Monday, February 24, 2014

Indian Mung Beans

Indian Mung Beans
I've been making this recipe for 15 or 20 years now. I don't remember where I got it, but I have
modified it quite a bit from the original. The original called for Split Mung Beans (Dal), and I accidentally used the whole ones, instead. I later tried to make it with the split ones, and found that I greatly preferred the whole bean version!

Indian Mung Beans
Boil till tender & liquid is absorbed
(This takes 30 to 40 minutes on stove top, stirring occasionally, or 3 hours in the Slow Cooker on High)
2 Cups Mung Beans (available from the Indian Grocery), sorted & rinsed (no soaking required for these beans)
5 Cups Water

In a separate pan heat
1 teaspoon Oil
Add & Pop - rather like popcorn - being careful not to burn. Use a lid so it doesn't splatter!
1 teaspoon Whole Black Mustard Seed (they will turn fragrant & dark grey instead of black when they're done cooking)
Then add to Mustard mixture
1 rounded teaspoon Garlic
1/4 teaspoon dry powdered Ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon Fresh)

Remove spice mixture from heat & add to cooked beans
Stir in
1 scant teaspoon Garam Masala
1 scant teaspoon Salt
1 fresh Chopped Tomato

Stir & Serve with a flatbread such as Naan or Roti, and some fresh chopped veggies. (Whole Wheat Tortillas substitute nicely for Roti)

I find that this makes a great wrap the next day - I use it to fill a Roti or Whole Wheat Tortilla & add some Lettuce & Tomato.

Tip for dining with Omnivores: A Raita would go nicely with this dish. Grilled Chicken would be a good accompaniment.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Menu for Every Day of Great Lent

The Ladder of Divine Ascent - Icon from Kykkos Monastery

Orthodox Pascha and Western (Catholic & Protestant) Easter coincide this year, so Ash Wednesday is only two days after Orthodox Green Monday. No matter which tradition you follow, I hope you find this menu helpful.

For Orthodox Christians, Great Lent starts in about a two weeks. During Lent, ideally speaking, we are to fast from Meat, Poultry, Most Fish, Dairy, Eggs, and many days, Oil and Wine. For many Orthodox Christians in America that means six weeks of only PB&J for Lunch, and a tiny handful of dinner menus that repeat constantly. I've known some people that were so repulsed the repetitiveness of their Lenten menu that they wasted all their Lenten food by throwing it in the trash on Pascha! (Most Lenten food freezes very well, and after Bright Week could go to good use)

There's nothing wrong with a super simple menu like that if you feel that is the level of asceticism that is right for you. In fact, it may be the Lenten ideal.

But, if you need more variety to be able to go the distance for Lent, here is a full Lenten Menu -  a different dish for each of the 50 days - no repeats! Great Lent is "40 Days" if you count without weekends or Holy Week - adding those days in, you need a 50 day menu. Each menu here is Vegan, and nearly all of them either are oil free or have an oil free option. The vast majority are also Gluten Free, or can easily be made Gluten Free with a simple substitution, like using Gluten Free Pasta or Bread. Most are Soy-free, or can be made Soy- free easily by using a Soy-Free Soy Sauce Substitute (I understand Coconut Aminos work). Many also have make-ahead suggestions, or are freezer friendly or Slow Cooker Friendly so that cooking doesn't have to distract you from prayer : )
When serving Lenten food, if you need more variety than the meal offers, then Accessorize your Lenten Table . Although I don't list it on every night's menu, I assume that most nights you will add such things to the table as bread, salad, olives, chopped veggies & dips.

For some extra thoughts on observing Lent, and ideas for how to make your Lent more meaningful, check out my Lent post from last year.

IF you want to observe Lent, but hate to cook, check out this post, which has ideas for Lent-Friendly restaurant fare, frozen meals, and deli meals, as well as some of my simplest recipes:
40 Day Lenten Menu for People Who Hate To Cook

Here's the menu:

1 Green Monday, Family Favorite Lentil Soup, Homemade Yeast Bread      
(as leftovers, this dish is delicious over Spaghetti!)
2 Indian Lemon Rice with Peas (go ahead and make the double seasoning packet - pop the other half in the freezer for the Lemony Dal to come later)
5 Pasta & Sauce with Garlic Bread and Super Simple Salad
6 Black Bean Enchiladas, Chips & Salsa     

7 Tabouli, Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves from a Can), Olives, Hummus with Capers, White Bean Salad       
9 Stuffed Eggplant with  Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves from a can)
11 Greek Chickpea Stew ( Revythia ) with Chopped Raw Veggies

12  Red Lentil Soup - Sephardic Style with Salad (if you want, go ahead and double the batch as the link describes, seasoning the second half with Moroccan seasonings to serve on day 50)
13 Orzo Pilaf with Black-Eyed Pea Salad          
14  Tofu Tamale Pie with Chips & Salsa 
15 Greek Style Black-Eyed Peas ( Louvia ) topped with chopped raw veggies. Bread
18 Fill Your Own Tortilla Night with Chips &  Salsa           
20 Bulgur Pilaf ( Pourgouri ) with Chopped Raw Veggies
22  Turnovers with Salad          
23 Eggplant Stew (if desired, use leftovers to top pizza on day 25)
25 Pizza with Salad
27 Mediterranean Chickpeas & Vegetables over rice or quinoa with Salad
28 Split Pea Soup with Salad     
29 Stuffed Manicotti with Salad
31 Barbecue, Rice, Cornbread or Corn Muffins, Succotash (Lima Beans & Corn), Slaw
33 Black Bean Soup (Slow Cooker), Chips & Guacamole        
35 Lentil & Rice Salad, Dolmades (purchased), Baba Ganoush ( Eggplant Dip ), Fruit         
36 Vegan Sausage Patties for Sandwiches & Baked Potato Chips      
37 Jambalaya, Better than Coleslaw        
38 Pad Thai, Simple Vegan       

