catholiccookbookA special thank you to Marian Frentz of the TASTE Program for kindly responding to the following questions about Recipes for Life: A Catholic Family Cookbook.

Please briefly introduce yourself and your family.

Hi, my name is Marian Frentz and I am a wife to my wonderful husband Mike and a mother to our four beautiful grown girls.  Our youngest just graduated from college and we are preparing for weddings so there’s no end to the excitement that exists in our home. My husband and I were born in the same hospital and delivered by the same doctor though we didn’t meet until 20 years later when we both attended Catholic University in Washington D.C. together. We have been married for 32 years. Our oldest is 31.  Yes, nine months and five days after we got married, God blessed us with our first little miracle. I was born in the "Marian year of the Church" in the month of May, so the Blessed Mother has played a big role in my life, constantly drawing me to her Son.  We belong to a wonderful church family, St. Mary of the Mills in Laurel, Maryland where I run a Catholic women’s program called TASTE that is helping women learn more about Jesus and the Church He founded.  You can check out our website to find more information about the program. If you are in the area please come by and see us.  We meet September through May on Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (with Confessions following the lecture!)

Please give an introduction and history of the TASTE Program.

The TASTE Program (Taste And See Take …Eat) meets weekly to help women fall completely in love with Jesus and the Church He founded.  Every Thursday (the day Jesus instituted the priesthood) we come together to learn the Truths of our Faith.  Our speakers are by invitation only and are chosen for their orthodox teaching and zeal for the Lord.  Women from 28 different parishes come from the Washington, Baltimore and Wilmington dioceses.  We began the program in 2007 and have grown steadily each year.  Our mission is to empower women to really know and understand their Faith as well as to nurture our priests.  We have spiritually adopted priests and also pray for our priests during the program.  Many fruits have come from the program. Several moms now attend daily Mass and many have become catechists.  It’s a place to come and know you are being taught the truth and it encourages women to share their Faith with others.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your Recipes for Life Catholic Family Cookbook?  How was the cookbook compiled and what motivated the project?

Before our first year ended, a few of us got together and discussed ways to make money so that the program could expand and enable us to bring in speakers and pay them some sort of stipend.  We tossed around a few ideas and came up with collecting some recipes and making a TASTE cookbook.  We presented the idea to all the women and everyone including some of our priests and speakers started turning in recipes.  As we were collecting the recipes, the wife of one of our speakers said she thought we should make the cookbook really Catholic and put some saints in it.  We contacted the cookbook publishers and couldn’t find anyone willing to put text into the cookbook.  They wanted recipes only.  As I was surfing the net I did find one publisher in Ohio that advertised that you could put up to 70 photographs into your cookbook.  We contacted them and began a wonderful friendship. She was Catholic and loved the idea.  We weren’t held to our 70 picture cap and she just encouraged us all the way. Our first printing was just for our group and parish but we sold out in a few days so we printed more and still sold out.  After the third printing Cookbook Kathy as we fondly call her said, "I think we need to think about getting serious and taking this to the next level."  We spent the entire summer editing, changing out, adding and just making it very special.  I think the final product is something that could actually change the way families make dinner and it helps make the Faith more integrated with your day-to-day life.  It’s definitely a labor of love!

What makes this book unique and different from other family cookbooks?

The Catholic Family Cookbook contains over 80 Saint biographies with recipes associated with each saint.  There are many others recipes too, over 300 total! Following each saint bio there are motivational tips to help moms and dads teach their little ones how to imitate that particular saint’s virtue.  The recipes vary, for instance, one saint was not very liked because she was so different as she was deformed but she won over the town’s people and they came to love her. It’s paired with a spinach ball recipe. Spinach is a vegetable not particularly liked by children but this recipe is delicious.   St. Jerome, who usually is depicted with a lion, took a thorn out of its paw, so there is a recipe called  Jerome’s  Lion Claws made from simple crescent rolls and a few added ingredients with a toothpick stuck inside the claw. The kids get to pull it out before they eat theirs.  There are suggestions on how to become a saint, the process of canonization, a "get connected" page and Eucharistic quotes sprinkled throughout.  The book is chocked full of goodness!  Many books seem to try and hide that they’re Catholic and cater to the more general "Christian" audience but this cookbook is totally Catholic. Even the cover with Mary looking at Jesus in the Monstrance and the mom looking at her child in the same way just jumps off the page and shows that the Eucharist is the center of Catholicism.

What type of feedback have you received from families using the cookbook?

Moms are constantly coming up to me to thank our group for such a fantastic cookbook.  Not only are the recipes delicious but the concepts are so wholesome and good.  One suggestion is to designate a special night as "Saint’s Night" at your house and get a bowl that you only use for that occasion.  When you get it down the kids will all know that they will get to help while you teach them about a particular saint.  They have a mission.  Watch as they ask for St. John Bosco’s Chicken Pot Pie or St. Agatha’s Carrot Cake.

