It’s so easy to slip into being comfortable with the familiar, which can apply to just about everything, including cooking! “Lunch for guests tomorrow? How about ham and cheese paninis, chips, and a nice cup of soup. No wait—I’m on auto-pilot!” So it goes until the Holy Spirit gets involved—something refreshingly different—He does it again. Tortellini salad came to mind, with pesto, sunflower seeds, black olives, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese—and whatever else you might want to add: fresh spinach, basil, artichoke hearts, pieces of ham or salami. It makes for a delicious lunch and a nice change from the more traditional!
The message came to our Guest House cooks: Luncheon for two on Friday—and they would prefer to have no meat.
With Spring on the way, the first thing that came to me was a Shrimp Salad plate—quick, easy, delicious!
Flipping through a folder of collected food photos and recipes, my eye was captured by one that looked like a pizza—and yet it wasn’t.
Here was a bright combination of fresh fruit and vegetables, specifically sliced tomatoes and peaches on a flatbread topped with a mixture of ricotta and parmesan cheese. What fun! With no recipe to follow, I launched into producing it on my own until I later found it written up in the June issue of “Cooking Light.”
If you’re looking for a fun food that’s quick, easy, tastes great and is still healthy you will want to try this. Enjoy!
Every now and then when our convent dinner is some kind of a one dish meal, Sisters like to have it served right from the big skillet in which it has been cooked. This is especially so as the weather becomes cooler. When we are a little chilled around the edges nothing comforts one as much as a piping hot bowl of savory soup or stew. Today was such a day, cool, wet and rainy out of doors. Warm, dry and welcoming inside, with the aroma of a tasty combination of the day’s harvested vegetables.
Our convent chef has been eager to make a hearty chicken stew with an Italian twist. Using the last of our autumn garden vegetables she produced a most flavorful dish and chose to serve it from the skillet, which gave everyone a warm comforting sense of generously being cared for in a special way. A along with some crusty home baked bread and a beautiful kale salad we shared a dinner which magically lifted our spirits and pleased us all.
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Hearty Italian Chicken and Autumn Harvest Veggie Stew
Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with foil.
Place the split chicken breasts on the baking sheet, and drizzle them with a little oil, and a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper.
Cut the tops off of the heads of garlic, drizzle each head with a little oil, plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and wrap each head in a small piece of foil; place on the baking sheet next to the chicken.
Roast the chicken, along with the garlic, for 45 minutes; then allow both to cool until they can be handled.
Once they are cooled, shred the chicken, and set it aside; then, squeeze the roasted garlic from the papers, and using your knife or a fork, make the cloves into a paste; set the paste aside for a moment.
Place a medium-large pot over medium to medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2-3 tablespoons of the oil, plus add in the tablespoon of butter; once melted together, add in the onion and allow it sweat for about 3-4 minutes, until translucent and softened.
To the onion add the roasted garlic “paste”, and stir it in to combine.
Next, add in the diced carrots, parsnips, celery and butternut squash and stir to combine; add in the Italian seasoning, plus a pinch or two of salt and black pepper, and the red pepper flakes, and stir to incorporate.
Add in the tomato paste and stir, and allow it to cook with the vegetables for about 2-3 minutes, or until the “raw” flavor of it is cooked out of it.
Next, add in the chicken stock and stir, cover with a lid and simmer very gently on low for about 20-22 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender.
Turn off the heat, if using; add in the kale and stir to incorporate it, and allow it wilt into the soup for a few minutes; then, finish the soup by adding in the shredded chicken, the basil and the parsley (also, check your seasoning at this point to see if any additional salt/pepper is needed).
To serve, add about ¼ cup or so of cooked gnocchi to your bowl, and ladle some of the stew over top; garnish with some grated Parmesan, if desired, and serve with warm bread.