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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Spinach Pasta & Chicken Alfredo Dinner

A few days ago I made chicken alfredo with my homemade spinach pasta and it was a hit. And of course I was not expecting it to be such a great success I didn’t write down what I did. I do that a lot. 🙂

My husband asked for it again and this time I wrote it down. GO ME! 😀 Even my non-pasta loving child was asking for second and thirds. I think this is going to be on our menu for a while.

Spinach pasta & Chicken Alfredo

Spinach pasta & Chicken Alfredo

Alfredo has this expensive Italian sounding name but it is so easy to make, don’t be afraid. I have seen other recipes that call for cream cheese and I just couldn’t do that. To me cream cheese belongs on a bagel or for the base of a great tasting 7 layer dip. My Aunt Karen use to make this 7 layer dip all the time, and I can remember just eating the shredded cheese on top. But I digress. I wanted the sauce to be simple yet still have a ton of flavor and this is perfect.

Spinach Pasta & Chicken Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 5 oz parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb spinach pasta, fettuccine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBS parsley, chopped
  • 1 TBS garlic, minced

Directions:

  1. In a large deep frying pan, fill about 3/4 way of water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling add spinach pasta. Cook until tender: about 3-4 if using homemade pasta or 8-11 minutes using store bought pasta. <- See mine is faster cooking time 🙂
  2. Once pasta is done drain. Set to the side.
  3. Put pot back on the stove and drizzle a little olive oil in the center. Added garlic, cook until fragrant. Add chicken. Cook until done. About 10 minutes. Once done remove chicken.
  4. In the same frying add 1 cup a chicken stock and deglaze the pan. We don’t want all that yummy chicken flavor to go to waste.
  5. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the flour and the last 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Once combined add to frying pan. Cook over medium-low until sauce thickens.
  6. Once sauce is thick add the heavy cream and stir. Slowly add in the parmesan cheese in small batches, stirring after each addition. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add back in the chicken and let warm up in the sauce. Finally toss the pasta back into the sauce. Sprinkle in the parsley and serve.

This whole meal will take about 30 minutes to make and you only used 1 pot to make it. No, I am not kidding you. Easy to make and easy to clean up. For a busy family I don’t know what more you can ask for. This is where buying things like meat in bulk helps save money. Now let’s take a look at the break down.

$5 for the chicken + $0.45 for the chicken stock + $0.50 for the pasta + $0.05 parsley + $1.50 for the heavy cream + $0.05 for flour +$1.25 for parmesan cheese + $.05 for garlic = total $8.85. Now I feed 5 people, but since the average family is 4 we will base the serving price off of 4 people. That breaks down to $2.22 per serving. You can not go out and buy a meal for one person for that price.

My Swedish Meatball

I remember my mom making Swedish Meatballs growing up, using a mix from a package. I loved it! Only problem was when I grew up and moved away, I couldn’t find it anywhere. I looked in three different grocery stores, speciality stores, and even Walmart. Nothing. I was heart broken. Once in awhile my mom would send me some packets so I could have them when I wanted Swedish Meatballs.

I have old cookbooks around my house that were my mother-in-law’s, so I started looking in there for a recipe so I would not have to keep trying to find the packets. And I did! My only problem was that it had things in it that we don’t eat, like ground chuck and a lot of butter, I have not had ground chuck in about 10 years. I knew I had to make this healthier, yet still keep that yummy flavor. You can add flavor to food without adding fat, but you can’t tell that to some people.

These meatballs turn out so tender and moist. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, get in there and mix it up!

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

  • 1 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, unseasoned (2 slices of toasted bread will work if you are out of bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 ts nutmeg
  • 1/4 ts all-spice
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 TBS flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl combine your ground turkey, onion, garlic, and bread crumbs. Once everything is well combined, make golf ball size meatballs.
  2. In a large skillet, pour in about 2 TBS of olive oil and heat. Once oil is heated add in the meatballs one at a time. Don’t turn over the meatballs until they are ready, turning too soon will cause them to rip and tear apart. They will be ready to turn when they are easily moved with a spatula.
  3. Once all meatballs are completely cook through, about 10-15 minutes, remove from pan and set to the side.
  4. In the small skillet pour a little bit of the broth in first and deglaze the pan. You want to get all the yummy flavor on the bottom of the pan that is left over from the meatballs cooking.
  5.  Pour the rest of the beef broth, flour, heavy cream, nutmeg, and all-spice. Stir so there are no clumps of flour in the mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Once everything is cooked and well combined, add the meatballs back in the skillet. Cook until the sauce has thicken up.

