Warm Goat Cheese Salad

Our Gregorian Chant Retreat has just come to a close today, ending on a very positive and productive note, with a number of first timers wanting to return! Always a rewarding finale to any retreat.

In addition to the new faces in attendance were a number of new menus that brought many sincere compliments from the eaters. One of the new dishes was this warm autumn salad, featuring golden roasted butternut squash topped with smooth soft goat cheese.

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Warm Goat Cheese Salad
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
15-20mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
25-30mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine butternut squash, pecans, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and brown sugar.
  2. Spread on rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and cool on pan.
  4. Assemble salad by topping mixed greens with squash mixture, dried cranberries, goat cheese, and green onions.
  5. Drizzle with maple mustard vinaigrette.

Good Friday Hot Cross Buns

Good Friday marks the second day of the Triduum (from the Latin for ‘three days’), the day on which we commemorate the Lord’s crucifixion and death. The Good Friday liturgies at our monastery (and many others around the world) mark our observance of Christ’s final hours, picking up from Maundy Thursday Eucharist, and continuing through the Holy Saturday Vigil, the Great Vigil of Easter, and carrying us all the way to Easter morning.

In keeping with the solemnity of the day, we remember Christ’s death by bringing to the liturgy of the hours the full range of spiritual depth and beauty found in the ancient texts; we participate in the veneration of the cross, and chant Gospel Passion Narrative. It is a special and holy time, filled with moments of silence, listening, reflection and conviction, as well as a time of joy-filled anticipation.

This day of the Cross marks us with God’s presence, and He marks us for his own.

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Good Friday Hot Cross Buns
SERVINGS
1dozen buns
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen buns
COOK TIME
25mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast by sprinkling it over the very warm water and add a pinch of sugar to activate.
  2. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until about 100 degrees F. (but no more than 110 degrees)
  3. In a mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the warmed milk to the yeast mixture.
  4. Plump the raisins (or currants) and citron in the microwave with a little orange juice; cool and set aside
  5. To the yeast & milk mixture add the remaining sugar, melted butter, egg yolk and extract.
  6. Add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger to the mixture and continue kneading.
  7. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
  8. Remove the orange juice from the raisins and citron and discard.
  9. Add the raisins and citron to the dough and mix well. The dough should be slightly sticky and not dry.
  10. Knead until soft and elastic, about 8 min. Shape into a ball.
  11. Brush the inside of a large bowl with butter. Put dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hr. 30 min. **
  12. To form the rolls: Pam a 9x13” pyrex pan. Turn the dought out of the bowl and roll into a log. With a dough cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each of these pieces into a round bun shape, tucking the edges under.
  13. Place them seam side down in the prepared pan, leaving a little space between each roll. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the rolls are doubled in size, about 45 min. or longer.
  14. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare your egg wash.
  15. Prepare glaze: In a mixer, combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla or almond extract and oil until smooth (the oil will give it a high gloss). The icing should be quite thick. If too runny, add more powdered sugar. Transfer icing to a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off.
  16. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the rolls and brush the buns with egg wash. Bake rolls until golden brown and puffy, about 25 min. (an instant read thermometer inserted into the roll should read 190 degrees F.)
  17. Ice buns with a thick cross shape on the top of the warm buns and serve.

** Please note:  This dough might take a long time to rise, but be patient...it is worth the wait because they will come out nice and light!

Festive Asparagus Frittata

Easter! A day of joy! A day of celebration! That’s why we have been planning a festive Easter Sunday brunch this year. And that’s why we have been experimenting with a number of fresh new ideas to make this an uplifting meal of praise and thanksgiving that will set the tone for the week ahead.

One of the new dishes we put together is a colorful asparagus fritatta. This starts with a tasty potato and onion crust that is filled with a mixture of eggs, cheese, and bacon bits, and then topped with fresh asparagus spears, strips of zucchini, and colorful peppers. To dress it up we garnished it with a couple of crisp bacon curls. We were very pleased with its appearance and we loved its combination of flavors. It is definitely now on our menu, and I am almost certain once it has made its debut in the convent on Easter Sunday it will return for many repeat performances in the days ahead — not only as a brunch or breakfast dish, but as a lovely spring lunch or light supper.

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Festive Asparagus Frittata
SERVINGS
8people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
20minutes
READY IN
65minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Drizzle oil over the base of a 9 inch quiche dish, then spread with onions and top with potato slices.
  2. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until potato is tender.
  3. Steam asparagus until tender.
  4. Arrange asparagus spears and red pepper and zucchini strips like the spokes of a wheel onto top of potato, then pour over eggs and season with black pepper to taste.
  5. Scatter with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until frittata is firm.

