One Pot Wonder IS truth in advertising!

We followed the recipe for One Pot Wonder at Kim’s Simple Recipes.  It was a hit!  One might even say it was a wonder!

We used fettucine instead of linguine, and we used fresh oregano instead of dried because that’s all we had), but the results were smashing!

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance, meatless Friday recipe, click the link above and enjoy!


First: Talk to me about veiling. Why do you? Why don’t you?

It’s been an issue on my heart for many a year now. I tried it for a while, somewhat subtly, starting first with scarves worked into my hairstyle, then just using at least a headband, then making sure I was at least wearing earrings as a sign of womanly obedience… and now I’m lucky if I’ve gotten a shower before Sunday Mass. I know it’s a symbol of humility, covering the glory of my messy, roots-showing hair. I know I should cover my hair because the angels are present when the Eucharist is consecrated and all that… but. I attend daily Mass as well, usually in jeans and sometimes in my pajama sweats, because that’s the only way to get the garden watered and the four pets fed before we leave and get three children there in time, and that’s even with 2/3 of them crying over something or other. A lacy mantilla with jeans? Um…

But. The older two are the only children available to serve at the altar in our parish at daily Mass. I’m okay with that (they’re serving Mother Church, not fructifying the sanctuary, just like a nurse serves at a delivery but doesn’t get the mother pregnant). If I veil, they’ll want to, and there’ll be no hiding it then. We’re already the only family that regularly attends daily Mass. I’m an introvert. I’m not sure I’m put together for answering yet more questions from well-intentioned acquaintances who already think we are weirder than weird. Will I have to justify why my kids are veiled and serving at the altar?

But. I’m in choir, and I’ve already gotten one “Wow, a scapular? Haven’t seen one of those things in years!” when mine was sticking out after a hurried shirt-change on the way to practice. I’ve also been asked to cantor. Am I ready for that much more on top of it all? See above, re: introversion.

Second: Kassie aka Mom and 8kidsandabusiness both gave me different blogging awards. It’s humbling and exciting… and I honestly don’t know what to do with them! I see others have their blogging awards posted constantly on their blogs, and I would know how to do that if I were still coding HTML from scratch, but I’m not, and I’m so overwhelmed that I’m about to cry from frustration or hormonal imbalance or from just long-term overwhelmed-ness… Anyway, I wasn’t ignoring the awards out of, um, ignorance towards you personally but out of ignorance of blogging. Can anybody hold my hand and pass me a tissue?

Third:  If you’d like to read an instance of me being at peace about something, visit my writing blog, Will Write for Tomato Pie.  However, that site is in need of attention from someone who knows what she’s doing, and these days, that someone doesn’t seem to be me.

So, it seems today’s theme is feeling/being called but not being equipped. Like, at all.

In honor of this being one of my few rants, please enjoy this picture of our new dog, Sigma.


The Lent 2013 Challenge Wrap Up: “I learned something today” X 40

  1. Appreciate the time you have. Before this project, I could regularly be heard to say, “I don’t have time.” The hardest part of the Lent 2013 Challenge wasn’t going meatless. It wasn’t even surviving on $90/week for five people. The hardest thing was making a healthy meal for five different palates, all within 20 minutes. Oh, how I’ve missed making fresh pita and homemade bagels. I have a better understanding now of how very, very hard it is to avoid processed foods when your time is truly and honestly spoken for by other aspects of survival, like holding down a job… or trying to find one. 
  2. The work done by a “stay-at-home” parent has real, concrete, monetary value.
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    I’m assuming you now see how little value our culture has for a parent who stays at home instead of going out to work. Sure, we hear platitudes, “Of course you work, honey. You just don’t get a paycheck.” I already knew this going in to Lent 2013, but the work I do as a homeschooling mother is the equivalent of our family hiring a cook, laundry service, (very bad) cleaning service, three private school tuitions, private transportation… shall I go on? I save our family tens of thousands of US$ per year. Why is it that if a woman earns that much, she’s a valued employee, but if she saves that much, Google autofill describes her as a lazy, annoying, stupid leech?Just because you don’t see what you’re giving your family in terms of dollars and cents, girlfriend, your worth is beyond rubies.

