(Family Features) This Easter holiday, hop into a new tradition and swap your classic ham for savory lamb.
Cooking lamb can be easier than many might think, especially when using a pressure cooker. You can combine aromatic herbs with white wine for a juicy leg of lamb in under an hour. Or try baking a rack of lamb crusted with a quinoa-hazelnut combination and topped with a mint pesto.
For a perfect, set-and-forget side, try slow cooker carrots, sprinkled with dill weed and lemon extract for a delightful spring dish. End the meal with festive cupcakes modeled after the Easter bunny, which can satisfy the sweet tooth of guests of all ages.
Bunny Butt Cupcakes
Recipe courtesy of Amanda Rettke of “I am baker”
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 2-layer size white cake mix
- 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons, McCormick Pure Lemon Extract, divided
- 1 tablespoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 16 ounces confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 10 drops McCormick Green Food Color
- 1-2 drops McCormick Red Food Color
- 12 large marshmallows, halved crosswise
- 3 tablespoons white nonpareil sprinkles
- Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding 1 tablespoon lemon extract and vanilla. Spoon 3 tablespoons batter into 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake as directed on package for cupcakes. Cool cupcakes on wire rack.
- To make bunny feet: In medium, microwave-safe bowl, microwave white chocolate chips on high 30 seconds. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Spoon into pastry bag or re-sealable plastic bag. Snip small corner from bag. Pipe 24 pairs of bunny feet onto parchment or wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Use toothpick to smooth out bumps or rough edges, and gently tap cookie sheet on counter to help settle. Allow to harden 2 minutes in freezer or 15 minutes in refrigerator.
- To make frosting: In large bowl, beat butter and remaining lemon extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Add milk; beat until light and fluffy. Remove half the frosting and place in medium bowl. Add green food color; mix until evenly blended. Spoon into pastry bag fitted with grass decorating tip. Set aside. Remove half the remaining frosting into small bowl. Add red food color; mix until light pink. Spoon into another pastry bag.
- Using pink frosting, pipe three toes and padding on each bunny foot. Once frosting has set (about 1 hour) gently press down on pink frosting to create smoother look.
- To assemble cupcakes: Pipe green frosting onto each cupcake in series of short motions to create individual grass spots. Cover top of each cupcake completely.
- To make bunny butts: Place cut sides of marshmallow halves onto each frosted cupcake, leaving room for bunny feet. Shape remaining white frosting into dime-sized balls then roll with white sprinkles to cover. Pipe small drop of remaining pink or white frosting onto top of each marshmallow. Press bunny tail on top.
- Place both bunny feet against base of marshmallow with toes facing down.
Lemon Dill Slow Cooker Carrots
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-1-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Dill Weed
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Lemon Extract
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- teaspoon white wine vinegar
- Spray inside of 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add carrots, water and salt; toss to coat. Cover.
- Cook on high 3-4 hours, or until tender.
- In small bowl, mix olive oil, dill weed, lemon extract, Dijon mustard and vinegar. Stir into cooked carrots in slow cooker before serving.
Rack of Lamb with Quinoa-Hazelnut Crust and Mint Pesto
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 2 tablespoons red quinoa
- 2 tablespoons white quinoa
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, finely chopped toasted hazelnuts, divided
- 2 racks of lamb, about 1 pound each
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/8 teaspoons McCormick Gourmet Sicilian Sea Salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Organic Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons McCormick Gourmet Organic Mint
- 1/8 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Organic Garlic Powder
- cup plain Greek yogurt
- Rinse quinoa; drain well. In small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring quinoa and water to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 13 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Spread cooked quinoa on baking sheet to cool. Stir in 1/4 cup hazelnuts. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 450° F. Brush racks of lamb lightly with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sea salt and pepper. Coat lamb with quinoa mixture, pressing firmly to adhere. Place lamb on roasting rack in foil-lined, shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil.
- Roast 20-25 minutes, or until desired doneness.
- To make Mint Pesto: In small bowl, mix remaining oil, remaining hazelnuts, lemon juice, mint, garlic powder and remaining sea salt until well blended. Stir 1 teaspoon pesto into yogurt.
- To serve: Carve lamb into chops. Drizzle with remaining pesto. Serve with yogurt sauce.
Electric Pressure Cooker Lamb
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 48 minutes
- 1 tablespoon McCormick Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon McCormick crushed Rosemary Leaves
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Sea Salt
- 1 teaspoon McCormick Thyme Leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground McCormick Black Pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 semi-boneless leg of lamb (about 4 pounds)
- 1 cup Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into wedges
- 1/4 cup water
- tablespoons cornstarch
- In small bowl, mix garlic powder, rosemary, sea salt, thyme and black pepper. Set aside.
