Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Let’s talk about lamb. In general, I find that people either love lamb, or they really, really hate lamb. It’s pretty rare to find someone who feels neutral about lamb, in my experience. And I will be honest with you – I hated lamb. I hated it A LOT. Every time I tried it, it was just SO gamey and overly intense with its flavor of ANIMAL. I am in no way squeamish about the fact that eating meat = eating an animal, but lamb was just too much for me.

As with most experiences in my life in which I discovered I actually liked a food I thought I hated (my mom would love to tell you about the time I discovered that ravioli was actually delicious), I was being polite. We were enjoying a little family weekend at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Illinois, and they had decided to make a big, beautiful dinner… with lamb being the star of the show. Now, my family knows I’m not a huge meat eater, and that I have zero problem making my meal out of all the sides, and avoiding the meat. So, of course, I encouraged them to make their lamb dish, and I would just opt out if I needed to. When the meal was ready, the lamb smelled INCREDIBLE – so, I figured I’d try one little lamb chop, hate it, and pass the remainder on to my husband. I took one little bite of the lamb (smothered in the delicious greek yogurt and herb sauce), and I LOVED it. I proceeded to eat something like 4 lamb chops, to the amazement of myself, and my entire family. And this recipe shall remain on our “special dinners” list from now on. (I won’t lie to you, lamb ain’t cheap. That’s why this isn’t on our “regular old Tuesday night dinners” list – this bad boy is special occasions only.)

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce
recipe modified slightly from here
serves 4 generously

For the lamb:
two racks of lamb, frenched, and cut into 8 chops each
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
juice of 4 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine

For the yogurt mint sauce:
generous 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
6 green onions, white and light green parts
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice and zest of one lemon
one cup of plain greek yogurt (please do not use fat free – use 2% or full fat)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.) Start by making the marinade for your lamb. In a food processor, combine the garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt, and pepper, and pulse until everything is finely minced. Remove the herb mixture to another bowl, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and wine; stir until everything is well-combined.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

2.) Place your lamb chops in a single layer in the bottom of a baking dish, and pour the marinade over them, turning them to make sure all the meat gets coated. Cover the dish tightly, and refrigerate overnight. Late the next morning, turn the chops over, and allow them to keep marinating until just before you’re going to cook them.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

3.) At the same time you turn the chops, make your yogurt mint sauce. Add the mint, dill, green onions, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and olive oil to your food processor, and pulse until finely minced. Then, add the greek yogurt, salt and pepper, and pulse a few more times, until everything is well combined. Cover the sauce and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, so all the flavors have a chance to marry.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

4.) Remove the lamb from the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to cook it. Heat a large grill pan (or your grill) to medium-high heat, and brush it with a little bit of olive oil. Remove the chops from the marinade, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, and grill for about 4 minutes on the first side, 3 minutes on the second side. If you prefer your lamb more toward well-done, grill them for about 5 minutes per side. Remove them to a large platter, and cover them tightly with foil. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Serve the warm chops with the cold yogurt sauce, and enjoy! I served our chops with a side of roasted chickpeas, and some cauliflower steaks, and it was one of the best meals we’ve had at home in a long, long time. The lamb has an insane amount of flavor, and is unbelievably tender and juicy – combined with the cold, herby yogurt mint sauce? Heaven.

This meal is PERFECT for company – it’s quite impressive, and the bulk of the work can be done ahead of time! Once the meat is marinated, and the sauce is made, you’re ready to throw the chops on the grill when company arrives (and your oven is totally open for whatever sides you decide to serve it with). For all those reasons, it would also make a lovely holiday meal, if you’re okay with non-traditional foods. These chops would even be great for a cocktail party – lamb chops are fairly small, and that bone makes a great handle for eating them without a fork and knife. A platter of lamb chops with a side of sauce for dipping would make a great, slightly heartier appetizer.

Side note: the leftover yogurt mint sauce is amazing on everything! We put it on some chicken sandwiches, used it to dip vegetables, and basically ate it straight from the bowl. Do not discard the extra sauce, whatever you do!

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

I was essentially gnawing on the chop bones like a cave woman,


Ginger Pear Hand Pies

A couple weeks ago, a coworker of mine brought a GIANT bag of pears into the office. He has a huge pear tree in his yard, and it was producing so many pears that they couldn’t even begin to keep up with them all, and he didn’t want them to go to waste. So, lucky for me, I was able to take home a handful of beautiful, ripe pears, and make a fun dessert out of them!

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

The crust on these hand pies is unbelievably light and flaky, and the sweet pears and spicy ginger make for a great, balanced filling. They would be delicious topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream – but they’re great on their own, too!

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

Ginger Pear Hand Pies
makes about 12 mini pies

For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks of salted butter, cold, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 cup greek yogurt (2% or full fat)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:
2 medium ripe, firm pears
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

To top the pies:
one egg yolk
about 1 tablespoon water
turbinado sugar

1.) In a food processor*, add the flour, salt, and butter cubes. Pulse until the butter is just cut into the flour, and there are pea-size pieces of butter (about 4-5 pulses).

