Meatless Fridays: Week 4

Our date for heading West has been moved up by ten days (no change in the scheduled c-section yet, but both the mother’s doctor and attorney have recommended we come out early as the likelihood of a change is high), and so everything here is now officially crazy. I barely eeked out the time to cook and photograph these recipes (and pretty much ruined one of them in my distraction), so if the pictures look less than lovely, that’s why!

I’m going to try my hardest to honor my promise and get one more set of recipes up next week before we roll out of town in the big Sprinter van we’re renting, but if I don’t, you have my excuse! Racing to wrap up my work, pack up a household, prepare for a new baby, and leave home for a month has me at my limit!

But this week, there are recipes. And, as always, all tips in the tip jar before the end of Lent, go to the Sisters of Life.

Fast & Easy: Spicy Mushroom and Onion Quesadillas

Serves 4; Prep Time: 5 Minutes; Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

This is fast. This is easy. I swear it is. Unless you attempt to cook it while talking to your babysitter and holding your baby who only wants you and ranting about how your doctor has cancelled an important test you need for the FOURTH time. Then, you might burn the quesadillas. Don’t do that, though, and you’ll be fine.

This is another “Blue Apron adapted” recipe. It’s super delicious as is, but if your kids are normal kids and not into spicy, just whip up regular old cheese quesadillas for them, and save the spicy toppings for yourself.

I served these with sliced zucchini sauteed in olive oil, with salt and crushed red pepper.

Ingredients

  • Yellow onions, 2 medium, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
  • White mushrooms, 16 ounces, sliced (save prep time and buy the pre-sliced kind)
  • Monterey Jack Cheese, 8 ounces, shredded
  • Tortillas, 4 large or 8 small (flour or corn, depending on your preference)
  • Ancho Chile Paste, 2 teaspoons
  • Guacamole, 2 cups
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a large skillet, add the onion and mushroom; season with salt and pepper; cook over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes, until onions are golden and mushrooms are brown;
  2. Add Ancho Chile Paste and 2 tablespoons of water to mushrooms and onions, stir and cook until the sauce thickens;
  3. Assemble quesadillas, layering cheese and mushroom and onion mixture;
  4. Heat more olive oil in the same skillet (wiped clean); cook quesadillas 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat, until cheese is melted and tortillas are golden;
  5. Serve topped with guacamole.

Allergy Friendly: Crispy Salmon and Roasted Vegetables

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 30 minutes

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

This recipe is so basic that I feel a little silly sharing it. We eat this all the time, though, (like every other week) and I always have it on the menu when one of our most food sensitive friends comes to stay with us a couple times a year. Normally, the roasted veggies include green beans, but when I went to make this last night, I couldn’t find the ones I had on hand anywhere. Literally no idea what could have happened to them. Maybe I threw them out in a fit of distraction? Anyhow, whatever veggies you do have on hand will do. This is a great recipe for cleaning out your vegetable drawer.

Often, I serve this with a cream and herb sauce on the side (literally just a cup of cream heated, with some fresh chopped rosemary or sage, plus salt, thrown in). For the sake of the “allergen friendly” title, I didn’t do that last night. But, if you can, you should.

Ingredients

  • Fresh Salmon, four pieces
  • Baby Potatoes, 1.5 lbs, quartered
  • Brussels Sprouts, .5 lb, bottoms removed then halved
  • Red Pepper, 1, cored and sliced
  • Green Beans, .5 lb, ends trimmed
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 Fahrenheit and prep vegetables;
  2. In a large bowl, toss potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper; spread out in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet; bake in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes (but set timer for 10 minutes);
  3. In another large bowl, toss the peppers and beans, with olive oil, salt, and pepper; spread out on a second parchment lined baking sheet; after the potatoes and sprouts have cooked for 10 minutes, add to the oven; cook for 20 minutes more (checking halfway through to toss vegetables and swap the sheets’ place in the oven, if one set of veggies is cooking too fast);
  4. While the veggies cook, pat salmon dry with paper towels; season both sides with salt and pepper;
  5. In a large frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil; Cook salmon, skin side down, for 5-7 minutes (depending on thickness); flip salmon and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes more;
  6. Serve salmon on top of veggies, with a spritz of lemon or a simple cream and herb sauce.

A Little Bit Fancy: Pan Fried Gnocchi with Kale, Walnuts, and Goat Cheese

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 20 minutes

A couple years ago, I had something like this dish, only with pasta. You could make it with pasta if you want to, but I will never understand why anyone would do that, when crispy pan fried gnocchi exists. If you have only ever had the boiled kind of gnocchi and struggle with the texture, reserve judgement on gnocchi itself until you try it crisped up in butter and oil. It is sooooooo easy to do and elevates the fancy level of your dinner right quick.(Also, if goat cheese isn’t your thing, just leave it off. The extra punch it adds is amazing, but the dish is still great without it.)

