Posted February 18th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Menu Inspiration, Video

CRS Rice Bowl Week 1 Recipe:

 Ugali with Bean Soup from Tanzania

LENT is here, and my video, as part of the #ShareJesus campaign, kicks off this forty-day journey! Redeemed Online is seeking to bring brief videos and guidance from a number of speakers, including Mark Hart, Leah Darrow, Fr. Mike Schmitz, and more straight to your inbox each day in Lent. CLICK HERE to read more. You can sign up for #ShareJesus here!

#ShareJesus Video 1: Ash Wednesday- the shocking good news

It would be silly to think that we can get all the religion and holiness we need in just 40 days of Lent. But it’s a good start.  A good and holy life requires just that: an entire LIFE!  These 40 focused days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are reminders of Christ’s suffering and the suffering of Christians and innocent people around world.  In the midst of the economical challenges, weather-related problems, promotion of dysfunctional relationships in movies and music, and of course, the Muslim extreme terrorist groups who are making new Christian Saint martyrs by their hate-filled religious ideas, it’s helpful to take this focused time of compassion to better understand and follow the heart of the True God – who feeds, comforts, and heals.  The ‘god’ who creates fear, division, and war reveals how Satan, the anti-Christ, is alive and well. In these 40 days, we enter into the desert with Jesus and do battle with the devil.  But, our weapon of choice is restraint of our passions and unleashing the Holy Spirit that gives us Joy!


Winning over souls requires joyful people who are joyfully in love with Jesus

So, today and for the next 40 days CELEBRATE your faith.  That means, live it joyfully!  An authentic practice of our faith doesn’t indoctrinate or force a conversion of people. That’s what the Muslim terrorist groups are doing.  Instead, truly celebrate your faith in Jesus joyfully.  In this way, as Pope Francis reminds us, we will win many hearts for the Lord – the true God and giver of Life!


Recently, the US Ambassador to the Holy See invited me to his home, with a few seminarians from the Pontifical North American College, after a day of cooking for a religious home that cared for women and their children involved in human trafficking.

To help you celebrate in this Lenten Season, consider these internationally inspired recipes from the CRS Rice Bowls.  The food is tasty and the recipes are easy enough to follow.  You can even switch it up a bit for your family’s mealtime needs.  During dinner, be sure to have conversations about the country and the people who inspire these CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen recipes.  When we dialogue and have healthy conversations with people, we experience conversions.  Yes, conversations lead to conversions.  In this 40 days of Lent, begin an authentic conversation with God (called prayer) and see who the Lord will bring to your table and next mealtime celebration.


Click to watch how to make Ugali with Bean Soup from Tanzania, courtesy of CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen and Fr. Leo.


Food for Thought:

(1)  Have you ever made a CRS Rice Bowl Recipe?  Which is your favorite?

(2)  What’s your favorite go-to-Lenten-Friday recipe?

Please offer your comments below as they help us and our community continue the Grace Before Meals conversation.  Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  Consider bringing Fr. Leo and the Grace Before Meals message or some of his other fantastic presentations to your parish, clergy convocation, or keynote event.  Click here for booking information.

  Let Us Pray:

(Prayer from the Ash Wednesday Liturgy from the Roman Missal)

“Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”


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Posted February 11th, 2015 | Menu Inspiration

Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Pork Cutlet

You all know what next week is, right?  Yes, it’s Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent – that most wonderful time of the year!  It’s that time to more intently and proactively connect with God through the disciplines of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.  This Lent, we reconnected with our human family and the CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen to share with you some good news and good recipes, perfect for the Lenten Friday Fasts.  So, stay tuned for weekly recipes!
However, in preparation for Lent, we have a tradition of “Mardi Gras” – which simply means “Fat Tuesday” prior to the Lenten fasts.  For the fun of it, I’m sending out a very meaty blast, perfect for Fat Tuesday.  I made this dish while I was in Rome, visiting a few friends.  While it’s somewhat decadent, it was a reminder that God’s generosity fills every hunger – especially the hungers of the soul.  And while this recipe definitely hit the spot for our hungry stomachs, it was our time of fraternity and friendship around the table that nourished some longing in the soul.   Thank God for good food and faithfully good friends!
Click the image to get the recipe for Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Pork Cutlet.