Hand Pie Pastry Dough

2.) In a small bowl, whisk together the greek yogurt, lemon juice, and water. Add 1/3 of this mixture to the food processor, then pulse twice; repeat two more times, until all the greek yogurt mixture has been added, and the dough has just come together (you want to keep the pulsing to a minimum, so as not to overwork the dough).

3.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently break it into two equally sized lumps; lightly pat each one so that it sticks together, and wrap them both in plastic wrap. Place them both in the fridge to chill for one hour.

Hand Pie Pastry Dough

4.) When the dough has chilled for an hour, lightly flour your countertop, and roll each ball of dough out to about a 1/8″ thickness. As you roll, be sure to lift and rotate the dough often, so that you don’t end up with your entire piece of dough completely stuck to the counter!

5.) Cut circles out of the dough, approximately 4.5″ in diameter (I used the lid from a plastic deli container to cut my dough). Place each piece of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Reroll the scraps from both pieces of dough together, and cut more circles out. (I found my dough was warm and sticky by the time I cut the first round of circles out, so I refrigerated the scraps for another 20 minutes or so before rerolling). You should get about 12 circles out of the dough.

6.) Once all your dough circles are cut, place the baking sheets with the pastry on them in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, you’ll make your filling.

7.) Peel your pears, and cut them into a 1/2″ dice. Add the pears, grated ginger, butter, salt, and brown sugar to a small sauce pan, and place the pan over medium heat. Allow the mixture to cook for about 8 minutes, until the pears are slightly softened, but still crisp, and you have a somewhat syrupy sauce. Remove the pan from the heat.

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

8.) Remove your chilled dough from the fridge. Allow it to sit at room temp for about 3 minutes, until it’s just pliable. Place one heaping tablespoon of the pear mixture on one half of each pastry circle; use your finger or a pastry brush to brush some water around the edge of the pastry, then fold the other half over, and use a fork to crimp the edges shut.

9.) When all the hand pies are filled and crimped, place them back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375°. When the hand pies have chilled for 30 minutes and your oven is hot, remove the pies from the fridge; in a small bowl, whisk together your egg yolk and a little more than a tablespoon of water. Brush this egg wash over the tops of all the hand pies, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

10.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pies are a nice golden brown. Allow the pies to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

*If you are not using a food processor, mix the flour and salt together; then cut the butter cubes into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives, until you have pea-sized pieces of butter. Add the greek yogurt mixture to the flour and butter mixture in three batches, mixing gently with a fork after each addition. Once all the greek yogurt mixture is added and mixed in, proceed with the recipe as written.

These hand pies are best served the day they’re made – however, they’ll keep for several days, in an airtight container at room temperature. If you want to reheat them for serving, put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and place the pies into a cold oven; turn the oven on to 350°. About 3-5 minutes after the oven has come up to temp, the pies will be warmed through, and nice and crisp.

I promise I’ll post something that’s not a dessert next week,

Mexican Meatball Subs

A couple weeks ago, I had put beef tacos and chorizo stuffed poblano peppers on my menu for the week. I had picked up a pound of ground sirloin, and a half pound of Mexican chorizo – and then when it came time to make dinner one night, neither of those options sounded particularly appealing. So, rather than order a pizza, or eat a random plate of snacks for dinner, I decided to come up with something new… and Mexican Meatball Subs were born!

Mexican Meatball Subs

These subs are a nice change from traditional Mexican fare (tacos, enchiladas, and the like), and also an interesting riff on something that’s traditionally Italian (the meatball sub). Overall, they were a refreshing change to our typical weeknight meals!

Mexican Meatball Subs
makes 4-6, depending on size

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Mexican chorizo
1 small shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T minced cilantro
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
3 T heavy cream
1 egg
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
olive oil

For the subs:
6 rolls of your choice, toasted
sour cream or greek yogurt
8 ounces of monterey jack cheese, grated
one large, sweet onion, sliced thinly
pickled jalapeños, diced

Mexican Meatball Subs

1.) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the shallot, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, heavy cream, and egg. Make sure everything is well-combined.

2.) Add the beef and chorizo to the bowl, breaking it up as you add it in. Use your hands to gently combine the meats with the shallot and garlic mixture; make sure everything is evenly distributed, but be careful not to overwork the meat!

3.) Use your hands to roll meatballs, aiming to make them about 1.5″ in diameter. You should end up with about 25-30 meatballs.

Mexican Meatball Subs

4.) Heat two large skillets over medium heat. Add about one tablespoon each of olive oil and butter to each skillet. In one, place your meatballs (making sure to give them some space – you’ll probably need to cook them in two separate batches), and in the other, saute your onions.

