Friday, April 26, 2013

St. Zita Ziti

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Zita! St. Zita was a housekeeper who believed that doing her work the best that she could honored God and was a path to holiness. A great saint to think of when we feel frustrated and overwhelmed with chores and housework! Learn more about St. Zita here.

Because of St. Zita's fun Zz name I thought the perfect thing to help celebrate her feast day would be some St. Zita baked ziti! I made mine very basic because of my picky eaters (I did try to stealthily throw in some grated zucchini, another Zz word!), but this recipe would be great with sausage or other meats and vegetables thrown in. Its really fast and easy, and pasta is usually a pretty good crowd pleaser. If  your young one is going through the alphabet at school, St. Zita Zucchini Ziti would be a great recipe to celebrate Zz week too!

St. Zita Ziti

1 box ziti (or other tube shaped pasta)
1 jar pasta sauce
1 bag shredded mozzarella plus some for topping
grated parmesan cheese
any meat or veggie additions you may like!

1. Cook and drain your pasta

2. Mix cooked pasta with sauce, mozzarella, meat, and veggies. Transfer to a greased baking dish.

3. Top with more mozzarella and grated parmesan.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

And since we're talking about the letter Zz, here is a video from one of our family favorites, the StoryBots! You can find a link to the StoryBots website on the right side of my blog. It has a lot of fun educational resources for families!

Check out the Catholic Bloggers Network monthly link up blitz!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk

My son's toes and hand as he plays with last summer's freshly made chalk!
Last summer we discovered that making your own sidewalk chalk is really easy and really fun! Here in Michigan it is finally getting warm enough to make some more. Well, at least it was for a little bit, now we've got flooding and snow showers, but I'm hoping it won't last long! For those of you that live somewhere where the weather is little less crazy I'd thought I'd share this project now since it is, apparently, spring.

-Plaster of Paris
-Food Coloring
-Mixing containers and stirring device - I recommend something disposable
-Silicone mold - We used a star shaped ice cube tray from the dollar tree and a mini cake pan with flower shapes I got as a gift.

1.Mix the plaster of paris with water until you get a pudding like consistency.

2.Mix in your desired color (skip this step if you want white)

3.Pour into mold and leave to dry about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. If your mixture isn't too thin and you leave it out in the sun it can take less time than that!

4.Unmold, (they pop right out!), and start creating sidewalk art!

Bonus: The molds are really easy to clean!

(I seem to have used a lot of exclamation points in this post. Who can blame me, making chalk is exciting!)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dinner for St. Gemma

While still knowing very little about St. Gemma Galgani, our family asked for her intercession to help with my husband's back pain. When I saw that her feast day was coming up I did a little more research and found that she has an incredible story. She was devoted to Christ's passion, and had an intimate relationship with Jesus which included ecstasies and bearing the stigmata. She greatly desired to be a nun, but was unable to due to her poor health. Even so, because of her devotion she was buried in the Passionist habit. You can learn more about St. Gemma at This website even has a great little comic about St. Gemma for kids, which I've linked to directly here.

 I also found that she would be a great intercessor for my husband in more ways than one. Not only is she patron of people with back pain and people with frequent migraines, both of which my husband struggles with, but she is also the patron of pharmacy and my husband is almost complete with his pharmacy tech certification! What a wonderful discovery for our family!

To help celebrate this wonderful saint we had Italian for dinner, because she was from Italy, and a chocolate cake depicting the symbol on the Passionist habit. I wanted to use a heart shaped pan, but we're in a transitional stage right now and all my special pans are in box somewhere. I've included the recipe for my spinach alfredo lasagna, and a picture of the cake. To make the cake I simply used a boxed cake mix and store bought frosting. Hey, its a weeknight!

Spinach Alfredo Lasagna (with chicken and roasted red bell peppers)

whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 lb ground turkey or chicken
1 jar alfredo sauce
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
1 box frozen chopped spinach - thawed
1 jar roasted red bell peppers - drained and chopped
shredded mozzarella cheese
grated parmesan cheese

1. Boil the lasagna noodles. While they cook brown the meat, and  mix the spinach and peppers with the ricotta cheese. Drain the noodles.

2. Spread a little alfredo sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. This helps prevent sticking. Reserve some alfredo for the top layer. Mix the rest of the alfredo sauce with the meat. Put down a layer of noodles, a layer of meat, a layer of mozzarella, and then a layer of the ricotta mixture, repeat. (the order really isn't terribly important, so don't worry about it too much!) Finish with a top layer of noodles covered with alfredo, mozzarella, and some parmesan cheese

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Enjoy!

