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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Relishing Resources and Reminders

Our recent trip to the Holy Land was an amazing experience; a real faith-filled culinary adventure for all the pilgrims who came on the journey. We hope the following trip highlights and resources help you get excited about your own culinary conversion.  

 

I was inspired to write this blast while watching my pilgrims try to soak up all of the information and inspiration during our trip. Many listened and took notes; writing with one hand, taking pictures with the other, all while trying to sample the cuisine. I know I always have the best intentions of organizing and cataloging all the resources that I gather on trips. But, if these pilgrims are anything like me, when they finally returned home, and the busyness of life began, all of their best intentions ended up on the back burner (get the food reference there?)  

  

 

of the Visitation of Mary to her Cousin Elizabeth in Ein Kerem.

One of the many blessings from this trip came from visiting shops, stores, restaurants and food centers that were primarily Christian, or at least “Christian friendly.” This means they hired Christians, provided good wages, and were fair and honest in their dealings with Christians.  Christians in the Holy Land are a minority group, making them easy targets for exploitation, discrimination, and unfairness.  Even though tourism, Christian pilgrimages in particular, is an economic source for Israel, local Christians are the focus of high taxes without representation and therefore subject to all sorts of trials.   

 

Sam, the Manager for the Jerusalem branch of Voice of Faith Tours, and his family.

Purchasing products from these Christians helps on so many levels.  In addition to supporting our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, these purchases provide tangible signs (i.e., sacramentals) to transmit faith as gifts. They also help you to savor your faith and stay connected to the education and inspiring experiences of your pilgrimage.  

 

A presentation by Chefs for Peace.

We also spent some time with Chefs for Peace, an amazing group we’ve talked about in previous blog posts that is committed to exploring cultural identity, diversity and coexistence through food. Besure to friend and like the Facebook page for Chefs for Peace , and even the individual chefs, such as Odeh Abue El-Hawa, Chef Nabil Aho who also provides fantastic recipes with Moon Valley Products, Pastry Chef Ibrahim Abusheir, and Executive Chef and Owner of The Eucalyptus Restaurant Moshe Basson.

 

 

Click the picture to get all of the recipes that Chef Nabil shared with the group.

Our US Tour operator was Select International Tours, and the local operator was Voice of Faith Tours, both groups collaborated so well and provided great service, especially since this was such a unique, first time, out-of-the-box styled pilgrimage.  

 

At the Spice Farm from the local kibbutz in what is known as the Bethlehem of Galilee, with our presenter.

The Kando Store souvenir shop in Bethlehem allows local Christians a venue to develop artistic crafts and to make a decent life for their families. This store also possesses the largest historical vessel of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

 

 

The Kando Store is located in Bethlehem, PO Box 93, Palestine. For orders, contact Shibly’s email: kandos@palnet.com.

In Jericho, we celebrated Mass at the local parish, Good Shepherd, under the custody of the Franciscans. While they didn’t have the same resources as the donations from larger shrines provide, this place did a tremendous amount of good for the locals and for ecumenical and inter-religious efforts. Also in Jericho, we ate at a restaurant connected to a non-for-profit group called Seeds of Hope, a Christian organization to help less fortunate children in that area. 

 

 

Our pilgrim group at the Good Shepherd.

Next week, I’ll be sending out a list of all the recipes and food descriptions that we tasted along our delicious discernment in the Holy Land. These resources will hopefully help our pilgrims (and future pilgrims) stay organized, hungry, and faithfully fed!

 

Almost forgot the delicious award-winning wines from the Salesian monastery!

 

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  • Are you good at organizing your pictures and resources after a big trip?
  • What’s your favorite go-to resource or recipe that you learned from one of your trips that you still use today?
  • What resources can Grace Before Meals provide for you and your family?

 

Please leave your comments below as these really help us stay focus and true to our mission. 

Let us Pray:  

 

Jesus, you give us experiences, resources and connections to help us in our faith.  We don’t always use our resources of the church well. Please forgive us for letting these grace-filled gifts go unused.  Give us strength to be truly the Body of Christ by connoting us to the other Christians around the world, supporting each other, and most importantly by praying for each other, learning from each other, and one day, celebrating with each other in the Kingdom of Heaven.  We ask this through your most holy name. Amen. 

 

Meaningful Souvenir T-Shirt at the Jordan River.

