St. Lucia Bread

Since St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) is just around the corner on December 13th, we thought we’d share this special Swedish bread with you – fantastic for the Holidays. The celebration of the day comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. “St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head, so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.” (see note below**)

December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old ‘Julian’ Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia’s Day. It is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Thus, the wreath of bread dotted with candied “berries.” If you’d like you can also add small candles to the cake as well for a more festive look.

** read more at https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/sweden.shtml

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St. Lucia Bread
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
20-25mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
2-3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large mixer, soften the yeast in the warm water
  2. Heat the milk until warm. Add the oil and sugar and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture in the mixer
  4. Add salt and saffron
  5. Add the 3 slightly beaten eggs and mix with dough hook.
  6. Add the lemon zest, citron and almonds and continue mixing
  7. One cup at a time, add the flour and mix well after each addition. Stop adding the flour when the dough starts pulling away from the side of the bowl. Adding more flour if necessary.
  8. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 5 min, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic; adding flour as necessary.
  9. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 1 hr. (At this point, you can refrigerate the dough, if you want to work with it later).
  10. Divide the dough into six equal balls and roll into large ropes and then braid three together, making two braids.
  11. Pinch the two ends together and tuck under, forming two circular loaves.
  12. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two sheet pans with baking paper, or grease, and put a braided loaf on each pan.
  13. Cover and let rise in a warm place, until doubled.
  14. Combine the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush on the braids.
  15. Bake for about 20-25 min or until the loaf feels firm to the touch. If you would like to use a thermometer, the internal temperature should read about 190 degrees.
  16. While the bread is baking, prepare your frosting, mixing all ingredients until smooth and on the thicker side. Cut your cherries in half.
  17. Remove bread from the oven and cool slightly, then decorate, using the green cherries as leaves, and the red as berries.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Every year we rejoice with the abundant harvest of home-grown vegetables, stone fruit, apples and herbs from our gardens and this year is no exception! Last week’s Thanksgiving table featured leeks and other produce from our soil for which we are truly grateful.

This year brought plentiful squash of several varieties: butternut, spaghetti squash, and of course, acorn squash. Roasted, steamed or stuffed, this yearly addition to our table is always welcome. If you’re planning a meatless meal–or cooking for a vegetarian friend or family member–consider today’s recipe and feel free to substitute ingredients and spices to suit your preferences. Thank God from whom all blessings flow!

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Stuffed Acorn Squash
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
1 hr10 mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
1 hr30 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place butternut squash in a large bowl with 3 TBSP of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until all the squash is coated and put on a baking sheet 1 layer deep for roasting and set aside.
  3. Cut the acorn squash in half width-wise and scoop out the seeds. Set the acorn squash on a baking sheet, brush with oil.
  4. Place all the pans of squash in the oven and roast for 1 hour until the squash can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  5. As the squash is roasting, combine Israeli couscous, spices, and herbs in a large bowl.
  6. Add remaining olive oil to coat and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add the roasted butternut squash to couscous mixture and gently toss to distribute evenly in the bowl.
  8. Spoon the couscous and butternut squash into the bottom half of the acorn squash, and top with parmesan cheese (optional). Add the tops of the acorn squash and place on a platter of your choosing and enjoy!

Cheese Danish Braid

At our Thanksgiving feast we enjoyed celebrating God’s blessings. One of them, the best in my opinion, is of course, lovely breakfast treats. In specific, a golden cream cheese danish with a hint of almond…can you see where were going with this?

Danishes can be a little tricky – below is simple version of the recipe. If you’d like a flakier danish, I suggest doing the square of butter version (see notes at end of recipe).
But either way, with a straight-forward approach and a little bit of time, you can enjoy the sweet, flaky treat for a Sunday brunch or with your mid-morning coffee. We are so grateful to God’s many blessings and pray that you also were able to appreciate God’s goodness this year. Happy belated Thanksgiving!

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Cheese Danish Braid
SERVINGS
12servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
15-20mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
30mins (plus overnight for resting dough)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, add the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and warm water. Let the yeast rest until it proofs (5 minutes). Once the yeast has proofed, add the egg, milk, sugar, and salt. Stir with a whisk, and set to the side.
  2. Place the flour and 1/2 cup cubed butter into a large bowl. With a pastry blender, combine until the butter is in tiny pieces. (You can also use the food processor for this step.) **NOTE** If you'd like a flakier Danish, set aside 1/2 cup of butter and make into a butter square.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the flour and combine until the dough comes together. Place the dough onto a floured work surface and shape into a square. Roll the dough into a rectangle 9 x 13-inches. If you'd like a flakier crust, place the butter square (see #8) in the middle and fold the dough lengthwise into thirds (similar to folding a letter to fit into an envelope). Roll the dough into a rectangle again, and then again fold into thirds. Repeat this process twice more, until you've done it a total of 3 times. Cut the dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge overnight. The dough keeps for one week in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer.
  4. Beat Cream Cheese till very smooth and no lumps remain. Combine with rest of filling ingredients.
  5. Remove one piece of dough from the fridge, and save the other for a rainy day (the dough can last in the fridge for up to 5 days and in the freezer for 3 months). On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the dough into a 9 x 13-inch rectangle. Spoon some of the cream cheese filling in the middle of the dough. With the dough laid in front of you vertically (so that the smaller 9-inch end is facing you), make 1-inch diagonal cuts down the left and right sides of the dough (imagine you are making a Christmas tree). Once you have reached the bottom, cut away two triangle pieces, so that the dough now has a tree trunk. Fold the tree trunk flap over the apples, then go back to the top and fold each strip over the cheese filling, alternating from left to right and moving towards the bottom.Preheat the oven to 400º F.
  6. Gently lift the parchment paper and the braid onto a baking sheet. Brush the top of the pastry with an egg wash (one egg white and a teaspoon of water). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until brown on top.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk, and vanilla until you get a desired consistency. Add a tablespoon more milk if the icing is too thick. (It should be pourable, but not so thin that it drips off of the pastry.) Drizzle over the top of the braid and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm. The danish lasts for 3 to 4 days. It's best to store in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap, and then reheated in the oven or microwave before eating.

