Grilled lamb kebabs with haloumi and apricots

Grilled lamb kebabs with haloumi and apricots | Me & The Moose. Shake up your grill routine with chunks of fatty, savory lamb; melty, salty haloumi cheese; and tart, sweet apricots. #meandthemoose #grilling #lamb #kebabs #haloumi #dinnerrecipes #kebabrecipes #mediterraneandiet #pesto

Shake up your grilling routines with these savory, herby, sweet, and fatty lamb, haloumi, and apricot kebabs that hit all the right notes— fast.

Take me to the recipe!

Grilled lamb kebabs with haloumi and apricots | Me & The Moose. Shake up your grill routine with chunks of fatty, savory lamb; melty, salty haloumi cheese; and tart, sweet apricots. #meandthemoose #grilling #lamb #kebabs #haloumi #dinnerrecipes #kebabrecipes #mediterraneandiet #pesto
Grilled lamb kebabs with haloumi and apricots | Me & The Moose. Shake up your grill routine with chunks of fatty, savory lamb; melty, salty haloumi cheese; and tart, sweet apricots. #meandthemoose #grilling #lamb #kebabs #haloumi #dinnerrecipes #kebabrecipes #mediterraneandiet #pesto


What is a kebab? Sometimes it’s cubes of meat and/or vegetables on a stick (think shish kebab). Other times, a kebab is a mountain of meat cooked on a rotating stick and then shaved off and served (think doner kebab, shawarma, or al pastor). And, confusingly, sometimes what is considered “kebab” is meat cooked and served nowhere near a stick.

For our purposes, we’re sticking close to a shish kebab.

But here’s what I don’t like about this method: Not all ingredients cook at the same rate. Why should I have to choose between undercooked meat/crispy vegetables and cooked meat/disintegrating vegetables? I say, we don’t have to.

My solution is to cook the meat on a skewer, cook the cheese and apricots directly on the grill, and then skewer them all for serving. Good, right? RIGHT! I mean, it’s not perfect. Some of the meat cooks faster because the cubes aren’t exactly the same size. And it’s important to leave a little bit of space between the cubes so that the heat gets all around. But you control the doneness far more when the kebab elements are cooked individually.

A note about haloumi: If you’ve never had this squeeky, salty cheese, please rectify this immediately. This cheese adds so much flavor and seasoning to any dish. But when it’s cold, it makes a squeeking noise when it’s chewed, which can throw off anyone with any sort of sensory issues around food. Eating it hot off of the grill or pan makes it more gooey than squeeky, which is why the cheese cooks longer than the meat in this dish.

A note on the kid-appeal of these kebabs: It’s fun to eat things off of a skewer! This dish also has plenty of salty and sweet elements with the grilled cheese and fruit, which is also appealing to kids. But for some reason, mine wouldn’t touch this. I found it too delicious not to post, so this may be one of the grownups and not the kids. But who knows? Next month, M might gobble these up. Who can say?

Grilled lamb kebabs with haloumi and apricots | Me & The Moose. Shake up your grill routine with chunks of fatty, savory lamb; melty, salty haloumi cheese; and tart, sweet apricots. #meandthemoose #grilling #lamb #kebabs #haloumi #dinnerrecipes #kebabrecipes #mediterraneandiet #pesto
Grilled lamb kebabs with haloumi and apricots | Me & The Moose. Shake up your grill routine with chunks of fatty, savory lamb; melty, salty haloumi cheese; and tart, sweet apricots. #meandthemoose #grilling #lamb #kebabs #haloumi #dinnerrecipes #kebabrecipes #mediterraneandiet #pesto

Grilled lamb, haloumi, and apricot skewers

Total time ime: 30 minutes (all active- 15 minutes of prep and 15 of cooking)
Yield: 4-5 skewers

1 lb lamb stew meat cubes
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4-5 medium apricots, ripe, but not falling apart, quartered
8 oz haloumi cheese, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

Heat your grill to low.

