Cozy up to fall with this hearty and cheesy side dish. Kale and Brown Rice Gratin... filling enough for a meatless dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday side dish. The best of both worlds!
Main Dishes, Other, Recipes, Rice, Sides, Vegetables

Kale and Brown Rice Gratin

Cozy up to fall with this hearty and cheesy side dish. Kale and Brown Rice Gratin… filling enough for a meatless dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday side dish. The best of both worlds!

Cozy up to fall with this hearty and cheesy side dish. Kale and Brown Rice Gratin... filling enough for a meatless dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday side dish. The best of both worlds!

Every year, I have this huge internal debate with myself… fall vs. spring, which season is best? I love the chill that comes in the air with fall mornings (especially after a hot summer), but the warm afternoons of spring are delightful too (especially after a cold winter). Both seasons are great for running and long walks with Ben [and now our lil baby!!]… and both seasons bring a plethora of amazing recipes.

Spring means lots of new produce and the first farmer’s market and going to purchase herbs and tomatoes to plant in the backyard. But fall means cozy recipes, cheesy recipes, roasted root veggies, and evenings tucked under my favorite soft blankets.

So I simply cannot decide… each fall I think I love fall the best, and each spring I think I love spring the best. It is so tough, ya know? THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

Am I alone in this? Please tell me I’m not alone…

Cozy up to fall with this hearty and cheesy side dish. Kale and Brown Rice Gratin... filling enough for a meatless dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday side dish. The best of both worlds!

All that to say… I’m going to embrace the fall now that it is here and STOP THE DEBATE. Because this election has enough of that drama. Did I just say that? Whoops… 🙂

Moving on… And what better way to do that than with a cheesy side dish made with kale, caramelized onions, garlic, and brown rice? This dish is absolutely fabulous, and is a great way to introduce kale to the skeptics. Are there still any kale skeptics out there? Probably.

Anyways, this delicious dish has a few steps, but it can basically be summed up in this way: make rice. Caramelize onions, add garlic and kale. Make a cheese sauce [don’t forget to use room temp milk/cream… mucho easier that way, trust me, I know!]. Stir together and bake til ooey gooey. Enjoy!

Cozy up to fall with this hearty and cheesy side dish. Kale and Brown Rice Gratin... filling enough for a meatless dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday side dish. The best of both worlds!

Like I said before, this dish is hearty enough for a meatless meal, but it is also perfecto for a holiday side dish. Anyway you serve it you’ll be sure to love it! Have a great day, friends!

one year ago: Crockpot Barbacoa
two years ago: Baked Caramel Apple Mini Doughnuts
three years ago: Baked Strawberry French Toast with Strawberry Maple Syrup
four years ago: Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuits
five years ago: Pumpkin Spread
six years ago: Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

Kale and Brown Rice Gratin

  • Servings: 6
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from Iowa Girl Eats


  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, cut in half then into thin slices [or other sweet onion]
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chopped kale, packed [original recipe used lacinato but I just used curly kale – this is about 1/2 a bunch]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, cream, or half and half – at room temperature [you can use skim milk, but this is used to make a cheese sauce so you may want to use something fattier  – when I use skim milk in this, I use half skim milk, half half and half]
  • white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese, divided [you could also use ALL fontina, ALL gouda, or half fontina or gouda and half mozzarella/white cheddar/etc.]


In a medium saucepan, combine chicken broth and rice. Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce heat to low and cover, cooking for about 30-40 minutes until rice is tender. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

While rice cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions, then season with salt and pepper. Stir together to combine, then cook for 25-30 minutes, until onions are caramelized and very soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant, then top with kale. Cover skillet with a lid for a minute or so to let kale wilt a bit, then remove lid, season kale with salt and pepper, and stir together. Cook for another 2-3 minutes then transfer kale and onion mixture to a large bowl.

In the same skillet set over medium-low heat, melt butter and then whisk flour into melted butter. Cook for a minute, then slowly pour in room temperature milk/cream. Whisk constantly to avoid lumps, then season with white pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Cook until thick — mixture should be able to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently! Remove from heat and stir in half of each type of cheese until incorporated.

Meanwhile, grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Add cooked rice to kale mixture in large bowl, stirring to combine. Fold in cheese sauce and stir again. Transfer mixture to prepared pan, then top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting to serve. Enjoy!

