“Where does Liz Lemon go when she’s out on the town? To the Barnes & Noble bathroom!” To no one’s surprise, Liz Lemon knows what’s up yet again. Not only does Barnes and Noble offer a free, semi-clean bathroom but the place also boasts an extensive collection of cookbooks! I found myself in a Barnes and Noble recently and not only did I use their restroom, but I perused the shiz out of their cookbook section. After learning about the Moosewood cookbooks recently, I began to pour over the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites cookbook. This vegetarian gem offers a wide array of delicious sounding recipes, like tolafel, a tofu-falafel hybrid that’s packed with protein and veggies. The patties are baked, not fried and make a very satisfying dinner. I roasted up some eggplant slices and made a quick Israeli salad to go alongside the tolafel. Throw in some Israeli pickles and hummus and hop on the express bus to tolafel town.  And the next time you find yourself in a Barnes and Noble, make your way over to the cookbook section and you too may find a weeknight dinner keeper. 

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From the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites Cookbook

12 oz block of extra firm tofu (pressed to remove excess water)

16 oz can of chickpeas

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

3 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup tahina

sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for about 7 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for another 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the sesame oil, turmeric, and coriander and cook for another minute. In a food processor combine the chickpeas, tofu (broken into crumbles by hand), lemon juice, soy sauce, tahina and parsley and pulse until combined. Place the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the pepper and onion mixture. Stir until combined. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Form patties using about a 1/2 cup of the mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 35-40 minutes.

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Spice Rubbed Chicken Thighs with Chickpeas

Thighs are better than breasts. There, I said it. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move forward. These chicken thighs are easy to make and full of flavor. Chickpeas, which pack a protein-rich punch, make this a hearty and filling dish. Feel free to use any spices you like, and if you’re not into spices, that’s ok too, you can just go with good ol’ S and P. You could even turn this into a one-pot (and carb-free) meal by adding veggies to the mix. Carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash or zucchini would be great in this. I served the chicken with bulgur wheat, which soaked up all that yummy tomatoey-chickpea sauce. You’re going to want to add this one to your weeknight repertoire, trust me.

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The whole gang didn’t even fit in the picture!

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Spice Rubbed Chicken Thighs with Chickpeas

Adapted from Bon Appetit

4 chicken thighs

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp coriander

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

1 can of chickpeas

3 tbsp tomato sauce

1/4 cup chicken broth

salt and pepper

1 small onion (I used 3 green onions and a little bit of red onion)

2 cloves garlic

Ok, let’s be clear. I didn’t really measure my spices, I just sprinkled a good amount of each spice on the chicken thighs. But it would have been around a 1/4 tsp if I had… Preheat your oven to 425. Season thighs on both sides with all the spices and salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat. Place the chicken skin side down in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn over and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes. Remove thighs and put them on a plate. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of shmaltzy goodness. Throw in the chopped garlic cloves and onions and saute for about 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chickpeas and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Place the chicken back in the pan and finish it in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Tis the season to eat vegetarian Middle Eastern cuisine.  And what better way to get into the holiday spirit than whipping up some falafel for the whole Fam Damily? Homemade falafel is really delicious and pretty easy to make.  Lots of parsley, spices and lemon juice make these fried balls extra special. Crisp veggies, tehina, and sour pickles  add the perfect balance of freshness to this classic Israeli sandwich, or as they say in the holy land, “sand-veeech.” Put your reindeer sweater on, pour yourself a glass of eggnog and fry up some fa-la-la-la-lafel balls tonight. And don’t forget to put some hummus and pita out for Kfar SabaClaus!

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Based on the goddess of fine living, Martha Stewart’s recipe

15 oz can of chickpeas

2 garlic cloves

1 small onion

1/4 cup parsley

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

3/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp fresh mint

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 egg

1/2 cup vegetable oil (come on it’s the holidays, put your fat pants on!)

Put half the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Put the rest of the chickpeas in the processor with the garlic, lemon juice, salt, spices, parsley and baking soda and pulse until it becomes a thick paste. Lightly beat your egg and mix everything together in your large mixing bowl. Let the mixture chill for 30 minutes. The chilling is a VERY important step, I neglected to wait the full 30 and ended up with a bit of a falafel hash. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter into the oil and cook turning once until golden brown. Place balls on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Serve with fresh pita bread, simple Israeli salad (diced cucumbers and tomatoes with equal parts olive oil and fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper) sliced Israeli style sour pickles, tehina, and really any other falafel accoutrements you like. Ho-Ho-Ho-Hommus anyone?

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