Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fun Food for the Feast of St. John the Apostle

The following guest post was submitted by Lacy from Catholic Icing.  Thank you Lacy!

Hi! This is Lacy from Catholic Icing, and I'm posting today to share some ideas for the Feast of St. John with you. His symbol is the eagle, so here are some eagle foods I have made:

Eagle Marshmallow Pop

If you want to make your own eagle marshmallow pop, here's what you'll need:

Lollipop Sticks
Large Marshmallows
Dark Chocolate Chips
White Gumdrops
Shredded Coconut
Almond Bark
Black Food Color Paste
Flower Shaped Sprinkles

Here's what you do:

For the Body~
Put your large marshmallow on the stick and cover in melted dark chocolate. Stick on 2 yellow flower-shaped sprinkles for his feet, and chocolate chips for the wings. Allow to cool. Use a blob of melted almond bark to stick on shredded coconut for the eagle's tail.

For the Head~
Melt your dark chocolate and almond bark until smooth. Dip the bottom of your white gumdrop into the melted almond bark, then dip into your shredded coconut to make the "feathers" on his neck. Cut a slit where his beak goes, and insert a sideways yellow flower-shaped sprinkle.  For the eyes, make 2 dots with black food color paste using a dull toothpick (as a substitute for one of those awesome food markers).

Eagle Head Quesadillla

This eagle head quesadilla is really easy to make. Just fold a tortilla in half, and then cut out a "ghost" shape with some scissors.  It cuts very nicely with scissors. Then, put some cheese in the middle and microwave (or fry it if you're a little more ambitious than me, or if you're preparing it for adults). Finish off by cutting the beak shape out of a slice of cheddar cheese, and stick a raisin on there for an eye :-D

Other ideas for celebrating the feast of St. John can be found in the archives! Pin It

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Panettone

The following recipe was submitted by a Catholic Cuisine reader, Fred Hass of The Popes Cologne. Thank you Fred!

As Christmas is approaching I thought you might like to have my recipe for panettone. Here is a link to a site with the history and legends about panettone.

In 1847, Paolo Biffi prepared a panettone of record dimensions for Pope Pius IX; it was so big it had to be delivered in a special coach.

Opa’s Pannetone

1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
4 Egg yolks
1 Tbs. Anise, crushed
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla

1 3/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup Marsala
4 Tbs. Butter
1 Tbs. Yeast

7 cups Flour
1/2 cup Candied Fruit
2/3 cup Raisins
2 Tbs. Pine Nuts, chopped


Mix first group of ingredients in bowl of Kitchen Aid and beat thoroughly with dough hook.

Add dry ingredients to bowl.

Mix milk and Marsala then warm until comfortably hot and pour about half into a bowl . To that bowl add the yeast and dissolve. To the remaining add the butter and melt it.

Add the milk and butter to the dry ingredients and mix at slow speed then add the milk-yeast and mix slowly. Add additional flour until the dough forms a ball, clings to the dough hook and is not sticky to touch. Continue mixing slowly for a few more minutes to knead. Next let dough rise until about doubled in bulk.

Knock dough down onto a floured board, knead by hand for a few minutes then put in large bundt pan, two 5x9" loaf pans or free form into round loaves and cover to rise again about an hour or until doubled and pressing with finger leaves a dent.

Put in preheated oven at 350 degrees and bake for 10 minutes then lower heat to 300 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes longer. Pin It

Monkey Bread Birthday Breakfast Christmas Cake

This post was written by Robina, at Motherly Loving, and submitted for publication here at Catholic Cuisine. Thank you Robina!

We always have ooey gooey yummy Monkey Bread on Christmas morning. Since the children understand that Christmas is Jesus' birthday, we now put candles in the monkey bread and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. I don't have a picture of my Monkey Bread, but here is the recipe.

Monkey Bread

4 packages standard size biscuits (not Grands)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon
2 sticks butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each biscuit into four quarters and place in separate bowl. Mix all dry ingredients above in a bowl. Spray surface of bundt cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dip a few biscuit quarters at a time into cinnamon sugar mixture completely covering them with sugar and then place in bundt cake pan until all done. Pour half of remaining sugar mixture onto biscuits. Melt butter in the microwave and pour it all evenly over biscuits. Then pour remaining sugar mixture over biscuits. Place cake pan on foil-covered cookie sheet. bake for 30 minutes depending on your oven. We like our monkey bread a little undercooked, so if you want it cooked more then bake for 35 minutes or so. Immediately after taking out of the oven, carefully flip over onto a platter and let stand until cool enough to eat. I have to say that the above recipe is a double recipe for thecinnamon topping, so it has lots of ooey gooey crust. If you prefer you can decrease the sugar, cinnamon and butter by half. Below is a picture of our Monkey Bread Cross that we eat at Easter since I don't have a picture of our Monkey Bread Christmas Birthday Cake.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Last Minute Gift Ideas: Catholic Cookbooks

