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!


Cookies – Pecan Sandies

Pecan Sandies

Ann and Fran H. kindly agreed to bake these cookies for the Cake Walk at Redeemer (p. 100). I’ve always liked pecan sandies, but I was only familiar with the Keebler version. My mom used to buy them when I was growing up. I always loved their rich, buttery flavor. If you’re interested in making a “copy” of the Keebler version, here’s an interesting-looking recipe.

This reminds me of years ago when people started passing around the Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe. Does anyone remember this? It was pre-internet days when the idea of getting a secret recipe was quite shocking. Now there are loads of these:

Red Lobster’s amazing cheddar biscuits

Orange Julius’ orange julius 

Wendy’s Frosties

Cinnabon’s Cinnamon Rolls

Whatever your favorite restaurant foods, you can probably search and find some copy of it online.

Pecan Sandies
Anyhow, here is the final product of the pecan sandies. Ann suggests making teaspoonful-size cookies on the cookie sheet so they don’t come out too large.

Thank you, Ann, for baking these cookies, and to Donna H. for submitting the recipe!

Cookies – Bohemian Christmas Cookie

Sometimes I Hate Not Having Jetpacks
It’s Sunday evening. Jacob has been driving back to school for the last 8 hours and still has 2 left because he ran into so much traffic along his journey. Ugh. It makes me jumpy and restless, him not being settled in yet.


In the meantime, I’ve been distracting myself with StumbleUpon–a rather old (relatively speaking) website that I learned about at least 10 years ago. The idea is that it’s a storehouse of randomly interesting websites that you “stumble upon.”

While I was stumbling around, I came across this website, called Writers Write. This writer gives a lot of great advice, including this particular blog post about avoiding the word “very” in writing. It’s better, she says, to use a more specific adjective–or better yet, use an active verb. Good advice!

Bohemian Christmas Cookies
This recipe (p. 91) from Lois A. calls for finely chopped pecans and chocolate. Can’t go wrong there! It’s an eggless cookie, so for those who want to avoid eggs for a variety of reasons, here’s a good recipe to try.

I wish I knew more about the Bohemian kingdom, but it appears from a quick online search that it used to be a portion of the Czech Republic. Through the passing on of customs from one family to the next, we have traditions like sharing this cookie recipe. That’s what I love about a church cookbook–it shows our various background, and we get to share in that.

Cookies – Gum Drop Cookies

Turkey Trotting

I had a nice surprise Thanksgiving morning. After church on Wednesday evening, Kelly asked if I might like to use her open spot in the Elmhurst Turkey Trot. I thought about it for a minute, and then said: YES! So as a last-minute plan, I ran/walked a 5K. It was surprisingly easy. We took a moderate pace, and would be happy to try again, another time running the whole way.

Here is the crowd at the starting line.


And here’s the gang under the underpass. IMG_0596.JPG

The crowd


And me with Kelly, all bundled up. IMG_0600.JPG

Gum Drop Cookies
This recipe (p. 98) had a surprise ingredient: gum drops! Here are a couple of the girls, struggling to chop gum drops. They’re so darn sticky !


And here they are on the platter on Thanksgiving Eve. I thought the gum drops would show up better to provide a more colorful presentation. But still, they were tasty!

Cookies – Meltaways

Random questions I wonder about while watching football

Are referees really small people, or are the football players just that huge in comparison?

How hard is it, really, to make a field goal? I mean, those goal posts are pretty far apart.

How do coaches and players put up with the cameras in their faces? HD TV doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

Is it embarrassing for these men to wear shiny leggings?

How do quarterbacks get so good at making caveman-like sounds before each play? Do they train for this? What are they really saying? Is this English we’re hearing?


While we ponder these deep thoughts about football, let’s talk about Meltaways (p. 98). Even though we successfully made these cookies, I’m still not sure I understand what they’re supposed to look like. I found this recipe for peppermint meltaways (which sound amazing), and they are little round coin-shaped cookies with a dollop of what appears to be peppermint-flavored icing, so it appears we were on the right track anyway.


