Inspired Cookies for a 

Christian Kitchen

As we approach the most Holy Three Days, called the Triduum, I want to reoffer recipes from the CRS Rice Bowls – perfect for Good Friday. Actually, they’re perfect for any day of the year.  

Click to watch Fr. Leo’s Appearance on NBC 4 in NYC.

Along with this recipe, I want to share a faithful foodie cookie idea families can share with children. It came from one someone who attended one of my parish missions. 

St. Timothy Parish Mission – So blessed that our parish missions fill up the churches, making the pastors very happy.

Because I don’t have an exact resource, I want to clearly explain that I didn’t create this recipe. I’m just sharing this recipe with you with great inspiration. In my opinion, inspiration is one of the most important ingredients in cooking. 

I’m always happy when the camera crew lines up to eat the food I cook for different food news segments.

As you and your family participate in the holiness of the liturgies that lead to Easter celebrations, I pray you will always remember how much God loves you. His love will feed you – body, mind, and soul. This food ought to inspire us to live our lives following Jesus to Heaven.  

Icon of the Last Supper.

 


This Week’s Recipe: 
 
Photo from http://foodfaithfellowship.blogspot.com/2011/04/resurrection-cookies.html

The Catholic Review:

Let us Pray:

God of love, give us the Grace to see how the liturgies of Holy Week inspire us to anticipate with great joy the Easter mysteries.  May we be patient with those who may come to church out of obligation or may not fully understand the spiritual depth of these celebrations.  May our joyful presence, non-judgmental faith, and sincere prayers be an inspiration for all Christians and people of good will to live as a peaceful human family.

The Garden of Gesthemane, Jerusalem.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

 

  • What will you cook during these upcoming holidays?
  • Do you have a special Easter recipe with a story that you can share?
  • Did you use any of the CRS Rice Bowl recipes?  If so, which did you enjoy the most?

Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below

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Posted in CRS Rice Bowl, Culinary Confessions, Easter, Lent, Menu Inspiration, Prayers, Recipe, Restaurants, Restauraunt Reviews, Video | No Comments »

Posted April 10th, 2014 | CRS Rice Bowl, In Memory, Menu Inspiration, Recipes

Brussels Sprouts and Culinary Conversions

We apologize for the blast being a day later than usual; we have been in mourning since the passing of Project Manager Joe Hansbrough’s father, James D. Hansbrough Jr, husband to Maria Hansbrough for over 38 years, father of nine children, and grandfather to seven grandchildren and counting. He died of a heart attack on Monday unexpectedly. According to Joe, he was instrumental in making sure that Grace was said before every meal and that the Faith was instilled in his children. We ask you to please keep him and his family in your prayers in this time of grief. You can view his obituary HERE. Thank you.

 

———

 

Last week I had the chance to cook Brussels sprouts for Gus Lloyd, the host for the popular morning show, “Seize the Day” on Sirius XM Catholic Channel 129.  He was known for sharing on air his anti-love for Brussels sprouts or as he would call them, “those little horrible critters.”   (Gus is so nice, he would never use the word “hate,” so in my mind, Gus felt “anti-love”).

 

Since I was in the Tampa area, where Gus hosts his show, I accepted his invitation to join him live in studio. At the same time, I gave give him a chance for a culinary “conversion” by cooking him Brussels sprouts. I vowed that he would LOVE the way I prepare these little “gifts of God.”

 

Gus Lloyd live on radio, staring at his former food enemy, Brussels sprouts, presented two ways and served with pan-seared chicken.

He sampled the Brussels sprouts LIVE on his show.  And, as expected, loved them!  A miracle and conversion occurred before his listening audience!  Because so many people asked for recipes I’ve copied them below for you to enjoy.

CLICK for recipe: Brussels sprouts and Granny Smith apple slaw.
CLICK for the Recipe: Pan-seared chicken served with two preparations of Brussels sprouts, including a bed of braised Brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic vinegar reduction.

In this time of Lent, we are asked to experience a deeper conversion.  That can only begin when we are willing to have an honest and sincere conversation. We need to truthfully admit our feelings, while also being brave enough to try a different approach (or in Gus’s case, a different recipe). Jesus did that quite a bit, leading many sinners to conversion. He ate with them.  He showed them the Father’s love using different language, telling stories and ultimately sacrificing himself.  He didn’t approach faith like the “experts,” which for him was the scribes and the Pharisees who imposed burdens, not blessings.  He definitely presented the message of God’s love in a different way.  Now, we must be brave enough, like Gus Lloyd, in eating the Super Food that Jesus gives to us: His Body & Blood and his sacred teachings.  

