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.

Delicate Sweet Souffle

Triple Berry Souffle with powder sugar dusting

Triple Berry Souffle with powder sugar dusting

I’ll be honest I wanted to make this because I was bored and wanted the kids to stay quite for a minute. So I told them that any noise that they make and the souffles would fall and not be any good. 🙂 That last for a good 10 minutes. Well you can’t say I tried.

They were a lot fluffier but I opened the oven door before time. Don’t do that. They still tasted yummy. Looks don’t matter it is all about flavor.

Triple Berry Souffle

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar for souffle dish dusting
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons triple berry jam or strawberry jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Brush 4 to 6 individual souffle dishes well with melted butter or spray with cooking spray. Put the sugar inside one dish and toss to coat, then tip the excess sugar into the next dish and repeat. Place the dishes in the refrigerator to chill.
  2. Place the 1 cup of milk in a large saucepan. Scrape out the seeds from inside the vanilla then add the vanilla bean and seeds, heat just to a boil, then turn off the heat and set aside to let the vanilla bean infuse for 10 minutes. <- Be careful not to scald the milk. I did this three times.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, vanilla extract, the flour, triple berry jam and the reserved 1/3 cup milk until well combined.
  4. Remove vanilla bean. Add a little of the hot milk and whisk to combine, then add the flour mixture to the hot milk mixture in the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Simmer just until thickened, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Add the butter, stir, cover, and set aside 15 minutes.  Whisk in the egg yolks.
  5. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), whip the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and continue whipping until stiff and glossy. Fold into the milk mixture. <- You don’t want to see any white streaks running through the mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dishes, filling them 3/4 full. Bake in the center of the oven until puffed and light golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.*** Do not open the oven door unless absolutely necessary. Again I learned this the hard way.***

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.

Easy Pasta, Many Flavors

Spinach Pasta and Chicken Alfredo

I had to been a really good girl for Santa to bring me a pasta maker from Christmas and I am so happy that he did. This is hands down the best pasta we have ever had, then again it is homemade I should have know better to doubt it. What I didn’t expect was how easy it was going to be! I have made 3 different flavors of pasta so far: classic, spinach, and roasted red peppers & garlic pasta. Each one has been so simple make. Each one only had a max of FOUR ingredients. I bet you have everything you need to make at least the classic pasta.

I have made pasta before using a rolling pin and pizza cutter. So you don’t need to have the pasta maker to make it just strong arms. So don’t think that you need the special pasta machine to make it! I am going to show you step by step how to make spinach pasta. This is my favorite pasta, especially when you top it was Alfredo and chicken. See picture above. Homemade of course, but that is for another post. 🙂

Spinach Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups of flour
  • 6 oz spinach, steamed & pureed
  • 2 eggs
  • dash of salt

Directions:

  1. Using a large pot and a steamer basket, steam spinach. About 5 minutes. Once spinach is done puree the spinach in a food processor.

    Steaming spinach

    Steaming spinach

  2. In a large bowl, place flour at the bottom and make a well. Crack two eggs into the center of the well and add a dash of salt.
    Eggs inside a flour well.

    Eggs inside a flour well.

    Slowly add the pureed spinach.

    Pureed spinach add to the flour and egg mixture.

    Pureed spinach add to the flour and egg mixture.

    Combine until a ball is formed.

  3. On a lightly floured surface kneed the pasta ball until smooth and elasticy. About 5-8 minutes.

    Spinach pasta ball ready for kneading.

    Spinach pasta ball ready for kneading.

  4. Wrap the pasta ball in plastic wrap and let rest for about 15 minutes. <- Hint: Before placing the ball in the plastic wrap dust with flour, that way the pasta will not stick!

    Spinach pasta ball resting inside a plastic floured wrap.

    Spinach pasta ball resting inside a plastic floured wrap.

  5. Work in small batches!!!! Keep your work surface lightly floured at all times. You will be glad you did!!!You can do this part with a rolling pin and knife or use a pasta maker.
  6. Form a small circle by hand and run it through they highest setting on the pasta maker. As you are rolling it through with one hand guide it through the other end with the other hand.

    This is 1/4 of the dough cut into half and formed into little disks.

    This is 1/4 of the dough cut into half and formed into little disks.

  7. When the all of the pasta is out fold in half and dust with flour and repeat. Once the pasta has gone through the roller again fold in half, dust with flour and roll through the next setting. Keep repeating until the desire thickness is reached. <- Just remember to fold in half and dust with flour between each rolling. This helps keep the pasta from sticking to the rollers.  

    Pasta sheets going through the rollers.

    Pasta sheets going through the rollers.

  8. At this point you should have sheets of pasta. Let the sheets dry about ten minutes before cutting them. <- This makes it easier to cut!

    Sheets of pasta on a lightly floured surface air drying before turned into noodles.

    Sheets of pasta on a lightly floured surface air drying before turned into noodles.

  9. Before cutting, either with a knife, pizza cutter or the pasta roller make sure to dust the tools and pasta sheets. <- This helps keep the pasta from sticking. Now you should have a ton of little strips of pasta.

    Pasta sheets being cut into thin strips.

    Pasta sheets being cut into thin strips.

At this point you can boil some water and cook the pasta and eat right now! This should take between 4-8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Check the pasta half way, they will cook faster then store bought pasta.

