Garlic Herb Lamb Skewers with Mint Yogurt Sauce

I love lamb. I’ve seldom met an Arab who doesn’t like lamb. [I said seldom, so if you’re one of the few that are Arab and don’t like lamb, you may want to skip to another one of my lamb-less recipes]. Have you ever seen that scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when Ian, the fiancé, tells Aunt Voula he’s vegetarian. To which Aunt Voula thinks for a minute and exclaims “that’s okay, I make a Lamb!” Yea, that basically sums up the Arab-Lamb relationship. You eat it and you enjoy it, or you eat it and you don’t enjoy it. The common denominator here is that you eat the lamb no matter what.  

 I’ll spare you the story about the first time I met a whole raw lamb on our kitchen table … but you’re more than welcome to read about it. It was an experience I won’t forget.

Garlic Herb Lamb Skewers

 

I’ve done a decent amount of cooking lamb from including my Lamb Kabob Patties, Yogurt Marinated Leg of Lamb, and Garlic Rosemary Lamb Chops, but I wanted to try something a little different. I’m still working on recipe testing for my upcoming dinner. My family is reaping the benefits, and mom is so happy I’m taking over the kitchen every so often. The thing about the skewers is that you can throw them on an outdoor grill if the weather permits, or you can use a grill pan (or panini grill flipped to the grill side) indoors. I love versatile.

Garlic Herb Lamb Skewers

 

Garlic Herb Lamb Skewers with Mint Yogurt Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Lamb loin, cubed
  • 2 Saffron Strings
  • 1 teaspoon Allspice
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 cup Parsley
  • Lemon juice from one Lemon
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • Mint Yogurt Sauce
  • 1 bunch Mint Leaves
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, parsley, red onion, allspice, cumin, salt, and saffron
  2. Pour into a food processor and pulse until chopped finely
  3. Add lemon juice and Vegetable Oil
  4. Puree until smooth, set aside the marinade
  5. Place the lamb cubes in a ziplock bag and add the marinade. Toss until combined
  6. Refrigerate overnight
  7. Preheat a grill pan (or light a grill). Drain the lamb, making sure to remove any access marinade.
  8. Place the lamb chunks on a skewer by puncturing the middle of the cube and sliding the meat down, leaving a little room between cubes
  9. Brush with vegetable oil and grill over high, turning every 10 minutes.
  10. Serve with mint yogurt sauce.
  11. For the Mint Yogurt Sauce
  12. In a food processor, pulse the mint until finely chopped
  13. Transfer to a small bowl, and stir in the yogurt and lemon juice, add salt to taste
  14. Serve in a small dipping bowl
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This Week on Instagram

This week I did no recipe testing. I did think about making a couple things, but I was just so lazy — and in my defense not feeling very well for most of the week. I did get out and eat (obviously) and did a bunch of shopping.

 

Hot Chocolate Bar

There’s this really adorable–we’ll call it–town hidden in Northern Virginia down really long hilly two-way roads with a train track and quaint little restaurants. Monday seemed as good a day as any to venture out there to a charming café. I was so excited when they offered up a hot chocolate bar, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

 

I came down with some form of aggressive flu this week and it totally sucked. Despite feeling pretty gross, my mom convinced me to help her shop for a housewarming gift at Crate and Barrel (swoon) and have dinner together at Café Deluxe. I will say, I picked out the prettiest eyelet, glass dome cake stand. I might have to go back and get one for myself.

 

You know when you want to go out, but you’re feeling antisocial because you feel under the weather, but you definitely want some sort of food you didn’t have to prepare yourself? That was me, Friday night. I had been fighting this cold/flu/aggressive sickness/whatever you want to call it. And all I wanted was some pizza. Your eyes aren’t fooling you, that’s pepperoni you see on my large takeout pizza. For those more familiar with me on a personal level, you’re likely aware that I don’t consume pork (pepperoni and bacon included). Lucky for me, I live in Northern Virginia, where that doesn’t pose a serious problem. There’s a chain of pizza places called Stone Hot Pizza  that legit make the best pizzas and it’s all Halal (not that I’m a super Halal eater or anything) But know this .. where there is Halal, there is Beef Pepperoni!

 

One of my favorite things is hosting. So when a friend called desperately asking for help shopping for a dinner party, I did not disappoint. She’ll argue that I’m a little judegy when it comes to what basic things you do or don’t own for dinner party hosting. But I just can’t help it! So Saturday afternoon we hopped around from TJMaxx to Home Goods to World Market to Khan El Kahlili. As the name suggests, it’s not a far cry from the real Khan El Kahlili in Egypt. It’s overwhelming, and bright, and may contain some gaudy household items. But we found what we were so desperately searching for — glass teacups.

 

I mentioned we went to World Market, right? Well, their food section is a place where dreams come true. All your favorite international snacks are just hanging out on shelves, organized by item type. It puts the International aisle at Wegmans to shame. Our snack of choice? Beignet mix. Boxed. And they were delicious.

