Monday, November 30, 2009

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce

This is one of those recipes that I don't use a recipe to make. It's a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The nice thing about this meal is that I usually save it for busy days like today! I had a reg. dr. appt. today (everything is good), grocery shopping this afternoon, pick up at school, and, tonight is our once a month cub scout pack meeting. So we are all going (and, anyway, DH has somehow decided to be one of two assistant scout master's for the pack- he is an Eagle scout, BTW and really enjoys this scouting time he has spent with Big P).


I use GF pasta (if you have been following my lenten cooking blog so far, you will notice that we do not use a lot of pasta- and that's not just because we are gluten free- even before the celiac days, our fasting was more heavily beans and vegetable oriented so get out of that carb rut!!! It can be done!)

1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 cloves garlic minced
a little cinnamon
salt and pepper
red wine

that's about it. If I have lots of time I will saute onions and peppers and add it to the sauce. I have also been known to throw in some zucchini or yellow squash:)

This is our fast fasting option- I try to keep it all on hand at all times (big shopping trip to Costco today involved buying the bag o' garlic heads- yes, we do go through that much garlic).

Red Kidney bean Dip...

My sister sent me this recipe. She soaked her kidney beans instead of using a can of beans. She also chopped cilantro withthe limes to put on the top. This would be a nice alternative to the pinto bean refried beans I made a few weeks ago. And I happen to have a bag of kidney beans in the freezer:) We might be doing this later this week! Looks yummy!

3 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1 large onion, finely diced
3 fat cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 3/4 cups kidney beans, reserving the liquid in the can
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, zested and juiced

Heat the oil and cook the onion and garlic until soft and golden.
Add the kidney beans and their liquid and stir in the tomato paste and spices and cook for a few minutes.
Add the lime juice to the kidney bean mixture. Take the pan off the heat and when it has cooled a little, process the mixture until it is a bumpy puree. When it is cool, arrange in small bowls and sprinkle over the reserved lime zest.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fish and Chips...

We had cod and homemade oven fries tonight for dinner. It was delish.

Pan Fried Fish
1 pound fish (I used 1 1/2 lbs cod)
1 cup flour (I used 1 cup Gluten Free all purpose mix (I make it myself:)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup beer or milk (I used Gluten Free beer)

Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Combine four, baking powder, salt, and beer and mix until smooth. Dip fish into batter. Fry fish in oil (I used olive oil) about 2 minutes on each side until goden brown. Serve. yum!

The homemade french fries are from this site. And remember, after you cute your potatoes- ALWAYS DRY YOUR POTATOES WITH A CLEAN KITCHEN TOWEL! That makes them crispy and they won't stick to the pan!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vegetable Soup...

Ok, so there are probably about as many different versions of vegetable soup as there are people who have inhabited the earth since creation. In fact, I have at least three different versions of "vegetable soup" that I make during fasting times. This is a new version (as in, I have never made it until tonight). And, of course, I changed little things here and there depending on what I have on hand(I do not happen to have Old Bay Seasoning so I looked it up online and sort of made up my own version of it).

Here it is... another vegetable soup recipe:)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots peeled and thinly sliced
2 ribs celery chopped
3 medium red skinned potatoes, diced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (see above)
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
3 cans broth
salt and pepper to taste
5-6 oz. spinach or baby spinach

Heat a deep pot over medium heat. add oil, onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, bay leaf, and Old Bay Seasoning. Cover pot to cook veggies about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. add beans, tomatoes, broth and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Serve when spinach wilts.

Ok. I did not have spinach so we did this without the spinach. But we would like to try it with the spinach. I used 2 cups veggie broth and added about 1 cup water so I used less broth/water than the recipe called for which I think is fine. We like a thick soup anyway. I did not use canned beans. Back when I made the Vegetarian Chili, I had soaked a combination of black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans. I did not use all the beans for the chili so I put them in the freezer. I pulled the bag o' beans out of the freezer and used that (it was probably 3 cups of cooked beans). We liked this soup. It is very good; very hearty with all these veggies. You could probably add all sorts of other veggies (grean beans, peas, etc). This is a keeper recipe and it is actually better than my stand by vegetable soup recipe. Yay!

