Hot Tamales, Get Your Fresh Hot Tamales Here

Ok, so this past weekend I decided was the weekend to try making Hot Tamales I have been hearing so much about.  it is rather easy to do but so time consuming, right?  WRONG!  the only time consuming part is the cooking, but it is not like you have to stand over the pot the entire time, clean house, wash dishes, take a toothbrush to the grout or maybe catch up on your Gossip Girl.  The cook time on the pork is 2 hours, then you prep stuff, then you cook the finished product for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  In that amount of time you can catch up on B becoming Queen B again, Serena falling back in love with that Humphrey fellow and well, finally Jenny gets shipped off but not to boarding school like I hopped.  I will save the other details if you haven’t seen the finale, AWESOME!

So for the tamales you will need the following ingredients –
Seasonings:
1/4 C Chili powder
2 1/2 tsp Red pepper powder (cayenne)
1 tsp Cumin powder
1 tbls Garlic powder
1 tbls Onion powder
2 tbls Sea salt
2 tbls Paprika powder
2 tsp Fresh ground black pepper

Masa dough:
3 C Masa meal (find this at any local fruit market)
3/4 tsp Sea salt
1/2 tbls baking powder
1/2 C Lard (I used bacon drippings since I always save it!)
1 1/2 to 2 cups of reserved liquids pork was cooked in

2 lb Boneless pork shoulder roast with all the fat (trim off some if in an excessive amount)
1 to 1/2 Medium onions sliced
2 to 3 Cloves of garlic, minced
1 package of dried corn husks
Water to cover the pork
boiling water for the corn husks
Kitchen twine

Ok, to begin this recipe, cut your pork roast into chunks that will cook easier then just dumping it into a pot, say about 6 slices.  Place them into a pot and pour about 1/2 of the seasoning mix onto it.  Fill the pot with enough water to cover the meat.  Bring water to a boil and cook for 12 minutes.  Turn down the heat after 12 minutes and then simmer for about 2 hours.  Once the meat has finished cooking, remove to a bowl and let cool.  Save the stock that is left for making the masa and cooking the tamales.

Boil some water and add the corn husks to the pot.  Remove from the heat and place out of your way till you are ready to construct the tamales.

To make the masa, mix the corn meal, baking powder, salt and lard together to make a crumble.  Slowly add your liquid from the pork slowly till you are working with a dough that is a bit pasty but not too moist it sticks to your hands.  Wrap in plastic and set in the fridge till the pork has cooled enough you can shred it.

Once the pork has cooled enough for you to handle it, start breaking it apart with your hands into something a bit smaller then a bite size.  You want to be able to cut the tamale with a fork to eat later.  Once you have finished shredding the pork, slice up your onion.  I give mine the half moon look.  You can also dice them up if you would like.  Mince the garlic as fine as you can or use a garlic press.

Add some olive oil or vegetable oil to a saute pan and heat till the oil starts to shimmer, do not have the heat too high.  Once the oil is heated add your onions and start to “sweat” them a bit.  Add the garlic once you start to see the onions have started to soften and almost clear.  Cook for about 2 mins and then add the other half of the seasoning.  Once the seasoning has been combined you can add your shredded pork, stir and turn off the heat.

Grab your tamale dough from the fridge and a cookie scoop!  Place a scoop of the tamale dough onto a corn husk and flatten with the palm of your hand.  Once you have spread the dough thin enough around the husk, place a scoop of the meat and onion mixture into the center of the dough.  Fold over one side of the dough to close it, then roll up the corn husk around the uncooked tamale till you have a nice tube.  Tuck under the bottom to create a nice base for it to stand up on while cooking.  Once you have about three of them done, you want to tie them into a nice little bundle and stand it up in the pot.  Fit as many bundles as you can into a stock pot, pour the remaining stock leftover into the pot and top off with some water.  Fill the pot to about the top of the lowest tamale in the pot, cover and set to simmer for about an hour and a half.

Once the tamales are done, grab your tongs and pull out a bundle.  Be careful to not burn yourself, cut the twine and unroll your tamale.  You can serve these wet with some of the juice that is left in the pot or you can pour your favorite (or homemade) chili over the top and eat.

