Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Month of Lenten Menus with Links (17 GF Ideas)

The Icon of the Rich Man and Lazarus from Kykkos Monastery, Cyprus
The Biblical Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus tells the story of a rich man who fared sumptuously every day while neglecting to share with the poor man, Lazarus, who was just outside his gate. During Lent, we are supposed to focus on prayer and alms giving, while reducing our self-indulgence - not any easy task for any of us.

For Orthodox Christians, during Lent we are encouraged to do our best to keep our food mostly Vegan. Here's a month of menus for this Lenten Season.

I prepared this month of menus with my 10 Minute Monthly Menu Planning System.

Scroll down for the entire month's calendar, or enjoy scrolling by a few pictures first : )

If you're interested in other Lenten Menu plans, check out these past posts:

Lenten Potluck Ideas
Menu for the First Week of Orthodox Christian Lent
Lenten Menu -A Meal for Every Day of Great Lent 
A Month of Gluten Free Vegan Meals with Recipe Links 

For other websites with great Lenten Plans (and many Greek Recipes) check out these - a few that are favorites of mine this time of year:

Kopiaste - Great Greek & Cypriot cooking blog, with many vegan recipes

Great Lent Gourmet

The Greek Vegan

Teriyaki Veggies over Rice
Greek Peas & Artichokes Yachni

Indian Lemon Rice with Peas

Pad Thai

Lentil Salad

Black Bean Soup

Tabouli & Lentil Salads, Dolmades
Red Beans & Rice, Slaw
(scroll down)
Veggie Burgers, Potatoes

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spinach & Mushroom Calzone

Vegan Spinach & Mushroom Calzone
These Calzones were greeted with great enthusiasm by my daughter (and by us grownups!) - they're delicious, and add a nice variety to a Vegan menu.

I always love to find an easier way to make something, and these were much easier than you might expect. I made a few fresh for today, and several more to go in the freezer for future meals.

For the outside, I used the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day dough that I always keep on hand in the refrigerator. It really does take 5 minutes to whip up a batch! Of course, you could always use purchased dough from the store if you prefer.

Then, I made a double batch of my easy Manicotti filling, and made a tray of Manicotti for the freezer for a future meal along with these Calzones (A single Batch of Manicotti filling makes either one pan of Manicotti or a Dozen Calzones with a little filling to spare - so doubling the batch allows me to have both!)  You don't have to double the filling & make both recipes, it's just a nice option to have : )

For this recipe, you'll need:
Bread Dough (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day or store bought)
Manicotti Filling (below)
Pizza Sauce (store bought or home made)
Buttery Spread - like Earth Balance
Garlic Salt

Manicotti or Calzone Filling (this is a single batch)
1 diced Onion (or 1/2 of a 12oz bag of Frozen Chopped Onion OR 3/4 tsp Onion Powder)
1 to 2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
1 (10 to 12 ounce) package frozen, chopped spinach (thawed and drained and squeezed dry)
1 (14 to 16 ounce) package firm tofu, mashed with fork (I prefer the refrigerated kind in plastic tubs to the aseptically packaged varieties)
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Pepper
1 (4oz) can Mushrooms, drained
Mix together thoroughly

Then, I pulled off plum-sized pieces of dough, rolled them into circles (about 6 to 8" in diameter) and spread them with some Pizza Sauce in the middle. (I make 3 calzones with a pound of dough. My 4-pound, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day batch of dough, makes a Dozen Calzones)

**If you use onion powder instead of fresh or frozen onion, the sauteing step may be skipped - just stir & stuff - but note, volume of filling will be decreased slightly
I rolled out the dough

