St. Thomas S'Mores

This clever feast day treat, with its play on words and creative symbolism to honor St. Thomas More, was shared by Rebecca Collazo. Rebecca is a homeschool mom to four wonderful kids who shares that she loves reading to her children, having poetry tea times, teaching writing at a Catholic co-op, and traveling to places of literary and Catholic significance. [And I would add thinking up creative liturgical year ideas to her talents.] Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing such a cute idea that is special to your family.


One of our family’s favorite feast days to celebrate is the feast of St. Thomas More. This fact is due partly because we go to the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More and partly because my husband is an attorney and has a special devotion to the patron saint of lawyers. This servant to King Henry VIII knew that service to the King of Heaven was more important than service to any earthly king and so allowed himself to be martyred for the faith rather than sign an oath stating he would honor England’s king as the head of the church. While we remember St. Thomas More for his brave sacrifice to stand up for the Church he believed in, it is said that he was also a man of great humor. It is for that reason that I feel like St. Thomas More would appreciate our family celebrating his feast day by enjoying St. Thomas S’Mores!

S’mores are such a classic summertime treat, perfect for his June 22 feast day. I have realized over the years, with my brood of four, that if I bring my kids to the table with a tasty treat, they are pretty likely to sit quietly and listen to me teach about any number of things. Sticky s’mores keep everyone contentedly occupied while I show them a video like this three-minute one summarizing the life of the saint: St. Thomas More video, read an excerpt from a book, or just regale them with the tale of More’s courage. My eldest daughter is a huge fan of the Ignatius Press saint books and gobbled this one up: St. Thomas More of London. Another great way to introduce the family to the story of this inspiring saint is to watch the classic movie A Man for All Seasons starring Paul Schofield. You can find it on Amazon Prime.


If you are not convinced that clever wordplay alone is enough to warrant this kind of decadence, then perhaps making it into a creative symbolic activity would allay your mommy guilt. Tell your children that the chocolate is like the husband and the marshmallow is like the wife. The heat of the bonfire unites the two just like the sacrament of marriage unites husband and wife. Trying to separate them after they have been bonded through the sacrament is messy and nearly impossible to do. Remember that is what Henry VIII was trying to do by divorcing Catherine of Aragon. St. Thomas More’s disapproval of the king’s divorce and remarriage and breaking away from the Catholic Church ended in his martyrdom. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mk 10:9) Maybe that’s a stretch. Maybe you do not need an excuse to eat s’mores. I feel like St. Thomas More would approve of a little celebration in his honor either way!


However, if you need to balance it out a bit, how about having some classic English fish and chips? It honors not only St. Thomas More’s English roots, but it recognizes that he shares his feast day with St. John Fisher, another great English saint from the same era. You get bonus points for the pun on the name Fisher! St. John Fisher was also beheaded for not signing the Oath of Supremacy. So, for a complete dinner, dessert, and movie night on Friday night, go for some fish and chips, maybe a pint of cider (the hard variety for mom and dad and apple juice for the kids), and those tasty s’mores, followed by A Man for All Seasons while everyone digests. Happy feasting, friends!


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St. Anthony's Sermon to the Fishes Cupcakes


I thought I shared these cupcakes a couple years ago, but it looks like I only posted them over at Shower of Roses along with a few other ideas for the feast of St. Anthony. I'm planning to make them again today for the children to enjoy after we read St. Anthony's Sermon to the Fishes by Abraham a Sancta-Clara, an Augustinian monk who lived from 1607–1680. You can find the poem here

 
These cupcakes are so quick and easy to decorate. I simply used some Fluffy White frosting and created little peaks on the top of each cupcake so the fish and other sea creatures (I used Scandinavian Swimmers from Trader Joe's) could peak out of the whitewater to listen to St. Anthony's Sermon!

They are a great (and artificial dye free) alternative to the "A Multitude of Fish Cupcakes"


St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us! 

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French Vanilla Fleur De Lis Cake


The Nordic Ware Fleur De Lis Bundt Pan is perfect for so many feast days, including today's feast of St. Joan of Arc since the fleur de lis is one of her symbols.

