Baileys Cream Puffs - St. Paddy & St. Joe Combo Treat

The feasts of St. Patrick and St. Joseph share a week in mid-March. Since they are just days apart how about a treat that combines elements of cultural symbolism of each. The cream puff - an Italian pastry sfingi, is a typical St. Joseph treat. But this variation on the traditional cream puff gets an extra kick from the addition of Baileys Irish Cream, a tribute the land of St. Patrick.

Baileys Cream Puffs

Pastry puffs
3/4 cup water
6 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 egg for egg wash

Baileys cream filling
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp Baileys Irish cream
1 Tbsp  granulated sugar

1/3 cup hot fudge topping
1 Tbsp Baileys Irish cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine butter, sugar, and water in medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring it to boil, while stirring slowly, and take off heat. Add flour and stir until all combined and coming off the walls of the pan easily.  Whisk in eggs, one at a time, making sure that each egg is mixed into the batter before adding another.  Transfer batter into a piping bag and pipe little round mounts, about 1 ½ inches in diameter.  For egg wash, beat 1 egg in a separate little mixing bowl and brush pastries with egg wash before baking.  Bake pastries at 425 for 12-15 minutes then lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let pastries cool completely before adding the filling.

Baileys cream filling
Add the cold heavy whipping cream into the cold mixing bowl. Starting at low speed, start whisking, gradually raise to speed to high. Slowly pour in the sugar and then Baileys. Beat until stiff peaks appear (don't walk away far). Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. Transfer whipped cream into a piping bag. Cut cooled pastries in the middle and fill them with whipped cream.

Heat up hot fudge topping and whisk it with Bailey's until completely combined. Cool before using so it doesn't melt the whipped cream.  Once cooled, drizzle filled cream puffs with chocolate sauce.

St. Patrick, Pray for us.
St. Joseph, Pray for us. 

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St. Cecilia Biscuits & Jam Session

This clever St. Cecilia feast day idea, from guest contributor, Rebecca Collazo, also uses a play on words - suggesting a jam and biscuit bar for refreshments to a musical jam session. Rebecca is a homeschool mom to four wonderful kids who shares that she loves reading to her children, having poetry tea times, teaching writing at a Catholic co-op, and traveling to places of literary and Catholic significance. Thanks again, Rebecca, for sharing this idea for a fun gathering of musicians and food event to honor St. Cecilia. Hopefully this gives you enough time to think about having a jam session for St. Cecilia sometime next week.

My daughter Celia, her name a variant of Cecilia, is a wonderfully talented singer, pianist, and budding self-taught ukulele player. It makes my own heart sing that she is so naturally gifted in an area that I myself have zero talent. Who knew when we chose the name that it would work out so perfectly? I like to think that St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, has a little something to do with that!

St. Cecilia’s Feast Day is November 22. She was an early Christian virgin and martyr. She was promised in marriage but told her new husband that she had made a vow of virginity to God and had an angel protecting her. It is said that she sang this promise in her heart to God, hence the connection to music. Her husband wanted to see this angel, and she told him to be baptized by the pope, and he would be able to see her protector. He did what she asked and was indeed able to see the angel. He honored her wishes to remain a virgin. His brother followed his lead and was baptized, and they went on to bury many of the Christians being killed in Rome. They were ultimately executed for not worshipping the Roman gods. Cecilia is said to have converted many with her witness, and as many as four hundred souls were baptized by Pope Urban because of her evangelization. Eventually, she was condemned to death, but when they attempted to behead her, she survived for three days. Her heroic faith is inspiring indeed! Learn a bit about her with your kids by reading Cecilia: Singing and Sharing the Faith or by listening to Glory Stories--Saint Cecilia: The Saint of the Catacombs

