Archive for the ‘Easy’ Category

When I was a kid, my mom never shared her favorite treat of microwaved mushrooms with butter.  Consequently, I grew up believing that mushrooms are valuable, delicious, and coveted.  Luckily, my husband doesn’t share this view.   He lets me buy mushrooms with (near) impunity and I can eat them all!  I love all varieties of mushrooms and their musky, hearty flavor.  I love the slight chewiness and juiciness of mushrooms.  I love mushrooms so much that I should probably give them up during fasts.  But, only when I’ve reached a higher spiritual level.

In the mean time I want to share my own delicious mushroom pasta concoction with you.  I realize that this might be utterly disgusting to some people.  But some others of you I hope might enjoy it.

*You can toast your walnuts before starting in a dry skillet or quickly toast them in the oven at 300 or in the toaster oven.  Or, if a good walnut flavor isn’t important, you may add them at Step 3.

*If after you add the walnuts, the mix looks dry you can add more olive oil.

Mushroom Black Olive Delight

1/2 pound shell pasta, 1/2 cup cooking liquid reserved

1 1/2 cup of chopped white mushrooms, Portabellas, or Baby Bellas

1 can of chopped or sliced black olives, drained

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped finely

1/4 cup cooked quinoa

1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 Tablespoon (or more) Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon butter substitute

SALT to taste

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2.  Cook pasta in salted water, drain, and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Step 2. Heat oil and butter substitute in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Gently saute onions until fragrant.  Stir in mushrooms.   Cook, covered, until mushrooms start to lose moisture.  Remove lid, continue to cook until mushrooms begin to darken.

Step 3. If you have not toasted your walnuts add them now to cook them.  Cook nuts 3 minutes to develop flavor.  Stir in olives, quinoa, and parsley until warm.

Step 4.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of cooking liquid to the sauce, stirring until it reaches desired consistency.  The starch will help to thicken the sauce so it sticks to the noodles.  Stir in pasta.  Serve.


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Here’s a scandalously easy recipe.

Honestly, it’s tempting to make really elaborate vegan versions of non-fasting foods and spend a ton of time and money on them.  Food is one of my greatest weaknesses so I feel you.  But, for the Fast we should keep it cheap, simple, and healthy.  So, for those nights that you’re out of time and energy -a boxed mix.  You hopefully have some pre-cooked beans in your freezer or a can of beans in the pantry.

Two years ago the kids and I stopped in New Orleans on a road trip.  We were graciously hosted by the priestly family of my favorite Greek friend.  We visited Father and Presvytera’s church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the oldest Greek church in North and South America.  The parish was beautifully restored after Katrina related flooding.  Presvytera’s parting gift to us was a couple of boxes of Zatarain’s.  I’d never had it before and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor.

Because the beans and rice in the mix are parboiled they won’t tide your over for days, but I like to add an additional cup of cooked red beans for every box mix.


1 cup salted cooked red beans (small red  beans or kidney beans), or one can of beans

1 box of Zatarains Dirty Rice mix (or the Aldi brand is pretty good)

1 cup of diced red or orange bell peppers

**Note- this serves 2-3 people, for a family double all of the above

  1. Lord, bless my work.
  2. Prepare according to box directions.
  3. 2-3 minutes before the rice is finished stir in diced bell peppers
  4. Serve.


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A simple soup with a creamy texture using cashew cream.  Cashew “cream” is made by soaking cashews overnight then blending them into a very smooth consistency.

The cashew cream doesn’t add much flavor but it does deliver some fat and protein.  However, this is a  light carby soup and it might not stick with you. So, if you have blood sugar issues and carby makes you crabby pass this right over.

If you use soy you might balance the carbs with a bit of soy milk.  Alternatively, you could use a 1/2 cup of tahini provided the tahini is pretty oily and not over roasted.

If you don’t give a hoot about the protein then use any old non dairy milk.

My kids love this soup so we also eat it during ordinary time with milk instead of cream.

This recipe is adapted from Robert Irvine’s on Foodnetwork.com


8 cups vegetable stock

6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces

4 leeks (whites only), thoroughly washed and sliced

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon of salt


1 cup of raw cashews for cashew cream (or 1/2 cup tahini)

Cashew cream:

  • 1 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight in enough water to completely cover
  1.  Drain soaked cashews, add cashews and 3/4 cup of water into a blender or use a stick blender and blend until absolutely smooth


  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Put the vegetable stock, potatoes, leeks, celery, bay leaf and thyme in a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Boil until the potatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor), blend the soup until smooth.
  4. Pour the soup into a medium pot; add the cashew cream and simmer briefly.  Serve.


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If shellfish are on your allowed list you might enjoy this curry.  It is mild and kid friendly.  If you don’t eat creatures try bean sprouts or tofu for protein.

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple magazine October 2004


1 large unpeeled tart apple, such as Granny Smith

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (omit if necessary and gently simmer in water)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 cup frozen peas

1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened, full fat, coconut milk

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and veined (I use the 12 ounce bag from Aldi and it’s plenty)

1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro


  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Quarter,core, and slice the apple into 1/4 inch thick pieces; set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the ginger, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and golden, 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add the curry powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes
  5. Add the tomatoes, apple, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the peas and coconut milk and cook for 5-8 minutes.
  7. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes until just cooked.  Stir in the cilantro.
  8. Serve over brown rice.

