Monday, November 13, 2017

Real Life Advent Menu (for all 6 Weeks!)

Real Life Advent Menu

 Okay- it's easy to design a perfect menu. But, sometimes the best laid plans collide with real life!

You know - sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Like maybe the oven catches on fire or something. Not that I'd know anything about that ; )

So, I thought for this seasonal menu, I'd offer a glimpse of what we ACTUALLY ate for Advent last year. I usually only plan or record one meal a day (occasionally two) - so this is not an exhaustive list of every bite that went into our mouths, just a snapshot of dinners.This is real life, every day eating - occasionally repeating a recipe more often than I'd like, or having yet another "quick meal" of pasta this week - and includes dinners out and dinners at friends houses or at Church. Just the authentic schedule.

For us Orthodox Christians, Advent starts November 15 and runs through Christmas Eve. Ideally our menus do not contain meat, dairy or eggs during that time. 


15  Lemony Dal

Lemony Dal

17- Claire's Southern Delight

Claire's Southern Delight

18 – Penne with Marinara

19 – Peas & Artichokes Yachni

Peas & Artichokes Yachni

20 – Leftovers for Lunch: Peas & Artichokes,  

Dinner: Family Favorite Lentil Soup

23  - Split Pea Soup, Whole Wheat Rolls, Veggies, Hummus with Capers

Split Pea Soup

Caper Hummus Tray

24 – Thanksgiving at Friends' Home – brought dinner roll assortment
Whole Wheat Rolls 

Dinner Rolls, Vegan, Soft & Fluffy, No Knead, Refrigerator 
Easy, No Knead, Greek Olive Crescents (Eliopites) 

Soft & Fluffy Vegan Dinner Rolls

Greek Olive Crescents

25 – St. Catherine’s - Leftovers

26 -  Stir Fry Veggies Over Rice

Stir Fry Veggies over Rice

27 – Black Bean Soup (Slow Cooker),
Dinner: Spaghetti with Marinara

28 – Greek Green Beans ( Fasolakia Yachni )

Fasolakia Yachni

29 – Chili, Rice, chips, Salad

30 – Chinese Buffet with Friends

1 Dec- Pasta & Sauce (Kids' meeting night)

2 - Spinach & Mushroom Calzones

Spinach & Mushroom Calzones

3 – Leftovers – mainly Pasta & Sauce, Spinach & Mushroom Calzones

4 - Greek Bean Soup, Favorite (Fasolia Yachni) ,Homemade Yeast Bread, Smoky Hummus , Dolmades (from can)
Eve: St. Nicholas Concert & Reception

Fasolia Yachni

5 – Greek Bean Soup, Favorite (Fasolia Yachni) ,
Dinner: Asian Noodles

6 – Brunch after Church: Pancakes,


Dinner: Claire's Southern Delight over Rice

7 – At Friends for Lunch – they served Lentil Soup,
Dinner brought by another Friend Pasta Salad, Bean Dish, etc

8 – Sausage Patties, Vegan & Tater Tots (from Grocer's Freezer)

Vegan Sausage

9 – Chinese Restaurant for my Nameday

10 – Indian Spiced Blackeye Peas over Rice

Indian Spiced Black-Eyed Peas over Rice

11  – Spaghetti With Marinara Sauce, Quick and Easy.
Oven Caught on Fire when Preheating to bake cookies.
We would not have a replacement oven for 11 days!

12 – Chinese Buffet with Friends

13 – Greek Bean Soup, Favorite (Fasolia Yachni)  made in Slow Cooker, Garlic Toast, Dolmadakia (from Can), Olives

14 – Greek Style Black-Eyed Peas ( Louvia ) made in Slow Cooker, Veggies, Dolmades, Garlic Toast

15 – Red Lentil & Artichoke Stew  Made in Slow Cooker

Red Lentil & Artichoke Stew

16 – Easy Yeast Bread in the Slow Cooker , Leftovers, Hummus, etc

17 – Lunch at a Class at Church provided by Friend: Spanakorizo, Spinach & Potatoes, Bread 
Dinner: Black Bean Burritos (Black Beans in Microwave, Rice in Rice Cooker), Slow Cooker Cinnamon Rolls (Recipe under construction!)

18 – Lunch at Friends' – Fasolia Yachni, Black-Eyed Pea, Rice & Spinach Salad, French Fries, Green Salad, Etc. Dinner: Leftovers

19 – Black Bean Soup (Slow Cooker), Rice in Rice Cooker, Tomatoes, Tortilla Chips

Black Bean Soup

20 – Stuffed Manicotti in the Slow Cooker

Stuffed Manicotti

21 – Chili in Slow Cooker, Rice in Rice Cooker, Tortilla Chips

22- Riblets (Purchased from Freezer Section of Grocery, heated in Microwave), Rice, Corn, Edamame

23- Family Get Together – bringing Hummus with Capers tray, White Bean Salad

24- Christmas Eve Brunch after Church:
Vegan Sausage Patties

Vegan Sausage

Cinnamon Rolls 

Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad

Cucumbers & Tomatoes
Family Favorite Lentil Soup

Monday, November 6, 2017

Easiest Cinnamon Rolls Ever (No Knead, Vegan, Oil Free, Refrigerator Rise, Whole Wheat)

Easiest Ever Cinnamon Rolls
No Knead, Refrigerator Rise, Whole Wheat, Oil Free, Vegan
Cinnamon Rolls are a morning comfort food with near universal appeal. But, many families almost  never have them because they're a time consuming hassle to make. No one wants to get up 2 hours before the rest of the family to start making Cinnamon Rolls. Right? Besides which, with all that White Flour and Butter, they're not something that we should have very often. : (

And, goodness knows, buying them from a grocery store can or box isn't the ideal solution.

