Monday, September 26, 2016

Black Tie Moujendra (Mujadara)

Black Tie Moujendra (Mujadara)
This is, of course, a tongue-in-cheek recipe title. Moujendra is the very essence of "peasant cooking" -easy, healthy, frugal and filling. It's about as "Black tie" as Beanie Weenies ; )

But, basic Moujendra is a 5 ingredient dish (Lentils, Rice, Water, Salt, Onions) and there ARE wonderful ways to "dress it up," (in its little black tie) and make it yummier : )

(Just a little side note - this dish is made in many different countries - and each has its own spelling and special twists. I tend to go with the Greek variety) 

It's still easy, healthy, and frugal - and you can still make it on either slow cooker or stove top, but now it's the gourmet version.

Here's the method:

Black Tie Moujendra
Caramelize (or at least brown)
1 to 2 Tablespoons Oil (optional, but yummier)
1 or 2 chopped fresh onions
a couple of pinches of sugar over the onions (this is a chef's trick for easier caramelizing)
While Onions are cooking, add to pot or slow cooker
1 pound (2 1/2 cups) Brown or Green Lentils
1 1/4 cups Brown Rice
8 Cups water (you can start with boiling water to cook faster, or cold water for convenience)
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 Cup Shredded Carrots (I use my salad shooter for this job)
Add browned Onions (above)

Cover & cook on high till done – about 1 ½ hours if boiling water is used to start,
 or 2 ½ to 3 hours if starting with cold water.
If cooking in a pot on the stove top, simmer, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes. (Don't stir TOO often or too vigorously- that could make it mushy)
This dish is done when lentils & rice are tender. If there seems to be a little too much liquid when lentils are tender, it will be absorbed if you let it stand for a bit after turning off the heat.

To serve, allow diners to garnish to their personal taste with their favorite fresh, raw veggies, onions, olives, capers, hot peppers, etc.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

14 Meals You Can Make While the Rice Cooks

Need to get dinner on the table fast? On a budget? Care about your health?

Here are a dozen plus frugal entrees that you can make while the rice cooks. You probably already have most of the ingredients for them in your kitchen!

Simply start your rice in the rice cooker, microwave or on the stove top, and make the finish the rest of the meal before the rice is done!

For those who are interested, these meals either are gluten-free, or can easily be made gluten free with the use of things like gluten-free soy sauce & gluten free tortillas. 

Mix & Match Italian Rice Salad

Lentil & Rice Salad (use canned lentils, or precooked lentils from your freezer)


Asian Peanut Rice Bowl

Build Your Own Week of Meals - any style Rice Bowl

Chinese Restaurant Food

Claire's Southern Delight

Curried Chickpeas over Rice

Fill Your Own Tortilla Night

Indian Chickpeas in Ginger Sauce over Rice


Mediterranean Chickpeas & Vegetables

Mexican Haystacks 

Shiitake Rice Bowl

Indian Spiced Blackeye Peas over Rice

Also - if there's any rice left over, check out this post!

Rice - Ten Things to Do with Leftover Rice (9 GF)

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Monday, September 12, 2016

St. Irakledios (St. Herakledios)

Mosaic Icon of St. Irakledios at Monastery Entrance
September 17 is the Feast Day of St. Irakledios
(ee rah KLEE thee ohs). St. Irakledios is not a well
known Saint in modern times, but he should be!

In the First Century, when the Apostles Paul, Barnabas and Mark were visiting Cyprus, they needed a guide to help them find their way across the center of the island, through the mountains, to Paphos.  Young Irakledios was volunteered for the job by his Pagan father. As he served as a guide, the Apostles noticed his good will and pure soul, and Catechized him and Baptized him with the name Irakledios (for you Greek language fans, his name is sometimes translated to English as "Herakledios" because there is a "breathing mark" over the initial Ita).

The Apostles Ordained Irakledios as the First Bishop of the Tamasos region of Cyprus. In his life, he was known for miraculous healings, including healings from incurable diseases, blindness, and demon possession.

On one occasion, he heard of a Pagan woman whose son had died, and she herself had died of grief as a result. He raised them both from death, and they became Christians. In time, St. Irakledios Ordained the woman as a Deaconess and her son as a Deacon.

Another time, there was a flood in Tamasos, and Catechumens were unable to come from the village of Pera to the Church at Politico to be Baptized. Like Moses and Elijah before him, St. Irakledios parted the water, and the Catechumens were able to come and be Baptized.

St. Irakledios preached the Gospel, Converted people to the faith, Catechized, and Ordained and Appointed Bishops - most notably St. Afxivio and Epaphras. 

The Saint had a premonition of his own death, and appointed St. Mnason (Acts 21:16) to succeed him as Bishop. Historical accounts vary as to the manner of his death. The hymns of the Church say that he died a Martyr's death, but other historical accounts say that he Reposed in Peace at the age of 60.

The Life of St. Irakledios gives us tangible proof of the connection of the "New Testament" Church to the Orthodox Church. There is an unbroken chain of Bishops Ordained by other Bishops for more than two millennia, now, each one trained by his Predecessor as taught in 2 Timothy 2:2. There is a remarkable consistency of Faith between "then" and "now."

Today, Pilgrims can visit the Cave where St. Irakledios stayed with the Apostles Paul, Barnabas and Mark, and where St. Irakledios was Buried. This Holy Site is located under the Church of St. Irakledios at St. Irakledios Monastery, in the village of Politiko, Cyprus - there is actually a trap door in the floor of the ancient Church thru which one could at one time descend steps into the cave. (This trap door is now closed, but there is now another entrance into the cave outside the Church).

The Monastery is a vibrant, peaceful, and joyful Community of Nuns who Pray, Teach Children the Faith, Write (or Paint) Icons, and offer Hospitality.