I spread on Pizza Sauce, being careful to leave a wide edge margin for sealing

I added a rounded 1/3 cup of filling

Then I folded it over, and firmly pinched the edges, and perforated the top

I put in a rounded 1/3 cup of Manicotti or Calzone Filling in the middle, and stretched the dough over the top, being careful not to get sauce on the edges of the dough (sauce on the edges prevents a seal - you can see a couple of leaks on the pictures below where I had sauce across the seal). Then, I pinched the edges of the dough shut. I patted them down a bit, and put them on the pizza baking tray. Then I slashed the top to vent steam (I made the mistake with the first batch of pricking with a fork rather than slashing - the holes resealed & the steam did not vent well). Right before baking, I splashed them with a bit of water to make a nice crust.
Calzones Coming out of the oven on the Perforated, nonstick Pizza Pan

I baked them in a preheated oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 to 30 minutes, till golden brown. Then, I brushed with a tiny bit of Buttery Spread, and sprinkled with Garlic Salt.

Serve - be cautious - centers will be steamy-hot!

Calzones after baking, with buttery spread & garlic salt
If you want a restaurant-style presentation, you might want to serve some extra warm Pizza sauce for dipping. 

The ones we were not eating today were put in a single layer on a parchment-lined pan in the freezer to flash freeze. When they're frozen, they'll be transferred to an airtight freezer container.
Calzones ready for flash freezing

These Freeze well, but they are best when freshly made. I thawed them before baking. In the future I hope to try baking them straight from the freezer and see how that works.

Tip for dining with Omnivores: If you have a traditional Calzone recipe to serve your Omnivores along side these, that would be perfect. Also, when the Omnivores in the family order out for Calzones or Pizza from the local pizzeria, it's nice to be able to toss one of these in the oven for the Vegans : )

This is being shared on:
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Coffee & Conversation

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Story of Mrs. Good and Mrs. Bad (with 4 Lenten Menu Plans)

The Ladder of Divine Ascent, as depicted at Kykkos Monastery, Cyprus
There is an old traditional Greek Orthodox story that I recently read in a book. It's a very short story,
but the kind of thing that really sticks with you. It's a story that Yiayia (Grandmother) might tell to her Grandchild.

Once upon a time, there was a lady named Mrs. Good. Every day, when she left her home to go to the market, she would encounter on the road her neighbor, Mrs. Bad. Every day Mrs. Good and Mrs. Bad visited with each other and discussed the events of the day - their children, their husbands, and the news of the country.

At the end of each day, Mrs. Good went home to Mr. Good and told him how wonderful Mrs. Bad was - what a delightful neighbor she was - how wonderful she was to chat with - and all her virtues.

And, every day, Mrs. Bad went home to Mr. Bad, and vented to him about how horrible Mrs. Good was. What a horrible neighbor she was - and how horrible to chat with - and all of her vices.

That's the whole story, as it is traditionally told.

But, I'd like to encourage you to fast-forward this story to the 21st Century. Imagine Mrs. Good and Mrs. Bad each have a Facebook Account, a Twitter Account and a Blog.

What do you think Mrs Good posts about Mrs Bad? What do you think she posts about her her own Husband, her Children, her Parents and her Friends - and even Politicians?

How about Mrs. Bad? What does she post about Mrs. Good? What do you think she posts about her own Husband, her Children, her Parents and her Friends?

Where would you see the rants? Where would you see the venting? The "Open Letters?"

This from Matthew 12: 34b-37

. . . for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Or, in the words of St. John Chryosostom:

“Let the mouth also fast from disgraceful speeches and railings. For what does it profit if we abstain from fish and fowl and yet bite and devour our brothers and sisters? The evil speaker eats the flesh of his brother and bites the body of his neighbor. ” 

AS we enter the Lenten Season, whether on Ash Wednesday or on Clean Monday, let us consider not only the food we eat, but the words we speak & write.  

