Mediterranean Meatballs with Brown Rice & Tahini Sauce

In the midst of the season’s hustle and bustle, it’s important for me to pause for moments of rest and refreshment. To soak in the treasure of this time of year, to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend or to sit by the fire with a good book gives me perspective and room to breath. That’s why I loved the article over at Lark and Bloom on Breathing. Take a minute in your day to read and be refreshed.

This meal is a pause and a break for me. A tangy, flavor mix up from normal holiday foods. Don’t get me wrong, I love garlicky spiced crackers and hot chocolate and sugar cookies, but mid week between Christmas parties and dinners, I’m craving something fresh, healthy and bright. Plus I find that I feel a lot better about eating an extra dark chocolate truffle at a party if I’ve been eating healthy during the week.


My favorite flavor profile is definitely Mediterranean. How can you go wrong with lemons and garlic and olive oil? After college and before marriage, I lived with some dear family friends. Every Thursday I cooked dinner for them and upon entering the kitchen their oldest, Hudson, would always ask: “Jill, is there garlic in this?” The answer was always yes. Hey, it’s heart healthy!

I used toasted pumpkin seeds in the meatballs instead of pine nuts as the original recipe called for. I love pumpkin seeds because they are inexpensive but pack the same deep, nutty flavor. The leftovers are great stuffed into pita bread or covered in hummus. I hope you try this and enjoy it; afterwards make a cup of Nutella Hot Chocolate to keep you in the Christmas spirit.

Mediterranean Meatballs with Brown Rice & Tahini Sauce

Serves 4

Adapted from the recipe for Kofta b’siniyah from “Jerusalem: a Cookbook”


2 cups brown Basmati rice or regular brown rice, cooked according to package directions

2/3 cup tahini paste (found in most grocery stores, just ask!)

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup of room temp water

1 medium clove of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp olive oil

finely chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish

1lb ground beef or lamb

1 small onion

2 large garlic cloves, minced

7 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds, finely chopped

2 teaspoons all-spice

1 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup feta cheese

3 Tbsp capers

1 Tbsp chopped green onion

To Make:

Cook brown rice according to package directions. This takes about 40 minutes, so make sure to plan ahead!

Using your hands mix together ground beef, chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, pumpkin seeds, all spice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Shape meat into round balls, pressing together so it is compact and keeps its shape. Place on a plate and chill until you are ready to cook them.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini paste, lemon juice, water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. The sauce should be a bit runnier than honey; if needed, add one to two tablespoons of water.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over high heat, sear the meatballs on each side to get a nice golden brown color, about 5 minutes. Do this in batches so the meatballs are cramped together. Place them on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 4 minutes.

Remove meatballs from oven. Serve over brown rice, drizzling tahini sauce over top and sprinkle with capers, feta cheese, chopped parsley and green onion. Serve immediately.




Eating with the Armstrongs


First of all, Happy Father’s Day to my amazing dad, father-in-law, my Grandpa & my Papau! We are so thankful for these men who love us, generously support us, and have consistently cared for us for so many years.

When I was little my dad’s specialty was splatter: a combination of fried spam, onions and potatoes. And I have to tell you, it was delicious. He has since learned how to make gourmet omelets and is a grill master, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he brought out his splatter recipe again.  There are so many things I love about my dad. He is the funniest man I know, extremely creative, hard working, and generous. He definitely set the bar high in my mind of the kind of man I wanted to marry. I’m thankful that my husband fits the bill in every way. I love you, Daddy, and am happy to celebrate you today! I wish I could give you a head rub while you watch golf. Love from Baton Rouge!

Here’s what we’ve enjoyed lately!

Creamy Polenta w/ Chicken Sausage & Peppers

Definitely a recent favorite! Polenta is so easy to whip up and makes a delicious base for the sausage and peppers. I actually used a Cajun Sausage that I got from our Farmer’s Market, which added the perfect spice. This meal came together quickly and easily and was thoroughly enjoyed by both of us!

Spring Vegetable Potstickers

Well, I really only made the vegetable filling as I could not find wonton or dumpling wrappers at our local Whole Foods. But the filling was absolutely delicious served atop noodles. I did not use tofu but I did add ground turkey for some protein. The flavors in this recipe are fresh and bright.

