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Category Archives: beef

Sunday Roast and Mango Rice Pudding

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Our parish is doing some renovating, so we didn’t have our usual pot luck this week.  That meant I needed to feed hungry children right when we got home.  So the slow cooker came out and in less than ten minutes, I had lunch cooking.

Sunday Roast

2-3 lbs beef roast
8 multicolored carrots, cut into 3 inch sections & 6 celery stalks, cut into 3 inch sections
1 small onion, sliced
3 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup red wine

Mix the vegetables and bay leaves in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Place the roast on top of the layer of vegetables.  Sprinkle both sides with the salt an spices.

Drizzle with olive oil, and pour the red wine over the roast.

Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 5-6 hours.  Serve with your favorite sides.


For dessert later Sunday night I made a variation of my Rice Pudding.  I added 1 tsp ground cardamom with the almond milk and served it topped with diced mango and unsweetened grated coconut.

Mango Rice Pudding


The Seventh Day of Christmas: Hamburgers

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Not only is it the seventh day of Christmas, but this day also marks the end of another calendar year.  I have been reading peoples musings on the past year and their goals for the coming year.  I have no grand thoughts or life changing goals.  I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions.  I like to make small goals for myself throughout the year as needs arise instead of large goals once a year.

Our family is also the one that never makes it to midnight awake.  John’s schedule has us early to bed and early to rise.  We’ll be lucky to make it to 10pm.  So, Happy New Year, ya’ll!

Our day was filled with searching for banana leaves for meals these next few days.  We’re making tamales with friends tomorrow and trying pasteles on Thursday.  The meat is cooked and broth has been made from yesterday’s turkey.  With all those pots simmering together, I kept dinner simple. We ate hamburgers.

I rarely do buns with our hamburgers.  The kids disassemble them anyway when I try.  Tonight I tossed in some oven fries and cooked slider sized burgers in the cast iron skillet.  The burgers were served on a bed of lettuce with some honey mustard on the side.  I might normally add an additional vegetable side to this meal, but I didn’t buy anything this week since I thought I had more vegetables in the freezer.

My honey mustard is nothing fancy.  I simply whisk together Dijon and honey in eyeballed equal parts and adjust to taste.

I also planned to slice an avocado, but when the neighbor kid showed up for dinner I forgot that detail.  Pray for his family because tonight they were waiting for his grandfather to arrive for hospice care.

The Third Day of Christmas: Philly Steak Sandwiches

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Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!

I haven’t posted in the last two weeks.  Life got busy, as I’m sure yours did too.  It was wonderfully busy and no time was left for blogging.  We even saved some of our giving for today, since last week didn’t include enough hours for everything.  I’m glad that John reminded me that we had twelve whole days of Christmas to finish everything; otherwise, I might not have made it through last week.  I do have a couple of meals from last week that I still want to share, but I’ll have to catch up another day.

Last week was packed with finishing Christmas presents and completing our last few bits of our homeschool year.  We stick to a different schedule than most, but it works for us.  Now we have three months break to have a change of pace.

The kids and my nephews helped make a Santa Hat Party Mix for gifts, but we didn’t get to try it because most of the ingredients are on our naughty food list.  Sometimes it’s nice to live vicariously through others.  We did try one batch of a homemade allergy friendly almond bark for my sister’s birthday.  It did taste good, but it was only solid in the refrigerator, so the recipe needs tweaking before we share it.

Santa Hat Mix
I also got to finish sewing three dolls.  One was for Snuggle Bunny.  Another was for our only niece, and the third was for my youngest cousin.  Making these dolls was very special for me, because my grandmother started them years ago, but never finished them.  The dolls were mostly done, but the dresses were only cut out and needed assembling.   One Christmas many years ago, Grandma made me one of these pillowcase dolls.  Mine has a lavender dress and is quite well loved.  She even traveled with me to Girl Scout Camp one summer and has my name in Sharpie marker on the back hem of her dress.  Now she spends most of her time in Snuggle Bunny’s doll carriage, just as Grandma would have liked.  Today she has a new sister to share the ride.   Hopefully one day these three dolls will show the wear of time and love.  It would be a shame if they weather the years with a layer of dust instead of experiencing the messy love of some sweet little girls.  Oh, and what of the one in the middle with the extra color in her dress?  That is the product of Little Man’s handy work.  He quietly got his hands on my sewing scissors and started the remodeling process.  After a little rummaging through my quilting scraps, I’m happy with the results.  Though if I ever make a modified skirt again, I’d rather it happen before I gather the skirt and attach it to the bodice.

