We just got back from the trip of a lifetime, and I have a slow cooker recipe to share that was inspired by our adventure! I absolutely LOVE to travel – exploring new places simply feels like part of who I am – and as long as I can remember it’s been a goal of mine to visit 6 of the 7 continents before I die (sorry Antarctica). I only turned 40 last month and don’t think I’m going anywhere just yet, but in recent years I’ve become somewhat enamored with Morocco and knew it had to be our first visit to my 6th continent. So after a year of planning, and even more years of plotting and airline mile saving, I was thrilled to be able to check two big items off my bucket list last month!
Deciding to Bring the Kids
The big difference with this international trip compared to others we’ve taken is that we decided to bring along our children (ages 10 and 12). They went to Europe with us once before, but, at least in my mind, that doesn’t feel quite the same as hopping on a plane to Morocco, Africa together. So, I was both equally excited and nervous about going on this adventure and decided early on I would enlist professional help when it came to the trip planning to ensure our safety and ease of exploring beyond just Marrakesh. I normally do all our trip planning myself (hello VRBO), but I have to say in this situation for us – it was a good decision!
So, I want to take a moment and give a quick shoutout to the travel company we used (not at all a sponsor, we just love them) – Untravelled Paths! Thanks to them not only was our trip amazing, but every single detail went off without a hitch, especially because of the guide they hooked us up with (more on that below). The owners, who are from England, personally travel the world (we met them in Patagonia last year) to find the best hotels and experiences to offer to their clients. AND they are the most reasonably priced company I found in my research.
Sponsor Shoutout: The Family Backpack
Now, if I’m giving you the travel bug and you could use a reliable travel resource to help you with your planning, I do also want to tell you about an awesome new website called The Family Backpack! This partner of ours combines the best resources from family travel bloggers all over the internet into one place, including many of the not-to-miss hidden gems out there. They have great articles on family-friendly activities across hundreds of U.S. and international destinations as well as helpful articles such as “How to survive Your Toddler’s First Flight.” All written by parents who have successfully traveled with their kids. Whether you want to drive, fly, or boat to your next adventure, you must check out all the travel secrets they’ve compiled as well as their pre-vacation information for families. Lots of “what ifs” can be solved by spending a little bit of time on their website, so check it out!
What We Did in Morocco
We did a lot in the six days we were in Morocco, and it all started with our first night in Marrakesh after a brief layover in Spain … thanks airline miles! We walked around to experience the “souks” (marketplace) and picked up a few souvenirs. All of us definitely did our best not to get run over by any of the scooters that were zooming right through the market stalls – interesting, to say the least! Then the next morning we started our long journey to the Sahara Desert.
We were driven to the desert by our own guide, Abdul, who stayed with us the entire trip and was just great! I was at ease knowing we weren’t in charge of getting ourselves from town to town. Here is Abdul teaching us how to wrap our headscarves just before our sunset camel ride in the desert.
Not only was our guide super helpful, but I loved how we could ask him questions about the culture including “the call to prayer” (something we heard over an intercom five times a day), Ramadan (fasting for one month from sunrise till sunset, which was taking place when we were there), and why every single house/building was reddish brown. As it turns out the buildings started out that color because they used native materials to build, but even now with modern building techniques and paint colors (that obviously come in a variety of shades) they would not even consider changing tradition. It’d be kind of like me painting our house neon pink here in our Charlotte neighborhood – just not generally accepted.
We stopped at several hotels as we traveled to and from the desert, and, thanks to the travel company and our guide, we did not have to think about where to go, how to get there, or where to eat lunch along the way – especially with the majority of the country fasting!
Two of the biggest highlights:
- Our night in the Sahara Desert. The camel ride was obviously a super cool experience, but I also enjoyed just being in the desert more than I ever could have imagined. It was the most peaceful and quiet place I’ve ever been with not a single sound to hear (no animals or bugs making noises, no trees blowing in the wind, no cars zooming by, and no people other than our small group!). We could also see more stars in the sky than I’ve ever seen before!
- The visit to a Berber home (pictured below), which is their native people. After all the driving around and questions about how different the houses looked, I was super curious what one was like inside. And much to my delight “a trek to a Berber home” was an available excursion at our hotel on our last day – it was very exciting for me to get to have that experience!
Chicken “Tagine” in the Slow Cooker
We absolutely loved the food in Morocco, and I gladly ordered a tagine dish at every single meal! We even bought a big tagine for only 10 bucks and carried it all the way back home with us (and trust me, that thing is heavy). In fact, we purchased all these handmade items (pictured below) for a grand total of only $36! There are plenty of shops who’d try to charge tourists an arm and a leg, but our trusty guide knew exactly where to take us for the best deal.
The tagine meals almost seem like the original slow cooker (or Instant Pot). You put in a variety of meats, fresh veggies and spices, stick it over the fire, put the lid on, and let it cook for a couple hours until it tastes oh-so-good. I loved how real so many of the dishes were for this reason (and also how it was still boiling when they took the lid off so I knew everything was cooked enough to not make anyone sick!). But tagines are used for more than just meat and veggie dishes. One of our favorites was actually an omelette with salty sliced black olives on top. Olive trees were everywhere there, and they truly tasted amazing!
And they don’t just grow olives there. I must say I was super impressed with how much Moroccans grow their own food because everywhere we went we saw an abundance of veggie plants, fruit trees, and the like. You’d be hard pressed to find a plant that you couldn’t eat or use for medicinal purposes. We even saw peppercorn trees, which I didn’t even know was a thing!
So, since I know tagines are not a standard item here in the U.S., I decided to make a slow cooker version of a classic tagine recipe we enjoyed at a cooking demo on our last day there. It was fun to make this and reminisce about our trip after we got home. And, I have to say, the olives are my favorite part of this recipe. I used to just think of olives as a cold appetizer type food before we went on this trip, but now I know better since I’ve seen how much they use them in cooked dishes. So yummy!
Here is the recipe and also don’t miss even more pics from our trip down below – if you are interested, that is. Enjoy!
Pictures from our trip to Morocco!
It was not easy to narrow things down, but here are some of the highlights (many of which I shared on Insta Stories along the way)…
Full disclosure: We did not fly directly home from Morocco. Believe it or not, I found a $20 flight from Marrakesh to Italy on EasyJet – so, we spent a week there decompressing before we headed home! It felt like too much info to share the Italy portion of our trip in this post, but it’s not because we didn’t love it. I did post a few pics on Instagram, and it actually turned out to be the perfect contrast to Morocco (hello yummy made-from-scratch pasta). Especially since Morocco wore us out, we loved spending a little time there relaxing before our big trip had to come to an end.