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 Catholic Culinary Confession: 

 One World Cafe

As we continue our journey in the Lenten Season, I know that we make a big fuss about “fasting” on Fridays before the Easter Celebration.  To help us with eating meatless meals, I offer you a unique faithful foodie adventure about One World Café in Baltimore that I wrote in collaboration with the Catholic Review Newspaper’s Culinary Confession. If you bring a copy of the article with you, this vegetarian restaurant will even give you a discount on your final bill!  So go support this deliciously healthy and Lenten-friendly restaurant, owned and operated by two sisters, and a local parishioner!

The sisters who own and operate One World Café. Executive Chef Susan Novak is a parishioner of St. Thomas Aquinas in Hampden.

 

In the Book of Daniel, because they didn’t want to break their Jewish dietary restrictions, the prophet Daniel asked the prison guards to give the Jewish servants only vegetables instead of the food from the king’s table. This allowed them to keep within Jewish tradition, but I think they must have also known something parents have always encouraged: eating vegetables is good for you! And sure enough, at the end of their trial period, these “faithful foodies” were much healthier – truly a sign of Godly living.

Now I know that when it comes to going to a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, it can worry some meat lovers. Will I be satisfied? Do they just serve salads and veggies? Admittedly, I also find it difficult to enjoy a “forced upon” diet, especially if it comes with a moralizing, or what some might call “tree-hugging” or “animal-protecting” attitude. I don’t need to feel guilty just because I like steak.

 

But rest assured, while One World Café certainly caters to veggie lovers, I was very satisfied by the food and comfortable with the casual and friendly service. I was also edified to hear the sisters who own One World were subscribers to the Catholic Review.

The One World atmosphere is eclectic. The front room is a true college-hipster hangout. Bright painted walls give a modern vibe for an area that serves as a bar for alcoholic beverages, coffee, and pastries. Wi-Fi invites the earphone-wearing laptop crowd for homework or hanging out. The main dining room, by contrast, is a bit bare, but clean. Diners were equally eclectic, encompassing seniors, college students, and families with young children. However, street parking and stairs down to the dining room may be inconvenient for some patrons.

The staff was primarily young and bohemian-fashioned with tattoos and piercings, especially the, I have to admit, ominous-looking bartender, who turned out to be very kind and well-mannered. Our waitress was informative and patient with my many food preparation questions.  I sensed no meat-lovers guilt trip. The staff seemed content simply to serve good-tasting food. And, to their credit, the food was quite good.

With a combination of vegetarian and vegan foods (no animal products or dairy), I sampled familiar flavors, including a Philly cheese steak (less), packed with caramelized vegetables and a well-marinated seitan (“wheat meat”) that produced the texture of tender beef. The baked non-chicken parmesan used densely breaded tofu that looked and tasted like layered lasagna, served with a tasty but, in my opinion, unnecessary side of linguine marinara. A Greek-inspired veggie gyro, a tasty variety of vegetables wrapped in pita, was served with a traditional tzatziki sauce. The creamy mushroom soup was hearty and comforting. They even offered vegan desserts that still felt rich and decadent.

The food portions were generous, especially considering the moderate pricing. These dishes, personally created by chef-owner Novak, left me feeling satisfied.  For me, the most creative dish was the Maryland-inspired crab-less cake, made with shredded zucchini. Combining it with traditional binders gave the cake the texture of back fin crabmeat.

My experience of One World Café gave me a new perspective and respect for plant-based menus. Hunger satisfaction and a non-preachy approach to healthy eating makes One World Café a great restaurant for more than vegetarians and Friday meals during Lent.

Culinary Confessions - One World Cafe
Culinary Confessions – One World Cafe
  • Do you have a favorite meatless recipe?

  • How is your Lenten Practice going?

Your comments help encourage us and our movement. Please post your comments here!

Let us pray:  
 

 

Father as we continue this Lenten tradition of abstaining from meat on Friday, help us to hunger for the Body and Blood of Christ.  May this discipline remind us of what we can do without, and how we cannot do without You.  Sustain our Lenten observance and help us to become more the people You want us to be.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

MARCH 1-5
ST. TIMOTHY’S: WOMEN OF HOPE RETREAT & PARISH MISSION
MESA, AZ
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

 

MARCH 6
ST. FRANCIS HIGH SCHOOL & THE CATHOLIC FOUNDATION OF SACRAMENTO
SACRAMENTO, CA
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.
MARCH 9
HOLY TRINITY APOSTOLATE SYMPOSIUM
STERLING HEIGHTS, MI
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.
MARCH 10-12
OUR LADY OF LOURDES: PARISH MISSION
RALEIGH, NC
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

 

 

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Catholic Culinary Confessions

 

 Crabby Cakes for Crabby People

images/stories/Culinary_Confession_5.jpg

(Click to watch my latest Culinary Confession as I seek the best crab cake in Baltimore.)

