Friday, November 29, 2013

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter & Jelly Laraballs

Peanut Butter & Jelly Laraballs
I love Peanut Butter & Jelly Lara Bars - they're my favorite flavour. But the price? Not so much. And, I don't always want a "bar." So, I made this taste-alike ball, which is cheap, easy, and tasty. What's not to like?

I find that the key to making these is to buy cheaper, older Deglet Noor Dates (these are the kind you usually get if you just buy supermarket Dates). You may even want to let them dry out a bit after purchase and before use. Although Medjool Dates are delectable, they are too moist for this recipe, and tend to produce a paste instead of a the firm texture I'm looking for.

This is a perfect travel snack for Vegans - or for anyone, for that matter. We often take these with us when we fly. It's also a great lunch-box dessert for kids (or grownups ; )

Peanut Butter & Jelly Laraballs
Grind till fine (but not a butter)
in food processor
1/4 cup Roasted Salted Peanuts
1/4 cup Dried Tart Cherries (or Cherry flavoured Craisins)
1 1/2 cups Deglet Noor Dates (measure loosely, don't pack)
(If you like, a 1/4 cup Quick Oats may be added to "stretch" the recipe a bit. I cannot notice a difference in taste when I do this, and Oats are very healthy. But, of course, the brand name bar does not have oats)
Pulse till finely ground.
Form in balls by packing in your hand -
using a method very similar to making snowballs - for those of you who live where it snows.

*Any type of peanut may be used in place of roasted, salted. If you use a type without salt, I recommend adding a little salt to the recipe to compensate.

This is being shared on Healthy Vegan Fridays, Making Your Home Sing Monday, The Chicken Chick, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Anti Procrastination Tuesday, Penny Pinching Party, Real Food, Allergy Free

The mixture should look like this after
grinding in the food processor, and before packing
into balls.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cauliflower with Peppers & Onions

This is a lovely, uncomplicated side dish. I like to prepare this for holiday dinners - like Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's always well-received. It provides a nice, simple contrast to the more elaborate dishes of the season.

I especially like that I can make this in advance for the refrigerator, and just reheat it on the busy day.

Cauliflower with Peppers & Onions

Saute till Golden Brown (don't be afraid to go for an nice, brown color)
1 (12oz) bag Frozen Bell Pepper & Onion mix (or 1 Onion & 1 Bell Pepper, Chopped)

1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
½ cup water
½ cube bouillon, crumbled
½ tsp oregano
Saute, then cover with a lid and steam to cook cauliflower till tender, adding more water as needed.

This recipe cooks down a lot. It makes less than 1 quart when it is done. So, double or triple it if you're serving a bigger group.

This is being shared on Healthy Vegan Fridays, Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural


Monday, November 18, 2013

Savory One Pot Mushroom Noodles

Savory Mushroom Noodles with Peas & Salad
This is a nice standby recipe - if you need a little variety in your starchy sides for your Omnivore, and a Main Dish for a Vegan, this recipe fits the bill. And, it's as quick to make as a box of dinner "helper," and comes together in one skillet. I adapted it substantially from PDQ by Donna Klein 

Savory Mushroom Noodles
Saute (I use no oil or liquid - if it sticks, I add a tiny bit of the liquid from later in the recipe, but usually I don't need to)
1/2 Chopped Onion (or 1/2 cup frozen chopped onions)
1 Spoon Garlic (you decide how big a spoon!)
After a brief saute, just toss everything else in the
skillet & simmer
2 (4oz) cans Mushrooms, Drained - or equivalent fresh.
Then add
3 1/3 cups Water
1/3 cup dry Red Wine
1 T dry Parsley
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 (12oz) Package Egg Free Noodle Pasta (or other similar pasta shape)
Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally till pasta is al dente, and liquid is nearly all absorbed
(if pasta becomes sticky, drizzling a little cool water over it will help)

Savory Mushroom Noodles reaching the al dente stage

Tips for dining with Omnivores: This dish goes nicely with Steak or other Beef dishes. Alternately, some cooked hamburger could be stirred into Omnivore's portion. If you do not abstain from Eggs, Egg Noodles will also work for this recipe.

