Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good Friday activity for children

I'd like to share this holy week tip from a good friend who is always looking for new ways to bring the congregation of her little domestic church closer to God.

I like to have something "meditative" for my kids to do alone during the hours between noon and 3pm on Good Friday. Last year we did these Stations of the Cross, this year I'm preparing the Sorrowful Mysteries.

You can get your own set here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

40 Meatles Meals: Fideuà

Every so often, a meatless day and a family celebration coincide. This Spanish dish, a cousin of paella, fits the bill nicely. If you don't have a broiler-safe skillet, you may transfer the mixture to a different pan, add the shrimp, and then broil as directed.

Source: Cook's Illustrated July/August 2012
Serves four.
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1½ pounds extra large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), shells reserved
  • 2¾ cups water
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 ounces thin spaghetti
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 14½ oz can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped fine
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp anchovy paste
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges

Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, clove garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Add shrimp, toss to coat, and chill until ready to use.

Place shrimp shells in a medium bowl with water, broth, and bay leaf. Cover and microwave about 6 minutes until shells have turned pink. Set aside.

Break spaghetti into pieces by rolling it up, half at a time in a clean kitchen towel and snapping the bundle over the edge of the counter at 1-2" intervals. Add to a broiler-safe 12″ skillet, with 2 teaspoons oil and toast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.until browned to the color of peanut butter and nutty-smelling, 6-10 minutes. Transfer into bowl and wipe out the skillet.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Saute onion together with ¼ tsp salt until onion is softened and brown on the edges, 4-6 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until mixture is thick, dry, and slightly darkened in color, 4-6 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining garlic, both paprikas, and anchovy paste. Cook about1½ minutes, until fragrant. Add spaghetti to skillet and stir to combine.

Adjust an oven rack so that it’s 5-6" from the broiler element, and heat broiler.

Strain the shrimp broth into the skillet. Add wine, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer. Cook uncovered until pasta is just tender, 8-10 minutes.

Scatter shrimp in skillet and stir to partially submerge. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until shrimp are opaque and surface of pasta is dry with crisp, browned spots, 5-7 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool, uncovered for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges and aïoli (below), if desired.

The original recipe called for whisking by hand, but I thought my wrist was going to give out by the end. Make sure to use good-tasting olive oil, since it makes up the bulk of the sauce.
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 large egg yloks
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • ground white pepper 
  • ¾ cup olive oil
In a blender, combine all ingredients except oil. While running the blender, drizzle in the olive oil through the hole in the lid very slowly, until thick and creamy. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, March 22, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Barley Soup al Verde

For a higher protein version, substitute quinoa for some or all of the barley, adding it as soon as it comes to a boil.

Adapted from The Silver Spoon

Serves two to three.
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 fresh sage leaf (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 cup Savoy cabbage, cut into strips
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 10 oz frozen spinach
  • ¾ pearl barley
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • croutons, to serve (I recommend these)
Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the onion and sage and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook a few minutes more. Add stock and spinach and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on medium heat 15 minutes. Add barley, cover and cook 30 minutes, until tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cheese and croutons sprinkled on top.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Potato Gnocchi

The secret to keeping these dumplings light and fluffy is keeping the potatoes dry (by roasting instead of boiling, and spreading them out to cool) and handling them as little as possible (think pie crust).

If you wish to freeze the gnocchi, let dry on baking sheets 1–4 hours at room temperature, then transfer sheets to freezer for 45 minutes before placing the frozen gnocchi in a ziploc or other container. Boil as normal, straight from the freezer.

(Source: Cook's Illustrated Sept/Oct 2011)

Serves two to three as a main dish.
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¾ c plus 1 T all-purpose flour (4 oz by weight)
  • 4 tsp salt
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 450º. Prick potatoes all over and microwave about 10 minutes until slightly softened at ends, flipping halfway through. Place potatoes directly on the oven rack and back until skewer glides easily through, 18-20 minutes.

