St. Brigid's Hearty Healing Beef Stew



I wish I had a great lake of ale for the King of kings, and the family of heaven to drink it through time eternal. I wish I had the meats of belief and genuine piety, the flails of penance, and the men of heaven in my house.  ~ St. Brigid of Ireland

St. Brigid is the patron saint for numerous things including cattle and dairy work. She was said to be the best mead and ale maker in all of Ireland, as well as an excellent cook. One way to celebrate this Abbess from Kildare is to enjoy a steaming bowl of Irish Beef stew… made with Ireland’s own Guinness Draught!

Many miracles have been attributed to St. Brigid that involve physical healing. Another great recipe to serve on her feast day is the following nourishing and delicious Hearty Healing Beef Stew adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks The Healing Kitchen: 175+ Quick & Easy Paleo Recipes to Help You Thrive.  I love beef stew and finally have a new favorite (grain and nightshade free!) recipe to replace my old favorite which is no longer on the list of foods I can eat.

I modified the original ingredients (serves 4 to 5) from The Healing Kitchen to make enough stew for our family of nine:

Hearty Healing Beef Stew

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 pounds beef stew meat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 large yellow onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (This time I used 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (I am out so I used 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon) 
  • 2 (1-inch) pieces fresh orange peel
  • 8 cups Beef Broth 
  • 1 - 15 oz can Sweet Potato Puree
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 8-10 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (the first time I used 1 bag of Trader Joe's Carrots of Many Colors) 
  • 1 head of celery, chopped
  • 1-2 bunches of kale, chopped

Directions: 

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the meat, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and brown on all sides for 8-10 minutes total, but avoid getting a crust on the outside.  (Make sure you scrape up all those caramelized brown bits from the bottom of your pot to give your stew a deep, rich flavor!)

Stir in the onion, thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, orange peel, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.



Add the broth, sweet potato puree, and wine to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with a  lid, and cook for 1 hour.



Add the carrots and celery to the pot and return the stew to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for an additional 40 minutes. Add the chopped kale, submerging it in the liquid, and cook for 25 more minutes, until wilted and tender.  

Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and orange peel before serving. 


For the feast of St. Brigid, our girls enjoy baking "St. Brigid's Cross Dinner Rolls" to serve alongside the stew for the rest of the family who aren't on a grain-free diet. I love how they turn out!



Prayer to St. Brigid of Ireland

St. Brigid,
You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light to the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.

May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious,
And may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made.

Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.
Amen.

St. Brigid Doll from Catholic Folk Toys

You can find additional recipes and ideas for celebrating the feast of St. Brigid in the archives here at Catholic Cuisine and over at Shower of Roses


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Melt-in-your-mouth Maple Candy to Celebrate Canadian Saints


The maple leaf is the characteristic leaf of the maple tree, and is the most widely recognized national symbol of Canada. Aaahhh, the taste of maple. Is there anything better or more Canadian? I always loved these melt-in-your-mouth candies made from maple syrup, but had never tried to make my own. Following this recipe from Epicurious as a guide for the candy making process, I gave it a try for the feast of Canada's St. Andre Bessette today.

St. Andre was a Brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and as the doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal,  St. Andre humbly devoted his life to prayer, serving the Lord and comforting the sick and afflicted.  His responsibilities were to answer the door, to welcome guests, find the people they were visiting, wake up those in the school, and deliver mail. Brother Andre joked later, "At the end of my novitiate, my superiors showed me the door, and I stayed there for forty years."

St. Andre is commemorated in most of the world by an optional memorial on January 6. His memorial is celebrated in Canada on January 7. I know it is too late for most to probably make these for today, but since tomorrow is his Canadian feast might be an option. But, next week St. Marguerite Bourgeoys optional memorial is January 12. St. Marguerite founded the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Montreal, and was also instrumental along with her teaching nuns, in helping to establish the Canadian city of Montreal.

