Meatless Monday: The BEST Baked Falafel

I know what you’re thinking, “really Linds…the best baked falafel…the best?” Yes, THE BEST falafel I have ever put in my mouth – don’t patronize me!

Before this recipe I wouldn’t have said I was a big fan of falafel. When I’d tried it in the past I would find it dry and not particularly flavourful unless it was dosed with tzatziki. But one day I came across this recipe from How Sweet Eats and I don’t know what came over me but I just felt like this was IT, the falafel I’d be waiting for my entire life…and I was right! This is some life changing falafel!

falafel

Even if you think you don’t like falafel give this recipe a go – it’s quick and actually kind of fun to make AND you can make a super cool falafel ‘bar’ like I did and have some fun building your own delicious falafel sandwiches. Here’s what you need for this home run Meatless Monday dish:

For the Falafel:

  • 2 (14 oz) Cans of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 4 Green Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Lemon, zest and juice
  • Big Handful of Parsley
  • Big Handful of Cilantro (could use mint instead if you’re not into cilantro)
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ c Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tsp of Baking Powder

For the Falafel Bar:

  • Mini Pita Pockets
  • Feta
  • Romaine Lettuce, shredded
  • Tomato, sliced
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Red Bell Pepper, Sliced
  • Tzatziki
  • Hummus

Alright, that might seem like a lot of ingredients but it’ll be totes worth it, I promise!

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Throw your chickpeas, green onions, garlic, egg, lemon zest and juice, oil, herbs and spices into a food processor or blender and pulse until you get a crumbly mixture that still has some chunkiness to it. Add to that half of the flour and baking powder and pulse until combined then toss in the rest of the flour and baking powder whizzing everything up until smooth-ish, you can also leave this a little chunkier if you prefer.

Now all you do is line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and form the mixture into balls with your hands (I used a super heaping tablespoon amount) – this is messy so take of your jewelry and enjoy it! If you have the time I like to chilled the formed falafel in the fridge for 15-20 minutes so they can firm up a bit (this is also a great opportunity to fix yourself a cocktail) but if you’re short on time you can skip this step.

Now bake these guys for about 10 minutes per side, I like them to have a nice crisp on the outside so to help them brown up a little more I drizzle with some EVOO before I pop them in the oven.

falafel bar

While the falafels are baking you can cut up and arrange your accoutrements and then serve with the warm falafel.

Cheers!

Make Ahead Healthy Egg White Breakfast Bagel

They say a meal without alcohol is…breakfast – this is sad but true (generally)! Despite this, I am a HUGE breakfast fan and I am a little obsessed with make ahead, grab and go type breakfasts. I love being able to prep an entire weeks’ worth of breakfasts on a Sunday and get a little extra beauty sleep during the week.

I’m always looking for fast, healthy, easy, delicious breakfast options and my latest creation, the Healthy Egg White Breakfast Bagel checks all the boxes!

Breakfast Bagel

Here’s how to make an entire weeks’ worth of breakfasts for two people in less than an hour! You’ll need:

  • 10 Weight Watchers Whole Wheat Bagels or Dempsters Thin Bagels (hey, they’re ‘healthy’ after all)
  • 1 lg. Carton of Egg Whites
  • 1 Package of Laughing Cow “Cheese” (I used the jalapeno flavour…zesty)
  • 1 Bag of Spinach
  • 2 Tomatoes, sliced in half moons
  • 1 Cucumber, sliced in half moons
  • Donut Pan (yes, that is a real thing) or 9”x13” type of baking pan

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Fill you donut pan (or regular baking pan) with some eggs white. How much you fill it is really up to you, the eggs won’t puff up very much so pour in enough egg white to reach your desired thickness of baked egg…which sounds gross somehow…but it will be delicious! Season your eggs with salt, pepper, whatever you like and DO NOT forget to grease your pan with EVOO – these eggs are not going to want to come out of your pan so you really need to make sure you’ve got some oil in there!

Bake your eggs for about 10 minutes, until they are set/not very jiggly.

While you’re waiting for you oven to preheat/eggs to bake you can prep your veggies, slice the tomato and cucumbers, and start toasting your bagels.

