Blackberry Mint Sparkler

As you can tell, I love the legend of blackberries associated with the Feast of St. Michael. It makes for so many fun ideas for foods and treats to celebrate the feast of the Archangels, September 29. I have included beverage ideas for feast days before, as I think they are a simple and generally healthy way to celebrate the feasts. Sparkling water always adds a flair of festivity to the mix. So here is a refreshing blackberry infused sparkling water recipe that would be a great way to remember St. Michael this year.  And if you want to go even simpler, just use a lime flavored sparkling water and add blackberries. So easy!

Blackberry Mint Sparkler

Ingredients
20 ounces chilled sparkling mineral water
1/4 cup blackberries
2 sprigs mint leaves
1 lime, 1/2 sliced plus juice of other 1/2
2 T. agave sweetener (or adjust to suit your taste)
ice

Directions
In a small bowl mix together lime juice and agave.
Muddle a few mint leaves in liquid.
Pour into 2 glasses.
Add lime slices and blackberries to each glass.
Top with ice.
Add sparkling water, stir, and serve. 

St. Michael and all the Archangels, Pray for us!


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Angel Food Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream Frosting


Angel food cakes or cupcakes are always a good go-to option for the feast of the Archangels (September 29) or the Feast of the Guardian Angels the following week (October 2). This recipe which includes a buttercream frosting flavored with blackberry puree makes the treat an especially fitting one for the feast of the Archangels.  The blackberry addition recalls the legend of the blackberries associated with St. Michael's feast day.

Jessica has posted in the past about her wise and thrifty idea for making a batch of cupcakes and using a portion for one feast day and the other portion(s) for saint's days that follow closely after.  I do something similar by only baking half a batch. A typical cake mix makes 24 cupcakes but if you only make half at a time then you have 12 cupcakes which is usually more reasonable for a family dessert for one day. I just measure out half of the cake mix and add half of the additional ingredients. Some recipes call for 3 eggs and those are good boxes to make in 1/3 batches (8 cupcakes). Anyway, with angel food cake mixes, the only other ingredient is water so it is very easy to split the mix and add half the water. Continue to make batter as directed. Scoop batter into lined cupcake tin and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until top is dark golden and any cracks feel dry and not sticky.  Cool and frost with buttercream frosting.

For the buttercream frosting:
1/2 stick butter, softened
3 ounces fresh blackberries, pureed and strained
2-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
food coloring, if desired

Cream butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add blackberry puree and mix until combined. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency. The puree makes the frosting a pretty pink so if you want it more purple add a little blue food coloring and mix until blended to a solid color. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes. Frosts approximately 12 cupcakes. Add blackberry to top if desired.
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Blackberry Tartlets For Michaelmas

According to an old legend, when St. Michael cast Lucifer out of heaven, the Devil fell on a blackberry bush and cursed and spat on the blackberries thereby rendering them sour after September 29.  Consequently, people would eat blackberries on Michaelmas but not after. Catholic Cuisine has offered a variety of blackberry inspired ideas over the years for St. Michael's day. This is a simple to make, bite-size appetizer or snack that would add the blackberry theme to a Archangel/St. Michael feast day.

Blackberry Tartlets

Ingredients
1 sheet pastry puff, thawed 
1 (8 ounce) package of brie, rind removed
blackberry jam (or puree)
blackberries

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Thaw pastry puff as per directions.
  • Cut pastry puff sheet into 20 equal squares (I rolled out the sheet with a rolling pin so that it would be slightly larger before cutting)
  • Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray. Press each square of the pastry dough into the bottom of each muffin tin. Be sure to press the crust all the way up the sides.
  • Place a small chunk of brie in each tin.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • If puffs have risen too much push down gently with spoon to form indent. 
  • Let the pastries cool for a few minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely. Add a small spoonful of blackberry jam (or puree) and top with a fresh blackberry.



St. Michael and all the Archangels, Pray for us!

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Gemelli Pasta for all the Holy Twins

Today I am adding another idea to the pasta for feast days collections. Gemelli is a pasta that is a single s-shaped strand twisted into a spiral. To the eye it appears as twin tubes twisted around one another.  The name derives from the Italian word for "twins" because it looks like twin tubes. Gemelli is ideal for lighter, smoother sauces which will cling to the twists, such as pesto or butter/oil sauces. It is also common in pasta salads.

Because of the connection to twins, gemelli is an ideal pasta to use on the feast days of any twin saints, of which there are a few: 
  • Sts. Cosmas and Damian (whose feast day is today - September 26)
  • Sts. Crispin and Crispinian (October 25)
  • St. Scholastica (February 10) and St. Benedict (July 11)
Also, the name Thomas is from the Aramaic name Ta'oma' which meant "twin" (Didymus in Greek). So St. Thomas the Apostle is often referred to as the twin and this pasta would fit his feast day (July 3) as well. 

