Tuesday, March 31, 2009

40 Meatless Meals - Cheesy Lasagna

12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
½ c marg. or butter
½ c flour
½ t salt
4 c milk
1 c Swiss cheese, shredded
1 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ c grated Parmesan
¼ c snipped parsley
2 c cottage cheese (or Ricotta)
1 tsp. basil
½ t. salt
½ t. oregano
2 cloves garlic
½ c parmesan

Heat margarine in a 2 qt. saucepan over low heat until melted. Blend in flour and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and bubbly, stirring constantly. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in Swiss, mozzarella, and ½ c parmesan cheeses over low heat until cheeses are melted. In a separate bowl, mix cottage cheese and spices.
Spread ¼ of the warm cheese sauce in a 9 x 13 pan, top with 4 uncooked noodles. Spread 1 c of cottage cheese mixture over noodles. Repeat and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Parmesan. Cook uncovered at 350 F for 35-40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

serves 6

Monday, March 30, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Moussaka

2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
2 eggplants, diced
3 zucchini thickly sliced
3 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 T dried basil
salt & pepper

2 cups grated cheese
4-6 cups prepared instant mashed potatoes

Roast fresh vegetables and garlic in casserole dish greased with oil in a 450 oven til tender. Toss with tomatoes, basil, salt, & pepper until thoroughly combined. Spread cheese and potatoes over top. Bake 15 minutes or until potato crust is set. Serves 4-6.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

40 Meatless Meals - Jamaican Veggie Patties

(Source) These require less effort than the length of the ingredients list would suggest. Still, it requires a fair amount of time, so plan ahead.

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Coarse sea salt
2 larges cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced yellow potatoes
1/2 cup fresh green peas (or frozen)
1/2 cup sweet fresh corn (or frozen)
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

2 3/4 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup chilled coconut oil (I used 1/2c butter & 1/4c shortening)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water

For the filling: In a medium-size saute pan over medium-low heat, combine the oil, the onion cinnamon, allspice, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions are caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, carrots, and potatoes, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the carrots and potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the green peas, corn, cabbage, thyme, and lemon juice, cover, and cook for 3 minutes more. Season with additional salt and the white pepper (or to taste) and set aside to allow the flavors to marry.

For the pastry: Combine 2 1/2 cups of flour, turmeric, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Set the remaining 1/4 cup flour aside. Add the coconut butter to the flour mixture and rub with your fingertip until the mixture resembles fine sand.

Combine the vinegar and water and mix well. Then, without overworking the dough, add the vinegar mixture by the tablespoon, while stirring, just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and begins to coalesce. Squeeze into a tight ball, flatten, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F and remove the dough from the refrigerator.

With the reserved flour, lightly dust a clean surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut 6" circles (trace around a bowl). Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling onto the center of one side of each circle, leaving about a 1/8-inch border. Fold the other half over, press to seal, and make ridges around the edge using a fork.

Transfer the patties to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately with some hot sauce.

Makes eight patties.

Friday, March 27, 2009

40 Meatless Meals - Maple Glazed Norwegian Salmon

Note: I had originally planned to post this around Laetare Sunday, but somehow confused my dates. So, I apologize for the less-than-penitential nature of the recipe, but it is meatless, and, to paraphrase Janet Smith: "When Catholics feast, we really feast, and when we fast, we cheat."

1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1 T. fresh grated ginger
2 T. lemon juice, divided
1 1/2 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh minced garlic
1 1/2 pound center cut salmon fillet with skin
greens from 1/2 bunch scallions

In a small heavy saucepan, simmer syrup, ginger, 1 1/2 T lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce to about 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes, and allow to cool. (Glaze may be made up to two days ahead and chilled).

Place a rack towards the middle of the oven and preheat to 350. Lightly oil a shallow baking dish and arrange scallions in a layer to form a bed for the fillet. Place salmon, skin side down, on greens and brush with half the glaze. Season with salt and pepper and roast until just cooked through, about 20 minutes (internal temp of 145 F).

Heat remaining half of glaze over low heat until heated through, stir in remaining lemon juice and use as a sauce.

