Seafood Paella for New Year's Eve


My father was born and raised in Colombia. Growing up, I always remember paella on New Year's Eve.

Seafood paella, especially, can be expensive to prepare so doing so during Christmas seems to 'fit' for me... and continues the long time family tradition I remember from childhood.


Photo Source

"Paella is a typical Spanish dish and is traditionally cooked in a "paellera"—a round flat pan with two handles—which is then put on the table. It is normally made using shellfish but can also be made with chicken or rabbit. In many Spanish villages, especially in coastal areas, they use a giant paellera to cook a paella on festival days which is big enough to feed everybody. A paella is very flexible so if you don’t have the exact ingredients or if you find some of them hard to get hold of, substitute them for something similar. Getting fresh shellfish can be a problem, but you can always use frozen fish and use fish stock instead of water to increase the flavor." Catholic Culture

This is the recipe I am using as my base tomorrow. I found live clams (only 2 but they are large) and mussels at the local grocer today. They also had a great deal on already peeled/cooked shrimp. I picked up frozen scallops and canned crabmeat, and whole clams and oysters. I am substituting fish stock (wax boxed like Swanson chicken broth) as my shrimp were already peeled. Perhaps the most important factors in a good paella are the rice and saffron. You cannot substitute for the saffron! The rest is pretty forgiving. Standard long grain American white rice isn't absorbent enough and the sticky Asian varieties don't work well either. A regular short grain rice is the best but I couldn't find any so will substitute a medium grain. I am doubling my recipe because I am borrowing my Anglo mother’s 20” paella pan.

If you have ever overcooked a boxed rice mix such as Rice-a-Roni... that caramelized crunchy part that separates from the bottom of the pan is SUPPOSED to happen with a properly done paella. So many recipes are available and in Spain and South America they vary widely by region. Many excellent paella recipes can be found here: http://www.spain-recipes.com/paellarecipes.html along with links to purchase paella pans, saffron, and more.


Seafood Paella
Serves four (ideal for a 13- or 14-inch paella pan).

This paella is good when served with lemon wedges, but it's even better when spread with a bit of alioli, a garlic mayonnaise that is the Spanish version of the French aioli. To make alioli, add a few cloves of chopped garlic and a large pinch of salt to a mini-food processor (or a mortar), process (or pound with a pestle) until very fine, and then slowly drizzle in olive oil to make a thick, mayonnaise-like consistency. Add lemon juice to taste, and process again.

1/3 lb. shrimp, peeled (reserve the shells for broth)
Pinch of saffron threads
Salt to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 lb. scallops (or calamari, cut in rings)
1/2 onion, grated on the largest holes of a box grater
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 ripe tomato, halved and grated on the largest holes of a box grater (discard the skin) (canned/diced just fine)
1 1/2 cups medium grain rice
8 small mussels or clams (1/2 lb.), scrubbed
1 lemon, cut in wedges for garnish

In a medium saucepan, boil 3 1/2 cups of salted water. Add the shrimp shells and simmer, covered, for about 10 min. Strain the broth, and return it to the saucepan. Toast the saffron gently (in a dry skillet or toaster oven), crush the threads with the back of a spoon, and add to the shrimp shell broth. Taste for salt; the broth should be well-seasoned.

In a 14-inch paella pan, heat the oil on high. Meanwhile, pat dry the shrimp and scallops (or calamari). When the oil is hot, sauté the shrimp and scallops until almost cooked through, about 2 min. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Pour out all but 1 Tbs. of oil from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion softens, about 5 min. Add the tomato, season with salt, and sauté until the mixture, called the sofrito, has darkened and is a thick purée, 10 to 15 min.

Meanwhile, bring the shrimp shell broth back to a simmer. When the tomato-onion sofrito is ready, add the rice to the pan. Sauté until the rice loses its opaqueness, about 1 min. Increase the heat to medium-high. Pour in 3 cups of the simmering broth (reserving the remaining 1/2 cup) and stir or shake the pan to evenly distribute the rice in the pan. As the liquid comes to a boil, arrange the mussels or clams in the pan, submerging them as much as possible below the level of the liquid. From this point on, do not stir the rice.

Cook the paella on medium-high, rotating and moving the pan over one or two burners to distribute the heat. When the rice begins to appear above the liquid, after 8 to 10 min., reduce the heat to medium low. Continue to simmer, rotating the pan as necessary, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 min. more. Taste a grain of rice just below the top layer; it should be al dente. (If the rice is not done but all the liquid has been absorbed, sprinkle a bit of hot broth to the pan and cook a few minutes more.) Arrange the shrimp and scallops (or calamari) in the pan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook gently for another 2 min. to help ensure that the top layer of rice is evenly cooked. With the foil still in place, increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for about 2 min., until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat. The rice may crackle somewhat, but if it starts burning, remove the pan from the heat immediately.

Let the paella rest off the heat, still covered, for 5 min. Sit everyone down at a round or square table. Remove the foil and invite people to eat directly from the pan, starting at the perimeter, working toward the center, and squeezing lemon over their section, if they want.

This post was submitted by Lara in MO for publication here at Catholic Cuisine. Thank you Lara!

I want to add that not only is this an excellent dish for New Year's, it would also be great to make for the feast of St. Raymond of Penafort , which is celebrated on January 7th, and any other saints of Spanish descent.

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Feast of the Holy Innocents

The Holy Innocents are shown with the Holy Family, in spirit,
during the Family's Flight to Egypt in this painting by William Holman Hunt.

On December 28th, the feast of the Holy Innocents, the Church honors all the little children who were killed by King Herod in his attempt to kill the Christ Child. These Holy Innocents were the first to die for Christ, and so they have been honored, since very early times, as martyrs.

There are many customs associated with this feast. One custom is to serve some sort of "baby food" (for example oatmeal), especially to the youngest members of the family. Another would be to let the youngest child "rule the day." This child would then get to choose the food, drinks, etc for the day. The traditional dessert for this feast is a white pudding with a red raspberry sauce, which symbolizes both the purity of the Holy Innocent's and their martyrdom. Other options include baking a white cake or serving vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce.

We have a favorite Coconut Rice Pudding (that I have come up with from a number of various recipes) that we make for this feast that is both dairy and sugar free:


Coconut Rice Pudding

1/2 cup basmati rice, rinsed
14 oz can of coconut milk
2 cups water
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup grated coconut (optional)

Directions:
Combine the rice, coconut milk, water and agave in saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 min, stirring occasionally. Take off heat, add cinnamon and vanilla. When the rice is cooked, spoon it into a mold or pretty glass. Place the rice pudding in the refrigerator to chill until serving.

