Readers Send in Recipes to 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!
Barbara Cempura, Holy Trinity Parish, Fairview Heights.
6 cups flour
2 cups butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter, shortening and sugar together. Beat in 1 egg at a time. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and nuts. Shape teaspoonful of dough into a crescent shape. (I roll dough in my hands till it forms a “rope.”) I put the pan of unbaked cookies in the refrigerator about 5 minutes to chill them before baking.
Bake 20 minutes in 350 degree oven. Do not bake till brown. Cookies will still be white but firm. Roll in powdered sugar when cool. Store in airtight container.
This makes about 90 or so cookies. Can be stored in the freezer without powdered sugar until I need them.
Barbara Cempura, Holy Trinity Parish, Fairview Heights, recipe from Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme.
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine (1 1/2 sticks)
1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk
1 1/2 packages (12 squares) Baker’s Semi-Sweet chocolate, chopped (I use Ghirardelli’s and estimated what 12 squares would be)
1 jar (7 oz.) Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
Line 9-inch square pan with foil. Bring sugar, butter and milk to a full rolling boil in large saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 4 minutes or until 234 degrees on candy thermometer, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Add chocolate and marshmallow creme; stir until melted. Stir in nuts and vanilla.
Pour into pan. Cool.
I stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Need to let it sit out of refrigerator about 15-20 minutes before cutting.
Katie Stein on Rose Buchmiller blog
Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 15 Minutes
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 cup of chicken broth (canned was used for this recipe)
1/4 cup cooking sherry. Real Sherry liquor can be used
Dash of onion salt
4 drops of hot pepper sauce
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1/4 pound of Velveeta
6 ounces of frozen crab meet thawed and flaked. The crab meat can also be placed in a food processor and chopped. Imitation crab was used for this recipe.
Plain bagels cut in wedges.
In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter and stir in flour.
Add the chicken broth, cooking sherry, onion salt and hot sauce stirring rapidly with a whisk to prevent lumps.
Cook and stir until it thickens.
Add the Velveeta and cream cheese stirring until all is melted.
Add the chopped crab meat and heat thoroughly.
Pour the dip into a serving dish.
Cut bagels into wedges and use to dip.
This dip can be reheated in the microwave.
Barbara Cempura, Holy Trinity Parish, Fairview Heights.
1 cup water
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1 cut chopped nuts
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons` salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
3 teaspoons baking powder
In large mixing bowl, combine the water, oil, sweet potatoes, sugar and nuts. Sift together the remaining dry ingredients. Mix together well with the sweet potatoe mixture.
Pour into 2 large greased loaf pans. Bake in 325 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours or till toothpick comes out dry when tasting.
Note: I use small loaf pans. Recipe makes about 8 small pans of bread that are a great size for gifts. Baking time is much less than for large loaves. Check them after 35-40 minutes. Check with a toothpick to test for doneness.
IRISH COFFEE (serves 1)
Louise Morgan, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Belleville. This is a drink we make when it gets cold this time of year. It is from Fine Cooking magazine. Use whiskey in this recipe, do not use Irish Cream Liqueur.
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon water
1/2 cup strong black coffee
3 tablespoons Irish whiskey
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Combine the brown sugar with 1/2 tablespoon water in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar is just dissolved. It will form a syrup. Pour coffee, whiskey and syrup into a mug. Beat the cream with a whisk until it is frothy and slightly thickened. Pour cream over coffee and serve.
Louise Morgan, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Belleville. We keep the ingredients on hand for this simple dish, for the nights when we are busy and need an easy meal. We eat it a lot during the holiday season. The beef can be marinated ahead of time, if desired.
1 pound flank steak or sirloin steak
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 1/2 tablespoons water, divided
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 pound broccoli (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large red bell pepper or other sweet pepper, slices
4 cups hot cooked rice
Cut the steak into long thin slices (about 1/8 inch thick). Combine sliced beef, soy sauce, garlic and black pepper (a plastic storage bag works well). Make sure mixture is in sealed bag or covered and put into refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons water, oyster sauce and crushed red pepper in a small bowl.
If using fresh broccoli, cut into florets and peel broccoli stems, cutting stems diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet. Add beef mixture to skillet; cook for 3 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring constantly. Transfer beef to a bowl and return empty skillet to heat.
Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to empty skillet; add broccoli. Cook for 2 minutes. If using fresh broccoli add 2 tablespoons water to skillet and cover (this will steam cook broccoli). Add bell pepper and cook another 30 seconds.
Return beef mixture to skillet and add oyster sauce mixture. Cook until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice.
Nutritional information (per serving, prepared with flank steak); 323 calories, 10g fat, 21.2 g protein, 35.2 carbohydrates, 273 mg sodium.
Theresa Siegel, Holy Childhood, Mascoutah. My mom passed this recipe on to  my sisters and me years ago. She used to make this every Christmas. Last week, my 99 year old sister (Mary) and I made this. It brought back good memories. (Thanks to our nephew (Jim) for giving us the persimmons)!