 

Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the Jacksonville Eucharistic Congress.

Gus Lloyd had a “conversion” because he was willing to have a conversation. He admitted some of his past prejudices from bad Brussels sprouts experiences.  But he was also courageous enough to give this former food enemy another try in a different way.  Hopefully, in this season of Lent, we can do the same with people in our lives.  With honest conversation and courage, we can get over our prejudices, our past bad experiences, and reverse our “anti-love” for one another.  Conversion begins with an honest conversation with God, called prayer.

 

Shrine dedicated to praying for those who suffer with cancer, at the Assumption Church in Chicago, IL.

 

Let us Pray:

Father, may we experience an ongoing conversation with You in prayer, which will lead to a conversion of Heart.  Teach us how to get over negative experiences of our past. Give us courage to be open enough to trying those things which we know are good for us – such as healthy food, exercise, forgiveness, patience, serving the poor, learning more about faith, and praying more faithfully. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Seminarians for the Diocese of St. Augustine Florida. These men all know the need for ongoing conversion in their life as future priests.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: 

  • How do you prepare Brussels sprouts?
  • Is there a food that you need a ‘culinary conversion’ for – i.e., a new way to try something you don’t like to eat?
  • Is there a “spiritual food” that you may have a prejudice against (ie., fasting, church’s moral teaching, praying the rosary, meditation) that you need to have presented to you in a different way so that you may better appreciate the spiritual foods of the Church?

 

Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below.

  


This Week’s Lenten Recipe from CRS Rice Bowl:
 
 
Visit crsricebowl.org for more on Fr. Leo and 
CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen: For Lent, For Life
 
4/12/14
 
Fombell, PA
 
4/12/14 – 4/15/14
 
Brunswick, OH
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Posted in CRS Rice Bowl, In Memory, Menu Inspiration, Recipes | 5 Comments »

Feel Good Falafels

Click for this week’s recipe

 

 

People joke that the word falafel can be pronounced, “feel awful.”  But the taste of these deep-fried and well-seasoned chickpea croquettes make me feel good – really good – because these remind me of the Resurrection of Jesus.  

Click the button of this flattering picture of me to get a glimpse at the awesome sights (and tastes) of my journey to the Holy Land.

 

Twenty years ago, as a seminarian studying abroad, I had the chance to visit biblical holy cities such as Nazareth, Galilee, and Jerusalem.  The Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem  is a basilica that enshrines Calvary, where Jesus died; the burial rock where he was laid; and the actual tomb of Jesus, from where Christians believe he was resurrected.  Secular and even non-Christian scientists and archaeologists agree Jesus of Nazareth, the historical person, walked there carrying a cross, died, and was buried at those places where people now worship God and pray.  It’s indeed a powerful place to pray, and I work very hard to try and recall – using all of my senses – to recreate and remember my experiences.

It’s not always so easy to remember these powerful moments.  However, the human sense of taste has helped me remember my spiritual visit.  Outside and around a few corners from the basilica, I saw a man busily scooping up a yellow green mixture, dropping these scoops into hot oil, straining out the cooked croquettes into paper napkins, and exchanging dollars or shekels with the swarm of people around him.  It was impressive to watch, hypnotic-like, especially with enticing aromas and the hum of the bustling crowd.

So I entered into the organized chaos with one U.S. dollar in my hand.  When it was my turn, no words were exchanged.  The man confidently took my dollar in one hand, and with the other he swapped these warm, dark, deep-fried nuggets.  I didn’t know what else to do but walk away and just marvel.  I didn’t even know what I was eating.  But in faith, I ate and was converted.

The open market of Jerusalem

I went back again the next day.  This time, I showed up early and awkwardly waited for him to get his first batch cooked.  He gave me that smile of recognition that gave me confidence.  Somehow, eating his food connected me to his history, culture, and possibly his faith.  He smiled as a father would approve of his child learning something new and important in life.  I felt like I had grown up a little more just by expanding the experience into even more flavors while taking only one bite.

Chef for Peace, Nabil Marcos Aho, demonstrates how to make falafels.

Faith, God’s gift to us, needs to mature, indeed expand, if we are to benefit from this Gift.  It has to become incarnate, that is, take on flesh, because we are sensory people.  We need to touch the rock of Calvary, see the candles compete with the shadows of the darkened tomb, hear the chanting and murmurs of simple but sincere prayers, and also taste the bread and wine to connect us to the last things Jesus tasted on earth.

Wine tasting and lecture at LaSalle Monastery near Jerusalem.

