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

Santa Lucia Leves (St. Lucy Soup)

The following recipe, adapted from Cooking with the Saints, was submitted by Hi Cookery for the feast of St. Lucy on December 13th. Thank you Highlander and Islander!


December 13: Feast Day of St. Lucy

Warm up during the winter weather with a saintly soup! On those darker, depressing December days in the northern hemisphere, we like to lighten up with leves (soup) of Santa Lucia.

St. Lucy, whose name means “light” in Latin, was a third-century saint from Sicily, Italy. Legends state that she was tortured to death by having her eyes gouged out and being burned at the stake for her Christian faith. St. Lucy is the patron saint of the blind and those with eye problems, as she gives hope to see the Light and Savior of the World—Jesus!

Santa Lucia Leves is a Hungarian recipe. This soup can be served during the season of Advent and Christmas and on the Feast Day of St. Lucy.

Recipe

(Adapted from Cooking With the Saints by Ernst Scheugraf)

Ingredients
  • ½ cup rice, uncooked
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 1 cup fully-cooked ham, chopped
  • ½ cup flour

Directions

Boil the rice in salted water until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the rice-flavored water into a large bowl. Save the rice for another recipe, if desired (see Notes).


Mince the onions and chop the ham into tiny pieces. In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat.


Saute the onions and ham until shiny. Mix in the flour until smooth. Pour in the rice-flavored water and simmer to thicken. Stir and ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with parsley flakes (optional). Serve hot with bread or crackers.


Notes
  • Use the leftover boiled rice to make Italian-style arancini (recipe is posted on National Rice Month in September). These Sicilian rice balls are normally filled with a tomato or meat sauce, mozzarella cheese and/or peas. But on the Feast Day of St. Lucy, Sicilians celebrate with sweetened rice arancini filled with chocolate.

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Babybel Cheese St. Nicholas


I have seen these cute Babybel Santas online for several years. I thought he could be converted to St. Nicholas with a few modifications. Most of the instructions are the same as those in the link, which are so nicely detailed. 


For the St. Nicholas modification:
  • Use Mini Babybel cheese rounds.
  • After opening the wax covering and removing half of it from the cheese round, you have his mitre left. Using a sharp tipped paring knife or x-acto knife, cut from the side up to a point toward back of top. Do other side to middle also. Approximate cut lines drawn in below. Bend that section forward to make the mitre pointed and standing upright in front. 

  • Cut out a small cross from the red wax mitre with x-acto or paring knife. 
  • From the bottom wax covering that was removed, cut a small circle for the nose. 
  • The original instructions indicate using a food marker for the eyes (and mouth). I found that a toothpick dipped in concentrated gel food coloring (ex: Wilton brand icing color) could be used to add the eyes (and mouth) if you don't have a food marker.
  • Dip bottom half of cheese in softened or whipped cream cheese. For the St. Nicholas I made the beard longer and pointier than the Santa version.  You can shape and texture beard with toothpick or pretzel.
  • Draw in a mouth with marker or food coloring on toothpick. 
  • Add a pretzel (or mini candy cane) crozier to the side.

St. Nicholas Day Blessing

Gracious and good Lord, we bless you on this feast of St. Nicholas, your servant, who is an example to us of a life of charity and love. May we see in his life an invitation to imitate his good deeds. Make us always mindful of the needs of others and help us rejoice in the abundance of your goodness around us. Through Jesus our Lord.


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St. Francis Xavier Fortune Cookies


As most of you know, fortune cookies are thin, folded cookies with a paper saying inside. They are associated with Asian restaurants and recipes. I thought it would be fun to make fortune cookies for a saint feast day who has a connection to Asia. In place of fortunes inside the cookies, it would be a good opportunity to put quotes or saying associated with the saint. St. Francis Xavier is an excellent choice as he was a missionary to Japan and China. His feast day is this week, December 3.  St. Francis spent time in the Philippines, India, and Japan, baptizing tens of thousands. He set sail for China but died on the island of Sancian within sight of China. For his travels and zealous missionary efforts in the far east he is associated with that area and is a patron of several of those countries. Other saints that could be included if you were to do this at a different time are St. Paul Miki and the Japanese Matryrs, the Chinese Martyrs, etc.  Now, the actual truth of fortune cookies as being from these Asian cultures is not accurate. It seems that they were first made in the United States for Chinese restaurants. But they are significantly associated with the food of the culture to most of us now, so fit this activity, I believe.

