Friday Recipe Exchange: Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

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Tonight is a bit hodgepodge. While I was away, faithful contributor, Joshua D (Yutsano) sent me two tasty recipes to share. I was grateful, because lately I feel like I’m walking on ice and cannot get my feet under me long enough to cook, much less blog about cooking. I’m sitting on a folder full of great vacation pictures and some fun food stories that I can’t seem to find the time to blog about. I struggled with tonight’s featured recipe, finally settling on lamb, but not sure where I wanted to go from there and then I remembered that JeffreyW has been working for quite a while on perfecting his gyros.

And there it was, I knew what I’d feature tonight. What’s on your menu this weekend? Anything new and fun cooking in your kitchen? Be kind and share your inspiration, so I can find mine.

Moving on to tonight’s recipes, starting with Joshua D and Cilantro Lime Hummus, recipe here.

From Ruemara, thoughtfully shared by Joshua D, Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese Soup, recipe here.

And if making a gyro loaf seems a bit too labor intensive, this Spicy Lamb Burger (click here) would work as well with pita and Tzatziki sauce.

Now the featured recipe, inspired by JeffreyW (pictured above):

Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Food processor, loaf pan, baking dish

Ok, these are the general directions, but JeffreyW has been playing with perfecting the preparation, so click here and here for lots of step-by-step photos and his tweaks to make the perfect loaf.

In a large bowl, combine ingredients until well mixed and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Remove to food processor and process until a fine paste. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Place meat mixture into a loaf pan, pressing down on all sides. Place the loaf pan in the baking dish and add water to the baking dish to create a water bath. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove and rest covered with foil for 30 minutes. Slice and serve

Serve with:

  • Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)
  • 4 to 6 pieces soft pita (not pocket pita)
  • Chopped fresh tomato
  • Finely sliced onion
  • Cubed peeled seeded cucumber
  • Mint sprigs

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 16 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 2 to 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced

Can I just say, thank goodness for Men Who Cook here at What’s 4 Dinner Solutions, I don’t know what I’d do without you  – TaMara


Tes Makes Beef Stew with Apples

Tes' Beef Stew photo by Tes at Home

I was pleased to pop over to Tes at Home and find Tes created a wonderful recipe that would be perfect for a tonight’s slow cooker recipe exchange   It sounds like she peeked into her kitchen and found a variety of ingredients and decided they would make a good stew.  I believe she’s right.  Click link below or either picture for the recipe.

Tes’ Beef Stew with Marjoram and Apples

Can't wait to try this. Photo by Tes at Home

Mmm…Roast Chicken

Slathered the bird with a butter/EVOO garlic herb sauce, under the skin and on it.  Roasted the bird on a bed of dressing.  I thought it a fair idea but the chicken grease (and all that butter and oil) turned it into a greasy slop.  I put the dressing under the broiler for a while to try to crisp the top some and that helped a little.  I managed to eat a spoonful without gagging.  The chicken was great!

Roasted some cauliflower while the chicken rested and made a lemony butter sauce (beurre blanc) that worked very well on the veggies and on the chicken.


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How About Now?

About being tired of turkey yet, I mean.  This soup worked about as expected, the only thing I wish I had done different was adding the broccoli as early as I did.  Should have waited but ran ran into the “simmer the soup for a long time” mindset.  You know what I’m talking about-start it at a simmer and wander by now and again to stir it around a bit.  Some veggies just can’t stand long simmers, and broccoli is right there at the top of that list.  Bean, carrots, onions, potatoes?  Sure you can overcook a carrot but an overdone carrot still looks pretty good.  Overcooked broccoli?  It’s just sad looking.

Used a couple of those parsnips I bought, never put any of those in a soup before.  They held up fine but the very nature of the dish means that their particular flavor was lost-melded with the flavors of every other veggie in there:  Carrots, potatoes, onions, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.  I spooned some parsnip chunks out individually just to see what I could tell, texture little different from the potatoes, I could tell it wasn’t a carrot by taste but that was about all.

I made the usual loaf of bread to go with the soup.  Used the machine with the basic recipe for white bread but I added lard rather than the butter the recipe called for.  I’m not going to make a  judgement on the basis of a single loaf but I can say that this loaf  turned out just fantastic.  I wish I could say that every loaf I’ve made in this unit turned out just the same but that would not be true.  There have been few outright failures and different loaves have risen differently.  Not sure I can attribute any particular change to a certain thing like bad yeast, or too much flour, or some other technical item-when a loaf fails I generally shrug and make the best of what comes out.  I will be making the next loaf with lard again.

Soup’s on!

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Lamb and Sprouts

Mrs J was rummaging through the big freezer, looking for something for dinner tonight.  She found a corned beef brisket but set it back.  Then she found a bag of lamb chunks that I had put back for more gyros and had forgotten all about.  Lamb sounded good so we thawed it.  Wasn’t sure what to do with it but it never hurts to marinade it so I mixed up a marinade and poured it over the chunks in a plastic bag and refrigerated it while I surfed some recipes.  This one looked pretty good. It was for lamb shanks but it seemed easily adapted for the meat I had.  Do I have pictures?  You betcha!