Pillowcase Dolls
The weekend before the Feast of the Nativity is when we celebrated with our families.  Saturday was for my family, and Sunday after church was for John’s family.  It was great family time and my children were thoroughly spoiled by grandparents, aunts, and uncles.   Meals were provided by the hosts and they all did a wonderful job with our holiday fare.  My mother-in-law surprised us with a treat from a local gluten free bakery.  My mother and I made Better Balls with almond butter.  We omitted the rice puffs and rolled the balls in unsweetened coconut instead of dipping them in chocolate, but every last one was gone in no time.  I used to make a peanut and dairy laden version of these as a child, so it was a very nostalgic dessert and oh so easy to make.

Christmas Day found us at Church in the morning.  I think celebrating the feast at Church on Christmas is one of my favorite Orthodox Traditions.  It really is wonderful to focus on the true meaning of this holiday with our Church family before we break the fast and open our family presents.  After Church we completed our last Advent reading before we opened presents.

Christmas Day

This year I took meat laden meal requests from each family member for celebrating the feast.  I promised to make them all sometime during the twelve days of Christmas.  Snuggle Bunny’s request was California Rolls.  That meal was lunch on Christmas day for many reasons.  One being that we were headed out to a Christmas party in the afternoon, and it was a meal that could be prepared in the allotted time.  The second reason is because it was a meal that John is adept at preparing, so I got a day off from cooking.

John also made pancakes and bacon for yesterday’s breakfast.  I assembled them into the festive arrangement you see below.  The eyes are carob chips, the buttons are raisins, the mouth is banana, and the snow is coconut oil.

Buster’s meal request was Honey-Mustard Chicken Tenders which easily used the last of the bacon.  This time I served it with roasted broccoli, oven fries, and yellow squash.

Today’s lunch was John’s request.  He doesn’t often request dairy, so I was happy to buy him a few slices of provolone from the deli.  When I buy cheese, it is often by the slice–just enough for John.  This time we had some leftover soft goat cheese from John’s mom’s dinner, so those of us who can tolerate small doses of goats dairy indulged for this one meal.  I was planning to make cashew sauce, but opted out at the last minute when I remembered the goat cheese.

I discovered that the steak purchased this time was much thicker than I originally realized, so I chopped it rather than shaving it as I normally do.  The bun is an onion dinner roll from Local Oven.  They still have egg in them, so Little Man and I cheated a little bit.  It’s all for a good cause and we don’t do it often, so today I think it was worth the convenience and the flavor.  Tomorrow may be another story.

I also would have liked to add mushrooms to this sandwich, but I forgot until I was cooking.

Philly Steak Sandwiches
about 1.5 lb thin steak, lightly salted on both sides
1 large onion, thinly slice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
cheese or substitute (optional)
condiments of your choosing

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil, onion, salt, and garlic to the pan.  Saute until the onions caramelize.  Reduce heat as necessary to keep the onions from burning.

Remove the onions from the pan and raise the heat back to medium.  Sear the steak on both sides until the steak is cooked to your liking.  Times will vary depending on the thickness of your steak.

Slice the steak thinly and toss in the pan with the onions to warm them and mix well with the meat.  Serve on buns with your choice of toppings.

Merry Christmas!

Dairy-Free Beef Stroganoff

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When we were studying Russia last week, I knew that I wanted to try a dairy free Beef Stroganoff.  I couldn’t fit it into last week, so I penciled it in for my birthday.  Today not only is my birthday, but the Nativity Fast (our Advent) starts tomorrow.  We begin 40 days of preparation for the Nativity of Christ.  It is a time of prayer and alms-giving; a time for quiet and simplifying life; and a time for vegan meals.

