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

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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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

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. 🙂

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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.

Apple Cheddar Bacon Soup with Cheesy Croutons

Cheesy soup gets dressed up with sweet apples, salty bacon, and ooey gooey cheesy croutons!

Cheesy soup gets dressed up with sweet apples, salty bacon, and ooey gooey cheesy croutons!

At first glance, this is an unlikely soup. Apples, cheddar, and bacon? “Pass!” you might be thinking. But hold up just a minute… cheddar and bacon is a classic combo, right? And you’ve heard of the whole cheddar cheese with apple pie thing, right? And applewood smoked bacon is totally a thing. So let’s put it all together–apples, cheddar, bacon. Not so unlikely after all! (And pssttt… I made a fabulous Maple Apple Pie Crisp with Cheddar Crust and Bacon Crumb Topping a couple years back!) And if you need further convincing, just think of it this way: this soup has the sweet and salty thing down pat.

Cheesy soup gets dressed up with sweet apples, salty bacon, and ooey gooey cheesy croutons!

And it’s utterly delicious. Next time you’re in the mood for an interesting new soup recipe, check out this one! I’m sure you’ll love it. 🙂

one year ago: Spicy Ranch Chicken Rice Skillet
two years ago: Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake
three years ago: Strawberry Yogurt
four years ago: Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad
five years ago: Extraordinary Grilled Cheese
six years ago: Best Egg Salad

Apple Cheddar Bacon Soup with Cheesy Croutons

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from What Megan’s Making

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cups apples, peeled and chopped (about 2 medium)
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups no-sugar-added apple juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices sourdough or rye bread, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain dijon mustard

Directions:

Cook bacon in a large stockpot set over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towel to drain. Meanwhile, remove most of grease from pot, leaving about 2 tablespoons.

When bacon is cool, chop into small pieces and set aside.

Combine the onion, apples, and potato in the stockpot and saute over medium high heat until onion and apples are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and apple juice, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and season with pepper, then stir in almost all the cheese, reserving 3 tablespoons. When cheese is melted, use an immersion blender to puree soup until smooth.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Spread the toasted bread with dijon and evenly divide reserved cheese between slices. Broil–watching carefully!–until cheese is bubbly and melted. Remove from oven, cool for a couple minutes, then slice into bite-sized squares. Serve soup with bacon, cheese croutons, and lots of black pepper. Enjoy!

Annette’s Layered Chicken Enchiladas

Cheesy, bubbly layered chicken enchiladas–so comforting and delicious. This dinner is super easy and can be made ahead or even frozen. Recipe from Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine!

Cheesy, bubbly layered chicken enchiladas--so comforting and delicious. This dinner is super easy and can be made ahead or even frozen. Recipe from Shauna Niequist's Bread and Wine!

I’m not usually one to make recipes I find in books (unless they’re cookbooks, that is) but when I read Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine a couple years ago, I knew I HAD to make her friend Annette’s awesome enchilada recipe one day. And one day is here! These enchiladas were gifted to the author as a new baby meal–and having a little one myself, let me just say that I would have LOVED to receive this meal when #BabyVolde was small. What can be better then layered enchiladas and all that ooey, gooey cheese and that creamy verde sauce? Not much! I will say that we weren’t too deprived in our new parenthood exhaustion–we were the lucky recipients of many tasty meals from family and friends, and I also made a ton of freezer meals too. So we were set. But if YOU know someone having a baby soon, consider making this dish!

Cheesy, bubbly layered chicken enchiladas--so comforting and delicious. This dinner is super easy and can be made ahead or even frozen. Recipe from Shauna Niequist's Bread and Wine!

Normal enchiladas are great, but all that rolling can be sorta fussy sometimes. Though the presentation here is a little messier thanks to a few layers of sauce, cheese, chicken, and tortillas instead of neatly rolled tortillas, the taste is ALL there! One neat trick that makes this version of enchiladas different from others I’ve tried is that Annette (whoever she is) came up with GENIUS idea to dip the tortillas in warm chicken broth before layering them. This extra step helps the enchiladas get super soft but also adds a little extra flava! And can’t we all use that? 🙂

Cheesy, bubbly layered chicken enchiladas--so comforting and delicious. This dinner is super easy and can be made ahead or even frozen. Recipe from Shauna Niequist's Bread and Wine!

These enchiladas are filling and delicious… a great dish to make with love for your family or others in your life! Shauna Niequist’s whole point in her book is to embrace hospitality for the sake of love, community, and friendship–a messy hospitality of sorts. In my opinion, this recipe is the epitome of that! Hope you enjoy!

one year ago: Copycat Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
two years ago: Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix
three years ago: Champorado [Filipino Chocolate Rice Pudding]
four years ago: Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
five years ago: Hunter Fieri’s Chicken Salad
six years ago: Monkey Bars

Annette's Layered Chicken Enchiladas

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 75 minutes
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from Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 – 28 ounce can green enchilada sauce
  • 2 – 4 ounce cans diced green chilies
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 12-15 small corn tortillas
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium pot, simmer chicken broth until just warm, then remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, stir together sour cream, enchilada sauce, and green chilies to make the sauce. Spread about 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of the baking pan. Dip tortillas in broth and layer over sauce, to completely fill the bottom of the pan. Tear tortillas if necessary. Top with half of the chicken and a third of the cheese, then repeat: sauce, tortillas in broth, chicken, cheese, sauce. Finish with tortillas in broth, sauce, and cheese.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until bubbly. You can broil for a minute or two at the end to make the cheese extra brown if desired. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving with cilantro and lime wedges.

Recipe can be made up to 24 hours before baking. It’s also a great meal to freeze and bake when ready to eat!