Thursday, March 28, 2013

Saints, Saints, Who Do You See?

A while back my son and I checked out all the Bill Martin/ Eric Carle books from the "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" series from the library and he loved them. Then I had an idea! What if I made my own Catholic version of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear?" Well, I have finally completed this project as an Easter gift for my son. I started about a week ago since I was sick for most of Lent, but I buckled down and I think it turned out great. In our version rather then all the animals looking at each other, it is about the saints praying for each other and praying for you! For this project I used images from the Nippert and Co. Artworks Faith Keepers series. You can print these in black and white, or color. I chose to color them myself to add a more personal touch, but I will say that printing them in color would have saved me a lot of time! After that it was really just a cut and paste job. There is a great teacher supply store where we live that carries these nifty blank books in all different sizes, so that is what I used. you could also put them in a binder or scrapbook, glue into a notebook, or laminate the pages and staple them together. I even hear that there are some websites out there that will publish projects like these for you. All in all, I think that this will be a great way to talk about the saints with young children, and help teach them that saints are our special helpers and friends who we can ask to pray for us!

I chose eleven saints, plus Mary, that were significant to my son and our family. If you decide to try this project, of course personalize it for your child and/or family! I put them in reverse chronological order, (most recent to least recent), so that while the first saint was alive, the next one was already in heaven praying away!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St. Joseph's Pasta with Breadcrumbs

Happy feast of St. Joseph! In some places, especially in Italy, St. Joseph's Day is a huge celebration with special foods and traditions. Since St. Joseph's feast falls during Lent, all the special foods associated with it are meatless. Pastries are very popular for the feast of St. Joseph, so go ahead and have a sweet treat today! Another traditional food is Pasta di San Giuse, a pasta topped with breadcrumbs to represent sawdust, as St. Joseph was a carpenter. It is traditionally made with sardines, but I decided not to go that way. Instead I mixed some pasta with delicious vegetables, and lots of olive oil and garlic. Yum! I figured that for the symbolism the breadcrumb topping was more important than the seasoning of the noodles. In addition to our dinner we will read the book St. Joseph's Story by Geraldine Guadagno.

Today of course is also very special for another reason; the installation Pope Francis! Just as St. Joseph loved and protected the Holy Family, Pope Francis loves and protects the Church.

"How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand."
- Pope Francis 

St. Joseph's Pasta with Breadcrumbs

1 box of spaghetti
1 bunch of rainbow chard, or other dark leafy green - chopped (kale, turnip greens, other kinds of chard, etc.) With chard you can include the stems, they add a nice pop of color too! For most other greens do not use the stems.
1 red bell pepper - chopped
olive oil

 1. Bring salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti
2.  On medium - medium high heat saute the chard and bell pepper in olive oil and garlic until tender
3. Drain cooked spaghetti. Return to pot or large serving bowl.
4. Mix the cooked vegetables with the spaghetti. Season with more garlic and some salt if desired.

Topping (This makes enough for a large family to share!):
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp dried basil or 2 Tbsp fresh basil

1. In a pan mix together breadcrumbs, cheese, and olive oil.  
2. Cook on medium - medium high heat until the breadcrumbs start to turn golden brown. About 3 minutes. 
3. Take off heat and mix in basil.

Put on top of spaghetti and enjoy!

Prayer to St. Joseph for Protection
 Gracious St. Joseph, protect me and my family from all evil as you did the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever fervent in imitation of the virtue of our Blessed Lady, your sinless spouse, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Real St. Patrick

We are visiting my grandparents today, so I'm not doing anything too big for St. Patrick's Day. They will be making the corned beef and cabbage, so we will have that! I just thought I'd share some good videos to help teach kids about who
St. Patrick really was. Right now I work in a public school and it can be frustrating to have to sit back and watch everybody talk about leprechauns and never once mention that St. Patrick was an actual person. Though last year I was able to teach some students about the real St. Patrick under the banner of social studies. Just because you can't promote a certain religion in public school doesn't mean that students have to be ignorant of the actual reason this holiday exists! Okay, rant over, back to the videos.

The first one is about nine minutes long and comes to us from Veggie Tales. Even though Veggie Tales are not Catholic, they did a really nice job with this little story. If you have some Veggie Tales at home, this one can be found on the DVD "Sumo of the Opera."

The second one is about two minutes long and comes to us from our friends at Holy Heroes.

For an easy craft check out this printable from Catholic Inspired!

Have a happy and holy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mixing up Meatless: Baked Felafel

Sometimes meatless meals can get a little monotonous in our house. Both my husband and my son can be pretty picky, so very often we resort to mac and cheese or spaghetti. Its not that I don't like these things, but I'm the kind of person who likes to mix it up a bit. Much to my surprise one night I decided to feed my husband felafel and he loved it! He says its one of his favorite things that I make. I still need to work on my son, but my baked felafel helps us when we want to mix up meatless.