This is being shared on
Making Your Home Sing Monday, Inspire Me Monday, The Chicken Chick, Modest Monday
Plucky's Second Thought, Feeding Big, Teach Me Tuesdays, Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays
Rosevine Cottage Girls, Wise Woman, Wonderful Wednesday

Friday, November 15, 2013

Two Minute Almond Milk

Two Minute Almond Milk
Making your own Almond Milk has HUGE advantages.
1. It saves a lot of money - it costs well under half the cost of commercial Almond Milk.
2. It reduces packaging waste.
3. It saves trips to the store.
4. It saves storage space, since you only have to keep one small jar on hand to make a few gallons.
5. It gives you control over ingredients, so that allergens, gums, and preservatives can be avoided.
6. It saves time!
7. If you live in the city, and carry groceries home, it will save your back from lugging a lot of extra heavy cartons!

I don't often post times with my recipes, and when I do, I don't exaggerate.

This recipe REALLY does take two minutes to make!

(This is not my original idea, but I have seen it in more than one place, and I have no idea where those places were. These are my own proportions and my own directions.)

Here it is:

Two Minute Almond Milk
Combine in a container that is big enough
1 Quart Cold Water*
2 Tablespoons Raw, Smooth, Pure Almond Butter (not the "no-stir" or roasted kinds)
I use Maranatha Raw Almond Butter.

Place Immersion blender into container and blend for a full 60 seconds (1 minute). I am sure a traditional blender will work, too, I just always use the immersion blender myself.
Rinse off Immersion Blender - while you do that, the almond meal will settle to the bottom of the container.
Pour Milk into your pitcher/storage container, leaving "dregs" (almond meal) in the bottom of your blending container.
Enjoy! (or refrigerate to use later)
This milk does not have gums or emulsifiers, so it will settle - you will need to shake or stir each time before serving.

*You may use warm water and then just chill before drinking/serving.

NOTE: Dairy milks NATURALLY contain about 1 Tablespoons of natural sugars per cup. Which means that people who are used to drinking cow-milk (as my daughter calls it) are used to a very sweet beverage (which is one reason so many people "love" milk!). If you are working on transitioning away from cow-milk, or have a family member who is, I encourage you to add sugar to taste (perhaps 1 to 2 Tablespoons) and a dash of salt the first time or two you make this, and then experiment with reducing those amounts as tastes adjust.

This is being shared on Healthy Vegan Fridays, The Thriftiness Miss, Gluten Free Fridays, Friday Show & Tell, Making Your Home Sing Monday Inspire Me Monday, The Chicken Chick, Modest Monday, Plucky's Second Thought, Feeding Big, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, Tips & Tricks Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Happy, Healthy, Green & Natural, Rosevine Cottage Girls, Wise Woman, Wonderful Wednesday, Real Food, Allergy Free, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, The Thrifty Home's Penny Pinching Party, Simple Lives Thursday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Living Big on Less Money

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Urban Grilled Corn

Urban Grilled Corn (next time, I'll make it even browner : )
In many places, Grilled Corn is sold as street food. The ears are grilled over charcoal until there are little blackened spots on the kernels. This caramelizes the natural sugars in the corn, emphasizing its natural sweetness, and makes it smoky & chewy.

Sometimes, you might have a craving for such food - or perhaps you have a recipe (like a salsa or entrée salad) that calls for Grilled Corn. Or, maybe you just want a slightly more intriguing staple side dish. But, you don't want to fire up the grill. Or maybe you can't - grilling is illegal in our neighborhood. Maybe Corn-on-the-Cob is out of season to boot.

