Peppery Shrimp with Grits and Greens

It doesn’t quite get more Southern than shrimp ‘n grits.

Complete Southern comfort food.

And sometimes comfort food isn’t all that healthy – which isn’t always a bad thing – but sometimes you want to feel really good while eating something that could be really bad for you.

Peppery Shrimp with Grits and Greens has all the flavor you desire with a lot less fat and calories.

By using quick-cooking grits, dinner can be on the table in no time.  The key to this recipe is cheese and black pepper – freshly cracked, if possible.

Instead of water, the grits are cooked in 2% milk making them even more creamy and dreamy.  And then the cheese gets thrown in and it’s like heaven.

Grits heaven.

For the mustard greens, I used diced red onion instead of green onions because I didn’t realize my green onions had wilted on me.  I love the flavor of the red onion so I loved this little switcharoo.

My mustard greens required a little more salt than the recipe called for.  Cooked greens require salt.

It’s an unwritten rule.

Peppery shrimp + wilted greens + cheesy grits = Southern Comfort Food

The Black House at Straw Valley {restaurant review}

SoCo is hands-down one of our favorites restaurants.  I’ve raved about the food and the atmosphere and the wine more than once and it’s a place we frequent quite regularly.  So regularly that we’ve become good friends with the owners/chef.  Being friends with restaurant owners can be a little tricky.  Our time away from the office is when their slaving away and when they have a few moments of down time, it’s a typical work day for Big Guy and me.  For months we’ve talked about trying their favorite restaurant together and we finally made time to go.  On Sunday evening we headed to dinner at The Black House at Straw Valley with Jeremy and Kimberly for an incredible night of wine and food.

black house

The Black House offers a truly unique fine dining experience in a mid century home comprised of several small, intimate rooms.  The space was originally the private residence of Robert Black and Ormond Sanderson, artisans who lived and worked here from the late 50s through the early 90s. Mid century style is evident throughout the dining room and artwork from both artists hangs on the walls.

Executive Chef and owner Adam Rose’s menu features New American cuisine using fresh, seasonal ingredients from nearby farms and providers.

We left the wine decisions up to Kimberly and Jeremy took the lead on the food.

The Black House is the perfect place to order lots of plates and share with the table.  We were able to try so much food without ever feeling too full.

To start, we ordered a couple of salads (the guys didn’t quite understand this – but it made us ladies feel better), a pasta dish and bone marrow.  The beet salad and the bone marrow were out of this world (and regrettably I don’t have pictures of our first round of food).

A bottle of wine later, it was time to share more food.  




a standout pasta dish with lots of fresh garlic, basil and pine nuts along with fresh, local sausage

fried fish

fried fish unlike any fried fish i’ve ever tasted.  the sauce was incredible.


wok fried spinach (with lots of garlic) and roasted mushrooms


chateaubriand – sliced foie gras torchon with sauternes reduction

Everything was delicious with flavors that I’m still thinking about.  Two of my favorite dishes were the mushrooms (I literally woke up on Monday morning thinking about them) and the beef with foie gras.  The beef was cooked to perfection and the foie gras was silky and rich.

We decided to share a couple of desserts to end on a sweet note.

cheese plate

cheese plate

key lime

key lime pie

I beg you to visit The Black House – it’s a food experience that will stay with you for awhile.

We are already planning our return for a warmer weekend so that we can sip wine in their outside seating area.


Cheers!  To good friends, juicy wines and unforgettable bites of food.

Classic Lasagna with Meat Sauce

I’m not going to jinx anything but I’m really hoping we’ve seen the last of winter weather.  As much as I’ve loved the extra sleep, I’m kind of over my plans being changed and not knowing what each day holds.  Not to mention that my 5am workouts are my sanity and I haven’t had one of those since Tuesday.  Woof.

Last night we had plans to go to a Napa Cab Wine Class but that obviously was cancelled.  So instead of making another snack plate, I decided I would make an ultra-comforting dinner and enjoy a glass of wine since that was originally in the books.

Before I even started on the Classic Lasagna with Meat Sauce, I selected a wine to be uncorked.  We’ll call this glass of wine my liquid blanket.

The wine we opened was a 2013 Portalupi Barbera.

The wine is massive in an ultra d’Alba tradition, layer after layer of dark fruits and exotic spices, truffles, slate and pure power.
Delivering fruit with depth of flavor, color and structure, it provides a true Italian style experience.

