meatless - Related Content

Spaghetti with Zucchini from Nerano

Monday, July 24th 2023 6:00 am


About 2 C mild vegetable oil (sunflower and or olive oil can be used)

8-10 small zucchini  (about 3# by my kitchen scale)

1 ½ C torn, fresh basil

Sea salt to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound spaghetti

2-3 C grated parmesan cheese


Put the oil in a large pot (like a Dutch oven) and bring to almost boiling over medium high heat.

Slice the zucchini into thin rounds (1/4” or less).  Fry in the hot oil until it is golden brown.  Remove and set aside on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with torn basil and sea salt.  This can be done in batches.  See option to deep frying below.

Transfer zucchini mixture to a bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil, if needed, to prevent them from clumping together.

Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente.  (About 2 minutes before recommended cooking time.)  Strain, reserving about 2 C of the pasta cooking water.

Place the cooked pasta in a large pot over low heat along with the zucchini mixture and gently combine.  Add the pasta water, a little at a time, to create a cream texture.  You may not need all 2 C of the water. 

Add the cheese to the mixture  a little at a time and continue to combine by stirring gently and tossing.

When the mixture has a slight creaminess, remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Option to deep frying: Put zucchini rounds in a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil.  Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in a 360 degree oven until browned.  Watch closely and turn them to avoid burning.  You can also put the sheet under the broiler at the end of cooking to produce browning.

Note:  The zucchini mixture can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days.  It can also be used in a frittata, as a side dish or in a cheese sandwich.  You’ll also see this recipe using shredded Provolone cheese, garlic, or butter, but this one comes from Stanley Tucci, author of “Taste”.  He swears version of "Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano" is the only authentic one!  Sounds like a proud Italian!

You can also add zucchini to pasta salad, hot pasta dishes, as a side, in veggie kebabs, eggs, soups like Minestrone, to replace lasagna noodles, grilled and in baked goods like cookies and quick breads. See a few more “Seasoned Franciscan zucchini posts: “Zucchini Waffles and “Zucchini Brownies” 8/12/22, “Summer Squash and Onions” 8/22/22.

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Story:   After a short out of town trip, we came home to a monster garden zucchini (which we'll use in waffles) and several small ones.  We used then in “Pasta with Zucchini from Navaro” (a small town on the Italian Amalfi coast).  It’s a yummy favorite of Stanley Tucci, who admits his life revolves around food!

Besides the recipes, what interested me in his memoir “Taste: My Life Through Food” was his Italian American upbringing and his love for all things tasty, including cocktails.  Ironically, he survived mouth cancer and, gratefully, regained his ability to eat and taste solid food after the challenges of treatment. 



Cheesy Zucchini Towers and Zucchini Lasagna

Monday, July 31st 2023 6:00 am

Cheesy Zucchini Towers


1 large zucchini

1 C shaved or grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika (optional)

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 420 degrees.

Wash and thinly slice zucchini using a sharp knife or mandolin. Sprinkle with salt, paprika, ½ cup parmesan cheese and 1 tsp olive oil. Mix well.

Then, lightly coat a muffin tin with olive oil and stack your zucchini slices on top of one another in each tin (about 8 in each).

Top with the remaining grated parmesan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy as a side dish, an appetizer or a quick snack.


Zucchini Lasagna


4-5 medium-large zucchini, sliced thin (1/8-inch cuts)

1/2 C parmesan cheese          

3 C shredded mozzarella

3 C tomato sauce

2 tsp fresh oregano          3 T fresh basil

Ricotta Filling Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 C ricotta cheese (drained of liquids)

1/4 C parmesan cheese


pinch of salt            

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 c fresh basil, chopped (for dried basil use 2 T)


Preheat oven to 375F.  

Salt & pre-bake zucchini noodles: arrange zucchini slices on sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with course sea salt – let sit for 5-10 minutes so zucchini "sweats" any excess moisture. Use paper towels to press and dry zucchini noodles. Then bake noodles for 8-10 minutes – pat them dry when finished baking. Note: pre-baking the zucchini will help dry up even more moisture from the noodles.

Ricotta filling: in a medium-sized bowl, mix all of ricotta filling ingredients together.

Layer ingredients: In a 13×9 baking dish, layer lasagna: spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish, add layer of cooked zucchini noodles, thin layer of ricotta filling, and mozzarella cheese & little parmesan, and generous sprinkle of freshly cut oregano & basil. Repeat each step until finished. On top layer with sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. 

Leave dish uncovered and bake for 30-40 minutes.  For a browned top, broil on HIGH for 1 to 2 minutes until to your liking.  Top with chopped fresh basil. Slice and enjoy! 

You can make two pans, and freeze one for another day.  Thaw overnight and bake in a 375 degree oven until center is warmed through, about 20 minutes.


To cut the zucchini: If you are experienced with a chef’s knife and feel comfortable, you can slice the zucchini noodles with a sharp knife. Remove the top and bottom stems of the zucchini, stand upright and carefully slice from top to bottom into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Be very careful doing this step.  A mandolin is a great option to get precise vegetables cut without using a chef knife.  Some folks simply cut it in thin rounds and proceed!  It also works to prepare the cheese mixture and/or the zucchini ahead of time and refrigerate.  Wrap zucchini slices in the parchment, wiping off moisture as you go and cover.  Put the dish together the next day.

