Classic Magic Bars

Happy Friday!! I promised you a recipe for Magic Bars, and a vegan Magic Bars recipe you shall have.

Magic Bars, My Grandmother's Recipe | Orthodox and Vegan
This is Tete’s recipe card, I use a combination of this and the original Eagle Brand recipe. All we need to do is swap out a couple ingredients. For the sweetened condensed milk, you can use any non-dairy version. I bought Nature’s Charm Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk, but you could also make your own. Here’s another option with soy milk.

Sadly, I recently discovered Ghirardelli started putting milk in their semisweet chocolate chips, but don’t worry – Trader Joe’s has vegan chocolate chips for $2!

Tete makes Magic Bars with a corn flake crust, but since I didn’t have any on hand I went with the traditional graham cracker crust.
(Honey is a perfectly Lenten ingredient, but to make these vegan you’ll want a honey-free graham cracker such as Nabisco’s Original flavor)

What I Ate Wednesday: Magic Bars | Orthodox and Vegan
Magic Bars
1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs (8-9 squares)
1/2 C margarine, melted
1 C chopped walnuts
1 1/2 C chocolate chips*
1 1/2 C flaked coconut*
1 1/3 C non-dairy sweetened condensed milk (or as close as your can is to that amount!)

Preheat oven to 350.
Pour into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over margarine. Add chopped walnuts evenly over graham cracker crumbs. Next, add an even layer of chocolate chips, and top evenly with flaked coconut. Now drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over on top. EVENLY.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and beautiful. Allow to cool at least 20 minutes before cutting (I like to let mine cool completely).

*Optional: After pouring on the sweetened condensed milk, you may wish to lightly sprinkle on additional chocolate chips covered with more flaked coconut. Whether you wish to reserve some chocolate chips & coconut for this purpose or simply use more is up to you.

What I Ate Wednesday: Thanksgiving, Magic Bars!!

We’ve somehow made it through the first two days of the week, and that means it’s time for another What I Ate Wednesday! Are you ready??? This week we get to take a look at my Thanksgiving dinner, and my special dessert…something magical.

What I Ate Wednesday: Thanksgiving Meal | Orthodox and Vegan
My awesome Thanksgiving dinner! Starting from the top, going clockwise:
1. Brussels Sprouts in Balsamic Reduction with Cream Sauce
2. Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Roast (it comes stuffed)
3. Mashed Potatoes with the gravy that came with the TJ roast
4. Homemade Mushroom Stuffing
5. Stuffed Squash En Croute (experimental recipe)
6. Sweet Potatoes
7. Crescent Roll
8. Classic Green Bean Casserole (veganized, of course)

We also had Syrian salad and kalamata olives, but I couldn’t fit them on my plate.

What I Ate Wednesday: Magic Bars | Orthodox and Vegan
For dessert I made something extra special, something I hadn’t had since going vegan about 18 years ago. MAGIC BARS. One of the main ingredients is sweetened condensed milk. It’s definitely something you can make from scratch at home, but I guess I’ve always been too lazy to try. I found condensed coconut milk at Food Fight the last time I was in Portland, but it was more than $5. Then not too long ago I found it at Meijer for about $3, and I broke down and bought it. It’s basically coconut syrup, and it’s so delicious I ate some with a spoon.

Anyway. I borrowed Tete’s recipe (although I used the traditional graham cracker crust because I didn’t have corn flakes, which is what she prefers) and these were super easy to whip up. Recipe coming soon. I had multiple requests to make them again, and I bet you’ll love them, too!

What I Ate Wednesday: Sunday Dinner | Orthodox and Vegan
I didn’t take many other pictures this week because I was mostly eating leftovers (still finishing off those sweet potatoes!), including some leftovers I brought for our Sunday dinner. So, here you can finally see the Syrian salad with kalamata olives (I love wilted salata, but this is a fresh one 🙂 ), and new additions also included roasted red skin potatoes, pan-fried asparagus with lemon, and garlic bread.

What are you guys eating today???