I served this with roasted Brussels Sprouts, and the combination was perfect.

Ingredients

  • Gnocchi, fresh or frozen, 1.5 pounds (makes zero difference except the frozen takes a bit longer to crisp up)
  • Red or Yellow Onion, 1, halved, and sliced
  • Kale, 1 large bunch, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • Garlic, 4 cloves, minced
  • Mascarpone Cheese, 4 ounces
  • Walnuts, 1 cup, roughly chopped
  • Goat Cheese, 2 ounces
  • Butter, 4 Tablespoons, divided in half
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large frying pan, melt 2 Tbsp. butter; when just slightly browned, add walnuts and a sprinkle of salt; toss and continue stirring over medium-high heat, until walnuts have darkened and are just about to start burning (but haven’t yet!); remove from pan, place in a bowl and cover to keep warm;
  2. In the same frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp. oil; add onions; season with salt and pepper; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat; add garlic, and continue to cook for another minute or until garlic begins to release its fragrance;
  3. To the onions, add the chopped kale; season with a little bit of salt and pepper; stir and cook for 3-5 minutes or until kale starts to wilt; add 4 Tablespoons of water and continue cooking until the water has evaporated (another 2-3 minutes); remove from heat; stir in Mascarpone Cheese; remove from pan, place in a bowl, and cover to keep warm;
  4. In your largest frying pan, combine 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil; heat until butter is melted; to the pan, in a single layer, add gnocchi (if your pan is too small, you may need to do this in batches); cook over medium high heat, tossing gnocchi occasionally, until they have turned a light golden brown and are slightly crispy to the bite;
  5. In a serving bowl, combine gnocchi, kale mixture, and fried walnuts; taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed; plate and top with a few goat cheese crumbles.

Like What I’m Sharing? Then leave a “tip” in the tip jar. All tips will be donated at the end of Lent to the Sisters of Life. Thus far, we’ve raised $6230!

Meatless Fridays, Week 3

This week’s recipes were an exercise in frustration…and adaptation. For reasons unknown, my grocery store was out of key ingredients for the recipes I planned to make. And since we get all our groceries delivered, I didn’t discover this until it was too late. So, I improvised, pulling together three meals out of the groceries we did get and the items we already had on hand. Two of these recipes are tried and true favorites, and one was…a spur of the concoction, which I would totally make again.

And for those keeping a running tally, we have passed $6,000 in funds raised for the Sisters of Life. You all are just amazing!

Fast & Easy: Polenta with Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Garlic

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 5 Minutes; Cook Time: 25 Minutes

This was the week’s totally cobbled together meal. But it worked. And you should cobble it together, too. Polenta is a family favorite here, and this time, even Becket deigned to eat a bite. I’ve posted my polenta recipe here before, and this meal is one of the reasons why I always have instant polenta on hand. It’s so good, so fast, so filling, and you can throw just about anything on top of it to make a delicious meal.

This doesn’t really need a side dish, but bread or salad are always good options.

Ingredients

  1. Chicken Broth, 6 cups
  2. Heavy Cream, 1 cup plus 4 Tablespoons
  3. Instant Polenta, 1.5 cups
  4. Parmesan Cheese, 1 cup shredded plus extra for topping
  5. Butter, 4 Tablespoons
  6. Baby Portobello Mushrooms, 16 ounces, sliced
  7. Cherry Tomatoes, 2 pints
  8. Fresh Greens, 4 hand fulls (I used baby kale and baby spinach because that’s what I had; regular kale or spinach could also work, but if you go that route, make sure they are roughly chopped)
  9. Garlic, 4 cloves, chopped
  10. Basil Paste, 2 teaspoons
  11. Kosher Salt and Pepper
  12. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cooking Instructions

Creamy Polenta

  1. Bring chicken broth and cream to a boil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, stirring occasionally to prevent cream from scalding.
  2. Once the liquid is boiling, very, very, slowly pour in the polenta, stirring constantly, to prevent polenta from clumping.
  3. Once the polenta has thickened to the point that it starts pulling away from the side of the pot (about 5 minutes), remove from heat and stir in butter, Parmesan, and 1.5 teaspoons of salt.
  4. Taste and add a touch more salt if necessary (it almost always is for me.) Cover to keep warm.