These pictures are from a couple years ago, but the girls are planning to pull it out this afternoon to bake another cake for dessert this evening. This cake is simply a French Vanilla Cake Mix baked in the Fleur de Lis Bundt Pan and then dusted with powdered sugar. If you have a favorite from scratch French Vanilla Cake recipe please share it in the comments below!

The Story of St. Joan of Arc • St. Joan of Arc from  Naturally Catholic • Nordic Ware Fleur De Lis Bundt Pan

St. Joan of Arc, pray for us! 
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Lily Pasta Santa Caterina


April 29 (new) and April 30 (traditional) are the feasts of St. Catherine of Siena. Last night I ended up serving Pasta Santa Caterina for dinner. This time I made it with lily shaped pasta (Capanelle, also referred to as gigli or riccioli, translates to little bells or bellflowers) from Trader Joe's, since I had given some to our children in this year's family Easter Basket.


The lily symbolizes purity. Its stoic structure, pure white color, and delicately sweet aroma attribute to qualities of royalty, purity, and chastity. It is the symbolic flower of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is sometimes depicted with other saints (including St. Catherine of Siena) who possess these qualities. A lily among thorns represents the Immaculate Conception as the purity of the Virgin is preserved among the fallen nature of the world. Legend says that the lily originated from Eve’s tears when she and Adam were banished from the Garden of Eden. Another legend claims that lilies sprang up from the ground when drops of blood fell to the foot of the Cross. During the Easter season, many churches line their altars with Easter Lilies to signify the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life.

This pasta would also be perfect for tomorrow's feast (May 1, St. Joseph the Worker) since the lily is also one of the symbols for St. Joseph.



Pasta Santa Caterina

Ingredients:
  • 2 lb. ripe tomatoes 
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh Basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp. garlic minced
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I omitted this and it was still great) 
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 lb. gigli pasta 

Directions:

Peel tomatoes, remove seeds and dice.

In a medium bowl combine all of the ingredients except the pasta.
Marinate at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, until tender. Drain thoroughly, and transfer pasta to a heated serving dish. Add the sauce and toss.

Serves 8 to 10.


St. Catherine of Siena, ora pro nobis! 

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Lady Kisses for Lady Day


The solemnity of the Annunciation is also known in some places as Lady Day. When I first saw these little bite-sized Italian cookies called, baci di dama or "lady’s kisses", I thought of them as an option for this day - Lady Day. I can imagine them being Our Lady's kisses - kisses Our Lady would have bestowed on her sweet son. The name originates from the cookie’s resemblance to two lips holding together like a kiss. These Italian cookies are common for feast days in Italy - especially St. Joseph. Most years St. Joseph's feast day and the Annunciation are a week apart, so making double at that time could cover both feasts. Though this year the feast is abrogated to April 9 because its traditional date fell on Palm Sunday. 
The outer cookies are delicate and usually made of almond or hazelnut flour. The hazelnut version is from the city of Cuneo (where Nutella comes from), and the almond ones are from the town of Tortona.  There are some different variations of the recipe available. This is adapted from the Martha Stewart recipe. 
Our Lady's Kisses
Ingredients:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, fine
2/3 cup almond (or hazelnut) flour
3/4 cup unbleached wheat flour
pinch of salt
2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat 7 tablespoons butter with sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and lemon zest, then both flours and salt; beat until a dough starts to form. Transfer to a work surface; knead until a firm dough forms, 1 minute.

Scoop 1 level teaspoon of dough; roll into a ball. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing balls 1 inch apart. Place in freezer about 15 minutes, until firm.  Melt chocolate and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Let cool until thick and spreadable.

Bake cookies until domed and light golden, about 16 minutes. Let cool completely. Spread 1/2 teaspoon chocolate mixture on flat side of one cookie; sandwich with flat side of a second. Repeat with remaining cookies. Let chocolate set before serving.

I found this litany poem by G.K. Chesterton which speaks of a kiss and the mystic rose – a reference to Mary (as are all the symbols in this poem). So beautiful and definitely brings to mind the image I was imagining between Mother and the Child Jesus. 

A Little Litany by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven—and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In that strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment's hem
God, grown adventurous from all time's repose,
Or your tall body climbed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.

Note: I also think these little cookies would be fitting for the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) as she is believed to be the woman who washed with her tears, anointed with oil and kissed the feet of Christ. She is often depicted kissing Christ's feet. Lady Kisses could represent her as well.


