Monday, December 10, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Soup With Broccoli Pesto Trees

Picture of Roasted Red Pepper Soup With Broccoli Pesto Trees Recipe
Total Time:
1 hr 30 min
30 min
1 hr 0 min
4 servings


For the pesto:

  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the soup:

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 large leek (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 8 slices white bread


Make the pesto: Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat, tossing, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice water to cool, then drain and pat dry. Transfer the broccoli to the food processor with the almonds; add the basil, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and pulse to make a chunky paste. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil. Add the parmesan and pulse to combine. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface; set aside until ready to use.
Make the soup: Preheat the broiler. Put the bell peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning, until charred, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside 5 minutes. Peel the peppers with your fingers under running water; discard the stems and seeds. Roughly chop the peppers.
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, leek and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes. Stir in the thyme and roasted red peppers. Push the vegetables to one side of the pot; add the tomato paste to the other side and cook, stirring, 2 minutes, then stir into the vegetables. Increase the heat to high; add the chicken broth and 2 cups water and bring to a simmer. Add the potato and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender in batches; keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the bread into tree shapes using a cookie cutter. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp, about 6 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls. Spread the pesto on the toast and float in the soup. Serve immediately.
Photograph by Lisa Shin

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Forks Over Knives

I believe every individual would benefit from watching this documentary. Knowledge is power. 
(My dad would add... "Application of knowledge is power.") Touche.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cheap grace vs. costly grace

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves...the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance...grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life."
                                                                                        -Dieterich Bonhoeffer, German priest/martyr

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Comfort for Those Who Mourn

So many people imagine that death cruelly separates us from our loved ones. Even pious people are led to believe this great and sad mistake. When our loved ones die, they do not leave us. They remain. They do not go to some dark and distant place. They simply begin their eternity. We do not see them because we are still in the darkness of the world. But their spiritual eyes, filled with the light of heaven, are always watching us as they wait for the day when we shall share their perfect joy. We are all born for heaven and one by one we end this life of tears to begin our life in endless happiness.

I have often reflected upon this beautiful truth and found it the greatest and surest comfort in time of mourning. A firm faith in the real and continual presence of our loved ones has brought the conviction and consolation that death has not destroyed them, nor carried them away. Rather it has given them life! A life with power to know fully and to love perfectly. With this new life and new power our loved ones are always present to us, knowing and loving us more than ever before.

The tears that dampen our eyes in times of mourning are tears of homesickness, tears of longing for our loved ones. But is is we who are away from home, not they. Death has been for them a doorway to an eternal home. And only because this heavenly home is invisible to our worldly eyes, we cannot see them so near us. Yet, they are with us, lovingly and tenderly waiting for the day when we, too, will enter the doorway of our eternal home. No, death is not a separation. It is a preparation for eternal union with those we love, in the peace and joy of heaven.

-Unknown Author

Monday, June 25, 2012


Watch your thoughts. 
They become your words.

Watch your words. 
They become your feelings.

Watch your feelings. 
They become your actions.

Watch your actions. 
They become your habits.

Watch your habits. 
They become your lifestyle.

Watch your lifestyle. 
It becomes your destiny.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


"In the heart of Jesus, which was pierced, the kingdom of heaven and the land of earth are bound together. Here is for us the source of life. This heart is the heart of the Triune Divinity, and the center of all human hearts... It draws us to itself with secret power, it conceals us in itself in the Father's bosom and floods us with the Holy Spirit. This heart, it beats for us in a small tabernacle where it remains mysteriously hidden in that still, white host." 

-St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross 
(Edith Stein)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Life Lessons from Haley's Vegetable Garden: 101

It has been about a month and a half since I planted this vegetable and herb garden.
As you can see, it is going buck-wild. It really makes me laugh. 

Just like anything of life, it needs sufficient space and room to grow
Without this, it's going to be smothered, strangled, and blocked from expanding to be that for which it was created. (much like the zucchini is suffocating the poor oregano.)

