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.

Breads and Rolls – Cheese Biscuits Deluxe

Cats and Their Toys
I find it interesting that our kitties each have their own preferences as they play. It’s remarkable, isn’t it, that God made these little critters with their own likes and dislikes.

Kenji, for example, loves straws. He is playful, good-natured, and innocent, and loves to play with string. But he also loves straws. And have you ever noticed that the straws from McDonalds are just a tad bit wider than a straw you can buy at the store? Kenji likes those most of all.

Dewey loves jingle balls and little cloth balls he can kick around. Jacob brought home a winter hat with a pom pom on the top at Thanksgiving, and by the end of the weekend, Dewey had taken it off the hat. It’s been his favorite toy ever since. He kicks it around and chases it throws it up the air.

Yuki, well, he’s a bit lazy. He likes to watch the games mostly. He’ll chase a string or rope if I walk around the house with it. Otherwise, he’s perfectly happy dilly dallying, watching the others as they play.

I don’t know if we’ll see cats or dogs in heaven, as was commented on heavily in the last week, but I do know this: God made these little creatures unique with their little personalities. And I’m sure glad He did!

Cheese Biscuits Deluxe

This was another fabulous offering (p. 67) that Nancy O. made for book club. This one, from Cheryl D. uses refrigerated biscuits as the base, and then adds blue cheese and herbs. Delish! And Nancy said it was also quite simple to make.

Here it is laid out on the cookie sheet:




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.

Breakfast – Norwegian Pancakes (Sweet Crepes)

When I was a tween, I found a mentor in a Christian woman who was at the time my dad’s secretary. She lived in Denver, in a basement apartment where I visited occasionally.

One night she taught me how to make crepes, and since that time so long ago I’ve not made crepes again. They’re not difficult at all, though I remember them being a challenge all those years ago. We’d do girly stuff like curling our hair and painting our nails.

Even more important than the skill of making crepes is the importance of mentors in a young person’s life. Of course, parents are essential as a youth develops, but mentors also help. Mentors, different from parents, show in theirother life choices an alternate example for the young people to follow.

That’s why it’s so important to encourage family participation in the youth program. Having involved adults who can be mentors to young people in the church is vitally important to the community of Christ, and why I’m so thankful that many of our parents are so involved.

I’m also thankful for those mentors, like Debbie, and the others who have helped shape me into who I am today.

Norwegian Pancakes
Well, these pancakes have changed my life. I know that sounds extreme, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back to making pancakes the same way again. These are light, thin, and delicious! Super easy too.

Start by mixing the eggs, milk, sugar, and flour in the blender.


Then pour 1/4 cup in a heated pan. Circle it around until it covers the bottom of the pan.


Flip when the first side is done.


Serve with fruit, butter, or preserves.



Side Dishes – Flavored Rice

Advent Preparation

From my husband’s sermon on Sunday, he shared with us some Advent themes: preparation, waiting for the Messiah, repentance.

He admonished us to stop trying to fill the empty places in our lives with things that never satisfy–possessions, money, success, and instead turn in repentance to the Lord:

All praise, eternal Son to Thee whose Advent sets Thy people free.

This line comes from one of my favorite hymns in Advent, “On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry” (LSB 344).

Flavored Rice
This dish submitted by Lynda M. accompanied our tacos at youth group this past Sunday. It’s very simple–rice boiled in chicken stock with onion added. The kids ate it all up at youth group, and I even got one, “That rice was really good!” The chicken stock and onions even add a little nutrition to it!

Here it is, boiling away.


And the finished product:


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. 🙂

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!