Simple Summery Soup

One beautiful June day, our guests wanted to eat lunch on the patio, and something simple and summery seemed appropriate. I decided on a chicken salad plate featuring chilled zucchini soup. With fresh dill and a small dollop of sour cream, it was a real hit!

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Simple Summery Soup
SERVINGS
2-3servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1/2hr (plus chilling time)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut up onion and zucchini into random size chunks and simmer in chicken or vegetable broth, enough to cover, until very soft and tender
  2. Cool for a few minutes, then place in blender with 2 Tablespoons of sour cream and blend until well mixed, adding more sour cream if desired
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste
  4. Refrigerate until well chilled; serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with dill

Mirepoix

For years, I just naturally began preparing many meals by chopping and sautéing together a combination of onions,celery and carrots. I never realized, in those teenage years, that I was employing a basic cooking technique, producing what is often referred to in the culinary world as the “All powerful Culinary Trio.” This homey trio of ingredients is absolutely essential for flavorful soups, sauces and gravies.

Recently, I added chopped potatoes to the mixture and that, along with a serving of fresh spinach and several succulent slices of roast lamb (excellent in the Spring) resulted in a most flavorful and satisfying meal. You might want to give it a try.

“All Powerful Culinary Trio” otherwise known as Mirepoix

Mirepoix can be used in a variety of ways—namely in stocks and sauces. To make a stock (chicken, beef, fish, lamb, etc.) one pound of Mirepoix will season roughly one gallon of liquid.

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Mirepoix
SERVINGS
1pound
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
pound
COOK TIME
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

Vegetarian Frittata

This week we continue with vegetarian recommendations, and this one is gluten free as well. Recently we had the pleasure of hosting a good friend of ours from “Across the Pond.” While our guest was not strictly vegetarian, we planned meals that were loaded with fresh produce and light on meat–and this vegetarian Frittata fit the bill!

Loaded with sauteed vegetables including a fistful of baby spinach, this dish is as versatile as you need it to be, easily adaptable for the breakfast, lunch or brunch table. A mini cast iron pan worked well as an individual serving and looked light-as-air still hot from the oven. Topped with cheese and garden chive, this just might make another appearance on our guest table this spring and summer!

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Rating: 5
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Vegetarian Frittata
SERVINGS
2servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
15mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
25mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler and heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet*
  2. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the bell pepper and zucchini cooking until tender.
  3. Add spinach and stir until just wilted.
  4. Whisk together the eggs and egg whites, adding the salt and pepper and pour into the pan with the vegetables.
  5. Reduce heat and stir until vegetables and eggs are combined. Keep over heat until the egg has set on the bottom, about 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and remove the pan from the heat and finish under the broiler. Cook under the broiler until the cheese melts and begins to bubble.
  7. Garnish with fresh chive and serve immediately.

Get creative! Not only can this dish feature at breakfast, lunch and brunch, you can add or substitute other vegetables such as mushrooms and tomatoes and fresh herbs.

*We used a mini 6" cast iron pan in our preparation. If serving more people, a 10" skillet works well.

Stella’s Shrimp and Fettuccine

Sisters birthdays are a special day of celebration in our Convent. Much prayer and discussion goes into the place setting at the table, the beautiful word that is specially picked just for her and then a few carefully and lovingly wrapped gifts (which are usually a few treat foods that she rarely gets). The Sister gets to choose her dinner entree and dessert from a menu. It’s really such fun – some sisters take up to a week deciding what they’re going to ask for on their special day. This past week, I had the great fun of cooking for one such occasion. I made my signature shrimp dish – a little like a scampi, but made richer by the fettucine tossed with cream and parmesan. The fresh lemon in this recipe is a must – don’t skip it. The Sister slowly savored her meal, a smile emanating after every bite. What a blessing it is to bless others – that’s what I love so much about the gift of cooking.

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Stella's Shrimp and Fettuccine
SERVINGS
2servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
30mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Boil salted water for pasta
  2. Meanwhile, sauté ¼ c. diced onion and crushed garlic clove until translucent over medium low heat. Watch carefully so you don't burn the garlic. Add chopped basil leaves and chopped tomato – lightly toss, sauté and remove from heat and into a dish to hold.
  3. Cook your pasta and when finished, toss with 4 Tbsp. butter, warmed heavy cream and 1/2 cup fresh parmesan until you have an “Alfredo” – add onion salt and fresh ground pepper - seasoning to taste.
  4. Quickly sauté your shrimp in butter, once golden on both sides, add white wine and juice of one lemon. Simmer slightly and then add the tomato mixture back to the pan and combine - season to taste.
  5. Serve fettuccine with the shrimp tossed over – sprinkle with the lemon rind, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Fast and Easy Weekday Chicken

Last week some unexpected changes in the convent work areas resulted in a brand new kitchen staff with fresh new ideas and increased emphasis on healthy wholesome meals that will be simpler and require less preparation time. The two cooks assigned to the first new meal had no advanced  time to plan a menu or select a recipe, and were simply told to use chicken breasts, rice pilaf, two vegetables and pantry ingredients of choice.

Dinnertime found the sisters enjoying  a bright colorful delightfully seasoned meal  with a different look and flavor than our  usual chicken dinners.  Low in fat yet surprisingly full of flavor this cheerful meal was a promise of very good things to come out of our convent kitchen, and we eagerly look forward to our meals as a result of this change!

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Rating: 5
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Fast and Easy Weekday Chicken
SERVINGS
4-6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
5mins
READY IN
35mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F)
  2. Sautee onion and garlic in a pan over medium heat until the onions become translucent.
  3. Add tomatoes and olives to the pan and stir together, and transfer into an oven-safe pan.
  4. Place the chicken breasts on top of the olive and tomato mixture.
  5. Mix salt, paprika, cumin and pepper in a separate bowl and sprinkle over chicken.
  6. Bake the chicken in the oven until juices run clear, 25-30 minutes.
  7. Serve warm and garnish with fresh parsley.

Flemish Beef Stew

Every time our lace making sister comes home from Belgium, one of the first things she’s eager to do is cook something from her adopted homeland for all the sisters here at home. Not only does she want to introduce us to Flemish cooking, she also wants to be able to share the response of the sisters “here” with those “back there.”

This time, she’s chosen to make Flemish Beef stew, a simple stew with a unique flavor provided by one key ingredient, which is beer. Frequently when referring to this meal it will be said “The better the beer the better the stew.” Now beer is not something we regularly have on hand in the convent, but only when its given to us as a gift for some celebratory occasion, but our determined sister would not be put off by lack of one ingredient, even though it be the most important one in the recipe. She is known for having everything fall into place at the right moment regardless of the odds. So it was no surprise to anyone when a 6 pack of Stella Artois appeared on the kitchen counter. Without skipping a beat, she continued working on her stew while quietly throughout the convent sisters could be heard quietly chanting “The better the beer, the better the stew.”

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Flemish Beef Stew
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
15mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
8 hrs45 min

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the beef and brown on all sides, turning frequently, about 5 minutes
  2. Transfer to a slow cooker and drain any fat from the pan.
  3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and brown the remaining geef and add to the slow cooker.
  4. Add mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until they give off their liquid (5-7 minutes).
  5. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms and cook for half a minute. Add beer and bring to a boil, whisking constantly to reduce foaming, until thickened and bubbliing, about 3 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the beef in the slow cooker.
  6. Add carrots, onion, garlic, mustard, caraway seeds, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  7. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the beef is very tender, about 8 hrs.