Rack of Lamb

IMG_0185

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.

IMG_0188

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

Advertisements

Honey Fruit Cake

honeycake

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”

chickencaccaitore copy

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

photo (3)

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 🙂

Pork Roast Served with Potatoes & Carrots

porkroast

Picture this, the kids are complaining that they are hungry and you just walked through the door and are tired. But you are calm and ready. You got this, cause you had dinner cooking all day long in your slow cooker. Now that you are home it is time to eat without having to worry about what to cook or who is delivering.

Just like many families out there, my is busy and there are days when I think will it ever stop. Enter the slow cooker. OMG this is the best $40 I have ever spent. Ten minutes of prep time in the morning and that is all it takes to give your family a hot and healthy meal any day of the week.

Chili, soups, stews, pasta sauce, roasts, and even ham! I love coming home to the house smelling yummy and dinner ready to go. Who ever invented the slow cooker had busy families in mind and I thank them. And not even for busy weeknights, I want to spend time with my kids before they are all grown up. Start dinner in the morning and you have the rest of the day to play, hang out, go shopping, whatever you want.

Pork Roast with Potatoes & Carrots

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb pork roast
  • 5-6 large russet potatoes, peeled
  • 7-10 large carrots, peeling
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Place potatoes and carrots on the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour in 1 cup of water. Place pork on top with the fat side facing up. Layer onion slices on top of pork roast. Sprinkle salt and pepper over entire slow cooker.
  2. Set time for 8-10 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high.

And there you go dinner for the family in ten minutes! Enjoy your hot, healthy meal and relax.

Bruschetta

photo 1

This is probably the easiest thing I can make. Brings a little summer time inside during those cold winter months.

Don’t let the fancy name fool you. It doesn’t require a lot of prep time, simple to make and uses fresh herbs and vegetable. I am talking about bruschetta. Great on it’s own or as an appetizer to any meal. Make a little or a lot, this recipe could not be any simpler. You can serve it on top of crackers or my favorite way toasted baguettes with a little sprinkling of mozzarella cheese on top. So yummy.

Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (yellow or red)
  • 2 Tbs basil, thinly chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 ts minced garlic
  • 1/4 ts salt
  • 1/4 ts pepper

Directions:

  1. Stir all ingredients in a medium size bowl until everything is well combined. Serve on with crackers or baguettes.

Tip: Sprinkle some grated cheese on top and make it even better. I use mozzarella or parmesan when I want to jazz it up!

photo 2

This is one easy dish to make that is sure to please. Make it for a group or keep it to yourself, cause honestly something this yummy, who is going to want to share? 🙂