Sauce

  1. Heat 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a large skillet; add sliced mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper; cook over medium-high heat until mushrooms begin to brown and soften (about 5 minutes);
  2. To the pan of mushrooms, add the cherry tomatoes (and a little more olive oil if the pan seems dry) plus a touch more salt and pepper; as the tomatoes cook, flatten them with the back of your spatula; continue cooking over medium-high heat until all tomatoes have broken apart (about 5 minutes);
  3. Add garlic and basil paste; stir, cook for another minute, then add baby greens; continue cooking for another minute or two, until greens are wilted; stir in 4 Tablespoons of cream; check for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if desired;

Allergen Friendly: Roasted Vegetable Bowls

Gluten Free, Dairy Free (option), Nut Free, Vegan (option)

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 25 minutes

I like meat. I really, really do. But I like vegetables more. I am 150 percent fine with eating nothing but vegetables for days or weeks on end. Especially when the vegetables are roasted, tossed with quinoa, and sprinkled with a bit of fresh parmesan. Normally, I top these bowls with cubed avocado…but this week wasn’t a normal week. You, however, should totally do that, grocery store permitting. You also should feel free to play around with which vegetables you roast. Add more or switch them out depending on your preference or what you have on hand. Sweet potatoes, carrots, asparagus, and radishes would all be great additions or substitutions.

One quick tip: when roasting vegetables, you want to make sure you don’t crowd the pan. If you do, the sogginess factor increases ten-fold. So, make sure to use 2 large pans when making this dish.

Serve with good bread.

Ingredients

  • Quinoa, 1 cup
  • Chicken broth (or vegetable broth or water for vegan), 2 cups
  • Red Potatoes, 4 large, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Green beans, 4 cups, ends trimmed
  • Red Pepper, 2, seeded and sliced
  • Red onion, 2 medium, quartered
  • Garlic cloves, 4 crushed
  • Avocado, 2, peeled and cubed
  • Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan), 1 cup, grated (Leave out for vegan)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 4 Tbsp., plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees;
  2. Chop vegetables and spread out with the garlic cloves, on two large baking sheets, lined with parchment paper;
  3. Drizzle vegetables with oil, season with salt and pepper, toss to coat; roast for 25 minutes;
  4. While the vegetables cook, rinse the quinoa well, in a fine mesh strainer, then drain;
  5. In a medium pot, combine the quinoa and liquid; bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes); fluff with a fork and keep warm;
  6. When the vegetables and quinoa are done, divide the quinoa into bowls, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a little more salt, plus the pecorino-romano; add vegetables and toss to combine.
  7. Top with avocado pieces and enjoy!

A Little Bit Fancy: Garlic Shrimp and Spanish Potatoes

Serves: 6, Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 25 minutes

I have no idea if this is actually a Spanish recipe or not. But two years ago, this was one of the recipe boxes we received from Blue Apron, and that’s what they called it. Since then, I’ve modified the recipe, so that I can get everything I need for it at Aldi. I’ve also done my best to replicate the spice profile (Blue Apron just sends you spice mixes, so it’s always a guess when trying to make it on your own). The modifications work well, and this is now a standard, “It’s Friday night and we’re having company” dish, (we eat meatless on Fridays all year). It comes together fast, but always seems extra fancy.

Couple notes: This is moderately spicy, and Toby will eat it, but your kids might need it cooled with some sour cream. Also, this tastes best topped with a handful of chopped chives, but chives were not to be had this week, so I added chopped parsley for a touch of green in the pictures. Parsley was fine. Chives are better.

I served this last night with freshly sliced cucumbers, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

Ingredients

  • Red Potatoes, 2 lbs., cut into bite sized pieces
  • Red Pepper, 2, cored and sliced
  • Orange or Yellow Pepper, 2, cored and sliced
  • Red Onion, 1 large, halved and sliced
  • Garlic, 4 cloves, minced
  • Shrimp, medium or large, peeled, 2 pounds
  • Smoky Spanish Paprika, 1 Tablespoon
  • Ground Cumin, 1 teaspoon
  • Ancho Chile Powder, 1 teaspoon
  • Harissa Spice Blend, 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne Pepper, .25 teaspoon
  • Chives, 1 bunch, chopped
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit
  2. In a small bowl, combine paprika, cumin, chile powder, harissa, and cayenne; mix well and set aside;
  3. On a paper-towel lined plate, dry shrimp, then season with salt and pepper; set aside
  4. Chop your vegetables;
  5. In a large bowl, combine potatoes with 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, half of the spice mixture, and desired amount of salt and pepper; toss to coat, then spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet; roast for 20-22 minutes (tossing midway through) or until potatoes are soft and golden;
  6. While the potatoes cook, heat 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a large skillet; add onions and a pinch of salt; cook until they begin to soften and brown (5 minutes); add peppers and half of the remaining spice mixture, and continue cooking, until they are soft and beginning to brown (8 minutes); taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if desired and transfer to a large bowl; cover to keep warm;
  7. In the same pan, heat another 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil; add shrimp and cook for two to three minutes without stirring; add garlic and remaining seasoning; cook another one to two minutes until shrimp are pink and cooked through; remove from heat;
  8. In a large bowl, combine shrimp, peppers, and potatoes; toss well; then plate
  9. Serve topped with chopped chives (or parsley or cilantro).

Like What I’m Sharing? Then leave a “tip” in the tip jar. All tips will be donated at the end of Lent to the Sisters of Life.