Hope you have the time to create these tasty little bundles of pork joy!!!

Enjoy!

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Its been a long time…Blah blah blah, just cook it!

I know it has been a while since I last blogged anything so I am going to tell you about the lasagna I made for game night.  the rest of the items shall be posted in their own blog.

So every month my best friend Corey hosts Game Night with his Roommate Marcos.  As the host, Corey always comes up with something yummy whether it is food or some kind of cocktail, but I always come with something.

This game night was April 24th and I brought a Lasagna, a Bacon and Spinach Quiche and eggplant Parmesan.  The eggplant parm was for our friend Patty and I figured that it would be a good challenge for me to make since I HATE eggplant!  Patty is a great guinea pig to work with.

So, all had a great time, garlic bread was a great hit and so were the other dishes, except the eggplant.  Seems I am not the only one that does not love it.  Patty loved it and i sent her home with the rest.  Everyone had a great time, Corey can put another successful game night under his belt of many game nights!

So now for the Lasagna.  What you will need are the following:
1 pound of lean (80/20) ground beef, browned with a little oregano and garlic in it
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, browned and the grease drained
1 large container of ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1 – 2 cup package of mozzarella cheese shredded
Dried oregano
Olive oil, whatever you have is fine
One whole head of garlic crushed and minced, part for the sauce, part for the garlic bread
3 medium onion finely chopped/diced
3 – 14 oz cans of diced peeled tomatoes, no salt added
1 large can of tomato sauce
1 small can of tomato paste
1/2 box of lasagna noodles cooked al dente (12 noodles will do fine)
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

What you will want to start with is mixing the cheese concoction.  Take the ricotta cheese and place into a large mixing bowl, add the 3 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 of a teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded mozzarella cheese and about 2 teaspoons of the dried oregano.  Blend well and set aside.

For the marinara sauce you will take the onions and sweat them till they start to clarify in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Once the onions are starting to clarify, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the garlic.  Cook the onions and garlic till the onions have really softened and then add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the dried oregano, the cans of tomatoes, the sauce and about 1/2 of the tomato paste.  Let this simmer on medium for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors together.  Taste and season as needed.

Browning the meat is easy so I will not explain this part.  If you need explanation feel free to ask in the comments.

To start piling on the stuff you will need a 9X13 glass baking dish (metal is ok too), place about 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom to keep the noodles from sticking.  Line 3 noodles lengthwise into the pan and then place about 4 tablespoons of the cheese mixture per noodle.  Flatten the cheese mixture with a wet hand then pile on the meat.  i would say about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of each sprinkled over the cheese mixture should do, then add about 1 cup of the sauce over the meat. Repeat the procedure with the next later till you have gotten about 3 layers on (I usually just do 2 and make a mini lasagna to take for lunch).  Once you have put your last layer of noodles on top, spread a little of the sauce, cover with foil and place into an oven at 350 for about 30 minutes.  You just need enough time to heat the cheese, get the eggs to bind the mixture and finish cooking the noodles.  when there is about 5 minutes left, pull the lasagna from the oven, remove the foil, sprinkle the remainder of the mozzarella cheese on top and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes or the cheese starts to brown.

For the left over sauce, we will use that for the eggplant parm or you can feel free to freeze it.  This sauce is great for pasta as well.  You can add chicken, meatballs, shrimp, calamari, white fish, etc.

Remove the lasagna from the oven and let stand for about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.  the nice thing about this is there is already a guide line lengthwise where the noodles are laid and all you have to do is make the big slice down each giving you 3 rows, and then slice along the three rows to make about 9 cubes for a dinner and 12 for a party.

If you do not have a deep enough pan to make 3 layers, feel free to make a smaller pan of 2 layers and cook 2 pans.  You can never have too much for this, it freezes very well!

Enjoy!

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BBQ Chicken Anyone?

