RSS Feed

Category Archives: Advent

Fifth Week of the Nativity Fast: Crunchy Chickpea Avocado Salad

Posted on

Fifth Week Advent Wreath
Not only was this week the fifth Sunday of our Advent season, but it also marked two Saint’s Days in our family, both Buster’s and mine.  We both celebrate on the Sunday the Church remembers the forefathers and foremothers of Christ.  We also share this day with many parishioners including the Godparents of Snuggle Bunny and Little Man.  Needless to say it is a busy day for our family.

We managed to squeeze our Advent readings and a nap between Liturgy and a fastworthy graduation party at a friend’s house that day.

The theme for that week was repentance.  It was fitting and timely for the week as we prepared for Confession leading up to the end of the fasting season.

Throw in last minute preparations for get togethers with each side of our extended family, and there wasn’t a spare moment for blogging in the whole week and a half leading up to the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord.

I planned simple meals for that week.  Many of them I’ve already shared.  I made Vegan Burritos using pink beans.  We tried baked potatoes and cashew sauce.  Only this time we used white potatoes and cranberry beans.  While it was filling and the kids had no complaints, I do prefer the recipe as originally posted.

Then there was this salad.  I found a great sale on Beanitos, so this meal was easy using cooked garbanzos straight out of our freezer.

Crunchy Chickpea Avocado Salad
I modified this from a recipe of Bobby Flay’s.  It’s become quite popular among the small people at our house simply because of the chips.

Crunchy Chickpea Avocado Salad

3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
2 avocado, diced
1 small can sliced or minced black olives, drained
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3-4 Tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
Drizzle Olive oil (optional)
Salt to taste
1-2 Tbsp minced parsley or cilantro (optional)

Crumbled corn chips or Beanitos
lettuce for salad

Mix all but the chips and lettuce in a bowl. Let sit 20 minutes or so to marinate.

Put a bed of lettuce on a plate and crumble corn chips over salad.

Spoon chickpea mixture over salad.


Fourth Week of the Nativity Fast: Vegan Colcannon

Posted on

After John left to sleep at the hotel Sunday night, I realized that we forgot to light our fourth advent candle this week.  We decided to wait until he got home to do the readings.  He got home too late last night, so tonight we caught up with the weekly readings and cooked together for some events coming up at the end of this week.

This week’s Advent candle is white and represents peace.  While we could do some sort of dove craft this week, we may just simply work together to create a peaceful atmosphere in our house.  That may be a bigger task than originally imagined after all this icy weather kept us cooped up together.

Fourth Week of Advent

You’d think with being iced in that I’d have had more time to blog, but with John gone for over 48 hours I had more than enough to keep my hands away from the keyboard.  This week has kept me on my toes making meals with what was already in the house.  I am glad that we got our Bountiful Basket Saturday morning despite the weather, so that I didn’t have to venture to the empty shelves at the grocery store.

Here’s the rundown of this week’s meals so far:

Black Rice Salad

Bok Choy Miso – This time I left out the beans and added softened rice noodles.

– This simple mung bean soup:

Mung Bean Soup
Saute some carrots, onion, and celery with ground rosemary.  Then add the cooked mung beans and salt to taste.  I served it alongside stir fried napa cabbage with shitake mushrooms over brown basmati rice.

Vegan Colcannon – This was a new recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for months.  I omitted the pepper and used russet potatoes; regular cabbage and mustard greens from our CSA took the place of the savoy and kale in this recipe.  The results were great!  Everyone asked for seconds.  It was a simple meal, but very satisfying.  This would also be a great fasting meal for studying Ireland.


Third Sunday of the Nativity Fast: Butternut and Sage Angel Hair Pasta

Posted on

This third Sunday of the Nativity Fast finds us ready for bed early after a busy week of family, friends and finished projects.  We lit the third candle in our advent wreath and began our week long discussion on this week’s theme of love.  While The Liturgical Year for Little Ones has a fun activity for this week, I think that we may just decorate our mantle and prepare our stockings for St. Nicholas’ Day on Friday.  (And to answer the question that is bugging the detail oriented, yes my “gold” candle is really silver.  I promised the kids that I would find a suitably colored replacement when we burn through the silver ones I already have.)

Gold/Silver Candle

Following the theme for this week, I have fallen in love with a tiny young man this week.  I have been steadily working on a baby quilt all week long and praying for the premature Baby John who will one day get to come home and enjoy the fruits of this labor.  Please continue to pray for this little fellow and his parents as they try to bring him home in time for Christmas.

I finished the quilt today!  I got the idea from this blog post.  The pattern is simple with six and a half inch squares and two and a half inch rectangles staggered for a nice effect.  The quilting is done in a herringbone pattern and truly takes this simply pieced pattern and transforms it into a wonderful blanket that will please for years to come.  I can never resist taking the scraps leftover from the quilt top and designing a simple pillow to compliment the quilt.

Baby John's Quilt
Before I share today’s recipe I must share with you one more way to show Christ’s love this holiday season.  A friend of mine, Alana Juliana, just received news last week that her husband, Wes Theophan, has the most aggressive form of brain cancer.  Juliana is a homeschooling mom who already lives with fibromyalgia.  Please pray for this family.  You can read more about their situation on Alana’s blog, Morning Coffee.  Please also consider helping them in their fundraising for Theophan’s treatments that will begin soon.  Thank you!

