Monday, June 27, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no.8}

Oh dear. I haven’t posted since last Monday! Well, for now I’m simply checking in to share one of this week’s meatless meals. One of my favorite meals is thai peanut chicken with rice and steamed vegetables. I’ve decided I should try this meal without the chicken.

Thai Peanut Stir Fry
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup snow peas, cut in half diagonally
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup shelled edamame, thawed
1 cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments
1 cup thin carrot sticks, cut into 1-inch segments
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

  1. In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, flour, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. In small saucepan, whisk together peanut butter with 1/2 cup hot water. Stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Reserve.
  2. Add about 3 tablespoons olive oil to a big skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and stir for about two minutes. Stir in the vegetables, salt, and pepper. Cover with a lid for a minute or two to steam--just long enough for the veggies to brighten and start to soften.
  3. Pour the peanut sauce over the vegetables. Serve with rice.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 7}

{Photo from}

For one of this week’s meatless meals, I am compelled to share another recipe by Heidi Swanson of (see two previous recommendations here and here). This tasty asparagus and brown rice is really good. It uses tahini and lemon, so the flavor has a tangy kick. Also, I love the crunch added by the almonds.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The American Flag and Liturgical Worship

{Painting by Artist Chris Peters}

In honor of Flag Day on June 14, the National Review Online featured an article by Leon and Amy Cass. The article summarizes the history of the American Flag and why respect for the flag is “so necessary and desirable.” It concludes:

The universal philosophical principles can command the assent of the mind. But they cannot by themselves attach the loyalties of the heart. For that we need symbols and songs, stories and speeches. We need holidays and rituals, shared times for remembering and appreciating. We need ordered respite from commerce and amusement — and politicking — for expressions of communal gratitude.

In my opinion, the Casses build an excellent case for liturgical worship. In fact, they seem to propose that humans have an innate need which can only be fulfilled by something bigger than ourselves and even bigger than our intellect. We need the church year. We need liturgy.

Symbols, songs, and stories help our hearts ascend to that place where our minds might already reside. Doctrines and dogma by themselves aren’t enough to move our hearts. Our hearts are swayed by the holidays and rituals that we experience in community. For that reason, every week Christians come together to receive ordered respite from commerce and amusement for the ultimate expression of communal gratitude--The Great Thanksgiving, that is, the Eucharist.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 6}

There is a family-owned grocery store only a mile from our house (it’s not a chain!), and they carry homemade breads from a nearby bakery. A package of whole wheat pita bread was on sale for $0.99!

So, one of this week’s meatless meals will be pitas, filled with a black beans and corn. This combination of ingredients is so easy (no cooking!), and it is really good. Also, it allows for lots of variations--you could try serving it in tortillas, over spanish rice, or with tostito chips.

Black Bean and Corn Pitas
2 cups black beans, soaked and rinsed (or a 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
1 cup  thawed frozen corn kernels
2 tomatoes on the vine, diced
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 avocado, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar
Whole wheat pita bread

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, scallions, cumin, chili powder, avocado, salt, and black pepper. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is slightly warm. Stir in cheese. Serve this dish family style with pita bread. Everyone can fill their own pita pocket.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Prayer for the Day of Pentecost

O God the Holy Ghost

Who art light unto thine elect, evermore enlighten us.

Thou who art fire of love, evermore enkindle us.

Thou who art Lord and Giver of Life, evermore live in us.
Thou who bestowest sevenfold grace, evermore replenish us.

As the wind is thy symbol, so forward our goings.

As the dove, so launch us heavenwards.

As water, so purify our spirits.

As a cloud, so abate our temptations.

As dew, so revive our languor.

As fire, so purge our dross

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Celebrating Pentecost Sunday

Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church! The color red celebrates when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles in tongues of fire. Will you and your family be wearing red to church?

Another traditional symbol for the Holy Spirit is the dove. I was browsing through some vintage dove brooches on Etsy (for example, see here, here, and here), but I didn’t get one ordered in time for tomorrow. Maybe I will still buy one to wear next year.

For a while now, I’ve had an idea in my mind of a “Pentecost cake.” Of course, it didn’t turn out as perfectly as I had imagined, but I hope to improve on it every year. To imitate flames, I wanted to drizzle the colors on the cake. However, I wanted frosting, not glaze. So I purchased a container of frosting and briefly heated it in the microwave. I was able to drizzle the frosting while it was warm, and then it returned to its normal consistency after it cooled. The cake is topped with a little dove, sitting nestled among some strawberries.

I also think that lighting sparklers would be a fun Pentecost tradition for when our kids are a little older. Do you have any special ideas for celebrating Pentecost with your family?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 5}

Inspired by some delicious quinoa dishes, I created my own. It's healthy and delicious, and it's meatless.

Moroccan Quinoa with Peas and Zucchini
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup water
2 small zucchini
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, curry powder, and chili powder.
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the quinoa, water, and the can of diced tomatoes until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when tender and when you can see the curlique in each grain. When the quinoa is done, set aside.

While the quinoa cooks, cut zucchini into 1/2 inch thick coins. Then cut each zucchini coin into quarters.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, and zucchini. Cook until onions are translucent and zuchinni is tender, five minutes. Add chickpeas and peas. Cook two minutes. Turn heat to low, and stir in peanut butter. Add ginger, cumin, curry, and chili powder. Toss the quinoa with the vegetable mixture. Add salt, pepper, and cilantro.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy Ascension Day

Today is Ascension Day. Taking our cue from Jessica, we’ll be heading to a nearby park and picnicking on top of the hill for dinner tonight.

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages...Amen.

The Four Best Children's Books for Toddlers

Since I have three little ones, I thought this would be an appropriate post that could be helpful for an expecting mother. This short list contains a couple of the predictable classics and a couple unusual ones.

In order for a book to make it to the top of my list, both the words and the illustrations must be beautiful. I find it interesting that there is a correlation between the books I like the most and the books my toddler likes the most. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of preference, but neither my toddler nor I are really fans of the mindless words and pictures in some toddler books. When I read my son one of those books, he stares blankly at the pages. But when I read from these books, he comes alive--smiling, talking, and pointing.

Pat the Bunny
Nothing came take the place of this classic book in a family’s library. It is perfect for little ones who are just starting to respond to books.

Goodnight Moon
Another must-have classic. I love how the story is a soothing poem, written in simple rhyme. The illustrations enhance the story--the bedroom gets darker with every page that is turned.

Scholastic First Picture Dictionary
I think I would have naturally gravitated away from dictionaries if someone hadn’t given them to us (we also have this one and this one). However, they turned out to be some of my toddler’s favorite books! The Scholastic First Picture Dictionary is the best. It contains more than 700 words and pictures. It it perfect for little ones who are naturally working on expanding their vocabulary.

I Am a Bunny
This is a little-known book was written in the 1960s. It is my go-to book for gifts because I can be pretty certain that the family doesn’t already own it. Both the story and the illustrations are lovely, which makes it a favorite.


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