 

Sundays for me are either really lazy or really productive. This week, Sunday erred on the lazy side. My one outing of the day was to see my Tayta and spend the afternoon sipping Turkish Coffee and nibbling on sweets.

 

Until next week …. follow along on Instagram

Lemon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes

I love planning things. I almost think that in another life, I should have become an event planner. The only downside is that I don’t like to deal with rude people, and you never know what kind of clients you’ll get. I’m obsessed with planning anything and everything from my outfits, to dinner parties, to weekend trips, to big vacations and beyond. I’m a little biased, but I think I have some pretty good ideas.

 So here I am, planning a girls dinner for February. Date is still TBD. I’m not too worried about locking down a date as much as I am worried about planning my menu! Anyone who’s hosted a dinner party knows you have to ask your guests ahead of time (especially if it’s a small group) for any dietary restrictions. You have got to take into account people’s allergies, and other things such as … vegetarians. Admittedly one of my guests is a vegetarian and also allergic to sesame, so that makes menu planning a little bit difficult. So, I’ve come up with a preliminary menu. After some recipe testing, I’ll have a better handle on the full menu and I’ll be able to share it with links to my recipes, and other recipes I may try out. I decided to go with a Mediterranean theme. It’s healthy, full of fish, meats and veggies and it’s just so colorful.  

Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes

 Time to recipe test one of the sides I’m thinking of including. I love potatoes in all forms, but I especially love fried and roasted potatoes. Here I opted for roasted, it’s a lot healthier than the fried alternative. The key here is to roast the whole potatoes until they’re crispy on the outside. The marinade can also be heated separately in a saucepan and poured over the potatoes once they’re done roasting.

Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes

Lemon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1lb Small Round Potatoes
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • Juice from 2 Lemons
  • 1 cup Vegetable Broth
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup Parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbsps Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp rosemary

Instructions

  1. Mince the parsley, rosemary and garlic in the food processor.
  2. Add parmesan cheese, paprika, and salt
  3. Add lemon juice and vegetable broth
  4. Place potatoes in a gallon-sized ziplock bag, pour in the marinade and toss until fully coated
  5. Marinate for 1 hour in the fridge
  6. Preheat oven to 400F
  7. Take the potatoes out of the marinade and set the marinade aside
  8. Place the potatoes in a single layer on an aluminum lined rimmed baking sheet
  9. Roast for 1 hour until golden and slightly browned
  10. Meanwhile, pour the marinade in a small saucepan over medium-high heat
  11. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes
  12. Pour the heated sauce over the potatoes once you've taken them out of the oven
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This Week on Instagram

Guys!!! Before we begin, I have an announcement to make …

Measuring Cups Optional, more specifically, my Labaneh Rounds, were featured on a National Cheese Day Roundup by The Kitchen Addiction and featured on Buzzfeed last week! Tell me that’s not exciting. There are so many other great recipes in the roundup, so don’t forget to scroll through the whole post. 

And now back to our regularly scheduled weekly feature.

 

Cinnamon Tea

I was visiting Tayta early last week when she offered me cinnamon tea. It was delicious by the way! I debated long and hard about whether or not to post a recipe for cinnamon tea. I thought maybe I’d make a it a post about unusual or out of the ordinary, easy to make teas. Have you heard of White Coffee? It’s not what you think. Unlike regular tea, in which tea leaves are steeped or boiled in water, Cinnamon Tea is just that — Cinnamon. If I do post a cinnamon tea recipe. You’ll be the first to read about it.

 

Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I tested out some cookies with natural sweeteners. Don’t forget to check out the full recipe for my No Added Sugar Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies.

 

Lamb Kabob Marinade

I somehow on Wednesday, I was able to squeeze in a Wegman’s run and prepping marinade for lamb skewers between the end of the workday and getting ready for girls night. Stay tuned for Lamb Skewers coming to the blog within the next couple weeks …

 

Greenhouse Bistro

This week we had girls night at Greenhouse Bistro. I heard good things about this place. My brother even suggested I check it out because it’s “so cute.” Yes, the atmosphere is super chic, and they even grow their own herbs on the back wall of the restaurant. I was surprised, though, that it was fairly empty at 7:30pm on a Wednesday night. I’ve been told they have a DJ and shisha on the weekends. I’ll have to go back to see what that’s all about.

 

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

I’m working on some recipes for an upcoming dinner party. I have an entire menu planned, but I’ve got to try everything before the actual dinner. Last week, I tested lemon roasted potatoes.

 

Cake Frosting

Apparently I’ve become the family cake icer. How, you ask, did I come to gain this title? Well, because over the last couple years, I’ve baked cakes for everyone’s birthday. My skills started out really weak. I made several rookie mistakes, like, oh I don’t know … trying to frost a cake before it cooled, only to have it start falling apart completely. NBD. Then I started watching cake icing tutorials. Pro Tip: start with icing in the middle of the top of the cake and spread outwards and around the sides. Then, once you’ve added all the layers, even out the outside.