5.) Cook the meatballs for about 10-12 minutes total, flipping 3 times. Tent the pan with foil in between flips, so the meatballs will cook through more evenly. Continually stir your onions in the other skillet, until they are golden brown and caramelized.

Mexican Meatball Subs

6.) Once your meatballs are cooked and your onions are caramelized, it’s time to assemble your subs! Spread your sour cream or greek yogurt on to the bottom half of the bun or roll; top with caramelized onions, then halved meatballs, and then shredded cheese. Pop the subs under a broiler set to high for 1-2 minutes, until the cheese is melted and browned.

7.) Remove the subs from the broiler, sprinkle them with the cilantro and jalapeños, and top with the top half of your bun. Serve immediately.

*Just a side note: to reduce your standing-over-the-stove time, you could absolutely make these meatballs a little bigger, quickly pan-sear them on 2 sides, and then bake them (in a covered baking dish) for about 15 minutes at 350°. The main reason I cooked them entirely on the stove top is because until about 3 days ago, I had not had a working oven for 2 months, so I had to get a little creative to make certain dishes work out!

Mexican Meatball Subs

These meatball subs were delicious. The combination of the beef and chorizo was great – lots of spice, and a bit of a kick, from the chorizo, which really livened the meatballs up. The pickled jalapeños add a great crunch, and a little bit of acid, which cuts through the richness of the meat and cheese.

I think the next time I make these meatballs, I’ll definitely be making them as an appetizer. I’ll either make slightly bigger meatballs, and serve them as sliders – or slightly smaller meatballs, and serve them on toothpicks (with a pickled jalapeño slice skewered on top of the meatball). You could also form the meat mixture into burger patties, and throw them on the grill. Any which way, I think they’d be a hit!

I guess not adhering to my meal plan worked in my favor this time,

Coconut Cream Pie

As much as I love all things coconut, I had never tried coconut cream pie until about a month ago – when I made it for the first time. I think the thought of the texture had always weirded me out (I’m not a huge fan of the texture of pudding – and the pastry cream filling has a very similar consistency). But, when I started planning a dinner for my dad for Father’s Day, I remembered that he loves coconut cream pie, and I decided that I should give it a shot! Thankfully, in my old age, I realized that a coconut pastry cream + a pile of whipped cream would likely be pretty delicious – and I was certainly not wrong.

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie
makes one 9″ pie

1 pie crust (I used pre-made)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 can coconut milk or cream (NOT light)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3 T flour
2 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract

*This is a recipe that’s best started the day before you intend to serve it.

1.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the salt, eggs, egg yolk, 1/2 cup sugar, and flour. Once that mixture is combined, add your coconut milk, 3/4 cup of the heavy cream, and 1 1/2 cups of the shredded coconut to a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Let the cream and coconut mixture come to a simmer, whisking often.

2.) When the milk mixture comes to a simmer, remove it from the heat, and add the hot mixture to the egg mixture, a couple tablespoons at a time, whisking vigorously as you do so. Continue adding slowly and whisking, until the two mixtures are totally combined.

3.) Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan, and return it to medium heat. Allow the pastry cream to cook until it thickens slightly and comes to a boil – about 2 to 3 minutes, whisking constantly. As SOON as it comes to a boil (look closely, you’ll see just one or two large bubbles rise to the surface, since it’s pretty thick), remove it from the heat, and whisk in the vanilla.

Coconut Cream Pie

4.) Transfer the pastry cream to a medium bowl, and cover the cream with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream (this prevents the pastry cream from forming a skin). Refrigerate the pastry cream until it is completely chilled – at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

5.) While the pastry cream chills, bake your crust. Press the crust into a 9″ pie pan, and bake as directed, until the crust is lightly browned and fully cooked.

Coconut Cream Pie

6.) Once you have a completely cool crust and pastry cream, use a rubber spatula to spread the pastry cream into the pie shell. At the earliest, I would do this the morning of the day you plan to serve the pie. Cover the pie tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to add the final toppings and serve.

7.) To make your whipped cream topping, simply whip the remaining 3/4 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. When you’ve got soft peaks, sprinkle in 1/4 cup sugar, and continue whipping until firm peaks hold.

8.) And the final piece – the toasted coconut. Sprinkle 1 cup shredded coconut into a dry skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat, and stir the coconut until it is nicely browned and crisp. Do NOT turn your back on the coconut – it’ll go from totally uncooked to burnt in about 15 seconds, if you’re not careful.

Toasting coconut

9.) When you’re ready to serve the pie, spread the whipped cream over the top of the coconut pastry cream, and sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Slice and serve!

Coconut Cream Pie

I know this seems like a complicated recipe with a million steps – and there is certainly a lot going on! But, I promise you it’s not hard; it just takes a little patience and time, and you’ll be left with a delicious pie! I swear, I could eat the rich, silky coconut pastry cream straight out of the bowl with a spoon… and one of these days, I just might make a batch just for that purpose.

I am in serious need of some coconut cream pie after all this talking about it,