Cream Cheese & Olive Sandwiches

Cream Cheese & Olive Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package of Cream Cheese
  • 1 Jar of Green Spanish Olives
  • Milk
  • Bread

Instructions:

  • Empty 1 Package of Cream Cheese into a bowl (we use vegan cream cheese)
  • Cut up Green Spanish Olives into fourths and add to the cream cheese. You can add as many or as little as you’d like, but for us more is better!
  • Add a splash of milk to allow for mixing the ingredients until it’s a smooth consistency (not chunky and stiff)
  • Spread on bread and enjoy!

A note to our allergy friendly subscribers: All of our ingredients and meals are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, peanut free, and vegan. To make the meal 100% vegan just exclude any meat or dairy that may be recommended to go along with the meal.


Congo Squares

Congo Squares

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 package of light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cups shortening (About 1.3 sticks of butter)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions:

  1. Melt shortening or butter
  2. Add sugar and beat to blended
  3. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each egg
  4. Sift flour, baking power, instant coffee, and salt.
  5. Beat for 2 minutes and add nuts & chocolate chips
  6. Put shortening and flour in pan just enough so the squares won’t stick to pan.
  7. Put into the over at 350 for 35 minutes or until browned
  8. Cool completely before cutting for them to firm up

A note to our allergy friendly subscribers: All of our ingredients and meals are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, peanut free, and vegan. To make the meal 100% vegan just exclude any meat or eggs that may be recommended to go along with the meal.


Portuguese Kale Soup

Portuguese Kale Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package of Portuguese style linguica sausage
    We like North Country brand, but Gaspar’s is what I grew up on
  • 2 bunches of fresh kale
  • 1 bag of potatoes
  • 8 cups of prepared red kidney beans (4 cans)

Instructions:

  1. Slice linguica into half inch pieces
  2. Rip kale into small pieces and rinse
  3. Cut potatoes into quarters or smaller depending on size of potatoes
  4. Rinse kidney beans
  5. Brown the linguica in a large pot or dutch oven using butter
  6. Then add in the kale pieces and pour enough water or broth over the kale to just cover it. Let the kale simmer until cooked.
  7. Then add the potatoes and simmer until cooked (adding more water or broth if needed)
  8. Then add the kidney beans last and simmer until ready to eat
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Serve with bread and butter – try dipping the bread in the broth for the full experience!

A note to our allergy friendly subscribers: All of our ingredients and meals are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, peanut free, and vegan. To make the meal 100% vegan just exclude any meat that may be recommended to go along with the meal.


Coffee Alternatives

Coffee Alternatives

This past year I cut my coffee habit. Why? Because I didn’t like the way it made me feel. Despite reducing my coffee intake I was still experiencing a severe drop in energy every day, which I attributed to a caffeine crash. Each afternoon after lunch I would start yawning and feeling overall like my mind was in slow motion. On top of all that the acidity in the coffee was causing upset with my gut.

I was not sure what I would do to replace my beloved coffee habit. I loved the bitter taste of a nice black cup of coffee freshly brewed. I loved the aroma and the warmth of embracing a coffee mug and sipping slowly. With this year being the year of health I knew that whatever I replaced it with needed to to boost my mind and body, energize me (naturally), and have less acidity.

After much research online I made several trips to the local green grocer and purchased a few products from Amazon. I now have most of these products in my cabinet and ready to go so that each day I can pick and choose what I would like.

Crio Bru in French Press Tumbler with Frothed Nut Milk and Cinnamon

Crio Bru – I use this daily. This is the most cost effective and closest to actual coffee. Basically, this is roasted cacao beans that you use in a French Press which leaves you with a dark roasted aromatic flavorful beverage. The company makes a multitude of roast options. Thus far my favorites have been Uber Dark Spanish Roast and Ghana French Roast. They even have a Double Chocolate blend and a Sampler pack to dry different varieties. If you go down this path, I would strongly recommend a French Press tumbler, like this one from Presse. At $15 for a bag it’s similar to the price of coffee and will not be too much of a hit on your wallet. 1 bag has 23 servings, so depending on your habit you might be buying two bags a month.

Pure Cacao – Cacao is the raw, unprocessed version of cocoa. There are a lot of cacao options out there, many of which are blends with spices, supplements and super foods. For me, I would rather save some money and add my own spices and supplements so I go with Navitas Organic Cacao Powder. It has a bitter smooth flavor and is amazing in hot water, warmed nut milk, or even in smoothies. With 0% sugar and naturally occurring fiber, magnesium and antioxidants—amongst a whole bunch of other health-supportive nutrients – you can’t go wrong. And as a additive to the cacao I will typically add in cinnamon, turmeric, chili powder, or MCT oil. Yum! At $14 a bag on Amazon it has about 30 servings so it will last you one month. We frequently find this at local discount stores like Marshalls, T.J. Maxx or Homegoods though for about $4.99 a bag and we stock up!