Each year before the fast comes, we get the opportunity to celebrate!  This year Buster made me a pinata and invited friends and family to help us “bust it up.”  My mom and a few neighbors congregated in our garage to reveal the contents of his “Toro.”  Buster spent days making the pinata while attempting to keep it secret.  He even bought the contents with his own money.  I am now the proud owner of a pink matchbox truck, a drawing, a honey candy, and a plethora of unused balloons.  The bull, a shell of his former self, has been relegated to a home in the recycle bin.

Toro Pinata
No, there was not a proper cake.  When the birthday girl has to bake her own cake, sometimes it doesn’t happen.  I was, however, interrupted at the beginning of this paragraph with an offer of carob pancakes before bed.  That is an offer that you don’t turn down!

Back to dinner…

In my opinion, this recipe is better without any dairy replacements.  Long ago, I would stir in goat’s yogurt with good success, but I do not like the results with the non-dairy alternatives.  Trust me on this one.   While it is not a traditional Stroganoff without sour cream or yogurt, I think the sauce is creamy enough on it’s own without the replacement dairy.


I served this sauce over Tinkyada Brown Rice Spirals, but fettuccine would work well, as well as cooked brown rice.  The sides are a simple salad and sauteed mixed greens from the garden.

Beef Stroganoff

1 1/2 lbs pasta, cooked  (or brown rice)
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
1 lb steak of your choice, sliced (or ground beef if you want to keep it simple)
1 tsp thyme
8-12 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup garbanzo or millet flour
3 cups chicken broth

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, saute the onions, garlic, and salt.  Saute for about 5 minutes.  Until the onions are beginning to be translucent.

Add the beef and thyme and cook another five minutes until the meat is almost cooked through.   Stir in the mushrooms, and continue to stir until they have softened.

Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and whisk until completely combined.  Pour in the broth and stir well.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the sauce is thickened.

Adjust salt to taste, then pour over pasta or rice with your choice of sides.

Pumpkin and Rice Soup

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This soup is simple to make and can be easily finished in the time it takes to cook brown rice.  If you use leftover rice, it is on the table even faster.  While you could use fresh pumpkin cut in chunks and cook the soup a little longer, the puree creates a flavorful silky broth that is a hit at my house.  Tonight everyone had seconds, and Little Man managed thirds.

Pumpkin and Rice soup

Pumpkin and Rice Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp dried thyme
2-3 Tbsp millet or garbanzo flour
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 small can water chestnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups pureed pumpkin (one 15 oz can will work)
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 cups brown rice, cooked  (4-5 cups cooked)

Start the rice if you don’t have leftovers.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, onion, and salt and saute about 5 minutes, until the onions are turning translucent.

Add the ground meat and thyme.  Cook thoroughly, about 5-8 minutes.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir until the flour is well incorporated and golden brown.

Add the mushrooms and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Pour in water chestnuts, pumpkin, broth, and water.  Adjust salt to taste.  Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer until the rice is done.

Stir rice into the soup.  Serve and enjoy!

Geography Studies: Russia

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This week we are finishing our study of Russia.  Many years ago I got to spend the summer in Moscow.  It was a wonderful experience.  Especially now that I am Orthodox in a parish with Russian leanings, those pictures, places, and experiences mean so much more now.  The children have loved looking through my pictures and hearing about the markets, parks, churches, and museums.  I got to teach English while I was there and Snuggle Bunny is partly named for one of my students.

We could have gone two ways with the craft this week.  We could have painted our own stackable matryoska dolls, but I wasn’t up to putting out the money for that quite yet.  Maybe when everyone is older we will invest in this book and give it a try.  Until then, my souvenir set will be stacked again and again.  Snuggle Bunny has these measuring cups and the matching spoons too.  They make baking so much more fun!   Then there is The Littlest Matryoshka that is well worth reading if your local library has it available.

We decided to make Faberge eggs instead.  We just cut ours out of construction paper free hand, but I’m thinking a little more structure might be good for the future.  Either blown out eggs or wooden eggs might give a better outcome.  Can you tell that Buster’s is supposed to be the Titanic in sequins?

Fabrige Eggs
Here are a few other links for studying Russia:

Russian Language – Snuggle Bunny asked to study Russian earlier this year so we have been learning a letter a week.  She will know the whole alphabet by Thanksgiving!  Here are our favorite YouTube Channels for learning:  Cyrillic Alphabet  &  Numbers.

