Baked Lamb Meatballs & Cucumber Raita

Certain meats are associated with major holidays.

 

Do we do this with veggies?  Other than pumpkin at Halloween?

Thanksgiving is turkey, Christmas is often ham, the 4th of July is for burgers… and Easter is all about the lamb.

I really, really love lamb.  It’s probably my favorite meat.  Rich without being too fatty, it’s more decadent than a steak to me.  It’s especially delicious with paired with my favorite herb – rosemary.

Lamb Meatballs and Cucumber Raita

 

This year I decided to get with the theme and create a meatball with this Easter meat.  I used a blend of ground lamb and pork.  While I love lamb, it can be heavy.  Pork is often used in beef-based meatballs.  When I saw Gabby make her lamb balls, I couldn’t believe I did think of it first!  (Thank you, Gabby!)  The addition of a little pork gave the flavor of the meatballs more dimension.

 

Another fun ingredient was ricotta cheese.  With this addition, it is almost impossible to dry the meatballs out during baking.  The ricotta gave the meatballs a perfectly tender, almost silky quality!

One other note: when you make these, be sure to mince/finely chop rosemaryonion, and garlic.  This way their flavor distributes evenly throughout.

Lamb Meatballs and Cucumber Raita

 

Finally, I needed a sauce!  Lamb always make me think Greek food, so I thought a Greek yogurt-based concoction was in order.  Fresh cilantro pairs with the classic Mediterranean flavors of lemon, garlicand coriander to liven up the heavier lamb, and compliment the cumin and cinnamon used in the meatballs.

The dip can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge.  It’s also delicious as a veggie dip, or used in place of mayo in chicken or salmon salad.

Cucumber Raita

In conclusion, you should try my tasty (lamb) balls.

Did you really think I could get through a whole post without a ball joke?!  Puh-lease.

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Lamb Meatballs and Cucumber Raita

Baked Lamb Meatballs with Cucumber Raita

For the Balls:

  • 3/4 lb ground lamb
  • 1/4 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 C fat-free ricotta
  • 1/4 C red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)

 

For the Cucumber Raita:

  • 1/2 small cucumber, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 C Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 C fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

For the Balls:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick foil or parchment.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground lamb, pork, egg, ricotta, onion, garlic, lemon, rosemary, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and black pepper until the spices are all well incorporated into the meat.

Form the meat into balls  (1 heaping tablespoon each), taking care not to pack too tightly.  Arrange on lined pan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are just slightly pink in the center (150 degrees).

Makes 22 meatballs.

 

For the Cucumber Raita:

Grate cucumber with the skin on.

Squeeze out excess water from grated cucumber and place in a medium bowl.

Add remaining the ingredients and mix well.

Makes ~1 cup.

***

Unrelated, but have you guys seen this video of what 2000 calories looks like?  50 slices of bacon.  Or 18.2 beers.  Or 60 carrots.  

For those of you who sacrificed something for Lent, what are you most looking forward to being reunited with?

Do you have lamb on Easter?  Or do you associate with another meat or vegetable?

 

Chive and Caper Deviled Eggs

I am a bad Southerner.

Most southern foods, I do not like.  This includes fried okra, green bean casserole with those crispy onion things on top, sweet potato casserole, honey-baked ham… and deviled eggs.

However, a wedding shower on Easter weekend with Southern-themed food all but requires deviled eggs be served.  I had to suck it up and learn (quickly) how to do deviled eggs right.

Round 1 was a spicy version that I sort of liked.  More proof that if you make anything spicy, I’ll eat it.

The family shot it down.  Mom reminded me that not everyone likes to have their mouth on fire, and that most people like a traditional “like your momma made it” deviled egg.

Traditional isn’t something I do well, but I did compromise.  I ditched the heat, opting for a caper and chive version.  That with some mustard and plenty of mayo made for a flavorful yellow filling.  A little lemon zest added a brightness that shouldn’t be skipped.

These eggs were the first thing to go at the shower!  Even with a double batch of the recipe, they were gone in an hour.

Who knew 48 deviled eggs could be eaten so fast?!