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Tagliatelle with Scallops

Tagliatelle with Scallops

1/2 lb scallops, thawed
1/3-1/2 c flour
2 T butter
1 clove garlic
chili pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup fish stock
1/2 lemon juice

2 cups tagliatelle or egg noodles

Dip scallops in flour; discard excess. Heat butter, garlic, and pepper flakes, in deep skillet, and sautee scallops till golden brown, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve.

Add brandy to scallops, and flambe. When flames die down, add fish stock and lemon juice, stirring constantly to maintain a smooth sauce. Fold in pasta, and combine well.


The Church Ladies are officially awed: A Year of Crockpotting. A recipe for every day of 2008, and the Crockpot Lady is well into 2009.

No more excuses.

Quote of the Day

"In these household retreats, with buttons and work, and their daughters beside them, they read and sewed and talked in the sweet privacy that domestic women love, and can make so helpful by a wise mixture of cooks and chemistry, table linen and theology, prosaic duties and good poetry."

[Louisa May Alcott, Jo's Boys]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Stuffed Onions

6 large onions

1 cup cooked rice
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup grated cheese
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 egg, beaten

2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Bring pot of water to boil. Add whole onions in skin and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and cool. Slice in half horizontally and peel. Spoon out center of onion.

Chop removed onion and toss with filling ingredients until well combined. Place onions in greased pan and spoon filling into center. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until bubbling. Baste during cooking if necessary.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Our friend and fellow Domer Caitlyn is amazing! Look at these beautiful wedding mints she made- and go check out her blog for the recipe!

40 Meatless Meals - Clam Chowder

1 stalk celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 large potatoes, cubed
1 tsp. thyme
vegetable broth, enough to equal 2c. when combined with clam juice
1 c. milk
1 c. half-and-half
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
2 (6 1/2 oz.) cans chopped clams, juice reserved
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the celery and potato in a bit of olive oil until celery is translucent. Remove to stock pot, saute onion in skillet until caramelized. Add to pot, along with seasonings, milk, half-and-half, and broth mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Make a roux by melting 1/2 c. butter in skillet over medium low heat. Stir in flour. Cook, stirring continuously for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 to 2 cups hot liquid from stock pot to this roux mixture, stirring or whisking to incorporate and remove lumps. Add back into pot, stir to blend. Add clams. Makes 4 servings.

Notes: I like caramelizing the onions in meatless recipes in general, as it tends to up the flavor a bit. I also deglazed that skillet with the broth before adding it to the pot. Cook the onions just until soft if you prefer.
I've made a wheat-free version of this by whisking a couple tablespoons of cornstarch into 1/2c. or so of cold broth that I've saved out, then adding this into the soup and stirring well.
This recipe also works well in the crock pot.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Music Literacy of the Church Lady Variety

Today's post from the New Liturgical Movement and a few recent events in my parish have me wondering just what music should be on every Catholic's "must recognize" list. I'm particularly interested in hymns, but any thoughts on the subject would be welcome. I know my esteemed colleagues here have strong opinions on the subject. How 'bout it ladies and gentlemen? What songs should be on my iPod? (... and saying "anything by Victoria" is not nearly as helpful as something more specific would be.)

I couldn't resist the photo :-)

Quote of the Day

A woman’s personal sense of dignity
is not primarily the result of juridically defined rights,
but rather the direct consequence
of the material and spiritual care
she receives in the bosom of the family.

[Pope Benedict XVI, Address at St Anthony's Parish]

St Joseph's Table

We hosted our first St Joseph's Table this weekend.

The custom began as a Sicilian gesture of gratitude to thank St Joseph for delivering them from a famine. Italian families and parishes still keep up this tradition today, and use the time spent preparing the table to pray for their beloved dead. I got interested in this devotion when I wrote a term paper about it for my American Catholic popular piety class at Our Lady's University.

Our St Joseph altar featured statues and images of St Joseph, pictures of deceased family members, Sicilian food including eggplants, lemons, oranges, and 2 pasta entrees (Br Justin's red sauce and one with garabanzo beans), ciabatta bread (recalling St Joseph's slippers), zeppole, fava beans, and a lucky lemon.Traditionally, a portion of the food was donated to the poor. Since modern food pantries prefer non perishable goods, people brought canned food instead.

And I got some pre-Easter practice with my lamb pan. Joshua is pretty cute, isn't he?

April showers

Some games to while away the April showers.