Felafel is kind of a chickpea fritter that is usually deep fried, but this  baked version I adapted from turns out great!


1/4 cup chopped onions
1 15oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or equivalent amount of cooked from dried*
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 cloves minced garlic
Cumin and curry powder to taste. My husband usually asks me to add a little cayenne too.
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil

Put the onions, chickpeas, parsley, garlic, baking soda, flour, egg, and seasonings into a food processor.

Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the olive oil. Process until smooth

Form into patties or balls (I personally prefer balls) and let sit for 15 minutes.
note: This recipe makes a very soft felafel that can be difficult to handle when it is still uncooked. If you feel it is too soft feel free to add more flour or even breadcrumbs to help thicken it up.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Put a pan with a little olive oil in it over medium heat and brown the felafel. This will give it a little crunch on the outside.

Put the felafel on a sheet pan and bake for ten minutes.

Serve in pitas or on a salad! Some great accompaniments are lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and plain yogurt. 

*How to cook dried chickpeas (this method works for any dried bean)
1.Sort through the beans and remove any debris.
2.Cover the beans with water and soak at least 4 hours. I usually let mine soak overnight.
3.Drain and rinse the beans. Recover them with water, add a little salt and put on the stove on high heat. Sometimes I'll add in a bay leaf here.
4. Let the beans come to a boil. Once they reach  a boil, turn the heat down to low and cover. Let the beans cook for 1 hour.

Canned beans are just fine and very convenient, I have used them before. But dried beans are cheaper and you can control things like the amount of salt you use. You just have to plan ahead! Sometimes I'll cook more than I need and keep them in the refrigerator.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stations of the Cross Picture Pull

This is a great craft to help introduce the Stations of the Cross to younger children. I used images from the Happy Saints eBook "The Way of the Cross." This eBook also has great reflections for children on each station. To purchase the eBook click on the Happy Saints link on the right side of my blog. You could use any images you want for the project, but Happy Saints are especially nice for little ones.

2 colors of construction paper (I used black and brown. I wanted to use purple for Lent, but I didn't have any)

1. Cut out your images of the Stations. Glue them onto construction paper. My square badges took up 2 1/2 pieces.

2. Cut the construction paper into strips and glue together to make one long one strip with all the stations in order.

3. On the bottom of a different colored piece of construction paper cut a hole the same size as your images, and then cut a slit on either side of the hole that are the same length as the hole. (slits not shown)

4. If desired, use a marker to decorate the paper with the hole. I wrote "Stations of the Cross" at the top and put a cross on each side. Then lace the strip with the images through the slits and glue the ends together to make a loop. Fold in the sides of the paper with the hole for stability. The loop also helps with stability. When you do stations as a family,  pull the strip through to look at each station one at a time.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dr. Seuss Celebration

March 2nd is Dr. Seuss' Birthday! One of the greatest contributors to children's literature, he brought us away from the hum drum world of Dick and Jane and helped make reading fun for little ones. So of course try to read a few Dr. Seuss books, watch one of the movies based off his books, or even enjoy some green eggs and ham! For my son's first birthday we had a Green Eggs and Ham themed party so  I thought I would share some of what I did since it would work very well for Dr. Seuss' birthday too.

 I made the cake in a rectangle pan that holds two cake mixes. After I frosted it with orange frosting I used a toothpick to draw the cover of the book and then outlined everything in black using a small round tip. Then I used a larger round tip to fill in the white and green and used a frosting spatula to smooth it out. I then went back to black to add details like the lines on the hat and the ham and touch up the outline.

Green Eggs and Ham
Everything we had for our meal was based off the book. The main course being green eggs and ham. Ham is not something I normally make, so  I just bought a spiral ham and followed the directions on the package. For the green eggs I made deviled eggs and added green food coloring. It worked better for dinner than a green scrambled egg, and looked more like the eggs from the book. Of course kids usually like green scrambled eggs too!

 Broccoli Salad
 2 bunches broccoli
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 lb bacon cooked and crumbled (you can also use real bacon bits)
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Cut up broccoli into small pieces. Add cheese and onions. Mix vinegar, mayonnaise, sugar and salt in a separate bowl until well blended. Stir into vegetable and cheese mixture. Add bacon last.

Pineapple Boats
1 fresh pineapple
Maraschino cherries

Cut a fresh pineapple into lengthwise quarters. With a sharp knife, remove the center core. Do not remove the pulp. Slice the pulp. Spear each piece with a maraschino cherry on a toothpick. Serve in the leftover pineapple skin.
*bonus for Dr. Seuss - the pineapple boats are the same color as Sam I Am and his hat!

We also had cheese and crackers for "could you, would you, with a mouse?" parker house rolls for "could you, would you, in a house?" and the drinks were labeled "could you, would you, in the rain?"

Have fun, and if you have any of your own Dr. Seuss ideas let us know in the comments!

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