Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Harissa Chickpeas with Potatoes & Greens (and a really awesome lemon tahini sauce)

I feel comfortable in the kitchen.  I feel confident in my ability to make a meal I will enjoy and one that my kiddies will probably enjoy a little less.;)  It's a place that feels safe to me and where I have a sense of being in control.

Almost two weeks ago, I was asked to serve as a Relief Society teacher in church.  Standing in front of a group of adults teaching a lesson or leading a discussion is as far away from my comfort zone as I can possibly imagine.  It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable.  To say that I'm terrified would be an understatement.  I've shed more tears in the last 10 days then in the last year of my life. 

I read there are many reasons why we prefer to stay within our comfort zone. "We may be afraid of failure, of making mistakes, of looking foolish; we may worry about what other people might think or say; we may not think we're good enough."

Um, yes to all of the above. 

Stepping out of my comfort zone is creating a boat load of discomfort.  I'm being pulled and stretched in ways that feel unnerving and beyond uncomfortable.  In accepting this calling, I'm opening myself up to making more mistakes that I can imagine, fumbling, and being vulnerable all in front of a group of people (yikes).  But, I know that stepping out of what feels comfortable to me can create a space in my life for growth.  President Nelson said, "Faith in Jesus Christ propels us to do things we otherwise wouldn't do."  I completely dislike all the growing pains that I'm feeling right now, but I'm choosing to have faith that in the strength of the Lord and through his grace (strength and enabling power), I can accomplish all things (even teaching Relief Society).  Without faith in him, I honestly don't think I could do this (it's that scary to me).  I know he is on my side and that gives me a sense of comfort and strength.  I know that all this pulling and stretching will help me become who he knows I can be and I'm willing to walk that path with him (hopefully to somewhere awesome).

Harissa Chickpeas with Potatoes & Greens (and a really awesome lemon tahini sauce)

Lemon Tahini Sauce

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water (+ extra if necessary)
Zest of one lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, finely minced or grated with a microplane
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl or glass pint jar, whisk together the tahini, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Once seasoning and consistency are to your liking, set aside.


1 1/2 pounds baby yellow potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon za'atar (I use this recipe)
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut the potatoes in half (or thirds if bigger) and transfer them to a large baking sheet.  Toss them with olive oil, za'atar, salt, and pepper.  Place potatoes in the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown, flipping once at the halfway mark.

Harissa Chickpeas

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
1/4 cup water (+ extra if necessary)

In a deep skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a rough powder and set aside. (If you don't have a spice grinder, use the same amount of ground cumin, and coriander).

Place the skillet back on the heat and add oil to the skillet.  Add onion to the skillet and saute until translucent and soft, 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and ground spices and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chickpeas to the skillet and stir to coat the chickpeas.  Add the crushed tomatoes and water to the chickpeas and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring the harissa chickpeas to a low boil, lower heat and let the chickpeas simmer for 15 minutes, adding more water if necessary.  You want the chickpeas to be saucy, not soupy.

To Serve

4 big handfuls of chopped greens (I used kale (don't forget to give your kale a quick massage) and spinach)
Olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Extra za'atar

While chickpeas are simmering, toss the greens with the olive oil, lemon juice, a few pinches of za'atar, salt, and pepper.

To serve, divide greens, chickpeas, and potatoes among plates (I plated my greens and chickpeas side by side and nestled the potatoes in between).  Top with lemon tahini sauce and a couple pinches of za'atar.

Recipe slightly adapted from The First Mess

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cherry Almond Muesli

I am an early riser, a morning person, and a "I can get so much done when everyone in my house is still asleep" kind of person.  I don't love the beeping sound of my alarm that pulls me from a warm bed or the fact that I can see stars through our front window as I wonder downstairs blurry eyed, holding my toothbrush (with toothpaste on it) and my running shoes.  But, there is something in me (stronger than the alarm clock) that pulls me from my bed.  I love/crave what I'm able to accomplish early in the morning.  I love knowing that on Tuesdays my kiddies will make their way downstairs at 7 am and the only sign that I made cookies that morning will be the brown craft boxes sitting on the counter and the lingering smell of peanut butter cookies.  I love knowing that when we sit down for scriptures before school that my exercising is done for the day (the less time that I have to think about doing it, the better!).  I love being able to fix breakfast for my kids and I love packing their lunches.  Just kidding!  I really, really, don't like packing lunches, but I keep on doing it day after day.  Another reason I love getting up is to eat breakfast.  Sometimes when I'm lying in bed at night, I think about what I want to eat for breakfast the next morning.  I know, I'm kind of weird, but eating makes me happy and thinking about what I'm going to eat makes me happy too.  This Cherry Almond Breakfast Cereal (Muesli) from A Couple Cooks new cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking has been my go to breakfast since their cookbook showed up on my doorstep.  I get excited thinking about eating it!  I love that it's just crunchy enough, isn't overly sweet, and when I eat it with milk, it's like the best cereal ever!  I keep a bag of it in the freezer so when I eat it with milk, it's extra cold and I love it!  

Cherry Almond Muesli

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup whole almonds, roasted and salted
1 cup dried tart cherries
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup pepitas, roasted and salted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

On a baking sheet, spread out the oats evenly, then place the coconut in an even layer over the top of the oats.  Bake 7 to 11 minutes, watching closely.  The coconut can go from golden brown to burnt in seconds (I'm speaking from experience).  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

While the oats and coconut are toasting, chop the almonds and dried cherries.

In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and kosher salt.  Heat for 20 seconds in the microwave until just warmed through.

In a large bowl, combine the toasted oats and coconut, almonds and cherries, pepitas, and the maple-vanilla spice mixture, and stir to thoroughly combine.  Pour the mixture back onto the baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Ok here's something kind of funny.  As I was reading the recipe over while I typed this, I realized that once you spread the mixture into an even layer, you are supposed to allow the muesli to dry for 10 minutes on the baking sheet.  Well, I thought that you were supposed to allow the muesli to dry for 10 minutes back in the oven.  I just called my sister Stephanie to ask if she put the muesli back in the oven when she made it and no, she did not put it back in the oven, she obviously read the directions better than me.  Well, we both loved it, so either way (drying in the oven or on the counter), it's going to be awesome and you're going to want to eat it every day for breakfast.

Serve cold from the freezer with really cold milk.  Soooo good!

Recipe slightly adapted from Pretty Simple Cooking