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



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!




Desserts – Pineapple Parfaits

My Next Project
A few of you have asked me what my next project will be once I finish the cookbook (which has only 15 recipes to go). The answer: I don’t know yet. But I must say I’ve liked this way of blogging quite a bit. I’ve had a blog for eons, but rarely update it because I never know who I’m writing for: teachers? readers of my books? other writers? Because I’m confused, my readership most certainly is.

This project has had much more clear definition, and it’s helped me to stay on track.

This week I received an unexpected package in the mail from one of our parishioners at our former church in Pittsburgh. What could it be? You’ll never guess! Their 90th anniversary cookbook! Cosmic irony? A sign that I should cook through yet another Lutheran cookbook? The funniest part is that I had no idea it was coming, and the sender had no idea I’ve been blogging about Redeemer’s cookbook.

I’m not sure my family nor my figure (such as it is) can manage to make it through another church cookbook. But you never know…I may sneak some of the best-looking recipes from that cookbook in once this project is at an end.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? This project is still a ways from being done and I only have 15 days to finish. We’ll sure get close, though. I may have to start begging a few more people for help.

Pineapple Parfaits

These treats (p. 85) are something that Lois A. enjoys with her family at Christmastime. They are tasty–very creamy with ice cream and whipped topping along with the pineapple flavor. Yum!


Nancy went all out at book club, and served not only these but also a chocolate tart with cherries.

Desserts – Eclair Bubble Ring

What’s making me happy this week

On NPR’s Pop Culture hour, they do a roundtable at the end of each podcast called “What’s Making Me Happy.” So in honor of their feature, I’ll do my own version:


1. Dannon’s Greek Light & Fit Toasted Coconut Vanilla yogurt. For a price of 80 calories, you’ll feel ready to swim in a vat of the stuff.

2. A finished manuscript. I successfully prepared Draft #2 of my novel in verse and sent it off to my agent this week. I call it a “draft” because I know it’s just that–one step in a long writing process. But it’s a creative work of fiction that topped 13,000 words, a stunning achievement for this writer. My “Cheep Cheep” book numbered only 7 words. Perhaps I’m developing. ūüôā

3. Handmade cards and gift tags. One of the many things I love about working at the library is the celebration of creativity in that environment. We’re adopting a “makerspace” culture, in which patrons come to the library to do their own creating. As part of that, I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in programs that allow me to play, create, and make something to give away.

4. Lark Rise to Candleford. If you’re sick of hearing about my obsession with British TV, you can tune out now. My mom got me onto Doc Martin and Lark Rise to Candleford, the latter of which is based on a book about a hamlet in Oxfordshire around the 1880s.

5.¬†Swedish hymns. I love the lilting, happy melodies of Swedish hymns, much more than the heavy plodding Germanic ones. I love my German Lutheran roots, but¬†these Swedish hymns like “Children of the Heavenly Father,” are making me happy this week.

Eclair Bubble Ring

This is an interesting recipe (p.100)–from the name to the giant-ness of it all! My supervisor at work Cher put together this multi-step recipe to help me with the cookbook project. Thank you, Cher!


She made the pastry, which is not really sweet. It’s sort of bread-y.


Then she sliced the dough lengthwise for a custard filling.


Finally, a chocolate topping was added to the top.


Voila! Giant donut!

Thank you, Cher, for helping me with this project!

Buttermilk Bars


Kelly Here:
These delicious bars from page 92 were a contribution from Joanne H.  Joanne H. was kind enough to give me some pointers on the recipe over the phone on the crust for the recipe. Two cups of flour were missing from the recipe in the cookbook- I was so glad to know this before I had another dietary disaster on my hands!  I actually needed closer to 2.5 cups to make the dough stiff enough to form for the crust.


Joanne H. was kind enough to pose with us during the fellowship hour in the summer… miss wearing those sundresses now!


