Monday, July 25, 2011

A Season for Everything...

In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes (Ecc. 3:1-9), King Solomon writes how there is season for everything~ during this time of my life, I would heartily agree with him. Our family has gone through so many changes just over this last year that we have experienced the times to weep & laugh, mourn & dance, and especially cast away stones & gather stones together. For me, the casting away and gathering means no more than where we are with the kids. Having Cari in her own apartment, Joshua away at college & David attending college full-time (even though he's living at home) plus Mary going to be starting her senior year all shows me that it's time for me to be grateful whenever we are together since we seem to be more and more apart.

This was made clear to me this last week as a we had Joshua home for a week from his summer job at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts where he will be starting his sophomore year at the end of next month. The time we had together seemed to fly by, but we had many moments of laughter and joy whether we were attending Mass at Mt. Angel Abbey or thrift store shopping at St. Vincent De Paul's. Mary commented one day during the week that she enjoyed having Josh home because it meant we had good meals~ I will admit I did try to make some special dinners while he was here! Our last meal together were potato taquitos that I made as it was something gluten-free for Cari as well as meatless, it being Friday. They were quite delicious & something the kids have said they would like to have again!

Having said goodbye to the girls, the rest of us headed up to the airport to get Josh on his JetBlue flight back to Boston (via NY this time). I don't think goodbyes get necessarily easier, but this time there weren't tears from anyone~ at least that I could see. I think we had our time to be together and now it was time to be able to send away... at least until the Christmas break!

Summer Season Potato Taquitos

  • 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes (we had leftovers from the potatoes Mary made to go with the delicious meatloaf dinner a couple days before)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • vegetable oil
  • salsa, sour cream & guacamole- for serving
  1. Mix together first 5 ingredients.
  2. Lay a corn tortilla on the counter or on a plate.
  3. Spread some of the potato filling in the middle of the tortilla. Be careful, or it will spill out when you roll it up.
  4. Roll the the tortilla over the filling towards the top.
  5. Repeat until the filling is gone.
  6. Heat up about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet.
  7. Fry however many taquitos will fit on the bottom of the pan without overlapping. (I was able to do 5 at time).
  8. When the bottoms are golden brown, flip them over and cook the second side the same way.
  9. Drain on paper towels & serve with salsa, sour cream & guacamole.
P.S. I was also thinking there is a seasoning for everything...I may explore that in my next entry!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The "Rite" Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

A buffet lunch plate including a one of the delicious brownies~ he only took one because he didn't know how good they are!!

1 pound butter (2 sticks)
1 pound + 1 package (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
7 large eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup oat flour
1 cup rice flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
3 cups chopped nuts (I used pecans)
12 Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, chopped roughly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray.

Melt together butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate in microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring after each one. After melted, set aside to cool.

Stir together eggs, vanilla and sugar. Stir in warm chocolate mixture.

Stir together flours, baking powder and salt; Add to chocolate mixture and mix well. Add nuts and remaining chocolate chips to batter; fold in gently.

Bake for 20 minutes; take out and rap pan against oven shelf to allow air to escape from between pan and dough; rotate pan for even baking. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes more. Take pan out of oven and sprinkle with peanut butter cups. Return to oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Do not over bake. Cool thoroughly and cut into squares. These are very thick and very rich~ cut into small squares & people will think they don't need as much!!

The "Rite" Stuff

The Saint Joseph's Crowd with Archbishop Vlazny at the Cathedral

In my last blog entry, I mentioned how my relationship with Christ is getting deeper and deeper in so many aspects and how the family is also going through the same sort of thing. This past Sunday was no exception! Brian, Carissima, David and Mary were "sent off" along with the other catechumens and candidates from Saint Joseph's to visit Saint Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for the rite of election.

We started the morning with Mass as everyone's sponsor/godparent attended to answer Father Todd's questions pertaining to everyone being ready to continue on in their journey in becoming Catholic. Following Mass, in what we are finding is a joyful Catholic tradition, we had a feast to celebrate the "sending off"! A buffet of lunchmeat, cheeses, bread, salads, chips, fruit and desserts were enjoyed by all. I decided to add to the celebration by bringing a new recipe of a gluten-free brownie~ especially for Cari, but also foreveryone who wanted to try them (recipe on blog above)! Now, you need to remember that it is Lent, so why in the world would there be a celebration meal during this time? I have found out that the Catholic church (as well as some other denominations) do not count Sundays as part of the Lenten season, but rather as a day of "resurrection celebration", therefore, the brownies and other goodies were totally appropriate for the celebration luncheon!

