Sunday, December 27, 2015

Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval

Merry Christmas! If you are wondering where I have been, why not wander over to my public Facebook page, Celebrating Advent and Christmas with Children? There you will see some of the activities that I have been involved in during the months of November and December. I also administer the Living Advent Facebook page and the Arlington Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Facebook page. 

I have some exciting news, on December 1, 2015 my book, Celebrating Advent and Christmas with Children received the CATHOLIC WRITERS GUILD SEAL OF APPROVAL! I am thrilled to receive the honor and will tell you a bit more about the Catholic Writers Guild in up and coming posts.

Today is the feast of the Holy Family and I want to share with you a few treats that you could make with your children today or any time during the Christmas season. The season itself does not end until the Baptism of the Lord, which takes place on January 10, 2016 this year. Don't let anyone suggest Christmas is over before then.  Christmas is a season and this week we are in the Octave of Christmas, that is 8 special days which participate in the feast of Christmas day in an expansive manner. So whether you make treats today for the Holy Family or another day during the Christmas season, I hope you enjoy them and share a few with others who aren't able to make the treats themselves.

Cookie Lollipops for the Holy Family, p. 124 in my book or get the Kindle version free on December 28, 2015! Check out the details on my public Facebook page, Celebrating Advent and Christmas with Children

Coventry God-Cakes, p. 128

King's Cake, p. 156

Stained Glass Star Cookies, p. 160

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Let's Celebrate with Advent and Christmas Foods - Talk at Mary Washington University Campus Ministry

On Thursday, October 1, I was invited to give a talk at the Catholic Campus Ministry of Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on Advent and Christmas celebratory foods. The campus 
Mary Washington University

ministry program is headed up by Fr. Christopher Vaccaro a diocesan priest from Arlington, Virginia, and his very capable office staff. He is assisted by Focus missionaries, a group of Catholic young men and women, post college age, who share their Catholic faith with college age students. It is a vibrant Catholic campus ministry at Mary Washington University. About sixty students attended the dinner and talk with at least ten of them responsible for cooking the dinner and cleaning up afterwards. I was assisted in every way needed by this generous group of students, including setting up the equipment for my Powerpoint talk. The talk included more celebratory foods and feast days than is highlighted here.

Little Boy and Girl Bread Doll Treats for the Feast of St. Nicholas - Grattimanen

The talk featured Advent and Christmas celebratory foods beginning with the feast of St. Nicholas, December 6, and ending with Epiphany. The pictures below are examples of cake pops for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, and "St. Lucy Eyeballs" for the Feast of St. Lucy, December 13.
Cakes Pops for the Immaculate Conception

A simple Christmas Cake in the center and St. Lucy Eyeballs on the left and far right

Cake Pops to Celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on both ends of the table

A Christmas Dessert, Mexican Wedding Cookies

The evening ended with everyone sampling the desserts I had prepared,
Below is a picture of a Twelfth Night Cake which I did not make, but included in my presentation, so the students could view this attractive and tasty dessert served on the feast of the Epiphany.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Blessing of the Animals, Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

October 4 is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order, 1181 - 1226.  His gentle nature and love of  God's creation has thought to have drawn animals to him in a peaceful and loving way. There are many legends, one which even tells of St. Francis subduing a wolf that was bothering the towns people of Gubbio, Italy. For more details of the story go to,

Many parishes offer a simple ceremony called the "Blessing of the Animals" on October 4 or a nearby date. Ann Ball, r.i.p., in her cookbook, Catholic Traditions in Cooking has recipe for "Doggie Delights"! For those of you who are dog lovers, the recipe is included at the bottom of this post. I have made it before myself for friends' dogs. I hope you will give it a try!

Doggie Treats

Doggie Delights found in Catholic Traditions in Cooking, p. 128.