Peel potatoes while still hot, holding with an oven mitt or towel. Process through a ricer or food mill (do not mash) and spread out onto a cookie sheet to cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer 3 cups (1 lb) warm potatoes to a mixing bowl. Using fork, stir in egg gently until just combined. Sprinkle in flour and 1 tsp salt; gently combine with fork until no pockets of dry flour remain. Press mixture into a ball and knead gently on a lightly floured surface until smooth but slightly sticky, about 1 minute.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment and dust liberally with flour. Cut dough into eighths. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a half-inch rope and slice into ¾" pieces. Holding fork with tines facing down in one hand, press each piece against tines with the thumb of your other hand to create ridges. Transfer formed gnocchi to sheets.

To cook (from fresh or frozen), bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot. Add remaining 3 tsps salt. Using the parchment paper, lower the gnocchi into the water one sheet at a time and cook until firm, about 90 seconds (gnocchi will float after about 60 secs). Repeat with remaining sheet of gnocchi. Serve with sauce below, or the pesto or sauce of your choice.


  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • ¾ cup vegetable stock, or a combination of stock and white wine
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 2 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
  • salt and white pepper
Cook butter in a medium saucepan until well browned. Whisk in flour until combined. Whisk in the stock and cream and cook until thickened. Add sage and cheese and stir until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Spring Rolls

For the rolls pictured here, I used Vietnamese (rice) spring roll wrappers. To make this recipe with Thai (wheat) wrappers, omit the soaking step, wet the edge to seal, and deep-fry after assembly.

Makes 20 rolls (four-five servings).

  • 1 c. cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 can of bean sprouts
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 c. mushrooms, cut into thin pieces
  • (snow peas and shrimp would also be good)
  • 2 T. sesame oil
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • garlic, ginger, and cayenne to taste
  • 1/3 pkg. Rice or cellophane noodles
  • 1 pkg. spring roll wrappers*

Set the rice noodles to soak in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes, or until soft. Meanwhile, stir fry all other ingredients (except for wrappers) until done. Drain the noodles thoroughly, then assemble as follows:

Set a wrapper to soak in a shallow dish of hot water (make sure it's submerged). When it is soft, remove and let drip dry for a few seconds, then set on a plate and immediately put the next wrapper to soak.

Break off a small handful of noodles and place towards the bottom of the wrapper.

Add about 2T. of vegetables, well drained (I just squeezed them out in my hand).

Fold up the bottom and press to seal, then the sides, then roll up.

Place on waxed paper, making sure they don't touch. At this point, you can eat them as is, or deep fry them in hot (350º) oil for about a minute per side.

Serve with dipping sauces such as Hoisin or sweet and sour.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Vichyssoise

An oldie, but a goodie. Serve hot or cold, and add a protein-rich side (beans, quinoa, or even something like this) to round out the meal.

  • 2 cups finely diced raw potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 leeks, cleaned and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshy ground black pepper
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 1½ cups heavy cream

Cover the potatoes in salted water and simmer until just tender.

Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the leeks gently for a few minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the leeks until tender. Add the potatoes to the leeks and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Put this mixture in the blender, half at a time, cover with a towel and blend until smooth. Serve hot, or chill. When ready to serve, stir in cream.

Saint Joseph

 Happy feast day to Saint Joseph and to all the Josephs out there.  
According to a source I found on the 'net, a bon point was a card given to a school child as a reward for some work well done.  (The antique equivalent to a smiley sticker, perhaps.)  It's printed on a sturdy piece of card stock - just right for a child.

The back offers an uplifting reminder: 
"What God at one time touched, remains sanctified/holy" (literal).
I think it really means: "What God touches at once, (it) remains hallowed/sanctified."*

*Thanks to Sandra for her translation skills. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Pear Gorgonzola Pizzas

  • 1 batch pizza dough
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 1 pear, sliced very thin
  • 4 oz gorgonzola cheese
  • 6 oz Gruyere or mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 500º.

Melt the butter in a small skillet, add shallot and cook until golden. Sprinkle with vinegar and cook until evaporated.

Roll out the pizza dough into two small rounds, brush each with olive oil. Add shallots, pear, and cheeses, sprinkle with nuts.