Or you can dry the pasta. You have several different options for this. 1) If you have a dehydrator you can make little ‘nests’,  put in the 140 degree setting and let it sit in there for 2-4 hours. Again depending on thickness. <- Very brittle when they came out but completely dried.

Drying in the dehydrator.

Drying in the dehydrator.

2) Drape pasta over the racks in the oven. Turn the oven on to the lowest setting. Wait five minutes then turn off. The place the racks in the over and wait until dry. This takes between 1-2 hours. <- Warning: pasta may break using this method, keep a close eye on the drying.

Trying to dry the strips of pasta on cookie sheets to try to stop pasta breaking.

Trying to dry the strips of pasta on cookie sheets to try to stop pasta breaking.

3) This is by far the easiest method. Just let the pasta dry on a drying rack or lay them flat on the counter. <- If you choose to do it this way make sure it is not humid in the kitchen or outside. This will affect the drying.

I hope that the pictures helped you along the way. Once you get the basics down the different flavors you can make are endless. And at a fraction of the cost. Let’s just take a quick look at the estimated price for just the spinach pasta.

$0.30 for the spinach + 0.22 for two eggs + $0.50 for flour = $1.02 for the entire batch of homemade pasta which is about two meals worth.  You can’t buy the cheap brand of pasta for that price. The prices may vary depending on where you live.

Freshly Baked Citrus Cranberry Cookies

I love the cold months, it gives a break from the heat of the summer and we get great fruits like cranberries and amazing tasting oranges. A friend of mine grows his own oranges, satsumas and chickens. Needless to say I am never out of fresh fruits during the colder months of the year. Well over the holidays my oldest had to take care of the chickens and dogs while they are away. And we got so many fruits and eggs I just had to warm up my oven and get to baking. I was not letting these go to waste.

I love the taste of oranges and cranberries together. These are the prefect balance between tart and sweet. I dare you to just eat one! Trust me it can’t be done.

Cranberry Citrus Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter, at room temperature (two sticks)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 large orange finely grated zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and orange zest and juice.
  2. Combine flour, salt and cranberries. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture, blending until smooth. Form dough into a log and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for dough 60 minutes to make it easier to handle.
  3. Cut into desired shapes and thickness with lightly floured cookie cutter or knife. Keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator in between baking batches.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cookies on ungreased or parchment line cookie sheet  and bake until lightly golden around the edges, 8 to 10 minute.

Turkey Round 2

This year my family over did it with the turkey eating. We have three turkeys in a weeks time, boy scouts had a dinner, girl scouts had a lunch and well Thanksgiving. So eating left over turkey was not all that appealing to us. What was I going to do? I had a ton of turkey leftover and I hate wasting food.

Well the first thing I did was I canned some turkey soup for the cold months ahead, 6 quart size jars! And I still have more turkey to eat, a lot more to eat! So time to get creative. Who said that turkey is just for dinner and lunch, why not giving breakfast a turn?

Surprising my breakfast idea was spot on. It was sweet and savory and didn’t taste like Thanksgiving leftovers at all. Best part is you don’t need to buy any extra ingredients, you probably already have all the ingredients in the pantry and fridge.

Egg and Turkey Hash

Ingredients:

  • 1 celery stock
  • 1/4 c onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 5-6 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1 small gala apple, cubed
  • 1 lb turkey, cut into cubes
  • 5- 6 eggs, for fried eggs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place olive oil in a frying pan, heat on medium heat.
  2. Take your celery stalk & onion, finely chop then add then to the skillet.
  3. Peel potatoes and dice into cubes. Then add to to skillet. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender.
  4. Turn oven on to 350 degrees. Add apples, turkey, and thyme to the potato mixture and toss. Transfer to a cookie sheet and place inside oven to keep warm while making the fried eggs.
  5. Plate the hash then place the fried egg on top. Garnish with parsley if you want too. Enjoy.

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Cranberry-Orange Oatmeal Scones

I have made scones before and found them a little dry dispite all the liquid that was added. These are fluffy, tender, and full of flavor. These are not your ordinary scones.

My first try at making scones turned out great! Family and friends ate them all, but they all said that they were a little sticky. That was because of the maple topping. I needed to make something that people could eat with their hands on the go.

I looked at so many different recipes trying to figure out which one would work the best. Nothing really grabbed my attention so I took what I liked from different recipes and hoped for the best. I guess you could call them the Frankenstein of the scone world. A little bit here and little from there. But this monster turned out sweet and delicious.

Cranberry - Orange Scones

Cranberry – Orange Scones

Cranberry-Orange Oatmeal Scones

  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 8 Tbs butter
  • 1 c oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 ts salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 2 Tbs orange zest

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour, oatmeal, and butter together until pea size balls start to form.
  2. Add in the baking powder, salt, eggs, sugar, juice and buttermilk. Stir everything until well combined. Be carful not to over mix the dough. Fold in the cranberries and zest.
  3. On a lightly floured surface turn dough out. Form a rectangle with the dough. Using a sharp knife divide the dough in half length wise. Cut the half into triangles. You should get about 12-16 scones.
  4. Place scones on a cookie sheet as you form them.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  6. Once cooled you can top the scones with a sugar frosting. To make topping mix 1/2 cup powder sugar and 2 teaspoons of orange juice. If it turns out too thick add a little liquid at a time. Too thin add more powder sugar. And simply drizzle on top and sprinkle zest on top for added pop of flavor.