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Domestic Church Recipes

Pasta with Stuff

We have a recipe in our family, it’s called pasta with stuff.

Clue’s in the name. It’s pasta with whatever stuff you have in the cupboard or fridge. There’s always a tin of tomatoes, so that goes in first, with some leftover veg (onion, carrot, spinach, pretty much anything can get thrown in there). Some meat, if it needs using up, or a tin of tuna. Olives, if I’m feeling fancy and they’re there; same goes for capers. Let it all bubble together in a pan whilst the pasta cooks, stir together, and you’re sorted. Bonus points if there’s some cheese in the fridge to sprinkle on top.

It’s not glamorous, but it’s cheap, easy, and on the table quickly. Best of all, I can use what we already have, which means I don’t have to go shopping. Win. When I’m busy, tired, ill, or just plain lazy, we have pasta with stuff.

But I always feel a slight twinge of guilt when putting pasta with stuff on the table. It’s not exciting or fancy, it really is the bare minimum required to be called cooking. Usually, I enjoy cooking – it’s my love language, the way I show my husband, family and friends that I care about them, as well as my creative outlet and general relaxation time. Serving pasta with stuff, the very laziest of meals, seems like a cheap getout, like I’m offering the diners the very least of what I can do.

So when my husband asked what was for supper a few weeks ago, I admitted rather apologetically that it would be, “Pasta with stuff.”

To my intense surprise, his face lit up. “Ooh! My favourite!”

I was baffled. I had spent hours fretting that pasta with stuff wouldn’t be good enough, that he deserved something much more elaborate. I couldn’t justify not doing something bigger; after all, I had been at home all day. But sure enough, when suppertime came round he was just as excited for a plate of pasta with stuff as he would have been for any three-course fancy meal I could have placed in front of him.

How often do we waste our worries on things that those that love us most care about the least? Those extra few pounds you grimace at in the mirror is exactly what your children love when they come for a cuddle. Those lines around your lips that you hate reminds your husband of many hours spent laughing, smiling, sharing jokes and cuddles.

Those prayers offered up, muttered quickly or half-asleep because you were so busy cleaning up messes all day, might be the ones God loves most. They’re offered from the heart, and mean as much as a perfectly sung Angelus. Offering our best doesn’t mean being perfect; it means being imperfect, acknowledging our flaws, and doing what we can anyway. And we need to trust in God – and God’s people around us – that we will be loved, not in spite of our flaws, but because of them.

God sees the good in all of us. He sees the beauty in our scars, our exhaustion, our frequent stumbles. He doesn’t merely overlook them, he cherishes them as what makes us each unique children of His.

And at the end of the day, I think that God enjoys pasta with stuff as much as he does a lobster bisque followed by steak and chocolate cheesecake.

Recipe: Pasta with Stuff

Time: about 20 mins

Serves: as many as you like

Occasion: lazy mid-week meal

Ingredients

Pasta, any shape, enough for however many you’re cooking for

Oil, butter, or cooking spray

Onion

Garlic cloves – to taste!

Tinned tomatoes – one tin serves around 3-4 people, depending on how much other ‘stuff’ you’re adding

Vegetables – whatever you have in the fridge. Carrot, mushrooms, and spinach are some of my favourites in this dish.

Optional: meat, such as bacon, chorizo or ham; sausages; minced beef; alternatively prawns or tinned tuna if you prefer fish

Optional: added extras such as anchovies, olives, capers, sundried tomatoes, chillis, wine, herbs – or whatever takes your fancy!

Optional: parmesan cheese, to serve

1.       Put the pasta water on to boil and salt generously.

2.       Chop the onion and fry it in a little oil, butter, or spray until soft. Chop the rest of the vegetables and add to the pan.

3.       Add the meat, if using, and allow to brown.

4.       Pour in the tinned tomatoes and stir until well mixed.

5.       Add the fish, if using instead of meat.

6.       Add any extras that you’d like – including the wine! Allow to bubble, stirring regularly.

7.       Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and add the crushed garlic.

8.       Put the pasta in the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

9.       Drain the pasta, add the sauce and serve with parmesan cheese.

If you give this a go yourself, let me know what ingredients you added! I’d love to know if you went more adventurous than me, or tried some completely new flavours. 