Food for Thought:
(1)  What’s your favorite Mardi Gras Menu?
(2)  How can you prepare for Lent as Lent would prepare you for Easter?
(3)  What’s your favorite way to prepare pork cutlets.
Let us pray:
In this last week prior to the Lenten Season we pray O Lord, that you sustain us with the grace to know you, love you and serve you.  Help us to remember that as we soon prepare to enter into the Lenten Season that you are the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation, who satisfies every hunger and every need.  Yet, remind us that we, who are called to receive you in the Eucharist, may be transformed into you loving presence and help those in need – body, mind and spirit.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Posted November 12th, 2014 | Menu Inspiration, Recipe

 Fresh Berry Yogurt Parfait



I’m filming a new season of Savoring Our Faith for EWTN. This time, there’s a wonderful twist.  This season, I share the faithful foodie message with people around the country and around the world.  I could be coming to a city near you! 

At Steubenville Atlantic in Halifax Canada.
These traveling shows are an opportunity to showcase how food and faith are expressed a little differently depending on where you’re eating or praying.  Granted, we are all called to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, and the Holy Communion is a sacred sign of our communion.  But, there are nuances from location to location.  These episodes are a combination of travel tips, personal profiles, exploring religious sites, restaurant reviews, and a cooking show all wrapped up in a half hour episode.  
My team while in Little Rock AR for a Savoring Our Faith episode.
The places we visit are in conjunction with my traveling Grace Before Meals apostolate.  I film episodes the same days that I’m giving parish missions, talks or other presentations.  Talk about multi-tasking!  That means you’ll see Savoring our Faith in Little Rock, AR; San Diego, CA; Phoenix, AZ; and even possibly filming shows while I’m in the Philippines! 
Me with some of the special guests at our San Diego Episodes, Members of our US Military serving in Coronado.
With each new episode comes new recipes, highlighting the local cuisine. Recipes will be truly tasty and faithful to the local flavors.  Remember, you can always download recipes from our own website HERE.  You can also access more recipes from the EWTN website as well.  
To give you a little highlight, I’ve provided a recipe for one of the episodes devoted to healthy consciousness of students for an episode highlighting the John Paul the Great University near San Diego California.
Click for the Fresh Berry Yogurt Parfait recipe as featured in the upcoming season of Savoring Our Faith


Our next taping will be in Phoenix, Arizona in December. I’m giving a parish mission at Our Lady of Perpetual Help from December 7-10. You’re invited!  Click here for more information. To film in the Phoenix area, we need your helpful suggestions!
Timmerie and Charles from John Paul the Great University sampling one of the dishes before tasting the dessert.

– What’s the most beautiful (or your favorite) church, shrine, or place to pray in the Phoenix area?

– What’s your favorite restaurant in the Phoenix area, especially if it’s owned by people of faith, well-known for unique cuisine, or has a special story worth sharing with our viewers?

– When you think of food from Phoenix, what do you suggest I learn and cook for TV?

Your responses are not only helpful for our film crew, it’s especially encouraging to our Grace Before Meals team!  Please post your comments below.

Let us pray:

Father, bless our efforts to strengthen families and relationships through Your gift of food and the family meal.  Bless also our efforts to produce these new TV shows and the work of EWTN. May these shows reach people in all parts of the word to inspire faith, communion with each other, and most importantly, communion with You in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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Inspired Cookies for a 

Christian Kitchen

As we approach the most Holy Three Days, called the Triduum, I want to reoffer recipes from the CRS Rice Bowls – perfect for Good Friday. Actually, they’re perfect for any day of the year.  

Click to watch Fr. Leo’s Appearance on NBC 4 in NYC.

Along with this recipe, I want to share a faithful foodie cookie idea families can share with children. It came from one someone who attended one of my parish missions. 

St. Timothy Parish Mission – So blessed that our parish missions fill up the churches, making the pastors very happy.

Because I don’t have an exact resource, I want to clearly explain that I didn’t create this recipe. I’m just sharing this recipe with you with great inspiration. In my opinion, inspiration is one of the most important ingredients in cooking. 

I’m always happy when the camera crew lines up to eat the food I cook for different food news segments.

As you and your family participate in the holiness of the liturgies that lead to Easter celebrations, I pray you will always remember how much God loves you. His love will feed you – body, mind, and soul. This food ought to inspire us to live our lives following Jesus to Heaven.  