I learned that the most challenging part about deviled eggs is the hard-boiling and peeling of the eggs.  After couple of “oops” moments, I’ve found the perfect technique.  If you follow the recipe below, I promise you will have easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs, free of that icky grey color.

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Chive and Caper Deviled Eggs

  • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C + 2 T mayonnaise
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T minced fresh chives, plus additional for topping
  • 3 T capers
  • Zest of 1/2 large lemon
  • Smoked paprika, for topping

Place the eggs in a large pot and add just enough cold water to cover.  Salt water and bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, allow to cook for 30 seconds.  Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes. 

Remove the eggs from the pan and place in a bowl of ice water until cooled (5-10 mins).  Roll each egg on the counter, applying moderate pressure in order to crack.  Carefully peel the eggs, getting just under the first thin layer of membrane.  Rinse as necessary to remove any remaining shell bits.

Cut the eggs in half length-wise. Remove the yolks and place in a medium bowl, mashing with a fork until yolks are as smooth as possible.  Set the whites aside.

***At this point, I placed the whites in a baggies with paper towels to be assembled the next day.  Everything was fine refrigerated overnight***

When you are ready to assemble eggs, add the remaining ingredients to the yolks.  Using a fork, mash together until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. 

Place yolk mixture in a plastic baggie.  Cut the tip off of the baggie to pipe into whites (you can also just spoon it in).  Pipe or spoon 1 heaping teaspoonful of the yolk mixture into the cavity of each egg-white half, mounding it slightly.  Arrange the filled eggs on a plate and sprinkle with paprika and remaining minced chives.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.

Serves 20-30.  (Can easily be doubled.)

***

I did try one… and they weren’t bad for deviled eggs.  I do love mac and cheese… that one is coming tomorrow! ;)

Is there a “traditional” food from your region/culture that you don’t care for?

What one dish did/would you HAVE to have at your wedding or wedding shower?

Catering, Cupcakes, and Chillaxing

Weekend?  What weekend?

 

This was the sort of weekend where you stay so busy you aren’t really sure it ever happened.

Not that I’m complaining – catering and cupcakes iced with a little chillaxing is a good time.

 

This week I am looking forward to sharing some fun new recipes with you, but for today I’ll stick to the highlights.  Here is the Top 5 from a weekend so crazy that I was in bed by 11p last night (that’s unheard of for me).

 

1. Say Cheese

Though I spent a lot of time prepping Saturday’s catering gig, I took a little break to make a hummus, veggie, and cheese board.

 

A wandering afternoon in the cheese department while was supposed to be catering-shopping lead to the discovery of a new favorite cheese.  Mitica Quadrello di Bufala (buffalo’s milk cheese).

 

I’m not ashamed to admit… I couldn’t stay vegan for the love of cheese.

 

2. Wedding Shower Catering

This was my second “official” catering job and it went really well.  The event was a was a joint wedding shower for a bride and groom.  I was asked to come up with a “Southern” menu for ~30 people.

 

On the Menu:

  • Chipotle Roasted Corn Hummus (remember this from last summer?) with veggies and chips
  • Spring Endive Boats
  • Caper and Chive Deviled Eggs
  • Mac ‘n Cheese Minis
  • Whiskey BBQ Turkey Sliders
  • Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

 

If it’s any indication of success, there was hardly any food leftover. :)

Recipes coming throughout the week!

3. Easter Bunny

Sunday I woke up still exhausted from the previous day’s catering; however, I was energized by the fact that the Easter Bunny had come!

 

 

I will always spend the night at my mom’s on holidays.  Shameless.

 

4. Poolside Mimosas

A girl’s day by the pool with my mom and baby sister was just what I needed.  That and a tasty mimosa.

 

We laid out, talked, and ate a poolside Easter lunch of watermelon salad, endive salad, pretzel bread, carrot soufflé, and mac ‘n cheese.  I was too busy chillaxing to take pics of any of it. #fail

 

5. More Cupcakes

4 dozen Chocolate-Nutella cupcakes in one weekend clearly wasn’t enough.  We came in from the pool and wanted something sweet.  Being a good kid, I whipped up some vanilla bean cupcakes to go with the last but of Nutella icing.