- In electric pressure cooker, heat oil on saute setting until simmering. Sprinkle half the seasoning mixture evenly over lamb. Place lamb in pressure cooker. Cook 8-10 minutes, or until browned on all sides, turning occasionally. Add stock, wine and remaining seasoning mixture to pressure cooker. Arrange carrots and onion around lamb. Close lid.
- Cook 25 minutes on high pressure. Once complete, allow pressure to release naturally with vent closed 15 minutes. Vent to release remaining pressure; remove lid. Remove lamb and vegetables from pressure cooker; set aside and keep warm.
- Set pressure cooker to saute. Cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by about half, about 5-10 minutes. In small bowl, mix water and cornstarch. Stir into pressure cooker with wire whisk. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1-2 minutes, or until thickened. Serve lamb and vegetables with gravy.
(Family Features) Fall is the perfect time to welcome warm, robust flavors to your kitchen as well as your wine glass. With its bold, spicy, dark fruit flavors, cabernet sauvignon is a perfect wine for crisp fall weather.
Cabernet sauvignon is more versatile for pairing than some believe. It pairs well with different cheeses, meats, hearty vegetables and even fish. The key to creating a great dining experience is balancing the flavor of the meal with an elegantly balanced wine. When cooking, consider the three main flavors: sweet, salty and sour.
Sweet sauces can make cabernet sauvignon taste harsh and astringent, which takes away from the fresh fruit flavors in the wine. However, sour and salty flavors can make the wine taste more vibrant, creating a velvety mouthfeel of soft tannins while making the fruit taste more pronounced.
A well-balanced cabernet, such as Sequoia Grove Winery’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, pairs well with any meat or fish that is prepared with an acidic sauce or when given a squeeze of lemon juice. The winery, located in the heart of the Rutherford region in Napa Valley, specializes in the production of elegant, food-friendly cabernet sauvignon. Crafted by winemaker Molly Hill, the wine has aromatics of bright black cherries and blackberry, followed by cinnamon with a touch of black pepper. The palate is elegant with a round, full body, soft tannins and tasty blackberry flavors.
This recipe for a savory lamb shank stew has just the right amount of salt, acid and spice to create a deliciously balanced meal that is perfect to pair with an elegant glass of cabernet sauvignon. Learn more about Sequoia Grove’s wines and tasting seminars that include pairing suggestions at SequoiaGrove.com.
Slow Cooker Lamb Shank Stew
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 lamb shanks, external fat trimmed
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- lemon juice
- In slow cooker, combine onion, celery, carrots, garlic, chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf; stir.
- Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. In large saute pan over medium-high heat, warm olive oil until nearly smoking. Add shanks and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker and cook on high 6 hours.
- Transfer lamb shanks to large serving dish. Remove bay leaf from cooking liquid. Using blender or stick blender, add generous squeeze of lemon juice to cooking liquid and puree until smooth. Pour some sauce over shanks. Serve with cauliflower puree and glass of Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Source: Kobrand Wine and Spirits
(Family Features) From Easter to Passover to the Kentucky Derby and beyond, there is a lamb dish for nearly every spring occasion.
While many traditions rely on lamb as a centerpiece, it doesn’t have to be prepared like grandma’s overcooked, tough and often tasteless roast. Today’s home cooks are forgoing the jar of mint jelly and using fresh mint in pesto and salsas, while serving their lamb medium-rare to preserve its tender juiciness.
If a rack of lamb is your preferred cut for spring celebrations, the American Lamb Board offers six simple steps for the perfect entree. For those who opt for roasting a boneless leg of lamb that is tender and full of flavor, try using these step-by-step instructions for a succulent lamb roast. For a real showstopper, turn off the oven, fire up the grill, butterfly a leg of lamb, season well and grill to desired doneness.
Toss grandma’s jar of mint jelly and brighten up your feasts with fresh condiments like this Mint-Pistachio Pesto or a Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Sea Salt. For more tips and spring celebration-worthy recipes, visit americanlamb.com/spring/.
Recipe courtesy of the American Lamb Board
- 1 cup shelled, toasted, unsalted pistachios
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- pinch of red chili flakes
- In food processor, pulse all ingredients until mixed but still somewhat chunky.
Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Sea Salt
Recipe courtesy of the American Lamb Board
- 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 1/2-3 pounds boneless leg of American lamb, trimmed and butterflied
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons
- In food processor, grind salt and rosemary leaves together until mixture is texture of coarse sand.
