Thursday, February 25, 2016

Easy Salmon Dinner for Fridays

So, I made this dinner for yesterday because I've given up eating meat on Wednesdays during Lent. This normally would have been our Friday meal, but I wanted to blog about it this week and we are going to have pizza on Friday instead of yesterday. I usually don't prefer to include my non-Lent practicing husband or my too-small daughter in my own penances, but I'm also not going to make 2 meals, and is baked salmon really a penance? I'm going to use the leftovers in a tuna salad kind of way for lunch on Friday. Looking forward to it!

Anyhow, I forgot to take an after picture. The salmon stayed nice and pink, and tasted delicious. I basically used this recipe from My Natural Family, but like usual, definitely took liberties with it. Most of my changes were because I didn't shop for this recipe and didn't have some of the ingredients on hand. I mostly just use recipes as starting points for safety things like how long to cook and at what temperature anyway.
Instead of lemon, I used orange,  and instead of salt & pepper, I used a
spice mix that I love. Also didn't use the fresh herbs.

I needed to microwave for 45 seconds to get everything melted.

The prep work was very easy and fast, as promised. I used my new silicone mats on the baking sheet instead of parchment paper, and love that I ended up getting them. They are definitely worth the investment! Cooking was fast too.

Before the oven... next time I'm not going to melt the butter.
Placed on top shelf
Cook in preheated oven at 400 F...

... for about 10-12 minutes.

And that's it! Eleanor finished some of hers, (she's been eating wonky lately), and Matt went back for more, which is always a good sign.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Second Week of Lent

Hi everyone! I hope your Lent is still going strong. I had some weak moments here and there, especially in doing my practice of the day, but I am renewing my resolutions and intentions today. 

Speaking of falling, this quotation by St. Francis de Sales is what inspired my renewal, and I've put it on a new computer background for you (and me, let's be honest) to remember every time I log on to my computer. I'm also going to implement a trick I learned a while ago, I forget from where. I don't have a password on my computer (don't need one), but I'm going to put one on today. When setting a password (especially not an important one), use a word that you want to remind yourself of. For example during Lent, using my resolutions, I can type in silence, no sweets, prayer, playtime, duty (of state), or 40steps, and by typing in a keyword to remind me of my resolutions and keeping them on my mind, I will hopefully keep them at the front of my mind, and not at the back.

This whole week, the Church reminds us to ask God for help in keeping our fast. This applies to both the literal fast that was obligatory for all adults ages 18-59 during the season of Lent (now sadly no longer in practice, but still observed by many, if not all, traditional Catholics), but also to the resolutions we and our children have made. If we think we can make it through this journey alone, without the help of God or the saints, then surely we will fall down.
"O God, Who sees that we are wholly destitute of strength, keep us within and without: that we may be defended in body from all adversity: and cleansed in mind from evil thoughts."

Friday, February 19, 2016

Easy Weekday Dinner: Stromboli

Although this was my first time making it all on my own, stromboli is a meal that I grew up eating. In a family of 10, we used dough loafs to feed everyone. In my family, I had success using dough rolls for individual servings. I was worried that I would make too much, and thought it would be easier to grab later on if they were single serve. As it is, everything was devoured.

Of course, you can make your own bread dough and allow it to rise before you work on this meal. I didn't, because I decided to save on time and get a bag of frozen rolls, so that we could use them again. They are so easy to use, and make this meal fast. I followed the regular directions, but they also have a fast rise directions that I've used in the past, and both ways turned out the same.

Ingredients for 3 people:
9 rolls
4 1/2 slices of pre-sliced deli meat (about 1 oz. a slice)
4 1/2 slices of deli cheese (also about 1 oz. a slice)

If you have a favorite dough recipe, use it! This recipe is so versatile. I used ham and swiss, my favorite combination. In the past, my mom used to make a ham and swiss, a ham and american, and a pepperoni and mozzarella, and every took some of each. We didn't even use a whole package between the 3 of us, so ours were just all the same. Make sure to make more than 3 per person if you want leftovers!

