Posted May 28th, 2009 | Recipe-Sauce, Uncategorized

Let’s not forget – we’re entering grilling season and the “holy smokes” will soon fill the air, wafting an aroma worthy for a feast day!

I love to grill!

I would never claim to be an expert griller, but I do know a little trick for waking up the flavors in grilled meat. Immediately after the meat leaves the grill, I top it off with flavored butter.

While in Nebraska for the Ordinations, I tasted some of their praiseworthy Omaha beef. But no matter how good the meat was, it did require seasoning. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the beef experts also added a flavored butter(in this case, garlic and chive butter) to their delicious grilled rib eye!

But, the best topping of all was a newly ordained deacon’s blessing.

Deacon Matt Rolling blessing our appetizers – he’s all smiles doing it!

Flavored Butter for Steaks

Ingredients: (For 4-5 steaks)

4 teaspoons of butter, room temperature

4 teaspoons of crumbled blue cheese

1 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoon of fresh cilantro, finely minced

½ salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

Instructions: Combine all flavors together, using an electric blender to make it smooth and creamy. Place the bowl in the refrigerator until the butter begins to harden. Immediately after the steak, chicken or pork comes off your grill, add about 1- 1 ½ teaspoons of butter to the still very hot meat. Allow the butter to melt, giving the meat enough time to rest before digging in! Don’t forget – that time for the butter to melt and the meat to rest should also be enough time to say grace before the meal!

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Posted May 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Happy Memorial Day to America!  As I passed by a few small town cemeteries today, I was touched to see so many people gathered around in prayerful remembrance of our beloved dead, especially those who died in wars to keep our country safe and free!

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I am currently in Lincoln, Nebraska for the celebrations of a few Mount St. Mary’s Seminarians who were ordained this past weekend. img_0275

You can read all about it as well as check out some of the fun pictures if you are a subscribed member.  If you haven’t yet signed up for the free weekly email blasts, go ahead fill out the information on the left of the main page.  This week, I’ve written a little piece called “Don’t Forget”, which talks about some of the highlights of our Feeding Your Faith Pilgrimage, img_0117

as well as some spiritual reflections about the Lincoln, NE priesthood ordinations.img_0252

 

I also have a recipe to help wake up the flavors of your summer steaks and grilled meats!  So, go ahead and subscribe. It’s free. It’s faithful. It’s for families.  And, it’s lots of fun!

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By the way, I really like the architecture of the Omaha State Capital Building, but especially the inscription above the door. It says something like this:  “The salvation of America depends on the attentiveness of its citizens.”  What a great thought to remember.  And, the statue of a man sowing seeds at the top of the building is rather impressive too!  Although, I kept telling the Lincoln seminarians that it looks like he’s dancing!

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Posted May 20th, 2009 | Recipe-breakfast

While in Lourdes, I had to get crepes. So, my sister and a young cousing of mine set out to find some non-dessert crepes. Most crepes are usually filled with sweets and creams. However, I wanted crepes for lunch. I found it!

This recipe comes from a popular websitehttp://allrecipes.com.

1 cup of flour

2 eggs

½ cup of milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.

While the crepe batter is rather common, I am not particularly fond of the sweet filling. Instead, I’d put in a slice or two of cooked ham, some cheese and an egg. If you wish, throw in some baby spinach leaves too! Allow this to cook together until the whites of the egg are fully cooked. Flip the crepe over the filling like you would an omelet, and serve. Add a side salad for a very French experience! Drink with a glass of spiced apple cider for even bigger smiles!

My sister Maria (left) and Cousin Bernadette Mary (named after the saint celebrated in Lourdes, France)

My sister Maria (left) and Cousin Bernadette Mary (named after the saint celebrated in Lourdes, France)

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Posted May 19th, 2009 | Uncategorized

We really move at such a fast clip that I have no time to write updates.  So, here’s a little catch up on what’s been happening on this “Feeding Your Faith Pilgrimage”.   I guess that would make it Days 3 and 4.

I think I left off at our departure from Lourdes to visit a castle to Carcassone and then to Avignong.  This castle provided a spiritual understanding of Jesus is as our King and our Shepherd.  We discussed that there are a few ways that a King gains subjects:  by protecting the people, by ensuring the people will have food, and by inspiring them to believe in his leadership.  That is so true for us, as we are all part of Christ’s Kingdom.  

