Gemelli Pasta for all the Holy Twins

Today I am adding another idea to the pasta for feast days collections. Gemelli is a pasta that is a single s-shaped strand twisted into a spiral. To the eye it appears as twin tubes twisted around one another.  The name derives from the Italian word for "twins" because it looks like twin tubes. Gemelli is ideal for lighter, smoother sauces which will cling to the twists, such as pesto or butter/oil sauces. It is also common in pasta salads.

Because of the connection to twins, gemelli is an ideal pasta to use on the feast days of any twin saints, of which there are a few: 
  • Sts. Cosmas and Damian (whose feast day is today - September 26)
  • Sts. Crispin and Crispinian (October 25)
  • St. Scholastica (February 10) and St. Benedict (July 11)
Also, the name Thomas is from the Aramaic name Ta'oma' which meant "twin" (Didymus in Greek). So St. Thomas the Apostle is often referred to as the twin and this pasta would fit his feast day (July 3) as well. 

There are a variety of recipes for using gemelli. Here is a simple one to try.

Gemelli with Mozzarella, Tomatoes, & Arugula


1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup firmly packed baby arugula leaves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 pound gemelli
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, finely shredded


In a small bowl, combine the garlic and the 1/4 cup olive oil and let stand for 20 minutes to allow the garlic to infuse the oil. Strain and discard the garlic. Add the tomatoes, sea salt and pepper to the oil.

Rinse the arugula and dry thoroughly. Add the arugula to the serving bowl with the other ingredients and toss to mix well. Cover the sauce and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours before using.

Cook the pasta in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and transfer the pasta to the bowl with the sauce. Toss well, adding up to a few tablespoons of the cooking water if needed to moisten the sauce so that it coats the pasta well.

Divide the pasta among warmed shallow bowls. Top with the cheese, dividing it evenly, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.

Pin It

Chai Cupcakes for Mother Teresa's Canonization

Chai Cupcakes topped with Vanilla Buttercream and sprinkles... Our girls tested the recipe last Sunday and they'll be making them again this weekend for the canonization of Mother Teresa!

Download FREE printable Mother Teresa Cupcake Wrappers & Toppers over at Shower of Roses.

Chai Cupcakes
(recipe: How Sweet It Is)

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg white
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup whole milk


Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Set it aside.

Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat it until creamy. Add the sugar and beat with the butter on high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in the oil and vanilla extract, beating on medium speed for another minute. With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the dry ingredients. Pour in the milk. Add in the other half of the dry ingredients and mix them on medium speed until the batter is combined.

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full. Bake until the tops are set, about 16 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

How Sweet It Is shares a recipe for Brown Butter Chai Icing, but this was the first time my girls had made buttercream on their own so they decided to make a simple Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and sprinkle additional Chai Spice mixture on top.

Vanilla Buttercream with Chai Spice Sprinkles

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk


In a bowl combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat till blended.

Add the milk and vanilla and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

For the sprinkles: Combine 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Sprinkle on top of frosted cupcakes.

Pin It

Honoring Our Lady with Star of the Sea Appetizers

"As sailors are guided by a star to the port, so Christians are guided to heaven by Mary."
--St. Thomas Aquinas

As mentioned before, Our Lady is known by many star titles - - Star of the Sea (Stella Maris) and Morning Star (Stella Matutina) being the most prominent. The star as a symbol of Mary is rich in meaning. Johnette Benkovic, on her Women of Grace blog mentions how the star is used to symbolize several characteristics of Mary: “her privileges, in particular her mission as Mother of the Redeemer or her holiness; her anticipatory role (forerunner, announcer) with regard to Christ; and her role as luminous and enlightening.”

The star image could be tied to any Marian feast day, but there is a very strong connection to the Assumption and the Star of the Sea title. In many places traditions associated with the sea are part of this celebration - like the blessing of fleets, blessing of the bounty of the sea, and wedding of the sea ceremony.

These appetizers combine the star shape and the products of the sea to recall Mary under this title – Our Lady, Star of the Sea.  I used Valley Lahvosh Baking Co. star shaped crackers though there are other star shaped crackers that could be used. 

I spread a smear of softened cream cheese in middle and added a lemony shrimp scampi on top. The lemon is a symbol of fidelity in love so is often associated with the Virgin Mary in Christian art.  This is the recipe I used for the Lemony Shrimp Scampi (from Pampered Chef) though I used medium shrimp and halved the other ingredients.

Another simple and last minute option would be to just pick up a prepared seafood spread or dip (like crab) and use that with the star shaped crackers.  

O God, you have willed that Mary should shine forth as the Star of the Sea and protectress for us who are tossed about on the stormy waves.

Grant that through her help and direction, we may be safe from dangers of soul and body, reaching the port of eternal happiness. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pin It

Assumption Cookies

These beautiful cookies, in honor of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven celebrated on August 15th, were submitted by LaDawn Wilson who shares, "I homeschooled six children for over twenty years. I now have three grandchildren I can bake for each week. I enjoy revolving most of my creativity around feast days and the children's birthdays." Thank you, LaDawn! 

Assumption Cookies

"The cookies are a basic sugar cookie recipe but I added lemon emulsion and poppy seeds.
I used two stamps for the fleur de lis. I like to paint directly on the stamp using AmeriColor Gels and then stamp the cookie on completely dried white glaze. Royal icing is used for the white borders and Ave Maria symbol. The tiny flowers are made from fondant."

Pin It

Sopa Estrella - Soup with Star Shaped Pasta

There are several small star shaped pastas in the variety referred to as stelline (Italian for "little stars"). It is sometimes simply packaged as pastina which is a the generic variety of of tiny pieces of pasta available in a variety of shapes. Pastina is the smallest type of pasta produced.  These pasta are common for broth based or thin soups.