I just followed the baking instructions for the rolls from the bag. Pull them out, let them rise for 3-5 hours or until double. Simple enough, requires no effort beyond walking to the freezer, pulling them out, greasing a muffin tin or loaf tin, and of course shutting the freezer door :). Once I was ready to cook them, I continued to follow the directions, preheating the oven to 350 F, and then preparing my rolls.
Rolled dough. I used flour at first, but didn't need it.
To stretch them, all I did was with my hands, manually stretching them before laying them on a clean countertop and smoothing out any thick spots. You don't want these too thin, or they will break through, or too thick or they'll probably take longer to cook. I thought "small pizza with a thin crust" kind of thickness.
It's kind of hard to see the cheese here. Maybe I should have used cheddar instead.
Added the ham. I used 2 rolls worth of dough on some of them,  so I put a full slice of ham and cheese on these.
Place 1/2 slice of cheese on the dough, then 1/2 slice of meat (if using pepperoni, you made need a few slices for 1/2 oz. of meat). Then roll them up and tuck under the ends.

I placed my rolls seam down, but I'm not totally sure whether this or something else caused the cheese to leak out. I didn't ruin the sandwich, however, because most of the cheese stayed inside. 
I love using my new silicone mats. They made clean up and cheese leaking out a minor inconvenience, instead of a huge ordeal.
Placing them into the oven. On the left are the ones made with one roll, but the right has some made with 2.
The package said bake for 15-20 minutes... I checked them after 15, but decided to leave them in for the full 20 so that I knew whether they were done or not. The outsides didn't get hard or dry for that extra 5 minutes.
I have to work on sealing the edges a little more.
I love the way they turned out. Sure some of the cheese was melted out, but that technique can be improved and didn't ruin the flavor. If you have older kids, they would get a kick out of helping you in the kitchen with these. Once my daughter turns 2, I'll probably start including her in the laying ham & cheese on the roll part.
You can see the melted out cheese on the top. Because of the liners,  it stayed soft and melty.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

First Week in Lent

The first week of Lent is almost over, and I hope it went well for you. It went pretty well for me. Every year, I make specific resolutions, but sometimes they don't quite work out, so I always leave myself open to new ones. Besides, if something that I planned isn't working out, and I am inspired by the Holy Ghost for another one, doesn't He know better than I do how to get to Heaven and please God? So far, the only one that hasn't worked is taking 40 things a day to donate or throw out. That was replaced by not watching Netflix at work... I'd developed a habit of watching a Netflix show during my last hour of work, because not many people come in and I'm done with my chores; I also decided to spend more time focused on my daughter and not on the computer, or playing a game or reading a book. We are reading more together, playing together a little longer, and eating breakfast and lunch together, and as a result, she's more likely to play by herself and seems more content instead of constantly demanding my attention or whining.

I've had this background done since the beginning of the week, and I know it's probably too late, but I'm putting it here just in case. I'll be more diligent in getting next week's out. I love the quotation that I've found for it.
Psalm from the Epistle on Sunday
For the rest of this week, I'm simply going to post an easy dinner (Stromboli), and try to get in a post about young children and Lent, specifically children my daughter's age (that's about all the experience I have right now). Let me know what your strategies are for teaching children the importance of sacrifice and Lent!
Preview of tomorrow's post
Next week and week 3 are generally the hardest weeks of Lent for me. Ash Wednesday is such a short week, and the first week I'm still gung-ho about everything, so I do well. By week 2, the novelty has worn off. Let's make a new resolution together to stay strong, so that with St. Paul on Easter Sunday, we can say "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith".

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lent, Resolutions, Catching Up, and Free Download

My poor car
I haven't been able to write a blog post for a few weeks, due to unforeseen circumstances. The first 2 weeks Eleanor and I got colds, and while thankfully hers didn't progress into anything worse, I developed asthmatic bronchitis and had to be on a special cough pill and an inhaler for a few days before it cleared up. By Thursday I was feeling better, getting lots of work done, worked Friday and Saturday nights, but when driving into work (literally seconds away) on Sunday night, someone rear-ended my otherwise empty vehicle, and I've spent a few days recuperating from that. Unfortunately, we are now looking for a new car, while trying to get to all the places that we both have to get to with only one vehicle. So please excuse me that I haven't written a blog post in a few weeks. Between moving and sickness, we were too busy. I do foresee going back to the original schedule of 2-3 times a week, especially as we enter the season of Lent.
Ash Wednesday

