Wednesday, January 30, 2013

St. John Bosco Sticks

The following post was submitted by Sarah Rose, from Rose's Supposes, for tomorrow's feast of St. John Bosco.  Thank you Sarah Rose!  

Tomorrow, January 31st is the feast of St. John Bosco. He is best known for starting a school for boys to help keep them off the streets. He first caught their attention by entertaining them with things like juggling and magic tricks. As an educator myself I admire his commitment to educating the entire person, mind, body, and spirit. His advice to the young boys he taught, "Run, jump, make noise, but do not sin!" would make a wonderful motto for any classroom. Learn more about St. John Bosco here.

When I was subbing at a small Catholic school, I quickly learned that everyone's favorite school lunch day was Bosco Stick day. A Bosco stick is a mozzarella cheese filled breadstick. It would usually come with some marinara sauce for dipping.

In my classroom I liked to write the saint of the day up on the board, and read a short bio about that saint. When St. John Bosco day came around, the kid's first reaction was "did they name Bosco Sticks after him!?" I don't know how the Bosco Stick company decided on their name, but in that spirit I decided to try to make my own "St. John Bosco Sticks" to help celebrate this Italian saint.

St. John Bosco Sticks


  • 1 tube thin crust pizza dough
  • 4 sticks of string cheese
  • Marinara sauce for dipping

Makes 8 breadsticks


First open and unroll your pizza dough. Stretch it or roll it out so it is more or less an even rectangle. Peel the string cheese in half long ways so you have eight sticks. Place these on one half of the dough.

Next fold over the dough and use your hands to seal on the bottom and inbetween each cheese stick.

Next use a knife or a pizza cutter to cut into individual breadsticks. You will end up with leftover dough. You could re-roll it to make more breadsticks, or just shape into plain breadsticks and bake along with the cheese ones.

Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes. You will probably end up with some cheese oozing out of some of the breadsticks, but hey that just makes it better! Serve with your favorite pizza dipping sauce. I like marinara, but you could also use ranch or garlic butter. I made a large batch for a big group I'm cooking for tommorrow and froze them after I baked them. So check back for reheating instructions later!

A Prayer for St. John Bosco

O glorious Saint John Bosco, who in order to lead young people to the feet of the divine Master and to mould them in the light of faith and Christian morality didst heroically sacrifice thyself to the very end of thy life and didst set up a proper religious Institute destined to endure and to bring to the farthest boundaries of the earth thy glorious work, obtain also for us from Our Lord a holy love for young people who are exposed to so many seductions in order that we may generously spend ourselves in supporting them against the snares of the devil, in keeping them safe from the dangers of the world, and in guiding them, pure and holy, in the path that leads to God. Amen.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pre Ash Wednesday Dust Cake

Believe it or not, Lent is coming soon!

Here's a hands-on idea to do with young children Pre-Ash Wednesday to talk about the meaning. 

Warning...It's messy! Be Not Afraid because that's just the point! The messiness highlights us, we who are all messy sinners, when left to our own devices. It's only with God's help that we are clean again.

As you crumble up the messy "Dust" Cake, talk about how it reminds us of Ash Wednesday and the words of the priest when he places the ashes on our foreheads: 

"Remember, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return."  (Genesis 3:19)

It's a tangible reminder that God made us out of dust (a lifeless existence) and someday we all return to dust until we are (hopefully) raised again by Christ on the last day. The hopeful part is where the ashes come in as they remind us to turn away from our dirt (sin) and get right (clean) with God!
*Only God can bless our dirty mess*

Dust Cake

There are many variations that you can use, even Gluten-free, but we used this one: 

  • One box chocolate cake mix, baked ahead of time according to the directions on box 
  • One small box of instant chocolate pudding 
  • One small package of gummy worms 

Have the cake ready and cooled ahead of time. Make the pudding according to directions. Dump the cake into individual bowls and let the children break it up with their hands until there are plenty of chunks broken down into "dust" or crumbs. Stir in the pudding and add the gummy worms, representing our sin and messiness. Eat up and clean up, just like the results of God's mercy and grace!

