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Posted by on Feb 2, 2016

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

Dirty Macaroni

  Dirty Macaroni

In the city of Dubrovnik, since the days of the Republic, on the Feast of St. Blaise, folks from the countryside traditionally came into the city to celebrate the life of their patron saint with Mass and processions. Families living in town were expected to provide a meal for their visiting relatives. As this could get quite expensive, families opted for a simpler dish, with less expensive ingredients that would be both tasty and filling. “Dirty Macaroni” was the result.

How did it get this name?

The sauce was prepared the day before the feast, with the macaroni left to cook fresh on the feast day itself (February 3). Those who arrived early to eat got a nice serving of both meat sauce and macaroni. Those arriving later got more macaroni and less sauce. Eventually, when the kettle of sauce was pretty much empty, the macaroni got a light coat of sauce and came to look like it was not quite clean anymore. Hence the name, Dirty Macaroni.

Recipe please!


Dirty Macaroni

(serves about 5 people)

1 lb elbow macaroni
1 lb ground or chopped beef (or other meat)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, including liquid
½ C red wine
2 cloves garlic (or less, to taste)
2-3 cloves
1 bay leaf
Pinch cinnamon
Chopped parsely
Shredded cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute onion in olive oil or lard until lightly yellowed, then add the meat. After the fluid has evaporated, add the tomatoes, including the tomato juice and let it cook a bit more. Add the red wine and a bit of water and simmer, stirring from time to time. Add parsley, garlic, cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, salt and pepper and simmer for around 2 hours. Add warm water as needed. Cook until the meat is very soft.

When ready to serve the meal, cook the macaroni, drain, cover with the sauce and let sit for about 10 minutes to allow the sauce to soak into the macaroni.

Serve with a bit of grated cheese and enjoy!


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Posted by on May 29, 2014

Savoring the Feast of the Ascension

Savoring the Feast of the Ascension


The Feast of the Ascension is traditionally celebrated on the 10th day before Pentecost. In many places these days it is celebrated on the Sunday before Pentecost so more people can attend Mass.

On this day we remember and celebrate the day, forty days after the Resurrection, that Jesus was taken into heaven, hidden from the disciples’ sight by a cloud. (Acts 1:9) Following His instructions, they returned to Jerusalem and spent the next days in prayer, until the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost.

One traditional way to celebrate the Ascension is to go fishing. Why? An ancient symbol by which Christians identified themselves and each other was a fish. The Greek letters that spelled fish (ΙΧΘΥΣ – ICHTHYS) could also be taken as the first letters for the words, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.

Going fishing is not always possible, however, so another way to celebrate is through a festive meal. A fish pie is a special treat.

Fish Pie


Pie crust for a two crust pie.


3 Tbsp. margarine or butter
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Cup water
1/4 Cup white wine or light fruit juice
1/4 Cup onion, minced
1 Tbsp. parsley
Balsamic vinegar to taste (optional)
Salt, pepper, chili powder, thyme, tarragon, savory to taste


Tuna or other canned or fresh fish
Vegetables: Carrots, Green Beans, Peas, Corn or others liked by your family

Saute the onion in the melted margarine or butter. Add the cornstarch and stir. Add water and wine. Stir frequently as the mixture heats and thickens. Add the spices and mix well. When the sauce has thickened, add fish, boiled, cubed potatoes, and steamed vegetables.

Put the filling into an unbaked pie crust and cover with a top crust. If desired, cut a fish and some “rays of glory” into the top crust for venting.

Bake at 400º for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Serve the pie hot, with a nice salad, a bit of sparkling cider, juice or wine, and a light dessert for a special family celebration of the Ascension.


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Posted by on Nov 2, 2013

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

Soul Cakes in November

Soul Cakes


On the first two days of November, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls. Many traditions for celebrating these feasts are found around the world. One of them is the making, giving, and eating of Soul Cakes.

Soul Cakes are small cake-like pastries. Typically they are made with spices including ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and/or cloves. They may have raisins or currents baked into them. They may be frosted or sprinkled with powdered sugar. They may also be made of sweet dough like a sweet roll.