2 cups persimmon pulp
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoon melted butter
You can obtain the persimmon pulp by forcing fruit through a food mill. Mix the pulp, beaten eggs and milk. Sift dry ingredients and pour the liquid mixture into them. Stir in the melted butter and pour into a shallow greased pan (9 x 13) to a depth of about 2 inches. Bake for about 1 hour at 300 to 325 degrees. When cold, cut into squares and serve plain or with whipped cream.
Mary Beth Koerber with Matt Koerber on Rose Buchmiller blog
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes, Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 pound of caramel. Chunk caramel was used and was bought at a cake decorating and candy shop.
2 pounds of milk chocolate. Disc shaped milk chocolate was used. You will have a little left over depending on how much chocolate you put in the cups.
1 pound of pecan halves.
Vegetable oil to thin chocolate.
Confectionary candy cups 1 3/4” x 5/8” (the 5/8” is the wall of the cup).
Sea-salt optional. Fleur de Sel Salt was used and bought at a local spice shop.
Melt the chocolate while preparing the cups. A Wilton Chocolate Melter was used for this recipe. If melting the chocolate on the stove it’s best to use a double boiler.
Shape the chunk of caramel into a rectangular shape for slicing.
Cut slices of caramel off the block using a plastic spatula.
Cut the slices into squares 11/2” x 1/8” thick. Work the squares in your hands and flatten.
Place 3 pecan halves in the bottom of the cups. If halves are large, you may just need 2 per cup.
Place a piece of caramel on top of the pecans.
When the chocolate is melted, add approximately 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil per pound of chocolate. This thins the chocolate and makes for easy pouring. It will not affect the taste or the hardening process. You want it thin enough to run over the caramel.
Pour a heaping teaspoon plus of chocolate on top of the caramel and smooth the top. You might need to spread the chocolate to the sides helping it run down into the cups.
Verena Haake, St. Boniface Parish, Germantown.
2 pounds White Chocolate
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups mini marshmallows
3 cups salted peanuts
3 cups rice cereal
Melt chocolate in a double boiler, add peanut butter. In a large bowl, mix other ingredients together. Then pour chocolate mixture over dry ingredients. Stir well. Spoon mounds onto waxed paper. Let set for 1-2 hours.
Krista K. Anderson, I found this recipe in the Belleville News Democrat on New Years Day about 10 years ago and have been making it ever since. It is not only a healthier dip, but also a crowd pleaser! I have substituted low fat versions of both the cream cheese and regular cheese and it still turns out great. It is now a staple at all of our holiday parties.
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 10 ounce can Rotel tomatoes
1 15 ounce can black beans
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 large bag Fritos or Tostitos Scoops
In bottom of 9 x 13 pan spread 8 ounce package of cream cheese. Rinse and strain black beans and then spread evenly over cream cheese. Next drain liquid from Rotel tomatoes and spread over black bean layer. Finally sprinkle 1 cup cheddar cheese over Rotel layer. Bake in oven 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheddar is melted. Serve with Fritos or Tostitos Scoops.
Gabe Wilson, St. Joseph, Lebanon, found this recipe in the Parade magazine. Prep: 15 minutes; Bake: 42 minutes plus cooling.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups cranberry almond crunch cereal
Citrus Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice.
Heat oven to 325 degrees
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition.
Stir in cereal.
Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Shape dough into 2 logs, each 14 inches long and 2 inches wide, on greased cookie sheet.
Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheet. Place on cutting board; cool 5 minutes.
Using serrated knife, cut each log into diagonal slices, about 3/4 inch thick. Place slices upright on cookie sheet 1/2 inch apart. Bake 12 minutes or until slightly dry. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
Store in tightly covered container. Before serving, decorate with melted semi-sweet baking chocolate, citrus glaze or powdered sugar, if desired. Makes about 2 dozen.
Citrus Glaze: Mix 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons orange juice until smooth. Drizzle over cooled biscotti.
Jane Rieso on Rose Buchmiller blog
Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 1 hour
4 quarts unsalted popped popcorn
3 cups pecans (more if you prefer)
1 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light Karo syrup
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) salted
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Pop 4 quarts of unsalted popcorn.
Spread the popped popcorn onto 2 cookie sheets.
Spread the pecans over the popcorn.
Place the two cookie sheets in the oven. Warming the popcorn and nuts help the caramel sauce stick and spread evenly.
While the corn and nuts warm in the oven make the caramel sauce.
Place brown sugar, Karo syrup, butter and salt in a medium-sized heavy saucepan.
Bring to a boil.
When the pot is completely covered in small boiling bubbles begin to time it for 5 minutes.
At the 4-minute mark, remove the popcorn and nuts from the oven and place in a large plastic bowl.
A plastic bowl is used because the caramel sauce does not stick to it and it’s easy to clean.
At the 5 minute mark, add the vanilla and baking soda and stir.
The mixture will begin to foam and that’s what you want.
Remove the caramel sauce from the stove and pour over the popcorn and nuts.
Slowly stir the mixture scooping from the bottom up to make sure the popcorn and nuts are coated.
Return the popcorn mixture to the cookie sheets.
Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour.
At 30 minutes, turn popcorn on each cookie sheet and switch racks.
At one hour remove from the oven and transfer the caramel corn to wax paper for cooling.
Break the caramel corn in to bite sized pieces.