Serve over egg noodles.

The Grown-up Peanut Butter and Jam Bars

I know I have been on a peanut butter kick lately, which is wicked weird for me since I am not crazy for it to begin with. But I had made these for the first time a few years ago, and I wanted to make something special for my kids for their birthday. We were having just friends and family over, so I needed to make something that pleased everyone’s taste buds. The adults ate more of these than the kids did. So much for making sure the kids liked it! It was just the grown up version to the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we ate as kids. And the best part: no crust.
You can use jelly if you want, but I find that the jam works the best. And homemade jam is amazing in it, as store jam is a little too sweet for us. Either way, you will not be disappointed when you make these. You can start to smell them before you even pull them out of the oven.
I hope you enjoy these has much as we have.
Peanut Butter & Jam Bars

Peanut Butter & Jam Bars

Peanut Butter and Jam Bars
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces jam, I used my homemade strawberry jam
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup peanut butter chips, the amount really is on how much you like peanut butter

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 6×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Make sure to use cooking spray when coating the foil or parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. With a pastry cutter or your hands, work in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Add egg and vanilla extract; stir until dough just comes together. Set aside 1 cup dough and firmly press remaining dough into pan in an even layer.
  3. Using a small offset spatula or the back side of a spoon, spread jam over top.
  4. Combine reserved dough and peanut butter chips; crumble over jam layer. Bake until topping is deep golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Run a sharp knife around edges, then, using parchment, lift cake from pan and cut into 12 squares.

Note: I know it will be hard, but you must let these cool completely before eating. That way you won’t burn your tongue on the jam and the top will have time to set and not wriggle all over the place when you cut them. Remember to share!

Crafternoon

I love making things that are pretty and functional. I don’t see what they can’t be both. And by making it at home, two things happen 1) I get to zone out and relax for a little while and 2) for the same amount of money it would be to buy one item, I can make multiples so I am getting a bigger bang for my money. I call that a win win.

My oldest is entering the teenage years now, and she has been using a bed that I had when I was 15 years old. So, needless to say, it is time for an upgrade. This year instead of giving her a huge party with gifts, we are updating her room. New bed, new decor, new everything and all homemade.

I think that when you take your time on making things, you are giving more love then just buying off a shelf. And you have something completely original that no one else has. To me that is great. Try teaching a teen to be different is like talking to a brick wall sometimes.

The materials you see below will be transformed into 3 picture organizers and a name plate for the door.

Materials

Materials

The first project here is the door hanger. This was so simple to make and a steal for $7 total. Now granted, I did have the paint at home already, but I think most people have extra paint lying around their house that they would like to use. You don’t have to use the same colors I used, use the ones that you like.

Door Sign

Door Sign

Door Hanger

Materials:

  • 1 sponge paint brush
  • paint in any color, I used left over chalkboard paint
  • 1 -2 fabric butterflies, I used one
  • paint pen in any color
  • 1 door hanger
  • hot glue gun

Directions:

  1. Before you begin painting, make sure you stir the paint really well. Apply the paint to both sides of the board. You may need a second coat depending on the color and how light your apply the first coat.
  2. Once paint is dried use a pencil to mark out what you want the sign to say.
  3. Test the paint pen before using, just in case it is clogged at the tip. Trace your writing, let dry.
  4. Place the butterfly where you want it before glueing, you only have 30 seconds after the glue is applied to place the butterfly. Using the glue gun apply a small amount to the back of the butterfly and place where you want it to go.
Picture Organizer

Picture Organizer

Picture Hanger

Materials:

  • fabric
  • ribbon
  • thumb tacks
  • hot glue
  • quilt batting
  • nail gun
  • cork board or canvas board, various sizes

Directions:

