Mini Ground Lamb Pot Pie Cupcakes for St. Agnes Day



I was looking for a lamb dish to make on the feast of St. Agnes and came across this cute idea for mini pot pies. Combining tender lamb with sun-dried tomatoes in a mini pastry crust and topping with mashed potato icing makes pretty “cupcake” looking pot pies.  


Lamb Pot Pie Cupcakes


Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 8 oz sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup onions, chopped
  • 1 T. Olive oil 
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Mashed potato – for 'Icing' topping
  • Mini crusts, pre-made


Directions:

In skillet, saute onions in olive oil until tender. Add ground lamb and cook until browned.  Add sun dried tomatoes, cook for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Fill 12 mini pastry crusts with the ground lamb mixture.  Fill a piping bag with mashed potatoes. Pipe a swirl on top of the meat mixture to cover.  Place under a hot preheated broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown the mashed potatoes. Serve hot or cold. Good for a buffet, snack, lunch or dinner.   Makes: 12 mini pies

St. Agnes, Pray for us!


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St. Agnes Lamb's Wool Drinks

On January 21 we celebrate the feast of St. Agnes, 4th century martyr, known for her consecrated virginity. She is often depicted holding a lamb as her name, Agnes, means lamb or victim in Latin, and pure in Greek. In Rome on this feast day, two lambs are placed on the altar of the Basilica where her relics lie and are then blessed. The wool from these lambs is used in making the pallium, the symbols archbishops wear as sign of their authority. These are given to the new archbishops on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29.



There are so many beautiful details associated with this tradition, as specified in this article from the Vatican News Network:

The small lambs, traditionally less than a year old, are carried to the Pope in baskets, as per tradition, by the Canons Regular of the Cathedral of St John Lateran. To symbolize St. Agnes’ purity, one of the lambs wears a crown of white flowers, while the other wears a red floral wreath to recall her faithful witness even unto death.

Reared by religious sisters in the Saint Lawrence convent in Panisperna, Rome, come Summer these same lambs will be brought to the Saint Cecilia convent in Trastevere.  There, in a custom that has remained in tact down through the centuries, they will be shorn to supply the wool from which the religious sisters will weave the Pallium.

The Pallium are white woolen stoles, decorated with six black crosses worn by metropolitan archbishops around their necks as a symbol of their authority and unity with the Pope. Once woven they are custodied in an urn at the tomb of St Peter until the Holy Father presents them to newly-appointed metropolitan archbishops on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.


St. Agnes Lamb's Wool Drink Ideas

With the connection of lamb's wool, St. Agnes feast day lends itself to anything fluffy and white. Whipped cream seemed a fun way to try to replicate the look of wool and with this mid-winter feast, a perfect topping for a warm drink.  It's easy too!  Whether it be hot chocolate, chia latte, or a cappuccino, make it St. Agnes festive with a "woolly" topping. 


And if you are looking for some specific drink recipes with woolly names here are a few that would be fitting as well. 

Lamb's Wool - a type of Wassail ale dating from medieval times, traditionally served on Twelfth Night celebrating the end of the Christmas season. It is so named as the frothy apple mixture resembles wool. It would make a fun drink for St. Agnes feast celebrating as well. Florence Berger has a recipe for Lamb's Wool in her Cooking for Christ cookbook.  There are other versions of this wool-named ale including this one from Miss Foodwise blog.  Can be made as either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink.

Warm Wooly Sheep - a sweet, creamy, warm drink for the grown ups. It is made from Scotch, Drambuie, and warm milk. Recipes abound on various mixed drink websites.

St. Agnes, Pray for us!