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Chunky Vegetable Soup

The rain continues, so soup sounds good for the weekend. I’m also going to make a batch of skillet biscuits to go with this. I think the weekend will consist of rain, old movies, a good book and a very warm comforter. The bedding plants will have to wait.

Chunky Vegetable Soup

  • 6 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled & sliced
  • 2 red potatoes, cubed (peeling opt)
  • 8 oz baby carrots
  • 1 turnip, peeled & cubed
  • 15 oz can white beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ to 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 oz Ruote (wheel shaped pasta)
  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella

Saucepan or Slow-Cooker

In saucepan, sauté mushrooms and onions in 1 tbsp of butter. Add all ingredients, except cheese, bring to a low boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer on medium to medium-low for 20-30 minutes. Serve with shredded cheese.

If you are using a Slow-Cooker, add all ingredients, except pasta & cheese, to Slow-Cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours (check manufacturer’s directions). Add pasta 20 minutes before serving, turn up to high and let boil, uncovered. Once pasta is tender, serve with shredded cheese.

Thursday Night Menu: Slow-Cooker Edition

It has been a whirlwind week and Thursday took me by surprise. But no worries, I figured it out soon enough to dig up a recipe. Someone requested slow-cooker recipes a few weeks back, so I thought I’d do one of those this Thursday. Brunswick Stew is an old family favorite. I think my mom cut it out of the newspaper….in the 60’s!….and still has the original copy. There may even be on old Dear Abby column next to it. It is surprisingly good, even though it has lima beans. I hate lima beans, rates right up there with Brussels sprouts for me (sorry JeffreyW), but I’ve never even thought about eliminating them from this recipe. I’ve always been afraid it would alter the great flavor, so I just eat around them. Granny Smith apples were on sale this week, so Cinnamon Apple Cake it had to be.

On the board tonight:

  1. Brunswick Stew
  2. Corn Bread
  3. Tossed Salad
  4. Cinnamon Apple Cake

Brunswick Stew

  • 1 whole cut-up chicken
  • 2 tsp salt (more as needed)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 stalks finely diced celery with leaves
  • 1/4 tsp leaf marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 8 oz frozen lima beans
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp melted butter


Add all ingredients to Slow-Cooker, except butter & flour. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually low for 8-10 hours). Before serving, turn heat to high and bring to a low boil. Blend flour into melted butter. Add small amount of hot liquid from stew to mixture, stirring until smooth. Stir mixture into stew, cook 2 minutes until thickened.

Cinnamon Apple Cake

  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/4 cup flour

8×8 baking dish and bowl

In baking dish, blend butter, nuts & cinnamon. Top with apple slices. In bowl, mix together egg, oil, milk, vanilla, sugar, baking powder and salt until well blended. Add flour and blend until moistened. Pour over apples evenly, but don’t worry if it’s perfect, it will arrange itself as it bakes. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes until cake springs back in center. Cool 10 minutes, then invert on plate. Serve warm.

Well, my cake didn’t work out….take a look.

Shopping List:

  • Corn Bread Mix
  • Tossed Salad Fixin’s
  • 1 whole cut-up chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 8 oz frozen lima beans
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 oz chopped walnuts
  • 2 small Granny Smith apples
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz buttermilk

Also: salt, marjoram, thyme, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, oil, vanilla, sugar

Container Herb Garden

Herb gardens are easy, fun and tasty.  You’ll need the following:

  • Large container (large pot, basket or wash tub) – a 16″ pot can hold 5 – 6 plants, so the larger the container, the more herbs you can have. 
  • Organic potting soil (no fertilizers, no chemicals, no soil polymers – those beads that hold water in soil)
  • Broken pot shards or large stones
  • Assortment of herb seeds and herb plants

Start by placing the pot in a sunny location near your kitchen, so you’ll be more likely to step outside and use your herbs as needed.  Place large stones on the bottom to encourage drainage.  Fill with soil.

Now you’re ready for your herbs.  Herbs grow quickly, but you may want to add basil, oregano and rosemary plants, as they grow more slowly and it will give you some instant herbs to use while you wait for your other herbs to mature.  Plant herbs you know you’ll use, but try a few different ones to experiment with.  Chives, dill, Italian parsley, sage, thyme are good to start with.  Add any of the following: Lemon Thyme, Cilantro, Marjoram, Mint for some additional flavors.

Once the container is planted, water well and keep moist, but don’t over water.  Harvest often, by pinching back an inch or so of leaves to use in your recipes.  For chives, give them a haircut, again about 1-2 inches at a time.  Frequent harvesting will keep herbs growing and from going to seed to quickly.  Once plants bolt (develop seed heads) their flavor diminishes.

I tried to find a video to embed on planting, but most used chemically enhanced soils or polymer beads for moisture retention, neither of which I recommend.  Herbs will grow well in good soil, no need for chemical fertilizers and the jury is still out on if polymers become toxic when they breakdown.  Why take chances?

If you’re going on vacation, water your container well, then  take a 2-liter soda bottle, fill it completely with water, turn upside-down and bury the open top in soil.  It will release water over a week or so.  If you can, move the container out of direct sunlight while you are away. Better yet, ask a neighbor to look after your pot in exchange for fresh herbs they can harvest while you are away.

It’s easy, it’s fun and if you have kids, it’s a great way to introduce them to gardening.