Speaking of Lent, Ash Wednesday was only 2 days ago. I had decided to keep my January resolutions, although I wasn't able to keep up with a few of them, and just added on 3 new resolutions, as well as some Lenten resolutions for my spiritual life. To review, my resolutions were: 
  1. Motherhood & Marriage: Institute a weekly meeting with my husband to get on the same page; Sort through Eleanor's toys and books, separating them into things for her bedroom, things for the living room, toys to rotate and toys to give away.
  2. Homemaking: Related to resolution #3, I'm going to establish routines for our daily life and housekeeping.
  3. Personal Health & Wellness: To take care of my mental health, including both medicine, exercise, healthy eating, and possibly therapy.
  4. Spiritual: To be more diligent in my morning & evening prayers and daily Rosary; as a side, I'm also going to try to do my spiritual reading for 15 minutes a day, however, it's not a primary goal.
  5. Blogging: Blogging on a more regular schedule, aiming for 2-3 times a week.

My whiteboard & booklet
I wasn't able to institute the weekly meeting, and sadly wasn't diligent in my daily prayers; also, between the hurry of moving, dealing with other health issues, and the past 3 weeks worth of my own "stuff", I didn't go through Eleanor's things and only loosely started some daily routines. I'm going to work harder on these, and add only a one more:
  1. Weekly blog prayer & Monthly blog intention.
I feel that my blogging schedule has been good, so I'm ready to add on more to this site. Make sure to check in weekly for a new prayer, most probably taken from some feast day of the week, and the monthly blog intentions to be restarted.
As for Lenten resolutions, mine are:
  1. To do the practice in the 40 Steps to Easter booklet
  2. To abstain from meat on Wednesdays in addition to Fridays
  3. To fast every day
  4. To save my change to donate to the new seminary project of the SSPX
  5. To clean out and re-organize my home, donating what we can to those in need.
Crucifix with the Stations of the Cross
It doesn't seem like a lot, but I'm determined to make a good Lent this year and I know my own limitations. I've abstained from meat on Wednesdays since I was pregnant with my daughter 2 years ago, when I couldn't do the traditional fasting every day, but still fasted on Ash Wednesday (by Good Friday, I had gestational diabetes and couldn't fast). It's a real sacrifice for me to come up with more than one meatless meal a week, but also finding a Wednesday meal that can have meat added on to it for my husband and daughter. I like the 40 steps to Easter booklet, because there's a new thought, practice, and prayer for every day during Lent; I write the next day's step on a whiteboard next to my desk, and it's been reminding me not only of that day's intentions, but also some reminders and my overall Lenten resolutions.

In order to encourage everyone during Lent, I've made a graphic for a computer desktop that you can use as your computer background. I read this quotation from St. John Chrysostom, and thought it appropriate, and something I wanted to be reminded about frequently, so I designed the background for my computer and decided to share it with my readers. If you are going to use it in a blog or  otherwise online, please link back to my blog. Onward and upward!

Lent, Chrysostom, resolutions, Catholic, Ash Wednesday, abstinence, fasting

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Easy Weeknight Dinner: Creamy Chicken Spinach Bake

This dinner is easy and delicious, although it does take a while to bake, because of the extra ingredients on top of the chicken. We were able to eat well inexpensively, and will use the leftover chicken to supplement another meal this week! For starch, some rice would round out this meal perfectly (I didn’t, because we are still moving households).
Layers of chicken, cream cheese, spinach on the left
Ingredients for 2 people
2 chicken breasts
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup spinach (I used frozen)
1 cup. shredded cheese (anything will do)
Side dish suggestion: 1 cup broccoli (I also used frozen)
Pretty basic preparation
  1. Spray an 8x8 in pan with cooking spray, and preheat the oven to 400∘F. 
  2. Layer chicken breasts, cream cheese, and spinach in pan. I had enough room to add the broccoli next to the chicken. 
    Hot out of the oven
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top of everything, and bake until cooked (because the spinach was frozen and the amount of ingredients, it took me an hour to be sure). 
  4. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165∘F, it’s ready. It was delicious, creamy, and didn’t take any effort to make, even though it took an hour to cook.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Feast of the Week: St. Agnes, January 21

This week’s feast is the feast of St. Agnes, Virgin Martyr, on Thursday. St. Agnes was born in the 3rd century to a wealthy Catholic family, and when young, made a vow of chastity. However, because of her beauty and wealth, she attracted the attention of many young men, to whom she would always respond, “Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.” 

