Readers Share Spirit and Taste of Christmas

Editor’s note: For a number of years, The Messenger has asked readers to send in their favorite recipes so that we can publish them before all of the holiday bakers have finished their labors. This year is no exception. We have received recipes from all over the diocese.

We thank you for sharing your recipes, and in some cases, the stories that go with them. Happy measuring, stirring, baking and tasting!

Mary Massey, St. Michael, Paderborn

I got this recipe from a very dear friend who has now passed away. Every time I make this candy, I think of her.

2 – 12 ounce bags of chocolate chips
16 ounce bag mini marshmallows
8 ounces walnuts, chopped

Place marshmallows and walnuts in a bowl. Melt chocolate chips in pan or microwave. Pour melted chocolate chips over marshmallows and nuts. Mix all. Chill until firm and cut into squares. Enjoy! So easy to make.

(You can use shrimp)
Chuck Newton, St. Mary, Mt. Carmel

Received this recipe from a lady in Los Angeles.

1 to 2 pounds crawfish
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/4 bunch of green onion tops, chopped
1 stick margarine
2 cans cream style corn
4 cans cream of potato soup
3 soup cans of milk
8 ounces shredded Velveeta cheese

Sauté crawfish, peppers, onion and onion tops in margarine. Add other ingredients. Simmer twenty minutes.

Chuck Newton, St. Mary, Mt. Carmel

Received this recipe from Annette Long

2 – 50 ounces of applesauce or 4 quarts peeled and diced apples, 10 – 12 pounds
1 3/4 cups of sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together with applesauce (or apples) in large crockpot on high for 2 hours. Reduce heat and cook on low for 18-19 hours (stirring occasionally to help break up pieces of apples).

Chuck Newton, St. Mary, Mt. Carmel

Received this recipe from  Annette Long

1 – 8 ounce cream cheese – softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 – 8 ounce sour cream
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 – 24 ounce cool whip extra creamy
2 – 6 ounce graham cracker crusts

Beat cream cheese until smooth – gradually beat in sugar.

Blend in sour cream and vanilla – fold in whipped topping, blend well. Spoon into crust.

Chill for at least 4 hours. Serve with fresh fruit or garnish with sliced strawberries – keep left overs in refrigerator.

Joanne Friederich Jung, Holy Childhood, Mascoutah

This recipe is from my mother Dorothy Lickenbrock Friederich who was a member of Holy Childhood Parish, Mascoutah. She grew up in St. Liborius Parish, St. Libory

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 egg, beaten
1 cup chopped pitted dates
Confectioners powdered sugar

Sift flour, measure and add baking powder and salt.

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg, beat well.

Add flour mixture to shortening mixture. Mix thoroughly. Stir in dates and nuts. Turn batter into greased 8 x 8 x 1 pan. Bake about 30 minutes in 325 degree oven. Cool, cut into squares and roll in powdered sugar. Enjoy.

Sara Steckler Caddell, St. Mary, Mt. Carmel

My Grandmother Steckler prepared this for every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter family dinner and we eagerly awaited it!

In a large mixing bowl place:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup broken pecans
1 cup dates cut fine – do not buy dates already chopped. Buy whole dates and cut them in small pieces with scissors dipped in hot water.
1 cup whole sweet milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix well and spread in pan. The disposable aluminum roasting pan works best. A 13 x 9 pan is not deep enough.

In another bowl combine:

2 cups dark brown sugar-packed
2 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour over the flour mixture and bake one hour in 325 degree oven. Increase heat toward the last, to brown if necessary.

Serve this by spooning it and turning it upside down on the serving plate so all the gooey runs down it and top with whipped cream or Cool Whip.

Lenora Palovic, St. Paul, Johnston City

2 1/2 cups pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 box yellow cake mix
1 1/2 sticks of margarine, melted
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix pumpkin, sugar, salt, eggs, milk and pumpkin pie spice.

Pour into 9 x 13 greased pan. Sprinkle cake mix over top and drizzle margarine over top of cake mix. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or less. (Done when knife comes out clean).

Lenora Palovic, St. Paul, Johnston City

Received this recipe over 50 year ago, and used it regularly through the years

# 2 can crushed pineapple, bring to boil

Dissolve one package lime Jell-O — no water. Put in refrigerator. When Jell-O starts to gel remove from refrigerator. Put in two packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (melty), stir in one cup chopped nuts. (Can add some pimento for color if desired). Then fold in whipping cream (whipped), then return to refrigerator for completion of gel.

Lenora Palovic, St. Paul, Johnston City

1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
6 cups Special K or Rice Krispie cereal
6 ounces  milk chocolate chips
6 ounce butterscotch chips

Combine sugar, syrup and butter in a large saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil one minute. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Add cereal and stir carefully so as not to crush. Spread into greased 9 x 13 pan. Cool. Combine chips and melt in double boiler. Pour over cereal.