For some saints or martyrs from China and other southeast Asian countries there is little available of their teaching or writing to use as quotes, but St. Francis has some and that is why it made sense to target his feast day initially. Here is a link to a document of quotes that you can download and print off to use for making your fortune cookies. Just print and cut them into strips.

I had previously tried making fortune cookies many years ago and knew that they are a bit tricky. It takes a quick hand to maneuver the cookies before they set and can no longer be shaped. The batter and baked cookie have to be just right, so it won't crack or harden to quickly.  This time, with a couple of early ones for practice, I got the hang of it and they turned out okay.  Don't let this intimidate you. It really was easier than my previous experience.  You can check out some YouTube videos which walk you through the process.  There are slight variations on the ingredients, but this is what I used.

How to make home-made fortune cookies:

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:
  • Print and cut out quotes so they are on small strips of paper. 
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw two 3-1/2-in. circles on parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, beat the butter, sugar, egg white and vanilla until frothy. Add flour and mix until just blended in. 
  • Spread 1 T. batter over each circle. 
  • Bake at 400° for 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Cover one cookie with a kitchen towel (to help keep it soft while working with other). 
  • Loosen other cookie from parchment paper with a thin spatula and flip over onto work surface. 
  • Place a fortune in the center of that cookie.
  • Fold cookie in half over paper so the edges meet and hold edges together for few seconds.
  • Place center of cookie over the rim of a mug.
  • Gently press ends down to bend cookie in middle.  Hold and let set a few seconds. 
  • Set inside muffin tin cup to cool and retain shape. 
  • Repeat with second cookie. 
  • Repeat with remaining batter and paper quotes. 
Yield: 10-12 cookies.

St. Francis Xavier, Pray for us!

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam






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Liturgical New Year's Eve Celebration

Happy New Year's Eve! No, not that one - - the eve of the new liturgical year. Several years ago it was suggested to us by a friend that we should celebrate this new year as well. As we begin a new liturgical year on Sunday, the first day of Advent, it is a fun time to recognize the changing of the liturgical year in your homes. Sometimes we have had a party and celebrated with friends, but generally we are more low key but always trying to ring in the new year with something festive like sparkling cider to toast the new year. You don't have to stay up late. Anytime during the day is fine as the new year ushers in with the anticipatory Mass times on Saturday  night.  And you can even celebrate on the first day of the liturgical year (Sunday) instead of the eve. We usually do our toasting the old year and ringing in the new at dinner one of those days.


So here is to a new liturgical year. 

May God bless you abundantly. 
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St. Catherine of Alexandria Pizza Wheel


For St. Catherine of Alexandria's feast today we made a pizza wheel.  St. Catherine was an early Christian martyr.  She was set to be tortured on a spiked wheel but at her touch it miraculously broke apart. She was then martyred by beheading.  The wheel is one of the symbols associated with her. This is a variation of a traditional pizza with the center cut and "wheel spokes" folded over to form a wheel shape dough. It could be made with a sweet filling as well and served as dessert or breakfast. In this recipe, we went with a traditional pizza. The red of the sauce recalls her martyrdom as well. This recipe will make a large size pizza or two smaller crusts . We made a luncheon size today with half the recipe.

Dough ingredients:
2 1/4 t. yeast
1 1/2 t. salt
3 t. honey
1 1/4 c. warm water
3 T. olive oil
3 1/2 c. flour

Directions:
Combine yeast, salt, honey and water in bowl. Add the flour and oil and mix with dough hook. Add flour until dough comes together in a solid ball.  Grease a bowl with oil, add the dough, cover and let rise in warm area until doubled (about 1 hour).

Spread dough on parchment paper. Cut center into eight sections like picture - leaving approximatley 3 inches around outside uncut. Spread sauce, cheese and toppings as desired around uncut part of ring.

Fold over each "spoke" and attach to outer edge by pinching dough together.

Transfer to baking sheet or stone. Cook at 400 degrees for 12-18 minutes.

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A Crown Cake on the Feast of Christ the King


Happy Feast of Christ the King! 

