Sunday, December 2, 2012

A favorite Rooney book for stories, songs, crafts and cookies!

This is one of my favorite Advent and Christmas books. It was a gift from my mother-in-law, Olive Rooney. Tasha Tudor is the illustrator. Her drawings capture a charm that evokes wonderful memories of childhood throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons. The book is filled with stories, legends, songs, crafts and recipes to weave into your own Advent preparations and Christmas celebrations. If you are not familiar with the book you can find it at I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Happy Advent!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Feast of the Assumption

Cake Pops for Mary!
Did you know that between 1870 and 1940, it is estimated that over four hundred bishops, eighty thousand priests and religious, and over eight million lay people petitioned the Vatican to define the Blessed Mother's Assumption as a dogma of the faith? The overwhelming desire by the faithful to see this reality of the Blessed Mother's life defined, led  Pope Pius XII in 1946 to send out a letter to all the bishops. In this letter he asked if they judged that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin could be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith. The response from the bishops was almost unanimous, and the Holy Father concluded that "those whom 'the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God'" had spoken. Pius XII on November 1, 1950 in a solemn definition stated "by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by Our Own authority, We pronounce, declare, and define as divinely revealed dogma: The Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, after her life on earth, was assumed, body and soul to the glory of heaven." Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus

The Blessed Virgin Mary is assumed body and soul into heaven.

Smiling faces as the girls take a break from decorating cake pops
Would you like to learn how to make and decorate cake pops? They are easy and great fun. You can offer them for all occasions - feast days and holidays. The ones we made are simple and very tasty. You can make very sophisticated ones, as you will see, if you look at some of the popular cake pop books on the market. Below I will show you how to make, freeze, and decorate simple but gorgeous cake pops in honor of the Feast of the Assumption.

Here is a close-up of some more completed cake pops - yum, chocolate ones!


makes about 36


1 cake mix any variety except Angel food or sponge cake, and the oil, water and eggs that are required.
lollipop sticks, 3 inch, 36
 chocolate melts, any color you like (Michael's Craft Store and A.C. Moore Stores have an extensive variety of colors and flavors) probably about 2 bags of melting chocolate
sprinkles, all colors, shapes, to decorate with (Michael's and A.C. Moore)
additional items you might want
pastry bag with decorating tips for designs (Michael's and A.C. Moore, Wal-Mart, Wilton on-line)


Follow the directions on the box for preparing and baking the cake. Using an oblong pan is easiest but not essential. When the cake is out of the oven, let it cool completely.

Crumble baked cake into large mixing bowl. Crumble completely so there are no lumps.
Add 1/2 to 2/3 cup of prepared frosting gradually. You want the crumbled cake to become moist enough to roll between your hands and form into a small round ball. If you use too much frosting the mixture will be too wet and will not hold its shape. 

When you are ready to roll the  mixture into round balls have a couple of oblong cake pans or cookie sheets lined with aluminium foil, wax paper, or plastic wrap. I prefer aluminium foil.  

Take a small amount of the mixture and roll  between your palms into a  1-inch ball. Place on lined cookie sheet. Repeat until you have finished the bowl of mixture. Should be about 36 balls. Then place in the center of each ball one lollipop stick. Repeat until finished. Place rolled balls in freezer for 2 - 3 hours. 
(If your freezer can not accommodate such a large pan, then use smaller pans or plates. Be sure to line them with aluminium foil for ease of removing the cake pop.)

Heat up the chocolate melts in a microwave safe bowl. Use about 1 1/2 cup of melts. Microwave at 35 seconds and then stir the mixture. Heat in increments of 35 seconds or less, until the melts are melted. You do not want to over heat the melts or they will be ruined. 

Take the cake pops out of the freezer and one by one dip them in the heated chocolate melts. My technique is to dip the cake pop in so that it is completely covered. If necessary, I use a plastic spoon to shovel the melted chocolate up around the collar of the cake pop where the stick enters. When the entire pop is covered, I remove it carefully and place on a clean sheet of aluminium foil. You must put the sprinkles on immediately before the chocolate hardens. I usually do about twelve cake pops or so and then put the decorated batch in the freezer or the refrigerator depending on where I have room. Then I continue on with twelve more and so on, until I have completed all thirty six cake pops.  If you want to add a design by melting the chocolate in a disposable, plastic pastry bag with a decorator tip, you can wait and do that later after you have finished all the cake pops, or even on another day, if you are not planning to eat them right off! The cake pops stay very fresh for up to two weeks because of the chocolate coating.

