Lenten Recipe: Quick Quiche

This quiche recipe is an easy last minute meal. On non-abstaining days I’ll add whatever leftover meat is in the refrigerator; during Lent there are lots of choices of vegetables and seafood to add in!


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup half-n-half
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 tbls flour
  • 1/3 cup onion, minced
  • Salt, pepper, & garlic powder
  • 8 oz cheese, shredded
  • Choice of add-ins (broccoli, asparagus, shrimp, tomatoes, etc.)
  • 1 unbaked pie shell


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Whip eggs, half-n-half, mayo and flour together in a bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  5. Allow to sit 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Lenten Recipe: Split Pea Soup

This split pea soup recipe is perfect for a busy day — just set it up in the crock pot in the morning and then forget all about it until dinner time.


  • 1lb split peas
  • 3 carrots, sliced thin
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Wash the split and discard any discolored beans.
  2. Layer the peas in the bottom of a crock pot.
  3. Place carrots, celery, and onion, and garlic on top of peas.
  4. Cover peas and vegetables with stock. (It should come about 1/2 inch above the ingredients. If there isn’t enough stock to cover the vegetables, add water.)
  5. Add bay leaves to the crock pot.
  6. Cover and cook on low all day.
  7. When ready to serve, remove bay leaves. Add water if needed.
  8. Optionally, use an immersion blender to blend soup; otherwise, just stir until ingredients are mixed well.
  9. Serve warm with a salad and bread.

Lenten Recipe: Zucchini Latkes with Tzatziki Sauce

Latkes are a Lenten staple in our house. While we often make the traditional potato variety, this zucchini-based variation is also a hit with the kids.

Ingredients: Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated cucumber, patted dry
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbls dill, chipped
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and ground black pepper, as needed

Methodology: Tzatziki Sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients in a glass or metal bowl and refrigerate 2-3 hours.

Ingredients: Latkes

  • 3 zucchini, grated
  • Salt
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dill, chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground tarragon
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbles
  • Olive oil

Methodology: Zucchini Latkes

  1. Combine ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. When shimmering, drop spoonfuls of zucchini mixtures into oil. Fry to 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
  3. Keep latkes warm in a 175° F degree oven. Serve with tzatziki sauce.

Lenten Recipe: Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)

This version of a Greek classic cheats by using prepackaged puffed pastry instead of filo dough. The end result may not have the same delicate, flaky texture of traditional spinach pie, but it’s a lot easier to make.


  • 2lb spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 package puffed pastry
  • 1lb cottage cheese
  • 2 cup feta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbls flour
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Lightly steam chopped spinach (there’s a lot, so do it in batches).
  3. Saute onion in oil, then add garlic, oregano, and basil; salt and pepper to taste. When onion is cooked remove and reserve onion and garlic. Use the remaining oil to grease a 9x13x2 baking dish.
  4. Drain the cottage cheese and mix with the feta cheese, eggs, garlic and onion. Add flour as needed to keep the mixture dry.
  5. Roll out the puffed pastry sheets and place one in the bottom of the baking dish. Mix spinach and cheeses and spoon into the dish.
  6. Lay the second pastry sheet on top and tuck in, brushing with the remaining oil.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Lenten Recipe: Pesto Minestrone Soup

I love Lenten soups. They tend to be easy to make and a crowd pleasure for at least 75% of our kids. This soup is no exception. Using the crockpot means a little invest of time in the morning pays dividends when dinner is ready in the evening. And the use of a rich, flavorful pesto elevates this soup to something the kids love.


  • Two carrots, sliced
  • 2 potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbls basil pesto
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 cup small pasta (macaroni, orzo, etc.)
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Toss the carrots, potatoes, and onions in olive oil and put in slow cooker.
  2. Add 5 cups water, tomatoes, 2 tbls pesto, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook 6-8 hours on high.
  3. Add beans, pasta and remaining pesto. Continue cooking until pasta is cooked (about 10 minutes).
  4. Serve immediately, topped with Parmesan cheese.

What I Learned From My Lent Without Twitter

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you know that I took social media off for Lent. This is the first time I’ve ever done this and it was an interesting experiment that netted some important lessons:

  1. I didn’t miss it. Sure, there were one or two times when I thought “Hey, I should share this on Twitter!” But the feeling quickly passed and I doubt anyone really missed a random link about evangelization or catechesis from me..
  2. I missed hearing from some online friends. There are a number of people I only know online who I enjoy interacting with and I did miss them. Which makes me think I should find some ways to meet these folks face-to-face.
  3. I wasn’t more productive. I had hoped that I might get some writing done, or a bunch of reading. That didn’t happen; in fact, my pace seemed to slow down a bit more this Lent than in years passed. And I was OK with that.
  4. I missed a bunch of hot takes on current events… and that was great. One of the interesting side effects of being off social media was not hearing about breaking news until after the initial reactions had passed and there had been time to get context. This was a much more enjoyable way to consume news and makes me want to return to more long-form reading in magazines and journals that have taking time to reflect before publication.

I’m not sure I’ll give up social media next year, but I’m glad I did it this year. I hope I’ll be able to take these lessons to heart in my use of Twitter in the coming months.

Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving

As we prepare to celebrate the mystery of the Resurrection this Sunday, it is an opportune time to reflect on what we have done and experienced during our Lenten journey. Have we made this time of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving a renewal for the joyous dawn of Easter? Or have we gone through the motions and failed to

Sr. Joan Delaplane, OP, once wrote of Lent that

Yes, we are called to fast, to pray, and to give alms; but not as ends in themselves. Fast not only from food, but from the fear that God will not be our enough; fast from talking all the time and give, not only alms, but a listening ear to our children, our spouse, our colleagues; fast from nurturing anger and hurts and give forgiveness; fast from needing other’s approval and give God the glory ¦ Fast from cynicism regarding our government or our times and write or call a legislator ¦ The focus for those on the Way must be God, God’s people, God’s poor, and God’s Kingdom.

Of course, the truth is that we are called to do these things year round, to let our Lenten practice become our Christian witness. May God grant us the grace to carry on our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving as an Easter people born again through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Lenten Recipe: Three Cheese and Beer Soup

This is probably my most favorite soup recipe, ever. It’s simple, easy, and really tasty on a cold, Lenten Friday night. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, add a cup of crab meat and/or shrimp with the potatoes.


  • 2 Tbls butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • ¼  cup flour
  • ½  tsp dry mustard
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup dark ale (I like to use Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 potatoes, cubed to ½  inch
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1  cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¼  cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • ¼  tsp pepper sauce
  • ¼  tsp Worcestershire sauce


  1. In a dutch oven melt butter. Add vegetables (except potatoes) and cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in flour and mustard; cook 1 minute.
  3. Add stock and cook until bubbly.
  4. Add beer, cream, and potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender (10-12 minutes).
  5. Slowly whisk in cheeses until melted, then add pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
  6. Serve with crusty rolls and a salad.

Episode 014 – Penitential

penance-Fr.-Lawrence-Lew-OP-flickrCCHappy Ash Wednesday! To kick off the Lenten season I spoke with Lisa Mladinich — speaker, catechist, and founder of AmazingCatechists.com — about the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance. We covered children’s examination of conscience, whether parents project their own insecurities about the sacrament onto their children, and Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s new resource, Bring Lent Home with Mother Theresa; Lisa has written a free downloadable lesson plan resource to accompany the book.

As always, leave a comment to let us know what you think about the podcast or to suggest topics for future shows!

Click to Play – 014 – Penitential

Original photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP/flickrCC

Book Review: From Slave to Priest

From Slave to Priest: A Biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolton (1854-1897) is the story of Fr. Augustine Tolton, the first black priest in the United States (a number of mixed-race priests preceded him, but they self-identified as white). Written by Sister Caroline Hemesath in 1973, a new addition was released by Ignatius Press in 2006 with a forward by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers.

Part of my interest in Fr. Tolton’s story is personal: he spent his formative years in Quincy, Illinois, and attended St. Francis Solanus College, which later became Quincy University, my alma mater (a number of the photos in the book come from the school’s archives). I remember hearing allusions to the first black priest during my time at Quincy, but it wasn’t until my graduate studies that I became acquainted with the larger story of Fr. Tolton’s life.

Born a slave to a Catholic family near Hannibal, Missouri, his father escaped to join the Union Army at the start of the Civil War; he was killed in battle. When he was 8 Augustine’s mother escaped with the boy and his two siblings across the Mississippi River and wound up in nearby Quincy. There he worked in a tobacco factory by day and, in his spare time and during the winter months, he received instruction from the local priests and religious sisters. It was during this time that he first felt God’s call to the priesthood.

Unfortunately Augustine was turned down by every seminary and religious order he applied to. Undeterred, he traveled to Rome where he studied at the Urban College de Propaganda Fide, after which he expected to be sent as a missionary priest to Africa. Instead he returned to Quincy where he pastored St. Joseph’s, the city’s black parish.

In Quincy Fr. Tolton met with resistance and outright hostility from white Catholics (who resented the donations he received from sympathetic whites) and black Protestants (who resented his evangelization of their congregants). Discouraged and not receiving any support from his bishop, he accepted a transfer to Chicago where he was put in charge of the city’s black Catholics. Starting with a small congregation meeting in a church basement, within a few years he led a growing parish and had begun construction on a new church building. His work in Chicago was cut short in 1897 when, upon returning home from a retreat, he collapsed (most likely as a result of heat stroke) and died. He is buried in Quincy at St. Peter’s Seminary.

Although she did a fair amount of research and interviews for the book (as evidenced by the bibliography), Sr. Hemesath presents Fr. Tolton’s life in a series of fictionalized vignettes, a sort of œspeculative biography. The result is, if not 100% accurate, extremely readable and provides a good picture of what Fr. Tolton’s life was probably like. She is particularly adept at presenting the trials Fr. Tolton endured: the constant rejection by seminaries in his own country, the years spent building up money to pay for studies in Rome, the harassment at the hands of a fellow priest in Quincy. His was not a happy life, insofar as he never seems to have found a place to truly call home where he could be a simple pastor (which seems to have been his only real wish).

On the other hand, his trials never diminished his love of the Church, even in its human brokenness. Fr. Tolton’s example of bearing his cross ” a cross of racism, hate and bigotry ” in a humble manner, calling on God for strength and help, is a timely reminder of how we are called to live out this Lenten season through almsgiving, fasting and prayer in recognition of our sinful nature. Rather than bemoan his fortune Fr. Tolton sought one thing only: to serve God and his people. May we, too, live out such a simple yet beautiful goal.