Just A Few Fun Facts about Ash Wednesday To Share
 While Making Dust Cake:

  • People have been using ashes as a sign of repentance since Old Testament times. Look it up! (Daniel 9:3-6) 
  • Since Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent for Catholics, it's a time for us to stop and reflect upon our own walk with God and where we might have gotten off track. For many of us, the ashes are an outward expression (and reminder) of our broken nature and the deep necessity for reconciliation (repentance) in order to be whole again. 
  • For over 1200 years, faithful followers have received ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. 
  • Remember those palm fronds from Palm Sunday? They were saved to be burned for this year's ashes. They are burned, incensed, and blessed with holy water, using prayers that are thousands of years old. 

+God Bless your Lenten preparations+
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Monday, January 7, 2013

A Twelve Days of Christmas Dinner Party

I mentioned the other day, on the Catholic Cuisine Facebook page, that I was planningTwelve Days of Christmas Dinner Party on Twelfth Night for my family! I just finished posting a couple recipes here and all the details over at Shower of Roses, but thought I'd include the menu here as well, for next year.  

Inspired by the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, I came up with twelve menu items for our party. Legend has it that each gift represents an aspect of our faith and it has been said that this song was used to help teach catechism to children when religious instruction was prohibited.  Whether or not this is true, I just love all the symbolism and am always looking for ways to teach my children more about our faith.  (Note:  You can find our Twelve Days of Christmas Lap Book here.)  When creating the menu I drew from both the original gifts and the Catholic aspects of our faith which they symbolize.

.: The Menu :.

Eight Maids-a-Milking Eggnog and/or Pure White Punch

Four Calling Birds Chicken Wings or Salad with Grilled Chicken
Five Golden Onion Rings with Dipping Sauce
Six Geese-a-Laying Deviled Eggs or Egg Salad
Seven Swan's a Swimming Bean Dip
Nine Ladies Dancing Fruits of the Holy Spirit Salad
Twelve Drummer's Drumming Chicken Drumsticks
Ten (Lord's a Leaping) Commandment Cookies
Eleven Piper's Pretzel Rod Pipes and/or Chocolate Choir of Angels 

I set the table with a red tablecloth and our Silent Night Table Runner, moved our Twelve Days of Christmas Ornaments from the kitchen to the table as well, and used the lovely new little ornaments from Jesse Tree Treasures to place next to each food item.

.: A Partridge in a Pear Tree :.
Partridge in a Pear Tree = 
1 Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross
When I saw the Partridge in a Pear Tree Pie over at Taste of Home, I knew I had to try making it... It was pretty simple and turned out so cute and delicious. I didn't have a partridge cookie cutter so I just hand cut a design with a butter knife. I also added some little leaves and cross shapes as well.  I just posted the recipe here

.: Two Turtle Doves :.
Two Turtle Doves = 2 Testaments (Old & New) 
Turtle Dove Chocolates!  You can find the recipe here

.: Three French Hens :.
Three French Hens = 3 Gifts of the Magi
 and/or 3 Virtues, Faith, Hope & Love
I made our Twelfth Night Rum Cake with three Chocolate Coins hidden inside.  I had a small gift for each person that found a coin in their slice.  (This year it was my husband, Chiquita and Snuggles.)

I also made some Gluten Free Mini Rum Cakes, and used Coconut Sugar for the rum syrup.  You couldn't even tell the difference. (I knew I needed some healthier options for myself or I'd never be able to resist a couple of the treats.  

.: Four Collie Birds :.
Four Collie/Calling Birds = 
4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
I planned to pick up four kinds of Chicken Wings/Appetizers for this menu item, but that was the one thing I forget to get at the store.   Grilled Chicken on top of Salad, or even bird shaped sandwiches would have worked as well.  Our meal was made up of mostly appetizers and desserts, but a chicken main dish could be easily incorporated here too.  Instead, I just ended up pulling our our Church Windows game for the kids to play - tying in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the 4 Gospel Writers.