Once you have a toasted bagel you can start to assemble. I spread both sides with some if the Laughing Cow “Cheese” and then layer some spinach and tomato on the bottom side of the bagel. On the top side of the bagel I put down a few of the cucumber slices and season all that with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Once you’ve gotten your eggs out of your pan (if using the donut pan I used a small spoon to help wedge mine out. If using a regular pan just cut the egg into 10 even pieces and remove with a flipper type utensil) place them on top of the tomato and top off with the other half of the bagel. Repeat 9 times! I wrap each one in tin foil (sorry environment) and store in the fridge all week for a quick, delicious, and filling breakfast.

Happy Friday Ya’ll, Cheers!

All Up In Yo’ Grill With Chipotle Mango BBQ Sauce

This beautiful sunshine has me craving BBQ deliciousness! I love BBQ’ed anything! So in light of that I thought you might enjoy a recipe I recently fell in love with from Iowa Girl Eats for a Chipotle Mango BBQ Sauce. She uses the BBQ sauce to make a killer grilled chicken salad but I’ve used it now with chicken, beef, and pork and it’s to die for! ChipotleMangoBBQSauce Don’t worry homemade BBQ sauce isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think! All you need is:

  • 1 Mango, Chopped
  • 1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo (plus some of the Adobo Sauce) or more if you think you can handle it!
  • 1/3 C  Ketchup (I cut back on the this a little from the original recipe)
  • ½ C Apple Juice
  • ¼ C Onion, Chopped
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed
  • Juice from ½ Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar (in the Asian aisle at the store)
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbps Canola Oil
  • 2 tsp Paprika (you could totally experiment here with whatever you have on hand; I think a smokey cumin would also be great!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Now all you do is toss all that together in a pot, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 15-20 mins or until the consistency is to your liking. Let it cool and then whiz it up in a food processor/blender/magic bullet but I like to leave it a little chunky, doesn’t have to be perfect! Slather your grilled chicken or hamburgers in this sauce for a sweet and spicy kick or try grilling your corn on the cob and brushing it with this sauce as it cooks. Also, if you want to ensure your invite to the next neighbourhood block party pack some of this sauce up in a small mason jar, make it look pretty with ribbons ‘n’ shit and there you have it, a fabulous hostess gift.

Cheers!

Mini Shrimp Tacos for Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

What’s not to love about a celebration that typically includes margaritas?!

Wikipedia tells me that Cinco dy Mayo is a Mexican-American celebration held on May 5th to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the early years of the American Civil War.  Wikipedia goes on to say:

The American Cinco de Mayo celebration originated in the Mexican-American communities of the American West, Southwest, and Northwest in the 1860s. Mexicans and Latinos living in California during the American Civil War are credited with being the first to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States. It grew in popularity and evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, first in areas with large Mexican-American populations, like Los Angeles,  Chicago, and Houston. Eventually it expanded across the United States. On June 7, 2005, the U.S. Congress issued a Concurrent Resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

So there’s the educational content for today. Moving on, Mini Shrimp Tacos!

Mini Tacos

These little darlings have a couple different components to them but are still pretty easy to pull together. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the Chili Lime Shrimp:

  • Shrimp (fresh, frozen…all good!), 1 shrimp per taco
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • Cayenne (a pinch -1 tsp.)
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Chipotle Cream:

  • ½c Greek Yogurt
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Chipotle Hot Sauce (or the liquid from a can of Chilies in Adobo)
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Avocado Mash:

  • 1-2 Avocados
  • Salt
  • 1 Bag of Scoops Tortilla chips
  • Cilantro to garnish

Turn the broiler on high and mix up the spices for the Chili Lime Shrimp.  If using frozen shrimp, thaw them according to package directions. Lay the shrimp out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the seasoning mixture. If using fresh shrimp broil until they turn pink and are cooked through (3 minutes a side or so), if using frozen shrimp give them a minute under the broiler and then pour off any excess liquid that has accumulated in the baking sheet – continue cooking (and draining if needed) until they are warm through.

Mash the avocado with a pinch of salt.

