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Monday, May 2, 2016

Recipe: Tender Lamb Chops



I mentioned in this post that I made lamb chops for Easter lunch for my hubby, youngest daughter and I. I also mentioned that I kind of, sort of panicked because the cut I bought said it needed a longer cooking time than what I had available. HOWEVER, my little tweaks caused them to turn out amazing!  I took tips from one post and the recipe I originally wanted to make and threw caution to the wind. The results were tender chops bursting with flavor...no joke! I cannot wait to make some again, though at $13.00 for 4 I may have to wait a few weeks or months. 

The original recipe I found was on the Food and Wine website. Find that recipe here. All they had to do was put garlic in the recipe title and I was hooked. I followed it pretty much to the "T" but let my lamb simmer in the pan for an hour total on Medium low and frequently basted it with the liquid in the pan. So moist, tender, and popping with flavor. It was a sure hit.
Ingredients:

Lamb chops
Salt and pepper
pinch of dried thyme
3 Tbs. olive oil
10 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
3 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. minced parsley, or chop some fresh
pinch crushed red pepper

Instructions:

1. Season lamb chops with salt, pepper and thyme.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add chops and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until chops are browned on the bottom. Flip and do the same for the other side. 

3. Transfer chops to plate temporarily (depending on the type of chops you have, remember mine needed a longer cooking time). Add remaining ingredients to the pan and allow sauce to heat up, scraping any scraps off bottom. At this point, if you want or need to, add the chops back into liquid, and lower heat to a simmer, allowing chops to cook for another 45 minutes to an hour depending on thickness. Baste periodically with liquid in the pan. 

4. Remove from pan and pour sauce over chops before serving.

I knew mine were done when they began to easily pull apart from the bone.

We enjoyed ours with potatoes and veggies.








With Joy UNquenchable,

Monday, April 18, 2016

SRC Reveal: Chocolate Chip Scones

Okay, I need to preface this post with the fact that the last two weeks have been a bit crazy and abnormal and so I chose a super simple SRC recipe, even though my assigned blog is from another country and had amazing recipes that are "foreign" to me...I didn't choose one! 

Now, I love The Secret Recipe Club. I have discovered so many wonderful blogs and recipes and people through being a part of it. I love getting my assignment, secretly browsing it, learning about the author and finding a recipe to make (sometimes so hard to choose). This month I was assigned The Big Sweet Tooth, authored by (well, I couldn't actually find her first name, though I did search). Anyways, this gal is a full time working mom cooking for her hubby and two daughters. She is in her words "basically an indian, a keralite to be specific". Her food reflects her heritage, living in the UAE and Malabar where she lives now. It was fun "googling" some of the places she referred to, etc..and I had to google a few terms, but it was fun and I know I learned something new. Isn't it fun to learn new cultures, traditions and recipes.

Okay, here is the dilemma I faced. I received my assignment while we were on vacation and I had fun browsing recipes. Then we came home and two days later my daughter was playing in a co-ed adult league (she's 17) soccer game and was kicked hard in the ankle, resulting in a swollen leg and foot. We spent everyday driving 20 minutes to a Sports Recovery Lounge to use some amazing equipment to help her recover. Spending an hour and a half there, then driving 20 minutes back...this all after I worked for 3 hours. This didn't leave me much time to explore new recipes and many of the recipes on my assignment called for ingredients I didn't recognize and I didn't have the extra time to run into town (20-30 minutes) to find them in the stores that could possibly, but no guarantee, carry them. Soooooo.....I decided to make a recipe for Chocolate Chip Scones....I know, I know....don't judge. My own thought was, "good grief, you  have a blog with an opportunity to try something you've never tried or had and you can't even make it happen". LOL. I'm sure I will still go back and make something because so many of her recipes sounded amazing and we love trying new things. I just knew the way things were going, I needed to play it safe. My hat goes off to full time working moms who can totally and completely get it all done...or maybe they don't. 


The scones were awesome. The recipe she made was halved, but I decided to make a full recipe because I knew we'd eat them (we really like scones). YUM! The one thing I do not like about scones is that they can be pretty dry at times. These were not that at all. My daughter ate one this morning and we warmed it up just a bit which made it even better.

okay, enough jabbering, let's get to these scones..go make some coffee, scones and enjoy. I am posting the recipe as doubled, since that's what I did. I used half sour cream and half vanilla flavored greek yogurt because I didn't have plain yogurt.

Ingredients:  

2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. butter, cold, cubed
1/2 c. plain yogurt, or sour cream 
1 large egg
1/2 c. chocolate chips (or could use raisins, cranberries, etc.)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl of a mixer, combine first 5 ingredients.

2. Add cubed butter and using a low speed, mix until it resembles a coarse meal.

3. combine yogurt and egg.

4. Add to dry mixture and combine. Mixture may be sticky. That is okay. 

5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, pat or gently roll into a 7-8" circle, 3/4" thick. Cut into 8 triangles and place on either a greased cookie sheet or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes (if you can wait that long). Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, sit and enjoy!



With Joy UNquenchable,

Friday, April 8, 2016

Letting Go of Wrong Expectations


"By the waters of reflection; my soul remembers who I am" Ps. 23:2-3

I started this post strictly about Easter, but now it's almost two weeks past that day and so I'm tweaking it a bit...I seem to have trouble just sitting and finishing a blog post. 

Sometimes we have ideas in our heads of how we want things to go (especially during the holidays), whether based on traditions that we've always had or just our own minds conjuring up what expectations that could prove to be disappointing. One thing I've learned over the years is that misplaced expectations do not serve us well. Usually we place these expectations on others, but often they remain in our mind, without the other person ever knowing what they were, and that ultimately spells disaster. Or, we try really hard to make something come together and when it doesn't, we pout and mope and consider that day wasted, and it's all our own doing! 

Real life application:

My amazing mother in law loves to host holidays at her home. It gives her great pleasure, and so I am totally into allowing her to do this (though we do Christmas Eve at our house). At first this was hard for me because I had expectations of what "I" thought holidays should look like. But after I was able to let those go, it all flowed beautifully...we planned together, I knew what I would be contributing and we all flourished. 

This year, Easter was a bit different. Way different really. It also made me realize how much we depend on "tradition" to make a day "special", when really that's not what it's about at all. It's not even about what I think should happen. My in-laws were heading to a brunch at their church, my oldest (who is also newly married) had to work from 12-6 at the coffee shop so it was looking like it was just going to be my hubby, youngest daughter and I. When my oldest daughter got married I knew I didn't want to be "that" mom who put expectations on this newly married couple when it came to holidays. You know, they have to make sure they come to "our" house, or they have to be sure they get to everyone's house even if it means they're wasted at the end of the day. No, I wanted to let them make their plans and then fit my plans into them, or just make an invitation and let them decide. I decided to invite everyone (inlaws, nephew, oldest daughter and hubby) up to our house that evening around 6:00 for dessert and leftovers. If they could make it awesome, if not, no worries (sometimes easier said than done). 

Let's back up a bit though. I will admit I was a little "out of my 'holiday' element", not sure what I was going to make, and especially for only 3 people. Hello...this is what I do everyday, why was it so complicated on this "special" day. I decided I had a ham in the freezer (from the 1/4 pig we bought last fall) and I would make that and use leftovers for little ham sandwiches that evening. I had it in the fridge thawing for a day or so and on saturday unwrapped it, panicked and decided there was NO WAY that was enough ham for 3 people and leftovers for later...it was smaller than I thought. I went to the store for ingredients for the other things (scalloped potatoes, asparagus and salad), and was at a loss as to what else I could make for us for lunch or serve that night. As I browsed my local Safeway I spied some lamb chops that looked really good. One pack left so I snatched them up. Now, I had a plan...lamb, scalloped potatoes and veggie for lunch; mini ham sandwiches, fruit salad and cake for the evening. Easy enough right? Maybe not! I found a recipe that evening for lamb chops that sounded wonderful (post later on that), HOWEVER, I discovered that the type of chops I bought required a longer cooking time (I discovered this about an hour and a half before I planned to eat). Nooooo! The last thing I wanted to do was ruin perfectly good lamb. Plan B...decided I didn't have several hours to cook this lamb, so I would go with the original recipe but allow the lamb to simmer in the pan for about an hour and pray for the best. The result? A beautifully, tender, flavorful lamb chop that I savored every bite of and wished desperately that I had more of. 

I put the ham in the oven to warm a few hours before company arrived. When it was done, we sliced it up and served it with rolls, mayo, mustard and cheese. Along with fruit salad and chocolate cake topped with berries and whipped cream. Everything turned out just right, we relaxed, played games, ate and enjoyed each others company. The only downside was my oldest and her hubby were rear ended as they were turning on our road so they weren't quite in the social mood when they got to our house, which was totally okay.

I attribute the days success to simply letting go of any expectations I might have had and being willing to go with the flow and adjust to any blocks in the road, keeping it simple and just enjoying the people around me, because isn't that really what it's all about? 


