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
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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


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!


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
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  • 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


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! 

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
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slightly adapted from The Lean Green Bean


  • 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


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. 🙂

Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Chicken Burgers

A copycat version of a Trader Joe’s fave… chicken burgers spiced up with chili, lime, cilantro, and garlic. This is an epic burger you don’t wanna miss!

A copycat version of a Trader Joe's fave... chicken burgers spiced up with chili, lime, cilantro, and garlic. This is an epic burger you don't wanna miss!

If you’ve ever stepped foot into Trader Joe’s, you have probably seen tons of delicious-looking treats. At Trader Joe’s, I’m always tempted to buy so many more convenience foods than I ever would in a regular grocery store. I don’t know what it is about that insanely crowded grocery store with a death trap parking lot, but everything inside sounds SO FREAKING GOOD. I mean, seriouslyyyy. Is it just me? I sure hope not.

A copycat version of a Trader Joe's fave... chicken burgers spiced up with chili, lime, cilantro, and garlic. This is an epic burger you don't wanna miss!

One of my favorite things to get at TJ’s is their Chili Lime Chicken Burgers. Alright, I know they’re probably everyone’s favorite. Maybe that’s not true but I literally know SO many people who love them. After buying them one too many times, it’s no surprise that I sought out a homemade copycat version. Because… why not? These burgers are just as good (if not better) than their counterpart, and come together in a flash in your kitchen! Be sure to dress them up with all your favorite burger toppings–avocado is a must for me! Oh, and p.s. I suggest using non-smashed buns (don’t be like me–but I hate food waste so…yeah). ENJOY!

A copycat version of a Trader Joe's fave... chicken burgers spiced up with chili, lime, cilantro, and garlic. This is an epic burger you don't wanna miss!

one year ago: Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
two years ago: French Toast Casserole
three years ago: Tasty Mexican Lentils
four years ago: Quick Chocolate Pudding
five years ago: Alice’s Vanilla Tea-Infused Granola
six years ago: Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Trader Joe's Chili Lime Chicken Burgers

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from Iowa Girl Eats


  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • zest and juice of half a lime
  • hamburger buns
  • avocado, tomato, lettuce, cheese, etc. for topping as desired


In a medium bowl, combine ground chicken, green onions, red bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes, and lime zest and juice. Use your hands to mix together, then divide into four equal portions. Press into patties and coat each side with nonstick spray or brush with olive oil.

Cook in a skillet, set over medium-high heat, for approximately 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through. Alternatively, you can use a George Foreman-type grill.

Serve on a bun with desired toppings.

Fantastical Food Fight: Baked PB + J Pie

Your favorite childhood sandwich… in PIE form! Enjoy PB&J in a whole new way. It’s not Pi Day anymore but that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy some pie. 🙂

Your favorite childhood sandwich... in PIE form! Enjoy PB&J in a whole new way. :)

Hey hey! It’s PB&J… not on bread… but in a PIE. Yes, you read that right. Peanut butter and jelly… in pie. Whaaaaat? I made this delicious pie for the PB&J themed Fantastical Food Fight this month. (New to Fantastical Food Fight? Check out all the details here–this is my first time joining in and I’m sure it won’t be my last.) This pie combines the best of the sweet childhood sandwich with a little bit of adult sophistication.

Your favorite childhood sandwich... in PIE form! Enjoy PB&J in a whole new way. :)

When tasked with making a peanut butter and jelly themed recipe for Fantastical Food Fight this month, I had so many ideas… cookies, cake, muffins, candy… the sweet treats go on and on! I even considered some kind of savory peanut butter pasta that incorporated berries somehow… or even a peanut butter-dressed kale salad with fruit. But then… somehow, someway… peanut butter and jelly PIE started sounding awfully appealing. I think it was the leftover cubed butter I had in the freezer from Thanksgiving that started it. See, my go-to pie crust requires cubing butter and chilling it in the freezer, so there you have it. To make the crust a little more interesting, I substituted some of the flour for crushed graham crackers to mimic some of the super-sweetness of the childhood version of the PB&J.

Your favorite childhood sandwich... in PIE form! Enjoy PB&J in a whole new way. :)

Most Peanut Butter Pies are no-bake concoctions, featuring lots of whipped cream, powdered sugar, and fluffy sweetness. But for some reason, I wasn’t feeling that lightness–I wanted something creamy and thick, more like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I still have for lunch on occasion. So I consulted my friend Google and found a few baked peanut butter pies and decided to give it a whirl! Turns out baked peanut butter pie is AWESOME, my friends! The texture is similar to pumpkin pie or even a homemade pudding/custard pie… it is rich and delicious. When you add a layer of jam between the graham cracker-laced crust and the creamy peanut butter pie filling, you’ll be in heaven. Each bite is better than the last. I used cherry preserves in this layer and the tartness pairs so well with the sweet peanut butter filling… but any kind of jam/jelly/preserves would go well I do believe. 🙂

Your favorite childhood sandwich... in PIE form! Enjoy PB&J in a whole new way. :)

I would say one slice is enough… but it really isn’t! Haha. We couldn’t get enough of this pie and hope you feel the same way. 🙂

one year ago: Coffee Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins
two years ago: Mujaddara: Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw
three years ago: Apple Rubies in Coconut Milk
four years ago: Double Blueberry Walnut Muffins
five years ago: Quinoa Pancakes
six years ago: Lemon Blueberry Bread

P.S. Are you loving my custom stamped fork? Check out my college friend Nicole’s awesome Etsy shop, Tattooed Silver. #GiftIdea

Find more PB&J deliciousness at the link below!

Baked PB + J Pie

crust adapted from Simply Recipes, pie from Magnola Days


for crust:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I like storing mine in the freezer for at least 1 hour)
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water, very cold

for pie:

  • 2 eggs, at room temperature and separated
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 5 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup jam or preserves of choice (I used cherry preserves)


Begin by making your pie crust. If desired you can just use storebought or use your favorite recipe.

Pulse flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add about half of the butter cubes and pulse 6-8 times, then add the rest and do the same. The butter should be pea-sized at this point. Add water (minus the ice cubes) one tablespoon at a time, pulsing between additions, until the mixture starts to clump together. The dough is ready when you pinch it and it holds together. I usually use about 4 tablespoons water–don’t add too much or crust will be tough.

Turn dough out onto a clean countertop and shape into a disk. Dust with flour on all sides, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to a couple days. When ready to use, bring to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes, then unwrap. Sprinkle some flour on the dough and countertop so the dough doesn’t stick. Use a rolling pin to roll out dough to a 12 inch circle. Gently fold in half before transferring to a pie pan, then press dough into pan. Alternatively, you can skip the rolling out process and just press this dough into the pan–sometimes that is easier, though it won’t be as pretty. Keep handling to a minimum for ultimate dough flakiness.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Then, make your pie filling. Beat egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form–I used my stand mixer for this, but a hand mixer would be fine too. In another large bowl, whisk egg yolks and brown sugar together. Mixture should be thick and light brown in color. Add peanut butter and corn syrup, then stir to combine. Mix in milk and vanilla, then gently fold in egg whites.

Spread jam or preserves directly on pie crust, then pour peanut butter mixture on top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is set. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.