(Family Features) From picnics and family reunions to al fresco meals on the patio, flavor and freshness can make springtime dishes truly mouthwatering. As you plan your spring menu for time with loved ones, think outside the box with recipes that can feed a crowd.
One easy way to elevate your warm weather entertaining is with a lean, delicate protein like grass-fed lamb available at Whole Foods Market from Atkins Ranch, a leader in environmental stewardship and one of the first members of Land to Market, which advocates for regenerative agriculture – a type of outcomes-based land management that seeks to heal landscapes instead of degrading them. In fact, many of the lamb ranchers set aside areas for conservation purposes to focus on regenerating land and water to keep the environment as pristine as possible.
The lambs are raised just as nature intended: 100% grass-fed and free to roam on pastures in fresh air and sunshine, culminating in a result that’s better for you, the animals and the planet.
As the first lamb producer in the world to achieve Non-GMO Project verification, Atkins Ranch is also the first to achieve Global Animal Partnership Step-4 certification for farm animal welfare. If you’re unfamiliar with lamb, consider these cooking tips and pairing options for a deliciously divine spread at your next springtime soiree.
How to Cook Lamb
For cuts like legs, shanks, shoulder roasts and stew meat, slow cooking is the answer. This Herb Crusted Bone-In Leg of Lamb, for example, is roasted for about 3 hours to reach a juicy tenderness complemented by fresh herbs and a mint sauce.
Turn to the grill or stovetop for a quicker cooking method with cuts such as chops, rack and ground lamb. Cooking over an open fire allows the smokiness to meld with lamb’s naturally rich flavor.
What to Pair with Lamb
With its rich, meaty flavor, lamb is a perfect main course for spring meals. Try balancing it out with these sides:
- Salad – Like many proteins, lamb is complemented well by fresh greens. Toss baby spinach with a light vinaigrette and fresh fruit, like strawberries, for a true springtime salad.
- Sweet Potatoes – The subtlety of a sweet potato dish is nearly a must to pair with lamb. Sweeten the meal even further by mashing with orange juice and zest for a lightly tangy side.
- Asparagus – A classic side for many spring meals, roasted asparagus is easy to prepare whether in the oven or on the grill.
Find more grass-fed lamb cooking tips and recipes at AtkinsRanch.com.
Herb Crusted Bone-In Leg of Lamb
Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: about 3 hours (depending on size and doneness)
- 1 Atkins Ranch bone-in leg of lamb (about 8 pounds)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 tablespoons minced rosemary leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons ground peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- fresh mint sauce, for serving
- About 2 hours before preparing, remove leg of lamb from fridge to ensure even cooking. Remove gland to prevent gaminess during cooking.
- Preheat oven to 325 F on convection setting. Score skin of both sides of leg of lamb.
- In bowl, whisk olive oil, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and white wine. Brush onto both sides of lamb, pressing into scored crevices.
- Place leg in roasting pan on roasting rack. Insert cooking probe into thickest part of meat, not touching bone. Cook about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 95 F.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300 F and cook to desired doneness. For medium-rare doneness, remove lamb once probe reaches 125 F.
- To make herb curst: In bowl, whisk egg whites until evenly foamy with tiny bubbles. Brush onto both sides of lamb.
- In separate small bowl, mix rosemary, thyme, peppercorns and salt. Press herb crust mixture onto areas brushed with egg whites. Place back in pan and cook about 5-7 minutes until crust is formed and browned. Remove from oven and rest 30 minutes.
- Carve lamb, arrange on platter and serve with fresh mint sauce.
Source: Atkins Ranch
(Family Features) Warm, delectable dishes go hand-in-hand with cool fall evenings when the crisp air sends you to the kitchen for a filling meal. Look no further than easy recipes like meatballs that pack fulfilling flavor to feed your family when the autumn temperatures dip.
These Grass-fed Beef Meatballs with Garlic and Herbs can be the perfect solution anytime you’re craving a warm, comforting meal. They’re made with New Zealand grass-fed ground beef, which provides an unrivaled taste. Grass-fed year-round, the animals roam and graze freely over lush green hills and pastures, resulting in lean, flavorful meat that tastes just as nature intended.
Paired with a tomato-based sauce, the meatballs are baked before being topped with Parmesan cheese and parsley then served hot for a dish that warms you from the inside-out. While preparing the meatballs, be sure to wet your hands prior to shaping them as it helps prevent the meat from sticking to your hands.
Find more comforting fall recipes at beefandlambnz.com.
Grass-fed Beef Meatballs with Garlic and Herbs
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 pound New Zealand grass-fed ground beef
- 1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme and oregano
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 can (14 ounces) chopped tomatoes, in juice
- 1 1/2-2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves
- To make beef meatballs: Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Lightly oil deep baking dish or skillet. Mix beef, breadcrumbs, garlic, egg, milk, Worcestershire sauce, mixed herbs and salt and pepper, to taste, then shape into eight meatballs and place in prepared baking dish.
- To make tomato sauce: In heavy saucepan over low heat, heat dash of oil and add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, sugar, bay leaf and salt and pepper, to taste.