Mystery of the Abbey is a whodunit game with a twist. A monk has been murdered in a medieval French Abbey. Players maneuver their way through the Abbey trying examining clues and questioning each other to find out who is the culprit. A masterful game of deduction!

The Settlers of Canaan takes place in the territory of Canaan off the coast of the Great Sea. Each player represents a tribe of Israel seeking to settle in Canaan Guide your tribe through the fertile lands of Canaan. Each hex space will yield resources that you can cash in for roads, settlements and cities. Harvest resources of stone and ore from the land to help build Jerusalem and receive King David's blessing. Harvest timber, grain, wool, and brick to build more roads and settlements to expand your territory Work quickly Your opponents are moving to settle the most fertile parts of Canaan You also need to be wary a plague could come upon you at any time and destroy your harvest.

This 2nd expansion for Thurn and Taxis is actually two in one! In Audience, each player sends 5 clergyman to attend an audience with the Pope in Rome. The players endeavor to make certain the carriages with the clergyman arrive, but not too early! A player who arranges for his cardinal to arrive at just the right time will score more points than the player who manages the same with a simple priest. In Offices of Honor, the players try to use the office holders as evenly as possible, in order to receive different office tiles. The more different tiles a player can return at one time, the greater benefits he receives. All Roads lead to Rome contains two expansions. Whether you play Audience or Offices of Honor or both together with Thurn and Taxis, they will take you and the game to a new dimension.

I remember playing a board game called Limbo that was a Catholic doctrine version of Trivial Pursuit on high school confirmation retreats. Does anyone else?

40 Meatless Meals - Pecan Crusted Salmon

4 salmon fillets
2 cups milk
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup flour
1/8 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. pepper
3 tbls. vegetable oil

Place salmon fillets in a large resealable plastic bag; add milk. Seal the bag and turn to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, combine the pecans, flour, brown sugar, and seasonings. Coat fish with pecan mixture, gently pressing it into the fish.

In a large skillet, brown salmon in oil over medium-high heat. Transfer carefully to a baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

4 servings.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Official Easter Card of Church Ladies

It features the Gregorian notation for "Ye Sons & Daughters!"

Available from the good monks at the Printery House

Saturday, March 21, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Eggplant Parmesan

3 medium eggplants, thinly sliced
olive oil
3 eggs, beaten
breadcrumbs or flour

2 cups red sauce
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Place sliced eggplants in a bowl of salted water for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain well; pat dry.

Dip slices in egg and breadcrumbs; fry until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Preheat oven to 400. Arrange eggplant in casserole dish; top with red sauce and cheese. Bake until bubbly.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

God has determined,
unless I interfere with His plan,
I should reach that which will be
my greatest happiness.
He looks on me individually,
He calls me by name,
He knows what I can do,
what I can best be,
what is my greatest happiness,
and He means to give it to me.
God knows what is my
greatest happiness,
but I do not.

Blessed John Henry Newman

40 Meatless Meals- Salmon & Spinach Pizza

1 batch pizza dough (buy prepared or use your favorite)
1 can salmon, bones & skin removed
1 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, cooked & drained well
4 gloves garlic, mashed
salt & pepper to taste.
1 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Grease pizza tray and spread dough. Spread spinach, salmon, and garlic over top. Sprinkle salt and pepper over top. Bake 20 minutes. Top with cheese, and bake until cheese is melted.

Beautiful photo of the day

A terra cotta ex-voto for a baby, now located in a museum in Rheims. For readers of Susan Coolidge's Katy books, it reminds me of the effigy at Westminster for whom little Amy brings flowers.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

40 Meatless Meals: Baked Ziti

1 1lb box ziti, uncooked
3 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup water (more for whole wheat pasta)
2 cups fresh spinach or mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup grated mozarella

Preheat oven to 350. Mix sauce and water. Toss with ziti and ricotta cheese. Spread in a casserole dish and bake 45 minutes, or until sauce is thick and bubbly. Top with grated mozarella.

During a stricter observance of Lent, when dairy products were not consumed, breadcrumbs were used instead of grated cheese. Another culinary theory is the breadcrumbs were supposed to represent the sawdust of Good St Joseph, the carpenter.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On the market for an Easter hat?

The Church Ladies' friend QM has found an interesting mantilla vendor. Check out Headcoverings by Devorah, where modesty does not mean frumpy!