This week, I want to share an article I wrote for the Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Paper, The Catholic Review, with our Grace Before Meals “fam.” As you know, the Maryland scene is quite proud of its seafood specialties but, in particular, the Maryland Blue Crab.  This mean-looking crustacean packs a sweet flavor when boiled or steamed and, of course, seasoned with a Chesapeake Bay favorite – Old Bay.

Steak and cakes – the best of both worlds.

(Steak and cakes – the best of both worlds.)

In this Culinary Confession, I sample some of Maryland’s best crab cakes.  You can try to determine which is the best for your taste buds.  I would think determining the best would be an impossible task, which is why I picked places that are close to locations where people can pray for divine inspiration.

My jalapeno-wrapped crab cake, baked in a cupcake pan to keep the form.

(My jalapeno-wrapped crab cake, baked in a cupcake pan to keep the form.)

During the months of July and August, our team will offer our members a walk down memory lane with some of our previously published blasts.  This will give our team a chance to prepare for the launch of our new website and the highly anticipated book, Spicing Up Married Life.

One of the featured recipes in the new book – complete with color photos of each dish.

(One of the featured recipes in the new book – complete with color photos of each dish.)

We will definitely offer some updated news, tips, and recipes with these Blasts from the Past, but we also want to make sure the fun stories, prayers, and recipe exchanges are not forgotten.

In the meantime, I pray that you and your family have a blessed summer, safe travels, and many opportunities to celebrate the greatest gifts of life – the food on the table and the blessed lives of the people around it!

My entire family on a Philippine Island vacation 2011-2012.

(My entire family on a Philippine Island vacation 2011-2012.)

Let us pray: Lord, we pray that this time of vacation for family and friends will be a time of recreation – to be recreated and renewed.  Keep all travelers safe and focused on their ultimate destination in Heaven.  With the prayers of the angels and saints, we ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Guardian Angel pointing to the Way of the Cross of Christ, Lourdes, France.

(Guardian Angel pointing to the Way of the Cross of Christ, Lourdes, France.)

Click here for the crab cake Culinary Confession for the Catholic Review.

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Catholic Culinary Confessions

As you may know, I’ve been doing a monthly column for the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Catholic Newspaper, called “Culinary Confessions.”  You may remember some of these posting exclusively for Grace Before Meals subscribers.  This has been an exciting opportunity to share  food and faith correlations from my own Archdiocese with all of you.

(The Basilica Shrine of Baltimore: last year's Easter decorations.)

(The Basilica Shrine of Baltimore: last year’s Easter decorations.)

At the end of this blast, you can read about my experience critiquing a hospital cafeteria.  You’ll find out why I would even choose to eat there in the first place!  You’ll also read about the spiritual lessons God provided for me after that experience.

(Mercy Hospital's Cafe: Chicken Marsala with potatoes and beans – all for about $6.00!)

(Mercy Hospital’s Cafe: Chicken Marsala with potatoes and beans – all for about $6.00!)

These Culinary Confessions give our movement the chance to make faith connections to culture, which show the world the relevancy of faith.  Faith, if practiced only in the confines of a church, synagogue, or mosque, demonstrates weakness, fear, or a lack of conviction.  As such, it renders faith mediocre and lukewarm.

In our modern world where people of faith are constantly being challenged to keep their mouths shut or their opinions to themselves, we need to realize that could weaken our convictions and beliefs.  Screaming, arguing, and proselytizing are not the answer, especially about controversial and challenging topics, but it is certainly important to make sure both sides are heard in a civil way.

(March for Life: Speaking Up for the Unborn Children.)

(March for Life: Speaking Up for the Unborn Children.)

Perhaps this week’s E-mail Blast will give everyone a gentle reminder to make sure each person at the table has a chance to speak up and share what they think honestly and respectfully.

(Students at the Bishop Verot High School after a School Assembly. I also spoke at Cardinal Moody HS. Both are GREAT places of learning and faith!)

