Taste & See: Culinary Moments with Pastor Ariel

Greetings friends, foodies, bakers, and wanna-be chefs!

Early on during our time of physical distancing, I promised to create some kind of cooking opportunity with Pastor Ariel. Originally, I was thinking of doing it via Facebook Live, but logistically that would be hard, so instead I decided to create a weekly blog post of recipes I’ve created during the past week.

It’s taken me a little longer to get this up and running – mostly because we have been SOOOO busy with all of the other online church ministries. (check out everything we have to offer at www.livingwordkaty.org or on our Facebook Page.) 

Each week I will post as many recipes for meals that I have created for my family as I can pull together. This week there are recipes for:

Fresh Pesto, Boujee Mac & Cheese; Homemade Meaty Marinara Sauce; Jambalaya; Roasted Chicken with Rosemary Potatoes and Asparagus; & Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

I hope you enjoy!!!
Pastor Ariel

Cooking Prayer:

“As the grains of wheat once scattered on the hill, were gathered into one to become our bread, so may all your people, from all the ends of earth, be gathered into one in you.”

Gracious God, all that you create is good. As we create meals and snacks to nourish our bodies, bless us and bless our creations, so that we can continue to be your hands and feet in this broken and weary world.


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach, kale, or arugula)
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (this is an estimate… I always just eyeball it until the consistency seems right)
Splash of Lemon Juice (just a little bit… gives the pesto a kick)
1/3 cup pine nuts (any kind of nut can be used. I used almonds for this batch and have used pecans a lot in the past)
3 garlic cloves, minced (or – more if you are a garlic fan like I am… I use A LOT)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, & Lemon Pepper to taste

Blend basil, cheese, nuts, and garlic in a food processor. Add lemon juice and olive oil and blend again. Add spices and blend one final time. Pesto stores well for several weeks in a mason jar in the fridge. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays and store frozen pesto in Tupperware or a freezer bag for quite some time!

Boujee Mac & Cheese:

For the macaroni:

10 ounces elbow macaroni pasta or cavatappi, boxed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

To mix in:
2 – 8 oz packages of shredded Monterey/Colby Jack blend cheese
1 – 8 oz package of Tillamook Mild Cheddar grated cheese
1 container of feta crumbles
2 heaping tablespoons Greek yogurt
½ cup milk
1 can Rotel or other tomato/pepper canned blend, canned
Chopped Chives or Scallions
Diced Kielbasa or Turkey Sausage
Salt, Pepper, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Powder, & Parsley to taste

Chopped Chives or Scallions


  1. Line large baking pan with foil and heat the oven 350°F.
  2. Boil the pasta: Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium high heat. Add olive oil and salt to the water. Add the macaroni once water is boiling. Cook until the pasta is firm-tender.
  3. Drain the pasta: Drain the pasta into a colander. Add back to the stock pot.
  4. Mix in Yogurt, Milk, & Cheese:  Mix in Greek yogurt and milk. Make sure pasta is coated. Mix in feta cheese… it should melt fairly quickly. Mix in one package of Monterrey/Jack blend cheese and the Tillamook mild cheddar cheese. Mix until cheese is fairly melty.
  5. Mix in Rotel & Sausage: Mix in drained Rotel & the sausage. Make sure it is all fairly evenly distributed. The mac & cheese will have a red tinge at this point because of the Rotel.
  6. Add Spices & Scallions to taste: Mix in spices to taste & mix in ½ of the scallions.
  7. Put in Baking Pan: Transfer the Mac & Cheese mixture into the foil lined baking dish. Smooth the top.
  8. Top with Cheese & Scallions and bake: Top with ½ of the second package of Monterey/Jack blend cheese (top should be covered evenly, but not piled). Place in oven for 20 to 25 minutes until cheese on top is melted. Broil on high for 5 minutes until top is golden brown. Cool briefly before serving.

Meaty Marinara Sauce:


1 lb. ground meat (I typically use lean ground beef or ground turkey. Add a second pound of mean if you like yours super meaty. If you are a vegetarian you can leave this out… the zucchini & cauliflower make an awesome base all on their own.)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 diced onion
1-2 diced zucchini (depending on size)
1 diced diced cauliflower
3 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
28 oz whole tomatoes canned
28 oz diced tomatoes/peppers canned
15 – 30 oz of tomato sauce canned
6 oz of tomato paste canned
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Lemon Pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, zucchini, garlic, and ground meat. Cook until meat is completely browned.
  2. Add whole tomatoes (with juice) and gently break apart with the spoon.  Stir in remaining ingredients. (You can skip using the whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste and just use a pre-fab jar (or 2) of pasta sauce if you are in a hurry.)
  3. Simmer uncovered on low heat for 20 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency.
  4. Serve over spaghetti or enjoy in your favorite recipes. Freeze or refrigerate to store.


Full Disclosure – I had several boxes of boxed Jambalaya mix in my pantry so I doctored those up with chicken, sausage, & fresh veggies and just went with that… but this is my FAVORITE from scratch Jambalaya recipe… EVER!


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 package of kielbasa or turkey sausage, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 large celery stalks, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes, undrained
2 cups UNCOOKED white rice
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (or more depending on how spicy you like your jambalaya… for me it’s a WHOLE lot more!) Hot Sauce


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.
  2. Stir in the sausage, onion, celery, bell pepper, carrot, and garlic. Sprinkle on salt and ground black pepper and stir again. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and the uncooked rice. Then stir in the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer the jambalaya until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in Worcestershire and Hot Sauce.

Roasted chicken with Rosemary Potatoes & Asparagus:


1 package chicken breasts, chicken quarters, chicken legs, or chicken thighs (I had legs, so that’s what I used.)
4-8 Golden Potatoes, diced (you can use whatever kind you have or prefer… golden potatoes are fairly small so I use more… if you are using russet potatoes you will want WAY fewer or them)
2 bundles of Asparagus
Olive Oil (enough to coat the chicken, potatoes, & asparagus – cooking spray will work also)
Chicken Spices: Salt, Black Pepper, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Powder, Parsley
Potato Spices: Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Rosemary (fresh if you have it)
Asparagus Spices: Sea Salt & Black Pepper


  1. Preheat Oven to 400°F.
  2. Prepare 3 baking dishes by lining them with foil.
  3. Lay chicken in baking dish and coat with olive oil. Season with spices to taste. (The chicken in my image also got doused in Hatch Green Chili Salsa because I was trying to create space in my fridge and was getting rid of condiments. 😊)
  4. Spread diced potatoes in a baking dish and coat with olive oil. Season with spices to taste.
  5. Cut bottoms off the asparagus. Lay in baking dish or on a broiler pan. Coat with olive oil. Season with spices to taste.
  6. Bake chicken and potatoes in preheated oven until chicken reaches internal temperature of 175°F and potatoes are soft.
  7. Remove chicken. Broil potatoes on high until tops are golden brown.
  8. Bake asparagus 10-15 minutes. (It will turn bright green)

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies:


2 ¼ Cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup Softened Butter (or margarine… I think butter is better!… if you don’t care about calories… Crisco is best of all!!!! 😊)
1 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
½ cup Granulated Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
1 12 oz package of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. (I use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer)
  3. Add sugars, softened butter, vanilla, and eggs.
  4. Stir in Chocolate Chips.
  5. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes.

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