We had a lot of fun making this recipe.  Similar to the scalloped salmon preparation, I put the pecans in a plastic bag and let the kids crush them with their fists.  A great way to get frustrations out over the return of the Polar Vortex, the day we made these it was 15 degrees with below zero wind chill!


Here is the crust before I poured the buttermilk/egg/cinnamon mixture over top to bake in oven.


Here it is in the oven.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, that I sprinkled with powdered sugar.  They were delicious and liked the crunchy crust with the nuts!


Orange Kiss Me Cake

Kelly Here:

I’m starting to realize that if Julie calls herself a “reluctant cook”, I could be called a¬†“distracted cook”! That might be why I have¬†5 recipes to write about at present,¬†including one¬†that I made almost a month ago!¬† More on my distraction later in the post.

This recipe is one my mother has made for dessert during our visits in Pennsylvania. I’ve enjoyed it, but have not been there to see the process.¬† The recipe from our cookbook was contributed by Bill and Judy E, it looks like it originated from Judy’s mom.¬†I had such good memories of this cake,¬†I eagerly volunteered to make it for¬†Redeemer’s Oktoberfest Cake Walk.¬† It was exciting to hear the Oktoberfest was a good fundraiser for the youth group.¬† My children reported reselling the baked goods they won to keep the cake “walk/run”¬†going.¬† I’m not sure how or if that helped cause, but a wonderful time was had by all!

Orange Kiss Me Cake

This cake is aptly named, as most of an orange, aside from its skin, was ground and reserved for use in topping the cake.  The ground orange mixture is combined with raisins and walnuts and set aside.


At Jewel getting oranges and a few other things needed for our big baking project!


While the boys were coming in and out of house from there clubhouse project, Betty Crocker Jr. and I were busy making the cakes for the Oktoberfest. After my bad experience with the Bundt pan, I decided to put the cake mix into disposable cake pans and then cut them in half after cooling. As I was doing this, I realized the orange/nut mixture that should’ve gone into that smooth batter pictured above!

The orange "kisses" are on outside of this cake... distracted cook forgot to add to batter

The orange “kisses” are on outside of this cake… distracted cook forgot to add to batter

I decided to just “garnish” the cakes with the forgotten ingredients and call it a day.¬† Hoping the family who won these in the cake walk enjoyed them


Desserts – Pistachio Dessert

Cookie-Baking Extravaganza

Well, I’ve scheduled a 5-recipe cookie baking extravaganza for this Saturday in Redeemer’s Center and invited the youth to join me. We’ll see how it goes. After we finish, we will have completed all of the cookie recipes (except for one–I’m waiting on that one from another baker, Donna). Hooray!

Kelly helped me by not only baking two more recipes this week, but also by purchasing mince meat! Thanks, Kelly! After Thanksgiving Day when Kelly and I use some of the recipes for our gatherings, I figure we’ll be down to about 35 recipes to go. That’s do-able, right?

Pistachio Dessert

This recipe (p. 86) comes from Dianne F. I first tasted this lusciousness at her home at a book club meeting. I didn’t have an occasion to make a¬†whole pan, so I improvised with my “ramekins,” including one dish (in the back) that I made in pottery class last winter. I baked the crust in these, and then layered the toppings over the crust.

photo 1-1


The layers are powdered sugar, cream cheese, and whipped cream, and then over that layer goes pistachio pudding and more whipped cream. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but you can sort of figure out how it would look.


This is a great dessert! Thank you, Dianne, and we hope you’ll send some warm temps and sunshine our way!



Black Russian Cake

Kelly Here:


A few fun pictures from last month.¬† We celebrated our 20th Anniversary¬†October 8.¬† One of things I¬†love about my husband is his dry sense of humor.¬†¬† When the special day arrived,¬†a surprise appeared at the door with the following noteThe traditional gift for 20 years, china- in the form of a coffee mugs made in China.¬† I’d been joking that I wasn’t sure if he was planning on “renewing the contract”, but the gift note says it has been renewed indefinitely.¬† I especially enjoyed the mug that said, “7,305 days together… but who’s counting?”¬† Apparently my engineer/mathematician husband is!

