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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Menu Plan: February 21 - February 27

Here is our menu for the first full week of Lent. Last week was pretty full and this week looks to be pretty full as well, so we're trying to keep things even more simple.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some Lenten Options

Although we still eat some meat during Lent for now, I am posting vegetarian and fish recipes here. There may be some recipes here that include optional meat or broths. You may leave those out, obviously, to keep these in line with the fast. As we still eat both eggs and dairy, you will need to screen for those if you do not.

Butternut Squash Spinach Bread Pudding (Dairy)

Melanzane al Forno (Dairy)

Thai Green Curry and Peanut Noodles (Seafood or Vegan - Noodles are Vegan)

Eggs in Purgatory (Eggs & Dairy)

Below that is a recipe for Potato Kibbeh, which is vegan, but weren't thrilled with, so take a peek and see if you might like it, or how you would change it.

Cream of Poblano Soup (Dairy)

Mejeddarah (Vegan)

Lemon, Garlic, Basil Halibut with Capers (Fish - you can use any firm white fish you like)

Creamy Ricotta Vegetable Noodles (Dairy) Make this in the oven unless you have to leave your home.

Potage Parmentier (Potato Leek Soup) (Can be made Vegan or with Dairy)

Spinach Egg Puff (Egg & Dairy)

Macaroni and Cheese (Dairy)

Honey & Oat Pancakes (Dairy)

Pinto Beans and Rice (Made without the meat to be Vegan)

Fiesta Casserole (Dairy)

Tomato and Olive Pasta (Dairy, may be left out)

Tuna Pasta Salad (Fish) There are several other recipes on this same list with these recipes that are also appropriate for Lent.

Tex-Mex Skillet (Dairy)

Lentil, Poblano and Brown Rice Tacos (Dairy, optional)

Mexican Pizza (Dairy, leave out meat)

Soupe au Pistou (Vegan if you use water)

Pasta with Smoked Salmon, Tomatoes and Spinach (Fish & Dairy)

Pineapple Fried Rice (Egg, leave meat out)

Tortilla Casserole (Dairy)

Frittata (Egg, use no meat) I have several variations on this frittata and have even posted some of them here, but this is the basic, use what you have recipe.

Bulgur Pilaf I also make this with cracked wheat. (Vegan, using water)

Black Bean and Corn Salad (Vegan)

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday

Our Shrove Tuesday feast tonight will be rather subdued, since it will only be the family. We're eating rich food and having a big dessert, but that's pretty much it. I did pick up doughnuts at the store yesterday as a nod to our normal doughnut party.

However, I have noticed the annual upswing in visitors to the blog searching for Ash Wednesday Menus. I'm not sure if there are any schools that have research projects on this, or if there is just a lot of ignorance about Ash Wednesday. So, I thought I'd clarify. There is no traditional or modern menu for Ash Wednesday, as it is a strict fast day. The menu is water. Very young people (children, under 13, and/or unconfirmed), sick people, pregnant people, nursing mothers, people on medication that require food and other exceptions notwithstanding, the menu for Ash Wednesday is pretty much no food. If, for some reason (one of the exceptions above, or specific direction from a spiritual father) one is not fasting completely, then a meat fast, limited meals and trying to eat less than normal is the norm.

For more encouragement on the Lenten fast, please read this from an Orthodox perspective. I break the rules about not discussing asceticism a little because I blog our menus and a little about our family rule and motivation, but it stems from a desire to encourage and help others as we have been helped by reading about their practice and struggle. I liked what she had to say about laboring within your strength. If our piety is too easy, we aren't being challenged enough, but it isn't a strong man contest either.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Menu Plan: February 14 - February 20

Our menu this week will show the beginnings of our Lenten diet. It seems kind of odd to blog about fasting, but reading other people's menus and recipes and how they deal with it, teach their children, incorporate into their family's lives has helped me a great deal, so I'm hoping that our menus will help other people trying to keep the fast in one way or another. Ash Wednesday is a strict fast, but since not everyone is fasting all day, I will cook meatless meals for those who are not fasting.

Tonight, we have two different dinners, one for the children and one for us. We were planning on going out, but had a little girl with a fever on Friday night and several children still trying to beat their colds, so we decided we'd feed them early and have a nice, quiet dinner for the two of us.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weekly Recipes: February 13

Choucroute Garnie
This first recipe is one I first saw on the internet, but have modified to work with our tastes. If you don't wish to cook with the alcohol, I think you could use sweet apple cider and chicken broth, respectively for the hard cider and white wine, but I have not tried it that way.

