Baked Falafel


Baked Falafel

Inspired by our Universal Yums! May Snack box’s Israel theme, we decided to make some Israel-themed dinners.  Falafel are traditionally, deep-fried balls made from spiced, ground chickpeas.  They are often served in a pita with a yogurt or tahini-based sauce.  Falafel is not new to our family.  I’ve made it  in the past, more often than not, unsuccessfully.  Too many times I’ve had the balls disintegrate when trying to fry them.  I wasn’t in the mood for frying so this time I decided to try baking them.  When the kids heard we were having falafel for dinner I of course got the response, “I don’t like falafel!”  My son made a comment while they were baking that, “Something doesn’t smell good!” Well, they had the choice to eat them or not, but that’s what was for dinner.  I was pleasantly surprised (I think they were as well!) that they both ate (and possibly liked?!!) the falafel.  Baking the falafel made them nice and crunchy.  Normally, falafel has parsley.  I however, failed to pick some up during my weekly grocery shopping and wasn’t running out for a few sprigs of parsley!  I should also note that the red onion turned the falafel a dark purple/blackish color in spots.  It did not affect the flavor of the falafel, but you can use a regular onion if you prefer.  I also wasn’t fully thinking when creating the menu and shopping list and didn’t pick up ingredients for a sauce to serve with these.  However, if I was going to make a sauce, I would probably use this recipe for Magpie’s Cucumber Sauce from allrecipes.com courtesy of The Magpie.  I made a tomato cucumber salad that I served with the falafel and stuck some of the veggies inside the pita.

Baked Falafel
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com courtesy of Bette

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 (15 ounce) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup panko crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Cooking spray
Lettuce, tomatoes, red onion slices (optional)
Cucumber or Tzatziki Sauce (optional)

1.  Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute approximately 5 minutes, until the onions are soft.

2.  Place chickpeas through salt into a food processor and pulse until mixture is coarse.  Some chunks are okay.  Add the chickpea mixture to a large bowl.  Add the sautéed onions, flour, panko,  and eggs and stir until combined.  Let mixture sit for 15 minutes.  While mixture is sitting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

3.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  After fifteen minutes, shape the chickpea mixture into small patties (I was able to make 17) and place on prepared cookie sheet.  Spray the tops of the patties with the cooking spray.  Bake in the heated oven for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, flip the patties and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more.

4.  Cut pitas in half.  Place two falafel inside each pita half.  Serve with sauce, if you choose to make and/or lettuce, tomatoes and sliced red onion.


Olive Potato Pizza

Olive Potato Pizza

Pizza has been almost a Friday night staple in our house.  Especially with Lent and us not eating meat on Fridays.  Homemade pizza is super quick and easy and we all love it!  When I have a little extra time, I try to make a more interesting pizza than just plain cheese.  This pizza is a great no-meat addition to our pizza rotation.   The potatoes, mixed with the slight heat of the crushed red pepper and the saltiness of the olives was a flavorful combination.  I made a plain, cheese pizza for the kids and the Weekend Chef and I ate this pizza up!

Olive Potato Pizza
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, August 2001

2 cups russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 store bought refrigerated pizza dough
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives

1. Place pizza stone, if have one, into oven and preheat to 450°.

2. Place the potato slices in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook 7 minutes or until tender. Drain.

3. Combine the potato slices, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic.

3. Roll pizza dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Once oven is heated, carefully take out the pizza stone and place the dough on it. Spread the potato mixture over the pizza crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the pizza with cheese and olives.

4. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut into 8 wedges.




Simple Clam Chowder


Today is National Clam Chowder Day.  My parents have a house in Rhode Island and every summer when we go visit it’s tradition for us to eat a lunch of clam chowder and clam cakes.   While traditional Rhode Island clam chowder has a clear broth, we prefer the New England style, like this one, with a milk base.  Below is a recipe for clam chowder that I have made twice now, and I rarely repeat recipes!

Simple Clam Chowder
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, January 2008

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
2 (6 1/2 ounce) cans chopped clams, undrained
2 1/2 cups diced, peeled, baking potatoes
2 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour


1.  Add olive oil to  a Dutch Oven or large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, salt, thyme and garlic, cooking approximately 4 minutes until tender.

2.  Drain the clams, reserving the liquid.  Add the reserved liquid, potatoes, clam juice and bay leaf to the pot, bringing to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.  Discard the bay leaf.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the milk and flour until smooth.  Add the flour mixture to the pot; bringing to a boil.  Stir constantly for approximately 10 – 12 minutes, until thick.  Add the  clams and cook for 2 more minutes.

Manhattan style, New England style, Rhode Island style……what kind of clam chowder do you like best? …..Or do you not like it at all?!!! 



Ben’s Cognac Risotto


We belong to a Supper Club with two other couples.  Each month we rotate hosting duties and each of the six members cooks a dish that fits that particular month’s theme.  We end up eating six awesome dishes each time we meet!  January’s Supper Club meeting was at our house,  with the theme being “alcohol.”  Each person chose a different alcohol and had to make a dish using their booze of choice.  The Mr. chose cognac and made this risotto. Risotto is a particular favorite of ours that requires a bit of time and attention to make well.  The combination of flavors in this dish really complimented each other and tasted amazing.  Supper Club was a perfect opportunity to make this recipe since this is not a dish that the kids would enjoy.  They both really dislike mushrooms even though are exposed to them every time it’s in a meal at home. For us, though, the umami of the mushrooms brought an extra comforting dimension to the richness of the chewy rice and cheese. The flavor of the cognac wasn’t overpowering and was one that we usually wouldn’t think of adding. Alcohol isn’t on our regular ingredient list for food, but it should be. Also, we probably should have made more risotto. There was only one lonely serving in the fridge after everyone left. We would definitely make this again.