Whether it's holidays, a vacation, or just any other day of the week, it's so key to always be intentional and aware with and of our expectations (of ourselves, others or things) or circumstances. When we can keep them in check, we will experience so much more joy. I am all for dreaming and expecting great things, and pushing ourselves, don't get me wrong, but too often I see women posting things that make me think that the expectations they have on whatever it is they're posting about are going to disappoint if they are not careful. Dream big, expect great things, but don't deny reality. So, for example, I might pin things on my Pinterest boards that are pretty far beyond our current reality or maybe even future reality..they're just out there, but I love them and I can dream but at the same time keep my feet planted in current reality which says "while, that would be awesome, what can I do now, or what works for us now, can I save for this, how can I allow this to inspire me at the place I'm at or how can I tweak this idea to work within my budget, or even, "yah, probably not gonna happen but a girl can dream." I would love to own a "new" car, but we have committed to not having debt so, barring a miracle, lottery win, or something else, that probably isn't going to happen, and really, that's totally okay. 

I realize we are all in different places and the expectations one might have (that are realistic) are not realistic for another person with the same expectations. I believe one of the biggest culprits of unrealistic expectations is comparison! Especially in the age of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Soon, we find our expectations being set according to someone elses life and that doesn't work. It takes intention to celebrate someone else, be inspired by someone else and keep our expectations realistic for us. I would even go so far as to put our own personal dreams as "realistic" because when we dream according to "our own personal life" they are limitless.

So go out, dream big, be inspired, be challenged, be real, and let go of unrealistic expectations. 


   With Joy UNquenchable,

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Venison Tacos

 Usually when I make tacos, I go all out with the toppings. I mean, who doesn't love a loaded taco. However, sometimes simple is good, and in this case, really good! Really good and actually very quick because the meat doesn't take long to cook. The only downside was there wasn't as much meat in the package as I thought so we were limited to how many we could have. I seriously think I could've eaten 4, okay, maybe 3. For the record we used small tortillas, and I only ate 2.

I love wild game meat, but alas, I didn't marry a hunter or a fisherman so I am always so excited when a friend blesses us with some meat they caught or shot (sorry all you animal lovers). In this case, a friend gave me some venison a month or so ago. A co-worker of my hubby's has also shared some salmon and steelhead with us (so very good). So, back to the venison. She gave me some ground meat (which I've used for chili and today, stuffed peppers), and also some cube steak. I've used that once for "chicken fried steak" and then these venison tacos. What is great about cube steak is it is fairly thin, and therefore does not require much cooking. When I made the Chicken Fried Steak, I cooked them too long. I was paranoid, but also didn't think that as they rested, they would cook a bit more. Lesson learned.
For these wonderful tacos you only need a few things. I used venison but you could easily use beef. 

Ingredients:

cube steak (amount varying on how many you are serving)
garlic powder
onion powder
salt
pepper
cumin
cayenne pepper

Avocado 
coleslaw (store bought, or click the link for homemade)
flour tortillas (I used LaTortilla Factory tortillas)

Instructions:

1. Season both sides of steak. In a hot skillet, drizzle about a tablespoon of Olive Oil or butter. Cook steak on one side (about 3-5 minutes), then flip and cook on remaining side for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside to rest about 5 minutes.

2. If making your own coleslaw, make it several hours ahead so it has time to "marry" with all the ingredients.

3. Thinly slice meat against the grain and set aside. Slice avocado. 

4. Warm tortillas slightly in microwave, oven or in skillet. Top with steak, coleslaw and avocado. Enjoy!! 

Perfectly simple, light meal!



With Joy UNquenchable,

Monday, March 21, 2016

SRC Reveal Day: Stuffed Manicotti and Apple Fritters

It is once again one of my favorite days of the month. I have been a part of the Secret Recipe Club for several years now, since October of 2011. WOW! I'm not sure I've opted out of any months. I've enjoyed it that much, and really, we all have to eat right, so my assignments just become one of my weekly meals or desserts. It's perfect. 

This month I was assigned Savory Moments, authored by Amy. She lives in Western NY with her hubby and a few pets. She, like many of us, started her blog as a way to share recipes with friends and families and also document her growth . I love her mantra: 

 I want to encourage others to eat local, eat healthy, eat seasonally when possible, but also to enjoy food, cooking, and food culture.

and she's learning to ferment, can, bake and eat well frugally. I think I'd enjoy spending time with her. 

I chose two recipes. Because, like I said, we always need to eat so why not find a few to try. It was only going to be one, but her broccoli and cauliflower stuff manicotti kept calling me, so I made that along with the Apple Fritters. Thankfully both were successful. The fritters were one of those "gosh, always wanted to make but I don't fry things so let's make them once just to say we did it". I would totally do the manicotti again...and who knows, if someone requested it, maybe the fritters too. 

