Apricot Pistachio Honey Lamb

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I just got home from Japan a few days ago and my favorite thing to do right when I get home is go to the grocery store! It’s like a breath of fresh air driving my car, blasting my tunes, pulling up to the market and skipping in as I grab my cart and release a happy sigh of relief! I can read EVERYTHING! I can communicate with people! I even know where things are! It’s crazy what we take for granted. Everything looked too good to be true. The smell of the artisanal coffee and fresh flowers were like the cherry on my sundae as I strolled through the market. It was hard to control myself and not buy everything that I had been missing. I started to look around and instantly felt at home. I know your probably thinking I’m a wac-a-do to get all these feelings just from going to the grocery store, but it’s definitely one of my happy places. It is filled with memories from my childhood. I feel centered looking at all the produce, knowing that I am going to take it home and create something healthy and yummy for my family and I to enjoy. Which led me to this special dish! I saw the bag of beautiful orange apricots and instantly thought of the apricot fruit roll ups we used to get when my mom would take us to the Lebanese market. The owner would come from behind the counter and greet my mother, and then give us each a fruit roll up.  I will never forget the smells and homey feeling that would come over me when we would walk into this simple market. Needless to say I grabbed the bag of apricots! I started to think about how I could possibly use them all before they go bad. I am only one person and couldn’t eat them all! I started to think about the market and everything else I use to see there: the pistachio baklava drizzled with rose water and honey, the roasted lamb, and the fresh cucumber salad. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do as I checked out, but wasn’t one hundred percent sure how exactly I was going to pull it all together. When I got home, I decided to make my version of an apricot compote to dress on top of the lamb. I paired the apricot lamb with some arugula, quinoa, rosemary zucchini, and a little goat cheese! The whole meal turned out better than I imagined!

 

Ingredients:

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8-10 organic apricots

1/2 cup pistachios

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme

1 1/2 tbsp fresh mint

2 heaping tbsp raw organic honey

1 tbsp olive oil

lamb chops or lamb shoulder (you can also roast a rack of lamb)

 

Directions:

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Chop your apricots into cubes. On medium heat, add the apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, and apricots to a large dutch oven pot.

 

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Once the apricots begin to soften, add the water, thyme, and mint. Make sure you occasionally stir so that the fruit doesn’t stick or burn on the bottom of the pot. Cook down on low heat for about 8-10 minutes.

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Once the apricots have become really soft, and are broken down, turn off the heat, and stir in the honey. I like to make sure that whenever I use honey, I am not putting it into something extremely hot, to maintain all  the vitamins and minerals.

 

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Remove the apricot compote from the pot, rinse your pot out, and place it back on the burner. Season your lamb with salt and pepper. I like to make sure my lamb is at room temperature because it browns better when I sear it.

 

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Add the olive oil to the dutch oven pot and turn it on medium-high heat. Once your pot is hot, place the lamb in. For medium rare, sear each side of lamb for about two minutes (depending on how thick your lamb is).

 

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While your lamb is cooking, you can be boiling your quinoa and sautéing your zucchini in rosemary!

 

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Now it is time to plate your meal and top it off with some chopped up pistachios! All the flavors really come together well with this Lebanese inspired recipe. Enjoy!
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Healthy “Cookie Dough”

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Whenever I make cookies, I’m lucky if I can get at least half of the dough on the pan before Miles comes over and scoops up the cookie dough! Not the healthiest choice I know, but I can’t blame him. Cookie dough is one of those dessert flavors that we all get excited about, so I wanted to make a healthier option that was, get this, high in protein! What?! You heard me! This cookie dough is high in protein and fiber because it is made with chickpeas and cashews. If that weren’t enough, I sweetened it with all natural dates which are known to help with digestion issues, heart problems, and anemia! All these wonderful ingredients are full of vital vitamins and minerals making this the healthiest cookie dough you’ll ever eat!

Ingredients:

 

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2 cups of organic raw cashews (soaked in water for at least 4 hours)

1 can of organic chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

10-12 medjool dates (soak for about five minutes)

1 tbsp organic vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup chocolate chips (or more if desired)

2-3 tbsp pure maple syrup

 

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender except for the chocolate chips. If you use a blender you can slowly add some almond milk as needed to help blend well.

 

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Blend well until you get a smooth consistency.

 

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Transfer to a mixing bowl and add in the chocolate chips.

 

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Taste you cookie dough! If you need to add more maple syrup, simply mix it in slowly until you are satisfied with the flavor.

 

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Store in the refrigerator and enjoy whenever you have a sweet tooth craving!

 

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Rustic Skillet Chicken

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So I recently watched Julie and Julia for the twentieth time, and I think I was just in a mood to cook with butter and cream as the french do! I figured if I was going to indulge I was going to do it right! This dish is all rustic homey comfort. You’ll want to scream out “Bon Appetite” when you are ready to enjoy this delicious chicken!

