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Since the 1970’s, we have prepared hundreds (if not thousands!) of meals here at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, and at our mission house, Villa Via Sacra, in Barga, Italy. We believe that food nourishes body, soul, and spirit, and that even the simplest meal, prepared with love, can change your life. At the heart of our call to kitchen and table lie the words of Saint Benedict: “Welcome all as Christ.” This premise has led us on many culinary adventures, which we now gladly share with you!

Back to Basics — Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

As Americans unite and pull together during this time of crisis, we find
ourselves going back to basics in lots of areas, including food! With so many
families housebound, both parents and children, “comfort food” can play a
part in helping relieve the stress and increase relaxation. Meatloaf and
mashed potatoes are a great way to go—hearty, simple and sure to be a hit.

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Back to Basics — Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes
SERVINGS
4
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
55
PREP TIME
15
READY IN
1hour, 10 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Set oven at 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, combine beef, panko or bread crumbs, onion, milk, egg, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, salt and pepper.
  3. With a good sized spoon, mix gently until well combined, without over-handling it, which toughens the meat.
  4. Place the meat mixture in loaf pan.
  5. Combine ketchup, wine vinegar, brown sugar and spread over the top of meatloaf.
  6. Bake uncovered for about 55 minutes or until internal temp reaches 160 degrees.
  7. For those who like the ketchup topping to be a little browned and crispy, put under the broiler, turning it around every few seconds, for about 3-5 minutes
  8. Serve with a scoop of your favorite mashed potatoes!

Springtime Borscht

Recently, another Sister and I shared our borscht recipes and memories! Like any well-loved food, memories play a part in its enjoyment. Our experiences of eating borscht are different but surprisingly parallel. Sr. Monica spent two months living at a Convent in Estonia when it was still part of the USSR. She has vivid memories of being there as the coup occurred when Gorbachev was still in power. I remember it too, because I was in Poland at the time, singing with our choir, Gloriae Dei Cantores. We had no way to communicate with our Sisters in Estonia since cell phones and e-mail were unavailable to us in 1991. We relied on prayer for their safety.  Often, a particular recipe is a vehicle for comfort, even solace. We have had difficult times in the past, but we know God’s love is available to us. We offer this heartwarming recipe to you, along with our prayers for a healthy spring.

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Springtime Borscht
SERVINGS
8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
1hour
PREP TIME
4.5hours
READY IN
5.5hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put the meat in a crockpot with 8 cups cold water, red pepper flakes, bay leaves and 1 Tbsp salt. Set on high for 4 hours. Cook until fork tender. Remove meat and strain and reserve the broth. Set aside
  2. While the Beef is cooking, wrap beets in foil and place in a 400 degree oven—roast for 1hr. until fork tender. Cool slightly, but while they are still warm, remove the top, bottom and skin with a pairing knife (skins should come off easily if properly cooked) and either grate or julienne the beets. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large stockpot and add 4 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter and sauté onion for 2 min. Add diced potato and sauté another 5 min or until beginning to soften. Add the grated carrot, cabbage and garlic and 2 Tbsp vinegar and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to med/low and add the beets, 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp tomato paste. Mix thoroughly and add the reserved strained broth and extra 2-3 cups beef broth. (I used' Better than Bouillon' Roasted Beef Base)
  5. Simmer and cover until vegetables are tender. Add the diced, cooked Beef and 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill. Remove from heat and leave covered until flavors meld. Add 1/4 tsp pepper (If desired), and salt to taste. Adjust flavors to taste (you may want to add a bit more vinegar or sugar)
  6. Serve warm or cold with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill.

Orange Mirepoix Pork Loin

Over the years, both for guest cooking and for meals at the convent and friary, our cooks are always on the lookout for delicious recipes with a unique twist that are easy to prepare. This special orange pork recipe is one of these! While pork loin can be roasted in the oven — a pan-fried preparation is equally as tasty.

We very much enjoyed this lovely meat course and hope that you will too! Juicy and flavorful, this is a keeper! 

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Orange Mirepoix Pork Loin
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
15minutes , plus 1 hour stove time
PREP TIME
15minutes
READY IN
1hour, 15 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter on stovetop until it bubbles and becomes frothy.
  2. Add onion, carrot and celery. Sautee until tender.
  3. While vegetables are cooking, season pork loin with salt and pepper.
  4. Push aside vegetables in saucepan, leaving a space in the middle. Place pork loin in middle of pan and sear until brown on all sides, rotating as needed.
  5. Once loin has a good crust on all sides, combine with rest of vegetables. Add orange juice and white wine to pan, cover and cook 1 hour on medium-low heat. Deglaze with water as needed.
  6. Once loin is cooked thoroughly, remove from pan. Add vegetables and juices to blender and combine until smooth.
  7. Rest pork and cut into chops. Return sauce to pan on stove to keep warm.
  8. Serve pork warm with sauce over top and garnish with orange slices if desired.

