Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

A friend asked if I could make Lenten brownies for him. I know a few years ago I made vegan brownies with bananas, but I cannot find the recipe anywhere! Looking over a few classic brownie recipes, though, I realized this is one of the easiest desserts to veganize, and these vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies were born 😀

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
I replaced the butter with peanut butter, and egg is replaced with banana. I was also able to cut down on refined sugar thanks to the natural sweetness of the bananas. For my friend, I kept them extra “healthy” (I mean, they’re still brownies) by using chopped dates in place of chocolate chips. I’ve tried this recipe with a gluten free flour mix and it worked just as well, although the brownies were a little fudgier – is that a bad thing?? Nope.

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
Bake until beautiful 🙂

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
I didn’t even get to try one whole brownie because they were promised to another, but…I cut off a piece to make a nice, even square. And it was wonderful.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
3/4 C natural peanut butter
8 squares unsweetened chocolate*
1 1/2 C sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flour
optional: chopped nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, etc

Preheat oven to 325.
In medium saucepan, heat peanut butter on low for approximately 5 minutes. Add chocolate and stir until completely melted. Add sugar and stir to incorporate. Add mashed bananas and vanilla, and stir until incorporated. Add 1 C flour, stir to incorporate. Removed from heat and fold in optional ingredients.

Pour batter into a greased 9×13″ baking dish. Bake at 325 for 25 to 30 minutes.

By the way, these are perfect for a strict fasting day since there’s no added oil!

*1/4 C vegan chocolate chips can be used in place of unsweetened chocolate squares. Since chocolate chips are sweetened, I’d recommend cutting the sugar to 1 1/4 C unless you eat like John Travolta in Michael.

Protein Noodles

Protein Noodles
Sooo….sometimes I get a little lazy. I wait until the last minute to make my lunch for work, and then I’m too tired to make a real meal. This is one of the simple, and uh, interesting dishes I came up with. It’s ready in 10 minutes, can have as few as 3 ingredients (totally up to you), and it’s packed with protein. It’s also dirt cheap!

Protein Noodles
1 C prepared & drained elbow macaroni (or noodle of choice)
1/2 C prepared minced TVP
Frank’s Redhot Sauce

Prepare noodles according to instructions. Prepare TVP according to instructions. Season TVP to taste with hot sauce, then combine noodles & TVP. Eat.

You can liven it up by using a broth to rehydrate the TVP, adding more seasonings or nutritional yeast, adding vegan cheese, or minced veggies. But, although it’s not very exciting, I really did like this as it was. Nice and simple! And it’s oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day.

Week of Greek: Tahini Soup (Tahinosoupa)

If you’ve been around here a while you know I adore tahini, so it’s no surprise I have worked it into the first course of our week-long Greek meal! Tahini Soup is a traditional Lenten recipe – fast, cheap, good for ya, no frills, and SO easy to whip up a huge batch for the whole family, or to share with neighbors and friends.

2015-7-13 Tahini Soup Tahinosoupa
There are many variations if you search online, but I chose to go with the great Tselementes on this one. In this very old cookbook, he writes that peanut butter may be used since it is so difficult to find tahini in stores. I’m glad that’s not the case anymore! In my local Middle Eastern market there must be at least half a dozen varieties of tahini to choose from.

Another fun thing about these old cookbooks I used, they measure things out in teacups!

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Any small pasta will do for this recipe, you could even break up spaghetti or angel hair pasta, and some recipes use rice. Just keep it simple.

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It looks very Lenten, doesn’t it? But don’t let the plain looks deceive you – this soup has a surprisingly wonderful flavor thanks to the nuttiness of the tahini. It was *almost* cheese-like.

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Mumra and I did add a bit of this beautiful, chunky pink salt and a touch of black pepper, but only because we are food snobs and wanted to fancy it up. Tahinosoupa is filling, nutritious (thanks to iron-rich tahini, which also provides a little calcium), and budget-friendly.

This gave me an idea. What if we ate Tahini Soup for dinner every day for one week, how much money would we save? We could take those few dollars and donate them to the IOCC, and the Jaharis Family Foundation will match our donation to help the people of Greece! To read more about what the IOCC is doing in Greece, CLICK HERE.