- Season lamb generously with rosemary salt, working it into all crevasses; it should take about 2 tablespoons. Set lamb aside at room temperature at least 30 minutes before grilling, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.
- Heat charcoal or gas grill. Pat lamb dry, if needed, and rub lightly with olive oil to coat.
- Grease grill grates with oil and place lamb on hottest part of grill. Cook with grill covered, turning once, until brown and crusty.
- Move lamb to cooler part of grill and continue cooking until instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 130° F for medium-rare, 15-25 minutes total. Transfer lamb to platter, cover with foil and let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting into thick slices against the grain.
- Halve lemons and brush cut sides lightly with oil. Place cut-side down on grill until deeply charred, 2-3 minutes.
- Arrange lamb slices on large platter or directly over salad. Serve with charred lemon halves for squeezing and additional rosemary salt.
Source: American Lamb Board
(Family Features) Little ones (and big ones too) will have fun making these adorable Easter Lamb Carrot Cupcakes. Easter is a special time for bringing families together. Make memories happen in the kitchen when you get hands on with these sweet cupcakes made with Dixie Crystals Sugar. Marshmallow lambs sitting atop moist carrot cupcakes on a bed of green coconut grass are a sure way to sweeten any family gathering.
For more recipes to add fun and flavor to your Easter festivities, visit www.dixiecrystals.com.
Easter Lamb Carrot Cupcakes
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups finely shredded carrots
- 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
- 1 stick or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
- 4 cups Dixie Crystals Confectioners Powdered Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup Dixie Crystals Confectioners Powdered Sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons dried egg whites
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup sweetened coconut
- Green food coloring
- Black food coloring
- 1 bag regular size marshmallows
- 1 bag miniature marshmallows
- 24-36 pink jelly beans
- 24 black jelly beans
- 12-16 hard candy caramels
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Place 16 cupcake liners in cupcake or muffin tin and set aside.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger and set aside.
- In large bowl, whisk together eggs and vegetable oil until well blended. Add sugar, salt and vanilla; mix well.
- Add carrots, pineapple and nuts and combine well. Stir in flour mixture.
- Scoop into paper cups about 2/3 full. (May make more depending on size.)
- Bake until center of cupcakes bounce back when lightly pressed or inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.
- For frosting, mix cream cheese and soft butter on low speed until blended. Add one cup powdered sugar and mix on low speed. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar and mix on low to medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well. Set aside covered in refrigerator.
- Place coconut in bowl and add drop of green food color, mix by gloved hand until color is well distributed. (Add touch of yellow if color is too harsh.)
- Fill piping bag or food storage bag fitted with medium round decorating tip with cream cheese frosting.
- Prepare 2 small paper piping bags; set aside to prepare icing.
- To make royal icing, sift together powdered sugar with dried egg whites and place in bowl. Add water and lemon juice and whip several minutes to stiff mixture. Thin mixture with water if necessary.
- Place 3 – 4 tablespoons of royal icing in a small bowl and tint with black food coloring.
- Fill 2 small piping bags; one with white and the other with black royal icing. Set aside.
- Using cream cheese frosting pipe generous circle of frosting onto cupcake.
- Cut large marshmallow crosswise in half. Lay one and a half large marshmallows horizontally onto cupcake. Pipe thin layer of cream cheese frosting onto marshmallows.
- Starting at bottom surround large marshmallows with miniature marshmallows. Pipe a little cream cheese frosting onto first layer of mini marshmallow and stack another layer of mini marshmallows. Continue until completely covered.
- Press green coconut onto edges of cupcake.
- Position cupcake so circle side of large marshmallow faces you.
- For head, place hard caramel onto top edge of large marshmallow and ensure it is resting onto miniature marshmallows. (Remove some marshmallows to fit if necessary.)
- For ears, cut pink jelly bean lengthwise in half. Pinch beans to make pointy. Place next to head and use a little cream cheese frosting to make them stick.
- Cut black jelly beans in fours to create feet. Cut black jelly bean lengthwise to create tail. Attach with cream cheese frosting.
- Using white royal icing pipe eyes, followed by black. Pipe with black royal icing for nostrils.
Notes: When measuring flour, avoid firmly packing measuring cup. Mixing frosting on high will make it runny and too soft.
Source: Dixie Crystals Sugar
(Family Features) Romeo and Juliet. Antony and Cleopatra. Lamb and Potatoes (or Mint or Feta). The list of American lamb’s great loves goes on and on. This luscious protein entices any side or ingredient it touches.