There are a variety of recipes for using gemelli. Here is a simple one to try.

Gemelli with Mozzarella, Tomatoes, & Arugula

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup firmly packed baby arugula leaves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 pound gemelli
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, finely shredded

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the garlic and the 1/4 cup olive oil and let stand for 20 minutes to allow the garlic to infuse the oil. Strain and discard the garlic. Add the tomatoes, sea salt and pepper to the oil.

Rinse the arugula and dry thoroughly. Add the arugula to the serving bowl with the other ingredients and toss to mix well. Cover the sauce and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours before using.

Cook the pasta in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and transfer the pasta to the bowl with the sauce. Toss well, adding up to a few tablespoons of the cooking water if needed to moisten the sauce so that it coats the pasta well.

Divide the pasta among warmed shallow bowls. Top with the cheese, dividing it evenly, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.

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Chai Cupcakes for Mother Teresa's Canonization


Chai Cupcakes topped with Vanilla Buttercream and sprinkles... Our girls tested the recipe last Sunday and they'll be making them again this weekend for the canonization of Mother Teresa!



Download FREE printable Mother Teresa Cupcake Wrappers & Toppers over at Shower of Roses.


Chai Cupcakes
(recipe: How Sweet It Is)

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg white
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup whole milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Set it aside.

Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat it until creamy. Add the sugar and beat with the butter on high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in the oil and vanilla extract, beating on medium speed for another minute. With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the dry ingredients. Pour in the milk. Add in the other half of the dry ingredients and mix them on medium speed until the batter is combined.

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full. Bake until the tops are set, about 16 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.


How Sweet It Is shares a recipe for Brown Butter Chai Icing, but this was the first time my girls had made buttercream on their own so they decided to make a simple Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and sprinkle additional Chai Spice mixture on top.

Vanilla Buttercream with Chai Spice Sprinkles

Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions:

In a bowl combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat till blended.

Add the milk and vanilla and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

For the sprinkles: Combine 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Sprinkle on top of frosted cupcakes.




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Honoring Our Lady with Star of the Sea Appetizers

"As sailors are guided by a star to the port, so Christians are guided to heaven by Mary."
--St. Thomas Aquinas

As mentioned before, Our Lady is known by many star titles - - Star of the Sea (Stella Maris) and Morning Star (Stella Matutina) being the most prominent. The star as a symbol of Mary is rich in meaning. Johnette Benkovic, on her Women of Grace blog mentions how the star is used to symbolize several characteristics of Mary: “her privileges, in particular her mission as Mother of the Redeemer or her holiness; her anticipatory role (forerunner, announcer) with regard to Christ; and her role as luminous and enlightening.”

The star image could be tied to any Marian feast day, but there is a very strong connection to the Assumption and the Star of the Sea title. In many places traditions associated with the sea are part of this celebration - like the blessing of fleets, blessing of the bounty of the sea, and wedding of the sea ceremony.

These appetizers combine the star shape and the products of the sea to recall Mary under this title – Our Lady, Star of the Sea.  I used Valley Lahvosh Baking Co. star shaped crackers though there are other star shaped crackers that could be used. 


I spread a smear of softened cream cheese in middle and added a lemony shrimp scampi on top. The lemon is a symbol of fidelity in love so is often associated with the Virgin Mary in Christian art.  This is the recipe I used for the Lemony Shrimp Scampi (from Pampered Chef) though I used medium shrimp and halved the other ingredients.


Another simple and last minute option would be to just pick up a prepared seafood spread or dip (like crab) and use that with the star shaped crackers.  


O God, you have willed that Mary should shine forth as the Star of the Sea and protectress for us who are tossed about on the stormy waves.

Grant that through her help and direction, we may be safe from dangers of soul and body, reaching the port of eternal happiness. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.



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Assumption Cookies

These beautiful cookies, in honor of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven celebrated on August 15th, were submitted by LaDawn Wilson who shares, "I homeschooled six children for over twenty years. I now have three grandchildren I can bake for each week. I enjoy revolving most of my creativity around feast days and the children's birthdays." Thank you, LaDawn! 


Assumption Cookies

"The cookies are a basic sugar cookie recipe but I added lemon emulsion and poppy seeds.
I used two stamps for the fleur de lis. I like to paint directly on the stamp using AmeriColor Gels and then stamp the cookie on completely dried white glaze. Royal icing is used for the white borders and Ave Maria symbol. The tiny flowers are made from fondant."


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