Pepper Chicken Nachos

We love nachos, so the substitution of bell peppers for chips was excited to try. The recipe calls for mini peppers, but I just used regular bell peppers. This is another simple and flavor packed meal.

Tropical Chewy Granola Bars

These gluten free granola bars are packed with power-food ingredients and wholesome sweetness. I made quite a few recipe swaps: dried cherries for the dried mango, chocolate chips for the dried banana, pecans for the macadamia nuts, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for the vanilla bean seeds. Tasty and good-for-you!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

In the attempt to succeed at a gluten free summer diet, I have made this “pizza crust” twice! The flavor is delicious but I’m still working on getting a crunchier consistency throughout. A major adjustment I made to the recipe was to cook the crust at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes (periodically checking), instead of the 450 degrees the recipe called for. This created a much better crust, but I am going to try an even longer cooking time at a lower temperature. We topped ours with a simple tomato sauce, sausage, basil, spinach (from my garden!) and just a tiny bit of Parmesan. Try it!

Eating with the Armstrongs

Summer life promises to be a little bit slower for us, and we’ll welcome that wholeheartedly! But with settling into our new home and adding a puppy to the fam (pictures coming soon!) who knows what the pace will really look like.
In the coming weeks, look for a post on gardening! My parents helped us plant flower beds this weekend as well as an herb and vegetable garden. Here’s to hoping everything will remain alive throughout the summer. Taking on a green thumb promises to be a good workout and a chance to get some intense tan lines.

Recently we have enjoyed the following recipes:

Cilantro Garlic Chicken

This grilled chicken is ideal for summertime and FULL of flavor. I served it alongside of some roasted broccoli.

Pop Rock Truffles

A friend made these whimsical treats for a baby shower recently, and they are truly phenomenal! Pretty simple and a really creative idea for the plethora of summer showers and parties.

Springtime Portobello & Asparagus Pizza

Another recipe from one of my favorite blogs, this pizza is incredible. I substituted bacon as a cheaper alternative to prosciutto.

Raspberry Sorbet

Raspberries & sugar, how can you go wrong? This cold, tart summer sweet is delicious. Instead of fresh raspberries, I actually used thawed frozen ones and the flavor was still full and bright!

Crock Pot Short Rib Tacos

The flavor in this recipe is unbelievable! And I definitely love crock pot recipes on busy days.

Hope you try and enjoy these!

Eating with the Armstrongs

Hi there! Need some inspiration for your weekly meal planning? Here is what I’m cooking up this week. I hope to post my weekly menus every Monday so that you can check it out and get some ideas. As I get more organized, I also want to share some budgeting tips and hints on how to make your grocery list work really well.

This week we are having a lot of chicken! In my opinion, if you can do a variety of flavors, using one kind of meat the whole week is O.K. That’s why I’m doing a Thai inspired dish, an Italian style dish, and a down home soup dish. Another great way to save, is doing a meatless entree. Seriously, if you can pack in lots of hearty vegetables and tons of flavor, your meat-loving husband won’t notice! (fingers crossed)

Sunday: Church Dinner! (70 people)

-homemade meat sauce spaghetti, mixed green salad, garlic french bread, chocolate brownie muffins

-Mixed Greens & Tomato Salad with simple vinaigrette: mix together 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, garlic salt to taste, pepper to taste. Adjust to taste, adding more olive oil if needed.

-Lesson learned: make WAY more sauce than you think, don’t try to cook all of the noodles in one pot, they will burn! yikes!

Monday: Thai Crunch Chicken Salad

-husband approved!

-adjustments: halved the recipe, used only green cabbage, deleted carrots & peanuts, added sliced avocado: totally delicious!

Tuesday: Spinach & Parmesan Stuffed Chicken with Mixed Green Salad (if this turns out well, I’ll post the recipe)

Wednesday: Supreme Pizza using Whole Foods Pizza Dough, pepperonis, mushrooms & sliced red pepper

Thursday: Wild Rice, Cauliflower, & Yellow Squash Cheesy Casserole (a creative adaptation of this yummyness)

Friday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Saturday: Eat out or leftovers

Note: the only recipe we’ve tried so far is the Thai Crunch Salad, and it is delicious! The other posted recipes are for your inspiration and I haven’t tested them yet. Remember, I taste my food a long the way and adjust seasoning according to taste! Try it!