We have heard it said, “To sing is to pray twice.” Why not gather loved ones to do just that? To celebrate this patroness of music, this year my family plans to host a St. Cecilia Jam Session. Since her feast day falls on Thanksgiving this year, I feel like she would approve of celebrating a day early, or even squeezing in a little breakfast fun on Thanksgiving morning with relatives already gathered for the big feast). We will invite a few families to join us to perform on their instruments of choice, sing praise songs together, or maybe even bust out the karaoke machine for the bravest among us! My plan is to begin by praying the Prayer of St. Cecilia, read a short book about her life, and offer friends refreshments as we listen to the performances. And what more perfect snack at a jam session than jam itself! I’ll spread out a simple biscuit bar with a variety of jams, jellies, and spreads for folks to choose from. Coffee, tea, and juice will be the beverage offerings, and if I’m feeling fancy, we might have some fruit, too. My friends are always more than willing to bring things to share, so I may ask them to bring their favorite jam, fruit, or biscuits, but honestly, this is a pretty simple spread, so I may even be able to pull it off without too much hassle! True confessions: my biscuits will be of the Pillsbury variety, and I can assure you none of my people will be disappointed. Insert Dough Boy giggle here.

Simple celebrations are the best way to keep up with these feast days and to keep my own heart singing. My hope is that by creating these special memories with my children, they’ll really appreciate the Liturgical Year, and all the richness that it offers us. And that, my friends, really is my jam!

St. Cecilia, Patron of Musicians,

Pray for us!

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Beautiful New Shower of Roses Apron

“When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” - St. Therese

I just finished adding this beautiful "Shower of Roses" apron to our list of available aprons! It would make a lovely gift for anyone in your life who has a special devotion to St. Therese. I would love to add it to my own apron collection!

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Reginette "little queen" Pasta for Our Lady's Queenship

Several past Catholic Cuisine posts have shared ideas for pasta meals based on the symbolism of the pasta shape. There are hundreds of kinds of Italian pastas, and each one has its own special name and each pasta name actually means something.

Mafaldine or malfada, also known as reginette or reginelle (Italian for "little queens") is a type of ribbon-shaped pasta. Mafaldine were named in honor of Princess Mafalda of Savoy which is why they are also called "little queens." The pasta is flat and wide, usually about ½ inch in width, with wavy edges on both sides. The delicately fluted edges remind one of a crown. It is prepared similarly to other ribbon-based pasta such as linguine and fettuccine. On this feast of the Queenship of Mary (August 22) a pasta shape referencing a queen is perfect. It would also be a great pasta to serve up on any of the queen saints' feast days, such as St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Elizabeth of Hungary or St. Helena.

A variety of sauces could be served with this pasta. I chose a sun-dried tomato pesto which highlights the fresh bounty of basil from my August garden. Since August - the month of the Assumption and the one dedicated to the Immaculate Heart - is such a Marian month and is tied to herb harvest in her honor, it was fitting.

Reginette with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

10 sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp grated parmesan
10 basil leaves
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 oz pasta

In a blender, place the tomatoes, pine nuts, cheese, basil leaves and oil and blend at maximum power. Cook the pasta until al dente in boiling salted water, drain and stir in the pesto.

NOTE: Reginette/Reginelle pasta is not one of the most common shapes of pasta available in grocery stores. But I did find it available from Kroger as part of their HemisFares pasta brand. It is also available online and is specialty stores.

Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, Pray for us!

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Assumption Day and First Fruits

August 15, the feast of the Assumption, is a harvest feast day and associated with "first fruits". We are reminded that Mary goes before us in Faith and also as a first fruit of the Resurrection, of which all the faithful will experience at the end of time (1 Corinthians 15:20-21). In many Catholic counties Assumption Day marks the period for invoking blessings on various "fruits" or fruiting plants - - particularly vineyards/grapes, fruit trees, grains, and herbs.

One idea is to serve "First Fruits" shortcake and topped with whipped cream - symbolizing the clouds of the sky in scenes depicting Mary being raised into heaven. You can use a variety of fruits on packaged shortcake cups.

A very simple idea along the same lines is a fresh fruit tray with whipped cream for dipping.

Grapes are especially associated with the feast of the Assumption. Armenian communities all over the world bless grapes on Assumption Day. Great trays are piled high with ripe grapes and carried to church, where they receive the blessings of the priest. Since grapes so often have this prominence in Assumption feasting we will often have this refreshing grape enhanced salad on this feast day.

