Mint and Cumin-Spiced Lamb Chops + Pistachio Crusted Asparagus with Feta

Good morning and Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.  My weekend flew by at the speed of lightening.  On Friday, Big Guy and I headed down to Ocean Isle Beach and made a pit stop in Wilmington for sushi.  The weekend was full of family and it was exactly what I wanted.  The weather was gorgeous and I even got to share a bottle of wine with my sister.

Iron Horse is my favorite bubbles these days and this bottle came all the way from Sonoma.  This 2007 Brut Rose was light and bright with hints of fruit with every sip.

On Saturday we enjoyed coffee and yogurt bowls at Drift before I got to work in the kitchen with Momma.  Deviled eggs…pea salad…biscuits…and a delicious pineapple-coconut cake.  We were busy ladies.

That evening we headed to my grandparents house for dinner.  I wish I could transport myself back so that I could spend another weekend with these fun kids.

Yesterday we packed up the car and headed back so that we could enjoy the sunshine on our back deck. A glass of wine and some tunes and I was a happy girl.

For dinner, we kept with the Easter “theme” and had Mint and Cumin-Spiced Lamb Chops with a side of Pistachio Crusted Asparagus and Feta.

lamb

The lamb chops were rubbed with a mixture of mint, cilantro, parsley, onion, cumin, paprika, allspice, crushed red pepper flakes and garam masala that had been pulsed in the food processor.  Grilled until cooked to desired doneness and then sprinkled with parsley.

The asparagus were seriously the best asparagus I’ve ever add.  Salty and nutty with a little bit of brightness from the orange-vinaigrette.  I loved the freshness of the parsley on top but I have to say pistachios + feta are the perfect combination as an asparagus topper.  You must try this recipe if you love asparagus.

dinner

To end the weekend on a high note, we uncorked a pinot noir from Papapietro Perry and toasted to another wonderful weekend.

And if you’re on Spring Break – I’m jealous.

 

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Orange-Sesame Asparagus and Rice

Around our house there really isn’t a “season” for grilling because Big Guy loves any and all opportunities to fire up the grill.  But we both enjoy it the most in the springtime.

It’s not too hot.  There’s a breeze.  And the bugs don’t completely take over.

We plan on taking advantage of this optimal grilling weather as much as possible this year.

This dinner is perfect for any night of the week.  Easy enough for a week night but “so good it tastes like the weekend.” (that’s a direct quote from Big Guy…I’m not sure if I should be offended though)

Sliced pork tenderloin is marinated for about 30 minutes in a marinade of canola oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, soy sauce (or tamari), fish sauce and ginger.  Before grilling, sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper.

Alongside the pork, grilled asparagus.  (This dinner is incredibly low-mess material.)

The asparagus are grilled before being drizzled with a sweet and spicy sauce of fresh orange juice, sesame oil, honey and red pepper flakes.  The asparagus are brightened up with a final touch of orange zest.

The pork and asparagus are served on top of a bed of fluffy rice that has been tossed with sesame oil, green onions, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds.  (Don’t tell Big Guy I completely forgot to add the peanuts.)

The pork was beyond tender and juicy and so full of flavor from the marinade.  I loved the sweet-savory jive of the entire plate.

Sweet from the orange juice, maple and honey.

Savory from the tamari, sesame oil and fish sauce.

I’m officially deeming it “Grilling Season.”

 

(Note:  This recipe made enough pork for a “leftover” recipe featured in the magazine.  So half the amount of pork if you don’t want leftovers.  But the leftovers are perfect for lunch or “dinner on your own.”)

 

Risotto Primavera

The word “primavera” comes from an Italian word meaning “in the style of springtime.”

And I am beyond ready for springtime.  The high today is 71 and makes this dinner even more appropriate.

Don’t be afraid of risotto!  It just takes a little time and patience.

The key is to have the liquid that you’re mixing into the rice simmering the entire time.  In this case, vegetable broth.

Creamy rice from the addition of cream cheese.

Meaty mushrooms.

Peas bursting with flavor and freshness.

Rich, deep flavor from garlic and onion.

A little sweetness from the wine.

Sharp, cheesy Parmesan.

Risotto is so comforting yet so light.

The perfect way to style dinner in the springtime.

 

 

Grilled Chicken Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Weekends are for indulging.

Between wine dinners with friends…

And pizza dates on Sunday, Monday is all about pushing the reset button.

Let’s start the week out on healthy note with a grilled chicken salad with orange vinaigrette.

Bibb lettuce is tossed with a bright and refreshing vinaigrette comprised of fresh orange juice, orange zest, sesame oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper.