    Raspberry Sauce

    1 cup raspberries
    1 tbs. agave nectar (or 2 tbs. sugar)
    1 tsp. corn starch
    1/4 cup water

    Directions:
    Place the berries in a sauce pan, add the water and agave (or sugar) and bring to a boil. Save a few of the prettiest berries to use as garnish. Once the berries have cooked down, push them through a sieve to remove the seeds. Mix the corn starch with a little bit of the berry juice. Return the juice to the sauce pan and add the corn starch mixture. Cook a few minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and cool.

    (Another option is to just use Red Raspberry Syrup, instead of the sauce, for convenience.)

    To serve, turn the molded coconut pudding out onto a plate, spoon some of the sauce over and garnish with a few pretty berries.


    If you have children, there is a special solemn blessing that parents should give their children on this day:
    Father: O Lord, hear my prayer.
    All: And let my cry come unto Thee.
    Father: Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, once Thou embraced and placed Thy hands upon the little children who came to Thee, and said: "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and their angels always see the face of my Father!" Look now with fatherly eyes on the innocence of these children and their parents' devotion, and bless them this day through our prayers.
    The father signs the forehead of each child with holy water.
    Father: In Thy grace and goodness let them advance continually, longing for Thee, loving Thee, fearing Thee, keeping Thy commandments. Then they will surely come to their destined home, through Thee, Savior of the world. Who lives and reigns forever and ever.
    All: Amen.
    Father: May God bless you. And may He keep your hearts and minds -- the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
    All: Amen.

    Also, be sure to remember to pray for all the Holy Innocents in our own country at this time... All the innocent children who are being killed each and every day by abortion.

    Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life, And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters. I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion, Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death by the Resurrection of Your Son. I am ready to do my part in ending abortion. Today I commit myself Never to be silent, Never to be passive, Never to be forgetful of the unborn. I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement, And never to stop defending life Until all my brothers and sisters are protected, And our nation once again becomes A nation with liberty and justice Not just for some, but for all, Through Christ our Lord. Amen! (This prayer was written by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director Priests for Life.)

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    Eagle Cake

    As I mentioned earlier, today was the feast of St. John the Apostle. One of the symbols for St. John is the eagle. Since we celebrate one of my sons namedays today, I decided to make an Eagle cake using the directions for an Eaglet Cut-Up-Cake in My Nameday Come for Dessert by Helen McLoughlin as a guide. It was really easy and quite fun to put together!

    It turned out very homemade looking -- but that never does matter to children, does it?!


    EAGLET CAKE

    1) You will need a 9-inch square cake. Bake it from a cake mix or
    from your best-liked recipe. When cool, cut a strip diagonally
    across the center of the cake, 3 inches wide to use for the body.
    Cut the corner off one end to make a beak.

    (In case some of you need visuals like I do, I drew a picture for you.)

    2) Place the cake strip so that the pointed end is the head; use
    the cut-off piece for the beak. Use remaining cake pieces as
    spread-out wings. Frost with white seven-minute frosting.

    (I used canned frosting in chocolate and lemon.)

    3) When the fluffy frosting is swirled on the eaglet, add coconut
    for feathers. Make a red gumdrop eye and a glistening beak of
    tiny yellow candies. For the feet and wing tips use split pieces
    of licorice "shoelaces."

    (I skipped this step since my goal was to use what I had on hand. I frosted the body with chocolate frosting, the beak with lemon, and used powdered sugar for the head. I then added a couple candy corns for his talons. To finish him off I just added a brown M&M for his eye.)


    This cake can also be used for the feasts of Sts. "John of the Cross; Augustine of Hippo; Priscilla, an early Christian martyr; the Benedictines Cuthbert, Bertolph, and Thierry (or Theodoric); Leopold; and Wenceslaus, who is shown in art with an eagle on a shield." ~ Helen McLoughlin

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    Feast of the Holy Family



    Today we can have a traditional Lebanese meal, since this is the same kind of food that Mary served Jesus and St. Joseph. Taken from Catholic Culture

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

    Ingredients:
    10 leaves cabbage
    1 cup uncooked white rice
    2 cups water
    1 pound lean ground beef
    1 cup dry bread crumbs
    1 pinch ground cinnamon
    1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
    1 onion, diced
    1 teaspoon salt

    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
    Bring a large pot of water to boil, introduce cabbage leaves and cook 2 minutes. Drain. Combine the rice and water is a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
    In a large bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, cinnamon, drained and chopped tomatoes, onion and salt; stir until well combined. Spoon equal amounts of beef mixture onto the center of each cabbage leaf. Place a spoonful of rice onto the beef. Roll up leaves, tucking in edges, and seal with a toothpick. Wrap each roll in aluminum foil and place in a shallow baking dish.
    Bake 40 minutes, or until beef is cooked through. Serve warm.

    Lentil Soup

    Ingredients:
    1 onion, chopped
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 carrots, diced
    2 stalks celery, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 bay leaf
    1 teaspoon dried basil
    1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    2 cups dry lentils
    8 cups water
    1/2 cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
    2 tablespoons vinegar
    salt to taste
    ground black pepper to taste

    Directions:
    In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.
    Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper, and more vinegar if desired.

    Hummus

    Ingredients:
    2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained
    1/3 cup tahini
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 cloves garlic, halved
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 pinch paprika
    1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

    Directions:
    Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.
    Drizzle olive oil over the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley

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    St. John's Love

    On December 27th we celebrate the feast of St. John the Apostle. St. John was one of the sons of Zebedee, or "sons of thunder," and the apostle "whom Jesus loved." We have a extra special devotion to St. John in our home since we celebrate one of our sons "namedays" on this feast!

    According to legend, Emperor Domitian served St. John poisoned wine in an attempt to murder him. However, since St. John blessed the wine before drinking it, the poison rose from the glass and slithered away in the shape of a serpent.

    In remembrance and honor of St. John, Catholics can bring wine to church to be blessed at the end of Mass. The wine is then turned into a sacramental called the "Love of St. John." This sacramental wine can be used for special occasions throughout the year, or be given to the sick.


    Blessing of Wine for the Feast of St. John the Apostle
    (Source: Feast Day Cookbook)

    Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
    All: Who has made heaven and earth.
    Leader: The Lord be with you.
    All: And also with you.
    Leader: Let us pray. Be so kind as to bless and consecrate with Your right hand, Lord, this cup of wine, and every drink. Grant that by the merits of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, all who believe in You and drink of this cup may be blessed and protected. Blessed John drank poison from the cup, and was in no way harmed. So, too, may all who this day drink from this cup in honor of Blessed John, by his merits, be freed from every sickness by poisoning and from any harms whatever. And, when they have offered themselves in both soul and body, may they be freed, too, from every fault, through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.
    Leader: Bless, Lord, this beverage which You have made. May it be a healthful refreshment to all who drink of it. And grant by the invocation of Your holy name that whoever tastes of it may, by Your generosity receive health of both soul and body, through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen

    Often times a special hot mulled wine is made to be served with the main meal. We have made this wine the past couple years and have really enjoyed it:

    St. John's Love

    1 quart red wine
    3 whole cloves
    1/16 teaspoon ground cardamom
    2 two-inch cinnamon sticks
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 cup sugar

    Pour the wine into a large saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. Boil for 5 minutes (at this point the alcohol will be pretty much evaporated). Serve hot.