During the Middle Ages, especially in northern Europe, England and Ireland, soul cakes were baked and shared as part of the celebration of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Each cake was marked with a cross. People called “soulers” went from house to house, offering songs and prayers for the dead. They received these cakes as gifts and ate them. Each cake eaten was believed to represent a soul released from Purgatory.

Today, the custom of giving and receiving soul cakes, especially as a way of freeing souls from Purgatory, has fallen by the way. Nevertheless, making and eating soul cakes is an enjoyable way to mark these feasts and celebrate them in family or community.

The recipe for Soul Cakes here is one I have developed from several basic cookie recipes. I like it because it is easy to make and includes pumpkin, for a special seasonal flavor. It doesn’t include raisins or currants, but a handful of either could be added to the dough if you like. Nuts could also be added, but they are not essential.

Pumpkin Soul Cakes


1 C Shortening (Butter or margarine)
1 C Sugar or 3/4 C Honey
1 Egg
1 C Pumpkin (cooked and pureed)

3 1/3 C Flour (either white or whole wheat will work – I used whole wheat.)
1 t Salt
1 1/4 t Cinnamon
3/4 t Ginger
1/2 t Baking powder
1/4 – 1/2 t Cloves, Nutmeg and/or Allspice (to taste)

Cream shortening and sugar. Add pumpkin and egg and mix together well. Combine dry ingredients then add gradually to the wet ones, stirring well.

This dough can be chilled and rolled out for cut cookies or it can be baked as drop-cookies. I make them as drop cookies using a teaspoon to scoop about a tablespoon of the dough from the pan and drop it onto a greased baking sheet. Flatten them slightly before baking if you want to put a cross on the top of them.

Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes.

When cool, frost with a powdered sugar or other icing in the shape of a cross. A little bit of vanilla in the icing adds a nice flavor.

(If not planning to use the cookies as soul cakes, swirl the frosting over the top with a knife or leave them unfrosted. They’re good either way.)

Enjoy with friends and family — and remember to offer a prayer for those who have gone before us.





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Posted by on Mar 16, 2012

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread "Cookies"

One of the great things about being Catholic is getting to celebrate the feasts of those who have gone ahead of us – the saints. There are so many saints to celebrate that every new day could bring with it a reason for a party! Some saints, however, are associated with certain nations or ethnic groups and their feasts get celebrated more widely, even by those who don’t share their faith or ethnicity.

Saint Patrick is one of those whose feast has become identified with the people of a nation. St. Patrick is remembered for bringing Christianity to Ireland. Though born in Wales, his feast is marked with great celebration of Irish identity in the United States, not just by those of Irish origin. In typical immigrant fashion, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with greater enthusiasm by the Irish in America than in Ireland. Music speaks of loves lost, homes left behind, and dreams of returning someday. Foods are not necessarily those that were eaten in the homeland, but rather those eaten by immigrants to a new land, with touches of the old ways for comfort.

With all this in mind, making Irish Soda Bread can be a good way to celebrate the life of a man who was taken to another land as a slave, escaped some years later, and then returned to bring the Good News of Jesus to the people of that land.

Here’s a recipe we’ve enjoyed.

Irish Soda Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour *
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken **
1 large or extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Zest of one orange
2 tbsp caraway seeds
1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or lightly grease a baking pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 50 – 60  minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

* You can use 4 cups of all-purpose flour in lieu of white whole wheat. Just omit the baking powder

** No buttermilk? No problem. Measure out 1 2/3 cups of milk and add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice to bring the mixture to 1 ¾ cups.

Alternate Idea for Shaping:

After kneading the dough, roll it out to about ½ inch thickness. Cut with a shamrock shaped cookie cutter. Bake at 375º for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. The biscuits will be lightly browned.

Cool on baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.