Image: The Repentant Magdalene

Hint of the Day: Restoring Silver

This tip comes from reader Julie.

I've field tested this on sugar spoons, a porringer, and a baby cup, all tarnished beyond recognition. I think every Church Lady worth her salt has opened a drawer in a sacristy and made a Horrible Discovery - something beautiful and abandoned to tarnish into dust. This will make those things polishable in fairly short order.

My whole family is trying this - as a chemistry teacher (by day... Church Lady by night!), I felt compelled to lead the way!

Year for Priests

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – In the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly Cure of Ars, St. Jean Marie Vianney, the Holy Father Benedict XVI announced this morning that, there will be a special Year for Priests June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010, with the theme: “Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of priests." The Holy Father will inaugurate the Year with Vespers on June 19, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Day for the Holiness of Priests, in the presence of the relics of the Cure of Ars, brought for the occasion by the Bishop of Belley-Ars. He will close the Year on 19 June 2010, presiding at a "World Meeting of Priests" in St. Peter's Square.

During this Jubilee Year, Benedict XVI will proclaim Saint Jean Marie Vianney “Patron Saint of all the priests in the world.” A "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" will also be published, as will a collection of texts by the Supreme Pontiff on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

The Congregation for the Clergy, together with diocesan ordinaries and superiors of religious institutes, will undertake to promote and co-ordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives which are being organised to highlight the role and mission of the clergy in the Church and in modern society, and the need to intensify the permanent formation of priests, associating it with that of seminarians.

Image source: Society of St Charles Borromeo

Corporal Acts of Mercy: Clothing those in need

Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' [Mt 25, 44]

For those looking for some concrete ways of almsgiving this Lent, here are some charities in need of donations.

Project Linus provides love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans. Their website includes patterns for inspiration.

Project Warmth, an organization very familiar to your Church Ladies due to its popularity at our alma mater, collects coats for the needy.

Ravelry's Knitters for Life has monthly Knit-a-longs. March's project is knitting or crocheting 15" square completely white blankets for Alexandra's House, a Catholic charitable perinatal hospice and infant refuge in Kansas City.

Contact your local hospital about donating preemie or chemo caps. Different places have different needs.

Crisis pregnancy and domestic violence shelters are often underfunded. Consider making a layette, stuffed animals, or something special for a mom in need.

Happy crafting!

40 Meatless Meals - Pesto Cavatappi with Tomatoes and Zucchini

¼ cup olive oil
4 cups ½-inch cubed zucchini (about 22 ounces)
1 ½ cups chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice

1 pound of cavatappi (or other dried pasta)

7 ounces of pesto
Grated Parmesan cheese

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add zucchini, onion and garlic and sauté until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes with juices and simmer until almost all liquid evaporates, about 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. (al dente) Drain; return to pot.
  • Add pesto to pasta and toss to coat.
  • Add zucchini mixture and toss over low heat to combine.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.
Image Credit

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In Which the Church Ladies Doth Protest

From the Winter 2008/2009 issue of Vogue Knitting: an interview with Lisa Anne Auerbach, author of Sweaters that Talk Back. Partisan comments have been removed from the excerpt below because Church Ladies is not a political site.

Vogue Knitting: How would you feel if a knitter bought your book and redid a pattern to have it say "Make abortion illegal?"

I totally encourage those who disagree with me to make patterns that reflect their side of the story... It seems conservatives are pretty uncreative... Even the conservative groups on Ravelry aren't making anything interesting. So if any conservative ... pro-life knitter thinks it's a good thing to express him or herself using knitting, that's great!

I would beg to differ that pro-life knitters don't make anything interesting. Historically, the beautiful Aran and Shetland patterns came from people whose lifestyle was based on home and hearth. Having lived in the metro area of major American cities, I have to drive to the more conservative suburbs or rural areas to get to a big box craft store, which are located with their niche market.

We've featured the handiwork of our readers before. Do any of our readers have a baby or other pro-life knitting/crochet project they'd like to share? Tell us about it in the comments and email us pictures to post!

