Posted January 29th, 2014 | Recipes, What's On the Table



More Good News


As you’ve probably heard, I’m making the transition to a community of consecrated life called Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.  In previous E-Blasts, I explained that my work as a priest will now be focused on evangelization – that is, trying to reach people “outside” the church walls.

Pilgrims in the Holy Land


So that means I’ll have the opportunity to do even more to help spread the Good News through our Grace Before Meals movement; our Radio Show on Sirius XM 129; our TV show Savoring our Faith on EWTN; and our presentations, pilgrimages, and books.  Here are a few upcoming items to help show you how we’ll use this new responsibility to hopefully address the spiritual “hungers” of God’s people.

The view from the Church of Dominus Flevit – “The Lord Wept” – Holy Land, Jerusalem.

(1)  Our NEW Grace Before Meals BOOK is set to be released February 11, 2014!  It’s called, EPIC FOOD FIGHT: A Bite-Sized History of Salvation.  It outlines a “theology of food” and will help everyone better understand the Eucharist as the Food that leads to Eternal Life.

Click to pre-order your copy!

 (2)  We’re already planning more trips for the fall of 2014, including food and faith trips to New York and Napa Valley.  And we’ll offer even bigger trips to international destinations in 2015.  This most recent foodie pilgrimage to the Holy Land was such a success, so we need to start now to plan another trip (possibly two to the Holy Land) for next year!

Founder and some of the members of chefs for peace, as well as two local restaurant chefs for our final banquet.


(3)   Presentations, Missions, and Cooking Demonstrations.  With this new role and responsibility, we’re now filling up the calendar with requests for presentations, parish missions, and other live appearances to share the Good News of Grace Before Meals.  So this is your time to consider speaking with your priest or organization about bringing our Grace Before Meals message to an area or an event near you.

Click here to request Fr. Leo for your event!

Our letters of recommendations and support from so many different groups show our message is for everyone and that it will change your life for the better!

(4)  We have NEW VIDEOS coming out in Lent with Catholic Relief Services Global Kitchen, to highlight five recipes for the CRS Rice Bowls.  In these webisodes, Grace Before Meals teams up with Catholic Relief services to share messages of hope, faith, and love – all through food!  So stay tuned for these fantastic, simple, and delicious meals to come!

A shot from this year’s production for CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen: For Lent, For Life. Tune in this Lent!


(5)  We also have a special announcement coming out in a few months for people who are gluten intolerant.  However, we can’t give out the specifics just yet.  Let’s just say, this announcement will be very “Good News” for people who struggle with this condition.  It will definitely inspire your faith to hear that when it comes to receiving The Lord in the Eucharist, Grace Before Meals is leading the way so people won’t have to worry about this allergy and disease.  But again, more information will be coming soon!

The Eucharist

Even though we’re only one month into the new year, we hope our efforts will give you much to look forward to in 2014!



  • What big plans do you have for this upcoming year?
  • How can Grace Before Meals be of a positive resource for you?
  • To what country or destination would you like to see Grace Before Meals lead a pilgrimage?
Please post your comments and questions. These mean so much to our Grace Before Meals team and our community of faithful foodies. 

Let us pray:

Father in Heaven, You treat us with love and compassion.  While we can plan all we want in these days and months ahead, we also recognize that You are ultimately in charge.  Our job, therefore, is to plan and work as if everything depends on us, but to pray as if everything depends on You, our Good God.  Help us to be determined, but at the same time flexible.  Conscious of our schedules, but also open to Your Divine Will.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 



Click the picture for the recipe!


Fort Myers, FL
Belleview, FL


Baltimore, MD


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Posted in Recipes, What's On the Table | 9 Comments »

Posted January 22nd, 2014 | Faithful Foodie, Prayers, Recipe


“Nourish Your Faith”

As you read this, a group of Grace Before Meals pilgrims is traveling through the Holy Land on our “Nourish Your Faith” Pilgrimage.  This unique (and first time ever trip) is part of our ongoing effort to connect food and our faith.  And it’s working. 

What pretty food, eh?

Our group is visiting specialty restaurants, picking herbs and spices, getting hands-on experience in making biblical and traditional local foods, and most importantly, working with Chefs for Peace.

Chefs for Peace is an international organization of Christian, Jewish and Muslim chefs who show the world peace is possible, and that food is certainly an important part of the peace process. Perhaps, we should call this “piece” of our trip “peace” meals.

As an apostolate of the church committed to bringing God’s family around the dinner table, Grace Before Meals is increasing opportunities for you to do this around the globe by traveling with me and other faithful foodies.

Spice Market

Consider this blast an invitation for you to express your travel interests for the future.  For example, at a recent auctioned dinner event for a local Catholic School, the dinner guests were very excited to hear about the “Fruit of the Vine & Work of Human Hands,” a Napa Valley trip that I’ll soon be organizing for the fall 2014.

This group of wonderful people want to go to NYC and Napa Valley with me and the Grace Before Meals Team.

We are also planning a very unique trip to New York City, which I may be calling “The Big Apple – The Blessed Fruit Tour.” The tour would combine looking at the nation’s religious immigrant history, visiting beautiful churches, exploring the food world including pizza making classes, and even possibly participation in a live audience for one of the Catholic Channel Sirius XM 129 Shows – maybe even my own show, “Entertaining Truth” with co-host Tom Leopold. 

In the meantime, we will be praying for you at the Holy Shrines of Israel.

So, please be sure to think big in 2014.  Come and be a more active part of our faithful foodie adventures. You’ll see how the style of travels that I lead give people a great blend of spiritual, culinary, theological, educational, and recreational explorations.  

Falafel and humus – which I can’t seem to get enough of while in Israel.



  • Where would you like to travel with Fr. Leo? Please give us suggestions.
  • Let us know if you’d like to be a group leader for your parish or organization and help fill up the tour spaces quickly.
  • Where is the place you traveled and experienced God the most? Was this a surprise to you?


Your comments and questions will help keep our focus and energies on bringing more people to the Table!  Post your comments below.

Let us pray:

Father, we are a pilgrim church, which means we must always be exploring the mysteries of Your kingdom and never limiting Your love by not getting out and seeing this beautiful world of Yours.  Give us courage to be true pilgrims, in search of goodness, beauty and truth. Grant safety to all en route between destinations.  And, give peaceful rest to those whose pilgrimage on earth has come to an end.  Help us to know You are with us every step of our way. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Click the picture for the recipe!


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Posted in Faithful Foodie, Prayers, Recipe | 7 Comments »

Posted January 15th, 2014 | Media, Recipe

Coconut Curry Creamy

Seafood Bouillabaisse

I made this dish for a priest friend who came over to dinner wanting something healthy, hearty, and warm enough to take the chill out of a cold winter night.  With some inspiration from prayer – yes, I actually pray about what Im going to cook – combined with my penchant for fusion foods, I created this plate of bold flavor that is certainly heart healthy, but also warms the soul with exotic and comforting flavors. 

Alaskan King Crab legs = crab-alicious.

Give it a try! And learn more about Bouillabaisse here!

Ingredients (Serves 4 people)

  • 5 oz.  package of bean curd noodles,  (aka “cellophane noodles)
  • 2 quarts boiling hot water (Approximately – enough to cover the noodles placed in a large bowl)
  • 1 Tbs peanut oil (or substitute with canola oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 medium celery stalk, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium-sized white onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely sliced
  • 2 heaping Tbs store bought curry powder (or make your own version)
  • 1 tsp, red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp, salt
  • 1 tsp, black pepper
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 15-16 ounce can coconut milk, well shaken
  • 12 clams
  • 12 shrimp, deveined  (with or without shells)
  • 12 medium-sized scallops
  • Crabs – ½ of crab per person, with or without shells (optional Alaskan King Crab Legs)
  • 4 wedges fresh lime
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Optional: 1 package of frozen spinach, drained and sautéed in 1 tsp of olive oil;1 garlic clove, minced; and 1-2 pinches of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes)


Remove noodles from package and place in a large bowl.  Pour boiling hot water over the noodles and allow hot water to warm and soften the noodles (about 20 minutes).  When noodles are completely soft – like cooked vermicelli spaghetti, yet firm to the pinch – drain all the water, and set noodles aside.

In a large wok or sauté pan (large enough to contain all of the ingredients) heat oil over medium heat.  Sauté garlic, carrot, celery, jalapeño pepper, and onion until onions become translucent (approx. 2 min.).  Add pepper flakes, curry, salt, and pepper and, stir together until ingredients are fully incorporated.  Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, coconut milk, white wine, and cream, and stir together and cook until the mixture begins to boil.  Add the clams and cover with lid (or a makeshift cover made from aluminum foil).  Let the clams boil/steam for 3-5 minutes or until the clams begin to open slightly.  Remove clams and set aside.  Add the crab legs, shrimp, and scallops to the boiling coconut curry mixture, and cover again, 3-5 minutes, or until the shrimp shells turn a bright reddish-orange color.  Strain all of the seafood and set aside.  (Removing the seafood when its just about cooked prevents it from overcooking, and lets you more easily plate the dish evenly.)  Place the noodles into the broth and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the noodles are warm.