After a time of resting at home as well as a time to skype with Joshua for a bit, we all got ready to head up to Portland for the evening. With a very capable Rolando behind the wheel of the church van, we made it up to Saint Mary's without a hitch. What a wonderful time it was with Archbishop John Vlazny celebrating the Rite and the Cathedral being packed to the gills with catechumens, candidates, sponsors, godparents and family members!

The Archbishop was quite a good sport to stand for quite a while
with a big smile on his face as so many people wanted photos with him~ including all of us!

Mary with Archbishop Vlazny

David's turn with the Archbishop

The kids were really excited, and both Cari
& David have theirs as the photo on their Facebook status. The journey just keeps getting deeper and deeper for all of us as Brian and all of the kids prepare to join the church on Easter. As we find time this Lent to pray, fast, give alms, reflect, ponder, read, go to Mass, talk, spend time in the Adoration Chapel, go to the Abbey, listen to inspirational music...the list is almost endless~ I pray one of these things will draw you closer and deeper in the next 33 days.
Cari with
(who is STILL
smiling~ he is
such a nice man)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

RIgatoni with Chickpeas and Roasted Tomato Sauce

16 oz. Rigatoni pasta
10 oz. hummus (I used Sabra brand)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1- 28 oz. can diced roasted tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 teaspoon za'atar (Middle Eastern Spice Mix- I buy mine at Penzey's spices)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 8-9 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup liquid; keep pasta warm in reserved liquid.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes and garlic; sprinkle with paprika, za'atar, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in hummus & olives. Turn heat to low and cook until heated through, about 4-5 minutes.
Serve sauce over pasta.

This is really good over other kinds of pasta~ Cari had it over gluten-free spaghetti & she enjoyed it a lot!

Fat and Ashes

Coming up with a title for today's blog entry was pretty easy for me. After all, yesterday my family celebrated Fat Tuesday- also known as Shrove Tuesday and, of course, Mardi Gras. I found out from Josh that it's also known as Pancake Tuesday since Catholics used to fast not only from meat during Lent but also from fat, sugar and eggs. Today is the first day of the Lenten season, known as Ash Wednesday. It starts a 40-day time of penitential reflection, fasting and alms-giving before the Easter season. I won't go into how the dates are all figured out, but this year Lent is starting just about the latest it ever starts meaning Easteris also very late compared to usual as it is on April 24th (not soon enough- according to at least one of my children, for reasons that will be figured out by my readers over the next 40 days).I have tried to make sure my kids grew up in a house where they knew what the idea of Lent was, especially when they were younger. We used to do small things like charitable acts of service such as making cookies for someone or sending notes to people who normally wouldn't get any. As they got older, however, the Lenten season was not observed quite so much as the busy-ness of life took over as well as the priorities not being where they should. I would often find myself still having Christmas carols in my head when the kids would be wondering if they'd be getting new outfits for Easter.
Don't take me wrong, I love celebrating Good Friday, and the risen Savior on Easter Sunday morning with my family and friends~ I just have longed for it to be more... not just more stuff to do, but a whole encompassing deeper sense of "more". I realize that is probably going to confuse some of you (it kind of does me too), but it's that "more" that has drawn me and my family back and into the Catholic Church. This is why it is so exciting for me to be sitting in
front of this computer with a black smudge of ashes on my forehead while having just eaten a delicious meatless lunch of pasta with chickpeas & roasted tomato sauce. It's why the whole family got up on a Wednesday to go to 7:00a.m. Mass since David had to be at school & it would be the one time we could be together for Mass at St. Joseph's today.
It is also why we ate pancakes for lunch yesterday with our good friend Tania and stopped by
Roth's last night for one last run of sweets, soda and sour cream before the fasting began in earnest today. It is why Josh didn't come home for a full 10 days for Spring Break but instead will be here during the Easter Tridium for a mere 5 days in April.

