SRC: Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice

Panfried falafel served up with lots of creamy tzatziki [cucumber sauce] and a tangy Greek rice. No one said vegetarian food had to be boring!

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice | thepajamachef.com #SRC #vegetarian

I’m so glad it’s a Secret Recipe Club [SRC] day! What’s SRC? Basically a fun blogging group where you’re secretly paired up with another blogger. Everyone makes a recipe from their assigned blog and posts on the same day. The club has grown over the years and now has four groups. Since I first joined a few years[!] ago, I’ve been in group A. But when I had the chance to switch groups, I got SO excited because–hello!–new blogs to explore! :) So now I’m in group C and loving it! This month I was assigned to Jamie’s blog, Our Eating Habits. Jamie lives in Canada and like any food blogger, loves food. She says on her about page: “Eating is a big part of my life, so I make sure everything that goes into my mouth is tasty.” A sentiment I agree with! [And that is EXACTLY why I bought jalapeno cheetos on Saturday at the grocery store. Those are SO good. Anyway…] Jamie loves cooking and baking for her family and has an impressive number of recipes on her blog. It was so fun to browse her recipes! I was tempted to make these red velvet M&M cake mix bars for Valentine’s Day, and will make this Butterscotch Confetti at Christmastime this year! I was all set to make those red velvet bars when I saw that Jamie had a falafel recipe…and I was sold!

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice | thepajamachef.com #SRC #vegetarian

Though I love falafel, sometimes I’m hesitant to order it at restaurants because it’s easy to make it too dry since it’s basically deep-fried chickpea balls/patties. Chickpeas are a drier bean anyway, so it makes sense. That’s why I’ve been excited to see so many pan-fried recipes for falafel lately. This recipe doesn’t disappoint! It’s so flavorful and moist [sorry!]. I changed the recipe a little from Jamie’s version, using lime juice instead of lemon, and adding the zest in for a little something special. Jamie used an egg as a binder and I decided to exclude it just so I didn’t have to worry about not cooking the falafel enough. I compensated for the lack of egg by using more chickpeas and less bread crumbs. Served up with some creamy tzatziki, chopped tomatoes and red onion, on a pita or lettuce-wrap style, this is an awesome meal! I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make this tasty vegetarian meal. Jamie added mayo to her tzatziki sauce and I thought that was genius! The mayo made the sauce a little creamier and added a little extra zip, but it also tasted good without.

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice | thepajamachef.com #SRC #vegetarian

As a side, I made a super easy lemon rice. It has just four ingredients: jasmine rice, chicken broth, rosemary, and lemon juice and is SO addictive. The bright, fresh flavor was perfect alongside the falafel. This is not a meal to be missed! Hope you try it today. :) Thanks, Jamie, for a great recipe!

one year ago: Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake
two years ago: Go-To Pancakes
three years ago: Sunrise Muffins
four years ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 50 minutes
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Falafel and Tzatziki from Our Eating Habits; Greek Lemon Rice from Thank Your Body

Ingredients:

for falafel

  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2-1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1-2 cans chickpeas [15 ounces each]
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • oil for cooking

for Tzatziki

  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and grated, pressed dry with a clean dish towel
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill [or 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped]
  • 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

for Greek Lemon Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine or basmati rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • juice of 1 lemon [approximately 1/4 cup]
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

for serving

  • pita bread
  • chopped red onions
  • chopped tomato
  • romaine lettuce

Directions:

Begin by making the tzatziki. In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, cucumber, dill, and mayo. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate while cooking falafel and rice.

Next, mix up the falafel. In a food processor, pulse together onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, lime zest, and lime juice. Then add 1/4 cup bread crumbs and 1 can chickpeas and pulse together, being careful to not completely pulverize the chickpeas. Check to see if mixture holds together, then add additional bread crumbs and/or chickpeas, pulsing gently, until mixture can be shaped into patties. I used 1/2 cup bread crumbs and 1 1/2 cans chickpeas [approximately 2 1/4 cups chickpeas]. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Shape into small patties–I used about 1/4 cup for each. Place on a plate or baking sheet and pop in the fridge to chill while starting the rice.

