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Pierogi Pizza

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Yesterday was John’s birthday.  It happens to fall on National Pi Day, and it makes this former math teacher giggle every year.  For several years I’ve made him pie for dessert instead of cake at his request.  His favorite meal is pizza.  If you haven’t noticed, we don’t have pizza often.  It’s hard enough when you’re gluten free, but toss in dairy and tomatoes and it all gets more complicated.  Now, John can still eat pizza, he’s not allergic, but the date falling during Lent puts a hitch in the situation.  This issue was discussed last week in a Facebook group I follow.  One suggestion was to try a pierogi flavored pizza.  Thanks for the idea, Elizabeth; it was great!

We tried to make real gluten free pierogis when we were studying Poland last school year.  It was pretty much a flop.  They all fell apart in the boiling water.  It was so bad that I finally baked the rest.  The baked ones were great, but I pretty much gave up trying to make gluten free-egg free pierogis ever again.  Pierogi Pizza was a much better idea.

Pierogi Pizza
I started with this pizza crust recipe.  As always I was missing a few ingredients, so I improvised a little.

I started by mixing this gluten free flour blend:

2 cups sorghum flour
2 cups tapioca starch
1 cup potato starch
1 cup teff flour

I doubled this pizza crust for my family, but next time I might triple it.  It worked out this time because I had extra mashed potatoes and dessert coming.  Don’t worry I plan to share the dessert recipe in the next post.

Pizza Crust
1 3/4 cups gluten free flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 teaspoon ground flax seed
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup almond milk
2 Tablespoons safflower oil
1/2 teaspoon vinegar, optional

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and blend thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add a tablespoon or two of additional liquid at a time, until dough comes together easily. Cover and let sit at room temp for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With lightly oiled hands, press dough into a 10″ circle on a lightly floured pan, building up edge slightly.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Remove crusts from oven, top with sauce, etc. and return to oven. Heat until toppings are bubbly, about 8-10 minutes. Parbaked crusts can be stored frozen to use as needed.

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This is the part where we diverged from traditional pizza recipes.

Earlier in the week I started fermenting sauerkraut using cabbage from my St. Patrick’s Day produce pack using mason jars and this method.  The finished product was waiting in the refrigerator.

Once I had my pizza dough mixed and resting, I started boiling 2.5 -3 lbs of potatoes for our mashed potato “sauce”.  These I mashed with almond milk and some nutritional yeast.  Sorry I didn’t measure that part.  Then I mixed in about two cups of sauerkraut.  Taste and add salt if needed.   The adults in the house thought that it needed more kraut, but the kids thought it was just right.

While the potatoes were boiling, I started browning one very large thinly sliced onion in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Stir regularly.  Once the onions were pretty brown 10-15 minutes, I drizzled them with a couple of tablespoons of safflower oil, sprinkled them with salt, and reduced the heat to medium-low for another ten minutes or so.

Then I sliced mushrooms and tossed them in to saute with the onions.  I had a few sprigs of fresh thyme from my St. Patty’s pack, so that went in too.  At this point I felt that it needed some color.  Once the mushrooms were cooked I added some spinach I had in the fridge leftover from our spring rolls the day before.

Somewhere towards the end of mashing the potatoes and cooking the mushrooms, I patted the dough out on the floured pizza pans and parbaked them according to the directions above.

I spread the mashed potato “sauce” on the cooked crust and topped it with the onion and mushroom mixture.  Discard the thyme stems as needed.   Bake for another 8 minutes and serve with oven roasted asparagus.

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry

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Tonight’s dinner was easy to make, and it was a hit all around.  As much as I love sesame oil and ginger, every once in a while I need a change from those flavors in a stir fry.  This was even more true today when lunch was Sweet and Sour Pork leftovers.  I even had plenty of cooked brown jasmine rice leftover from lunch, so there was no need to cook more.  Without having to cook  the rice, this meal took less than thirty minutes to prepare.

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry
While you could use white button or crimini mushrooms in this dish, I like to splurge on the shitake variety every once in a while.

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry

3 Tbsp safflower oil
1 white onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground turkey
1 pkg sliced shitake mushrooms
1 medium head of Napa cabbage, sliced in ribbons
3-4 Tbsp coconut aminos, to taste
salt to taste

Heat the oil a wok heated over medium-high.  Add the onions and garlic with a generous pinch of salt.  Stir fry until the onions become translucent.  If they get a little caramelized around the edges, it’s even better.  Turn the heat down to medium if the onions seem to brown too quickly.