Our family is celebrating with a Persimmon Cake baked in a Crown Cake Pan


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St. Clement Snack - Clementine Themed


I always appreciate the fast and easy ways to remember a saint on his or her feast day. We especially enjoy sparkling drinks for special occasions and IZZEs are one of our favorites. So there was no way we could let St. Clement's day go by without thinking of "clementine" IZZE as a drink for the day. No prep and very festive. We did add some anchor straws to tie in his symbol. And of course what could be easier than a Clementine cutie for a snack as well. 

Happy snacking on the feast of St. Clement, martyr and Pope. 

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St. Clement's Sweets - Chocolate Sea-Salt Clementines


Pope St. Clement, disciple of St. Peter and St. Paul, is mentioned in Philippians 4:3, "I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life." He was consecrated a bishop by St. Peter and is listed as the 3rd or 4th pope (depending on listing). He is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Clementines in the name given to the curious religious romance which has come down to us in two forms composed by Pope St. Clement I. The Greek form is preserved only in two Manuscripts and consists of twenty books of homilies. Pope St. Clement was exiled to the Crimea and was martyred in the persecutions of Trajan around 100 AD, being thrown from a ship with an anchor around his neck. He is depicted in papal robes and his primary symbol is the anchor. Among his many patronages are sailors and blacksmiths.

St. Clement's Day was a big celebration in many places, with metal workers and blacksmiths getting the day off. There are many traditions associated with it, including "clementing" or "clemening" - a custom of children going door to door asking for apples or other treats in exchange for singing.

When I learned in my reading about his writings being referred to as Clementine literature, the tasty little citrus fruits immediately came to mind as a great connection to this papal saint.  It is perfect timing as the clementine cuties are just starting to become abundant in the stores - this is the beginning of their peak season - right as we celebrate St. Clement's feast!

Here is a snack idea to make to celebrate his November 23 feast day. The recipe comes from The Food Network blog (contributor Dana Angelo White). It is a tasty, unique blend of sweet and salty, and I have always loved the combination of citrus and chocolate. In addition to the clementine name similarity, the use of the sea salt recalls his connection to the sea, place of his martyrdom and receding sea miracle associated with that. They are so pretty, too. It is a simple snack to prepare so great for a busy day when you want to celebrate the feast but don't have a lot of time. And so easy to make that it is a good cooking with kids project.

Ingredients:
3-4 clementines
2 ounces dark chocolate, shaved
fleur de sel (sea salt)
~amounts can be adjusted as desired

How to:
Peel clementines and separate into sections. Melt chocolate in microwave (or in double boiler). Dip each wedge in chocolate. Set on wax or parchment paper. Sprinkle chocolate with pinch of sea salt flakes while chocolate still soft. Let set to cool and solidify chocolate. Serve when set. Can be placed in the refrigerator to speed the setting of chocolate.

Pope St. Clement, Pray for us!


[NOTE: This year November 23 falls on a Sunday, which also happens to be the Solemnity of Christ the King, so a major feast which takes precedence.  St. Clement could also be recognized in your domestic church or you may opt to celebrate him on a different day this weekend. One other idea I had was that these citrusy chocolate nuggets look a little like succulent jewels - fitting for a royalty - the King of the Universe. ] Pin It

Rose Bread for St. Elizabeth of Hungary


Today, November 17, we celebrate the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. As a queen she felt that she should care for all her people as if they were her children. She was known for her generosity to the poor. Legend says that on one occasion in the middle of winter she left her castle with her apron filled with bread for the poor. On the way she met her husband. He opened her cape to see what she carried and found her apron full of roses, not bread. When he bent to kiss Elizabeth he found her face transfigured with the radiance of heaven. 

Both roses and bread are her symbols, so as we celebrate her today and recall her charity to the poor, what better way than with a rose shaped bread. Braided bread is associated with many Eastern European countries such as Hungary and while this particular style is referred to as Russian Rose Bread, it seems particularly fitting for St. Elizabeth since it is bread shaped in a rose. It can be filled with either a sweet or savory filling.  
This morning we made a cinnamon rose bread for breakfast. It can be made using a generic bread recipe. In this case I made a sweet bread dough. The recipe and ingredients for this one are similar to those shared a few years ago by Charlotte - Hungarian Cinnamon Bread. The main difference is the shaping technique used to end up with a rose shaped bread here. 