The castle of Carcassone is absolutely beautiful.  While it rained like cats and dogs, we survived it all enough to really enjoy the view of this truly medieval structure.

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While in this lovely little city, our guide showed me around the town and described how the most important part of the kingdom was making sure there was a water source.  This little well situated itself perfectly in the center of tables of a little outdoor restaurant.  It was too early for lunch, but I was so tempted to just sit there and order a glass of sparking water and just meditate on (1) how Christ is our source of eternal springs, and (2) just how cool it would have been to live in this castle – even for just one day!

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Of course the center of the city, as in all medieval cities, was the church:  The gothic qualities of this beautiful church gave the real sense of how “noble” we are called to be since we are all God’s children invited to his sacred banquet.  The statues were old, the church’s lines were inspiring, and everything from the facade to the interior spoke of the majesty of our faith!

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Statue of St. Ann, mother of the Virgin Mary (14th century – Cathedral of Carcassone)

img_0812Interior of Carcassone Cathedral – France

 

img_08131 Exterior of Carcassone, France. Notice the little gargoyles jetting out from the cathedral walls!

The rain, while it definitely reduced the enjoyment of this visit, didn’t dampen the beauty.  But, we eventually boarded the bus for a bus ride to the city of the Pope – Avignon, where I had the chance to celebrate Mass in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and particularly in the chapel where the Avignon Popes celebrated Mass for about 122 years during the Roman Papacy’s exile.

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The Mass at Notre Dame’s cathedral however was by God’s pure providence.  It so happened that we had Mass originally scheduled at San Pierre’s (St. Peter’s Church), but the sacristan didn’t show up!  Instead, God had something even better planned for our group!  Mass at this private altar of the Avignon Popes!img_0889And, another gift of Providence:  While we were waiting for the church of San Pierre to open (which it finally did open and it even had adoration of the Blessed Sacrament), I had a chance to scope out a restaurant for lunch.  I found the perfect place.  It was SO INCREDIBLY FRENCH! Even the business cards that the young wait staff are holding in this picture is so very “cleverly French” as it’s shaped like a tomato!

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I was told the restaurant owner of the L’epicerie, 10 Place Saint Pierre (tel 04.90.82.74.22), Avignon, goes out to the market each day to find the freshest meats, seafood, and produce.  And, since I was in France, I had to try their Froie Gras, which was perfectly seared, and placed on top of a baked apple tart, served with Romaine lettuce dressed in a vinaigrette, as well as an individual serving of potato au gratin, like I never had before!  It was tres bon!

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It was also so very perfect because it was filling enough to make me sleepy for the bus ride to Nice, France – our next stop.  But as we boarded the bus, I thought to myself that I should like to return to this city that has so much history and culture.  It was confirmed that I would return when I saw the sign, right next to our bus!  img_0899My French Language ability is pretty bad, but I do know the big orange sign says, “We Want Our Leo!”… The rest of it doesn’t really matter!

So, Avignon, even though the popes have left this great city, the Catholic Faith still remains! And, so will our happy memories of this beautiful city of Popes, culture, music, food and FAITH!

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Posted May 14th, 2009 | Uncategorized

It’s been an incredible few days.  While this pilgrimage is called “feeding your faith”, it’s more like “all you can eat feasting!”  Since we left the Dulles Airport about 1 hour late due to rain, we rushed in the parish airport to make the flight to Toulousse, a beautiful and modern “red bricked city” of about 60,000 people.  We met our guide, Esther Peters and our Driver Terry who helped us load our luggage for a two hour bus ride to our first stop.  Despite the fact that one of our members had a “lost luggage” we were prepared for this pilgrimage, and my tip to pack an extra change of clothes in their hand carry helped them feel secure.  St. Anthony helped us out and we received the luggage just one day late!  But, at this point, we had beautiful weather as we made our way to the city of Lourdes, France.

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The basilica marks the spot over the grotto (cave) where a young peasant girl named Bernadette went with two friends to look for firewood.  When she came across a trickling stream, she heard a rustle of wind and looked up to see the first of 18 visions of the blessed Virgin Mary.  Perched on a rock, dressed in white with yellow roses on her feet, the Virgin Mary eventually revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception.  While this young girl didn’t even know what that meant, it became a great confirmation for the Dogma that was officially proclaimed just a few years prior in 1854.

