Grilled Lamb Chops with Yogurt Sauce

Once upon a time, eating lamb was something reserved for an evening out; rack of lamb in a swanky restaurant or lamb chops passed around for an appetizer by a white gloved waiter. With that kind of swagger, it can be pretty intimidating to try making them at home, but this recipe is a breeze. If you love lamb chops, give these a try. The garlic and lemon on the lamb are a perfect match for the creamy dill yogurt sauce, and sure to have you wondering why you aren’t eating more lamb at home.

Options for purchasing pre-cut lamb chops near my house are limited; they command a steep price tag at the local butcher or Whole Foods ($25-$30 per pound!), but Costco carries rack of lamb already frenched for around $10 per pound. Most come in a 7-8 bone rack, with the bones already trimmed, so it’s just a quick slice between each bone, and we are ready to go. I will certainly cut my own for that kind of savings. They are easy to cut; stand it on its end (with the bones pointing upwards) and cut between ribs using a single stroke. That’s all there is to it!

Ingredients (serves 4):

Yogurt sauce:
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. Honey Simple Syrup
1 tsp. dried dill
½ tsp. dried Greek oregano
½ tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Lamb chops:
2 lbs. lamb chops
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges

At least one hour before starting to prep lamb chops, whisk together yogurt sauce and set aside in fridge for to let flavors marinate together.
Allow lamb chops to come to room temperature before grilling. In a small bowl, grate garlic into olive oil. Season lamb chops with salt and pepper on both sides, and rub garlic mixture all over chops. Preheat grill to 400 degrees.  Cook until desired temperature, 4-5 minutes per side for medium. Remove from heat and squeeze with a lemon wedge. Serve lamb chops with a big dollop of yogurt sauce spread on each plate. Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Il Tarocco Chianti Classico 2015
Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2010

Honey Sriracha Pork Chops

Sweet. Spicy. Savory. Are there better flavor combinations than that?

And when something so flavorful comes together so easily, that’s even better. The sweet and spicy sauce comes together in the few minutes that the chops are searing, let it simmer all together for a bit, and dinner is practically done!

The pork loin is juicy and tender from simmering in the honey Sriracha sauce and is perfect served over rice, broccoli or brussel sprouts.

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 pork loin chops
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water
2 tbsp. Sriracha
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper (optional, for extra heat!)
1 ½ tbsp. corn starch

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sear pork chops for 3-4 minutes per side and remove from pan. Sauté garlic in pan drippings for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, water, Sriracha and crushed red pepper (if using). Return pork chops to pan and pour sauce mixture over pork chops. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, turning pork chops halfway. In a small bowl, whisk corn starch with 1-2 tbsp. water to make a slurry. Remove pork chops from pan and slowly stir slurry into sauce to thicken. Return to a simmer for 2-3 minutes until sauce is thick. Spoon glaze over pork chops. Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Montgo Monastrell 2012

Korean Beef

I didn’t realize how much I would miss all the great take out options in New York until I moved away. Whenever I visit family and friends, I make sure to get my fix at all my favorite places, but between visits, I’ll make mine at home. I love the flavors of Korean BBQ – salty, sweet, garlic and ginger – I could eat it any time. This Korean Beef recipe is easy to make, and really tender since it simmers away in the slow cooker for hours.

 

Ingredients:
1 – 1 ½ lb. flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
2 -3  tbsp. corn starch
2 tbsp. canola oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, grated

1 cup water
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 green onions, whole
1 cup shredded carrots
Green onion, sliced for garnish (optional)

Turn crockpot on low heat, add water, soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and green onions and stir together.

Heat heavy bottomed skillet on medium heat and add 1 tbsp. oil. In a medium bowl, toss together sliced flank steak and corn starch until each slice is coated. Add steak strips to skillet and brown on each side, then add to crock pot. Reduce skillet to low heat, add remaining 1 tbsp. oil and sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add sautéed garlic and ginger to crock pot.

Cover crock pot and cook on low for 3 ½ hours, then add shredded carrots and cover for 30 minutes more. Garnish with sliced green onions and serve over rice or with broccoli.

Blackened Shrimp and Mango Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

The holidays are over and it’s the time of year to plan lighter meals. I love salad, but in order to be a meal they have to be big and hearty. This Blackened Shrimp and Mango Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette is fresh, with tons of flavor and is so healthy! Mango and lime make this a go-to recipe during the summer, but it’s perfect any time of year you need a big healthy salad.

 

Blackened Shrimp ingredients:
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
Zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. blackening seasoning

Salad ingredients:
1 head romaine lettuce
1 mango, peeled and diced
½ red onion, diced
½ red pepper diced
½ cucumber, diced
2 tbsp. green onion, sliced

Vinaigrette ingredients:
Juice of 1 lime
4 tbsp. honey simple syrup
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

In a small bowl, toss together peeled and deveined shrimp with olive oil, lime zest and blackening seasoning. Set aside until ready to grill.

