eat well, travel often, dream big!

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Shredded Beef with Olives

Slow cookers are a great tool to have in the kitchen especially during the hot summer months.  Using one makes it possible to have warm food without having a hot kitchen.  It is a one pot wonder!  For this recipe I used my trusty slow cooker along with some Lindsay Manzanilla Olives.  These olives are grown in Spain and California and are often stuffed with pimentos.  They are firm and have a slightly tart taste.  At only 25 calories for 5 olives I think they dispel the notion of olives as a calorie laden food!


Pimiento Stuffed Spanish Manzanilla Olives

If you’ve got a potluck or a summer get together coming your way, this recipe comes highly recommended from the greatest of taste testers – my mom.


  • 2-3 lb arm roast of beef (I use organic free-range)
  • 1 cup of Italian dressing
  • at least 1 cup of Lindsay Manzanilla Olives – use as many as you would like!
Simply throw everything into your slow cooker and turn on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for about 5 hours.  When the meat is falling apart remove from slow cooker and shred the meat, removing any excess fat.  If there is a lot of liquid left in the slow cooker you can pour it into a stovetop fan and boil to reduce down, using the reduction as a sauce or discard it.
Layer the meat and olives onto a good bun or bread and eat hot.  I also made a quick relish topping as bonus recipe.
  • 1 cup Lindsay Manzanilla Olives
  • 4-5 springs of flat-leaf parsley
  • 4-5 sprigs Cilantro
  • 1 sprig of Basil
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
Pulse everything in a food processor blender and use as a topping for pulled beef or as a dip with some great crusty bread.
Lindsay Olives is offering one reader a chance to win a summer entertaining prize pack full of great Lindsay products!  Please follow the directions in the box below to enter.  You must complete the mandatory entry or leaving a comment sharing your favorite olive recipe for summer entertaining.  You then can enter using any or all of the additional entries!
Mandatory Entry: What is your favorite summer recipe using olives?  You can share a link, leave a recipe name or type out the recipe.
Additional Entries
  • Follow Lindsay Olives on Twitter
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  • Tweet about this giveaway (see the little Twitter icon below – go ahead and click and the tweet will pop up automatically.)
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  • Share this giveaway on Facebook (just like Twitter, clicking the Facebook icon below will auto-populate a message to share with your friends).
Good luck! The winner will be selected on August 2, 2011 at random and notified via email.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours a new winner will be selected.  This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry international friends!)

*Disclaimer: I was compensated by Lindsay Olives for doing this series of posts. However all opinions and recipes are my own creations and done so exclusively for this event.

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Guest Post: Amnahs’ Moroccan Meatball Tagine

Today’s guest post is from a new blogging buddy of mine.  Amnah is an absolute darling and I have really enjoyed getting to know her.  She is a fellow contributor at American Muslim Mom and is the mom I wish I could be!  You should really stop by her blog, Little Life of Mine for more food, adorable pictures and activities with her beautiful girls.  Connect with Amnah on  her site, Twitter or Facebook.

Visiting Morocco has been on the top of my travel wish list for as far back as I can remember. In fact it comes in at number one, two, and three, just in case if my husband ever doubts my desire to travel there. To me it is the ultimate destination that I believe would provide the romantic, historical, and adventurous aspects of an amazing vacation. The architecture and vibrant use of colors always take my breath away. I’m certain the atmosphere of Moroccan souks are just as movies portray them: exotic, mysterious, and a feast for the senses. The traditional clothing with it’s old world charm is so beautiful that you just can’t help but be taken back to another time.

It’s when my mind drifts to the foods that I would consume there, my stomach begins to rumble and my fingers start to itch with the urge to start searching for a ticket to book. Plentiful and flavorful spices enhance every dish. Fresh fruits and vegetables jewel the plates with their natural colors. Couscous makes the perfect landing for a saucy tagine. All downed with a refreshing mint tea. Oh my, what’s not to love?

I live vicariously through Amanda and her recipes. I enjoy her images from Morocco and hearing about her experiences. I’ve found a wonderful friend in Amanda despite never having “met” her. I pray our first meeting is in a busy and loud Moroccan souk. A fez may or may not be involved.