Categories
Domestic Church Ink Slingers Recipes

Tastiest Squidgeyest Yummiest Chocolate Cookies that are Sure to Get You into Heaven

Tastiest Squidgeyest Yummiest Chocolate Cookies

Baking for others is one of my favourite projects, and I believe there’s no better way to show your love for your neighbour than by baking them a batch of classic chocolate chip cookies. These are the tastiest, squidgeyist, yummiest chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever baked, and are super easy for anyone to try for a party, gift, or baking with the children.

Ingredients

150g butter

80g soft brown sugar (e.g. muscovado)

80g granulated sugar

1 egg

225g plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

200g chocolate of your choice

Method

1.  Chop the chocolate roughly into small squares (you can use chocolate chips for this, but I find squares melt to just the right level in the oven and add another layer of chocolatey loveliness!)

2.  Cream the butter and both sugars together until soft and fluffy (that’s lots of hand beating, or cream them in the food processor). Beat in the egg.

3.  Sieve the flour, salt, and bicarbonate of soda over the mixture, and stir in carefully with a wooden spoon. You want it fully mixed in, but not overly beaten – keep it light and airy for that perfect squidgey cookie!

4.  Stir in the chopped chocolate.

5.  Using a teaspoon, place the mixture in dollops about an inch wide on lined baking trays a few inches apart (don’t put them too close together, they’ll definitely spread!) Avoid rolling them into little balls beforehand – this takes away some of the lovely squidgeyness, and anyway, their irregular size gives them a lovely handmade look.

6.  Bake at 180 C / 350 F for 8-10 minutes until golden brown at the edges and soft in the centre.

7.  Lift carefully from the baking tray using a spatula or palette knife and cool on a wire rack. They will be very soft at first, but will firm up as they cool. Try to wait until they’re cool to try one!

Wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a ribbon, these make a lovely gift to someone who’s ill, housebound, a new parent, or just because!

You can put your own signature twist on these by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, or cocoa powder (just remove a teaspoon of flour to compensate) or adding raisins, raspberries, or other fruits if you prefer. Now you’ve made one batch, I guarantee you won’t be able to resist making another.

Enjoy!

Categories
Domestic Church Ink Slingers Maurisa Recipes Resources

Super Simple Sheet-pan Suppers

 

We are one month into a new school year. Are y’all as crazy busy as my family? Looking at my calendar I’m seeing only one weekday night per week in which we have nothing scheduled. How did that happen?

If your family life is anything like ours, dinner can get pretty tricky. Back in the day, crockpot cooking was the solution for busy families, and I definitely have several tried and true crockpot dinners in our rotation. Honestly, though, slow cookery is not my favorite. Today it seems Instapot cooking is all the rage, but I have resisted the pull; mostly because the idea of a pressure cooker freaks me out a little. Recently I’ve discovered sheet-pan roasting and I am in love. An entire supper, fit to feed a crowd, roasted together on one pan and ready in 20-40 minutes. Amen!

Have you tried sheet-pan cooking? If not, I’m sharing my favorite variations today. If you have, feel free to share your favorite recipes in the comments.

Chicken recipes

Moroccan Sheet Pan Chicken

Thai Peanut Coconut Chicken with Pineapple

Greek Chicken with Green Beans and Feta

Jamaican Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Sheet Pan Cuban Chicken with Citrus Avocado Salsa

Cashew Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

Sheet Pan Chicken and Potato Dinner

Sheet Pan Shawarma

30 Minute Sheet Pan Chicken with Veggies

Extra Crispy Whole Roast Chicken

Sheet Pan Maple Mustard Roasted Chicken

Pork recipes

Baked Apple Pork Chops and Green Beans

Italian Sausage Sheet Pan Dinner

Baked Thin Pork Chops and Veggies

Roasted Vegetable Medley with Sausage

Easy Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Sweet Potatoes

Oktoberfest Sheet Pan Brats with Roasted Vegetables

Beef recipes

Sheet Pan Philly Cheese Steaks

Flank Steak with Garlic Roasted Potatoes

One Pan Broiled Spicy Steak Bites

Deconstructed Sheet Pan Marinated Teriyaki Beef Kabobs

Dump-and-Bake Chinese Pepper Steak

Sheet Pan Steak and Potatoes

Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas

Fish recipes

Roasted Salmon, Fennel, and Bok Choy

Herb Butter Salmon with Blistered Tomatoes and Green Beans

Honey Mustard Salmon with Rainbow Veggies

Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil

Sheet Pan Garlic and Lemon Shrimp, Asparagus, and Fingerling Potatoes

Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas

20-Minute Sheet Pan Shrimp Tacos

Baked Halibut, Mediterranean Style

Lemon Pepper Baked Cod and Vegetables

 

