Okay, I’m going to share my ‘secret’ recipe that keeps my husband thinking I’m a good cook! As brought to mind in a previous posting, Lent is almost here will find a lot more fish on the dinner table. Our go-to is usually salmon . . . mainly because we can get it at one of the big box stores for a reasonable price and it is the one fish that we will all agree on for dinner. Boneless fillet strikes a chord in my kitchen prep time heart! I prepare it a variety of ways but baked in the oven on one shelf with vegetables roasting in a pan on the bottom rung of the oven makes my Lent a little too easy.
Okay, your have purchased your nice pink slab of boned salmon. Line a baking pan (with a rim for escaping juices) with parchment paper and place your fish on it. Preheat your oven to 350 at this time.
My secret sauce recipe? Go to Walmart (best price on this ‘secret’ sauce!), go to the condiments aisle under Asian and look for Tsang Stir-Fry Szechuan Spicy Sauce. You will need most of one bottle for this recipe. By the way, the bottle of sauce IS my secret sauce recipe!
Spread the sauce over the fish. The sauce is spicy so taste test as to how thick a layer you prefer. Now, generously shake on sesame seeds. How much is up to you. My family likes a lot. https://www.thespicehouse.com/sesame-seeds-white The Spice House is the best price for ordering sesame seeds.
Bake in your pre-heated oven until cooked which for a fish fillet means the fish will flake when pressed with a fork. It goes well with a salad and a side of rice seasoned to taste.
There is a rumor going around that Lent is just about upon us! Time to think about the ‘give-ups’ and the extra prayers that are needed in this spiritually declining world. One of our annual ‘give-ups’ is taking meat out of the diet on both Wednesdays and Fridays. On the surface, it seems it might be a little too easy but after six weeks of coming up with meatless meals for both days of the week plus insuring my husband has meatless meals and snacks for his work lunch, the challenge makes itself known.
One of our favorite go-to meals has been a quick pasta meal with a salad. It is meatless and somewhat less in volume than a usual evening meal and seems to provide all the nutritional perks and sacrifice to keep us strong for Lent!
1 pounds of spaghetti (or any shape you might prefer)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan and/or Romano
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
Salt & black pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter
Cook the spaghetti until almost done, drain, and stir in the butter, garlic, salt, and pepper until the butter is melted.
Lightly beat the eggs and stir into the pasta. If the pasta has cooled down too much, turn on a low heat to warm. Immediately after adding the eggs, mix in the cheese and stir to combine. If you like a creamier outcome, you can add a bit of milk to taste.
Great quick meal on a day when dinner time approaches before you are ready for it!
It is a very versatile dish in that you can add some chili flakes, drained tuna, use cheddar instead of the Italian cheeses, add some finely-diced parsley, some fresh mushrooms braised in a bit of butter or olive oil . . . Basically, look in the cupboard, see what you have, and you can come up with an original entree.
Lent is approaching all too quickly. Time to think of a few sweets to soften the blow before the ‘give-ups’ begin! We don’t overdo our Fat Tuesday but a batch of fresh cookies made on the preceding Sunday to last through Tuesday always seems the best way to go for us.
Lemon Square Cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into small squares
2 teaspoons finely-grated fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mix together the dry ingredients, place into a mixing bowl. Add half of the pieces of butter, the lemon zest and mix to form buttery crumbs. Add the second half of the butter and mix until no flour is visible. Add the extracts and lemon juice until the dough just holds together.
Lightly knead the dough and then divide into two portions. Place each on a square of waxed paper and form into about 1 1/2-inch square logs about four to five inches long. Wrap the waxed paper around the logs and refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight. Remove the dough rolls about 30 minutes before baking to soften a bit.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. With a sharp knife, carefully slice 1/4th thick slices from the logs and place about an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for approximately 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. They should be firm to the touch and golden brown around the edges. Remove them to a rack to cool before icing.
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Enough fresh lemon juice to form a medium-thick icing.
I’ve never heard anyone say no to some colorful sprinkles scattered over the cookies before the icing dries.
*A thought . . . If you have some walnuts or pecans on hand, you can toast a cup of them then finely grind them. After you form the log squares, you can roll and press the nuts all around the logs before you refrigerate them. That way, you get an extra bit of crunch and the flavor of the nuts goes well with lemon.
Two days in the Church year have collided. Now, we only have to figure out if ashes cancel out Valentine’s Day chocolates or not!
“Lord, help me to know what you want me to do, and give me the courage to do it.” – St. Ignatius
“For prayer to be effective our petitions should be for benefits worthily to be expected from God. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss.” (James 4, 3)
St. Thomas Aquinas: Compendium of Theology, 251 (13th century)
Lent is here and you might be looking for a light, meatless lunch some meatless Friday this Lent. This is a good one and you can always add a protein when serving it on another day of the week. Slices of leftover chicken is nice. Tuna puts it back on the Friday list. And, if you have some favorite salad add-ins, you won’t be reported.
Minestrone Salad . . . Sort of!
8 ounces your favorite pasta (NOT spaghetti!)
1 15-ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can of yellow wax beans, rinsed and drained
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage
4 Roma tomatoes diced
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
½ cup crumbled Feta cheese
Black olives or green olives to taste
½ cup Italian or Greek-style bottled dressing
2 teaspoons of dried Italian herbs
½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Cook the pasta according to package directions but you don’t want it mushy. Drain the cooked pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Put in a covered container and make sure it is chilled before serving.