Meanwhile, combine diced mango, red onion, red pepper, cucumber and green onion in a medium bowl. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and pour over diced mango mixture.

Preheat grill pan on medium-low and grill shrimp 2-3 minutes per side until cooked. Place romaine lettuce on a large serving platter, top with mango mixture and cooked shrimp.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Maryland Crab Cake Salad

Maryland Crab Cake SaladThere is a restaurant in Austin called The Grove that was designed with me in mind. Extensive wine list, great salads, pizzas and charcuterie; it’s a wine lover’s dream. They make a fantastic crab cake salad – mixed greens, lightly dressed with a citrusy vinaigrette, topped with a crab cake and drizzled with remoulade. It’s light and fresh, but the crab cake and creamy remoulade make it just a little sinful.  And at about $20, it’s also kind of expensive. Luckily for me, the Central Market by my new house has a great seafood selection; they even have ready-to-make crab cakes that rival most restaurants in town. If I were feeling adventurous, I might make my own, but this easy shortcut gets dinner on the table in about 15 minutes.  Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner and much easier on the wallet than eating out!

Maryland Crab Cake Salad 2Ingredients (serves 4):
5 oz. container spring mix
½ red onion, sliced thin
Red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, sliced
Cucumber, peeled and seeds removed, sliced
4 tbsp. Citrus Vinaigrette (see recipe)
4 crab cakes
4 tbsp. remoulade

Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium-low heat, spray with cooking spray, and brown crab cakes until they are cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl, combine spring mix, red onion, bell pepper, cucumber and toss with Citrus Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Portion salad into 4 bowls, top each with a crab cake and drizzle 1 tbsp. remoulade over each. Enjoy!

Note: the easiest way to remove seeds from a cucumber is to cut off the ends, stick a butter knife in the seedy center, and turn in a circular motion to loosen the seeds. They should come right out.

Chicken Scampi

Chicken Scampi 1Good food is very important to Austinites. There are trendy new restaurants opening nearly every week, and sometimes it seems like people work in Austin solely to frequent their favorite places. There are hardly any chain restaurants here, but we all have those certain dishes that take you back to being a teenager, and we will always love them.

I love the chicken scampi from the Olive Garden. There. I said it.

Most of the time, I like to make dinner at home. I like to control the quality of ingredients and it’s always less expensive to cook for a family than it is to eat out. Plus, I like to save our nights out to try some of the fabulous local eateries that Austin is so famous for. So, without further ado, here is my Chicken Scampi. The peppers, onions, garlic and white wine give this sauce a great flavor, and it would be easy to substitute chicken for shrimp or fish if you wanted to change it up. When cooking with wine, it’s best to use a wine that is drinkable, but won’t break the bank! If you wouldn’t want to drink it, why would you want that flavor in your food? At $6.99/bottle, Costco puts out some very commendable wines under their Kirkland brand that fit the bill perfectly. Their Pinot Grigio is dry, crisp, and since this recipe only calls for a cup, there is plenty left over for sipping. Drink up!

Ingredients (serves 4):

Chicken Scampi 2For the chicken tenders:
1 lb. chicken tenders
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp Italian seasoning

For the scampi sauce:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
½ red onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
10 oz. angel hair pasta, prepared al dente according to package

In a medium bowl, mix flour, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper and ¼ tsp. Italian seasoning. Dip chicken tenders in milk, then in flour mixture. Set aside.

Chicken Scampi 3Using a large skillet (I love my Le Creuset 5 Quart Covered Braiser) heat olive oil over medium heat and brown chicken tenders, 3 minutes a side. Remove chicken from pan, add peppers, onions and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes until beginning to soften, but not mushy. Remove from pan. Add white wine and let deglaze for 2 minutes. Add butter, crushed red pepper and remaining salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and stir until butter is melted. Turn to low, add heavy cream, stirring until heated. Fold in pepper mixture and cooked pasta until evenly coated. Top with chicken tenders and garnish with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Enjoy!

Wine Pairings
Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

Half Roasted Chicken

Half Roasted ChickenI was really excited when Whole Foods started carrying half chickens. Roasted chicken is so delicious, but it can be notoriously difficult to get the skin perfectly crispy, while getting the chicken evenly cooked and juicy. My Bundt Pan Roasted Chicken is a great way to get deliciously crispy skin while roasting a whole chicken, but making a half chicken is my favorite for a few reasons. 1- Since there is skin on only one side, roasting it skin side up gets beautifully browned skin all over; 2- It’s more uniform in size, so cooks more evenly and is less likely to dry out; and 3- a half chicken is the perfect size for a meal for 2, and since it’s already cut from the backbone, you aren’t paying for parts you don’t need. The backbone is great for making stock, but otherwise it is a fairly heavy part of the chicken that gets thrown away. When is the last time you got dinner for 2 people from Whole Foods for about $3.00? Since they don’t always carry them, I grabbed a few to stick in the freezer to cook at a later time. They come out Just. That. Good.