Black Russian Cake, page 75

I actually made this cake twice, not just because it was so delicious but I was unable to eject it from the Bundt pan intact.   Probably just spraying the pan with non stick spray was not enough to prevent this dietary disaster!  I guess the blog is teaching me to have a sense of humor about my baking skills! I must admit the finished product, despite its deformed appearance, was absolutely delicious and very  moist, thanks to the pudding in the mix.  Great sadness, I had to toss it to avoid further temptation!

My second attempt at this recipe was an improvisation of the original recipe, which called for a separate packet of pudding mix.¬† I found a box of black forest cake mix with “pudding in the mix” on my garage pantry shelves.¬† I think I purchased¬†the mix ¬†with the better than anything cake in mind, but Julie was able to tackle that recipe before I got to it.



Here is the batter after being mixed for 5 minutes, lovely bubbles from lots of air incorporated into batter.¬† The simplicity of this recipe’s instructions- mix all the cake ingredients together for 5 minutes and spoon batter into pan, makes this recipe a keeper!

I decided against taking chances with the evil Bundt pan again and using a large disposable cake pan.  This made 4 lovely smaller cakes for the cake walk.



Each cake was glazed with a combination of powdered sugar and Kahlua… absolutely heavenly!¬† I was thinking we should have carded the winners of this cake as it had vodka and¬†Kahlua in mix and Kahlua in glaze!¬† Thanks again to Shirley Z for another fantastic recipe that I can’t wait to make again for the next event I host or attend sans children!

Desserts – Angel Food Cake

Julie here–
Collects – The Church’s Prayer, Part 1
When I went to college at Concordia, Ann Arbor I learned how to write a collect. It opened my eyes to the construction of the prayer of the church, the collect.

A collect has a 5-part structure:
(1) an address to God;
(2) a relative or participle clause referring to some attribute of God, or to one of his saving acts;
(3) the petition;
(4) the reason for which we ask;
(5) the conclusion.

As I was researching the collect recently, I found this Anglican priest’s lesson–complete with puppets!

Here, for example was last week’s collect:

(1) Almighty and everlasting God, (2) You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. (3) Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, (4) we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through (5) Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

More to come…

Angel Food Cake 
Here is what can only be described as a gift. So I’m sitting in church before the service started last Sunday, contemplating who knows what, and here comes Doris H. asking if she can make me the angel food cake recipe (p. 73) in the cookbook. Why, yes, thank you! I immediately thought ahead to our next youth gathering, and said, let’s feed it to the kids! So, thank you, Doris, not only for submitting such a wonderful recipe, but also offering to bake it so I can blog about it.

Doris mentioned that it’s best to take the cake out of the oven and turn it upside down. Good advice, thanks, Doris! Here it is cooling.


And here’s the delectable-looking finished product, which the youth enjoyed on Sunday evening.

I had a taste of this delicious cake at the youth event, and Wow! It was delicious! Thank you again, Doris.

Chocolate Dream Bars

Kelly Here:
I’m overdue to post some recipes for the blog… so impressed with our Redeemer ladies helping with the baking, photography, etc! Still getting caught up from our trip to Northeastern Pennsylvania earlier this month and lots of Halloween activities.¬†¬† So happy for my brother and new sister-in-law, who now has my maiden name, Kelly Moran!


Here is another fantastic recipe that one of our Bible study sisters, Barb S, made for us to enjoy a few weeks ago. I can only take credit for the photo and consuming it, and can attest to its deliciousness!  Jeanne D, a very talented lady from our congregation who is our First Steps program webmaster, who also donates her time helping seniors with their taxes, notes that despite the meringue topping, this desserts freezes very well.  I am doubtful there was any left to freeze and was glad Barb brought it home to share with her family after our Bible study that day!