So yesterday I was home sick, been fighting a sinus infection for a week now and it seems the antibiotics are not really working when allergens are still in the air!  Lose-lose situation if you ask me.  Seems like as soon as you get rid of one cold another springs right back up.  Maybe that is what the real meaning of spring is!  LOL

Anywho, so yesterday I was fighting to get as much cleaned as I could to get rid of the allergens and the germs so I can start to really get better.  I also had to prep for the game.  Who does not want to watch the Hawks trample over the Preds?  Was a great game, and I also had an awesome dinner thanks to moi.

So for the BBQ chicken i made last night what you will need are the following:

One whole fryer chicken, cut into quarters, I found mine on sale at Dominick’s for 77 cents/lb
BBQ or Chipotle rub, I used both since i had a little chipotle rub left from the pork chops last week
Bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
Somethings as a side whether it is a veggie, Rice-A-Roni, mac and cheese, black beans, etc.

Take the chicken you just quartered, rinsed and patted dry, place the piece on to a cooking rack inside of a baking pan, sprinkle a bit of the rub onto the quarters and rub it in.  Cover the chicken with some foil and place into an oven heated to about 350 to 400 degrees.  Do not worry, you will not over cook the chicken here.  Keep the chicken sealed and cook for about 30 minutes.  Take the pan from the oven and remove the foil.  be careful here so you do not burn yourself!  Check the chicken and see how it is progressing.  By now the chicken should be fully cooked and ready for some sauce and final cooking.  Brush on some of your favorite BBQ sauce and place back into the oven with the heat turned all the way up if it is an electric stove.  If your stove is gas, line your broiler pan with the foil you just took off the pan and place the chicken on the pan and brush the sauce on.  Give it about 5 minutes and pull the chicken out and brush a second coat of sauce on and cook for about 3 more minutes then you are done!

With this dish you can serve up some black beans with a little garlic, cumin, salt and oregano.  Heat and serve.  You can also make a quick pot of mac and cheese or maybe some 4 cheese Rice-A-Roni.  Having a serving of veggies is also a good idea, so bust out a can of corn, green beans or maybe some peas, drain and add about a tablespoon of butter, sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Heat till done and serve.

I am sorry that the only picture I have of this dish is the leftovers i brought for lunch.  I was more concerned about getting the meal done so i could watch the Hawks game which was utterly amazing!  If you missed that game then you have probably missed one of the greatest games in this years playoff history!  🙂

Enjoy!

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Tasty Pork Tenderloin

Ok, so it has been a few days since I last posted.  I have to say that I have not been very creative lately and this sucks!  Between my boyfriend being sick, my now feeling sick, and making chicken soup for the both of us, I really have not been feeling like trying new things all that much.  Allergy season sucks this year!

Ok, now for the good stuff, PORK TENDERLOINS.  Last night I decided to make a couple of pork tenderloins, you know the ones that come in a package of 2 that weight in about 2 to 3 lbs depending on where you shop.  Well, I made one the traditional way and then other one i decided to experiment with this chipotle rub.  I will post the manufactures name and where to get it later today, I promise you will love it!

What you will need is:
2-1 lbs pork tenderloins
2 medium yellow onions
Natures Seasoning
Chipotle rub
Heavy aluminum foil
Toaster oven if you have one
3 to 4 medium white potatoes
Cream or milk
Butter
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Corn starch
Water

Start with the tenderloins, wash them under some cool water, pat dry with a paper towel and place on a piece of foil for each and set them aside.  Take your onions, peel, cut in half and slice..  You will need about one onion per tenderloin for this.  Take your tenderloins and season with the Natures Seasoning then place some about half of the onions under the tenderloin and the rest on top and the sides.  Bring the two sides of the foil together and fold over till it is tight against the top of the loin, fold in the sides so you create a foil pocket.  Repeat for the second tenderloin with the chipotle rub then place both loins into the top rack of your oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  I use a toaster oven and set the timer to about 45 minutes since it needs a little bit of time to heat up to 350.  After 40 minutes take the pockets from the oven and set aside to rest for about 10 minutes.  When ready to serve, remove the tenderloins from their packets, reserving just the juice from the chipotle rubbed tenderloin to make a gravy.  Slice the tenderloins on a diagonal and serve.  This should be enough to feed about 2 with leftovers for lunch or 4 for dinner.

While your tenderloins are in the oven cooking, you can make something as a side dish.  Last night I made a quick batch of mashed potatoes with the skins on so I had something to go with my leftovers for lunch.  Just wash and dice the potatoes, place in a pot with enough water to cover them and sprinkle in a pinch or two of the sea salt.  Set to boil and check after about 15 minutes to see if they are fork tender.  Once they are done, drain and place the cooked potatoes back into the pot, adding about 2 tablespoons of butter (more if you want them buttery), about 1/4 cup of cream or milk, a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and about 1/8 of a teaspoon of pepper.  Smash the potatoes till they are to the consistency you like.  I like mine a bit lumpy and a little on the thick side since I will be pouring gravy over them later.  You can also serve this dish with a side of sauteed asparagus, green beans, squash, corn nibs, brussel sprouts or, as we did last night, 4 cheese Rice-A-Roni with some chili powder sprinkled in.

For your gravy what you will want to do is take the chipotle rubbed pork and open the foil packet and drain that into a pot with the onions as well.  Take about a teaspoon and a half of corn startch and mix that with about 1/2 cup of water and add to the pot, stir and set on a medium to high heat till you start to see the bubbles forming.  Once you have achieved the thickness desired, remove from the heat and serve.

Enjoy!

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Pan Seared Sea Scallops

I was watching the Food Network off and on last night while watching Supernatural and thought tomorrow I will make my pan seared sea scallops, some sauteed spinach with barley pearls (mushrooms optional) and some kind pasta with a lemon butter sauce lightly tossed in it.

I rarely get to cook good seafood since it is so hard to find at the store, but I bought some frozen sea scallops a couple of weeks ago and need to clear out the freezer.

For this dish you will need:
Approximately 4 to 10 large sea scallops.  They should be about an inch in diameter.  4 to 5 for one serving 8 to 10 for 2 servings and so on.
One bag of fresh baby spinach rinsed and spun dry
Two lemon
A good white wine you like to drink and cook with, I prefer a Pinot Grigio for this
Sea salt
Butter
Fresh cracked black pepper
Barley pearls
Baby Bella mushrooms are optional if you like them
pasta of your choice, tonight I am going to finish off the box of linguine I opened up a couple of nights ago.
Extra virgin olive oil

Ok, start with the pasta since you want to cook it al dente and then finish it in the sauce  before serving.  Bring water to boil, cook till it is just slightly hard in the center and drain.  Place back into the pot and drizzle about 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over it and toss to coat.  Add more if you would like.

In a small pot add about 1/8 to 1/4

For the sea scallops, you want to rinse and pat dry.  You will need a heavy skillet, heat on medium/high and place about 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and heat till the butter and oil have blended.  Once you start to see the butter is trying to turn caramel color add your scallops one one side and let cook for about 3 to 4 minutes and then turn over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.  Place the scallops on a piece of paper towel and grab your spinach.

Using the same skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet without removing what you left behind from the scallops.  Once the butter and oil have blended, toss in the drained spinach and cover.  cook for about 2 minutes and then squeeze 1/2 of a lemon and drizzle about 1/4 cup of the white wine, toss and cover again.  At this time you want to add the mushrooms to the top of the mixture, approximately 5 to 6 sliced medium mushrooms.  Cook for about 5 minutes then add the barley pearls that have been drained and toss in and cook till warmed.

Lemon butter in my opinion is easy, you just melt a sick of butter and add the juice of half a lemon to it.  Others make this elaborate thick sauce but for me, this dish is all about simplicity and elegance.

Grab a plate, toss the pasta with some of the warmed lemon butter and place in the center of the plate.  Place some of the spinach on top of the pasta, a couple of the scallops you have been keeping warm.  You can drizzle some of the lemon butter over each of the scallops and the spinach if you would like to add a bit of pizazz to them, then with the remaining half of lemon you want to cut little wedges and garnish the dish with them and serve.

Enjoy!

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I Want My Baby Back, Baby Back, Baby Back……Baby Back Ribs!

Ok, so not everyone likes pork right?  I do not see why, it’s the other white meat, right?  We get tasty things from the pig like BACON, so why not enjoy some tasty BBQ Baby Back Ribs? Well this is for those that LOVE to have some sort of pork, particularly BABY BACK RIBS!!!

Mental note, do not let pork sit in your fridge more then 2 days when in plastic wrap, 1 day if just in butcher wrap!

Rub the ribs with your favorite seasons, whether it is a BBQ rub from the butchers, a seasoning blend you have used all the time, or just some seasoning salt.  Hell if you have perfected your own seasoning use it!  Preheat your oven to 350 to 400 degrees, the temp varies from oven to oven and since mine is electric with a not so trustworthy heating element I set mine to 400.  Wrap those delicate slabs in some heavy weight foil, sealing them in tight!  Place the foil packages of goodness onto a baking sheet and slide them in to your oven on the top rack.  Set your timer for 2 hours and leave them cook.

After the 2 hours has gone by, open one of the packages and take a temp reading.  You should be close to about 200 degrees or so and that is fine.  Rib meat is naturally fatty and juicy so it is not going to dry out if the temp gets way over the limit most cook books set.  What you want to do now is start to check for meat shrinkage.  If you do not see the bones on either side, seal the foil back up and set your timer for 30 minutes.  It may take anywhere between 3 to 4 hours total to cook them till they are fall off the bone tender.

Once you have notices that the meat has started to pull away from the ends of the bones and you see them start to pull apart, you want to open the foil packets all the way and grab a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce and slather it on thick.  Turn your oven up to broil.  Remove the racks of ribs from the oven, brush on a light coating of the sauce and then place the ribs into the broiler for about 2 minutes.  Pull the ribs out and give them another basting and slip them back into the broiler for another 3 to 5 minutes.   Once the 5 minutes has gone, pull the ribs from the broiler and set aside to cool just a bit.

You can serve these with some sort of rice dish like rice-a-roni, maybe some mac and cheese, or if you stopped off at the grocer you can pick up some old fashion potato and macaroni salad.  The sides really depend on your taste and desires.  I happen to like old fashion coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, some BBQ sauce and a roll of paper towels.  Do not forget the paper towels or you will end up with a sticky mess 🙂

Enjoy!

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A Tisket, A Tasket, There’s a Leg of Lamb In My Easter Basket!!

Easter is right around the corner and you know what that means? LAMB!!!

Ham was always my favorite meat for Easter until one year my dad would make it for dinner every Sunday when his best friend John would come over.  After awhile John piped up and said “Ever notice we always have ham and green beans for dinner?”

At Easter we would have 2 types of meat served, ham and lamb, since we would usually have a house full of people over for dinner that had no family to visit. Lamb became my favorite dish for Easter Dinner because that was the only time of year we could get it in the store growing up.  Now you cannot pass even a local butcher without seeing lamb chops for sale!

My parents came down last weekend for my sisters closing on her new home so they brought me down some goodies.  I was just expecting the farm fresh eggs my mom gets from her free range hens and some of the soup bases, but instead I got 2 grocery bags of meat and not a lot of room in my tiny freezer.  I managed to stuff a leg of lamb, 8 lamb chops, 2 lamb shanks, 2 t-bone steaks, and a beef roast into my freezer and thanked the parents for the home grown goodies!  Yes, my parents raise their own beef and lamb.  I so love my parents!

With Easter around the corner, I thought that maybe I would cook the leg of lamb for dinner at some point during the week.  This is a dish you can have anytime of the year!

My Easter menu consisted of the following dishes (and lots of leftover goodies):

Fresh spring mixed salad with homemade goat cheese dressing
Bruschetta
Shrimp cocktail
Fresh roasted garlic bread
Roasted garlic and chive mashed potatoes
Creamed spinach
Herb stuffed boneless leg of lamb
Roasted fresh veggies
Store bought Lemon Lamb Cake!