*NOTE: Option for Flakier Dough: Before cubing butter, set aside 1/2 cup of butter. Cut into 4 squares, sprinkle with a little flour and roll to a 1/4" width between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Refrigerate till ready to use in Step #5.

Simple (and delicious!) Bok Choy

We are so fortunate to have a good friend and neighbor who grows vegetables for a nearby upscale restaurant. Whenever he has a surplus of a particular vegetable, we’re the happy benefactors. Yesterday morning, I cheered when walking into the Convent kitchen. I found three large flats of fresh, happy looking Baby Bok Choy on the counter. In no time at all, it was in and out of the sink and into the skillet for our noon meal. What a blessing!

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Simple (and delicious!) Bok Choy
Great anytime in the week, this easy recipe will turn a side dish into the star of the show on any table!
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
30mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat broth, butter, and garlic in a deep skillet, cast iron is preferred.
  2. Arrange the bok choy evenly in the skillet and simmer until tender--about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the bok choy onto a serving dish and cover to keep warm.
  4. Return to the skillet and reduce the broth by half. Add sesame oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Pour the broth reduction over the bok choy and enjoy!

Apple Fritter Quick Bread

Several of us Sisters were recently sharing our favorite fall doughnut flavors, and it seemed the most popular Fall favorite was Apple Fritters. As a child, I remember getting these as a treat at our Fall fairs – crispy on the outside and slathered with creamy frosting, it just takes one quick bite to sink your teeth into the most delightful apple pieces covered with cinnamon. Yum! Just writing about it now makes my mouth water! Since our waistlines aren’t exactly what they were when we were kids, but still just dying to bring the memory back, I stumbled upon an Apple Fritter Bread. With a few modifications, this bread, although slightly healthier, still has those magical flavors. It’s a perfect recipe for young children to participate in making. And the aroma it brings into your kitchen…you don’t want to miss it!

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Apple Fritter Quick Bread
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
1hr
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1 hr15 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9x5 -inch loaf pan and spray with non-stick spray or line with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In another medium-sized bowl, beat white sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
  4. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended in; add in vanilla extract.
  5. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together in another bowl and add into creamed butter mixture and stir until blended.
  6. Mix milk into batter until smooth.
  7. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half the chopped apple mixture.
  8. Sprinkle 1/2 of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture you set aside earlier, on top of apple layer.
  9. Pour the remaining batter over apple layer and top with remaining chopped apples, then the remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
  10. Lightly pat apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using knife or spoon.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, approximately 60 minutes.
  12. To make a glaze, mix powdered sugar and milk or cream together until well mixed.
  13. Let cool for about 15 minutes before drizzling with glaze.

(add chopped walnuts or pecans if you'd like)

Vegan Roasted Cauliflower & Parsnip Soup with Caramelized Onions & Apples

This is a winner! We recommend serving this with an open faced sandwich or just on its own. You’ll think this soup has been thickened with cream, but magically it hasn’! Coconut milk and coconut oil have a wonderful way of adding depth of flavor and the under-appreciated cauliflower and parsnip get a bit of attention in this marvelous winter soup. Topped with caramelized onions and sautéed apple, this dish is perfect for fall when you start pulling on your warm socks and woolen sweaters.

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Vegan Roasted Cauliflower & Parsnip Soup with Caramelized Onions & Apples
SERVINGS
5servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
45mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat over to 375-400°F. Toss the cauliflower and parsnips in 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and spread in single layer on a sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the tips begin to turn brown, then add the minced garlic, cover with foil and continue roasting until soft and tender.
  2. Meanwhile, caramelize the onion: slice the onion into thin strips, and saute over low heat with 1 Tbsp. coconut oil. Adding just a dash of salt and sugar can help the caramelization process. Stir every few minutes, until onions begin to brown. Dice the apple, and add it to the pan. Continue to cook on low until apple is tender and the onions are golden and sweet. Add salt to taste. Set aside for garnish.
  3. Place cauliflower, parsnips, 4 cups warm broth, coconut milk/cream in a blender,. Blend until smooth, adding salt and smoked paprika to taste. Add additional broth, coconut milk or cream until desired consistency and flavor is reached.
  4. Re-heat your soup on the stove or in the microwave or freeze in ziplock bags for later.
  5. When ready to serve, spoon soup into bowls and top with a generous amount of onions and apples.