Not the prettiest cake I've ever made, but one of the fastest!

O my crucified God, behold me at Your feet; do not cast me out, now that I appear before You as a sinner. I have offended You exceedingly in the past, my Jesus, but it shall be so no longer.

 Before You, O Lord, I place all my sins; I have now considered Your own sufferings and see how great is the worth of that Precious Blood that flows from Your veins. 

 O my God, at this hour close Your eyes to my want of merit, and since You have been pleased to die for my sins, grant me forgiveness for them all, that I may no longer feel the burden of my sins, for this burden, Dear Jesus, oppresses me beyond measure. 

Assist me, my Jesus, for I desire to become good whatsoever it may cost; take away, destroy, utterly root out all that You find in me contrary to Your holy will. At the same time, I pray You, Lord Jesus, to enlighten me that I may be able to walk in Your holy light. Amen.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Divine Mercy Pancakes

I was thinking of what I could make to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday and I thought, "what is my son's favorite thing to have for breakfast?" Pancakes! Kids love having pancakes made in the shape of things, and fruit syrups are one of my favorite toppings, so came the idea for Divine Mercy pancakes; a heart shaped pancake with strawberry and blueberry syrup rays. To bump up the health factor, I typically make a whole wheat pumpkin pancake.

Even though our son is only three, he has been pretty good at saying the Divine Mercy novena with us. I think that the chaplet is a great place to start when praying with little ones. Its shorter and easier for them to remember the words. We would say, "For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us," and our son would complete it with "and on the whole world."

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
 This is a single batch, you'll probably need to double it

1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
 cinnamon to taste

Beat the egg and mix together all ingredients until smooth.  Drop batter on a hot,
                                                                                         greased griddle or pan. When bubbles form the pancake is ready to flip.

Berry Syrup
Strawberries should be chopped, other berries can go in whole

Fresh or frozen berries - 1 pint or less
lemon juice
cornstarch or flour
1 Tbsp butter

Add berries, a little water, a little sugar, some lemon juice (and some lemon zest if you have it), to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and thicken slightly with a little cornstarch or flour. Cornstarch works better, and making a slurry with water and pouring it in will help stop clumping with either one.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter.

Strain if you want a smooth syrup, but I personally love having the pieces of fruit in it!

To learn more about Jesus' Divine Mercy, click here.

This post is linked up on Equipping Catholic Families Celelinky Thru the Seasons and Carole's Chatter:Food on Friday:Pancakes, Galettes and Crepes

Friday, April 5, 2013

Green Tea Cheesecake - Gluten Free!

 Now, I'm not gluten free, but I do have some friends that are, so I when I cook for them I try to come up with things that are delicious that they can eat. This cheesecake turned out really well. I brought it to a local college church group and it was a hit with everybody! Unfortunately I do not have a picture for you because I forgot to bring my camera with me.

You may be able to find the matcha (green tea powder), at your regular grocery store in the Asian food aisle. I was not able to find it there. Luckily it was in the first place I looked after that, a small organic market. You can also find it at Asian markets and online.

 If you prefer things with gluten simply substitute the gluten-free cookies with regular ones and the instant mashed potatoes with flour. If you want plain cheesecake simply leave out the green tea powder.

 Gluten Free Green Tea Cheesecake

1 box gluten free animal cookies (or other gluten free cookie) - crushed
4 Tbsp melted butter

4 (8oz) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
3-4 Tbsp matcha (green tea powder)

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan.

2. In a bowl combine crushed cookies and melted butter. Press into the bottom of the springform pan.

3. In another bowl mix together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in the milk, and then add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated after each one. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla, potato flakes, and matcha. 

4.  Bake for 1 hour. When finished, turn off the oven and let it cool in the oven for five to six hours. This is supposed to prevent cracking. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Mine cracked anyway, so I topped it with some raspberries and a dusting of powdered sugar. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Peanut Butter Playdough

It would be an understatement to say that my son loves peanut butter. He also loves to play with his food. The perfect combination of this is peanut butter playdough! Its tasty, healthy, fun, and easy to make. I remember my mom bringing it to my school for snack when I was little, and it was always a hit.

Peanut Butter Playdough

1 18 oz jar peanut butter
6 tablespoons honey
dry milk - found in baking section of your grocery store near the canned milk

 Mix together the peanut butter and the honey. Add in dry milk until it reaches the consistency of playdough. Today I used about 2/3 of a 9.3 oz bag. And you're done! Time to play and eat!
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