Monday, March 31, 2014

I can't believe this is Spring?

Had been feeling so optimistic this past weekend about the weather, the garden plans, got to some spring chores.  I was so excited I put up our new feeder. Isn't it pretty? Even made hummingbird syrup for the new feeders.  They are getting closer and thought they might even be here in a few days. Did you know you could track their migration, here.
And then...

This was the scene this morning. 
Seriously? Can you see the lines above that is how hard it was falling and still is.

If only it felt like this?

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Share the Day Saturday-Mushroom Barley Soup

40 Days-40 Days Lenten Recipes 

Today is a guest post from someone who is an awesome cook and a great friend. She shared here as one of last year's Lenten Guest posts. It was delish and has become a favorite around here, I look forward to trying this one too! Thanks for sharing sweets!

Friday, March 28, 2014

21 Favorite Ideas to Decorate Easter Eggs

40 Days-40 Lenten Recipes (and more)

So with Easter/Pascha approaching, a girl's thoughts turn to... the eggs of course.
It can't be recipes and food all the time.
I started thinking about all the gorgeous egg tutorials I've seen on Pinterest.
So I thought I'd share some of my favorites and some history I learned, along the way.
Enjoy and then let's get cracking!
Sorry couldn't resist.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chocolate Fig Tarts with Almond Date Crusts

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes

This has become my all-time favorite dessert. It's Lenten, Paleo (depending on ingredients) and Vegan. The flavors of this tart blend perfectly together, whether you want it sweeter with the fruit topping or a bit more savory with almond.  The filling is rich and almost decadent-just heavenly!

I think even in non-Lenten times, this is an awesome healthy sweet treat.  Which means it's a treat, don't think just because healthy ingredients are used you can exist on this and eat it everyday? 
It's called balance, people, balance!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Calamari and Capers

40 Days-40 Days Lenten Recipes

Calamari and Capers

This is a favorite dish, there are so many variations you can make of it. Adding not only the capers with a squeeze of lemon, but also something else, if you are feeling a bit more adventurous? Are you? Then add some spicy hot slices of jalapeno or hot peppers. In non-Lenten times, some fresh Parmesan sprinkled on top completes the dish.  This is a great dish as an appetizer, a side or as an entree if placed on a bed of rice or spring greens.

So how to make these.  You can buy them and just bake them, find them in your freezer in the fish market area of the grocery. Or if you have availability to the fresh calamari or frozen calamari, start with cleaning and slicing the rings. So the rule is when frying something breaded, you need wet to dry, or dry to wet.  Translation, dry your rings, dip them in a wet substance (if going vegan try coconut milk) and then into flour with bread crumbs. Then place in the fry pan with about an 1/2-1 inch of oil.

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Lent and being too busy?

I had the pleasure of hearing one of youth, a second grader answer a question this weekend during Church School that made every adult want to leap up and applaud. The question was, "what season are we in and what is it?"  The answer, "it's the 40 days of Lent and it's when Jesus was in the desert and was being tempted by the Devil. So we remember it by trying to stay away from stuff that tempts us." What a great kid!

Take time ( a minute or if you can even longer today) and a say a prayer, make the connection that counts.
It does make a difference!

Here's an easy prayer, not always to easy to say but powerful.

Jesus Christ, Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner.

I was introduced to this below over the weekend. It's very thought-provoking and I know not new but worth a revisit. Let me know what you think about it? Would love to hear from you.

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Satan called a worldwide convention.

In his opening address to his evil angels, he said,'We can't keep the Christians from going to church.'

'We cannot keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth.'
'We cannot even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to their churches; let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that relationship with Jesus Christ.'

'This is what I want you to do angels ...

Distract them from gaining hold of their Saviour and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!'

'How shall we do this?' shouted his angels.

'Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds,' he answered. 'Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow.'

'Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles. Keep thern from spending time with their children.'

'As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work!'

'Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. Keep the TV, VCR, CDs, and their PCs going constantly in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.'

'Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogues, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes.'

'Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines so the husbands will believe that external beauty is what is important, and they will become dissatisfied with their wives. Ha! That will fragment those families quickly!'

'Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week'.

'Do not let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and movies instead.'

'Keep them busy, busy, busy! And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions.'

'Go ahead, let thern be involved in soul winning; but crowd their lives with so rnany good causes they have no tirne to seek power frorn Jesus.'

'Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.'

It will work! It will work!

It was quite a convention. The evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busier and more rushed, going here and there.

I guess the question is has the devil been successful at his scherne? You be the judge!
Does 'busy' rnean: B-eing U-nder S-atan's Y-oke?
Author unknown

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lenten Spring Mantle Decor

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes (and Crafts)

Need to share and send a shout out to two of my favorite blogs!

First let me thank Christina for the sweet Lamb chatterboxes. I made a few of them and put them in a basket in our church narthex for the kids to take home as a family activity. They were snatched up pretty quickly and enjoyed!  If you haven't seen these, so adorable and a great way to open some sweet discussions with the little people.

Now I wish to thank Kristi from I Should Be Mopping the Floor for posting a free Printable.
 It is so pretty and exactly what I wanted for our Lenten Mantle. 
You can see it below. 

Instead of framing it, although it would look very nice this way, I decided to do something else.
I took the 8x10 and had it blown up to 12x16, it didn't cost much as I had a coupon etc... 
Anyway, once I brought it home, used the old modpodge then a little white paint to blend in the edges. The white paper it was on was significantly bluer than my canvas. Go figure?

When I initially put it up it looked lovely but I felt it was still missing something. I played around with the vases and other things on the mantle. Then, I figured out what was missing for me. So, I added the yellow flowers to match the wall color and bring in the daffodils. I tried to match Kristi's pretty flower design. What do you think?
Too much? or Good Match?

Kristi, I just LOVE it!

Here's the full mantle view.
I can't wait for the Forsythia to be in bloom, maybe should get daisies next?

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Share the Saturday-Plantains

Share the Day Saturday-Plantains
40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes

Elegant and sweet like its guest poster who happens to be another Presvytera and someone very special.
Pres. Marilou is also a blogger and has a brilliant view of the world, which she shares in a simple way that you don't even realize how deep she's going. She's deep trust me, join her some time, here.
The instructions are simple, slice the plantains lengthwise, saute/fry them with healthy oil of choice and sprinkle a little brown sugar and cinnamon over top and allow it to caramelize.  
Had some today just absolutely fantastic. Delicious!

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Lenten Meatball Submarine Sandwich-Sans the Meat

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes
Well, not everything I make is a success. 
Trust me... I have no pictures of the attempt of homemade fruit roll ups. EPIC FAIL!
But when it came to a Lenten Sub Sandwich it tasted pretty good. I haven't made my own Veggie burgers in a super long time. So decided on making a Beanballs. Yup you read it right, "BeanBalls."


2 cups cannellini beans
1 cup quinoa
1-2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup roasted sweet pepper
4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

tomato sauce
dash garlic powder
dash cinnamon

I blended the beans and roasted pepper in the food processor and then into a bowl to incorporate the quinoa and breadcrumbs. Then I formed them into balls and patties. 

I was going to bake them but decided to give my family the best chance of liking something different I would fry them. So with a tablespoon of olive oil I went to town.  I removed them and used the same pan to heat up the sauce, use the marinara of your choice.  I didn't make it from scratch. Some days there is no time or inclination.  I believe everyone just does the best they can, and that has to be good enough.  I like my store brand of tomato basil sauce, and using add a little more garlic powder and a dash of cinnamon. Once heated I added the beanballs back and we spooned them into our heated rolls. 

They tasted good and hearty.  The only problem I will warn you ahead of time. Don't put too many in the sandwich and don't eat too many, they are made primarily of beans afterall, if you get my drift?