Exploding Canned Dough

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I will be virtually sharing my meal with you on What I Ate Wednesday. Until then, I thought I’d hold you over with a fascinating story about Exploding Canned Dough. That’s right – a boring old weekend with the family wasn’t enough. I had to blow things up. Below is the email I sent to Meijer to warn them about their potentially life threatening Limited Edition Jumbo Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. I will update if I get an interesting response.

Please Note: This isn’t a real complaint, we might have left them at room temperature for too long. But I really did send the email to Meijer.

To Whom it May Concern,

I regret that I didn’t keep the packaging for the bar code, but I wanted to let someone know a can of Meijer cinnamon pumpkin rolls that were purchased from your Gainsville location on Sunday, November 27, basically exploded in my face today as I opened it. I was peeling off the label, as instructed, and when I had it about half way off, the can burst open with such force that the cinnamon rolls were mangled and I had bits of dough and cinnamon sugar all over my face. I’ve never seen anything like it. The little cardboard piece that held the icing was dented and the metal piece bent by the force (I took a few pictures if you’d like to see).

The cinnamon globs were still delicious, but you scared the heck out of me and my family, and my left eye was a little gritty for a while because of the cinnamon and sugar that got in it. You just reinforced my decades-long phobia of canned dough products.

On the other hand, bravo for finally coming up with packaging that doesn’t require you to whack it with all your might. You just might want to sell it with protective goggles.

Meijer Cinnamon Pumpkin Rolls: Exploding Canned Dough

The cinnamon is supposed to be on the inside.

Although slightly traumatized, we did eat the entire dish of pumpkin-spiced globs, but I’m honestly not sure if I’m willing to risk my sight and sanity opening another can. Wait. Yes I am, these are super addicting.

Has anyone had a similar experience?

What I Ate Wednesday: Fast Days and Feast Days

We made it halfway through the week, and it’s time for another What I Ate Wednesday! Sometimes when I look over the pictures from the past week, I can really tell when I was in a hurry to throw something together. The past few days I ate a lot of things that it didn’t even seem worthwhile to take a picture of. I also ate something so weird, I had to take a picture 🙂 And then there was my special meal for a Feast Day celebration.

What I Ate Wednesday: ALT (Avocado Lettuce Tomato) Sandwich | Orthodox and Vegan
I did get off to a good start with pea soup and an ALT (Avocado, Lettuce and Tomato) Sandwich – if you’re eating oil, you could also add your favorite vegan mayo. I made the pea soup using Bob’s Red Mill green pea flour, and added tahini to make it creamy.

What I Ate Wednesday: Double Qrunch Burger Sandwich | Orthodox and Vegan
Another sandwich, but this time I simply prepared two Qrunch Burgers (you cook them in the toaster). They are covered in ketchup, with a little squirt of Just Mayo.

What I Ate Wednesday: Pickle Wrap | Orthodox and Vegan
And this is where I got desperate. I was in a rush to eat something Saturday afternoon, and didn’t have time to slice veggies. Instead I wrapped a pickle in a tortilla! To the left of the pickle is a big squirt of Just Mayo covered in hulled hemp hearts, topped with ketchup and crushed up tortilla chips. It was actually pretty good!

What I Ate Wednesday: Stella's Lounge in Grand Rapids | Orthodox and Vegan
But do you know what’s even better than a pickle in a tortilla? Brunch at Stella’s Lounge! Our parish transferred the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos to Sunday, so after Liturgy my friend and I headed to Stella’s for a special meal. What you see here is Ride the Lightning Salad, Chronic Fries, Onion Rings, French Toast Sandwich filled with Tofu Veggie Scramble with Old Grand Dad Maple Syrup, and a side of Poor Man’s Potato Wing Hash. Oh, and a celebratory Espresso Old Fashioned 🙂

What I Ate Wednesday: Curry Leaf Indian Cuisine | Orthodox and Vegan
Today I finally tried the Indian restaurant that opened near my house quite a few months ago, Curry Leaf. A lot of Indian food contains cream or ghee, but not all of it. I went for the lunch buffet, and the host showed us which items were vegan. Indian food is great because:
A. It tastes good
B. Lots of legumes = protein and
C. It tastes really, really wonderful.
And nearly everything shown here is gluten free, except probably the pancake thing.