I found this intriguing idea while surfing the net a while back. Unfortunately, I cannot recall where I saw it, but it is not a unique idea - I've seen it in several other places since. And, it's unbelievably simple : )

Urban Grilled Corn
Remove Frozen Sweet Kernel Corn from the Freezer.
Put it in a sieve, and rinse with warm water to thaw.
Pour into a dry nonstick pan over medium heat.
Cook, stirring frequently till corn has enough little charred spots to suit your tastes.
Season & Serve (or toss in recipe)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

St. Nektarios of Aegina

Icon of St. Nektarios from Wikimedia Commons
How do you react when people are cruel to you? When they spread unthinkable lies about you (or believe those lies that others tell about you), make you lose your job, exclude you, and leave you without enough food to eat?

Do you fight back? Do you gossip about them -  telling others what they've done? Do you seek revenge? Do you hate them? Do you fall into despair?

Now, let's imagine that the people who do these horrible things are Christians. Not only Christians, but people you look up to in your Faith community.

Do you leave the Church? Do you feel betrayed by God? Do you stumble in your faith? Do you reject God & His Church?

This sort of thing is probably the #1 reason that I have seen people leave the Faith.

But, today's Saint - Saint Nektarios - took a different path.

He accepted the mistreatment. He simply accepted the slander, the loss of job & position, the lack of food, the exclusion. He didn't fight back. He didn't gossip about his abusers. He didn't seek revenge. And, most importantly, he remained Faithful to God. This was his Cross to bear in his life, and he bore it heroically. He chose not to hate, but to love. He chose not to reject suffering as something to be avoided at all costs, but to obediently endure it for God.

Despite the cruelty of other Christians, he Loved & Served God. He gave alms to the poor. He accepted any position he could get serving God - even those positions that were much "beneath him." He was a Bishop - yet because of the sins of others, he had to accept a part time job preaching - not even a full time position!

In the course of his life, he acted as Headmaster of a Seminary, and eventually founded a Monastery. But, he was always hounded by those who hated him.

At the end of his life, he suffered bravely and devoutly with physical illness, while others were being miraculously healed of their illnesses through his prayers. (He is the Patron Saint for those suffering from Cancer.) Again, others might have been angry at God when they saw others healed, but while they remained ill and in severe pain themselves, but St. Nektarios was Faithful & filled with Love.

It is quite likely that during his lifetime few, if any, recognized that they were in the presence of a Saint.

When St. Nektarios died of his illness, his body was washed, as was customary. When his undershirt was removed for the washing of the body, it was tossed on a neighboring bed - where there lay a paralyzed man. The paralyzed man was instantly healed! I suspect that the moment this happened was the first inkling most had that Bishop Nektarios was a Saint.

In the course of time, his relics remained incorrupt (his body did not decay) and gave off the odor of sanctity (instead of smelling like a dead body - his body smelled like Myrrh).

Many people came to his tomb to request his prayers for their healing - and many were healed - so many that an entire book was written (unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, it is only available in Greek) just about these occurrences. My Father-in-Law was one of those people healed by the prayers of St. Nektarios.

Today is the day we remember St. Nektarios - an amazing, modern Saint. If you'd like to know more, I highly recommend  Saint Nektarios, The Saint of Our Century. It's a compelling read- almost like a novel - and very uplifting.

And, the next time you are mistreated by a Christian, remember that all the things we suffer in this life- whether physical, emotional, or Spiritual -  has the potential to either draw us closer to God - or further from Him - and let us pray for God's help to imitate the Love & Faithfulness of St. Nektarios.

This is being shared on Making Your Home Sing Monday, Modest Monday, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Tell Me a True Story, Teach Me Tuesdays, Teaching What is Good, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Rosevine Cottage Girls, Wise Woman, Encourage One Another, Thrive @ Home Thursday

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fifteen Vegan Thanksgiving Menu Ideas

My Thanksgiving philosophy is this: the purpose of Thanksgiving is to Give Thanks to God! That
was why there was the Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving and that's why President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a National Holiday.

