Sunday, June 29, 2014

Lamb Chops with Garlic & Mint Tzatziki

I have some big news.  Like REALLY BIG news.  It is the reason for my extended absence from posting lately.  This August, we will be moving to Washington DC.  More specifically, the Arlington area. 

This has been in the works for about a month now and it all happened so fast.  I will be joining a newly assembled National Sales Team for my company (that I love so much), Interstate Hotels & Resorts.  Instead of just working for one Marriott property, I will be working with many different clients and finding business to place at our hundreds of hotels nationwide.  It is incredibly exciting and I am just thrilled for this amazing opportunity. 

In between the interview process, working many hours a day to wrap up the departure from my hotel, traveling down to DC and begin training in the new position, house/apartment hunting and preparing for the big move, I have barely had any time to allocate for posts on this blog.  For instance, I actually made these lamb chops about 3 weeks ago and am just now finding time to edit and document this recipe!  

In the past few weeks, I've been through just about every emotion known to man.  At all times, I have a to-do list about a million miles long in my head.  Cleveland is my home... our home and it is going to be tough to leave all of our family and friends.  We love it here, but sometimes you need to take a leap of faith in order to grow professionally.

After spending the last week at our corporate office in Arlington, I'm positive that we will love it there as well.  It is a beautiful area filled with rich history and loads of culture.  As we embark on this new adventure, I can't wait to explore our new home.  Festivals.  Farmers markets. Wineries.  Restaurants. Art Galleries. Monuments and museums.  I look forward to sharing all of these experiences with you all on this blog.  

So please bear with me and stay tuned.  There is a lot on my plate over the next few months and I will do my best to post regular updates, but you know just as well as I do, that sometimes life happens. 

 Speaking of full plates... I guess I should say something about these gorgeous hunks of meat you see in the pictures above.  But after the novel I've just written, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Once again, Brunty Farms came through with these lovely lamb chops.  It is the season for grilling and they were delightful, grilled and topped with the herb filled sauce. 

The side you see is bulgar wheat with broccoli rabe.  I am going to try my darnedest to have that recipe out to you this week and with the upcoming holiday weekend, I think it is totally plausible.  

You will also find a few more pictures below of me playing tourist in our nation's capital (thanks Gabi)!  It is a lovely city and I still feel like I need to pinch myself as a reminder that this is really happening!  

Enjoy your short week everyone!  

Lamb Chops 
4-6 lamb chops
olive oil
garlic powder

Take the chops out of the refrigerator at least one hour before grilling and bring to room temperature.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and then liberally sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, garlic and oregano.  Throw the chops on a grill over high heat and cook each side for about 4-6 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches about 140 degrees.  Let meat rest for at least 10 minutes so juices can redistribute.  

Garlic & Mint Tzatziki
1 seedless English cucumber, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt
1/4 cup goat cheese
2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Grate cucumber on a box grater and place in a fine mesh strainer placed over a bowl.  Sprinkle cucumber with salt and let sit for about an hour.  The cucumber will give off a lot of water but be sure to place it in a paper or tea towel and squeeze to get as much juice out as possible.

In a large bowl, mix together the drained cucumber, yogurt, goat cheese, mint, dill, lemon zest and garlic.  Let sit for at least an hour to let the flavors marry.  Taste and add salt and/or pepper as needed.  

Serve tzatziki over lamb chops.  It is also delicious as a dip for some soft pita and fresh vegetables.  

Attention Washingtonians and Virginians!  I am all ears for any recommendations for your favorite restaurants, neighborhoods or just any advice on the area.  Sharing is caring :)  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Gift of Cheese... Goat Cheese!

Summer is officially the season of gatherings.  Barbecues, weddings, showers, birthdays, holidays and just-because parties are always popping up everywhere!  We all know you should never show up at someone's house empty handed but how many times do we just take the easy way out and grab a bottle of wine or something from the bakery?  Too many times and that all stops here.  

While walking around our local farmers market, I noticed that Lake Erie Creamery was selling jars of Goat Cheese Pearls which was simply goat cheese marinated in an herb infused oil.   Genius!  So I decided to make my own and it was so decadent.  Bread, cheese, butter and olive oil are my kryptonite.  Seriously.  It takes every bit of willpower not to eat at least one if these items with every meal.  

This jar of amazing-ness makes for the most perfect hostess gift!  The lucky recipient can simply slice the bread and grill or toast then serve it with the spreadable cheese and infused oil.  After making this once, I realized that the possibilities are endless!   I plan on making future batches that include lemon zest, thyme, sun dried tomatoes, bay leaves and garlic.  

This is also one of those instances where it is imperative to use the absolute best ingredients you can find.  Local goat cheese, high quality olive oil, nice sea salt and fresh herbs.  Oh and the bread too.  The bread has to be a beautiful, crusty and rustic loaf straight from the bakery.  Preferably baked fresh that day. 

Who are those special people in your life?  The people who you want to express your gratitude for their friendship and love.  This thoughtful and delicious gift is the perfect way to show them how much they are appreciated.  

Goat Cheese and Infused Olive Oil
2 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped
heavy pinch of each:
kosher or sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
4-6 ounces of goat cheese

1 loaf fresh baked bread

In the bottom of an 8 ounce mason jar, add rosemary, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and about 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Stir to distribute the seasoning.

With you hands and a teaspoon, form small 1-inch sized balls with the goat cheese.  Drop them into the jar until it is slightly full.  Top with the rest of the olive oil until the cheese is covered and the jar is almost full.

Put the top on and gently swirly the jar around so the spices can disperse.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  If using as a gift, package the bread into large a cellophane bag with ribbon and serve in a basket with a small spreading knife.  Serve by spreading the cheese over grilled bread and drizzling with the infused oil.

Refrigerate and this will stay good for up to one month.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


I think I just made this soup because I really like to say it's name out loud.  




For those of you who are stumped as to how to pronounce it; vi-shē-ˈswäz.  Go ahead.  Say it. It's a fun word!   Sometimes, I even like to pretend like I'm French and pronounce it with a French accent.  

Traditionally, this soup is served chilled and is very popular during the summer months.  I realize that not everyone is a fond of cold soup, but if you are going to step out of your comfort zone, then this is the soup to do so.  If your little heart is set on a warm soup, then by all means, heat it up.  It is just as good.  

The consistency is so creamy and velvety smooth.  It's like buttah I tell you!  Potatoes and leeks are a match made in heaven.   I made a big pot of this and shared it with family, but it would be just lovely to serve as an hors d'oeuvre for a dinner party, serving individual portions small, clear glasses.  This is a rustic and simplistic soup and I just love how the modest ingredients magically transform into something so very elegant. 

1 tablespoon butter
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
8 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
chives and olive oil for garnish

Add butter, potatoes and leeks to a large stock pot.  Cover with chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook over low heat for 50-60 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool for at least 30 minutes.  Working in small batches, add ladles of the soup to a blender and blend until very smooth.  To make sure there are no lumps in the soup, pass each batch through a fine mesh sieve.

Once all of soup has been blended, return to pot and add the cream and milk.  Taste and add salt and white pepper to suit your preference.  When soup is served cold, it is best to slightly over-salt.

Place in refrigerator and chill overnight.  When ready to serve, garnish with fresh chopped chives and a drizzle of olive oil.

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