Amberly Boerschinger, Meals and Mystics
“Ultimately, I am a disciple of Jesus who loves sharing the Gospel message of love and mercy.”
Amberly Boerschinger is a wife, mother, discipleship coordinator, writer, and enthusiastic home cook. A resident of Green Bay, Wisconsin, she is a parishioner at Holy Cross, Bay Settlement and a staff member at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Community, where she hopes she has had a positive and uplifting impact on the lives of those she meets. And much of it is about food — well, food and faith.
Born and raised Catholic, she noted that her upbringing was somewhat ecumenical. “My mom spent much time at the local Baptist church,” she said. When her family moved to Southern California when she was a teenager, a few miles from the evangelical Saddleback church, she realized that one’s faith needed to be more than just going to Mass on Sundays.
“I wanted my faith to connect to daily living and to use my gifts to help others do the same. I wanted others to understand our Catholic faith better because there were so many misunderstandings.” she said. To that end, she attended the College of St. Catherine and The University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota and got a degree in theology and creative advertising.
By then, Boerschinger had come to realize that there is a natural connection between food and faith. “Food is such a beautiful way to connect with what we believe as Catholics, what we need as disciples of Jesus and as human beings,” she said. “After all, Jesus left us a meal to recreate, to relive, with Him in the Mass.” These food/faith connections have been the underlying impetus for her to live out her passion in the kitchen. She learned culinary basics from her mother and grandmothers as well as the community and family connections that food provides, but she lacks any formal training.
As a young couple she and her husband would watch Food Network shows on Sunday nights while eating take-out Chinese food. She has spent the years since exploring flavors, learning cultural techniques, and introducing her three children to new foods — although food shows are still a major staple for her family.
As she has been cooking for her family, Boerschinger experiments often, noting she always loves to try new recipes. “I will cook just about anything,” she said. “Indian food is a favorite and so is German food from my husband’s background. The kids get a kick out of Facebook recipes or Pinterest ideas, and they say ‘Mom, we have to try this!’”
Second to her husband’s appetite, her biggest cooking influence has been in her diocese. While she serves as the Coordinator of Discipleship Formation and Communications at Nativity and is known for her “Dessert and Discipleship” series, she has also hosted many different women’s events at other churches to showcase faith and food and how it can form and inspire, especially women’s spirituality. Having started these kinds of events in her home, she now packs up her crockpots, knives, cutting boards and ingredients and hits the road a few times a year. Most recently, during Safer-at-Home orders, she hosted her first Zoom “Mom’s Night In” for the Diocese of Green Bay complete with multiple cameras and a cooking demonstration. “It’s a great on-ramp for discussions about bigger things, like life and God. People are always willing to share recipes,” she said. “So much more than food surrounds a meal, especially how family members gather, talk to each other, and learn from one another.”
One of Boerschinger’s favorite parts of these events is meeting the people who attend, especially when attendees grab a neighbor, sister or mother-in-law. “They are people that I might not otherwise meet in a church setting.” She says she plans to continue with these events whether for professional groups, or for smaller groups of women in her home. While family life and parish ministry both keep her busy, she tries to keep some new recipes posted from time to time on her Facebook profile and website www.mealsandmystics.com. She is also looking forward to another “Mom’s Night In” Zoom in the fall when she can share something hearty and substantial.
She concluded, “Each season, each ingredient, each sense that is involved in cooking and eating is a gift from God. My time in the kitchen helps remind me of that and keeps my eyes and heart focused on the Giver. Even the cutting of vegetables has a rhythmic, monastic feel to it that lends itself to prayers of reflection and gratitude.”
Note: Boerschinger has posted this on the parish website: “Ultimately, I am a disciple of Jesus who loves sharing the Gospel message of love and mercy.”
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Berry Sweet Rolls
As Boerschinger said about this recipe: “The family favorite, immediate and extended, is my cinnamon rolls made with raspberries,” she said. “Instead of cinnamon I toss frozen berries in sugar and cornstarch, roll them up and put cream cheese frosting on top,” adding that as seasons change, so does the fruit, from apples, raspberries, pumpkin, or rhubarb. If eating a day or two later, pop them in the microwave for 15 seconds to soften and warm!
Dough (Can be done in a bread maker, a stand mixer, or by hand):
- 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup. white sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons yeast
- 10 ounces frozen raspberries (or apples, rhubarb, blueberries, cherries, etc)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Cream Cheese Frosting (but I’m also a huge fan of buying a can of frosting at the market!):
- One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick of salted butter, softened
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place dough ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer, select dough cycle, and press start.
If not using a bread machine, mix your sugar, milk and yeast first, then add other wet ingredients, followed last by the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated and then kneed until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour.
Prepare filling by mixing up ingredients just before rolling out your dough. You won’t want the frozen fruit to thaw while you are spreading it out as it can get kind of messy. Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 16/21-inch rectangle.
Spread dough with prepared filling and roll up dough starting the roll from the longest side. Once rolled, pinch the dough together to form a seal before cutting the roll in half. Cut those two rolls in half again and then each into thirds for a total of 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan.
Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes while preheating your oven to 350 degree F. These can also go in the fridge overnight at this point. Normally this would be rise time, but because of the frozen berries, the rise is minimal.
Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. While the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting. Let rolls cool slightly for a melty frosting or completely for a heartier frosting on top.