Deconstructed Falafel Bowls

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights. 

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights.

Spring is here! My birthday was yesterday, and #BabyVolde’s is next week. He’ll be ONE on Friday. I can hardly believe it. Last weekend we celebrated his birthday and his baptism. Almost our entire family came down for the occasion. It was a whirlwind weekend (and unfortunately it rained the whole time) but it was so fun.

Our little family

One of the best parts of spring (aside from the great running weather) is all the fresh produce at the grocery store! It’s almost farmer’s market season too. I can’t wait. I foresee quite a few lighter meals in our future, like these deconstructed falafel bowls. Regular falafel, while delicious, are a little too intense for weeknight dinners at my house. All that shaping and frying/baking. Noooo thanks! BUT if you just roast the chickpeas in the oven and layer them up with some grains, a tasty Mediterranean salsa bursting with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and herbs, and drizzle a tangy tzatziki yogurt sauce over top, suddenly falafels on a random Wednesday night is doable. Even if you have a baby crawling all over the kitchen, getting into evvvvvvverything.

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights.

Though they take about 45 minutes to put together, most of that time is hands-off, waiting for the chickpeas to get all crispy in the oven. To make this meal faster, you can prepare the grain base (I used bulgur but anything goes–couscous, quinoa, rice, etc.) and tzatziki yogurt sauce ahead of time. Then, when the chickpeas are cooking you can throw the Mediterranean salsa together in a hurry… and presto! Dinner is served. 🙂 We loved all the textures/flavors in this dish, as well as the temperature contrast between the hot, smoky chickpeas and the cool, creamy tzatziki sauce. This is a great one dish meal that has definitely earned a spot on my spring/summer dinner rotation. Next time, I’ll be sure to pick up some pita bread and hummus to enjoy on the side. Happy Friday!

one year ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreo Dream
two years ago: Spicy Chickpea Bacon Burgers
three years ago: Easy Homemade New York Bagels
four years ago: Kale Fried Rice
five years ago: Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup
six years ago: Mexican Pizza

Deconstructed Falafel Bowls

  • Servings: 3
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

adapted from Delish Knowledge; Tzatziki from my blog

  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted very dry with towel
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup uncooked bulgur, couscous or other grain/grain susbtitute of choice

for the 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 the Mediterranean salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Begin by making the chickpeas. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the chickpeas–they should be very dry–with olive oil, then spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cook for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and season with cayenne, cumin, and paprika.

While chickpeas are cooking, prepare grain according to package directions. I made bulgur but couscous, quinoa, farro, or even rice would be great choices! Basically, anything goes here.

Next, make tzatziki. In a small bowl, stir together greek yogurt with grated cucumber, then fold in dill. Season with pepper and salt to taste. If desired, add mayonnaise. It adds a little extra tang that I love, but it can be omitted. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors blend. Tzatziki can be made the day before if desired.

Finally, make the Mediterranean salsa. Stir together tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion in a medium bowl. Gently fold in parsley and mint, then season with a bit of pepper. Let rest while chickpeas finish cooking.

 

When ready to serve, place bulgur in individual bowls. Top with chickpeas, Medterranean salsa, and a drizzle of tzatziki. Enjoy!

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S’mores Oatmeal

Creamy oats topped with your favorite campfire dessert… S’mores! What could be a better way to wake up?

Creamy oats topped with your favorite campfire dessert... S'mores! What could be a better way to wake up?

looove oatmeal for breakfast. No matter the weather, I could eat oatmeal almost everyday (and sometimes I do!). Sometimes I like them cold (yay overnight oats!), and sometimes I like them hot (made with milk and topped with berries and almonds)… and sometimes I like them baked (but not in the pot nine days old #thankyouverymuch).

Creamy oats topped with your favorite campfire dessert... S'mores! What could be a better way to wake up?

Flahavan’s recently sent me a fun little oat-licious care package that included a box of their famed Irish Oatmeal and some packets of quick-cooking steel cut oats. Both were DELICIOUS! There’s something to be said about enjoying oats from Ireland made by a family who has been in the oat business for over 200 years. I think these people know oats! And what Flahavan’s is known for is their flaked oats that cook up fast (only three minutes on the stovetop!) and creamy as can be. Thank you, Flahavan’s, for letting me try your amazing oatmeal! Now I know what all the hype with Irish oats is… and I’ll be seeking them out. If you’re curious, you can find out where to buy them yourself here.

Creamy oats topped with your favorite campfire dessert... S'mores! What could be a better way to wake up?