It is why I am excited to start my Lenten reading of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's, Life of Christ. This is the "more" of which I am writing. May Christ help you come into "more" this Lenten season.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Green Chile Enchiladas


Prep Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 45 mins

  1. Cook the ground beef, and saute onions until the meat is brown, about 15 minutes. Drain the fat. Combine with chili powder, tabasco, salt and pepper. Reserve 1 cup cheese in a 1-quart freezer bag to use when serving. Spoon enough meat mixture and cheese on each tortilla to cover a third of it. Roll tortilla beginning at the filled edge. Place seam side down in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish treated with nonstick spray. When tortillas are completed, combine soup, sour cream, and green chilies to make a sauce; pour over tortillas.
  2. Bake uncovered in a preheated 375ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes. The last 10 minutes sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

A Retreat~ Two Ways

This weekend I experienced something I have not been accustomed to in my life for over 21 years~ an house bereft of other human beings. With the exception of the kids and Brian sometimes taking off for an hour or two (maybe even up to three, if I want to be honest), I seriously do not remember an extended period of time without someone else being here with me since I gave birth to Carissima. Needless to say, it caused mixed emotions~ elation (I get to actually get on the computer for more than 5 minutes), joy (YES~ I can make whatever I want to eat AND eat it wherever I want), confusion (what movie do I choose when I get to pick it?), peace (lots of time to pray & read without being interrupted). It has been a great weekend!

Now, dear readers, you may be pondering the question, "How on earth did she manage to get them all out of the house (okay- Cari does live on her own & Josh is in NH at school, but there's still the rest of them)?". This is the best part~ while I've enjoyed my weekend here at home, Brian, Cari, David and Mary have been at Mt. Angel Abbey for a pre-Easter retreat. It is something that all St. Joseph Church catechumen and candidates (people who will join the Catholic Church at Easter) get the opportunity to do. A friend of mine, Michael Ford, wrote an essay about the Abbey, which you may enjoy reading. They are having a time of reflection, learning, prayer and growing both individually and as a group. I am excited about hearing how their time went!!

I spent Friday night dropping the family off then headed home to enjoy a plate of homemade nachos (nothing difficult~ shredded cheddar & Monterey Jack, onions, salsa, sour cream & tortilla chips) & a netflix instant watch film, "Manna From Heaven". Afterwards, I spent some
time praying and headed to bed, well sated, both physically and spiritually!

Saturday morning found me waking up to pray then head out the door to work out at Curves. Next was a quick stop to Marivilla's Bakery~ a Mexican bakery in NE Salem (on Devonshire just west of Lancaster)~ to pick up some cookies and a few pastries. I then came home to make a delicious breakfast of eggs, onions, cheese & sauteed mushrooms (found at Roth's for 25 cents a pound) along with some bacon and a pastry. With a hot cup of coffee and some computer time~ including getting to chat on Facebook with Josh's girlfriend, Mary~ the morning couldn't have been better!

My computer time was interrupted (a very welcome interruption, at that) with a call from my friend Gabrielle who was ready for me to come to her house for an afternoon of teaching me
how to knit, along with tea and lots of talking as we have a tendency to do when we get together. Lunch would consist of Green Chile Enchiladas (a second batch that I had froze when making David's birthday enchiladas) along with the aforementioned cookies bought (and made) earlier that
morning. I did start to learn how to knit (she promised we'll get to the "purl" another time soon), and my small piece of green knitted yarn looks like the start of something for our bunny~ or a pocket, as Gabrielle called it. I had a delightful time with my dear friend (and daughter, Emma) which was a wonderful segue for the evening to come. I headed off to St. Joseph's where I spent an hour in the Adoration Chapel praying and having sweet communion with our Lord. Then, on the way home, I decided to splurge as I knew I still had a plethora of cookies sitting in the back seat~ I drove through Arctic Circle and ordered a caramel shake~ showing some self-control as I choose a small even though a medium was a mere 30 cents more.

You may not know what's it's like to share one bathroom with three other people, or you may totally be able to empathize with me~ those of you in either group may just skip the next few sentences. Upon arriving home for evening, I was able to take time to pray followed by as luxurious a shower as one can have in one's 1912 farmhouse bathroom (no complaints- let's just be honest here). Trying to figure out if I wanted to make something for dinner, I choose instead to have some more leftover enchiladas; this time covering them with some of the sauteed mushrooms and onions. Another movie~ this time with dessert of 1/2 my shake and 1/2 a cookie. This was followed by the evening toothbrushing & night prayer along with a few chapters of Pope Benedict's Heart of the Christian Life. It was a very contented and grateful woman who fell asleep in my bed surrounded by dog, Ruby & cats, Solomon and Josephine.