Also, we are on a yogurt and homemade granola craze for breakfast! Recipe coming ASAP!

Teriyaki Salmon

Hi! I realize I have been a bit absent for a while and I hope some of you have noticed as well! (I like to think I’m not the only one reading this blog). Turns out, moving to a new city, starting a new job, making new friends, and helping start a new church are all, well, new and time consuming. Time consuming in the best sense, of course. Our lives have been jammed packed with meeting people and we’ve loved every minute of it! So while, yes, I’m still cooking, documenting meals has been a bit on the back burner, although the food hasn’t (ha). Actually, I’ve been doing quite a bit of cooking as I am responsible for our church dinners that we do every Sunday evening. We started with about 20 people and are now up to 40+ people, so needless to say, it’s a large, but fun task. I’ve enjoyed thinking up delicious but inexpensive meals to prepare for a crowd like italian sausage and creamy basil pasta, my mom’s white chicken chili, nana’s homemade macaroni and cheese, and desserts including multiple versions of rice crispy treats (think reese’s puffs and froot-loops), cupcake brownies, and sopapilla cheesecake.

Today, however, I’m just cooking for my husband and I, so I’d like to introduce to you my mama’s absolutely delicious and tasty Teriyaki Salmon. This salmon recipe is a family favorite as my mom used to make it every Monday night for a few years. The salmon soaks up a tangy sweet marinade which can later be boiled to make a sauce for serving. Served with cous-cous and roasted asparagus this is a must make for company, family, or just an evening meal. It’s the kind of meal that looks and feels special but is relatively simple to make and inexpensive, especially if you find salmon on sale.

This is also a great recipe to try for beginning fish lovers as salmon is not too fishy, has no bones, and the marinade flavors it beautifully. Please enjoy and be on the look out for more consistent Newly Bread updates!

Teriyaki Salmon with Roasted Asparagus and Cous-Cous

from my mom


1.5 lbs fresh Atlantic Salmon

1 bunch asparagus

1 box of cous-cous with seasoning packet (I like the Near East brand)

2 tablespoons olive oil

sprinkle of sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/3 cup orange juice

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup dry white wine, optional

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

pinch sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon black pepper
To Make:

Rinse the asparagus well and chop off the ends. Put on a baking pan or shallow dish and cover with 2 teaspoons olive oil, garlic powder, and sea salt. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes to your desired crisp-ness.

Prepare cous-cous according to the package instructions.

Combine orange juice, soy sauce, wine, oil, ginger, mustard, lemon juice, sugar, garlic and pepper in a shallow dish or large zip top plastic bag, add salmon. Cover or seal and chill 30 minutes or longer, turning once. Remove salmon from marinade, reserving marinade. Place salmon in a 9 X 13-inch pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat to low and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Serve marinade over salmon, cous-cous, and asparagus! You can also through in a chunk of fresh bread as you’ll want to sop up as much sauce as possible! Enjoy!

Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork Tacos

Y’all. These are so good.

Really, truly, mouth-wateringly delicious.

I know it may sound a tad strange, but a few months ago, a friend mentioned to me that she and her husband love to make pulled pork in a slow cooker with just a can of Dr. Pepper for pulled pork sandwiches. Of course I’ve been thinking about it, as the simple recipe just sounds so unique. Well, of course, the lovely Pioneer Woman has her own recipe in which she adds some chipotle pepper and she, in her genius, serves up the pork in taco form. Tacos  win in our house. And who can resist the flavor of chipotle? Smoky, spicy, and the oddly perfect match for Dr. Pepper.

Speaking of the Dr. Pepper, I don’t even know what it does or how it does it, but it magically transforms the pork into tender and slightly sweet and oh so delicious meat. It doesn’t actually taste like Dr. Pepper, which in my opinion is a good thing. Throw in the chipotle pepper and me-oh-my. Sweetness with a punch of spice!

