Beans, Main Dishes, Recipes

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
  • 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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Main Dishes, Recipes, Soups

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup reminds me of chicken noodle soup, hold the chicken and add the meatballs. This version has tiny turkey meatballs and is SO tasty!

Italian Wedding Soup | thepajamachef.com

I feel like every other recipe I’m making and sharing this winter has been soup! But it’s just so good this time of year so I can’t resist. 🙂 Before making this Italian Wedding Soup, I’m not sure I had ever really had it before. I just saw the recipe in a magazine and thought it would be good! Guess what? It was! Ha. Big surprise there, right?

Italian Wedding Soup | thepajamachef.com

Since I don’t have a family version or favorite restaurant version to compare this to, I can’t really say that this is the best Italian Wedding Soup of all time or anything like that. But I can say it’s incredible! And why wouldn’t it be? It really does remind me of a twist on chicken noodle soup. You have the same basic base: chicken broth, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, pasta… and then you add in some cute ‘n tiny meatballs [with a twist of lemon for some extra tasty oomp!] and some spinach. Then BOOM! You’ve got a tasty and interesting soup, hearty enough to eat alone, with some crusty bread and a side salad or a tasty sandwich. Enjoy! 🙂

one year ago: Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice
two years ago: Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
three years ago: Red Velvet Marshmallow Bites
four years ago: Sunrise Muffins
five years ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Italian Wedding Soup

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Print

from September/October 2014 Taste of Home

Ingredients:

for meatballs

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey

for soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups small pasta [like acini di pepe, orzo, or ditalini]
  • 2 – 10 ounce packages fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • additional Parmesan, for serving

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatballs. Mix well–your hands are going to work best! Roll into small, 1 inch meatballs and place on a baking sheet and pop in the fridge to chill for a few minutes.

Next, begin on the soup. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add carrots and onion and cook until almost tender, about 6 minutes. Add celery and cook another 2 minutes, then add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Pour in chicken broth and season with pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Gently drop in meatballs. Allow to cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Add pasta and allow to cook for another 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until meatballs and pasta are fully cooked. Stir in spinach, then serve, topped with more Parmesan. Enjoy!

 

Beef, Main Dishes, Recipes

Beef Stroganoff #bookclubcookbookcc

Tender strips of beef are sauteed with mushrooms and butter, then tossed in a creamy sauce and served over egg noodles for the ultimate family meal… comfort food at its finest! 

Beef Stroganoff - a hearty, creamy, delicious family dinner via thepajamachef.com #bookclubcookbookCCWhen I think of family meals, beef stroganoff is one of THE meals that come to mind. Growing up, my mom served beef stroganoff fairly often and I’ve had it a time or two at friends’ houses also. Though it’s not the most glamourous dish, there’s no denying that it is delicious. If you aren’t familiar with the deliciousness that is beef stroganoff, all you need to know is beef + mushrooms + onions + sour cream = amazingness. Sour cream haters like my husband still love this dish because the sour cream is just used to thicken and add creaminess to the stock-based gravy. And though I am not a fan of traditional gravy, in this dish I love it! The mushrooms help too. 🙂

There are many versions of beef stroganoff [and like the name suggests it has a Russian heritage], and I’ve read in a cookbook before that this became a popular dish in the post WWII era. In some ways it reminds me of other classic family dishes from that era like Swedish meatballs, porcupine meatballs, or even meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Can you really go wrong with a meaty dish served with rice or noodles and a creamy sauce? No, I didn’t think so. 🙂 Comfort food heaven! If you need any further confirmation that beef stroganoff is a comfort food thing, look no further than the Hamburger Helper aisle at the grocery store. If they have a version, you know it’s a thing! [I’ve never tried that version but I have no doubt that mine is better!]

Beef Stroganoff - a hearty, creamy, delicious family dinner via thepajamachef.com #bookclubcookbookCCThough we regularly eat beef stroganoff at home, I made this batch special for this month’s edition of #bookclubcookbookcc, a cooking project I’m a part of this year. This month, Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm was our hostess and she selected Julia Glass’ Three Junes. Though I didn’t make a recipe discussed in the book OR Wendy’s suggested recipe [a very delicious looking white chocolate pumpkin mousse]. I was inspired by the numerous family meals that accompanied events in the life of one family over [you guessed it] three Junes. And what better way to celebrate family than with a delicious family meal? I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did. Though this isn’t the beef stroganoff I grew up with [I still need to make and share that recipe], this version of beef stroganoff is so good and is sure to be a family favorite! Don’t forget to scroll down past the recipe for the giveaway. You could win a copy of the The Book Club Cookbook so you can join us in this project in the future, if you wish!