      • 1 cup flour
      • 1/2 cup yeast and garlic powder
      • 1/2 cup oil
      • 6 - 8 tablespoons of water
      • 1/2 jar (1 1/4 ounces) sliced dried beef, chopped fine
    • Make a stiff dough of the first four ingredients. Add the chopped dried beef. Roll between two pieces of waxed paper till thin, about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares with a sharp knife. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until treats are hard. Cool and store in a closed container. Taste test yourself! Cats usually like them, too.
    • *Yeast and garlic powder may be purchased at a health food store. This is an excellent source of vitamins and helps to repel fleas. 
    • Yield about 2 dozen

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Canonization of Junipero Serra, Sept. 23, 2015

A first of its kind is occurring on U.S. soil on Wednesday, September 24, at 4:15 pm EST. Blessed Junipero Serra will be canonized in Washington, D.C. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Francis. Previous to his canonization, all other saints who were born in the United States or served in the United States, have been canonized in Rome at St. Peter's Basilica.  St. Pope John Paul II initiated the current practice of canonizing saints when he was in their country on a papal visit. Pope Francis inaugurates the practice in the United States when he visits, September 22 - September 27, 2015.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Nativity of Mary

September 8 is the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary was the daughter of St. Anne and St. Joachim. She was the spouse of St. Joseph and is the mother of Our Lord and Savior. Mary holds a unique place in the human race. She was conceived without Original Sin; she never personally sinned, and she was given the honor of being the Mother of God. Through her we receive many graces and blessings. On her birthday, let us honor her in some special way. Here are a few ideas of treats you might make with your children. There are many ways to honor Mary. Whether you make a food to celebrate with or choose some other activity: a prayer, a craft or a story, enjoy the day and don't forget to wish her a "Happy Birthday." 

Sugar Cookies for Mary

Cupcakes for Mary

All Kinds of Cookies for Mary

More Sugar Cookies for Mary

Refrigerated cookie dough rolled and cut-out in the shape of hearts and marked with an M

A Chocolate Cake Pop for Mary!


Ask Jesus to bless our families, Mary.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Solemnity 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

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


                                    RECIPE FOR CAKE POPS
                                                                 makes about 36


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.

Here is a single cake pop decorated just for Mary
on the Solemn Feast of her Assumption
                                      Happy Feast Day, Blessed Mother!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Poi and Mochi - Gluten- free Staples from the Hawaiian Islands

My last post was about Fr. Joseph Dutton who spent half of his life on the island of Molokai caring for the lepers quarantined by the Hawaiian government. The life he left in the United States reflected abundance in stark contrast to the meager food supplies the island of Molokai and the Hawaiian government provided the lepers. Here is a picture of poi the stem of the taro plant which was native to the islands. A staple in the lepers' diet, it became one in Dutton's. Today poi is not found in abundance in Hawaii as it once was. In fact, ironically it is an expensive item at Hawaii's pricey supermarkets.

Lepers could eat poi raw. It is a sweet and a delectable tasting vegetable, or they could cook the stems like we cook potatoes, turnips or rutabagas and mash them when they were thoroughly cooked. Either way, it was a nourishing food, high in carbohydrates if not a monotonous dish. Poi is gluten free so neither the lepers, those who cared for them, and anyone eating it today with celiac disease have to worry about the gluten content.

Mochi confections - blueberry, pineapple, strawberry and orange

Another ingredient native to the Pacific Islands and other parts of Asia is mochi. Mochi is rice flour made from pounding or beating mochigome, a short-grained glutinous rice (not to be confused with gluten).

It is unlikely that Br. Dutton and the lepers enjoyed the desserts made from mochi that are found on the Hawaiian islands today. Those requiring gluten-free treats will be happy to know that mochi desserts fit their dietary restrictions offering variety and taste. The consistency of mochi desserts and other dishes using mochi instead of flour is different; it is more gelatinous, a bit spongy or chewy in comparison to flour-based dishes.

 Here is a link to an article on making homemade mochi, I have never made mochi and prefer to pick it up at the supermarket. Those of you with a more adventuresome culinary spirit than my own, may enjoy giving it a try. Mochi can be found in many supermarkets in either the baking or international aisle. If your town or city has an Asian grocery, you will find it there, too.

I have tried a number of the recipes in Jean Watanabe Hee's book, Hawai'i's Best Mochi Recipes. We do not have any family members that require a gluten-free diet - at least not yet. But I was curious about what mochi desserts, blueberry mochi and pumpkin mochi, to name two, were like so I made them and a few others. We enjoyed them.

