Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs

Earlier this week when I asked my daily “What do you want for dinner?” Beloved started rummaging around in the freezer.  After a few moments I heard, “Hey – we’ve still got a couple of pounds of ground lamb out here.”

So we took it out, and all that was left was to decide what to make out of it.

While I love lamb, ground lamb always seem to taste “stronger” to me than regular cuts – it’s probably due to the amount of fat.  It holds up well to bold flavors, though, so I decided something Moroccan-spiced might be in order.  After perusing the contents of my cupboard, fridge and spice rack I found myself putting this together.

Holy moly!  This was just marvelous.  The meatballs were moist and tender and deliciously spiced, and the sauce complimented them wonderfully; I served it over quinoa and alongside a summer squash sauté (I’m still trying to get rid of that stuff).  We loved it so much that we ate the leftovers for lunch for the next two days – it makes a ton.  I imagine it would freeze quite well, too.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients; the vast majority are spices, and this comes together pretty quickly and easily.  I like to pre-bake meatballs for dishes like this; it helps the meatballs keep their shape and renders out some of the fat so that you don’t end up with a greasy sauce.  In fact, both the calorie and fat content in the nutritional info are probably overstated somewhat because of this.

The best thing about this recipe – well, other than the fact that it’s incredibly delicious?  It’s paleo, and Whole30 compliant to boot.

Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs.  Tender lamb meatballs in a delicious tomato sauce.  Fragrant and flavorful!

Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped raisins
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped black olives
  • heaping 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • heaping 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 28-ounce can petite-diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Gently, but thoroughly, combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Form into 24 meatballs and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • While the meatballs are in the oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Sweat the onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes; add the garlic cinnamon stick, cumin and coriander and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes more.
  • Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients except for the salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the sauce to a simmer and add the meatballs. Continue simmering until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf before serving.
  • Nutrition (per serving): 494 calories, 29.1g total fat, 165.1mg cholesterol, 899.8mg sodium, 1044.7mg potassium, 25.5g carbohydrates, 6.1g fiber, 6.3g sugar, 35.4g protein
Instructions

 

Even Better Better Than Miracle Whip

Oh, look – I’m alive!

Sorry for the lack of posting, but real life has been, well, real.  Our garden is coming along quite nicely, although that is more Beloved’s doing than mine. The man has been a gardening maniac; I will have pictures soon.  The Young One is home for the summer, and gainfully employed – HOO. RAY.  Darling Daughter has completed her two week certification course for becoming a state tested nursing assistant; she’s busy looking for a job and studying to take the state test (they make them wait a minimum of 7 to 10 days after completing the certification course).  Jolly has landed a coveted field position within her company and is making ready to move to Michigan, which means we’ll have The G Man quite a bit this summer while she makes the transition at work and finds a good place (read: within a good school district) to relocate.

As for me, I’m looking for a new refrigerator, since ours is slowly dying, working on approximately 793 gum paste flowers for a tiered cake I’m doing in early June, planning a groom’s cake as well as a tiered cake for a fall wedding, and juggling two crochet projects and a cross stitch project while trying to work my way through season 6 of Sons of Anarchy.  All while working a 50-hour week and gearing up for what looks to be an incredibly busy season of canning, freezing and otherwise preserving the produce from not only our own garden, but the CSA as well.

If I collapse from exhaustion right before Halloween, you’ll know why.

Despite all the busyness, I do have things to blog about, including this little gem.  Since I posted it, my Better Than Miracle Whip has been been one of my most popular recipes.  However, as written, it requires a piece of equipment not everyone has in their kitchen: a stand mixer.  It also takes a bit of time and even then, the results aren’t always consistent – sometimes it thickens up really well; other times, not so much.  Recently, thanks to many demos on the interwebz, I’ve discovered a way to make it consistently and in a fraction of the time it takes in a stand mixer.

If you don’t have a stick blender, I suggest you buy one.  Like, right now – they are simply amazing, and you can get a good one for under $35.  Not only does it make the most amazing mayonnaise (or, in this case, Miracle Whip knock-off) consistently in under 2 minutes, it’s versatile as hell – we use it for everything from pureeing cauliflower to blending soups to whipping cream.

So here’s an updated version of one of my most popular recipes.  It makes a bit less than the older version, but is easily be doubled if you need more, and tastes even better than the original.  It really should be its own food group.

