Star of the East - Spiced Wine for Twelfth Night

Warm spiced wine, like the Austrian Gluhwein, along with Wassail or Lambs Wool are common traditional drinks served at Twelfth Night celebrations.  Anise is both a spice that can be used for seasoning a mulled wine (or other drink), as well as a symbolic star garnish to add visual appeal.


1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange
10 whole cloves
2 anise stars
Optional – 1/2 cup rum

Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves in sauce pan. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly, then reduce heat to simmer.

Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into pan. Add orange rind. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken like syrup.

Pour in the wine and rum (if using) and stir, heating gradually until steaming. DO NOT BOIL. Remove oranges and serve in prewarmed mugs. Garnish with star anise. 

Your Light is Come: Closely linked to both these themes of divine manifestation and world kingship is a third idea running through the Epiphany feast: that of light. During Advent, the world was in darkness, and we prayed and waited in the spirit of the Jewish nation which lived in expectation of the Coming Light during thousands of years. At Christmas the Light shone forth, but dimly, seen only by a few around the crib: Mary and Joseph and the shepherds. But at Epiphany the Light bursts forth to all nations and the prophecy is fulfilled: "The Gentiles shall walk in Thy light, and kings in the brightness of Thy rising." The mysterious star of Epiphany, "flashing like a flame," is still another facet of the light-motif, a symbol capable of being interpreted in a dozen different ways. Catholic Culture article: "Meaning of Epiphany"

There are many lovely star anise garnished drinks and cocktails that would be fun to make for a Twelfth Night celebration.
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Epiphany Breakfast Cinnamon Toaster Pastry Stars

On Epiphany we recall the wise men that traveled from the East to seek the baby Jesus, following the star. It is a feast of manifestation, and the light of Christ shining forth. Star shaped foods can be a fun way to commemorate the feast of the Epiphany. These homemade toaster pastries are a breakfast option that incorporates both the star shape and some spices that represent the lands from which they journeyed.

Cinnamon Toaster Pastry Stars
1 cup cold, unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons filling (jam, cinnamon sugar mixture, etc.)

Cut butter into 1/2 inch squares and combine with flour.  Coat the butter in flour. Combine 1/3 cup water, vinegar, and salt. Dissolve salt. Put both in freezer for 10 minutes. Blend the butter and flour mixture in mixing bowl on low speed until it is a crumbly texture. While still on low, slowly pour the liquid mixture into the bowl. When it comes together into a ball, stop mixer. Turn dough out onto the counter. Cut into two parts, wrap in wax paper, form a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll one disk of pie pastry on a lightly floured surface. Use a large star cookie cutter to cut out multiple star shapes. Lay each star on the prepared baking sheet. With a pastry brush, paint each star with the beaten egg.  Scoop a spoonful of filling onto center of each star.  To represent the spices associated with the East - where the wise men came from - I made a cinnamon, clove, and ginger sugar mixture with 2 T. melted butter (1/2 cup sugar, 2 T. cinnamon and a pinch of both cloves and ginger).

Roll out the second disk of pie pastry and repeat steps to cut out additional stars. Lay these stars over the ones already on baking sheet. Seal edges by pressing a fork around the perimeter of each star.

Use pastry brush to paint the tops of each pastry with egg wash and poke top layer through with fork.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  [Optional: frost or dust with powdered sugar after cooling.]

We have made these before as traditional rectangular toaster pastries. The recipe makes 6 traditional pastries or 12 stars. [Adapted from The Homemade Pantry cookbook by Alana Chernila]

St. Thomas Aquinas feast day is later this month, and he is often pictured with a star as well. Something to keep in mind for another cold January toasty breakfast idea. Pin It

O is for Bagels and O Antiphons

This week the Church celebrates the "O Antiphons" - the Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent.  I love an easy idea to make these days memorable.  It is a busy week so I thought this would be a perfect way to celebrate the Great Os - with some yummy O-shaped bagels. We took advantage of Einstein's Bagels Monday $7 Deal to pick up a dozen for our family and a couple dozen for some of our seminarian friends.

What I love about this (besides being easy) is that since it is not day specific can be done for any of the O Antiphon days. We still have all week. [Oh - and donuts work, too! ;  ) ]

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St. Andrew the Apostle Cupcakes

The feast of St. Andrew the Apostle is celebrated on November 30th. The beginning of Advent is alway determined by St. Andrew’s Day. The Sunday nearest to his feast is always the First Sunday in Advent. If November 30th falls on a Monday through Wednesday, Advent begins the Sunday preceding; if it falls on Thursday through Saturday Advent begins the Sunday following.