Divide the noodles on separate plates for each person.   Divide the seafood on each of the plates on top of the noodles.  Either remove the crabmeat from the shells, or serve it rustically by decoratively placing it among the rest of the seafood with the noodles.  Use a ladle to equally distribute the sauce over each of the plates for extra flavor.  Garnish and add freshness by adding a wedge of lime and fresh cilantro. Top off with fresh sautéed spinach (optional).



Please let us know your thoughts on this recipe and answers to these questions. We love to hear from you and your insights and comments help us keep the good food news coming!


  • What are your favorite warm weather meals?
  • Have you ever “prayed” about what you are going to cook?
  • Are you a curry fan, and if so, what’s your favorite curry dish?


Your comments and questions will help keep our focus and energies on bringing more people to the Table!  Post your comments HERE.

Let us pray:

Father, You provide for Your family that hungers for You.  Especially for those enduring the harsh winter weather, help us to remember and develop compassion for those who go without, who hunger for food, friendship, and faith.  May our celebrations never be taken for granted, but shared with those in need.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.




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Posted in Media, Recipe | 1 Comment »

Table Talk 

Thanks to all for the many messages of encouragement regarding the BIG NEWS about my discernment transition as a priest into the Community of Consecrated Life, Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.  In response to some of the Facebook and Twitter comments, I just wanted to use these early days of the beginning of the year to respond to some of your questions.

In case you didn’t see this informational video from last week’s blast, here it is again.


Question # 1:  Am I still going to be a priest?

Of course I will be a priest, but serving in a different capacity as a priest with consecrated vows! Please know my discernment has led me to an even deeper love for the priesthood, the Catholic Church, and the opportunities of the New Evangelization, as demonstrated by Popes of the recent past and, of course, our current Pope Francis.  In fact, Pope Francis has demonstrated great encouragement for such new movements of evangelization.

A picture with Blessed John Paul II and my fellow priest friends back in my seminary days.


Question # 2: What’s the difference between a Diocesan Priest, a Religious Community Priest, and a priest of a secular institute?

This is a much bigger question to try and answer in an E-mail Blast.  But here are some links to learn about the Diocesan priesthood, also known as “secular priests,” who primarily serve the local bishop, doing parish work or whatever needs ascribed to him by the bishop.  A Diocesan priest generally lives at a parish house and cares for the local community to which he is assigned.  A Diocesan priest makes promises, not vows, of obedience and celibate chastity – but does not promise to live in “poverty.”

On the other end of the spectrum, a religious priest who belongs to a religious community (such as Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, or many other groups) follows a particular charism of the founder (such as teaching, working with the poor, youth ministry, a life dedicated to contemplative prayer, or some specific apostolic work).  A religious priest lives in a community, generally wears a religious habit, and makes solemn vows of chastity, obedience and poverty.

As a priest living in a consecrated life, and in my particular case of a secular institute of pontifical rite, means that I will vow chaste celibacy, obedience to the superior of the community, and obedience to the local bishop, but also obedience to the Pope – and above all, to be obedient to the will of God through a deep process of discernment.  I will also vow “poverty,” which means that I’m responsible for my own finances (not relying on a paycheck from the Diocese) and that I must make an active donation to the poor and to support the Voluntas Dei community.

As a secular institute, our job is to permeate the secular world with a message of God’s love and to be “leaven” in society.  I am not required to wear a religious habit, but generally follow the local custom – and in my case – continue to wear the black clerical shirt during ministry.  I will participate in a community, meeting once per month locally and two to three times each year on a national community level.  And, of course, I’ll be connected to a local church community, as assigned by the Archbishop of Baltimore, to be a sacramental and pastoral minister for churches in the Baltimore area that need priestly assistance.  Finally, in my case of Voluntas Dei, we accept members who are priests, celibate laymen, and even consecrated married couples.  So this will truly be a unique group that reaches out to a universal level of participation and membership.

Me with a family at a recent parish mission.

Question # 3:  What are some of the new things that Grace Before Meals will be doing this year?