Meatless Fridays, Week 2

$5,613!!! That is how much you helped me raise for the Sisters of Life last week. The tips so many of you left in my Venmo tip jar were beyond generous, and I am grateful for every single one. My hope at this point is that we can raise a total of $10,000 for the Sisters before the end of Lent. They’ll be able to use that money to assist moms facing unplanned pregnancies, as well as women grieving abortions. My prayer is that someday they’ll also offer a retreat for grieving post-adoptive birth moms. This is such an unmet need in the Church, and I can think of no better women to take on that work than these beautiful sisters. If any of you want to join me in that prayer, I would really appreciate that.

Okay, now on to the next collection of meatless recipes for your Lenten Fridays (or Fridays all year round).

Fast & Easy: Oven-Baked Caprese Sandwiches

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 5 Minutes; Cook Time: 15 minutes

This is an old favorite that I used to serve at my Thursday night dinners. My friend Rob calls them “Emily Sandwiches”…but that descriptor doesn’t quite work for the Internet. I bake these in the oven, which works well for a crowd, but you can also broil them, grill them, or use a panini press if you have one. To modify for kiddos, just leave off the ingredients they won’t eat, even if that means stripping them down to just the cheese and bread.

When I baked these up the other day, I cooked up some red peppers and zucchini with olive oil and salt, to serve on the side. It was a fantastic complement to the sandwiches. A simple salad would be great, too, though.

Ingredients

  • Ciabatta rolls, 4
  • Basil Pesto, .5 cup
  • Fresh Whole Milk Mozzarella, 8 ounces
  • Roma Tomatoes, 2-4 depending on size (or whatever you can get)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit and line an extra large baking sheet with parchment paper;
  2. Thinly slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella;
  3. Divide the rolls in half, lightly brush the insides with olive oil; place on baking sheet with the insides facing up;
  4. Toast on the middle rack of the oven for 5 minutes;
  5. Remove from oven; on the top of each roll, spread 2 Tablespoons of basil pesto; on the bottom half of each roll, place 2 ounces of fresh mozzarella, followed by a single layer of tomato slices; sprinkle tomatoes with a pinch of salt and a little freshly ground pepper;
  6. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts;
  7. Remove from oven, assemble sandwiches and serve.

Notes

  1. If you can’t find Ciabatta rolls, any good bread will do, but if you go that route, do the initial toasting of the bread, with olive oil on the top side, then, when you remove from the oven, flip the bread before adding the remaining ingredients.

Allergen Friendly: Creamy Coconut Lentils

Serves: 6-8; Prep Time: 35 minutes; Cook Time; 30 minutes

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Vegan

This is an old favorite that my roommate Shannon and I used to make at least monthly. Chris, however, isn’t the world’s biggest fan of lentils, so once we got married and moved to Pittsburgh, I had to resort to getting my lentil fix only when we ordered Indian takeout. When I made this yesterday to photograph, I contemplated making Chris something else for dinner…but in the end didn’t have the energy and figured he could just deal for one night. Much to my surprise, though, he enthusiastically ate every bite. Well, almost every bite. Toby was such a fan of this, that after he finished his, he climbed onto Chris’ lap, grabbed his dad’s fork, and proceeded to help himself to Chris’ dinner.

I always serve this with roasted curried cauliflower (page 163 in the “Around the Catholic Table” cookbook).

Ingredients

  • Red lentils, uncooked, 2 cups (so, from a bag, not a can)
  • Coconut oil, .25 cup
  • Yellow onion, 1 large
  • Jalapeno peppers, 2
  • Fresh Garlic, 2 cloves
  • Fresh Ginger, 1.5 Tablespoons
  • Cumin Seeds, 2 teaspoons
  • Ground Turmeric, 1 teaspoon
  • Ground Cayenne Pepper, .5 teaspoon
  • Coconut Milk, 1 can
  • Diced Tomatoes, 1 14.5 ounce can
  • Kosher Salt, 1 Tablespoon
  • Jasmine or Basmati Rice, 2 cups, uncooked
  • Cilantro, .5 bunch
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes, .5 cup,
  • Plain Greek Yogurt (optional for kids)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Pick through lentils to make sure there are no stones mixed in; rinse in a colander; and drain
  2. Place lentils in a large pot, cover generously with water, and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes;
  3. While the lentils are cooking, medium dice onions and peppers (removing seeds and ribs, unless you want this to be blazing hot); then peel and mince ginger and garlic.
  4. Set the rice to cooking according to package instructions—in a rice cooker if you’ve got one, on the stove if you don’t.
  5. When the lentils are completely tender and breaking apart, drain them in a colander and allow them to sit while you prepare the sauce.
  6. Heat coconut oil in a large pot or sauté pan; add onions and slowly caramelize over low heat. This should take at least 15 minutes. No rushing.
  7. When the onions are a buttery, golden brown, add ginger, garlic, and jalapenos. Cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture becomes fragrant (about 2 minutes);
  8. Add turmeric, cayenne, and cumin seeds; mix in well; cook for a minute more.
  9. Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, and salt. Bring to a simmer. Add lentils to the sauce and cook for 5-10 minutes or until everything is heated through.
  10. Remove from heat, stir most of the cilantro into the sauce, leaving a couple tablespoons for garnish. Plate up, first with the rice, then with the lentils, remaining cilantro, and a Tablespoon of coconut flakes. (If too spicy for kids, stir in a dollop of yogurt or sour cream to theirs).

