Monday, February 26, 2018

Spinach Soup

Spinach Soup, Garnished with Tomatoes
There's an old joke that my Mother used to tell.

A tiny preschool girl was sitting on the floor playing, while two of her Mother's "friends" gossiped nearby. One of them gestured to the little girl, and loudly whispered, 
"Not very P-R-E-T-T-Y!" 

The little girl didn't look up from her playing, but replied, "No, but S-M-A-R-T!" 

That's rather like this soup. It's not very pretty, but it IS satsifying, delicious, and packed with nutrition. And compellingly easy to make : )

Here it is:

Spinach Soup
1 bag (12 oz) Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 Quart Water (4 cups)
1 Cube Vegetable Bouillon
1 teaspoon of your favorite all purpose seasoning blend (I use Mrs. Dash Table Blend)
Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes
Stir in
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
About 1/4 Cup of NonDairy Milk  (Optional)
1 Tablespoon Tahini (Optional - Omit if avoiding fat)
Puree with Immersion Blender & Serve

Tip for dining with Omnivores (or for Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians): Grated Parmesan Cheese may be sprinkled over the top.

Spinach Soup, Garnished with Oyster Crackers
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Monday, February 19, 2018

Our Favorite Bible Memory Music

Our Favorite Bible Memory Music
As a homeschooler, I'm frugal bordering on cheap.

I seldom buy "curriculum" or textbooks. There is SO MUCH amazing, Free stuff out there!

But there is one place where I consistently, and without regret, spend money for my daughter's education.

Not a lot of money, mind you - this stuff has good prices as a rule, but still, money : )

Bible Memory Music.

This music is (and has been) our constant companion now for years - we play it at home and in the car. And little is more gratifying than reading the Bible with my daughter and having her burst into a song she knows that matches the passage we're studying. Or standing for the Gospel Reading in Liturgy and having my daughter's eyes light up when she hears a familiar verse - and mouths the words (or sometimes softly sings them) along with the Priest.

I know from my own experience in life, that having these songs set to music in her head will allow them to pop to mind unbidden just when they're needed in life.

This music is worth the money to me not only because the immeasurable value it provides for my daughter's education, but because the money spent goes to support the devout artists who produce it!

Here are our favorite sources.

Notice - these are NOT "affiliate links" - I get no benefit from your purchase, nor am I financially motivated to promote these products. I just love them!

G.T. and the Halo Express

This 7 Volume set consists of an audio drama combined with Bible songs. Each CD has several songs, and a fun audio performance to go along with. Follow the adventures of Michael & Christie as they learn about God with the help of their Guardian Angel. This series is kid friendly and Protestant in tone & Theology. We bought the whole set at once, then gave one CD for every gift-giving occasion for more than a year (Birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Nicholas Day, etc). Every song is word-for-word Scripture - usually with the reference added.

Hide 'em in Your Heart by Steve Green

This is a listening gem for the car. Kid-friendly (but not annoying for adults ; ) music of Bible Verses for the car. I was thrilled when my then-three-year-old daughter sang, "Do everything without arguing or complaining" while obeying me when I asked her to do something unattractive to her : ) You won't be sorry if you buy these for your kids!

Seeds Family Worship 

We love these songs for listening in the car and at home. I love the Seeds Family's willingness to share MANY of their songs free on Youtube. So, if you're on a tight budget, you can still benefit from their work, and get your kids (and yourself) started with Bible memorization. But, if you can afford to support them, buy the whole collection! You won't regret it!

Knowing God A Sing & Remember Book

This is a CD & companion book set that has brief narrated stories from the Bible, and a song to accompany them. We like listening to this one again and again.

Handel's Messiah

This one is free on youtube in many versions. But, a lot of people don't see this for what it is - the ultimate Scripture Memory tool! : ) And, some of the most amazing Christmas or Easter music of all time.

100 Bible Verses Every Kid Can Sing and Learn

I have to admit, I had some major misgivings when I first listened to this set. It DOES have a few drawbacks. Parts of it sound like Barney the Purple Dinosaur on steroids ; ) Too many tunes borrowed from public domain songs. Less than ideal recording quality. Words or commentary added to  many - if not most -  of the Bible verses. (For instance, songs about "Turning the channel" on the TV - pretty sure that wasn't in the original text! And not real helpful since we don't have a TV!)

But . . . . my daughter loved it as a little kid. And she learned LOTS of snippets of Scripture from the various songs. Snippets that she remembers frequently. And lots of good teaching that has come in handy over the years. So yeah, I'm glad I bought it : )

Bible Fluency 

This free site isn't for memorizing Bible verses, but rather for memorizing an overview of Scripture. We love the Gospels song, which helps us remember which Gospel has which stories!

The 12 Tribes of Israel

Here's a fun song to learn their names!

 12 Disciples Song

Scroll to the bottom of the linked post for a great, easy to learn song of the names of the 12 Disciples.

Books of the Bible Song (Catholic List, including Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books)

Books of the Old Testament Song by Seeds family - Protestant List

Sometimes we find a song for a whole passage on Youtube.

Like 1 Corinthians 13

I hope you enjoy these great resources!

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Monday, February 12, 2018

10 Minute Lazy Day Lo Mein

10 Minute Lazy Day Lo Mein
Our family loves to go out for Chinese. One of our favorite dishes is Vegetable Lo Mein. We all love it, but it is my Daughter's favorite!