You can beef up this recipe by adding cooked ground meat or sausage to the sauce.  To make this or any lasagna for vegans, use vegan mozzarella and substitute crumbled firm tofu for the ricotta.  Don't skimp on herbs and add a small "glug" of olive oil to give it that dairy fat mouth feel! 

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Have you ever seen your neighbor coming by with an armful of green torpedo – shaped produce?  Don’t run and hide!  Having an abundance is a challenge and not everyone likes to spend hours in the kitchen.  Which gets me thinking.  We all can't be like our ancestors who thrived on those kinds of garden and kitchen tasks.  If we are honest, many of them had little choice and had varying degrees of success at making the best of it.  Today, we have the privilege of choosing to make things from scratch or finding healthy short-cuts.  What am I good at?  What new experiences will stretch me?  Where do I choose to invest my time and creative energy?  What is my attitude toward the things I do?  towards the food I prepare or simply eat?  One can complain about unavoidable meal chores, tolerate them while wishing we were doing something else, or choose to celebrate that even if I don't like food prep and all that goes into it, I am feeding and caring for my own body and for those I love.  It's an act of loving service and of doing "what is mine to do." 

Salmon Pie

Monday, January 23rd 2023 6:00 am

7 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 C chopped scallions
8 oz crumbled feta, mozzarella or jack cheese
1 - 7 oz can flaked salmon or tuna (use 2 cans for more salmon goodness)
1/2 tsp dill weed
1 unbaked pastry shell (9-inch deep dish: see below for crustless variation)
1/2 C milk
4 eggs


  1. Mix spinach, scallions, cheese, fish and dill. Turn into the pie shell.
  2. Beat together eggs and milk. Pour over the spinach mixture. 
  3. Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the tip of the knife comes out clean.


  • Serve with lemon or a simple dill sauce (as pictured above).
  • Vegetables like shredded zucchini, blanched kale or leftover carrots can substitute for spinach.
  • This New England Salmon Pie includes mashed potatoes and a top crust!
  • This Crustless Salmon "Impossible" Pie omits the pastry shell, incorporating Bisquick-type baking mix from your pantry.  

Salmon is found all over the northern oceans including Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavia. When I think of salmon, I remember the fresh Coho salmon that thrived near the south shore of Lake Superior and in the Black River. Our dear neighbor Bob would often gift our family with fresh salmon after a successful outing on the big Lake. This was usually to thank my Grandfather for skillfully filleting Bob's catch. To this day, salmon is my favorite fish: fresh, smoked or canned. As you can read below, sourcing healthy ocean and freshwater fish of all kinds is not as simple as it used to be!

Salmon Facts:
Some canned salmon includes skin, spine and smaller bones. You can remove all of that. Or remove the dark skin for aesthetic reasons and thoroughly mash the soft bones with a fork, adding nutrients to the finished dish. It’s the cook’s choice.

According to nutritionists, high-protein salmon is one of the best-canned foods to keep in your pantry. It’s versatile, resists spoiling and is relatively economical, especially if you look for healthy, quality brands. This is true of other canned fish: tuna, sardines and mackerel.

Canned salmon is an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats and other nutrients such as calcium. A USDA study found higher levels of two omega-3 in canned pink and red salmon than in fresh.

When shopping for canned salmon, consider the source. If a can of salmon is labeled Alaskan pink or sockeye salmon, it contains Wild Alaska Salmon. According to Consumer Reports, wild salmon contains less mercury than most farmed, is safer when it comes to pesticides and is less likely to contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Alaska’s salmon fisheries are well-managed making the fish healthier with high omega-3 content and few contaminants. They are more sustainable than just about any other salmon fishery.

Sadly, most other farmed salmon (and all salmon labeled “Atlantic salmon”) are raised in tightly packed, open-net pens often rife with parasites and diseases that threaten the wild salmon trying to swim by to their ancestral spawning waters. Farmed salmon are fed fish meal, given antibiotics to combat diseases and have levels of PCBs high enough to rate a health advisory from EDF.

On a hopeful note, fresh-water farmed coho salmon have earned the Best Choice status from Seafood Watch. Consumer pressure may encourage more farms to adopt better practices.

On a Food Sovereignty Note:
In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer, indigenous botanist, teacher and poet, describes the effort to remove dams on rivers in the Pacific Northwest. This returns rivers with outlets to the ocean to habitat for salmon. Native peoples have long fished these fertile tributaries to take only what they could use of brother salmon. It is good news for sustainability and for indigenous food sovereignty.

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Easy Corn, Beans and Salsa Main Dish

Monday, August 29th 2022 6:00 am

Easy Corn, Beans and Salsa Main Dish

2 C fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels, thawed in a bowl of hot water
2 C or 1  16 oz jar salsa
1 can or (2 C homemade) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 T corn oil or your preferred salad oil
1 T lime juice or vinegar of your choice. (The tang of red wine vinegar is good!)
1 package of Taco seasoning OR
   - 1 tsp ground cumin
   - 1/2 tsp chili powder
   - 1/2 tsp garlic powder
   - 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
3 T chopped fresh cilantro, optional
1 sliced avocado on the side, optional
4 C cooked brown or white rice (or cooked grain of your choice) cooked according to package directions (see note below)


  1. Combine thawed corn, salsa, drained beans in a large bowl
  2. Add spices and acid.  Stir, tasting for salt or other spices
  3. For a cold salad, mix with the cooled grain
  4. For a hot meal, heat in a skillet and serve over your warm grain. Add lime juice or vinegar as you prefer

A rice cooker is a great investment! You can cook a full batch and put the remainder in freezer bags to freeze for quick recipes like this. Couscous and quinoa also cook quickly. Cooked bulger works well in this recipe. Find them in the rice or pasta or natural foods aisle. Bulger lends itself to freezing. Use the other half in bread dough or in Greek salad like Tabouli when cukes, tomatoes and parsley are in season.