Notes

  1. The only ingredient on this list that might not be at your local grocery store is cumin seeds. These are super important to the flavor, and I would NOT recommend substituting with ground cumin. You can, however, find them at any Indian grocery store or on Amazon.
  2. The spice profile on this is pretty mild, but since I wasn’t sure about how Toby would deal with it, I stirred a little plain yogurt into his. Chris’, however, was yogurt free and Toby didn’t complain at all about it being too spicy when he dug into his dad’s food. Your kids’ milage may vary.

Just a Little Bit Fancy: Seared Scallops and Parmesan Risotto with Brown Butter Sauce

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cook Time: 30 Minutes

The original plan for this week was scallops and lemon risotto, but last Friday (when I planned to cook and photograph the recipe), was cold and blustery, and lemon anything didn’t suit the weather. So, I scrapped the lemon and decided to top my basic parmesan risotto with a brown butter sauce. That was one of the better culinary decisions I’ve ever made, because this is probably the best risotto I’ve ever made. Not complicated. But soooooooo good and sooooo rich. If you make this, be warned that your Lenten Friday won’t feel very Lenty.

I served this with roasted Brussels sprouts, which was the perfect savory complement to the richness of the risotto.

Ingredients

  • Arborio Rice, 2 cups
  • Sweet Onion, 1 medium, chopped
  • Fresh Garlic, 2 cloves, minced
  • Parmesan, 1 and 1/3 cup, shredded
  • Salted Butter, 7 Tablespoons
  • White Wine, .5 cup
  • Chicken Broth, 4 Cups
  • Water, 4 cups
  • Sea Scallops, .5 lb.
  • Fresh Greens (Arugula and Kale), finely julienned, 1 cup
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Prep all your ingredients: Chop the onion, mince the garlic, shred the cheese, finely julienne the greens. Then, set them aside.
  2. On a paper towel lined plate, lay out the scallops and pat dry; sprinkle with salt;
  3. In a medium-sized stock pot, bring the broth and water to a simmer (not a boil!);
  4. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large pot or deep sided pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the onions and cook until translucent (about 3-5 minutes).
  5. Add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds more.
  6. Add rice. Mix in with the onions and garlic and allow the rice to toast for about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t burn.
  7. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add wine. Stir until absorbed.
  8. Begin adding broth slowly, one ladleful at a time. After you’ve added the first ladle of broth, stir the rice until the liquid is absorbed (about 1 minute). Then, add the next ladleful. Repeat until the rice is creamy and soft, but firm to the bite (al dente);
  9. When the risotto is almost done, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan; when the oil is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles when dropped in the pan, add scallops in a single layer, not touching; cook three minutes without moving; flip and cook another 3 minutes; remove to plate and cover with foil to keep warm;
  10. When the risotto is finished, remove from heat. Add parmesan. Stir vigorously until combined; Add greens and stir gently until combined; Add salt and pepper to taste;
  11. In a small sauce pan, melt remaining butter and continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until the solids have turned a deep, dark, golden brown and the foam has mostly settled (about 3-5 minutes);
  12. Divide risotto into bowls; evenly divide scallops and place on top of rice; drizzle browned butter evenly over bowls and serve.

Like What I’m Sharing? Then leave a “tip” in the tip jar. All tips will be donated at the end of Lent to the Sisters of Life.

Meatless Fridays, Week 1

Thank to all you awesome people, we raised $5500 for the Sisters of Life this first week. I’m excited to see what we can do next week.

Welcome to Week 1 of my “Blogging for Babies, Meatless Friday Recipes”! As promised, I have three recipes for you: one fast, easy, and kid friendly; one allergen friendly; and one “a little bit fancy.” To be honest, though, all this week’s options are super easy. They had to be, as I needed to cook and photograph them all yesterday during naptime!

Before I give you the recipes, I have one exciting piece of news. Last night, a generous friend donated all the money we needed to reach our adoption fundraising goal. Which means from here on out, every dollar left in my Venmo tip jar will go to the Sisters of Life, an amazing community of religious sisters dedicated to upholding the sanctity of life and helping women facing unplanned pregnancies! Thanks to more donations that came in last night, we already have almost $800 there for them! To add to the tip jar, you can scan the Venmo code at the bottom of this page with the Venmo app on your smart phone or just use my Venmo name: @Emily-Chapman-33.