First the manicotti. Can I just say you WILL. NOT. MISS. the cheese. Trust me, I'm Italian (well, 1/2 Italian). I was skeptical, my daughter was skeptical, but I said let's just try it! Not only did she NOT get her ricotta cheese, I also didn't make bread (to my hubby's delight and surprise...trying to cut back ya know). BUT, in the end she did like it, he liked it and I LOVED it. So, yep I would totally make this again. 


Broccoli and Cauliflower Manicotti

Ingredients:

Manicotti Shells
1.5-2 c. broccoli (stems and florets), roughly chopped
1.5-2 c. cauliflower (stems and florets), roughly chopped
about 2 c. grated parmesan cheese 
1 c. cream
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. red pepper flakes (I'm a wimp, I barely used 1 tsp)
1 sm. shallot, peeled and minced
about 1 tbs. flour
about 1-2 tsp. fresh oregano (I eyeballed it and used dried)
about 2 c. good quality tomato sauce, chunky is good
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
about 1 c. fresh basil
about 1 c. grated mozzarella (or more..lol)

Instructions:

1.   In a large pot add water, broccoli and cauliflower and bring to a boil. Cook until soft. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and place in a medium bowl. Bring water back up to a boil and cook shells in it until al dente. Drain, reserving about 2 tablespoons water and add it to the vegetables. Lay noodles out so they don't stick together. 

2. In a medium saucepan, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallot, garlic, red pepper flakes, a dash of salt and some pepper. Cook just until the garlic and shallot begin to soften, about 1-2 minutes. Add flour and whisk together about 1 minute. Add cream and whisk. Continue to cook, whisking often until cream begins to thicken. Whisk in about 1 c. of the parmesan cheese. Turn off heat and set aside. (I ended up adding more cream till became a texture I wanted to work with). 

3. Preheat oven to 375


4. Add about a tablespoon (I added a bit more, like 2 or 3 Tbs.) to broccoli mixture. Using a potato masher (or a food processor in my case) mash vegetables until smooth but still has some texture. Stir in salt, pepper, oregano and about 1/4-1/2 c. parmesan cheese. I tasted as I went and added more seasoning and cheese as I felt needed. 

5. Place tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Stir in Red Wine vinegar and a bit of pepper. So, I wasn't really paying attention to this part...I used some crushed tomatoes and added italian seasoning to it. You could probably use a jar marinara sauce as well. Or a can of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and seasonings. 

6. Using any number of ways (spoon, piping bag, fingers, plastic bag with a hole cut in corner), add vegetable mixture to manicotti noodles...making sure the center is filled up. I used a small spoon that allowed me to push it in and then I just got messy and used my fingers to make sure it went in. I tried the plastic bag, but that didn't work. 
7. Place shells in a single layer in baking dish. Top with white sauce, sprinkle with any remaining parmesan cheese, chopped basil and then a layer of mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until cheese is all melted and beginning to brown. Let sit a few minutes before serving. 
I actually had it all put together and we decided to eat out before our daughter's indoor soccer game, so it sat in the fridge till the next day before baking. I baked it slow to ensure it heated all the way through without the edges getting too hard or cheese browning too much. 

Now on to dessert: 

Ingredients:

2 medium tart, crisp apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups cooking oil (canola, vegetable, etc.)

for the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
good pinch of ground allspice
about 3 tablespoons apple cider

Instructions:


1. Place the apples in a single layer on a couple layers of paper towels. Cover with another paper towel and gently press to remove some of the moisture. Let sit.

2. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place a wire cooling rack on top. Set aside. 

3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour through allspice. 

4. In a glass measuring cup (or small bowl), whisk together the cider through vanilla. 
5. Stir the apples into the flour mixture. Slowly pour in the apple cider mixture while stirring until well-combined. 

6. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven until it reaches 350 degrees. Drop the batter 1/3 cup at a time into the oil. Gently press the batter down to flatten, if needed. Let cook until golden (about 2-3 minutes), then flip with a slotted spoon and cook until the second side is golden (another 2-3 minutes). I cooked three fritters per batch. When cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and place on the prepared cooling rack. Repeat when the oil is back to temperature (keep an eye to not let it get too hot or cool) until all the batter is used.

Whisk the powdered sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Stir in the cider 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches the proper consistency (it was 3 tablespoons for me, you want it to pour nicely, but still stick). When the fritters have cooled for about 10 minutes, top each with a couple spoons of the glaze. Let the glaze set. Then eat and enjoy!

For more great recipes, check out the other Secret Recipe Club entries this week.

With Joy UNquenchable,

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