I honestly don’t remember this wine being so incredible when we tasted it in Sonoma.  It’s BIG and JUICY and LUSCIOUS so full of flavor.  The wine totally surprised me and honestly was the highlight of my day (minus when Big Guy drove me to the gym because I was about to lose it being stuck inside).  This wine will age through 2022 so I’m hoping I can get my hands on another bottle.

Not only was the wine incredible – but it paired perfectly with the lasagna.  I’ve honestly never made classic lasagna before and I was impressed with this “light” recipe.

The only changes I made was using whole milk ricotta (I had some left over from our gnocchi) and I used gluten-free lasagna noodles.  And they worked like a charm.

classic lasagna

The house smelled amazing after 45 minutes of waiting and I couldn’t wait to dig into the cheesy goodness.


A little green to make it even more gorgeous.

Perfectly tender noodles.  Rich and creamy cheese layers with a meat sauce that begged for a juicy glass of red wine.

Take that, Winter.

{Virtual} Coffee Chat


If we were having coffee this morning…We would not talk about the weather.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would prove that wallpaper is SO in right now by showing you this blog post.  

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how excited I am to have our entryway wallpapered in the next few weeks.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would show you the wallpaper we picked out because I can’t keep it to myself.  It’s bright and I’m obsessed.


If we were having coffee this morning…I would bring you a slice of cake.  Triple Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake to be exact.  It’s incredibly over the top but also incredibly delicious.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would want to show you the fabric I want to use for curtains but I wouldn’t be able to because it’s not a done deal yet.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our new floors are a done deal and they’ll hopefully be installed next week.

If we were having coffee this morning…We would talk about how much I miss my niece and nephew.  My sister has been sending us pics and videos this week and while they make me smile, they also make my heart ache just a little.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would give you the recipe for my new favorite cocktail:  Blood Orange Gin and Tonic.  And with all this sn**, we might actually be having a cocktail date instead of a coffee date because icannottakeitanymore.  

If we were having coffee (or a cocktail) this morning…I would tell you about the most incredible Goat Cheese Gnocchi that Big Guy and I made last weekend.  It reminded me of one of our favorite appetizers – bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese.  It was totally delicious and worth the mess in the kitchen.  But I think Food Network got it wrong by saying this is an “easy” recipe – this is definitely for the intermediate home cook.  For the recipe, we ended up using a Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma and it worked perfectly.

If we were having coffee this morning…we’d talk about weekend plans.  My weekend is going to be a 3-day weekend including a double-date to a new-to-us restaurant.  I am SO excited I can’t wait to share the food and wine with you guys.

If we were having coffee this morning…we’d say goodbye but only after scheduling our next coffee chat.

Coffee-Rubbed Prime Rib Roast with Roasted Garlic Gorgonzola Butter

One of the greatest sources of happiness for me is cooking for others.  Whether it’s a cake for a coworker or dinner for a friend that just had a baby.

My love of food (and wine) is a gift that I want to share with as many folks as possible.

Cooking for others is also a great way for me to tell a friend “Thank You.”

As I’ve hinted on the blog, we’re redecorating our living room (and the entryway!) in our house.  After five years, I’m ready for a change.  A couple of weeks ago, I talked Big Guy into this idea and now we’re full-speed ahead.  I’m not near as talented with fabrics and design as I am with recipes and ingredients so I turned to one of my dearest friends for help.  Marlo has an eye for style and I find that we have really similar tastes (her living room is one of my favorite places ever) when it comes to decorating.  She’s been my go-to the past couple of weeks.  In fact, she started a secret Pinterest board for her and me titled “Emily and Big Guy’s House.”  And things are finally starting to come together.

On Sunday, after Big Guy and I spent hours looking at furniture and debating paint colors and flipping through wallpaper books, Marlo and her husband came over to help me finalize a few decisions.  More than anything, I needed affirmation.

Instead of simply having her come over to look at samples, I planned to cook Sunday Supper for us all.  A while back Marlo commented on a blog post that featured Coffee-Rubbed Prime Rib Roast with Roasted Garlic Gorgonzola Butter and what better time to cook prime rib roast than on a Sunday in February.

A recipe like this is less about the recipe and more about the ingredients.  Quality ingredients.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with the veggies that are the base of this dinner – brussels, carrots (purple, red and orange) and onions.