 

This recipe will be coming soon!

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This week I was all about the P90X.  I’m still not following the prescribed program, but I did a workout with Tony Horton just about every day this week.  Good thing because my diet was abysmal.

#PROOF

 

Workout Recap (4/2 – 4/8):

  • Monday – P90X Shoulders/Arms, Ab Ripper X
  • Tuesday – This Tuesday Trainer Tabata workout from Lindsay (50 sec work, 10 secs rest, 2x), 6 min plank rotation, 100 push-ups
  • Wednesday – P90X Tris/Chest, Ab Ripper X
  • Thursday - P90X Cardio X100 push-ups
  • Friday - P90X Biceps/Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Saturday – 100 push-ups, 90 squats, rest/cater
  • Sunday –  P90X Plyo, 100 push-ups

 

***

And now the reveal you’ve all been waiting for.  What was the “lie” from Friday’s post?  #9 “Monday night I ate octopus for the first time.”  

Many of you guessed the right answer, but for the wrong reason.  I have NEVER eaten octopus.  The tentacles creep me out.

Did the Easter Bunny come visit you?

What food prevents you from ever going vegan/vegetarian, or – if you are vegan/vegetarian – what food was hardest for you to stop eating?

 

Super Foods + Miso Carrot Soup

Super Bowl, that is.

 

Do you know what you’re bringing to the par-tay on Sunday?  Dips and finger foods are king on game day, many of which are not exactly health foods.  Even if the party isn’t at your house, you can be sure to have a non-fried item or two to munch on if you contribute a clean item or two.

 

Here are a few game day-worthy ideas:

Chipotle Corn Hummus

 

Indian-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas (They’re like bar nuts!)

 

Baked Rutabaga Fries with Cheesy Vegan Non-Cheese Sauce (This works well with sweet potatoes and parsnips too!)

 

Roasted Red Pepper & Asparagus Mini Quiches

 

Blue Cheese-Stuffed Black Bean Burgers

 

Annnnnd… a dessert.  Not so healthy as yesterday’s Chocolate Zucchini Muffins, but OMG they are GOOD…

S’Mores Brownies

 

I should admit that I’m only in this thing for the snacks and the commercials.  If you’re like me (or not) these snacks won’t disappoint!

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Now that the football talk is out of the way, it’s time for some more orange food.  Seriously – 90% of everything I’ve eaten this week is orangeSweet Potato Pie Smoothies, Sweet Potato Fry Nachos, Pumpkin Protein Bars, this soup…

 

 

It may be a little early for carrot soup.  The orange would be perfect for Easter!  After making it, I couldn’t wait 2 months to share it.

 

Rich miso with lots of ginger and cumin make this soup something special.  I loved the bold flavors against the sweetness from the carrot.  Add a bit of cinnamon to give it a little more depth and highlight the cumin.

 

 

This will be making another appearance for the Easter Bunny.

Like many great recipes, this one is based on a soup by Smitten Kitchen.

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Miso Carrot Soup

  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 T finely chopped ginger
  • 2 C vegetable broth
  • 2 T white miso paste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional garnish: cilantro, freshly ground pepper, red pepper flakes, squeeze of lime juice


Heat oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until onion is beginning to turn translucent (~5 mins). Add carrots and continue to sauté until carrot softens a bit (to a “steamed” softness).  Stir in broth. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender when pierced (~30 mins).

Remove fro heat and puree soup with an immersion blender (or in rounds using a regular blender). In a small bowl, whisk together the miso 1/3 C of the soup.  Stir the mixture back into soup.  Taste the soup and season with cumin and cinnamon.

Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired.  I loved mine with cilantro, freshly ground pepper, red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Makes 4 sides or 2 mains.

***

I’m really excited for a certain non-football event this weekend – Lee is hosting an Atlanta bloggers potluck!

What is your favorite food to bring to a party?

What are you doing other than Super Bowl-watching this weekend?