1 large onion, peeled and quartered
4 whole cloves
8 ounces thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 pounds sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 smoked pork chops (about 1 1/2 - 2 pounds)
1 pound kielbasa, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
2 baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 pound small red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1 1/2 cups hard cider
1/4 cup dry white wine
Pumpernickel rye bread, mustards, horseradish, and cornichons, for serving

Stud each onion quarter with a clove. Layer the bacon, sauerkraut, garlic, onion quarters, herb sprigs, bay leaves, pork chops, kielbasa, apples, and potatoes in the slow cooker in the order listed, then pour the cider and wine over the top. Cover the cooker and set it on low. Cook until the pork is falling apart and the potatoes are fork-tender, between 6 and 8 hours.

Arrange the meats, potatoes, apples, onions, garlic, and sauerkraut on a large platter. Serve with pumpernickel rye bread, mustards, cornichons and horseradish. (I didn't have time to make pumpernickel this week, and it was not available in any decent quality, so we ate this with noodles and sour cream, horseradish and homemade pickles.)

Stuffed Potatoes (Mahshi) and Kofta
Mahshi is the word for stuffed in Arabic. You can stuff any vegetable. Sometimes we make this with a medley of vegetables, like small eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, in the summer. This filling is basically what I use to make stuffed grape leaves (waraq ounab) and cabbage leaves as well.

8 large potatoes (or one for each person) peeled and hollowed out, leaving at least 1/2 an inch of flesh all around center
2 pounds ground beef or lamb
1 bunch parsley
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup basmati rice (or other medium to long grain rice)
16 ounces tomato sauce

Prepare meat filling before prepping potatoes, to keep them from discoloring. Puree parsley, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Mix this in with the meat and 1 cup of rice. Stuff potatoes with this filling. Form remaining meat mixture into small to medium football shaped meatballs. Layer stuffed potatoes and kofta into a pot. Pour tomato sauce over the top, along with half to an equal amount of water. Invert a small plate over the top of the food and cover with a lid. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat and cook for about 45 minutes, or until meat is cooked and rice is soft.

Serve with rice, spooning sauce over and make a salad.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Seven Quick Takes Friday: February 12

1. Yasmina loves dancing with us. She says "Hand pease. Dance!" and holds out her hands to dance with us. Such a sweet time.

2. After six and a half months, our house finally closed. We have a million and one projects to get finished, so life is a little frazzled still.

3. We have been doing a lot of crossing the mountains lately. Housework and homeschooling has suffered a little from this. We have been trying to settle down and get back on track.

4. Because of this whole house purchase thing, roll over of a 401K, etc, we may actually have to go to an accountant for our taxes this year. I'm going to try to load it all in to TaxAct again to see if it will figure it out for me without paying someone else first. We normally have our taxes finished and filed by now, so we're running later than I'd like.

5. Lent is next week. A few years ago, I found a great blog written by a woman who was Eastern Rite Catholic, who blogged her way through Lent, with recipes and meal ideas. You can find it here. I've seen many other posts and blogs lately that will be nice resources for Lenten meals this year. Homemaking Through the Church Year has a post full of recipes for vegetarian, vegan and pesco-vegetarian meals. That is a really good idea. I might have to make a post like that, too.

6. We have managed to miss most of the illnesses that went around this winter, but in the last month caught a horrible stomach bug and a pretty bad cold. We're just coming out of the cold. Please keep our little ones, especially, in your prayers.

7. As I understand it from locals, we've had a very mild winter for this area. This scares me. I may have to move next winter.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

One Thing Only

We went on a trip back "home" this past weekend. As all our trips back have been, it was rather a whirlwind tour. We were able to do a lot and see quite a few people, but there wasn't much time to rest or breathe. Because we don't care about the Super Bowl, we timed our departure to match the start of the game, so we might avoid traffic. This worked pretty well for us and we were able to arrive home early enough to have dinner in our own home.

We just received the meat from our steer last week, so Rich used some of the ground beef to make incredible cheeseburgers for us. As we sat down to pray, Jerome spoke up and said that he could only do the Lord's Prayer. We assured him that if he was only ever able to pray one prayer, that would be the one to do.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Menu Plan: February 7 - February 13

Hello all, I am back. My plan is to slowly start blogging a bit again. We are still inundated with house projects, but we're getting our other ducks in a row a little better now. So, first off, I am planning our menus again. It has been rather chaotic not doing it for so long. I've decided to let off cataloging the things from our freezer/pantry/fridge, because that was making the composition of these posts take much longer than I like.

We are in the final full week before Lent, so I've been busy thinking up the treats and special foods we won't be able to eat during Lent to make over the next week and a half. We won't be having our normal doughnut party for Mardi Gras, but the plan is to pull blackberries from the freezer and make some cobblers.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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