In other news... a friend of mine from church mentioned when I started this recipe blog that it reminded her of the movis Julie and Julia. At that point my only knowledge of that movie was that it was about a woman who sets out to make everything in Julia Child's cookbook. I didn't realize she blogged about her experience. Another friend mentioned that the movie was playing at the $3 theater last night so we went to watch it. It is very cute. I very much enjoyed it. I don't know that I would have the discipline to do something like this for an entire year and my reason for doing this is different than Julie's reasons... I am doing this to add to my recipe collection of good Lenten meals instead of eating lentil soup every night (even though we ate that last night:) Depending on how I am doing by thte time Nativity rolls around, I "might" continue to post new recipes for regular meals because we all do get stuck in that cooking rut. I would love to venture out and make new dishes for my family. AND we also have diet restrictions and I am always on the lookout for new ways to turn gluten filled foods into gluten free foods.

I do promise, though, that I will never post things about my relationship with my husband. You won't know when we have an argument; I just can't do that to him.

Anyway, enough ramling from me. Tomorrow we are having FISH for dinner!!! WooHoo! You know you are Orthodox when you get excited about fish:)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Meal plan put on hold for one day...

Actually, I should say two days because yesterday was Thanksgiving. We have a problem with fleas in the house from my sister's cat, Honey. So Honey is now an outside cat at my parents and we "bombed" the house yesterday morning and stayed the night at mom and dad's (this is our second "bombing"- we bombed two weeks ago).

Now we are home and I am taking a break from cleaning in order to post an unplanned for dinner recipe. I have permission from DH that instead of making the little bit more complicated vegetable soup that the children will probably not eat- I can make the super easy lentils:) I know, we are trying to stay away from the lentil soup but I do have permission:) And the children LOVE it!

Here it is...
Lentil Soup (or as we Greeks call it... Faki- yes, you heard me right. And yes, it is pronounced like that infamous four letter word- fun to tell it to your friends when you are in grade school:)
1 cup lentils
1 can tomato paste
1 onion chopped fine (optional- my dad hates cooked onions so I grew up without the onions)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 stalk celery, chopped fine (optional- dad also does not like celery)
1 clove garlic minced
5 cups water (or water and vegetable broth)
1 tsp salt

sort and wash lentils. Place in deep saucepan and add all ingredients. Cover and bring to boiling. reduce and cook slowly for about 1 1/2 hours (or boil hard for about 1 hour if it's 5pm and you need to eat dinner in an hour and you just didn't have time to prepare your meal earlier in the day because maybe somebody got sick at school and you had to go pick them up and that just totally interfered with your "plan"- hey, it happens sometimes;) Serve with red wine vinegar.

I double this recipe all the time because it freezes so well. I will also sometimes add 1/4 up brown rice (and a little extra water) or cut up two potatoes (dh likes the potatoes- he is of Irish descent, you know) or chop up some carrots.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lentil Salad...

Please forgive me... posted the sweet potato souffle yesterday and then time just went into superspeed and I lost track of it (until I was in bed and thought, should I go post our dinner recipe?) AND then, after I typed up the recipe at school today, the internet went down and I lost it all! So, here it is...

Lentil Salad

1/2 pound lentils
1 bay leaf
1 large tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 Tbs. olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
splash red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs. tahini (optional)

Cover lentils in a pot with water and add bay leaf. Boil then simmer for 20 minutes until tender. Rinse in cold water and drain. Combine lentils with tomato and parsley. Mix oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, and spices together. Pour dressing over lentils and coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with tahini (use a little water with the tahini if it is too thick).

We really like the dressing on this. I added a cucumber and was feeling in the mood for shrimp so I sauteed shrimp in olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. DH did not like the lentils. He felt like he was eating a bowl of lentils. His suggestion is to not use lentils at all and to make this a pasta salad and maybe add a can of rinsed/drained garbanzo beans. He did say to keep the shrimp in it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sweet Potato Souffle

For Thanksgiving... this is a family favorite. It is not lenten:) It is easy to make gluten free.

Sweet Potato Souffle
3 c. mashed sweet potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
3 eggs
1/4 c. milk
1 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. gluten free all purpose baking mix (or 1/2 c. flour)

Mix all souffle ingredients and put in a 2 quart baking dish. Mix topping ingredients well and sprinkle on top of casserole. Bate at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Will post tonight's dinner (Lentil Salad) well, uhm, tonight! After we try it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vegetarian Chili

This is such a family favorite that we do not ever have meat chili. And when we were at some friends house for dinner one night and they served meat chili, we were surprised at how much we also like meat chili!

