Friday, September 30, 2011

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas (from the 'Basket Winner')

(Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg)
And, the winner is…

Nicole Hessig, coordinator of youth ministry for St. Ann Parish in Wadena and St. John the Baptist Parish in Bluffton, won the gourmet food basket that The Visitor offered as a door prize at the Diocesan Ministry Day this past Monday at St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center.

The basket contained a beautiful hand-beaded serving spoon and a variety of ingredients including olive oil, balsamic and raspberry vinegars, Dijon mustard, cherry preserves, an upscale bar of dark chocolate and more, to use in preparing six recipes previously featured on Food, Faith and Fellowship:

Besides cooking meals that are quick and easy, Nicole and her husband, Devlin, especially like grilling chicken, burgers and ribs during the summer months. And, she loves to bake cookies — oatmeal butterscotch and molasses — are two of her specialties. I asked Nicole to share one of her favorite recipes with FFF readers — here it is. CJK


Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas
(Nicole Hessig)

1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup picante sauce
1-2 tsp. chili powder
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Six flour tortillas

Optional toppings:
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped onion or green onion
Chopped cilantro
Sour cream
Black olives
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13x 9-inch baking dish with no-stick cooking spray.

Stir soup, sour cream, picante sauce and chili powder together in a medium bowl to make the sauce. Mix 1 cup of the sauce mixture, chicken and cheese in a large bowl.

Fill tortillas with chicken mixture. Fold filled tortillas and place folded side down in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce mixture over the enchiladas. Cover and bake for 40 minutes at 350°F.

Before serving, add desired toppings.

Yield: 6 enchiladas

A note from Nicole: This is a recipe of my mom’s. She’s been making enchiladas with various recipes for about 10 years.

My family has always done a lot of hunting – I’ve been going along since I was 12. Now I go with my husband, Devlin. We eat a lot of goose, duck and deer.

Devlin and I both grew up eating wild game and thoroughly enjoy it! An easy way to prepare fowl is in a crock-pot with diced onions, salt, pepper, a variety of seasonings and either cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup poured over it. We serve it with potatoes, carrots and other vegetables.

A note from Carol: Nicole earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2008 from Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota, and has begun a master’s degree program in pastoral ministry at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. She and Devlin have been married for two years and are members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Bluffton. Her parents, Dean and Brenda Perala, are also members there.

(Basket design by Rose Kruger-Fuchs/Beaded spoon created by Nikki Rajala/Photo by Nikki Rajala)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The ‘war’ against drugs can start at your dinner table

“America’s drug problem is not going to be solved in courtrooms or legislative hearing rooms by judges and politicians. It will be solved in living rooms and dining rooms and across kitchen tables — by parents and families.”

— Joseph A. Califano, Jr.,
(Founder and Chairman of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at New York City’s Columbia University, which started “Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children,” 11 years ago)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Eating together is more powerful than you know

“If I could wave a magic wand to make a dent in our nation’s substance abuse problem, I would make sure that every child in America had dinner with his or her parents at least five times a week.”

— Joseph A. Califano, Jr.,
(Founder and Chairman of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at New York City’s Columbia University, which started “Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children,” 11 years ago)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You are the most important ‘ingredient’ at dinner

Could eating one meal a day with your children really influence how smoothly they navigate their future?

According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York City, it makes a huge difference in reducing their involvement in drugs and alcohol. In fact, the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.

Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children,” launched by CASA in 2001 is a highly effective way to help keep America’s kids substance-free. “Family Day 2010” was the subject of one of the first postings I wrote for FFF. It is such an important message that I wanted to share it with you again this year.

Whether you prepare a gourmet meal, order food from your favorite take-out place or eat on the go, the menu is immaterial. The important factor is your presence — what your kids really want during dinnertime is you!

The organization’s website is chock-full of great info. It describes what Family Day is and how to get involved.

Look under “Tools You can Use” for parenting tips and a multitude of fun, useful ideas and activities for families, like the Family Dinner Kit. It includes a blank placemat, an activity placemat, fill-in-the-blank stories, word games, a family coat of arms to develop, funny tale starters, a month of “family fun challenges” and a “good deed” flower. There are easy, nutritious recipes, a menu planner for the day and for a week, even Evites to send to family members.

