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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Veggie Beef Soup

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There is this restaurant that we like going to from time to time that used to serve this veggie beef soup. It was so good! One bite, and I was hooked. The last time we went, I ordered my soup as normal only to be served simply veggie soup, so I asked what happened. I was informed that they never served veggie beef soup. I know that they did, I had it many times before. Instead of arguing with the manager I just said okay and moved on.

But this got me thinking about how hard would it be to make veggie beef soup. I started looking at recipe after recipe. No two were the same. The basics were about the same, veggies and beef but nothing else. So I combines several different recipes with the parts that I liked and threw everything into my slow cooker and walked away.

Now you may have notice that I love my slow cooker, I won’t deny it. But with this soup it makes even the toughest of beefs just melt in your mouth. You don’t even need to chew the meat… okay maybe a little so you don’t choke. 🙂

Veggie Beef Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb beef tips
  • 2-3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4-5 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 lb green beans, make sure to cut the tips off
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoning
  • 2-3 Knorr beef cube
  • 1 Tbs parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 ts salt
  • 1 ts pepper

Directions:

Tip: Make sure to have big chunks of the veggies. Having small sizes can cause the carrots and potatoes turn into mush. And you don’t want to eat mush for soup.

  1. Put everything into the slow cooker. Make sure to add the salt and pepper this will help bring the flavors together. Adjust the salt and pepper if needed.
  2. On low for 8-10 hours or high 6-8 hours. I prefer high temp, I think it gets the meat more tender then the low setting. But that is really up to you.

Tip: You can substitute the tomatoes, paste, and Italian seasoning for 1 16oz jar of pasta sauce. This will work but you won’t have that fresh from the garden taste.

See another easy meal to have ready for you when you walk through the door after a long day at work. You don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to have a hot meal ready these days just need to learn to make what you have work for you not against.

Bruschetta

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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!

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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? 🙂

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.

Simple Croutons, why pay for them?

I was reading this article about the stupid things that people pay for that we can make ourselves. And I would have to agree. Croutons are probably one of the easiest things to make and they taste great hot.

I started making white bread this morning to make croutons for our salad tonight, plus I wanted to try out this new seasoning I just bought. I found this great website that I was a little iffy on because I have never bought seasoning any other place then at the store, so I gave this a shot. WOW! That is all I have to say. Everything I have tried so far has been great. Even got me thinking about building spice rack so I can buy even more great spices.

I don’t normally indorse websites but I just had to for this place it is great.If you want to give it a try http://www.myspicesage.com.

Then I got this crazy idea, I have seven rolls about to go bad why not cut those up and make croutons out of them instead of wasting them. Sometimes it takes me a little long to figure things out.

Croutons

  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 Tbs crouton seasonings
  • 7 wheat dinner rolls (this is what I used cause it is what I had, any type of bread is fine)

Directions:

  1. Cut bread into cubes piece and place in large bowl.
  2. In a small sauce pan melt butter. Once completely melted pour a little over the bread and sprinkle some seasoning. Mix well. Keep doing this until all the butter is used and pieces are lightly coated.
  3. Place croutons on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5-10min or until toasty. Once cooled store in an air tight container for a week or up to two if placed in the refrigerator.

Mine normally don’t last that long. Maybe for one or salads because my kids eat them faster then I can make them, but that’s a good problem to have.

 

Citrus Herb-Salt Rub

I love coming up with new ideas for food, if you haven’t noticed. Well the other day I was looking through one of my favorite magazines to get ideas and I saw this herb-salt rub that looked great, I just had to try it. The only thing was I missing was rosemary, I had used the rest for Thanksgiving that I just never replaced. So I changed it up a little bit and added oregano instead and added some cinnamon.

It just smelled so good. The lemon zest just brightens it up. I was trying to figure out what this would taste better on chicken with skin or without. I decided to go with having the chicken skin on. We had just bought chicken thighs the day before I thought this would be perfect on them. Added a little butter to help give the skin a little extra crunch.

Citrus Herb-Salt Rub

  • 3/4 coarse salt
  • 2 Tbs finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 Tbs dried Parsley
  • 3 Tbs dried Thyme
  • 3 Tbs dried Oregano
  • 1/2 ts sugar
  • 1/2 ts paprika
  • 1/2 ts red flakes
  • 1/2 ts cinnamon

Directions:

Mix everything together until well blended. Store in an air tight container up to 3 months.

For the Chicken:

Place thighs on baking dish and lightly sprinkle mixture over chicken. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45min-60min or until done.