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Posted by on Jan 6, 2012

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

A Sweet Treat for the Feast of Epiphany – Rosca de Reyes

Roscón de Reyes

The Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, is traditionally celebrated on January 6  in western Christian Churches. While the Roman Catholic Church has moved the celebration of the Epiphany to the Sunday following the Feast of Mary Mother of God (January 1), this feast continues to be celebrated on January 6 in many homes and communities. In Latin cultures, the Three Kings bring gifts to children on this day and families gather for festive meals.

Rosca de Reyes or Roscón de Reyes (King’s Bread) is a traditional pastry served on the Feast of the Epiphany. It is generally served with a cup of hot chocolate or atole in Mexico. In Spain, people savor this sweet bread for breakfast, while in Latin America it is more commonly served in the afternoon.

The tradition of making ring cakes dates back to the Saturnalia, when the Romans would fashion round cakes made with honey, figs, and dates, and distribute them to all people, including slaves. In the third century, people started to put one dried fava-bean in the dough, and whoever received the piece of bread that contained the bean would be named rey de reyes (king of kings) for a short period of time.

The cakes that are made today are formed to imitate a crown – shaped as a ring and decorated with bright “jewels” (fruits.) In Spain, a fava-bean is still hidden in the dough, but in Mexico a doll representing the baby Jesus in tucked inside the ring. The doll symbolizes that Jesus had to be hidden and protected after he was born. Today in Mexican culture, the lucky person who finds the doll is expected to take the figurine to church on February 2 and host a party that day to celebrate El Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas).

The following is a recipe for Rosca de Reyes for those who like to bake and would like to try a special treat.

Rosca de reyes
(King’s Bread Ring)


2 packets of yeast
2 Tablespoons lukewarm water
2/3 cup boiling hot milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 well beaten eggs
1/3 cup softened shortening
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 cups finely-chopped candied or dried fruits and citron or a little dried lemon peel + a handful for decoration
Chopped nuts. maraschino cherries, and/or orange peel for decoration (optional)

Soften yeast in lukewarm water. Combine hot milk, sugar, salt, and stir to blend. Let cool to lukewarm. Add softened yeast, eggs, shortening, and half of the flour. Beat until well blended. Add remaining flour and candied fruits. Mix until the dough is moderately stiff. Knead lightly on floured board until smooth. Grease baking sheets.

To shape dough:

To make 2 small rings, divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a rope about 20-inches long. Shape into 7-8-inch circles on greased baking sheets, or use ring molds. Put one china, or heat resistant plastic doll into each ring so that they do not show.

To make one large ring, roll the dough into a longer rope and shape into a ring of desired size. Tuck a doll into the dough.

Brush with melted shortening. Let rise in slightly warm place until double in bulk. Bake at 375˚ for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. (The smaller ring will take less time to cook.) Let cool.

To decorate: Blend powdered sugar and milk (or water) to make a thick icing. Spread icing over ring(s) and decorate with more candied fruits, maraschino cherries or peels.

Image by Tamorlan
Used with permission under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

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Posted by on Nov 26, 2011

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

Celebrating Feasts With Food – St. Catherine of Alexandria

Icon of St. Catherine of Alexandria


St. Catherine of Alexandria was born towards the end of the 3rd century. According to legend, she became a Christian at the age of 14 following a vision. She was known for her wisdom and is said to have successfully debated 50 non-Christian philosophers when she was only 18. Responsible for the conversion of hundreds of people, she was eventually martyred (around 310 AD). Condemned to death on the wheel, instead she was beheaded because the wheel broke at her touch. Catherine is remembered since the 14th century as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers saints to whom people prayed especially for healing and protection from diseases.

In the middle ages, a tradition arose of celebrating her feast by visiting neighbors, singing songs requesting food and drink (cakes and breads or apples and beer). I came across this recipe for Catherine’s Cake (Kattern Cakes or Catterning Cakes). It is simple to make and would make a great project to do with children to help make it fun to be Catholic Christians. The detailed recipe on the web is written in metric system, however, there’s a basic description with quantities in the old English system we still use in the United States.