  3. The domestic church is becoming more important than ever. Or, The way to evangelize the anti-Catholics may be through their stomachs. When I first started this blog over a year ago, I thought I would draw most of my readers from those Catholics who, like me, are trying to find our way back to traditions that once gave us identity and our choices greater meaning. Sure, I have a few of those visiting. What has been even more humbling and sweet to me, however, is the many (well, not many, but several) non-Catholic, even full-on-atheist vegetarian and vegan visitors who have spent a moment or more in my family’s virtual kitchen. If I had only tagged my posts “Catholic,” these people would have skipped over it as if I had tagged them “misogynistichomophobeswhopromotepedophilia.”Right?

    As Ven. Fulton Sheen said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” No, you probably should not receive a consecrated Eucharist in which you don’t believe (if you value your integrity, anyway)… but you can come on over to my kitchen table, and I’ll feed you some love and laughter and a slow cooker of vegan black bean soup. Can you still hate me then? Can you still say I hate you? The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ on earth. The domestic church is how we can be that Body of Christ in a world hell-bent on crucifying us.

    Before you pick up those nails, though, would you like a freshly-baked pita?

  4. If you plan on doing something to care for God’s people, even if you don’t have the start-up capital, He’ll find a way to provide. When we started this Lent, it was my goal to give to our local food cupboard one of each of the tools that we used the most in our Lent 2013 challenge, paid for out of the money we saved on our new, voluntarily low budget. So, how exactly was I going to get a quality slow cooker, a microwave and a hand blender all for $70? I just shrugged and said, “God, You want these people to get small appliances? You’re going to have to provide the money, ’cause you know what we have on hand, and it ain’t much.”A few weeks later, a reader (who shall remain anonymous unless she comments and claims it) sent us $200. We went shopping tonight.

    Tomorrow I’m taking First Shift shopping, because they decided to buy the stick blender. Okay. Gotta go get a hankie…

  5. Bloggers:  don’t ever bemoan your small audience. I’m not Jennifer. I’m not The Anchoress. Guess what? Ain’t. Even. Bovvered. By God’s grace, it just recently occurred to me, I never gave up my blogging “mission,” if you will, just because my highest number of hits in one day is 80, and that was last year. I know plenty of people who give up what they love because it’s too hard to get the attention that they want. True humility is true freedom. If you don’t need validation from others to do what you know is good and right, then there’s nothing to stop you. Which brings me to…
  6. Never say “I can’t do that. It’s too difficult,” unless your next words are, “without God’s help.”   

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 44: Good Friday Krabby Stuffed Potatoes

Outwardly, this seems luxurious for Good Friday: Seafood? Really? With white wine? When seen in the light of using stuff up in the fridge, though, hopefully the indulgence factor drops. I also based this on a family recipe that called for a can of condensed lobster bisque, but we’re aiming for from-scratch per the rules.

I had wanted to have some deep, meaningful reflections for the most solemn day of our faith year… but between choir practices and making sure Mr. M was equipped to manage a loud, squirmy preschooler through collective hours of Triduum doings… stuffed potatoes with salad it as good as it got. Humility can just show up in the form of a recipe without a reflection.

Wait. Did I just give a reflection in spite of the humility? Sheesh, you can’t even dress me up, much less take me out.

Krabby Stuffed Potatoes (prep time: 3 min + 15 minutes)

5 baking potatoes, scrubbed and baked in the slow cooker on low 6-12 hours
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 c white wine or vegetable stock
1 8oz can PLAIN tomato sauce
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c shredded sharp cheese
1/2 lb “krab” pollock seafood flakes

As your potatoes are baking in your slow cooker, melt butter over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk flour with salt and pepper. Sprinkle seasoned flour over butter, then whisk in wine/stock. Let that reduce over medium-high for about 3 minutes, then whisk in tomato sauce and cream. Once that’s all bubbly, fold in cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Fold in “krab” and heat through.

Cut potatoes open on their individual serving plates, then pour “krabby” stuffing inside.


Speaking of humility, it tasted way better than this picture looks.

And, folks, there you have it: a meatless, cheapo Lent for 5. I shall post our obligatory “I Learned Something Today” reflection sometime soon. Stay tuned, Mackerelsnapper fans. Erm, all three of you.

OH! Gluten-free friends? Corn starch for the flour should work.


Lent 2013 Challenge Day 42: Slowcooker Falafel. Seriously.

We had a perfect cucumber for making tzatziki. Oldest kid is a huge falafel fan. Alas, our 20 minute rule could not possibly permit for falafel… or could it? On a whim, I googled “crock pot falafel,” and God bless Stephanie at Crockpot365. She has a recipe for falafel! That was the feature of our meal last night.