(Students at the Bishop Verot High School after a School Assembly. I also spoke at Cardinal Moody HS.  Both are GREAT places of learning and faith!)

That’s what I hope people get out of these culinary confessions.  My objective is not to complain, which is destructive, but to critique in a constructive manner and share experiences from which we can draw possible lessons to the practice of our own faith.

Life certainly gives opportunities to make our faith real.  We need to talk about it without fear.  We need to be able to use our faith to help us make decisions and judgments in our lives.  This week, make your faith real!

(After a faithful and successful parish mission at Epiphany Catholic Church in Normal, Illinois, with great people who are making their faith real!)

(After a faithful and successful parish mission at Epiphany Catholic Church in Normal, Illinois, with great people who are making their faith real!)

Let us pray: Help us Lord never to be afraid to speak out against injustice, while speaking words of compassion to those who need it.  Help us to practice our faith in such a joyful and sincere way that others will be drawn to follow our example.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen!

Is there a restaurant review you’d like to share?  Let us know, and we’ll post it on our site!  Is there a topic you’d like to discuss for future E-Mail Blasts or for possible webisodes on YouTube?  Please post your comments, questions, and concerns.  We need to hear from you to keep our movement strong!

Click here for the Culinary Confessions for Mercy Medical Center’s Eatery.

A few other reminders:

Watch our show each week on EWTN’s Savoring our Faith.  It airs every Sunday at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Also, spaces are limited for the upcoming Virtuous Vacation and Culinary Retreat to Napa Valley.  Be sure to call and reserve your space today!

This week, I am at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheuim CA Thursday and Friday, speaking on how “Food Is Love” for teens and families. Afterwards, I have a Lenten parish mission at St. Mary’s Church in Hudson, OH until next Tuesday. For more information, go to our Events page on the website. Please pray for me and all attending that our hearts, minds and sould are open to all of God’s Graces, especially in this season of sacrifice.

(Join us at the table for one of the sumptuous wine-pairing experiences!)

(Join us at the table for one of the sumptuous wine-pairing experiences!)

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“FLIPPING OUT” at Filipino Restaurants

By now you know I enjoy the challenge of using “poor man’s” food – which I believe is the tastiest type of food on the planet – and elevating it to a whole new level.  As a self-professed “fusion-style” cook, I’m not afraid to experiment – within reason, of course.  Different techniques can aid the home cook in creating beautiful-looking plates out of something that tastes both familiar and comforting, while at the same time special and celebratory.

(An Italian spaghetti, flavored with a brine and a hint of tomato sauce, topped with a fried "sardine" and sprinkled with shreds of a soft cow's milk cheese. Uniquely delicious and stunning presentation with a slice of calimansi lime.) 

(An Italian spaghetti, flavored with a brine and a hint of tomato sauce, topped with a fried “sardine” and sprinkled with shreds of a soft cow’s milk cheese.  Uniquely delicious and stunning presentation with a slice of calimansi lime.)

During my trip to the Philippines, I found two restaurants that were unique, bold, and, in a word, “wonderful!”  It was worth getting very excited – even “Flipping Out” – for these unique culinary destinations!

(Had to show this photo of poor kids having the time of their life on this grassy hill "sliding" board. No expensive video game equipment, just a little sprinkle of imagination and tons of fun!)

(Had to show this photo of poor kids having the time of their life on this grassy hill “sliding” board.  No expensive video game equipment, just a little sprinkle of imagination and tons of fun!)

The first restaurant was on the Island of Palawan.  This Island is remarkably pristine.  The Mayor of the city outlawed litter, based on the philosophy that personal dignity requires the effort to show it.  This island is home to underground rivers that have been voted the most impressive natural wonder of the world!

(A little explanation of the “Underground River” – a natural wonder of the world AND a miraculous place, if my sister can keep quiet in the cave! Click to watch exclusive video!)

(A little explanation of the “Underground River” – a natural wonder of the world AND a miraculous place, if my sister can keep quiet in the cave! Click to watch exclusive video!)

The mayor’s leadership, combined with the beautiful (and clean) surroundings, has makes Palawan a heavily visited tourist spot by naturalists, adventurists, and leisure vacationers.

(The mayor's no littering mandate stopped the diseased bearing mosquitoes, but not the thieving monkeys!)