Angered at her refusal, her suitors informed the government that she was a Catholic. At the time, the Roman Empire was under the rule of Diocletian and Catholicism was illegal, and she was tortured by various means to renounce her faith, and finally put to death when she was 12 or 13. Her symbol is the lamb, representing her innocence, youth, and virginity. For more details, this is a great source.

St. Agnes' story is one that should be shared with every young girl, as an example of her great courage in the face of danger, an example of the importance of purity, and finally as an example of the gloriousness of being a bride of Christ. We have such a great need for not only good nuns, but good mothers to raise their children to honor the religious life, whether they are called to that vocation or not.

You can celebrate with a little jello dessert, posted later on this week. With the crown mold, almost any saint’s feast can be commemorated.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Television and Catholics: Some Prudent Guidelines

Television, among other modern inventions, is a hot button issue for some Traditional Catholics. I’ve heard arguments both for it, and against it. Against it are the problems confronting many parents: the way violence and impurity are glorified, the way it slows the brain, and the way it dulls the senses towards good by making it relative; these problems are grievous. For it are the arguments that while there is much bad television, there are also good shows, that one can be discerning about which shows to watch, and that moderation is key. This is the particular view that I espouse. But in these days of relative moderation, is having a television in the home worth the dangers?
As the wife of a non-Catholic, I don’t have much of a say in the matter of whether the TV can stay in our home. My husband likes to watch it to relax, or to indulge in his inexplicable love for the Chicago Bears. I do make the choice to use the television, though,instead of keeping it off and not watching it unless my husband is. There are a two guidelines that I use to determine whether or not I’m going to turn it on.
My first guideline is not to just watch it mindlessly. The habit of having something always going is too easy for me to fall into, and it ruins my productivity. I only turn the TV on when there is a specific show that I want to watch.
My second guideline is to make sure of the audience. Right now, this is simple. For watching TV shows and movies with Eleanor, I keep it short, educational, and wholesome. For myself, I watch shows that don’t tend to glamorize impurity, and aren’t overly violent.

We love PBS, because there aren’t any commercials. Eleanor loves watching Peg + Cat, and the fact that Peg and her mother are always in dresses and Peg introduces us to different historical figures (Beethoven and Marie Curie are two), music, and stories (like Romeo and Juliet). Otherwise, there are some children’s movies that I grew up with. Eleanor is naturally active, and doesn’t sit still for long. In the mornings, we play music if we want to listen to something, and only use the television periodically, less than once a week.
The shows I watch give me an imaginative break, much like reading or watching a movie or play. For example, I like most of the period pieces on Masterpiece Theater by PBS, like Downton Abbey, Poldark, and Death comes to Pemberley, but also some more modern ones, like Sherlock.

What are your rules, if any, for watching television?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Feast of the Week: Baptism of Our Lord, January 13th

The feast of the Baptism of Our Lord is traditionally celebrated on January 13th, which formally marks the end of Christmastide. There are few changes to notice, however, because we are still in the season of Christmas, which lasts until Septuagesima Sunday, when the longer season of Easter begins. The changes in my day to day life are simply that I return to the feasts of the saints in the back of my missal, and that my Christmas tree and decorations come down, except for the Nativity scene.
This feast day honors the day where Christ went with some of his disciples to the River Jordan, where His cousin, St. John the Baptist, was baptizing people in the Baptism of Penance. It is the last of the three manifestations of Our Lord’s Divinity, Victimhood,and Kingship, as St. John the Baptist’s words reveal: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold He Who takes away the sins of the world” (Gospel, Octave day of the Epiphany). It is also when St. John foretold the true Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the sacrament that Christ would formally establish a little while later.
This year, I’m going to use the time after Epiphany to re-organize my home, donate anything we haven’t used in the past year, and move. My husband wants to move back upstairs to save on our electric bill, to get a bigger kitchen back (not in space per se, but in more storage), and to take advantage of more natural daylight because of an extra window (this is mostly for me, because daylight helps to fight depression naturally). Not a big move, but there will be quite a few changes ahead! I’m looking forward to having a blank slate to work in for organization, decoration, and cleaning.