 

Ingredients:

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4 organic chicken thighs or chicken breasts

3 slices of bacon

8 oz mushrooms

8 oz shallots

1/2 cup of organic heavy cream

2 cups organic chicken broth

2 tbsp organic unsalted butter

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

2 tbsp fresh rosemary

1/2 tbsp fresh dill

1 box Banza pasta

 

Directions:

In a large skillet, cook three pieces of bacon on medium heat. Remove the bacon and set aside on a paper towel. Leave the grease in the pan, and add the butter. While the butter begins to melt, season the chicken with salt and pepper.

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Brown both sides of the chicken in the pan, starting with the skin side if you have it.

 

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After about ten minutes, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

 

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Add the sliced mushrooms, shallots, chopped rosemary, and pepper to taste, and cook for about three minutes on medium heat.

 

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Then add in the cream and broth, and allow to combine for about eight minutes.
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Place the chicken back in the pan and cover. Continue to cook for another ten minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

 

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Top the dish off with fresh minced dill, and serve! You can dress this chicken over pasta or roasted potatoes.

I chose to go with my favorite chickpea pasta called Banza! This pasta is such a healthy diet lifesaver. You can enjoy pasta with more protein and fiber, with a fraction of the carbs! It’s so good!

 

Bon Appetite!

 

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Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

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Need a new side dish, an appetizer for your next at home gathering, or a crowd pleasing dish to bring to a pot-luck? These spinach stuffed mushrooms got you covered! I made these as a side for Thanksgiving last year, and got rave reviews. What is really nice is that I was able to make them early in the day, and then simply heat them up before serving, helping me to keep my sanity!  Planning out a Thanksgiving meal so that everything comes out hot at the same time, but not over/under cooked, is quite a stressful feat to say the least.Mushrooms to the rescue! Stuffed mushrooms sound difficult and fancy, but they are anything but!

Ingredients

 

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about 20 mushrooms

1 tsp of garlic minced

4 cups of organic baby spinach

1/2 cup bacon bits

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

1 tsp minced thyme

2 tbsp chopped yellow onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

cooking oil spray

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place your 4 pieces of bacon on the sheet and put into the oven for about 15-20 mins until the bacon is crispy, but not burnt.

 

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Remove the bacon from the baking sheet and allow to cool. Finely chop the bacon into pieces.

 

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Add 1 tbsp of water to a medium size saute pan. Steam the spinach until wilted.

 

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Transfer the spinach to a paper towel, and squeeze out any excess liquid. Then chop the spinach well.

 

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Remove the stems from the mushroom caps, and chop them up fine.

 

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Warm a medium size pan. Add in your olive oil and garlic. Allow your garlic to cook for about 2 minuets.

 

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Then add in your onion, cooking for about 2-3 minuets until slightly browned on the edges and translucent.

 

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Add the bacon, mushroom stems, rosemary and thyme. Saute for a minute.

 

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(P.S. doesn’t that look gorgeous?!)

 

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the spinach, Italian bread crumbs, grated parmesan cheese, and sauted mixture.

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Toss until well combined.

Scoop the filling into the mushroom caps, and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Spray the tops with cooking oil, and place in the oven for 20 minuets.

 

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Once baked, place in a serving dish, or on a platter! Enjoy!

 

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Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

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With LOVE and BUTTER I bring you these beautiful Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies! I love shortbread cookies. When I was younger, my mom would let us pick out a treat when she would bring us to Barneys Coffee for her afternoon coffee fix. My siblings would always go for the oh-so-child-enticing colorful crystal sugar stick. I, on the other hand, always picked a biscotti or shortbread cookie! Oh how I loved how it melted in my mouth with it’s buttery goodness! I love to play with all kinds of shortbread cookie flavors, which is how I came up with this cranberry orange combination. It is great for year round and for holidays, but be prepared for these cookies to be devoured quickly!

 

Ingredients:

 

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2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1 cup of cold unsalted butter cut into cubes

1 tsp almond extract

3/4 cup of sugar

zest of two organic oranges

3/4 cup dried cranberries chopped into smaller pieces

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine the butter, cranberries, almond extract, orange zest, and half of the sugar in your standing mixer. Then add in the flour and the rest of the sugar and mix until you get a crumbly dough.

 

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Transfer the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and mold into a log. Wrap the dough in the parchment paper tightly, and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

 

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Cut the cookie dough into slices about a 1/2 inch think.

 

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Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown, then immediately remove.

 

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Let the cookies cool completely before removing then from the tray.

 

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When you are ready to serve dessert, scoop some vanilla ice cream into a serving bowl or glass, and pair it with one of the shortbread cookies! You can add some more orange zest and dried cranberries, or even some honey to drizzle on top of your dessert!

 

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