The meat is rubbed with a mixture that included coffee grounds (don’t worry – you can’t taste the coffee at all), brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, ginger, vanilla beans, salt and pepper.

I actually doubled the rub amount to make sure there was plenty.

The meat cooked on top of the veggies in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes and then reduced to 350 degrees where it cooked for an hour longer. Make sure to check the internal temperature of the meat – the only way you can ruin prime rib is by overcooking.

And if this dinner couldn’t be more decadent, a Gorgonzola and roasted garlic butter was made to serve with the prime rib.

The end result is swoon worthy.  Tender brussels with just the right amount of caramalization; onions that literally melt in your mouth; carrots with so much sweetness it’s insane; and a prime rib so juicy and flavorful that you won’t understand how anyone could be a vegetarian (not hating – promise!).

And the butter?  Pure decadence.  Not too blue – and a little sweetness from the roasted garlic.

I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Let’s be honest, I’ll cook for Marlo any day if she keeps being my interior decorator.

Moroccan-Spiced Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Lemony Green Beans

Sometimes I set my expectations too high and I am disappointed.  Other times I don’t really expect much and I end up being blown away by the end result.

Whether it’s food or people, I’m sure we’ve all experienced this in life.

And on Friday night, I was blown away by a dinner that I wasn’t sure would be anything special.

Pork chops.  They can be boring.

And mashed sweet potatoes – been there, done that.

I don’t think I even have to explain why green beans could be seen as dull.

But boring and dull are not how I would describe Moroccan-Spiced Pork Chops with mashed sweet potatoes and lemony green beans.

In fact, this dinner was worthy of a glass of wine.

morrocan pork chops

To ensure that the whole dinner is ready at the same time, get started on your potatoes first.  I cut up the potatoes (the last of our sweet potato stash) and placed in a pot of cold water.  Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until fork tender.  While the potatoes were cooking, I made the red pepper sauce that was incredible and should totally be in the title of the dish.  The red pepper sauce is a mix of roasted red peppers, almonds (for a lovely texture and nuttiness), garlic, coriander and cumin whirled together with a little bit of EVOO to bring together the sauce.  Once the sauce was prepared, I seasoned the pork chops with all the spices that were going to be in the potatoes (this is an extra flavor addition that isn’t in the original recipe):  coriander, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper.  The pork chops are seared until cooked through.  Once the sweet potatoes are tender, drain and mash them along with coconut milk (I had an already-opened-can that was begging to be used) and all the above spices.  The green beans are simply steamed and then tossed with a pat of butter and the juice of half a lemon before being sprinkled with salt and pepper.

This wine-worthy dinner comes together in about 40 minutes and is truly special.  So many flavors from the Moroccan-inspired spices.

For our wine, we poured a 2012 Meredith Estate Pinot Noir.  

merry edwards

The aroma had hints of berries and wildflowers while the wine was incredibly smooth on the tongue.  Despite being a Pinot Noir it was rich and full without being heavy.  An incredible wine that I highly suggest sipping.


Friday Favorites

Well that was an interesting (and cold) week.  I’m so happy to be back to my regular schedule today.  As much as I love catching a few extra zzzzz’s, I do love my 5 am workouts and the tone they set for my day.  Our original weekend plans fell through because of the weather but we’re going to make use of a “free” Saturday to do a little searching for wallpaper and furniture.  #welcometoyour30s

Favorite Colorful:  Winter Chopped Salad.  There are officially 28 days left of winter.  And this bright salad could possibly take away my winter blues.

Favorite Bite:  Mini Lasagna Cups.  How stinkin’ cute are these little two-bite appetizers?  Cheesy, saucy, crunchy, and handheld.

Favorite Truth: 

Favorite Obsession:  Thibaut Wallpaper.  How am I ever going to choose one?

Favorite Take-Out Fake-Out:  Spicy Sesame Basil Noodles.  Noodles are having a moment in my life right now.  And can we walk about all.the.flavors in this dish?

Favorite Inspiration:  {link to photo}

Favorite Sunday Dinner:  Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder on Flatbreads with Minty Yogurt Sauce.

Favorite Sip:  Blood Orange Gin and Tonic.  Last weekend Big Guy squeeze some blood orange juice for a mimosa bar.  The color was stunning and now I want to mix it up with a little gin.

Stay warm out there!