Rack of Lamb

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Like many families around the world, when it comes to holidays, we all have our traditions. Growing up for me, it was going out for Easter lunch with my mom’s side of the family and later that night dinner with my dad’s side. As we grew older it started to change to eating dinner at home with mom and dad then desert at my aunt’s house. Things change as the kids get older, but being with family is and always has been at the core of my family holidays.

Being far away from my family, the holidays can sometimes be a little sad, so my husband and children pretty much let me cook what ever I want. I stick with my tradition of honey ham for Christmas and Easter and my roasted turkey for Thanksgiving. Nothing crazy simple and elegant.

Well this year I decided to rock the boat. Crazy! Rack of Lamb! Yup, that’s right! I tried cooking rack of lamb for Easter lunch with no back-up plan, so if it sucked ,we were eating peanut butter and jelly.  I spent a week looking up recipes and watching videos to see how the pros do it. And let me tell you, that made it even worse. No two recipes were the same. Even the temperature and amount of time kept changing. How was I going to make this and have it come out perfect? Answer: do what I always do, combine recipes and hope for the best.

My son, who is usually done eating after round one, ate three lamb chops before finishing his mashed potatoes. And my girls who would normally trim every ounce of fat off their meat, ate everything without hesitation. I would say it was a hit. The lamb turned out medium-rare and tender. It just melted in our mouths, and the fresh herbs made a world a difference. We may have found our new Easter tradition.

Rack of Lamb

Ingredients:

  • 2 racks of lamb (1 1/2 lbs each)
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped thyme
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 Tbs fresh chopped basil
  • 1 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs, I used old french bread and pulsed it in a food processor
  • 1/2 cup brown mustard
  • 1/2 Tbs minced garlic
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven 375˚F.
  2. In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat.
  3. In a medium bowl mix freshly chopped herbs and breadcrumbs. Set to the side.
  4. Season each rack of lamb with salt and pepper on both sides. Then place lamb in skillet and brown on all sides. Remove from heat and place on cookie sheet. Repeat for this step for second rack of lamb. Remember in the words of Gordon Ramsey, “No color, no flavor!” 
  5. In a small bowl combine garlic and brown mustard. Using a pastry brush, brush all over both racks of lamb.
  6. Once coated with the mustard sprinkle the breadcrumb-herb mixture over the entire rack of lamb. Repeat for second rack of lamb.
  7. Cover the ribs of the lamb with aluminum foil to help prevent burning.
  8. Make sure to place your oven rack so your lamb sits directly in the middle of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping half way through. This will get you a medium-rare lamb. You can adjust the time to get the doneness you want, just be careful not to over cook the lamb.
  9. Remove from oven and wrap with a loose foil tent. Let rest for 15 minutes. This will help get the juices back into the meat.
  10. To serve the lamb chops, cut in between the bones.

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This was the finished lamb before the kids started eating. Look at the gorgeous pink center.

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Honey Fruit Cake

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I end up creating this desserts and meals that I would have never thought of before, usually when I have other things to do that I don’t want to do. Mostly throwing together a bunch of ingredients and hoping that it turns out yummy. I nail it about 99% of the time, I won’t sat 100% because I have had some really big bombs before. But I will never admit that out loud. lol

But I digress, I wanted to make something that would make me feel warm and remind me that spring and summer were just around the corner. I love the winter but only when it snows and I live in an area where it doesn’t snow just get cold. 😦

The warm smell of honey and vanilla just makes your smile and then the burst of fruit flavor in every bite reminds you of the warmer weather that is coming. Even if you frozen fruit it still tastes yummy. 🙂

I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries more for the mixed fruit. Another yummy combo would be peaches and strawberries. I think that might be my next cake. 🙂

Warm Honey Fruit Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1 1/2 ts baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup mixed fruit, fresh or frozen
  • 1/8 ts salt
  • 3 Tbs butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375˚F
  2. In a medium bowl comine flour, egg, sugar, honey, milk, baking powder, butter. Mix until everything is combined.
  3. Use a spring form plan. Spray the side and bottom of the pan. Pour cake batter into pan.
  4. Sprinkle fresh or frozen fruit on top of the cake. Do not press the fruit down.
  5. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake at 375˚F for 30-45 minutes or until done. Once baked cool cake on wire rack.