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Broiled Scallops on a bed of Fresh Spring Greens

40 Days-40 Days Lenten Recipes

First day of Spring-weather started cold but was 56 degrees by end of the day. Allelulia, there is hope in sight! Keeping it simple today-will write more another time but it's been a rough week.  We lost one of our sweet cats this week, the end was bittersweet. We miss him.

Back to the recipes...

I know you come by to share the day to get some ideas for dinner. This one is simple and yummy and fast. A treat to make and enjoy.  Broiled Scallops on a bed of fresh spring mix greens with grape tomatos. I rinsed and thawed the scallops then placed them in a stoneware broiler pan, with a little vegan butter, paprika, squeeze from a lemon and dusting of garlic powder. Nothing to it. In less than 20 minutes they were done, I didn't keep track of the time...sorry, you really have to look at there color to tell. When they are no longer translucent, they are done. Added a yummy poppyseed dressing, but the Avocado Poppyseed dressing would taste good too!

Thanks for sharing the day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fruity Citrus Lenten Cake

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes

We have a potluck following Pre-Sanctified services on Wedsnensdays and I have promised to add a dessert each week to the table.  I love our Orange Lenten Koulourakia (shortbread cookie) but wanted to make a cake. Last year I offered this Chocolate Orange Cake, but I wanted something different. I found this recipe which served as the inspiration here.  I had to laugh as I was reading and sounding out my greek...very slowly.  Then I got a bit mixed up thinking κανελλα was cinnamon instead of vanilla.
Too funny.

Recipe after the jump...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thai-Inspired Spring Rolls

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes

Ok, admission here. 
I am not a fan of Chinese take-out. 
There I said it!
I don't love Chinese food.
I am a fan of Thai and Vietnamese, a BIG fan. 

It's the flavors that attract me, you can have something that's simple or with flavors that are much more complex, and sometimes really HOT! I remember a time, I took a family member out to my favorite Thai place and the challenge was on of who could handle the hottest dish.  We had tears rolling out of eyes not only from food but because we were laughing so hard. Good times.

These spring rolls are easy, flavorful and healthy for you.  They are not hot, but are so good they could be considered "hot." They are a "go- to" snack and admittedly can be filling enough to be dinner.  

Check out here, my rolling technique needs help, still tasty.
With these I was in a rush and overfilled them.

Rice paper makes a huge difference. Won ton wrappers and eggroll papers are too thick. It does make a difference.  Rice paper is thin and actually comes dried and is so thin it needs to be rehydrated. All you need to do, is fill a shallow dish with warm water and place the rice sheet in it for about 10-15 seconds. Carefully lift it out and start layering your veggies. You can use any combination you like and get creative.  


Rice paper
Bag of shredded broccoli coleslaw mix
Julienned carrots
Bean sprouts
Sliced julienned cucumbers
small pieces of fresh basil
Optional: small pieces of tofu or shrimp)
Peanut Sauce ( buy it  or this is a good recipe)

I rolled these tighter, you can see the difference.

These are fresh and light and yummy.
Not just Lenten yummy but anytime of the year.

What do you think?
What's your fave cuisine from the Far East?
Chinese, Thai, Korean or Vietnamese?
Am I missing something?

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Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Monday, March 17, 2014

St Patricks Day Green Smoothie

40 Days- 40 Days Lenten Recipes

Happy St Patricks Day
God grant you many years,
if you celebrate today.

So what makes it high protein? The kale, avocado and almond milk.
I have never had a food processor before and recently acquired one.
How did I ever do anything before?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New spin-Old game

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes (and Games!)

There are times when you have some waiting to do with the little people in your life and sometimes that waiting is hard to do.  Whether you are trying to cut down on screen time or just have something more interactive to do together, sometimes it's the old games that are the best!

I remember playing hangman with family and friends for hours growing up. It is a great game, involves executive functioning and language and some fun visual spatial skills. As a little game, it has it all.