Place the lamb cubes in a large bowl. Top with the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic and mix up. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Cut the haloumi into 6-8, 1/4-inch slices. Halve the apricots.

Make the sauce. (See directions below.)

Skewer 5-6 lamb cubes onto sticks. Try to keep like-sized pieces together.

Bring all of your ingredients out to the grill and cook with the following timing:

  • Cook the haloumi for 2 minutes.

  • Add the lamb skewers and cook everything for 3-4 minutes.

  • Flip both the haloumi and the lamb.

  • Add the apricots, cut side down and cook everything (fruit, cheese, and meat) for 3-4 minutes.

  • Check the lamb. If it has reached an internal temperature of 145 and you don’t see any obvious rare spots, take the skewers off. If they need more time, keep them on the grill while you continue cooking the fruit and cheese.

  • Flip the apricots. Continue cooking the fruit and cheese for 2-3 more minutes.

Your aim is for medium rare meat, cheese with dark brown grill marks and that is a little gooey all over, but staying together in one piece, and apricots that are deep orange and softer, but not falling apart. If any of the elements seem to be cooking too fast, take them off!

Serve immediately.

Herby sauce
1/4 cup toasted cashews/walnuts/pistachios
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil 
10 fresh mint leaves (fairly large) 
2-3 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves 
5 Tbsp oil 
1 Tbsp lemon juice 
1/2 tsp salt 

Toast the cashews in a large skillet over a medium flame, OR in a 350 degree oven, for about 5 minutes until the nuts are lightly brown and smell aromatic.

Add the nuts and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until well mixed.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

Healthier apricot carrot cake

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Cake with vegetables sounds healthy, but is usually far from it. This version lightens up the traditional recipe with dried apricots, applesauce, and coconut sugar; reduces the fat and swaps in coconut oil; and swaps out half of the white flour for whole wheat. Add in walnuts for Omega-3s (or leave them out to make this school safe) and you have a healthier option for your Easter table that’s equally delicious and showstopping.

Take me to the cake!

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I’m still struggling with the eternal question: Is it worth it to healthify desserts? If my kid factors into the equation, then yes. He’s often satisfied with a “healthy” sweet. I, on the other hand, really wanted a doughnut for breakfast and no amount of healthy treats was going to cut it.

However! If there’s a recipe ripe for healthifying, a dessert starring a vegetable is it.

I started recipe testing this cake by dumping everything into a bowl and calling it a day. The results were delicious, but dense, so I decided to do as others have done and whip the eggs and sugar at the start to make the crumb a bit lighter. Often, cake directions tell you to cream butter and sugar / butter and eggs / sugar and eggs (as in this case) until they’re “light and fluffy.” Unfortunately, the coconut sugar is so dark that you’ll never really achieve this. What you want instead is just to aerate the eggs, sugar, and other liquids. Don’t worry about it too much, just make sure that you see lots of bubbles once all of the liquid is combined.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Alone, this cake is delicious, but tastes like a muffin or a quick bread, not a cake. But slathered in cream cheese frosting, this is a CAKE.

Can I tell you a secret about making the frosting? I don’t measure the sugar. You heard that: I don’t measure the sugar. I mix in a couple of large spoonfuls and then add more to taste. I like a frosting that isn’t too sweet and the beauty of cream cheese frosting is the tang, which gets totally masked by too much sugar.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Apricot carrot cake

Adapted from Bake from Scratch and Natasha’s Kitchen

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (about 45 minutes of active time, including frosting the cake)
Yield: 8 GIANT slices, 10-12 normal slices

1 cup apricots, chopped
1 Tbsp flour (AP or Whole Wheat)
4 eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour (pastry or white whole wheat are also great)
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp fine sea salt
12 oz carrots; trimmed, peeled, and shredded (about 3 cups, lightly packed shredded carrots)
1 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 375.