This is a great question, to which I’ll only reveal a little information at a time.  The first NEW thing is the NEW BOOK that’s coming out February 11, 2014, by Servant Books.  It’s called, Epic Food Fight: A Bite Sized History of Salvation.  In this new book I present a “Theology of Food,” highlighting how food is used in Scripture, Tradition, Magisterial Documents, and of course, how we can practically understand God and the Eucharist better if we have a more developed theology of food.  The publishers and the people who have reviewed this book are very excited for another outreach approach to further the theological content of our Grace Before Meals apostolate.

Click to preview and pre-order my newest book!


Another NEW opportunity will be a not-for-profit organization called “The Table Foundation: Seeking to Elevate Culture and Family Life One Meal at a Time.”  With this organization, we hope to work with different groups to provide unique food opportunities with spiritual inspiration – whether it be working with a local soup kitchen, providing classes for culinary students, giving workshops for at risk families, or even serving alongside different support groups in response to emergencies.  We are even considering an ongoing food service, like a restaurant group or food trucks!  So these are definitely exciting opportunities for investors and other groups to get involved and to spread the Grace Before Meals message!

It is always good to serve those in need.

As you can see, the application  process is a great opportunity to see how God may be using our movement in the New Year.  We know there are never any guarantees, but with hard work and relying on God’s Grace, we believe our efforts will bear much fruit and feed a hungry world. 


Next week’s Menu Inspiration: Coconut Curry Seafood Bouilabase



  • What new plans do you have for yourself or for your family this year?
  • If you could get involved more with our Grace Before Meals movement, what would you suggest you could offer?
  • Is there anything you would like for our Grace Before Meals movement to consider offering in the upcoming year?  In other words, what do you think we should be doing to expand our mission?

Your comments and questions will help keep our focus and energies on bringing more people to the Table!  Post your comments HERE.


Let us pray:


Father, You call us to a new life in Christ.  May we never be afraid of Your call, but be strengthened by Grace, meeting each new day with joyful hope and expectation, trying to follow Your will, and being consoled and protected by Your love.  Help us grow our Grace Before Meals movement, inviting all to Your banquet of love. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.


 This Week’s Recipe:


Click for the Recipe!
This month’s Catholic Culinary Confession:


Click to read the review on



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Posted in Culinary Confessions, From the Feedbag, Prayers, Recipe, Recipe- Dessert, Video | 5 Comments »

Posted January 1st, 2014 | Grace Before Meals, New Year
Time for Transition!

Happy New Year to you and your families!

At the beginning of this year, our Grace Before Meals team has a very special announcement. We put together a video to describe a transition that I’ll be making in my priestly assignment.

 Click to watch the video and learn about the exciting things that are happening this year!

As of January 1, 2014, I’ve received permission from the Archbishop of Baltimore to pursue an application to join a Community of Consecrated Life, called Voluntas Dei (A Latin Phrase that means, “The Will of God”).  This is a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.  This is a unique group of priests, celibate laymen, and consecrated married couples.  I have been discerning this group for the past seven years!

The charism of this community is to be like the Virgin Mary at the annunciation, saying “yes” to God’s will!  Voluntas Dei per Mariam Immaculatam.

For me, that practically means that if accepted into Voluntas Dei, I will continue my priestly work but with a special consecration.  The Archbishop has given me the assignment to be a supplemental sacramental and pastoral minister, basically on a part time level, helping out parishes within the Archdiocese of Baltimore as needed. At the same time, this will allow me to focus on the work of Evangelization in the modern world, and particularly direct my energies towards the Grace Before Meals apostolate.

There is so much more exciting news to tell you about this community, its wonderfully practical spirituality, and the good work that they do in the name of the Catholic Church. But, more will come in upcoming emails, newsletters, video posts and email blasts.

For now, I want to offer you this important news, to ask for your prayers, trust in mine for you, and to wish you all a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Questions and Considerations
(1)  What do you discern as God’s will for you this year?
(2)  Send Fr. Leo and the Grace Before Meals team a prayer or request?
(3)  In this year, consider bringing the Grace Before Meals message and Fr. Leo as a speaker or presenter at your next event.
Your comments and questions will help keep our focus and energies on bringing more people to the Table!  Post your comments below.

Let us pray:

We bless your name, O Lord, for sending your own incarnate Son to become part of a family, so that, as he lived its life, he would experience its worries and its joys.  We ask you Lord, to protect and watch over this family, so that in the strength of your grace, its members may enjoy prosperity, possess the priceless gift of your peace, and, as the Church alive in the home, bear witness in this world to your glory. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Prayer for Families from the Book of Blessings, the Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN 1989)
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Posted in Grace Before Meals, New Year | 13 Comments »