Zesty Citrus Sweet Potato Wedges

Sometimes an interesting or unusual side dish can turn an otherwise plain or ordinary meal into a memorable one and take it to another level. This happened recently when I was preparing dinner for a guest who was on a very limited diet. She had requested plain broiled fish with no sauce and steamed vegetables. Along with this we offered her our crispy roasted lime infused sweet potato wedges, that had been brushed with marmalade just before going into the oven. “My meal could not have been more satisfying,” she told someone. “What I asked for was cooked perfectly to my liking. But what made it so extraordinary was that special and surprising taste sensation of those zesty citrus sweet potato wedges.” These are also great with a beef or pork roast, ham or chicken.

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Zesty Citrus Sweet Potato Wedges
SERVINGS
6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
45mins
READY IN
1 hr15 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash potatoes leaving skins on and cut into wedges. Marinate in the juice from the lime and it’s zest.
  2. Toss in oil with onion salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until crispy and golden on outside and tender inside.

Kale Potato Leek Soup

After having had so many special meals over Christmas and New Year’s
we wanted to come up with a simple yet satisfying supper on New Year’s
day. Remembering that we still had some leeks braving the cold out in our
almost barren gardens we decided on a potato leek soup, homemade bread
and a hearty salad. Since there was also some kale fighting for
survival out there why not add that to the soup making it even
healthier and giving it yet another dimension?

Our decision turned out to be a good one and everyone enjoyed it! They especially
appreciated its being light as well as very flavorful and heart-
warming,(the flavor was even better the next day) so when we make
it again I will suggest we make it a day or two before actually serving it.
We garnished it with a dollop of sour cream and chopped kale. A few bacon bits
or curls, if desired, could also add to its look and flavor.

*Whether you get your leeks from your garden or your grocery store it is important
to wash them ever so thoroughly because they often have soil hidden between the leaves
at their stems.

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Kale Potato Leek Soup
SERVINGS
6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
1hour
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
1 ½hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large (6-plus quart) stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and potato and kale . Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften and brown slightly, about 8 to 12 minutes (this time will vary greatly depending on the surface area of the bottom of your pot).
  2. Add the vegetable stock and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Blend until smooth, either using an immersion blender or by carefully transferring to a blender in batches.
  4. Add the cream, and season to taste with salt (I start with 1 teaspoon and go from there, tasting frequently) and lemon juice and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  5. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a healthy sprinkling of kale or bacon bits.

Quinoa Salad with Pears, Bacon and Baby Spinach

I have been exploring “superfoods” for a while now, wanting to incorporate some healthier eating habits into our Convent diet. We live a very active life-style within our Benedictine motto: Ora et Labora (Pray and Work). My task is to make sure we are all eating well and taking care of our bodies (since we are called to be temples of the Holy Spirit).

In my research, I learned about the wonderful nutty grain-like seed quinoa. Quinoa is native to Bolivia and a relative of swiss chard, spinach and beets. We usually think of quinoa as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a plant. It’s also a complete protein, which means it provides all nine essential amino acids necessary for good health, hence the name “essential.” Your body can’t produce these nutrients itself, so you have to get them frequently through food. Quinoa’s slow-releasing carbohydrates help to maintain blood sugar levels. It can be eaten on its own as a side dish, with a bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper, or other seasonings. Quinoa also makes a great breakfast dish mixed with dried fruit, cinnamon, milk, and maple syrup or honey. A healthy substitute for rice, it also makes a tasty pilaf.

I found and adapted this flavorful and surprising salad side dish recipe for the Sisters and everyone loved it. Last weekend we served it to our Oblates who were here on retreat, and promised that we’d share it with all of you. Enjoy!

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Quinoa Salad with Pears, Bacon and Baby Spinach
SERVINGS
4-6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
2 hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions. 1 cup dry quinoa should yield over 4 cups of cooked quinoa. Cool quinoa.
  2. In a large bowl add the cooled quinoa, diced pears, green onions, spinach and bell pepper. Reserve the crumbled bacon and toasted almonds for later.
  3. For the dressing: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over quinoa mixture. Toss gently. You might not want to use all of the dressing depending on how wet you want your salad so add a little at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving so that the flavors can meld.
  5. Mix the crumbled bacon and toasted almonds into the salad just before serving, reserving a bit to garnish the top as well.

Note: To toast almonds, brown them for a couple of minutes in a skillet over medium high heat. To roast them, bake them in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. When you smell them, they are done!