Candy cold shape/symbol considerations:
  • A cross since St. Andre was a brother with the Congregation of Holy Cross. 
  • The cross is also good for St. Marguerite as depictions show her wearing a large cross as part of her habit.
  • He also had a great devotion to St. Joseph so any symbols associated with St. Joseph could work, too for St. Andre. 
  • Also a door since St. Andre was called "God's Doorkeeper." 
  • Maple leaf molds are the traditional one for these candies and since we are talking about Canadian saints that works well. 

Maple Syrup Candy 

Ingredients:
2 cups pure light-grade maple syrup, (Grade A Golden Delicate)
A few drops of vegetable oil or butter

Directions:
Set some candy molds into a jelly-roll pan. Set aside.  [I used this cross on oval candy mold from CK Products.]

Pour the syrup into a large pot. Add a few drops of oil. (Boiling maple syrup will foam up; the oil keeps the foam down. Buttering the rim of the pot also helps.)


Boil carefully over high heat, without stirring, until the temperature of the boiling syrup is 28°F/17°C above the boiling point of your water (212°F/100°C at sea level). [Since water boils at different temperatures in different elevations, if you don’t know your exact boiling point do this step before boiling syrup - To determine boiling point of water in your location fill a pot partially with water. Bring to a boil, and note the temperature of the boiling water with a candy thermometer. ]

Remove from the heat and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Do not stir or disturb the candy at this point; if the thermometer is attached to the pan, leave it there during the cooling period.

Stir evenly until the liquid loses its gloss, starts to become opaque, and begins to thicken. (This is the tricky part; if you stir too long the thickened syrup will “set up,” or harden, in the pan. If this happens, add a cup of water, and reheat slowly to dissolve the sugar, then start over. But if you don’t stir long enough, the sugar may not “set up” in the molds at all.) [I had to do mine a second time to get the timing right since it did start to set up in the pan for me the first time – practice…] 



Carefully spoon/pour the candy into the molds. It’s helpful to have an assistant spread the syrup in the molds while you continue to pour the mixture into the other molds. Allow the candies to cool, remove from the molds, place on a rack to dry for a few hours, and enjoy.

St. Andre Bessette and St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, Pray for us. 


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Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany Cupcakes from last year's celebration!

The Solemnity of the Epiphany is celebrated either on January 6 or, according to the decision of the episcopal conference, on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. (source)

The word Epiphany means “manifestation.” As such, the object of the Church on this feast is not only to commemorate the historical arrival of the Magi with their gifts for the new-born King, but moreover to adore the same Christ Who continues to reveal Himself to us today.

It is an ancient custom to bless the home on Epiphany followed by a festive meal. The current year and the legendary initials of the three Magi (Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar) are marked above the outside doorway with blessed chalk; crosses are placed between the initials and year: 20+C+M+B+17. The initials C-M-B are also interpreted as the Latin phrase “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” which means “Christ bless this home!”


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Alphabet Soup for the Saint Educators


With the upcoming feast of St Elizabeth Ann Seton (January 4), it seems a good time to feature an idea for those saints associated with education.  A hearty vegetable meatball soup is a good one for a winter evening and adding in alphabet pasta is a way to recognize teaching saints. We have several saints this month associated with education, who are patrons of students or teachers or who were teachers themselves, like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who opened schools, trained teachers and prepared textbooks for use in the schools.

  • St. John Neumann (January 5) is credited with  establishing the first system of parochial in US and opened 100 schools in eight years in Philadelphia while bishop.
  • St. Marguerite Bourgeoys (January 12) established an order of teaching sisters in Canada and opened the first school in Montreal. 
  • St. Francis de Sales (January 24) is a patron of educators.  
  • St. Angela Merici (January 27) founded the Ursuline Order, the first religious order for women dedicated exclusively to the education of girls.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28) is the patron of universities, Catholic schools and students.  
  • St. John Bosco (January 31) ran a school for boys and is the patron of youth. 