Are there times you struggle with what to talk about with your kids? 

For conversation starters, the site lists 16 open-ended questions — like the greatest invention of all time, which superpower you’d most want to have, who you’d trade lives with — to help expand the lines of communication.

The site has great fact sheets. One lists statistics of how young people can get tangled up in using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol  — and this sobering thought: Teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana; more than one and a half times likelier to use alcohol; and twice as likely to expect to try drugs in the future.

Another fact sheet points to behavior changes a parent might notice if their child is experimenting with drugs or alcohol. There’s a tip sheet to help parents talk with their children about drugs and alcohol, another one to help them raise drug-free kids.

And parents are encouraged to become a Family Day STAR by taking a simple pledge.
“I commit to:
S- Spend time with my kids by having dinner together.
T- Talk to them about their friends, interests and the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
A - Answer their questions and listen to what they say.
R - Recognize that I have the power to help keep my kids substance free!”

Check it out! CJK

Monday, September 19, 2011

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp was the dessert for the end of the garden season luncheon discussed in FFF these last few days. Fellow copy editor Nikki Rajala and I used fresh “State Fair” apples from one of Julie Tschida’s trees. The recipe came from, one of my favorite websites for research and recipes. The reviews were over the top so I knew it would be a blue ribbon winner and it was!

Nikki decorated her pan of apple crisp with a few of the “Autumn Bliss” raspberries growing in the plot at the Pastoral Center. We both got a lot of compliments on this scrumptious harvest-time dessert (and requests for the recipe.) CJK 

Apple Crisp

10 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the sliced apples in a 9x13-inch pan. Mix (white) sugar, 1 tbsp. flour and ground cinnamon together and sprinkle over the apples. Pour the water evenly over all.

Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.

Bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes.

Yield: 15 servings

A note from Carol: I checked the apple crisp after 45 minutes by gently shaking the pan from side to side. The crisp slid back and forth in the pan so I baked it for an additional 15 minutes (checking every five minutes) and it turned out perfect. I cooled it on a cooling rack after baking to serve the next day. It also would have been wonderful if served warm with a scoop of ice cream alongside it. Or a dollop of whipped cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Creamy Cucumbers

Julie Tschida created this recipe for creamy cucumbers more than 25 years ago. If you saw yesterday’s FFF entry, you already know she’s a gardener extraordinaire.

“Gardening is my solitude,” she said. “I love to watch the plants grow and produce their fruits and flowers. That in turn brings birds and butterflies. Spending time gardening connects me with nature and the beauty and bounty that is God’s gift to us.” CJK

Creamy Cucumbers
(Julie Tschida)

8 medium-sized cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1 medium-sized onion, chopped or sliced
3 tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp. salt

1/2 cup salad dressing*
1/2 cup plain yogurt*
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
1-2 tbsp. sugar, to taste
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. Johnny’s Salad and Pasta Elegance, optional*

Toss cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, and salt together. Let sit for 1/2 hour and then drain off liquid.

Mix dressing ingredients together and add to cucumber mixture one hour before serving.

Yield: 16 to 20 servings

*A note from Julie: I like to use Miracle Whip salad dressing for this recipe. Originally I prepared it with lime yogurt but have since switched to plain yogurt and lime juice. At times I’ve also substituted 1/4 cup sour cream for the yogurt. To give it a little kick, I often add 1 tsp. creamy horseradish sauce.

I discovered the Salad and Pasta Elegance, made by Johnny’s Fine Foods, while on a family vacation to Alaska in 2002. I haven’t been able to find it locally for several years but I like the flavor it adds to dishes so I order it online whenever I run out.

A note from Carol: Julie’s recipe for Fresh Tomato Salsa appeared on FFF yesterday. It’s one you don’t want to miss. Not only is she quite the gardener, she’s truly also a genius in the kitchen!