Catherine’s Cake

2 pounds yeast bread dough
2 oz  (1/4 cup) butter
2 oz  (1/4 cup) sugar
1 egg, beaten
A few caraway seeds

Frozen bread dough may be used, or make your own. Soften the butter and mix with sugar, egg, and caraway seeds, then knead into the dough. Allow to rise in a warm place for approximately 2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, either divide it into tennis ball sized loaves or form it into a larger loaf and place on/in a floured baking pan. Allow to rise another 30 minutes. If you have made the smaller loaves, flatten them slightly to make “cakes” for individual servings.

Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for two hours. (Smaller cakes may require a shorter baking time.)

Invite in the neighbors and enjoy with sparkling cider or other festive drink!

Image in the Public domain –
From St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt

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Posted by on Jul 23, 2010

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

Recipe for How to Celebrate Your Saint’s Feast Day


Time to celebrate

 This post was written by Rosie Pozos.

Recipe for How to Celebrate Your Saint’s Feast Day*


1 bottle Sparkling Apple Cider or favorite wine
2 Pretty candles
1 Nice Table Cloth
4 Goblets
4 Settings of nice silverware and china
Ingredients for your family’s favorite dinner.
Approximately six servings of Pan Dulce (sweet Mexican pastry) – or other favorite dessert.
Family or other special people with whom to celebrate
Coffee or tea (optional)

Set table with table cloth, china, silverware, goblets and candles. Fix dinner. Light candles. Pour cider or wine. Have family and/or special people all sit down.

Enjoy dinner family style: that’s where everyone reaches for whatever dish is closest to them, serves themselves and passes the dish to the next person.

Bring out Pan (or other dessert) after everyone is finished. Pass plate of Pan around the table. Ask if anyone wants tea or coffee. If yes, fix it.

Take time to enjoy each other’s company with dinner and dessert.

Enjoy the rest of the evening.

Approximately 4 servings. (Can be adjusted for more celebrants!)

Recipe can be used for celebration of any saint’s feast day.

* If for some reason you are at a loss for which saint to celebrate, visit for biographies of saints and for the “Saint of the Day.”

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Posted by on Mar 11, 2010

Lenten Kitchen – Lisa’s Spicy Black Bean Soup

This recipe comes courtesy of my daughter-in-law, Lisa Dorr-Pozos. We had it for dinner the other night and it was delicious. It can easily be made with vegetable broth and the meat isn’t needed at all. Garnish with shredded cabbage or other greens if you like. Serve with bread or tortillas.

Lisa’s Spicy Black Bean Soup 

1 pound dried black beans
Hot Sauce
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
1 large white onion, finely diced
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsps chili powder
2 dashes cayenne pepper
½ tsp dried oregano (or ½ tbsp chopped fresh)
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced/crushed
2 carrots, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
6 cups chicken stock or broth *
2 large bay leaves
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 polska kielbasa, sliced*
1 cup corn kernels (plain or roasted, frozen or canned is fine)
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

*Substitute vegetable broth and omit kielbasa for a vegetarian version

Rinse beans and put in a pot with enough water to cover. Add a palm full of salt and a couple of dashes of hot sauce. Bring to a boil and let sit off-heat, covered, for one hour. Drain water and add fresh water (salted again) and simmer on the stove or in a slow cooker until tender (about 2 more hours)

In a Dutch oven, drizzle bottom with olive oil and sauté onion, carrots and celery until onion is translucent. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and oregano, and a couple pinches of salt and pepper, and sauté until fragrant. More spices can be added later, to taste.

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Posted by on Jan 7, 2009

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

Merry Christmas to our Orthodox Sisters and Brothers – January 7

Celebrating Orthodox Christmas - Photo by Muhammed Muheisen, AP

Celebrating Orthodox Christmas - Photo by Muhammed Muheisen, AP

January 7 is the Feast of Christmas in much of the Orthodox world. We don’t hear much about it in our Western cultures, in part because it is not the big commercial event that it has become in North America and Europe. Nevertheless, it is a time for celebration and remembering that we share the roots of our faith with these ancient communities as well.