Categories
7 Quick Takes Christi Domestic Church Ink Slingers Recipes

Seven Quick n Easy Meals

calendarGood day dear readers; this week we are going to face the ugly truth glaring at us down the barrel of time. In a very short number of weeks, even perhaps days for those in the south, we are looking at the return of the school day, the end of summer and all that that entails. For many this means the resurgence of  late afternoon practices – be they choir at school, band practice or one’s favorite sport. For some it means getting up at the crack of dawn to pack school lunches and catching busses or meeting the carpool. For others it means getting back into the practice of having school started by a decent hour each morning along with co-op meetings and so on. In a nut shell, the lazy, hazy days of summer are drawing to a close. Even for those not with school age children – it typically involves a change of pace.

Many of us have been enjoying being able to throw together those quick summer meals intended to keep the kitchen cool and the family fed with as little fuss and muss as possible. As the weather cools down (for most of us) we will begin to hanker once more for hot meals instead of salads with burgers thrown on the grill (barbecue for those in the north!) – I can hear the collective groans at the thought of the hours spent in the kitchen creating those yummy, hot; stews, roasts and chowders while also contemplating how busy life speeds up come fall. But all is not lost.

My hope is to help us all settle back into our fall routines with a host of easy but delicious and warm meals at your finger tips. I polled a number of readers and some of our very own ink slingers as to what was their answer to quick last minute meals (You know for when you have forgotten to take the meat out of the freezer or you woke up only to remember TODAY is the day ALL the kids are getting their teeth cleaned and there is no way you can possibly make what you had planned.) And I also asked them for some of their favorite crock pot days for when they are actually on top of their game but know there will be no time/energy to cook after their busy day.

Here are their favorite sanity time savers and some great crock pot ideas:

 

pulled pork

 

Quick take 1) This first quick and easy idea is similar to one of our favorite crock pot recipes only we use our own special blend of chimichurri spices. Here is what one busy reader offered as a quick and easy crock pot idea: ‘Put a pork shoulder roast in crock pot, dump 1/2 jar of (your favorite) BBQ sauce over it and cook on low all day. Shred & pull apart about 20 minutes before you want to eat, dump rest of BBQ sauce over it. Serve on buns (Or not.)’ Throw together you favorite salad and stand back to receive the accolades this is sure to bring. (We often serve our chimichurri variation of this with rice made in our handy dandy rice cooker!)

Quick take 2) Breakfast for dinner! What kid doesn’t love upside down day and what mum doesn’t love an easy meal. This reader’s favorite breakfast for dinner choice is “scrambled eggs, omelet with whatever filling we happen to have, waffles, pancakes, sausage if there’s any in the freezer…”  This reader also shared that she tries to buy some precooked sausages when they are on sale for those really hectic – don’t. have. a. minute. to. spare. – before CCD/practice/meeting days!)

Quick take 3)  One of our family favorites (okay, not really the family’s but mine) is to whip up a few cans of tomato soup with grilled cheese on the side. Now I do have to say that my kids really enjoy grilled cheese when we have homemade bread to make them with. This idea is almost identical with one reader who shared that one of her go quick meals is; Tuna melts (which usually means grilled cheese for the kids since my kids are not fans of tuna!), canned soup (I usually stock up with good sales/coupons) and I typically add some fruit or raw veggies (with salad dressing for “dip”) when we have this for dinner.

 

buffalo-chicken-quesadilla-2

Quick take 4) One busy mum shared that in her home quesadillas are a good ‘ready in 5 minutes’ dinner. She says: ‘I use whatever we have: shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, meat if we have some (leftover ground beef or chicken or Perdue short cuts chicken in tiny pieces), peppers, etc.’ She serves hers with salsa. 