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Peacock Fruit Platter for Easter


The peacock has long been a Christian symbol of immortality and Christ's resurrection. From ancient times the peacock represented immortality which came from a belief that the flesh of the peacock did not decay.  For this reason the symbol became associated with the Resurrection of Christ with the early Christians and peacocks are found adorning the walls and tombs of the catacombs. In addition, the “multitude of eyes" on the beautiful fan tail, suggested the all-seeing eye of God and that of the Church.

As we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ in the Easter Octave, the peacock can serve as a visible reminder of His rising from the dead. This fun fruit platter is made up of kiwi slices, grapes, and blueberries "feathers" surrounding a half pear for the body. Beak and legs were cut from a red bell pepper and the eyes are cut from the pear.

Additional past Easter ideas from Catholic Cuisine which incorporate this ancient symbol can be found here:
Easter Symbols: Handcrafted Candy for Easter!
The Good Shepherd's Garden Party: Week Seven


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Cloved Ham - Good Friday


Planning on having ham this year for Easter dinner? Ham has been a traditional part of many Easter meals, so if you are serving it this Easter consider adding a little Good Friday prep to your ham baking by doing the "cloving" on that day.

Cloves are the unopened flower buds of the clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum), which is a tropical evergreen. They have an almost pungent aroma as well as a sweet and spicy flavor and are commonly used to flavor ham for baking. The word, clove, has an interesting etemology which I think links them well to this idea. They resemble small nails or tacks and their name comes an alteration of Middle English clowe, borrowed from the Old French clou de girofle (nail of clove) , from Latin clāvus (“nail”) for its shape. 

A clever idea could be to "clove" the ham on Good Friday in anticipation of cooking it on Sunday for Easter.

On Good Friday as we contemplate Chist's passion and crucifixion, we can think specifically of those nails that held him to the cross. As you place the clove "nails" in the ham, you could reflect on those wounds He received. 

To clove a ham: 
  • Using a sharp knife, score ham by making diagonal cuts in a diamond pattern, about 1/4 inch deep. Do not score the meat itself, just the fat and any skin. 
  • Place whole cloves in centers (and points, optional) of diamonds.

Cover and keep refrigeratorated until ready to cook on Easter. 

Golden Clove Glazed Ham 

Ingredients:
8 - 10 lb. bone-in cooked ham (shank end or butt end)
Cloves, whole
   For Glaze:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground


Directions:Bake covered at 325 for 2- 2 1/2 hours. Make glaze by adding ingredients to sauce pan. Mix and simmer 30 minutes to reduce. After the ham has cooked for 1 1/2 hour, brush the surface with some of the glaze. Then put it back into the oven, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. During that last hour continue glazing every 20 mintues.  This gives it a nice golden glaze. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes. To serve, transfer ham to a serving platter. Slice. Discard the cloves.


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Saint Brigid's Lake of Beer


Lake of Beer

I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.
I should like the men of Heaven at my house.
I should like barrels of peace at their disposal.
I should like for them cellars of mercy.
I should like cheerfulness to be their drinking.
I should like Jesus to be there among them.
I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around from all parts.

Happy feast of St. Brigid of Ireland! 

This picture was from our 2015 All Saints Party. You can find recipes and ideas for celebrating the feast of St. Brigid in the archives here at Catholic Cuisine and over at Shower of Roses.

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St. Brigid Guinness Stew Puff Pastry Pot Pie



St. Brigid's feast nears the mid-winter mark. A perfect meal for these still cold (but growing in light) winter days is stew, and a beef & Guinness stew is a great one for the Irish saint(s). It is a variation on a Beef and Guinness Stew recipe posted by Jessica several years ago. Puffed pastry makes a flaky and delicious topping which ups the cozy quotient as it nestles the steamy stew beneath its layers.

Guinness Stew Puff Pastry Pot Pie
Ingredients:
1.5-2 lb beef chuck, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp flour
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 cup Guinness
1 TbWorcestershireire sauce
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
1 sheet puff pastry

Directions:
Add flour, salt, and pepper (to taste) to a large plastic bag, add beef chunks and shake to coat. Heat oil in large pot. Brown meat in batches and remove to separate container.

Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and water to pot. Cook vegetable s until tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and stir. Return beef to pot along with broth, beer, worcestershire sauce, and seasoning.  Cover and cook 1-2 hours.

Allow stew to cool. Divide cooled stew between four 16 oz ramekins. Roll out puff pastry large enough to cover two dishes. Cut into equal squares.  Lightly bright a 1-inch border around each square with a beaten egg. Invert pastry onto filled ramekins, pressing puff pastry sides to dish. Brush top sides of pastry with lightly with beaten egg.


Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce to 400 and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until pastry is puffed and lightly browned.  Serve hot. Pin It

Star of the East - Spiced Wine for Twelfth Night

Warm spiced wine, like the Austrian Gluhwein, along with Wassail or Lambs Wool are common traditional drinks served at Twelfth Night celebrations.  Anise is both a spice that can be used for seasoning a mulled wine (or other drink), as well as a symbolic star garnish to add visual appeal.

Gluhwein

Ingredients:
1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange
10 whole cloves
2 anise stars
Optional – 1/2 cup rum

Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves in sauce pan. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly, then reduce heat to simmer.

Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into pan. Add orange rind. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken like syrup.

Pour in the wine and rum (if using) and stir, heating gradually until steaming. DO NOT BOIL. Remove oranges and serve in prewarmed mugs. Garnish with star anise. 

Your Light is Come: Closely linked to both these themes of divine manifestation and world kingship is a third idea running through the Epiphany feast: that of light. During Advent, the world was in darkness, and we prayed and waited in the spirit of the Jewish nation which lived in expectation of the Coming Light during thousands of years. At Christmas the Light shone forth, but dimly, seen only by a few around the crib: Mary and Joseph and the shepherds. But at Epiphany the Light bursts forth to all nations and the prophecy is fulfilled: "The Gentiles shall walk in Thy light, and kings in the brightness of Thy rising." The mysterious star of Epiphany, "flashing like a flame," is still another facet of the light-motif, a symbol capable of being interpreted in a dozen different ways. Catholic Culture article: "Meaning of Epiphany"

There are many lovely star anise garnished drinks and cocktails that would be fun to make for a Twelfth Night celebration.
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Epiphany Breakfast Cinnamon Toaster Pastry Stars


On Epiphany we recall the wise men that traveled from the East to seek the baby Jesus, following the star. It is a feast of manifestation, and the light of Christ shining forth. Star shaped foods can be a fun way to commemorate the feast of the Epiphany. These homemade toaster pastries are a breakfast option that incorporates both the star shape and some spices that represent the lands from which they journeyed.

Cinnamon Toaster Pastry Stars
Ingredients
1 cup cold, unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons filling (jam, cinnamon sugar mixture, etc.)

Directions
Cut butter into 1/2 inch squares and combine with flour.  Coat the butter in flour. Combine 1/3 cup water, vinegar, and salt. Dissolve salt. Put both in freezer for 10 minutes. Blend the butter and flour mixture in mixing bowl on low speed until it is a crumbly texture. While still on low, slowly pour the liquid mixture into the bowl. When it comes together into a ball, stop mixer. Turn dough out onto the counter. Cut into two parts, wrap in wax paper, form a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll one disk of pie pastry on a lightly floured surface. Use a large star cookie cutter to cut out multiple star shapes. Lay each star on the prepared baking sheet. With a pastry brush, paint each star with the beaten egg.  Scoop a spoonful of filling onto center of each star.  To represent the spices associated with the East - where the wise men came from - I made a cinnamon, clove, and ginger sugar mixture with 2 T. melted butter (1/2 cup sugar, 2 T. cinnamon and a pinch of both cloves and ginger).


Roll out the second disk of pie pastry and repeat steps to cut out additional stars. Lay these stars over the ones already on baking sheet. Seal edges by pressing a fork around the perimeter of each star.

Use pastry brush to paint the tops of each pastry with egg wash and poke top layer through with fork.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  [Optional: frost or dust with powdered sugar after cooling.]

We have made these before as traditional rectangular toaster pastries. The recipe makes 6 traditional pastries or 12 stars. [Adapted from The Homemade Pantry cookbook by Alana Chernila]


St. Thomas Aquinas feast day is later this month, and he is often pictured with a star as well. Something to keep in mind for another cold January toasty breakfast idea. Pin It