What I Ate Wednesday: Coco Jazz Thai Coconut Snack | Orthodox and Vegan
Lastly, I stopped at my favorite Asian market to pickup some jackfruit and decided to take a look at the clearance racks – I love getting a good deal! I found this chili flavored toasted coconut snack from Thailand, Coco Jazz, for only 50 cents. These little bags (one to two servings each) would be great to keep around the house or office for when you need a little extra something.

What’s the weirdest thing you ever ate in a pinch? Let us know in the comments!

Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple

Entry of the Theotokos icon
On the 21st of November in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple.

Kontakion of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple,
Fourth Mode

“Thou Who wast raised up”
The sacred treasury of God’s holy glory
The greatly precious bridal chamber and virgin
The Savior’s most pure temple, free of stain and undefiled
Into the House of the Lord, on this day is brought forward
And bringeth with herself the grace
Of the most Divine Spirit
Her do God’s angels hymn with songs of praise
For she is truly the heavenly tabernacle

Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes & Ideas

Vegan Thanksgiving - Inflatable Turkey | Orthodox and Vegan
Well, I know I said I’d share some Thanksgiving recipes, but it turns out I wasn’t able to do a test run of my meal. However, I put together a Google Drive folder of recipes and ideas for a friend, and I figured it would be just easy to share that with you. Check out my Vegan Thanksgiving file, and feel free to share your tried and true recipes for everyone else to use (if you pass them on to me, I’ll add them to the file).

So far I’ve got:
-Classic Green Bean Casserole
-Maple Glazed Carrots
-Scalloped Potatoes
-Dressing/Stuffing
-Sweet Potatoes

And links to recipes for:
Scalloped Pineapple Bread Pudding (okay, that one is mine from long ago)
-Cranberry Port Sauce
-Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato & Apple
-Roasted Beets with Pistachios, Herbs, and Orange
-Rosemary Potato Focaccia Rolls
-Simple Dinner Rolls
-Roasted Delicata Squash with Quinoa Salad
-Seitan Turkey
-Gluten Free Chickpea Cutlets with Mushroom Gravy
-Three Versions of Pumpkin (relatively healthy, gluten free, more traditional but vegan)
-Caramel Apple Cheesecake

See anything missing?? Let me know and I’ll do some digging for a recipe for you 🙂

What I Ate Wednesday: Basically, Beans.

Whoa, it’s Wednesday again already, and the second day of the Nativity Fast! If you’re in need of more fasting food ideas, check out my What Do Vegans Eat page. Today we’re talkin’ about beans. Two simple ways to use them. Plus….everyone’s favorite, PIZZA.

What I Ate Wednesday: Walnut & Bean Tacos | Orthodox and Vegan
Let us begin with tacos. Beans in tacos probably doesn’t sound very impressive, but consider a small amount of beans (about 1/4 C) was blended with 1 C of soaked & drained walnuts, seasoned with cumin, chili powder, a clove of garlic, salt, and pepper to make a nice taco “meat”. You can do this without the beans, but the beans hold everything together and make it easier to eat without making a mess.
The tacos are also stuffed with a yummy salad of romaine, green onions, avocado, and lime juice with a touch of salt.

What I Ate Wednesday: Domino's Pizza | Orthodox and Vegan
I’m not sure if I ever had Domino’s Pizza before going vegan, but definitely not since (and it’s been a while). They’re a little skimpy with toppings – most chains are – but it was pretty good for what it is. Only the thin crust is vegan, and I had to eat an entire 10″ pizza to feel satisfied. You’ll want to order the regular sauce, and you might also want to add a Dipping Cup or two – the garlic sauce, BBQ sauce, and hot buffalo sauce flavors are vegan.

What I Ate Wednesday: Chili Pasta | Orthodox and Vegan
We had a can of Bush’s Chili Starter in the cupboard. On an oil day, I sauteed onions and green peppers, then added a can of drained diced tomatoes and some soy crumbles, seasoned everything with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and chili powder, and then added the chili starter. After simmering a few minutes, I added angel hair pasta to the pan, poured in the reserved liquid from the tomatoes and a bit of extra water, covered the pan and let the pasta soak up all the flavors.

