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.