Four Sigmatic Mushroom Blends – Four Sigmatic has a wide variety of offerings including caffeine based drinks, K-Cup options, and mushroom blends. I have enjoyed trying their mushroom blends of which they have three varieties – one for immune support, one for focus, and one for balance. Thus far my favorite has been the immune support blend, which is aptly labeled as Defend, but all the varieties have been good. Defend tends to be a smoother texture which I like and it has adaptogenic mushrooms (balance), vitamin C (immune support) and Cordyceps (sustained energy). The powder can be added directly to hot water, warmed nut milk or smoothies. It’s caffeine free and is 100% organic. At $26 for a 30 servings it’s a bit pricey, but is wholesome and delicious.

Tea – An obvious alternative! This one was a little less obvious to me because I was not familiar with making a good cup of tea. Because I like to drink my coffee black I would tend to just brew tea and drink it directly, but the result was typically a watered down semi-flavorful experience, which left a lot to be desired. However, one day at a local coffee shop I tried their red chai, which they made into a latte with nut milk and honey or maple syrup as sweetener. It was delicious. Within a few days I found this Republic Red Chai at a local general store and it’s been quite amazing. It has 50 servings for $15.

Handheld Frother – As a side note to the above coffee alternatives I have to make mention that having a handheld frother and some nut milk on hand will change your life. You can find a decent handheld frother for $10-$15 and if you take your nut milk (or even nut milk creamer) and froth it you can add it directly on top of your Crio Bru, cacao, mushroom blends, and tea. Blend in some cinnamon with the milk for a touch of amazing and you have really got yourself quite the powerful and delicious beverage.

Overall, my experience with swapping out coffee has been a good one. I have increased my health benefits, diversified what I drink, and found new ways to curb my appetite without a lot of calories or sugar.


Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee

While visiting Ireland many years ago we happened upon a pair of Irish Coffee crystal glasses from the Galway Irish Crystal company. Inside the box was this recipe for Irish Coffee:

We like to swap out the coffee with either Crio Bru (cacao based coffee alternative) or you may prefer to use instant coffee. Whatever suits you best!

We also like to top ours off with chocolate shavings because why not?


Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day

Our family is big on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. We celebrate not only St. Patrick but also our Irish family heritages. The day is full of prayer, fun activities, yummy food, good whiskey, and traditional Celtic music. It all starts with a big breakfast.

Meals

While we do not have a standard breakfast we eat on St. Patrick’s Day, one thing is for sure – it must include green. This year it included green almond milk server with waffles covered in yogurt, whipped cream, berries, banana slices and, yup, green sprinkles. Growing up, my mother always made me green eggs and ham on St. Patrick’s Day.

At lunch, we may prefer to have tea and tea sandwiches. This year we had traditional Irish tea (our favorite is Barry’s) along with tea sandwiches which included our favorite gluten free vegan bread, vegan cream cheese, chives and cucumber slices arranged like shamrocks. This was a recipe provided by Catholic All Year in our March subscription box.

For dinner, we always make a traditional Irish Boiled Dinner with sour pickles. I’m actually not too sure just how “traditional” it is, but it’s what my family made every St. Patrick’s Day and it’s become something we look forward to each year.

Activities

Throughout the day we may pick and choose from many different activities including:

Listening to a podcast on St. Patrick from Saint Stories for Kids. We love this podcast series that gives a brief overview of a Saint and then shares a live action story from traditions surrounding them, sound effects and all. They are short enough to keep our kid’s attention span and exciting enough to talk about the rest of the day!

Crafting, which includes binding three corks together to dip in paint and make shamrock designs, using dot markers or pens to create a rainbow and a pot of gold (including gold glitter), coloring St. Patrick coloring pages, etc. The possibilities are endless!

We also have an annual St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt. This year we used a scavenger hunt we found online that had clues Pickles, our 4-year-old, had to figure out. At the end of the hunt the prize was a plastic bin with anything green and St. Patrick’s Day related we could find. Later in the day this served as an activity/sensory bin Pickles and Bacon could both enjoy playing with by dyeing water or foam green and putting all the items (plastic green and gold coins, shamrocks, etc) in the water or foam and then letting the kids at it.