Tahini Soup
4 1/2 C water + more for sauce
salt to taste
2 C small pasta (I used occhio di pernice)
2 tsp tahini per serving

Boil water salted to taste. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until done, according to instructions. DO NOT DRAIN.
In each serving bowl, mix 2 tsp tahini with just enough additional water to reach a mayo-type consistency. Spoon pasta and its broth into each bowl, and stir to combine with tahini sauce.

Makes several large servings, or TONS of 1/2 C servings!

If you want the soup to be less ascetic, you may wish to add:
Nutritional yeast
Sliced green onion
A bit of turmeric to make it beautiful
Bulk it up with beans (another dirt cheap ingredient!)

Feel free to use gluten free pasta. Be sure to enjoy!!!

And check out our 2nd course: White Cabbage Salad (Lahanosalata)

Salted Date & Almond Butter Sandwich 

This is barely a recipe, but it’s my new favorite sandwich.

2015-6-22 Date Sandwich
You only need a few ingredients:

2 slices of your favorite bread
natural almond butter
4 – 10 pitted dates

I use sprouted Ezekiel bread, lightly toasted, and 1-ingredient almond butter from Costco. Spread the almond butter as thick as you want! I cut the pitted dates in half, so I only need 4 or 5 to cover the bread, but you could use them whole and squeeze in a few extra. Then sprinkle lightly with salt – pink Himalayan is my preference.

That’s it. And using natural almond butter & Ezekiel bread makes it oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day 😀

2015 Lenten Potluck #6: Earthy Mac n Lentils

Seems to me pasta with some kind of creamy, possibly cheesy, sauce is one of the best foods ever in the whole world. I guess that’s why I grabbed this weird gluten free, 100% lentil penne from Uddo’s Kitchen, I just couldn’t resist. But the first time I tried some, something really odd happened. The water thickened and turned milky. I started to think maybe the lentil-y water would make a good soup base, so I drained it into a jar and put it in the fridge. And when I looked at it the next day…

I saw it separated, and there was a sort of a lentil paste at the bottom of the jar.

Hey, what if I made my coconut milk cheese, but left out the tapioca/corn starch and the agar agar, and added in this lentil mush? Lentils have a very earthy flavor, so this isn’t gonna be like Kraft mac n cheese. That’s okay. We’ll expand our horizons.

So, I boiled the remaining pasta (two of the three bags, you get three bags when you buy a box from Costco). My pasta pan with the special lid for draining wasn’t really big enough for all the water called for in the directions, so I just used enough water to cover the pasta…that was sort of a mistake. Because although it cooked through just fine, I could. Not. Drain. The pasta. The water really thickened up this time. Oops.

I added a tablespoon of tahini and stirred. Then seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir. Careful not to mash the pasta, gluten free pasta seems to be more delicate than it’s gluton-full counterpart.

Add the earthy cheez sauce…

stir to coat.

This really made a lovely sauce. As you might imagine, there is a very strong lentil taste. This recipe is oil free, but on an oil day sauteed onions and garlic would be an excellent addition. Maybe even crispy fried onions, like the kind used to garnish mjuddara.

We had a smaller crowd today,

but those who came brought the good stuff!

I did very well today taking small portions – it only took six weeks to gain self control!
For the first round, I had a small bowl of Dr. Fuhrman’s Anti-Cancer Soup, a stuffed grape leaf, some delicious bread, a wonderful rice with veggies that was topped with slivered almonds, baba ghanouj, and a stuffed cabbage roll with tomatoes. Not pictured, I had a small bowl of minestrone that was packed with chickpeas and veggies and lots of black pepper, and a little square of wacky cake with walnuts and cranberries.

This is the last of our Wednesday evening Lenten potlucks, but we also have a tradition of throwing together a coffee hour after the Liturgy for Lazarus Saturday. Then for Palm Sunday (remember, we Orthodox are a week behind Western Easter this year) we’ll have a parish lunch and bring Lenten desserts to share.

Does your parish do anything special for Lazarus Saturday?

Recipe Recap
~2 C Lentil broth/paste from previously boiled & drained lentil penne
1 13oz can full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp salt
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
garlic powder to taste
onion powder to taste

24oz Uddo’s Kitchen red lentil penne
1 heaping Tbsp tahini
salt, pepper & garlic to taste

In a saucepan over low medium heat, combine coconut milk and lentil paste. Add remaining ingredients and whisk to incorporate. Allow sauce to boil lightly for a few minutes so it will thicken. If you do not plan to use the sauce right away, let it cook and store it in an air tight container, probably best to use within one to two days.