Bake pizzas on a pizza stone or baking sheet 5-10 minutes.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles

This really isn't a holy card of Saint Gertrude, but today is her feast day and I'm sure you'll want to learn more about her.

The reason why I chose this card for today has to do with Saint Gertrude being a patron of the poor - the target audience of this interesting sales strategy.  

(The brown background is added to highlight the cut edges.)

Friday, March 15, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Homemade Taco Salad Shells

This is a great recipe for when you have just a few tortillas left in the fridge, since you only need one per person. Make a generous serving of black beans and rice, and top with greens, salsa, and whatever other favorite taco toppings you have on hand.

  • burrito-size flour tortillas
  • Olive oil or Canola oil
  • one oven-safe cup or canning jar per tortilla

Preheat the oven to 400º. On a rimmed baking sheet, place the cups or jars upside down, evenly spacing them.

Microwave the tortillas for about 30 seconds, until they are soft and pliable. Rub about a teaspoon of oil on the front and back of the tortilla. Drape each tortilla over a cup or jar and gently mold into a bowl shape.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, checking often so they don’t burn, until the tortillas are nicely browned and crisp. Let cool for a few minutes before gently removing them from the cups or jars.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Quinoa Risotto with Caramelized Fennel

Quinoa is a grain that can be used much like rice, as evidenced in this risotto-style preparation, but is very high in protein, making for a meal that satisfies all evening. I recommend using a good heavy skillet for this, if possible, to help cook everything evenly.

Serves three as a main dish, six as a side.
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 3 T butter, divided
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced and cut into one-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • salt and white pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Toast dry quinoa in a large (12") skillet for about three minutes on medium-high, stirring frequently. Remove and set aside.

Heat oil and 2 T butter in skillet, add fennel and onion, spreading them evenly across the surface of the pan. Cook for about 25 minutes, until caramelized, stirring only every 5 minutes or so. Remove and set aside, leaving any excess oil in the pan.

Add remaining 1 T butter to pan and melt. Add quinoa and cook 1 minute, stirring to coat all the grains in oil.  Turn heat up to high, and add white wine. Stir to distribute evenly, and cook until evaporated. Add stock about ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently and adding more only when it has all been absorbed. Continue until tender, using more water or stock if needed. Off heat, stir in vegetables and cheese.

Serve sprinkled with extra Parmesan and garnished with a fennel sprig, if desired.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

(Decidedly not meatless) Papal celebration recipes

Is a new pope a good enough reason to suspend Lenten penances for an evening? I hope so. In case you're looking for a meal to celebrate our new Pope Francis and his Argentine heritage, how about empanadas or steaks with chimichurri? For desert, tres leches cake is a classic South American confection, but I'm also eyeing these alfajores.

Update: How could I forget? Dulce de Leche on almost anything (cookies, coffee, ice cream) would also be an excellent choice. Here's a microwave method, among others, if you're pressed for time.

40 Meatless Meals: Shrimp fra Diavolo with Gorgonzola Polenta

The shrimp and sauce in this recipe are tangy and quite spicy, which makes for a nice contrast with the creamy, cheesy polenta. The recipe calls for putting individual serving bowls in a warm oven, but most porcelain and stoneware should be able to handle this without a problem. Check the manufacturers website or use large ramekins if you're not sure.

Serves two.
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 2 ounces crumbled gorgonzola
  • 4T butter
  • ½ pound large shrimp
  • 14½ ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1T olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup white wine

Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly stir in the cornmeal, lower to heat to a very low simmer, and cook for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, saute half of the garlic and red pepper flakes in oil until fragrant. Add the wine and cook until it is nearly gone. Add tomatoes, and simmer 20 minutes. (Add some of your favorite hot sauce, if desired.) Preheat oven to 225º.

Toss the shrimp with a pinch each of salt, black or white pepper, and sugar. Melt 2T butter in a large skillet on high, saute the remaining garlic about 30 seconds. Add shrimp to skillet in a single layer, cook 2 mins. Remove from heat, flip over, add sauce, and let sit off heat until shrimp cook through.