Mix the Greek yogurt with the chipotle sauce of your choosing, cumin, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble spread out the tortilla chips on your serving platter and fill each one with a ½ tsp. or so of the Avocado Mash, lay a Chili Lime Shrimp on top of that and then drizzle with some of the Chipotle Cream. Top each Mini Shrimp Taco with a small sprinkle of fresh cilantro and serve…preferably with a lime margarita on the rocks!

Mini Shrimp Taco

You can check out the inspiration for these delicious morsels by clicking here.

Cheers!

Meal Planning Part I: Tips and Tricks

A couple years ago I started making weekly meal plans in an attempt to cut back on waste. I felt like I was throwing away more food than I was eating, not to mention how much money I was spending with each visit to the grocery store.

Since starting meal planning I’ve developed a style of prepping and planning that is all my own and works well for me. Everyone has different needs when it comes to food; anything from time constraints to allergies and there are always some challenges to overcome BUT if you’re willing to put a little time into it I can promise you that you will spend less time and money in the grocery store, you will waste less food and decrease your frustration on a daily basis when the dreaded “what’s for dinner” question pops up!

This will be a two part post. In Part I there will be some meal planning tips that can help anyone and everyone get into meal planning and in Part II I can get into detail about my method and hopefully provide a week’s meal plan, shopping list, and recipes that you can actually use in your own life.

weekly-meal-planning

Here are the basic things you need to think about when you’re sitting down to create a meal plan:

Check the calendar

Any days you know you’ll be out for dinner? How about days where you’ll be working late or rushing off to an evening event?

The first rule of meal planning is don’t talk about meal planning! Just kidding, it’s don’t over plan. You will NOT eat at home 7 days a week so don’t plan for that or you’ll be throwing away food.

The second rule is that meal plans should make life easier not harder. If you’re always tight for time on Wednesday nights account for that, maybe try to use the slow cooker that day so when you get home dinner is ready to go.

Take Inventory

Look in the fridge and see what you have that you need to use up and plan to use those ingredients early in the week. Things like veggies on the brink are great to use for soup or chili and you can think about using up leftover meat in a stir fry. Don’t forget to check the freezer as well, all sorts of goodies can get pushed to the back corner and forgotten about.

Where the Deals At?

Check flyers or the web for deals at your local grocery store. This can also help you narrow down what you might want to make for the week. Big sale on ground beef at the store? Look for recipes that require ground beef – spaghetti bolognese one night then hamburgers on another – ingredients that do double duty and are on special are the BEST!

Big Batch

Consider making big batches of things like soups, wraps, or stir fry– you can freeze them for grab and go lunches or make a big ol’ salad on Sunday night and feast on that throughout the week.

Read All of the Recipes

Be sure to READ the recipe before you select it! Watch out for:

  • A ton of ingredients – This will blow up your grocery budget for the week.  I usually stick to ones that have 10-15 ingredients
  • Exotic ingredients that your local store likely won’t carry (you may have to plan to hit up a specialty market)
  • Marinating times and long cook times (unless you enjoy eating dinner at 10PM)
  • Recipes that have a million steps. I don’t know about you but recipes that require the oven, then the broiler and then 2 burners seem like a lot of work for a weeknight supper to me – keep it simple!

Friendly Tip

I’m really bad for this one but don’t forget to take inventory of the things you use every week – milk, bread, toilet paper, seasoning, cooking oils.

Now that you know how I go about making a meal plan, watch for Part II of this post where I’ll show you exactly what and how I plan and buy for my weekly meal plans. Maybe I’ll even have to roll out a Part III for my wine and spirits shopping list…just kidding I buy $15 wine and Palm Bay.

Cheers!

Greek Chicken Gyros, OPA!

Oh boy do I love me a gyro! More broadly I LOVE Greek food; tzatziki, hummus, feta, pita – all delicious, and this slow cooker version of the classic Greek gyro is no exception, it will surely bring a fervent ‘OPA’ to your lips.

I know some folks are wary of a slow cooker; it’s true at some point we’ve all ended up with some beige, bland, and watery mystery meat but I assure you this recipe will yield fabulous results! Still skeptical? Check out these tips for the best slow cooker results.