Of course, going out for Lo Mein isn't always the ideal option for three reasons:

1. Frugality. Even a small family, at an inexpensive restaurant is likely to spend more than $20. for Lo Mein. And for a medium sized family at sit down restaurant, it could EASILY top $50.

2. Health. Many Chinese dishes are stir fried (or prepared in a Wok) with lots of extra oil. Which isn't so healthy. And, of course, there's the temptation to order less-healthy extras, like Cream Cheese Filled Fried Wontons, or Fried Egg Rolls.

3. Time. It takes a good chunk of the day to go out for dinner. There are days when that is good - when you want to hang out with friends and relax. But, there are days when that's not so good - when you have a tight schedule or other priorities for the day.

So, for a long time, I've been thinking that it would be good to have my OWN Lo Mein recipe that I could fix at home.

But, I hadn't quite gotten around to it . . .

Then, one day at the grocery, instead of the  Frozen "Stir Fry" Mixed Veggies I wanted, I accidentally ended up with Stir Fry Veggies with NOODLES from the freezer section. The packaging is SO confusing! I kind of felt ripped off having some cheap noodles thrown in with my more expensive veggies, but still having to pay the same price.

But, as they say, when life gives you lemons . . .

I decided I'd figure out what to do with them to use them up & not waste them. And that's how 10 Minute Lazy Day Lo Mein was born.

I did some internet research, and created my own sauce - a blend of the concept of several online recipes.

I microwaved the Veggies and Noodles according to package directions (8 minutes) and added the sauce ingredients - right into the bowl. I stirred it, and tasted it.

It was amazing!

The flavor and texture profile were SO like the restaurant version - not identical - but close enough to make me really happy. And save a bunch of time and money. And cut WAYYYY back on the oil!

Well, after that little success, I tried making a BIG batch of sauce. I boiled regular noodles and veggies in a pot together, drained them, and tossed them with the sauce. Then I served my Daughter Lo Mein for her lunch break (oh, the luxuries of homeschooling!). And she loved it! :  )

Now, mind you, traditional Lo Mein must be made with the right sort of Noodles, and Fried in a fair amount of oil, with authentic Chinese veggies. I'm not claiming an authentic, perfect replica here.

But, if you'd like an easy, healthy, and quick, and frugal Lo Mein from home, this is your recipe!

Lo Mein Sauce for One
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (I use Kikkoman)
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dark Sesame Oil
Pinch Ground Ginger
Pinch Garlic Powder

To Prepare:
Microwave Stir Fry Veggies with Noodles according to package directions.
Top with Sauce ingredients (no need to pre-mix sauce unless you want to)

Lo Mein Sauce, Family Size Batch
(I like to keep this big batch in the fridge, to make meals for one several days in a row)

3/4 Cup Soy Sauce (I use Kikkoman)
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Dark Sesame Oil
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Combine in Jar & Shake to mix.

To Prepare:
In Saucepan Bring Water to a Boil. Add Preferred Veggies & Noodles, and cook according to directions for Noodles (If you like your veggies more tender, let them boil for a few minutes before adding Noodles)

Drain, and add sauce to taste.
(For our family, I cook  1 1/4 pounds of Pasta and 1 pound of Stir Fry Veggies, I toss those with 1/3 to 1/2 of a "Family Size Batch" of sauce. I keep the remaining sauce on hand for lunch "bowls" : )


AND Save Time, Money and Health! : )

HUGE Batch LoMein
To make a HUGE batch for taking to a potluck, I made 2 1/2 pounds of spaghetti (I do 1 1/4 pounds at a time in the microwave cooker - a "Pasta Boat"). Then I rinsed it very well and put it in a large bowl (My 21 cup/5 Liter bowl was completely full with this recipe). I microwaved a 2# package of stir fry veggies and added it to the bowl. Then I made a double Family Sized Batch (above) of sauce and put it in a glass jar. At the potluck, I microwaved the bowl of pasta & veggies for 5-6 minutes, just to heat, and poured the sauce over & tossed. It worked out great : )

Just a side note: This sauce is also SPECTACULAR on Veggies and RICE : )

Tip for Dining with Omnivores: Add Shrimp or cubes of leftover Chicken, or Pork to Omnivore's portion.

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Monday, February 5, 2018

February Vegan Menu for a Week

February Vegan Menu for a Week
Here is a week of menu ideas for February. Cozy food for that cold weather. And, scroll down to the bottom for Vegan St. Valentines Day Treat Ideas.

Black Bean Soup from the Slow Cooker


Stir & Pour Bread Sticks

Orzo Pilaf 
with Peas


Orange Beet Salad

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Spinach & Mushroom Calzones
or its easier cousin, Calzone Casserole

Indian Chickpeas in Ginger Sauce over Rice

Pad Thai

Greek Giant Beans in the Slow Cooker

Stove Top Pita Bread

Breakfast Idea

Grilled Banana Pancakes

Lunch Idea

Pita Pockets with Caper Hummus & Tomatoes

Dessert Idea
Vegan Slice & Bake Cookies

And, of course, if you're looking for a St. Valentine's Treat for your Beloved, look no further!

Vegan Valentine Treats for your Sweetheart


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