Butternut Squash-Sage Pasta
This recipe was inspired by Michael Symon’s recipe from The Chew.  I had to modify it a bit to make it dairy free, but all of the important parts are there.

Butternut and Sage Angel Hair Pasta

1 1/2 pounds GF Angel Hair Pasta
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium Butternut Squash, 1/3″ dice
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp salt
8-10 sage leaves, minced
1/2 cup Vegan Parmesan Cheeze, optional (adjust salt to taste if you are omitting)

Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

In a deep skillet heat the oil, garlic, and salt over low heat.  Peel and dice the butternut squash reserving the seeds for a snack another day.

Raise temperature of the skillet to medium, and then add the diced butternut squash and minced sage.  Allow the squash to saute and lightly brown for about 8-10 minutes or until fork tender.

Deglaze the pan with a little of the pasta water and toss the butternut squash with the cooked pasta.  Top with cheeze if desired and salt to taste.

Second Sunday of the Nativity Fast: Pesto Pasta with Red Beans

Posted on

Today found us finishing a busy weekend.  Yesterday we visited our local monastery for the forty day commemoration for one of the nuns.  It was a wonderfully cold and muddy day.  The children all slept on the way home–the litmus test for a great time.


We finally got out the rest of our advent wreath and assembled it together.  Then we lit the blue and green candles, read our passage from The Liturgical Year for Little Ones, discussed the theme of hope, and shared a little hot carob on this cold evening.  Maybe later this week we will do some of the anchor activities (or this one), while we take a much deserved break from our regularly scheduled homeschool to prepare for Thanksgiving.

Dinner tonight was compliments of John and Buster.  I had errands to run, so they cooked the pasta, sauteed some onions, and tossed it all together with some pesto and cooked red beans.  A simple side salad accompanied this quick Sunday dinner.

My pesto sauce is quite simple.  It’s dairy free, so there is no need for cheese.  There are many combinations.  Play around with your combinations until you find what you like.  I don’t think I’ve ever made the same combination twice, because I don’t measure.


You need:
a bunch of greens and herbs (like spinach, kale, basil, and oregano; not necessarily all at once; just go with your favorites)
olive oil, plenty
salt, to taste
a handful of nuts, optional (pine nuts or walnuts)

Place the washed and trimmed greens in your food processor or high powered blender.  Add a generous pinch of salt and the nuts if you are using them.  Turn on your machine, pulse, and slowly drizzle with olive oil until your pesto looks like pesto.  You may have to scrape the sides of your container a few times to get everything incorporated.  If it seems too oily, just add more greens and herbs until you are happy.  Freeze in meal sized portions (about one cup) if you make a very large batch.  Tonight’s pesto was from last fall’s garden, but I’m hoping to make more in the spring if I have better luck with my basil in the coming year.

Hot Carob – Family Sized Recipe

4 cups hemp, almond, or coconut milk
1-2 Tbsp carob powder, to taste
3-4 Tbsp sugar or honey, to taste

Whisk together in a sauce pan and heat to your desired temperature.


Place all ingredients in your high powered blender (I use my Vitamix) and blend on high about 3 minutes or until warmed to your liking.

First Sunday of the Nativity Fast: Garlic-Sage Spaghetti Squash

Posted on

Yesterday was the first Sunday of the Nativity Fast.  Our Advent has begun.  While we are trying to keep things quiet and simple, we’d always had an Advent wreath before we joined the Orthodox Church.  However, now advent is a little longer than it was before.  With a little looking, I found this idea for a wreath with seven candles.  We use this plan along with some ideas from Liturgical Year for Little Ones to help us focus on the season at hand.

Green Candle - Faith

While we didn’t have time last night to get out the whole wreath, we did pull out the green candle and complete our readings.  While we continue our theme this week of faith, we discuss how God takes care of us in every way.  This is particularly evident as we attempt to follow the guidelines of the fast and think outside ourselves to make a family plan for alms giving.  To aid our discussion this year, I found this book at the library.  It presents different families around the world alongside the food that they eat in a week.  It is eye opening to young and old to see this information in such a visual format.  There is also a companion book that shows families with all of their material possessions.  I think that it will be a great one to use in the next few weeks as we purge toys and clothes before Christmas.

I won’t tell you the particulars of our family’s alms giving plans.  That part is for each family to decide.  There are Christian charities and secular charities; local and global.  Choose what you will, choose within your means, and choose something meaningful for your family.  Whatever you do, do it out of love for God and your fellow man.

Saturday night my mom made my Adzuki Beans with Kabocha Squash in the slow cooker.  Thanks, Mom!  Tonight we repeated our burritos with pinto beans, orange sweet potatoes, and caramelized onions.  Hence the quiet here this weekend.

Garlic Sage Spaghetti Squash

The new recipe was Sunday’s dinner.

Garlic-Sage Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, seeded
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
15-20 sage leaves from the garden, thinly sliced (try 1 tsp dried)
1 bunch spinach, kale, or swiss chard, thinly sliced
3 cups white or cranberry beans, cooked (don’t forget to cook them, mine were already frozen)
side salad

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 45-60 minutes or until tender.  Cool and scoop out the flesh.

While cooling the squash, heat a skillet on med-low heat.  Add the oil, garlic, and salt.  Gently infuse the garlic for 5-10 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.  Turn down the heat if necessary.

Add the sage and the greens and stir until wilted.  Stir in the beans and heat until warm.

Toss with the cooked spaghetti squash and serve with a side salad.