Anyhow, it’s a butter cookie, and then chocolate is melted on the top once the cookies are baked. It can never hurt to add chocolate to your basic butter cookie, right?

Here’s the final product. They are the little tiny ones!


Cookies – Lemon Bars

The Amazing Spotify

In the last two days, my musical tastes have really run the gamut–from Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to Puccini and Mozart. And Spotify has allowed me play whatever my little heart desires.  If you haven’t yet checked it out, it’s worth it.

I decided to go on an opera jag on Friday because of Endeavour, my newest British TV fav. Since it appears Wallander will never ever have any more episodes (or only renews about every two years), I had to branch out.

In Endeavour, the main character, a young Inspector Morse is portrayed always listening to opera while he’s brilliantly solving crimes. So I figure maybe it’ll help me solve whatever issues are currently plaguing me, you know, things like:

– is it possible for me to burn boiled eggs? (Oh my, yes.)

– is my cats’ meowing a real sign that they need to be fed, or are they just playing mind games with me?

– when will Wallander ever produce any new episodes!?

…and other deep thoughts.

Seriously, though, I wonder if anyone has done a study on the effect of music on a person’s writing. I mean, we all know about the Mozart effect, and the craze in the 90s to play Mozart and Bach to unborn children. And truly, when my mind is all scattered and flustered, a nice violin concerto can calm me down and help me to focus.

But what about opera?

Well, that’s a topic for another day, but for now, here’s a look at Kenji, whose turned-back ears show he’s not loving this aria!


Lemon Bars

Well, now our effort has become a multi-state endeavor! My mom made the lemon bars this week–hooray! I didn’t ask if she made any high-altitude adjustments. The elevation in Colorado is high enough to have to make adjustments to most recipes, but perhaps with this since it’s not a cake or bread that needs to rise it was okay without.


She said the recipe (p. 95) makes about 4 dozen, and one thing you might want to keep in mind if you try the recipe is that she found she had a bit more crust dough than was needed, and a bit too little of the lemon topping.

And here’s the finished product. Thank you, Mom and Dad for your help!! 🙂



Cookies – Mincemeat Cookies

End of the Church Year

church yearThis past Sunday in church, we celebrated the last day of the church year. Some churches call this Christ the King Sunday; others simply call it Last Sunday of the Church year (so creative).

Either way, it marks the end of the flow of the church seasons–from Advent to Christmastide, from Epiphany to Lent, from Easter to Pentecost. It provides a lovely rhythm to year, as we mark the seasons by the events in the life of Christ and the life of the church.

On Thanksgiving Eve, we will celebrate with our church family the national holiday of Thanksgiving. This is one of the few (only?) holidays that is not an official church calendar holiday since the holiday is localized to the U.S. However, it’s a long tradition in the U.S. Lutheran church to celebrate Thanksgiving with a church service. That seems appropriate to me–before we sit down with the people we love over a meal of turkey and stuffing, we go to church to say thank You to God.

Redeemer used to celebrate on Thanksgiving Day, but a couple of years ago, the Turkey Trot, the annual 5K race held in Elmhurst, changed their course so that it nears the church. Members of the congregation would have had a very difficult time getting to Redeemer, so we changed our church celebration to the evening before.

Anyhow, Thanksgiving provides us an excellent opportunity to reflect back on our lives, to number our blessings, to thank God for the many ways He provides for us in body and spirit.

This Thanksgiving at the Stiegemeyer house is also quite exciting because we welcome Jacob home! Hooray! It’s been almost 2 months since we’ve seen him, and I’m not ashamed to say I put a “Welcome home Jacob!” sign on the front door.

I had a weird moment last night as I was brushing my teeth. I looked around the bathroom and wondered, “Huh, do I clean my house when my own child is returning home?” Normally when we would have houseguests I’d wipe down surfaces, dust, vacuum, etc. But he’s not a houseguest. He’s coming home. But hey, the sink needed cleaning anyhow, so I gave it a swirl.