Ladle polenta into bowls, top with butter & cheese, and bake for 10 minutes. Serve with shrimp and sauce.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Falafel with Tahini Sauce

You'll get the best results with a food processor, but I'm living proof that if you're patient and stubborn enough, you can make this recipe work with just a chef's knife. The results were a bit crumbly, though, so next time I'll probably try a combination of chopped and pureed chickpeas to improve the texture. Serve these with some salad greens (either on the side or tucked into the pita bread sandwiches), and you've got yourself a meal.
Serves six to eight.

  • 2 cups roughly chopped white onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil, for sauteing 
  • 1¼ cups plain yogurt (full fat or non-fat)
  • ¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Add the onion and garlic cloves to the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until they are finely minced. Remove and set aside.

Add the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, salt, chili powder, and cumin to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until they are roughly blended but not pureed.

Return the onion mixture to the food processor, along with the baking powder and just enough flour so that when you pulse the processor, the mixture begins to form a small ball and is not sticky. (Note: Start by adding ¼ cup of flour, and then the remaining ¼ cup. You can add more if the mixture is still too wet.)Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour.

While the falafel mixture is chilling, prepare the tahini sauce by whisking together the yogurt, tahini and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, cover and chill.

Once the falafel mixture has chilled, use a small ice cream scoop or spoons to form the mixture into balls (about 3 T each). Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add a liberal amount of canola oil so that the pan is well-coated. Let the pan pre-heat for 3 minutes then add the falafel one by one, browning them on the first side for 3 minutes, then flipping them once and browning the second side until the mixture is cooked throughout.

Transfer the falafel to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt. Repeat until you have cooked all of the falafel.

Serve inside warmed pita bread with sauce.

Monday, March 11, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Baked Tilapia with Dill Sauce

Serves four.
  • 4 (4 ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 2 T Cajun seasoning, or to taste
  • 1 lemon or lime, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill
Preheat the oven to 350º. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Rub the tilapia fillets with Cajun seasoning on both sides. Arrange the seasoned fillets in a single layer in the baking dish. Place a layer of citrus slices over the fish fillets.

Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. While the fish is baking, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic powder, lemon juice and dill in a small bowl. Serve tilapia with sauce on the side.

40 Meatless Meals: Tilapia Grilled on a Cedar Plank

  1. Soak the cedar plank in water for 30 minutes or so and then let the excess surface water drain off.
  2. Place tilapia on the plank.
  3. Brush with olive oil
  4. Sprinkle with lemon pepper, salt, dill weed.
  5. Grill over medium heat coals until done (10-15 minutes).
  6. Make more than you think you'll need because everyone will want more.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Spinach Mushroom Calzone

Serves four.

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 8 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • ¾ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cups baby spinach, packed (3 ounces) 
  • All-purpose flour, for sprinkling
  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough (or one 13.8-ounce tube refrigerated)
  • 5 T grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1½ cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided 
  • ¼ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • ¼ tsp dried crushed red pepper
  • 1½ cups warm marinara, for dipping
Preheat oven to 425º.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and fennel seeds, and keep cooking until mushrooms are brown, stirring them often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and oregano. Stir 1 minute. Add spinach, and stir just until wilted, about 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat, and scrape everything into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Grab a baking sheet, and line it with parchment. Sprinkle with flour. Place the dough on the baking sheet, and roll it into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle. (If your dough keeps shrinking, let it rest for 15 minutes, and try again.)

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons Parmesan lengthwise over half of crust, leaving a one-inch  border. Top with ¾ cup mozzarella, then mushroom mixture. Sprinkle 2 T parmesan and ¾ cup mozzarella over mushrooms. Spoon dollops of ricotta cheese over; sprinkle with crushed red pepper.

Fold plain half of dough up over filling. Crimp edges tightly to seal. Brush with oil. Bake calzone until puffed and brown, about 18 minutes.

Brush with oil again, and serve with marinara for dipping.