The feast of St. Andrew is also a nameday day in our home so we usually celebrate with a special dessert. Last year (you can see all the pictures over at Shower of Roses) I made these simple cupcakes using chocolate cupcakes, a can fluffy marshmallow frosting, Trader Joe's Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks, and Fudge Brownie Goldfish Grahams.

Saint Andrew is said to have been put to death by the Roman authorities on an X-shaped cross. After frosting each cupcake, I simply stuck two pretzels into each cupcake at an angle to create an X shaped cross. I then added a few fish grahams to the base of each cross, symbolizing that St. Andrew was a fisherman, like his brother Peter.  I'm hoping to make them again this year!

St. Andrew the Apostle from Naturally Catholic

Saint Andrew the Apostle, Ora Pro Nobis! 

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Clementine Margaritas

Pope St. Clement, disciple of St. Peter and St. Paul, is mentioned in Philippians 4:3, "I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life."  He is also considered one of the first apostolic fathers. When I learned in my reading about his writings being referred to as Clementine literature, the tasty little citrus fruits immediately came to mind as a great connection to this papal saint.  So each year I try to find new clementine recipes that would be fitting for his feast. This year the feast day falls on Thanksgiving Day in the US and I thought a festive but different citrus margarita would be fun. 

Clementine Margaritas
(makes 2)

1/2 cup fresh-squeezed clementine juice (5-6 clementines)
4 tablespoons lime juice
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons agave nectar 
5 ounces tequila 
course sea salt
clementine and lime slices (for garnish and juicing rim)


  • Rub a wedge of lime around glass rim and dip into coarse sea salt. 
  • Dissolve agave nectar in water to make a simple syrup. 
  • Combine all ingredients together and mix well. 
  • Pour over ice in glass.
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Celebrating Martinmas

"The most common, and universal, harvest and thanksgiving celebration in medieval times was held on the Feast of St. Martin of Tours (Martinmas) on November 11. It was a holiday in Germany, France, Holland, England, and in central Europe. People first went to Mass and observed the rest of the day with games, dances, parades, and a festive dinner, the main feature of the meal being the traditional roast goose (Martin's goose). . ." 

Here are a couple suggestions for today's feast from the archives: 

(you can download printable tags over at Shower of Roses) 

Scroll through the archives for even more recipes: 

Additional ideas can be found over at Shower of Roses: 

O God, Who seest that we exist by no power of our own, mercifully grant that, by the intercession of blessed Martin, Thy confessor and bishop, we be strengthened against all adversities. 

St. Martin of Tours, Pray for us!

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St. Jude Impossible Pie

The patron saint of impossible causes - St. Jude. What could be better than an "impossible pie" to remind us of St. Jude's intercession for us with impossible causes. This is a pie that does the impossible by making its own crust while it bakes. It was marketed as versatile and crowd-pleasing, as well as quick and easy which is ironically the opposite of impossible.  Impossible Pie is one of the most successful corporate recipe projects in the U.S. food-marketing history.  Americans took to the easy recipe that is adaptable for making both sweet dessert pies and savory meat, vegetable and cheese pies. There were recipes for crustless coconut custard pies that appeared in cookbooks in the south in the mid-century but it first became widely known as Impossible Pie when it was printed on Bisquick baking mix boxes in the 1970s and then adapted for a multitude of variations.  You can find many varieties of pie recipes - from sweet to savory - in this Bisquick booklet from 1982.

The impossible pie is impossibly easy. You don’t need to make a crust for it. Instead, you just mix up all the ingredients together — the ingredients for the filling and the crust — and while it cooks the pie forms its own crust. I have found that the "crust" is more pronounced in the original custard recipe than some of the variations with add ins. But it is defineitly firmer along the bottom and sides and sets up nicely when cooled to form an easily made, but substantial pie. Give it a try in honor of St. Jude today (or St. Rita on her feast, as her patronage includes the impossible, too!)

Since St. Jude's feast falls in October, I went with one of Impossible Pumpkin Pie recipes to fit the season.

Impossible Pumpkin Pie

1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup baking mix
½ cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9 inch pie plate. Put all ingredients in a mixer and blend until smooth. Pour into pie plate. Bake until knife inserted into centre comes out clean (35-40 min).

Garnish with whipped cream.

One nice aspect of Impossible Pie is that the basic ingredients are probably readily available in most kitchens - just add the extra for the variation of choice. You don't even have to have a baking mix as that is very easy to make at home.

Homemade Baking Mix

1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or shortening

Combine dry ingredients. Add butter and cut with pastry blender until evenly combined. 

St. Jude Thaddeus, Pray for us!

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