    If you were unable to have wine blessed at Mass, the father of the family will bless the cup and then sprinkle the wine with holy water.


    To begin the toasting, the Father of the house lifts his glass toward the Mother and says, "I drink you the love of St. John." The Mother then replies, "I thank you for the love of St. John." She then turns to the oldest child, lifts her glass and says, "I drink you the love of St. John..." and so on, until everyone has been toasted. Even the children can have a small sip, though I am not going to promise that they will like it!!

    *This year I picked up Martenelli's Sparkling Apple-Pomegranate for my kids. I'll still serve it in our wine glasses.




    May you all have a very blessed feast of St. John!
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    Lamb of God

    This Lamb of God can be made with any suitable (read: yeast) dough. I used a sweet whole grain dough made with eggs, honey, soft white wheat, milk, salt, and oil. This is the same dough recipe I use to make cinnamon rolls or pecan sticky buns (we avoid white flour).


    Lamb

    You will need:
    • one half portion of desired dough (I used a sweet wheat dough, the same on I use as a base for yeast cinnamon rolls)
    • 1 raisin
    • egg white glaze (1 egg white whisked with about 1 T. cold water)
    • 2 T. sesame seeds
    • ribbon & bell (optional)
    Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Cover three portions and set aside.

    On a lightly greased surface, roll remaining dough into a 9x6" oval about 1/4" thick. Cut body of lamb. Transfer to a greased baking sheet (I add a generous drop of lecithin to my oil and rub onto a cookie sheet) Cover and set trimmings aside.

    Roll one portion of dough into a 9x1" rope. Cut off a 5" section for the head. Cut a scant 1/2" section for tail. Cut remaining rope into two equal portions for legs. Shape head into oval. Attach to body, overlapping slightly and pinching to seal. Shape and smooth nose area. Flatten top of head slightly. Shape tail and attach to body, pinching to seal. Roll each leg section into a 2 1/2" length. Insert under body, pinching to seal.

    Using most of the remaining dough, make 26 1" balls. Arrange over main part of body to within 1/4" of outer edge. Make a 1/2" ball and shape into an ear; attach to head. Make several 1/4" to 1/2" balls from all remaining dough. Arrange smaller balls atop head an between the larger balls on the body. Cover and let rise 15-20 minutes. (Dough will continue to rise during baking).

    Cut a lengthwise line in each leg. Insert raisin for eye. Brush lamb generously with glaze. Sprinkle half the sesame seeds over 'fleece.'

    Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for 10 minutes. Quickly brush with glaze; recut legs if needed. Sprinkle body with remaining sesame seeds. Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until lightly browned and bread sounds hollow when tapped in the thickest portion (I actually think this makes bread that is too dry and overdone; I prefer to use a meat thermometer. Bread is done when the center of the thickest part registers 190 F). About halfway through baking, cover browned areas
    with foil if necessary. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

    Tie ribbon with bell around neck.

    Of course, being apart from the secular world, who mistakenly believes Christmas is over, we as Catholic Christians are fortunate to have ELEVEN more days to celebrate! That is more than enough time to whip up a lamb, or two… or even a whole flock of the critters.

    If you aren’t inclined to make your own dough, as I have, frozen bread dough will work just fine also.


    This post was submitted for publication by Lara in MO. Thank you Lara! Pin It

    12 Days of Christmas gifts

    Here is something we started doing 2 years ago. We give the kids small presents until the Feast of the Epiphany. The kids really enjoyed doing this. I couldn't think of a food gift for each day, we improvised. A lot of these can be given in a gift bag every day.

    ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...a partridge in a pear tree. Sorry, but we can't find the partridge, so we are givng you some pears from the tree the partridge flew away from. (Give them a basket of pears, or maybe a can of pears per child.)

    ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...two turtle doves...but dont' have any...will candy turtles do? ( A pack of candy turtles for each child.)

    ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...three French hens...well, we don't have any French hens, so we're giving you some chicken noodle soup, compliments of the three French hens. (Make some Cornish hens for dinner, or give them 1 can of their favorite chicken noodle soup.)

    ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...four calling birds...we can't find those calling birds though because they flew off! (Make some chicken wings for dinner.)

    ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...five golden rings, but sorry, we're too poor for golden rings, but will some golden pineapple rings do? (a fresh pineapple, or 5 cans of pineapple rings.)

    ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...six geese a laying, but we know you don't really want the mess of six geese all over your house, do you? How about some eggs that they left behind! (Make deviled eggs as an appetizer today, or give some chocolate eggs.)

    ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...seven swans a swimming! OK, we looked for the swans, but couldn't find them, but we did find some bubble bath they used while they were swimming! (Some bottles of bubble bath.)

    ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...eight maids a-milking. Here is some milk we got from the eight maids -- we think they must have been milking some brown cows! (Make some hot chocolate, or give them their own pack of hot cocoa.)

    ON THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...nine ladies dancing...Here are some pop rocks that are sure to dance in your mouth! (a packet of pop rocks for each child.)

    ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS: your true love gave to you...ten lords-a-leapin' - here are some jacks, the ball will be jumping instead of leapin'! (Give the kids a pack of jacks.)

    ON THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...eleven pipers piping, so here is a pipe of your own, have fun with it! (A bubble pipe and bubble solution.)

    ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, your true love gave to you...twelve drummers drumming, but we figured twelve drummers drumming would take up way too much room, so we drummed up some cookies for you...hope they keep this from being just another hum-"drum" day for you! (Give them a plate of cookies.) Pin It

    Mealtime Prayers for Christmas


    "When the family gathers for meals on Christmas Day and throughout Christmastide, it is a natural time to reecho the great fact: "This day Christ is born!" Many families find that special meal prayers which repeat the beautiful texts from the Christmas Masses and Office are a great help in keeping the Christmas theme in mind and in meditating on its meaning. Meal prayers can be as simple as the reading of one of the Christmas collects from the missal, together with the traditional grace." ~ The Twelve Days of Christmas

    The following prayers, from The Twelve Days of Christmas Kit, are for before and after both breakfast and dinner and may be used throughout the Christmas season:

    Before Breakfast
    Leader: The Word was made flesh, alleluia, alleluia!
    All: And dwelt among us, alleluia, alleluia!
    Leader: Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad,
    All: Before the face of the Lord, for He comes.
    Leader: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.

