Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Good Shepherd's Garden Party :: Week Five

"The tree of life my soul has seen, laden with fruit and always green.
The tree of natures fruitless be compared to Christ the apple tree. 
I'm weary with my former toil.  Here I will sit and rest awhile. 
Under the shadow I will be of Jesus Christ the apple tree."

Hello again, after that unannounced and unexpected "break" from blogging!  I am still here (thank you to those of you who were concerned) and hanging in there with my (very noticeable) pregnancy symptoms... This past week, by the time I would finish all the daily chores, schoolwork, errands, appointments, dishes, meals, baths, etc, I just didn't have the energy to sit down at the computer.  Thankfully my husband is safely home again from his two week training session in Michigan and I was finally able to take a much needed nap life is back to normal!  It is sure nice to have him home!!

It's funny, but despite the fact that I have been spending very little time in the kitchen, all I have been blogging about lately is food...  Bleh!   I so wanted to skip this week's Garden Party, but my children were really looking forward to it, especially since their Daddy missed the last two, and I just couldn't disappoint them.  Instead I decided to modify the menu, only using things that I already had in the fridge or pantry.   I suppose a trip to the store would have been a little LOT easier in the end, but everything turned out great.  It's amazing what you can come up with at the last second, without any extra pre-planning. . . Here are some pictures I took to share:

~ The Tree of Life's Leaves ~
Almond Butter Leaves 
I made these amazingly delicious little Almond Butter Leaves using my Nordic Ware Maple Leaf Pan for the first time, with the recipe on the back of the package.   

~ The Tree of Life's Flowers ~
PB&J Flower Sandwiches
I made these with a flower cookie cutter, spreading peanut butter and strawberry jam on one side, before topping it with another flower with a whole cut out of the center (created with a little ring from one of my frosting tips). 

~ The Tree of Life's Fruit ~
These little Cuties were our Fruit.  

~ The Owl ~
Even though the owl cupcakes are so super cute, I decided to skip them this year and make a cake instead.   I actually made a Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake, baking 2/3 - 3/4 of the batter in a square pan to save for later and the rest in my smallest oval pan  (7.75x5.5 in) for our owl.  

I cut out a little curve at the top to create his ears, added Oreo halves and Chocolate Macadamia Nuts for the eyes, a Double Bubble Easter Egg Bubble Gum for the nose, and a whole bunch of slivered almonds for his feathers.   He is sitting in a nest of pretzel rods dipped in melted white chocolate and rolled in green coconut.   

I thought he turned out pretty cute and so did Rose, in her matching owl dress!  

~ The Olive Tree ~
These little Olive Skewers were so quick and easy to put together. I assembled them with our favorite Double Stuffed Jalapeno/Garlic Olives, Sweet Cherry Tomatoes, a slice of Cucumber and a fun little sword.  A couple of my children wouldn't eat the olives, but they loved the rest and there were plenty of others to take those "extra" olives. ;)

~ The Palm Tree ~
Palm Tree Napkins and Snacks

We made a similar palm tree Snack last year during T Week, and the girls remember just how to assemble them for me.  This time we used a Pretzel Rod, Apple slices and some Coconut M&M's.  
(How perfect that the M&M's even had little palm tree's printed on them!!)  

I also served Pina-Colada Milkshakes, complete with  Palm Tree Stir Sticks and served with Tropical Umbrella Straws.  For the milk shakes, I used this recipe as a starting point, first quadrupling it and omitting the nutmeg, then adding a bit of coconut extract and a half of a pineapple, before blending it in my vitamix.  YUM!!!!

~ Roses and Lilies ~
Turkey Breast Roses
These were HARD, and didn't turn our anything like Charlotte's... I really didn't even want to post a picture, and was wishing I had "forgotten" to take one!!  ;) 

Lily Sandwiches
Like I said before, I was using what I had and that meant using up some wheat bread along with the white, in case you are wondering why some of the lilies look dirty! I should have made these first, before the flower sandwiches!  

~ A Few More Pictures ~

The link-up will be up sometime tomorrow (probably in the afternoon) over at Catholic Cuisine

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Good Shepherd's Garden Party :: Week Four

Your works, O Lord, are manifold and wisely made, and well!
You fill the world with forms of life more than our tongues can tell. 
Oh, yonder lies the rolling sea with life of ev'ry sort,
and in it lives Leviathan, whom you have made for sport.
These look to you and you provide, they gather what you give. 
You open wide your hand with good to feel all things that live.

The past couple days week ended up being very busy, with a Little Flowers Meeting and Luncheon on Friday and a Birthday Party to attend on Saturday, so the kids and I had our 4th Good Shepherd's Garden Party last night, as a late lunch/early dinner. 

The little framed image of The Good Shepherd, pictured above, was a gift that arrived in my mailbox this past week from Patty!   Isn't it beautiful?!  Thank you Patty!!   I had saved our tablecloth, net, and extra plates and napkins from last year, and decorated the center of the table with our Paschal Candle and small Good Shepherd Statue.  However, I was very tempted to purchase the Christ as Fisherman of Men Statue that I recently saw on display at our local Catholic Bookstore.   It would have tied in so perfectly since the fourth week of The Garden of the Good Shepherd: A Sticker Calendar to Count the Fifty Days of Easter is based on the theme "The Wind and Sea Obey Him.