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These miraculous encounters brought on many wonderful things such as a flowing spring that has miraculous healing power, her vocation to serve as a religious sister, and eventually deep conversion for the 6 million people who pilgrimage there seeking faith and healing.  It’s a place where sick are cared for with true Christian Charity.    Each night thousands gather to process in song and to pray the rosary in several languages.  Leading the procession are the sick people, especially cared for by volunteers who lead them in wheel chair, armed with rosaries and candles to light the dark night with prayer and hope!  It was a remarkable sight!

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It’s a place where miracles occur, especially since St. Bernadette and our Blessed Mother point to Jesus!  Our first day we had Mass in a small chapel off the side of the Basilica.  img_0566Our hotel, “San Saveur” (Holy Savior) was in a perfect location near the grotto where our group visited the various basilicas.  There are several places to pray – the upper Basilica, the lower Basilica, and the Rosary Basilica – one built on top of the other.  There is also the grotto, the place where people are immersed in the healing waters, the area for the candles, the Blessed Sacrament Tent, the Church of San Bernadette, the convent, and the lower basilica that can hold up to 20,000 people.  In a town that only has 15,000 people and 270 hotels, you can see that Lourdes is no longer a “forgotten city” as it was in Bernadette’s time. It’s now one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the Catholic World, especially since medical science has given a “thumbs up” to at least 60+ miracles (i.e., unproven medically), despite the fact that thousands and thousands have experienced unexplainable miracle.  

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On my second day there, we had a wonderful tour with our local guide, Kathy, who showed us the modest place where Bernadette was born. But, in the midst of a depression, her family had to move into a one room home called the “Cachot” , i.e., the former prison.

img_0655Since these miraculous visions occurred, Bernadette sought solitude with the Daughters of Charity where she became a nun and eventually died. 30 years after her death, she was proclaimed a saint. When her body was exhumed, she was found to be completely in tact – a true incorruptible saint!  Of course that miracle added to the fervor that so many people have when they come to pray.  The views of the city are breathtaking.  The faith of the people is inspiring.

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Our pilgrims made their way through the procession, got bottles of the miracle water to take back as souvenirs, and even had some time to sample the local cuisine… feasting on many things… especially the local crepes complete (i.e., crepes with egg, ham and cheese, which is best served with sparkling apple cider wine).

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Our second full day, we began our long bus ride to Avignon – the city of the Popes.  It’s the place where almost 122 years of the Roman Papacy took residence, until Catherine of Sienna convinced Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome and reclaim the proper seat of the Pope in 13 September 1376.  But, before that we stopped in a medieval city of Carcassone where we visited a real castle – a kingdom with real ramparts, draw bridges and even a moat! img_0793 

But, in the midst of it all, we even stopped in truck stop unlike anything we have in America.  At this autogrille, you can even buy murano glass jewelry, eat gourmet meals, and even buy chocolate truffles and cans of foie gras!

img_07871Yes, we definitely are having a wonderful time so far. Despite some heavy rains, we’ve found respite in beautiful old churches, and definitely at our hotel restaurants!

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Tomorrow, we’ll be off to visit some other sites before we make our way to Nice, and continue our feeding your faith tour with food for Body, Mind and Soul!

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Posted May 13th, 2009 | Recipe-breakfast, Recipe-Pastry

I hope you all had a chance to celebrate the great gift of your mom this past weekend for Mother’s Day. But there is no reason to limit a celebration of moms to just one calendar day.

Consider offering her an extra surprise and make her a Mother’s Day breakfast next Sunday, too. Here’s a simple recipe that reuses (or updates and renews) day-old French baguettes for a luscious French toast with a rum and berry syrup!

3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup milk or light cream
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 slices day-old French baguette, cut on bias
2 tsp butter
¼ cup syrup
4 strawberries, cleaned and cut
1/8 cup of blue berries
1 banana, sliced
½ cup of Captain Morgan Parrot Bay Coconut Flavored Rum (or any other spiced rum)

Instructions:
Beat eggs, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla together. Soak day old- baguette slices in mixture so each piece of crusty bread becomes soft, but not mushy. Heat butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add baguette slices to pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Once cooked, remove bread and put on a plate. In the same pan, add the spiced rum and cook out alcohol for 1-2 minutes. (ATTN: Alcohol can catch on fire if exposed to a lit flame.) Add syrup and heat until syrup becomes less thick. Turn off heat. Add berries and bananas and mix together. Spoon syrup and fruit over the French baguette toast.

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