And, if you're looking for what to cook and eat this Lenten Season, you might enjoy these posts:

Lenten Potluck Ideas

Menu for the First Week of Orthodox Christian Lent

Lenten Menu -A Meal for Every Day of Great Lent 

A Month of Gluten Free Vegan Meals with Recipe Links

This post was featured on:

Recipes and Ramblins with the Tumbleweed Contessa

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Easy Vegan White Cake

Easy Vegan White Cake
Recipes for Vegan Chocolate Cake abound - and many of them are exceptionally good and easy to make. But a recipe for a good Vegan White Cake that is made of simple grocery store ingredients is much harder to find. Which is too bad, given that my little girl is one of those who prefers Vanilla to Chocolate. And I prefer simple, basic recipes to exotic ingredients.

This recipe is adapted from one I found a few years back on Vegweb. Unfortunately, the original recipe can no longer be found there.

My version is ultra-simple to make, and uses basic grocery store ingredients. And, it tastes - well - like White Cake! : )

For a Children's Version of this recipe, check out this post! 

Before mixing Cake Batter, Oil an 8x8 square cake pan or a round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with waxed paper & oil the waxed paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Easy Vegan White Cake with Strawberries

Easy Vegan White Cake
2 1/2 Cups stuffedveggies Vegan Cookie & Cake Mix (recipe here)
1 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Light Flavored Oil (I use Sunflower)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract or Flavoring *

Stir all ingredients together in one bowl. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes - until done (toothpick inserted in center is clean, cake pulls away slightly from edges of pan, top center of cake springs back when touched - you know - the standard cake-doneness tests)

Remove pan from oven. Allow cake to cool about 5 minutes in pan. Flip cake upside down onto plate, remove pan & peel off wax paper carefully. Flip cake back right side up onto a wire rack, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

*Note: When I made this cake, I used traditional Vanilla (which is brown) and unbleached flour, so the cake is a little off-white. If you are going for a SNOW White Cake (say for a Wedding or Baptism) you will probably want to use clear vanilla flavoring & bleached flour. 

Frosted Easy Vegan White Cake

This one is best served with Vanilla frosting, and topped with Sweetened Strawberries (I like the frozen ones from the grocery that come packed with sugar - just thaw and serve). Of course, you can serve it in whatever way you like your cake.

This is being shared at
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Monday, February 2, 2015

Chocolate & Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes

Cupcakes are a great way to celebrate a Birthday!
Chocolate & Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes - Ready to Frost!

These are Vanilla & Chocolate, and made from your own homemade Mix. It's easy to turn out, say, 48 of these little things for someone's Birthday.

They have no animal products, and less saturated fat & chemicals than their traditional counterparts - whether homemade or store bought. 

A great friend who is wary of Vegan food told me that she couldn't tell these from "regular" cupcakes : )

For a Children's Version of this recipe, check out this post! 

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes
2 1/2 Cups stuffedveggies Vegan Cookie & Cake Mix
2 Tablespoons Cocoa
1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Water
1/3 Cup Mild-Flavor Oil (I used Sunflower)
1 Tablespoon Vinegar (I used White)

Mix vigorously with spoon till lumps are gone. Use batter to fill prepared muffin tins* for 1 dozen cupcakes. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 35 minutes. 

Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes
2 1/2 Cups stuffedveggies Vegan Cookie & Cake Mix
1 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Mild-Flavor Oil (I used Sunflower)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract (This isn't a typo - it really is 1 Tablespoon)

Mix vigorously with spoon till lumps are gone. Use batter to fill prepared muffin tins* for 1 dozen cupcakes. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 35 minutes.

*It is your choice whether you bake these in oiled tins or in tins lined with cupcake papers. These Vegan cupcakes DO stick to the paper for the first several hours after baking, but if they are baked one day for a party the following day, the papers work great. 

Freezer Friendly! These cupcakes can be cooled well, then frosted. After the frosting has set (a couple of hours) they can be sealed in an airtight freezer container and frozen until the day of the party. I did it this way for a recent birthday celebration, and it worked great.

Try these with
My Mom's Chocolate Icing


Strawberry Celebration Frosting

****More Frosting Recipes still to come!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Copycat Skyline Black Beans and Rice

Copycat Skyline Chili Black Beans & Rice over Pasta
Skyline Chili is a Cincinnati tradition. Cincinnatians grow up eating the famous "3-Way" - a plate of Angel Hair Spaghetti, topped with Cincinnati-Style Chili and Finely Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese. Optional toppings, such as Beans, Oyster Crackers or Minced Raw Onion are also on offer. It's such a wildly popular Cincinnati establishment that Skyline Chili is also available in grocery stores so that you can make it at home, or even transport it to another state or country to enjoy it while in Cincinnati exile.

I'm delighted to say that Skyline also has a Vegan Option on the menu - their Black Beans and Rice. My little girl just loves it. But, unlike other Skyline entrees, the Black Beans and Rice dish is not available at the grocery store.

So, I created my own Copycat Skyline Black Beans and Rice for those nights when we have Skyline-at-home. My daughter says I got the taste just right : )

This Bean dish is supposed to be pretty "saucy" to make a better topping for the pasta. You will want to add water as needed to make a pourable, but not totally soupy consistency.  The starches in this dish are pretty "thirsty" so it may require more water than you would anticipate.

Copycat Skyline Black Beans and Rice
Simmer in Saucepan for about 15 minutes, to blend flavors
2 (15oz) Cans Black Beans with their liquid
1 Cup Cooked Rice (leftover Brown or Long Grain White work well)
1 large Cube Vegetable Bouillon (I use Knorr or Maggi)
1/8 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Fresh Garlic
Mild Green Chilies from a can, to taste (I use 2 teaspoons because of my daughter's tender palate. About 1 1/2 T of Green Chilies should taste more authentic)
Gradually add water as needed while simmering to keep saucy consistency. I use about a cup total.
Add & cook 2-3 minutes more, to mellow vinegar flavor
3 Tablespoons White Vinegar
When cooking is finished, Blend with an Immersion Blender until about 1/2 the mixture is blended, while 1/2 remains whole

Serve Over Angel Hair Pasta. If you like, a Vegan Mild Cheddar Style Shredded Cheese may be added to keep the traditional presentation. I prefer mine topped with Salad Veggies such as Shredded Lettuce, Avocado & Tomato.

Tip for Dining with Omnivores: You can serve traditional Skyline Chili to the Omnivore at the table. It can be purchased at many grocery stores, or online. For Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians and Omnivores alike, Shredded Mild Cheddar can be added.

This is being shared at
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Mexican Haystacks

Mexican Haystack (assembled & photographed without the help of a food stylist ; )

Mexican Haystacks are an old favorite in the Vegetarian & Vegan Communities. They're kinda like Nachos -
but both healthier & tastier : )

This is another "build your own" sort of meal - which is perfect when you have diners with a variety of allergies, sensitivities, or with strong food preferences. You simply put a layer of chips - or your other favorite base layer- such as rice - and build from there. This is a naturally gluten-free meal, if you have diners who need that option : )

What's really great is that with a freezer stocked with some seasoned beans - or with store bought ingredients - this meal can come together really fast. If you have several friends get together - each one can bring or prepare one ingredient.

The links in the list take you to my recipes for these ingredients. 

You simply set out the ingredients in bowls, choosing from the following:

  • Tortilla Chips of your Choice (I'm a fan of Baked Tostitos - they're widely available, tasty, and healthier than many other options)
  •  Rice (optional - but some diners might prefer it in place of, or on top of, the chips)
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Diced Onion or Scallion - if desired
That's it - just set out the bowls and let diners assemble their own on their own plates! : )

Tip for dining with Omnivores: If you like, in addition to the above options, you can set out any or all the following for Omnivores - Fajita Style Chicken or Beef Strips, Taco Meat, Shredded Seasoned Chicken or Pork, Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese.

This is being shared at
Gluten Free Fridays

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