Boil penne according to instructions, but using just enough water to cover. When done, penne should be coated in the creamy, thickened boil water. Add tahini and stir to coat – you may need to add a little more water if it seems too thick. Season pasta with salt, pepper, and garlic to taste.

Add sauce. Stir gently to combine, careful not to mash the pasta.

Injera Chips – Oil Free

Well, what do you do in the middle of Lent when you have leftover injera bread from the Ethiopian takeout you got over the weekend? Usually I use it to make injera chips or cook it down into an injera porridge, but those require the use of oil. Or do they??

I made a basic tahini sauce – 2 heaping Tbsp tahini, a little lemon, salt, and garlic, and thinned with water until it was just thin enough to “paint” with it. Then I added berbere and a little turmeric and nutritional yeast (all but tahini is to taste).

Place the injera on a baking dish, hole-y side up, and brush, brush, brush with tahini sauce. Try to fill in as many of those little cute little holes as you can.

Bake at 275, until the injera is nice and crispy. Keep an eye on the edges – they may brown more rapidly. If that happens, I usually just quickly take the pan out and break off the browned areas, and pop the rest back in the oven.

This is a great way to spice up, and fatten up, and boring ol’ salad. Of course, the chips are also great on their own.

If you get injera made with 100% teff flour, these are also gluten free!

Vegan Veggie Quesadillas

Just wanted to quickly show off the quesadillas I made using my vegan coconut milk cheese & the oat mozzarella recipe I found on another blog. The oat mozzarella was moulded in a greased bowl and came out really shiny looking, like jello! But it works just fine, and looks a little cheezlier once you cut it 🙂

So, the oat mozzarella is pretty soft. You can cut it if you’re careful, and it spreads very easily.

I added a little Frank’s Redhot Sauce, and a TON of onion.

Spread some avocado on the other tortilla, and you really don’t need anything else.

I heated these for a few minutes on each side, in a dry pan over low medium heat.

Both the oat mozzarella and the coconut milk cheese got nice and melty. I ate them on their own, but they’d be great with a bean dip and cashew cream!

Oh yeah, and they’re oil free, perfect for a strict fasting day. Aaaaand in these corn tortillas, they’re gluten free!

Oat Mozzarella

2015-3-11 Vegan Oat Mozzarella
So Monday, along with a cheddar-ish coconut milk cheese, I made up a batch of this oatmeal cheese from Big Raw Blog. I have to admit I made some substitutions, and the flavor was a little too light for my tastes. I replaced the tahini with coconut milk because I happened to have it on hand, and I used less nutritional yeast because I happen to be running out. And then what happened? I ended up using it for the dish I’m bringing to the potluck tonight, and I had to add tahini and nutritional yeast back in!

You can slice and spread this cheese, but it doesn’t melt too well and certainly can’t be grated. The best thing about it is the simple ingredients, though, and it’s really just a basic recipe waiting for you to spice it up and turn into somethin’ special. I’m probably going to be messing with this recipe all week.

And tomorrow I’ll show you how I used it in my potluck dish. I actually managed to get everything prepped last night (or this morning, 3am, whatever) so all I have to do today is pop it in…in…in that dreadful commercial convection oven! But I’ll cover it this time, and turn the temp down. I think it’s going to be fine. I hope.

P.S. As is, this recipe is oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day!

Koyo Ramen

A few years ago we always kept a stash of Nissin Top Ramen in the office, we’d buy boxes of it when it went on sale 5 for $1. Oriental or Chili Lime. I remember feeling not quite full after eating one package, so I started making three packages at a time for two of us to split. And then…I noticed in the nutrition facts that one package is counted as two servings. So that’s a total of 540 salty, delicious, empty calories in 1 1/2 packages.

2015-3-10 Koyo Ramen
Last week at the health food store, I found Koyo brand ramen. “No Additives. No Fillers. Just Real Ingredients.” Sounds like they took out all the good stuff, and charged three times as much! Could this actually taste good?
(By the way, 99 cents is a sale price – they’re $1.39ea on the Koyo website!)

