Pepperoni Roll Appetizers

Here is a great recipe brought to us by the lovely Julie W, found on page 5 of the cookbook.  For anyone hosting a post holiday get together, this is an easy and fun recipe to serve your guests!

Here in the Quinn household, there was some improvisation that took place on this tasty appetizer and am sure that using Asiago cheese and pepperoni, as well as chilling as suggested, would yield even better results!

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I had been wanting to make this delicious appetizer for a while and had the Pepperidge farm pastry sheets in my freezer.  Nancy O and Julie had both offered to take this off my list but given its similarity and popularity of my mom’s Stromboli recipe, I wanted to give it a try.

I decided, with my husband’s input, to improvise using leftover Summer Beer sausage instead of Pepperoni.  Apologies to the readers of German/Italian descent!!  Also, I had some shredded Swiss/Gruyere cheese from Trader Joe’s we used instead of Asiago cheese.  If I had to make this again (and my husband hopes so), I would use the pepperoni, shredded Asiago and chill (or freeze/thaw) prior to baking at 400.

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Since I am not a huge fan of processed meat and had spinach mixture ready to make for another Spanikopita recipe, I decided to try that rolled up in the pastry roll for a change with the Swiss/Gruyere cheese sprinkled on top before I rolled it up.

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My husband and son enjoyed leftovers of this tonight during Packer vs. Lion’s game 😉  NO need to discuss who they were routing for!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here is the sweet sausage cooking with the velveeta:

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Ready to go on the bread:

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And the finished product:

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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.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

St. Nicholas

About 15 years ago, when our son was about 5 years old, we had to make a decision. What would we teach him about Santa Claus? We knew the legends of the true St. Nicholas, and wanted him to appreciate the true story of this historical figure. Christians have a wonderful opportunity to share the story of St. Nicholas and show the true source of our generosity at Christmastime.

The true Nicholas lived in modern-day Turkey, was a bishop of the church who defended the teaching of Jesus’ deity, and spread his inherited wealth with the poor and needy. What more could we ask for in a model of faith!?

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So I started putting my ideas on paper. While there aren’t a huge number of Nicholas books, most of the ones I found focused not on what is known from history about the man, but rather on the legends and miracles. So I set out to research and write a book that would tell the story of his generous heart, and show how his generosity came from faith in Christ. My book focuses on the story of Nicholas giving a poor man with three daughters enough gold so that the girls would not have to be sold into slavery or end up in a life of prostitution. No names or other historical details have survived the years, so I made up family names, added a little brother, and tried to honor the story of this true Christian bishop.

What didn’t make it into the book is his presence at the Council of Nicea. Constantine called the first church council in 325 A.D. It is from this first church convention that the Nicene Creed was created, which the Church has confessed ever since. Arius, a bishop from Egypt, doubted Christ’s equality with the Father–thus showing the complexity of the theological teaching of the Trinity. Nicholas got so irritated by Arius’ heresy that he got up and slapped him across the face. I mean: go Nicholas! Perhaps we should have a little more of this spunk! An excellent little article by Gene Veith describes the scene in more detail.

Anyhow, Nicholas’ story is one to pass down to our kids and grandkids because it shows us that Christ’s love overflows into our lives and to the people around us. What a wonderful idea to share!

Chili-Taco Dip

This recipe(p. 3), from Joan H., would make an excellent game day dip! It’s super easy–just a can of no-bean chili, shredded cheese, and some cream cheese. Melt it all together and you get a great dip!
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Appetizers – Spinach Balls

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Thankful

As I’m writing this, it’s the night before Thanksgiving Day. I’m so glad Jacob made it home safely, and is here for a few days with us. I’m thankful for my family, near and far, for my church family at Redeemer, for my friends and loved ones scattered around the country. I’m counting my blessings, truly grateful for all of the things in my life that God has challenged or blessed me with. I’m thankful mostly for the gift of God’s Son, whose loving sacrifice makes my life rich and full and beautiful–and forgiven.

And for you, dear reader, I am thankful for you, that you’ve stuck with me through this goofy church year cookbook experiment! Happy Thanksgiving!

Spinach Balls

These are easy and tasty! They’ll look nice on a dish, warmed and ready for company. Plus there’s the added bonus of knowing you’re eating spinach, so it seems like health food even though the butter probably negates some of the good nutritional value! 🙂

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It’s a spinach, bread crumb, parmesan cheese, egg, and butter mixture. That’s it! You have to thaw and squeeze out the spinach. I must say, that seemed sort of strange. It felt like I’m squeezing out my dish sponge, when actually it’s food I’m going to put into my mouth. But there you have it.

Basically, this is a throw-everything-together-and-then-bake-it sort of a deal.

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It’s hard to tell if the balls are actually cooked (so I don’t actually know if this picture is from pre-baking or post-) but 10-12 minutes cooks them up. I’m serving this as an appetizer for Thanksgiving Day.