Commercially frozen vegetables are typically processed within hours of harvest which preserves their nutritional value. For me, fresh flavor is a great reason to eat seasonally. Local fresh sweet corn is tastier and juicier than frozen or any shipped in from a distance. So, how do we “put up” fresh sweet corn? Don’t let the following 10 step process overwhelm you. Remember, you can thaw a bag of corn in hot water and have sweetness of summer for chowder, salads, salsa, loaded muffins and cornbread for months!

For a complete guide to blanching vegetables, see the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

If you would like to be notified when we share new recipes, be sure to scroll to the bottom, provide your email address, check the box confirming you are not a robot, click on a few photos to prove it and click subscribe! You will then receive an email after each new post. Remember, we're always looking for new recipes, and food stories so keep sending them to!

Hmong Egg Rolls

Monday, March 13th 2023 6:00 am

1/2 bag of Vermicelli Glass Noodles (found in Asian section of store)
1 package egg roll wrappers
1/4 C oyster sauce or soy sauce for a milder flavor
1/8 tsp hot sauce (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 head cabbage
3-4 carrots, cut in match-sticks
1/2 bundle of cilantro (optional)
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 bag of bean sprouts
Cooking oil (up to 1 qt, if deep frying) *See below for how to bake rather than deep fry.
1 egg yolk, whisked smooth in a small bowl


  1. Thaw egg roll wrappers at room temperature, NOT in the microwave.
  2. Soak noodles in hot water for 15-30 minutes. Drain off water in a colander and cut noodles in half using scissors.
  3. Heat cooking oil to 325 degrees in a large Dutch oven or frying pan (if deep frying).
  4. Shred cabbage thinly, chop onions and cilantro and mix well with noodles, carrots and other ingredients.
  5. See the diagram below for illustration on how to wrap egg rolls.  Kids love to help!
  6. Place 1 egg roll wrapper (corner facing you) on the counter in front of you (keep others covered with a damp cloth).
  7. Place 1/4-1/2 C of filling diagonally in the center of the wrapper.
  8. Fold the corner (facing you) up over the filling. Fold in both sides.
  9. Moisten the edges of the last flap with egg yolk and roll over until the flap is completely wound around the egg roll.
  10. When all egg rolls are “rolled,” put several in a frying pan, leaving room between each egg roll.
  11. Turn egg rolls over when golden brown (fry for about 3 minutes on each side).
  12. Drain on a paper towel-lined cooking sheet. Keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining egg rol


  • For extra protein in the recipe above, add 10 oz package of firm or extra firm tofu, with moisture squeezed out.
  • Egg roll filling can also include meat,  Cook and drain about 1/2 # of ground pork or beef for the recipe above.
  • To bake rather than deep fry egg rolls, preheat oven to 400. Place a pan 1/2 filled with water on the bottom rack. Bake on a parchment or foil-lined, greased baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning rolls halfway through until golden brown.
  • Serve with rice, soy sauce and any sauce of your choice as an appetizer or a meal.

Who doesn’t like egg rolls? They are a celebration food!   When the Hmong Community Center has an egg roll sale in La Crosse there is often a line out the door! Yee Xiong, virtual worker at St. Rose Convent, used to make this recipe on special occasions at the Villa to entice Sisters and staff to the Terrace for an event!  She will tell you that they are served at important family occasions in Hmong culture. Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean cuisines have their own version. Needless to say, they are made with love and care, often by a big kitchen team!

Foods like egg rolls carry stories, memories and culture from one generation to the next. Most ethnicities have some kind of hand-held fried, baked or steamed food with a special filling: Italian rice balls, Polish pierogi, Mexican empanadas and tamales, to name a few. What ethnic dishes convey your cultural identity, meatless or not? Share one or just its name and we’ll do some research!

To learn more about Hmong culture, see the website of a popular La Crosse Restaurant, Hmong Golden Egg Rolls, pictured above. Also, see the La Crosse Public Library website. Their main campus has displays of Hmong clothing, Hmong terature and more.

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Iggy's Tortellini

Wednesday, August 17th 2022 3:37 pm

Iggy's Tortellini

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, cut into slices or strips
2 portabella mushroom heads, washed and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound cheese-filled tortellini
2 jars alfredo sauce
1 pound of fresh baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
Grated parmesan cheese to taste


  1. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan, on medium-low heat. Add onion, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Let them cook on low to medium-low heat.
  2. In a separate pot, cook tortellini as instructed. For me, this means bringing water to a boil, adding my tortellini, and cooking for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain tortellini once it's done cooking and set aside.
  3. Add garlic to onion mixture, bringing heat up to medium. Let cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring.
  4. Add alfredo sauce, thyme, and baby spinach to onion mixture. Stir until baby spinach starts to wilt.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in tortellini. Serve hot with grated parmesan on top.