If you want to add a design to the cake pops, you may heat the chocolate melts in a disposable, plastic pastry bag in the microwave. Again, heat them gradually and press gently on the bag to be sure all the lumps are out of the chocolate. Caveat: You can not put the metal decorator tip before you microwave. What you want to do is to put the inside piece of the coupler for the decorator tip inside your plastic bag, then put  the chocolate melts in the bag and  microwave. When the chocolate is melted, then remove from the microwave, add the decorating tip you want to use to the end of the pastry bag and then slip the outer part of the coupler on to secure the decorating tip in place. Sounds complicated, but after you have done it once or twice, you realize how simple it is. Then add the design you want to to the already completed cake pops. You could write M for Mary or put a star on the cake pop. You will have many creative ideas. Below are pictured the disposable pastry bag, coupler, decorator tip, and decorative sprinkles.

The Falling Asleep of Mary

Eastern Rite Catholic Churches refer to the Assumption 
as the Falling Asleep 
or the Dormition of the Blessed Mother

Prayer to Mary Assumed into Heaven

O Blessed Virgin Mary,
united to the victorious Christ in heaven,
you are the image and first-flowering of the Church
as she is to be perfected in the world to come.
You shine forth as a sign of sure hope and solace
for the pilgrim People of God.
In your Assumption,
you manifest the fullness of redemption
and appear as the spotless image of the Church
responding in joy
to the invitation of the Bridegroom, your Son,
who is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Grant that we may follow your example on earth
thereby imitating your Son as well
and being enabled to share your glory,
with Him for all eternity.


Reference used The Catholic Catechism, author John A. Hardon

Friday, August 10, 2012

Saint Clare, August 11

Chiara Offreduccio, the saint we know as Clare, grew up in Assisi, Italy, in a wealthy and noble  family. Her father had aspirations for her to marry a wealthy man and further solidify her financial position. But Chiara would have none of that, for she had heard a young man named Francis preach in the town square. His preaching had captivated her, and she determined to follow the life that he had set out on, the life of lady poverty.

It was Francis of Assisi whose preaching inspired Chiara to leave her home on Palm Sunday, 1212, when she was eighteen years old and to give her life to Jesus. She begged Francis to let her live according to the spirit of his newly founded religious order. Francis gave Clare a brown garment with a veil to wear and cut off her hair. She was sent to reside with the Benedictine Nuns. Her unhappy parents tried to bring her home, but she would not leave. When St. Francis rebuilt San Damiano church he offered  Clare a small house beside it. Soon other young women, including her sister Agnes, joined her. Like Clare they desired to live a life of poverty and silence out of love for Jesus. In 1216 Clare was made the abbess of her order, called the Poor Ladies. She embraced fully the virtues and strict vows of Francis. She refused any attempts at watering down  the Franciscan rule of  life by others, even popes! Clare embraced radical poverty, suffered an illness for thirty years, and  yet was filled with a spirit of love and joy as a bride of Christ. She died on August 11, 1253. On August 12, Pope Alexander IV offered the White Mass for Virgins in her honor. Two years later she was canonized.  After her death the order she founded became known as the Poor Clares.

The beautiful painting of St. Clare above, I found on Dom Mark Daniel Kirby's Vultus Christi Blog. Dom Kirby is the prior of Silverstream Priory in Ireland. To learn more about this new Benedictine foundation dedicated to praying for priests go to

St. Clare was Italian,and there are many Italian dishes and desserts to celebrate her feast day. However I am choosing to prepare eclairs for her feast. It is a bit of a play on the sound of her name, Clare, eclair, but it is also a dessert that we associate with special occasions.  A saint's feast day is always a special occasion. It is the day that we celebrate their entry into heaven and honor them for their heroic virtues. We can ask them for favors, too! In St. Clare's case, we honor her for her complete and perserving embrace of radical poverty for the love of Christ. There is nothing wrong with material goods. In fact, we need a certain amount of things to live. St. Francis and St. Clare, though, were called to leave their wealthy families and embrace a poverty that imitates the poverty of Our Lord, who tells us, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head" (Luke 9:58). So let's celebrate St. Clare for her love and fidelity to lady poverty and the founding of a great religious order.  Today the Poor Clares number about 20,000 throughout 70 countries in the world! St. Clare is the patron of television and television writers.