Icon of the Last Supper.


This Week’s Recipe: 
Photo from

The Catholic Review:

Let us Pray:

God of love, give us the Grace to see how the liturgies of Holy Week inspire us to anticipate with great joy the Easter mysteries.  May we be patient with those who may come to church out of obligation or may not fully understand the spiritual depth of these celebrations.  May our joyful presence, non-judgmental faith, and sincere prayers be an inspiration for all Christians and people of good will to live as a peaceful human family.

The Garden of Gesthemane, Jerusalem.



  • What will you cook during these upcoming holidays?
  • Do you have a special Easter recipe with a story that you can share?
  • Did you use any of the CRS Rice Bowl recipes?  If so, which did you enjoy the most?

Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below

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Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

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Posted April 10th, 2014 | CRS Rice Bowl, In Memory, Menu Inspiration, Recipes

Brussels Sprouts and Culinary Conversions

We apologize for the blast being a day later than usual; we have been in mourning since the passing of Project Manager Joe Hansbrough’s father, James D. Hansbrough Jr, husband to Maria Hansbrough for over 38 years, father of nine children, and grandfather to seven grandchildren and counting. He died of a heart attack on Monday unexpectedly. According to Joe, he was instrumental in making sure that Grace was said before every meal and that the Faith was instilled in his children. We ask you to please keep him and his family in your prayers in this time of grief. You can view his obituary HERE. Thank you.




Last week I had the chance to cook Brussels sprouts for Gus Lloyd, the host for the popular morning show, “Seize the Day” on Sirius XM Catholic Channel 129.  He was known for sharing on air his anti-love for Brussels sprouts or as he would call them, “those little horrible critters.”   (Gus is so nice, he would never use the word “hate,” so in my mind, Gus felt “anti-love”).


Since I was in the Tampa area, where Gus hosts his show, I accepted his invitation to join him live in studio. At the same time, I gave give him a chance for a culinary “conversion” by cooking him Brussels sprouts. I vowed that he would LOVE the way I prepare these little “gifts of God.”


Gus Lloyd live on radio, staring at his former food enemy, Brussels sprouts, presented two ways and served with pan-seared chicken.

He sampled the Brussels sprouts LIVE on his show.  And, as expected, loved them!  A miracle and conversion occurred before his listening audience!  Because so many people asked for recipes I’ve copied them below for you to enjoy.

CLICK for recipe: Brussels sprouts and Granny Smith apple slaw.
CLICK for the Recipe: Pan-seared chicken served with two preparations of Brussels sprouts, including a bed of braised Brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic vinegar reduction.

In this time of Lent, we are asked to experience a deeper conversion.  That can only begin when we are willing to have an honest and sincere conversation. We need to truthfully admit our feelings, while also being brave enough to try a different approach (or in Gus’s case, a different recipe). Jesus did that quite a bit, leading many sinners to conversion. He ate with them.  He showed them the Father’s love using different language, telling stories and ultimately sacrificing himself.  He didn’t approach faith like the “experts,” which for him was the scribes and the Pharisees who imposed burdens, not blessings.  He definitely presented the message of God’s love in a different way.  Now, we must be brave enough, like Gus Lloyd, in eating the Super Food that Jesus gives to us: His Body & Blood and his sacred teachings.  


Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the Jacksonville Eucharistic Congress.

Gus Lloyd had a “conversion” because he was willing to have a conversation. He admitted some of his past prejudices from bad Brussels sprouts experiences.  But he was also courageous enough to give this former food enemy another try in a different way.  Hopefully, in this season of Lent, we can do the same with people in our lives.  With honest conversation and courage, we can get over our prejudices, our past bad experiences, and reverse our “anti-love” for one another.  Conversion begins with an honest conversation with God, called prayer.


Shrine dedicated to praying for those who suffer with cancer, at the Assumption Church in Chicago, IL.


Let us Pray:

Father, may we experience an ongoing conversation with You in prayer, which will lead to a conversion of Heart.  Teach us how to get over negative experiences of our past. Give us courage to be open enough to trying those things which we know are good for us – such as healthy food, exercise, forgiveness, patience, serving the poor, learning more about faith, and praying more faithfully. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Seminarians for the Diocese of St. Augustine Florida. These men all know the need for ongoing conversion in their life as future priests.