I'm not one to quibble over food on the big day. The food is there for atmosphere, and for the enjoyment of friends & family, not to be the focus (and Football and Parades are not even on my radar!). I'm not real fond of those imitation Turkey concoctions that a lot of Vegans seem to like this time of year. Yuck.

I don't mind if the Omnivores have their thing on the big day. I'm just going to make sure there are plenty of great Vegan options! I can load up on these, and we can all have a huge feast. Oh - and, all these choices will help you to save money over the "traditional" animal foods & packaged convenience foods.

If you're an Omnivore who is hosting a Vegan for the big day, you might want to also read my post Help! A Vegan is Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner!

This is being shared at Healthy Vegan Fridays, Feeding Big on Less Money, This Week for Dinner Show & Tell, Making Your Home Sing Monday, Chicken Chicks, Modest Monday, Creative Home & Garden, My Meatless Mondays, Inspire Me Monday, In & Out of the Kitchen, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, Teaching What is Good, Tasty Treats Tuesday, Tips & Tricks Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Penny Pinching Party, Wonderful Wednesday, Rosevine Cottage Girls, Wise Woman, Encourage One Another, Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party, Real Food, Allergy Free, Fabulously Frugal Thursdays, The Thankful Home Acre Hop, Simple Lives Thursday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Thrive @ Home Thursday
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Here are a few of our traditional dishes which I select from - either when I host, or when I carry a covered dish to someone else's feast:

For Breakfast on the Big Day:
Vegan Pumpkin Mini Muffins


Dips Buffet

Vegan Holiday Appetizers

Moving on to the Main Meal:

Zippy Sweet Potato Fries

Veggies Vinaigrette

Sweet & Sour Sweet Potatoes

Low Fat, Vegan Stuffing

Rosemary Roast Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

Green Beans Almondine

Cauliflower & Capers

A Lovely Centerpiece or Vegan Entrée:

Stuffed Pumpkin


Orange Beet Salad


Homemade Yeast Bread


Russian Teacakes

For the next Morning:

Cranberry Magic Muffins (also good to make with leftovers the next day : )

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Month of Meals for an Omnivore & Vegan Family

It's great when a whole family decides to go Vegan, but realistically, it seldom happens. More often what I hear is, "I'd like to go Vegan, but my spouse wouldn't dream of it! And, I don't want to have to cook two dinners every night." Planning a meal for two diets can dovetail nicely, and it doesn't need to keep a person who wants to eat a healthier diet from taking that step! And, the whole family CAN eat & fellowship together instead of having separate menus : )

Here is a month's menu of the actual meals we eat at our house when cooking for two diets (I don't serve meat every night as this menu implies, but these are menus I cook on our meat-serving nights). My common method is to choose a Meat entrée, then plan a balanced Vegan meal dishes that complement the Meat being served (Such as Pork Chops & Sauerkraut, Dijon Potatoes, Peas & Salad). Alternately, sometimes I plan a Vegan meal, and add a Meat "side dish" that complements it (Such as Black Bean Soup with added Kielbasa, Rice & Salad). Once in a while, I simply make two entrees that go well together (Tofu or Cheese Stuffed Manicotti with Salad & Garlic Toast). Most of my balanced Vegan Meals consist of a Fruit, Vegetable, Grain & Legume Combination, but not every one. As this menu notes, at most meals, in addition to the foods listed, I also serve fresh Homemade Bread, Salad & for Dessert, Fruit.

For more info on planning nutritionally balanced Vegan meals, see this post Why I Don't Eat a Protein at Dinner. And, just the traditional disclaimer here, I'm a housewife who deals with this every day - but I'm not a nutritionist - don't take this as if it were professional advice.

For more information on accommodating the Omnivore in your life, you might also like to check out my Care & Feeding of Omnivores tab.