I'm often asked for recommendations for books on living the Liturgical Year in the home, in particular those wonderful Catholic feastday cookbooks. I discovered two new ones this Advent, and will also mention a few tried and true titles. There's still time to request or order these books for Christmas!

'Tis the Season to be Baking by Father Dominic Garramone, O.S.B.

'Tis the Season to be Baking: Christmas Reflections and Bread Baking by Father Dominic Garramone, O.S.B. is a small but packed little volume on Advent and Christmas baking.

Father Dominic had a PBS series, Breaking Bread With Father Dominic, and this is his fifth book on baking bread, see Monastery Greetings for his other titles. You can also read a bit more about Father in this magazine article.

I was hooked right from the preface -- Father captured exactly what I feel during the holiday seasons of the year:
One of the most common comments I hear about baking is something like this: "I don’t have time to bake bread much anymore–well, except during the holidays, of course." What an amazing paradox: many people only have time to bake during what is often viewed as the busiest time of the year! But we make time for what is most important to us. What these people are really saying is: "My family’s Christmas baking traditions are so important that I always make time for them."
I don't bake bread as often as I would like, but I agree with Father, I want to do those special breads for Christmas and Easter. I love how making bread in my home reminds me of the Holy Mass in a small way. And so for feast days, bread is the extra component I like to share.

Father explains his book:
The breads I have selected for this book are a mixture of traditional recipes and original creations. Some have been made for centureis, some I inherited from my mother or my grandmothers, others are "new traditions" of Saint Bede Abbey that have only been around since I started baking for the community. But each bread has a connection to the characters we find in the Christmas story as it is presented in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Each bread directs us to reflect on how we can better prepare to celebrate the holy days of the Advent and Christmas seasons. I hope the recipes and reflections included here will help you reclaim some of your own heritage or create a new tradition for your family, and make your holiday baking a means of deepening your own spirituality.
The recipes are wonderful, easy to follow, and most have black and white illustrations and diagrams. Included in the collection are recipes for St. Nicholas, St. Lucia, St. Joseph, the shepherds, angels, the Wise Men, swaddling clothes, and much more. There is also a wonderful menu and recipes for a Family Christmas Brunch based on Father's own family's traditions.

And since Christmas is a whole season, giving this book for Christmas Day there is still much time to try out many of the recipes!

Sacred Feasts: From a Monastery Kitchen
by Victor-Antione D'Avila-Latourette

A few weeks ago I popped into a Catholic bookstore and saw Sacred Feasts: From a Monastery Kitchen by Victor-Antoine D'Avila-Latourrette. Brother Victor is a Benedictine Monk and has written many different cookbooks. His religious order abstains from meat, so all his cookbooks are vegetarian, but include fish, eggs, and dairy. Brother has written many other cookbooks, such as Twelve Months of Monastery Soups and Twelve Months of Monastery Salads. All of his recipes are simple but flavorful, with a nod toward the French tradition of cooking.

This newest cookbook is one I've been hoping Brother Victor would write. All his other cookbooks would be around the seasons and months of the year, sometimes with different recipes named for feast days, and a few dishes to celebrate the feasts, but this cookbook is written around the liturgical seasons and feast days! Take a peek inside the Table of Contents to see the great variety.

When I got home from my little bookstore outing, I requested this book for a Christmas gift from my husband. I cannot wait to really read through the book and try the recipes.

A Continual Feast by Evelyn Vitz

For the newly married, those beginning a family, or families just taking an interest in a Catholic perspective on liturgical year and cooking, A Continual Feast by Evelyn Vitz is the perfect gift.

In my opinion, this is the best overall Catholic cookbook in print today. Mrs. Vitz covers all areas -- seasonal, liturgical seasons, feast days, saints, traditional and cultural recipes, and also family and sacramental feasting. Each recipe has a wonderful background and are easy-to-follow. A must for every Catholic family.