Appetizers – Chili Dip

Julie here-

The Joy of Knitting

Seems like I start many of my posts, “The Joy of…” something. Well, the latest edition of the “Joy of…” is…Knitting! Recently, I led a program at Elmhurst Public Library to teach 10 girls, grades 3-5 the basics of knitting. It was a fun experience. The first session was tough because whenever someone begins knitting, it’s really hard to get the feel for the process. You feel like you’re all thumbs. And when those someones are in grades 3-5, it’s even more of a challenge. But these girls were troupers and stuck with the process.

One of the girls really internalized the lessons and was producing clean, even stitches by the end of our third afternoon. Another was still struggling by the end of the sessions. Most were somewhere in the middle. We’re going to offer the class again in Jan. and Feb. so that all these Elmhurst girls (or boys!) can get toasty through the winter months making scarves, tea cozies, mittens, etc.

The best part of the whole thing was having lots of helpers. I couldn’t have done the program without my knitting buddies at EPL.

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…And that is also the case when it comes to finishing this cookbook project!

IMG_0605Well, this recipe (p. 2)  couldn’t be easier! Three ingredients in the microwave, and wham, bam, you’re done!

It’s even easier when some other awesome person like Karen O. makes it and takes pictures!

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This would be great for a party. I believe Karen made it for a family gathering–also a great idea!

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Easy Cheesy Appetizer Bread

Kelly here:

As Julie mentioned, this past Sunday was Rally Day at ours and many other churches.  As I’m doing my work in the kitchen, I enjoying listening to the podcast Concordia Publishing House makes available to prepare teachers for next week’s lesson.   The Podcast is part of a radio show on Lutheran Radio called Issues, Etc, which is a lively interchange between 2 Pastors, Todd Wilkens and Tom Baker. They examine the scripture we will be looking at, and are always pointing out many nuances I would miss on my own. If you’d like to listen, check out this link.

My afternoons and evenings are now consumed with hosting play dates, assisting and reviewing homework and spelling words.   I have two of amusing moments to share from the past week  of school.

The always observant elementary students noticed that some of the waffles they were served for “breakfast for lunch” Thursday had a “best used by date” from 4 months earlier.  During the short trek back from Edison, our walking group had really come up with their own conspiracy theory around the expired waffles, complete with “eye-witness” testimonials from the nurses’ office and bathrooms that substantiated their story.  It was quite reassuring for all involved to find an email from the food service director when we arrived home, stating the waffles were safe and she had even put herself on the line by eating one, without bodily harm.

Tonight, I found this darling synopsis on what it means to be a citizen, which was likely written yesterday am after living through another flash flood warning here in swampy Elmhurst

 

Bad hair days are an important fact we live with as a citizens of the wet/windy Midwest

Bad hair days are an important fact we live with as a citizens of the wet/windy Midwest

 

Easy Cheesy Appetizer Bread:

During our freezer crisis this past week, I seized the opportunity to use some items from freezer/fridge to make a few more of my assigned recipes.  I had planned to make the easy cheesy appetizer bread for our birthday bash in July, but time/energy didn’t allow.  I had all of the ingredients in the malfunctioning freezer, so it made an easy appetizer for our Labor Day dinner.

Didn't need the Hellman's, low-fat creamy ranch did the trick!

Didn’t need the Hellmans, low fat creamy ranch did the trick!

This delicious recipe on page 3 was simple to put together.  I must admit I cheated a bit since I’d misplaced the dry ranch dressing I’d purchased for the recipe.  I  deleted the mayonnaise and instead substituted liquid ranch dressing, which we always have on hand to dip veggies in.  The cheese and dressing mixed together easily and I put a thin spread of it on each baguette slice.  I only made about 1/2 of the recipe for our small group, so they easily fit under the toaster oven’s broiler.

Here is the finished product, just delicious!  Thanks to Sally M for this recipe that delivered on its promise to be easy and cheesy!

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Back to School Blues

My children are starting back to school this week at a new school.  There is excitement, anticipation, along with the “first day of school jitters”.  I heard my son quietly tell his teacher about Immanuel, where he attended preschool and first grade, “It was the only place I have had an education”.  Yesterday, he insisted on a trip to ACE for a padlock to use on his locker so no one will put worms in his lunchbox!   The previous night, he was life of the party at the  Edison’s back to school block party.

My daughter, entering 1st grade at Edison, is surprisingly more confident. She has already packed her lunch and backpack, picked out the clothes she is going to wear this week.   Could it be the  Frozen themed backpack/lunchbox/outfits? Or maybe each of us are dealing with this change in our own way?   I must admit I’m experiencing mixed emotions myself!  I miss the familiar loving faces and surroundings of the last 4 years but am excited for the new friends and opportunities that are 2 blocks away from home!

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Appetizers: Crab Dip and Cheese Ball

I made some of the appetizers for the birthday bash we had last month.  Both were super easy to put together several days ahead of the party and actually froze them to free space in the fridge.

