What’s Cookin’?

I haven’t posted a new recipe on the blog for a while but, rest assured, Matt and I are eating well!  We’ve been re-making a lot of our favorite recipes and, quite frankly, I’m finding less motivation to try new recipes since we know we can throw together a garlicky pasta dish, flavorful stir fry, or quick rotisserie chicken burrito in less than a hour with delicious results.  Here are some of the dishes that we’ve been enjoying this Spring…  (mouse over for a link to each recipe)

This Spring has been pretty hectic with traveling, racing, and LOTS of yard work, but I have a feeling that things will slow down soon and we’ll find ourselves paging through our trusty cook books in search of new recipes to try.  We’d like to try smoking something (ribs? brisket?) this Summer and maybe try a grilled Romaine recipe.  I also definitely want to make Paella and I’d like to start making more desserts (cobblers and crumbles, anyone?).  I better start looking at those cookbooks!!

Do you have any go-to Summer recipes that you love making at this time of year?  Tell me about them (and feel free to link to them) in the comments!

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A (Long) Look Back at 2013

As 2014 rapidly approaches I am happily reflecting on the wonderful year that I had in 2013.  Most importantly, I married my best friend and the love of my life (and had a blast doing so!).  I also started running again after a six year hiatus, I spent time with Bailey, and I cooked lots of yummy foods.  All in all a good year.  Here’s my official recap!

Matt and I got married!

On June 8th Matt and I got married at Sweetwater Farm in Glen Mills, PA.  The celebration started Friday night with a laid back barbecue ‘rehearsal dinner’ during Tropical Storm Andrea (luckily we were under a covered patio!).  Then the sun came out on Saturday and we got married outside at the edge of the woods before partying the night away with our guests in a renovated 18th century red bank barn that doubles as a winery.  After our wedding Matt and I honeymooned in beautiful St. Lucia.

I ran! (a lot)

When Matt and I returned from our honeymoon I decided it was time to get back in shape.  I started streaking on July 1st and we bought a treadmill on July 18th.  Spurred on by a goal that I set for myself (100 miles in 42 days), I started walking, jogging, and then running like crazy.  I hit 100 miles in 21 days, 200 in 37 days, and 300 in 54 days.  Then I nervously entered and triumphantly finished the Run-A-Muck, my first 5K race since freshman year in high school.

After Run-A-Muck I was completely hooked on running.  So much so that I overdid my training and injured my foot to the point where I could hardly walk.  I didn’t want to break my streak, so I switched my training over to the elliptical trainer in our garage.  With time my peroneal tendonitis healed and I was ready for more 5Ks.  Matt and I ran three races on consecutive weekends in late October/early November (Fueled Up, Oy Vey, and Trinity) and then enjoyed a crowded Turkey Trot on a chilly 29° Thanksgiving morning.  Matt hurt his back so he cheered me on from the sidelines at the Athlete’s Closet 5K in mid-December, then I finished off the year with a new personal best (25:13) at the New Year’s Eve 5K at the Upper Main Line YMCA.

iFit Stats as of 12/31/13

I started tracking my mileage on July 18th and I’m finishing off 2013 with exactly 812 miles.  That’s an average of 4.86 miles a day since mid-July, whew!  My best month was August with 180.2 miles, followed by a strong December with 161 miles.  My longest run was an 8 mile jaunt in Wallingford, PA on December 22nd (I didn’t mean for it to be that long… I got lost!).  I’ve been streaking for 184 consecutive days and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

Bailey played!

I can’t write a year end recap without mentioning our cuddly, energetic, “petite” German Shorthair, Bailey.  Bailey turned 6 in May, competed at the DockDogs Regional Championships in June, had a GSP house guest in July, wallowed in the mud in August, and frolicked in the snow in December.  When she wasn’t outside patrolling the yard for squirrels, Bailey snuggled with us on the couch (she’s only allowed on the furniture if we invite her up) and snoozed in her doggie den bed.  She also started K9 Nosework classes in January and she’s working on hunting for birch scent now.  (That reminds me that I really need to do a post about NW one of these days… maybe next year!)  🙂

Hiding behind the tulips

We cooked!

When we weren’t busy planning a wedding or running, Matt and I spent time in the kitchen making lots of yummy meals.  Here are a few of our favorites from 2013:

Smoky Beef ChiliBanh Mi Steak SandwichesZacatecas Skirt Steak Tacos

Chicken Lo MeinWhite Pizza with Sausage, Spinach and RicottaPork Carnitas Tostadas

Pozole RojoCoconut Cream PieCaramel Corn

Rotisserie Chicken BurritosStuffed Poblano PeppersMexican Pizza

I blogged!

And, finally… in 2013 I blogged!  WordPress sent me a stats summary for the year so I thought I’d share a few quick factoids.  My blog had over 58,000 views in 2013 and my visitors came from 150 different countries!  Thank you very much for visiting, everyone!!!