Silverglade Spinach Salad
6 cups spinach, rinsed and stemmed
6 ounces cheese, shredded or cut into julienne strips (Cheddar or Jack or combo)
2 cups seedless grapes, halved
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons brown sugar
4 slices bacon, fried crisp, drained, & crumbled
2 green onions, sliced thin

To prepare dressing, whisk together vinegar, oil. mustard, and brown sugar. Stir in bacon pieces and onion. Refrigerate. In a large bowl combine spinach, cheeses, and grapes. Toss with dressing. 

O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary, Pray for us. 
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Ice Cream w/ Salted Honey Caramel Sauce on the Feast of Blessed Solanus Casey

Blessed Solanus Casey is known as a miracle worker. One story that I came across happened to feature ice cream. Considering that there is this miraculous story involving ice cream, this frozen treat seems a proper dessert option on his midsummer feast day today. I decided to top it with a honey caramel sauce because he took care of the beehives at the monastery and was known to soothe the bees with his harmonica playing. 

One hot summer day, Blessed Solanus had seen many people at the door seeking his blessing and counsel. One visitor had come to thank him for his help in one manner or another, bringing ice cream cones to celebrate. Called to another situation, Blessed Solanus sat the ice cream in his desk drawer.

About 30 minutes later, one of the friars returned to the monastery from the dentist’s office. He had gone to arrange an operation to take care of a serious infection of his jaw. Before he left, he sought Blessed Solanus’ blessing, which he received. Blessed Solanus did not believe that religious should normally ask for miracles because they should embrace the sufferings God placed before them. But, as the custom of the day dictated, such a major health complication for a novice likely would mean they would have to leave the order. Blessed Solanus took pity on this friar, and in giving his blessing indicated the dentist might be surprised. Sure enough, the infection was gone.

When the friar returned to the monastery, he recounted the good news. He knew it was the prayer of Blessed Solanus that brought him healing. But Blessed Solanus offered a detraction from any attention that might be paid to him, and he initiated a celebration for the friar’s healing by pulling out the ice cream cones he earlier placed in his desk. They were fully intact and as cold as if they had been in the freezer all along.    ~ From OSV article

Salted Honey Caramel Sauce

½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup whipping cream
½ teaspoon sea salt

Combine sugar, honey, and water in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil; cook until mixture is golden brown and smooth in texture, additional 4-6 minutes.

Remove from heat and carefully whisk in cream, butter, and salt (be careful, mixture will splatter). Let cool. Spoon over ice cream and serve. Sprinkle with additional sea salt if desired.

Sauce can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. Reheat before serving.

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Blessed Solanus Casey Soup & Sandwich

Bl. Solanus Casey, Capuchin friar and doorkeeper who was just beatified in November 2017 will be remembered on the first-ever celebration of his feast day this week, July 30. In the tradition of the Franciscans whose charism is care for the poor, Bl. Solanus had a desire to feed anyone who came to the door of St. Bonaventure monastery in Detroit. "They are hungry; get them some soup and sandwiches," Fr. Solanus was known to proclaim to his fellow friars. In 1929 at the start of the Great Depression Bl. Solanus had the idea to start a soup kitchen down the street from the monastery, where he could send anyone who came to the door looking for food. The Capuchin soup kitchen has a long history of feeding the hungry in that area of Detroit.

A simple soup and sandwich combo would be a fine way to remember the hospitality of this simple man of God. A very simple broth based soup and a peanut butter sandwich would reflect the simplicity of the Franciscan life. Or something cool and refreshing on these often warm summer days such as a cold gazpacho soup and a crispy lettuce, deli meat and cheese sandwich. Mid-summer days are also a great opportunity to take advantage of a fruitful garden harvest with a summer garden minestrone and fresh tomato-basil-cucumber sandwich.

Have it with the family or open your home to friends in the spirit of Franciscan charity or take some sandwiches to distribute to the homeless in your city. Whatever combo you choose, or however you choose to enjoy it, make July 30 a combo soup and sandwich day to remember the generosity and hospitality of this simple wonder-worker priest.
"They are hungry; get them some soup and sandwiches."
Blessed Solanus Casey, Pray for us!
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