Lenora Palovic, St. Paul, Johnston City

My  Mother’s homeland

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
6 egg yolks beaten
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 egg whites, beaten

Mix well. Add egg whites last by folding in batter mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes in greased angel food pan.

Lenora Palovic, St. Paul, Johnston City

1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 (15 ounce) can seasoned tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can red beans
(drained and rinsed)
1 (15 ounce ) tomato sauce
2 cups water
5 tablespoons bouillon soup base
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
black pepper to taste
2 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 cup elbow macaroni

In large pot, brown beef and drain, add all ingredients, except cabbage and macaroni. Bring to simmer and cook until carrots are just tender. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer 10 minutes

Linda Porter, St. Andrew, Murphysboro

1 (10 oz.) package fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
1 cup red wine (dry or sweet, your preference)
3/4 cup sugar (omit if using sweet wine)
5 fresh sage leaves
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
Assorted crackers (We like wheat thins)

Stir together first 8 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 to 18 minutes or until about 1/4 of liquid remains. Mixture should still be of pouring consistency. It will thicken a bit as it cools. Remove from heat and cool 20 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs, sage leaves and cinnamon stick.

Place cream cheese on a serving platter. Spoon desired amount of cranberry mixture over cream cheese. Serve with crackers.

Diana Kasper, St. Joseph, Freeburg

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter/margarine, melted
2 eggs
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water)
1/2 cup sugar
1 – 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1  can (pound) pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups Cool Whip
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup sugar and butter together. Press into bottom of 9 x 13 pan.

Beat eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Pour over crumbs. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Cool.

Combine in medium saucepan, pumpkin, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, egg yolks, milk and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add dissolved gelatin. Cool. Beat egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar until stiff but not dry. Fold into cooled pumpkin mixture. Spread on top of cream cheese layer in pan. Top with whipped topping and sprinkle with pecans. Refrigerate. (Freezes well).

Diana Kasper, St. Joseph, Freeburg

1 – 8 ounce cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 regular can crushed pineapple, drained
1 – 10 ounce package frozen strawberries, thawed
2 bananas, cubed
1 – 10 ounce carton Cool Whip, thawed
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Blend cream cheese and sugar with mixer at lowest speed until smooth. Mix remaining ingredients together with cream cheese mixture and pour into a 9 x 13  pan. Place in freezer and freeze for at least 3 hours. When ready to serve, take out of freezer and cut into squares or spoon out, allow to stand at room temperature (10-15 minutes) before serving.

Diana Kasper, St. Joseph, Freeburg

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 box yellow cake mix
Powered sugar

Soften cream cheese and butter. Thoroughly mix all ingredients. Refrigerate one hour. Roll dough into balls and roll in powdered sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and dust with powdered sugar.

Diana Kasper, St. Joseph, Freeburg

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup oleo (part shortening)
about 4 3/4 to 5 cups flour

Combine sugar and oleo together. Add eggs, vanilla and milk. Stir together well. Add baking powder and baking soda. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix together and form dough into ball. Chill. Roll dough on floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Bake on greased cookie sheet for about 10 minutes. Cool and decorate as desired.

Fran Rizzo,  Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Herrin

I obtained this recipe many years ago. It’s very versatile and easy.

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 egg
2/3 cup of honey
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat oven to 375 degrees

Mix first 5 ingredients. Stir in rest and roll out dough until 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to shape and bake for 7 to 8 minutes. Put on cooling rack. Frost as desired. Enjoy.

Fran Rizzo, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Herrin

1/2 cup butter-softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate morsels
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 1/2 pounds chocolate bark candy coating, melted

In electric mixer cream butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in flour and add milk. Add chocolate morsels and pecans, mixing well. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place on waxed paper and chill 2 hours.

Dough is sticky so roll your fingers into flour. This will make it easier to roll.

Melt chocolate bark candy in a double boiler. Using 2 forks, dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover. Place on waxed paper and chill to set about 1 hour (parchment paper may be used instead of waxed paper).

Fran Rizzo, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Herrin

I received this recipe about 30 years ago from a dear friend. My kids and grandchildren (now grown) still love them.

1 stick of butter
1 cup graham crumbs
1 cup coconut
1 cup nuts
1 cup condensed milk

Melt butter and place in bottom of 9 inch square pan. Sprinkle rest of ingredients one at a time over the butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Fran Rizzo, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Herrin

I came across this recipe quite by accident. I overheard two ladies discussing it, and I came home and figured it out. Turned out my hearing is pretty good.

1/2 cup butter
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons cocoa

Mix these 4 together in saucepan and boil for 1 minute

In medium size bowl mix:

1/2 cup peanut butter
3 1/2 cups quick oats
2 teaspoons vanilla

Add the butter mixture to the dry, roll teaspoonful size cookies in confectioners sugar. Place on to cookie sheet and let set for about one hour.

Louise Morgan, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Belleville

It is an easy and inexpensive meal to make after a long day of holiday shopping.