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Altagracia Cookies

This post was written by Catholic Cuisine contributor, Charlotte from Waltzing Matilda

Legend says that the pious daughter of a rich merchant asked him to bring her a portrait of Our Lady of Altagracia from Santo Domingo, but no one had heard of that title. The merchant, staying overnight at a friend's house in Higuey, described his problem as they sat outdoors after dinner. An old man with a long beard, who just happened to be passing by, pulled a rolled up painting from his bindle, gave it to the merchant, and said, "This is what you are looking for." It was the Virgin of Altagracia. They gave the old man a place to stay for the night, but by dawn he was gone, not to be seen again. The merchant placed the image on their mantle, but it repeatedly disappeared only to be found outside. They finally returned it to the church. 

In the picture book, A Gift of Gracias, by Julie Lavarez, a connection is made between this special feast day and oranges. These Orange Carrot Cookies would be a delightful treat for the Feast of Our Lady of Altagracia, coming up on January 21st, especially paired with a reading of the book. You can find the original recipe over at Dawn's blog, By Sun and Candlelight. I made a few changes that I will post here. Just FYI, these are soft, almost muffin-top like cookies, not crispy or crunchy cookies.

Altagracia Cookies

1 egg, room temperature
1/2 C. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 - 3/4 C. sugar (I used less.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
the zest of 1/2 an orange (about 1 Tbl.)
1 C. mashed, cooked carrots
2 C. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
(sugar sprinkles, optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine baking powder and flour and set aside. Cream the egg, butter, sugar and vanilla. Add carrots and zest and mix well. Slowly incorporate flour mixture being careful not to over mix. Drop by tablespoons onto parchment covered cookie sheets. Add sugar sprinkles if desired. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on a wire rack. 
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Authentic Liege Waffles for the Belgian Saints


Belgium is famous for its waffles. So if you are looking at celebrating a feast with a Belgian connection, look no further than the glorious waffle. I have some family members who are currently very excited about waffles and wanting real Belgian style. I did some research and found that there are two primary distinct styles of waffles in Belgium and both are different from the Americanized version most of us are familiar with. Even the name "Belgian waffle" came from the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York. There is the gaufres de Liege (Liege waffle) and the gaufres de Bruxelles (Brussels waffle) - gaufres is French, wafel is Dutch. Some history of the Belgian waffles can be found here, here and here.

Both are distinguished from the Americanized version by a yeast batter with a delicious amount of butter. Liege waffles are made with a thick, sticky batter with added vanilla and large sugar crystals called pearl sugar. When the waffles cook in the iron, the sugar crystals melt and caramelize on the surface, contributing to a crunchy sweetness. They also have uneven edges. These are the common waffles sold by street vendors in Belgium. Brussels waffles were made with a thinner batter which makes them lighter and crisper with smooth edges. These are closer to the American version.

So I splurged on a new Belgian waffle maker and some pearl sugar with Christmas money we got and put it to work to recognize the feast of Our Lady of Banneux, January 15. This commemorates the apparitions of Mary to a young girl, Mariette Beco, between January 15 and March 2, 1933 in the town of Banneux, which happens to be in the province of Liege in Belgium. It was very similar to a series of apparitions to five young children in nearby Beauraing from November 1932 to January 1933. Both were investigated and approved by the Church in 1949.

So if you are interested in celebrated Belgian saints with Belgian waffles here are a few of the more well known options:

Our Lady of Banneux - apparition, January 15
St. Colette - March 6
St. Juliana of Leige - April 6
St. Damien of Molokai - May 10
St. John Berchmans - August 13
St. Arnold of Soissons - August 14
Our Lady of Beauraing - apparition, August 22
St. Hubert - November 3

And there are the connections of waffles to celebrating the feast of the Annunciation in Sweden as mentioned in these past posts - Our Lady Feasting and Annunciation Waffles. And in my online reading I am finding was common to sell waffles as treats on the streets after Mass for feast days throughout parts of Europe. Another common feast day for this is mentioned in this past post - St. Michael's Waffles

Celebrate with waffles!


Liege Sugar Waffles

Ingredients:
1 package yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup butter (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Belgian pearl sugar

Directions:
Mix yeast, granulated sugar, salt and water. Let stand 15 minutes for yeast to activate. In mixing bowl mound the flour and make well in middle. Pour yeast mixture into well and mix, adding eggs and melted butter. Mix until blended. Batter will be thick and sticky. Cover dough and let rise in warm spot 30-60 minutes to double. After rising add half cup of pearl sugar and mix in.



