Desserts – Chocolate Cinnamon Cake and Chocolate Meringue Bars

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2015 gives you many grace-filled days as you journey through the year. Now I’m passing the microphone over to Nancy…

Hi, Nancy here, just realized the date & thought I’d better get my last 2 items in while in 2014. I think Julie & Kelly (with a little help from their friends) are going to finish the cookbook project.¬† Can’t wait to hear what Julie has in mind for 2015!!
2014 was a good year for our family and friends. We have much to look forward to in 2015.
Surprise, surprise I made two chocolate cakes for my daughter Patti’s birthday. They were very different, but both delicious.
The first was Cinnamon Chocolate Cake p. 77. This recipe is from pastor’s mom & his favorite birthday cake. I did give the Stieg’s some leftover cake. (Julie here: for which we were grateful! Yum!)


The second cake is contributed by Monique H. (p. 76), Chocolate Meringue bars and also delish. I do enjoy making meringue.


(Julie here: meringue sounds difficult to me. Glad Nancy took this one on! Even spelling it is tricky…)

The family enjoyed both birthday treats.


Julie again: (I know, I won’t shut up) Thank you, Nancy for adding your contributions here, not only for baking the treats but also taking photos and writing about them. My one question is: why isn’t Patti blowing out her candles? ūüôā



Side Dishes – Potatoes Au Gratin



On the Second Day of Christmas

Yuki watched TV!


I got an animal DVD from the Library, and while I walked on the treadmill, Yuki took in¬†America’s Greatest Animals for at least 10 minutes. ūüôā

Potatoes Au Gratin

This was a perfect accompaniment to our Christmas dinner. In past years, I’ve made Christmas Goose, an interesting if labor-intensive dish.

I’ve decided that turkey and ham are the easiest large meats to serve. Not only are they budget-friendly, but also feed a lot of people. When I make a turkey, I have meat for the meal as well as leftovers for at least a couple more.

Not so with goose. Goose is roughly a similar size to a turkey, but the meat from it feeds maybe 4 people in one meal. The end.

This year I compromised. I made duck and sea scallops. I don’t think I’d ever made scallops before, but I love them and order them often when we’re out. So I didn’t have a good recipe to start from. I found a chili-encrusted lime scallop recipe which I thought sounded good, but came out only meh.

And the duck? Sorta of meh too. It’s a lot of work trying to get the meat off the bird, though it’s easy to roast.

The au gratin potatoes (p. 31), though, worked out perfectly as a side dish. I used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and had lightened up versions of the cream of celery and cheese.

IMG_6542Jacob really liked this dish. It’s tasty!


Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the final product. But trust me it comes out really nice in the end because you put cheese over the top and the potatoes brown up nicely.

Give it a try!




Main Dishes – Chicken Casserole

Feed My Starving Children

Last Saturday, I took a group of youth and parents to Feed My Starving Children, in Aurora. There were 23 of us from Redeemer, a great number in my estimation. But we weren’t the only ones there.

Along with probably 100-150 other volunteers, we split up around various tables packaging food into “manna packs,” a blend of rice, soy, veggies, and vitamins. These are sent to various places in underdeveloped parts of the world.

In the packaging room, we noticed that some of the groups around us seemed more exuberant, more joyous in their packing than we did. Jacob said, with a wry smile, “Yeah, our youth group is kind of angsty.”¬†Jacob has this wit, this subtle humor that makes me hours or even days later smile a little to myself. He’s right: we are kind of angsty.

And isn’t that okay? We’re Lutherans, for crying out loud. As my friend Sherri said, “We Lutherans repress our feelings and bring a dish to pass at the potluck.”

Chicken Casserole

We Lutherans do love our potlucks, and our casseroles, don’t we? Or rather, those of a previous generation surely did. My mom made a salmon casserole that I remember, sadly, with much disdain. I eat fish at least once a week now, but I’m not wild about any noodle-y, creamy, crunchy additional ingredients.

Anyhow, despite my being down on casseroles, dishes like this make for an easy family meal, as Kathryn found when she cooked this chicken casserole (p. 42) for me! She cut up the chicken before cooking to make it easier to serve. Great idea!


And here is the finished product:


Nice one, Kathryn! Thank you for your willingness to help me get through these last few recipes. ūüôā


Salads – Lime Jello Mold

Merry Christmas! 


