Southwestern Chili

Stamping the snow off of my boots I came into the convent from the windy cold outdoors. As I shed my coat, I thought “Nothing could be more comforting than the warmth of being indoors right now.” But then I entered the refectory where I was met with something else even more comforting. It was the unmistakable aroma of one of our favorite meals, simmering in the skillet. Cooked with just the right combination of spices and seasonings, few, if any can resist this Southwestern chili especially on a chilly night like this.
As mealtime arrived the Sisters all gathered in the dining room where a glowing fire crackled in the fireplace. Each of us had a bowl of chili with our own favorite choice of toppings. Nothing could have warmed our hearts or satisfied our pallets more. We ate our meal with gladness and gave God thanks for all His many, many blessings to us.

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Southwestern Chili
Make-ahead note: The flavors continue to develop as the chili sits, so go ahead and make it up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate it in a container with a tight-*fitting lid. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.
SERVINGS
6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
6-8hrs
PREP TIME
45mins
READY IN
7-9hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Sauté the vegetables, ground beef, and spices, then put the mixture into the Crockpot or covered skillet along with tomatoes and kidney beans. Simmer until it’s thickened and has a nice beefy flavor, and then stir in jalapeños. We like this served with cornbread.
  2. To use dried beans in place of canned, start with 1 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked to yield 3 cups.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and bell pepper, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin, stir to coat the vegetables, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef and measured salt and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until the beef is browned, about 7 minutes.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker or covered skillet, add the diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, and beans, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on lowest possible heat until the chili thickens and the flavors meld, adding small amounts of the beer and coffee as needed to keep mixture from sticking. Stir in the jalapeños or green chiles. Taste and season with salt as needed.

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.

The Ultimate Fish Taco with a Twist

For some time now, our theater group, Elements Theater Company, has been doing their theater productions with a dinner added prior to the show.  Traditionally, this has been a plated meal tying in with themes from the play.  This summer, the show was unique – Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.  This award-winning series of solo pieces is considered a classic of contemporary drama, universally hailed for its combination of razor-sharp wit and deeply felt humanity.  The menu for this production conjured up images of an upscale Cape Cod pub food feel with a classy fish taco.  I started searching for recipes, and the one I hit on was just the right one.  The result was a colorful “box” dinner with the best fish taco I have ever tasted.  Filled with crunchy cabbage, spicy mayonnaise, sweet and sassy mango salsa and a light and crispy panko- crusted cod – this is party food at its best – all served up in a glossy black box.  Accompaniments included sweet potato fries, fresh corn and bacon salad and a homemade coleslaw.  I’d recommend this for any summer gathering.

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The Ultimate Fish Taco with a Twist
SERVINGS
8-10
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
20min
PREP TIME
45min
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare the mango-radish salsa. Remove the peel and pith from the limes and cut between the membranes to remove the segments. Put these "supremes" into a bowl and squeeze over the juice from the membranes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Season and refrigerate until ready to use. You can also place all of the ingredients into a food processor and puree for a smoother salsa.
  2. Prepare the pink chile mayonnaise. Put the chipotles in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, adobo sauce and lemon juice and continue to process until the mixture is consistent and creamy. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Prepare the fish. Cut the pieces of fish into 1-ounce strips or to your liking. Set up a breading station of flour, lightly beaten eggs with water, and seasoned panko bread crumbs. Season all with salt and pepper. Dredge the pieces of fish in flour, egg then bread crumbs. Once all the fish is breaded, deep-fry in small batches in (375 degrees F) oil. Drain on paper towels and season with salt. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  4. Place tortillas on a damp towel on a single layer on a cookie sheet, cover with another damp towel and place in a warm oven until ready to use.
  5. To serve, set up the tacos "family-style". Start with your warmed flour tortillas, assemble the fish in a pile on a plate; the pink chile mayonnaise in a bowl; and mango-radish salsa in another. Set a pile of shredded cabbage, cilantro leaves (opt) and lime wedges next to the fish. Have fun building your own tacos.

recipe adapted from Tyler Florence

Fluffy Banana Tea Bread

Twenty five years ago, our community collaborated on a cookbook called Recipes that Bear Repeating, which is still one of my favorite cookbooks. The recipes are tried and true, many of which have served our guests and retreatants over the years. One of our founders, Mother Cay, liked to remind us that Jesus loves to meet us in the little jobs that make up everyday life. “Life with Jesus,” she would say, “is in the mundane!” And we have found over and over again that He cares very much about the small things that concern us — what to have for dinner, how to celebrate our holidays, and so on through our daily life.

As we walk through Lent, we are reminded of these words, and pray that you also will meet Jesus in the kitchen, doing the laundry, cleaning the house or whatever your “mundane” might be.

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Fluffy Banana Tea Bread
from Recipes that Bear Repeating
SERVINGS
1loaf
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaf
COOK TIME
45mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside
  2. Cream together in a standing mixer the softened butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and beat for 2 min. or until light and fluffy
  3. Add banana, sour cream, nuts (optional) and cream together
  4. Slowly add flour mixture slowly, one cup at a time, until just incorporated (do not overbeat or your batter will be tough)
  5. Pour into a well-greased 9x5x3" loaf pan (glass is best) or greased muffin tins.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. or until a tooth pick comes out partially clean. Bake 10-15 min. for muffins.
  7. Let cool slightly, turn out of pan and enjoy!

Crispy Black Bean Fritters

One of our cooking sisters has made it her “mission” to incorporate healthy foods into the convent diet and get people to eat things they would not naturally choose-by making them into tasty, attractive dishes. She certainly succeeded yesterday, so much so that I never got to taste her crispy black bean cakes because I was late to lunch and there was not a one left to even sample.

However, all the Sisters who had them insisted they were fabulous and that they must be written up as a blog…..so here is the recipe…..Let me know what you think.

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Crispy Black Bean Fritters
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Ingredients

Instructions

P.S. Black beans have been proven to significantly aid the digestive system.

Fudge Frosting

Who doesn’t love chocolate cake? I know I do. And I have to confess that I am very happy with a box cake mix. I have made scratch cakes and there are some that are great. But if you are in a hurry, a box chocolate cake mix does just fine. Especially if you dress it up with a homemade frosting. We recently were asked to make some desserts for a party and a chocolate cake was requested. I remembered a fudge frosting I had found in a Bon Appetitseveral years ago. Really simple but oh so delicious. So we baked up a fudge chocolate cake in three layers and spread this on it — everyone loved it!

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Fudge Frosting
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
PREP TIME
READY IN
30minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Bring cream, brandy and butter to simmer in a large heavy saucepan whisking until butter melts.
  2. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.
  3. Add sour cream and whisk to blend.
  4. Refrigerate frosting until thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.