I loved making this cheese ball, using the famous Merkts beer and almond cheeses and reduced fat cream cheese (trying to cut back somewhere!)  I put all the cheeses in microwave on defrost to make mixing easier, then cooled in fridge, formed into 2 balls and rolled in crushed pecans.   Just found this image and caption on their website, www.merkts.com.  If you are looking for some caloric laden game day treats, check out the recipe tab with the heading, “Drooling”

Do you use real cheddar on food the same way you use duct tape on everything else? You’re a Merkt’s man

My grandmother and her sister made a similar cheese ball for their famous happy hours, preparing and serving this brought back memories of  them. Thanks to the lovely Diane F, who has the sweetest smile that always brightens my day.

 

My mom suggested cutting the ball in half, which made it much easier for serving.  Here are my wonderful helpers posing with the appetizer before we put it out for the company. Our fabulous crab dip is also pictured here with some fresh veggies, as suggested by contributor, Joan H, another encouraging woman who is a fantastic hostess as well!  As promised by Joan in her recipe, it was a real crowd pleaser!

 

 

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Appetizers – Ham Appetillas

Jerry’s Nut House
One of my dad’s favorite spots on earth is Jerry’s Nut House in Denver. Their Oriental Mix is the best in the world. So I took a trek down to the nut house with him one morning of our time in Denver. We found some other surprising things.
Gummy Fried Eggs:

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Gummy Green Frogs:

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And for those needing a little boost, Rhino Trail Mix will “keep you charged up!”

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Like I said, the oriental mix, which has sesame sticks, wasabi peas, peanuts, and other good stuff. You have to try it. Go here to order online. My dad says the best thing to do is go to the store in east Denver and inhale deeply! All the lovely popcorn, nut smells are amazing!

Ham Appetillas
If I remember correctly, Dianne F. served this delicious dish at a book club meeting–or at least she told us about it. Now I am having trouble remembering. These are very similar to Mexican Pinwheels. The base is a cream cheese mixture with olives and ham laid over the top before the tortillas are rolled up. I’m chilling them now, and then will slice them later before we head to the family get together.

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They’re yummy!

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Appetizer – Gingered Mango Salsa

Salsa has been called America’s favorite condiment. I’m not sure about that–wouldn’t you think it’s mustard or ketchup?

According to The Nibble, it supplanted ketchup as the favorite condiment in 2000.

Anyway, it’s a delightful condiment, whether or not it’s America’s favorite.

Gingered Mango Salsa

This delightful condiment would be delicious with crunchy corn chips. I’m going to serve it over grilled chicken.

It starts with mango. It calls for a cup of chopped mango. I used two, and that seemed to make about a cupful.

But here’s the bad news. I chopped up one jalapeño pepper. While I was chopping, while my fingers were covered in the oil from the pepper, I grabbed a blueberry and popped it in my mouth. Big mistake! The oil from the jalapeño made my lips throb with pain. Ouchy!

So I looked online for some remedy. I found one suggestion that you rub the spot with bleach. Really, bleach? The person wrote back on the forum saying the only thing she had was toilet cleaner bleach. Thankfully, the person responded that she should not use toilet cleaner bleach. Sheesh!

Someone else wrote that she should try lime juice. Okay, that was more reasonable, so I gave it a try. Nope, didn’t work. Someone else suggested white vinegar. Nope. I knew that bee stings are soothed by baking soda paste. So I tried that. By this time, I’d smeared lime juice, vinegar, and baking soda on my lips. Still hurt.

Oh well, it’s better now after an hour or so…

And here’s how the salsa turned out. It’s sweet and tangy. We’ll see how it tastes over the grilled chicken tomorrow!

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Appetizer – Artichoke Dip

Artichoke Dip

This is another from Marian F., who–lucky dog–is snowbirding right now, so we miss her terribly. It’s one of those all-American recipes that is a real crowd-pleaser. It tastes better with crackers than with raw vegetables, but those are another option. It makes a big batch, so I’d suggest that unless you have a large gathering planned, you could probably halve it.

I pulled out this ceramic dish to use for serving this delicious dip, which my dear from Pam K. gave me a number of years ago.

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Seeing it reminded me of all of our hard work in pottery class. Even though my first attempt at a mug turned out only so-so (there is that giant bulge at the bottom which looks a little odd), we learned how to put handles on our mugs this week. Here’s mine.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen we learned how to make a small pitcher.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis time we used 2 pounds of clay, which was a little more difficult to work with than the 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of previous weeks. It’s more to control and shape. I seem to have that bulge going again, but overall, it came out okay.

Before you get too excited about mine, here’s the instructor’s pitcher (i.e., how it’s supposed to look):

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe trick is to pull the clay up on the wheel without denting the sides, pushing too hard from the inside or outside, and remembering all of the steps from the week before. It’s a bit like choreography, remembering the placement of fingers, sponge, foot, etc. I can see progress, but it’s slow.