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!

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!




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. 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!

Side Dishes – Mashed Potato Casserole

The Nativity Story

At youth group on Sunday evening, we’ll watch¬†The Nativity Story. This film came out in 2006, and is a good depiction of the the events of Jesus’ birth, so I decided to share it with the youth, since it’s pretty likely few of them have seen it.


The movie garnered attention on its release a few years ago, but it hasn’t received a lot of press since then. It’s a great seasonal movie, though, so I think the kids will enjoy seeing it. I think it’ll help them understand all that Mary and Joseph experienced to gain an appreciation of the history of the nativity story.¬†It’s a wonderful film, and I look forward to seeing it again.

Mashed Potato Casserole

This recipe (p. 29) from Doris H. is a fine variation on the way I normally make mashed potatoes. I usually add butter, milk, and salt. This adds other ingredients too–cream cheese and sour cream, which makes the dish more creamy and tasty!



This dish accompanied our Thanksgiving dinner, and was a tasty addition.IMG_0597.JPG

Breads and Rolls – Apple Ring Coffee Cake

Stir Up Your Power, O Lord

In Advent the collects for the day are especially beautiful. You may remember I wrote about collects a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the collect for the first Sunday in Advent:

Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Each Advent collect begins with “stir up your power, O Lord, and come…,” and in¬†Advent we wait. That’s why the altar is adorned in blue: blue is the color of expectation and hope.

Apple Ring Coffee Cake

Michelle W. made this great-looking apple coffee cake (p. ), submitted by Monique H. She said everyone in her family really enjoyed it! Thanks, Michelle, for baking, and to Monique for submitting.


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!?


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!

Salads – Cranberry Holiday Salad

It’s the beginning of a new church year. The altar is adorned in blue. The midweek services are preparing us for the coming of the Christ Child.

Advent is a season of preparation–but a different sort of preparation than that of the average consumer. It’s not so much about getting ready for a big extravagant holiday. It’s about preparing our hearts for the Savior.

In darkness and expectation we wait. We listen to the voice of the Lord, speaking across the ages, to us gathered in the pews on a cold and dark December night.

And what we hear is good news, good news of peace, of God reconciled to us, of hope and a future.

And while we wait, we have to finish just a few more recipes!

Cranberry Holiday Salad
This recipe (p. 9) comes from Jean D. and it was a tasty addition to our Thanksgiving table.