In a small saucepan set over high heat, combine rice, chicken broth, rosemary, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then stir. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for 15-20 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff with a fork and season with pepper and salt to taste.

While rice is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and when hot, cook falafel patties, about 3-4 minutes per side until heated through and browned on each side.

Serve falafel in a pita or with lettuce, topping with onions, tomato, and tzatziki. Rice is great on the side or in the pita too!

Be sure to see what other SRC members made this week:

#TripleSBites: Spiced Fig Turkey Mini Meatloaf

Mini turkey meatloaf… flavorful and perfectly portioned. :) With a spiced fig sauce on top, what’s not to love?!?

Spiced Fig Mini Turkey Meatloaf | thepajamachef.com #TripleSBites

Who eats meatloaf for a romantic dinner?!? Obviously, we do! #nontraditional Haha. Romantic or not, these mini turkey meatloaf [meatloaves?] are absolutely delicious! Sometimes in the past when I’ve made turkey meatloaf or turkey tacos I’ve been let down with the amount of flavor the meal has since it has a different flavor than beef. So when I was making these mini treats I used SO much flavor… ginger, garlic, herbs, chile peppers, balsamic vinegar… Ben walked by and commented how good the raw meat smelled. Crazy! :)

Spiced Fig Mini Turkey Meatloaf | thepajamachef.com #TripleSBites

Two of our #TripleSBites [go HERE for more info on this fantastic event and don’t forget to enter the giveawayyy! Do it now!] sponsors contributed to these delicious meat muffins [Ben’s name, not mine]. All the herbs and seasoning–ginger and garlic, herbs and chile peppers–came from Gourmet Garden. Before #10DaysofTailgate in the fall, I had never used Gourmet Garden’s squeezable herbs and seasonings, but now I do all the time. They are just so convenient, especially when you only need a little of something. For more info, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or Pinterest. And the other major flavor player in my meatloaf was in the topping. Spiced Fig Not Ketchup is my new sauce of choice! It’s sweet and mild and I’ve been dipping everything in it lately, from sweet potato fries to meatloaf, and I’m playing around with making it into a salad dressing. Mmm! Find out more about Not Ketchup on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, or Pinterest pages. I love these blogging events because I get to try out so many awesome products. Thanks to you both for being such great sponsors. P.S. readers… you can WIN these products in the giveaway too!

Spiced Fig Mini Turkey Meatloaf | thepajamachef.com #TripleSBites

I don’t really like meatloaf in those long slices… but give it to me in muffin form and I could eat it all day long! Enjoy!

one year ago: Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas
two years ago: Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies
three years ago: Caramel S’mores Cups
four years ago: Bacon-Wrapped Feta & Almond Stuffed Dates

Spiced Fig Turkey Mini Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 45 minutes
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adapted from my mom’s recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Herbs from Gourmet Garden [or ~1 teaspoon dried basil/oregano/rosemary etc.]
  • 1 tablespoon Chunky Garlic from Gourmet Garden [or 3-4 cloves garlic, minced]
  • 1/2 tablespoon Ginger from Gourmet Garden [or an equivalent amount of grated fresh ginger]
  • 1 teaspoon Hot Chili from Gourmet Garden [or a pinch of cayenne pepper or red chili flakes]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup Spiced Fig Not Ketchup, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, milk, and vinegar. Let rest for 5 minutes, then add turkey, egg, garlic, ginger, chili, and pepper. Use your hands [or a spoon] to mix everything together, then divide between the muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and brush each meatloaf cup with Spiced Fig Not Ketchup [using about 1-2 teaspoons per meatloaf]. Return to the oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and crisp along the edges. Top with remaining Spiced Fig Not Ketchup.


Check out other yummy #TripleSBites recipes today!