Vegetarian Chilis
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 bottle of beer (we use Gluten Free beer- Bard's Tale or Redbridge)
3 to 4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. pepper
several dashes hot pepper sauce
1 15 oz can of pinto beans
1 15 oz can white kidney beans
1 15 oz can red kidney beans
(all beans drained and rinsed)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole kernal corn
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini or yellow squash

I put everything except the zucchini/squash in a crock pot on low all day. I did not use canned beans but I soaked black beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans last week (according to bean soaking instructions in last week's post). I measured out 1 cup of each of the beans, added whey or lemon juice, and covered with warm water. I cooked the beans for 4 hours the next day. Then measured out 6 cups of the bean mixture for today's chili. The rest I put in the freezer for another time:)

About an hour before dinner slice the zucchini/squash and add to crock pot. Serve with tortilla chips or cornbread (I haven't made the cornbread, yet, but it's only 5pm so I still have time to decide if I want to make it or not).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Change of Plan... Fish Plaki

Instead of doing Vegetarian Chili tonight, we had Fish Plaki and leftover rice from last night and peas. Vegetarian chili is all set to go, in the refrigerator. Tomorrow morning I will put it in the crockpot when we leave for school.

Fish Plaki
3 lb. fish (we used haddock)
salt and pepper
5 TBS. oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup white wine (optional)

season fish with salt and pepper. Let stand. Saute onions in oil until soft; add garlic, tomatoes, parsley, and salt and pepper. Cook 10 minutes. Pour half tomato sauce in baking dish; place fish on top and cover with remaining sauce. pour wine over fish. Bake in ovenat 350 degrees for 45 minutes, basting often. Serve warm or cold. The tomato "sauce" is delish on the rice:)

This is our standard Greek style fish recipe. We all like it:)

Fish Plaki

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Not cooking tonight...

Happy Feast Day of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple! It is actually my uncle (Panayotis) and my aunt (Maria) nameday! Story about my uncle... my yiayia was pregnant with her fourth child. She had three boys (the eldest being my dad). There was a church dedicated to the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple that she could see from her kitchen window. She prayed to the Theotokos that if she had a girl, she would forego the Greek tradition of naming the daughter after her mother and instead, name the baby girl "Panayota" for the Theotokos. She had a boy. And, as my yiayia (and many Greeks) are fond of saying, "Ti na kanoume" which means "what can you do" and named her son Panayotis. So his nameday is today.

Anyway- we are going to the monthly Hope and Joy (our 5 year old through 5th grade youth group) dinner/activity tonight before Vesper's. So they will be cooking up some spaghetti with marinara sauce and salad. I will bring my own gluten free noodles for my family and use their sauce.

Tomorrow's dinner (something to look forward to:)- Vegetarian Chili. Those from my parish have tasted this yummy lenten/gluten free (it has beer in it) chili before. I *might* make some GF cornbread but we shall see. Be on the lookout for the recipe(s) posted tomorrow!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Baja Fresh dinner at Home and vegetable broth recipe!

One of our favorite meals is to do "Baja Fresh" beans and rice at home. So this isn't a new recipe for us, but it is one that we all like. I soaked pinto beans over the weekend and cooked them for four hours on Monday then froze them. Pulled out the frozen beans this morning and fried them up for dinner tonight.

Basic Beans
2 cups beans (black, pinto, kidney, white, etc.)
warm water
2 Tbs. whey or lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, mashed
salt and pepper

cover beans with warm water. Stir in whey or lemon juice and leave for 12-24 hours. Drain, rinse, and place in a large pot (or in the crock pot:) and add water to cover beans. Bring to a boil and skim off foam. Reduce heat and add garlic. Simmer for 4-8 hours (when using the crock pot I will put the beans in in the morning and let them cook for 10 hours). Add more water as necessary. Season to taste.

Refried Beans (Note: we do use oil during the fast for cooking)
4 cups basic beans (see above)- i've done this with black beans or pinto beans
3/4 cup oil (the Nourishing Traditions book says lard or duck fat but, hey, this is lenten:)

mash beans. melt lard (or pour oil into pan). add beans and cook, stirring constantly. I always add salt and pepper at the end. after eating these I will never buy refried beans in a can. These are so much more flavorful (and we never eat refried beans with lard or duck fat because this is one of our lenten dishes).

