On the Eighth Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me Eight Maids a Milking. Our one true love, Christ Jesus, gave to us the Sermon on the Mound and the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes exemplify spiritual strength even in the face of despair.

Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who mourn; for they shall be comforted
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful; for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart; for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the Kingdom of God.

January 1st is the Octave (8th) Day of Christmastide, and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, a Holy Day that stands as a reminder of the importance of motherhood, of family and of faith. Mary showed us what it meant to be a woman of faith, freely surrendering to the will of God. She did so with grace and love. The Beatitudes delivered by Christ’s Sermon on the Mound were demonstrated by Mary from her first breath to her last. Look to our Blessed Mother who led by example.

It is only fitting that these two aspects of faith share a common day of celebration.

Eighth Day of Christmas and Mary’s Italian Feast
Brandy Cream Chicken Fettuccine
Italian Salad
Warm Bread

Dessert for the Solemnity of Mary
Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Brandy Cream Chicken Fettuccine
12 oz Spinach Fettuccine Pasta
2 boneless Chicken Breasts
8 oz White Mushrooms
4 Green Onions
Cherry Tomatoes for garnish
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Kosher Salt to taste
1/4 cup Brandy
1/2 cup Heavy Cream

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta according to package direction. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise to create 4 thinner breasts; set aside. Clean and slice mushrooms; set aside. Snip green onions; set aside. Cut a few tomatoes in half for a garnish; set aside until ready to use.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil; swirl the skillet to coat the bottom. Cook chicken in hot oil for about 8 minutes per side, until juices run clean when sliced at the thickest part of the breasts and the internal temperature has reached 170 degrees.

Stir in mushrooms, onions, salt and brandy. Cook about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Gradually stir in heavy cream. Cook about 2 minutes longer to heat through.

Divide pasta among 4 warmed dinner plates. Twirl pasta to create a bed. Top each fettuccine bed with a chicken breast. Spoon Brandy Cream Sauce over the breast. Garnish each plate with a few tomato halves and serve.

Romaine Salad with Creamy Dressing
Creamy Salad Dressing 
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/3 cup White Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
2 tablespoon Light Corn Syrup
2 tablespoon Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoon Romano Cheese
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Parsley Flakes
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

Place all the ingredients in a blender; blend until well mixed. Transfer to a small serving pitcher or salad dressing bottle. Chill until ready to use.

Romaine Salad
2 bunches Romaine Lettuce
2 cups Grape Tomatoes
1 small Red Onion
8 pickled Pepperoncini Peppers
Creamy Dressing (above)
Italian Croutons
Handful Shaved Parmesan cheese
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Scatter into a large salad bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half, scatter over the lettuce. Peel and thinly slice the onion into rings. Break apart and scatter over the salad. Add the pepperoncini peppers whole. Toss to blend. Chill until ready to serve.

Just before serving, add croutons, drizzle with salad dressing; toss to coat. Serve with shaved Parmesan Cheese and additional dressing on the side.

Pass the pepper mill around the table if desired.

So often our Blessed Mother is associated with the color blue, or with blueberries. With that in mind, and the creamy goodness of Maids a Milking, it only seemed fitting to end our feast with Cheesecake Squares.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Graham Cracker Crust
8 tablespoons Butter
14 whole Graham Crackers
3 tablespoons Sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Melt butter in the microwave; set aside.

Break Graham Crackers in half, then break each half in half again. Place broken crackers in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Process Graham Crackers into fine crumbs.

Add the sugar and melted butter; process again to combine well. Pour crumb mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread out; pressing down to form an even layer of crust.

Bake in the heated over for about 5 or 6 minutes; just until lightly browned. Remove from oven; let curst cool while the filling is prepared.

Lemon Cheesecake Filling
1 Lemon
16 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Sour Cream
3/4 cup Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 dash Salt

Zest lemon, place in a small bowl. Cut lemon in half, squeeze juice over the zest; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine softened cream cheese. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add in the sugar; increase to medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla, salt, and lemon zest with juice.

Pour the mixture over the graham cracker crust and gently spread into an even layer with an offset spatula.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the center appears to be just set. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature, about an hour. Cover and chill for 4 hours.

Meanwhile, make the blueberry topping.

Blueberry Topping
1/4 cup Sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons Cornstarch
2 tablespoons Water
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 cups Blueberries, divided
Optional Mint Leaves for garnish

Note: While fresh blueberries are always best, unsweetened frozen blueberries can be used.

In 1-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch together. Stir in water and lemon juice until smooth. Add 1 cup of the blueberries. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Boil about 2 minutes or until thickened; remove from heat. Stir in remaining 1 cup blueberries.

Transfer blueberry topping to a small bowl; let stand at room temperature 5 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

For squares, cut cheesecake into 4 rows by 4 rows. Serve blueberry topping over cheesecake. Garnish plates with fresh mint leaves if desired.

Happy New Year!

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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