Olive Groves in foreground, with Monastery & Church in Distance

In addition to these tasks, the Nuns are well-known for their work of making delicious Baked Goods - many of which are marked "Nistisimo" - which means "Lenten" or "Vegan" (Nistisimo items can contain honey) So, for the Vegan Pilgrim these are a special treat, as well as for all Orthodox Christians who endeavor to keep the Fasting Cycles of the Church.

Unfortunately, photography is not permitted inside the Monastery, so my pictures are few. But, the Monastery is well worth a personal Pilgrimage. 

Source - The information on the life of the Saint is taken from the following book: The Holy Monastery of Saint Herakledios, The Holy Monastery of Saint Herakledios, Nicosia, Cyprus July 2016

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Monday, August 29, 2016

3 Minute Double Chocolate Muffin for One

For a slightly decadent breakfast or snack, or a slightly virtuous dessert, try one of these quick Double Chocolate, Vegan, Whole Wheat, Oil Free Muffins. Fresh from your microwave in 3 minutes! : )

3 Minute Double Chocolate Muffin for One
Stir in Microwavable Cup (I use Pyrex Glass Custard Cups)
1/4 Cup Stuffed Veggies Muffin Mix
2 Tablespoons Cocoa
1 Tablespoon Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Water
Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar
Microwave 1 minute
Remove from Cup
Sprinkle bottom with additional Cinnamon Sugar

Enjoy! : )

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Vegan Back-to-School Menu

This is a busy time of year for most parents of school-aged kids. Whether your kids are home schooled or attend traditional school, it still tends to be hectic.

Here are some quick, easy dinners that can help you get thru those busy days while still feeding your family a healthy meal that didn't break the budget or come from a fast-food place.


Asian Peanut Noodles

Fill Your Own Tortilla Night

Pasta & Sauce

Teriyaki Veggies over Rice

Claire's Southern Delight

Bulgur Pilaf ( Pourgouri ) 


Mediterranean Chickpeas & Vegetables

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Monday, August 15, 2016

"Go-To" Menu Planning Backup System

No matter how pretty the menu planners, sometimes you need a backup!
Menu planning. Some of us love it, some of us hate it - but there are very few of us who get it done perfectly without ever missing a week. Invariably, shopping day hits us once in a while when there's nothing planned, yet groceries need to be bought. Or, dinner time hits us when there's nothing planned, but tummies need to be filled.

Enter my new backup plan, the "Go-To" Menu Planning System.

This is how it works:

Sit down with each member of your family, and ask them this question: "If we had an entire year of the same seven meals - every Monday had the same menu, every Tuesday had the same menu, etc - what would YOU want those seven meals to be? Which of our family meals could you enjoy eating once a week for an entire year?"

Make a record of each person's answers. Don't forget to ask yourself!

This is your "Go To" menu plan.

Of course, if one member of your family adores Tempeh, while all the rest hate it, keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to add it to your backup plan. 

Then, when you're at the grocery store without a plan, pull out your "Go To" list.

When you need to cook dinner and don't have any ideas - pull out your "Go To" list.

In our house, I was pleasantly surprised to find out some things

1) Some of our family's favorites are also some of my easiest meals! NONE of them take more than 30 minutes hands-on time, and many of them are MUCH quicker than that!

2) There are some meals that we ALL like a lot!

3) As you can see - on its own - this is a solid two week plan.

4) This wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be. There are some things that all of us liked that I did not anticipate, and some of those things that I thought would be on everyone's list weren't. 

3) This plan is a great conversation starter with friends - ask your friends what their lists are! : )

Once you have your "Master List" keep it in your wallet or on your smart phone for quick grocery store access. 

Here are some of our greatest Vegan & Vegetarian hits (I do keep an additional Omnivore list, too) :

Hummus & Veggies with Salad & Bread
Fasolia Yachni with Rice and Dolmades from a Can
Greek Black Eyed Peas or White Beans

Monday, August 8, 2016

How to Fill that Vegan Lunch Box

Make Great Vegan Lunches for Every Member of the Family!
So it's that time of year when a young person's fancy turns to - well - how to fill that lunch box!

Whether your kids go to "far away school" (as we call it here),  or your homeschool co-op is starting up again, or if the grown-ups in the family have resolved once again to live more frugal & healthy lives - that lunch box needs filling!

Here are a bunch of great ideas. Many of them can be stored in the freezer for quick access. Others are Quick and Easy - they can be started with frozen ingredients such as cooked beans or grains. So, most of them can be pretty convenient. Because packing a lunch just isn't going to happen for most families if it turns out to be a two hour ordeal every day!

So, without further ado:

Freezer-Friendly Lunchbox Fillers

Dips with Veggies, Breads, or Chips for Dipping - or as part of a Sandwich:

(all freezer friendly - I like to freeze these in individual portions to toss into a lunchbox when needed)

Hummus with Capers

Red Pepper & Walnut Dip or Spread

Baba Ganoush ( Eggplant Dip )

Vegan Banana Muffins'

Vegan Pumpkin Mini Muffins

Zucchini Mini Muffins


Vegan Cranberry Streusel Muffins

Gluten Free, Sugar Free Banana Oatmeal Bars

Veggie Burgers

Southwest Black Bean Burgers

Sausage Patties, Vegan (freezer friendly)

Freezer Lunchbox Burritos (Scroll Down in Post for recipe)

Quick & Easy Lunchbox Fillers


Veggie & Olive Sandwich


Ants on a Log


Farro Salad, Mediterranean

Couscous Fattoush Salad

Fruited Black-Eyed Pea Salad

White Bean Salad

Fruit Salad

Crispy Rice Treats

Peanut Butter & Jelly LaraBalls, Three Ingredient

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