On an oil free day, I just boiled the angel hair pasta as usual. After draining, I mixed the pasta with Newman’s Own Black Bean & Corn Salsa – it’s my favorite salsa!

What’s your favorite way to prepare beans on oil free days? Comment below!

Nativity Fast 2016 Begins Tuesday, November 15 (Tomorrow!)

Orthodox Icon of the Nativity of Christ | Orthodox and Vegan
Hey guys! In case you missed it earlier, my Nativity Fast page is active again with fasting guidelines and meal ideas. I’ll have it up all throughout the fast in case you need to reference it. I also wanted to share a few links for Lenten staples, some are my own recipes and others I found for you on other vegan websites. Check these out:

Oat Milk Use on cold cereals for breakfast
Coconut Milk Cheese Use for sandwiches, quesadillas, or melt it down for a cheesy sauce (I’ve found great prices on coconut milk and agar powder at Asian markets)
Veggie Lunch Meat For school lunches, or a great addition to hummus wraps
Crusty Bread Great with soup – or for a special treat, spread with peanut butter when the bread is fresh from the oven
Banana Chocolate Ice Cream

There’s always my guide to Ordering Vegan at Taco Bell if you’re in a pinch 🙂

Potatoes!
I also recommend buying a giant bag of potatoes and baking a dozen or so at a time. Keep the potatoes in the fridge so they’re ready when you need something quick. You can nuke them in the microwave, and they’ll be great topped with a tahini sauce (or margarine/olive oil on an oil day).

Chia Pudding!
You can also make an interesting treat with chia seeds. If you make the sweetened version of the oat milk with vanilla, combine 1 1/4 C oat milk with 1/4 chia seeds and let it set in the fridge for 30 minutes. Stir again and let sit another 1 1/2 hours and you will have a delicious pudding. Make it banana flavored simply by adding some mashed banana.

Of course I’ll be sharing recipes with you during the next few weeks, and doing my regular What I Ate Wednesday posts. If you want to take a look at past WIAW posts, be sure to check out What Vegans Eat.

And as always, post any comments or questions and I’ll do my best to help!

Happy Fasting!!!!

What I Ate Wednesday: Homemade Veggie Burgers

Time for another edition of What I Ate Wednesday! Sorry it’s late, I was distracted last night watching a little map of the US turning blue and red.

Just want to point out the Nativity Fast begins next Tuesday, November 15. The Nativity Fast page is up now, and I’ll be sharing more actual recipes along with WIAW posts, including a new veggie burger recipe!

What I Ate Wednesday: Vegan Quesadillas | Orthodox and Vegan
I know I already posted tahini quesadillas recently, but…these are with my Tahini Nacho Cheez sauce instead of just plain tahini 🙂 And a nice big side of guac.

What I Ate Wednesday: One Pot Pasta | Orthodox and Vegan
If you hate doing dishes, a one pot meal is the way to go. Did you know you can actually cook pasta right in the sauce? Heat the sauce, add pasta, add enough water to cover and then bring it to a low boil. When it’s done, it’s DONE. You could even eat it right out of the pan if no one is looking.

What I Ate Wednesday: Dagwood Sandwich | Orthodox and Vegan
This giant sandwich contains two veggie burger patties made with a combination of soy crumbles and vital wheat gluten (seitan). My dad thought the crumbles would work like ground beef to make hamburger patties, but sadly they do not. I processed them with the VWG, sauteed onions, kidney beans, and seasonings and it worked perfectly. Well, almost perfectly – they were a little soft, but they’ve inspired me to do a seitan burger recipe!

What I Ate Wednesday: Big Salad | Orthodox and Vegan
Sometimes I even eat salad. Just throw in whatever vegetables you have, make it big, and add some nuts or seeds for protein so you won’t be hungry 5 minutes later. Fat is good, too, as long as you don’t go crazy. Lemon juice and olive oil with a little salt is my favorite way to dress a salad on oil days, and tahini sauce on oil-free days.