.: Five Golden Rings :.
Five Golden Rings = 5 Books of Moses: 
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Snuggles (by far our pickiest eater) decided to try one of these "Golden Rings" (Onion Rings). After taking a couple bites he asked "What's inside this?" When nobody gave him a direct answer, just asked if he was going to eat the rest, he said, "No... It tastes odd!" lol Next time I think I might opt for dried apple rings!  

.: Six Geese A-Laying :.
Six Geese A-Laying = 6 Days of Creation
Deviled Eggs made a yummy and healthy addition to the party and tied in nicely to the six geese a-laying!

.: Seven Swans A-Swimming :.
Seven Swans A-Swimming = 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Since the seven swans a-swimming represents the seven gifts of the holy spirit, I decided to serve our Pentecost seven layer dip with chips.

.: Eight Maids A-Milking :.
Eight Maid A-Milking = 8 Beatitudes
I already had some eggnog leftover from Christmas.  

.: Nine Ladies Dancing :.
Nine Ladies Dancing = 9 Fruits of the Spirit
A simple fruit salad made from nine fresh fruits: Kiwi, Banana, Apple, Pear, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Red Grapes, Oranges, and Pineapple. 

.: Ten Lords A-Leeping :.
Ten Lords A-Leeping = 10 Commandments
Pepperidge Milano Cookies with the Roman Numerals written with black sparkle gel.

.: Eleven Pipers Piping :.
Eleven Pipers Piping = 11 Faithful Apostles 
Pretzel Rod Pipes and A Choir of Chocolate Angels to match the beautiful illustrations in our book

.: Twelve Drummers Drumming :.
Twelve Drummers Drumming = 12 Points of the Apostles Creed
Originally I was going to make Chicken Drumsticks, but when I saw these Chicken Drumellas at Trader Joe's I thought they would be perfect quick and easy! 

I hope you all have a very blessed and joy filled Twelve Days of Christmas and Feast of Epiphany!

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A Partridge in a Pear Tree Pie

When I saw the Partridge in a Pear Tree Pie over at Taste of Home, I knew I had to try making it for our Twelve Days of Christmas Dinner Party on Twelfth Night!    I didn't have a partridge cookie cutter so I just hand cut a design with a butter knife.  I also added some little leaves and cross shapes as well.  It was pretty simple and turned out so cute and delicious.

Partridge Pear Pie

  • 1 can (15 ounces) pear halves, drained  (I used a larger jar of pears)
  • 1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple (I used about 1/2 of a large can)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pastry of double-crust pie (9 inches)
  • Additional sugar, optional


Set aside five pear halves; chop any remaining pears. In a large saucepan, combine the chopped pears, cranberries, pineapple and sugar.

Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 4-5 minutes or until some cranberries have popped. Cool for 30 minutes, stirring several times. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir in cooled cranberry mixture.

Line a 9-in. pie plate with bottom pastry; trim and flute edges. Spoon cranberry mixture into pastry shell; arrange pear halves on top.

Bake at 400° for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly and crust is golden brown (cover edges with foil for last 15 minutes of baking if necessary). Cool on wire rack.

Roll remaining pastry. Using cookie cutters (or a knife), cut out small leaves, little crosses (optional), and a partridge. Place on an ungreased baking sheet; sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake at 400° for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Place partridge in center of pie with leaves near each pear, and crosses along the edge.

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Turtle Dove Chocolates

Another fun recipe we made for our Twelve Days of Christmas Dinner Party were these delicious Turtle Dove Chocolates!   They are similar to the Pretzel Dots, made with Dove Caramels and Pecan Halves, instead of the Hershey Kisses and M&M's.  You just can't go wrong with salty caramels and chocolate.  YUM!!! These things are very dangerous to have in the house, especially with my New Year's resolutions and goals. Thankfully our children made sure they didn't last long!