My strong attraction to mochi is from the absolutely scrumptious mochi ice cream balls found in Honolulu. There is a homemade ice cream shop which features the most delectable mochi ice cream ever. It is called Bubbies, If you find yourself in Honolulu be sure to stop by and try the mochi ice cream balls. Homemade ice cream wrapped in a mochi covering. Check out the previous link to see the varieties of ice cream and mochi coverings. This is a delectable treat that "melts in your mouth not in your hands!" There are Asian grocery stores in the U.S. that carry mochi ice cream balls, but the ice cream balls, although good, do not compare to Bubbies'! This is not meant to discourage you from trying them, but rather to encourage you to visit Hawaii, go to Molokai where St Damien and Br. Dutton cared for the lepers, and stop by Bubbies before you leave Honolulu and try some of Bubbies mochi ice cream balls!  Aloha!

View of the island of Molokai

Friday, July 31, 2015

Br. Joseph Dutton, Friend to Lepers

Br. Joseph Dutton
Will Vermont have a canonized saint someday? Br. Joseph Dutton born Ira Dutton in Stowe, Vermont, worked alongside Fr. Damien deVeuster and Sr. Marianne Cope in Molokai, Hawaii. Both Fr. Damien and Sr. Marianne were canonized saints in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Their work was devoted to caring for lepers quarantined on a remote island by the Hawaiian government.

Dutton was born in Vermont, 1843, but raised in Wisconsin. When the Civil War broke out he entered the Union Army, 13th Wisconsin Division. They saw little fighting but Dutton distinguished himself with his administrative and business skills, achieving the rank of Captain. He married, but his marriage brought him great unhappiness. His wife ran off with another man. He turned to alcohol to assuage his sufferings, living as a broken man for awhile.

Artwork by Andre Girard, Blessed Sacrament Church, Stowe, Vermont
Interest in religion and the encouragement of some friends led him to the Catholic Church. It was then that he changed his name from Ira to Joseph. Ashamed of the way he had been living, he decided to do penance and give his life to the service of others. He joined the Trappist monks in Kentucky and remained with them for two years. It became evident that the contemplative life was not for him. His gifts lay in the active life. He left the Order, remaining good friends with the Superior of the monastery throughout his life.

After some time Dutton heard of Fr. Damien, a Belgium priest who was working with the lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Damien's work inspired Dutton and he was determined to go and assist him. Having received permission from a government official in Honolulu to work with the "Leper Priest," Dutton set sail for Molokai.  Fr. Damien was unaware of Dutton's coming having only learned of it when Dutton stepped on to the island shore. Fr.Damien greeted him, "Br. Dutton." From that moment on he was called Br. Joseph Dutton. He was not a religious brother, but a brother in the truest sense of the word, befriending Fr. Damien in his work of Christ-like service to the lepers of Molokai.
Br. Joseph with Fr. Damien feeding the lepers
The work with the lepers was arduous and at times physically replusive, but Dutton was not one to shrink from the demands of the care required by the lepers' illness or their poverty. Fr. Damien was working tirelessly to restore the lepers' dignity by providing adequate food, clothing and shelter. He offered the sacraments and provided a moral reference to their communities. Fr. Damien fought hard to garner support for the lepers from the Hawaiian government, wealthy individuals, and assistance from the Catholic Church. Dutton was the Holy Spirit's answer; he was the sturdy friend who shouldered the weight of the extreme hardships of life in the leper colony. He was a man of strength, faithfulness and practical talents. His devotion to Fr. Damien extended for the three final years of the priest's life. He washed and cleaned Fr. Damien's sores as the leprosy developed. His presence assured Fr. Damien that the lepers would not be abandoned when he died, but that the work of care for them would continue. Br. Joseph Dutton arrived on Molokai in 1866 never to leave.  He remained until his death in 1931. If you are in Stowe, Vermont, be sure to stop at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and see the tribute to Br. Joseph Dutton in words and in works.