40 Meatless Meals- St Patrick's Drunken Fisherman's Pie

St Patrick's Drunken Fisherman Pie
(adapted from Cooking with the Saints)

For every two servings
3/4 lb mixed seafood, boiled
1 cup cooked vegetables
1/2 cup finely sliced sauteed leeks
1 cup white sauce, made with white wine or ale in lieu of milk
1 large boiled potato, sliced finely
1/4 cup grated cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine seafood, vegetables, and leeks. Mix white sauce in thoroughly, and spread evenly in casserole dish. Cover with potato slices and bake for 30-45 minutes, until set. Top with grated cheese, if desired.

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Celebrate St Patrick's Day like the Irish- go to Mass!

Monday, March 16, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Seafood Paella

Be forewarned- it multiplies faster than the loaves and...er, fish. I had to switch pots partway because it got too big.

My husband and I became paella lovers when we made a batch for a celebration of St Anthony of Padua a couple summers ago. My paella is a flexible recipe that incorporates whatever I might have in the apartment with some fresh seafood. In the past I have used smoked salmon, shrimp, and scallops.

Paella [serves 8.... but I only meant to make enough for 4]

2 T vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
3/4 lb seafood [last night I used 1/2 lb fresh catfish, 1/2 can clams, & a 3 oz pouch of salmon]
1 cup fish or vegetable stock [I used the clam juice]
1/2 cup white wine [substitute water and a dash of vinegar instead]
1-1/2 cups vegetables [eg 1/2 cup green beans, 1/2 cup bell peppers, & 1/2 cup canned corn]
1 T basil
2 T turmeric [a saffron substitute for the rest of us]
2 T tomato paste
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt & pepper to taste
splash of lemon juice
2 cups rice, uncooked

Cook rice according to package directions.

In a large stockpot, heat the garlic in the oil until lightly brown. Add any fresh seafood and cook through, about 7-10 minutes depending on quantity. Add remaining seafood, vegetables, and stock; cook at a low heat until vegetables are tender. Add the cooked rice, wine, lemon juice, tomato paste, and spices, combining well, and adding additional water or stock as needed. It's as easy as that.

I put hot sauce on almost anything; my husband, likes to supplement this with grated Parmesan cheese.

The moister the paella is initially, the better it keeps, especially if you freeze it. Some like it hot, some like it cold... and it has been known to last nine days.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

From St Patrick to St Joseph

The Church Ladies recommend a course of romance at O'Reilly's Italian Restaurant! One of our favorite recent movies, Return to Me is the story of Grace and Bob... and their family and friends. Featuring many well-known actors including Carroll O'Connor and David Duchovny, this movie will have you laughing.

How many famous Polish singers are there?

I got two words for you: Bobby Vinton.

Bobby Vinton?

Well, what have you got? The lrish Rovers?

I got three words for you. Mr Bing Crosby.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Chinese Dumplings

2 parts flour to one part water
3 cups flour will make about 60 small dumplings

3/4 cup finely chopped fresh vegetables for every cup of flour
(ideas: cabbage, scallions, carrots, green beans)
soy sauce & powdered ginger to taste

Combine flour and water to make stiff dough. Divide dough into 3 equal sections, and roll each section into a thick rope. Cover unused portions with a damp towel. Cut 1/4" slices from each rope and roll flat. Spoon filling in the middle, and fold edges together, sealing with water. Set finished dumplings on a floured tray.

If not serving right away, place trays in freezer until dumplings are frozen solid, 3-4 hours. Store in freezer bags or tupperware.

Dumplings can be served steamed or potsticker style (lightly pan fried in oil, then steamed).

Friday, March 13, 2009

40 Meatless Meals - Spinach Lasagna

1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked
1 cup grated Parmesan

Mix together:
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen, chopped spinach, drained well
2 lbs. cottage cheese, well drained
2 raw eggs
1 tbls. parsley
1/2 c butter
salt, pepper and garlic powder

Prepare a 9X13" pan with cooking spray and place two layers as follows:
  1. Noodles
  2. Mixture
  3. Monterey Jack cheese
  4. Parmesan cheese
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncovered.
Optional: I pureed the cottage cheese, eggs, parsley, butter and seasonings in a food processor before mixing with the spinach for a smoother texture.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Quote of the Day

True love ennobles and dignifies the material labors of life; and homely services rendered for love's sake have in them a poetry that is immortal.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Baked Coconut Shrimp with Apricot Curry Sauce

24 jumbo shrimp in shells (cocktail-sized shrimp may be substituted)
2 T cooking oil
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut, toasted*
1/4 c cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
3 slightly beaten egg whites

1 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
3 T apricot preserves
1 tsp. curry powder

Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact. Rinse and pat dry.