¬†Therefore this is the chief article, which separates us from all the heathen, that you, O man, may not only learn that Christ, born of the virgin, is the Lord and Savior, but also accept the fact that he is your Lord and Savior, that you may be able to boast in your hear:¬† I hear the Word that sounds from heaven and says:¬† This child who is born of the virgin is not only his mother‚Äôs son.¬† I have more than the mother‚Äôs estate; he is more mine than Mary‚Äôs, for he was born for me, for the angel said, ‚ÄúTo you‚ÄĚ is born the Savior.¬† Then ought you to say, Amen, I thank thee, dear Lord. (From Martin Luther’s sermon on Luke 2)

Lime Jello Mold 

This recipe (p. 12) comes from Donna H., who made several great contributions to the cookbook. It’s a tasty treat! I used sugar free lime jello and boiling water instead of the heavy pear syrup.



It didn’t take long for it to set up. Delish! Thank you, Donna!

Cookies – Divinity Cookies

Christmas Eve

When all was still and it was midnight

the immortal Word descended from His royal throne…

So begins the introit for Christmas Eve, my favorite of the whole year. It’s so beautifully poetic, isn’t it?

Divinity Cookies

Donna H. submitted this recipe (p. 95) ¬†and then made the cookies the blog as well. Here’s what she shared with me:


I remember growing up in a multi-generational 2 flat and every Saturday was baking day and the house was filled with the wonderful aromas of fresh breads, coffee cakes etc.  As Christmas approached dozens of different cookies were added.


Now it lives on with my children and grandchildren.  My daughter also continues to do it with her children and grandchildren in Minnesota. Some men are even joining in. Different times, new traditions.  Love it!!


This cookie was one from a special aunt of mine and the reason I added it to our cookbook.


Here’s the mixture with a thermometer, making sure the temp is just right.


And the cookies on the pan:


P.S.¬† You can always try switching extracts and nuts.¬† Ex:¬† almond extract with almonds. Or try orange extract with orange peel.¬† Be creative and Have Fun!!!¬† That’s what baking is all about.



What a beautiful platter of deliciousness! Thanks, Donna!

Cookbook Corrections

Corrections for Redeemer Lutheran Cookbook, published 2013

Updates 12/2014

p. 1 – Artichoke Dip
1 glove garlic should be 1 clove garlic

p. 2 – Bar Nuts
2 T snipped fresh parsley should be 2 T snipped fresh rosemary

p. 15 Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Add 1/4 cup melted butter to the ingredients

p. 16 Sunshine Salad
Add small packet of orange jello to the ingredients

p. 32 Texas Caviar
1 small jar mild green chills should be green chilies

p. 48 Grilled Pork Tenderloin
At the end of the directions, add: Cook tenderloin in 375 degree oven for 45 min.

p. 53 Oriental Meatballs
These could be in appetizers; the balls should be rolled into 1″ size, and no larger.

p. 66 Banana or Pumpkin Bread
2 1/2 c. water should be 2/3 cup water

p. 68 Double Cranberry Bread
Remove last two ingredients (included in the list twice)

p. 82 Mattie’s Chocolate Cherry Cake
Add 5 T butter to the frosting ingredients

p. 92 Buttermilk Bars
Add 2 1/2 cups flour to the beginning of the list of ingredients.

p. 95 Divinity Cookies
In the directions, before the last sentence add: Add the vanilla and beat mixture until mixture becomes slightly dull. Stir in nuts and drop onto sheet.

p. 95 Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Directions should state scant instead of “scan teaspoonfuls.”

p. 96 Five Pounds of Fudge
Add 12 oz. German sweet chocolate to the ingredient list.

Breakfast Main Dishes – Blueberry Pancakes

It seems as though Christmas memories are at least in part associated with stories, movies, and shows that we’ve learned to love over the years. Some of my favorites:

1. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. I remember seeing a play based on this classic story years ago. It’s a beautiful example of giving and irony.

2. Martin Luther’s Christmas Book. This little volume is a collection of Martin Luther’s sermons or talks on the Christmas texts from Luke 2 and Matthew 1. It’s a treasure!

3. A Christmas Story. It’s a goofy Christmas tradition. Here’s a link to the real Christmas Story house.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life. The classic Frank Capra movie I can’t seem to enjoy Christmas without!


5. The Bishop’s Wife. Although this classic with David Niven from 1947 is not too much about Christmas, I love it.

6. Home Alone. Love this funny Christmas movie and how the kid outsmarts the crooks.

What are your faves?

Blueberry Pancakes

The Murphys made this recipe (p. 35) in the cookbook for me. Thank you, Murphs! The recipe makes quite a few.