Naturally, I had to fancy up my first bowl of Flahavan’s oats. Since Ben was out when I made my morning oatmeal, I decided to top my oats with a combo that only I would enjoy… S’MORES! Ben does like s’mores, but s’morifying other recipes isn’t really his jam… oh well, more for me! So I wasn’t basically eating dessert for breakfast, I chose to be intentional about the amounts of marshmallows and chocolate chips I added to my oatmeal. That way I didn’t go overboard! Is this is a bowl of oatmeal I’d eat everyday? No, probably not. But it’s a fun treat! The best part is that these oats cook up in just a few minutes and are the absolute creamiest oats I’ve ever tasted! I think some of that is the marshmallows stirred into the hot oats, but it is also the Irish oats doing their thing. 🙂 Hope you enjoy!!

one year ago: Bacon, Potato, and Egg Casserole
two years ago: Cheesy Taco Muffins
three years ago: Coconut Curry Popcorn
four years ago: Guacamole Salsa
five years ago: Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing
six years ago: Sausage Egg Apple Strata

S'mores Oatmeal

  • Servings: 1 but can be easily scaled up
  • Time: 7 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal (or other old-fashioned oatmeal)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla
  • 15 mini marshmallows, divided
  • 1 tablespoon graham cracker crumbs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sliced, toasted almonds
  • 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Combine milk, water, Flahavan’s Oats, and cinnamon in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until liquid has absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and half of the marshmallows and half of the graham cracker crumbs. Stir until melted, then transfer to a serving bowl. Top with remaining marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, almonds, and chocolate chips. Enjoy immediately!

Disclosure: I received samples of Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal to try. However, I was not required to blog about them or provide positive feedback. I was not compensated in any other way. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Flahavan’s for some great oats! 

Book Review: The Mark of the King

Read on to learn more about The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green. I hope you’ll read this book soon–it is amazing!

Read on to learn more about The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green.

A description of the book from the publisher:

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

As usual, my five point review:

  • The characters in this book were stunning. No one was uni-dimensional, and no matter whether you loved or hated someone, their character and role in the story truly made a difference to the plot and outcome of the story. I am still torn as to whether Julianne or Marc-Paul was my favorite character, but no matter… their (surprising) romance was the highlight of this book.
  • Even though I do consider the highlight of this book to be the romance between Julianne and Marc-Paul, it was not overbearing, lovey-dovey, or predictable. Lots of twists and turns influenced their relationship at many different points… and they almost didn’t make it (in more ways than one). I love that sort of romance. It’s so real! But it would not have been possible without the grace both show towards the other, and to the people around them dealing with very hard circumstances.
  • Though the characters are influenced by Christianity, this book absolutely does not “feel” like a Christian romance novel AT. ALL. No lightly disguised evangelism here, and that’s not a criticism at all. The discussion of faith was very natural and at times, ambiguous. Real characters, real faith.
  • The writing was excellent. The novel was divided into three parts, each with a shocking twist. I managed to read this (a print copy) in less than two weeks, which is a recent record since it’s hard to read a print book with a baby in tow most days. I do most reading on my phone or Kindle these days, so you know that this must have been good!
  • 1720s Louisiana truly came alive in Jocelyn Green’s The Mark of the King. This is an often-forgotten time period of American history, something Green mentions in her readers’ notes. As such, I imagine researching this era took a great deal of grit and determination. Reading about everything from the abysmal living conditions to the devastating hurricane that ended up shaping the French Quarter of New Orleans was heartbreaking… and fascinating. I’ve said it before, but reading fiction is the best way to turn someone into a history lover, and this book is no different. I highly recommend it!

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

A Night in Spain: A Review of CourseHorse and Dabble Studio

Disclosure: We received complementary tickets for this cooking class from CourseHorse. However, I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated in any other way. The thoughts expressed below are entirely my own. Thanks to CourseHorse and Dabble Studio for a great date night!

A Night in Spain: A Review of CourseHorse and Dabble Studio

Recently Ben and I had one of the BEST dates we’ve ever been on. It’s hard to judge and rank dates, so my verdict might be influenced by the fact that date nights have been in short supply since a cute little baby entered our lives last May. Haha. But anyways, recently, we were able to check out a local cooking class at Dabble Studio, located near the Sounds Stadium in Nashville.

Date night!! A Night in Spain with @dabblestudiotn! #datenight #cookingclass #babyathome🍴💃🏻👩🏼‍🍳

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You guys, we had SO MUCH fun! I’ve never been that interested in cooking classes, to be honest, because I like to think I know how to cook pretty well. #truth But I had a little change of heart when I was contacted by CourseHorse, a website to help you find and compare a variety of classes, workshops, and tours in cities across the country. Helllloooooo date night! Now, I’m hooked and want to take so many more cooking classes!

CourseHorse’s official launch in Nashville is later this year, and it was fun to try their service a little early. They offer everything from food tours to cooking classes in Nashville, and I expect will eventually expand to other workshops and fun stuff too. Ben and I chose to attend A Night in Spain – Paella and Sangria, and you guys… it was SO DELICIOUS.