Julie took these pictures — a Yellow Swallowtail butterfly on a zinnia (top) and a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird approaching a Blackberry lily (below) — in her flower garden this year.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Another treat we enjoyed at the harvest luncheon that I mentioned yesterday is Julie Tschida’s fresh tomato salsa. She’s been experimenting with this recipe for about two years and I can vouch that she has definitely come up with “a winning combination.”

When Julie makes it, almost all the ingredients are from her own garden. Not only does she tend two big vegetable gardens, three raspberry plots (black, red, golden), two strawberry beds and nine apple trees, this “Queen of Gardening” also has nine flower gardens! She raises 250 varieties of hostas and many other perennials as well as a few annuals.

Julie likely first inherited her “green thumb” from her mother, Martha Kutter, as she helped her every year with vegetable gardening while growing up in Grey Eagle, Minnesota.  She credits her late aunt, LaVonne Heffron, for getting her interested in flower gardening after her mom passed away 23 years ago. Surely, they are both smiling down from above on Julie and all the plant life she cultivates and loves. CJK

Fresh Tomato Salsa
(Julie Tschida)

3 cups grape or Roma tomatoes, ground or finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 large bell pepper, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime
1-3 jalapeño peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Combine the tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, cilantro and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Add one finely chopped jalapeño pepper, sugar, salt and black pepper to the mixture. Mix well and taste. If you would like more heat in the salsa, add one or two more jalapeños. (Also, adjust the lime juice, sugar, salt, and black pepper to your taste.)

Cover the mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips or on Mexican-style dishes.

Yield: 6 servings

A note from Julie: It’s hard to give exact measurements for this recipe. I taste it all along when I’m preparing it.

Sometimes I turn it into a Corn and Black Bean Salsa by adding freshly cooked corn (or 3/4 to1 can corn) and 3/4 to1 can black beans. Again, cooks should create it to suit their own taste. Often I’ve felt that adding a full can of beans may be too much for this particular recipe.

A note from Carol: During growing seasons Julie is busy canning sauerkraut, pickles, salsa, tomatoes and beans, freezing corn and, occasionally, baking apple pies and crisps. And, as one would expect from a “gardening angel,” she’s also very generous with the fruits of her harvest and plants to get others started with growing their own.

The secretary/receptionist for 10 years at Catholic Education Ministries in the Diocese of St. Cloud (Minnesota), Julie and her husband, Dave, are members of St. Stephen Parish in St. Stephen, Minnesota. They are the parents of three grown children and grandparents to eight-month-old Ella.

Julie is also quite a photographer! She took these photos — a close-up of an “Essence of Summer” hosta that she raised this year and a glimpse of her extensive hosta garden.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Harvest Bruschetta

Recently St. Cloud Diocesan Pastoral Center and Chancery employees were treated to a luncheon celebrating the end of the garden season.

It was Steve Gessell’s idea. He and his wife, Wendy, prepared this delicious bruschetta with tomatoes and basil from the Pastoral Center garden, which he grows to share with diocesan employees and also to donate to Place of Hope, an outreach ministry for the homeless in St. Cloud, Minnesota. CJK

Harvest Bruschetta
(Steve and Wendy Gessell)

3 lbs. plum tomatoes

2/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

2 tbsp. chopped garlic

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

12 thick slices of crusty bread
Olive oil, for brushing on bread
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or finely shredded Italian-style cheese

Chop the tomatoes with a knife or food processor and then spin in a salad spinner to remove most of the moisture.

Mix tomatoes with basil, garlic, vinegar and oil. Season with salt and pepper. The mixture may be prepared for up to two hours ahead of serving. Hold at room temperature.

Toast bread slices, cool and brush with olive oil. Spoon tomato mixture onto toasted bread and top with a sprinkling of with cheese.

Yield: 12 servings

A note from Steve: I’ve found that plum tomatoes often have more flavor than “Romas” — “Juliet” is one of my favorite varieties.

While some cooks prefer making bruschetta with plain French or herb bread, Wendy and I have found a Garlic Parmesan French bread that we like to use. If we make it for just the two of us, we toast the slices in our toaster; otherwise, we follow the directions on the recipe and toast the bread in the oven at 375°F for seven to nine minutes.

