Fried Gnocchi Aglio e Olio

The calendar tells me that Lent starts tomorrow. Which is odd because I’m pretty sure it started almost three weeks ago here, when the Black Death first descended on our household. We’ve been battling one health issue after another ever since then, including issues I won’t mention on the same page with food. Regardless, I’m all tuckered out and having a hard time settling on my various Lenten penances. Isn’t sleeping only a few hours a night penance enough?

All this is to say that while tomorrow I might come up with something eloquent to say about fasting, today I’ve got nothing. Except for a recipe that you can cook on days of fasting and abstinence.

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Rosemary Almond Chicken Salad

February is always hard for me here in the land of eternal grey. Writing is work. Cleaning is work. Cooking is work. In years past, I’ve been able to escape for a week or so to more southern and sunnier climes. This year, with the baby, I’m lucky to escape to the bathroom for a nice long soak (still a February goal). So, since I can’t fly away, I’m trying a trick from my poverty-stricken grad school days, and acting like it’s spring inside my house.

This week, we cranked up the heat a bit, I pulled out a “transitional” clothing items (aka not wool), and we dined on one of our favorite summer dishes: Rosemary Almond Chicken Salad.

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Herb-Crusted Pork Loin

How do you do so much hosting with a new baby? That’s a question I’ve been getting a lot these days. The answer is mostly that Toby is a super-pleasant, super-easy baby…and there is only one of him. Turn Toby into a toddler or add another baby into the mix, and having friends over will most likely mean ordering a lot more pizza.

Until then, I’ll keep cooking as much as I can, although most of what I cook are dishes that don’t require a lot of time in the kitchen. Like the Baked Pesto Tortellini dish I cooked for Chris’ office Christmas party. And like the Herb-Crusted Pork loin I served along with it.

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Baked Pesto Tortellini

The other day, I was chatting on Facebook, and brainstorming about putting together an e-cookbook for entertaining. A friend, who has been reading the blog for the past year, suggested maybe I should start a food blog first.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about recipes, hasn’t it?

Well, in my defense, blogging about food when you don’t have a kitchen is hard. Blogging about food when you’re not cooking because of an adorable bundle of chunk who is keeping you up night and day? Even harder. But, now that we do have a kitchen, and the baby is sleeping through the night, I am back at the stove, so I figured it’s time to start putting up the occasional recipe—especially recipes that make it easier for you to invite friends over for dinner and keep the natives from burning down your house while you prepare the meal.

So, here you go.

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Books, Boxes, Bread, and Babies

You know what’s not easy?

Dealing with mortgage lenders. Also, finding contractors who actually show up when they say they will to give you an estimate. And most of all, staying off Facebook when you have 101 opinions about the recent election that need expressing, but also a dozen different deadlines that need meeting.

You know what else isn’t easy? Blogging and moving houses at the same time. It’s kind of like patting your head and rubbing your belly. Only harder.

Regardless, now that Facebook is moving on from the “Trump versus Clinton” debate to the Gilmore Girls’ “Dean versus Jess versus Logan” debate (I’m an ABD girl: Anyone But Dean), the publishers and I have decided that maybe it’s time for us to start talking about the little project that kept me hopping all last spring…

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The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet is here It’s bee-yoo-tee-ful! And it makes the perfect Christmas gift for anyone you know who likes to cook…or eat…or support the Help Emily and Chris Put Heat and Electricity in the Attic Where They’ll Be Living for the Next Four Months Fund. Continue reading

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Roasted Tomato Pesto

Most Lents, God does a far better job than I do of picking penances for me. Take this year for example. I thought I’d do the usual no sweets, get to daily Mass more, and go light on Facebook before noon. He laughed and said, “How about bridesmaids’ dresses?”

Seriously.

Trying to find bridesmaids dresses for my postpartum, nursing, 30-something, moms of many bridesmaids, all of whom have completely different body types (and who happen to currently reside in Michigan, Illinois, and Washington State respectively) has been the bane of my existence these past four weeks. Throw in the comments of my (otherwise very supportive) mother, who is less than fond of my color selection, and this Lent almost has me recalling with wistful fondness my “vegan, Mormon, celiac on a diet” Lent.

Almost. Because if that were this Lent, I wouldn’t be eating today’s meatless Friday recipe.

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Simple Lentil Dhal

It is one of the great ironies of the culinary world. Few things on earth are as tasty and hearty as a simple Indian Dhal. But few thing things on earth are also as unappetizing looking as a simple Indian Dhal.

In theory, I knew this. But I was so excited to share this tasty vegetarian recipe with you this week, that I completely forgot about its less than photogenic qualities…until it came time for Dhal’s photoshoot.

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Meatless Fridays, Week 1: Simple Cauliflower & Gruyere Tart

It’s now officially Lent, and I am having a good, old-fashioned case of Catholic guilt.

I’m feeling guilty about not posting enough on the blog. I’m feeling guilty about posting anything on the blog when I really should be working on the new book. And today, I’m especially feeling guilty about posting pretty close-ups of food. Somehow, it doesn’t feel very penitential. Lenten fasting and all that.

To moderately assuage my guilt, I’m going to try to only post photos of meatless meals during Lent. To help with Friday dinner planning, of course.

Although, again, even with the lack of meat, “penitential” isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind when I think about this cauliflower and gruyere tart.

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Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes

I am currently persona non grata in my corner of Steubenville. Not because of any advice I’ve been dishing out as of late, but rather because of what I won’t be dishing out next week: Thanksgiving Dinner.

For years, mostly because of the hassle of traveling 1280 miles, roundtrip, on Thanksgiving weekend, I’ve stayed in Steubenville for the holiday and opened my home to whomever didn’t have one that day. One year, that number was as large as 25. Another year, it was as small as four.

A few special friends, however, have always been around the table, and those are the ones  less than pleased about Chris and I going to my parents this Thanksgiving. (His family gets us for Christmas).

I’m looking forward to being with all my nieces and nephews next week, but I have to admit, I’m a little sad too. There’s no holiday I like better than Thanksgiving, and (in all humility) there’s also no meal I cook better than Thanksgiving Dinner. People have flown across the country for my mashed potatoes and stuffing. Some of those people also are under the impression that my gravy is a beverage. (“Just because something has brandy in it,” I tell them, “doesn’t  mean you can drink it.” They never listen.)

It’s not only the company or food that makes Thanksgiving special for me,  though. It’s also the chance to pull out all the decorating stops and set the most elegant table I can muster. In grad school, that wasn’t much. But here’s what we did last year.

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