A Night in Spain: A Review of CourseHorse and Dabble Studio

Jamie was our host/instructor. She owns Dabble Studio with her parents, and their story is so fun. Jamie went to cooking school in NYC as a career change move from her corporate job, then convinced her parents to open a business to allow people to “dabble” in all sorts of fun! Coincidentally… or not, this fun aligns with the family’s passions–and each area allows someone to shine! From food tours to painting classes to cooking classes, Dabble does it all. We loved how friendly and accommodating Jamie was. She did a great job at making everyone in our class feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen.  I also loved the cooking tips she peppered in throughout the evening–how to cut an onion, seasoning tips, how to use a mandoline cutter, etc. as well as restaurant recommendations for Nashville.

A Night in Spain: A Review of CourseHorse and Dabble Studio

Even though it was an interactive event with a large group of strangers, it still was a fun date night. Maybe not a fun first date though, haha. There was a good mix of couples and groups of friends of all ages, including a few repeat customers. So grab some gal pals for a night like this–it’ll be a blast!

A Night in Spain: A Review of CourseHorse and Dabble Studio

Our menu for the evening included: a fabulous cheese and charcuterie plate, a delicious salad made by Jamie that included Spanish Anchovy, Fennel and Preserved Lemon, Spanish Potato Omelet, Spanish Paella, and Red Sangria. So much good stuff!! Everything was so fresh and flavorful. The portions were also huge and Jamie was thoughtful enough to provide boxes for leftovers so nothing went to waste.

A Night in Spain: A Review of CourseHorse and Dabble Studio

We cooked the omelet and paella ourselves, and were even given copies of the recipes to take home to make again. Despite the fact that we all initially found these recipes complicated to make, the step by step instructions and demos made these dishes accessible for even the newest cooks. I think we’re on the market for our own mandoline so we can make this amazing omelet (above) sometime soon! But it will be sad to have to do all the clean up ourselves afterwards, haha.

A Night in Spain: A Review of CourseHorse and Dabble Studio

So, to sum it up… if you’re looking for a fun date night/girls’ night, do check out a cooking class (especially at Dabble Studio in Nashville, or with a trusted partner of CourseHorse elsewhere in the country)… even if you already know how to cook. You’ll have fun, I guarantee it! 🙂

You can find Dabble Studio on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook,  Trip Advisor, and Yelp. Connect with CourseHorse on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook too.

Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.

Who doesn't love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.

When it comes to macaroni and cheese, I usually gravitate towards the baked variety. Don’t get me wrong, a box of Kraft or Annie’s is pretty much always in our pantry for those desperate nights… but when I REALLY want mac and cheese, this is what I’m talking about. Ben and I can make our way through a pan of that stuff in just a few days… it’s crazy good. And now that #BabyVolde is eating more and more of my regular cooking, heaven help us. When I made that mac and cheese a few weeks ago, he gobbled it up.

Sunday dinner… baked mac & cheese with roasted broccoli. All of us loved it (especially #BabyVolde)! 🧀

A post shared by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

While that mac and cheese will always always always be my favorite, sometimes I want mac and cheese… but with a little less cheese and a little more nutrition. Yeahhh… especially since I have a pretty non-picky-baby eater right now and I want to keep it that way. So that’s when I bring in Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese. You still have your cheese and pasta… but with a little extra protein (helllllllooooo lentils) and some extra veggie power. I won’t say the lentils and veggies aren’t noticeable, but they do make this dish a bit heartier and a little healthier. I can’t wait to make it again soon–it’s absolutely delicious!

Who doesn't love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.

One last thing before I go… I did make this recipe into a baked mac and cheese cause that’s my favorite. #crispynoodlesforlife But if that’s not your thing, or you’re in a time crunch, you can omit the panko topping and the baking step, no problemo! Enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Bars
two years ago: Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart
three years ago: Oatmeal Fudge Bars
four years ago: Neely’s Lemon Pasta Salad
five years ago: Pineapple-Apricot Teriyaki Chicken
six years ago: Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops with Pineapple over Coconut Toasted Rice

Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

slightly adapted from The Lean Green Bean

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces dry pasta
  • 3/4 cup lentils
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cups mixed vegetables, diced – can be fresh or frozen, or a combination
  • 5 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted – or 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking dish – 9×13 inches or similar and set aside.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Prepare lentils according to package directions.

While pasta and lentils are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant, then stir in mixed vegetables and spinach. Saute for 5-10 minutes until softened – less for frozen vegetables and more for fresh. Sprinkle with flour, paprika, and cayenne, then stir to coat. Add milk and cheese, stirring until well combined.

Carefully fold in pasta and lentils, then transfer mixture into greased baking dish.

In a small bowl, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the microwave. Toss with panko, then sprinkle panko mixture over the macaroni mixture.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly. Enjoy!

Note: If baked pasta isn’t your thing or you’re in a time crunch, just omit the panko and baking steps. It’ll be just fine without it. 🙂