Sweet Roll Dough
1 pkg. dry yeast
½ c. warm water
1/2 c. lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/3 c. butter, margarine or shortening
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 ½ to 4 c. flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in milk sugar, butter, salt, egg, and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in warm place until double, about 1 ½ hours.

Cinnamon Filling
2-3 tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon 

Roll dough into large rectangle. Spread butter over dough, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. 
Roll up dough tightly along lengthier side. Pinch edge of dough to seal well. Cut the roll in half lengthwise. 
Starting at the top, cross over the strands in an X, repeat crossover to twist the two lengths together into long braid. 
Wind braided strand into a circle keeping cinnamon slits facing upward. Fan open as needed to create rose/flower petal look. 
Place on bottom of greased springform pan. Add springform pan sides. Let rise until double (30-40 minutes). Bake in 375 degree oven 20-25 minutes. 

Additional idea: Make two, one to keep and one to share, in the spirit of Christian charity of St. Elizabeth. 


St. Elizabeth, pray for us.


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Cathedral Cake on the Feast of the Dedication of Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome


Today we celebrate the dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica which is our Holy Father's church and also the “mother and head of all the churches of the city and the world.”

We will be having a potluck after Mass this afternoon and I'm bringing cake! When I realized that the potluck was going to fall on this great feast I knew I had to bake at least one cake in my Cathedral Cake Bundt Pan.  It looks like Jenn and I were thinking along the same lines! (You can read her great article for today's feast over at Catholic Culture.)  I kept it simple and just baked Yellow and Triple Chocolate Fudge cakes with a couple Betty Crocker mixes, along with a Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cake

The Cathedral Cake Bundt Pan is so much fun and can easily be adapted for many different occasions. I've used it for birthdays, various feast days including the feasts of St. Joseph and St. Thomas Becket, and it also makes a beautiful cake for Christmas

I hope you all have a blessed Sunday!


O God, Who year by year dost renew the day of the consecration of this Thy holy temple, and dost ever bring us again in safety to the holy mysteries, hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant that whosoever entereth this temple to seek blessings may rejoice to obtain all that he seeketh.

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Ora Pro Nobis Candy Boxes


Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. As a reminder of our duty to pray for the suffering faithful in Purgatory, the Church has dedicated the month of November to the Holy Souls. The Holy Souls are those who have died in the state of grace but who are not yet free from all punishment due to their unforgiven venial sins and all other sins already forgiven for which satisfaction is still to be made. They are certain of entering Heaven, but first they must suffer in Purgatory. The Holy Souls cannot help themselves because for them the night has come, when no man can work (John 9:4). It is our great privilege of brotherhood that we can shorten their time of separation from God by our prayers, good works, and, especially, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (source)

Ora Pro Nobis Candy Boxes make a sweet and prayerful activity for the Holy Souls in the month of November, the month dedicated to the Church Suffering.  This idea was shared by one of my blog visitors (Thank you, Kim!) and I created the printable box or bag labels, calendar, and directions to share. If you have any trouble downloading the printable documents just send me an email and I will do my best to forward them to you directly. I ended up creating boxes to send home with all the children who attended our annual All Hallows' Eve party last night and my own children are so excited to begin today!


Supplies:

+ 30 pieces of candy per box (leftover All Saints candy is great for this!)

+ black treat boxes or bags

+ white foam sticker crosses or “Ora Pro Nobis” box/bag labels

+ color pencils, crayons, or another media of their choice

+ calendar (create your own or use free printable)

+ list of departed family, friends, religious

+ particular prayer(s) to be offered

Directions:

Place a cross or label on the front of each box (or bag)




Fill each box or bag with 30 pieces of candy. 




Have the children prepare and decorate their calendars. Write the name of a departed soul on the calendar for each day of the month. Perhaps even include a day for the “Most Forgotten Soul.” 


Each day of the month, after the child has offered a prayer for the departed soul listed, they may take one (1) piece of candy, or they may leave it in the box as an additional sacrifice for the departed soul!

The intention is to encourage prayers and sacrifices for the Church Suffering in a sweet and tangible way!



May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace!

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12 More Saint Themed Guessing Jars

I originally shared this post over at Shower of Roses, but thought I would add it here as well for anyone who is looking for All Saints' party game ideas!


The All Saints Guessing Jars were such a hit at our annual All Saints Party last year that we will be including them again this year with 12 MORE Saint Themed Guessing Jars!