Here they laid out the ingredients:


And the mixture:


On the griddle:


And the final product:

Main Dishes – Turkey Turnovers

The Real Work
I love this poem by Wendell Berry.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Turkey Turnovers
I made a turkey breast on Friday and decided to turn the leftovers into turnovers. I adjusted the recipe because I couldn’t find a gluten-free pie crust, and though I had every good intention, I just ran out of time to make my own. Instead I used gluten-free bisquick, which worked well. It was all gluten-free, and overall, tasted pretty good. I’m not sure I’m a fan of the gluten-free bisquick. Wheat just works so perfectly. I feel badly for those who don’t have an option, but there are a lot of better products these days


Desserts – Hasty Pudding

The End
After combing through the entire vol. 3 of Palate Pleasers from Redeemer Lutheran Church, we’ve come to the end.

Over 250 recipes shopped for, cooked, cleaned up from, and written about. A year in the life. It’s a little microcosm of our corner of the world, tucked in the suburbs of Chicago.

My idea way back over a year ago has now come to its end, and I think about all of the people who have cooked, shopped, and cleaned to help out. What a lot of you there are!

Kelly, my blogging partner, not only cooked a bunch of recipes, learned how to run WordPress, and then wrote about her adventures. She even went so far as to purchase a big load of the cookbooks for Christmas gifts–and that purchase helped the youth group get closer to¬†our fundraising goal for the year.

Other cooks included Nancy, Karen, Cher, my mom, Barbara, Kathryn, Rhonda, Naomi, Fran and Ann, Michelle, Barb and McKay, and probably others that I’m forgetting. That’s quite a list!

I must say it’s a bit of a relief to be done. At the end, I wasn’t even admitting to my family whether a recipe came from the book. They’d just sigh, and plunge their forks into whatever was set before them. Not only will I avoid moans and groans, but my grocery shopping will get easier too. No more going to 3-4 stores each week to gather supplies.

But I will miss connecting with all of you. Your emails, your comments, and your funny tidbits along the way have created a conversation, one that I’m hesitant to end.

My brother David may have come up with the most brilliant idea of all, for me to write for adults, recipes about life.

I’m reading Anne Lamott’s new book Small Victories, and wondering if maybe her style of writing can inspire my own. I’ve begun a new blog, on which I’ll stumble my way onto some sort of project. I invite you all to take a gander and follow my new posts, dedicated to my meanderings through my spiritual journey.

Hasty Pudding
In the meantime, we have one more recipe to try. This recipe (p. 80) is really anything but hasty, especially compared to instant pudding mixes that take exactly two steps: 1. put milk in a bowl, 2. add pudding mix. 3. Stir, 4. wait five minutes and eat. Okay, that was four steps, but they’re all easy.

This one cooks the maple syrup and flour on the stove, then transfers the mixture to the oven for 40 minutes. See what I mean? Not hasty. But good!

I figured out this is actually more of a bread pudding than a pudding pudding, so even though I made the recipe, I still haven’t made real live cook-and-serve pudding.

So what you do with this recipe is you make the batter, which is sort of like a cake batter, and then pour boiling maple syrup over it. Bake it in the oven, and after eating, soak the dish in water in your sink for several days to get the¬†caramelized¬†sugar out of it!¬†It was soo tasty though!¬†Here’s the batter with the syrup poured over:


And here is the last photo of the blog, with our three spoons in salute to all of you who have stuck with me all year! Bon appetit!




Appetizers – Hanky Pankies

Random Tidbits

1. I ran across an article¬†listing 15 foods you should add to your diet in 2015, which I thought might be of interest. Lychee, Lollipop Kale, and plantains¬†may soon be coming to a restaurant–or kitchen near you. It’s worth skimming through.


2. Also, my dad sent me this funny video about table manners and using our portable devices at the dinner table. You’ll like it; trust me.

3. Speaking of older technologies (you’ll see what I mean once you watch the video), I talked to one of my students this week who had never heard of the telegraph or morse code. She is from Seoul, so I tried translating the words into Korean. Nope. Didn’t help. After demonstrating dots and dashes, SOS, showing pictures of telegraph machines, she finally sort of got it.

4. Last week at my ESL tutoring, one of my Chinese students was eating a package of chicken feet and offered me a bite. Awww…that was so kind of him! ¬†You can probably guess that I graciously demured.

chicken feet

Hanky Pankies

This appetizer (p. 5) comes from Donna H. It’s a bit of a multi-step process, but the end product is a tasty rich quick bite for company. It’s a mixture of cheese and sweet sausage which is served on top of rye bread.


Here is the sweet sausage cooking with the velveeta:


Ready to go on the bread:


And the finished product:


Nancy O., who is a star cook and such a good friend that she made not 1 but 4 (!) of the recipes in the cookbook, put together this little treat for book club this past week. Everyone agreed that it was a tasty addition to her fabulous spread.