Homemade Cheese Sticks

Homemade Cheese Sticks

Always nice to have something to nibble on while family and guests are waiting for the call to the main event – dinner! Besides some crunchy vegetables and a flavorful dip, these cheesy sticks will always be welcomed.

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter (Margarine won’t do it!)
4 heaping tablespoons of sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Mix the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a knife or a quick pulse or two in the food processor. Add the cheeses and enough cold water to form a dough that holds together. Refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough on a floured board to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into thin strips with a sharp knife. If you have a pizza cutter on hand, even better and faster for doing this.

Remove to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minute until pale golden brown.

Caramel Apple Bar Cookies

I like easy on holidays but I also want to spoil family and guests. This is an easy make-ahead cookie bar that should get you good reviews and end your Easter feast sweetly.

Caramel Apple Bar Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 box brown sugar (the 16-ounce box)
2 beaten eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking power
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large green apple, peeled and diced
1 ½ cups roughly-chopped walnuts or pecans – Your choice!

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Place butter and brown sugar in a large saucepan and melt. Remove from heat, place in a mixing bowl, and let cool. Add eggs and beat well. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and spices and mix to blend. Stir in nuts and diced green apple.

Smooth batter into a vegetable-oiled sprayed 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan and either dust with powdered sugar or frost with lemon icing. Icing is a good basis for adding some colorful Easter sprinkles.

Lemon Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
Finely grated lemon zest to taste
Fresh lemon juice

Add the lemon juice to the sugar/zest mixture, drop by drop, until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Before the icing sets, make sure to add some Easter sparkle! Cut into squares and
serve.

Loaves and Fishes – How Many Times, Once or Twice?

Five-loaves_2-fishesWe all know the miracle of the loaves and fishes where Jesus blessed the bread and fish and it feed thousands of people with plenty to spare. Well, I was reading the Gospel of Matthew and noticed something I don’t think I’ve ever run across before. In Matthew 14:16-17, Jesus blessed five loaves and two fishes which fed 5,000 people besides women and children with twelve baskets of fragments left over.

I went on to read Matthew 15:33-38 and it reveals a second such miracle where Jesus blesses seven loaves and several small fishes which fed 4,000 people besides women and children with seven baskets of fragments left over.

A little more investigation reflects that Mark 6:36-44 states that five loaves and two fishes were blessed and fed five thousand with twelve baskets of fragments left over. And, in seeming agreement with Matthew, Mark 8:1-9 and states that 4,000 were fed from seven loaves and a few little fishes with seven baskets of fragments collected after the meal.

Luke and John, however, only describe the one miracle they all wrote down.

Luke 9:12-17 and, again, there were five loaves and two fishes that fed five thousand with twelve baskets of fragments left over.

John 6: 1-14 is a bit more specific and says there were five barley loaves and two fishes and agrees with the other Gospels that there were 5,000 fed with twelve baskets of fragments collected.

I’m sure Biblical scholars have gone into great detail on figuring out the reasoning behind this but they are more studied than I am so I will just enjoy the fact that Jesus could feed many from so little, something we might take into consideration when others are lacking and need help.

Good Friday

Good Friday would, on the surface, not seem to be good at all for the sufferings inflicted on Jesus that day. However, His suffering, as we know, was our salvation. Who else but a perfect soul would lay down their life with such great pain to save the world and open the Gates of Heaven? Sad to think, however, how little people know or appreciate the greatness of this day or take a bit of it away in their heart to contemplate at moments during the rest of the year. How many of us would lay down our life for another person much less take on extraordinary pains in order to save the world and give humanity a new beginning, a chance at eternity.
We left a darkened and quiet church after Holy Thursday yesterday. Today, we arrive back to the same empty solitude. No Holy Water, no Mass, no Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. Jesus has been taken away to be crucified. The priest reveals the cross bearing our Lord’s Body and we each venerate it in our own way. Soon, the Holy Friday service ends and we exit the still church. Although we feel the emptiness and sadness, you have to wonder how much greater the feeling was for the Mother of God, His Apostles, and followers to see their beloved Jesus dead on the cross. We relive that moment, in a way, but we have the certitude of knowing we have a Holy Saturday in front of us and the exaltation of Easter to follow.

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O sacred head, surrounded
by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding head, so wounded,
reviled and put to scorn!
Our sins have marred the glory
of thy most holy face,
yet angel hosts adore thee
and tremble as they gaze

I see thy strength and vigor
all fading in the strife,
and death with cruel rigor,
bereaving thee of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
O turn thy face on me.

In this thy bitter passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
with thy most sweet compassion,
unworthy though I be:
beneath thy cross abiding
for ever would I rest,
in thy dear love confiding,
and with thy presence blest.

Holy Thursday . . . Were You There?

On a Thursday, the day of the Passover, Jesus sent His Apostles, John and Peter to arrange a room for them to share for the Passover dinner. In the course of that meal, Jesus changed the apostles’ lives forever as they witnessed the first Mass ever celebrated on this earth. How amazing to ponder the fact that God sent down His Son to present the human race with this Gift. The priesthood was also instituted at that same meal. Jesus let it be known that Peter would have a very special role with the apostles and Jesus presented them with the command to love one another.

The beauty of that Last Supper soon changed to pain for the innocent Jesus who willingly came to earth to die for our sins. Jesus went with his apostles to the Mount of Olives to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Not being totally aware of where the evening was going, the apostles fell asleep instead of praying with Christ.

Then events seemed to speed up as Judas showed up leading the people who had paid him to show them who this man, Jesus was. The silver paid him might even have been about his person as Judas leaned in towards Jesus and gave him a fraternal kiss, the sign setting Jesus apart as the one the people sought. Peter took the side of resistence and started off by slashing off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus held Peter back from further demonstrations of violence, healed the servant’s ear and was taken away to stand before the high priests, Annas and Caiaphas. As we all know, the passage of events culminated in the Crucifixion of Jesus on the cross the next day.

Holy Thursday each year commemorates and reflects on Jesus’ last celebration of Passover on earth and the beginning of the new Church. Mass on this day usually begins in the evening. At the end of the Mass, a procession removes the Blessed Sacrament to a special altar for the night while the main altar is stripped of all the cloths, candles, and decorations. The usual hymn while this is being done is:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
1. Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Well, were you there when the stone was rolled away?Were you there when the stone was rolled away?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when the stone was rolled away?

No music accompanies the hymn making the soft voices of the choir seem more solemn. The church goes quiet and there is Adoration during the night, keeping watch.