Well, those days are over!

These Cinnamon Rolls are the easiest you've ever heard of. They take about 15 minutes of hands on time (5 minutes to create the dough, 10 minutes to form). I provide lots of pictures and instructions below for every detail - which might make it LOOK a little tricky - but it's VERY easy and fast! They're no knead and refrigerator rise. You don't even need a rolling pin. And, they're much healthier than other recipes. They're Whole Wheat, and Vegan. Free of Butter and Eggs. They're also Oil Free! Perhaps best of all, my daughter and her friends don't seem to realize that they're whole wheat!

This is my own recipe, but I got the method from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day - whose work I highly recommend! 

Easy Soft, No Knead Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
 (Makes 2 batches - for a one batch recipe, see my Whole Wheat Rolls post)

I prepare a double batch of dough in a plastic shoe box from the dollar store
Be sure to add ingredients in this order:

3 Cups Warm Water
5 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1 Cup Potato Flakes (yes, the kind people make instant Mashed Potatoes with)
1/2 Cup Sugar*
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt

Stir well with a spoon till well combined and no floury patches remain. If it is VERY hard to stir, and doesn't look like the picture below, you can add a couple more Tablespoons of Warm Water.

Dough after stirring

Cover loosely (I put the shoe box lid on, but don't snap it down on one corner) and allow to rise for 2-5 hours on counter.

Dough after initial rise - ready to place in fridge or use.

Place in Fridge till needed, or use right away (ideally, use this within a week)

When you're ready to bake, sprinkle the top of the dough generously with flour.Oil a cake pan. (If you absolutely cannot have oil, line the pan with parchment paper instead of oiling). If you prefer individual Cinnamon Rolls with defined edges (like in the above right picture with the red background), you can pop each one into a cupcake pan rather than a cake pan.

Flour your rolling surface. I use a  12" x 15" Plastic Cutting Mat (also from the dollar store).

"Cut" the batch in half with your hand, and lift it out of the pan.

 Gently form it into a ball by tucking the edges under, and place it on the mat.

Flour it again.

Pat the dough into a flat rectangle the size of the mat with your hands. Pat and stretch, then flip over and flour. Pat and stretch, then flip over and flour. Repeat until the dough is the size of the rolling sheet. If you played with Play Dough as a child, you'll find this very easy ; )

flour regularly to keep it from sticking to the surface - but brush off excess flour

flip often

Spread the surface with 1/2 Cup of Applesauce (I use one of those little lunch containers). Leave a margin at the top and bottom edges of the dough - about 1/2 inch. But, spread all the way to each side. Yes, you CAN use butter or margarine instead. But WHY? The applesauce is healthier, and I can't tell the difference in the finished product : )

Now, sprinkle VERY generously with Cinnamon Sugar mixture. I make my own - 4 parts sugar, 1 part cinnamon and refill the commercial container for cinnamon sugar in my cupboard.

At this point, if you'd like to sprinkle with an additional "goodie" such as raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips - go for it! : )

Now, you have two choices. You can either roll up into a log and cut into rolls - the traditional way. That will make mall-sized large Cinnamon Rolls. OR you can cut crosswise once with a pizza cutter, and cut into smaller strips and roll them up individually. That's the way I like to do it. It's really quick and is a little easier to control. Roll them from the center seam to the outside, uncovered edges. Then set them up on edge in the pan - with a little space between them so they can rise.

Place each roll into the oiled (or lined) cake pan (or cupcake pan, if you prefer)

Allow to rise on the counter for 2 hours (no need to cover - this is a very moist dough naturally).

OR cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise overnight in fridge.

The next day, remove from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. You will see that they have risen significantly in the fridge:

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes, or till golden brown.

They will rise a wee bit more in the oven.

Before serving, top with a glaze. (Note: If you're not going to eat these right away, they may be frozen without glaze. Keep the glaze in the fridge to add at serving time. To re-heat, Microwave till warm, then toast lightly in toaster oven or regular oven. Glaze after re-heating. Of course, EVERYONE eats their Cinnamon Rolls right away! But if you make a double batch, there is a chance you might freeze some before everyone gets to them ; )

Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze & Pecans
Cinnamon Rolls With Maple Glaze

Cinnamon Rolls With Vanilla Glaze

Here are two of my favorites:

Traditional Glaze:
Make in bowl with spoon
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
Mix in
1 Tablespoon Buttery Spread (Butter, margarine, Earth Balance - whatever)
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract (or other desired flavor, such as Almond or Lemon)
Add a few drops at a time, stirring well after each addition, to your desired texture
(You'll probably use less than a Tablespoon Total)
Non-Dairy or Dairy Milk of your choice

Oil Free Maple Glaze
1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Tablespoon Light Corn Syrup (such as Karo)
1 Tablespoon Non-Dairy or Dairy Milk of choice)
1/4 Teaspoon Maple Flavouring (other flavorings - such as Almond or Orange- may be substituted if desired)
Generous Dash of Salt
Additional Milk as needed:
Add a few drops at a time, stirring well after each addition, to your desired texture

Non-Dairy or Dairy Milk of your choice

Sprinkle with Nuts if desired.
Serve warm.

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