 

Twenty years later, I now lead pilgrims to share these experiences of faith through food.  To help heighten their experiences I try to offer them opportunities using the senses of taste and smell, but also with practical teaching, so we can eat, remember, pray, and feel God smiling on us with each bite.  

Click Here for the Falafel Recipe and a little history, provided by Chef for Peace, Chef Nabil Marcos Aho.

The Tomb of Jesus Christ.
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

  • What foods remind you of the Resurrection?
  • Have you ever eaten something “out of faith” and found you loved it?
  • How can you put your own spin into this traditional falafel recipe?

Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below.

Let us Pray:

Father, You give us so many ways to stay connected to Your love.  Help us never to limit our experiences of faith, but to truly expand our knowledge of You.  May we taste and see Your goodness each day, with every bite we eat and with every morsel of bread we offer to Your hungry children.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 
2/15/14-2/17/14
 
Oak Grove, MN
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Posted December 18th, 2013 | Holiday, Menu Inspiration

 

Adveih Seasoning for Advent 

Everyone has their own holiday recipes, especially when it comes to baking sugar cookies, cinnamon spiced drinks, and semi-savory gingerbread men.  How about using some of those dessert-styled seasonings for beef?

 

New York strip steaks with advieh seasoning

Recently, I recorded two cooking segments with Servant Books, who will be publishing my next book, called “Epic Food Fight: A Bite Sized History of Salvation.”  Unlike my previous books, this won’t have any recipes but culinary inspirations for the faith. This book will develop what I’m calling a “Theology of Food.”  It traces how food has been part of ‘salvation history,’ beginning with the forbidden fruit and ending with the salvation that comes from the ‘Blessed Fruit’ of Mary’s womb – the Lamb of God.

 

My mother’s AMAZING fruit salad.

 

There will definitely be more exciting news about this book early next year.  But, in doing some of the research for the book, I found myself delving into other cooking techniques.  In the book, I encourage families to consider cooking outside of their comfort zone, even looking to other faith traditions for foods to try. These types of faith inspired dinners, give you a chance to talk about ecumenism, or how the Catholic Faith relates to the rest of the world’s religions. You can also discover how food is a common factor that binds us all together.  And then use some of the ingredients for your own creative and tasty inventions. 

 

Another creative invention using milk and honey with tropical fruits. Delicious!

That’s what I did with one recipe that we filmed for Servant Books. I gave steaks a whole new flavor profile by using advieh seasoning, which combines cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cloves and ginger – ingredients often associated to sweet baking, but also uniquely used in savory style cuisine. 

 

Advieh spiced steaks with herbal couscous.

In this advent season, when we await the coming of God in the Flesh (i.e., the Incarnation), we realize that He wants to bring spice to our lives!  Consider this easy but unique recipe for your next meal, and share the blessings of the Holy Season.  Food is a great gift celebrated by everyone, no matter the religious background.  It’s what will connect us as a human family, as we are all called to be God’s children!

Food for Thought:

  • What religion do you understand the least and how can you learn more about it without challenging your own understanding of your Catholic Christian Faith?
  • Do you think it’s a “sin” to try eating different foods from other religions?
  • Why is it that Catholics have no diet restrictions, but impose restrictions on who is appropriately able to receive Holy Communion?

Please post your comments HERE to let us know what your thinking. Your posts can shed some wisdom and insight with all of our readers!

Let Us Pray:

 

Let us pray that God will fill us with joy at the coming of Christ. Lord God, may we, Your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ experience the joy of salvation and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 

 

(Taken from the Roman Sacramentary Third Sunday of Advent)

Nativity of newly born Jesus at Grotto of Lourdes, Emmitsburg MD.

 

This Week’s Featured Recipe:
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Posted November 21st, 2013 | Food for Thought, Menu Inspiration, Recipe, Recipe-Turkey

 

 

 Talking Turkey Truth

It’s obviously that time of the year, so let’s just talk turkey truth. 

I don’t like turkey!

I get the honors of cutting this big bird!

There, I said it!  Mea culpa!

The process of thawing, the care to prevent microbes from turning into sickness, and cooking a non-fatty and flavorless bird, which is so easy to overcook because people are worried about undercooking this popular food – well, it just baffles me!  Why couldn’t the pilgrims and Native American Indians decide on steak instead!

 

Steak with Advieh seasoning.

Although I have clearly lodged my turkey protests, that doesn’t mean I won’t eat it.  In some cases, I enjoy it, especially if the bird is highly flavored from a long time brining or deep-fried in peanut oil.  But pound for pound, I prefer an easier way of cooking turkey.