#TripleSBites | thepajamachef.com

Disclosure: I received herbs and spices from Gourmet Garden and a bottle of Not Ketchup as part of my participation in #TripleSBites. I was not compensated in any way–for my time, to create a recipe, or to publish positive comments. I was not required to use these products as part of my recipe. My opinions are my own. 

#TripleSBites: Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas

This caesar salad, made with tender spring mix and hearty kale, is full of flavor and spice! A perfect starter to any meal.

Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas | thepajamachef.com #TripleSBItes

Welcome to #TripleSBites! For the next week, I’ll be sharing some fun, romantic recipes. Now, my definition of romantic might be a little nontraditional, but my husband LOVED every recipe I’m sharing so that works for me. :) For more details about this week, and to enter the giveaway, go here now!

#TripleSBites | thepajamachef.com

To start things off, I thought I’d share a salad. Salads have a reputation of being a boring way to eat veggies, especially if they are just a side salad. They don’t have to be boring though! I think it’s all in the toppings and dressing! To set the stage for this caesar salad, I made a fresh dressing that is just out of this world… just lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, and some seasoning. Simple and fresh, just how I like it. [The recipe is from Melissa D’Arabian’s new cookbook so you know it has to be good!!] After tossing the dressing with my greens of choice [this time, spring mix and kale], I added the star of the show: fried chickpeas. [And gigantic shreds of parmesan cheese. Ben was in charge of that, haha. :)]

Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas | thepajamachef.com #TripleSBItes

Now, for these fried chickpeas I used one of our sponsor products: Acala Farms Chili Cumin Oil. This oil is awesome! It’s an infused cottonseed oil and is slightly spicy, so it gives a great flavor to those chickpeas as you fry them up in a skillet. I also seasoned them with dried parsley so they’d look a little prettier and to cut that spice a bit. Acala Farms also sent me a Cilantro Oil to try and I can’t wait to play around with that!  If you don’t have time to fry up some chickpeas as a salad topper, did you know that you can buy crispy chickpeas that are kinda sorta the same thing?!? Another #TripleSBites sponsor is 2 Armadillos [what a fun name, btw!] and they make all sorts of flavored crispy chickpeas: rosemary, spicy cayenne, tomato basil, and cinnamon toast. So far, rosemary is my fave but I haven’t tried cinnamon toast yet so we will see! They’re perfect for a snack or to put on salad. I’m wondering about trying to bake with them too… as a crust or in granola or something?! Hmmmm… Since the package arrived the other night I just want to snack on them all. the. time! Who would’ve guessed chickpeas would be so tasty?! I truly loved the oil and the chickpeas, and don’t want my blog to read like an ad but simply must say… you need to try these products! I love buying from small businesses and really appreciate how the internet has made purchasing from smaller companies SO much easier. Hope you check them out! 2 Armadillos is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Acala Farms can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks to these great sponsors! 

Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas | thepajamachef.com #TripleSBItes

Well, that’s all I have today but be sure to come back later this week for more #TripleSBites recipes, and check out the linkup below for more recipes from other #TripleSBites gals! Happy Monday!

one year ago: Chili Relleno Casserole
two years ago: Baked Jalapeno Popper Ranch Dip
three years ago: Fried Eggs on Pesto-Parmesan Toast
four years ago: Mini Meatloaf

Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 20 minutes
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dressing recipe from Supermarket Healthy by Melissa D’Arabian

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Acala Farms Chili Cumin Oil
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained and patted dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 4 cups lettuce, kale, or spinach [I used half spring mix and half kale]
  • shaved parmesan

for dressing

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add chickpeas [make sure they are dry!]. Season with parsley and fry for 10-12 minutes, tossing occasionally and allowing all sides to get browned.

Meanwhile, prepare dressing. Whisk together lemon juice, dijon, and garlic. While whisking, pour in 1 tablespoon oil. Season with red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Add extra oil and/or water to thin as necessary.

