Monday, September 30, 2013

Crock Pot Sunday! Italian Beef.

 Tonight's Crock Pot Sunday is a delicious Italian Beef sandwich. 

The original recipe called for a 3-4lb. lean rump roast but a 2.5lb. roast cost me $11, so stopped there and edited the recipe. 

I started with a mixture of 2T chopped garlic, 2t salt, 2T Parmesan Cheese. 

Cut slits in top of roast and fill with a teaspoon of the mixture.  I cut 5 slits. 

I had to use my thumb to press it in the slit.  If you have a garlic clove, you can just put a garlic clove in the slit with salt and cheese, but I buy my garlic chopped and in a jar most of the time. 

Pour 12oz of beef broth over the meat.  Since I had less meat, I used 8oz of broth.

Sprinkle with 1t oregano.  Ok, I'll be honest, I didn't measure the oregano because you can never have too much oregano.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.  The recipe called for 10-12 hours for the 3-4lb. roast, but with the smaller roast I thought 8 hours would be good.  Looks like 8 hours was too much.  That's why this recipe is so great!  As overcooked as it was, it was full of flavor and tender when shredded.

Remove meat and shred (or slice) and serve on a bun with au juice. 

Although there wasn't a ketchup test... This is another keeper! The boy already ate too much at the picnic that day and was saving room for ice cream.  I can say it was hard to save some for leftovers... I had to edit my Meal Planner for tonight's dinner. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Meal Planner- 2 weeks out!

This week, I went ahead and tried to plan out 2 weeks ahead. 

Sunday- Crock Pot Sunday- Polish Sauerkraut Dinner, Salad and Bread

Monday- Left Overs

Tuesday- Baked Chicken Pieces, Corn and Rice

WednesdayLarge Lima Bean Casserole and Greek (Burnt Butter) Spaghetti

Thursday-Chicken Bog with leftovers

Friday- Pizza

Saturday- Souvlaki, leftovers, Cut Veggies

Sunday- Crock Pot Sunday- Italian Beef, French Fries and Salad

Monday- Left Overs

Tuesday- Hamburgers, Cucumber Salad,

Wednesday- Rice on the Side of Fried Zucchini, Steamed Broccoli and Cut Veggies

Thursday-Baked Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and spinach

Friday- Tuna Like Lamb and Potatoes

Saturday- Out for Dinner

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Today's JAR (just a reminder) Those Who Seek The Lord Shall Never Lack Any Good Thing.

We were created to be in communion with God.  This is why we feel an insatiable spot in our hearts that can only be filled by Him.   Most of us don't understand this feeling or have become numb to it.  As a result, we try to satisfy the vacancy with things.  But they only distract us for a while.  The emptiness is still there. You will never be able to fill it except with God. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Today's JAR- just a reminder- Lists are Great Spiritual Tools.

Are you a List Maker?  Do you need to write things down so you'll remember?  I do.  I have a list of groceries to buy, meals to make, ideas and deep thoughts to write about... people to call, bills to pay and things to do next while I am online before I get lost in an article or on facebook.  I am definitely a list maker.  It's mostly because I am a Forgetter.  I forget names, good ideas, things I've done and people who are mad at me.  Eventually, I even forget people I didn’t get along with and I don’t hold grudges.  

Being a forgetter can be a good thing... but when it comes to spiritual growth it can really be a downer.  Like when I forget how great it feels to fast for Lent, and then when it’s time to fast again, I complain about it. Or when I find comfort reading Bible passages, but I never stop to read the Bible on a regular basis.  Or, when I pray for things I want in the moment forgetting about the Big Picture- God’s perfect perspective.  That’s when I find myself praying without discernment: Lord, please bless me with a well paying job.  Lord, please bless me with lots of children to love and care for.  Lord, please find a husband who is kind and loving and always home for dinner… but be sure he has a job that makes enough money that I can have everything I desire, including long vacations. 

I used to pray for opposite things all the time, mostly because I wanted it all.  I wanted everything without the consequences.