Turtle Dove Chocolates

  • 1 bag of Dove Caramel Milk Chocolates
  • 1 bag of Butter Snap pretzels
  • 1 bag of whole pecan halves (about 30-40 pieces)
  • Pretzel Sticks (optional)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Unwrap each Dove Chocolate. Lay out pretzels and put one chocolate on each pretzel.

Bake in oven for 3 minutes. After removing from oven, gently press pecan into chocolate, but not hard enough for caramel to come out of the chocolate. Transfer pan to refrigerator for chocolates to harden.

Note: Can you tell that I got distracted talking to a friend on the telephone?  They were left in the oven for about 4-5 minutes and I had caramel oozing everywhere... Whoops!

Optional: Before placing the candies in the refrigerator to harden you can insert pieces of Pretzel Sticks to create a head and legs for your "turtles." Or just leave them as pictured above, with the turtle tucked into his shell!

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Baby Updates and Additional Prayer Requests

Hello to all our dear visitors here at Catholic Cuisine, and a very blessed Epiphany to you all!

I recently posted a prayer request for Kelly (one of my contributors here at Catholic Cuisine from The Careless Catholic) on the Facebook Page and over at Shower of Roses and wanted to give you all an update, along with a few additional updates on other pregnant mommas!

Kelly delivered her precious baby early this morning at 31 weeks.  Her beautiful baby girl weighs 3 lbs 13 oz.  and is 17" long.  Both mom and baby are still in ICU, please continue to keep them in your prayers as they recover!

Sarah, another contributor here at Catholic Cuisine from Amongst Lovely Things, also has some exciting news to share!  I'm guessing it might be quite some time before she is able to share some more of her delicious gluten free creations with all of us.   Please keep her and her new babies in your prayers as well.

Lena, a contributor here from JOYfilled Family, is due with Baby G next month!  Please remember her in your prayers for a safe delivery and healthy baby.

Jennifer, from Conversion Diary, could also really use your prayers and support!  Hallie Lord is collecting donations to send as a gift and help with meals for the Fulwiler Family while Jen recovers.  Please consider donating if you can!

Also, though not pregnant, my own sister (a Catholic wife to a Marine and mother of 4) is in the ICU right now with serious health issues and could really use prayers.

Thank you all for your prayers for these dear women, and for all pregnant women!  May God reward you!!


Prayer for Mothers

Good and Gentle God, we pray in gratitude for our mothers and for all the women of theory who have joined with you in the wonder of bringing forth new life. You who became human through a woman, grant to all mothers the courage they need to face the uncertain future that life with children always brings.

Give them the strength to live and to be loved in return, not perfectly, but humanly. Give them the faithful support of husband, family and friends as they care for the physical and spiritual growth of their children. Give them joy and delight in their children to sustain them through the trials of motherhood. Most of all, give them the wisdom to turn to you for help when they need it most. Amen.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Gluten Free Twelfth Night Rum Cake

I wanted to make Jessica's Twelfth Night Rum Cake this year but my husband is eating gluten free right now for some digestive health reasons and I felt bad for not making more treats that he could enjoy with us over this Christmas season. So, turning to The Cake Mix Doctor's new gluten free cookbook, I decided to try her Bacardi Rum Cake recipe, just making a few alterations. Here is the recipe as I made it:

Gluten Free Twelfth Night Rum Cake


Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pan
1 package (15 ounces) yellow gluten-free cake mix (Betty Crocker)
1/4 cup (half of a 3.4-ounce package) vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbl. rum extract
1/4 cup water
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbl. water
1 tsp. rum extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with GF vegetable oil spray.

2. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, rum extract, water, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are just incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula, and place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the cake until it is golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 40 to 45 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Place the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted. Add the brown sugar and water, and stir to combine over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from the heat, stir in the 1 tsp. rum extract and let the glaze cool.