Main Dishes, Other, Recipes

Cheesy Southwest Farro

Cheesy Southwest Farro: a healthy, delicious dish good any time of the day! Plus you can make it in less than 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for busy schedules. 🙂
Cheesy Southwest Farro: a healthy, delicious dish good any time of the day! Plus you can make it in less than 30 minutes, so it's perfect for busy schedules. :)

Before you disappear in the depths of heavy Christmas food later this week, I wanted to share a delicious, easy, and healthy recipe that we’ve been enjoying lately. It’s always a struggle in the midst of parties and Christmas baking [see my list of Christmas cookie ideas if you still need inspiration!] to eat real meals and still maintain a fairly healthy diet, I think. There’s lots of reasons and this is a busy time of year so I won’t go into all the details… you probably know and experience them already. But this dish can rescue you over the next couple weeks of merriment when you need something that’s quick to make, fairly healthy, and still tastes amazing. The best part is that you can eat it for ANY meal. That’s right… Cheesy Southwest Farro is good ANY time of the day. 🙂

Cheesy Southwest Farro: a healthy, delicious dish good any time of the day! Plus you can make it in less than 30 minutes, so it's perfect for busy schedules. :)

Ashley originally created this dish as breakfast fare, but let’s face it: I don’t have 30 minutes to whip up breakfast before work. So I decided to make it for dinner one night…and serve the leftovers for breakfast. Perfect! I can make a fried egg and operate the microwave in the morning. 🙂 We loved the cheesiness and the Southwestern flair… and who can say no to avocados [though they didn’t make it into the photo]? To speed the preparation of this meal up, I used 10-minute farro from Trader Joe’s, but you can use whatever kind of farro you can find, or sub quinoa, rice, or another quick cooking grain. Enjoy!

one year ago: Spiced Biscotti with Eggnog Glaze
four years ago: Pfeffernusse
five years ago: Cranberry Sauce Face/Off: Cranberry Relish vs. Gingered Cranberry-Apricot Sauce

Cheesy Southwest Farro

  • Servings: 4
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from Greens & Chocolate


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup 10-minute farro from Trader Joe’s*
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1  – 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese [or use jack or more cheddar cheese for less spice]
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 fried or poached eggs, for serving
  • diced avocado, for serving
  • green onions, for serving


Add olive oil to a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, saute onion until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add farro and cook for 1 minute to saute before adding broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until liquid is mostly absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, and farro is soft and chewy.

At the end of the cooking time, start preparing eggs as desired–fried is my preference!

When farro is done, stir in cheese then remove from heat. Cover and let rest for a few minutes to allow cheese to melt.

Serve a fried egg, avocado, and green onions on top of a spoonful of farro. Enjoy!

Note: *You can also used pearled farro or semi-pearled or whole farro in place of the 10 minute farro from Trader Joe’s. It’ll take longer, about 30-40 minutes for the pearled variety.

Main Dishes, Other, Recipes

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

This tart is full of hearty butternut squash and mushrooms, and of course has some cheese and bacon on top for extra deliciousness! 

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart |

Tarts and quiche are some of my favorite foods! They’re fancier than a regular frittata but almost as easy. The thing is… I like to fill them with things like butternut squash, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, and the like. All veggies that while Ben tolerates, he doesn’t really like. Soooo when I know I’ll have an evening to myself, this is just the sort of dish I like to make. Cooking for one only has to be a bore if you let it! Though, I must say, I don’t cook for one very often these days so when I do it’s kind of a novelty. But back to this tart!

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart | thepajamachef.comA slice of this tart is pretty much the best thing ever. Though it has a lot of steps, the work goes quickly and when it’s done, you get to eat! 🙂 I used the crust the recipe suggested, and it’s pretty basic with the twist of using olive oil for the fat and seasoning just with salt and pepper. You could certainly use your favorite tart/pie crust though. This crust was super flavorful and once it was topped with the filling it was just perfect! I loved that the cheese was spread out throughout the tart, not just on top, but next time I will probably mix together all the veggies and the bacon with the eggs, and top with cheese for simplicity’s sake.