The main part of this recipe is the Slow Cooker Shredded Greek Chicken but with some extra toppings and additions you can transform this delicious meat into one mean Greek Chicken Gyro! Here’s how it all goes down:

For the Slow Cooker Shredded Greek Chicken you’ll need:

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (could use thighs)
  • The juice of 1 lemon (FRESH SQUEEZED ONLY!)
  • ¼ c water
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • A heavy drizzle of red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or more if you’re not in a smooching mood)
  • ½  an onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • A pinch of allspice
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt ‘n’ pepper
  • You can also sprinkle some fresh oregano into the finished product if you have it on hand, however it’s not necessary

Shredded Greek Chicken

Toppings & Extras:

  • Pita/Naan
  • Tzatziki
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Tomato, chopped
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Red onion, finely sliced
  • Feta, crumbled

Toppings for Gyros

Mix all of the ingredients for the shredded chicken in a bowl (minus the chicken itself). Place the chicken in your slow cooker and pour the mixture over chicken. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. SO EASY!

You can also do this the night before and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to go, in the morning just pop the uncooked chicken and marinate in your slow cooker and cook all day. I actually prefer to do it this way as it serves as some extra marinating time for the chicken and keeps it extra juicy.

Once your chicken is cooked through shred it up with a couple of forks and pour out any excess liquid. Now all you have to do is assemble, layer a pita with tzatziki (or hummus for dairy free), chicken, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, and sprinkle with feta.  Eat up!

Greek Chicken Gyros

Oh and consider making your own tzatziki! All you need to do is chopped some fresh mint and dill, shred a ¼ of a cucumber (just on a box grater – depending on the type of cucumber you have you may want to seed it first by running the tip of a spoon along the seeds to remove), crush some garlic and add all that to some plain Greek yogurt. I also like to add in some lemon juice and salt ‘n’ pepper.

Cheers!

Recipe adapted from Six Sisters Stuff.

Hearty (the air is so cold it hurts my face) Winter Vegetable Soup

You know those days when it takes all your restraint not to pick up the phone and call for delivery or hop in the car and bust over to one of your favorite go-to joints? Last night happened to be one of those days! But there is a solution – you need something fast, easy, and delicious, you need Hearty (the air is so cold it hurts my face) Winter Vegetable Soup.

cold-air-hurts-face-funny-264x264

This soup is so easy it barely warrants a recipe at all and you can substitute ingredients with whatever you have on hand (no pasta in the pantry? Try diced potatoes!) but I’m willing to bet most of you have a lot of these ingredients already kicking around. If you don’t, these items are super cheap at the store! All you need to cook up a delicious bowl of comfort is:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (or rosemary or another hearty herb)
  • 28oz (1 lg. can) of chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5L of water of stock
  • 1c of pasta
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

For some extra yums make some Parmesan Toasties:

  • Bread (ciabatta, French loaf – anything really)
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese (or any cheese you have on hand)

This soup takes about 30 minutes from start to finish; it’ll be ready before the delivery guy even makes it to your door!

  1. Chop the onion, carrots, and celery but leave it pretty chunky, it doesn’t have to be perfect! This would also a good time to mince the garlic (or use your garlic press) and turn your broiler on high.
  2. Heat a large stock pot on medium/high and add a little olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Once the oil is warm add in the onion, carrots, and celery and let them ‘sweat’ for a few minutes (sweat: let the vegetables soften, the onions will start to become translucent) then add the garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper (to taste) (I also like to add some red pepper flakes for a little spice) and let all that cook for a couple of minutes as well.
  3. Add the tomatoes and water or stock then simmer the works for 10-15 minutes (this would be an ideal time to fix yourself a cocktail…just saying)
  4. Add the pasta (use whatever you have but bite size pieces are nice so if you only have penne or spaghetti break it up into smaller bits) and let that cook for another 8-10 minutes.
  5. While the pasta cooks slice the bread and arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan  then broil for  1-2 minutes – keep an eye on it, they go quick!
  6. Serve up the soup into bowls a top with the parmesan toasts and a little sprinkle of parsley to make it fancy. Enjoy!

photo

This Hearty Winter Vegetable Soup can easily serve 6 but also freezes well for meals down the road – awesome for all my single ladies (and fellas) as well as large families! Cheers!