See how golden brown those falafel got, all without deep frying?  I’m not going to kid us both and tell you they’re better than fried:  they’re not.  Seriously, these were just as good as baked and a million times faster.  All kinds of yum.

However, the meal as a whole is best made in installments. Because of the timing, I’m going to start you off with our…

Tzatziki Cous Cous (prep time: 3 min +5 min + 6 min)

1 1/2 c plain yogurt
1 whole seedless/English cucumber, ends trimmed off
juice of 1 lemon
1 T chopped oregano (we were out, so we used cilantro)
1 T chopped mint
1 T minced garlic (as usual, we used more–shocking)
1 t salt
1 1/2 c vegetable stock or water
1 c whole wheat cous cous
1 t butter or oil

Line a strainer with coffee filters and place yogurt over filters. Place strainer over a bowl and then place the whole contraption in a refrigerator, allowing the yogurt to strain for 4-10 hours. (If you have Greek yogurt, use that without straining, but on our budget, we are using just regular American, non-drinking, spoon-only yogurt).

Shortly before serving, cut your cucumber into thumb-length chunks and chop it in a food processor until finely diced. Add lemon juice, herbs, garlic and salt, and pulse to process. Add strained yogurt (discard whey in the bottom bowl).

Just before serving, boil stock/water and oil (in microwave for 5 minutes should do the trick. Add cous cous, stir, then cover immediately. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir in tzatziki.

Top this lovely dish with Crockpot365’s Falafel. And feta crumbles if you have them.  I whipped our falafel together in less than five minutes, using the food processor. Some day, I’ll make these vegan with ground flaxseed as an egg substitute.

I did make what was supposed to be “suddenly pita,” but due to circumstances beyond my control (a. k. a. needy preschooler), I was not able to fit those into the 20 minute time frame, so they weren’t part of our “official” meal and instead became part of lunch earlier in the day.

Y’all know by now that if you’re looking for prayers and reflections on Holy Thursday, you probably need to look elsewhere on the #catholic tag.

If you’ve gotten this far, please pray for several special intentions for several friends and family members of mine, all going through tough, tough times.

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 38: Breakfast for Anytime

This really only works with the rules if you have a food processor to do your shredding and chopping.  We chopped a whole onion and shredded three potatoes (skins and all).  We mixed all that together and dumped it into our cast iron pan with a good, generous splash of oil.  Stirring it up occasionally, wait until the potatoes really start to brown, then let them sit and glue themselves together a bit.  With a heavy metal spatula…

… flip the whole thing over, in sections if it breaks up (which it will), and let it all get just as brown and crispy on the other side.

Meanwhile, scramble some eggs (or fry them, but since we’re on a time limit, scrambling is faster).  Serve it all up with some sliced fruit.  Just in under the 20 minute wire, and you get a nice picture of Spinal Tap out of it.  Enjoy!

“Waitaminute, Mrs. Mackerelsnapper, OP,” you say.  “Isn’t using a food processor cheating?”  Perhaps.  But remember that our goal is to save up enough money with our fasting to buy kitchen appliances for our local food cupboard to give to families in need?  “Oh, yes,” you reply.  “That’s right.”  Someone REALLY nice even gave us a sizable donation so that we can donate more than the bare minimum.  In about a week, we’ll go shopping and give you an update on what we were able to scrounge.

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 34: Inaugural Feast

Yesterday was the inauguration of Pope Francis, on the Feast of St. Joseph, which is my husband’s feast day as well. We usually have some sort of meat on St. Joseph’s Day, because traditionally in our diocese, the bishops lift the Lenten restrictions so we, especially our area’s large Italian community, can feast instead of fast. I had a moment of thinking we’d be justified in breaking the rules on this very special day and getting some actual steak. I mean, Pope Francis is from Argentina, the Land of Beef. What better way to celebrate, right? However, given that the man asked his countrypeople to stay home and give the money they would’ve spent on plane tickets to the poor, buying a steak didn’t really fit the spirit of the day.

So, vegetarian recipes from a country of cattle farmers? We made baked cheese empanadas to go with a slow cooker of pasta fagioli.


