Monday, March 25, 2019

Vegan Bacon Bowl

Vegan Bacon Bowl
If you love the Sweet, Salty, Smoky taste of Bacon, but prefer to avoid the actual stuff, here's a great lunch idea:

Layer in a bowl your desired ingredients, like these:

Vegan Bacon Bowl
A grain:
Rice, Quinoa, or Couscous, for Example
A Cooked Veggie
Corn, Black Eyed Peas, Green Beans or maybe Broccoli
Some Raw Veggies, for Example:
Snow Peas

You name it! Fill your bowl with your favorites, with a nice texture and flavor contrast. Think of foods that are traditionally served with Bacon, to find compatible flavors.
Sprinkle with Bacon Seasoning Salt


Monday, March 18, 2019

Bacon Seasoning Salt Recipe

MYO Bacon Seasoning Salt Recipe
Do you love the salty, smoky, sweet, spicy taste of Bacon? But would rather not eat actual Bacon for
some reason - perhaps you're observing Lent, you're Vegetarian or Vegan, you keep Kosher, or your doctor has told you to take better care of your health?

Once you have this stuff, you can put it on anything your heart desires. Imagine Bacon Popcorn, Bacon Rice, Bacon Oven Fries, Bacon Veggies, or even a Bacon Salad! Or, just keep it at the table, and use it like salt! Your imagination is the limit!

I recently noticed ads online for Bacon Seasoning Salt. There are a few different brands out there, like Deliciou's Bacon Seasoning and J & D's Bacon Salt, but they have two things in common: a higher price than I care for, and they're only available online - at least in my area. So, I've never tried them - but like the idea : )

Then I looked for a recipe, and found precisely one (it was on more than one website, but the recipe was identical). It calls for a lot of exotic ingredients that I don't keep on hand, and using that recipe would probably double, or maybe even triple, the price of purchasing this stuff online.

So, I decided it was time to craft my own recipe.

And of course, once I craft a recipe, I like to share it!

Now, when my daughter has friends over, she tells them to  smell the Bacon Seasoning Salt. Their eyes light up. They say things like, "Mmmmm!" and "It's BACON!"

This one used all ingredients that I already had on hand, and had purchased fairly cheaply. Here it is!

Bacon Seasoning Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar (or measures-the-same Sugar Substitute of your choice)
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
3/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
3/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
3/4 teaspoon finely ground Black Pepper (use less if you don't like heat, but don't omit)
1/3 teaspoon Sumac (a Middle Eastern or Arabic spice)*

OR Large (or Small) Batch Bacon Seasoning Salt: 
Choose your size of Scoop (for instance a 1 teaspoon, or a 1/4 cup scoop), and use:
1 Scoop Sugar (or measures-the-same Sugar Substitute of your choice)
1  Scoop Salt
1 Scoop Smoked Paprika
1/4 Scoop Garlic Powder
1/4 Scoop Onion Powder
1/4 Scoop finely ground Black Pepper (use less if you don't like heat, but don't omit)
1/8 Scoop Sumac (a Middle Eastern or Arabic spice)*

Measure the ingredients into your upcycled Spice Jar (I re-used an Onion Powder jar)

Close & Shake

Label (I use masking tape, and write "Bacon Seasoning Salt" on the front of the jar, and the recipe on the back - for easy refills : )

This is SO easy - and SOOO Bacony! My bacon-loving daughter was delighted with it : )

Add this to any recipe that would benefit from a bacon-y flavor - soups, beans, grains, veggies, etc.

*If you cannot find Sumac in your area, I think you could omit it without ruining the recipe. It lends a little tart or lemony taste, which gives the flavor a little "pop" : )

If you'd like an idea for using this recipe, try this:

Vegan Bacony Bowl

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Lenten & Vegan Church Coffee Hour Plan

Hosting a Lenten Church Coffee Hour
Our Church is FILLED with excellent cooks! We even have restaurant owners & caterers in the Parish. When they host coffee hour, it is a feast. I picture them spending hours, if not weeks, doing all their preparation!

Which is why, when I recently hosted coffee hour, I was pretty intimidated. I'm no expert at cooking for crowds. I'm not a caterer. I just cook for my family, and occasionally a few friends. And hosting during Lent means you can't just set out a tray of cold cuts & cheese, and a purchased cake made with eggs!

But, over the years, I've gotten some advice from others who ARE experts - and I decided to put it to use!

One Cousin hosts amazing family dinners at her house for the extended family. She might host 60 people, and serves amazing food. I asked her how she did it, and she said,

"I just prepare one dish per day, and put that dish in the freezer or refrigerator (if necessary) for the big day. Then, when the day comes, it is easy to just heat up and set out all the food"

That certainly sounded more approachable than preparing a huge feast the day before or the day of the event!

Another bit of advice that I read years ago:

When you host, make one or two dishes that take some time to prepare - then make sure everything else you serve is very easy.

Another dear friend advised:

Prepare EVERYTHING ahead - even set out your bowls for chips and crackers before you host. Those little details each take a little time, and they all add up!

Again, this bit of advice made hosting coffee hour seem much more approachable. It is also advice that I've taken when serving guests at home! Although I CAN make most of these things from scratch, I don't chose to make every one from scratch every time I host. So, although my homemade salsa, and homemade cookies or desserts can be a great option, I know I can't do everything all in one week, and still meet my other obligations.

