Monday, April 11, 2022

Cook a Holiday Feast without Missing Church

Holiday Feast without Missing Church ( Source)
It's a common scenario: Christian families go to Church to celebrate a Feast Day like Christmas or Pascha, then right after Church, the whole family sits down to enjoy a bountiful feast of holiday delights. 

Celebrating a major feast is a central joy of the Christian life, and for Orthodox Christians, it's an especially important joy - but our services are also quite long. 

So, how does a family both feast AND worship on a Feast Day?

All too often, it has meant one family member - usually Mom, but occasionally Dad - staying home and cooking while everyone else goes to Church.

But, what makes a Feast Day a Feast Day is NOT the food - it's Worship! And a family member staying home to cook is making a huge sacrifice of Spiritual nourishment for the physical enjoyment of others - not a great trade.

With modern conveniences, though, there is no need for anyone to miss Church to cook. I use two Crock Pots/Slow Cookers - one large oval, and one regular size, to make this plan work.

The overview is this: I make the meat in one Crock Pot, the Potatoes in another - both cook during Church. An appetizer tray, like a meat and cheese tray with some dips - is made and put in the fridge to serve as soon as guests arrive. The salads, dips and spreads are made a day or two ahead (Salads are dressed just before serving), Breads are made in the week previous, and frozen. Desserts are made in advance. Simple sides (steamed veggies, simple pasta or rice) are made as guests are enjoying appetizers and drinks. 

Making one make-ahead dish per day in the week before the feast is an easy way to make this come off without a hitch.

If guests are coming who wish to bring a side or dessert - even better : )

 Here's how to make an abundant meal for a Holiday Feast - and still not miss a minute of services!

 With some advance planning, it's really easy. Here's what I do to have dinner ready after Church on a major Feast. It includes several links so you can choose the dishes you like best.


Dump Dinner Leg of Lamb in the Crock Pot
Marinate a day or two in advance, begin cooking 7 hours before serving time. Or, it may be marinated and put in the freezer weeks before the feast day, then thawed the night before, and begin cooking 7 - 8 hours before serving. 

(Pot Roast and Turkey Breast are both easy to make in the Slow Cooker, too, if you'd like an additional, or alternative meat dish)

Potatoes or Starchy Sides

         Start cooking these 3-4 hours before serving time.

Rosemary Potatoes in the Crock Pot

Stuffing, Low fat & Vegan (check out the directions here for prep ahead, and baking after guests arrive, or making in the slow cooker starting 1 1/2 hours before serving)

Sweet & Sour Sweet Potatoes (starts 2 hours before serving, or has microwave option)


Baked Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

Dinner Rolls or Bread
These can be baked and frozen in advance, and then just microwave to barely thaw, then crisp in the oven just before serving. OR  Shape rolls and place on baking pan, and put baking pan in the refrigerator during Church - when you arrive home, bake the rolls while guests are enjoying appetizers and drinks. Choose one of these recipes. They're all no-knead, and easy to prepare

     Crescent Rolls, Easy, No Knead, Vegan  
     Dinner Rolls, Vegan, Soft & Fluffy, No Knead, Refrigerator 
     Vasilopita, Easy, No Knead, Vegan (for a Christmas or New Year Feast)
     No Knead, Vegan, Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)  (For an Easter/Pascha Feast)
     Easy, No Knead, Greek Olive Crescents (Eliopites)

Salads can usually be made a day ahead. If it's a green salad - made with lettuce, cucumber, or cabbage, just add the dressing right before serving, to prevent wilting.  


Better than Coleslaw
Carrot Raisin Salad without Mayonnaise
Farro Salad, Mediterranean
Fruit Salad
Mediterranean Green Bean & Potato Salad
Orange Beet Salad
Purslane Salad
Refreshing Diced Salad
Super Simple Salad

Veggie Sides
Some veggie sides are best made just before serving - but they usually take less than 10 minutes to microwave or make on stovetop. Just make these as guests are enjoying appetizers and drinks. (any sauces can be made in advance, ready to add when the recipe calls for them)

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
Cauliflower & Capers
Corn on the Cob, Three Minute
Green Beans Almondine
Sesame Broccoli
Simply Asparagus
Simply Eggplant
Simply Zucchini Saute
Spectacular Brussels Sprouts
Veggies Vinaigrette

Nearly all desserts can be made ahead of time - easy peasy. This is also a course that guests sometimes enjoy bringing with them. Ice Cream or a purchased Pie or Cake can also be a great option.

Brownie Snowball Cookes
Caramel Corn, Mom's 
Cashew Cardamom Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Icing, My Mom's
Cookies, Vegan Cookies from a Regular Cake Mix 
Crispy Rice Cupcakes
Cupcakes, Chocolate & Vanilla
Cutout Cookies  
Fruit Salad
Easy Vanilla Fudge
Easy Cherry Almond Fudge 
Easy Chocolate Fudge
Easy Peanut Butter Fudge
Easy Chocolate Mint Fudge
Easy Maple Walnut Fudge
Gingerbread Crunch Cookies
Make One Mix, Make Ten Different Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Raw (ish) Cookie Assortment
Raspberry Frosting
Russian Teacakes ( Vegan Mexican Wedding Cakes )
Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies
Samali (Greek Semolina Dessert)
Strawberry Celebration Cupcakes
Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Three Minute, Three Bite Brownie for One
Thumbprint Cookies
White Cake, Easy Vegan

Have a great Pascha! Hope this post helps make it possible for you to enjoy BOTH Church AND your Celebratory Feast!