Friendly Food – Mediterranean Feta Lamb Burgers

This was mFriendly Food Logoy second “Friendly Food” and I have to say that I really think I am on to something here. Catching up with great friends, learning new cooking skills and recipes and getting to feast on tasty food is as close to a perfect night as it gets in my book.

This particular night had me at my friend Ariane and Darren’s house. I have known Ariane for over ten years, we became fast friends at work and even had the opportunity to travel to Spain together. I have known Darren for approximately the same amount of time, having met him through mutual friends. I remember going to a birthday party for these mutual friends and seeing Ariane walk through the door, color me confused! It turns out two spectacular people in my life found each other and were soon to be married, become parents to Sienna & Blake and have me over to cook dinner with them!

After some cuddle time with Baby Blake and a scene which had Darren giving Sienna a mint in the other room without us knowing and then us chasing after her to get the “little blue pill” that she had just popped in her mouth we decided to get down to some serious cooking business.

Ariane had laid out all the ingredients in little dishes which again had me mentally pretending I was on my own cooking show. We started by making homemade tzatziki sauce out of greek yogurt, lemon, garlic, cucumbers and dill. We tested the mixture before deciding that it could use a little more garlic which I remedied with four more cloves, perhaps a tiny bit of overkill. I was next instructed to put on gloves to dice the jalapeno pepper and mix the ingredients into the lamb. I have NEVER liked the feeling of raw meat on my hands or the burning of my eyes after rubbing them after playing with peppers, these gloves are brilliant! We rounded out the meal with sweet potato fries and a everything but the kitchen sink salad.

I left with a full stomach and a happy heart and some new tricks up my cooking sleeves.

Big thanks to Ariane and Darren!!


Ariane & Darren

Lamb Sliders

Tzatziki Sauce

Baked Sweet Potato Fries


What is Friendly Food?

“Friendly Food” is a blog feature; combining social hour with hands on learning that culminates into a well crafted meal, an expanding recipe collection and ever growing knife skills.  I am inviting myself over for dinner at friend’s houses (or at least heavily hinting until they invite me), asking them to pull out their favorite healthy recipe and playing the role of sous chef.











Kate Lawson: Food Writer, Detroit News

katelawsonThere are plenty of places that I visit that I have no connection to, and no leads to food and fitness experts. When I was in Detroit I realized that I had nothing, just warnings from everyone who had heard I was going there bouncing around in my head. I spent my first evening in my hotel room, too scared to go out after dark, and researching people in the area who might be of interest to speak with. During my research I came across the Food writer for the Detroit News, Kate Lawson. Kate writes several food columns covering everything from cooking trends to local professional chefs. It was last minute, I felt guilty as I hit send on my email requesting to chat with her about the local food scene.

The next morning as I was preparing for my day my phone rang, a very strange sound since most of my communication is via email and text.  Upon answering I was met with the friendly voice of Kate Lawson. Luckily for me it wasn’t just her voice that was friendly Kate was so excited and supportive of my journey and eager to meet with me to chat. When I told her I was headed out to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn she encouraged me to reach out to Jesse Eisenhuth the Director of their food service and catering. This turned out to be a wonderful suggestion and I ended up spending several hours over the following two days with Jesse, learning about their approach to food. I can’t go into too much detail as I am busy writing a blog post about that experience, so sorry, you will have to wait.

Kate and I made a plan to have lunch and a tour of the Detroit area, she picked me up at my hotel and within moments of being in her car I knew I had connected with the right lady. If she had provided me with nothing it would have been just fine with me because every moment with Kate was a good time. I felt as if I had known her for years, conversation was easy and the afternoon enjoyable.

We went to a small restaurant in Mexicantown for an authentic taco lunch followed by a visit to a popular deli called Mudgie’s, located in a hip brick building in the historic Corktown neighborhood for dessert. Yes, we had dessert, though we had a small lunch in anticipation of this move. We shared the decadent “Sweet Ruth” which is a homemade bread pudding apple waffle cooked to order and topped with amazing horchata ice cream and butterscotch caramel.  I can justify this because this divine desert was made with local ice cream and caramel sauce, ok a bit of a stretch but at least it was a high quality freshly made choice.

We finished our tour with a stop by the Detroit Mercantile, a well merchandised store filled with so many amazing things including an owner who used to live in Spokane (my hometown) and had only good things to say! Win win!

Kate had to get back to work so she dropped me off at my hotel. We said our goodbyes had a nice hug and Kate told me she thought I was “Berries”, which I have never heard before but am going to assume is a good thing.

In regards to all the scary things I heard about Detroit, I am confused, I found Detroit to be a cool city. I don’t know all the politics around its economy but I do know that the downtown core has plenty of charm and friendly people. Given the chance I would return again!

Meet my new “Pro”: Anna Dvorak, Nutrition and Wellness Guide

Anna D Profile

I had no intention of going to Minneapolis. It wasn’t because I specifically didn’t want to go there I just had never thought of it as an option.  When I set out on this journey Sara Dean, one of the pro’s on my support team notified her clients of my blog through her newsletter.  One of her clients forwarded my blog to her friend, Anna Dvorak who reached out to me and invited me to her home in Minneapolis.

Who is this lady Anna and was she a serial killer was one of my first thoughts. I know that sounds dramatic but this was my first invite from a stranger and a girl can’t be too careful when traveling! It turns out that Anna is the furthest thing from a serial killer, she actually has made it her life’s purpose to help people live healthy, thus actually prolonging their life.

My first night in town Anna invited me to have dinner at the home she shares with her husband Chris. One of the things that I have been excited to do on this trip is to break bread with people, learn from what they put on their table and that night was a great lesson in how to eat.  We dined on a make your own salad of sorts complete with salad greens, quinoa, beans, cilantro, roasted corn, cucumber, red pepper, shredded carrots, sunflower seeds, salsa verde and a picco de gallo, this combination was amazing and something I would have thrown quite a bit of money down for in a restaurant. It was so exciting to know that I was nourishing my body while enjoying the food that I was eating. I never once felt deprived, never once yearned for bread, cheese or salad dressing which is not a normal occurrence in my diet. I was truly inspired by my dinner with Anna and Chris, the conversation and food were amazing and I left inspired.

Anna is putting her love and knowledge of food and nutrition to good use in her three Nourish e-cookbooks.  Each of her cookbooks focus on healthy yet flavorful foods that are geared towards those with food sensitivity, they all are 100% refined sugar free and mostly gluten and dairy free. Currently she is testing every recipe with a handful of people of all cooking levels to ensure the instructions are written clearly and easy to follow.  Her fourth cookbook is titled Fall which will complete the seasons when it joins Winter, Spring & Summer.

I am so excited to have Anna as part of my team and will look to her for guidance and inspiration when it comes to my diet, something that I desperately need. I hope to learn the skills to properly nourish myself on the road and can’t wait to increase my cooking skills for all of the amazing dinner parties I plan to host when I am settled back in to my daily life.

It will be good to be known for a tasty and healthy meal or two as opposed to just specialty cocktails and jello shots as my friends know me now.