Finally, coffee hour is right after Liturgy. And, as in the story of Mary and Martha from the Bible, I don't want to be running around making preparations, when I SHOULD be in Church! So, it is important to me to serve things that don't require me to be cooking when I should be worshiping.

I wanted things that could be fixed and stored in the Church kitchen by Saturday, so that my Sunday morning would be peaceful and focused.

Early in the week, I did the shopping for things like crackers, frozen foods, canned beans, quinoa, cookies & salsa - things that didn't need to be purchased fresh right before use. I also bought bananas to give them enough time to ripen for the fruit salad.

Friday, I shopped for last-minute fresh items, like peppers, & tomatoes.

Saturday night, I put out plates & napkins & utensils. I also took ALL of the food to the Church, and put it in the refrigerator. I also prepared bowls (by lining them with napkins and setting the sealed box of crackers inside) to fill with crackers, etc, at the last minute. That way the crackers wouldn't get stale by being set out too far ahead of time.

One Blessed Church Member always does the actual coffee making for us! : )

So, we were able to stay in the service through the time of Holy Communion. At the end of Liturgy, my family & I simply opened crackers & snack mix & poured in prepared baskets or bowls, and removed lids from other dishes.

So, this is the menu I served.

Smoky Hummus & Hummus with Capers 
(I made these on Thursday)

Cut Veggies (Some Purchased Pre-cut, some cut at home.)

Cracker assortment tray (I used Purchased Crackers from Dollar Tree.)

Salsa & Chips (I simply plated purchased ingredients)

Black Bean Salad (I Rinsed Beans & Cooked Corn on Friday and put in Serving Bowl, I added other Salad ingredients and stirred on Saturday)

Quinoa Salad (I cooked Quinoa on Friday, prepared Salad on Saturday)

Fruit Salad (I prepared on Saturday)

Snack Mix (I purchased & placed in Bowl at serving time)

Cookie Assortment (Purchased. I put them in Lidded Plastic Serving trays in advance, then at serving time it was simple to just remove the lids. It is a little-known secret that the cheapest cookies are often coincidentally vegan. When manufacturers don't have to add Butter & Eggs, their prices go down! Check ingredient labels for Vegan cookies at Dollar Tree & Walmart's Great Value Brand. Many are Vegan & Lenten!)

To serve all this, I used these Nesting Storage Bowls from Walmart  (Not affiliate link - I just like them!)


For the cookies, I used these lidded containers from Dollar Tree that displayed a single layer of cookies: (again, NOT an affiliate link, I just like them!)

For other containers, to serve chips and crackers, I used the baskets owned by the Church, lined with napkins.

So, just a few ideas here, how you can host coffee hour without missing Liturgy - even if you aren't a Restaurateur!

Menu Plan Monday
Happiness is Homemade
Inspire Me Monday 
You're the Star
Tuesdays with a Twist
Let's Have Coffee
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Monday, March 4, 2019

Orthodox Christian Cheesefare Menu

Orthodox Cheesefare Menu - Spinach & Feta Bake
It's that time of year - the wind-down week before Great Lent.

The week after "Meatfare Sunday" and lasting until Cheesefare Sunday, is a time when meat and poultry are off the menu, but dairy & eggs are still permitted.

Known as Cheesefare week, it's the time to use up all the dairy & eggs that you have in the house.

As you can see from the pictures, most of these menu ideas have an easy Vegan alternative built in (but a few are uniquely cheesy or eggy : )

I have made all of these recipes with fat-free cheese (Fat Free Shredded Mozzarella, Fat Free Shredded Cheddar, Fat Fee American Singles, Fat Free Cottage Cheese, Fat Free Sour Cream, and Reduced-Fat "Italian Topping" -Parmesan Substitute) with good results, so if that is your preference, go for it!

For some easy nights later in Lent, double the recipes for Copycat Skyline, Chili, Beans for Haystacks, Plain Spaghetti, and Pizza Dough. Then, when you want to go to a Lenten Service like Akathist or Presanctified, you'll know that dinner is waiting without any extra trouble.

Here are some menu ideas which we like at our house:

For the night with no time or energy:
Plain Spaghetti topped with Plain Yogurt & Cheese (Parmesan or your favorite Shredded variety) 
(If you make and freeze extra spaghetti, you'll be ready for basic Spaghetti with Marinara during Lent, or for this Spaghetti with Kale & Tahini)

Easy & tasty - serve with salad & muffins:
Spinach & Feta Bake

This one can be made ahead, and baked when you're ready:
I LOVE this recipe from "Mom on a Mission" - and it's SO easy!

This Chili can be made ahead, or made in the Slow Cooker, so it's ready when you are:
Chili with Rice, Cheese, & Chips

I think it goes without saying that you can top this one with cheese! The dough for this can easily be made in advance (it really DOES take 5 minutes!) and it's so simple to assemble the pizza when you're ready.  Of course, if you're not up to cooking, this is the perfect one to order in: 

Copycat Skyline Black Beans & Rice with Finely Shredded Mild Cheddar

Mexican Haystacks Topped with Shredded Cheddar and Sour Cream

Breakfast Ideas:

Copycat Egg McMuffins
Toasted English Muffins topped with American Singles & Fried Eggs.


Fruit & Yogurt


Cheesecake, of course!
Custard Pie is also good.

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