Cooking With the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf

I think Cooking With the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf is the next level of liturgical cooking. This is a beautiful book, hardcover, with full color photos of the dishes and beautiful art of the saints -- nice enough to be a coffee table book. The recipes are wide and varied, from main meals, desserts, breads, and appetizers, most traditional recipes from various countries. Included is a biography and a classic artistic rendition of each saint before the recipes are given, and usually there are several for each saint. Not all saints in the calendar are included, but there is a wide variety. If you enjoy reading Catholic Cuisine, this book would be a wonderful addition to your cookbook library.

Book of Feasts and Seasons by Joanna Bogle

I have to include Book of Feasts and Seasons by Joanna Bogle and her companion book, A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations. Mrs. Bogle is a British author, and she shares many Catholic traditions around the liturgical year, particularly from her country. They aren't only recipes, but provide various Catholic customs and traditions. Perhaps you have seen her on EWTN, her show Feasts and Seasons, which brings the books alive to the American Catholic audience? Check out the website for a few of her recipes. Her books are very enjoyable to read and quite informative.

Happy reading and baking! Pin It

Saturday, December 12, 2009

St. Lucia Buns ~ Lussekatter

I was sent this recipe (along with beautiful pictures!) from Emma, an online friend in Norway! She writes:

"I have tried to find a good recipe for Lucia buns online in English - one that would be similar to the very special feast and buns we make here. It was not so easy as there are so many versions. Many of them look very nice but not like the original, so I have tried as best I could to convert my family's very own, an old recipe that is an original Swedish one from generations back...

... As good as these buns are, and so fun to make, and and as much as St. Lucia is a feast for the youngest children too, this recipe is not very kid friendly! The dough is sticky and can be a little hard to work with when you are new to it. I'm usually making it on the December 12th late at night, but my children love to be with me when I open the saffron box and add it it to the milk. It is very important to buy good saffron, which is almost as expensive as gold compared in weight!"

St. Lucia Buns


7 oz (or 1 3/4 stick) butter
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp saffron threads, crushed
2 packages dry active yeast
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, well-beaten
8 cups flour (approx)
raisins and egg white to decorate


1. Have flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a big bowl. (save some flour for the kneading)

2. Melt butter. Add milk and let it get finger warm (100 F). Add saffron to the warm milk and enjoy the beautiful color!

3. Mix it into to flour and add the eggs, mix well with wooden spoon, cover and let stay for 1-1 1/2 hour.

4. Heat oven to 475 degrees F and cover the baking sheet with nonstick spray.

5. Take dough from bowl to lightly flour dusted table, knead some. It will be sticky, but do not use too much flour! Cut dough in 2, then each half in 4, then 4 again.

6. Work with the dough bits, Shape each bun to a S, or other shape (see photos) and put on baking sheet. Decorate with raisins. Let them rest under towel for about 15 minutes.

7. Use baking brush to put egg on the buns.

8. Bake high in oven for about 8 minutes. Be careful, they should be golden but not brown. They smell amazing!

9. Remove the buns and let them cool under a towel, keep them in plastic bag or freeze as soon as possible as they dry out sooner then ordinary buns.

Yields: 32 wonderful buns

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Cuccia - St. Lucy Wheat

Cuccia is a traditional cooked wheat dish, served only on St. Lucy's day in Sicilian households. Santa Lucia is honored in every town in Sicily. On her feast day they observe a “no pasta, no bread” rule and cuccia is made in all the towns. The tradition comes from a time when during a famine, the people of Syracuse prayed for the intercession of St. Lucy. A ship arrived laden with grain. People were so eager to eat that they boiled the wheat without waiting for it to be ground and ate it simply dressed with olive oil. This was the first cuccia. 

Cuccia can be made so that it's sweet or savory. In Syracuse chickpeas and fava beans were added, and sweet cuccia is made by adding honey and sometimes chocolate. Each town makes it in its own way, and families have different variations as well. The different versions of cuccia can be served through the day at different meals. 

To make cuccia, obtain hard winter wheat from a health food store. Soak the grain in cold water for 24 hours (or at least overnight) and rinse. Cover wheat with water about four inches over the top, with a little oil or butter and pinch of salt. Bring to boil, turn down heat to medium, stir often with wooden spoon. Add boiling water as needed to keep from scorching. Cook until wheat pops open and insides are soft. Drain excess water if needed. It can be served cold or warm, plain or with milk or cream like oatmeal and sweetened with honey, dried fruit, or chocolate bits for breakfast or dessert. Some versions include ricotta. Chick peas, lentils or onions might be added for a savory fare at other meals. This Sicilian cooking website includes several of the variations of cuccia depending on your preference. 