    After Breakfast
    Leader: Glory to God in the highest!
    All: And on earth peace to men of good will, alleluia!
    Leader: The Lord has reigned,
    All: And He is clothed with beauty.
    Leader: O Almighty God, the Savior of the world, who hast nourished us with heavenly food, we give Thee thanks for the gift of this bodily refreshment which we have received from Thy bountiful mercy. Through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.

    Before Dinner
    Leader: All the ends of the earth have seen, alleluia!
    All: The Salvation of our God, alleluia!
    Leader: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
    All: The Lord is God and He has shone upon us.
    Leader: Lord, have mercy on us.
    All: Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
    Leader: Our Father....as it is in heaven.
    All: Give us this day....Amen.
    Leader: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.

    After Dinner
    Leader: The goodness of God our Savior has appeared.
    All: Not by the works of Justice which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us.
    Leader: A sanctified day has shone upon us, alleluia!
    All: Come, you nations, and adore the Lord!
    Leader: Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the new birth in the flesh of Thine only-begotten Son may set us free, whom the old bondage holds under the yoke of sin. Through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.
    Leader: We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for these and all Thy gifts, which we have received from Thy bounty. Who livest and reignest world without end.
    All: Amen.

    Wishing you all a very Blessed Christmas,
    from all of us here at Catholic Cuisine!
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    Cherry Cheese Coffee Cake for Christmas


    I wanted to take a second, even though it is already Christmas Eve, to share one of our favorite recipes for Christmas morning. It is very simple to put together, looks very festive, and tastes delicious! We have been making it for years, and I'll be putting another together tonight to pop in the oven as soon as we get home from Mass in the morning. I hope you all have a very Blessed Christmas!


    Cherry Cheese Coffee Cake
    Source: Pampered Chef

    Cake & filling
    2 (8 oz. each) pkgs. refrigerated crescent rolls
    8 oz. cream cheese
    1/4 cup powdered sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
    21 oz. can cherry pie filling

    Glaze
    1/2 cup powdered sugar
    2-3 teaspoons milk

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll crescent dough and arrange 12 of the triangles in a circle with wide ends toward the outside edge of the Large Round Stone - the points will not meet in the center. Lightly flour and roll out the seams making a 14" circle with a 3" hole in the center. Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg & vanilla and spread over dough. Top with pie filling. Cut each of the 4 remaining triangles into thirds (starting at the wide end opposite the point and cutting lengthwise to the point). Arrange over filling evenly in spoke-like pattern. Press ends to seal at center and outer edges. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. Mix powdered sugar and milk until glaze consistency and drizzle over coffee cake.


    UPDATE:  You can also turn the above recipe into 2 Candy Cane Coffee Cakes, using 3 cans of crescent rolls instead of two.   I made the bottom of each candy cane with 1 1/4 pkgs. of crescent rolls, using the remaining 1/4 package to cut strips to lay over the top. I topped each candy cane with half of the cream cheese mixture and half of the pie filling.  You can see additional pictures over on my other blog.



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    Starlight Cookies for the last week of Advent

    UPDATE:  You can find our Cookies with a printable tag here.

    We found this recipe for a gift mix online and adapted it to use as a special Advent cookie. They would make lovely Pre-Christmas gifts, made into mix kits, with the following instructions printed out and tied on with a ribbon. You might also want to just commemorate the journey of St. Joseph and Mary with your own family by making these the last week of Advent.



    Starlight Cookies
    To be made on or for Christmas Eve
    in Honor of our Blessed Mother's and St. Joseph's
    Journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem

    Contained in this jar:

    Chopped Nuts to represent the rocky road the little family traveled on
    White chocolate chips for the stars in the sky
    Dried cranberries whose tartness symbolize the doors shut to Mary and Joseph
    Sugar to represent the snow
    Brown sugar for the brown hills of Bethlehem
    Rolled oats to symbolize the animals in the stable where they found shelter
    Flour for the simple goodness of the shepherds in the fields they passed

    To make the cookies:

    Think of the preparation St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother must have made for this journey to Bethlehem: Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.

    For the light of Heaven: In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg, and 1 tsp of vanilla until fluffy.

    Add the hardships of the journey to the light of Heaven: Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix until well blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets

    Remember the hardships of Jesus' life on earth and His passion: Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until edges brown.

    Anticipate His coming: Cool on baking sheets or remove to cool on wire racks.

    Appreciate the joy and promise of His birth: Enjoy eating them!

    Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

    (Makes app. 18 cookies.)


    To prepare the jar ingredients, layer the following:

    1 C plus 2 T all-purpose flour
    *mixed thoroughly with*
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    *followed by*
    1/2 C rolled oats
    1/3 C packed brown sugar
    1/3 C sugar
    1/2 C dried cranberries
    1/2 C white chocolate chips
    1/2 C chopped pecans or walnutsHere's how they looked when we were all done.


    This post was written by Lisa at Are we There Yet, who granted us permission to publish it here at Catholic Cuisine. I just love this idea, and I am looking forward to making the cookies with my own children.  Thank you Lisa! 

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    O Antiphons


    Tomorrow begins the "O" Antiphons. These are antiphons in the Church's liturgy dating from the seventh century that invoke God. Using seven different names from our Salvation History in the Old Testament, each antiphon begins with the invocation "O" and impatiently begging God to come and save His people.

    With all the wonderful feasts and traditions in Advent, this one is my favorite. It evokes wonderful memories when our family implemented the ideas inspired by Cooking for Christ by Florence Berger.

    By the seventeenth of December, both the Church and the children become increasingly impatient for Christmas. This holy impatience has found expression in the beautiful antiphons which call Christ to come, and to come quickly. It is very natural for children to use the "O Antiphons" for their daily prayer at this time. We say them at the evening meal when the Advent wreath is lighted.

    Another old custom which we revived is giving family treats. In the monasteries long years ago, the different monks furnished extra treats on these days before Christ's birthday. The gardener gave the community some of his finest dried or preserved fruits on December 19 when he called on Christ: "O Root of Jesse, come to deliver us and tarry not." The cellarer unlocked the best wine or his treat as he called: "Oh Key of David, come, and come quickly." Finally, on December 23, the abbot gave his extra gift to the brothers. Expense accounts which are still extant show how generous and extensive a list of foods were used on the abbot's "O day."