Toss dressing with lettuce. Serve with shaved parmesan and fried chickpeas.

Check out these other yummy #TripleSBites recipes!

 

Disclosure: I received some infused cottonseed oil from Acala Farms and some chickpea samples from 2 Armadillos as part of my participation in #TripleSBites. I was not compensated in any way–for my time, to create a recipe, or to publish positive comments. I was not required to use these products as part of my recipe. My opinions are my own. 

 

 

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix

This cheesy chicken and mushroom dinner is perfect for company, but also for a nice weeknight dinner for your family. It’s also nice to have some of this Rice a Roni mix in the pantry for an easy side dish too!

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix | thepajamachef.com

Two recipes in one day! Whoa there, this is crazy! So last fall I read Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and that book just makes me want to COOK! And eat, but that’s no surprise. It’s a collection of essays knit together thematically around the idea of food, community, friendship, and growth. Though it’s written from a Christian perspective it’s really not in your face Christianity, if you get my drift, and it’s just a lovely book. Being a librarian I pretty much ALWAYS check books out to read from the library prior to purchasing them, and I think this one is good enough to go on  my to-purchase [read: Christmas/birthday present] list. Though I made this dinner just for Ben and myself, it’s truly a company-worthy meal. Though it’s weeknight-doable, the flavors are rich, intoxicating, and delicious. It feels like a fancy escape from the week, even if only at the dinner table.

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix | thepajamachef.com

As I sit here thinking about what I just wrote, I wonder… why do we consider things to be “company-worthy meals” or not? At the root of it definitely is our innately human desire to put on our best face for everyone and to receive compliments/praise/glory/affirmation of how great we are. Somewhere in there is a desire to treat others well. And why shouldn’t we do that for our families on a regular Tuesday? I know people are busier than ever but I still think regular family dinners–even if it’s just you and your husband–are so important. They don’t have to be fancy. In the same vein, “company meals” don’t need to be fancy either–they just need to be made with love, like this meal. This chicken dish only took about 40 minutes to put together, and much of that is baking time. Using a few pantry ingredients, some mushrooms, and cheese, it looks so special! And the homemade Rice a Roni mix is awesome too! Hope you give it a try–and check out this book. :) Enjoy!

one year ago: Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies
two years ago: Buffalo Pretzels 
three years ago: Camp Tecumseh Baked Oatmeal
four years ago: Crispy Honey Ginger Chicken

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 thin boneless skinless chicken breasts [I cut one large 16 ounce chicken breast into 4 smaller cutlets]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • dried tarragon
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced [I used shiitake but regular white mushrooms would be fine too]
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced or shredded swiss cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with a bit of olive oil. Season one side of each chicken breast with pepper and tarragon, then sear chicken for a minute on the seasoned side. Flip to the other side, season, and cook for a minute. Remove chicken to an oven safe baking dish.

In the same skillet, add more olive oil if necessary and reduce heat to medium. Cook mushrooms and onion for about 5 minutes, until soft, then add garlic. Cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Season with more pepper and tarragon. Add water, vinegar, and molasses and bring to a boil, letting most of the excess liquid cook off, about 3-4 minutes. Spoon mushrooms, onions, and sauce overtop chicken.

Cook for 10-20 minutes or until fully cooked. When chicken is almost done, top with cheese and return to oven until cheese melts.

Serve with homemade Rice a Roni [below].

Homemade Rice a Roni Mix

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 25 minutes
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from Fabulously Frugal

Ingredients:

for mix

  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 cup small pieces of angel hair, vermicelli, or thin spaghetti, broken into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 6 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder OR 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning [original recipe called for the former but I didn’t have any so I improvised]
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

for preparation

  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 1 cup of rice a roni mix [above]
  • 2 1/4 cups water or chicken broth

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large airtight jar or plastic storage container. Breaking apart the noodles was probably the most difficult part. I found it easiest to break just a few at a time, while the measuring cup was in a taller bowl. I used maybe 1/3 of a 16 ounce box of pasta. Orzo or another small pasta would be a good substitute I think.