Relying on Your goodness, O God, we humbly ask you, by the intercession of your servant, Saint Lucy, to give perfect vision to our eyes, that we may serve for your greater honor and glory. And we pray for the salvation of our souls in this world, that we may come to the enjoyment of the unfailing light of the Lamb of God in heaven. 

St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear our prayers and answer our petitions. 

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackall is set during the Great Depression in the United States and tells the story of a Jack who is helping his mother make cookies for the needy at their church. It's a sweet story about generosity and true Christmas giving. The author introduces some historic background on the tradition of baking Christmas cookies. Though embellished some to tell the story, it does include information about the known origins in the author's notes. It's a fun book to use as a starting point for finding out more about traditional Christmas cookies and the universality of Christmas cookies about the world.

Cakes of all shapes and sizes (including smaller items such as cookies) have been part of festive holiday rituals long before Christmas. Ancient cooks prepared sweet baked goods to mark significant occasions. Many of these recipes and ingredients (cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, almonds, dried fruits etc.) were introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages. They were highly prized and quickly incorporated into European baked goods. Christmas cookies, as we know them today, trace their roots to these Medieval European recipes. Dutch and German settlers introduced cookie cutters, decorative molds, and festive holiday decorations to America. German lebkuchen (gingerbread) was probably the first cake/cookie traditionally associated with Christmas. Sugar cookie type recipes descended from English traditions. Did you know Animal crackers began as edible ornaments?

This is a fun opportunity to take a cultural culinary excursion this season with Christmas cookie recipes from around the world. Each different culture and country brings a different specialty to this fairly universal tradition of Christmas seasonal baking. There are many different varieties to choose from to suit many different tastes. Learn about the cookie traditions of your heritage or another of interest.

For some cultural Christmas cookie ideas you can look back to recent and past posts and also watch for some specific recipes to be posted. Enjoy the Christmas baking season!

Speculaas (German)
Diples (Greek)
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Honey-Curry Chicken

Tomorrow, December 7th, is the Feast of St. Ambrose. Since St. Ambrose is also known as the "Honey-Tongued Doctor," I am planning on serving one of our favorite chicken dishes for dinner, which is made with honey. Here is the recipe:


In a 9x13 pan, mix the following:

4 TBSP butter (optional)
1/2 Cup honey
1/2 tsp curry
1/4 cup mustard
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
Soy sauce to taste (about 1-2 TBSP)

Now throw some chicken breasts (I use six), or chicken tenders (boneless is best), into the pan and mix it all around and bake it at 350 degrees for about an hour. I cover it for the first 45 minutes and then usually uncover it for the last 15 minutes. Best served over rice, as the sauce is VERY tasty and is great over rice with some veggies!! Yum!

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Speculatius (German Spice Cookies)

With St. Nicholas' feast day approaching, our bakery just shipped out an order of hand decorated St. Nicholas gourmet Speculatius cookies. They take about 45 minutes each to hand decorate with royal icing.

Speculatius (German Spice Cookies) are considered the traditional St. Nicholas Cookie and the recipe hails from the Rhineland. Here's the Speculatius recipe that I used:


Mix in order:
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs whole
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cloves

Turn out onto a floured board. Knead in about one cup additional flour or as much as you need until dough is no longer sticky and is easy to handle.

Put into a plastic bag and refrigerate until chilled and stiff. Then you are ready to roll out and cut the cookies. Cut off a manageable piece and keep the rest cool until you are ready for more.

For the larger, hand decorated St. Nicholas cookies, roll the dough to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut out cookie around paper pattern. Place on greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350º F. until golden-brown. These keep forever in tins in the freezer or for two-three weeks on the shelf.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

This recipe (and beautiful photo) was submitted by Victoria, from Designer Pastry, for publication here at Catholic Cuisine! Thank you Victoria!

This would also be a great recipe to use with the St. Nicholas Cookie Cutters available from the St. Nicholas Center!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Chocolate St. Nicholas

Last year I surprised my children with a darling chocolate St. Nicholas on his feast day, December 6th. I just picked up another Lindt Milk Chocolate Santa so we can make him again this year!

Isn't he just the cutest?!?

You can download the directions from The St. Nicholas Center.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Jesse "Tea" for Advent

Ever since our last Tea for Easter, my children have been asking when we could have another Liturgical Tea. The Jesse Tree has been one of our favorite Advent traditions since my children were very small, so when I ran across Alice's Jesse "Tea" I knew it would be perfect!