    Each one in our family keeps his gift a deep, dark secret until supper time. We begin with the smallest child. Her treat may be only a graham cracker for dessert. Freddie cracked and picked some black walnuts for us. All the pounding didn't give it away because little boys are so often pounding. Ann made some Advent wreath cookies and used up all the cinnamon drops for decoration — on the cookies, her face and her fingers. Mary made a big casserole of baked beans and we couldn't quite decide whether she was treating herself or the family. Finally, it was mother's turn, and then, at last, father's turn to produce something really outstanding. At dessert time father rose from the table without a word, put on his hat and coat without a smile and left us sitting at the table with our mouths open in amazement. After five minutes which seemed like hours, he stamped back into the house — with a big bowl of snow ice cream. The squeals of delight would have pleased an abbot.
    So, with a family of seven children, we were able to assign an O Antiphon day for each person except the two babies. That person then supplied a special treat after dinner for celebration of the Great Os. Mom helped the little ones, but even our father surprised us with a treat on his day. Then at prayer time we opened up the new window of our Advent Tower and sang the corresponding verse to O Come O Come Emmanuel. It was very simple, but it made a lasting impression. I never tire hearing or singing this Advent hymn, as it just conjures all the Old Testament longing with a haunting melody.

    The tradition works well in larger families. I find it enjoyable to see the interesting variety of what each person likes as their personal treat, and wants to share for everyone.

    For a variation on a theme, how about serving a food that would be a reminder of the O Antiphon of the day? Since there already seems to be a glut of (fattening) sweets around the house, I'm not suggesting dessert recipes, but just a food with either minimal preparation or something that can be incorporated in the family dinner meal.

    December 17
    O Wisdom (O Sapienta): O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

    Symbols: Oil lamp, open book, dove (Holy Spirit).

    Foods: Incorporate foods that are known to be "brain food". This list includes blueberries and tomatoes, dark chocolate and avocados, and Dr. Sears provides a whole list. But my top choice for this idea is the egg. Not only is it the perfect food, the wonder of the egg is enough to show us God's wisdom in our creation. How about serving deviled eggs? I haven't met many people who didn't enjoy them.

    December 18
    O Lord and Ruler (O Adonai): O Lord and Ruler of the house of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush, and on Mount Sinai gave him your Law. Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us.

    Symbols: Burning bush, stone tablets

    Foods: The symbol of the burning bush evokes hot, spicy, or flaming foods. Grilled or flame broiled, Flambé foods, or hot and spicy. How about a simple tomato salsa with a little kick served with tortilla chips?


    December 19
    O Root of Jesse (O Radix Jesse): O Root of Jesse, you stand for the ensign of all mankind; before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse. Come, save us, and do not delay.

    Symbols: flower, plant with flower, root with flowering stem

    Foods: Root Vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, or yams would call to mind the Root of Jesse. Carrot and Raisin salad or twice-baked potatoes would incorporate this symbol nicely.


    December 20
    O Key of David (O Clavis David) O Key of David, Scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens. Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

    Symbols: Key, broken chains

    Foods: Serve a bowl of unshelled nuts with a nutcracker. Without the "key" (nutcracker) you cannot get inside easily. Breaking the nut can be a reminder of the broken chains.


    December 21
    O Rising Dawn (O Oriens): O Rising Dawn, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice; Come, enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

    Symbols: Sunrise, sun

    Foods: Oranges or clementines have long been reminders of the sun.


    December 22
    O King of the Gentiles or Nations (O Rex Gentium): O King of the Gentiles, Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one. Come, and save poor man whom you fashion out of clay.

    Symbols: Crown and scepter; cornerstone

    Foods: There have been several crown cake ideas posted here. Something much easier would be a wreath cookie, Rice Krispie treats shaped into a wreath, or some simple butter or sugar cookies (very popular this time of year) in the shape of a wreath. Fresh green wreaths were probably the first crowns. Using the cornerstone as the main symbol, a loaf shaped food would give a visual idea of a brick or cornerstone. How about a pound cake, banana bread for dessert, or meatloaf for dinner (but spare the jokes about how hard the meatloaf is)?


    December 23
    O Emmanuel: O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and their Savior: Come, and save us, O Lord our God.

    Symbols: Manger, Chalice and host, Crown with tablets

    Foods: Considering the symbols, bread and wine would be a simple addition for the meal. Even though the people of the Old Testament didn't realize that Emmanuel was to come in the form of a baby, we do know that Jesus became man, first as a helpless infant. Think of soft "mushy" foods to serve: mashed potatoes, ice cream, pudding, rice pudding, or applesauce.


    December 24
    This day doesn't have an official O Antiphon in the Liturgy, because the Evening Prayer or Vespers is actually Evening Prayer I which is the beginning of Christmas. There are old traditions in some religious orders that include a final antiphon to Mary for Christmas Eve:
    O Virgin of Virgins (O Virgo Virginum): O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before you was any like you, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why do you marvel at me? What you behold is a divine mystery!

    Symbols: lily or fleur-de-lis.

    Foods: The term virgin evokes purity, cleanliness, white. The ideas for white foods for the feast of the Immaculate Conception would be appropriate here, too. And how about clear or pure water, sparkling beverages, clear consomme?


    For more information on this treasure of the Liturgy, see my earlier article The Great "O" Antiphons at O Night Divine.

    O Come, O Come O Lord, Do Not Delay!!!


    (Graphics taken from Family Advent Customs by Helen McLoughlin. Copyright 1954, 1979 by The Order of St. Benedict, Inc., Collegeville, Minnesota and With Christ Through the Year, illustrated by Sister M. A. Justina Knapp, OSB, Copyright 1947, Bruce Publishing Company.) and Pin It

    St. Joseph's Staff


    Today is Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent. We rejoice because the Lord is near!

    We continue the focus on main figures of our Advent Wreath for the Christmas Story. Last week we celebrated St. John the Baptist. This week, the rose candle, the focus is on St. Joseph, the foster-father of the Child Jesus.

    The food we will use to remember St. Joseph this week is the candy cane, either in a cookie, or the simple candy itself. Part of the pious legend of St. Joseph is that his staff is the one that bloomed with lilies so that everyone knew that he was to be the spouse of our Blessed Virgin Mary. So many nativity scenes have St. Joseph carrying or leaning on the staff, which is also a symbol of authority. Although he was not the father of Jesus, only the foster-father, Jesus and Mary still submitted to him.

    In March the Sicilian tradition of St. Joseph's Altar includes Vuccidrato -- Joseph's Staff, bread shaped in the shape of his staff, or other Symbolic Pastries in the shape of a staff. But since Christmas baking is at hand, Candy Cane Staff Cookies will do perfectly to remind us of St. Joseph's fatherly authority, but his always humble submission to God's will.