Note: Leave out the honey, paprika and garlic powder, sub the vinegar with lemon juice and presto!  You’ve got mayonnaise.  Also, do NOT leave out the water, or you’ll end up with Miracle Whip flavored soup (yes, I speak from experience).

Better Than Miracle Whip.  The deliciousness that is Miracle Whip, homemade in less than 2 minutes!

Click the image to enlarge

Even Better Better Than Miracle Whip
Serves: 16
[i]Makes about 1 cup[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3/4 cup cold pressed, high-oleic safflower oil
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a tall, narrow glass or plastic container (such as the one that comes with the stick blender). Slowly and carefully pour the oil on top, taking care not to disturb the other ingredients more than you can manage.
  2. Insert the stick blender all the way to the bottom of the container. Turn it on and leave it there for at least 20 seconds – you’ll see the bottom part of the mixture begin to thicken and emulsify. Keeping the blender running, slowly pull it to the top of the mixture. Gently submerge it to the bottom again; repeat the process 2 or 3 times until the mixture is completely blended and thickened.
  3. Scrape the excess off of the blender into the container and gently mix it in, along with any oil that may remain on the top. Cover and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before refrigerating.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 98 calories, 10.5g total fat, 11.3mg cholesterol, 65.3mg sodium, 4.7mg potassium, 1.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.1g sugar, <1g protein

Red Onion Jam

Hello, there.  I meant to post more last week but, well, life kind of got in the way.   Darling Daughter, who was supposed to be walking down the aisle this past weekend, instead packed up all her worldly goods and moved to Podunk to start afresh.  (Long story, but it seems that Mr. Fixit’s feet got a little on the chilly side.  That’s okay; he’ll have plenty of time to kick himself with those sized 9 1/2 ice blocks in the future.  The very near future.)  She’s bearing up well, and while she’s sad and hurt, she’s also excited at the opportunities her future now holds.

At any rate, after spending the week dealing with the logistics of getting DD, as well as her stuff, here in very short order, we had a moderately large family gathering on Sunday for Chocolate Bunny Day dinner at our house.  I’m exhausted, but things went quite nicely, and the dinner was delicious.

Our main course was boneless leg of lamb – or, as The G Man called it, Lego Lamb (hey, it got him to eat it) – that I butterflied and stuffed with a mixture of mint, parsley, dried currants, toasted pecans and sourdough bread crumbs.  It was just delicious, but since mint was part of the stuffing, it was served with this incredibly simple but oh-so-delicious condiment.

Nor is this jam good with just lamb (many variations of lamb, as you’ll see with my next recipe), but it would go excellently with beef, pork, or game – in fact, venison will probably be the next protein I make to to serve with it.  It would also be a lovely part of a charcuterie or cheese platter.

While this isn’t hard to make, it does take a little time – about 45 minutes (it’s so worth it, though).  A little goes a long way, however – you’ll start off with at least 6 cups of sliced onion that will cook down to about 2 cups, and a serving is a mere 2 tablespoons.  A wonderfully flavorful – tart, sweet and earthy – 2 tablespoon that will totally rock your taste buds.

Red Onion Jam. This richly-colored, sweet and tangy condiment goes really well with red meats and strong cheeses.

Click the image to enlarge

Red Onion Jam
Serves: 16
[i]Makes about 2 cups[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with a little salt and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft but not brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and honey; reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and almost all of the liquid has cooked out, another 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar; season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the jam to cool to room temperature before serving.
  4. Nutrition Facts
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 96 calories, 5.9g total fat, 15.3mg cholesterol, 3.7mg sodium, 13.1mg potassium, 9.7g
  6. carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 4.9g sugar, <1g protein

Turkey with Tarragon in Cream Sauce

I think I mentioned recently that I’m all about the simple as far as food preparation goes these days.  Well, this recipe, which is has been around since the old “SAD” days, is quite simple, and is also quite good.  I just love the flavors of turkey and tarragon, and turkey breast is so lean that it really needs the richness of the cream sauce.

I also talked about how when we got our summer turkey this year, we broke it down into all it’s parts, vacuum sealed and then froze them.  Recently I’d taken one of the breasts out of the freezer with the vague idea that I’d butterfly it, pound it thin, spread it with a mixture of fruit and nuts, then roll it up and roast it.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen.  Instead, I merely sliced it and made this (since I had all of the ingredients on hand), and served it with roasted Japanese sweet potatoes and sautéed bok choy.  All in all, a wonderfully quick, easy and delicious dinner.