45 minutes, 4 servings

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After I had my daughter, eleven years ago, Proeteasa Joan brought me this lovely cake along with Florentine Cannelini Soup.  She hoped that the iron from the molasses and the spinach would help me recover.  I’m still touched by her thoughtfulness.

She gave me a copy of the recipe with these notes:

This heirloom recipe for Molasses Cake was found in the 1920 cookbook of Therese Farrell.  Cooks in the old days (remembering my mother and grandmother, now) were artistic in their cooking and thus, a cup of flour may not necessarily be a level cup because they cooked by feel and by experience.  It may be that this batter is a bit thin, however, if it was I would still try it first and see if it worked.  Again, we have to remember that the gluten content of today’s flour is higher and less flour can make more volume than it once did.

I like this cake with cool applesauce and a dash of cinnamon.


1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup molasses

3/4 cup lard (use shortening or some other suitable vegan solid fat)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 level teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 heaping teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups strong, black coffee at room temperature


  1. Lord, bless my work.
  2. Grease and flour 9 x 13 cake pan.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Cream together sugar, molasses, and shortening.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and baking soda.
  5. Cool 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) strong, black coffee to room temperature.
  6. Combine the dry mixture with the lard/sugar/molasses mixture.
  7. While combining, slowly add the black coffee and stir vigorously until all ingredients are well mixed and a smooth batter is formed.
  8. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes.  Test with a toothpick or butter knife.


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When you fix pasta for dinner during the Fast be prepared to be hungry again in an hour unless you’re pious and leave the table hungry to start.  I have to get my kids through 90 minutes of karate and that won’t happen on white noodles alone.

Here are a couple of noodle hacks to try:

Whole wheat pasta takes longer to metabolize

Pasta with lentil, chickpea, or quinoa flour (most well stocked groceries have these)

Use a spaghetti squash instead and the lower carb count won’t spike your blood sugar so you won’t notice the lack of protein as much

Use zucchini “noodles” for the same effect, and zucchini has a touch more protein

Try gnocci (they’re tiny potato dumplings)

Sprinkle your pasta with nutritional yeast and ground almonds (Parmesan alternative)

Serve a side salad with sunflower seeds for a bit more protein

You can literally just add some cooked beans at the last minute, chickpeas or butter beans, something without much flavor.

I occasionally add other vegetables to this recipe.  I shred them on the box grater first.  My husband and kids prefer it in its original veggie-less form.

Mom’s Pasta Sauce

16 ounces tomato sauce

16 ounces of water

6 ounce can of tomato paste

scant 1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 bay leaves

6 cloves

sprinkle of pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon rosemary

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Bake your spaghetti squash or zoodle your zucchini and let it rest.
  3. Combine all over ingredients in a large sauce pan or another pot, stir, and simmer for one hour. Remove bay leave and cloves.
  4. Boil pasta with salt.
  5. Serve.

You can also do this in a crock-pot on low for 6 hours.  If you use other vegetables (carrot, celery, onion, sweat them in the pot before adding the other ingredients).


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The beautiful gold color comes from turmeric.

The fast is underway.  How are you feeling?  The Peter and Paul fast is tough because it starts with no buildup.  Hang in there.  You can do it!

Today’s recipe is all about new flavors.  Admittedly, I prefer onion, garlic, and tomato flavors and many recipes are in the same flavor palette (or palate :-).  I hope you enjoy something different.

Garbanzos with Couscous takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and just two pans.  As we are not using our air conditioner I don’t want to heat up the kitchen- this recipe didn’t.

I am experimenting with a gluten free diet so if you want to try this recipe gluten free, use brown rice, or quinoa instead of couscous.  Quinoa is closer to couscous texture wise and cooks quickly, but, brown rice on the dry side of done wouldn’t be too bad.

1/2 cup of cooked quinoa has 7 grams of protein

1 cup of cooked brown rice has 5 grams of protein

1/3 cup dry whole wheat couscous (about 2/3 cooked) has 8 grams of protein

Rice and couscous are incomplete proteins, paired with the chickpeas in this recipe, they are complete.

2 cups of cooked chick peas has about 24 grams plus plenty of soluble fiber for your blood sugar to help you feel full


Garbanzos and Couscous or Quinoa

1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

3 carrots, chopped

1 14 ounce can of diced tomatos

1 15 ounce can of garbanzos, or two cups precooked beans (if they’re frozen, no need to thaw)

1 cup broth

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 cups cooked grain

Lettuce salad (just lettuce or add vegetables to suit your taste)

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. Gently saute onion and garlic in a bit of oil, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Step 3. Add all other ingredients except grain, bring to a boil, then simmer until carrots are juuuuust tender, about 10 minutes.

Step 4. Stir in grain and serve over cool, crip lettuce.  I prefer to leave the carrots raw and serve with the lettuce because they add a nice crunch.  I love crunchy stuff, that’s why I love my Mom in Law so much.  However, carrots are best used by the body cooked.

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