Moroccan Meatball Tagine with Herb and Lemon Sauce {via Cooking Moroccan}

½ onion, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, roughly chopped
2 slices, crusts removed
1 egg
1 pound ground beef or lamb
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Herb and Lemon Sauce:
4 teaspoons butter or oil
½ onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice

To make meatballs:

Put the onion in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Tear bread into pieces, add to the onion, along with the egg, and process briefly.

Add the beef or lamb, cumin, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt and process to a thick paste, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally.
Alternatively, grate the onion , chop the parsley, crumb the bread, and add to the meat in a bowl with the egg, spices, and seasoning. Knead until the mixture is paste like in consistency.
With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place them on tray. Cover and refrigerate until required.

To make herb and lemon sauce:
Heat the butter or oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook over low heat until softened and golden.

Then add the paprika, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add the meatballs to the pan, shaking so that they settle into the sauce. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add most of the parsley and lemon juice and season further if necessary. Return to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

Transfer to a tagine or bowl, sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and serve hot.

Amnahs' Moroccan Meatball Tagine

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Good News and Greek Stew

It seems that there are so many good things going on lately for me and this little blog.  I started this site in 2007 because my younger sister was always bugging me for recipes.  I am so happy that it has become so much more than just a recipe dumping ground!  Only a few days ago I posted about Multicultural Familia a new website and resource for multicultural families.  I am really enjoying being a site contributor and hope you’ve had a chance to visit the site too.  I’ve got a lot more great posts coming up.

If you’re a Facebook fan or Twitter follower you will know that I am also a new contributor to American Muslim Mom.  I am just in awe right now of all these opportunities coming my way.  When Ponn asked me if I would be interested in writing for her site I was a little intimidated but soon realized I do have a lot to say that I don’t always feel belongs here.  Contributing posts to American Muslim Mom about being a Muslim mom working outside the home and about raising boys is offering me a chance to talk about things I am passionate about without cutting into the food time I share here.  I really encourage you to join me there if you’re interested in these topics.  Ponn has gotten together a great group of Muslim moms to talk about a wide range of topics and I know that it is really going to be great.  Stop over now to hear interviews with all the new contributors (including me)!

Now back to the food….

Have you noticed that it’s Balkan’s week around here?  I don’t know what it is but I was making Greek food and Lana was guest-posting so ultimately I think you’re the winner!  For me Greek food is summer food.  Maybe it’s because I went to Greece in the summer and so the correlation is always there.  Yiouvetsi and orzo was, at first bite, one of my favorite foods – ever.  Paired with a fresh and delicious Greek salad I always ordered this meal when it was available.   The taste that always stands out in this meal is the tomato, both in the yiouvetsi and the salad.  Fresh, sun ripened fruit, fresh in a cucumber, tomato, olive and feta salad drenched in really good olive oil and sea salt.  The same tomatoes combined with garlic and tender beef over al dente orzo made was simply a meal  from heaven.  You can make it at home easily too.


  • 1 lb (2 kg) beef short ribs (any beef will work, this is what I had)
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped finely or crushed
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c (8fl oz) of tomato sauce
  • 1/3 c (3-4oz) cherry juice*
  • 2 tsp white vinegar*
  • 2c  (16oz) water
  • 2 c (750g)  orzo
  • grated cheese for topping

*traditional Greek Yiouvetsi is made with red wine.  As we do not drink or use wine in cooking this is my substitute.  If you prefer to use wine 1/2c should do the trick.


I made this in a pressure cooker, but you can use a heavy bottomed pan instead.

  • In the bottom of the pressure cooker add the olive oil and brown the meat on medium high heat.  Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the oregano, orzo and cheese.  Cover pressure cooker and cook for 45 min – 1 hour.  Release the pressure and open.  Check the tenderness of the meat.  It should be falling off the bone.  Stir in the oregano at this point.  You should have a medium thickness sauce left over.  If there is too much water continue cooking uncovered until sauce reduces.
  • Boil 5-6 cups of water separately and add orzo.  Cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.  Strain excess water and reserve to serve.
  • To finish the dish, spoon orzo at the bottom of the plate, followed by the meat and sauce on top.  Sprinkle or grate with a good Greek or Italian cheese such as kefalotyri, parmigiano, pecarino or romano.