Oven-roasted chicken sitting on beer cans.

My recommendation is: get a smaller turkey or a large chicken to cook as the center piece de resistance!  But to feed the hungry crowds, prepare turkey breasts instead!  I use this catering technique of cooking and carving turkey especially for my large family gatherings.  We retain the tradition of a cooked turkey, beautifully presented – and delicious enough.  

 

See turkey, beautifully presented.

But we’ve noticed that people go for the turkey breasts, because they’re easier to eat, they taste better (it has  bacon for goodness sake), and then we get to keep the pretty poultry on display for family pictures.  And my Filipino American family LOVES taking family food pictures!

Keeping your turkey and trimmings easy will keep your Thanksgiving stress free.  It will help you stay focused on what’s most important on that day.  Giving Thanks!  

And if I do say so myself, this recipe will honestly make you say, THANK YOU, GOD! 

A young man, visiting the Immaculate Conception Church in New Orleans, for a midday moment of prayer.

 Food for Thought:

 

  • What’s your favorite way to cook turkey?
  • What’s your favorite side dish?
  • Do you have a simple Thanksgiving recipe to share with our members?  

 

Your comments and questions assist us in our mission. Please post your comments HERE. 

Let us pray:

 

Father in Heaven, thank You for this time of preparation for the upcoming holy days.  May we do so peacefully, not frantically.  May our efforts bring about the Grace that comes from a faithful family gathering, one that recognizes that You are the giver of all good things, and that we are called to share these blessings with others – especially those in need.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 This Week’s Recipe: 

 

Bacon- Wrapped Turkey Breast

 

November 26

Harrisburg, PA
November 30- December 3
GOOSE CREEK, SC
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Posted October 9th, 2013 | Menu Inspiration, Prayers, Recipe
 

Blessed and Broiled Fruits

 

As you know I’ll be going to the Holy Land for a culinary adventure of a life time!  On this unique pilgrimage, we will discuss and dine on the God’s goodness.  As you know, Chefs for Peace (Christian, Jewish and Muslim chefs) will be cooking for us, giving us opportunities to learn about biblical foods and explore ways on how we can bring peace to our world – one meal at a time. You have ONE more week to sign up – so act now! Click here for the registration form and contact information. 

A cooking demonstration of traditional foods is always a great way to experience a new culture.

One idea about biblical foods that comes up quite a bit is determining what exactly is the forbidden fruit?  While we have to see that a literal fruit was forbidden, we also have to recognize that the fruit symbolized sin – especially disobedience.  Sin, disobedience to God’s command, is a forbidden fruit. And yes, disobeying God’s commands can harm us. In some cases, kill us!

Saints who prayed before the Crucifix, begging only to do God’s will. St. Francis Church in San Francisco.

The Scriptural concept of “fruit” is not limited to the edible, generally sweet, and juicy produce from plants, vines or trees.  For God, it’s more about what we do – it’s the product of our lives that can feed a hungry soul.

A few years ago, a few of us priests went on a bike tour and had a chance to pick fresh blueberries along the way.

Our Grace Before Meals team works very hard to encourage people to bear good fruit in their lives.  As such, they can feed the soul, which yearns for the Blessed Fruit that hangs from the Tree of Life.  It’s the only remedy we have to combat the destructive poison that comes, even when we nibble, on the forbidden fruits that grow like weeds all around us. 

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel and Theological College, in Washington DC. Image of Trinity in background show the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sharing a meal from one dish.

To complement our discussion on fruits, I have a great recipe idea for you, which can be used for many different types of fruits.  In this case, I’m using fresh figs, compliments from parishioner’s fig tree. 

Broiled figs stuffed with blue cheese, prosciutto, and a glaze of balsamic and olive oil.

 

 

Let us pray:  Father in Heaven, You provide us with the best of foods for the soul.  Help us to avoid the temptation of eating and digesting the forbidden fruits of our lives.  Keep us always hungry to receive the Blessed Fruit of Mary’s womb, and to approach the Supreme Meal of Grace with humbled and contrite hearts.  Through the name of Jesus, our Savior and God. Amen. 

A picture of Jesus praying Grace with his Holy Parents, Joseph and Mary.

Questions:

  • What’s a unique way that you prepare fruits?
  • How do you explain what is a forbidden fruit to your family?
  • What “blessed fruits” do you or someone you know produce?

Your comments help motivate us to keep doing what we do. Please leave your comments and questions HERE, and know that we appreciate you being a part of our growing Grace Before Meals family.

 

October 12

 
 
Peachtree City, GA
 
October 13
 
 
Pennsburg, PA 
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