Monthly Archives: August 2013

Lamb and Hummus Pitas

I love Greek food. Back in my hometown, there’s a Greek festival every year and I go just for the food. I eat my way through enough loukoumades to last the entire year. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

So it’s no surprise that, when I saw this recipe for Ground Lamb and Hummus Pita “Pizzas” in Cooking Light, I immediately wanted to try it. And I wasn’t disappointed. You guys, these are seriously delicious. We ate ours as pita sandwiches instead of pizzas, and I served them with couscous on the side. My daughter couldn’t really eat the pitas because they were so big, so we just mixed everything into her couscous and she loved it.

Lamb and Hummus Pita

Other than what I just mentioned, the only other change I made to the recipe was adding reduced fat feta cheese. Word to the wise though: this recipe only calls for 6 oz of ground lamb. Most stores sell ground lamb pre-packaged by the pound, so just be sure to portion out the right amount of meat or increase the other ingredients based on how much you use. If you don’t want to use ground lamb (it’s pricey- I lucked out and found mine on a killer sale for $5.99 a lb!!), I think ground sirloin or ground beef would be equally tasty.

Lamb and Hummus Pita

Lamb and Hummus Pitas

6 oz ground lamb
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
3/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup water
½ cup chopped seeded tomato
1 ½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 (6-inch) pitas or naan
½ cup plain hummus
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp reduced fat feta cheese crumbles

 

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble lamb. Remove lamb from pan and drain.

2. Wipe out pan and add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and next 4 ingredients (through cinnamon); sauté 1 minute. Stir in ½ cup water and tomato; bring to a simmer. Cook 4 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften.

3. Stir in cooked lamb. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.

4. Spread 2 tablespoons hummus on each pita or naan. Top each with about 1/3 cup lamb mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro, pine nuts, and feta cheese.


Healthy Lunch Ideas for Back to School

It’s time for back to school. For most moms, that means shopping, meal planning, and (in many cases) relief! It’s also the time we all start brainstorming fun and healthy lunch ideas so that we don’t get stuck in the sandwich rut.

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner via Cookinglight.com

Fortunately, the September issue of Cooking Light has some easy and kid-friendly lunchbox recipes you can add to your rotation. There are lunchtime staples like PB&J made healthier, but there’s also a couscous salad, a Pizzadilla (pizza+quesadilla=genius!), and a creamy chicken salad pita.

The CL folks have also come to the rescue with 17 different grab-and-go breakfast ideas. The Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich with Mango Chutney (pictured here) looks absolutely amazing- it’s definitely going on our list!

In our house, we’re big fans of making a ton of extra breakfast sandwiches on a Sunday morning, wrapping each one up individually, and then popping them in the microwave for 30 seconds before heading out the door. It’s a quick, easy, and filling breakfast on the go.

Good luck to all the mamas who are gearing up for the back to school rush, and be sure to check back on the blog for quick and easy dinner ideas!


Josh & Caity’s Coed Bridal Shower

My stepmom, sister, and I recently threw my brother and his fiancée a coed bridal shower. We decided to do a fun backyard shin-dig to take advantage of the pool in the hot summer weather.

Unfortunately, mother nature decided to throw some serious thunderstorms our way 15 minutes before the shower started (and then a couple more times during the party), but we still managed to end up with good food, good company, and a good time!

We went with a red, white, and turquoise country theme and carried it throughout the entire event, from the blue mason jars to the gingham ribbon.

For favors, we baked s’mores brownies right into small jars and tied on a thank you tag, which was perfect considering it was National S’mores Day.

To make the favors, mix together melted butter and graham cracker crumbs; press the mixture into the bottom of each jar. Mix together a box of brownie mix and pour evenly into each jar. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, according to the oven temperature listed on the box of brownie mix. Top each brownie jar with 8-10 mini marshmallows and bake another 3-4 minutes or until the marshmallows are melted and slightly browned on the top. Allow to cool before topping each jar with a lid.

For the food, we made hamburger sliders and bratwurst with gourmet toppings that ranged from onions sautéed in red wine to peperoncini sauce. To go along with the main dish, we served a variety of different salads, including fruit salad, edamame orzo salad, and roasted corn and black bean salad. Because of the heat, we kept the salads on ice in a couple of galvanized tubs—not as cute, but we thought it was best to put food safety first!

To go along with the s’mores brownies, we did individual banana pudding cups for dessert. Unfortunately, I was apparently too busy eating mine to actually take a picture. I blame pregnancy—I cannot be held accountable when there’s sugar around!

Despite the rain, I think the shower turned out really nice, and my brother and his fiancée really appreciated all the effort that went into the party. The kids even made it into the pool for a bit between storms—all in all, a success!


Chinese Chicken Salad

My friend Jessie made this Chinese cabbage salad for girls’ night years ago, and it instantly became one of my favorites. Since then, I’ve added roast chicken to make it a full meal rather than just a side. The flavor reminds me of the Chinese Chicken Salad from California Pizza Kitchen, which I love. This salad is also great with shelled edamame tossed in.

Chinese Chicken Salad

1 pkg chicken ramen noodles
½ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup butter
½ cup slivered almonds
1 bag coleslaw mix
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/8 cup sugar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
6 chopped green onions
2 cups pulled rotisserie chicken
1. Crush ramen noodles and brown in a skillet over medium heat with butter, sesame seeds, and almonds. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

2. Add the seasoning mix from the ramen noodles to the mixture; set aside and allow to cool.

3. To prepare dressing, whisk together vegetable oil, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil.

4. In a large bowl, combine noodle mixture, coleslaw mix, onions, and chicken. Toss with dressing and serve.


Banana Nut Bread

There are few things as comforting and delicious as warm banana bread fresh out of the oven. This recipe bakes for a long time, but the result is super moist on the inside with a yummy caramelized crust on the outside—just perfect! Banana bread is a great way to use up bananas that are about to turn. I usually put overripe bananas in the freezer until I am ready to bake with them. Just take them out and let them thaw on a plate for about 30-45 minutes before peeling.

Banana Nut Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cup mashed overripe banana
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup chopped walnuts

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl,  cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir until well-blended.

4. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and combine until just moistened. Stir in the walnuts.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.