But given time and patience, and a little love from Above, beautiful things quietly and slowly abound. (like my figs).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hope for families from God's love

2012-03-21 L’Osservatore Romano
The secret of the problems of families and their solution lies in the Crucified One. It is Mr and Mrs Danilo and Anna Maria Zanzucchi who say so. They have been charged by Benedict XVI to write the meditations this year for the Way of the Cross on Good Friday at the Colosseum. They have behind them a long experience of service to families across the world and, together with Chiara Lubich, are the founders of the New Families Movement which they directed until 2008. In this interview withL'Osservatore Romano they review several stages in their life and explain the ideals that inspired them.
“In the face of such an important task”, Danilo said, “our first reactions were of wonder and trepidation, for we did not feel equal to it”.
Anna Maria offered an interpretation of the Way of the Cross: “In reflecting on the Cross, we felt that not only the Church but the whole of humanity is caught up in this mystery. It is also clear how much Christ  must have suffered, like any human being but with the sensitivity of a God”.  She gave us a foretaste of some of the topics they develop in their reflections for the Way of the Cross. “In our meditations “, she said, we have sought to convey our impressions of what Jesus lived in those moments, seeking to actualize them in the light of our own experience. It was not of course easy because we stand before such a great mystery. Yet we firmly believe that the secret and the solution to family problems lie in the Crucified Jesus. Christ on the Cross gave meaning to the pain we must face”. 
And, lastly, she addressed a message to all families who are going through a difficult moment: “I would just like to tell families in difficulty that we too have had our problems. Our marriage was born from reciprocal love like the marriage of every husband and wife. It is this spark that nourishes marriage. However, this love is sometimes extinguished because of many factors, it remains hidden and is forgotten, but its initial impetus lives on although it is smothered by the worries, misunderstandings and dramas of daily life. It must be rediscovered in the light of the love of God which unites. Christianity, in fact, brings two people who seek to love God and to love each other to be at once united and nevertheless distinct."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Braided Lemon Bread




cream cheese filling

In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
1) In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the sponge, yogurt, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and flavoring. Add 4 1/2 cups of flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead on speed 2 until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes, adding more flour if needed to achieve the correct consistency.

If you're using a bread machine, combine all the dough ingredients in the pan and set the machine on the dough cycle. Be sure to check the dough as it kneads and adjust the flour or water as needed to achieve a soft, supple consistency. Let the cycle complete itself.
2) If working by hand or stand mixer, place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.
3) While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients (except the lemon curd) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Reserve the filling and lemon curd until ready to fill the braids.
4) Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Cover half with plastic wrap and set it aside as you roll out the first piece into a 10" x 15" rectangle. Rolling on parchment paper makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much, much easier. Lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, to divide it into 3 equal sections. Spread half the cream cheese filling down the center section, and top with half the lemon curd, leaving 1" free on all sides of the filling.
5) To form the mock braid, cut 1" crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections, making sure you have the same number of strips down each side. Beginning on the left, lift the top dough strip and gently bring it across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side with the top dough strip, so that the two strips crisscross each other. Continue down the entire braid, alternating strips to form the loaf
6) Repeat the rolling, filling, and braiding steps for the second piece of dough, using the remaining cream cheese filling and lemon curd. Set both loaves aside, lightly covered, to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, or until quite puffy
7) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash (one lightly beaten egg, 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt), and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Yield: 2 loaves.

Grounded and growing.

Week 1

Friday, February 17, 2012

Vaccinating Our Children for Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

November 2011. Last month, an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recommended that 9 to 12 year old boys be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus transmitted through sexual contact. The goal of the recommendations was to prevent cancers caused by HPV, such as certain cancers of the digestive tract.

The same committee had already recommended, back in March of 2007, that girls and young women between the ages of 9 and 26 be vaccinated against HPV, to help prevent various cancers of the reproductive tract, such as cervical cancer.

While the motivation to prevent cancer and diseases is clearly good, a universal recommendation of this type raises ethical concerns. Because the recommendations of the committee relate to important aspects of human behavior and sexuality at formative ages for children and adolescents, parents need to look at the psychological and social messages they might be conveying by choosing to vaccinate their children against HPV. Beyond all the medical considerations, parents also have a duty to innoculate their children against harmful and immoral behaviors. Thus, decisions about vaccinations ultimately need to be made on a case-by-case basis within a particular family.

Parents are often rightly concerned that getting their kids vaccinated for a sexually-transmitted virus could be taken to signal tacit approval of pre-marital sex. Young people might surmise that their parents and physicians do not believe they can remain chaste, but instead begrudgingly expect them to become sexually active prior to marriage.

The widespread phenomenon of condom distribution among youth certainly conveys the same message, and young people today are not fools; they perceive how the culture around them has caved in on this question, no longer insisting, or even believing, that they have the wherewithal to refrain from pre-marital sex. Girls and boys are no longer treated as free individuals who can make higher and better choices when encouraged and supported, but instead are treated as mere creatures of sexual necessity.

I recall one time speaking with a middle-aged woman about the CDC vaccination recommendations. “When I was a girl, if my mom had taken me to get vaccinated for a sexually transmitted disease, I would have been horrified,” she said. “I would have wondered to myself, ‘What does she suppose I am, a tramp or something?’”