 

Until next week …. follow along on Instagram

No Added Sugar Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I have this love/hate relationship with the beginning of every year. It’s new, it’s a fresh start, it’s 300-some days of opportunities. And it’s also the dead of winter, with no holidays to look forward to. On the bright side, that means we can all focus on our forever resolutions to lose weight. I don’t even consider it a New Year’s Resolution anymore, because I wish for it all the time. For everyone else who’s in the same boat, I have a fun, delicious solution for your dieting sweet tooth! Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies are a game changer. The cookies are packed with everything good for you like bananas, oatmeal and peanut butter. You likely have most of these ingredients in your pantry anyway. Best part? No added sugar (except honey, which is a natural sweetener anyway). So it’s vegan, sugar free and gluten free. It’s a win-win situation. What I really like about these cookies is they take almost no time to make. The baking time only 15 minutes.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies_3

I will say, this is my first time baking with honey. After experimenting, I have some pro tips. First off, the dough is super sticky, so be ready to get your hands dirty. Second, once you’ve shaped the cookies, they don’t change shape. I suggest rolling the dough between the palms of your hands until you form a Ping-Pong shape. Place the dough on the baking sheet and then press down with the tips of your fingers to create a flat cookie shape. For a lazy solution, just pour the batter into a parchment paper-lined baking tray, bake as a whole sheet and then cut into squares once it’s out of the oven.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies_2

 

No Added Sugar Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Yield: 20 Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 1/2 cups Quaker Oats raw Oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Grind your oatmeal into a powder in the food processor
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl and hand mixer), beat together the banana, peanut butter, ground oatmeal and honey
  4. Roll dough into a Ping-Pong sized ball between the palms of your hands
  5. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and press down with your fingertips to make a flat cookie shape
  6. Bake on a middle rack for 15 minutes
  7. Allow to cool before serving
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This Week on Instagram

It’s been a pretty busy week on the Instagram front.  Aside from making a pretty easy pesto spaghetti squash, I fit in a cultural event mid-week, and spent a food-filled weekend in New Jersey and New York. We did some other things, but mostly just ate.

 

I made Pesto Spaghetti Squash this week. Spaghetti squash is a pretty solid substitute for actual spaghetti noodles. The hardest part of all squash though, is cleanly cutting it in half. Pro Tip: microwave whole for 1 minute before cutting.

 

I have this thing for fresh flowers. I picked up some yellow roses at Wegmans to accent the colors in my room. I think it’s perfectly fine to buy roses for yourself. Even the lady at the cash register was excited that I had gotten them for myself. She wrapped them up nicely and handed them to me carefully, wishing me a great evening and to enjoy my roses.

 

After we devoured the Pesto Spaghetti Squash, I’m talking to my mom about trying to eat healthy and cut the carbs. She tells me that she found this alternative to shell pasta made from chickpeas. I had to check the ingredients just to make sure. Ingredients: Chickpeas, Tapioca, Pea Protein, Xanthan Gum. It’s also advertised as gluten free. So, we decided to use up some of the leftover Velveeta cheese and make “healthy” mac and cheese. Banza also makes other types of pasta.

 

American Arabesque: A Celebration of Culture Art Exhibition. The curator, Amr Mounib, described it perfectly when he said, ” Seeing the works of so many talented Arab American artists in one exhibition—including Egyptian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Lebanese, Palestinian, Saudi Arabian, and Syrian—is a rare and wonderful opportunity to experience the artists’ passionate love of the land, and their striving for peace, freedom, and happiness expressed through a variety of artistic mediums. This unique collection reflects the diversity and richness of Arab culture.”

 

Over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, we decided to take a road trip to New Jersey and New York City! Our primary purpose was to attend an engagement party. Being so close to NYC, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat our way through Patterson, NJ and part of NYC. We started off at an engagement party, where they had some delicious kabsa (rice and lamb).

 

There’s a place in Patterson called Nablus Sweets. They have a delicious knafeh. If you’re in the area, check it out. They’ve got tons of other sweets too.

 

After a pitstop at Nablus Sweets, we hit up a local shisha place. There, I had some interesting kubbeh niyyeh. It tasted like they mixed the raw meat and bulgar with tomato paste.

 

It’s a fact that falafel always tastes good at 1:30am, Mamoun’s was no exception. I also got a shawarma sandwich. Don’t let the half pitas fool you, it’s stuffed with lamb, tahini sauce and turnips.

 

Day #2, we made our way into NYC for brunch at Friedman’s. Try the blueberry pancakes. It’s fluffy perfection. The pastrami is also to die for. 

 

Seriously amazing hot chocolate at at Jacques Torres Chocolate. They’ve even got a spiced hot chocolate, perfect for our freezing cold walk through Soho.

 

I wish we had more time to spend in NYC, but I’ve realized that no matter how much time you have, there are too many places to try. Until next week …. follow along on Instagram

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