Chocolate Souffle

chocolatesouffle

When you hear the word souffle, what do you think of? Something tall, elegant and sinfully tasty or does it make you cringe at the thought cause it sounds fancy. I hear challenge excepted! I have been watching way to much How I Met Your Mother. 🙂

I made a triple berry souffle once to keep my kids happy during one of their school vacations last year and it didn’t seem hard. I had never made a chocolate one though. And given my love for chocolate seemed to me a little weird. I mean I LOVE chocolate. If there was a chocolate anonymous meetings I would be the spokes person.

So I knew that I had to change that. I had to make one and so I did. Plus I love using my ramekins for things other then dips! I looked at tons of different recipes trying to figure out what I should do. Again no two recipes were the same but the how you made them was close. So I took several different recipes and smashed them together into one yummy tasting chocolate souffle. 🙂

I started to have my kids taste everything as it was being made, I got responses like, “Needs more chocolate” or my favorite from my husband, “Less chocolate more vodka.” You would think that is an odd response but not in my house. I use real vanilla extract. But that is a recipe for a different day. 🙂

Chocolate Souffle

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for baking dish
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven 350˚F degrees. Lightly butter or spray a 1 1/2-quart tall-sided baking dish or 4 10oz ramekins. Coat with sugar, tapping out excess. Set dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. In a large glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine chocolate, vanilla, and 1/4 cup water. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir egg yolks into cooled chocolate mixture until well combined. Set souffle base aside.
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat egg whites and lemon juice on medium-high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes (do not over beat).
  5. With a rubber spatula, gently cut fold in half of the egg white mixture. Down through center and lift up some base from bottom of bowl. Turning bowl, steadily continue to cut down and lift up base until just combined. Add in the second half and repeat.
  6. Transfer mixture to dish or ramekins, taking care not to get batter on top edge of dish; smooth top. Bake souffle until puffed and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Do not open oven during first 25 minutes of baking. Serve immediately.

Note: The souffle will start to loose it’s height as it starts to cool off.

Serving Tip: You can dust the top with powder sugar or pop the center and fill it with either chocolate or vanilla sauce. Either way you can’t go wrong.

Chicken Cacciatore – “Hunter Stew”

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Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with tomatoes, onions, herbs, and sometimes wine. Cacciatore is popularly made with braised chicken (pollo alla cacciatora) or rabbit (coniglio alla cacciatora). Basically the hunters would use what they could gather in the woods, and use gamey meats like rabbit, venison, etc. I will have mine without Thumper and Bambi please.

I am not really sure of how chicken was introduced, though one story is that if the hunter returned home empty handed his wife would go out back and kill a chicken and add it to the vegetable stew.

Another story is that the chicken got into the hunter’s vegetables like carrots, onion, and celery. And when the hunter caught the chicken, he became the dinner for the hunter and his family.

There are so many different variations of this dish based upon ingredients available in specific regions. For example, in southern Italy, cacciatore often includes red wine, while northern Italian chefs might use white wine. Some variations include bell peppers and mushrooms mixed in with the vegetables. I wish I had mushrooms on hand when I made this meal, the sauce would have gone great with the flavors of the mushrooms.

Chicken Cacciatore – “Hunter Stew”

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lbs chicken, I used boneless/skinless thighs and breasts
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium red onion, thinly sliced root to tip
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white or red wine, I used red wine.
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 ts salt & pepper
  • 1 ts dry basil (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)
  • 1 ts dry parsley (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3-4 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 1 Tbs Italian seasoning

Directions:

  1. In a large heavy pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil.
  2. In a large bowl mix together flour, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Once everything is combined coat chicken pieces on both sides. Place chicken in the hot oil and cook 5-6 minutes on both sides. Once chicken is done remove from pan.
  3. In the same pan that the chicken was cooked it add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook until the onions are tender. Add the parsley and stir to combine.
  4. Slowly add the chicken stock to pan. Using a spatula deglaze the pan. Bring to a slow boil.
  5. Add in the 1/2 cup wine. Bring back to a boil. Boil on medium-high for 5 minutes.
  6. Return the chicken to the pan and continue to cook until the chicken is completely cooke all the way, about 30-40 minutes.

We served ours over white rice. You can serve it over pasta, rice or potatoes. I hope that you enjoyed this little trip to Italy as much as we did. What country will our taste buds take us to next time?

Skirt Steak wrapped in Swiss Cheese and Spinach

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Besides chocolate my other addiction is Pinterest. If you ever look at my boards they are filled with crafts, food, clothes, gardening, and whatever else hits my fancy late at night. LOL

During one of my late night scrolling I saw this recipe with a flank steak and feta cheese. I hate feta cheese, to me it smells like stinky feet. I am not eating anything that smells like stinky feet. And flank steak can be expensive when trying to feed a family of five. So I changed something’s and I think it looks even better then the original. I swapped the flank steak for a cheaper cut, and then I swapped the feta cheese for swiss cheese.