  • This recipe is adaptable in many ways. Add whatever vegetables you'd like to the onion mixture. I like to add broccoli if I've got it.
  • If you like asparagus, add that when you would add the baby spinach.
  • My family prefers a lot of garlic, so I frequently use a head or more in this recipe. Use more or less as you prefer.

This meal is a favorite in my household, and it comes together quickly. It’s requested often enough that I just keep tortellini in my fridge, and it's always a relief to me as far as cooking since the hardest part is chopping an onion and always brings a smile to my fiance's face when we're eating. Here’s hoping our daughter likes it as much as we do when she’s old enough to eat solid foods!

P.S. I didn't have a picture of this "Dinner at Iggy's House," so I've sent one of my favorite flowers instead. I think morning glories are beautiful, but be careful to keep them contained if you plant them!

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Sister Sarah's Unbelievable 3-ingredient Vegan Chocolate Pie

Friday, August 19th 2022 12:31 pm

Sister Sarah's Unbelievable 3-ingredient Vegan Chocolate Pie

1 12-ounce bag of vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1 14-ounce block of silken tofu, drained (see more about Tofu below)
1 vegan graham cracker pie crust


  1. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips for 45 seconds. Mix with a fork until smooth. (If the chocolate is still lumpy, microwave for 20-second intervals, mixing in between, until the chocolate is completely smooth.)
  2. In a blender or food processor/blender, blend the melted chocolate and tofu, until creamy.
  3. Pour the tofu-chocolate mixture into the pie crust and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the filling solidifies. The pie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  4. Top it with whatever you like..bananas, coconut, nuts, a pinch of sea salt, a little red pepper...or eat it in its delicious simplicity.

Some folks add a little vanilla to the mixture.

This recipe was submitted by Sister Eileen McKenzie, who says: "Sr. Sarah Hennessey introduced me to this amazingly delicious and unbelievably simple chocolate pie recipe. Enjoy!"

I'm always ready for chocolate, and it's even better when I find something easy to make! I hope we all enjoy this recipe; just reading it is making my mouth water for a yummy, creamy cool chocolate pie. It sounds perfect for these dog days of summer!

More about Tofu: Tofu is made from soybeans. The beans are cooked and the remaining liquid (soymilk) is coagulated. The resulting curds are pressed into solid white blocks of varying softness; it can be silken, soft, firm, extra firm or super firm.

Silken tofu is tender and prized for its smooth texture. It’s made with a coagulant which produces a jelly-like texture. In contrast to the traditional style of tofu, also known as “regular” tofu, “block” tofu, or “brick tofu”, silken tofu does not have holes visible to the naked eye. is a common egg substitute for vegan baking recipes. Because precise measurements are more important in baking than in cooking, excess water can negatively affect your baking recipe.

To drain Tofu: Place your silken tofu on a plate and let it sit for a few minutes. The tofu will weep. Once the excess liquid pools on the plate, you can easily pour out the water.

If you would like to be notified when we share new recipes, be sure to scroll to the bottom, provide your email address, check the box confirming you are not a robot, click on a few photos to prove it and click subscribe!  You will then receive an email after each new post.  Remember, we're always looking for new recipes,  and food stories so keep sending them to!

Canned Fish for Light Meals and Snacks

Monday, March 27th 2023 6:00 am

This post is not typical, but a list of ways to use canned fish other than tuna and salmon for a healthy, quick, meatless snack or meal! Canned fish may already be a pantry staple for you or a new adventure to try! Read on for some "fishy" facts you may find interesting for Lent and all year round!

Canned fish like sardines, herring, anchovies, tuna and salmon are already cooked and packed in water, oil, even tomato sauce!
Fried Sardines: Fry canned sardines in butter or oil on both sides. Carefully remove the upper half of the fish to eat. Remove the bones and spine and eat the other half as a snack, on a cracker or in a sandwich with avocado or your favorite sandwich veggies. Like canned salmon, the small bones are not harmful to eat and contain calcium.
Sardine or Anchovy Salad: Place a couple of sardines or anchovies on a green salad for healthy protein. Pureed anchovies can also be bought in a tube and used in authentic Caesar Salad Dressing or to add a meaty "umami" flavor to a meatless dish.
Canned Herring (grown-up sardines) often have bones removed and can be eaten right out of the can (tin, in Britain). Serve on crackers with cream cheese, sliced carrots, diced onions. Both canned herring and sardines are good on toasted bread and topped with any of the following: chopped olives, sliced peppers, chopped chili or green onions, a splash of vinegar or lemon juice and some oil or sauce from the can.
Pickled Herring is a popular appetizer or snack with Scandinavian and European folks who lived along the Northern waters where the fish was abundant.
Pizza Sardelle: Top a regular pizza with several rinsed canned sardines. Add a complimentary vegetable topping like red onions, olives or roasted peppers.
Sardine Pasta: A box of spaghetti, can of diced tomatoes or sauce and 2 4oz cans of sardines are the beginning of a new taste in pasta. Amp up the flavor with a splash of lemon juice, dried chili flakes, salt, garlic, a few capers or anchovies for a quick supper.