(The mayor’s no littering mandate stopped the diseased bearing mosquitoes, but not the thieving monkeys! Click to view exclusive video.)

As such, this Island has many dining options for locals and tourists alike.  But I recommend Ka Lui’s. This restaurant offers smaller but satisfying plates of traditional flavors fused with European cooking techniques.

(Ka Lui's Jalapeno-filled baked fish on a base of luscious cream sauce!)

(Ka Lui’s Jalapeno-filled baked fish on a base of luscious cream sauce!)

Ka Lui is beautifully constructed in bamboo open-air island fashion.  It’s elegant, refreshing, and remarkably clean.  The unique ambiance is heightened by the fact that everyone – including the all-male wait staff – is barefoot and fancy free!

(Felt like beach dining with upscale flavors – and no sand!)

(Felt like beach dining with upscale flavors – and no sand!)

(My review and explanation of this fun restaurant with tasty food and fantastic ambiance. Click video to watch.)

(My review and explanation of this fun restaurant with tasty food and fantastic ambiance. Click video to watch.)

Manila’s humongous urban sprawl makes it a food haven on every busy and overpopulated corner.  However, in the Fort Global City of Manila celebrity Chef Bruce Lim offers traditional flavors in bold and exciting ways at his signature restaurant, The Chef’s Table.

I think Italians would be impressed, even if slightly confused, by a spaghetti dish topped with a Filipino fried fish.  Or how about a “carbonara” that has grilled chicken and banana heart fruit cream sauce!

(Chef Lim's Filipin-ized "carbonara" made with grilled chicken, banana heart, cream, and scallions. Delicious!) 

(Chef Lim’s Filipin-ized “carbonara” made with grilled chicken, banana heart, cream, and scallions.  Delicious!)

This restaurant offers a completely different way of eating Filipino food by serving individual plates, not “family style,” with a side of rice.  However, it’s become a popular spot for many locals seeking a European flare to break up the monotony that can happen with too much of any ethnic cuisine.

Filipino's don't drink too many martinis. But they would seriously enjoy this one (NCR – No One Can Run), especially since it has the sharp and robust taste of roasted garlic oil and chili heat!

(Filipino’s don’t drink too many martinis.  But they would seriously enjoy this one (NCR – No One Can Run), especially since it has the sharp and robust taste of roasted garlic oil and chili heat!)

Both of these restaurants highlight my personal style of cooking, characterized as “fusion.”  And  in both restaurants I was most edified to see families as the primary patrons.  So these restaurants not only highlight my style of cooking, but also the message of our movement.  Go ahead and be creative with your food and your family meals!

(Young culinary students who assisted me at the BergHOFF store and studio – to raise funds for the victims of the recent typhoon. They're now going to intern at top restaurants around the world!)

(Young culinary students who assisted me at the BergHOFF store and studio – to raise funds for the victims of the recent typhoon.  They’re now going to intern at top restaurants around the world!)

Let us Pray:

Lord, we know that You bless the poor with good things.  Help us, by this movement, to remember that being poor in this world means that we inherit the blessings and the kingdom of Heaven.  We thank You for the “simple” but delicious meals that bring comfort to our tables – especially since these “simple meals” bring our families together in love.  Bless our families and especially those that struggle to put food on the table, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

What is your favorite fusion-style of food?  Do you have a recipe you want to share?  Do you have a restaurant you think would characterize fusion foods.  Your comments help us think of ways to share the Faith through the medium of food.  Please post your comments here, and know that each posting comes with sincere thanks and heartfelt prayers for this movement!

NOW. . . check out the newest extension of the

Grace Before Meals movement:  MINIFLIPPING!

Mount St. Mary's University: Proud Sponsor of Grace Before Meals

This is for your families, especially if you have teens or young adults.  Fr. Leo and a crew of “mini-flippers” share a positive message in a dynamic way, challenging the status quo, and hopefully bringing out mini-conversions in the hearts and minds of the viewers.

To help us get this Good News out there, tell your kids to watch, to subscribe, to “like” it, and to leave comments and questions.  And then tell them to get all their friends to do the same!  It’s certainly worth “FLIPPING OUT ABOUT!”

Just click it already!

Check out our next video THIS FRIDAY:

FR.LEO TAKES ON THE PRESIDENT’S MANDATE ON CONTRACEPTION.

NO MORE MR. NICE PRIEST.

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