Parents do need to be careful about conveying a sense of fatalism when it comes to questions of the sexual behavior of their kids. Against the backdrop of a highly permissive culture, parents, who are the first educators of their children in sexual matters, are right to be concerned about sending conflicting messages.
Pursuing universal vaccination for sexually transmitted diseases like HPV could have the unintended effect of setting up a false sense of security, a kind of mental “safety net,” for boys and girls who are potentially sexually active. In the hormonally-charged environment of adolescence, young people might come to believe that the risks of premarital sex would be reduced by the vaccination, to the point that they would be "protected" and could risk promiscuous behaviors, when in fact, they would be increasing their odds of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) of any kind.

To consider an example where using the HPV vaccine might be sensible, we could consider a young woman who had been chaste all her life but who was preparing to marry a man whom she suspected had been sexually active (and might therefore expose her to HPV in their marriage). She could decide, prior to marriage, that receiving the HPV vaccination would be reasonable, and even without any suspicions about her future spouse’s past behavior, she might still prefer to leave nothing to chance.

Evaluating the potential risks and benefits of vaccinating boys or young men would similarly indicate various situations where the HPV vaccination would be reasonable. Also, at younger ages, children may not need to know the exact purposes behind a vaccination. They could simply be told by their parents (if they even asked) that the vaccine would protect them against possible cancers in the future.

Parents themselves, however, might still have doubts about the safety of the HPV vaccine, given that its side effects and complications are still being actively debated and studied. They might still have questions about its long-term benefits since it affords only a 5 year window of protection, and has only been surmised, but never scientifically demonstrated, to prevent cancer at a timepoint far in the future.

In sum, many factors need to be considered. Rather than a universal mandate, a careful, case-by-case risk/benefit analysis ought to be made by each family to determine whether the HPV vaccine is a reasonable choice, not only medically, but also in terms of where a young person may be in his or her life as a “moral agent.”

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. See

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Never Settle

What does all this business about love come down to for you? Simply this: never settle for less than the spiritual and moral grandeur which, by grace, can be yours. They are your baptismal birthright as a Christian.
     You will fail. You will stumble on the ladder of love, and you will fall. That's no reason to lower the bar of expectation. That's a reason to get up, dust yourself off, seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and try again. If you settle for anything less than the greatness for which you were made - the greatness that became your destiny at baptism - you're cheating yourself. If you settle for anything less than the greatness that has been made possible for you by Christ, you're ignoring the twitch of the divine weaver on the thread of your life. Let His grace lift you up to where, in your heart of hearts, you want to be.
-George Weigel

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A messenger

Kibeho with Immaculee"It’s the greatest story never told: that of a boy who met Jesus and dared to ask Him all the questions that have consumed mankind since the dawn of time.
His name was Segatashya. He was a shepherd born into a penniless and illiterate pagan family in the most remote region of Rwanda. He never attended school, never saw a bible, and never set foot in a church.
Then one summer day in 1982 while the 15-year-old was resting beneath a shade tree, Jesus Christ paid him a visit. Jesus asked the startled young man if he’d be willing to go on a mission to remind mankind how to live a life that leads to heaven. Segatashya accepted the assignment on one condition: that Jesus answer all his questions—and all the questions of those he met on his travels—about faith, religion, the purpose of life, and the nature of heaven and hell. Jesus agreed to the boy’s terms, and Segatashya set off on what would become one of the most miraculous journeys in modern history.
Although he was often accused of being a charlatan and beaten as a result, Segatashya’s innocent heart and powerful spiritual wisdom quickly won over even the most cynical of critics. Soon, this teenage boy who had never learned to read or write was discussing theology with leading biblical scholars and advising pastors and priests of all denominations.
He became so famous in Rwanda that the Catholic Church investigated his story. The doctors and psychiatrists who examined Segatashya all agreed that they were witnessing a miracle. His words and simple truths converted thousands of hearts and souls wherever he went.
Before his death during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Segatashya continued his travels and conversations with Jesus for eight years, asking Him what we all want to know: Why were we created? Why must we suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people? When will the world end? Is there life after death? How do we get to Heaven?
The answers to these and many other momentous, life-changing questions are revealed in this riveting book, which is the first full account of Segatashya’s remarkable life story. Written with grace, passion, and loving humor by ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza, Segatashya’s close friend and a survivor of the Rwandan holocaust herself, this truly inspirational work is certain to move you in profound ways.
No matter what your faith or religious beliefs, Segatashya’s words will bring you comfort and joy, and prepare your heart for this life . . . and for life everlasting."

The Boy Who Met Jesus: Segatashya of Kibeho - SIGNED!