This year we did two scavenger hunts, simply because Bacon, our 1-year-old, is not able to engage in clues. Instead, we had cut out snacks from green paper in different shapes and sizes and had him run around finding them. Once he had them all we ‘banished’ the snakes from ‘Ireland’ by casting them into the ottoman (it seemed appropriate).

Activity and sensory play are also a consideration. As noted above you can use things like green water or green foam in a bin with green items, or if you prefer a less ‘wet’ option – try shredded green paper or green slime.

Lastly, we wrap up the day watching a documentary on Ballintubber Abbey in Ireland. We visited there when we were in Ireland years ago and fell in love with the Abbey, it’s history, and its connection to St. Patrick.

Treats and Libations

Like the activities listed above, there are a variety of treats and libations to pick from when considering celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Over the years we have narrowed down to making Irish Coffee and Irish Whiskey Cookies. Of course, in order to do this you will need some good Irish Whiskey. Plan ahead.

Prayers

As alluded to in the introduction to this blog post, prayers are important on St. Patrick’s Day. We specifically like to pray the prayer of St. Patrick’s Breastplate and bless the children with holy water we acquired in Ireland from St. Patrick’s well.

We hope you have/had a blessed St. Patrick’s Day. Now back to our regularly scheduled Lenten fast!


Irish Boiled Dinner

Irish Boiled Dinner

Ingredients:

  • 2 Heads of Cabbage
  • 1 Bag of Carrots
  • 1 Turnip
  • 1 Bag of Potatoes
  • Smoked Shoulder (or Corned Beef in you prefer)
  • 2 Large Sour Dill Pickles

Instructions:

1) Chop the cabbage in half, then into quarters. Removed center stalk/stem from cabbage.

2) Chop carrots, turnips and potatoes into large chunky pieces

3) Put all the smoked shoulder into a large pan and fill with water

4) Bring the water to a boil

5) When meat is tender add in your vegetables and return the water to a boil

6) When veggies are tender your boiled dinner is ready

7) Plate your boiled dinner with half a large sour dill pickle. Squirt it’s juices over the meal and add salt and pepper to taste.

A note to our allergy friendly subscribers: All of our ingredients and meals are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, peanut free, and vegan. To make the meal 100% vegan just exclude any meat that may be recommended to go along with the meal.


Baked Eggplant with Chili Powder

Baked Eggplant with Chili Powder

Ingredients:

  • Eggplant
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 baking sheets with tin foil or whatever you prefer (I’ve tried silicone mats, tin foil and parchment paper)

2. Cut top and bottom off of eggplant, then stand up on end and thinly slice eggplant (about 1/4 to 1/2 in slices – the thinner the crispier they will get and the thicker the softer they will be)

3. Lay slices on pan and spread (using a food brush) olive oil on them to coat (note: fair warning, eggplants are very “thirsty” vegetables, so you will you a fair amount of olive oil)

4. Sprinkle salt, chili powder, and paprika on each slice. Flip the slices over and repeat the olive oil and spices process.

5. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes, then flip them and bake another 15 minutes (note that the thinner slices will be done faster  and need to be taken out so they don’t burn – if you cut them 1/4 or smaller)

 6. Prepare pasta according to package

Enjoy over pasta covered with marinara sauce or butter, salt and shredded parmesan cheese. Serve with your favorite side of vegetables and a side salad. It is delicious either way!

A note to our allergy friendly subscribers: All of our ingredients and meals are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, peanut free, and vegan. To make the meal 100% vegan just exclude any meat that may be recommended to go along with the meal.


Homemade Pickles

Homemade Pickles

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP mustard seeds
  • 20 peppercorns
  • 1 TBPS dried dill or a bunch of fresh dill sprigs
  • 3/4 to 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed) – optional
  • 3 TBSP white vinegar
  • 3-4 pickling cucumbers
  • water
  • 1 quart mason jar or Weck jar

Instructions:

1. Slice up cucumbers whichever way you prefer (I like to do them in quarters, like spears because I feel they “soak” up the flavors better) and add them to the jar until it’s full

2. Add all dry ingredients to jar and vinegar

3. Fill jar almost to the top with room temperature water (leave like an inch or so of space)

4. Put lid on (make sure it’s secure) and shake so all the ingredients can combine

5. Leave on counter for 24 hours (after 12 hours, shake jar again, and then turn upside down to leave for the remaining 12 hours)

6. Once 24 hours have passed, place pickles in refrigerator. They are ready to enjoy! 🙂