More tinned fish appetizer ideas can be found for a new trend called the Spring "Sea" cuterie Board on the website of dietitian Jenny Shea Rawn.

When we think of Lenten abstinence and meatless meals, fish may remind you of a favorite fish restaurant, Friday Fish Fry, Church fundraisers, or a tuna hot dish. A partner in mission recently suggested that Seasoned Franciscan feature meatless recipes with sardines. Some research led to some simple recipes and some "fishy" facts about canned fish and fish, in general.

  • Fish are economically, socially, & ecologically important across the globe. They figure in many of the world's major religions as part of a religious fast from meat. More about fasts below!
  • Sardines and Herring are not often found fresh in U.S. markets, but are available (near canned tuna and salmon) canned in oil, sometimes smoked and fileted.
  • Sardines, mackerel, and herring all have slightly different tastes. Sardines and herring are more assertive, while mackerel is milder and buttery, but they can all be used in similar ways.
  • Sardines, once plentiful in the Mediterranean off the coast of Sardinia are literally "small fish." When they grow larger, they are known as herring. They both have a mild, salty fish flavor. Some people find the smell to be strong for their taste.
  • Herring (and sardines) contain more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon or tuna. Our bodies can't make these fats, so they must be sourced from foods such as fatty fish, grains, ground flax seed, walnuts, navy beans. Herring contains less mercury than other omega-3-rich fish like some tuna, king mackerel, swordfish and halibut.
  • A kipper is herring that is split in half, salted, and usually smoked. Other fish and meat that are split in half are also considered "kippered". Kipper/Herring is popular in the UK and Europe.
  • Atlantic herring is one of the most common fishes of the Gulf of Maine. Atlantic herring are schooling, filter-feeding fish eaten by a variety of marine mammals, sea birds and fish.
  • Sardines and anchovies are often confused with each other. Anchovies are slightly smaller in size and have dark, reddish-grey flesh. Sardines are larger with white flesh. Anchovies are more often salt-cured, which gives them a more pungent, fishier flavor.
  • Cod is another common fish from the North Atlantic. The Vikings were good at preserving cod with salt, smoke or lye (some Scandinavians enjoy lutefisk). Dried and salted cod was a form of "fish jerky" taken on long ocean passages. The route the Vikings took at the end of the first millennium — Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland — matches up with the natural range of the Atlantic cod and led them to reach the North American continent. Even Culver's serves North Atlantic Cod and Walleye sandwiches that appeal to Midwesterners!

Fasting and Fish:

  • Jesus died on a Friday. As early as the 1st century, people have written of fasting on Friday to recall Jesus' self-giving love.
  • Even though fish is animal flesh, it has been acceptable for religious fasting purposes as a "meatless" protein. The reasons are varied and often bizarre, even "fishy." For example, "Fish are not warm-blooded and so don't bleed when slaughtered." "God did not condemn the waters after Adam's fall, so fish are a sign of God's mercy." "The Pope's brother was a fisherman." It's more likely that meat was a celebration food and more accessible to people of means. Fish was accessible to those less privileged. So, as promoted by the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl, during a fast we eat less, in general, and opt for more simple recipes in solidarity with people of simple means.
  • Catholics, in days past, were are obliged to refrain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays in Lent and all during the year. It served as a witness, as part of Catholic identity and to strengthen the practices of penance and prayer.
  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decided in 1966, to allow Catholics to eat meat on Fridays outside of Lent if they perform a different act of penance in its place. Was relying on the faithful to do this on their own unrealistic? What does "penance" mean to people of faith today?
  • In 1962, a few years before the Vatican relaxed the rules, Lou Groen, an enterprising McDonald's franchise owner in a largely Catholic part of Cincinnati, found himself struggling to sell burgers on Fridays reported, Smithsonian Magazine. His solution? The Filet-O-Fish Sandwich.
  • My favorite "fish" fact: In 2011, the Bishops' Conferences of England and Wales re-introduced the spiritual practice of meatless Fridays all throughout the year. In November of 2022, they again urged all Catholics to "refresh" their Friday meat abstinence, in part, as a way to recognize "the environmental impact of meat production" and the harm it is having on "God's creation." Read more in a 12/22/22 article in "Civil Eats", a newsletter about health, the environment, farming and food policy.

Fish Fry Traditions:

  • Travel Wisconsin reports that German and Polish Catholic immigrants settled in Milwaukee in the 1860s and began the tradition of the Friday fish fry. During Lent, they didn't eat meat on Fridays, instead eating the fish they caught in Lake Michigan, especially perch and other panfish. Taverns picked up the tradition as did churches to raise money.
  • The tradition of fish fry has deep roots in black communities. During the era of slavery. "The work schedule on the plantation would slow down by noon on Saturday, so enslaved people had the rest of that day to do what they wanted," writes food historian and "soul food" scholar Adrian E. Miller. "Those who finished work early could go fishing and bring back their catch to be fried that night; Plantation owners didn't mind because it was one less meal they had to provide." So the fish fry started as a Saturday-night thing on plantations. After Emancipation, the tradition became a business for some African-Americans, who brought inexpensive fish fries with them (along with BBQ and fried chicken) as they migrated from the South.
  • As black families moved to cities, the fish fry tradition moved to Friday nights, possibly influenced by Catholics. "Fish markets would have sales those nights", Miller explains, "so it was cheaper to fund a Friday fish fry business or church fundraiser."
  • He continues, "The fish fry is not unique to the black community: Any group living near a body of water or an ocean would fry or grill fish." You can learn a lot about culture through stories of food.