Another one of this reader’s favorites that she shared with us was a burger version of this or Burritos, as she called them.  She fries some ground beef and suggests adding your favorite seasoning to the burger as it cooks. She then heats up a can of refried beans, and sets the meat and beans on the table along with cheese, lettuce, tortillas, salsa, and sour cream. “Takes 10 minutes at my house.” she told me.

I don’t know about you but I’ll take a ten minute meal from start to table any day! (Hint: throw a few pkgs of soft taco wraps in the freezer as a back up for busy days.)

Quick take 5) Here is another burger menu pleaser:  Prepare 2 pounds hamburger meat with your favorite seasonings. (This reader uses salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, paprika, or a bit of smoked paprika) Then shape into patties, put in a pan and sear. While these are cooking, prepare brown gravy to pour over patties and simmer for about 20 min until patties are cooked through. She serve hers over rice or egg noodles. For those not familiar with Kitchen Bouquet which is an ingredient listed in the brown gravy recipe you can check it out here.

When I asked this reader why she used patties she replied ‘Patties cook faster than huge meatballs…. mine are a cross between a meatball and a pattie…. but I don’t use egg or breadcrumbs… if your meat is too dry, and patties won’t stay formed… use an egg… if they are too wet, throw some breadcrumbs or crackers in the mix… ‘  You can throw a veggie on to cook while this is being prepared and voila you have a quick, easy and a tasty meal for those busy ‘back to fall routine’ evenings. 

loaded spuds

Quick take 6) This menu idea is a neat version of baked potatoes in the oven. This reader offered this idea: Poke and wrap in aluminum foil baking potatoes. Place in crockpot and cook on low. Serve with all sorts of toppings, like canned chili (don’t judge-desperate times come desperate measures LOL), cheese, bacon crumbles, broccoli, whatever you have on hand.  And againif you have salad ingredients you can easily round this out to a complete and easy meal. 

Quick take 7) Korean Beef, a few readers shared their personal version of this recipe so check it out and spice it up (or down)  to your own liking. I would think you could substitute shredded chicken breast for this recipe and enjoy that too!

If you are partial to shredded chicken and the Korean flavor doesn’t appeal to you then you can try one of our new favorites. I put a bag of chicken tenderloins (or breasts) in my crock pot, turn it to high if it’s mid day – low if I remember first thing in the morning. I pour a jar of (mild in my house) salsa over the chicken and sprinkle a touch of cumin over the salsa to give it a slightly Indian flavor. Before serving with rice (made in my handy dandy rice cooker) I shred the chicken in the pot and then sprinkle shredded cheese over it. I usually have sour cream on the side for people to add to their own plates. My favorite vegetables to steam with this is broccoli or green beans. Depending on the amount of meat left over we might serve it in taco shells for lunch the next day. 

Well – there you go – some pretty easy and delicious sounding last minute meals as well as some great crock pot inspirations. But I never seem content with stopping at seven (just read some of my past 7QT and you will notice I typically mange to sneak a few extra items in) so why should this month be any different.

While begging recipes from these wonderful ladies – one of them pointed me in the direction of Pinterest where apparently our very own Catholic Sistas has a CROCK POT BOARD. And here it is! So, if none of these ideas piqued your interest – hop on over to our crock pot board and start drooling, errr, I mean, planning some great meals for this fall.

Of course – don’t forget to head over to This Ain’t the Lyceum and see what everyone else has had to share this wonderful first Friday in August.

Seven-Quick-Takes- new graphic

 

Categories
Crafts Domestic Church Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Lent Liturgical Year Meatless Fridays Prayer Recipes Resources Your Handy-Dandy List

Your {Second} Handy-Dandy List to Lenten Sacrifices

Your {Second} Handy-Dandy List to Lenten Sacrifices

In February of 2013 I put together the original “Handy-dandy” list for Catholic Sistas: Your Handy-Dandy List to Lenten Sacrifices. It has been one of our more popular lists ever since. Last year we linked to it and made a few quick updates, but this year I wanted to create a new version. Version 2.o? Or, second edition? Or, first revised edition? (Yes, I’m a librarian.) Either way, the following list of updates for 2015 does not replace the earlier list but will just add to it. Ah, so maybe this is what we call a “supplement.” (Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the librarianese.)

Whatever you want to call this, it is still a handy-dandy list that builds on our earlier list. Definitely go back to the old one because most of the suggestions there are timeless. Then come back here for even more.