On the other hand, I also realized that I would say I wanted something, but after I really thought about it, it wasn’t what I truly wanted... it wasn’t what my heart truly desired.

So one day, at the suggestion of a friend, I started writing down what I was going to pray for.  Not just a list of names of who to pray for, but a list of what I wanted, hoped for, for myself and my friends and family.  I prayed from this list each night.  And you know what I found… There were things on my list I truly wanted and things that weren’t going to be good for me.  There were prayers that weren’t answered and that was okay, because I knew I tried, so the answer must have been “No.”  It was a good lesson of discernment.  But the best part was the there were things I was crossing off my list to write a little “thank you” in the margin, lots of things!  Things I thought were pretty much impossible, were happening.  

And then the darndest thing happened.  I stopped writing my list.  I was afraid to ask for things because I might actually get what I asked for.  And that scared me.  I thought I was being selfish.  

Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense.

But I am over that now.  I got back to writing my lists again.  Today, I have a little notebook on my icon shelf, a tiny thing.  And I rewrote my lists.  From the front of the notebook I have lists for people, a page for each of the following: immediate family members, relatives, friends from church, friends from school, friends from work, clergy families and spiritual fathers- past and present. There is a memorial list for people who have died as well.  Another friend taught me to pray for parishioners and relative who didn’t have children or grandchildren, since there will most likely be only one generation to remember them- and we don’t know how long till the Second Coming.  

As for things and situations, starting from the back, I have lists for those: for me, my family and for others.  It’s not a long list.  And I am very careful as to what I write on it.  But I write it with an understanding that I might just get what I ask for. 


This morning I was able to write another “thank you” in the margin.  It wasn’t scary this time.  It was actually very comforting.




Thursday, September 19, 2013

Today's JAR- just a reminder- It's Okay to be Weary

"How are you?"  I read on FB.  Most people don't really want an answer to that question, but this time I was compelled to answer as honestly as possible.  I was surprised to see that I wrote, "Blessed and weary." 
"Blessed and weary" pretty much sums it all up.  Yup, that's me.  Blessed and weary. 
Then I remembered there was a Bible verse on being weary:  Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Makes me think I'm doing it wrong...
Makes me think I need to pray more...
Makes me think I need to wait on the Lord... How much am I trying to do on my own?  What am I working towards that is wearing me down?  And if it is actually wearing me down, then I don't think I'm doing it right. 
But then I looked at the chapter a bit more and expanded my search: Isaiah 40: 27-31
Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
 Have you not known?

Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.

 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
So now I think it's okay to be a bit weary.  I just have to stop trying to do it all on my own. 
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
And then I remembered another verse somewhere in the Bible:  Proverbs 3:5-6

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
So yes, I am blessed and weary but not alone.  And that's okay.  It's actually where I want to be. 

Looks like it's okay to lean on God... not only okay but preferable. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Crock Pot Sunday- Sauerkraut, Potatoes and Polish Sausage EDITED (with pictures)

Here's what I did...  I have note at the end of how I'd totally make this recipe different if I make it again... which I might to see if my ideas is a good one.

Cut 3 strips of bacon in small pieces and fry until crisp.  (Why so few strips?)  I used 4 and I would again. 

Drain bacon pieces, reserving drippings, and put to side.
Can't go wrong with fried bacon.

Sprinkle 2 T flour in bacon dripping (politically correct word for bacon grease, I suppose.) and blend well with a whisk.

Stir in 1- 32oz jar of sauerkraut, and return bacon.  Transfer to slow cooker. 
I wasn't sure if I should drain it or not.  I've never cooked with sauerkraut before.  Hmmm.  Any suggestions?

Add remaining ingredients.  Stir in  3 small potatoes- cubed, 2 small apples- cubed, 3T brown sugar, 1 1/2 t caraway seeds, 2.5 lbs. Polish sausage- cut into 3 in. pieces, 1/2 c water.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

So, if I were to make this again, I would...