We eat this with Rice...
Soaked Brown Rice
2 cups brown rice
4 cups warm water
4 Tbs. whey or lemon juice
1 tsp. sea salt
2-4 Tbs. butter (we do use Earth Balance margarine)

Place rice, warm water, and 4 Tbs. whey or lemon juice in a pot. Let sit for 7 hours (I just let it sit from sometime in the morning until an hour before dinner time). Bring to boil (after sitting- not you, the rice), skim, reduce heat, stir in salt and butter, cover tightly and let cook approx. 45 minutes. I bet you could use some vegetable broth in place of part of the water (although it's really good rice without using veggie broth).

We serve the beans and rice with sliced tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, jalapeno peppers (DH likes the peppers- I don't), and corn tortillas.

Veggie Broth
12 cups water
a couple of onions coarsely chopped
a couple of carrots coarsely chopped
a couple stalks of celery coarsely chopped
some cloves of garlic peeled
any other veggies you might have on hand
salt and pepper

I put all of this in my crock pot and cook on the lowest setting for a long time (anywhere from 10-20 hours). strain it through flour sackcloth and store in the freezer.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Garlic Soup with Potatoes...

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small carrot chopped
1 stalk celery chopped
about 2 large russet potatoes peeped and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large head garlic, minced (1 head of garlic, not 1 clove of garlic)
4 cups vegetable broth (I do make my own veggie broth and will post the recipe soon)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

heat oil over medium heat. add the onion, carrot and celery and cook for 3 minutes. reduce heat to medium low and add potatoes and garlic. cook stirring often, for 15 minutes. add broth, water, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. bring to a boil over high heat. reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all ingredients are soft (about 30 minutes). remove from heat and remove bay leaf. transfer the soup to a food processor or to a blender. blend until smooth. return to pot and cook over low heat until heated through. serve hot.

OK. DH liked the taste of the soup, but would prefer that it was "chunkier" (like, instead of blending all the potatoes, leave some potatoes whole in the soup... same with the carrots). Next time I will use more potatoes and carrots and then leave some whole. I like the taste of the soup. All that garlic is amazing!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Polenta with Roasted Veggies

1 small zucchini, diced
1 medium onion diced
1 baby eggplant trimmed and diced
4 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 or 3 sprigs rosemary (I used oregano because we don't really like rosemary)
salt and pepper to taste
1 roll polenta (16 oz)- I made my own on the stove.
olive oil or cooking spray to coat polenta
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

I didn't use eggplant but I did add in one summer squash, diced and some of the Trader Joe's frozen pepper mix (love that frozen pepper mix!).

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Combine zucchini, onion, eggplant, and garlic in bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat vegetables. Season with rosemary (or oregano:), salt, pepper and toss to combine. spread as an even layer on a 1/2 of a cookie sheet.

slice polenta (or in my case, cook polenta according to instructions) let "set" in pan and cut into small squares. Place on the other half of cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil or spray with cooking spray and salt.

warm diced tomatoes in medium pan over medium heat. add roaste veggies and toss to coat. on a serving dish, layer polenta slices with roasted vegetables.

Ok. DH really liked this dish. I also added a splash of red wine to the diced tomatoes and some cinnamon (I always put cinnamon in tomato sauces). I liked it, too. I should have sliced the polenta smaller but I could also see doing this recipe and using GF spaghetti noodles instead of polenta (the roasted vegetables would be awesome in a spaghetti sauce).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Salmon with potatoes and salad...

Tonight we had salmon. This is Big P's nouna's recipe. I guess we do use one "fake" food... we use Earth Balance margarine during the fasting times.

1 lb. Salmon
2 Tbs. butter (or margarine) melted
2 Tbs. white vinegar
2 Tbs. ketchup
1 Tbs. Worcestshire Sauce (we use wheat free soy sauce instead)

combine above ingredients, brush salmon with sauce, broil 6 in. from heat for 15 minutes or until finished.

