harissa lamb leg with creamed spinach & herbed potatoes

Harissa Lamb Leg

A few weeks ago when the World Cup was just getting into the swings of competition, I decided to make some of Mirza’s favorite food to watch the Croatia vs. Cameroon match. Since he lived in Croatia for a while when he was younger, it was an exciting game to follow and the perfect opportunity to make lamb — one of his favorite proteins. I didn’t eat lamb too frequently before we started dating, but I’ve grown to really love the earthy flavor that is has to offer that is a nice change from a more typical cut of beef/steak.

I’m most comfortable making rack of lamb, but when I was at the butcher counter with lamb on the brain, I saw a beautiful boneless leg of lamb that I had to buy! I knew immediately I wanted a spice factor to compliment the lamb and found a great harissa seasoning in the spice aisle — and so was born my recipe for harissa lamb leg with creamed spinach and herbed potatoes.

Harissa Lamb Leg Ingredients

Harissa is a spicy pepper paste that is a great compliment to any protein if you enjoy some heat — which Mirza loves. So, when I saw the harissa seasoning (which has a mix of paprika, cayenne, chili pepper, cumin, garlic, caraway and coriander) I thought it would make the perfect rub for the lamb. I mixed the harissa seasoning with some rosemary and garlic to brighten the rub up a little.

Harissa Lamb Leg Prep

The sides for this meal are great to balance the bolder flavors of the lamb protein that has some more earthy tones than you may be used to tasting.

I have roasted potatoes a million times, but I decided to make these a bit more Mediterranean in flavor by adding a fair amount of oregano with some rosemary and thyme to make a delicious herbed potato.

As for the spinach — I think Mirza would have creamed spinach every day if I made it, but that’s not exactly “healthy” and so I usually sauté it sans creamy goodness. But, when I do splurge and make creamed spinach, it is all the more special. The parmesan cheese helps thicken the cream, that paired with the garlic infused oil make a beautiful balance of flavor for this side.

Herbed Potatoes

Spinach 1 Spinach 2 Spinach 3 Spinach 4

Overall, I absolutely loved this meal and will definitely be making it again!

The perfectly cooked, medium-rare lamb was really tender and the harissa rub it was roasted in delivered a great level of spice that wasn’t too powerful. Partnered with the sides of herbed potatoes, roasted to a crispy exterior and velvety interior, and creamed spinach, garlicky and creamy and amazing, really rounded it out perfectly. There was only one thing missing…

Wine.

So, I poured a glass, turned on the game, and indulged in this delicious dinner!

P.S. Croatia ended up winning, which was great, but unfortunately didn’t make it much further. Nor did the US… The real winner of our little family was Kia, our German shepherd, who got to see her “bloodline” win it all!

Harissa Lamb Leg with Creamed Spinach & Herbed Potatoes Harissa Lamb Leg with Creamed Spinach & Herbed Potatoes

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foodie finds

Foodie Finds

 

  1. 15 refreshing and interesting ways to use watermelon – the watermelon goat cheese bites look amazing! | via buzzfeed.com |
  2. Some foolproof ideas for July 4, including a fresh peach or blueberry pies | via cooks illustrated.com |
  3. These bomb pop shots look super delicious and super festive with the holiday weekend upon us | via thekitchenwhisperer.net |
  4. Ever wonder how to shuck an oyster? This short video explains just what you need to do to open that goodness and enjoy | via bonappetit.com |
  5. With many of us busy with work all day, this after-work cocktail party menu has inspired me and I hope to try it out soon | via marthastewart.com |

chocolate, basil, brie panini

Chocolate, basil, brie panini

I know what you’re thinking…

  1. Where have you been?!
  2. This panini sounds scary and semi-gross.

Well, it pains me how little I’ve been able to keep up with Live. Laugh. Cook. these days. I’ve been a busy bee in my new job, been getting ready for a move, my dad is in town visiting from Mexico, and have had/have a couple vacations lined up…so…it’s been hard to find the pockets of time I need to do a post well. I’m hoping to get back into a more regular groove again, but thanks for bearing with me in the meantime : )

Now — about this panini. About six years ago I was watching the Food Network with one of my college roommates, Celeste,  when we saw Giada De Laurentiis make a panini with chocolate and brie (and basil). We were oddly intrigued and off put at the same time. I mean chocolate and basil and cheese??? Huh?

Welp, we were intrigued enough to run to the store to get the ingredients and try it out and ended up pleasantly surprised with how tasty it was! I can’t say that I’ve made it again since college, until recently when I had a random craving for it.