  1. Place batting on work space. Place canvas board on top. Trim enough backing to cover the entire board plus to cover the sides. Do the same thing with the fabric.
  2. Layer the three things in order: fabric on the bottom, batting in the middle, and canvas on top. Using the staple gun pull the fabric over the edges and secure to board. Do this until all the fabric and batting is stapled to board.
  3. Starting at the back on the board staple one end of the ribbon. Take the ribbon, go to the other corner across in a diagonal and secure with another staple. To make the rest of the angles go one side to the opposite side. Make sure to keep the ribbon straight when going from one side to the other. Repeat steps until the whole board has a criss-cross pattern.
  4. Take one tack and place it at each intersection of ribbon on the board. Once all the intersections have a tack in them, flip the board over and place a small amount of hot over each point. Doing this helps keep the pins in place and protects your walls and fingers from the sharp edges.
  5. Once you have decided if you want to hang it horizontally or vertically that is where you would place your frame hooks. And your done.

Honey-Wheat Bread

I hate wasting money. The other day I was thinking that I have milk, flour, yeast, butter, and honey. Why am I buying bread when I have everything I need to make bread?! The only thing I didn’t have is wheat flour and I wanted to make honey-wheat bread. So I started to do some research on bread making since the first time I did it was not so good. But I have made my husband’s favorite bread Nissua a few times and everything came out perfect. How hard could this really be.

I knew how I wanted my bread to taste. I wanted fluffy, light, and not bland. I think that I found that perfect balance in this recipe. I am never going to buy bread again. Not only that it really did not take that long. Sure three and half hours but you only really do anything for maybe about 45 minutes from start to finish of actual work. The rest is waiting for it to raise and bake. And while you are waiting you can do other things around the house. Or watch a movie like I did, just pause it when it is time to do things.

Honey-Wheat Bread

Honey-Wheat Bread

  • 2 packages active yeast (1/2 ounce)
  • 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 3 cups wheat flour
  • 2- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Directions:

  1. In  a small bowl mix 1/2 cup warm water and yeast. Set to the side for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a small sauce pan warm milk, butter, and salt. Be careful not to burn the milk.
  3. In a large bowl place wheat flour, milk mixture, honey, and yeast. Using a mixer, beat on low for 1 minute, scrapping down the sides. Then beat on medium until everything is completely combined.
  4. Using a wooden spoon or heavy duty spatula, add remain flour 1/4 cup at a time, making sure to mix completely. Add enough flour to make dough easy to handle.
  5. On a lightly covered surface knead dough for about 8-10 minutes until it becomes smooth and springy. Grease the bowl with cooking spray  or oil. Place dough inside bowl, and turn to get coated with oil. Cover with a hot, moist towel, and let rise for about an hour in a warm place or until it doubles in size.
  6. Punch down dough, and divide into two. Roll each piece into a rectangle about 18×9 inches. Fold into thirds using the smaller end. Then fold that into half and roll out into a 9×9 square. Roll dough up tightly. Pinch ends together and tuck under. Place dough into a greased bread pan seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with a hot, moist towel and let rise for about an hour in a warm place or until it doubles in size.
  7. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place pans in middle of rack and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on the top. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

 

 

 

 

 

Cranberry Biscotti

I wanted to make something special for my in-laws for Christmas this year and that didn’t break the bank at the same time. I came up with a basket of goodies. Who wouldn’t want a little bag filled with candy, cookies, and cocoa. The perfect trio for a Christmas evening with kids curled up by a fire place during the cold season. Even though the weather man says it is going to 75 this year, I am always hoping for snow. So I went to the craft store got some cute bags and ties and went to work.

First up will be a small baggy of these great little grab and go cookies. I might even dress them up some more and dip one end in dark chocolate to give them an extra taste of yummy.

Cranberry Biscotti

  • 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup cranberries

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and orange juice. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in cranberries. Divide dough into three portions.
  2. On ungreased baking sheets, shape each portion into a 10-in. x 2-in. rectangle. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a cutting board; cut diagonally with a serrated knife into 1-in. slices. Place cut side down on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Tip: Flour your hands and the edges of the dough. It will be every sticky.

 

Side note: I am waiting for some parts to come in before I am able to finish my kitchen island. I hope it comes in before Christmas, that would be nice.