Oven Potatoes
decide how many potatoes you will need to cook (this is something I throw together because it is basic so there is no measuring:)
Peel potatoes and cut into quarters (or smaller if you want them to cook faster).
dry peeled potatoes with a clean towel.
put in pan.
mix in 4 Tbs. olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Put in 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until they are done to your liking:)

salad is just whatever you want salad to be... lettuce/spinach, tomatoes, cukes, carrots, peppers, but, no feta:(

Kidney Bean/Rice stew... And rules for soaking beans!

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
1 green pepper chopped (I used 1/4 bag of frozen Trader Joe's pepper mix)
3 cloves garlic minced
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs. cumin
salt and pepper
Jalapeno Pepper sauce (just shake some in)
2 cups red kidney beans drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups veggie broth (I make my own- which is another post:)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups brown rice (soaked)

heat oil in a deep pot. add onion, celery, peppers, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, salt and pepper. saute' veggies 5 minutes. Add hot pepper sauce, beans, tomatoes, broth, and water. bring to boil. add rice, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until rice is cooked.

OK- I follow lots of Nourishing Traditions cooking. So I do use dry beans. I start soaking my beans two days before making a dish. On Saturday I put two cups kidney beans in a glass bowl added 2 Tbs. whey or lemon juice (your choice) and boiling hot water to cover the beans. Let that sit until the morning you are going to make your soup. Drain, rinse and put in pot with 3 cloves crushed garlic. Boil and reduce to simmer (cover) for about 4 hours. Then strain and use two cups of these cooked beans for above recipe. Freeze the rest for a later date:) I am constantly soaking and/or cooking beans and freezing them during fasting periods that way I have lots of beans on hand (like right now I am soaking beans for our chili dinner on Sat. night and yesterday I soaked pinto beans for dinner on Friday night- the pinto beans are on the stove cooking with garlic and on Friday I will mash them for refried beans:) Once you get started soaking beans and cooking beans and freezing beans you will end up with a nice supply of beans to use during the fast!

Rice- soak rice in hot water and whey or lemon juice for 6 hours. Then add to recipe (no need to cook before adding).

Review- I liked this a lot. DH added more jalapeno sauce and red pepper flakes- he wanted it to be spicier.

Day One Nativity Fast: Broccoli and Pasta

I made this on Sunday night for dinner...
1 cup water
1 pound broccoli florets (I bought a bag of frozen chopped broccoli)
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 pound GF pasta (we like the Ancient Harvest brand of pasta) cooked
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

bring 1 cup water to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add broccoli and steam 3-5 minutes. drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil and saute garlic and red pepper flakes for a few minutes. add broccoli and pasta, nutmeg, salt and pepper. toss together for a few minutes. serve.

OK- dh thought it needed more garlic. I thought I could add green peppers, zucchini, onions and maybe pine nuts. plus more garlic:) This would be a good side to fish.

Entering into the Nativity Fast...

We have now entered into the Nativity Fast. On Sunday, I mistakenly asked my husband what are his favorite lenten recipes that I cook. He took a risk and told me that lately my fasting recipes have been really the same thing (lentil soup because it is so easy and everyone likes it- I guess everyone likes it when they are not eating it EVERY Wednesday and Friday).

So, in an effort to mix it up Orthodox style in our home- I pulled out three cookbooks; Complete Vegetarian, The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, and Rachel Ray's Veggie Meals. Now, mind you, we are not only keeping away from all meat and dairy but we also are gluten free (DH has celiac's, Big P has just started a GF diet and I have been GF for almost two months- little p is GF by default). And we completely avoid soy products so you aren't going to find any fake meats or tofu hotdogs here.

I have written out our meals for the next 40 days (well, now it's more like 38 days because we started the fast on Sunday). I told a few friends that I was doing this and they suggested that I write about what we like, what we don't like, suggestions for newbies to fasting in the Orthodox Church (DH and I are both cradle Orthodox so we have been fasting off and on for most of our lives), etc.

So here it is... I will note when something was substituted to make it Gluten Free so you will have the option of either following the GF substitute or using, for example, regular pasta. Also, I will post whether or not we liked it, what I think I can do to improve it, etc. Also, note that our parish follows the "fish is ok on all days except Wed. and Fri. until Dec. 12 when we do not eat fish until Nativity" rule. So there will be some fish recipes in these first few weeks. And for those who do not know about the Orthodox fasting- we are allowed shellfish so it is not completely vegan.

Let us begin the journey to our Lord's birth! May it be blessed!