Lemon Poppyseed Chicken with Mint-Basil Couscous


This is one of my “comfort” foods. Like, when I’ve had a long day, I like to make this and just inhale it! The chicken always turns out, and it always hits the spot.

This is my adaptation of Rachael Ray’s recipe: http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/recipe/15613_Lemon_Poppy_Chicken_With_Sweet_Pea_amp_Mint_Couscous/index.html

I only changed two things, so it’s still HER recipe. Please visit her website above for her version!!!


  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock, divided
  • 1/2 bag of frozen sweet baby peas
  • 1 cup israeli couscous
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 lemons zested, 1 juiced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins, cut into bite-size pieces(I used 6 chicken tenderloins)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 10 leaves of basil, chopped
  • 10 leaves of mint, chopped

– See more at: http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/recipe/15613_Lemon_Poppy_Chicken_With_Sweet_Pea_amp_Mint_Couscous/index.html#sthash.5ikV4uxH.dpuf



Place a medium-size saucepot over high heat and add 1 1/2 cups of the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then add the peas and the couscous. Place a lid on the pot and turn off the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. (Israeli Couscous has different prep instructions. If you use this kind of coucous please follow the proper directions on the box!)

While the stock is coming up to a boil for the couscous, place a large skillet over high heat with 3 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 3-4 tablespoons. While the skillet is heating up, place the flour on a plate. Toss the chicken in the flour to coat, shaking off any excess. Add the chicken pieces to the hot skillet. Season the chicken liberally with salt, pepper and the lemon zest, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every now and then to get them brown all over.

Once the chicken has browned, add the remaining cup chicken stock to the skillet. Once the stock is hot, add the butter and poppy seeds. Stir until the butter has melted and the sauce has thickened up a bit, about a minute. Turn off the heat and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the pan.

With a microplane or the smallest grade of a handheld box grater, grate in the garlic the last 2 minutes of cooking.

– See more at: http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/recipe/15613_Lemon_Poppy_Chicken_With_Sweet_Pea_amp_Mint_Couscous/index.html#sthash.5ikV4uxH.dpuf


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Spaghetti Carbonara with Shrimp and Grape Tomatoes


THIS is a new FAVORITE!!! I gotta say, this is one my hubby said “I WOULD ORDER THIS IN A RESTAURANT!!!”

This is an Italian Staple. I have seen so many different adaptations and recipes for this! I did my own adaptation of this recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/jamie-olivers-pasta-carbonara-351138

I did change more than 3 things, so it’s MY recipe… but I can’t guarantee that noone else made my version because Carbonara is so popular! But… oh man… SO GOOD!

Warning***** I CANNOT tell you that this was under 500 calories… bacon fat was used… FYI. BUT IT WAS YUMMY!!! 😉


This is for 3 -4 (small) servings

1 Lg. handful THIN spaghetti pasta
1 egg
1 cup white wine (or if you prefer, chicken broth)
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
4 slices smoked streaky bacon (I use antibiotic, nitrite and nitrate free), roughly sliced
1 cup fresh chopped mint and parsley
1/2 small container of grape tomatoes (about 20)
1/4 chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup hot pasta water (don’t dump all of it!!!)
8 pieces of fresh, wild caught, shrimp
sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese

DSC_0609 DSC_0610 DSC_0612


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the spaghetti, and cook according to the packet instructions. Cook 2 pieces of the bacon in the oven on a cookie sheet lined with foil at 400 degrees for 18 minutes. When you remove from the oven, put bacon on paper towel, and leave bacon fat on tin foil.
Whisk the egg in a bowl with the wine, salt and pepper. and then put the shrimp onto the pan with the leftover bacon fat, turn over until coated in fat. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. (for LARGE shrimp frozen)
Put the remaining 2 pieces of bacon into a second pan and cook until crispy and golden. Then, add garlic and onion, and 1/4 of the wine. Once onions start to look translucent, add the tomatoes.
When the tomatoes start to sear, add a bit more of wine, put lid on, and cook until the tomatoes burst.
When cooked, drain pasta in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water.
Add the pasta to the bacon mixture in the skillet and stir in most of the mint and parsley, finely sliced – if the pan isn’t big enough, mix it all together in a large warmed bowl.
Now add the the hot pasta water to the egg and wine (or broth) mixture. Once beaten, add to the pasta mixture. What’s important here is that you add it while the pasta is still hot. This way, the residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs, but not so that they resemble scrambled eggs. Then add in the shrimp. (I cut up the shrimp into approx. 1 inch pieces and tossed in)
The pasta will actually cook the egg enough to give you a silky smooth sauce.
Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water if necessary.
Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the Parmesan and the rest of the mint and parsley leaves, and serve as soon as possible.

Read more: <a href=”http://www.food.com/recipe/jamie-olivers-pasta-carbonara-351138?oc=linkback”>http://www.food.com/recipe/jamie-olivers-pasta-carbonara-351138?oc=linkback</a&gt;


Date Night!!!! (At home date night… like a staycation.. but a stay…date)

So, my husband and I are kind of “foodies” per say. I LOVE to cook (obviously) and we LOVE to eat!! For our anniversary, we always spend it in Asheville because my parents send us to a marriage retreat up there every year. So, we save $$ to specifically go to a new and FANCY restaurant. Our dates… we love new and nice restaurants. Now, don’t get me wrong, my husband has a strange obsession with Taco Bell, so it’s not like we never eat less expensive food, but we REALLY enjoy eating out where it’s farm to table, or all natural ingredients, and there’s a lot of thought and freshness put into the meal. In Charlotte we went to a restaurant called the Dandelion Market. New and fun things… new flavors. Inspiring for me too!

One of our most favorite dish, that is usually too expensive, is lamb. Last time we ordered it was probably on an anniversary a few years ago. So… I was needing a date night, and $$ was a bit tight due to saving for a couple of upcoming trips… so I made a fancy dinner here at home!!!! And, compared to an approximate $100 tab at an upscale restaurant (including tip and wine), this meal cost around $25. Pretty good huh?! So, here’s the recipe in case you want an at home date evening!!

Rack of Lamb with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus and Quinoa Tabbouleh


Rack of Lamb Ingredients:

1 half (or full) rack of lamb
8-10 leaves of fresh mint chopped
1 tsp of minced garlic
2 small branches fresh rosemary… remove and mince the leaves.
3-4 TB olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

The rack of lamb needs to be “frenched”. Basically exposing the bones on each rib. You can have the butcher do this. I purchased one that was already done. I then marinated the lamb. I mix the chopped mint, rosemary, garlic, salt and olive oil together with a fork, and then cover the entire half rack of lamb with it. (Most of it on the “fattier” side that is left up. I then put it in a bowl, cover with foil, and put in the fridge for 4 hours.

When done marinating, heat up the cast iron grill pan. (Or grill) Salt the grill pan with sea salt. When hot, place the entire rack fatty side down onto the grill pan to sear. After 6 minutes, flip, and put into the oven and broil for 10 minutes with fatty side up. Take out of the oven , wrap in foil and let sit for 5 minutes. After, remove from foil and cut apart each separate rib. Most people leave it here because people like it on the “rare” side of medium. Since I don’t, I like it on the well side of medium, I put the cast iron pan back onto the stove top, heated it up and seared each side of the meat of each individual lab pieces. About 1 min per side. Then… served!! DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Fingerling Potatoes:

Toss the potatoes in olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary and roast in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. DONE! 🙂



Roast in oven w/a light amount of olive oil, and salt. 12 min at 350.


Tabbouleh: This I threw in because I discovered a fresh cucumber in my garden!! I figured, lamb, asparagus… why not stick with the Mediterranean vibe and make this!! The recipe here is from a previous post: https://dancinandcookininthekitchen.com/2014/06/02/quinoa-tabbouleh/