2015-3-10 Koyo Ramen2
The first thing I noticed is the lesser amount of noodles, and the fact one package is actually one serving size. It is a bit higher in calories per serving, although it doesn’t contain any oil like Top Ramen does (perfect for a strict fasting day!).

2015-3-10 Koyo Ramen3
I don’t like my ramen with a ton of broth, I like a concentrated salty seasoning on my noodles that isn’t too watered down. Since I’m using the microwave at work, I heated plain water in the bowl and then nuked the noodles for about a minute. Then I drained all but maybe half a cup of water and added the seasoning. Stir it up and let it sit a minute.

2015-3-10 Koyo Ramen4
The noodles – made only of “organic heirloom wheat flour, sea salt” – are definitely lighter, and at first I freaked out because I thought I accidentally bought the low sodium version. Where is all the sweet salty goodness?? My taste buds adjusted by the end of the bowl, though, and I enjoyed the mild flavor. I didn’t quite feel full, but I wasn’t exactly hungry…I ate a couple dates. I felt fine.

I don’t think I’d cough up $1.39 for these, but if I’m near the health food store again before the sale ends, I’ll probably stock up. I think 99 cents for a Lenten lunch is pretty fair.

Do you ever try to find healthier versions of your favorite naughty foods? Do the healthier versions cut it??

2015 Lenten Potluck #2: Mock Tuna Salad with Avocado Mayo

I was very bad Tuesday night and neglected to make my potluck dish ahead. That meant all day Wednesday I was trying to plan what to make, and how I’d make it in the very tiny window of time from the time I leave work to the time I get back to the church. I have a mere two hours, and I also needed to stop at the store! Luckily I already had a plan to use up two more avocados, so I just had to figure out what I wanted to cover in Avocado Mayo, a recipe I found at Girl Makes Food.

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Avocado Mayo
I decided to do yet another version of mock tuna using chickpeas, and I even had a little bag of dried seaweed flakes from my last haul at the Asian market.

2015-3-5 Avocado Mayo
For the mayo:
Use a fork to mash two avocados until creamy and smooth. Stir in 2 Tbsp white vinegar, juice of half a lemon, 1/8 tsp onion powder & 1/8 tsp garlic powder. Salt to taste.

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Vegan
For the mock tuna:
I lightly mashed four cans of chickpeas. Of course I bought the cheapest chickpeas I could find, and they turned out to be pretty firm and didn’t mash as well as I would’ve liked. Better to go with chickpeas that are a little more tender if you can. After mashing them, season with salt and pepper (and if you like egg taste in your tuna salad, add gray salt for the sulfur taste).

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Vegan2
Now, depending on how fishy you want the salad, add 1/4 C to 1/2 C seaweed flakes.

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Vegan3
I did 1/4 C. It looked like a lot, but next time I’m upping it!

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Vegan4
Add avocado mayo and stir to coat.

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Add two cans of peas, drained – you can reserve a little liquid in case you want to thin down the mayo in the salad. Turn the salad very gently to incorporate the peas, you want to avoid crushing them.

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I found an antique bowl that matched the salad beautifully, it belonged to my grandmother 🙂

If I were making a smaller batch of the salad just for myself, I’d use two cans of chickpeas, one can of peas, but the same amount of mayo. I’d get it good and salty, probably use 1/4 C of seaweed flakes again (since I’d have a smaller portion of chickpeas to season), and let the salad sit over night. It should keep from browning if you cover it in plastic wrap with the plastic touching the salad. Although if it’s just for me, I don’t care if it browns a little. Just stir it up and it’s fine. On its own, the salad is both oil free & perfect for a strict fasting day, and also gluten free. Serve with pita bread for those who are gluten full.


2015-3-5 Lenten Potluck
We had way more people than usual at Presanctified Liturgy, and way more food than usual at the potluck.

2015-3-5 Lenten Potluck2
This is just the main table with the savory food, we had another counter filled with sweet stuff.

2015-3-5 Lenten Potluck3
Mjuddara with hummus and salad is a classic Lenten meal, is it not? We also had Sloppy Joe’s made with TVP and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, and guess what? The little buns were made using my Tasty Buns recipe! They turned out beautifully, I think they were better than mine! I also tried the pumpkin bread, and a lovely bowl of magenta-colored soup (is there any vegetable more beautiful than the beet?).

I know some of you are also enjoying Lenten potlucks in your own parishes. What are you cooking?