To kick things up another notch, I added a dollop of avocado + lime + sea salt. Is there anything better in this world? I just used our very last Crate & Barrel gift card from our wedding to buy a mortar and pestle which is absolutely perfect for blending the avocado, lime and sea salt into a creamy topping. But if you don’t have one, a good fork works perfectly for mashing.

I mean, you know a meal is good when your husband scarfs it down barely taking a breath, in three minutes flat. The simplicity and flavor of this recipe is ideal for the hot summer. Literally just throw three ingredients in a slow cooker to cook all day, grab some toppings and voila! A fabulous meal!


Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Serves 4

1.5-2 pounds pork loin

8-10 corn tortillas

1/2 of one medium size onion, peeled and chopped in bite size pieces

1 can Dr. Pepper

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce from the can plus one tablespoon adobo sauce


2 avocados

Juice of half of one lime

Pinch of Sea salt

Shredded Monteray Jack or Sharp Cheddar, or Queso Fresco would be delish

Sour cream

To make:

Place pork loin in the Slow Cooker with chopped onions. Add chipotle pepper with sauce. (Just plop it in!) Pour in can of Dr. Pepper. Cook on low for 6 hours. When finished, skim any fat off of the top with a slotted spoon then shred with two forks.

*note: you may think there is a lot of liquid in the crock pot, this is because of the Dr. Pepper, but the amount is needed to reach the full flavor. In order to not serve up liquidy tacos, use a slotted spoon or tongs to serve the meat.

For the Avocado Dollop: Slice open avocado and scoop out into a bowl. With your mortar and pestle or just with a fork, mash together avocado, lime juice, and sea salt. Add more lime juice or salt according to taste.

For the tortillas: Either heat them in the oven or microwave, or, we threw them on the grill for a couple of minutes.

Spread sour cream on the tortilla, add shredded pork, avocado, and cheese.


Eating with the Armstrongs

Lately, life has been a flurry of out of town trips, wedding preparations for a friend, and getting ready to pack up our little house and move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana (more on that in another blog post to come). Last week I never made a meal plan or even went to the grocery store, honestly I have no idea what we ate. Things are making their way towards organized chaos as our schedules are a little slower this week and the packing begins.

I’ve still been cooking and although I haven’t had time to take lovely photos of our meals, I want to share with you a few recipes that we have really enjoyed lately! I hope you find a bit of inspiration for your weekly menu or parties in the following list:

Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole

-Total comfort food, easy to put together, and can feed a crowd. No cream of soup or anything like that. I’ve made this for friends and passed the recipe along, it’s been enjoyed by all who’ve tried it. Easily cut in half and makes great leftovers.

-My only change to the recipe is that I only put about a half cup of shredded cheddar on top rather than the larger amount it calls for. Also, for the chicken you can either buy a prepared rotisserie chicken or throw some chicken breasts in your crock pot and shred them for the casserole.

Three Bean Summer Salad

-This recipe is full of flavor and packed with protein. The grilled onions, corn, and jalapeno have a sweet taste and crunchy texture that compliment the three kinds of beans. It’s filling for lunch or a perfect side to grilled chicken.

Pepper Jack Potato Stuffed Poblano Peppers

-Another comfort food meal and a great adaption of stuffed peppers. I added some cooked, drained chorizo layered beneath the potatoes for a filling dinner for my meat eating husband.

Thai Beef Tacos

-A creative and unique take on tacos with Asian flavors. My husband isn’t a huge fan of coconut so I didn’t use coconut milk in the marinade which worked out perfectly fine. The coconut milk would definitely add a rich creaminess.

Lemon Ice Box Pie Ice Cream

-Ok, if you have an ice cream maker, this is something you HAVE to try. Light, refreshing, and absolutely divine. We’ve made it multiple times for friends and everyone has raved about it!

Peanut Butter Pie

-For this pie, I substituted plain greek yogurt for the cream cheese and it worked perfectly! A creamy, sweet, and absolutely divine pie. Make your own chocolate graham cracker crust and you are set!

S’mores Brownies

-These babies are gooey, chocolately, and just, well, perfect.

all photos were taken from the blogs where the recipes were found