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Easy Homemade Salsa and How to Can It

Friday, September 2nd 2022 6:00 am

Easy Homemade Salsa

Note the amounts listed for 2 pints to eat right away or 8 pints to can for later. Seven jars fill a typical canner!

Ingredients:                                        2 pints               8 pints
Fresh tomatoes, peeled                       2 C                     8 C
Diced onion                                         1 medium           4 medium
Finely minced garlic                             2 cloves             8 cloves
Green Pepper, diced                            1                        4
Diced green chilis                                 4 oz can            4 - 4 oz cans
OR diced Jalapeno Peppers                2                        8
Chili powder                                         1/4 tsp               1 tsp
Wine vinegar                                        1 T                     1/4 C  (4 T)
Salt                                                       1/4 tsp               1 tsp
Tabasco sauce OR dried chili flakes    1/8 tsp               1/2 tsp


  1. Wash tomatoes and green peppers in cold running water.
  2. To peel tomatoes, fill a large pan with water and bring to a boil. Gently lower fresh tomatoes into the water and boil for about 4 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put cold water in your sink or into a large bowl. Gently lift tomatoes out of boiling water and place them in the cold water to stop the cooking.
  4. Add ice cubes, as necessary to cool the tomatoes. Briefly strain the cool tomatoes and place in a clean bowl.
  5. Use a paring knife to core them and remove the peels. Chop or break into smaller pieces.
  6. Mix tomatoes and other ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Put in a blender if a smoother mixture is desired.  Bring to room temperature before canning.

This recipe from a friend Karen Imholte is great with chips, as a base for chili with beans, or in Mexican dishes.  Canning it gives you “summer in a jar” all year long!  Heat the salsa before putting in hot jars for water bath canning. More info below.

We once bought a house with a large basement lined with wooden shelves against one wall. Labels still designated places for jars of peaches, tomatoes, beans, sauerkraut, relish and more. It brought memories of my NaNa’s basement! If you have memories of canning, or a recipe, share it with The Seasoned Franciscan. Here’s a tune called “Canned Goods” from Greg Brown to spark some memories.

Learn to Can tomato products and other seasonal vegetables and fruits from experts at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. They get credit for this post’s photo, too. Use good ingredients, the right tools and food safety facts. Work with a trusted cookbook or the NCFHC. It also calls for a communal effort. Call a friend or your Grandma!

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Easy Vegetable Frittata

Monday, March 6th 2023 6:00 am

Makes 6 servings

10 large eggs
5 T heavy cream, half-and-half or whole milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 C (4 ounces) shredded cheese, like cheddar or Fontina
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 C vegetables total
*Choose 2 or 3, such as onion, mushrooms, diced peppers, zucchini, small cooked broccoli florets, potatoes or carrots. May be raw, fresh or cooked leftovers.
1 1/2 C packed baby spinach (optional)
*If using frozen veggies, thaw and squeeze the moisture out.
Chopped or torn fresh herbs like parsley, chives or dill (optional).


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with cream, 1/2 tsp of the salt, pepper and cheese.
  3. Heat olive oil in an oven-safe 10-inch skillet on medium high heat. (Non-stick or a well-seasoned cast iron pan are best).
  4. Add vegetables (except spinach). Cook, stirring every once in a while until the they are soft and have a little bit of color; about 5 minutes.
  5. Season with 1/4 tsp of salt, then add the spinach. Toss the spinach around the pan until it’s slightly wilted and bright green.
  6. Whisk egg mixture once more, then pour into the skillet. Move the pan back and forth to distribute the egg around the vegetables. Stir and cook until edges start to pull away from the pan, 5-7 minutes.
  7. Slide the skillet into the preheated oven. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the eggs are barely set and the frittata trembles — like jello — when you give the pan a gentle shake. Keep an eye on it as it bakes and check the frittata a few minutes before it’s supposed to be done.
  8. Serve hot or cold with fresh herbs on top.

Frittata is good for breakfast, lunch or dinner and a great way to use whatever veggies you have on hand or leftover pasta. It’s easier than quiche, but may take practice to get it set how you like it!

My Italian heritage is the source of this family favorite. My grandmother made it completely on the stovetop, using a big Rubbermaid spatula to slowly ease cooked eggs to the center without scrambling them. She could flip the whole thing in the pan, to get both sides cooked perfectly. This was not genius, just experience! (She’d been learning to cook since she was eight!) Does she sound like a grandma or great-grandma in your ancestry? What meatless dishes come to you from your food heritage? We’ll be sharing some this Lent!

About the price of eggs:
Eggs have long been an economical source of protein and remain so, even in with the prices we’ve seen in the last year. “The average price of a dozen eggs goes up and up and that’s for the cheapest kinds” says Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics.  Egg prices now may show signs of coming down.  As of February 24, 2023 the average price was $2.45 a dozen

Reasons for high egg prices are listed by the New York Times as follows, according to Nestle, dietician, author and public health and food systems expert:

  • Inflation
  • The war in Ukraine
  • Higher feed costs
  • Higher energy costs (those hens have to be kept warm)
  • Avian flu (44 million hens died or were killed)
  • Higher-than-normal demand
  • “It could get worse.” Nestle continues. “Avian flu infects animals as well as birds and could infect us. How’s that for a cheery thought? Small egg farms, anyone?”

