Summer Greek Pitas w/ Lamb Meatballs & Marinated Vegetables

Yesterday was the first day of fall which means it’s officially time to share my final summer recipe!

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while. It’s freakin’ good, don’t get me wrong, but every time I’ve sat down to write lately I’ve just ended up watching an episode of Jane the Virgin. Call it writers block? Or maybe I’m just burnt out from writing essay after essay of how I’d be a good candidate for vet school.

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Anyway, this summer I craved mediterranean food a lot. I found myself stopping by my local CAVA pretty often for lunch breaks. If you don’t know, CAVA is basically the mediterranean sweetgreen/chipotle. They do a pretty bang up job and their spicy lamb meatballs are totally worth the $1.50 extra. But after I noticed my tenth CAVA charge on my card this summer, I figured it was time to figure out how to recreate my order at home.

And then I saw this recipe on Bon Appétit. Those guys always save the day!

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So here’s the breakdown of this dish: You take a warm flatbread, spread some herby tzatziki on top, add fresh marinated vegetables, and top with lamb meatballs. It’s a great lunch and even better option for an al fresco dinner. You know, for those of us who are still getting summer weather.

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Summer Greek Pitas w/ Lamb Meatballs & Marinated Vegetables

for the lamb meatballs

ingredients: 

1 large egg
½ cup panko crumbs
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb. ground lamb

 

directions:

preheat the oven to 425.

combine the egg, panko crumbs, cumin, red pepper flakes, turmeric, parsley, olive oil, salt, and garlic into a large bowl. add the lamb and mix everything together.

gently roll the lamb mixture into small balls. then place them on a rimmed baking sheet. bake the meatballs for 9 minutes.

for the tzatziki sauce

ingredients:

3 persian cucumbers, sliced and quartered
2 pinches of salt
1 cup of plain greek yogurt
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
1/4 cup chopped mint

 

directions:

toss cucumber slices with salt and let rest in a bowl for ~5 minutes. drain the excess liquid.

mix cucumbers, yogurt, oil, lemon juice, and garlic in a fresh bowl. let this mixture sit at room temp for 15 minutes, then discard the crushed garlic piece. stir in mint.

for the vegetables

ingredients:

2 persian cucumbers, sliced
1 large cucumber, sliced and quartered
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4th red onion, thinly sliced
handful of chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped dill

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard

directions:

combine cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and herbs in a bowl.

in a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and dijon mustard together. pour the dressing on top of the vegetables and toss to combine. let this sit for about 30 minutes.

to assemble, toast the flatbread. spread a heaping spoonful of tzatziki sauce on the bread. add the vegetables, then a few meatballs. enjoy immediately!

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Lemon Buttercream Macarons

Happy Tuesday, friends!

I’m writing this from my beautiful balcony, enjoying the sunshine and a persistent summer breeze. It’s 10 a.m on my day off, I have a homemade almond milk latte in hand and a whole day of fun ahead of me. This is bliss, y’all!

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For the longest time I told myself I liked the season of summer the least. I considered it kind of boring and pretty overrated. I mean it was the best as a kid (no school! endless slumber parties! pool days!), but as an adult it just felt sort of blah. Maybe it was because when you live in L.A every season feels like a minor variation of summer. It lost it’s allure. Or maybe I just hadn’t figured out how to summer as a grown-up. Y’all. That has changed.

I have been loooving this season again. Going on runs in the warm sun, laying out by the pool with several good books, grilling almost every day, gardening, scheduling slumber parties and lake house trips and baseball games and concerts at every opportunity. And of course, getting inspired by all the bright summer-y flavors!

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Yaaas, people. Give me all the citrus. I started off the fun with lemon buttercream macarons, the world’s most notoriously finicky cookie, and this was my first batch in two years (linking to that post so we can all laugh at my photo quality and post organization back then…oy). I know what you’re thinking. Does that mean I’m a wizard? Yes. Yes it does.