Spread the oil on the bottom of a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside. In a large shallow dish, combine coconut, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. In another small shallow dish, place the egg whites. Dip shrimp in egg whites; coat with coconut mixture, pressing the mixture firmly onto the shrimp. Arrange shrimp in prepared pan. Bake in a 400° oven about 10 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and coconut is golden, turning once. Serve with sauce.

*To toast coconut, spread in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Stir and check frequently to prevent burning. Shredded coconut works best for this recipe, as large pieces tend not to stick to the shrimp. If only flake coconut is available, crush the toasted flakes or run briefly through a food grinder.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hint of the Day

The Church Ladies are Quite Keen on Knitting. This Church Lady in particular inherited a ridiculous amount of yarn at a recent yarn swap, and has been trying to match the yarns to the Perfect Project.

Swatching is not my favorite aspect of knitting, despite its necessity. To avoid repeating work, I have started attaching string tags to my swatches, with the name of the yarn(s), the needle size & gauge, and what project the swatch represents.

No tags? Sacrifice a manila folder to the cause, punch a hole in the corner, and tie it on with the cast-on tail.

40 Meatless Meals - Greek Pita Pizzas

4 pita breads (6 inch)
1/2 cup hummus
1 cup crumbled feta
1 small onion
2 cups sliced, fresh spinach
1 tomato, seeded and cubed
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place pitas on an ungreased pan. Spread with hummus and sprinkle on the feta.
Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and top each with the onion, spinach, tomato and olives.

A few notes: I just used this recipe with a food prep class I teach when we were practicing different cutting techniques. They're very easy to make and can be done at short notice by kids or adults. They'd also be good appetizers if baked a little longer so the pitas are a little crispy, then cut into sixths. Source: Betty Crocker.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I was determined that one of my missions was to convince cowboys that it was possible to be a sport, and also drink tea."
[Mary Cabot Wheelwright, A Quilt of Words]

Survey says?

Our friends at Faith & Family are discussing, among other things, how to celebrate a birthday during Lent.

Royal Dansk butter cookies offer the prezel shaped sugar cookie.

One could celebrate the patronal saint's day instead.

All my siblings and I have February or March birthdays. Our parents held one party for all of us, and after it was over, any remaining birthday cake was frozen until after Lent. As I've gotten older though, I find myself more and more drawn to simple celebration of life within the family and circle of close friends, rather than the rampant consumerism that is so often seen.

As long as the birthday doesn't fall on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, I see no problems in celebrating it as you would if it fell during any other liturgical season, since abstaining from sweets is a personal penance, not a mandatory proscription. You could also celebrate on the Sunday closest, since each Sunday is a little Easter.

How does your family handle this situation?

[Danish butter cookies image credit: Call Me Crochet]

40 Meatless Meals - Crab Cakes

8 ounces lump crab meat*
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped red bell pepper
2 eggs
3 T mayonnaise
1 T brown or dijon mustard
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups soft bread crumbs (about 3 slices)
1 T Creole seasoning**
2 T butter


Saute onion, celery, red pepper, and garlic until tender. Whisk egg in bowl; add mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Creole seasoning. Combine with sauteed vegetables and bread crumbs, mixing well. Add the crab meat and form into loose patties; place on waxed paper-lined plate. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until firm. Heat butter in large skillet over medium-low heat. Gently place crab cakes in skillet and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn and cook for 4 to 5 minutes longer, until cooked through. Serve with a remoulade sauce or tartar sauce.

Makes approximately 6 large cakes.

*Salmon, tuna, or white fish would also be good. This recipe is a great use for canned fish.
**a recipe for Creole seasoning may be found here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Silence need not always be filled."

-Sing to the Lord, USCCB

Women's (Laundry) Liberation

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Feminists of the world sit down before you read this. The Vatican newspaper says that perhaps the washing machine did more to liberate women in the 20th century than the pill or the right to work.
The submission was made in a lengthy article titled "The Washing Machine and the Liberation of Women - Put in the Detergent, Close the Lid and Relax."
The article was printed at the weekend in l'Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican newspaper, to mark international Women's Day on Sunday.