Seriously, do any of you get eggs from a local organic free-range egg farmer? It makes sense for the animals, our environment, the local economy and the taste!

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Red Lentil Tacos

Monday, April 3rd 2023 6:00 am

2 C red lentils, rinsed and debris removed
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes (omit for less spice)
1 tsp salt


  1. Add 3 cups of water to a medium pot.
  2. Stir in the lentils and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 8-9 minutes.
  3. When the lentils are tender, drain.
  4. Gently mix the spices into the lentils.
  5. Serve with your favorite taco fixings! Enjoy!

Spiced with delicious taco seasonings, these lentil tacos are a healthier alternative to ground meat, made with only a few simple ingredients. Whip them up in just 20 minutes! The recipe can be adapted as a gluten-free or vegan entrée. Lentils, native to Greece and the Middle East, are from the pulse or legume family and are part of almost all cuisines.

Lentils are the easiest legume to prepare because they do not need to be soaked in water prior to cooking! A climate change fact: When rotating crops, regenerative farmers often plan lentils and other "pulses" in a fallow row on which animals can graze. Legumes, even green beans, add natural nitrogen fertilizer to the soil.

More Meatless Meal Resources 
Near the end of Lent, several resources have surfaced for those who may wish to continue to limit meat consumption. Carrie Thompson, executive director of the Sustainability Institute and co-creator of the Green Goose Chase, told the La Crosse Tribune (3/28/2023) that for Americans, "the most impactful action individuals can take (to slow climate change) is to eat a plant-rich diet. This doesn't mean never eating meat again, but cutting meat from 1 or 2 meals a week not only has climate benefits, but it benefits your own health and well-being, too." 

The Earthbeats section of NCR (National Catholic Reporter) provides Recipes for an Eco-Friendly Lent. Elizabeth Varga of "At Elizabeth's Table" shares the recipe pictured above along with other plant-based dishes.

2022 Mercy Meatless Mondays resource from the Sisters of Mercy has recipes, information and reflections on food and climate change. The Sisters of Mercy Justice Team encourages the Mercy Community to refrain from eating meat on Mondays, in addition to Fridays in Lent as is a Catholic tradition. Earthbeat also covers the Sisters of Mercy stance on eating with the planet in mind. This is one way to care for Earth, as meat production consumes large amounts of water and energy and produces more greenhouse gasses than a vegetarian diet.

Meatless Mondays is a global secular campaign offering recipes, including kid-friendly foods and info on the connection between food and climate change.

Finally, a 6-minute video called The Diet that Helps Reduce Climate Change by M. Sanjayan, CEO and researcher from Climate International presents an entertaining and fact-filled scientist's view.

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Purple Stuffed Bell Peppers

Sunday, August 6th 2023 6:00 am

4 – 6 purple peppers (or other color), halved lengthwise as on the poles, seeds and membranes removed
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
2 C fresh corn kernels (from 3 large ears of corn)
1 C cooked faro
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 C minced green onion
1 tsp fresh thyme
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper

In a large pot, heat a few inches of water to boiling.  Submerge the prepared peppers and blanch in the boiling water for about 10 minutes.  Remove with a tongs and set upside down on a towel to drain while you prepare the filling.              Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an oven proof dish or pan.
Warm the butter in a skillet on medium heat.  Add the minced garlic and saute briefly.  Add the corn kernels and saute another minute, until almost warmed through and coated with butter.  Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the cooked corn, faro, ricotta, 1/3 C of the Parmesan, gren onions, thyme, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste.  
Stuff the peppers and arrange them in the prepared pan. 
Add ¼ C water to the bottom of the pan and cover tightly with foil.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the peppers are cooked and just beginning to slump. 
Remove the pan and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top of the peppers.  
Broil until the cheese melts and becomes golden brown. 

Variations:  You can use another color pepper, although purple peppers are very mild.  For added protein you might also add to the filling cooked and salted ground meat.  For a vegan version, substitute crumbled firm tofu for the ricotta and vegan parmesan or mozzarella for the Parmesan.  If you don’t have fresh thyme, use about 1/3 tsp of dried thyme or another fresh herb you enjoy.  Personally, I like a bit more herbs and spices than called for in the recipe.  If you don't want to buy faro in bulk, try it out with smaller packages found in the rice aisle of your grocery store.  For the recipe above we used a Cheesy Faro mix by Allessi.

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My daughter planted a variety of peppers in her first garden this year.  They are bountiful and beautiful!  The purple ones, are gorgeous as pictured above by East of Eden Cooking from whom this recipe and the photos come.  She and her husband treated us with this meal recently and it was delicious!  They've already canned hot sauce of varying heat levels and frozen green peppers for future use.  She caught the garden and kitchen bug!  I am grateful and know she will be and do much more than she received from her family.