I am so excited to do this for the Sisters and the mothers they serve. Thanks for being a part of this effort with me!

Fast & Easy: Tortellini with Brown Butter, Walnuts, & Sage

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cook Time: 10 minutes

This is as fast and easy as it gets—store bought tortellini made ever so slightly fancy with a nutty brown butter sauce. If that is too fancy for your kiddos, just set aside their portion of the tortellini and top theirs with olive oil and shredded parmesan. Toby managed his “grown up” version just fine last night, although he did note, “Dis has stuff on it.”

I served this with roasted broccoli, but any roasted vegetable or even just a salad, would work just as well for a side dish.

Ingredients

  • Fresh or Frozen Tortellini, 20 ounces
  • Walnuts, chopped fine, .25 cup (once chopped)
  • 8 Tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • Fresh Sage, .5 ounce package (about 36 small to medium sized leaves)
  • Garlic, 2 cloves, crushed
  • Parmesan, .25 cup shredded
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper

Instructions

  1. Fill a medium or large pot halfway, with water and a couple pinches of salt; bring to a boil; once boiling, add tortellini and cook according to package directions; drain; return to pot and cover to keep warm;
  2. Meanwhile, roughly chop sage;
  3. In a medium skillet, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat; once butter is melted, add chopped walnuts and continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until the solids have turned a golden brown and the foam has mostly settled (about 3-5 minutes); pour into a bowl and set aside;
  4. In the same medium skillet, melt remaining 6 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat; once the butter has melted, add crushed garlic cloves and chopped sage leaves; continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until the solids have turned a golden brown and the foam has mostly settled (about 3-5 minutes); remove garlic cloves from pan and discard;
  5. To the pot of tortellini, gently stir in both brown butter sauces (one with walnuts and one with sage);
  6. Serve with freshly shredded parmesan and a touch of salt and freshly grated pepper if desired.

Allergen Friendly: Curried Carrot Soup

Serves: 6; Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cook Time: 25 minutes

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free*

This is one of my absolute favorite easy, healthy, delicious soups. It comes together crazy fast, has so much flavor, and tastes almost as good without the cream and croutons, as it does with them, making it a great allergen friendly recipe. If you’re off the gluten, though, I recommend getting your hands on some good, gluten free bread and coconut cream, because the combination of the toasted bread, cream, and curried soup is pretty amazing.

When serving this for dinner, I pair it with a hearty salad and extra bread.

Ingredients

  • Baby Carrots, 2 pounds
  • Onion, 1 medium
  • Chicken Broth, 5 cups (sub with vegetable broth for vegan)
  • Butter, 3 Tablespoons* (sub with olive oil for dairy free)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 Tablespoons + more for bread
  • Curry Powder, 2 Tablespoons
  • Kosher Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Water, 2 cups
  • Heavy Cream, .5 cup (Optional) (Sub with coconut cream for dairy free)
  • French bread (or something similar), 6 slices (Optional)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel and medium chop the onion;
  2. In a large pot, melt butter and oil over medium-high heat; add onion and carrots; sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes;
  3. To the pot of vegetables, add chicken broth, curry powder, and salt; bring to a low boil and cook for 15-18 minutes or until carrots are soft; remove from heat;
  4. While the vegetables cook, brush olive oil onto bread; broil or toast in the oven or a toaster oven, until top is golden brown (2-4 minutes);
  5. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend soup until smooth (alternately, working in batches, puree soup using a blender or food processor);
  6. With the stovetop on simmer, stir in 2 additional cups of water, and bring soup back to desired temperature; taste for salt and pepper, adjusting if needed;
  7. Ladle soup into individual bowls; drizzle 1-2 Tablespoons of heavy cream into each bowl; place bread in the center of the bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper, and serve.

Just A Little Bit Fancy: Sriracha Salmon Cakes with Sriracha Aioli

Serves: 4-6; Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 16 minutes

This was a last minute, “I have nothing planned for dinner so what can I throw together from scraps in the cupboard” invention that is now a Friday family favorite (we eat meatless on Fridays all year). The Sriracha in the salmon cakes adds flavor, not heat, and Toby eats them happily (sans the Sriracha aioli). I usually make only half this recipe for our family, which means the whole thing comes together, start to finish, in 15 minutes, but for feeding more than 2 people and a toddler, you should allow extra time for cooking.

I usually serve this with a green salad or, if tomatoes are in season, with a Caprese salad (fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, dressed with olive oil and salt).