This morning the alarm went off at 6:00. Why would I get up that early when no one's here to have to make breakfast for? Because it's the first Sunday of the month which means 7:00 a.m. Latin Mass at St. Joseph's. Worth getting up for? Absolutely~ especially when I got the opportunity to then come home and spend time not only praying for my family's last few hours at their retreat, but time to do this post. In 10 minutes, I will get in my car and drive to the Abbey to pick up the retreat attendees (at least, the three of them that are from my family). I will have the opportunity to eat lunch with them and hear about their weekend as well as talk with the other attendees who have experienced the retreat. Do I expect to pick up a husband who may have learned to be more attentive to me? Maybe. Do I expect to pick up teen-agers who may have learned to be more responsible in doing their chores? Possibly. Do I expect to pick up a young adult child who may have figured out there is more to life than having stuff? Hopefully. But, what is more important is that even though they have been at the Abbey on retreat, I have also been on a sort of retreat. My expectations need to be for my own heart to be drawn closer to God, and, in turn, draw my husband and kids to Him. We shall see what happens as our retreats both come to a close, and we enter into our everyday world once again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No Time To Be Chicken!

It's been quite a few weeks around the Keatley house. Between dealing with some health issues, volunteering at Salem Alliance's Great Expectations dinner to help out friends, Ron and Shelly West, and working more hours to cover the bosses' classes as he's off coaching at competitions, our meals haven't quite been up to Mangia Mamma standards. I decided the last couple of days to remedy that with a few easy but equally delicious meals~ Mary made a won ton soup Monday that was perfect for the cold weather without being overly heavy; I made meatloaf last night since my brother-in-law from Idaho was stopping overnight on the way to a job interview, and today's lunch was a take-off of a Rachael Ray dish from her magazine this month.
Since it's Cari's day off, and she's hanging out with us (making for a very happy sister and kitty, not to mention a pretty pleased mom) I wanted to make a lunch that would be gluten-free and full of flavor. There was a recipe for Chicken Thighs with Smoky Roasted Peppers in the aforementioned magazine that I decided to flavor-bump just a bit! We served it with some steamed rice, but for those that would prefer pasta or bread, it's got a great sauce for sopping.
Give it a try~ it's smoky and tasty and just plain delicious! "Mangia"~

Smoky Chicken Thighs and Veggies

2 pounds skinless & boneless chicken thighs
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup rice flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds (this isn't essential, but it added a nice flavor)
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 cup White Wine (we used Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay)
One 28-ounce can roasted whole tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1 cup zucchini, roughly chopped
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained

Heat frying pan over medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season chicken with salt & pepper and add to pan. Sprinkle with rice flour; brown on each side, 5-6 minutes total. Transfer to plate. Add remaining olive oil, celery seeds and garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Add wine and deglaze the pan. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken and remaining ingredients; stir gently to combine. Turn heat to medium, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid and cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until liquid has evaporated a bit. Serve over rice, pasta, or with a good bread for sopping up sauce.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Christmas Season Recipes~2010 (but good anytime of year)!

Grandma Pitalo's Artichoke Dip

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
1-8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
dash of each- dill weed and garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes. Delicious with crackers or French bread cubes.

Grandma Pitalo's Philly Cream Cheese Dip
1-8 oz. cream cheese (Grandma used Philadelphia Cream Cheese- hence the recipe's title)
3 hard cooked eggs, chopped fine
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 T. green onion tops, finely chopped
salt and white pepper to taste
5 T. mayonnaise
5 T. half & half

Gently mix all ingredients together in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Best set overnight- you can add a bit more half & half, if dip is too thick. Great with chips, crackers & veggie sticks!

Amaretto Baked Brie (made from now on for Father Todd
whenever we are at the same party)

1 small wheel of brie (preferably French)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup pecan halves*
sliced French bread, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place brie in 9" pan (I use a quiche pan as it looks nice). In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and Amaretto. Spoon over brie. Sprinkle with cherries and pecans. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Serve with sliced French bread.
*I've also used filberts or slice almonds when I've been out of pecans~ very tasty! I'd also give macadamia nuts a try, perhaps with Grand Marnier liqueur and dried cranberries. The possibilities could be endless!!

Christmas is Past but Christ is still Present

I was planning on trying to keep up with this blog as we celebrated a Catholic-style Christmas season for the first time, but I guess I can say I was busy enough celebrating my intentions were not followed through so well. I did collect some memories that I wanted to share as well as some recipes I will post!