As far as I can tell, these are the perfect little treat for so many reasons. They’re decadent and light at the same time, so you won’t feel super guilty about enjoying a few. They’re sweet but also tart. They’re fun to bring into work and share with colleagues. They’ll wow at any dinner party. Enjoy one after an average dinner at home and feel a little elevated. I froze these and will be making more flavors over the course of the month so I can gift them to my mama when I see her in July, as a belated mother’s day present (her only request was “nothing matcha”, ha!).

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Lemon Buttercream Macarons

ingredients

1 cup + 1/2 lb powdered sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

lemon yellow food gel

1/2 cup butter

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

directions

sift 1 cup of powdered sugar and 3/4ths cup almond flour into a large bowl. whisk to combine, then set aside.

add the egg whites to a metal mixing bowl and start whisking on one of the lower settings (I start with a 4 on my Kitchenaid) until the egg whites start to look frothy. add half of the granulated sugar to the egg whites, then increase the speed to a medium (7 for me) until whites start to foam. add the remaining granulated sugar, then increase the speed to high (9 works well) and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.

remove the bowl containing the meringue from the stand mixer. add half of the dry ingredients directly into the bowl containing the meringue, then use a spatula to gently fold meringue around and over until the dry ingredients are well incorporated. add the remaining dry ingredients along with 2-3 drops of food coloring gel, and continue to fold the batter. avoid over-mixing by going slowly. the batter is ready when it falls off the spatula in ribbons, but isn’t runny.

transfer the batter to a piping bag with a large round tip. pipe small, uniform circles onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper by holding the piping bag at a 45 degree angle to sheet. make sure not to overcrowd the sheets.

once finished with piping the batter, take each cookie sheet and carefully but forcefully bang the bottom of each corner on the countertop, to help release air bubbles in the batter! let the cookies sit for 35 minutes. preheat the oven to 305 F while you wait.

bake the cookies on the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes. remove from the oven but let the cookies cool completely before touching them.

while the cookies cool, make your lemon buttercream by creaming butter in a clean mixing bowl. add the lemon zest to the butter and mix to combine. then add the 1/2 lb of powdered sugar. finally mix in the lemon juice.

transfer buttercream to a new piping bag and pipe frosting on the underside of one cookie. sandwich with another cookie of roughly the same size. repeat over and over again. enjoy!

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Alright. Time to read by the pool, go to a yoga class, and grill myself some Thai chicken satay skewers for lunch. Summer, y’all!

Whole30 Poke Bowl

When I left L.A, one of the hardest things to say goodbye to was the high quality sushi and poke I had grown so accustomed to. Part of me was a little (ok, a lot) worried about how I would adjust to the raw fish scene in Raleigh.

…good thing I’m comfortable in a kitchen, am I right?!

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My first couple of months in Raleigh I went on a wild hunt for poke. I found a few great options like Raleigh Raw and Poke Burri! But I won’t lie – they were more expensive than I was used to.

Also, I don’t like that sushi (or most rice-based and sauce-heavy poke bowls) are off limits when I’m doing a whole30.

So I figured knowing how to make an at-home version of my favorite poke bowl would be smart. This way, I might save some money and I could control the ingredients a bit more. Turns out, a whole30 version is totally possible and completely delicious.

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Whole30 Poke Bowl

makes 2 poke bowls

ingredients:

4 cups spring mix lettuce

1 cup riced cauliflower

1/2 lb sashimi tuna, cubed

1/2 lb sashimi salmon, cubed

1 mango, cubed

1/2 avocado, sliced

1 english cucumber, sliced thinly

1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks

2 tbsp green onions, chopped

black & white sesame seeds for garnish

1/4 c coconut aminos

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp rice vinegar

pinch of red pepper flakes

directions:

Divide the spring mix evenly between two bowls. On top of the spring mix, divide the cauliflower rice and fish cubes between the two bowls. Next, add the mango cubes, cucumber slices, avocado slices, and carrots to the top of each bowl. Garnish with the sesame seeds and green onions.

In a smaller bowl, mix the coconut aminos, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Pour half of this dressing over each of the poke bowls.

Enjoy immediately!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen another L.A themed whole30 recipe I made this week! 😉 I can’t wait to share more details on it. Can you believe week 2 of January whole30 is almost over?! I’m eating so well over here I haven’t even been sweatin’ the days.