve fish with healthy, yummy sides.  I don't like tarragon so I substituted fresh herbs I had on hand, using rosemary and oregano.  This can also be easily scaled down to serve two, instead of four.

Source: Real Simple
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups green lentils, rinsed (1/2 pound)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 6-ounce pieces halibut fillet
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and sweet potato and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the mustard, wine, and tarragon. Divide the lentil mixture and fish among plates and drizzle with the sauce.
In this recipe, I make my own bread crumbs from whole grain bread to make this a little healthier.  It's one of my very favorite ways to bake chicken.
Source: Adapted from Real Simple

~2 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 torn pieces of whole grain bread
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
6 large cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.  In a food processor, pulse the bread, oil, garlic, parsley, cheese,  salt, and pepper until coarse crumbs form.  Coat chicken breasts in crumbs and bake for on a baking sheet lined with foil for 20-25 minutes.  Serve over a bowl of pasta with your favorite sauce. 
Simple. Quick. Perfect for Monday! Serve this with a big portion of whole wheat bread.
Source: Rachel Ray Mag
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large red potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Peel the broccoli stems and chop the stems and florets into bite-size pieces. In a large pot, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the broccoli and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and potato and cook, stirring, until tender and browned, about 15 minutes. Stir into the pot along with the milk; warm through and season with salt and pepper. Top each serving with 1/4 cup cheese.
Delicious! One of my new favorite ways to make fish! Loved the smell of fresh herbs from my "garden" baking in the oven - the house smells wonderful :-)
Salmon Baked in Foil
Source: Giadia 

  • 4 (5 ounces each) salmon fillets
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 2 chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed. Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

Sides (for two):

  • Eight or so baby red potatoes
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, trimmed into florets 
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped chives
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (optional)

Prepare a large steamer with water and bring to a boil.  Steam potatoes for 25 minutes, adding the broccoli during the last five minutes.  Sprinkle chives over potatoes and add butter if desired.  Lightly salt both sides.
Acacia is an unassuming jewel of restaurant tucked away in the center of Carytown.  We went there yesterday for date night and we loved it!  

First, we were delighted to see that we wouldn't have to fight for a parking spot; they valet park for free! Yay!  
The decor was beautiful!  I love the colors of brown and sage.  There was a stunning mural across one of the back walls that was several feet long, and there was even a row of bubble ornaments floating directly in front of us.  The weather was warm, so they opened their front windows and we spent the evening watching the rain fall.
A wonderful feature I highly recommend taking advantage of is their pre-fixe menu which is a three course meal for $24 per person!  This is served from 5:30-6:30 (you just have to be seated by 6:30).  What a steal! 

One disappointment I had that was that we were seated directly beside of one of the only two couples in the restaurant, and we were only about 12 inches away from them.  This was especially disappointing because I called and asked about their seating policy and the person taking our reservation said she would make a note that we'd like "elbow room."  I don't understand why restaurants don't spread their seating out.  It would seriouly force the waiter to take about two extra steps and would give guests more privacy and intimacy, especially when the restaurant is empty!!  I just don't get it!

On to the food.  We started with a "small plate" of hushpuppies with scallions and crab.  This was the only other feature I did not like.  For $5 you get three tiny hushpuppies with specks of crab and a tiny amount of scallions.  Sorry, but I could easily have gotten these from Long John Silver's and for the same price, I've could have gotten 20.  They were yummy, don't get me wrong, but come on.
Next we both had simple salads featuring apples, golden raisins, blue cheese, and a homemade vinaigrette.  These were delicious and had great flavors.  We especially loved the candied pecans!
For our entrees, I had the trout with a basil sauce.  It was excellently prepared and I LOVED the sauce.  It was very creative and paired well with everything on the plate.  Matt had  trout with cheddar cheese grits and local greens with pine nuts which he thought was great as well.  
Finally, for dessert I had the raspberry pana cotta.  It was light and flavorful; just what I wanted after eating several courses.  
We will definitely be going back to Acacia!  I loved the atmosphere and the service was excellent.  The food was amazing and at the pre-fix price was very affordable.  I hope we'll get a better spot next time, but all of its other features almost make up for the way they seat folks. 
Acacia Mid-town on Urbanspoon
I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com but I changed it quite a bit.  We loved the flavors and it made a ton of food.
8 oz of jumbo shells (you'll probably only be able to find 12 oz boxes) 
1 24 oz jar of Paul Newman's Marinara sauce (my second favorite sauce, and it's much cheaper than Rao's!) 
1 32 oz container of reduced fat ricotta cheese
8 oz of Parmesan, freshly grated
1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs 
3 tablespoons of Italian parsley, chopped 
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Boil noodles until al dente and drain.
3. While the noodles boil, mix together the ricotta cheese with half of the Parmesan, 1 cup of the mozzarella, eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper.
4. Stuff shells with cheese mixture and place cheese side up in a large baking dish.  
5. Pour sauce over shells and top with remaining cheese.
6. Bake for 30 minutes.
Tired of cereal, I started looking for something nutritious for a quick breakfast.  I got this idea from a physician I worked with last year.  She told me that she cooked steel cut oats in a slow cooker overnight once a week.  She then refrigerated the leftovers and reheated a bowl every morning during the work week.  I decided to give it a try.  I didn't have a recipe, but just threw in what I had on hand.  I LOVED waking up to the smell of warm cinnamon; that alone is working making this!  
Caveat: Do NOT use regular oatmeal.  It will burn if you cook it for several hours!
  • 2 cups of steel cut oats
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 apples or pears, chopped
  • A palmful of dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, dates, or figs
  • A palmful of nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
Combine all and cook overnight on the "keep warm setting."  Stir well in the morning and re-moisten with milk or drizzle with half and half.
An easy way to the start the week!