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart |

I enjoyed this tart for dinner, but the leftovers were equally fabulous for breakfast and lunch, so make it anytime you please! Enjoy! 🙂

one year ago: Oatmeal Fudge Bars
two years ago: Lemon Pasta Salad
three years ago: Pineapple-Apricot Teriyaki Chicken
four years ago: Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops with Pineapple

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

  • Servings: 8
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from Cooking Light


for crust

  • 5.6 ounces all-purpose flour [about 1 cup + 2 tablespoons]
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
for filling
  • 3 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 2/3 cup [2.5 ounces] swiss or Gruyère cheese, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces pancetta or 2 strips bacon, chopped
  • 5 ounces sliced mushrooms [shiitake is preferred but any will work]
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken stock


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9 or 10 inch pie pan coated with cooking spray. Begin by making the crust.

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, pepper, and baking powder and pulse until combined. In a measuring cup, whisk together oil and water. With processor running, slowly pour in oil mixture. Process until dough is just barely crumbly. Press dough into an even layer on bottom and sides of pie pan. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Next, make filling. Place butternut squash into food processor [no need to clean first!] and pulse for about 1 minute to finely chop squash.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan. When hot, saute squash and onion for 7-9 minutes, stirring constantly.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1/3 cup cheese, eggs, and pepper. When squash is cooked, fold in with egg mixture. Evenly spread over pre-cooked crust, then return to oven for 9 minutes.

Using the same skillet as before, set over medium-high heat, cook pancetta or bacon until it starts to brown [about 1 minute for pancetta, more for bacon]. Add oil if necessary. Add mushrooms and reduce heat to medium, then saute for 5-6 minutes until browned. Season with pepper to taste, then add wine/stock and turn heat to high. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes until liquid cooks down.

Spread mushroom mixture over egg mixture, then top with remaining cheese. Return to oven and bake for 4-5 minutes until cheese melts. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Beans, Main Dishes, Other, Recipes, Rice, Sauces, Sides

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 | #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 | #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 | #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
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Falafel and Tzatziki from Our Eating Habits; Greek Lemon Rice from Thank Your Body


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


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:

Main Dishes, Other, Recipes

Sriracha Fried Rice

A unique, spicy fried rice with the egg on top! If spice isn’t your thing, just use a little Sriracha for flavor!

Sriracha Fried Rice | thepajamachef.comOhhh yeah. This dinner is my new BFF. I’ve made it more times in the last few months than I can count. It’s full of flavor, is super simple, and uses one of my favorite under-appreciated vegetables–cabbage! It’s rare for us not have have some leftover rice in the fridge because Ben lives on that stuff. And lucky for me–rice is cheap, and it lasts in the fridge or freezer for awhile. But that “lasting’ sometimes means there’s more leftover rice than I know what to do with. Enter fried rice. You can make a normal fried rice like this one or a kale fried rice or a pineapple fried rice, or you can make a kicked up vegetarian version. Like this one! Sriracha is everyone’s favorite spicy condiment so now you have another use for it!

Sriracha Fried Rice | thepajamachef.comThis dinner hits the spot when you want something homey and comforting but don’t want to wait or take the time to cook a big meal. Sriracha Fried Rice takes a bunch of leftovers [like that cabbage you bought for slaw or to add to salad] and turns them into something amazing! I love the nuttiness of the sesame oil and sesame seeds that are added at the end. They give it another dimension of flavor…. and the leftovers are even better the next day! Just don’t forget the fried egg on top. Drippy yolk + spicy rice = amazing. I bet this would be great for breakfast too! Enjoy!

two years ago: Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
three years ago: Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake
four years ago: Pumpkin Ginger Bread

Sriracha Fried Rice

  • Servings: 2-3
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from Jenna’s Everything Blog


  • 5 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped or shredded [I usually use at least 2-3 cups cabbage, and sometimes even add in mustard greens too]
  • 1 splash Shaoxing wine [or dry sherry or Mirin]
  • 1 pinch sugar [omit if using Mirin since it’s already sweet]
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-3 tablespoons Sriracha depending on your spice preferences
  • 4 cups cold, cooked rice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 4 eggs


Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons oil and heat, then cook garlic for 30 seconds. Add onion, stirring to coat with oil, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add cabbage, wine/sherry/Mirin, and sugar and cook for another 4-5 minutes until it starts to soften. Add soy sauce and Sriracha, stirring well, then cook for another minute or so. Add rice, breaking up larger pieces with a wooden spoon, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook rice for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lastly, stir in sesame oil and green onions.

In another pan, heat remaining tablespoon of oil to fry your eggs to desired doneness.

Serve eggs on top of fried rice. Enjoy!