The Swiss cheese has a mild, sweet and nut-like flavor that is not over powering and tastes great with the spinach and steak. Plus it melts so smoothly inside the roll.

Skirt Steak wrapped in Swiss Cheese and  Spinach

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb skirt steak, trimmed
  • 5 sliced of swiss cheese
  • 8oz of fresh spinach, wilted down
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Remove as much of the fat as you can from the meat. Be careful not to remove the meat. This takes some time but the end results is worth the extra time.
  2. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the steak.
  3. Layer the swiss cheese the entire length of the steak. Then layer the wilted spinach on top.
  4. Starting at the small end of the steak roll up the steak. Using tooth picks to keep the steak roll closed.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 375˚ F. Place in a baking dish. Wrap with foil and place in oven and cook 45 minutes or until the desired temperature as been reached.

Note: Adding a sprinkle of fresh parsley on top before you cook really helps give it that little extra something. But then again something this yummy really doesn’t need it.

I served mine with brussels sprouts and cheesy mashed potatoes. Even my picky eats had no complaints. Before I could take a picture of the inside to show the swirls of steak, spinach, and cheese it was gone! My husband even asked if we were eating it again tomorrow. I think this meal was a hit 🙂

Chocolate Chip Brownies

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I have never been one to pass up chocolate, expect if it has nuts in it. I hate nuts and waiting for the brownies to come out of the oven. And how do you make an already yummy treat even better? Add more chocolate. Chocolate chips and a silky smooth mocha glaze. YUMMY!!

I blame my sweet tooth on my parents. I can ‘sneaking’ into my dad’s top dresser draw and taking his chocolate cover cherries during the holiday’s. But I would never open the box first, I waited until it was open. Or getting that chocolate bar when I went food shopping with mom.

I think I have a chocolate problem. I wonder if they have a support group for chocolate lovers?

Chocolate Chip Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan or two 8-inch square baking pans.

2. Stir together cocoa and baking soda in large bowl; stir in 1/3 cup butter. Add boiling water; stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup butter; stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt; blend completely. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan, 30 to 35 minutes for square pans or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Garnish with chocolate chips, if desired. Cut into squares. Makes about 24 brownies.

Glaze:

Ingredients:

  •  1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 ts vanilla
  • 2 ts coffee

Directions:

  1. In a small sauce pan stir all ingredients together over low heat until well combined.
  2. Pour over warm brownies and let cool

 

Over Flowing Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate Lava Cake

Chocolate Lava Cake

Rich chocolate cake with a warm chocolate melting center with fresh whip cream on top. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Anyone who knows me, knows I have a sweet tooth. I get it from my dad! I love chocolate, well only if it is not ruined by nuts. I have enough nuts in my family I don’t want to eat them too. LOL 🙂

Nothing beats homemade bake goods and this is so rich with chocolate it should be sinful.  These look so hard to make but are so super easy. When looking up recipes and ideas I ran across different temperatures, times, etc. There are so many different way to make these. So I combines several and came up with this. This recipe make 5 so if you don’t want to share make them when no one is around cause they will be gone.

Over Flowing Chocolate Lava Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz  Semi-sweet chocolate baking bars
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBS flour
  • 2 ts vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. Spray down custard cups generusly with cooking spray and dust with a little cocoa powder, place on a cookie sheet.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler. Whisk until smooth.

    Chocolate bar and butter melting in a double boiler.

    Chocolate bar and butter melting in a double boiler.

  4. Stir in sugar. Mix until well combined. Whisk in vanilla, eggs and egg yolks, combine completely. Add in flour.

    Sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour have been added to the chocolate mixture.

    Sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour have been added to the chocolate mixture.

  5. Divided chocolate mixture between the custard cups.

    Fill cups about 3/4 of the way.

    Fill cups about 3/4 of the way.

  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the sides are set and the center is still soft. The cakes will be done if the knife comes out clean from the edges and the center is still soft.
  7. Let stand for 1 minute before removing from cups.
  8. Invert cups on to plates and serve. <- whip cream, ice cream or strawberry sorbet would be great to have on the side of this little chocolate heavens. Or even a simple dusting of powdered sugar makes a great topping.

    Chocolate Lava Cake

    Chocolate Lava Cake