We did have a glorious time celebrating the birth of our Saviour in 2010!! From the beginning of Advent until the feast of Epiphany (the celebration of the Wise Men bringing their gifts to the Christ Child), we did so many meaningful things, both as individuals and as a family. We wanted to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, so we did not decorate the house all at once, starting by first putting up an Advent wreath and making a Jesse Tree. We waited a week before getting out the creches we own, but kept the statues of Jesus put away until we came home from Christmas Eve midnight Mass. We then waited until Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent when the pink candle is lit and "joy" is the theme of the day) to hang up our outside lights. Our tree didn't go up until the last Sunday of Advent and the tree wasn't lit until Christmas Eve~ thus ushering in the birthday of "Light of the World". David even chose to abstain from sweets during Advent which made his enjoyment of Christmas Day sweets "very sweet" indeed. We made it a point to share our joy with others as we tried to give extra (time, money & talents) to helping those in need. I think this made it for a deeper meaning of Christmas for each of us~ we had many opportunities to think about what we were celebrating!

And celebrate we did! Christmas Eve found us at my parents exchanging gifts and feasting on a variety of delectable delights~ from old favorites like Grandma Pitalo's artichoke dip and Philly cream cheese dip to homemade pizzas (of both the white sauced and red sauced variety) to wonderful desserts including an amazing homemade Marionberry pie. The evening's festivities were capped off with midnight Mass at Saint Joseph's. Arriving at home, ready for "a [not really] long winter's nap", we headed to bed after the kids put on their annual Christmas Eve gifts of pajamas.

We continued the celebration the following morning with our now fourth-annual Christmas morning brunch at our non-family family, The Hortons. French toast, eggs, bacon, hot spiced fruit along with hot coffee, coffee punch and juice was the menu of the day. When all were well-sated, we had our gift exchange among much laughter and joy.

There was another celebration as we headed over to my folks for Christmas afternoon with my Grandpa Aziz. This being the first Christmas with my Grandma being gone, we knew it would be a hard time for him. We had plenty of food (I am sure my dear readers are not surprised) and there were stories recalled of Christmas' past that brought tears to more than one person's eyes.

Celebrations continued throughout the following week with a wonderful dinner at a fellow parishioner's home Wednesday night (thanks so much, Paul, for the delicious meal as well as the introduction to Chartruese). We also made another visit to my mom and dad's on Thursday night to celebrate with my sister and her family who came up from Grants Pass. My mom decided to make manicotti which was quite delicious, and the time spent with family was sweet.

Friday followed with the boys getting up at 2:30 AM (yes, you read that right) to head off on a pilgrimage to Mt. Angel Abbey to celebrate Lauds. After a few setbacks, the boys did make it to the Abbey where Mary and I joined them for Mass. To celebrate their journey, we had donuts and eggs for breakfast with hot cocoa for all.

That evening was the annual New Year's Eve Party at the Wests~ more food and more fellowship was on the menu for the evening as well with a surprise nerf gun attack as the moms bombarded the kids (and dads that were there too). New Year's Day was a relatively quiet affair, with David and I heading back to my folks for breakfast with my sis and family and an afternoon spent with football and fabric (thanks to my mom for all the wonderful fabric for my cache)!

The topper of all of the celebrations for our family actually happened right after the Christmas season officially ended.
Brian and I were able to celebrate our marriage convalidation (blessing) at Saint Joseph's Church on January 8th along with a small gathering of family and friends. It was a beautiful celebration and followed with a dinner at the home of our friends, Mike and Cristina Ford. Joy seemed to permeate the air as we enjoyed everyone's company~ the Wests, the Roses (who came down from Washington to celebrate with us) and Father Todd Molinari (thanks for giving us your time when you even had to get up the following morning to celebrate 7AM Mass). Feeling of friendships- both old and new- growing deeper was prevalent as we shared appetizers, soups, bread, desserts and a variety of wines. Conversations continued into the evening as I sat amazed at what God had brought in my life~ my husband and grown (or almost grown) kids, my dear friends (both old and new) and the love He continues to show me.

So yes, Christmas is past for this season. The Catholic Church is now in what is known as "Ordinary Time" until Lent begins. Decorations and lights are put away as are the last crumbs of Christmas goodies. Now that the Christmas season is officially over, the opportunity to celebrate His presence is a daily challenge as the world tries to get my attention. Thanks be to God, who is truly present for those who want to celebrate Him~ no matter what the season.