- Simmer 10 minutes to allow flavors to mingle and liquid to reduce. Remove from heat, cool about 5 minutes and remove bay leaf. In food processor, process until sauce is smooth.
- Pour sauce over meatballs and bake 25 minutes, turning meatballs after 15 minutes.
- Serve hot sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Source: Beef + Lamb New Zealand
(Family Features) Turning to easy recipes that require minimal cooking time can help your loved ones take the stress out of busy back-to-school evenings while increasing the opportunities for sharing family moments together.
Skip the long cook times of complicated dishes and instead turn to an option like this Skillet Macaroni and Cheese, a kid-friendly and parent-approved meal to turn hectic school nights into happy time with family.
With a slight twist on the childhood classic, this version calls for chicken to add protein along with spinach and cherry tomatoes for increased veggie intake. Plus, it’s made with milk and cheese as part of an important daily intake of dairy, an irreplaceable part of a balanced diet as a source of essential nutrients.
Visit milkmeansmore.org to find more kid-friendly meals.
Watch video to see how to make this recipe!
Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Katie Serbinski of “Mom to Mom Nutrition” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 cup dried elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 package (5 ounces) semisoft cheese with garlic and fine herbs
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
- Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
- Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, chicken and onion. Cook 6-8 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink.
- Reduce heat to medium. Stir in semisoft cheese. Gradually add milk and flour. Continue stirring and cooking until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
- Reduce heat to low. Add hot sauce, cheddar cheese and cooked macaroni. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted. Stir in spinach.
- Top with cherry tomatoes and serve.
Source: United Dairy of Michigan
(Family Features) The holiday season is meant for spending quality time with friends and family, not stressing out over hosting. With some simple tips, you can cut down on hectic preparations while creating a memorable holiday full of food and fun guests can savor.
Consider these suggestions from the entertaining experts at Real California Milk:
Heading into your seasonal soiree with a plan in place can help avoid snafus. Make a shopping list of ingredients and decorations. Then put together a schedule a few days prior to the event to cover last-minute preparations.
Elevate Holiday Classics
Elevating classic appetizers is a simple way to savor the season. A trend on the rise, the Grazing Table starts with the table as the canvas, adds elements of the traditional cheese board then takes it to the next level with an arrangement of appetizers or brunch dishes and seasonal decor. Another way to lift your holiday spread is using high-quality, authentic ingredients like Real California Milk cheeses, made with milk from California dairy farm families, which are key ingredients in this Sweet Citrus and Spice Cheese Board.
Prepare Dishes and Decorations in Advance
Preparing for guests can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of hosting. Decorating at least a day ahead and setting the table the night before, for example, can help minimize stress. Welcome guests with holiday cheer and trendy decor like a virtual yule log made of melting cheese, complete with holiday music.
For more holiday inspiration and recipes like antipasto skewers and yogurt-pesto dip, queso fundido and cheese logs and bundts, visit realcaliforniamilk.com/recipes.
- Toma cheese, sliced
- natural almonds
- Real California aged cheddar, sliced
- Real California burrata cheese
- olive oil
- blue cheese
- Real California braided marinated string cheese
- dry salami, sliced
- premade antipasto skewers
- yogurt pesto dipping sauce
- Real California aged Gouda
- brie cheese
- Real California cheese log
- Real California cheese bundts
- dry jack cheese
- sweet red piquante peppers
- green California olives
- premade Real California queso fundido
- tortilla chips
- dark chocolate sea salt caramels
- dried citrus, such as oranges and lemons
- artisan bread, sliced
- On large board, plate or tray, arrange sliced toma cheese, almonds, prosciutto, salami and aged cheddar. In center, place burrata cheese and top with olive oil and herbs.
- On separate small plate, place blue cheese; crumble.
- On medium board, arrange braided string cheese and dry salami slices.
- On serving platter, arrange antipasto skewers around bowl of yogurt pesto dipping sauce.
- On separate small cheese board, place Gouda, brie cheese and cheese log.
- On slate, arrange cheese bundts. On separate plate, place dry jack cheese.
- In separate bowls, place piquante peppers and green olives.
- Arrange boards, plates, bowls and skillet of queso fundido on table, as desired.
- Fill blank spaces on table with breadsticks, tortilla chips, dark chocolate sea salt caramels, dried oranges, dried lemons and bread slices. Add floral arrangements and holiday decor for finishing touches. Complete table with cheese knives and spreaders.
Sweet Citrus and Spice Cheese Board
- Real California brie cheese
- black olives
- green olives
- dried oranges, sliced
- Real California pepper jack cheese sliced
- Real California burrata cheese
- honey, for garnish
- fresh herbs, for garnish
- To assemble cheese board: On large board, plate or tray, arrange brie cheese, olives, dried orange slices, sliced pepper jack cheese and almonds.
- On smaller board, arrange raspberries and blackberries around burrata cheese placed in center of board. Garnish cheese with honey and fresh herbs. Place smaller board into empty space on larger board.