Spoon onto hot, greased waffle iron. Cook until golden - time depending on temperature and temperament of your particular waffle iron.




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Chicken Tikka Masala for Epiphany


Behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him."  
Matthew 2:1-2

January 6th is the traditional feast of Epiphany! To celebrate I decide to serve an Eastern dinner of Chicken Tikka Masala, Basmati Rice with Fresh Cilantro, and Naan recalling the "wise men from the East!" This was the first time I've made Chicken Tikka Masala and I most definitely will not be waiting another year to make it again. It turned out amazing!


Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
adapted from thekitchn

Ingredients: 
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Basmati rice, cooked 


Directions: 

Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a 6-quart slow cooker.

Sauté the onions and garlic in a skillet with a little coconut oil over medium-high until softened, then stir in the tomato paste, grated ginger, paprika, salt, and 2 tablespoons of garam masala until fragrant. 


Transfer to the slow cooker. Stir in the diced tomatoes (with their juices) and mix until the chicken is evenly covered with spices.


Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. 


Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the coconut milk. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. 


Taste and add more garam masala or salt if needed. Serve over rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top of each serving. 

Serves 8 to 12

Note: The Chicken Tikka Masala can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months.

The beautiful Silent Night Table Runner can be found here. 


Happy Epiphany! 

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Epiphany Star Appetizers


The wise men were guided to the baby Jesus by following the star they saw in the East, so the five-pointed or Epiphany star is a common symbol of the feast.  Let these fun, and simple to prepare, sausage and puff pastry appetizers guide the way for a fun Epiphany treat to celebrate the day. 

Epiphany Star Appetizers
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. mild/sweet Italian sausage links
  • 1/2 sheet Puff Pastry (thawed)
  • 1 egg
Directions:
Cut the sausage links into 36 slices, approx. 3/8 inch. Brown the meat on both sides in a frying pan over medium heat. No need to fully cook as it will cook in oven. Set aside on a plate to cool while you get the pastry ready.

Lay the pastry out on work surface. Whisk egg in small dish and brush the surface of the pastry with mixed egg. Using a mini star cookie cutter, cut out 36 star shapes from the pastry. 

Place the meat onto a baking sheet and cover each one with a star of pastry and secure with a toothpick. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. 
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Feta Cream Cheese Olive Appetizers on St. Lucy Day


I know there are many cultural recipes and lovely baked sweets traditions associated with St. Lucy's feast day. Many have been posted here in past and recently for St. Lucy day celebrations. I saw these appetizers on Pinterest (from blog Diethood) and in my mind made a link to St. Lucy. Wanting to make sure I wasn't stretching it, I asked my son to look at the picture, too. "Hey, what do these look like?" "Eye balls," he replied and he knew if I was doing a post for Catholic Cuisine, it was for St. Lucy. So if a 15 year old sees it, they must look like an eye.

St. Lucy is often pictured in paintings holding a plate with two eyeballs. One of the legends associated with her indicates that as part of her torture, Diocletian had her eyes put out. According to those stories her sight was later restored to her by God.

These are a simple appetizer and actually quite tasty. They may be a more grown up fare as mine were never fond of feta when they were younger. I assume the recipe could be modified to exclude the feta and just use the cream cheese.

Ingredients & Directions:

1 can medium olives
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup crushed nuts

Drain olives and dry with paper towel.  Mix cream cheese and feta at room temperature.  Crush nuts and place in shallow bowl. Mold about 1 teaspoon of cheese mixture around olive.  Shape until rounded. Roll each in chopped nuts until covered. Set on plate and refrigerate 1/2 hour until chilled. Cut in half, through olive, making sure to leave the circle of black intact - looks like the iris of the eye and the hole looks like the pupil. Pin It
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