  1. Ditch the potatoes and add more apples.  The potatoes were VERY SALTY!
  2. Rinse and drain the sauerkraut to avoid more saltiness.
  3. Use a pork/blend sausage.  I picked an all beef sausage and it was very heavy. 
  4. Heat a cooked sausage in a pan.  The sausage was too soft and mushy by the time it was all cooked.  It doesn't take long to heat sausage in a pan.  I can do it in the 15 minutes it takes to  cook the rice.
  5. Just put the sauerkraut, bacon and apples in the crock pot and serve as a side to the Polish sausage and steamed rice.
  6. I totally forgot about a green vegetable... green beans or peas should have gone nicely.  Suggestions?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Remembering Our History- St. Photios Shrine

The St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine, an institution of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, is dedicated to the first colony of Greek people who came to America in 1768.

Visit their magnificent Orthodox Chapel filled with Byzantine style frescoes and take a tour of the historic museum. Special exhibits tell the story of the First Greek Colony in the New World. The freestanding exhibit contains various artifacts, photographs and historical documents.

Read the St. Photios Shrine Newsletter on their website and find our add.  If you visit the Shrine, you will find our cards in their gift shop.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Crock Pot Sunday: Orange Chicken EDITED (with pictures.)

This week I am excited to try another Crock Pot recipe, Orange Chicken using the dark meat.   I forgot about a Philoptochos luncheon and community play after church, which makes me very happy to know dinner will be cooking while I am gone and a good meal will be waiting for me when I get home.  Well at least a cooked meal.  A few minutes to make rice and thicken the sauce and then dinner is ready!   Woohoo! 

The recipe reads:

Place 8-10 pieces of dark meat in the slow cooker.  I removed the skins. 

Add 1 c of strips of green and red peppersI sliced them thin because I'm not a big fan of the pepper... but it turned out great because the pieces disintegrated. 

Here's a tip I learned from watching Simply Ming, on late night PBS...

Cut around the pepper and leave the seed in a core.  It's easier to clean up the mess. 

Combine: 1/2 c chicken broth, 1/2 c orange juice, 1/2 c ketchup, 2 T soy sauce, 1T light molasses, 1 T prepared mustard (I suppose this is opposed to mustard seed or dried mustard) 1/2 t garlic saltI used more chopped garlic, and should have added more salt. 

Pour over the chicken, cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours. 

I didn't realize the musical was 3 hours long... here's what I found when I got home.

Remove chicken and vegetables and keep warm.

Measure 1 c of cooking sauceI measured more... and I strained it.

  Put in saucepan and bring to a boil.

Drain 11 oz mandarin oranges and dilute 2 t cornstarch into 1 T reserved juice.  I added more of each of these since I was using more of the cooking sauce.

To make sure it diluted well, I used a small container with a lid, and shook the liquid/cornstarch until it dissolved.

Add to boiling sauce in pan.

Cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes until sauce thickens.  Stir in oranges. The orange pieces broke apart in the sauce.  It was nice, but I might use a marmalade next time for a stronger flavor. 

Arrange chicken pieces on a platter of cooked rice. The rice didn't turn out so good... cheap rice.   Pour sauce over chicken and top with sliced green onions

We might try this again with white meat and better rice.  We all decided that the recipe is a keeper and it passed my son's ketchup test... no ketchup needed.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Words of Comfort in Grief

With the Saints give rest, O Christ,
to the soul of Your servant
where there is no pain,
nor any sorrow, nor any sighing,
...but Life everlasting.
 From Orthodox Funeral Service


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Today's JAR- just a reminder- Saintly Cooks Serve More Than Great Meals. St. Euphrosynos

Since this is a cooking blog, among many other themes I write on... I thought it only right to share a link from MYSTAGOGY regarding a saintly cook... St. Euphrosynos who is celebrated on September 11. 

It is a story of great humility and grace.  It's weird to be living in a culture where we have to "toot our own horn" to be recognized and honored.  It is the opposite of what Christ wants for us, because He knows how damaging an ego can be to our soul and the souls of those around us. 