Panini Ingredients

This is a quick and easy recipe that doesn’t require too many ingredients or too much effort, so I recommend trying this panini out if it has peaked your interest in the slightest, I promise it’s delicious!

Chocolate, basil, brie panini prep

  1. Place two slices of sourdough bread down on a clean surface
  2. Spread goat’s milk brie cheese on one slice of the bread
  3. Evenly top the cheese with chopped basil and mini chocolate chips
  4. Place panini on a buttered panini press and top with a whole basil leaf
  5. Press the panini for about 10 minutes until cheese and chocolate has melted and bread is golden brown
  6. Slice and serve

The panini was just as tasty as I had remembered it! The sweet chocolate chips paired with the salty brie cheese do really well together, that along with the fresh basil and buttery, grilled bread create a seriously delicious combination.

This chocolate, basil, brie panini makes a great little appetizer, a light lunch sandwich, or a perfect dessert course. I know you’re still not fully on board here, but I am not quite sure you will believe me until you have finally tried this recipe.

Until next time (which hopefully isn’t forever away — ahhhh!! sorry!!)

basilpanini4basilpaniniend2

live & laugh: mojo’s chicken fried steak

Chicken Fried Steak

With only a couple of classes left, it was recently Morgan’s turn to take over cooking school and make a delicious meal for the rest of the class!

Morgan (or as some of us lovingly like to call her, Mojo) took a little while to decide on what exactly she wanted to make. Every time I would talk to her about it, the only thing she consistently knew was that she wanted it to involve a lot of butter and she wanted a comforting, not-so-healthy-for-you type of meal. She eventually landed on a southern-inspired dinner that included: this easy chicken fried steak recipe, some random corn casserole recipe that was copied from a newspaper like 20 years ago (I found this similar recipe), and some yummy roasted brussels sprouts with shallots.

Everything was fairly easy to make, the only issue we ran into was the smoke that was created from pan-frying the chicken fried steaks!! So much so, that we got the smoke detectors to go off — nonstop. Eventually Jose came to the rescue, being taller than the rest of us, and was able to hold a fan to clear out all the smoke — whew! So, yea, just be careful if you try to make the chicken fried steaks!

Mojo Cooking School

The meal was absolutely delicious!

Mojo certainly met her goals of making a meal that was pretty much, in no way, healthy and of using a fair amount of butter — that gravy for the chicken fried steak was so rich and tasty! Also, that corn casserole is no joke. It’s similar to a corn bread, but in a much creamier and richer way, everyone loved that component of the dish the most.

Great job Morgan, thanks so much for the southern-inspired dishes!!

Thanks Morgan!

kia’s kitchen: banana carob chip muffins

Banana Carob Chip Muffins

I have been experiencing an overwhelming, nonstop craving for chocolate over the last couple of months…

Few days go by where I don’t enjoy something chocolate — a chocolate chip cookie, a chocolate covered pretzel, etc (today I indulged in a “healthier” treat with a black bean brownie). So, when I was deciding on what treat I wanted to make for Kia recently, chocolate would not get off my brain. Unfortunately for our furry little friends, chocolate is not something in this world they have the pleasure of safely enjoying, sigh.

While standing in the baking aisle at the store staring at all the chocolate chips I could not use for Kia’s special homemade treat, I noticed a bag of carob chips — a great alternative for chocolate (for both dogs and vegans alike). Excited with my find, I quickly grabbed a fairly ripe banana and hurried home to make Kia these delicious banana carob chip muffins!

Banana Carob Chip Muffins Prep

The muffins came out a beautiful golden brown with the carob chips melted ever so slightly, playing perfectly into the chocolate-esque-feel I was going for with these treats.

They looked so delicious that I had to try one (duh) and they were pretty good!! They had a little bit more of a savory flavor since the dog treats never really contain much, if any, sugar, BUT the mashed banana and carob chips added that bit of sweetness that made the muffins enjoyable overall. As usual, Kia LOVED them! We went through a couple during our little photo session with the freshly baked muffins, but I stored the leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for the rest of the week, which kept Kia very happy anytime she noticed me pull them out of the fridge!

If you have a smaller dog, you may consider making them in a mini-muffin pan rather than the standard size I used in my recipe.

While nothing can ever really replace the deliciousness that is pure chocolate, carob chips make a great alternative for anyone looking for a substitute. Swap them in your next recipe that calls for chocolate chips to give them a whirl!

Banana Carob Chip Muffins
Banana Carob Chip Muffin
Banana Carob Chip Muffin Kia's Banana Carob Chip Muffins

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