 

Limoncello Easter

Knowing full-well Easter is yet another eating holiday, I woke up and got my workout out of the way first thing.  I’m a HUGE proponent of breakfast; however, pre-cardio I cannot eat.

My stomach has a tendency to cramp, so I have to wait 2 hours after eating/drinking to bounce.  This makes morning cardio hard – without food my energy stores are low and I find it hard to keep up the intensity.

Today I tried eating a prune beforehand.  It worked like a charm!  Not heavy, sticky enough not to slosh, and a natural sugar shot to amp me up.

 

Yes, prunes.  Like what your granny eats. In addition to the obvious benefit (fiber), they are loaded with antioxidants and high in Vitamin A.  In conclusion, eat prunes to stay regular, preserve youth, and fuel a workout.

 

I rocked out 30 mins of a slightly modified version (I needed more of a challenge!) of my go-to interval workout:

Bike

  • Minutes 0-5 @ level 1-3 (3 RPE)
  • Minutes 5-7 @ level 5-7 (7 RPE)
  • Minutes 7-8 @ level 6-8 (8 RPE)
  • Minutes 8-9 @ level 8-9 (9 RPE)
  • Minutes 9-10 @ level 9-10 (10 RPE)

Elliptical

  • Minutes 10-11 @ level 4 (3 RPE)
  • Minutes 11-13 @ level 8-9 (6 RPE)
  • Minutes 13-15 @ level 9-10 (8 RPE)
  • Minutes 15-18 @ level 12 (9 RPE)
  • Minutes 18-20 @ level 9-10 (8 RPE)

Treadmill

  • Minutes 20-23 @ level 3.8 (3 RPE)
  • Minutes 23-26 @ level 6.5 (7 RPE)
  • Minutes 26-29 @ level 7.5 (8 RPE)
  • Minutes 29-30 @ level 8 (9 RPE)

 

Followed by 45 mins of back and biceps.  Plus 100 stability ball sit ups and 75 push ups.

Bring on the second helping of dessert!

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Nothing says Easter like family.  Well, family with a side of champagne, mint, cornish hen, lamb, and veggies.

First, an aperitif.  Limoncello Champagne Cocktails from Bon Appetit.

 

Mine were made with 1T of agave rather than 2T of sugar, but otherwise I followed the recipe.  The mint and limoncello mix will be a funky  shade of green (not that green drinks both me!), but after adding the lemon juice and champagne it turns a pretty Easter yellow.

 

Don’t use a $50 bottle of champagne for this – just be sure it’s dry.  The limoncello-mint mixture steal the show.

 

Our lighter fare consisted of a strawberry-almond salad, cucumber + tzatziki, tomatoes, and fresh fruit.

 

Then the dinner drinks: Limoncello Collins a la Food & Wine.

Light and refreshing, this concoction combines limoncello, gin, and freshly squeezed lemon juice with club soda and mint.  Two glasses thumbs up.

 

Time for the mains!

Lamb grilled on the Big Green Egg

Cornish Hen, also done on the Egg

Ann's potato au gratin and bacon-brussel sprouts (soooo good!)

Spinach Bread Pudding with Feta and Lemon

 

My contribution was the Spinach Bread Pudding with Feta and Lemon.  This was found on the Food & Wine site, but was actually a 101 Cookbooks creation.  It’s a lightened version of a savory bread pudding, and I think I ate half of it myself.  Fantastic.

Next time I would increase the amount of mustard to 2 T and the lemon zest to at least 1 T.  I like a pronounced tangy flavor.

The bread in mine was a whole grain bread made from Sweetwater 420 beer.  I also used an awesome/fancy whole grain mustard, and a block of impossibly creamy French feta cheese.

 

These items, along with the picture below, were obtained at Whole Foods on Saturday night.

 

The end to my Easter was a little prettier than that…

 

I wish I had dessert pics… Mom made an incredible chocolate fudge pie and I made the Olive Cookies, this time with rosemary instead of basil.  *le sigh*

***

How was your Easter?

Do you have any tricks to eating pre-morning workout?

Have a Happy Monday… and say no to crack!