To make the rice, heat 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add 1 cup rice a roni mix and stir. Cook, constantly stirring, for about a minute until pasta begins to turn golden brown. Add water and bring to a boil, then prepare as you would rice–reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.

 

 

 

Skinny Lasagna

Skinny lasagna… lot of flavor with a few substitutions to make a classic dish just a little healthier for the new year!

Skinny Lasagna | thepajamachef.com

Lasagna is one of my favorite meals of all time! My mom’s lasagna is my go-to dish, but when Red Gold [an Indiana company… gotta support my home state, ya know!] contacted me to ask if I wanted to participate in their Lasagna Party this month I jumped at the chance. Lasagna is so good, how could I say no?!? :) The Red Gold Simple Gourmet Lasagna Party runs through February 3rd on their Facebook page. Be sure to enter for a chance to win one of 750 aprons or 6 gourmet lasagna party prizes [that include a Le Creuset Lasagna pan! How fun!]. The fabulous folks at Red Gold sent me a fun package with a selection of canned tomatoes, lasagna noodles, a Laura’s Beef coupon and apron, and some recipes to try out.

Skinny Lasagna | thepajamachef.comI made this lasagna a couple weekends ago, on a Saturday morning before I did a long run. Psssssst! Did I tell you guys that I’m marathon training?!? #5, in Nashville! Woohoo. :) It’ll be fun to do a marathon in my new city! Anyways, this lasagna was SO delicious. Using Italian seasoning, as simple as it sounds, along with tomatoes that have already been seasoned with basil, garlic, and oregano, made this dish SO flavorful. My only beef [ha ha ha] with this lasagna recipe was that it used a whole pound of lasagna noodles. I usually use just half a pound, so I thought it was very noodle-y and there was no way this would all fit in my pan. So I used two! [Ben’s idea. What a smartypants.] This lasagna was SO flavorful and delicious. PLUS it was really easy to make this sauce with just canned tomatoes and seasoning. I’ll definitely be using that trick more often. One less step to yummy lasagna! Hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to enter the contest! :)

Skinny Lasagna | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Broccoli Stuffed Loaded Potato Skins with Avocado Cream
two years ago: Lemon Cranberry Muffins
three years ago: Preparing Black Beans in the Oven
four years ago: Triple Chocolate Oat Cookies

Skinny Lasagna

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 28 ounces Red Gold crushed tomatoes
  • 2 – 14.5 ounce cans Red Gold diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, & oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning – I used ~2 tablespoons of Gourmet Gardens Italian Herbs + 1 tablespoon crushed garlic instead
  • 1 pound Laura’s Lean Beef or ground turkey
  • 16 ounce traditional lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 15 ounces low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the lasagna noodles to al dente. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown ground beef or turkey. Cook noodles according to package instructions, then drain. Drain grease from meat when done.

In a large bowl, combine water, tomatoes, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir in cooked meat.

In a 9×13 baking dish, spread out 1 1/2 cups sauce. Top with 1/3 of noodles, overlapped. Top with 1/2 of the cottage cheese, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, and 1 cup sauce. Repeat, then finish with remaining 1/3 of noodles and the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 60-90 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes:

I used an oval dish that usually can be subbed with a 9×13 pan but I had way too much so I made a mini lasagna in a 9×5 loaf pan. As I was typing up this recipe, I noticed that the original recipe does not call for cooking the noodles–just placing them in the pan uncooked. So you could try that too–probably cooking it for about 90 minutes instead of the 1 hour I did.

Next time I make this I will probably only use 8 ounces noodles. We felt it was too noodle-y but I usually only make lasagna with 1/2 a box of noodles so that’s just what we are used to.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary lasagna kit from Red Gold with all the tomatoes for this recipe, lasagna noodles, a Laura’s Lean Beef apron, a coupon for Laura’s Lean Beef, and 6 recipes. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own.