    St. Joseph's Staff -- Candy Cane Cookies

    Prep Time: 40 min, Total Time: 6 hours
    Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies

    Ingredients:
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup butter or margarine, softened (or half butter, half shortening)
    1/2 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon peppermint extract
    1 egg
    3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
    2 Tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candies
    2 Tablespoons sugar

    Stir together 1 cup sugar, butter or margarine, milk, vanilla, peppermint extract, and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divide dough in half. Stir red food coloring into 1 half of the dough. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

    Heat oven to 375ºF.

    Stir together peppermint candy and 2 tablespoons sugar; set aside.

    For each candy cane, shape 1 rounded teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on floured surface. Place 1 red and white rope side by side; press together lightly and twist. For best results, complete cookies one at a time--if all the dough of one color is shaped first, strips become too dry to twist.

    Place on ungreased cookie sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane.

    Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until set and very light brown. Immediately sprinkle candy mixture over cookies. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Recipe from Betty Crocker).


    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near. (Phil 4:4,5)

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    Saint Lucia's Braided Bread


    The feast of St. Lucy, a fourth-century martyr, is celebrated on December 13th, also known as Saint Lucia Day. I have really enjoyed learning about the many customs associated with her feast day.

    Some of the lovliest St. Lucy Day traditions are Swedish! In Sweden, this special feast is called Luciadagen. Before dawn, the oldest daughter in the family will dress as St. Lucy, wearing a white gown to represent purity , a red sash to represent martyrdom, and a crown of greenery and lit candles. Her little brothers will join her dressed as "starboys" wearing white gowns, cone-shaped hats decorated with gold stars, and carrying star-tipped wants. She will then wake her family and serve them special St. Lucy Day treats such as Lussekatter (St. Lucy's Cats) and Saffron Buns shaped into various shapes.

    I have been looking forward to trying out the following recipe for a Braided St. Lucia Crown/Bread ever since I saw it posted by Karen Edmisten last December. At the time I just didn't have time a chance to bake it, so after a quick trip to our local bakery my oldest daughter served Donuts instead... This year I am determined to give it a shot! The recipe sounds fairly easy and it has received rave reviews from Karen, Eileen and Charlotte. Doesn't it look heavenly!?

    Photo Courtesy of Karen Edmisten

    Saint Lucia's Braided Bread
    Source: Family Fun

    INGREDIENTS

    Dough:
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 2 1/4-ounce packages active dry yeast
    • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 5 1/2 o 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    Glaze and Garnish:
    • 2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
    • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
    • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
    • Candles (optional)

    DIRECTIONS

    Warm the milk in a small saucepan, then pour 1/2 cup of it into a large bowl.

    Add the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar and let it set for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the remaining milk.

    Add the butter and milk mixture to the yeast mixture. Whisk in the eggs, juice, 1/4 cup of sugar, orange rind, and salt.

    Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough can be gathered into a ball. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes, adding more flour until the dough is smooth and elastic and does not stick to your hands.

    Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turning it once to coat it. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

    Punch down the dough and divide it into 3 equal parts. Roll each part into a 30-inch rope and braid the ropes together.

    Transfer the braid to a greased baking sheet, pinch together the ends to form a circle, and let it rise until it has again doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

    Heat the oven to 375°. Bake the bread for 25 minutes or until golden brown, then let it cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.

    For the glaze, stir together the confectioner's sugar and orange juice in a medium bowl until smooth.

    Drizzle the glaze mix over the bread, then garnish with the cranberries. Finally, add candles, if you'd like. Serves 12.

      Hear us, O God, our salvation, that, as we rejoice in keeping the festival of Blessed Lucy, thy virgin and martyr, so we may profit by the tender devotion we gain through her example. Through our Lord. Amen.
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      Mexican Chocolate Cake

      Karen Miller shared this contribution for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Thanks, Karen!

      I made this cake for Thanksgiving after my husband requested it after hearing Mario on "The Catholics Next Door" on the new XMradio's Catholic Channel 117 (apparently it's been on Sirius for awhile) (Their site is http://gregandjennifer.com/, this episode All The Food That's Fit to Eat).

      Well, the cake is very similar to a "Texas Hot Cocoa" cake I've made in the past, but doesn't include cinnamon. The cake is always a hit and it makes a big cake. My advice is to not overbake it, take it out before you think it is completely done, so it will be very moist. Good for today's feast!

      This is from In the Kitchen with Mario Bosquez

      Mario Bosquez's Mexican Chocolate Cake

      Mario Bosquez, host of Living Today on Martha Stewart Living Radio (Sirius 112) shares his recipe for Mexican chocolate cake.

      Ingredients

      1 stick butter
      1/2 cup oil
      4 tablespoons cocoa
      1 cup water
      2 cups unsifted flour
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      2 cups sugar
      1/2 cup sour milk (buttermilk)
      2 eggs, beaten
      1 teaspoon cinnamon
      1 teaspoon vanilla

      Mario Bosquez's Mexican Chocolate Icing (see below)

      Directions

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, oil, cocoa and water in sauce pan. Heat until cocoa is melted.

      Combine flour, baking soda, sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl. Combine with first mixture.

      Pour batter into a greased 12-by-18-inch cake pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Five minutes before the cake is done, prepare the icing. Let cake cool before you add the icing.

      *Karen's notes: I used a 12x19ish baking pan/cookie sheet with sides. This worked perfectly, just don't overbake. I pour on frosting while cake is still warm.

      Additional notes from Mario: Baking in a ceramic baker is best; serve from the bake pan and after you ice your cake encircle the edge of the cake with pecan halves. Also, in my experience, making this cake with butter instead of margarine (frosting included) makes for a more delicious version.

      Mario Bosquez's Mexican Chocolate Icing

      1 stick margarine
      4 tablespoons cocoa
      6 tablespoons milk
      1 pound (1 package) confectioners' powdered sugar
      1 teaspoon vanilla
      1 cup chopped pecans

      Directions

      Combine margarine, cocoa, and milk in saucepan. Heat until bubbles form around edge. Remove from heat.

      Add vanilla, and nuts. Also add a sprinkling of sugar. Beat. Ice cake while frosting is warm, not stiff.

      Mario Chocolate Cake, First published January Pin It

      Our Lady of Guadalupe ~ Mexican Wedding Cookies

      This post was written by Lori at Busy with Blessings, and submitted to Catholic Cuisine for publication! Thank you Lori for sharing this yummy sounding recipe and the many wonderful activities to go along with it!

      Tomorrow is one of our favorite Marian feast days of the year. During his 1999 visit to Mexico, Pope John Paul II declared Our Lady to be the Patroness of the Americas.

      Older children can look up Our Lady of Guadalupe, and then share what they learned to their siblings.

      A couple of great books to read are The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola and Our Lady of Guadalupe by Francisco Serrano. The CCC video on Juan Diego is also a wonderful visual of this.

      Go here for a free activity on how to draw Our Lady of Guadalupe.