For more information about Orthodox history and beliefs, as well as why our calendars don’t match, there’s a good explanation on the BBC’s website. The quick answer is that most Orthodox communities still follow the Julian calendar for certain feasts. That calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, so Christmas falls on January 7. 

Western Christians who’d like to celebrate in solidarity with Orthodox Christians might want to try a dish typical of Christmas celebrations in the Eastern Church. Some interesting ones can be found at:

So, as the festival arrives, we wish you a Blessed Christmas, with time for family and friends to gather and enjoy the gift of love. We also pray for peace – in our entire world, and especially in those areas torn by war. May the coming of the Prince of Peace bring hope and courage to all of us, to work together and make it real in our day.

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Posted by on Dec 20, 2007

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

Festive Recipes – Poor Man’s Pudding


Steamed puddings are a Christmas tradition in many countries. This recipe comes from the German side of my family. We ate it only twice each year – once for Thanksgiving and once for Christmas dinner. It’s still a favorite, with each family’s version coming out a little different. Don’t worry if yours doesn’t look like a picture. It’s good whether it comes out light and fluffy or whether it “falls” and is very condensed. (Note: We never had it with a “side of holly” as seen in this picture, but feel free to be creative when you bring it to the table!)

Poor Man’s Pudding*

½ cup molasses
1 ½ cup milk
3/4 cup raisins
¼ cup walnuts (may be omitted in case of allergy)
1 tablespoon suet or butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
3 level teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup flour (make a medium batter)

Combine molasses, milk, raisins, nuts and suet (or butter) in a bowl. Mix dry ingredients separately and add to the molasses and milk mixture. Pour all into a well greased pudding mold or a can with a tight fitting lid. Steam about 2 hours.

Remove from mold immediately when cooked. Serve warm with sauce.

Cream ½ cup butter with 1 cup sugar and heat with 1 cup canned or “top” milk. (Top milk is milk with a least some cream in it.) Add 4 lightly beaten egg yolks and a pinch salt. Cook until it thickens. (A double boiler works well for this.) Add vanilla (½ to 1 teaspoon – to taste) and pour over stiffly beaten egg whites. Fold together and serve warm.

*As best anyone could ever figure out, the name comes from the fact that the ingredients are not expensive. They were things most families would have on hand, even on the frontier.

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Posted by on Dec 11, 2007

Dirty Macaroni for the Feast of St. Blaise

Festive Recipes – Santa Lucia Buns


The feast of St. Lucy (Santa Lucia) is coming up this week, on December 13. One of the most fun things about being Catholic, I think, is that we get so many excuses to celebrate something. And we have lots of great foods to share among our many world cultures.

The following is a recipe I received from my daughter’s Waldorf school class many years ago. Her class made these buns for the rest of the school. Of course, we had to taste them too. They are delicious.

Santa Lucia Buns

2 cups of scalded milk                                
1 cup of warm water
2 tablespoons (packages) of yeast             
8 tablespoons of honey (½ cup)                      
½ teaspoon of saffron (or 1 teaspoon of cardamom)  
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup of golden raisins (plus extras for decorating)
8-10 cups of sifted white flour
¼ cup butter (plus extra to grease pan and top of dough)
1 egg (for glazing dough)

Melt butter in milk, cool to lukewarm. Measure honey into warm water; mix until dissolved. Add yeast, let it sit until bubbly. Add raisins, saffron (or cardamom), and salt.

Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition, until dough is slightly sticky. Knead until smooth and elastic on a floured board. Grease bowl. Form dough into a ball and grease top. Let rise, covered, until double. Shape dough into little “cats” and let rise on greased, covered baking sheet until almost doubled. (They can also be rolled into logs about 7 x ½” in size and shaped into spirals or other shapes.) Glaze with egg.

Bake in preheated 425º oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Do not overbake. Brush with glaze after cool.

Sift ½ cup confectioner’s sugar. Add 2 teaspoons of hot milk and ¼ teaspoon of vanilla. Let dry once brushed onto buns.

Serve warm with coffee, tea, or cocoa. Enjoy!

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