The lettuce is portioned out and each plate is then topped with crunchy celery, sweet cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken and salty cashews.

That is what the reset button looks like.

minced beef with bok choy and fried egg

Other title options:  

“Drops instead of Drizzle”

“Drops of Sriracha”

“At least there were chopsticks.”

All of that to say that I wish I had drizzled the little extra sriracha on top instead of what actually occurred.

Regardless of the drop vs drizzle decision that will forever haunt me, eating a rice bowl for dinner is always a good idea.

And the chop sticks were a good idea until I got to the end of the bowl and I couldn’t use the “scoop” method.  Thankfully Big Guy was prepared for that and had a fork waiting for me.

This dinner comes together in a flash (most stir-fries do) so make sure to prep ALL your ingredients first.  Also, make sure you rice is always finished cooking before you even think to turn on the stove top to cook the beef.

Ground beef (aka minced beef – I hate that term) is sauteed with garlic and then flavored with a mixture of sugar, Thai chile paste, fish sauce and soy sauce (or tamari).  The ground beef is then removed from the skillet and the bok choy (I couldn’t find baby bok choy so I used Mama bok choy and simply cut it a little smaller) is added to the same skillet and sauteed until tender.  Remove the bok choy and cook up your eggs.  I think I’m finally getting the hang of this “fried egg” thing.  It’s all about a good fitting lid and timing.  Timing is key.

All the elements are served together in a rice bowl with a little extra drizzle of Sriracha for good measure.

Boom.

So whether you drizzle or drop, a beef rice bowl with an egg on top is delicious.  Spicy yet tame and tons of texture.

creamy asparagus and hearts of palm pasta

My food is screaming “It’s Spring” but the weather just can’t seem to make up it’s mind.  Today it’s going to be in the high 60s while the high for Saturday is 49.

And while I can’t seem to figure out what I am supposed to wear during this time of transition, I’m clearly comfortable with pretending it’s full-on-Springtime in the kitchen.

This pasta dish is ready in under 30 minutes and it creamy and rich while still being light.

I loved the texture and flavors from the asparagus and hearts of palm.  And if you have any favorite artichoke or hearts of palm recipes – send them my way – we’re currently obsessing.

The richness is from a milk-based sauce with cheesiness from Parmesan and mozzarella.  The mozzarella is stirred in at the very end and provides a decadent, almost-guilty feeling creaminess.

The only changes I made:  gluten-free pasta and instead of flour I used 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.  Oh, and I added more garlic. Because I just can’t have enough.

Perhaps if I eat more Spring-inspired meals the cold weather will leave for good.

Friday Favorites

We made it another week!  I don’t know about you – but this week was a busy week and I’m glad to have a fun weekend ahead.  Come 5pm, I hope my biggest worries consist of whether the rain will ruin my blowout and what wine to open on Saturday night.  See you guys Monday!

Favorite Dinner:  Thai Beef with Basil.  The flavors in this weeknight dinner sound incredible.  And this recipe reminds me that we need to plant Thai Basil this summer.

Favorite Showstopper:  Candied Citrus Cake.  How gorgeous is this cake?  I cannot get enough citrus lately.

Favorite Devour:  Caramelized Pineapple, Bacon and Goat Cheese Guacamole.  Quite possibly the most trashed up guac ever.  And I love it.

Favorite Wake-Up:  Bodyweight Lower Body Workout.  I typically hit the gym on Saturday mornings fairly early.  But sometimes I enjoy sleeping in and this is a great at-home workout that requires no equipment.

Favorite Spring:  Lemon Almond Roast Chicken Salad.  I love all the things about this simple, southern chicken salad.  Especially the addition of crunchy almonds.

Favorite Sip:  Simple Coconut Green Smoothie.  Drinking one of these in the morning would transport you to a tropical island.  If only I could really transport myself right now.

Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Port-Cooked Mushroom Bruschetta with Brie. The most perfect little bite for entertaining with.  Or for eating at home with your husband.

Favorite Flavors:  Meyer Lemon and Honey Roasted Fennel. This is the kind of side dish that steals all the attention from the main dish.

Favorite Bite:  Dark Chocolate Key Lime Pie Truffles.  Key Lime Pie is a favorite of my Momma’s.  I might just need to make a batch of these Easter weekend.

Favorite “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere”:  Spicy Cucumber Margaritas.  A pitcher of these and a batch of the guac that I mentioned earlier and you’d have yourself one heck of a Saturday.

Have the best weekend ever.