1/2 pound chili-grind beef or lean ground beef
2 medium onions, diced

4 – 14 ounce cans beef broth
1 cup water
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic pressed
2 tablespoons fresh savory or marjoram, chopped (or 2 teaspoon dried – I use 1 teaspoon dried summer savory and 1 teaspoon marjoram)
2 teaspoons green or black peppercorn, crushed
6 ounces egg noddles
1 cup frozen peas
finely shredded Swiss, Jarlsberg or Gruyere cheese

Brown meat in Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add onions; cook until just softened. Add broth, water, carrot, celery, garlic savory and peppercorns. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Increase heat and bring soup back to a boil. Add noodles; cook, stirring frequently, until nearly tender, about 5 minutes.

Add peas and heat through. Ladle into bowls; garnish with cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Carole McCuan, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Herrin

1/2 cup butter
2  packages 3 3/4 ounce chocolate pudding
1/2 cup milk
1 – 16 ounce box confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Melt butter in pan, add chocolate pudding and milk, bring to a low boil over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened, remove from heat.

Stir in confectioners sugar and vanilla, beat until smooth, add 1 cup nuts if desired and mix well. Pour into buttered 9 inch square pan. Chill until firm. Cut into small pieces.

Bonnie Todd, Mary Help of Christians, Chester

1 – 10 to 12 ounce jar plum jam or preserves
1 18 ounce bottle (1 2/3 cups) barbecue sauce
1 16 ounce link cooked jalapeno smoked sausage or smoked sausage, sliced into bite-size pieces
1 16-18 ounce package Italian-style or original flavor frozen cooked meatballs (16), thawed.

For sauce, in a 3 1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker combine the jam and barbecue sauce. Add the sausage and thawed meatballs, stirring to coat with sauce.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Serve with decorative toothpicks. To serve at a buffet, keep warm on low-heat setting for up to 2 hours. Makes 16 servings.

Anita Mueller, Blessed Sacrament, Belleville

3/4 cup shortening (melted and cooled)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt shortening and cool.

Mix together shortening, sugar, molasses and egg.  Beat well

Sift dry ingredients together and add to first mixture.

Chill dough until firm, then make 1 inch balls.

Roll each ball in sugar and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degree for 8 to 10 minutes.

Makes: 4 dozen

This cookie is a holiday favorite.  Recipe from my Great-grandma’s file passed down to my Grandma and then my parents.

Anita Mueller, Blessed Sacrament, Belleville

3 lb. roast (you can use a rump or chuck roast)
3 cups water
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 package onion soup mix
1 medium onion, sliced or chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 beef bouillon cubes
10 ounces pepperoncinis with juice (add less if you don’t want it too spicy)

Place roast into a crockpot with all the ingredients.

Cook for 8 hours on low setting.

To serve, shred beef and place on crusty rolls with some of the cooking juice.

Note: tastes great with a slice of provolone cheese!

I got this recipe from a Blessed Sacrament cookbook and tweaked it to make my own. This Italian Beef recipe is served every year when my girlfriends and I have our annual gift wrapping party which we have been doing for 15 years!

Tina Wiegman, St. Mary, Carlyle

These two recipes my mother always made at Christmas. As you can see, you made both recipes because you wouldn’t waste the yolks or whites of the eggs. This recipe is at least 65+ years old.

6 egg yolks
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon anise oil extract

Beat egg yolks and sugar until gummy. Add rest of ingredients.  Bake on well greased cookie sheet or parchment paper for 10 minutes at 350.  Drop by small amounts.

6 egg whites
2 cups  sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups coconut
1 cup nuts

Beat egg whites and sugar 20 minutes. Add rest of ingredients. Bake on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper for 10-13 minutes at 325.

Jean Guerrettaz, St. Stephen, Flora

2 pounds white almond bark
12 ounces milk chocolate chips
1 4-ounce. block of sweetened German chocolate
24 ounces dry roasted peanuts

Cook on low in crockpot for 2 hours; stir occasionally; drop in clusters on wax paper.

Candy will harden as it cools. Makes about 10 dozen.

Recipe comes from my sister-in-law Mary Anne.

Kathryn Fleener, St. Stephen, Flora

1 can pie filling (any flavor)
1 cake mix (white or yellow)
3 eggs

Beat together and put in 9 x 13 pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Ice when cool.


2 package. tapioca pudding, cook as directed on box  using juice of a can of mandarin oranges in liquid.

Cool, add oranges and 8 ounces of Cool Whip.


1 cup butter (use real butter)
1 cup oil (use olive oil)
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon each cream of tartar, salt and baking soda.

Cream butter, oil and sugars together; add egg and vanilla, beating until well combined.

Refrigerate at least one hour.

Roll into pieces as big as a hickory nut; place on a greased cookie sheet. Press down on each cookie with a buttered, flat-bottom glass that has been dipped in sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until slightly browned on edges but do not over bake.

(Many thanks to all who have shared their recipes with The Messenger this year.)