Mincemeat Cookies

Giant baking extravaganza day arrived last Saturday! About seven girls from the youth group and I gathered in the Redeemer Center to work on the last 4 cookies remaining in the cookbook. We’re going to welcome back the young people in our congregation who we’ve been missing as they’re off to college and other pursuits, and we thought we’d do so with a small reception after our Thanksgiving Eve service.

To prepare for the reception, I decided we’d make the remaining recipes from the cookie section of the cookbook. First up: Mincemeat Cookies!

I must say that the “meat” part of this name sounds a bit odd, so of course I did a little digging, and found that mincemeat goes back to the 11th century, according to this website, which reports that the three main spices in mince pies–cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg–were to represent the three gifts of the wise men who came to see the Christ child.

Before reading the recipe (p. 98), I wondered if these would be like pecan pie bars, or something of that sort–like a mini-pie with a crust baked in the bottom of the pan and then spread with a filling. Nope! These mix the mincemeat right into the dough, plus extra raisins for extra yumminess.

Here’s a photo of Carli hard at work on the cookies:

photo 1

She’s not only a baking phenom, but also bailed me out–not once but twice! I forgot my electric mixer and oats. She went home to fetch the items–thank you, Carli!

Anyhow, these cookies taste sort of like a raisin spice cookie. They’re quite tasty! Of the four we made that day, this was my favorite. The dough was too soft, so I should have had the girls add in some more flour, but hey, we were like machines just plugging through these four remaining recipes and had to keep it moving!

More photos will follow of the finished cookies. We made all the cookies, assembled trays, and then stored them in the church refrigerator, so I’ll have to take more pics on Thanksgiving eve.

Thank you to the girls for helping, to Kelly for the mincemeat, and to Stacie P. for this interesting recipe!

Cookies – Chocolate Chip Cookies

Julie here: So, does anyone know where to find mince meat? I’ve looked and asked at Jewel, at Walmart, and at Aldi. I’ve struck out. Any ideas? It may be that it’s still a bit too early for holiday baking. I want to make the mince meat cookies (p. 98), but how can without mince meat? I looked online and found that it is available on Amazon. That seems sort of strange–ordering a quaint old fashioned food off of Amazon instead of getting it from the local grocer. Oh well, we do what we must do to finish the cookbook project, right?

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes from Shirley Z. (p. 92). All weekend I was itching to get in the kitchen and bake, so finally Sunday afternoon made these cookies plus the Pistachio Dessert.

I happened to see this on Facebook — the science behind your favorite chocolate chip cookie. Pretty interesting! If you click through the link you’ll see a photo with the differences between baking with a little extra salt, more baking powder, more baking soda, etc., and it shows how the cookies turn out.

My favorite chocolate chip are still these, which I wrote about awhile back. For me, it’s the peanut butter that makes them so good.

On Friday and Saturday I was feeling kind of whiny and woe-is-me about pretty much everything. I thought I could never finish this cookbook project. And then I was texting with Nancy, and with just a few small words of encouragement, she bucked me up. Come on! We have six weeks left! We can do this.

So over the weekend I made 4 different recipes and Nancy made 3! So that looming number of 57 is now whittled down to 50. I talked to Donna H. on Sunday who is going to make her Divinity Cookies, and I know several of you are still working on other things.

I do want to plan a cookie baking day with the high school girls in the Center kitchen where there are two working ovens (unlike my sort of half-working one). In looking at the list of cookies, there are 5 recipes left. We could knock those off in an afternoon, right? Still have to locate the mince meat first!

Anyhow, back to the chocolate chip cookies. I added pecans to them in addition to the chocolate chips.  photo 2-1


Here is the plate of cookies for the girls for Sunday night’s Bible study, surrounding the delightful Cinnamon Chocolate cake that Nancy made and shared samples of with me.

photo 4-2


Cookies – Russian Teacakes

Julie here –

Phil’s Friends

At our youth event on Sunday night, we had a great service project and an all-around fun gathering. 25 kids and several adults gathered to learn more about what cancer patients experience, and how better to show compassion and care for everyone going through difficult times. Our own member Kim L. was generous enough to agree to speak to the kids about her experiences and help us all get a better view of how to help those who are ill.