Ingredients

Salmon Cakes

  • Boneless Canned Salmon, 24 ounces, drained
  • Eggs, 2, beaten
  • Mayonnaise, 4 Tablespoons
  • Worcestershire Sauce, 2 Tablespoons
  • Dijon Mustard, 2 Tablespoons
  • Sriracha Sauce, 1 teaspoon
  • Panko Breadcrumbs, 1 cup
  • Yellow Onion, 1 small
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking

Sriracha Aioli

  • Mayonnaise, 8 teaspoons
  • Sriracha Sauce, 2 teaspoons (adjusting to taste)
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Peel and finely chop onion;
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salmon cake (EXCEPT the olive oil), gently stirring until mixed and all salmon chunks have broken up;
  3. Divide up the salmon mixture and form into 12 patties;
  4. In a separate bowl, mix remaining mayo and Sriracha, drizzle with olive oil and stir until smooth; set aside;
  5. in a large drying pan, heat 2-3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil; when the oil is so hot a drop of water will sizzle in it, add half the salmon cakes; cook 4 minutes per side; transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm (or place in a warm oven); if the pan seems dry, add more oil to it and heat, then add remaining salmon cakes, again cooking 4 minutes per side; remove from pan and combine with other salmon cakes;
  6. Serve salmon cakes with Siracha aioli on the side.

Notes:

  1. If you prefer not to fry these, you can broil them in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown; watch carefully, though, in case they start cooking to fast. If that happens, just lower the rack in the oven a bit.
  2. Make sure you get boneless canned salmon, or you will spend half an hour picking bones out. Aldi used to carry boneless salmon, but lately, the only stuff I’ve found there has teeny bones in it. When I made this recipe to photograph this week, I got the Wild Planet canned salmon from Fresh Market (also available at Whole Foods, Giant Eagle, and other major grocery stores), and it was perfect.

Like What I’m Sharing? Then leave a “tip” in the tip jar. All tips will be donated at the end of Lent to the Sisters of Life.

Blogging for Babies

This blog has sat (mostly) dormant for the past couple of years. As a mom with two little ones, it’s just been easier to share my random thoughts on Instagram. Some things, however, don’t share well on Instagram…like recipes. Which is what I’m going to do here over the next five weeks.

But not just any recipes. And not just for the fun of it.

Over the past three years, Chris and I have been blessed by so many friends and strangers, who have come alongside us and supported us so that we could adopt our beautiful boys (and hopefully, soon, our beautiful girl). Yes, we have worked and saved for these adoptions. We took out a second mortgage on our house, sold our second car, and I spent months writing a cookbook to boot. But even with all that, we couldn’t have brought three children home in three years without the help of strangers. This is a blessing. I will be forever grateful for it. But a part of me also grieves over it.

Right now, there are so many women out there who face difficult pregnancies. They want to keep their babies. But they don’t know how. Unlike me, they don’t have 17,000 followers on social media who they can call upon for help. So, many of those women don’t choose life for their babies. Or, they choose life, but entrust the child to another woman to raise.

Our sons’ birthparents placed their boys with us for reasons that were not financial. No amount of money could enable one set of parents to parent. No amount of money could have persuaded the others to parent. I feel less guilty fundraising for our adoptions knowing that. But still, I grieve. I grieve for every woman facing an unplanned pregnancy alone and scared. I grieve for every mother who thinks she doesn’t have a choice. I grieve for every woman who doesn’t have the amazing community I have.

So, I want to do something about it.

Chris and I are currently $5,500 away from having the money we need to fully fund this adoption. Almost all of that money has come from donations to our cookbook fundraiser. I know, if I kept pushing the cookbook, we would reach that goal in short order. I also know, if I pushed a little more, I could surpass the goal, and have enough money to take some kind of maternity leave.  But, I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’m going to offer you something here: Three Meatless Meal Recipes a week, every week, until the end of Lent. That’s 15 recipes in total. One will be super fast and easy (20-30 minutes start to finish, tops), with kid friendly adaptations. One will be allergy friendly (no gluten, dairy, or nuts). And the third will be just a little bit fancy. One of those three options each week will feature some kind of seafood or fish. The others will be veggie-based. So, lots of options for all families and no repeats.

I’ll post the recipes on Wednesdays, with ingredients, instructions, and photos, BUT I won’t post a 750 word essay before the recipe. No annoying stories. No fluff. I promise. Any tips I have, I’ll put at the end. I have no advertisers on this blog, so I can do that.

Originally, I had thought about putting  together this recipe collection as a download and charging a few dollars for it. But I’d rather just give it to you for free, with an option for you to leave a “tip” in my Venmo jar (@Emily-Chapman-33). If you’ve already contributed generously to our adoption fund, you can just enjoy the recipes as an extra thank you. If the recipes are helpful to you, and you want to help us meet our goal, you can leave any sized tip you like, even just $1.

If my tip jar accumulates more than $5,500, though, I won’t put it towards a maternity leave. I’m working hard now on projects my clients need in April and May, so that I can take time off when we’re in California and then have a lighter schedule for 5-6 weeks after that. I don’t need anything more. Most women in the United States, especially moms facing crisis pregnancies, get no paid maternity leave. I can manage in solidarity with them.