Tomato Soup
Source: Everyday Food
  • 2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 small garlic clove, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) whole peeled tomatoes, torn
  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream                      
In a small pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook until onions are soft, 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender with cream; puree until smooth. (Use caution when blending hot liquids: Remove cap from lid and cover opening with a dish towel.) Season to taste.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Source: My own

1 loaf of artisan bread, sliced into 8 slices - (I found a loaf of freshly baked organic rosemary olive oil bread at my grocery store)
1 ball of fresh mozzerella, thinly sliced 
4 slices of American or cheddar cheese 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Heat a grill or griddle to medium high.  Brush the outside slices of the sandwiches with olive oil.  Place the cheese in between slices and grill for 5-7 minutes until golden and cheese is melted. 
I had to work this weekend and Matt got called back to the hospital the second he got home....so it was just me tonight.  Since we both worked all week and all weekend we have zero food in our home, so I had to be resourceful.  I usually use a whole grain mix to make pancakes, but we were out of that too.  However, I really do love this recipe and I've been making it for years.  It has minimal sugar, oil, and eggs making it reasonable, and it's very fast and easy - really almost as fast as using a mix.  And by the way, I only use real maple syrup on my pancakes; it's more expensive but so worth it.

Source: Everyday Food
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Assorted toppings, such as butter, maple syrup, confectioners' sugar, honey, jams, preserves, sweetened whipped cream, or chocolate syrup
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees; have a baking sheet or heatproof platter ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter (or oil), and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened (do not overmix; a few small lumps are fine).
  3. Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium. Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and moisten with oil; carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel.
  4. For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round (you should be able to fit 2 to 3 in a large skillet).
  5. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven. Continue with more oil and remaining batter. (You'll have 12 to 15 pancakes.) Serve warm, with desired toppings.
This was a labor of love for a Thursday night, but was too delicious to really complain about.  I found the sauce to be too thin - more like a broth - but the flavor of it was amazing and perfect for wine lovers.  It should be served on the side, though honestly the meat could stand alone.  It was tender, and juicy; the olive oil keeps it from drying during the roasting process.  I am posting the recipe as is but I never salt meat I am roasting as a general rule.  I believe it dries the meat too much, so I omitted it.  I served this with white mac n' cheese and cubed butternut squash which I roasted with olive oil, Kosher salt, and thyme right beside of the roast for the first 40 minutes or so.  (My roast was a little bigger so it took over two hours to get to the right temperature!)   Finally, make sure to let it rest.  You will ruin an expensive roast if you slice it before the meat can cool for at least 15 minutes, but preferably half an hour.
Source: Giadia 

  • 2 1/2 cups port
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 dried black Mission figs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 (4 to 4 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin
For the sauce: In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the first 6 ingredients. Boil over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Discard the herb sprigs and cinnamon sticks (some of the rosemary leaves will remain in the port mixture). Transfer the port mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Blend in the butter. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

For the pork: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Stir the oil, rosemary, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a small bowl to blend. Place the pork loin in a heavy roasting pan. Spread the oil mixture over the pork to coat completely. Roast until an instant read meat thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 145 degrees F, turning the pork every 15 minutes to ensure even browning, about 45 minutes total.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Let the pork rest 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the chicken broth into the roasting pan. Place the pan over medium heat, and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Bring the pan juices to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Using a large sharp knife, cut the pork crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the pork slices on plates. Spoon the jus over. Drizzle the warm fig sauce around and serve immediately.