one year ago: Pumpkin Quinoa Oatmeal Bake
two years ago: Skinny Southwest Chicken Dip
three years ago: Mexican Rollups
four years ago: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
five years ago: Asian Chicken Bowls

Beef Stroganoff

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

from Jenna’s Everything Blog

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak tips
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 1/3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar [or light brown with a splash of molasses]
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • handful of parsley, minced
  • cooked egg noodles, for serving

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. While oil is heating up, cut beef into bite-size chunks and season with pepper. Working in two batches, brown each side of the beef [about 3 minutes per side]. Beef doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through. When done, place in a bowl and set aside. Add a little more oil halfway through if necessary.

Next, add mushrooms and onion to the pan along with a little more oil. Cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Whisk in flour and tomato paste. Stir constantly for 30 seconds, then slowly pour in chicken broth. Add the brown sugar and the reserved beef. Stir together and reduce heat to low, then simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook 16 ounces of egg noodles according to package directions. When simmer time is done, stir in sour cream, lemon juice, and parsley. Serve over noodles. Enjoy!!

Giveaway
This month Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm, this month’s host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!
One of our lucky readers – US and Canada only! – can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from October 1st till October 31st at 4 o’clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.
*Disclosure: Wendy received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp as an opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.
Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads, Sides, Vegetables

SRC: Green Goddess Dressing

A creamy, tangy dressing filled with lots of fresh herbs and onions… green goddess dressing is divine! 

Hello, friends! What a week! We just moved and are getting settled in our new home. But I couldn’t miss out on the Secret Recipe Club this month so I made my recipe wayyy in advance. So unlike me. 🙂 This month I was given Jenna’s blog, The Painted Apron. Jenna is a lovely woman who gets to divide her time between Birmingham and Orange Beach, Alabama. She loves her family [just browse her blog for adorable grandkid photos! Awww.], football, and hospitality. My husband was very sad to learn that she’s an Alabama fan and wants to say GO BUCKS! OH! He’s a major Ohio State fan and is still basking in the glow of Big Ten > SEC victory in the National Championship last January.

Green Goddess Dressing | thepajamachef.com #src #salad

All that aside, it was so fun to check out Jenna’s blog this month. Some of the recipes that caught my eye included: Creamy Corn Dip, Cranberry Salsa [must make at Christmas!], Cinnamon Roll & Sausage Breakfast Pudding [this would be an awesome dish to make while on vacation… we always stay in condos so low-prep recipes are great!], Apple Pear and Walnut Gorgonzola Galette, and Savory Apple Pie Quesadilla. I must have been in a fall mood when I browsed her blog, but I eventually settled on this great salad dressing. I know I’ll be able to enjoy it all summer long!

Green Goddess Dressing | thepajamachef.com #src #salad

I’ve heard of Green Goddess Dressing before, but don’t really think I’ve ever had it before. Apparently it was concocted in the 1920s in San Francisco as part of a movie celebration. Fun! Truly, it reminds me of a more sophisticated version of ranch dressing. Creamy, herby, and tangy, this dressing is a fun creamy topping for salad. Traditionally, this dressing is made with sour cream and mayonnaise, but this time I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream because I had it on hand. We have enjoyed this dressing for the past two weeks on any and every salad we can find… but the first time, it was fabulous on a salad made up of red leaf lettuce, sauteed asparagus, sliced radishes, chickpeas, crumbled feta, and sliced hard boiled eggs. No matter how you serve it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we did! Thanks, Jenna, for a great recipe. 🙂

one year ago: Tropical Cake Mix Cookies
two years ago: Sweet Potato and Kale Egg Bake
three years ago: Reese’s Blondie Pie
four years ago: Sweet Potato Waffles

Green Goddess Dressing

  • Servings: 1.5 cups
  • Print

from The Painted Apron

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil [or basil paste from Gourmet Garden]
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley [or parsley paste from Gourmet Garden]
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice [from about 2 lemons]
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • crudites or salad, for serving

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a jar or small bowl, then process with an immersion blender until smooth. Serve as a dressing or dip. I enjoyed my dressing with this Asparagus and Chickpea Salad from A Nutritionist Eats [ingredients: red or butter lettuce, sauteed asparagus, sliced radishes, chickpeas, crumbled feta, and sliced hard boiled eggs].

Dressing keeps well in the fridge for about a week. Enjoy!


Check out all the other delicious recipes made by my friends in the Secret Recipe Club this month!

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 | thepajamachef.com #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 | thepajamachef.com #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 | thepajamachef.com #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
  • Print

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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: