Monday, December 29, 2014

My Best Blog Posts of 2014

Here's my "Year in Review" post for 2014. It's so hard to pick "best" posts, because sometimes a great post is overlooked by readers, and sometimes something gets lots of clicks that seems to me to be a pretty average post. So, I decided to categorize them.

Domestic Posts

These posts were ones I loved that also got a lot of clicks - a win-win! : )

How I Accidentally Saved $200,000.

Raising Kids Who Aren't Picky

Wrinkle Remover Spray

My Amazing Mother's Kid Tips

Kitchen Cleaners  &
Bathroom Cleaners

Why I Ditched My High-Speed Blender

Menu Planning Posts

 Holiday Menus and Monthly Menus are reliably very popular posts. I'm featuring the ones that are coming again soon : )

 Vegan New Year 

 Ten Things to Do with Leftover Rice

Vegan Superbowl

How to Design Your Own Freezer Cooking Plan

Menu Planning for a Month in Ten Minutes

Bread Posts 

Rather Amazingly, in this age of "Gluten Free," my posts on how to make Traditional Breads the easy way were HUGE hits! 

Stove Top Bread Sticks

Easy Yeast Bread in the Slow Cooker

My Great, but Overlooked, Post

Twelve Vegan Recipes for a Toy Oven
I spent massive amounts of time on this post - creating 12 UNIQUE, Vegan recipes for Easy-Bake or other brands of toy ovens.  Who wouldn't want to make a kid a gift-basket of 12 different Kid-Mixes? But, the clicks only trickled in. Perhaps it was the timing? The title didn't grab people? People just assumed I was re-posting the same recipes that fill the internet? Don't miss it - this post is GREAT!

This post is being featured on
What'd You Do This Weekend?
The Art of Homemaking Mondays 
Modest Mondays 
Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays 
Frugal by Choice 
Weekend Wind Down Party 
Simple Saturdays 

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Most Un-Christian Word in the English Language

At His Birth, Christ Included an entire Spectrum of Guests
In a lifetime of hearing sermons, it is very hard to remember very many individual sermons. Most
sermons work together like bricks in a wall. They edify us (or build us up), but we don't notice the individual bricks much. Once in a while, there is a sermon that we hear and we remember many, many years later. This Christmas, I'd like to reflect on one such sermon.

One Sunday morning more than two decades ago, the Pastor* asked the Congregation, "What do you suppose is the most Un-Christian word in the English language?" Many, many words popped to mind, but I was surprised at the answer the Pastor supplied.

He said the most Un-Christian word in English is:

Are you ready?

The Most Un-Christian word in the English Language is . . .


That's right.


Think about it. We have "Exclusive" parties where only the creme de la creme are invited. We go to "Exclusive" sales at posh stores. We join "Exclusive" social organizations (and even social media, nowadays!) that are "Invitation Only!" We attend "Exclusive" schools and universities - and even preschools!

What do all of these things have in common?

They appeal to our pride by excluding those who we see as "less than" we are.

But, when we look at the beauty of Christmas, what do we see?

We see the God of the Universe - who truly was the Best of the Best - who gave up all the "perks" of Power, Privilege and Position and instead - out of sheer LOVE - came and chose to spend time with us! We, who along with St. Paul, are the worst of sinners!

Even the Wise Men, Kings and Angels who attended His Birth were far below Him!

But, He didn't just invite them! He also invited the poor, and those with no status in society - like the Shepherds. Even His own earthly Parents, though Holy, were poor.

He commended the virtues of the poor throughout His life. (see  The Widow's Mite and the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus for example)

More importantly, He commanded us to include the poor and underprivileged.

When I go to Church at Christmas, of all the Mysteries I ponder, the one that always amazes me most is that such a Perfect God wanted to come to earth to be with me!

This Christmas season, let's imitate Christ's Love and include those who aren't eligible for "Exclusive" offers in the circle of our Love & relationships.

*This is my recollection of a sermon given by the Rev. Karl Suhr of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Atlanta Georgia. Pastor Suhr made a very positive impression on me with his kindness, humility and compassion, as well as with this memorable sermon, despite the fact that I only lived in Atlanta briefly. As with any memories of this duration, I cannot guarantee that my recollection is an accurate portrayal of what he actually said, but I do want to give him credit for what I took away from the sermon.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

My Mom's Chocolate Icing

Mom's Chocolate Icing
Mom's Chocolate Icing was a childhood highlight. Mom rarely cooked. It was even more rare that she made dessert -usually only for occasional Birthdays or for Covered Dish Dinners - and we kids really looked forward to the Chocolate Icing. The cake was optional in our minds - just the Icing, please!

Now I use the same recipe, Veganized, to make birthday treats for my daughter.

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

Her original recipe was like this:

Mom's Original Chocolate Icing
Melt together in Saucepan:
3 Squares unsweetened Baker's Chocolate
3 Tablespoons Butter

Mix Separately:
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Salt
7 Tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Blend in melted Chocolate mixture, mixing well with an electric mixer. Add milk or powdered sugar, as needed to thin or thicken.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mom's Chocolate Frosting
Over the years, I discovered that it was more economical to use Cocoa instead of Baker's Chocolate - and nobody could tell the difference. Then I Veganized it. I served my recipe to Mom, and she couldn't tell mine from hers - neither could anyone else!