Two things that stuck with me that she said was that when you have a friend or family member who is ill, remember that their disease does not define them. They are who they are with all of their individual talents, dreams, and hopes. This is how they want to be known to other people, to be cherished for who they are, not for the disease they have to bear.

The other thing Kim said that stuck with me is that Jesus is more powerful and has more love for us than any disease, any hurt, or any difficulty we might be facing. We sometimes can’t see the way out of a situation, but by being grounded in faith, we can cling to Him in the face of adversity. She also commented about cancer teaching patience. When she first found out she was ill, it was agony for her to wait to get a clear diagnosis so they could properly treat the cancer. The only thing she had to rely on was prayer, and that had to be enough. What wise words!

phil's friends

After she finished speaking, we all decorated cards and boxes for an organization called Phil’s Friends, which brings hope to those who are in cancer treatment. Their motto is “We bring hope,” and what a great message that we all need to hear. They provide cards and care packages to those going through treatment, to remind them that people are praying for them and caring for them. So thank you to everyone who donated time and effort to help us with this great evening.

Russian Teacakes
Well, this fabulous recipe (p. 101) comes from Sally M. These are a staple of every Christmas cookie exchange, but as with many recipes in this cookbook, I’ve never known the ins and outs about how to make them. These are quite delicious! Karen O. helped me yet again by baking these fabulous cookies.

Here are the ingredients–very simple!


Butter, sugar, eggs…


Rolled out onto the cookie sheet.


And the finished product:


Cookies – Pecan Sandies

Julie here-
New Frontiers
As you all know if you follow this blog, I’ve been working on a project, a middle-grade novel in verse about a girl’s family traveling by covered wagon along the Oregon Trail in 1852. Last week, fortuitously, along with visiting my in-laws, I discovered that Independence, Missouri had a lovely frontier museum. I saw online that they also housed a research library, which could be accessed by appointment only.

I toured the museum on Monday morning, enjoying learning little bits more about the journey, the hardships, the trail, the provisions, and more. And then I inquired about visiting the library the following day.


The curator and educator of the museum graciously allowed me to visit on Tuesday morning, and I spent a lovely couple of hours reading, researching, and finding answers to various questions.

It was great to learn more and spend some time walking in the footsteps of these brave travelers.

Pecan Sandies

Well, the lovely and uber-talented Ann H. made these cookies (p. 100). Did you know that her father is a former pastry chef? The secrets that guy hides away… She came over with Jenny a couple of years ago and we rolled out pastry for about 10 apple pies. I’m not only a reluctant cook, but also a fearful one. But I loved how she and Jenny just dove in, not worrying about germs or the mess or any of the other problems that plague my baking.

Anyhow, Ann was kind enough to give it a go with two of the recipes from the cookbook. Do you see how: a) desperate I’m getting as we’re winding up this project, and b) wonderful everyone is to jump on my bandwagon and bake for me? I have it pretty good!

I counted yesterday and found that there are 62 remaining recipes, so I may have to scare up another round of bakers. Or perhaps I could arrange an intense baking marathon with my youth group. And then we could have a bake sale!

Anyhow, back to the pecan sandies.

So Ann brought up a question about when a recipe calls for chilling. Typically I find with cookie dough that chilling overnight is best. Is that your experience too? If not overnight, then at least 4-6 hours to really get the dough cold.

However, if I’ve not baked the recipe before, and I’m all psyched to make cookies that day, the last thing I want to do is wait 5-6 hours before baking! That’s why it’s always helpful to read the recipe a couple of days ahead of the game.

Because she didn’t have as much time as she hoped for chilling, the cookies spread out a little more than they should. Still, they look pretty great, I think.


Thank you to Donna H. for another great recipe!