      In Our Lady's honor, bake:


      Mexican Wedding Cookies

      • 1 cup butter, softened
      • 8 Tablespoons of powdered sugar
      • 2 cups flour
      • 1 cup chopped walnuts
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
      • 1 tablespoon milk
      • Bag of powdered sugar (to roll cookies in after baked)

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray sheets with non-stick spray. Mix all the ingredients together with a mixer. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 min, Cool then shake in a plastic bag of powdered sugar.

      We will also make a batch without nuts.

      We may try our hand at a couple of activities. Go here and here for a couple of great ideas. We'll definitely be coloring this awesome sheet from Waltzing Matilda. Thanks so much for sharing these with us all!

      If Honeybee's feeling better, we'll go out and buy a poinsettia.

      Happy Feast Day, everyone. God bless you and your families! Pin It

      Cheese Enchiladas

      This recipe was submitted for publication by Lori at Busy with Blessings. Thank you Lori!

      The following recipe is one of our family favorites for Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day.

      Cheese Enchiladas
      • Pack of corn tortillas
      • can of enchilada sauce
      • can of tomato sauce
      • shredded Mexican cheese
      Heat non-stick skillet to medium and lightly brown your corn tortillas. This will only take about 30 sec. a side. Once these are ready. Mix enchilada sauce and tomato sauce in a bowl. Dip your tortilla into the sauce and place in casserole dish. Fill the center of the tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese and roll the tortilla into a tube shape. Continue this process, place your enchiladas closely together until your dish is full . Cover the top with cheese and bake at 350 15-20 min until bubbly.

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      Fish Tacos for Friday


      Since the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe falls on a Friday this year, we will be making Fish Tacos for dinner. The following Mexican recipe is both delicious and easy, making it perfect for this busy Advent season.

      BAJA FISH TACOS
      Recipe from Ortega

      INGREDIENTS:
      • 1/2 cup sour cream
      • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
      • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
      • 1 package (1 1/4-oz)ORTEGA Taco Seasoning Mix - divided
      • 1 pound (4 total) cod or white fish fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
      • 2 tbls. vegetable oil
      • 2 tbls. lemon juice
      • 1 package ORTEGA Taco Shells (12 ct), warmed (I will probably fry my own corn tortillas)

      DIRECTIONS:

      COMBINE sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro and 2 tablespoons seasoning mix in small bowl.

      COMBINE cod, vegetable oil, lemon juice and remaining seasoning mix in medium bowl; pour into large skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until cod flakes easily when tested with a fork.

      FILL taco shells with fish mixture. Optional: Top with cabbage, tomato, sour cream mixture, lime juice and taco sauce.

      ENJOY!!

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      Mexican Sopapias For St Juan Diego or Our Lady of Guadalupe

      I actually first made this recipe a very, very, long time ago. I was in 9th grade and had to bring a dish from another country for some class and I picked Mexico. Little did I know I'd be using it to teach my children some day so many years later!
      My recipe spells the word this way: Sopapias, but I've seen it spelled as Sopaipillas, I think they are the same, Mexican fry bread.

      Sopapias
      4 cups flour
      1 1/4 tsp salt
      3 tsp baking powder
      4-5 Tablespoons sugar
      2 Tablespoons shortening
      1 1/4 cups milk (or more if needed, I needed)
      Oil (for frying)
      Powdered sugar (for coating)

      In large bowl, mix dry ingredients. Cut shortening into dry mixture with fork. Add milk, mix well. Here you will need to add more milk if you can't get the dough to form a ball. Next form the ball and cover bowl and let stand 30-60 minutes.

      On a well floured surface, roll dough to thickness of 1/4 inch and cut into squares or whatever shape you'd like I guess, but I always do little squares.

      Heat oil in pan and place dough shapes in the oil. Cook until brown on both sides, constantly flipping and checking. (I heat it to a med/high temp) The shapes will puff a little.

      Drain on papertowel or paper bag and coat with powdered sugar. (I put powdered sugar in a baggie and shake the bread to coat) The kids really loved this recipe and it was really fun to make it again for my own children. We had the leftovers today for breakfast and for snack!!
      Since we made these Sopapias for the feast of St Juan Diego, on Friday we will make Mexican Crispas, which are just flour tortillas cut with a pizza cutter into triangles and fried the same way as these Sopapias then covered in cinnamon and sugar alongside of cheese tortillas!
      Happy Feast days!

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      Rosy Treats for the Feasts of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe


      Kathleen from ADMG Academy shares some wonderful ideas for the feasts of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe this week!

      Going with a rose theme, since Our Lady miraculously gave St. Juan Diego precious roses as a sign for the bishop, Kathleen suggests picking up some Pepperidge Farm Verona Cookies that look very similar to roses!

      How easy is that?! I picked some up today myself! :)


      Last year, Kathleen also made a beautiful rose cake using just a Silicone Rose Pan and a Strawberry Betty Crocker cake mix! Thank you so much for sharing Kathleen!

      I also want to remind you all of the Chocolate Roses, Rose Cake and Rosy Punch in the archives, which would also be very appropriate for these feasts!

      I myself plan to make a batch of Rose Cupcakes using this awesome pan, a strawberry cake mix and a bit of powdered sugar, for our Little Flowers meeting this week! Our theme for this month is Love of Neighbor and the Rose. What perfect timing!


      Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical rose, intercede for the Church, protect the Holy Father, help all who invoke you in their necessities. Since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most holy Son the Grace of a firm faith and sure hope amid the bitterness of life, as well as an ardent love and the precious gift of final perseverance. Amen.

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      Una Fiesta Mexicana

      For the Feasts of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe, my children and I are pulling out a few of our favorite Mexican and Mexican-inspired recipes to share with you today. One of the most delightful things about this particular selection of Mexican fare is this: Not only are these recipes supremely easy and delicious, they are nearly all exceptionally kid-friendly to prepare!

      First, a simple tortilla recipe:

      Flour Tortillas
      • 3 c unbleached flour (or whole wheat, or regular all-purpose, if that’s what you’ve got)
      • 2 t baking powder
      • 1 t salt
      • ¼ c (plus a little (1-2 T) extra – no need to measure exactly) vegetable shortening
      • 1 to 1 ¼ c warm water
      Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Add the shortening, and let the children squeeze and mix them together with their (sterilized, I’m sure) fingers, as if lightly playing in the sand, until the shortening is evenly incorporated.

      Next, add the warm water a little at a time, tossing together (still with your hands, if you like!), until the mixture forms a soft dough that is not sticky. Go ahead and knead it a few times, adding a sprinkling of flour if needed, to make it smooth.

      Now divide the dough into 12 evenly-sized balls, and let rest for 10-15 minutes, while you straighten up and set up your work area for rolling out!