Don’t forget your Greek salad on the side!!!


I removed the bone and chopped up the beef before reducing sauce.


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Beef and Chickpea Tajine

Beef and Chickpea Tajine


After I had my youngest son I became very anemic.  I was tired all the time and I felt like every little ounce of energy I had was being sapped out of my system.  I chalked this up to having a 3 year old and a newborn but a post-partum visit revealed that my iron levels were very low.  I’ve never really enjoyed red meat, aside from a great steak now and then but the doctor also told me one of the best ways to get a big boost of iron was to eat liver or red meat.  I’ll let you guess which one I picked.  K is now 4 1/2 and I still struggle with my iron levels.  It’s at a point now where I can tell when I’m in need of some more iron to give me a boost.  This was a really long-winded way of sharing with you a beef recipe that I really DO enjoy.




  • 1/2 lb beef (or lamb) bone in preferably
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp (chopped finely) Italian parsley
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 can of chickpeas (you can use dry – make sure to soak at least 24 hours before using)
  • 1/2 preserved lemon
  • enough water to cover meat
  • Crusty bread to eat with

Directions (for pressure cooker)

  • In the bottom of a 4qt pressure cooker add olive oil, garlic, cumin, and pepper and turn heat to medium.  Next place in the pieces of meat and brown on all sides.  If it seems too hot add a little bit of water so that the spices do not burn.

  • After browning adding enough water to cover the meat, as well as the Italian parsley and preserved lemons. (if using dry chickpeas you will want to add them at this point too)

  • Cover the pressure cooker and cook about 45 minutes.  Remove from heat and release steam.  Check on the tenderness of the meat.  It should be falling apart.

  • Add the chickpeas and place pressure cook back onto a burner with the cover off.  The final step is to reduce the liquid remaining and cook through the chickpeas.

  • The final consistency should be thicker than a soup but thinner than a stew with enough sauce leftover to eat the dish with.

  • Serve the tajine with a loaf of crusty bread.

Directions (for Dutch Oven)

  • In the bottom of a dutch oven add olive oil, garlic, cumin, and pepper and turn heat to medium.  Next place in the pieces of meat and brown on all sides.  If it seems too hot add a little bit of water so that the spices do not burn.
  • After browning adding enough water to cover the meat, as well as the Italian parsley and preserved lemons. (if using dry chickpeas you want to add them at this point as well)
  • Cover and cook about 1h and 30 minutes checking the tenderness of the meat in the final 30 minutes of cooking.  It should be falling apart.
  • Add the chickpeas and continue cooking with the cover off.  This final step is to reduce the liquid remaining and cook through the chickpeas.
  • The final consistency should be thicker than a soup but thinner than a stew with enough sauce leftover to eat the dish with.
  • Serve the tajine with a loaf of crusty bread.

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I’ve never shared this recipe on my site and recently thought about why.  One of the most well known dishes of Morocco and of Marrakech especially is tangia Marrakechia.  It is only made in Marrakech and is highly popular.  It is known as the bachelor’s dish, often made by single guys, I’m guessing because of how simple it is.  This dish is cooked in a special vessel called a tangia.

You can purchase one of your own from Berber Trading company for $38.  All of the ingredients are put inside and covered up.  It is then cooked in low heat, a charcoal oven for several hours.  You can see Jamie Oliver’s trip through the souqs of Marrakech and making a tangia (albeit not a traditional one).  The video is great and you can really get a feel for Marrakech.

If you don’t have the tangia cooking pot – don’t fret.  You can make it just as easily in a pressure cooker.