39 Moujendra ( Mejadra ) with veggies       
40 Chili-Topped Potatoes, Salad      

47 Tofu Creole, Salad, Bread
48 Chickpeas in Ginger Sauce over Rice, Slaw, Bread
49 Mushroom Barley Soup,  (use Brown Rice in place of Barley for GF Option) and Bread

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ten Things to do with Leftover Rice ( 9 GF )

Greek Gemista - Just one option for how to use leftover rice.
I don't know about you, but I LOVE rice plain the first time I eat it, but I don't want it plain as

I've gone on the internet more than one time, looking for leftover-rice ideas - it seems that the TWO big answers are Fried Rice & Rice Pudding.

So, since "Necessity is the Mother of Invention," I made my own list!

Not only are these recipes frugal because they make use of leftover rice, but they are also time savers, because when you cook you don't have the added time of cooking the rice from scratch : )

One tip - for great leftover rice, always put white rice straight to the freezer (not the refrigerator) in an airtight container right after the first meal (where it wasn't needed/eaten). This way, when it is reheated it tastes almost indistinguishable from freshly made. I have no idea WHY this is true - but it seems to work! For Brown Rice, I find it is quite acceptable when refrigerated, as it has a different texture, anyway.  If you didn't freeze your white rice, and have stale rice in the fridge - it can still work in the Philippine Fried Rice, Jambalaya, or Lemon Rice recipes below ("fried" rices actually do BETTER with stale rice : ).

And, if you do reheat refrigerated white rice in the microwave, you might find it helpful to
1) cover it while it's heating,
2) sprinkle it with a little water before reheating and
3) make sure you heat it until it is HOT - not just warm - for best texture.

Scroll Down for All The Recipes : )

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Rice & Cinnamon Sugar for Breakfast

A while back I was chatting with a friend, and she said that her kids only liked Rice one way- for breakfast, and covered in Cinnamon & Sugar! I tried it, and it's really good! Just like that - nothing added. But, you can add raisins, dates, nuts, berries - whatever you like! Sometimes I use Agave in place of the sugar. And sometimes I substitute Cardamom for the Cinnamon. Some people even pour nondairy milk over the top (but that's not my style).

Cinnamon Sugar Rice Bowl. Lately, I've been having this as a
regular Breakfast - made with Brown Rice, Apples, Raisins, & Pecans -
And Cinnamon-Sugar, of course!

Rice & Blueberries

Another great Breakfast treat - recommended by another friend. This one is best with hot Brown Rice, and just fresh or frozen blueberries. Actually, I've tried everything from Pineapple to Peaches in place of the berries - it's all good!

And - here are lots of great choices for other times of day besides breakfast:

Fill Your Own Tortilla Night

Greek Stuffed Veggies ( Gemista )

Indian Chickpeas in Ginger Sauce over Rice

Indian Lemon Rice with Peas

Philippine Style Fried Rice

Stuffed Eggplant


Lentil & Rice Salad 
This one works best if you heat the rice before preparing it, even tho it will be served at room temperature.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Stove Top Breadsticks - No Oven Required!

Stove Top Breadsticks - No Oven Required!
These Breadsticks were a huge hit at our house! And they were a hit, again, at the potluck the next day.

There's something about a personal-sized piece of bread - great for dipping - that has tremendous appeal for kids & adults alike.

Even better - if you have the dough on hand as I nearly always do,(I use the dough from 
Simply roll out a little dough, and cut it in strips.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day) you can be eating fresh Breadsticks in as little as five minutes!

Even better, you can make these for about 10cents for a LARGE serving (serving being 4 breadsticks) - that's way better than the pizza delivery place - or even the grocery store.

The Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day dough is SO easy to make. Simply measure, stir, and wait. The recipe is not only on the authors' website, and in their phenomenal cookbook, but is also on the back of the Gold Medal Flour bag.

Here's How you Do it:

 Stove Top Breadsticks - No Oven Required!

Preheat a 10" nonstick skillet that has a lid*

Pull off a Plum Sized Piece of dough.
Of course, if you prefer, you can use the
Whole Wheat Dough by the same authors -
it will work just as well here.

Cook the dough in a covered, nonstick pan.

Roll it in a small oblong - I make a 6 or 7 inch circle, then just stretch it with my hand into an oblong

Cut the Dough into 4 Strips

Lay the strips in the hot non stick pan (no oil required), and cover

Allow to cook till puffy, browning on the bottom, and bubbles form on top (roughly 3 minutes)

Flip with Tongs (if you have no tongs, a spatula will work - just not quite as well)

Cover & cook on the other side (about 1 minute).

Allow to cool just enough that they don't burn your mouth.


Repeat as needed, till you & your crowd are happy!

*When a skillet lid is unavailable, I have had success with using an ovenproof plate, or a heat-proof lid from something else, like a saucepan or slow cooker. Just be careful that the top you choose is not one that might break or shatter from the heat, and use a potholder when handling it, if needed. And, with any lid, open it away from you to avoid steam burns.

These Breadsticks are great any way you might normally eat Breadsticks - with Pizza Sauce for dipping (as shown above), brushed with Garlic & Buttery Spread, Topped with Cinnamon Sugar, Dipped in Peanut Butter, or alongside your favorite soup. If you serve them with Indian food, call them "Naan Sticks!" ; )

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