Actual comments made:

"This cookbook has changed the way we make dinner. Thank you!" ~Mary

"I purchased one out of obligation but was shocked to find my son curled up in a chair reading it...Wow!" ~Jennifer

"I gave one to my sister to encourage her to live her faith more fully." ~Kathy

"We have a copy on our coffee table and pick it up after dinner to read." ~Sister in a convent

"I was given one as a Christmas present by my daughter in Maryland and decide to sell them at my Church in Illinois. Please send 60 copies!" ~Margaret

What are your plans for the proceeds you receive from the cookbook?

Our initial plans are to cover our expenses and fund the program.  We have a responsibility to evangelize so we are offering these cookbooks at a very low cost to help Catholic schools and parish groups earn money.  They make the money and we get the satisfaction of knowing we are trying to do God’s work as mothers and provide a resource for families to draw closer to heaven.  There is just such awesomeness to our Faith! You can also order individual copies online at or check with your local Catholic bookstore and they can order them for you.

I noted that you have a fundraising program affiliated with the cookbook.  Can you please explain this to our readers?

The fundraising program allows Catholic schools and parish groups to obtain cookbooks at wholesale prices and sell them to earn money for their school or group.  We make very little off each book so that the profits can make a big difference for their school or group.  Not only will parents get something that lasts instead of consumable wrapping paper, candy bars, pizza or popcorn, but they will also be able to see a difference the cookbook has on their family.  Children grow up so fast and having them grow up with the saints and have our big brothers and sisters in Faith as role models will shape their character and mold them into good Catholic Christians.

For more information please go to our website or email

What advice would you give to other parishes and diocese who might like to emulate your TASTE Program?

If you are interested in starting a TASTE Program in your diocese please contact us. TASTE is completely run by volunteers who are on fire for their Faith. E-mail

Are there any closing thoughts you might like to share with our readers?

Our Catholic Faith is a treasure.  We are so blessed to belong to the true Church, the one Jesus founded over 2000 years ago. Children are a gift and lent to us for a very short period of time.  Don’t waste precious time.  Allow them to help.  Let them crack eggs, use a separate bowl so you can pick the eggshells out, but let them cook.  Teach them and they will come back when they’re grown and remember the time you took to be patient with them. So what if they spill a little milk… it gives them confidence and helps their coordination.  It shows them that mom and dad believe in them, and that God has given to them the ability to make a difference. Nurture their Faith and spend time building excitement over what saint they’ll pick to have dinner with each week. Encourage them to make decisions as well as compromise on what others want too.  You might also learn a thing or two while teaching them!

For information on our new cookbook Recipes for Life: A Catholic Family Cookbook please go to:

Sample Recipes:

Zucchini Casserole

3 medium unpeeled zucchini, ends trimmed, coarsely grated (about 4 cups total)

1 ¼ cups Bisquick mix

½ medium onion, finely grated (about cup)

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 large eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Have ready a 9x13-inch ovenproof casserole dish. A food processor can be used to grate the zucchini and the onion.

Combine the zucchini, Bisquick, onion, and Parmesan cheese in a large mixing bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and oil. Add to the zucchini mixture, mixing well to combine; season with salt and pepper.

Spread the mixture evenly in the casserole dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the casserole is slightly puffed. Cut into squares, if desired. And serve hot. Makes 8 servings.

Make Ahead: The casserole tastes best fresh out of the oven, but it can be baked 1 day in advance, then covered and refrigerated (it will fall once it has cooled). Cover loosely with aluminum foil and reheat in a 325° oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Bernadette’s Almost Candy Bars

1 box chocolate cake mix

1 stick butter or margarine

1 cup butterscotch morsels

1 (6 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips

1 cup nuts, finely chopped

1 cup flaked coconut

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Combine dry cake mix with stick of butter using a pastry blender; when blended, spread in an ungreased 10x15-inch jelly roll pan. Press down lightly (it looks like you’re spreading dirt just like Bernadette did).

One at a time, sprinkle chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, nuts, and coconut over top

Slowly pour condensed milk over all ingredients. It will seem like a big area to cover, but it does tend to spread out to cover the entire pan. I pour it in rows and leave some space between them, and go back and try to fill in the light spots. You can’t spread it with a spoon – it makes a big mess!

Bake at 350° for about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Enjoy! Can be stored in airtight container.

St. Basil’s Vegetable Cheese Squares

Great appetizer!

1 (8 oz.) can Pillsbury crescent rolls

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

⅓ cup Kraft Fat Free Ranch dressing

1 tsp. basil or dill weed

2 cups desired vegetables, chopped (broccoli, red and green peppers, carrots, cauliflower, etc.)

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

For crust, unroll crescent rolls and gently pat into 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake according to package directions. Cool.

Meanwhile, in small mixing bowl, stir together cream cheese, salad dressing, and basil or dill weed. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over crust. Sprinkle with vegetables and gently press vegetables into cream cheese. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. If time permits, chill 1 hour before serving. To serve, cut into small squares.