The problem is hanging the man.  The origins of the game seem to point to Victorian times? All the same, not a visual wishing to perpetuate.  A friend of mine came up with this alternative at church camp this summer and I LOVE IT!

The alternative is ...ta, ta, taaaan!

Build a church.  

Here are some of the fun we had, sorry for the poor pictures, you get the idea.
Do you have any old games you have modified? 
Would love to hear about them, as always looking for something fun!

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Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Share the Day Saturday-Rainbow Quinoa

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes

A dear sweet friend, who is wise beyond her years is sharing this recipe with us today. It sounds yummy, and so colorful. I can't wait to make it! She is also known as Presvytera Eleni, there are a few of us. In her words, this is one of her favorites and is "hearty, healthy, Lenten meals - It has it all!"

We graciously thank her for sharing the Day!



1 c. quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth or water
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small, sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cups small-chopped kale
1/2 c. dried cranberries

For the dressing:

1/4 c. apple cider or balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed,
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. honey
freshly ground pepper

Bring water or broth to a boil then add quinoa and simmer for 12 minutes.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes then turn into a serving bowl.

Bring a pot of water to boil and simmer the sweet potatoes until tender but not mushy.  Remove from the water and add to quinoa.  IN THE SAME POT OF HOT WATER add the kale and simmer a few minutes.  Strain then add to quinoa with onion and cranberries.

Pics of the actual meal after the jump...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Candied Mandarin Peels-Less is More

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes

By now you must know I have a sweet tooth. This next recipe can help with that, especially when trying to cut down on sweets. I've lost 2.14% this past week and proud of it, so I want to keep it going.

These are sweet, tangy and satisfy the sweet tooth. 
I found they taste so yummy but because they are so flavorful, I can't eat too many.
And that is good! Less really is more sometimes.
Facing temptations and pulling away from them is part of Lent after all.
These will help you appreciate the goodness without overdoing it.

For how I did it, see after the jump.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lemongrass Basil Soup

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes 

Looking for something a bit more hearty for dinner?
Here is my version of Lemongrass soup with Basil.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Raspberry Lavender Almond Smoothie

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes 

Have a few raspberries, we bought some recently and they are so sweet!
If you haven't figured out from past posts some of my favorite flavors include lavender and almond.
I've been trying to eat and make recipes for my family that are cleaner, 
less processed and just plain healthier
This includes using almond and coconut milk more. 
Lent is a super time to operationalize some of the those thoughts and plans I've had.

I cannot tell you how good this tasted!

Mix in a blender
6-8 fresh raspberries
1 cup earl grey lavender tea
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp agave nectar

Blend and pour over ice.

Here's a link to all of last year's 40 Days Recipes
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Monday, March 10, 2014

Endive-an Entree or a side dish?

40 days - 40 Lenten Recipes

It's late but it's here.  Endive. In some places it's called Chicory. A leafy green vegetable that when you cook it becomes sweet and soft.  It has a pleasant taste and texture and all you need to do is squeeze the juice of one lemon and a little olive oil over it.  Absolutely delicious, served with a little bread and if you have a little feta cheese.  I'm hoping to grow it in the garden this summer. The planning has started.

Tip: When you are preparing the endive, wash it at least 3-4 times. I usually either use a large bowl or fill the sink and keep washing it. If you don't, you may feel the grit of the dirt. Not good.
Washed well, very good.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Icon Letter Craft

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes (and Crafts!)
Now for something a bit different, being that it is the Sunday of Orthodoxy. I had hoped in this 40 days series to not only have recipes, but also craft ideas. This is a special craft to us and one of our favorites.  
An Icon Letter!

This idea came to me while looking at all the wonderful family photo letters people have made on Pinterest. It popped into my head and I ran with it. We have made these for baptisms for some special little ones. But as I think about it, it would make a great craft for church school and retreats. It can be a wonderful way to learn about icons and each child's Saint. 