So many Sisters talk about the values and lifestyles of their parents.  Studying, music, hard work as a family, faith, service and generosity are "caught" more than they are "taught".  Elder Sisters tell stories of the family's love for books and art and their service to others.  A life of dedication to one's one calling allows others to listen to their own.   Seeing adults with strong convictions gives confidence to young people that empowers them to dare to live out their own values and dreams.  From whom did I receive my basic posture towards life?  Are their inherited biases I need to unlearn?  We ask how our own faith in God's goodness and our choices leave a legacy for others to "catch".  


"All the Veggies" Bolognese Sauce - Efforts toward Zero Food Waste

Monday, July 17th 2023 6:00 am


1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion or another allium, diced

3 carrots, diced

About 2 C chopped mushrooms of your choice (or more, you can really use as many as you like)

4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped

2 T tomato paste or ketchup

2 T soy sauce

1/2 C dry red wine

3 C diced vegetables, from broccoli to celery to eggplant

4 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned is fine!) or tomato sauce or a combo

1 C stock, milk, or water

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1 to 2 tsp sugar (optional)


Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and mushrooms and cook, covered, until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and soy sauce into the vegetables and let cook until the mixture starts to darken and caramelize on the bottom of the pan, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and stir them into the vegetables. Let the mixture cook for a minute or two, then add in the remaining vegetables, tomatoes, and stock or water. Season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook for at least 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, or leave it to simmer on the stove (or in a slow cooker) and make your kitchen smell amazing for an hour or more.

Taste again and season with more salt and pepper, and possibly a teaspoon of sugar or two, if you feel the sauce could use a bit more sweetness. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week or in the freezer for a few months.

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Buying seasonal produce is great for nutrition, for farmers and the planet. Without good planning, leftover food often can often be on the verge of going in the trash.  This "All the Veggies" Bolognese-sauce from "fills the kitchen with tantalizing smells AND helps clear the fridge of random produce.   It is pictured above and on their Food Waste Feast website.

Households in the US produce 37% of the food waste in the country.  Other high-income countries add their share.  This is not only financially unsound, but contributes to climate change!  And we can address it!

Project Drawdown is one of the world’s leading resources for climate solutions. They report that “roughly 1/3 of the world’s food is never eaten.  Reducing loss and waste can reduce the need for land and resources used to produce food as well as the greenhouse gases released in the process.”  They continue:  “Shifting diets to eat lower on the food chain and ensuring what’s grown gets eaten is a powerful combination that lowers farming inputs, land clearing and associated emissions.”  It also greatly serves the 10% plus of our brothers and sisters experiencing food insecurity in the US and can alleviate hunger globally.

Take a look at our own kitchens.  Siblings Mei and Irene Li wrote a cookbook subtitled: “A Totally Achievable Approach to Zero Food Waste”.  They were recently interviewed on WPR’s "Food Fridays" and they offer recipes and practical habits for reducing waste and our carbon footprint.

"How you like it Savory Pancakes"is a Li sisters’ recipe for using leftovers similar to our April 24, 2023 post for Japanese Okanomiyaki.  It is based on the Japanese concept of mottainai, an expression of regret that something has been not used to its full potential, loosely translated to “What a waste!”  Sounds like a Franciscan value!

  1. Look up “Hero Recipes” from their book "Perfectly Good Food" that use tasty combinations of leftover fruits, vegetables and other foods in your kitchen.  Find the book in your local library.  (Yes, Winding Rivers in the La Crosse area.)
  2. Check out their website "Food Waste Feast" for more recipes for using up dairy, meats, seafood, eggs, bread and grains, fruit, fresh herbs, beans, veg, etc.
  3. Use good meal planning and shopping skills.  “Failing to plan is planning to …?” 
  4. Practice good pantry habits.  Rotate first purchased or older cooked foods to the front of the shelf (First In, First Out-FIFO) to prevent gems from being lost out of sight until the nose finds them!
  5. Create a “Use ME First” box or front section of your fridge where half a tomato, part of a pear, etc. can more easily be added to a sauce, dressing, stir fry, soup, smoothies, popsicles, egg rolls, slaw or other salad.
  6. Make an effort to “swap” leftovers with a friend or neighbor.
  7. Keep scraps from veggies in a freezer bag and create flavorful stock.
  8. Make your own compost pile or partner with a gardener neighbor.

Small steps are part of the journey, say Li and Mai.  “Zero waste is an idea and an inspiration, not a state of being.  Small mindful changes can make a big difference, and all of it adds up to saving more food, more money, and more landfill space.”

It’s more than joining the “clean your plate” club.  With information and mindful choices, we can make a difference.

Food WASTE is different from Food LOSS:  Food WASTE happens at the end of the food chain and is an issue mostly in wealthy contries.  Food waste is food produced for human consumption but then discarded or not consumed by humans in households, restaurants,  and cafeterias or discarded by retailers.  Cutting global food waste in half by 2030 is one of the UN's top priorities.  The World Food Program USA offers us ways to reduce food WASTE.

Food LOSS happens at the production, post-harvest and processing stages of the food chain.  It is a huge issue in underdeveloped and developing countries.  For example, Africa's small-scale farmers lose up to 40% of all the food they harvest due to severe weather, rats, insects or mold.  Watch how the UN World Food Program helps small farmers (mostly women) reduce food LOSS.  Solutions such as education on drying grains and providing air-tight food storage containers are making a difference!

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