Friday, January 31, 2020

St. Brigid Irish Tater Tot Nachos

St. Brigid feast day is February 1. National Tater Tot day is February 2. 

When two dates collide and an idea is born. I have a soft spot for the tater tot. It originated at Ore-Ida Labs in the area where my family lived in Eastern Oregon. And this year in September they are having the first annual Tater Tot festival.  So when I made a chance discovery that National Tater Tot Day was the day after St. Brigid's feast is seemed a perfect pairing.

The idea of tater tots as a substitute for chips to make a potato "nacho" (or totchos) is making the rounds as an appetizer. And the potato is an Irish staple, one of the foods most associated with Ireland, making it perfect for our Irish saint. St. Brigid is the patroness of dairy farmers and milk maids, so pile on the cheese and sour cream.  I suggest Kerrigold Dubliner Irish cheese if available. Several stories connect her to pigs as well so add the bacon. Also avocados (or guacamole) and green onions for the Irish green.  A tasty and easy Irish feast day recipe - for a multitude of Irish saints, not just Brigid.

St. Brigid Irish Tater Tot Nacho Ingredients

Fry or bake tater tots per package instructions. Once tots are cooked, top with grated cheese. Place back in the oven or microwave until cheese is bubbly and melted. Top the tots with guacamole or avocado, sour cream, crumbled bacon, and green onion (and extra cheese if desired). If you want them spicy you can add salsa. I had some green taco sauce that I added in keeping with the Irish color theme.

St. Brigid, Pray for Us!

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Thursday, January 30, 2020

St. John Bosco's Candy Juggling Balls

St. John Bosco, patron of educators and a spiritual father to boys in need, has his feast day today, January 31. He is known for having used magic tricks and juggling to entertain the youth he wanted to draw closer to God. St. John Bosco was a skilled showman and crowds would be drawn to him. During his performance, he would stop to teach and people would stay to listen to his message.

It is also said that he kept candy in his pockets as treats for the boys, and even “turned" pebbles into candy with illusion. For those reasons, I am sharing this idea of a simple treat to celebrate his feast day - M&M’s are candy, that resemble juggling balls.

Let us enjoy a sweet reminder today this caring and entertaining priest.

St. John Bosco, Pray for us!

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Monday, January 20, 2020

St. Agnes Little Lamb Popcorn Snacks

I have seen this idea for sheep-themed birthday parties and thought it would make a nice and simple (and healthy) feast day snack idea of those saints associated with sheep or who have a sheep/lamb as a symbol. This week is the feast of St. Agnes (January 21), who is usually depicted holding a lamb to represent her virginity.

Fill small baggies with popcorn (not ziploc), tie the baggie closed, and tape on paper lamb head using this template or have your children draw their own.  I taped the corners to the back to make sure it retained the rounded shape. Could also just wrap in plastic wrap to make a round shape.

Other saints with lambs/sheep symbol including those who were shepherds:
St. Genevieve (January 3)
Sts. Jacinta and Francisco (February 20)
St. Bernadette (April 16)
St. Drogo (April 16)
Good Shepherd Sunday (4th Sunday Easter Season)
St. Germaine (June 15)
St. John the Baptist (June 24)
St. Joan of Arc (October 21)

*Looks like April 16 is a great day for sheep themed ideas with two different saints associated with sheep. 

St. Agnes, Pray for Us!

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

St. Sebastian Fruit Skewer Arrows

On January 20 we remember St. Sebastian, early Roman martyr. He was sentenced to be shot to death by archers. His body was riddled with arrows and he was left to for dead, but survived and was later clubbed to death. He is the patron of soldiers, athletes and archers. The arrow symbol is associated with him for this persecution that he suffered.

Other saints who have arrows for a symbol are:
  • St. Frances of Rome (March 9) - art depictions of her holding arrows
  • St. Thomas the Apostle (July 3) - was martyred by spear, though arrows and stones are also often pictured with the spear as his symbols
  • St. Philomena (August 11) - the two anchors, three arrows, palm and ivy leaf found on the tiles of her tomb were interpreted to represent method of martyrdom
  • St. Ursula (October 21) - an arrow is the symbol of her method of martyrdom and pictured either holding an arrow or with an arrow in her chest
  • St. Edmund (November 20) - symbol is crown this two arrows, symbol of his martyrdom
Readers often ask for healthy feast day options and also ones that are simple. Hopefully this is an idea that fits both those request criteria. Fruit skewers can be made in just a few minutes. A variety of fruit can be used - blackberries, blue berries, raspberries, melon balls or cubes, grapes. And strawberries with their "tipped" ends make a nice pointed end of the arrow, so place it as the final fruit. You can also leave the pointy skewer end free.  We cut feather end (fletching) out of construction paper and taped on the skewer.

St. Sebastian, Pray for Us!

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Friday, January 17, 2020

St. Anthony of Egypt Bacon Strips

Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Egypt (also know as St. Anthony the Great, St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Anthony the Abbot). He is considered the father of western monasticism. He is also the patron saint of domesticated animals, and Saint Anthony is often depicted standing next to a pig, which he is said to have healed. That is one of numerous explanations as to how St. Anthony has become associated with pigs. The feast has traditionally been associated with farmers bringing their animals to the church to be blessed, for good health and fertility.

His feast day is a very good excuse to eat bacon, which is always a treat at our house and always welcome for any occasion. It is simple and always enjoyable. While today's feast is a Friday this year and many families would be going meatless - think about him this weekend and enjoy a treat then. Any excuse to "pass the pig."

St. Anthony, Pray for Us!

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Hermit Bars to Remember the Hermit Saints

Old-Fashioned Hermit Bars are a classic New England cookie that are spicy and sweet thanks to addition of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. There are several variations, but the basic cookie/bar is full of spices and dried fruits (usually raisins). Origin of the name for these spicy bars is not known - and several theories exist, including that they look like a rough brown hermit's robe. Regardless of the origin, the name is intriguing as it evokes the idea of the hermit saints - those who isolated themselves from society to live a life of asceticism. There is a tradition of holy hermits (Eremites, "inhabitants of a desert" from the Greek eremos). Several well known hermit saints have January feast days: St. Simon Stylites (January 5) and St. Paul, the first Christian hermit (January 15) and St. Anthony of the Desert (January 17), father of Western monasticism. And while a life of asceticism would not include indulgent sweets, in this week of two great hermit saints, you can still enjoy some hermit bars or cookies. 

Old-Fashioned Hermit Bars  

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar 
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2/3 cup chopped raisins (or other dried fruit, ie cranberries)
1 cup powdered sugar
5 tsp milk

In bowl combine together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and continue to mix. Gradually add the flour and spices mixture until just combined. Stir in the raisins.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes.  While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 375° and grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

After chilling shape it into a ball and divide in two. Shape each half into a log, 12 inches long and arrange on the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 3 inches between the logs. Press down lightly on the tops of the logs with your fingertips to give them a slightly squared-off shape.

Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes, or until the edges are just barely crisp.

While bars are cooling, combine the powdered sugar and milk until smooth but not too runny. Drizzle over the baked logs while they are slightly warm.

Allow the icing to firm up then cut into bars.

[Variations on the hermit cookie genre can include drop cookies or flatten the dough in a baking dish for brownie style.]

There are so many hermit saints of the Church, that Hermit Bars can be a feast day item throughout the year. 

St. Paul, the Hermit - Pray for Us!
St. Anthony of the Desert - Pray for Us!
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