I realize not everyone has a skinned and boned turkey breast languishing in their freezer (and good for you if you do), so turkey cutlets are what is called for in the recipe; you can find them in the meat section of just about any grocery store.  Or, if you prefer, plain boneless, skinless chicken breasts will work just fine.

Note:  If you want to go dairy-free with this, omit the butter and sub the half & half and cream cheese with half a cup of coconut milk.  I think that would be quite tasty, actually.

Turkey with Tarragon in Cream Sauce.  Tarragon and a simple sauce truly elevates this quick and easy saute of turkey cutlets for a great weeknight meal.

Click the image to enlarge

Turkey with Tarragon in Cream Sauce
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 1 tablespoons lard
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
Instructions
  1. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the tarragon.
  2. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium high and add the cutlets to the pan, frying until brown and done through, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a platter and keep warm.
  3. Add chicken stock to the skillet and bring to boil. Continue cooking until the stock is reduced by half; reduce the heat to low, then add the half and half and cream cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Return the turkey to the pan and heat through.
  4. Serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 293 calories, 17.1g total fat, 88mg cholesterol, 1296.4mg sodium, 513.1mg potassium, 11.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 6.3g sugar, 23g protein

Apple Butter

I really have to apologize for posting so many recipes that involve jars, but since it’s what I’ve been spending most of my time doing lately…well, that’s all I really have for you.

Now, that being said, we have a three-day weekend beginning tomorrow (Columbus Day here in the U.S. – they can’t shut that down, although I suppose they would try if they thought it would piss enough people off), and I plan to take advantage of the time off and cook quite a bit.  I have an idea for a seasonal dessert that I hope will blow your socks off, so everyone keep your fingers crossed.

Anyhoo, we’ve begun the yearly processing of the apples, which means more applesauce and more of this, as well – wonderfully rich and smooth apple butter.

Last year when I made it, I wondered what I’d do with it all, but it turns out it came in quite handy – it’s great in poultry and pork recipes.  It has also been appreciated by the bread eaters in the family, who occasionally enjoy a nut butter sandwich or a piece of toast.  If you have no problem with dairy, it’s great stirred into yogurt or cottage cheese, as a topping for ice cream, or poured on top of a baked brie.  This year, I’m going to use it to try and get a certain grandson to eat more vegetables – it would make a great dip for sweet pepper strips and carrot sticks.

Because, y’all, this is just about the best apple butter I’ve ever tasted.

Yes, it does have a little added sweetener – you could sub coconut sugar for the evaporated cane juice if you wanted, although I’d probably increase the amount to 3/4 cup – but if you want to go sugar free, you could.  It’ll just be a tad more tart and a little less “rich” tasting, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But the small amount of unrefined sugar along with the cinnamon just take this over the top; it is just that good.

If you do leave the sugar out, this should be Whole30 compliant (I’m not sure if they consider this a no-no…and I’m not sure I care).

Note:  You can make apple butter from applesauce; the amount of apples given in this recipe will make about a quart of applesauce, so that is the how much you should use for this recipe – simply omit the first 3 steps of the recipe.  If you use sweetened applesauce, omit the evaporated cane juice.

Apple Butter. Rich and sweet, homemade apple butter couldn't be easier to make completely from scratch.

Click the image to enlarge

Apple Butter
[i]Makes about 3 cups[/i]
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds assorted apples – the sweeter the better
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Remove the stems from the apples, and quarter them – do not peel or core them. Add the apples and water to a large stock pot that is large enough to hold all of the fruit with room to spare, as the apples will expand as they cook.
  2. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the apples are soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
  3. Working in batches, push the cooked apples and liquid through a a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the skins and seeds, or process through a food mill (again, discarding the skins and seeds).
  4. Transfer the applesauce to a large saucepan; stir in the evaporated cane juice and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened and reduced by about a third (the apple butter will continue to thicken as it cools).
  5. Makes about 3 cups and can be frozen or processed in water bath canner for 20 minutes.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 44 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, <1mg sodium, 63.2mg potassium, 11.6g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 9.4g sugar, <1g protein