Ben’s Cognac Risotto
Recipe very slightly adapted from Foodnetwork.com, courtesy of The Gambaro Family


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 15 small Portobello mushrooms– cleaned, trimmed and quartered
  • 2/3 cups cognac
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 7 cups vegetable stock (we used Better Than Bouillon, which we featured recently in this “Friday Favorites” post)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 medium shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1 3/4 cups arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add cognac, bring to a boil, and reduce the liquid by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add cream and simmer 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside. Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter with the oil in a deep, heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Wait until liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. This process will take about 20 minutes. The rice should be just cooked and slightly chewy.

Stir in the mushroom mixture and cheese. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve garnished with parsley.


Tortellini Soup with Artichokes


Soup. It’s what’s for dinner.  Nothing beats soup on a cold day, and here in New York we’ve been experiencing lots of cold weather!  In honor of National Homemade Soup Day, we are sharing this recipe for Tortellini Soup with Artichokes.  To be honest, the kids did not enjoy this soup.  We think there were too many ingredients in it that they didn’t like.  We were happy enough with them eating the tortellini and the accompanying bread.  Since the adults enjoyed it a lot, we thought it was worth sharing!

Tortellini Soup with Artichokes
Recipe adapted from foodiecrush

6 cups vegetable broth
16 oz. package frozen tortellini
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
15 oz. can chick peas, rinsed and drained
15 oz. can artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups baby spinach

1.  Pour broth into a Dutch oven or stock pot and bring to a boil.

2.  Add the tortellini and sun dried tomatoes, cooking until the tortellini float to the top, approximately 3-4 minutes.

3.  Reduce the heat to low and add the chick peas through red pepper flakes, cooking for 2-3 minutes.

4.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake



Winter is all about comfort food and nothing says comfort like some homemade mac and cheese.  As we try to eat less meat we are always looking for ways to incorporate more vegetables into our dishes.  Since mac and cheese is a favorite among the kids we knew they’d eat this.  We cooked the cauliflower to a point where it wasn’t too crunchy or too mushy.  The sour cream gave the dish an extra creaminess.  And we were correct, the kids did indeed eat all of their dinner!

Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake
Recipe adapted from The Art of Food adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Food Revolution

1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
8 oz. shredded cheddar
4 oz. grated parmesan cheese
1 pound macaroni
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste


1. Grease 9×13 inch baking pan.

2. Cook macaroni according to package, adding cauliflower to the same pot of boiling water.

3. Place heat-proof bowl over the boiling pasta pot and add cheeses and sour cream.

4. Stir mixture until smooth and melted.

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove bowl from pot, setting aside.

6. Drain macaroni and cauliflower in colander and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.

7.  Pour pasta and cauliflower back into the pot.  Add cheese mixture stirring to combine.  Add reserved cooking water in small amounts as needed, if too thick.

8.  Pour mixture into greased baking pan.  Place pan under broiler until golden.




Indian Curried Potato Wraps



I have owned the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook for what seems like forever.   Back in college, at Cornell University, I ate at the famous Moosewood Restaurant only once.  If only I wasn’t a poor college student back then and had taken advantage of this amazing restaurant when I had the chance!  In our quest to eat less meat, I recently dusted this cookbook off the shelf.  In perusing the recipes, these potato wraps caught my eye.  My kids like potatoes and I figured they would enjoy these.  These were easy to make and so flavorful.  While we rarely have repeat meals in our house, these will be making an appearance again!

Indian Curried Potato Wraps
Adapted from cookbook Moosewood Restaurant New Classics



1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking dish (we used a 9X13′ dish).

2. Place the potatoes and salt in a small pot with water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, until tender. When the potatoes are tender, drain and mash them with the cream cheese, and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, warm the oil in a saucepan, and saute the onions and garlic on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the turmeric and cayenne and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the peas and tomatoes, cover, and cook on low heat just long enough to heat through. Stir the cooked vegetables and the lemon juice into the mashed potatoes. Add salt to taste.

4. Place a generous 1/3 cup of the filling at the bottom of each wrap and roll it up. Place the wraps seam side down in the prepared baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until hot.


Slow Cooker Lentil and Brown Rice Tacos




We are trying to eat meatless several nights during the week.  It has been challenging to find vegetarian recipes that the whole family will eat.  These tacos are a rare “recipe repeat” in our house, this being the second time that we have made these.  Our son, the pickiest eater in our house, ate two of these tacos.  (Honestly though, we think he will eat anything put in a taco shell with some cheese and sour cream!)  We love that the taco filling for this recipe is made in the slow cooker, which makes it a perfect busy weeknight meal.  Tacos are so versatile, that you can add any types of toppings to these that you’d like.  We weren’t too creative with ours, serving them with just cheese and sour cream and they were still a hit.  The lentil and rice combo is filling and tasty enough for us that we don’t feel like we’re missing out on not having meat.

Slow Cooker Lentil and Brown Rice Tacos
Recipe slightly adapted from Melanie Makes, which was adapted from The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking

1 cup lentils
1/2 cup brown rice
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper


1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine.

2. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 hours or LOW 6-8 hours, stirring during the last hour of cooking.