First let’s start with the bruschetta:
Two roma tomatoes, or whatever you can find on sale that are ripe
1/4 of a red onion (maybe less depending on how big the onion is)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 of a whole lemon)
Fresh basil
Fresh mozzarella cheese
French bread

Dice your tomatoes and onion to your desired size, I happen to have diced mine small. Take your tomatoes and onions and place them in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, juice from 1/2 of a lemon, and mix.  While you let the mix marry, slice crosswise and on the diagonal the French bread to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.  Brush the slices with some olive oil and toast in a toaster oven for about 7 to 10 minutes or until they are golden brown.  take your fresh mozzarella and slice as you did the bread but make them about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Depending on how many you want to serve, take anywhere from 6 to 12 basil leaves, stack them up, roll them and then slice on the diagonal.

Now to putting these bad boys together!  Make this the last dish you plate and serve because the bread will turn soggy if let it sit too long.  Place the bread on a serving platter and stack on the cheese, some of the tomato and onion mixture on the cheese, sprinkle the basil over liberally and serve.

Reserve some of the tomato and onion mixture for the salad.

For the salad you will need the following:
1 bag of fresh mixed baby springs
Fresh goat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic, peeled and pressed
Sea salt
Balsamic vinegar
Tomato and onion mixture
Some of the toasted bread left over from the bruschetta cut into crouton size or smaller

For the dressing we shall use some of the 2 ounces of the goat cheese, 2 teaspoons of the balsamic vinegar, one pressed garlic clove, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Whisk ingredients together and place in a squeeze bottle.

Plate the baby spring mix, sprinkle some of the tomato and onion mixture on the greens, crumble some fresh goat cheese over the mix, sprinkle on some fresh croutons, drizzle on some of the dressing and serve.

For the Shrimp cocktail it is really easy:
8 to 10 pieces of large to jumbo shrimp (less of the shrimp if they are bigger in size)
Your favorite cocktail sauce
One jar of horseradish
Old Bay Seasoning

You want to make this a couple of hours or the day before so it has enough time to chill.  Bring a pot of water to boil, add in 1 to 2 tablespoons of the old bay seasoning depending on how spicy you want the shrimp.  Peel the shells off the shrimp, rinse, drain and then add to the boiling seasoned water.  Bring back to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until you start to notice the flesh has turned white and the gray strips have turned pink/orange.  Drain the shrimp, place into a tightly sealed container and place in the fridge to chill.  Once the shrimp have been cooled, take your favorite cocktail sauce and place in a serving bowl, add just a touch of the horseradish in the center, hang between 4 and 6 shrimp off the edge of the dish and serve.

For the roasted garlic you will need:
1 large head of garlic
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of fresh cracked pepper
Pinch of dried thyme
Extra virgin olive oil

Cut the top off of the head of garlic and drizzle a little olive oil.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, black pepper and thyme, wrap in a piece of foil loosely or place in a clay vessel made for roasting garlic.  Place into a cold oven and turn the heat to 400 and let roast for about 30 to 40 minutes.  After about 30 or 40 minutes, uncover and let cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until you see the garlic has started to turn a caramel color on the top and edges.  Remove the bulb from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes.  Once cooled you can literally squeeze the cloves out into a bowl and smash them into a fine paste.  Set aside 1/2 of the mixture for garlic bread and the other half for the mashed potatoes.

For the roasted garlic bread you will need
1/4 to 1/2 loaf of French bread
2 tablespoons of butter
Half of the head of garlic you roasted

Mash the roasted garlic into a small pot, add the butter and place on a medium heat.  Once the butter starts to bubble, remove from the heat.  Remove the garlic from the pot, spread on the bread and then drizzle the butter over it.  Place the bread into a 375 degree oven and bake until the edges are nice and golden and the garlic has started to turn a bit golden brown.  Slice and serve.

For the Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed potatoes you will need:
4-6 medium to large size Yukon gold potatoes cleaned and diced (depends on how many guests)
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
about 7 to 9 chives minced
3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup of reserved water from boiling potatoes or chicken stock.  Vegetarians can use vegetable stock.

