Menu Plan

Menu Plan | thepajamachef.com

Week of March 16

Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: celebrating Ben’s birthday with jalapeno popper chicken
Wednesday: kung pao chickpeas [didn’t make last week]
Thursday: black beans & rice
Friday: paninis
Saturday: out to eat
Sunday: leftovers… or pizza… or something

Mujaddara: Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw

Lentils are the new black beans. :) This easy vegetarian meal is our new staple weeknight dinner! The carrot slaw elevates the classic Mujaddara dish into something extra special.

Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw | thepajamachef.com

I used to not know what to do with lentils. They seemed mushy and weird. But then Ben and I started frequenting this fabulous Turkish restaurant in Indiana and I fell in love with their red lentil soup. So I bought lentils to recreate it at home… and they sat in my pantry for like two years. And moved to Nashville with us. Once here, I started making red lentil soup, but that’s all I did with lentils. Until I found this recipe in an old issue of Food Network Magazine. [True story.] Though the recipe didn’t say this was Mujaddara, aka the beans and rice of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and beyond, it clearly is. 

Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw | thepajamachef.comI had a hard time making lentils and rice look pretty but there you have it. Since the fall, we’ve had this for dinner almost every other week and it’s so simple I can practically make it in my sleep! Since I can’t leave recipes alone, I have simplified the dish a weeee little bit from the original. Namely, the traditional dish calls for caramelizing the onions. I’m sure that’s great, but for a quick weeknight dinner? Not gonna happen, sorry. The traditional dish also serves the onions on top of the lentils and rice. But there’s no way Ben would like that, so I just dice ’em up like usual and saute them until they’re really soft and call it a day. Or a night. Or a dinner, whatever. I’ve also noted this in the recipe itself but you can use ANY rice and ANY lentils to make this fabulous meal. My most used combo is brown lentils with jasmine rice, but any combo will do. Just know that the amount of time it takes to prepare this dish is related to what type of rice and lentils you choose. Red lentils are quick, brown rice is slow, etc. And don’t forget the carrot slaw. It’s tangy and earthy and uses just three ingredients to make its magic! Carrots, lemon juice, and cumin. You can season with salt and pepper too. It’s divine! I really should always make a double batch of this stuff because Ben and I are ADDICTED to it, and I usually make more later in the week for leftovers. The contrast of the hearty lentil and rice mixture with the fresh slaw and yogurt is just fabulous. Enjoy!

one year ago: Apple Rubies in Coconut Milk
two years ago: Double Blueberry Walnut Muffins
three years ago: Quinoa Pancakes
four years ago: Lemon Blueberry Bread

Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
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from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rice – I’ve used basmati, jasmine, brown, and white so use what you like/what you have!
  • 3 cups water or broth
  • 3 cups shredded carrots – about 6 medium carrots
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons cumin, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup lentils – any kind you like… red, green, or brown
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • freshly ground black pepper + salt
  • plain greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving [or tzatziki!]
  • fresh cilantro, for serving

Directions:

Begin by preparing rice according to package directions.

In a medium bowl, combine carrots, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and a little freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 6-7 minutes. Stir often and when almost done, add garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, and remaining cumin and cook until fragrant. Add lentils and water/broth to the pan and stir well to combine. Raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until lentils are tender. When rice and lentils are done, add rice to the lentil pan and stir to combine.

Serve rice and lentils topped with carrot slaw, yogurt, and cilantro.

Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake

This chocolate bundt cake is fabulous. It’s light and fresh, flavorful and addictive.

Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake | thepajamachef.com

So I’m sitting here on my couch, kitty by my side, five days after I made this cake, wishing desperately that I had another slice. It’s another unexpected Nashville snow day and I’m re-watching the last episode of Parenthood again [it was DVR’d even though I watched it live, and I couldn’t bear to just delete it.]. A slice of this uber chocolately cake would just complete the moment.

Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake | thepajamachef.com

I don’t make bundt cakes very often but when I do, I find that I’m often disappointed because they can be so buttery and heavy, and take forEVA to cook. This one–despite being wayyyy chocolately–is just the opposite. It’s light and moist [sorry!]. Coffee lovers love this cake because the coffee in the batter brings out the flavor of the chocolate but non-coffee lovers won’t even know there’s coffee in the cake! Funny how that works out, right? Everyone who tried this cake loved it and it was so simple to make I know it’s going to be part of my cake repertoire forever and ever. [Hope that works for you, friends!]

Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake | thepajamachef.com

This time, I topped the cake with a simple dusting of powdered sugar because I was in a rush, and truly that was all it needed. Just for show, ya know? But to make this more decadent and indulgent, a silky chocolate ganache, a peanut butter glaze, or even a fruit compote topping would totally fit in. Eating this cake with ice cream is also highly recommended. But beyond ice cream or toppings or powdered sugar, making this cake is necessary for your weekend. It’ll make it 100 times better, I promise. :) Enjoy!

one year ago: Strawberry Yogurt
two years ago: Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad
three years ago: Extraordinary Grilled Cheese
four years ago:  The Best Egg Salad I’ve Ever Had

Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake

  • Servings: 24
  • Time: 90 minutes
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from The Tart Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 whole large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups + 1 tablespoon buttermilk [or 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar + 1 1/4 cups milk]
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • powdered sugar

Directions:

In a small saucepan, whisk together coffee and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and then set aside to cool completely. When cooled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, salt, baking soda, and eggs. Beat on low to combine. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, then mix again until blended. Slowly add flour and mix on low for 2 minutes. Add in coffee/cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Batter will be very thin.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-65 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before gently removing by interverting on a platter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

 

What I’m Into (February 2015 edition)

It’s hard to believe another month has come and gone! Though this is a few days later than I intended, better late than never, right? :)

What’s Been Happening

One of the best parts of this month: finding this ADORABLE kitten. We had a terrible [by Southern standards] ice storm that knocked out Nashville for a week. Ben had the week off from school, and my university closed for about 2 1/2 days. It was glorious!

I've been waiting a YEAR to wear this awesome #goodwill sweater! #snowdayselfie #90sstyle #shoulderpads #socomfy

A photo posted by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

The Saturday afterwards, it was pouring rain so instead of running, Ben and I were walking/ice-skating to the gym to work out when we heard this incessant meowing/screeching noise coming from the pedestrian bridge at our apartment complex. In what was probably one of the greatest moments of communication in our marriage, we realized simultanoeously that this wasn’t an annoying bird, but rather a very tiny and very wet kitten. With zero hesitation or debate, Ben scooped the kitten up. After rushing her home, I dried her off while called the vet. They could see us right away and we were relieved to learn that she was remarkably healthy despite the weather that week, though she weighed just over a pound.

We put up signs at our apartment complex but no one has contacted us so we assume she’s a stray… well, stray no more! She’s ours! We named her Isa, meaning ice in the old Germanic runes. Isa is pronounced E-sa. Her middle name is Marie and she already has an abundance of nicknames, including Isa Pizza, Little Pizza, Mini Fluff, etc. [Yes, the pizza thing is weird, but if you say Isa with a generic European accent, pizza just flows naturally after it. Yes, we are weird.] The other two kitties are curious about her, but we have to keep them separated for now to make sure she’s healthy. I took her to the vet again on Thursday and she had gained 6.5 ounces in just five days so she’s now a little ball of energy. She’s adorable and we are in love!

Other fun happenings this month include my college friend Cathy visiting from South Korea, where she teaches English at a university. We always have a blast together and it was so fun to catch up. She was in the US for about 3 weeks and I got to pick her up/drop her off at the airport so I got to see her TWICE! Puppy chow is THE tradition of our little group of friends, so we had to make it together. One time, we made it in a hotel room the night of one of the girls’ weddings. So fun!!

I’m still keeping up with marathon training, though the ice storm put a damper in my training. I. HATE. the. treadmill. Ugh! And we are supposed to get more bad weather this week. Sigh… I can’t wait for spring!

What I’m Reading

This month I finished 10 books and am in process with several more. So far, I’ve read 21 books this year and am on track for my Goodreads goal [follow me!].

What I'm Into | thepajamachef.comThe best books I read this month was the third installment of Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel series, A Game of Lies and the book I read for the reading challenge on Modern Mrs. Darcy, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. My mom is an Agatha-aholic and that book fit the category of “a book my mom loves” for the reading challenge. I have to say… I get the Agatha love now!! And Then There Were None was fabulous. I was guessing the murderer til the end and the book was well written and relatable, even decades after it was published. I’ll have to read more of her books!

What I’m Watching

I am wayyyy behind on all my tv shows. Our DVR is constantly almost full and I keep deleting cooking shows I haven’t watched. :( Ben and I have been pretty good about keeping up with The Blacklist though. I’m so glad that show is back! When that show premiered, we still lived in Indiana. We actually watched the first episode in the midst of packing to move to Nashville. I still remember us cuddling on the couch, moving boxes out of the way so we could see the tv. Good times!

What I’ve Been Cooking

This month I’ve been cooking recipes out of Melissa d’Arabian’s Supermarket Healthy like it’s going out of style! Here’s my review, p.s. :) The protein bars are my fave! I need to make them again and take some pictures for you! February has been a very busy month so I feel like I haven’t made anything new or interesting… just same old, same old black bean/lentil/pasta staples. I’m looking forward to spring cooking! Lots and lots of fresh veggies will be eaten in our little household!

Dinner- oh my gosh! So good. Orange tofu with veggies and brown rice. Yum-o! #tofu #betterthantakeout

A photo posted by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

I almost forgot about the best new recipe I tried this month–orange tofu with veggies. SO good! My friend Cathy and I also made some Cinnabon knockoff cinnamon rolls. This was my second time using this recipe and they are amazing. Mmm!

What’s On The Blog

My most popular new recipe of the month was Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice. Yum!

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

My top three popular recipes from the archives were: Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake, Buffalo Pretzels, and Funfetti Cookies.

What were you into in February?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.