Slow Cooker Pasta Fagioli (prep time: 10 minutes; cook time 4-8 hours)

1 small onion, finely diced
3 c chopped kale (I’ve seen recipes calling for swiss chard or baby spinach in place of the kale)
2 t olive oil
1/4 c red wine
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 c vegetable stock
1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained
3/4 c small pasta (we used orzo, but ditalini is traditional)
1 generous tablespoon of minced garlic
1 tsp each of dried parsley, orgeano, basil and thyme leaves
1/4 t ground black pepper
2 bay leaves

Sautee onion and kale in olive oil over medium-high heat until onions just start to brown and kale turns bright green. Add red wine to pan, cover and reduce heat to medium-low for 3-5 minutes. Add pan contents plus remaining ingredients to your slow cooker and cook on high 4 hours, low 8 hours. Top with Parmesan cheese, reminding us of the sawdust on the floor of St. Joseph’s carpentry shop.

Baked Cheese Empanadas (time: 20 minutes)

1 package of prepared pie crust, just below room temperature
Parmesan and shredded cheddar cheese

Roll out the crust and cut into triangular quarters. Place about a tablespoon of cheese in the center of each triangle. With a finger dipped in water, trace around the outside of each triangle, then fold in half to seal. Crimp edges with a fork as shown and pierce the top of each empanada with a knife 2-5 times to avoid explosion. Bake at 425F for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

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Many thanks to the older member of First Shift for doing the hand modeling.

Strictly speaking, the empanada recipe breaks the time limit rule as well as the “no processed foods” rule, but it was to educate the kids on Pope Francis’ home country as well as his vow of poverty.

Habemus Papam!

Viva Francis I!  Our first pope from the Americas!

Pope Francis I, this Dominican really wants to hug you just like our father Dominic hugged St. Francis, pictured here.  As St. Dominic said to St. Francis, “Together there is nothing we can’t accomplish!”


Lent 2013 Challenge Days 24-26: Lo, How the Mighty Have Fallen

If you want to tempt someone to failure, here are some helpful phrases:

  • I could never do that.
  • I don’t know how you do it.
  • I am in awe.
  • I tried to do what you’re doing, but I just couldn’t.
  • I can’t do that. That’s too difficult.

I am confident that the people who say these sorts of things mean really, really well. The problem is that these phrases are isolating. They push away the people who need encouragement far more than they need the top of a lonely pedestal.

Phrases like these imply that there must be something special about the person doing whatever it is that they’re doing. Not use birth control? I could never do that. Have more than two kids? I don’t know how you do it. Stay Catholic when even the priests sin? I tried doing that, but I just couldn’t. Deny very real sexual urges here and now in the hopes of eternal life? I can’t do that. That’s too difficult.

See what I mean yet? Normal people can’t do any of those things. There must be something special about you. I could never be special like you.

So when really sweet, really well-meaning people gave me several of the phrases from the list above, I wavered. A lot. I’m not as special as these people seem to think I am, so I need to stop kidding myself that I can do this Lenten Challenge. I need to get my kids McDonald’s on a busy Friday, because I’m not special enough to feed them yet another dinner out of yet another Thermos. If I’m at a wedding and they give me the chicken instead of the vegetarian dish, I’m not special enough to ask them to take it back.

Or am I? It’s scary to think that I might be. Because that would make my life even harder than it already is.

You know what? It’s probably scary for you to think that you might be that special, too. If you are, that means… you might have to try harder. And you’re probably already trying so very, VERY HARD!  So what do you DO?!?


Do you really believe Philippians 4:13? If not, spend some time with Romans 12: 2. God doesn’t want other people’s definition of “normal” to limit how much you let His light shine through the stained glass of your actions.

And that has been my lesson in falling this Lent.  This picture has been a bit of a comfort:




Lent 2013 Challenge Day 8: The Big Cheat

So, you know the rules, 20 minutes or less, right?  What if, in order to get all the kids where they need to be, all the adults where they need to be, and in order to barter for an emergency haircut from a friend who also needed help from you, you needed to make a really cheap dinner for nine people?  Does that justify the breaking of the 20 minute rule?

I hope so.  I made a batch of sauce (that recipe should be coming up in this coming weekend’s food prep post) to put on top of two large quick thin-crust pizzas, but the cooking of both sauce and pizzas went well over the 20 minute rule… like, by an hour or so.  Honestly, I’m not sure I feel bad about it, either.

Some of you might have noticed that I just used the phrase “emergency hair cut.”  Maybe not “emergency,” but certainly an urgent hair cut.  Why?  Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you officially within the next few days.  In the meantime, please spend some time looking at Full Quiver Publishing‘s current catalog of Theology of the Body books, especially the fiction ones…