A truly versatile meat in terms of texture and flavor, American lamb is an excellent choice for the cook who wants to spice things up, both literally and figuratively.
From a classic Rack of Lamb and rich Lamb Shank Osso Buco to Grilled Lamb and Feta Burgers, there are many reasons (and ways) to enjoy lamb. Take lamb’s versatility to the next level by pairing it with longtime loves like potatoes and pomegranates, but with little twists to give it a fresh taste.
As a delicious and nutrient-rich food, American lamb is a natural choice. There is a cut, loin or chop to tempt taste buds and spark culinary excitement for a romantic dinner for two or simply a gathering with friends. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out these six enticing couplings of American lamb and other favorite foods. For more tantalizing recipes, visit AmericanLamb.com.
1. Lamb and Pomegranates
Some say pomegranate seeds are the rubies of the orchard, so it’s only fitting that lamb is often adorned by one of nature’s precious gems. Think of pomegranate as the yin to the lamb’s yang. Its tart, clean flavor balances the richness of luxurious lamb dishes such as this Braised Lamb Shank with Pomegranates and Fennel.
2. Lamb and Rosemary
Lamb and mint have been bedfellows for centuries. However, there’s another herb that matches up well with lamb – rosemary. The fragrant woody aroma of rosemary infused into a grilled leg of lamb alongside charred lemons is what dreams (and dinners) are made of.
3. Lamb and Potatoes
A classic Irish love story with an American twist. The humble potato is drawn to the ever-mysterious cut of lamb, and the rest is history. Think American Lamb Chops and Fingerling Potatoes or Irish Stew. You’ll never go wrong with Shepherd’s Pie, and this one gets an added kick from horseradish.
4. Lamb and Pasta
Ground lamb is experiencing a renaissance in American cuisine. It’s one of those chameleon foods that can transform itself from a juicy burger to a flavorful ragu, and pasta is its ideal companion. Create your own “Lady and the Tramp” crossed with “Casablanca” moment with this Northern African-inspired riff on spaghetti and meatballs featuring Merguez Sausage prepared with American lamb.
5. Lamb and Garam Masala
There are some pairings that can create some serious heat in the kitchen. Take garam masala for example. “Garam” means hot or heating and “masala” means spice blend. Rub this popular blend, which often contains black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, fennel and more, onto a rack of lamb ribs before it hits the oven. Slather individual chops in a velvety bath like this Indian Coconut Feenugreek Sauce.
6. Lamb and Red Wine
Red wine pairs with lamb in many ways. Loin chops, roast or ribs, there isn’t a cut of lamb that doesn’t pair well with red wine. As an ingredient, red wine provides acidity to perfectly complement the lamb. The hardest part of this recipe is opening the bottle of wine.
Source: American Lamb Board
Choose from Tex-Mex, Swedish, Chinese, or Middle Eastern flavors
Basic Meatball Mixture
- 1 1/2 pounds ground meat or poultry, or any combination (ground beef, veal, pork, lamb, chicken or turkey)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking sheet with non-stick spray or olive oil, or line pan with non-stick aluminum foil.
- In a mixing bowl, combine ground meat, onion, bread crumbs, milk, parsley, salt and pepper.
- Add the seasoning for the flavor of meatball you want.
- Form 48 meatballs from mixture and place on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake 15 minutes, or until meatballs reach 160°F (165°F if using ground poultry).
- If not serving immediately, keep warm in a 200°F oven or cool and refrigerate in shallow containers.
- Accompany the meatballs with dipping sauce listed for meatball variety.
- Tex-Mex Meatballs - Ground beef stands up to hearty flavors. Seasoning for meatball mixture: 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Dipping sauce: purchased chunky salsa or green tomatillo salsa.
- Swedish Meatballs - Ground turkey or chicken gives a delicate flavor. Seasoning for meatball mixture: 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Dipping sauce: 1 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup milk, 2 tablespoons (half of a 1-ounce packet) dry onion soup mix, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon dried dill weed. Mix together at least an hour before serving.
- Chinese Meatballs - Get best flavor by using some ground pork. Seasoning for meatball mixture: 1/4 cup chopped almonds, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic, 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon ground ginger. Dipping sauce: purchased (10-ounce) jar sweet and sour sauce.
- Middle-Eastern Meatballs - Get best flavor by using ground lamb. Seasoning for meatball mixture: 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle formed meatballs with 2 tablespoons sesame seeds; press into meat. Dipping sauce: 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sugar.