Place your potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover, about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil.  Once the potatoes are fork tender remove from the heat and drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of water unless you are using chicken or vegetable stock.  Place the pot back on the heat for about 30 seconds to cook off the moisture from the potatoes.  Turn off the heat and add the 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup of cream, pinch of salt and the 1/8 of a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper.  Mash together and add the water or stock a little at a time till the potatoes are to your desired thickness.  Taste, season if needed and serve.

For the creamed spinach you will need:
1 package of frozen chopped spinach, thaw and squeeze out as much water as possible.
2 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/2 Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons of fresh or store bought breadcrumbs
Pinch of sea salt
pinch of fresh ground black pepper

In a sauté pan melt the butter and add the spinach.  Once the spinach starts to heat ass the salt and pepper, stir in the cream, the lemon zest and 1/2 of the cheese.  Once the cheese has melted into the mixture transfer to a small baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs on top.  Place into the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the breadcrumbs and cheese start to turn golden brown.  Let set for 3 minutes then serve.

For the leg of lamb we shall start with the veggies needed:
1lb bag of carrots, peeled and sliced into wedged about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length
2 medium onions diced
2 small to medium zucchinis halved and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
Extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches of sea salt
2 pinches of fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon of oregano crushed
1/4 teaspoon of rosemary crushed

Mix all of the ingredients together and place in the bottom of your roasting pan and place your roasting rack on top of the veggies so when the lamb cooks over then they absorb all that yummy flavor that drips from the lamb.

Herb stuffed leg of lamb:
One boneless leg of lamb
Rosemary
Fresh garlic pressed
Thyme
Mint
Oregano
Parsley flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Kitchen twine

Butterfly the leg of lamb so that it is even in thickness and place into a zip lock bag.  Place about 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil into the bag along with 1 teaspoon of oregano and rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of mint, and 3 cloves of garlic pressed.  Close the bag and then blend well by moving the lamb around in the bag with your hands.  Place the lamb in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours.  I always make mine a day in advance so the herbs marry well into the meat.

When you are ready to cook the meat, remove the baggie from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.  While it is coming to room temp, blend in a bowl some about 1/2 teaspoons of oregano and rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon of the mint and thyme, 1 teaspoon of the parsley flakes, 3 cloves of pressed garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper and 2 table spoons of the olive oil.  Once it is at room temp, remove the lamb from the baggie and place on your cutting board on the back side, smear on the herb mixture you created and begin rolling the meat.  You want to roll the smallest side inwards so you have a nice even roll when it is completed.  Once you have your roast rolled up, grab the kitchen twine.  This is a good time to get the boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife involved if you need more hands.  Tie the roast up and let it rest for about 2 to 5 minutes to let herb stuffing marry in the center of the meat.  Place the roast over the vegetables you prepared, cover with foil and place into an oven preheated to about 350 to 375 degrees.  After about an hour you want to check the center temp.  We are looking for about 130 to 140 degrees for medium rare.  Do not worry about the temp being too low, when you take the roast out to rest for 15 minutes it should raise the internal temp to about 140 to 150 degrees.  If the temp is not quite there check it again in about 15 minutes.  For a roast that is about 5 lbs should take approximately 1 1/2-2 hours depending on your oven.  Once you have achieved the desired temp, remove the roast from the oven and let rest away from the heat for about 15 minutes.  During this time you can mash your potatoes, prep your salad bowls and get your garlic bread in the oven.  once the lamb roast has rested, remove the kitchen twine and slice to the desired thickness and serve.

Sure, I could have made a dessert with this menu, but after all this cooking does one really want to still be in the kitchen slaving over the stove again making a cake? NO! Go buy one of those cute looking Lamb cakes, slice yourself a piece, grab a glass of your favorite wine, you favorite comfy chair and relax!

I know this was not written in any fashion for staging or timing.  You will want roast your garlic first, put the roast in the oven, prep your salad and your bruschetta, cut your potatoes and chives, and end with toasting your garlic bread in the oven.  I did a lot of prep work while I was waiting on my lamb to come to room temp as well as during the cooking time.  I certainly hope you find this meal as tasty as I do.

Enjoy!

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