Book Suggestions (All suggestions are based on book reviews or the reputation of the publisher.)
Lenten (and other Catholic) apps

Let me first say that I like apps that are free. If you do, too, then this list is for you. There are lots of Catholic apps available for use throughout the year. Here are a just a couple that would make great additions to your spiritual journey through Lent.

  • DGEMS (Daily Gospel eMessages) has been a great tool for me for reading the Gospel each day along with a short reflection and some Gospel pointers. You could very easily use it for personal lection divina by reading the Gospel first, then the reflection, the Gospel again, and then the pointers. Or whichever order works best for you. I also like that it has alarms you can set. I have one set in the evening to read the next day’s Gospel and another alarm in the morning to read that day’s Gospel. I set both in case I didn’t get to one, I’d hopefully get to it the second time. The translation is a little different than what I’m used to and the reflection is sometimes clunky, but it’s not bothered me enough yet to give up on this app. It’s free and available for both Apple iOS 6.1 or later and Android.
  • From the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) Lentsanity is a free app containing articles, reflections, something called the “Meat Police,” and more. It’s geared toward a younger crowd (younger than me, anyway) but on first glance it looks like anyone could benefit from the info here. Available on both Apple iOS and Android. Hat tip to Sarah Reinhard for the suggestion.
Other Media
  • Once again Catholic Sistas is hosting a Lenten Photo Challenge. This is a media event that you can participate in as well. Check out this post HERE for all the details. (FYI, you do not have to be on Instagram to participate, a fact I was not aware of until I just asked myself a few days ago.)
  • Are you a fan of Fr. Robert Barron (Word on Fire, The Catholicism Series)? He is once again offering daily  email reflections throughout Lent. You can sign up HERE.
  • Matthew Kelly also has a daily email you can receive to help your journey through Lent. Through his ministry at Dynamic Catholic you can sign up for the “Best Lent Ever” program and receive emails and short video clips each day of Lent.
  • Check out the Lenten Resources from Relevant Radio which includes daily prayers, podcasts, a Stations of the Cross, and much, much more. While you’re there, download their free app so you can listen to their station wherever you are.
  • Mayslake Ministries will be having an online Bible Study for Women each Wednesday of Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday. Subscribe to their You Tube Channel to get the notifications.
  • Interested in starting to pray the Liturgy of the Hours? Lent is a great time to start by adding in just one (like Morning Prayer). There are plenty of apps that contain the Divine Office. I also just recently found them on podcast. This Divine Office, Liturgy of the Hours podcast available on iTunes has all the various hours and the Office of Readings. if you search for it on iTunes you will also find the individual podcasts for particular hours (Morning Prayer, Mid-day Prayer, Office of Readings, etc.). I prefer the individual podcasts since I know I won’t ever get to pray all of them throughout the day. But I like that with the podcast I can download it to my iPod and then listen and pray along in my car, walking to my office, or during a lunch break.
Lent in the Home (children, families, crafts, and much more)

There are so many things you can do during Lent in your home with children, traditions to start, crafts to do, and much more. So many, in fact, that I could never list them all. Luckily, some wonderful Catholic bloggers have already shared their Lenten practices with children and their families, so go check out their blogs and tell them we sent you.

Meatless Meals 

I don’t know about you, but making a meatless meal for my family is not normally a big deal … until you have to do it and then your mind draws a blank. But that’s okay. Here are some resources to help you during those moments.

  • A blog post from “a blog for my mom”: 25 Meatless Meals for Lent.
  • Check out the Catholic Sistas Pinterest Board: Foods.Meals.Meatless.
  • The CRS Rice Bowl Project has links to recipes on their website. Want to try a meatless meal from around the world? Visit the link HERE to see what recipes they have up for this year.
  • Join us on our Facebook fan page each afternoon for our daily What’s For Dinner? threads #WFD and find good ideas from fellow followers!

Phew! That is a lot of stuff. Lent is a penitential season in which we should be focusing on growing closer to Christ through prayer, alms giving, and fasting. Whatever you choose to do during this season, whether from a suggestion here or from our previous list, just make sure it is being done in the right spirit.

SOUND OFF: Do you have a link to add to the list? Add it in the comments below!

I wish you all a Lent full of blessings and may it bring you to a joyful Easter by the end!