 Mom's Chocolate Icing, Veganized
Melt in Microwave or saucepan
1/3 cup Earth Balance or similar Vegan Buttery Spread
Mix in
1/3 cup Cocoa
Dash Salt
Teaspoon Vanilla
Stir in
4 Tablespoons Nondairy Milk (I use Soy)
Then, gradually add, while mixing with an electric mixer
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
(add more Powdered Sugar or more Nondairy Milk to achieve desired spreading texture)

This Frosting Freezes well - you can decorate Cupcakes and wrap them airtight to freeze (in such a way that the frosting isn't damaged)  Thaw at room temperature, without unwrapping.

This is being shared at:
Motivation Monday
What'd You Do This Weekend?
The Art of Homemaking Monday
The Thrifty Home: What's For Dinner? 
Anti-Procrastination Tuesday 
Virtual Vegan Potluck 
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Home Acre Hop
Inspire Us Thursday
Simple Saturdays 
From the Farm

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Vegan Month of Winter Meals

my new method for planning a month of meals in 10 minutes
Using my new method for planning a month of meals in 10 minutes, I put this menu together for the next month of meals.

Having a month of meals all planned makes planning a grocery trip a breeze, and bulk cooking is much easier, too. In fact, the day after I made this plan, I put together a few meals for the coming week in about an hour : )

This is a month of all-Vegan meals, for a Lenten or Fasting season for Orthodox Christians, or for a family that is always Vegan. It is easy to supplement with some fish or meat if you have an Omnivore family member.

Whenever I serve these meals, I routinely add things like Salad, Bread, Veggies & Dips, and Olives & Pickles, and Fruit for Dessert to the menu - so I don't usually write those things down.  Whenever I grocery shop, I automatically add the produce necessary to my grocery list.

This menu has lots of warming Soups & Casseroles, and lots of meals that can be prepared from the pantry & mostly from vegetables that are readily available in Winter. 

All the links are "clickable" for the menu. And, I'm adding a few pictures to pique your interest. Scroll past the pictures for the entire month's menu.

Pad Thai, Simple Vegan

Bulgur Pilaf ( Pourgouri )

Fill Your Own Tortilla Night

Stuffed Manicotti

This is being shared on
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Motivation Monday 
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Virtual Vegan Potluck 
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Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Greek Bean Soup
 ( Fasolia Yachni )
Black Bean Soup (Slow Cooker)
Bulgur Pilaf ( Pourgouri ) Pad Thai, Simple Vegan
Greek Giant Beans
 ( Gigantes )
Red Beans over Rice

Monday, December 1, 2014

Vegan Christmas Dinner Menu Ideas

Orthodox Nativity Icon from Kykkos Monastery, Cyprus
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

The Christmas Feast is a huge event in a Christian household. After Advent, it is quite a Celebration!

Even as a child, long before I was Vegetarian, it was never the main dish that interested me, but rather the side dishes, appetizers and desserts. For that reason, my Christmas Dinner ideas don't focus much on "Mains" but on all the many dishes that make a wonderful feast.

For practical reasons - it's good to have a mix of simple & complicated, make-ahead, and fix-right-before, and slow-cooker, oven, stove-top and no-cook sort of dishes. I've endeavored to provide that sort of blend here.

Here are some ideas to get YOUR creative ideas flowing: 

Dips Buffet for a Party
Despite the picture - this link has SEVERAL different Vegan dip recipes : )

Red Pepper & Walnut Dip or Spread

Vegan Holiday Appetizers

Vegan Mock Crab Cakes 

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Marinated, Grilled Tofu

Greek Stuffed Veggies ( Gemista )
This is also a slow cooker recipe, if you need it to be! : )

Baked Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

Bulgur Pilaf ( Pourgouri ) 
This is also a great starchy side dish for Omnivores!

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

Cauliflower & Capers

Green Beans Almondine

Rosemary Roast Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

Simply Zucchini Saute

Stuffing, Low fat & Vegan

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet & Sour Sweet Potatoes

Veggies Vinaigrette

Carrot Raisin Salad without Mayonnaise

Farro Salad, Mediterranean 

Fruited Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Lentil & Rice Salad

Mediterranean Two Bean Salad 

Mix & Match Italian Rice Salad

Quinoa and Lime Salad

Birthday Treat, Easy Vegan
(You can see how this would work for Christmas, too, right? ; )


Crispy Rice Cupcakes 
These can accommodate multiple allergies - although they DO have Peanut Butter in them.
They're great for the Gluten-Free folks if they're made with GF Crispy Rice.

Fruit Salad

Gingerbread Crunch Cookies
(hope you're more artistic than I am! : )

Make One Mix, Make Ten Different Cookies

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Raw (ish) Cookie Assortment

Raw (ish) Maple Walnut Squares

Samali (Greek Semolina Dessert)

This post was featured on
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This is being shared at
The Art of Homemaking Mondays
What'd You Do This Weekend?
Inspire Me Monday
Motivation Monday
Menu Plan Monday 
What's for Dinner?
Virtual Vegan Potluck
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Home Acre Hop
Inspire Us Thursday
Think Tank Thursday 
Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural
Real Food Fridays
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