Today is the first day of Lent – the somber Christian season of prayer, observance and repentance in preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and I have a confession to make: I associate Lent with food. Here’s why: during Lent, you’re supposed to abstain from enjoying little luxuries and pleasures. Thus, many people of faith vow to fast on different foods like sweets, potato chips, etc. during the entire six week season (even though I swear I was taught that Sunday was an exception ….). Another touchstone of the Lenten season is the practice of fasting from animal products. Though different faiths take this rule to different levels, the general rule that you cannot consume meat on Ash Wednesday, or any Friday.  
As a little girl, meatless Fridays were an excuse for eating some of my favorite foods: tuna fish salad, fried shrimp, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, and pizza. Born and raised in a predominantly Catholic area, Lent in Northeastern Pennsylvania goes hand in hand with Church pizza bakes, fish fries, and homemade Polish pierogies in butter and caramelized onions. There’s really nothing like it.
There’s nothing like a Gramercy pizza on a Friday night during Lent (and all year long).
Even on Holy Thursday, my family would take me to visit the seven churches of Pittston in honor of Jesus’s walk up to Mount Calvary, I couldn’t get food off of my mind. Though it was supposed to be a somber event, I was still secretly excited about visiting those churches that passed out freshly baked bread to mark the feast of the Last Supper. I could barely contain the smile on my face when I felt that fresh roll from the National Bakery in my hands at St. Mary’s Assumption Church (R.I.P. St. Mary’s!). So naturally, I’ve grown to associate Lent with food – but my heart was always in the right place, with God, to whom I am sincerely thankful for blessing me and my family with food to eat. 
In honor of Lent, I thought I’d post this easy and healthy recipe for boneless “bites.” I just love boneless chicken bites, my favorite are from the Tipsy Turtle in Jenkins Township. A great alternative to boneless chicken bites and chicken wings for Lent is this meatless recipe that I saw Rachel Ray Show.  It’s SUPER easy and tasty AND healthy! This is def something I will be making again and again. You can eat these on their own or in a salad, as shown below. Just eat them right after roasting, since they’re better hot. 
Hot Honey Garlic Turtle Bites from the Tipsy Turtle.
Roasted cauliflower bites with blue cheese dipping sauce. 
Fairytale Cauliflower Bites and Blue Cheese Ranch Dipper

Adopted from Rachel Ray.
(Serves 2-4)

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce

  • For the ranch dipper:
  • 1 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh herbs (such as dill, chives and parsley), chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 450ºF. Place the cauliflower florets onto a nonstick baking sheet, dress with some EVOO and season with salt. Bake for 25 minutes, or until crispy and caramelized at edges. Remove from the oven, place into a large bowl and toss with the hot sauce. Serve IMMEDIATELY with Ranch Dipper alongside. (They’re not as good when they’re cold and soggy.)

For the Ranch Dipper:
In a small serving bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, herbs and garlic; season with salt and pepper.
Fold in the blue cheese, if using. Serve alongside the for dipping, or use as dressing in a salad like the Tipsy Turtle does in the photo below.

This is one of many “Yum-o!” recipes – it’s good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael’s nonprofit organization, visit

Hot Honey Garlic Turtle Bite Salad from the Tipsy Turtle.