Grease two 9-inch cake pans, or a 12-cup muffin tin liberally with melted coconut oil or cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small bowl, chop the apricots and toss with 1 Tbsp of flour (either AP or whole wheat). Set aside.

Toast your walnuts in the preheating oven, keeping an eye to ensure that they don’t burn while you continue prepping your other ingredients. Set aside.

Trim, peel, and shred your carrots. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes on a medium high setting (or on high if your hand mixer isn’t very strong). The eggs won’t get lighter in color because the coconut sugar is quite dark, but you will see lots of little air bubbles formed and the volume of the liquid should increase.

Reduce the speed of your mixer to low (medium-low for a hand mixer) and slowly add the oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract.

Sift the dry ingredients together into the wet ingredients. Fold until just combined and no lumps remain.

Fold in the carrots, apricots, and toasted walnuts (if using).

Pour half of the mixture into each cake pan (or, fill each muffin cup until about 2/3 full).

Bake, rotating halfway through, for 20-23 minutes for the cakes or 15-18 minutes for the muffins. You want the cakes to be springy when touched and for a tester to come out with a few crumbs or clean.

Let the cake cool entirely before icing.


Cream cheese frosting
2 blocks cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to taste

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer or your hand mixer, combine and whip the butter and cream cheese on high for 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and whip on medium to combine.

Add the powdered sugar a few Tbsp at a time and SLOWLY whip the sugar into the rest of the mixture on low (otherwise you’ll have powdered sugar all over your kitchen). Once the initial amount of powdered sugar is incorporated, add more, a few Tbsp at a time, to taste. When all of the sugar you want is incorporated, turn the mixer back to high and whip for 3-4 more minutes.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes



Squash, chicken, and apricot puree

Squash, chicken, and apricot puree | Me & The Moose. A nice blend of fruit and veggies lend a mellow sweetness to this protein packed puree. #meandthemoose #babyfood #puree #protein

Where did the summer go? July felt interminable and then I blinked and it was mid-September. Part of me is so happy: Soon it'll be "just a sweater" weather; the beginning of a new school year feels like a fresh start for everyone; and we can finally FINALLY eat apples and squash day and night. But, we also have to let go of those lazy, meandering days; tomatoes go mealy again; and as Ned Stark likes to remind us, winter is coming. There is something undeniably melancholy about the prospect of gray days and bare trees.

So, fall is like an exercise in wanting two things at once. I want time to pass and to stand still. Incidentally, this is exactly how I feel about parenting. I can't wait for M to tell me what he needs with actual words (and maybe even get it himself?), but I want to hang onto these dwindling baby days too. I'm so proud when he learns something new, but I also miss his little mewling cries and when he used to snuggle into my chest for naps.

But alas, time marches on. Here is one last summer-centric puree to take advantage of the season's remaining produce. If apricots are already scarce in your markets, feel free to swap in dried or frozen ones (though, I'd use half because the flavor is more concentrated). Or, use super-ripe, late summer peaches instead.

Squash, chicken, and apricot puree | Me & The Moose. A nice blend of fruit and veggies lend a mellow sweetness to this protein packed puree. #meandthemoose #babyfood #puree #protein

Squash, chicken, and apricot puree

1 cup chopped yellow squash
6-8 fresh apricots, pitted (or 3-4 dried apricots reconstituted in hot water; or 2 large peaches)
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
10 oz raw chicken breast, cut or pounded into thin strips
1 Tbsp olive oil

Bring a few inches of water to a boil. Add chicken to steamer and steam for 10 minutes (or use pre-grilled/cooked chicken breasts left over from a previous night's dinner like I did; about 6-7 oz cooked). Chop the yellow squash and apple into large chunks and add to the steamer; steam for 10 minutes. Pit the apricots and add to the mixture and steam for 2 more minutes. Check the chicken and squash for doneness and continue steaming as needed. Once cooked, put all ingredients in a blender and add ¼ cup of the steaming liquid (reserve more to use as needed) and add 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Puree to desired consistency.