Instead, any money raised over $5500 will go to the Sisters of Life, an amazing community of religious sisters who help women in crisis pregnancies choose life for the babies and then raise those babies themselves. They also provide loving support to post-abortive women.  These women are doing the work in cities across America so that no woman has to choose abortion or adoption simply for financial reasons. They are some of the most lovely, joyful, generous women you will ever meet, and helping them in their mission, is a way to directly help vulnerable women who want to be mothers to their babies but can’t without help.

So, that’s my plan. I hope you want to be a part of it. At the very least, I hope these Lenten Friday recipes bless you and your family. Because you certainly have blessed me and mine.

See you tomorrow!  

Around the Catholic Table

One year ago, I launched my e-cookbook, Around the Catholic Table: 77 Recipes for Easy Hospitality. Our hope was that it would help us raise enough money to adopt a second child debt-free. By God’s grace, it did. And seven months after our fundraiser went live, we adopted a beautiful baby boy: Becket Christopher Martin Chapman.

After Becket’s birth, we spent three weeks with him in a NICU in Dallas. We arrived home, exhausted, but over the moon in love with our little man. We thought that maybe someday we would adopt again, but with a two-year-old and newborn preemie, we also knew that any future adoptions would have to wait. Our hands were full and our bank account was empty.

Not six days later, though, my husband walked into the kitchen with some news. Our first son Toby’s birthparents were expecting again. They could not and would not parent. Would we?

Continue Reading…

Around the Catholic Table Cookbook

It’s been a long time friends. But, I’ve been busy! There have been books and Endow studies and a whole lot of Instagram posts, which are faster and easier to write than blog posts when you only have one free hand and a ginormous toddler sleeping on you. One day, when I have both hands back, I hope to return to writing more in this little corner of the Internet. But, I’m kind of hoping that will be a while!  We’re in the process of trying for a second adoption—hopefully a more peaceful process than last time around, but that’s up to God. I did want to pop on here, though, and let my non-Instagram/Facebook followers know about my newest project, an e-cookbook and essay collection, called Around the Catholic Table: 77 Recipes for Easy Hospitality and Everyday Dinners, which I wrote for a very special cause.

Learn More…

Learn More

7 Questions to Ask Before You Renovate Your Kitchen

Are you thinking about a kitchen renovation? Do you have visions of subway tile and quartz countertops dancing in your head? Or are you still steeling your nerves at the thought of kitchen upgrades before you try to sell your house? Before you start calling contractors, stop, make yourself some coffee, and ask yourself the following questions.

(Really. Make some coffee. This is going to take a while. I’ve written book chapters shorter than this blog post.)

Okay. Ready? Here we go.

1.) How long will I be in this house?

Why? Because how you answer this question helps you determine three things: Your budget. Your style choices. The quality of materials used.

If you’re only looking at staying in your house for a few more months or few more years, your kitchen renovation is really about re-sale. Which means you can keep your budget small, limiting it to essential visual upgrades. It also means you can paint your cabinets that trendy dark blue or choose that floor tile that’s all over Pinterest; you won’t be around in five years, when all those choices look oh so 2019. They’ll look good now, which is all that matters. You also don’t have to invest in furniture-grade cabinetry…or even mid-grade cabinetry; if doors are falling off their hinges in 10 years and laminate finishes are peeling off, you’re not the one who will have to deal with it.

If, however, you plan to be in your house for another decade (or two or three), you have a vested interest in a renovation that lasts (because, trust me, you don’t want to do this again for a long, long time). You also have a vested interest in a renovation that doesn’t look dated five years down the line (unless, of course, you can afford to shell out big bucks every time backsplash trends change). The longer you’re going to be in your house, the more important it is to invest in quality materials that last and classic design choices that work with the rest of your house. If you can’t afford to do that now (or if a house full of destructive littles makes you leery of having nice things), it’s better to either live with what you have until you can afford it/the time is right OR make a few cheap upgrades now and save the major work for later.

Continue reading

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About My Kitchen…

…Is coming up on the blog (and Instagram) this week. I know: It’s not the most Lenten-themed series imaginable. Regardless, I’m talking about kitchens this week because, well, I want to talk about kitchens. I like kitchens. I like spending time in kitchens. I like looking at kitchens. And I like what kitchens make possible: delicious food and happy evenings enjoying that delicious food with people I love.

Also, after creating this kitchen…

           …where this duplex dining room…

…and duplex bathroom used to be…

 …I have some thoughts to share on the whole topic of kitchen renovations. Fancy that.

Creating our kitchen was a stressful, grueling, dirty, exhausting, expensive, and yet, still, somehow, totally fun experience. I learned so much during the year—yes, year—that we worked on it, and if all I learned through that process can save you some stress when you get around to renovating (or even just reorganizing) your own kitchen, that will make all the headaches it gave me a little more worth it.

Continue reading