Alice suggests having this tea during the last week of Advent, however I decided it would be a fun way to kick-off this Advent season after Mass on the first Sunday of Advent. Really though, you could have it at any time during Advent, or even serve a little something each day of Advent to go along with the ornament and reading for that particular day!

Here is what was included in the menu:

~ The Jesse "Tea" ~

A couple of us had tea and the rest opted for "Adam's Apple Cider."

~ Adam's Apple ~

A Bowl of Apples with a gummi worm serpent!

"And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat." Gen. 3: 6

~ Noah's Ark ~

Alice suggested Celery and Tomato boats, but since most of my children do not care for celery, here is what I came up with:

Animal Crackers 2x2 ~ Deviled Egg Arks ~ Fruit Slice Rainbows

"And God said: This is the sign of the covenant which I give between me and you, and to every living soul that is with you, for perpetual generations. I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between me, and between the earth. And when I shall cover the sky with clouds, my bow shall appear in the clouds: And I will remember my covenant with you, and with every living soul that beareth flesh: and there shall no more be waters of a flood to destroy all flesh.And the bow shall be in the clouds, and I shall see it, and shall remember the everlasting covenant, that was made between God and every living soul of all flesh which is upon the earth. And God said to Noe: This shall be the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh upon the earth. " Gen. 9: 12-17

~ Abraham's Stars ~

I wasn't able to find Dora Star Cereal, but I did find some Brach's Star Candy.
They are SO delicious!

"And he brought him forth abroad, and said to him: Look up to heaven and number the stars, if thou canst. And he said to him: So shall thy seed be." Gen. 15: 5

~ Isaac's Bundle of Sticks ~

I used string cheese to tie our little bundles of 8 pretzel sticks together.

"And he took the wood for the holocaust, and laid it upon Isaac his son: and he himself carried in his hands fire and a sword." Gen. 22: 6

~ Jacob's Ladder ~

Using Isaac's Bundle of Sticks, each person makes their own ladder.

"And he saw in his sleep a ladder standing upon the earth, and the top thereof touching heaven: the angels also of God ascending and descending by it." Gen. 28: 12

~ Joseph's Coat of Many Colors ~

These were very fun, and easy to make, following Alice's directions.

"Now Israel loved Joseph above all his sons, because he had him in his old age: and he made him a coat of divers colours. And his brethren seeing that he was loved by his father, more than all his sons, hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him." Gen. 37: 3-4

~ The Burning Bush ~

Broccoli Florets dipped in Thousand Island Dressing

"And the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he saw that the bush was on fire and was not burnt. And Moses said: I will go and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." Exodus 3: 2-3

~ Moses' Tablets of the Law ~

I bought Milano cookies, as recommended by Alice, but added Roman Numerals I-X with chocolate icing.
I love how they turned out!

"And after this he said: Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the former, and I will write upon them the words which were in the tables, which thou brokest." Exodus 34: 1

~ Jonah and the Whale ~

When I saw a box of Whale Crackers I just had to buy them to add to our tea!

"Now the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonas: and Jonas was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. And Jonas prayed to the Lord his God out of the belly of the fish. " Jonah 2: 1-2

~ The Root of Jesse ~

Baby Carrots since they are a "Root" Vegetable

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root." and "In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious." Isaiah 11: 1 and 10

~ David's Star Tea Sandwiches ~

I just used two different sized Star Cookie Cutters to cut one star out of bread and a slightly smaller star out of cheese.

1 Samuel 17: 12-51

~ Bethlehem, House of Bread ~

A Basket of Rolls

"But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet: And thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel" Matthew 2: 5-6

~ John the Baptist's Honey ~

I ordered a box of Honey Stix from Amazon for about $14.00, not realizing I would be receiving 384 of them (instead of 48)! What a deal!! Good thing my children liked them...

"And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb." Luke 1: 41
"For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." Matthew 3: 3

~ Angelic Messengers ~

I didn't have any luck finding the cookies Alice Suggested, but there are lots of Angel candies to be found this time of year. I purchased a little package of Lindt Angels for this tea.

"And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. " Luke 1:26-28

~ Flowers of Jesse ~

I thought about making Rose Cupcakes, but I (at 9 months pregnant) had already been on my feet long enough so I opted for Pepperidge Farms Verona Cookies which look like flowers.

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears. " Isaiah 11:1-3

Be sure to visit Cottage Blessings for more ideas, recipes and the shopping list!

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