      Here’s how we do it: Each “roller” gets a piece of parchment or “press-and-seal” (sticky side down) sprinkled with a little flour. One dough ball is lightly flattened in the center of the paper, then sprinkled with a little more flour. On top of this, a piece of plastic wrap is carefully laid across. Then the child rolls out a circle – starting each roll in the center. It helps if the first few rolls are done somewhat lightly, until a reasonably circular shape is achieved – though, of course, perfection is unnecessary. Roll them fairly thin, or to about 8-10” in diameter. (Also, it is easier for kids to roll these out if they pick up the whole paper/tortilla package and quarter-turn it, rather than trying to readjust the rolling angle each time.)

      We then flip the two layers of paper with the tortilla in between upside down, and carefully peel off the parchment for re-use; the unbaked tortilla is then placed, plastic-wrap side down, in a pile with each of the other tortillas as they are rolled. If desired, a moist paper towel can be placed lightly on top of the pile to keep the top tortilla from drying out. (If you find that the tortillas are sticking to either paper, just use a little more flour when rolling out.)

      Once the rolling is well-underway, heat a 12-15” dry frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. It should be well-heated and ready by the time the last tortilla is rolled.

      The next part is best handled by an adult: Each tortilla is then peeled off the plastic wrap, and placed in the hot, ungreased pan to be cooked on each side. The tortilla may bubble slightly and appear slightly dry as it bakes, and will have brown speckles on the underside when it is ready to flip/remove. It will take less than a minute on each side, so watch them carefully!

      Place the tortillas atop each other inside a warm, clean kitchen towel until all are baked. They are best served immediately, but can be stored in the refrigerator in a ziplock bag (and can be reheated in the microwave before filling).


      Homemade Tortilla Chips

      Warning: These are so tasty, you may never want to go back to those pre-packaged imposters again!

      For every 16 chip-serving, you’ll need one (preferably homemade, but prefab work well, too) 8-10” flour tortilla.

      Using a pizza cutter, slice each tortilla into 16 (8, for larger chips) wedges. Fill a large frying pan with about ½” of vegetable oil, and heat to medium-high (lower heat immediately if it begins to smoke!) Place a small scrap of tortilla in the oil as a “test;” when bubbles begin to sizzle around it, the oil is ready.

      Again, this part is best done by an adult: Place 6-8 wedges into the oil (don’t let them touch) using a pair of tongs, and watch them carefully; they cook very quickly! The chips will form bubbles and appear slightly dry around the edges when they are ready to turn. If they begin to brown, they are overdone! Flip them, and remove as soon as they appear firm.

      Drain on a paper towel-lined tray, and sprinkle with salt. Allow to cool somewhat before eating. Continue to cook in small batches until all the chips are done. Enjoy with your favorite jarred or homemade salsa – or with this next yummy dip!


      Tortilla Chip Dip

      • 1 (8 oz) container of Bison-brand French Onion Dip (you can try a different brand if you can’t get Bison in your area; but since it’s the best French Onion Dip ever made, bar none, you may want to consider moving.) :)
      • 1 (8 oz) bar of cream cheese
      • 1 package of Taco Seasoning Mix (or one recipe of seasoning mix, to follow)
      • Shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes (optional)
      Soften the cream cheese in a medium-sized mixing bowl with beaters or a fork, until light and fluffy; mix in remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined. Serve as is, or topped with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and/or shredded cheddar. Serve tastefully surrounded with freshly-made tortilla chips.

      Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

      This is easy and delicious, and a great help if you are all ready to make tacos and suddenly realize you have no mix on hand! Since it’s made from common kitchen spices, you may never need to make an emergency taco-spice run to the convenience store again! You can vary any of the spices to taste, to make your own custom blend. One recipe equals one package of mix (suitable for seasoning 1 lb of meat for tacos).
      • 1 T flour
      • 1 t chili powder
      • 1 t paprik
      • ¾ t salt
      • ½ t onion powder
      • ½ t cumin
      • ¼ t cayenne pepper
      • ¼ t garlic powder
      • 1/8 t oregano, crushed
      • ¼ t sugar (optional)

      Mix all together in a small bowl, and use in any recipe calling for one package of taco seasoning. If not used immediately, store alongside other spices, in a small sealed container.

      (To make taco filling, brown 1 lb of ground beef in a large skillet; drain fat. Add seasoning mix, and 2/3 c water; mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes enough for about 12 tacos.)


      Finally, no Christmas Season in our home would be complete without one of our all-time favorite cookies:

      Mexican Wedding Cakes

      • ½ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
      • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter (not! Margarine), softened
      • 1 t vanilla
      • 2 ¼ c all-purpose flour
      • ¼ t salt
      • ¾ c very finely-chopped pecans
      • More confectioners’ sugar for rolling

      Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

      Mix thoroughly sifted sugar, butter and vanilla. Sift in flour and salt; work into creamed mixture with nuts until dough holds together.

      Shape into 1” (about thumb’s width) balls. Place on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet; bake 10-12 minutes or until set, but not brown.

      While still warm, roll in confectioners’ sugar. Cool completely, then roll in sugar again. (Don't skip either rolling -- this is what makes these cookies melt in your mouth!)

      Makes about 4 dozen.

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      Grasshoppers and Honey



      From the Gospel for 2nd Sunday of Advent
      As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
      Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
      he will prepare your way.
      A voice of one crying out in the desert:
      “Prepare the way of the Lord,
      make straight his paths.”

      John the Baptist appeared in the desert
      proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins....
      John was clothed in camel’s hair,
      with a leather belt around his waist.
      He fed on locusts and wild honey.

      This Advent our family is focusing on the four primary figures of the Advent Liturgy, Isaiah, St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. I shared our Advent Wreath and Poster idea on O Night Divine.

      This week starts our focus on St. John the Baptist, who ate locusts and honey. Today would traditionally be St. Ambrose feast day, and his symbol of honey ("Honey-Tongued Doctor,") is also a perfect match for the honey that St. John the Baptist. All the wonderful food posts for St. Ambrose can do double duty.

      I also plan on making a Grasshopper Pie this week to celebrate St. John. The simplest recipe would be using mint chocolate ice cream in a chocolate cookie pie shell -- easy and delicious. Although Cooks.com has several versions, this recipe seemed to have the most detail. I'm actually going to make this for my son who has food allergies to milk, eggs, and wheat. I have some allergy free chocolate cookies, Cool Whip (contains a small amount of casein which he can tolerate), and soy milk to replace some of the ingredients and we're good to go. We'll see if it works out.

      Now, if you want to be a little more authentic, you can actually order food grade crickets in savory or sweeter flavors.

      Prepare the Way of the Lord, Make Straight His Paths! Pin It
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