Add the ground turkey and continue to stir fry for another 2-3 minutes until about half of the meat is cooked.  Then add the mushrooms.  If the heat hasn’t been reduced to medium yet, do so now.

Once the meat is cooked through, toss the cabbage into the mix.  When well combined, put the lid on the wok and allow to steam for 3-5 minutes.  Stir every two minutes or so to ensure the even cooking of the cabbage.  Steaming the cabbage this way will create a lovely broth at the bottom of the pan that is wonderful drizzled over the rice.

Once the cabbage is cooked to your desired texture, add in the coconut aminos.  We like ours soft, but stop cooking a bit earlier if you prefer yours with a little crunch.  Adjust salt to taste and serve over warm rice.

Fourth Week of the Nativity Fast: Vegan Colcannon

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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.

Colcannon

The Feast of Saint Nicholas: Cilantro Pesto

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Blessed Feast!

I was raised with the true story of St. Nicholas.  I always knew the truth of the Santa legends and promptly hugged Grandma after receiving gifts marked “from Santa.”  When we became Orthodox, celebrating St. Nicholas Day seemed only natural.  We decorated the mantle on Wednesday and put up our stockings last night.  The kids can’t wait to put up the tree, but they will have to wait a bit longer for that.

We were iced in and chose not to brave the slippery twenty mile drive to liturgy this morning.  Instead John made pumpkin pancakes, and I put out our St. Nicholas treats.

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Nuts and chocolate coins are traditional St. Nicholas treats.  I made vegan carob coins in my mini muffin tin using this recipe plus a pinch of salt.  Last year I made them too thin; this year they are too thick.  Maybe next year I’ll get them just right.  The little clogs were stitched in felt from this pattern.  I can’t bring myself to put food in the same shoes that their feet have been inside, so I made those little clogs instead.

After breakfast we pulled out this book–a relic of my childhood collection.  We snuggled up with blankets and read from our basket of Christmas books.  We watched holiday movies, played outside in the icy wonderland, played board games, filled the bird feeders, and strung popcorn for the birds.   The bird feeding idea popped up twice this week in my internet subscriptions; both here and here.

Our poor confused tree, stuck between seasons.

Our poor confused tree, stuck between seasons.

Snuggle Bunny

Snuggle Bunny

Little Man

Little Man

Ice on the rose bush.

Ice on the rose bush.

Since it’s a feast day, fish is allowed.  That means shrimp for us!  John and the kids picked a lot of cilantro for our CSA farmer earlier this week, so I found this recipe that I modified for our purposes.  Normally I would have used brown rice, but my aunt gave me gallon of white jasmine at Thanksgiving.  What a better day for a white rice treat than a feast day?  I served this with a little salad and a variety of roasted baby winter squash from our CSA.  We like to think of them as squash fries that you don’t have to peel first.  You just eat them right out of their skins after they are cooked.

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Shrimp with Cilantro Pesto

1 heaping cup cilantro leaves, washed
6-8 green onions, roughly chopped
2-3 Tbsp pecans (didn’t measure)
1 clove garlic
1-2 tsp agave syrup (I am out of white sugar and it worked just as well)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar (any vinegar would work)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, to taste

3 cups dry jasmine rice, cooked according to package instructions
1 lb raw shrimp

Start your rice.

In a blender or food processor place the first eight ingredients.  Blend until mostly smooth.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  In a bowl toss the shrimp with a heaping tablespoon of the pesto and saute for 3-4 minutes in the skillet, until they are pink and opaque throughout.

Serve over rice with the extra pesto.

Potato and Cabbage Soup

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A simple soup for the end of a cold and busy day.  I used some cooked beans from my freezer and added the herbs that sounded nice today.  It is particularly yellow because my last batch of vegetable broth had lots of carrots in it.

Potato and Cabbage soup

Potato and Cabbage Soup

3 cups vegetable broth 5 cups water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 of a small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes
3 cups white beans, measured after cooked
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp savory
pinch of turmeric
2-3 tsp salt, to taste

In your soup pot, heat the broth, water, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery over medium-high heat.  Bring it to a boil while you chop the cabbage and potatoes.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and return to a boil.   Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.

Sometimes I puree the soup with my immersion blender to make it creamier, but today I left it chunky.  Enjoy either way!

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

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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.

Candles

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.

Pesto
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.

Pesto

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.

OR

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

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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.