National Anthem

Folk Music and Dancing – Dance around the room together.  See who can dance like a Cossack.

Church Slavonic – Some of the traditional music of our church.  Though we hear a little of it woven into the service every week, this song has been putting Little Man to sleep regularly since he was two months old.  Somewhere I have a video of him calming to this song and then singing along in little baby coos.


For our Russian food, I debated between borscht and beef stroganoff , but decided that this week I will make borscht and next week I will try a dairy free stroganoff.  I learned how to make both meals while I was in Russia, so they hold a special place in my heart.  I made the borscht in the crock pot for lunch at church on Sunday, so the kids didn’t get to help.  I’m thinking we may try Kasha so they can help.  We love porridge for breakfast, and modifying some of these recipes will be very easy.


1 cup onions—finely chopped
2 cloves garlic—peeled and chopped
1 cup celery — thinly sliced
2 cups beets—coarsely grated
1 cup carrots—peeled and grated
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 quarts beef or chicken stock (or half water half stock)
1 pound potatoes—cubed
1 pound cabbage—coarsely shredded
1 pound stew meat
2 tablespoons dill
3 bay leaves
Olive oil

I had beef soup bones with plenty of meat, so I trimmed them, saved the meat in the refrigerator, and tossed them in the slow cooker on low over night with two quarts of water and a dash of salt.  If you are using broth that has already been made, you can skip this step.  I also prepped all the vegetables the night before to streamline the morning.

Early the morning:  In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and celery stirring frequently until they are soft and lightly colored. Add the stew meat and brown for about 5 minutes.

Skim out the broth and discard the bones.  Add the bay leaves, salt, sugar, vinegar, and browned meat an vegetables.

When I arrived at church (My lid doesn’t lock down so I waited so the borscht would stay in the pot for the drive): Stir in the cabbage and potatoes and turn the crock pot to high.  Pray that the potatoes cook through in time for lunch.

Right after Communion (Since I was already out with a two year old):  Fish out the bay leaves.  Stir the beets, carrots, and dill into the soup and Cover until coffee hour.

Green Bean-Beef Stir Fry

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Today, everyone in my house was feeling better except me.  When the topic of lunch came up there rang a resounding chorus of, “Not more soup!”  While soup still sounded good to me, I bit the bullet and used most of my remaining energy to throw together a quick stir fry.  Those long beans that I though might become a snack became lunch.  Then I tossed in a few other vegetables that were waiting for inspiration in the fridge and pantry.  Buster did most of the stirring.  This probably wouldn’t have happened without his help.

I am always on the lookout for cheap steaks from the reduced bins at the grocery store to keep in the freezer for a stir fry or fajitas.  Today the one I had was a little bigger than I normally use.  I also like to put more green beans in this recipe than I had on hand, but that really is just my preference.  You might think it was perfect just the way it turned out.

Beef Stir Fry

The trick to a good stir fry is to cook quickly at a hot enough temperature in small batches.  If you get the pan too full, the juices from the vegetables will accumulate and boil instead of fry.

Green Bean-Beef Stir Fry
3 cups uncooked brown jasmine rice
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 inch knob of ginger, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, cut in matchsticks
1 to 1/2 lbs cheap steak of your choosing, thinly sliced
1/2 lb long beans or green beans trimmed into 2 inch lengths
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch green onions, cut on the bias in 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 small can bamboo shoots, drained
1 Tbsp dulse flakes (optional)
3-4 Tbsp Coconut Aminos (optional, sometimes I’m out and don’t worry about this ingredient)
Salt to taste

Cook the rice according to package instructions.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in your wok or deepest skillet.  Stir fry the ginger, garlic, and carrots with a pinch of salt for 3-4 minutes until beginning to be tender.  Add the beef and another pinch of salt to the pan and fry 3-4 more minutes until the beef is cooked.  Remove the beef mixture to a plate and set aside.

Drzzle a little more oil into the pan, then add the green beans and another pinch of salt.  Stir fry for one minute and add the mushrooms.

After another 2 minutes add the green onions, bamboo shoots, and dulse flakes.  Stir fry for 1-2 more minutes.

Return the meat to the pan and drizzle with coconut aminos.  Cover with the lid for 1-2 minutes.

Serve over rice and enjoy!