Meet Barb Szyszkiewicz of CatholicMom.com
Szyszkiewicz runs two websites, CatholicMom.com and FranciscanMom.com, that draw Catholic foodies from around the world
For Catholic moms wanting to share friendship, information and recipes, they must have already logged onto the website CatholicMom.com. Chock-full of prayers, faith articles, and family, fun and kids’ topics and links, the website is a vibrant destination for moms seeking loads of connections and information about an amazing number of topics.
The lady in charge of these articles is a devout secular Franciscan, Barb Szyszkiewicz, who even has her own website called Franciscan Mom. In fact, what makes both websites a draw for the Catholic foodie is an assortment of recipes that tie into daily life and special liturgical and other holy days. After reading her bio, I am simply amazed she does all she does: “I’m editor at CatholicMom.com and a member of the Catholic Writers Guild. I’m also a homemaker, freelance writer/editor, reader of cookbooks, and (very) amateur musician.” Wow!
Raised in a devout Catholic family, Szyszkiewicz has immersed her entire life and soul into Catholicism: she attended Catholic schools starting in middle school, and after college she became a teacher in Catholic schools. Szyszkiewicz has been working behind the scenes at the Catholic Mom website for eight years. “I answered a call to be a volunteer writer for their technology team,” she said, “and five years ago I became its editor.”
She noted that the website is part of the Holy Cross Family Ministries, located in Massachusetts. “It has been a real benefit to be part of the Ministries,” she said. As part of her behind-the-scenes job at CatholicMom, she keeps the schedule of posting, and accepts the articles and gets them ready to publish. “We have seven to eight articles a day,” she said. “The articles inspire and uplift Catholic mothers … we even have writers who are grandmothers or new mothers.” No wonder the website attracts about 250,000 people each month.
And for those who love to cook and are looking for pertinent recipes, Szyszkiewicz noted that the website posts recipes weekly, especially meatless dishes on Fridays. She thanks her mother and grandmother for giving her her interest in food and cooking. “My mom was a good cook and taught me some basic techniques,” she said. “She got me started and my focus on food evolved. When I got married, I had three cookbooks. Now I have a lot.” She added that it is a skill she learned and can gladly pass onto her children.
As for her own cooking at home, Szyszkiewic scrolls through cookbooks or food magazines, comes up with an appealing recipe, and uses that as a jumping off point for preparing interesting meals. “So many are experiments,” she said. “And I have papers around the kitchens with recipe notes and ingredients list. I keep records for what I cook.” She even posts her recipes on Cook and Count, a website for diabetic recipes that a whole family can enjoy. (Her youngest child is diabetic.)
Finally, does she plan to write a cookbook? “I don’t have a hook for my recipes,” she said. “These are just what my family enjoys, so there are no categories.”
Barb Szyszkiewicz’s Barbecue Chicken Pasta (Serves 4)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
- One 15-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained (petite or regular diced, no added seasonings)
- ½ pound spiral or elbow pasta
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 tablespoon salt-free barbecue seasoning (see below)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese blend or Monterey Jack cheese
Heat olive oil in skillet. Add onion and cook until caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside.
Place the chicken, tomatoes, pasta, corn, and barbecue seasoning in the same skillet. Stir to combine, then pour in 2 cups chicken broth. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
Check pasta after 15 minutes; if it’s still firm, cover and simmer 5 more minutes. If the pasta is done but a lot of liquid remains, simmer without the lid until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Top the cooked pasta mixture with the caramelized onions. Drizzle barbecue sauce over onions, then sprinkle cheese on top of the sauce and cover the skillet. Simmer over low heat 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Salt-free barbecue seasoning
- 5 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 5 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Place all ingredients in a spice jar. Close tightly and shake to combine.