Serve it in a Scallop Shell

No time for anything fancy on the feast of St. James? Still want to make it fun? A really simple idea is to just serve anything in a scallop shell. Since I had purchased the large shells for the Coquilles St.-Jacques dish, I realized how fun it would be to use for any serving on St. James day. The shells are available at many craft stores and kitchen stores, as well as online outlets like Amazon.

Try serving up a condiment or spice like sea salt pictured here.

The scallop makes a nice sized side dish for serving up salad or fresh fruit. 

A fun dish for snack time, apple slices, orange wedges, carrot stick, etc. Pictured here are goldfish crackers since St. James was both a fisherman and a "fisher of men." 

How about cookies?

It is a great little dish for a dessert, like ice cream for a warm July evening.

The possibilities are numerous.  Enjoy!

Why a scallop shell?

The scallop shell is a common symbol of St. James and is associated with travelers/pilgrims especially on the Camino de Santiago. Earliest connection of the scallop shell to the Camino and saint James is dated in the 10th century. The shell is commonly found on the shores of Galicia and served as a proof of completion of the pilgrimage. In a practical sense, the shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl.

There is a legend with a couple versions linking St. James to the shell.  One says that after St. James' death, his disciples took his body by ship to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried. Off the coast a storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, the body washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops.  Another version states, that as the ship carrying St. James' body approached land, a wedding was taking place on the shore. The young bridegroom was on horseback, and on seeing the ship approaching, his horse got spooked, and the horse and rider plunged into the sea. Through miraculous intervention, the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, covered in seashells.

There are two metaphors I have seen for the shells. The grooves in the shell, which come together at a single point, could represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination at the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. The scallop shell could also represent the pilgrim. As the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up on the shores of Galicia, God's hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago.

Whatever the meaning – the various symbolism and stories associated with the scallop and St. James, make it a great visual for the feast day.

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Coquille St. Jacques - Scallops for St. James

Coquille is the French term for the scallop, and also refers to a classic French dish with scallops prepared in sauce and served in a scallop shell.  The scallop shell is the traditional emblem of St. James, son of Zebedee and has long been the badge of pilgrims on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  There is a traditional Coquille St.-Jacques which is made with mushrooms and wine sauce. This is a different baked scallop recipe, which includes sun-dried tomatoes which are red as a symbol of a martyrdom on this feast day. Served in a scallop shell they are a fitting meal for the feast of St. James.

Parmesan & Sun Dried Tomato Scallops 

24 small bay scallops
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped/minced
2 T. bread crumbs
1 clove garlic
couple sprigs of parsley
olive oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 T. parmesan cheese

Chop the parsley and garlic and add to breadcrumbs. Add the parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomato pieces, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Mix well. Add the scallops and mix to coat. Fill each shell with the mixture of breaded scallops (approx. 5). Place on baking sheet in 425 degree oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until scallops are done and breading crisps.  Serve in shells.

St. James, pray for us.

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St. Benedict - The Raven and the Bread

St. Benedict of Nursia whose feast day is July 11 (March 21 traditional) is, among other patronages, the saint invoked against poisoning. There are a couple stories associated with him where he was spared of poisoning. In one depiction Benedict was given poisoned bread by priest who was jealous of him and his fame. Knowing that the bread was poisoned St. Benedict called to the raven (or crow), who would often come and feed from his hand, to take it away to a place where no one could eat it. The raven flew away with the poisoned bread in his beak and disposed of it, then returning to be given rations from St. Benedict. You can read the episode yourself in The Dialogues of St. Gregory (Book II, Chapter 8) which is the life of St. Benedict.

Due to this and other stories, the raven is often depicted with St. Benedict in pictures. It is the mascot of many Benedictine schools. So since the bread and raven are noteworthy symbols associated with St. Benedict, this very simple feast day idea came to mind. I know as busy parents it is always nice to have something that is really easy to put together without a lot of effort. Bread is something we usually have on hand, or is easy to obtain. Any kind will do and if you have special dietary considerations can choose a suitable bread as well. And if you have more time, it is also possible to bake your own bread for the feast using one of the many past recipes here at Catholic Cuisine. 

I went the easy route and picked up a boule of Italian bread from the store. Then I sliced it up and served it with the raven mascot looking on. We happen to have a couple fake ravens/crows in our decoration but a simple alternative if you don't have a plastic raven/crow handy and don't want to get one (readily available around Halloween) - use a paper silhouette you can print out and place as guardian of the bread at your table. This site has some great raven/crow silhouettes in their free clip art, including this one - Raven Silhouette Clipart.

