Lamb Souvlaki and Tzatziki

Went back to my roots today (a quarter of my roots) and made a Greek feast with the help of my friend and super chef Jordan. Mediterranean food is one of my favorite cuisines and I was really in the mood for something fresh and flavorful. Honestly, I was really in the mood for tzatziki. I have grown up having my grandmother’s tzatziki sauce on everything, specifically meats and vegetables. For those of you that are unfamiliar with tzatziki, it is a Greek sauce or dip that is Greek yogurt and cucumber based. My grandmother always added a little bit of dill to her’s but if you don’t have the dill, don’t worry. One of the most important things to remember when making the sauce is that the cucumber shavings must be drained before adding them to the Greek yogurt. After I grate the cucumber I transfer the shavings onto a paper town and squeeze out the liquid before putting it with the Greek yogurt. This makes the dip much more thick and creamy.

Souvlaki can really be any meat but my friend and I decided to treat ourselves and we bought lamb. You can use chicken, steak, or bison, but if you want the real Greek experience, go for the lamb :) It’s a little more expensive, but totally worth it. We prepared the lamb on a stove instead of on a grill or spit (we’re not in Greece). With a little bit of olive oil and onions, we browned the lamb and stuffed the meat into pita pockets with tomatoes and topped it off with tzatziki. 

Super chef Jordan made an appetizer for us while I started the tzatziki. He sliced heirloom tomatoes and drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. I have never thought of doing this before but it really is the easiest appetizer to make. 

Lamb Souvlaki 

  • 2 lbs. of ground lamb
  • Olive oil 
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 cup of baby heirloom tomatoes
  • 4 pita pockets

In a medium frying pan, heat up olive oil with chopped garlic and onion. Once the onion is translucent, add the ground lamb and cook meat until browned. Feel free to season your lamb however you like. 

Once the lamb is browned and cooked thoroughly, carefully transfer to a paper towel to drain the fat and extra juices. 

Fill the pita pockets with grilled onion, chopped up baby heirloom tomatoes, and the lamb. Top off with tzatziki (recipe below). 

Tzatziki

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 16 oz. container of 0% nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Dill (optional)

On a paper towel, peel and grate the cucumber. Drain the water from the cucumber by squeezing the paper towel over the sink. *This is SUPER important to make good tzatziki. Draining the water is essential for the sauce not to be watery*

In a medium bowl, add the entire container of yogurt, shaved cucumber and chopped garlic. Add salt and lemon juice to taste. If you have dill on hand, add that in as well, but that is completely optional. Just makes it more authentic :) 

Dollop the tzatziki into the pita pockets and maybe even a little extra on the side :) 

Opa!

Sweet Potato Chips

I scream, you scream, we all scream for…sweet potatoes? No, but really. I really do go crazy for sweet potatoes, and if you’re like me and love sweet potatoes you’re going to love this recipe :) I found this recipe on Pinterest (guilty) and wanted to try it out. I really wanted to try making my own sweet potato fries but I thought this would be a safer bet. Make sure you slice the sweet potatoes really thin. The trick is finding the right knife. Being a college student with limited supplies I had to use a regular kitchen knife. Had I had a sharper and thinner knife I think that these would have come out a little better. The thinner the potato slices, the better. Have you ever had a thick potato chip? Didn’t think so. So make sure you slice thin, or you’ll be eating sweet potato baked slices like we did the first batch. Adding herbs is essential for full flavor, but don’t be limited to just thyme. You could use rosemary or sage as well. Good luck!

Sweet Potato Chips (adapted from Cooking Mélangery

  • 1 medium or large sweet potato (you’ll need a second baking sheet if you get a larger one)
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Thyme 

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Scrub the sweet potato to get the dirt off. Once the sweet potato is dried, cut thin slices on a cutting board.

Mix together the olive oil, orange juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. 

You can do this next step with two options: if you have a cooking brush, you can dip the brush into the olive oil mixture and then brush the sweet potato slices, or you can do what I did and take each slice with a fork and coat each side. 

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the slices on the sheet. 

Sprinkle a generous amount of thyme on top of the slices.

Bake for 25 minutes until crispy :)

Gluten-Free Quinoa Macaroni and Cheese

With finals week just around the corner and group projects and papers pilling up before me, I was in serious need of some comfort food last week. For some people, comfort food is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an oozing grilled cheese sandwich or a generous heaping of mashed potatoes. Mine is macaroni and cheese. I’m not talking about the traditional Kraft blue box, I’m talking homemade, hot, ooey gooey macaroni and cheese. This was my first attempt at making homemade macaroni and cheese on my own and instead of using traditional elbow macaroni I used a quinoa based pasta. 

For those of you that are unfamiliar with quinoa, it is a gluten-free grain that has the consistency of rice or couscous. The quinoa based pasta I purchased is actually made with corn and cooked really quickly. I used a Monterey jack and cheddar cheese blend but you can use any cheese you like. This recipe is “college” approved and easy to make. Instead of using a saucepan to make the cheese sauce I’ve broken down the steps so you can use your microwave. Enjoy a taste of home :) 

Gluten-Free Quinoa Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 package (2 cups) of Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 cups Monterey jack and cheddar cheese blend

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Boil a pot of water and add a pinch of salt to the water. Cook the pasta for 10 minutes until al dente or done. Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside. 

In a small bowl add the milk and cheese. Microwave in one minute increments until melted and blended. Pour the pasta into a 9 x 9 baking dish and add the cheese mixture on top. 

Bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cool and serve. Top with more cheese, if you wish :)