What do our readers think? Is the washing machine the greatest liberator, or what would you suggest?

40 Meatless Meals - Fish in Coconut Sauce

1 tbsp oil
2 onions, sliced
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
1 tsp curry
3 cups coconut milk
2lb white fish (we used turbot)

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom sauce pan. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until golden. Stir in the cumin, garlic, coriander, turmeric, cloves, and cardamoms and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, or until the spices give off their aroma. Add the curry and coconut milk, then stir well and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, debone fish if necessary and cut each fillet in half along the center, then slice in half horizontally. Roll up each piece of fish as tightly as possible and secure with a toothpick.

Gently add the fish rolls to the coconut sauce. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Serve over rice.

NOTES: This recipe is very mild-flavored and not fishy-tasting at all. Don't defrost the fish in the microwave; it will cook partially and be too flaky to roll up well.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Our Favorite Novels about the Religious Life

Perhaps you're looking for an escape from a snowy day. The solitude of a retreat without leaving your armchair. A way to present the cloistered religious life to your young adult children who might not otherwise be able to gain this exposure. Whatever you are searching for, the following are some of the Church Ladies favorite novels depicting the priesthood and religious life. So make a pot of tea and settle in for a cosy day with one of our picks.

In this House of Brede
Rumer Godden's novel follows the lives of the contemplative Benedictine nuns in the English abbey of Brede. It contains rich accounts of their daily lives and the seasons in the monastery. The main character, Sister Phillipa, comes to the cloister after a successful professional career and a great tragedy, but the lives of all the sisters are woven together well, like the beautiful silk vestments the nuns produce. Mystery, drama, and a keen understanding of the human condition make this my favorite book ever.

Death in Holy Orders
Technically Anglo-Catholic, but in a sweeping gesture of ecumenism, it makes the list. PD James' Adam Dagliesh is called to investigate a murder at the physically and ideologically isolated seminary of St Anselm at the demand of the murdered ordinand's father. St Anselm's Seminary symbolizes the Church's artistic and liturgical treasures, hanging over a cliff,a generation away from demise if no action is taken. Like all Baroness James' novels, it contains a sub-plot about the role of the Church and Christianity in the modern world. My favorite book until I read In This House of Brede.

Diary of a Country Priest
On the top of my to read list, this book is the journal of a young holy French priest serving a self-absorbed parish.

All We Know of Heaven
Seeking refuge from the upheaval of the sixties, young Paul leaves his secular French Canadian family for the peace of St Norbert's abbey. As Paul's vocation deepens, he discovers the human condition is the same within the cloister as it is in the world.

Death Comes for the Archbishop
Willa Cather's novel about two immigrant missionary priests ministering to the people of Southwestern America in the 19th century.

Do you have any to add?

40 Meatless Meals- Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

Pasta alla Zucca

For every two servings

1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2/3 cup water
salt, pepper, and sage to taste
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups pasta (egg noodles or angel hair work well)

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and reserve.

Preheat serving bowl for pasta.

Sautee onion until translucent. Add pumpkin and water, and simmer 5-10 minutes. Season to taste. Gently fold in ricotta and parmesan cheese. Toss with pasta. Serve in a heated bowl.

Friday, March 6, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Potato Pancakes

Potato Pancakes

For every two servings:
2 medium potatoes
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup flour
salt & pepper
1 T butter

Wash and peel potatoes. Grate with the largest hole section of a cheese grater. Remove as much liquid as possible by squeezing grated potatoes in a paper towel.

Fold in egg yolk, flour, and salt and pepper to taste.

Melt butter in a skillet. Form potato mixture into cakes and fry until brown on each side. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Curried Eggs

Curried Eggs and Potatoes & Peas

Curried Eggs (serves 2)
3 hardboiled eggs
2 T curry powder
1 T vegetable oil
2 cups milk
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 t cornstarch

Shell the eggs. Slice in half longitudinally, and again in half longitudinally. Refrigerate until needed.

Form a paste of the curry powder and oil in a skillet. Heat gently, stirring frequently, for at least 6 minutes. The flavor of the curry powder becomes less harsh the longer it heats like this. Add the milk and cocount flakes, stirring well. Dissolve the cornstarch in water and add gradually. The combination of cornstarch and coconut will cause the curry to thicken almost instantly. Simmer 5-10 minutes, and gently add the eggs. Heat until eggs are warm.