Think for a moment, times when someone's ego bruised your soul or harmed you.  Think also of a time when your ego could have hurt someone or belittled a child of God.  Was there a severed relationship?  Was there anger as a result?  Was there jealousy?  These things are not godly.  Jesus didn't say, "Come to me and I will give you bitterness, anger and alienation."  Jesus said, "Come and you will be united, loved and have peace, even in struggle." 

Let us work harder to leave the ways of the world, the ones that say, "look at me!" and cling to the ways of Christ as He teaches through the Gospels and the Holy Traditions of the Orthodox Faith.  I say this to remind you that this world is temporary and as St. Euphrosynos shows us, eternal paradise is waiting for those who are humble and who please God. 

Today's JAR- just a reminder. Harvesting Basil in the Fall for the Elevation of the Holy Cross

This post may come a little late, and I should repost in the spring, but as we find ourselves harvesting our gardens and many of our plants going to seed, if we planted basil this year, we probably noticed its little white flowers.  Hopefully we clipped the blooms to prevent it from seeding so the leaves last a few more days.   We will want to take some as an offer to Liturgy on Saturday, September 14th as we celebrate the Elevation of the Holy Cross. 
Here is the story of the Holy Cross I found on the website for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Saint Helen, the mother of Saint Constantine the Great, when she was already advanced in years, undertook, in her great piety, the hardships of a journey to Jerusalem in search of the cross, about the year 325. A temple to Aphrodite had been raised up by the Emperor Hadrian upon Golgotha, to defile and cover with oblivion the place where the saving Passion had been suffered. The venerable Helen had the statue of Aphrodite destroyed, and the earth removed, revealing the Tomb of our Lord, and three crosses. Of these, it was believed that one must be that of our Lord, the other two of the thieves crucified with Him; but Saint Helen was at a loss which one might be the Wood of our salvation. At the inspiration of Saint Macarius, Archbishop of Jerusalem, a lady of Jerusalem, who was already at the point of death from a certain disease, was brought to touch the crosses, and as soon as she came near to the Cross of our Lord, she was made perfectly whole. Consequently, the precious Cross was lifted on high by Archbishop Macarius of Jerusalem; as he stood on the ambo, and when the people beheld it, they cried out, "Lord have mercy."  . 

Another source described the tradition of the basil:

On the spot where the Cross was discovered, St. Helen had found a hitherto unknown flower of rare beauty and fragrance, which has been named “Vasiliko”, or Basil, meaning the flower of royalty. Note that the word “Vasiliko” means “of the King,” since the word “Basileus” in Greek means “King”; so, the plant Vasiliko, Basil, is tied to the Precious Cross of the King of Glory, our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, it is a tradition to bring basil to be blessed at today’s Divine Liturgy.

For the Feast of the Holy Cross, churches will decorate a tray of basil to surround a cross as a reminder of this history.   Following the service, as people receive a blessing from the piece, we will receive a small spray to take home.  I try to put the stems from my basil in water to root for next year.  Caring for it all year is a good reminder of the value and importance of the Cross.  Most times, I have to buy seeds because I didn't so such a good job.  :) 

We must remember to bring our children to church on Saturday, making this holy strict-fasting day a priority above soccer and other Saturday morning lessons.   We must help our children navigate the many choices that they will have to make and by our example, model that the church calendar is our compass, our guide to living and experiencing a full Orthodox life. 
Slow down this weekend.  Attend Liturgy Saturday morning to honor the Cross and then again Sunday morning to honor Christ's resurrection.  Plan a Lenten meal to cook for your family.  Let us stop for a moment and reflect upon our cross that we carry.  Let us raise it to our shoulders bravely and carry it as we follow Christ and His teachings, as taught through the Bible and Holy Tradition.  For many of us, this "cross" is to decide that Liturgy is the most important thing this Saturday. 

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Ginger Potato Salad

4 potatoes
2 hard boiled eggs
3 dill baby pickles
1 T minced ginger
1/2 c mayo
1T honey
wish I had green onions
  Peel and boil potatoes. 
Drain, rinse under cool water, cut into 1inch cubes and place in a large bowl. 

Chiop remaining ingredients and add to bowl. 
  Stir and chill before serving.