My cake was so pretty and puffed when it came out of the oven and then it collapsed. Sad, but still yummy!
5. Transfer the Bundt pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Shake the pan gently, and invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Carefully put the cake back in the pan. Using a wooden skewer, poke a dozen holes on the bottom of the cake, about 1/2 way through. Very slowly spoon about 2/3rds of the cooled glaze over the warm cake letting it soak into the holes in the cake before adding more. Insert chocolate coins at this point by slicing into the bottom and inserting an unwrapped chocolate coin into the slit. When the bottom of the cake has absorbed most of the glaze, flip cake back over to a serving plate and spoon the remainder of the glaze over the top.

6.  Let the cake cool to room temperature, 20 minutes longer before slicing and serving.

Happy Twelfth Night!

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cookie Cutters Tell the Story of Christmas

Back in November Debbie shared an article with me (over at Shower of Roses) that was written by Iris Hammett in the 1940's titled "Cookie Cutters Tell the Story of Christmas."  We have made Nativity Cookies and Starlight Cookies in the past, but I thought this story would be a fun alternative for this year and we finally had a chance to make them today!   We also spent some time making cookies to go along with a couple more of our Christmas picture books, but I'll post about those later.

Cookie Cutters Tell the Story of Christmas
By Iris Hammett, written in the 1940’s
(Published in the Mansfield News Journal)

"It is a story, as suggested by cookie cutters, which are familiar to the younger generation both for their utilization purpose in shaping sweets and as playthings for toddlers. This is their message as interpreted by Mrs. Iris Hammett."

"The oven is heated, the dough is made, and the kitchen table is spread with an array of cookie cutters. But theses are not just ordinary cookie cutters, for they have a story to tell."

"Three (Seven in our case!) anxious little faces look on with great anticipation of receiving a sweet morsel when it is baked. Their dark eyes glisten as they listen to the story of the Christ child as each cutter tells his part."

"First, we make an angel, for it was an angel who came to Mary and told her that she would have a baby boy and should call his name Jesus, for he would save his people from their sins."

"Second, we make a donkey, for it was a little donkey that Mary rode into Bethlehem where the baby Jesus was to be born."

"Third, we cut a star for the star that shone in the East to guide the Shepherds to where they would find the Baby Jesus. The wise men had seen this star in the East and knew it told of the birth of the Savior."

"Fourth, we cut more angels for the angels who sang Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. The angels also brought the good news to the shepherds as they watched their sheep during the night."

"So we make candy cane cookies to represent the shepherd’s staff."

"Fifth, we make a camel because the wise men traveled over many miles of sandy desert on camels that they might find the young child."

"Then we come to some of the cookie cutters which we can’t find in the Bible, but which have wonderful meaning by which we tell God’s love for us. We make a wreath for it is round and has no end, even as God’s love has no end. He gave to us eternal life which has no end. We think of the wreath being made of evergreen and so we frost it green. The evergreen is a symbol of the eternal life which Christ bought for us on Calvary. Then comes the Christmas tree, again an evergreen tree, the symbol of everlasting life. It stays green winter and summer as no other tree. It tells of the love of Christ which goes on and on, and of the eternal life which he gives us if we believe in him as our Savior. And last of all we make the bells, for the bells ring out the glad news that a savior is born this day in the City of David."

"And so, as we bake our Christmas cookies, we see the story of the Savior's birth and purpose in our lives. What a wonderful way to gather the little ones around and tell them of God’s love for us. As we roll and cut the dough and mold it into shape, we tell over and over the story that never grows old."

"Then breathe a little prayer that we are molding young and pliable lives, minds, and hearts into the right form, that they might come to know and love this Christ that was born on Christmas Day."

"My prayer is that my children shall never forget the cookie cutters and the story they told of Jesus, His birth and purpose."

"Thus we keep Christ in Christmas even with the cookie cutters."

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies (Found in the Archives)

Our Cookie Cutters:

Our Christmas Story Picture Books:

Wishing you all a very Merry 10th Day of Christmas and a Blessed Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus!
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