  • How do you prepare Brussels sprouts?
  • Is there a food that you need a ‘culinary conversion’ for – i.e., a new way to try something you don’t like to eat?
  • Is there a “spiritual food” that you may have a prejudice against (ie., fasting, church’s moral teaching, praying the rosary, meditation) that you need to have presented to you in a different way so that you may better appreciate the spiritual foods of the Church?


Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below.


This Week’s Lenten Recipe from CRS Rice Bowl:
Visit for more on Fr. Leo and 
CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen: For Lent, For Life
Fombell, PA
4/12/14 – 4/15/14
Brunswick, OH
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Posted in CRS Rice Bowl, In Memory, Menu Inspiration, Recipes | 5 Comments »

Feel Good Falafels

Click for this week’s recipe



People joke that the word falafel can be pronounced, “feel awful.”  But the taste of these deep-fried and well-seasoned chickpea croquettes make me feel good – really good – because these remind me of the Resurrection of Jesus.  

Click the button of this flattering picture of me to get a glimpse at the awesome sights (and tastes) of my journey to the Holy Land.


Twenty years ago, as a seminarian studying abroad, I had the chance to visit biblical holy cities such as Nazareth, Galilee, and Jerusalem.  The Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem  is a basilica that enshrines Calvary, where Jesus died; the burial rock where he was laid; and the actual tomb of Jesus, from where Christians believe he was resurrected.  Secular and even non-Christian scientists and archaeologists agree Jesus of Nazareth, the historical person, walked there carrying a cross, died, and was buried at those places where people now worship God and pray.  It’s indeed a powerful place to pray, and I work very hard to try and recall – using all of my senses – to recreate and remember my experiences.

It’s not always so easy to remember these powerful moments.  However, the human sense of taste has helped me remember my spiritual visit.  Outside and around a few corners from the basilica, I saw a man busily scooping up a yellow green mixture, dropping these scoops into hot oil, straining out the cooked croquettes into paper napkins, and exchanging dollars or shekels with the swarm of people around him.  It was impressive to watch, hypnotic-like, especially with enticing aromas and the hum of the bustling crowd.

So I entered into the organized chaos with one U.S. dollar in my hand.  When it was my turn, no words were exchanged.  The man confidently took my dollar in one hand, and with the other he swapped these warm, dark, deep-fried nuggets.  I didn’t know what else to do but walk away and just marvel.  I didn’t even know what I was eating.  But in faith, I ate and was converted.

The open market of Jerusalem

I went back again the next day.  This time, I showed up early and awkwardly waited for him to get his first batch cooked.  He gave me that smile of recognition that gave me confidence.  Somehow, eating his food connected me to his history, culture, and possibly his faith.  He smiled as a father would approve of his child learning something new and important in life.  I felt like I had grown up a little more just by expanding the experience into even more flavors while taking only one bite.

Chef for Peace, Nabil Marcos Aho, demonstrates how to make falafels.

Faith, God’s gift to us, needs to mature, indeed expand, if we are to benefit from this Gift.  It has to become incarnate, that is, take on flesh, because we are sensory people.  We need to touch the rock of Calvary, see the candles compete with the shadows of the darkened tomb, hear the chanting and murmurs of simple but sincere prayers, and also taste the bread and wine to connect us to the last things Jesus tasted on earth.

Wine tasting and lecture at LaSalle Monastery near Jerusalem.


Twenty years later, I now lead pilgrims to share these experiences of faith through food.  To help heighten their experiences I try to offer them opportunities using the senses of taste and smell, but also with practical teaching, so we can eat, remember, pray, and feel God smiling on us with each bite.  

Click Here for the Falafel Recipe and a little history, provided by Chef for Peace, Chef Nabil Marcos Aho.

The Tomb of Jesus Christ.
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  • What foods remind you of the Resurrection?
  • Have you ever eaten something “out of faith” and found you loved it?
  • How can you put your own spin into this traditional falafel recipe?

Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below.

Let us Pray:

Father, You give us so many ways to stay connected to Your love.  Help us never to limit our experiences of faith, but to truly expand our knowledge of You.  May we taste and see Your goodness each day, with every bite we eat and with every morsel of bread we offer to Your hungry children.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Oak Grove, MN
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