Friday, March 8, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Asparagus Tart

This recipe was a great excuse to cross puff pastry off of my baking bucket list (still pretty proud of those layers), but if you use purchased  pastry, this can be a very easy to assemble meal. If you don't want to buy or make mascarpone, you should be able to substitute 3 tablespoons of cream cheese, and add a teaspoon or two of cream.
Serves six to eight.

1 bunch asparagus (about 1 lb)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ batch quick puff pastry (or store-bought puff pastry)
¼ cup mascarpone
¼ cup heavy cream
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ cup walnuts (or almonds), toasted and roughly chopped
parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler
pinch pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 420º. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Roll the puff pastry into an 8×12 inch rectangle. Trim off the uneven edges. Place on the baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a small bowl combine the mascarpone, cream, garlic, pepper flakes, and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.

Trim the asparagus to an even length and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Remove your puff from the fridge and top with the mascarpone mixture leaving a one-inch border. Arrange the asparagus on top, sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350º and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes, until cooked through.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Just before serving top with toasted walnuts and shaved Parmesan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I know - corny humor.  It does make me smile to imagine Benedict finally able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.

40 Meatless Meals: Tomato Soup

I was shocked to hear my sister (who has always passionately avoided vegetables) raving about this tomato soup recipe.  It's meant to be made late in the summer when all your garden produce is in, but could work any time of year in a smaller batch.

1/2 bushel of tomatoes (peeled and in chunks)
14 sticks of celery (cleaned and chunked)
7 medium onions (peeled and in chunks)
4 green peppers (cleaned and seeded and cut into chunks)
Cook these 4 ingredients until tender and then put through a blender and then a colander.

Melt together:
2 cups butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup salt  (possibly more to taste, but add it later if you'd like)

Add 2 cups flour

Combine with juice mixture and boil about 8 minutes.
Put in jars and process in a pressure canner for 20 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure, or can in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes, or just go ahead and eat it.

Makes 18 pints.

If my math is correct, you can make 1/8 of this recipe as follows:
2 (28oz) cans tomatoes
2 stalks celery
1 onion
½ bell pepper
¼ c butter
2T brown sugar
1T salt
¼ c flour

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Gardener's Pie

  • 2 T cooking oil
  • 1 c chopped onion
  • ½ c chopped green pepper
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 c vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 (14-oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ c corn 
  • ½ c peas
  • Your favorite mashed potato recipe, made from approximately 1½ lbs potatoes (I use a half batch of this recipe)
  • 1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400º. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in the flour, and keep cooking for another minute.

Clear off a spot on the pan, and add the tomato paste. Cook for one minute, until it begins to brown.  Add vegetable broth, rosemary and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the kidney beans, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the corn and peas.

Spread the vegetable mixture evenly in an 11-by-7-inch glass baking dish.

Mix the egg with the mashed potatoes, and spoon this mixture over the vegetables, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up, and smooth with a rubber spatula.

Put the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Spinach, Sun-dried tomato, and artichoke quiche


  • 1 1/3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup shortening or ½ cup minus 1 T lard
  • 4-5 T cold water


  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4-5 cups fresh baby spinace
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups half-and-half
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • white pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup grated cheese, any or all of the following: pepper jack, mozzerella, provolone
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 8-10 pieces quartered artichoke hearts, drained

Combine flour and salt in bowl. Cut in fat with a pastry blender. Slowly stir in water, using just enough to bring dough together. Roll out dough and place in a 9½" pie pan. Line with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes. Remove weights.

While crust is baking, place the dried tomatoes in a heat-proof bowl, cover with boiling water, and let stand 5 minutes. Place the spinach in a microwave-safe bowl, cover, and microwave 1½ minutes, until wilted.

Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, garlic, salt, pepper, and cheese together.

Drain spinach on paper towels. Remove tomatoes from the water and pat dry. Chop tomatoes into ¼" pieces (kitchen shears work well for this). Sprinkle tomatoes and spinach over the bottom of the crust.

Pour the egg mixture over all, Arrange artichoke hearts on top.