St. Benedict, Pray for Us!
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Honey Sweetened Grasshopper Bars

The Birthday of Saint John the Baptist from Saints: A Year in Faith and Art
There is a great recipe for Grasshopper Parfaits in the archives here at Catholic Cuisine. After making them for the rest of my family, I decided to try and find something that I could enjoy as well for our celebration on the Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist since I've been on a strict Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet for the past four months.  These Honey Sweetened Grasshopper Bars were perfect and tasted amazing! Cocoa Powder is not on the AIP list of approved foods and it had been a while (113 days to be exact) since I had eaten any chocolate, but so far I haven't noticed any adverse reactions and am hoping that it can remain in my diet as an occasional treat.  This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, seed-free, nut-free and makes a delicious option for those looking for a healthy dessert!

Honey Sweetened Grasshopper Bars
adapted from Raia's Recipes


Mint Layer

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/4 cup organic raw honey 
  • 6 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (or a few drops of peppermint oil for AIP)
  • dash of salt (I used Real Salt.)

Chocolate Layer


Mint Layer
1. Line a 9×9 inch baking dish with foil.
2. Place all ingredients in high powered blender (I used my Vitamix) or a food processor. Blend until smooth.
3. Smooth mixture into prepared dish and stick in the freezer while you prepare the chocolate layer.

Chocolate Layer
1. In small saucepan, melt coconut oil and honey over low heat.
2. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.
3. Pour over chilled bottom layer and return to the freezer for about 15 minutes, or until the chocolate layer is hardened.
4. Remove from foil and cut into bars.
5. Store covered in the freezer.

Makes approximately 8 servings

Note: These would also make a healthy green treat for St. Patrick's day in March! 

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us! 

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A Dragon Scone for Good St. George

This post was written by Catholic Cuisine contributor, Charlotte from Waltzing Matilda.

The Feast of St. George is coming up tomorrow. We have spent many years slaying a cake dragon in honor of this noble and holy saint. Last year, however, we made a Dragon Scone for the feast of St. George. If you are looking for an alternative to the Dragon Cake and would prefer something not slathered in frosting, maybe give this one a try. I used a basic scone recipe (which I will include below) to make a serpentine shape. It took a little longer to bake than normal scones but otherwise, everything else was the same.

Last year, I used a left over slice of cake to make the head. This year, I think I'm just going to use another scone. That will probably mean I'll make a double or a 1.5 batch of of the recipe below.

I covered the body in homemade whipped cream and used sliced strawberries for the scales and feet. The pastry wing was also leftover from Easter brunch. I'm not sure our dragon will have wings this year. Two M&M's make the eyes. You can serve it for breakfast or as an after dinner treat.

Let us know below… are you doing anything special for St. George's Day?

Basic Scones 
(single batch: yields 12 scones or 1 dragon body)

1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. cold butter
1/4 C. sour cream (can substitute plain greek yogurt)
1/4 C. milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs (you can use a food processor just pulse it to get the coarse crumbs). Stir in sour cream (greek yogurt) and milk. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes, place on parchment paper covered cookie sheet. (For the dragon scone, I just shaped the dough into the shape I wanted on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Viking Shield Cookies for the Feast of St. Magnus

The feast of St. Magnus, Earl of Orkney, is celebrated on April 16th. To celebrate his feast this year I made some quick and easy Viking Shield Cookies with a few ingredients I happened to have in my cupboard. You can find additional photos, prayers, and book suggestions over at Shower of Roses

  • Fudge Stripes, Dark Chocolate 
  • White Candy Melts, melted
  • Hershey Kisses


Unwrap the Hershey Kisses and place one over the center of each Fudge Stripes cookie. 

Place the melted candy (or melted white chocolate chips) into a baggie and clip off the corner with a pair of scissors leaving a small hole. Squeeze some melted candy onto the bottom of each Hershey kiss to attach them to the cookie.

Add additional dots of melted candy around the outside of the shield. Let dry. 

Happy Feast of St. Magnus! 

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Divine Mercy Cake

The following recipe was submitted by Susan, from Sole Searching Mama, for the feast of Divine Mercy. Thank you, Susan!

Divine Mercy Cake

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 small package Jell-O, any flavor (I used strawberry)
  • 1 package dream whip (in the pudding/Jell-O section)
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 ½ cup very cold milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Dissolve jello in ¾ cup boiling water. Add ½ cup of very cold water to the jello, set aside until it reaches room temperature. Bake the cake in a 9” x 13” pan as directed (I added 1 tsp. clear vanilla to the cake to give it more flavor.). Cool the cake for about 30 minutes. With the cake still warm, poke holes in the cake about ½ inch apart. I used a chop stick and wiggled the stick a bit to create an open hole for the jello to flow into. Slowly pour the jello into the holes. Place the cake in the fridge to chill. In a bowl, blend together dream whip, pudding, cold milk and vanilla until stiff and fluffy, about 4-6 minutes. Frost the cake and garnish as desired.

The following combinations make a lovely cake:
Strawberry Jell-O with strawberry garnish
Peach Jell-O with mint leaf garnish
Orange Jell-O with a mandarin orange garnish
Raspberry Jell-O with raspberry garnish

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