Ingredients for Tangia

  • 2 lbs. lamb
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic crushed
  • a small bunch (5 stalks) Italian parsley chopped
  • a small bunch (5 stalks) cilantro chopped
  • 2 tsp
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads crushed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 preserved lemon rind, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon smen, optional


In pressure cooker, add the olive oil, onions and garlic and saute on medium heat until onion becomes translucent. Wash and trim lamb of all excess fat and add to the pressure cooker. Add all of the spices and mix around all of the ingredients so that the meat is covered with all of the spices.

Next add the preserved lemon, smen and water. Just enough water should be added to barely cover the meat. Cover the pressure cooker and cook on medium high heat for 45 minute s- 1 hour. Vent the steam and check to see if the meat is tender. It should be falling apart with a thick sauce reserved. If the meat is falling apart but there is a lot of liquid left continue boiling down the liquid. When finished turn out onto a plate and eat with crusty round bread or French baguettes.

There are no vegetables in this dish traditionally.  Although it is usually eaten with a first course of many different cold salads.  I’ll be sharing some more in coming posts.  But feel free to search in the archives for some more.  You can start here.

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It’s March and it’s still cold, and by cold I don’t mean 45F..I mean it was 2F this morning.  I can’t help whining about this because I am getting so anxious for warmer above freezing weather.  Seriously, snow and ice for 5 months is more than any human should be made to endure.  Maybe I am overly anxious because spring is my very favorite season and it never lasts long enough, because as soon as the snow melts it feels like the humidity cranks up and poof spring is gone.  I really do love the blossoming of trees, the warm afternoons when there is still a slight breeze but just enough to need a light sweater.  Oh and when I can open my windows again.  Trust me nearly 6 months of a closed up house is just too much.  I also really really love packing away the boots, snowpants, hats and mittens.  Right now I am looking at them just thinking – “just wait you evil things you, I won’t have to look at you soon!”

Across my blog reading I am seeing all kinds of light springy dishes.  I just can’t get there yet.  Spring greens with citrus fruits, spring asparagus, lamb…forget it!  I can’t get anything locally grown and fresh!  So for a few more weeks at least we’re still eating winter-fare.  However this recipe had me bordering on spring-time.

They look so bright and pretty don’t they?  (they cost a pretty penny too!)  But it was so worth it.  I think you’ll enjoy this fast and easy recipe too.  I think it’s a great dish to warm you up, even on a cool spring night (if you’re so lucky!).


1 lb ground beef

12 oz crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce

12 oz water

3 tbsp crushed garlic

1/2 onion finely chopped

chopped jalapenos (optional- add based on your comfort level)

salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp cumin

4 bell pepers (you pick the color) seeded and cored

2 c brown rice

shredded cheese (optional – I used cheddar)


Add ground beef to an oven proof skillet and brown.  If you’re using a low fat content meat you may want to add a little olive oil to the pan after cooking the meat.  Once browned, remove from pan, leaving drippings behind.  Add onions and garlic and cook on low-medium high until translucent.  Add the meat back in and mix.  Pour in the tomato and water as well as mixing in the remaining spices.  Finally add the rice.  Turn up the heat slightly and cover.  Cook until rice is just tender.

Now onto the stuffing!  What’s left in your pot should still have liquid remaining.  If not add some more water to loosen up the mixture.  Spoon the mixture into your pepper shells. I still had some left in the pan so I nestled my peppers into the remaining juice to cook a little while longer and melt some cheese on top.  I did the final step by covering up my cheese topped peppers and placing it in the oven for about 10 minutes to melt down and thicken up the sauce.

Dish up!  I added a little barley to mine too.  Great with a simple salad or a side of green beans.

Psst…guess who was the guest on this weeks American Muslim Mom podcast?  Little ‘ole me!  I hope you’ll stop over and visit this fantastic website and take a listen!  Make sure to leave a comment when you stop by over there!