I always have so much fun looking through the aisles at the grocery store and trying to connect some of the goodies to saints and their symbols!



"Bit-O-Honey" candies for St. Ambrose (the "Honey-Tongued Doctor") and Polish Candy for St. John Paul II are a couple of my favorite additions for this year. Once again I used my Wide Mouth Mason Jars with White Storage Lids for each jar.


Here are some pictures of this year's All Saints Guessing Jars all filled and ready for the party:    

 

St. Ambrose ::  St. Ambrose is also known as the "Honey Tongued Doctor." Any type of honey candy would work for this saint. I picked up three 4.2 oz bags of Bit-O-Honey at a local store to fill the jar. You can also purchase 16 oz. over at Amazon.



St. Bernadette of Lourdes :: Pretzel Sticks are perfect for St. Bernadette, since she was out collecting firewood when Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to her at the Grotto. Twix candy bars would also work!


St. Gertrude the Great :: Saint Gertrude the Great had a deep empathy for the Church suffering, the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Our Lord shared a special prayer with St. Gertrude the Great and told her that the prayer would release 1,000 Souls from Purgatory each time it is prayed.  The GhostMallows in the jar represent the "Holy Souls."  I used one 8 oz bag to fill the jar and had a few left over.



St. John Paul II :: I had to find a way to incorporate the newly canonized St. John Paul II! Polish candy works, right? :)  Ours came directly from a Polish friend, but it can also be found on Amazon if you aren't able to find any locally.

 

St. Kateri Tekakwitha :: This saint, who belonged to a Native American Indian Tribe, is also known as the "Lily of the Mohawks." We have made Indian Corn Cookies in honor of St. Kateri in the past, but for the jar I just filled it with one 21 oz bag of Candy Corn. (Though it probably could have used just a little bit more.) Lily candies would also work. If you have a mold you can make your own!



St. Marianne Cope :: HI-Chews are actually a Japanese Candy, but since my family was first introduced to them when my sister brought us some from Hawaii (along with the fact that they have "HI" in the name, the abbreviation for Hawaii) I thought we could get away with using them for St. Marianne Cope, who cared for the sick in Hawaii for 35 years.  I bought a big bag at Costco when they were on special for less than $5.00 and only used about 2/3's of the bag. You can also find them on Amazon.

 

St. Matthew :: My husband thought it might be a little offensive to St. Matthew to fill his jar with "Payday" candy bars, but after I told him that St. Matthew is the patron of accountants he agreed that it was okay. :) I probably should have purchased "fun size" candy bars, but I ended up using about 2/3's of a 20.3 oz bag of the "snack size."

 

St. Nicholas of Myra :: It's a little difficult to find candy canes quite yet, but JoAnn's just put out their Christmas supplies this week so I picked up a box of miniature candy canes. Be super careful not to drop them when you take them out of the box… They don't just break, they shatter! ;) 

  

St. Patrick of Ireland :: Pious legend credits St. Patrick with banishing snakes from the island of Ireland, chasing them into the sea. Regardless of whether or not this legend is true, St. Patrick is the patron saint against snakes, fear of snakes, and snake bites. Gummy Worms look like snakes.



St. Peter :: Butter Snaps Pretzels make yummy little Fisherman's Nets for St. Peter, the patron saint of Fisherman.  Fish also would have worked, but I saved those for the next saint on the list. 

 

St. Raphael ::  There are so many saints that are symbolized in some way with a fish. This year I decided to focus on St. Raphael, the healer, who is recorded as having helped Tobias make balms and ointments from fish to cure Tobit's (Tobias's father) blindness.


St. Thomas Aquinas :: Even though St. Thomas Aquinas' classmates called him "The Dumb Ox" he became a great Doctor of the Church and Patron of Academics. I filled a jar with a 12 oz. bag of Smarties in his honor!  (After I made my jars for this year I clicked back over to Catholic Inspired, since I couldn't remember what she included in her jars last year, and she used Smarties for all the Doctors of the Church and "Dum-Dums" for St. Thomas. They would have worked too.) 


To keep each person's guesses secret I also created little sheets of paper for each contestant to write their name and guess, before folding it in half and dropping it into an empty jar or bag with a matching label.


It's all ready to go and I can check this off the to-do list…
Now to start working on the rest of the party plans!



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