Woman cooking with metal pan in kitchen.
Grace Boldman
SG Member
February 1, 2023

With life comes many questions. Why are we here? What’s the point of all of this? How can I be a better mom, dad, daughter, son, wife, husband and friend? And, perhaps the most relentless question of all, what should I cook for dinner? 

In this humble blog post I’m going to attempt to share some answers I’ve found. We’ll start with dinner, of course, because we gotta eat! And get ready for some winter recipes that will not only feed your belly, but your soul. 

Growing up in an Italian immigrant family, the quality and quantity of our food was very important. We always had a garden. We always shopped in bulk, there was no Costco, but the Eastern Market had what we needed. We’d even have special ingredients from “home” such as sun-dried tomatoes and pungent caciocavallo cheese. Dad made homemade wine and whether we’d have dinner together was never a question. It was a different time and from it I’ve carried forward a love of food only surpassed by my love of God and the family He’s given me. 

From my Ohio-born husband I’ve learned we weren’t the only ones to show our love with food. His childhood was rich with cheesy casseroles, succulent roasts, and rich gravies. Gosh I’m getting hungry! 

Scripture says, “God is love.” 1 John 4:16 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” Amen and pass the sauce! I am happy knowing the meals I make for my family show God’s love for them. Pasta with escarole for Luke. Breaded eggplant for Catie. Chicken pot pie for Regan. And everyone’s happy meal, chicken soup with polpettini (mini meatballs). 

Love takes many forms.

Lasagna. Braised short ribs. Grilled cheese. Cooking is an easy way to model love because I enjoy it. But what about the tough stuff? My challenge is lovingly doing laundry, washing the kitchen floor, wiping countertops plus dusting, polishing mirrors, windows, and disinfecting surfaces plus vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and picking up clutter.  

For these “loving tasks” I call on more help from the Lord. “Let everything you do be done in love” 1 Corinthians 16:14. For really aggravating “deep cleaning” or clearing a pathway among one thousand shoes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. 

The tasks change, but the “secret ingredient” is the same: go to God. Go to His Word. He will refresh you for the job, “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51: 10 

And about those bigger questions.

I believe every answer I need begins and ends with God. His Word is the ultimate recipe for overcoming every human struggle, from tackling “simple” tasks such as cooking and cleaning to waging war against fear, depression, physical illness, career strife or the pain of loss and broken family relationships. The answer is always God.  

Still knowing this, do I follow His plan in every trial? Noooooooo. I flounder and flail with my limited understanding and human faults. I rage, “Why us?” I cry, “Not again!” I feel hopeless when things get too hard. Then I remember, “Ask God, trust God, go to His followers and seek His help through them. Open the Bible, read His Word.” The recipe was there all along, I just forgot to follow it because I’m human.

Are you hungry yet?

Some of us are hungry all the time. Me included. God continually gives us nourishment for our bodies and our souls. They will no longer hunger; they will no longer thirst; the sun will no longer strike them, nor will any scorching heat. For the Lamb who is at the center of the throne will shepherd them; he will guide them to springs of the waters of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7: 16-17 

I hope you enjoy some of my family’s favorite winter recipes (see below). And I hope you’ll join me in following God’s recipes for the ultimate nourishment by exploring the Bible with us at Shepherd’s Gate. Buon Appetito!

Pasta with Escarole

This simple one-pot meal is more of a soup but includes pasta so hence the name. It’s a great way to eat your greens as the cooking water retains all the nutrition in the escarole.

Bowl of soup with pasta and escarole.-1 head of fresh escarole

-3 cloves of fresh garlic 

-½ pound pastina (or any small pasta) 

-About 1 cup of ¼ inch chunks of Parmesan, Asiago or Pecorino cheese (select a hard, sharp cheese) 

-Grated parmesan or other for topping when serving. 

Start with a fresh head of escarole. You’ll want to chop off the tough base and soak it in cold water to loosen any dirt clinging to the leaves. I use a salad spinner for this part. After one soak, remove the intact head of escarole and chop it up in bite-size pieces (like you would a romaine lettuce for a salad). You can rinse these chopped greens again at this point if they need it. Set these prepped greens aside. Chop up your garlic. Put about 8 cups of water in a pot. Add to this the chopped escarole, garlic and about ¼ cup of olive oil. Bring this to a gentle boil and add ½ pound of pastina. Cook all of this until the greens are wilted and the pasta is soft, about 15 minutes. To each serving bowl, add 10+ pieces of cheese chunks and then ladle in the pasta/soup. Top with grated cheese and serve.  


Chicken Soup with Polpettini

I’m not sure my version of this is fancy enough for a wedding, but Italian Wedding Soup is thPicture of soup with mini meatballs and pasta.e inspiration here. 

For the soup 

-2 pounds of chicken thighs (can be boneless, that’s easier, or bone in, skin on if that’s what you have on-hand) 

-1 head of celery 

-1 bunch of carrots 

-1 onion 

-1/4 cup olive oil 

-4 or more big handfuls of raw baby spinach 

-Pasta of choice (I like to use small shells, pastina or even crushed up linguini) 

-Better Than Bouillon (There’s an organic version at Costco or use any chicken broth you like) 

-8 to 16 cups of water (depending on how much broth you want or if you add more chicken – it’s a flexible recipe) 

For the polpettini (mini meatballs) 

-1 pound of ground sirloin 

-1/4 cup breadcrumbs 

-1 slice of bread (soak it in water/wine mixture to soften) 

-Couple splashes of wine or water if mixture looks dry 

-1 cup of grated parmesan or other hard cheese 

-2 cloves minced garlic 



Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.  

Season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place them on baking trays (you’ll probably need two) and roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Cool and chop to add to the soup later. 

While the chicken is cooking, get all the meatball ingredients together. The mixture should be soft so add some water or wine for a juicier outcome. Using a baking tray lined with parchment paper, spoon the meat (these are your meatballs) about ½ inch apart. They’ll need just 15-20 minutes in the hot oven and then set them aside to add to your soup later. Your family will try to eat them all now so do what you need to do to protect them. TIP: These can also be made ahead and frozen to be added to your soup later.

Now prep all your veggies bite size and sauté them in your soup pot with the olive oil. When the veggies are smelling good (about 10 minutes) add the water and Better Than Bouillon per package directions. Get everything up to a gentle boil and add the pasta. After about 10 minutes add in the chopped chicken and meatballs. Right before serving, add in the chopped spinach for a beautiful color and great nutrition. Serve with grated cheese because it’s even more delicious. 

NOTE: You can adjust your quantities based on your tastes or what’s in the house. If you have chicken breast, just use that. It’s not as moist so don’t overcook it in the oven stage. If you want to skip the meatballs, you can add tortellini (cheese-filled pasta). This is a nice change and is very satisfying. To replace the spinach, you could add parsley or even escarole.