                                                      RECIPE FOR ECLAIRS
This recipe is taken from the Food Channel. It does take some time, but the results are scrumptious. You can simplify by putting the dough in a bundt pan and baking it, rather than making individual eclairs.  When it is done and cooled, cut the pastry horizontally, take off the top portion, and fill the bottom with the cream. Place the top of the pastry back on, then drizzle the chocolate glaze over it. The presentation is impressive! If you like the idea of eclairs but do not have the time to make them, nothing is wrong with going out and buying some! Enjoy!



  • 2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter


Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons water

Chocolate Glaze:


Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the saucepan. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.
Pastry: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat. Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Mix at medium speed. With the mixer running, add 3 eggs, 1 egg at a time. Stop mixing after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining 1 egg and mix until incorporated.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe fat lengths of dough (about the size and shape of a jumbo hot dog) onto the lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them. You should have 8 to 10 lengths.
Egg Wash: In a bowl, whisk the egg and water together. Brush the surface of each eclair with the egg wash. Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps of points of dough that remain on the surface. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet. Fit a medium-size plain pastry tip over your index finger and use it to make a hole in the end of each eclair (or just use your fingertip). Using a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size plain tip, gently pipe thecustard into the eclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside (don't stuff them full).
Glaze: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately turn off the heat. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm. The glaze can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, and rewarm in a microwave or over hot water when ready to use.
Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. Serve chilled.  Recipe by Gale Gland“Butter Sugar Flour Eggs” by Gale Gand, Rick Tramonto, Julia Moskin, Clarkson N. Potter Publishers, 1999

If you are interested in learning more about the Poor Clares, here is a wonderful book you will enjoy reading by Mother Mary Francis. You can purchase it from Ignatius Press,  It was written when Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C. was a young religious in Roswell, New Mexico

Prayer to St. Clare

O Glorious St. Clare! God has given you the power of working miracles continually, and the favor of answering the prayers of those who invoke your assistance in misfortune, anxiety, and distress. We beseech you, obtain from Jesus through Mary His Blessed Mother, what we beg of you so fervently and hopefully, (mention your petition) if it be for the greater honor and glory of God and for the good of our souls.   Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sts. Joachim and Anne, July 26

July 26 is the feast of saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin and the grandparents of Jesus. What an honor! What an incredible blessing of their marriage! Little is known of them. What we do know has come down through oral tradition. Nothing about them is written in Sacred Scripture only in an apocryphal gospel, the Gospel of St. James. Like St. Joseph, their son-in-law, they are key players in the human family of Jesus, but their personal stories are hidden from us.

It appears knowledge of St. Anne first arose from the Middle East in the fourth century. Later with the travels of the crusaders, stories of St. Anne reached France and the rest of Europe. A love affair developed between the French and St. Anne. In time they brought their love of her to the New World and built a grand church to honor her in Quebec City called St. Anne de Beaupre. From its very beginning the church was blessed with miracles, a crippled worker's leg was restored to full use. Today crutches line its entrance and tell of St. Anne's continual intercession for those crippled in body and/or in soul.

Replica of statue of St. Anne and Mary, St. Anne de Beaupre, Quebec, Canada

  The name Anne means grace.  During the 17th century, it was the most popular name for women in Europe. Many, from queens to parlor maids, were given the name Anne. The feast of St. Anne came to include honoring all Annes. Women dressed up in elegant clothes, parties were held, parades were featured, even polkas were composed by the Strausses in honor of the day. Lovely fruit tarts decorated the dinner tables.

Sts. Anne and Joachim are patrons of parents and grandparents. St. Anne is an intercessor for those seeking a good spouse, for the childless, and those suffering in body and/ or soul. On July 26,  let us honor the marriage of Sts. Joachim and Anne and celebrate our parents' and grandparents' marriages with special cupcakes. You will find details below. And remember to have a party for all our friends named Anne or names derived of Anne. At the end of this post you will find a prayer to say to the mother of the Blessed Virgin and the grandmother of Jesus asking St. Anne for her help in all our necessities and for those in need.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa

Above are cupcakes for Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa. Bake one of their favorite cake recipes in silver cupcake liners. Frost with their favorite frosting and sprinkle with colored sugar. For special anniversaries sprinkle with silver or gold sugar found in Michael's Craft and A.C. Moore stores.  You can get mini pictures from an original of your parents or grandparents at CVS or another store that does one hour photo developing or has the Kodak photo computers. Choose the wallet size from your original photo. When the photos are ready just cut them individually and tape each to a toothpick. Place in the top of each cupcake!  