~ The Boat, Mast and Sail ~
I've been craving protein like crazy, and if I eat enough it seems to help control the morning sickness,  so I decided to make Deviled Egg Sailboats, instead of the fruit boats.   I've also been trying to cut back on using food coloring, so the orange and red pepper sails made a pretty and colorful addition as well!   

~ The Net and The Fish ~
This is a variation of a "Go Fish" snack we did a few years ago.   Instead of using Pretzel Rods, the kids dipped their nets in the peanut butter before trying to catch their fish.   They all loved it, especially Snuggles!

~ The Barbecue ~
Instead of pulled pork I made BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, placing frozen Chicken Breasts, BBQ Sauce, and Crushed Pineapple in the crock pot.   They turned out great! 

~ The Leviathan ~
Now here is where I caved on the food coloring... I already had some leftover blue cream cheese frosting from Friday's Little Flowers Meeting, and the Octopus Candies in the cupboard.   The kids had so much fun decorating their cupcakes and said they were delicious.  I opted for a cup of yogurt topped with some granola and frozen raspberries for dessert. 

Snuggles has so much fun overseeing the cupcake decorating!

"Oh no! He got frosting on his finger!" 

While helping his little sister decorate her cupcake...

... it wasn't long before she got frosting all over his nose!

And our little Rose, who had just woken up from a nap, just couldn't figure out where Snuggles was telling her to put the octopus leviathan!

~ "Sea" Water Ice Cubes with Ocean Spray ~
I happened to find this in the cupboard and decided it would be a perfect addition to this week's party.  

~ A Few More Pictures ~

Patiently waiting for all his siblings to finish washing their hands and sit down so we could say our prayers and eat! 

Everyone misses their Daddy dearly... We are so happy that he will be coming home at the end of this week and be able to join us for our next Garden Party

Be sure to visit Catholic Cuisine to see all of the other Garden Parties from this past week!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Marian Titles May Crowning Luncheon

Inspired by Charlotte's May Crowning Feast, I decided to host a Marian Titles May Crowning Luncheon following our May Little Flowers Meeting, which was based on Mary Mother of God and the virtue of Cheerfulness.   Each of the girls in our Little Flowers group selected one of the menu items to bring and I filled in the gaps.  We had one of our wonderful priests join us for the afternoon! He gave a talk to the girls on Our Lady and the virtue of Cheerfulness, taught them a Marian hymn, led a Marian procession, and then we all prayed the Litany of Loreto before enjoying our feast.   It was a lovely afternoon! 

~ Queen of Martyrs ~

One of the girls brought a Strawberry Boston Cream Cake, Charlotte's suggestion for Queen of Martyr's since her son pointed out that "The red is for the martyrs and the strawberries make it look like a crown."  It was a hit!

~ Holy Mary (Sancta Maria) ~ 

I picked up a couple packages of Marias cookies for Sancta Maria (Holy Mary) and served them with Nutella.  

~ Mystical Rose ~

I made these Strawberry Rose Cupcakes in honor of the Marian title Mystical Rose, saving the rest of the batter to make our Blue Phlox Cupcakes (the flower of the month for Little Flowers). 

I had a number of candy molds in my cupboard that tied in with some of the Marian Titles, so I couldn't resist making a few batches to add to our table   These Rose Candies were made with this mold and a mix of Red and White Candy Melts. 

~ Blue Phlox Cupcakes ~ 

Though not based on one of the titles of Mary, theses cupcakes were topped with Blue Phlox Flowers for our study of Our Lady and the virtue of Cheerfulness.  The Blue is for Mary and the five petals represent five dimensions of Cheerfulness:  Marian, Courageous, Heroic, Consistent, and Contagious.

~ Mother Most Pure ~ 

I made these Mother Most Pure Lily Lollipops made with this mold, though it doesn't look like I took a picture after adding the second batch...

I had a feeling that no one would sign up for our Lily Sandwiches and sure enough I was the one to make them.  They really aren't as difficult as they look. . . I ran out of time and only had 30 20 minutes to make them before the girls started arriving.   I was able to pull it off!  :)  I made a couple modifications to our regular recipe, flattening the bread with a rolling pin after cutting it out (which really helped!) and then inserting swizzle sticks for stems (inspired by Charlotte).  I am so glad I had a chance to make them and they didn't last long!

~ Morning Star ~

These Star Shaped Tea Sandwiches were made by my friend Kathleen and her daughter.

I also made a batch of Star Chocolates with this mold

~ Mirror of Justice ~

I happened to have a mirror from our old hutch, which came in handy for these Mirror of Justice Chicken Salad Sandwiches, brought by Amy's girls. 

~ Tower of Ivory, House of Gold ~ 

This was also inspired by Charlotte and also brought by Amy's girls. 

~ Health of the Sick ~

For this menu item, which was brought by Dee Dee, I opted for a Veggie Platter, though a plate of Apples would work nicely too!  

~ Vessel of Honor ~

Our punch bowl Vessel of Honor, was a wedding gift to my parents and passed on to us.   We used Charlotte's suggested recipe for Mary Blue Punch, mixing 7-up with a small box of blue gelatin (I wasn't able to find the unsweetened version) and topping it with vanilla ice cream clouds.  

Here is the document I created for the buffet signs.  I printed them out onto light blue card stock, adding a dark blue Fluer-di-lis quickly created with my Martha Stewart Fleur De Lis Punch.

O God, Who by the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast vouchsafed to make glad the whole world, grant, we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.