This is being shared on Menu Plan Monday, Making Your Home Sing Monday, The Chicken Chick, Modest Monday, What'd You Do This Weekend, In & Out of the Kitchen, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Plucky's Second Thought, Teach Me Tuesdays, Tips & Tricks Tuesdays, Mom's Library, Wise Woman, Best4Future, Real Food, Allergy Free, Rosevine Cottage Girls, The Thrifty Home Penny Pinching Party, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Simple Lives Thursday, Hearts for Home, Thrive at Home, Weekend Wonders , Healthy Vegan Fridays, My Meatless Mondays, Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party

(Salad & Bread & Fruit are assumed with most meals)
California Veggies, Hummus & Pita
Beef Stew in Red Wine Gravy, Noodles, Broccoli, Fruited Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Beef or Lamb
Beef & Veggie Fajitas, Chips, Salsa
Teriyaki Beef Strips or Grilled Tofu with Rice, Sesame Veggies
Chicken with Jambalaya
Grilled Chicken, Spaghetti, Yogurt, Cheese, Tomatoes & Kale with Tahini Sauce
Dijon Chicken, Tabbouleh or Bulgur Pilaf, Yogurt, Raw Veggies or Salad
Sandwich Bar
with Chips
(an array of Bread, Veggies, Cold Cuts, Vegan Dips
 & Cheese)
 Pork Chops Dijon, Baked Potatoes Hummus,
Edamame or Lima Beans
Grilled Pork Chops, Orzo Pilaf, Black-Eyed Pea Salad, Peas
Pork Chops & Sauerkraut, Baked or Dijon Potatoes, Pickled Beets, Lima Beans
Misc Veg
Bulgur Pilaf with Veggies, Yogurt, Grilled Chicken or Pork 
Misc Simple
Confetti Spaghetti with Salami & Cheese
Fill Your Own Tortilla Night with Fajita Seasoned Beef Strips, Chips, Salsa

Friday, November 1, 2013

Vegan Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a traditional dish from Louisiana which is generally made with a LOT of meat mixed in a dish of seasoned rice. Veganizing such a dish is no easy matter - especially if, like me, you're not fond of fake meat.

I took inspiration for this recipe from Donna Klein's PDQ Vegetarian Cookbook, but modified it to my tastes and preferences and changed the proportions substantially. I really like Donna Klein's cookbooks - I especially appreciate that for this recipe, she Veganized this dish by using traditional Louisiana Vegetables in place of the traditional Louisiana Meats. This gives the dish an authentic & delicious taste, without involving a lot of fake food.

Vegan Jambalaya
Saute till Tender
Cajun Mirepoix & Flour, browned.
1 teaspoon Oil (you may add more, according to your dietary preferences)
1 (12 oz) bag Frozen Cajun Style Mirepoix Mix (or 1/2 cup each, Diced Green Bell Pepper, Diced Celery & Diced Onion)
2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
Then add, and cook till browned, stirring
3 Tablespoons Unbleached Flour (this takes several minutes)
Add & cook until Okra is tender, drizzling in a little water as needed to keep ingredients moist
1 (12 oz) bag Frozen Chopped Okra
1 (15 oz) can Diced Tomatoes with Juice
1 Bay Leaf
1 Crumbled Cube Vegetable Bouillon, dissolved in a little boiling water
Then Add
6 cups Cooked Long Grain Rice (from 2 cups Raw) (I have not tried Brown Rice here, but I believe it would also work)
2 (15oz) cans Black-Eyed Peas (or 3 cups home prepared)
Stir to mix thoroughly & warm (if dish is too dry, add a little boiling water to moisten)
Remove portion for tender palates, if you're serving any of those.
Then Add
Chipotle Seasoning to taste (I use 1 mini-cube Knorr Chipotle or Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning blend. For International cooks - this adds a smoky-hot taste)
Serve with Salad

Tip for Dining with Omnivores: This dish goes well with Blackened Fish, Blackened Chicken or Blackened Pork Chops.

This is being shared on Healthy Vegan Fridays, In & Out of the Kitchen, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Plucky's Second Thought