Half Roasted Chicken 2Ingredients:
Half chicken
1 tsp. olive oil
Seasonings of your choice, here are some favorites:
Lemon pepper seasoning, salt, pepper
Rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper
Garlic, paprika, salt pepper

 

Half Roasted Chicken 3Preheat oven to 425. Place chicken on a cookie sheet, skin side up and brush skin with olive oil. Add seasonings of your choice and bake for 40-45 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes before carving.

That’s it! Couldn’t be any easier and pairs perfectly with some Roasted Broccoli or potatoes. Enjoy!

 

Wine Pairings:
Averaen Pinot Noir 2015

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi SoupThis comforting soup is so easy to make, thanks to the prepackaged gnocchi that cook directly in the soup. Gnocchi, small potato dumplings that cook in just a few minutes, can be found vacuum-packed in the pasta aisle (I got mine at Trader Joe’s). An added bonus – the starches from the gnocchi release into the soup while cooking, which thicken the hearty broth and guarantee to warm you up on a chilly evening. Add some spicy turkey sausage, diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, shallots and zucchini, and you’ve got a healthy, flavorful, balanced meal that is ready in about 30 minutes.

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 lb. Italian turkey sausage links (hot or mild)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. can diced tomatoes (including liquids)
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
1 lb. potato gnocchi
2 medium zucchini, cut into small cubes
15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup 2Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook sausage links in shallow baking pan until cooked throughout, about 15 minutes. In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat oil on medium-low heat, until shallots and garlic sizzle when added. Sauté shallots and garlic until fragrant, about 2 minutes, add diced tomatoes with liquid, chicken broth, sugar, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper, and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Turn heat up to medium and add gnocchi and zucchini. Bring back up to a light boil, and cook 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, until both are cooked. While gnocchi and zucchini are simmering, slice sausage links into discs. Add cannellini beans and sausage and stir until heated, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately and top with grated cheese.

Enjoy!

Wine Pairing:
Poggio al Casone Toscana 2010

(Make ahead tip: If you are planning to make this in advance, prepare gnocchi as directed on package, store separately from soup, and add gnocchi to soup as it’s reheating.  This will prevent the gnocchi from absorbing too much of the soup liquid while storing and becoming mushy.)

Sous Vide Pork Loin

It’s not a big secret that I love my Sous Vide Supreme. It makes a killer flank steak and is even perfect for making fried chicken! I like pork loin, but it can be notoriously dry if baked in the oven, especially if it is over cooked. Enter the Sous Vide method of cooking. Sous Vide style of cooking includes a water bath being set to the temperature that is desired for the internal temperature of what is being cooked, so impossible to overcook and make dry. Not long ago, the safe temperature for pork was thought to be 160 degrees, but was recently lowered to 145 degrees. Pork tends to be a little dry at 160 degrees, so I aim for 150-155 degrees for tender, juicy pork. This recipe has a spicy, flavorful rub and is finished under the broiler with a sweet duck sauce, to make it perfectly caramelized.

Sous Vide Pork Loin 1Ingredients:
2 lb. pork loin roast
½ tsp. chipotle powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or any other sweet glaze or sauce that would pair well with the spice of chipotle.

Set Sous Vide to 153 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together chipotle powder, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Rub spice mixture on the outside of pork loin, place in a vacuum seal bag, seal and cook in Sous Vide for approximately 4-6 hours. Once cooked, remove from pouch, coat outside in duck sauce. Broil on high for approximately 5 minutes until outside has some nice charring. Pork will be spicy, sweet, juicy and delicious!

Sous Vide Pork Loin 2Enjoy!

Sweet and Salty Pork in Sherry Garlic Sauce

Sweet and Salty Pork with Sherry Garlic SauceAfter a nice long weekend in Mexico, it’s time to get back to real life.  That means getting some snuggles from the pups, more yoga, and ditching the margaritas and enchiladas for some healthier fare.  These pork chops are braised in a salty, sweet, garlicky sauce, which makes them really tender and delicious. This has all the flavor profiles going for it, salty from the soy sauce, spice from the red pepper and garlic and sweet from the sherry and brown sugar. This dish goes really well with rice, noodles, or any green veggie you would like to sweep through this savory sauce.

Ingredients:
2 porterhouse or center cut pork chops
2 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tbsp. sherry
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. canola oil, divided
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

On medium-high heat, brown pork chops in 1 tbsp. oil in a heavy bottomed skillet for 3-5 minutes per side. Remove chops and reduce heat to medium-low.  Sauté garlic for 1 minute, until fragrant.  Wisk together brown sugar, sherry, soy sauce, water, flour, remaining oil and red pepper.  Return pork to skillet, pouring sauce on top evenly.  Cover and braise for 15 minutes.  Flip and cook covered for 8-10 minutes more, until internal temperature reads 145-155 degrees for medium to medium-well chops.  Sauce should have thickened during cooking.  Spoon some of that salty, sweet goodness on top of pork before serving.

Enjoy!