The process requires downloading pictures of your icons and printing them out. We used regular printer paper and it worked just fine. I made duplicates on my processing page and made them different sizes.  Then print them out, cut them out and go to town with the mod podge.  We do both sides and once it's all dry, glue a small hanger bracket to the back. It is a fun activity, where we spend some time together and have some nice talks about the Saints and Icons too! 

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Share the Day Saturday- Guest Post Spinach and Himbasha

40 Days- 40 Lenten Recipes 2014 Edition- Guest Post Spinach and Himbasha

Introducing today's guest post, so happy she came by to share the day.
Here is Gretchen from Gladsome Lights, pop over and share the day with her too, if you haven't already. She has beautiful photography complementing poetry, thoughts, recipes and I always love checking out what she's reading. Many of her have reads are now on my book list. Take note, she's actually sharing two recipes with us today, LOVE IT!

Amazing Lenten Spinach - and Himbasha

One batch made with frozen spinach

The main ingredient is spinach, but the other ingredients in this dish, which can be a vegetable side or a spread for bread or crackers, make it very unusual and in my case, addictive. I know, eating in an uncontrolled manner is the opposite of what Lent is about, but maybe overdoing it on spinach is not as bad as some things. And to reduce temptation, so far I have made sure to take this dish to potlucks where I would be embarrassed to hover over the plate and reveal my piggishness.

The origin of pkhali is the Republic of Georgia. Though I have a Georgian acquaintance at church, I found the recipe on The Traveler's Lunchbox blog, about a year ago. I've made it several times since then, at least twice using frozen chopped spinach, and most recently with fresh spinach.

The recipe, pasted from the link above:

More after the jump...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lavender Tahini Soup

40 Days-40 Days of Lenten Recipes 

This is a strict fast soup, where the nutty flavor of the tahini blends smoothly with the flavors of lavender and the bay leaf. Perfect accompaniment to the Sesame bread from earlier this week.


6 c water
1 tsp salt
1 c orzo
1 c carrots, julienned
1/4 c tahini
1 fresh lemon
1 tsp culinary lavender
1 bay leaf

Bring water and salt to a boil. Add orzo, carrots, lavender and bay leaf. When orzo is cooked, lower heat to simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk tahini while adding warm broth until smooth, temper in the lemon. Then mix into remainder. Add parsley or cilantro as a garnish. 

Second Option
If you double the tahini, temper in the broth mixture and lemon separately, using your blender, you can achieve a thicker cream-like texture to mix into the soup, similar to Greek Avgolemeno (Egg-Lemon) Soup.

Here's a link to last year's 40 Days Recipes

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

40 Days-40 Lenten Recipes 2014 Edition: Spiced Chai Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

So what do you do when you promised to bring something for the Potluck following Presanctified Services and you get home late? Well, I decided on more baking...

I loved the Earl Grey Cupcakes with Butter cream Frosting made for the Valentine's Brunch. Have yet to post about how that turned out...(great by the way.)  So I thought, let me make these similar, except without the eggs and milk and butter for the frosting. So what did I use?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

40 Days-40 Lenten Recipes 2014 Edition-Almond Apple Tart

Already needing something sweet? Fresh fruit not cutting it?
To be honest, I'm a baker at heart. What can I say?
I had to find a way to make a crust, and I did...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

40 Days-40 Lenten Recipes 2014 Edition: Hot and Sour Soup

8-10 Bella mushrooms, sliced
1-8 oz bamboo shoots, drained and sliced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
8 ox extra-firm tofu, cubed
4 tsp ground ginger
4 cups water
1/2 cube of vegetable bouillon
3 Tb soy sauce
1-2 Tb chili pepper flakes
2 Tb rice wine vinegar

Mix water, bouillon and garlic together and bring to a boil. Add remainder except tofu, stir and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving add tofu.

Note: There's no tofu in the above picture, it was good even without it. Sorry for all the steam rising from the hot soup, I had to take a picture was gone in a blink. 

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