Quote taken from, John Farrow's book, Damien the Leper
and found on the wall at Blessed Sacrament Church, Stowe,
For a more complete reading on the heroic life of Br. Joseph Dutton check out the following:

Damien and Dutton, Two Josephs on Molokai
by Arthur E. Couch

Brother Dutton of Molokai
by Arthur E. Couch

Damien the Leper
by John Farrow

Saturday, June 13, 2015

St. Anthony of Padua and Cannoli, June 13

St. Anthony is one of my very favorite saints. He is in my top five! Today is his feast day and I want to take this time to thank him and honor him for all the good he has done for me, for my family, friends, and many others who I do not even know.

St. Anthony is known for finding lost articles. Perhaps that is why so many of us are in such a debt of gratitude to him. I know that I am. He also was a great Franciscan theologian and preacher. Possessed of great humility, he did not allow his gift of preaching to prevent him from stooping down to answer the smallest of practical needs for those who sought his intercession.

Born 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal. He died in 1231 in Padua, Italy. He was canonized shortly after his death and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Gregory IX as a result of the richness of his spiritual preaching.

Many St. Anthony festivals are found throughout the United States, Portugal, Italy and other countries where people share a love and desire to honor him for the many prayers answered and, in some cases, miracles worked.

My husband and I decided to have an Italian treat, a cannoli, to celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony. We have gone to a festival in Baltimore, MD, in the past, but decided to remain in Virginia this year. Below are samples of two different cannolis, one with chocolate chips and the other with cherries and pistachios. We enjoyed ones with vanilla ricotta filling and a cannoli pastry that was partially dipped in chocolate.

These cannolis are filled with the traditional ricotta filling. Chocolate chips, cherries, and pistachios are a few of the additions.

There are many prayers to St Anthony requesting his intercession. The nine day novena to St.Anthony, St. Anthony's Nine Tuesdays, and more can be find on various Catholic websites, www.ewtn.com and more. Below is a short prayer that you can say anytime that you would like to ask St. Anthony's help.

Prayer to St. Anthony
Painting of St. Anthony by El Greco

Gentle Servant of God St. Anthony, Help me find ways to honor God's blessings by showing my love for all of God's creatures. Share your strength that I may cope with the trials and troubles of daily life. You, through whose voice the Word of God was preached, intercede for my need (mention your special request here). Powerful Patron, be with me always and teach me to reach out in love and support to others.

St. Anthony, Pray for us.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Baptism and A Confirmation: June 6, 2015

Ella, Fr. Chris, Dad and Mom
 It was a very special day for our families, the Findlays and the Rooneys. Ella Grace was baptized on June 6 at the 5:00pm Mass at Sacred Heart Church. Her Dad, Kurt Leland Thomas, was confirmed by Fr. Chris, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish at the same Mass. 

Here you can see Fr. Chris as he anoints Ella with her Dad and Mom looking on. The rest of the family was around the baptismal font with her godparents right beside Catherine but out of view in this photo.

Mom holding Erik, Dad, Ella and Fr. Chris

Fr. Chris wipes Ella's forehead after pouring the water and baptizing her "In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Kurt Leland Thomas, Fr. Chris and Patrick, his sponsor
After Ella's baptism, Kurt was confirmed. Fr. Chris is extending his hands over Kurt and calling down the Holy Spirit. Kurt chose the name Thomas, as his confirmation name. Patrick, Kurt's brother-in-law, is his sponsor. The parish choir and all the parishioners attending the evening Mass are standing in attendance as Kurt's receives the sealing of the Holy Spirit and his seven gifts.
Ella Grace with her godparents, Uncle Pat and Aunt Becca and Mom and Dad

Kurt's Mom, Lee, with the Findlay family

The Rooney Grandparents, Bob and Colleen, with the Findlay Family, Uncle Mike, and the Patrick Rooney Family

Grandma Rooney made and decorated the cake for Ella's baptism and Kurt's confirmation

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Parade of Foods for Holy Week: Saturday

Lamb Lollipops

Chicks, Easter Baskets and Bunny Lollipops

One grandson decorating a cupcake Easter basket.

Now he is on to decorating the second cupcake! Can he make it without eating one? 
Here are a few of the finished cupcakes!

He is pretty proud of his work! Great job!

Here is another cupcake and a proud decorator.

Now we are on to decorating the lamb cupcakes!

All done and ready for Easter Sunday!