(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) 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
- 1 medium spaghetti squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) washed, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1/2 ripe Avocado from Mexico (4 ounces), pitted and diced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves or Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
- Pierce outside of each half of squash a few times with a fork. Place squash cut side down on baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or until very tender when tested with a fork. Cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, place avocado, basil or parsley, chives, Parmesan, garlic, salt, black pepper and hot water in blender and process until smooth, turning blender off and on occasionally and adding a tablespoon or two of additional hot water if needed. There will be between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of pesto.
- When squash has cooled, use fork to rake the spaghetti-like threads of squash into a serving bowl. Discard skin. Drizzle pesto over squash and garnish with fresh basil or parsley if desired.
Makes 6 servings
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Credit: Cheryl Forberg, R.D. "The Biggest Loser: Simple Swaps" (Rodale, 2009)
Source Avocados from Mexico