What things are you hoping to accomplish in this year's short time after Epiphany?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Feast of the Epiphany

“We have seen His star in the East, and are come with gifts to adore the Lord” (Matt. II:2).

The best-laid plans of mice and men, and all that… Well, I unexpectedly had to go into work last night, so my plan for writing a blog post about the feast day I want to focus on this week was replaced by emergency dinner preparation, some phone calls, and getting the house ready for Matt to take care of Eleanor without being in too much pain. Work was busy last night, and I didn’t get a chance to write until this morning.
The Spotlight Feast Day this week is the Feast of the Epiphany on Wednesday. Epiphany is Greek, meaning manifestation. During Christmastide, we celebrate the three manifestations of Our Lord’s mission here on earth. The first was to the shepherds on Christmas morning. “Fear not, for behold I bring you tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the City of David” (Luke I). The second is the feast of the Epiphany, when the three Magi came to pay their homage. The third manifestation will be celebrated on January 13, the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord.
The Epiphany commemorates the occasion of the 3 Magi coming to present themselves to the King from the House of David. Traditionally, we are told their names are Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar, that they were an old man, a middle-aged man, and a young man, and that they were of 3 varying nationalities representing the 3 races known in the world at the time: African, Asian, and Caucasian. These traditions were simply to show that Christ came to save all mankind, as opposed to the Jews who were previously the Chosen People of God, and who alone possessed the knowledge of the True God. Now, God will share the message of how He wants to be worshipped, and in return share His Truth, to all mankind, Gentile and Jew alike.
The Magi brought 3 gifts, mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew (ch. 2), are gold, frankincense, and myrrh, each representing Christ. Gold represents Christ’s Kingship over the world and the duty of mankind to obey Him, frankincense represents His Divinity and the duty to worship Him, and myrrh represents His death to save us all, and the duty that we owe thanks to Him.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, there is a custom to bless chalk and have it available for the faithful to take home. As soon as possible, write above your doors 20+C+M+B+16, to ask Christ to bless your home and all who enter. On another traditional note, it is also the Twelfth Day of Christmas. One can celebrate by reading Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night", named so after the day for which he wrote it.

“Behold the Lord the Ruler is come: and the Kingdom is in His hand, and power, and dominion” (Introit).

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Thanks to all my readers
With a new year comes new resolutions. One of mine is to take better care of my blog and its readers.

While today doesn't start the new Liturgical Year (that started November 30, 2015), it does start the new secular year, and is the typical place for people to start resolutions. Out of habit, I've taken today as my starting point, artificial as it may be. I have 6, addressing 5 different parts of my life and one overruling resolution.

  1. Motherhood & Marriage: Institute a weekly meeting with my husband to get on the same page; Sort through Eleanor's toys and books, separating them into things for her bedroom, things for the living room, toys to rotate and toys to give away.
  2. Homemaking: Related to resolution #3, I'm going to establish routines for our daily life and housekeeping.
  3. Personal Health & Wellness: To take care of my mental health, including both medicine, exercise, healthy eating, and possibly therapy.
  4. Spiritual: To be more diligent in my morning & evening prayers and daily Rosary; as a side, I'm also going to try to do my spiritual reading for 15 minutes a day, however, it's not a primary goal.
  5. Blogging: Blogging on a more regular schedule, aiming for 2-3 times a week.
And finally, my overruling resolution:
To revisit resolutions several times a year, specifically during Septuagesima, after Ascension Thursday, at the end of August (throwback to the beginning of the school year), and during the last week of the Time after Pentecost, and to implement changes and possible new resolutions at the beginning of Lent, Pentecost Sunday, September, and Advent.
May every one have a blessed New Year, may God bless your resolutions and make them fruitful, and rest assured that you remain in my prayers.