My most popular post by far was this recipe for Candied Yams (it had over 1300 hits on Thanksgiving day alone!).  Other popular posts were my DIY Tutorial on making your own “vintage” blue ball jars and my Rotisserie Chicken Burritos.  I’ve really enjoyed blogging in 2013 and I can’t wait to continue next year!

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OK, I’m off to get ready for a New Year’s Eve party.  Have a wonderful last few hours of 2013 and happy new year!!!

Mediterranean Lamb Burgers

A few weeks ago we went grocery shopping with the intention of buying ingredients for our Guacamole-Chipotle Burgers but when we arrived at the meat aisle we discovered that our supermarket was having a sale on ground lamb.  We quickly abandoned our beef burger plans and instead decided to tackle a new recipe using the lamb.  After some quick iPhone-aided recipe searches we settled on Mediterranean lamb burgers with a spicy mayo sauce and a cucumber-mint topping.  Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Lamb Burger

Mediterranean Lamb Burgers with Harissa Mayo and Cucumber-Mint Sauce

For the Harissa Mayo: (recipe from Chow.com)
1/4 cup Harissa*
1/2 cup Mayonnaise

For the Cucumber-Mint Sauce: (recipe from AllRecipes.com)
1/2 large Cucumber, peeled, grated and squeezed dry
3/4 cup Sour Cream
1 tablespoon Mint, choppedHomemade Harissa
1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 clove Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper, to taste

For the Burgers:
1 1/2 pounds Ground Lamb
1 tablespoon Harissa*
1/4 cup Feta, crumbled
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
5-6 Hamburger Buns, cut in half lengthwise and lightly toasted

*Harissa is a Tunisian chile paste that can be purchased in tubes or cans in a good grocery store.  We couldn’t find Harissa in our local store so we used this Harissa recipe from Whole Foods to make our own.

Directions:

Start by making your condiments.  Make the Harissa Mayo by stirring together the Harissa and mayonnaise in a small bowl.  Make the Cucumber-Mint Sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a larger bowl and adding salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate both sauces until you are ready to assemble your burgers.

Raw Lamb BurgersMake the Lamb Burgers by placing the ground lamb in a shallow bowl and spreading it out slightly.  Add in the Harissa and sprinkle the feta, salt and pepper evenly over the surface of the meat.  Carefully mix the ingredients into the meat with your hands.  (Avoid over-mixing the meat as this will make your burgers tough!)  Split the meat mixture into 5-6 loose balls (about 1/4 pound each).

Place the lamb “balls” on a plate and press down gently to flatten them slightly.  Form a small indent (about 1/4″ deep) in the center of one side of each patty.  Place the lamb patties, indent side up, on a preheated, oiled grill over direct high heat.  Close the lid and allow to cook for 6-7 minutes, then flip the burgers and let them cook for another 6 minutes.  Remove the burgers from the grill and let them rest, covered, on a plate for 4-5 minutes.

To assemble your burger, slather a liberal amount of the Harissa mayo on the bottom of the toasted burger bun.  Place the cooked lamb patty in the bun and top with a heaping spoonful of the cucumber-mint sauce.  Enjoy!

Lamb Burger

Inspirations for St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

St. Patrick’s Day is just 5 days away! This year the holiday conveniently falls on a Sunday which means that we’ll have all weekend to plan a fun Irish meal. (Hopefully it won’t take all weekend to do that, though!)

Over the past year I have featured two Irish dishes on my blog that would both make delicious St. Patrick’s Day dinners so I thought I would share them! Click on the photos to visit the appropriate recipe/blog entry.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie

This layered dish of vegetables, meat and creamy mashed potatoes is really easy to make. Use ground lamb for a true shepherd’s pie, but also feel free to substitute in ground beef to make the very similar cottage pie variation. View the recipe here.

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash

This dish is one of my all-time favorites. It features sausages (bangers) that have been cooked in a flavorful gravy/onion sauce and smothered with buttery potatoes (mash). The dish is then broiled until the potatoes are golden brown. Yum! This was our St. Patrick’s Day dinner last year and it might be dinner again this year if we don’t find something similarly delicious to make. You can view the recipe here.

Favorite Recipes of 2012

This post from Savory Simple inspired me to gather my favorite recipes of 2012 into one post. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Bucatini with Sausage and Asparagus in a White WIne SauceEggplant ParmesanPeanut Butter Cream Pie

Veggie Wraps with Hummus, Feta and BasilCupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream IcingSmoky Pork Tinga Tacos

Frozen Strawberry MargaritasBBQ Chicken QuesadillasTortellini with Pesto, Asparagus and Tomatoes

Poblano Sausage Tacos with Avocado CremaChocolate-Dipped Coconut CookiesPozole Verde

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Bucatini with Sausage, Asparagus & Tomato in White Wine Sauce | Eggplant Parmesan | Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Veggie Wraps with Feta, Hummus & Basil | Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting | Smoky Pork Tinga Tacos

Frozen Strawberry Margaritas | BBQ Chicken Quesadillas | Pesto Tortellini with Asparagus

Poblano Sausage Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Slaw & Avocado Crema | Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Cookies | Pozole Verde