August has several feast days were this tiny star shaped pasta, stelline, could be used as a symbolic reminder of a saint in a recipe.

St. Dominic (August 8) - On Monday we celebrated the feast of St. Dominic de Guzman. St. Dominic, the Spanish priest and the founder of the Dominican Order received the rosary from Our Lady and the child Jesus. It is said when St. Dominic was a baby his godmother saw a star on his forehead during the baptism, so a common attribute is a star either on the forehead or above his head.

St. Lawrence (August 10) - Wednesday is the feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr. Due to the timing of his feast in mid-August at the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, that annual asteroid showing is often called the "tears of St. Lawrence." So a "shower" of stars in some dish would remember this tie to St. Lawrence.

Assumption (August 15) - Our Lady is known by many star titles - - Star of the Sea (Stella Maris) and Morning Star (Stella Matutina) being the most prominent. Other titles or images include Star of the New Evangelization, Madonna della Stella, Star of Jacob, Fixed Star.  The star image could be tied to any Marian feast day, but there is a very strong connection to this feast and the Star of the Sea title. In many places traditions associated with the sea are part of this celebration - like the blessing of fleets, blessing of the bounty of the sea, and wedding of the sea.

Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12) - In the image on St. Juan Diego's tilma we see Our Lady clothed in a mantle of blue with 46 stars.

Epiphany (January 6) - And of course we associate a star with the visit of the wise men who followed the Star of Bethlehem to the infant Jesus.

Our Lady of Pontmain (January 17) - Our Lady of Hope appeared to several children at Pontmain, France. They described her as surrounded by stars. "Oh, there are so many stars the Blessed Virgin will soon be gilt all over.”  Images of her under this title show he clothed in a blue mantle gilded with golden stars.

St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28) and St. Nicholas of Tolentino (September 10) both are shown with a sun/starburst on their chest in many depictions.

St. John Nepomucene (May 16), Bohemian priest and martyr for the seal of the confessional, is often shown with five stars over his head (because, on the night of his murder, five stars were seen over the spot where he was drowned).

This week for the feast of St. Dominic I modified a typical Spanish tomato broth sopa, using stelline pasta instead of the typical fideo to celebrate the Spanish Dominic de Guzman.

Sopa Estrella

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup stelline pasta, uncooked
3 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Saute garlic in olive oil. Add chicken broth and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Add dry pasta and simmer until pasta is tender. Add more liquid if desired for thinner consistency. Add salt and pepper. 

Pin It

Orecchiette "Little Ears" Pasta Ideas for Saint Days

Orecchiette from the Italian orecchia, meaning "ear", and -etta, meaning "small" is a variety of pasta from southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which resembles a small ear.  The ridged exterior and cup-like interior holds chunky sauces and scoops up small vegetables, making orecchiette perfect to serve with sautés. 

Last year, I posted an orecchiette recipe called tuoni e lampo which is a traditional Italian pasta dish with chickpeas. Its name, I thought, linked it well to the story of thunder and lightning associated with St. Scholastica and St. Benedict. But focusing specifically on the ear shape and its name, this pasta would be a fun one to use for a variety of saint feast days associated with ears and hearing.

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests and confessors. St. John Vianney was especially known for his gift as a confessor. He  drew thousands of penitents to line up, sometimes days in advance, to experience what many recalled as his ability to see into the deepest recesses of the soul.  For this humble priest who was known to hear confessions for up to 16 hours a day, the ear pasta seems a fitting symbol.

Some other saints who have connections associated with hearing and ears are listed here – many coming up soon in September.

  • St. Francis de Sales (January 24)  -  He was known as powerful confessor during the Counter-Reformation. His masterpiece of the spiritual life, Introduction to the Devout Life includes the well-known, “How To Make A General Confession.”   He is the patron of the deaf and hearing impaired.  
  • St. Benedict (July 11) St. Benedict in his rule begins the Prologue with these words: "Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart." 
  • St. Alphonsus Liguori (August 1) – He is a patron of confessors and wrote much on the sacrament of confession. 
  • St. John Vianney (August 4) – He was known for hearing confessions up to 16 hours per day and is a patron of confessors. 
  • St. John Chysostom (September 13) – An early Church Father, he interpreted the epistles of St. Paul. He is often depicted in iconography with St. Paul whispering into his ear. His ear is incorrupt. 
  • St. Cornelius  (September 16) – Pope St. Cornelius is a patron of hearing ailments due to his name coming from the Latin for horn, and in art is usually shown holding a horn, the type that was used in the Middle Ages to rally troops in battle. These horns had a similar shape as the ear horns that hard-of-hearing people once used to amplify sounds. By this process, he became the patron of ear ailments.
  • St. Pio of Pietrelcina (September 23) – Confession was his primary activity of the day. He was known for reading souls in the confessional.

Pin It

Seasonal Candy Available Now - For OLoGuadalupe Later

I have always really loved this Our Lady of Guadalupe treat idea from Tiffany at Family at the Foot of the Cross.  These Hershey Kisses she recommends in blue foil with white stars were generally only available in a military tribute promotion in the past and are hard to find.  So when I saw a local store carrying a variety of Hershey candies in summer seasonal assortments (think 4th of July) I was thrilled. There were several different Hershey brands (Kiss, Miniature, and Reese's) packaged in blue foil with white/silver stars. There are quite reminiscent of the blue mantle and stars on the OL of Guadalupe image. So if these are available where you are too, this summer, it would be a good time to buy some to save for her feast day in December.

Pin It