Bake in a 350°F oven for about 40-45 minutes or until a knife comes out relatively clean (inside will be moist, but not liquidy) and top is golden brown.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, March 4, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Chicago-Style Revisited

Way back at the beginning of this venture, I posted my recipe for Chicago-style pizza. Since then, I'd done several iterations of this recipe, tinkering with it as I go. In the past year, though, I discovered that the master recipe tinkerers at America's Test Kitchen had done a version. Of course, I had to give it a try, and I was impressed with the results (though not surprised, as their recipes almost never fail to please). 

This isn't the usual throw-together meal I'm looking for when I make pizza, but if I have a little time on my hands, the effort definitely pays off. To add other toppings to this pizza (my favorite is about 2 cups of baby spinach), saute until the excess moisture is removed, cool, and toss with the mozzarella. 

Makes two 9-inch pizzas, serving four to six.

  • 3¼ cups (16¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (2 ¾ ounces) yellow cornmeal
  • 1½ teaspoons table salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1¼ cups water, room temperature
  • 3 T  unsalted butter , melted, plus 4 T, softened
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup grated onion , from 1 medium onion (see note)
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • Table salt
  • 2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed
  • 1(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 2 T coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese , shredded (about 4 cups)
  • ½ ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about ¼ cup)
Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add water and melted butter and mix on low speed until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.

Grease a large bowl with oil or kitchen spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning once to oil top; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.

While dough rises, heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, increase heat to high, and bring to simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 2½ cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Turn dough out onto dry work surface and roll into 15- by 12-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over surface of dough, leaving ½" border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 18- by 4-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise. Working with one half at a time, fold into thirds like business letter; pinch seams together to form ball. Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425º. Coat two 9" round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Transfer 1 dough ball to dry work surface and roll out into 13" disk about ¼ inch thick. Transfer dough to pan by rolling dough loosely around rolling pin and unrolling into pan. Lightly press dough into pan, working into corners and up sides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax 5 minutes before trying again.

For each pizza, sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella evenly over surface of dough. Spread half of tomato sauce over cheese and sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over sauce. Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Friday, March 1, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Apologies for non-illustrative photos; this was so good that I forgot to take a picture until I had packed up the leftovers.

This is based on a recipe that I found over a year ago, shortly after I tried butternut squash soup for the first time.  Last summer, I grew squash for the sole purpose of making this soup, and once I got an immersion blender all the pieces had fallen into place.  I made this last night and immediately knew that it would be going into my regular soup rotation.  If you (or someone who eats your food) is averse to coconut and/or curry, the spice proportions can easily be tweaked.

Adapted from this recipe.

Makes 4 servings.

  • 4 c. peeled, cubed butternut squash (about 1 medium sized squash)
  • 1 sm. onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. garlic
  • 2 T. oil
  • 3 c. veggie broth (or chicken, if that's what you've got)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • coconut milk (for topping; if it's served in a separate dish, everyone can add it to their own taste.  If you're having trouble locating this ingredient, check the Asian food aisle - the brand I found was Thai Kitchen)
In a large pot, heat the oil.  Add the onion and saute until it is soft and translucent.  Add the spices and garlic, and stir for 30 seconds.  Add the squash, broth, and sugar, stir to combine, and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and let it simmer for 30 minutes or until squash is soft.  Puree until smooth using regular or immersion blender.  Serve with coconut milk and for a little more substance, add quinoa, rice, or chickpeas.  I used the following recipe (from the same source):

Coconut quinoa

Melt 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (or other oil - I just used vegetable) in a pot.  Toast 1 cup of rice or rinsed quinoa for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add 1 1/2 c. of water and 1/2 c. coconut milk.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Quinoa can be fluffed with a fork before serving; rice should be fine without.

First Friday Devotions

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for March

Respect for Nature. That respect for nature may grow with the awareness that all creation is God's work entrusted to human responsibility.

Clergy. That bishops, priests, and deacons may be tireless messengers of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
UPDATE:  Since there currently is no Holy Father, should we still be praying for his intentions?  Father Z weighs in here.