Lamb with Easy Tzaziki

Happy Monday, everyone!

Weekends are always busier than I like them to be.  There are cars to be washed, hair to be cut, groceries to be bought, and TV to catch up on.  This Sunday I helped a friend move to a new apartment, which cut into my usual Sunday-Culinary-Experimentation time, but that just meant I needed to find a simpler recipe to try out.  Fortunately, Ina Garten to the rescue!  (If someone could please sketch an image of her with a cape, I’d absolutely put that in my kitchen).

In Make it Ahead, Ina has a recipe for Lamb with Easy Tzaziki that is simple, and ready in just over 30 minutes!  Just what I was looking for after a long day of (watching other people do most of the) moving.

Lamb is a very polarizing protein.  Personally, I love it, though I know for a lot of people it’s too rich and game-flavored.  But the nice thing about it is that you have to try really hard to overcook it, which means if you forget to set a timer, chances are you’ll still have a delicious piece of meat.

First you whirl together some garlic, rosemary, oregano, and olive oil.

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Then you spread it on the lamb, and put it in the oven at a high heat and forget to take a picture of it for your blog.

While you’re waiting, you work on the tzaziki, which is much easier than you think. You put the following in a bowl: grated cucumber, greek yogurt, garlic, dill, sour cream, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

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A quick mix and:

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It looks great, right?  Cool and refreshing.  Except for the fact that I over-salted it.  Whoops!  Still delicious though.

Okay, the lamb is done!

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How dreamy is that? It was perfectly done too. All that’s left is to roast some vegetables and put it on a plate:

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The combination of the herby lamb and fresh tzaziki is divine, and it’s hard to believe all that flavor is created in such a short amount of time.  It was so quick I had time to make a cocktail while I was waiting for the lamb to finish, and really, isn’t that the most important thing?

Buy Make it Ahead here!

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The Unsung Hero of Thanksgiving

As an eater, Thanksgiving is obviously my favorite holiday. I mean, come on, the whole day revolves around one huge meal that takes hours to make, a task that can be daunting for some, and a challenge for others. It’s filled with gloriously savory and sweet dishes and pies, I really don’t understand why it’s not everyone’s favorite holiday.

These first few weeks of November are when magazines and websites post their best Thanksgiving dishes.  From 456 ways to cook a turkey perfectly, to the most incredible cranberry sauce, to endless recipes to my favorite part of the meal: the stuffing/dressing. But there’s one side dish that gets sidelined, and I think is a vital part of making the whole meal work:  the salad.

Don’t get me wrong, salad is not my favorite part of Thanksgiving, I’m not that boring (no offense if it’s yours, it does make me question your judgement, though). But, a little salad on your plate will give your palate a welcome break from the generally salty, sweet, chewy, deliciousness that is the rest of the Thanksgiving meal.  For example:

My family’s Thanksgiving generally consists of the following:

– A big ol’ turkey
– Cheesy mashed potatoes
– Rum-glazed yams
– Sourdough bread stuffing
– The richest gravy known to man
– Green beans

The majority of it is starchy, soft, chewy, and very rich.  It weighs you down.

A few years ago I incorporated this Kale and Brussels Sprout salad into the mix, and for me, it was a game changer.  I know, I know, kale. Kale is so polarizing. How dare I submit my guests to my hippie kale agenda! #ilovekale.

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But here’s what I learned: this salad is incredibly simple, easy to eat, and provides some much needed crunch and freshness to your meal. With all the yams and potatoes and bread, it’s nice to have something light and tart to balance it out.  When you eat a bite of this salad and your mouth goes “OMG yes! Something I can chew on!” And then, more importantly: “OMG I’M READY FOR MORE STUFFING YAAAAASSSSS!”  (I’m paraphrasing, obviously.)

Plus then you won’t feel as guilty when you have seconds, because you can always say “oh I wasn’t that bad, I had some salad!”

What do you think? Do you have a favorite salad you serve at your Thanksgiving eating table?

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The Best Vodka Sauce I’ve Ever Made

If you know me, then chances are you know that Ina Garten is my Inner Food Goddess.   Really, my Outer Food Goddess too, I talk about her at least once a day.  That’s normal, right?  She’s just everything. Her food is amazing, simple, and just makes you feel good about life.  I’m sure if they were invited to her Hamptons barn, even Emily Thorne and Victoria Grayson could reconcile their differences (#REVENGE).

On her show, and in her book, Foolproof, Ina gave us the recipe for Penne alla Vecchia Bettola from Nick and Toni’s in East Hampton, and life has never been the same.  This sauce has such an amazing flavor that it’s mind boggling how little time you actually spend cooking it.  It’s a go-to dish when I have friends over, because it always gets rave reviews (and if they don’t rave, they are obviously blacklisted for poor taste).

You start with some onions and garlic, naturally.  Sauté them up.

IMG_6531Add in some chili flakes and dried oregano.  Keep sautéing.

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IMG_6547Then you get to add in a full cup of vodka!  Be sure to save the extra for the cocktails.

IMG_6542Next comes the tomatoes.  Two cans of whole tomatoes get crushed into the reduced vodka/onion/garlic mix.

IMG_6559You toss that all in the oven for a good hour and a half.  Then you blend it up, add some heavy cream and oregano, parmesan, salt and pepper of course, and you get something creamy and delicious that looks like this:

IMG_6572Finally, toss it with some penne, sprinkle fresh oregano on top and spend ten minutes taking the perfect picture and you have the most amazing pasta dish you’ll ever have.*

IMG_6577How can you not want to just dive in to this?

Honestly, do yourself a favor and try it at home.  Serve it to everyone you know.  Including me.  I’ll be over at 7.

* This may be a dramatic statement, but it’s pretty damn good.  

FULL RECIPE (From Food Network)

Steak & Tabbouleh Salad to Make You Cheer

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Look at all those fresh colors!

If you’re like me, weekdays are pretty busy (though if yours aren’t, what’s your secret?).  I get up early, walk the dogs, go to work, sit in traffic (yay Los Angeles!), and make it home around 6 or 7pm.  Definitely not in the mood to cook something extravagant.

There are plenty of books, magazines, and Food Network shows that revolve around weeknight cooking, some of which are tasty, some of which are questionable (Naan-chos?  Really, Ray Ray?).  That’s why it’s especially satisfying when you find a recipe that’s easy, and tastier than you’d expect.

The Food Network Kitchen has a recipe for Steak and Tabbouleh Salad that looked relatively healthy and easy, but it was packed with so much refreshing flavor that I wanted to eat three bowls of it.  #Fatty

I actually meant to make it on a Sunday night, but the boyfriend wickedly seduced me into going to have sushi instead (and conveniently forgot his wallet. Sketchy.), which meant the meat actually marinated for 24 hours, which only made it better.

I tossed the arugula in some smoked olive oil (but I suppose regular olive oil will do), just to give it a little kick, and the whole thing put together was like a party in my mouth.

But, I only ate two bowls of it.  Because I have limits.  Sometimes.

IMG_3119 Leftovers were even better because beer and The View were involved.

Steak and Tabbouleh Salad, courtesy of Food Network