Potatoes and Peas (serves 2)
1 T vegetable oil
1 t ginger powder
1 t cayenne pepper flakes
1 t turmeric
1 sweet potato, finely diced
1/2 cup frozen peas

Heat spices in oil. Add the potatoes, and cook until "al dente." Add the peas and cook until heated through.

Serve with rice or instant couscous.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Rissoles St Flour

St Flour, France
(image source)

Rissoles St Flour (adapted from Cooking with the Saints)
For every 2 servings you need:
1/2 frozen 9" pie crust, thawed
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup grated mild cheese
1 T chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 350 & grease a cookie tray.

Beat egg yolk gently. Fold in cheese and chives.

Cut rounds out of the pie crust. Fill each round with 1 t filling. Seal the edges with a fork. Place on cookie sheet and bake until golden.

Corporal Acts of Mercy: Feeding the Hungry

Our friends at Faith & Family Live offer some of their favorite recipes and hints for bringing food to families in need of a little help, be it new neighbors, those filled with the joy of a new baby or those grieving the death of a loved one or struggling with a chronic illness.

The Church Ladies share the following hints:
*Use a disposable foil baking dish (nobody needs to worry about returning the dish)

*If you can, send paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils

*Label the meal, including reheating instructions, in case it is frozen for later

*Consider making non-dinner foods, like a breakfast casserole, or a lighter entree for lunch

*Make it easier on yourself- Make it a double batch: one for them and one for your family

Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, and good works. Consider reaching out to someone in need this Lenten season.

Do you have anything to add?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hint of the day

Trying to get some humidity into my winter home:

This is the perfect time of year to wash rugs, sleeping bags and any blankets you aren't currently using. Instead of drying them in your dryer, however, try draping things over stair rails, tables, or even a sofa overnight. They'll be dry by morning and the air in your home will be more comfortable. It's also a good time to steam-clean your carpets for the same reason.

40 Meatless Meals- Catfish Gumbo

Catfish Gumbo

4 T butter, divided
1 bell pepper, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 lb fresh catfish, diced into 1" pieces
3 T flour
2 cups vegetable stock
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t parsley

Sautee bell pepper and onion in 1/2 T butter until tender, then remove from pan. Sear fish, and then remove from pan.

Make a roux from the remaining butter and flour. Incorporate stock, mixing well to avoid lumps. Add seasonings, vegetables, and fish. Let simmer until catfish is thoroughly cooked.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Prayer for March

The Holy Father's general prayer intention for the month of March may be of particular interest to our dear readers:
That the role of women may be more appreciated
and used to good advantage in every country in the world.

Hint of the Day: Buttons in a pinch

It's a snow day in this Church Lady's part of the eastern seaboard, but I had a baby sweater that needed finishing for a newborn recipient at a local domestic violence shelter and not enough buttons in the house.

I did, however, have Nicky Epstein's Knitting Beyond the Edge checked out from the library, and used her suggestion of making buttons (and loops) out of I-cord.

It's the easiest thing in the world, and you are guaranteed that your buttons will match the garment exactly. Each button takes only a few inches of I-cord- maybe 18 inches of yarn. It's also a great way to use up scraps (as this entire project was- I didn't have more than 1/4 skein of anything). For more delicate buttons, try using embroidery floss or sock yarn.

My buttons were simply coiled rosettes. Our friends at Boy Scout Troop 7 have more knot ideas for different looks. Experiment to find a a good fit for your garment, then sew it on with matching yarn.

40 Meatless Meals- St David's Pie

2 frozen 9" piecrusts
1 T butter
2 leeks, finely chopped
4 eggs
salt & pepper to taste

Thaw the piecrusts. Sautee leeks in butter until tender. Cool leeks in fridge for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat eggs, salt, and pepper. Distribute leeks evenly over the bottom of one pie crust. Spread egg mixture evenly on top of leeks. Cover with the remaining pie crust. Cut slits for steam. Bake 20-30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.

(While I enjoyed this pie, it would be referred to disparagingly by my father-in-law as "chick food." To make the pie more substantial, line the bottom of the pie crust with sliced boiled potatoes. Reduce the egg mixture by one egg and add some grated cheese.)

Serves 4-6