What I Ate Wednesday: Garlic Butter Crescent Rolls | Orthodox and Vegan
I was very bad last night while I stared at the map. I bought canned crescent rolls, filled them with hemp seeds, and brushed them with garlic dipping sauce from Papa John’s. It’s extra wonderful if you put a few drops of the garlic sauce in the filling, too. Then I made popcorn…with the garlic sauce. And I ate 1/4 of my St. Demetrios Cake.

If you have any requests for the Nativity Fast, post them below!!

St. Demetrios Cake

Myrrh Streaming Relics of St. Demetrios of Thessaloniki
The holy, glorious and right-victorious Great-Martyr Demetrios of Thessaloniki, whose memory we commemorate on October 26, is one of the most popular Orthodox saints, and a myrrh-streamer. He is special to me because I venerated his relics in Agios Demetrios Church in Thessaloniki, and later was gifted with some of the sweet-smelling myrrh that streams from those relics. I keep the myrrh in a little pouch in my purse – which, by the way, makes everything in my purse smell wonderful – in case an emergency anointing is ever necessary. You just never know.

St. Demetrios Cake | Orthodox and Vegan
Well, since we have Phanouropita for St. Phanourios, I thought it would be nice to have a special cake for St. Demetrios. I’m not sure if it’s proper to call it a Demetriopita, so we’ll just called it St. Demetrius Cake 🙂 I created this recipe for the Feast Day of St. Demetrios, but like Phanouropita, I think it would be nice to make any time of year when you’re asking for special intercessions from St. Demetrios, or when there’s been a miracle through his prayers or through anointing with his myrrh oil.

I’ve adapted a recipe for olive oil cake since St. Demetrios is a myrrh streamer. The blueberries I like because, besides tasting wonderful, St. Demetrios is a Great Martyr and the purple color reminds me of the line from the apolytikion for All Saints, “Adorned with the blood of Thy Martyrs throughout all the world as in purple and fine linen. . .” The cinnamon is very faint, just enough to give this simple Lenten cake a little warmth and depth. Feel free to double the amount if you really love cinnamon.

A couple notes about the St. Demetrios cake:
-Since blueberries are out of season here this time of year (and also because…purple swirls), I’ve been using frozen. I let them thaw first, which means there is a lot of extra liquid. Because of this, I cut down by 1/4 C the amount of liquid in the original recipe. If you’re using fresh blueberries, you may need to add a bit more liquid; however, excess liquid will result in a weirdly dense cake with an unpleasant texture.

-It matters what kind of olive oil you use. In the end, I went with an extra light olive oil that is specifically for baking (just check the label) because not everyone wants to taste olives in their dessert. I originally started out using my finest unfiltered organic olive oil. I actually liked the unusual flavor, but my taste-tester thought it was too overwhelming. Feel free to experiment.

St. Demetrios Cake | Orthodox and Vegan

My sad attempt at decorating the cake with a delta for Demetrios

St. Demetrios Cake
2 C flour
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 C unsweetened almond milk
1/2 C light olive oil, for baking
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 C blueberries*

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8″ square pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine first six ingredients. Make a well in the center, and add wet ingredients. Mix just until combined, then gently fold in blueberries with a spoon or rubber spatula.
Pour batter into greased pan and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

*Tossing blueberries in flour helps to keep them from falling to the bottom of the cake. You may wish to set aside 1/4 C of the combined dry ingredients to toss the blueberries in before folding them into the batter.
Also, you can double the blueberries but will probably end up with a stickier cake.

Just like with Phanouropita, you can certainly adapt this recipe to suit your taste – after all, it is your own special offering to St. Demetrios! For example, although the cake is delicious on its own, you may want to dress it up by dusting it with confectioners sugar, or drizzling it with vanilla icing.

Apolytikion of St. Demetrios, Third Mode
A great champion hath the whole world
Found thee to be when in grave perils
For thou dost put to flight the heathen, O victorious one
As thou didst humble Lyaeus’s arrogance
And gavest boldness to Nestor in the stadium
Thus, O Holy Great-Martyr Demetrios,
Do thou entreat Christ God that we be granted great mercy.