A Lovely Meal for Lent – Deliciously Simple

Crumb cod has been a favorite of ours for decades—for guests, retreatants, and our own Sisterhood. It’s a wonderful addition to your Lenten menu. This is a great recipe for anyone looking for something meatless, delicious, and easy to prepare. You don’t have to live on the Cape to enjoy this flavorsome dish – try it and you’ll be glad you did, in and out of the Lenten season.

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A Lovely Meal for Lent - Deliciously Simple
SERVINGS
2
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
20
PREP TIME
20
READY IN
40

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Set oven at 375 degrees
  2. Rinse cod fillets and dry with paper towel.
  3. Brush Pyrex pie plate or baking dish with melted butter.
  4. Brush fillets lightly with melted butter; then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Crush crackers with rolling pin and mix with melted butter and 1Tbsp of lemon juice. Add chopped parsley and toss together lightly.
  6. Gently press crumbs onto fillets. (It’s fine if any excess falls into baking dish!)
  7. Pour wine and remaining Tbsp. of lemon juice around fish in the baking dish.
  8. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until crumbs are golden and crunchy. Internal temperature should read between 135 -140 degrees. You can carefully check by gently inserting a fork, to see if the fish is opaque and flakey.

The Very Best Veggie Burgers

This year, I’ve been doing some teaching where cooking is concerned, and along with that comes learning on my part. Testing new recipes, experimenting with foods of different cultures and also trying my hand at a healthier way of cooking and eating. As I was working with a friend, we decided we’d like to try to find a recipe for a really good veggie burger. First of all, I wasn’t sure those four words really went together… “really good” and “veggie burger”. But, once again, I was wrong. This vegetable and grain-based patty is delightful. It’s bursting with flavors – we commented to each other that you could truly taste each vegetable in it and the bonus is, it’s packed with protein. Even my most lovable meat craving Sister thought it was delicious. That was a real surprise.

So, as we head into Lent, I thought this might be a good time to share this recipe. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Blessed Lent to you!

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The Very Best Veggie Burgers
SERVINGS
8burgers
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
burgers
COOK TIME
35minutes
PREP TIME
25minutes, plus cooling time
READY IN
1 hour, plus cooling time

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Make the herb mayo: In a blender, combine all the herb mayo ingredients. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a bowl.
  2. Make the veggie burgers: In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the quinoa is tender and all the water is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Or cook the quinoa in a rice cooker, following manufacturer directions (I used 2 cups quinoa/2 cups water). You will be using 3 cups of cooked quinoa in this recipe.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, parsley and onion, and cook, stirring often, until the veggies are tender and lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Then add the baby spinach to wilt along with the corn. Transfer to the bowl with the 3 cups of cooked quinoa and let cool.
  4. Once the vegetables-and-quinoa mixture has cooled, mix in the remaining veggie burger ingredients until incorporated. Form into 8 - ½ cup patties and shape. Lay out on a piece of wax paper.
  5. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the veggie burgers until golden brown and crisp, 3 minutes per side.
  6. To assemble: Top each veggie burger with some of the herbed mayo and top with tomato and avocado. Serve while the burger is still warm with a side of sweet potato fries.

Lasagne al Carciofo – Tuscan White Artichoke Lasagna

Serving our mission in Italy has allowed me to learn about local dishes, and today’s blog features a favorite! Thanks to the generosity of Laura, co-owner of a local ristorante kitchen located in the historical center of Barga, I have been learning about traditional regional dishes during my time in Italy.

This white lasagna is different than anything I had ever made, as it showcases artichokes as the main flavor in this Italian classic. Rather than eat the outer leaves as we do in the States, the more tender inner leaves and heart are selected. Tasty and oh-so delizioso, this has become a surprise favorite on our table!

Ingredients and directions for the béchamel sauce are listed below, but you may also refer to our Baked Cauliflower Pie blog. That recipe is doubled below for this lasagna.

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Lasagne al Carciofo - Tuscan White Artichoke Lasagna
SERVINGS
6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
45
PREP TIME
30
READY IN
1hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

Béchamel sauce
  1. Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add shallots (if using) and sauté 2 minutes. Do not let brown.
  2. Reduce heat to low, add flour, and whisk until smooth and raw taste is cooked off, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add bay leaf and cook until just thickened, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in nutmeg and salt. Season with ground white pepper. Cool sauce slightly. Discard bay leaf before using.
Lasagna
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prepare the artichokes by cutting off the tops, about 2 inches. Chop the stem, leaving the leaves attached and cut the whole artichoke in half.
  3. Thinly slice the artichoke in half vertically and set aside.
  4. Drizzle the bottom of a pan with olive oil and add the slices of artichoke. Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender. Remove from heat.
  5. Gently combine the cooked artichoke with béchamel sauce and set aside
  6. Thinly coat the bottom of a casserole dish with the béchamel sauce and begin layering the lasagna, beginning with the noodles, béchamel, and mozzarella. Continue layering for 3 layers, ending with a topping of mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven approximately 45 minutes or until the noodles are fully cooked, and the lasagna is bubbling around the edges.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!