Here is a prayer for a marriage blessing.

   We thank you, O God, for the Love You have implanted in our hearts. May it always inspire us to be kind in our words, considerate of feeling, and concerned for each other's needs and wishes. Help us to be understanding and forgiving of human weaknesses and failings. Increase our faith and trust in You, and may Your Prudence guide our life and love. Bless our Marriage O God, with Peace and Happiness, and make our love fruitful for Your glory and our joy both here and in eternity. We make this prayer through the intercession of  Sts. Joachim and Anne. Amen

            Below, a bit more challenging but very satisfying when completed.

Bride and Groom Cake or Cupcake Toppers
Use the same cupcakes with silveroil liners, or choose others according to your color scheme. Real or artificial flowers decorate the bottom of this improvised cake stand! White chocolate, yogurt pretzels symbolize the wedding bands. You can heat them slightly to melt the chocolate and then sprinkle them with gold or silver sugar. Ont the top of our anniversary treat are a bride and groom resting in a white frilly baking cup. The couple are made out of white, chocolate, and yellow melting chocolate with mini Sandies shortbread cookies for their faces. The pattern and directions are taken from Hello,Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. There are some wonderful ideas and techniques in this book and other cupcake books that offer elegance when you are looking to highlight a certain feast day. This project is fun for those twelve and up, or younger children who possess excellent fine motor skills, patience, and love to bake and decorate.

                               CELEBRATE ST. ANNE AND ALL THE ANNES

Yum! Strawberry cupcakes with pink icing and pink and white sprinkles. Wouldn't pink lemonade go well with them on a hot summer's day? Invite all the Annes you know to celebrate their name day. Better yet invite them to make these fun cupcakes. They will have many great ideas of their own on how to decorate them - maybe purple or yellow, or a rainbow! Make it an afternoon party and if the pool is not too far away cool off with a swim. All to honor St. Anne and all the Annes!

You can top the cupcakes with decorations found at Michael's Craft Store. I found some American Girl decorations on sale and used them to add variations of Anne - Hannah, Rosanna, Luanne, etc. 

More Cupcakes for Anne!

                                   A Prayer to St. Anne

                       (Below is an old  prayer to St. Anne to obtain some special favor)

Glorious St. Anne, filled with compassion for those who invoke thee, and with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at thy feet and humbly beg of thee to take the present affair which I recommend to thee under they special protection.

Vouchsafe to recommend it to thy Daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all, obtain for me the grace of one day beholding my God face to face and with thee and Mary and all the Saints, praising and blessing Him to all eternity.

Good St. Anne, mother of her who is our Life, our Sweetness and our Hope, pray to her for us, and obtain our request. (3 times)

               Happy Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne 

Resources used The Holy Day Book by Fr. Francis Weiser, S.J., A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz
A Book of Feasts and Seasons by Joanna Bogle, My Nameday Come for Dessert by Helen Mc Loughlin, Catholic Encylopedia on New Advent web site, and Saint Anne found in Wikipedia the free on-line enclopedia.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mardi Gras

A Mardi Gras Party! When our children were home - three are married and one is in college now - we would have a "Fat Tuesday" celebration. I loved the tradition of making and eating pancakes -  a holdover from earlier days when Catholic cooks were cleaning out the cupboards from soon to be restricted Lenten foods, eating them up on "Fat Tuesday." Now the Mardi Gras Party takes place in the CCD classroom. No I don't make pancakes, instead my teaching partner, Carol, and I ask the students to bring in something that they enjoy eating and are willing to give up for Lent! They bring in all kinds of treats - Doritos, Twix candy bars, chewing gum, gummy bears - the list doesn't end! Carol and I bring in our favorite treats, too! It is a feast of our favorite treats! Yum. Then we talk about how God's creation is good (Genesis 1:31) and we discuss what sacrifice means, giving up something good for something or someone better. Each one of us writes out on a piece of paper what good food(s) we are willing to give up for Lent for love of Jesus. Many of the students give up their favorite treat for the entire Lenten Season. When Lent is over and we come back to the classroom after Easter break, we have another party. Stay tuned and see what we do for Easter! Enjoy Mardi Gras!