The saints associated with teaching are numerous and their feast days can be found throughout the year. To find out feast days for other education related saints such as, St. John Baptist de La Salle (April 7), St. Rose Venerini (May 7), St. Mary MacKillop (August 8), St. Madeline Sophie Barat (August 25), St. Gregory the Great (September 3), St. Teresa of Calcutta (September 5), St. Theodore Guerin (October 3), St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (November 18), and more...

You can check out these patronage lists:
http://catholicsaints.info/patrons-of-students/
http://catholicsaints.info/patrons-of-schools/
http://catholicsaints.info/patrons-of-teachers/
http://catholicsaints.info/saints-who-were-teachers/


Meatball Vegetable Alphabet Soup

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp bread crumbs
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 lb lean ground beef or turkey
3/4 cup alphabet pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef or chicken broth
1 can (14 oz) pureed tomatoes
1 cup chopped kale (optional)
2  Tbsp tomato paste2 tsp Italian spice
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 °F.

In bowl, combine mayonnaise, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and ground meat; mix well. Shape into bite-size balls and arrange on 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake meatballs in oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, rinse, drain and set aside.
In large saucepan, heat oil and sauté onion and garlic, celery and carrots for about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add broth, tomatoes, tomato paste and Italian spice; bring to boil. [I added chopped kale as an option since it is considered a "brain food" and this is a soup for educators.] Reduce heat and simmer, for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add pasta and meatballs. Reheat and serve.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and all patron saints of teachers, education, and students, Pray for us. 


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Sancta Lucia Martinis

This recipe in honor of St. Lucy was submitted by Kim Loney. Thank you, Kim! 


Here is my non alcoholic version of the SANCTA LUCIA MARTINIS!

The idea came from Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner's Guide to a Holy Happy Hour by Michael P. Foley. The book contains "saintly" alcoholic drinks for every day of the liturgical year.

Sancta Lucia Martinis 

Ingredients:



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Gaudete Sunday and Our Lady of Guadalupe Cake

The following cake was submitted by Anna, from Regina Coeli Baker, "to put together two great feasts, Gaudete Sunday and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The cake inside is white and orange cake, filled with cranberries and white chocolate ganache. The image of Our Lady is totally edible, hand modeled and hand painted. The cake is covered with homemade white chocolate marshmallow fondant. " You can find additional cakes decorated by Regina Coeli Baker here. Thank you, Anna!



Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us! 

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St. Ambrose and the Bees Honeycomb Cake


The feast of St. Ambrose, patron saint of beekeepers, bees, and candlemakers, is celebrated on December 7th. Here is a recipe for Honey Bun Cake baked in a Honeycomb Cake Pan in honor of St. Ambrose, the honey-tongued doctor.


St. Ambrose and the Bees Honeycomb Cake
adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor

Cake:
  • baking spray for cake pan
  • 1 package (18.25) oz plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs

Filling:
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Sugar Glaze:
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Note: I only used half of the glaze after baking the cake in the Honeycomb Pull Apart Cake Pan. This cake can also be baked in a 13-by-9 inch baking pan. 

Honeycomb Pull Apart Cake Pan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat pan with non-stick baking spray. Set the pan aside.

Place the cake mix, sour cream, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well blended.


Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula.

Tip: If using the Honeycomb Pan, don't fill the pan more than 3/4 of the way full, otherwise you may end up needing to remove a scoop or two of batter while it's baking to prevent it from overflowing! ;) 

Add the filling. Drizzle the honey on top of the batter, then sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans if desired.


With a dinner knife, swirl through these ingredients blend them slightly. Place the pan in the oven. 

Bake the cake until it is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 38 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the glaze.  


For the glaze, place the confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla in a small mixing bowl and stir until the mixture is well combined. 


Flip the Honeycomb Cake onto serving platter and pour the glaze over the top of the hot cake. 

Note: If you used a 9x13 pan, leave the cake in the pan and pour the glaze over the top of the cake, spreading it to the sides with a spoon. 

Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes more before serving warm. 

Saint Ambrose and the Bees from Brother Wolf, Sister Sparrow: Stories about Saints and Animals



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