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Veal is one meat that I have avoided for a long time, because of how it is raised.  Growing up in a rural community I learned in my late teens how veal came to be and found the practice repulsing.  Some facts about veal that many people might not know;
  • Veal calves are taken from their mothers almost immediately after they’re born.
  • They are placed in 22″ by 54″ crates and tethered to them 24 hours a day. The crates are designed to be so small that the calves cannot step forward or backward or turn around. This makes the meat very tender since the animals do not develop muscle.
  • They receive a substitute for their mothers’ milk that is deficient in iron so they stay anemic, giving the meat a whiter color, instead of the usual pink or red that characterizes beef.
  • Not much water is provided, so the calves will drink more of their feed.
  • Many are given steroids or growth hormones to help them gain weight quicker, plus antibiotics, since confinement can breed disease.
  • These practices have long been considered inhumane by many worldwide. In fact, the use of crates and the anemic diet is illegal in Europe.
from Organic.lovetoknow

Disturbing isn’t it?  The good news in all of this is that I discovered Strauss Free Raised Veal!  Most Whole Foods carry this brand which fits my criteria for humanely raised.  If you enjoy veal I really encourage you to find out how it is raised  and buy the most humanely raised meat as possible.  I truly believe it’s so important for all of us to know and understand where our food, and especially our meat comes from.  But that’s a story for another day.

With my good fortune in hand I set out to make a dish with the veal cutlets.  My husband only likes meat if it’s falling apart.  So even though these were nice little cutlets I tossed them in the pressure cooker to speed things up.  You could easily make this in a pan on the stove!

1lb veal cutlets
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp each paprika, salt, pepper
1 small onion chopped finely
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 large handful of frozen artichoke hearts
1/4 c water

1 c quick cooking barley
2 c chicken broth
1/4 c frozen peas

Pressure Cooker
In a pressure cooker add 1 tsp vegetable oil and the chopped onion.  Turn heat to medium high and cook the onion until translucent.  Next, add the veal cutlets and brown.  Last, add the paprika, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice.  Mix and add the water and frozen artichoke hearts.  Cover pressure cooker and cook for about 20 minutes.  Release pressure and continue to cook if there is water remaining.  There should be a medium thick sauce remaining.

In a wok or a high sided skillet (like this one) add the vegetable oil and onion.  Cook on medium heat until onion is translucent.  Add the veal cutlets and brown.  Add the seasoning, garlic and lemon juice.  Last add the water and frozen artichoke hearts.  Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes.  If using this method you will want to check the water levels.  This method will take longer but if you don’t want your meat falling apart you can cook it to the tenderness you prefer.

For the pilaf:
Add 2 cups of chicken broth to a pan and heat to a boil.  Add the barley, cover and cook approximately 12 minutes until tender.  All of the liquid should be gone.  Mix in the frozen peas, cover and allow to sit.  The heat of the barley will thaw the peas.

Serve together and drizzle meat and pilaf (if you desire) with the leftover sauce from the veal.

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Meatball Tajine

Meatball Tajine

Moroccan Food December 28, 2010 6

A very popular tajine is the egg and meatball tajine.  It’s great because it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Paired with a salad it makes a fantastic dinner.  Coupled with some tea and dates a nice, hearty breakfast.  I don’t always like eggs so I changed this recipe slightly and made simply a meatball tajine.  After I made this I wondered what it would taste like over spaghetti, a sort of Moroccan spaghetti.  It’s a thought!  If you try it let me know!
The ingredients and cooking technique are virtually the same sans the egg.
1 lb ground lamb or beef
2 garlic cloves minced
1 small onion minced
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
chopped fresh parsley (or chopped fresh coriander)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for frying

Tomato sauce (see recipe below)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 garlic cloves minced
3 medium tomatoes, insides grated
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 tsp cumin



1. In a mixing bowl, mix the meat, garlic, onion, spices, salt and pepper and the parsley until it is all thoroughly mixed, knead to a smooth mixture.
2. Roll into gum-ball sized balls and set aside on a tray.
3. Heat the oil in a fry pan and cook the meatballs until golden brown

For Tomato Sauce:
1. Heat a little oil in a saucepan; add garlic then cook for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and spices then cook for about 10 minutes

To finish:  Combine ingredients for tomato sauce and pour over the meatballs, simmer on the stove top for about 15-20 minutes, and stir so that it does not stick.


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