A note from Carol: The maintenance worker for properties of the St. Cloud Diocese, Steve formerly worked (for 10 seasons) as the rose gardener at the Clemens Rose Garden in St. Cloud.

He spent 16 years developing the “Honeybelle Honeysuckle Vine” (Lonicera x brownii ‘Bailelle’), which was introduced to the market in 2009. It’s beautiful — the waterfall of deep golden trumpet-like blossoms are striking against the background of green round foliage. Winter-hardy to zone three, it continues to flourish into autumn until the hard frosts of October.

In addition to the “employee garden” we appreciate so much, Steve keeps the grounds of the Pastoral Center, Bishop Kinney’s residence and the priests’ retirement home blooming with lovely flowers and succulent raspberries. It’s no surprise that the Gessell’s yard is filled with flora of all kinds — flowers, vegetables, grapes, berries — and some fauna, too — chickens, bunnies and Swiss Toggenburg goats. He can be found at the farmers’ market in St. Cloud on Saturdays from spring through fall selling produce and plants.

Steve and Wendy and their teenage children, Amanda and Adam, are members of St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Make your life count

“You don’t have to walk into a burning building or wear a badge to rescue someone. You don’t have to go to medical school to help a person feel better, or walk on the moon to change this earth. You simply have to care about what happens in our country. To me, we can all honor the lives lost on September 11 by making our lives count even more.”

— Laura Bush
(From an essay the former First Lady wrote for “Woman’s Day” magazine in 2002, marking the first anniversary of the 9/11 events.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chicken Crepes

Mary Bannick adapted this simple crepe recipe from a French cookbook about 30 years ago. While she’s made this family favorite for dinner many times over the years, Mary called to mind that crepes might be served for any meal of the day, depending upon the filling that is chosen.

Her chicken crepes are one of the 325 recipes in Wahkon’s “Sacred Heart Church Centennial Cookbook: Celebrating 100 Years of Growing in Faith.” Mary is the chairperson of the cookbook committee. She and her husband, Jim, have been members of the parish for nine years. CJK

Chicken Crepes
(Mary Bannick)

1 1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. lemon juice
Pinch of salt

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped fine (optional)                  

3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
Dash of cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter

Heat oven to 250°F to 275°F.

Mix flour, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, lemon juice and salt into a thin batter. Mix chicken and mushrooms together in separate bowl.

Heat a small skillet or crepe pan to high heat. Lightly grease with no-stick cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into heated pan to make a 5- to 5 1/ 2-inch pancake. Brown both sides of crepe, turning and removing from pan with spatula. (Lightly re-spray pan, as needed, before adding batter for each crepe.)

Fill each crepe with a scant 1/3 cup of chicken and mushroom mixture, roll and place in a shallow baking pan (seam side down) in the oven. Cover the pan with a damp terrycloth towel to keep the crepes moist.

In a small bowl, blend egg yolks, lemon juice, pepper and salt with a mixer on low speed. Heat the butter to bubbling. With mixer on high speed, slowly add the butter in a stream until mixture thickens.

Remove crepes from oven and pour the sauce over them. Serve immediately.

Yield: 10 to 12 crepes

A note from Mary: I usually use an electric crepe pan to prepare the crepes. This pan makes the process so easy. The Teflon-coated pan is dipped into the batter and the crepes bake on top.

If you would prefer not to use raw egg yolks in the sauce, stir them together and try adding them to the butter after it has melted. Allow them to lightly cook in the butter and then add this mixture to the other ingredients in the sauce as described above.

A note from Carol: Mary’s recipe inspired my friend Nikki to create her own version of crepes this past week. Nikki thought back to her trip to France a couple of years ago and began dreaming of crepes she had tasted there. Then, she asked to borrow my electric crepe pan. Mary’s rich and creamy hollandaise-like sauce brought “Benedicts” to her mind and she experimented with pieces of chopped ham, freshly cooked asparagus, shredded cheese, finely chopped onion and herbs besides the chicken and mushroom filling.

I thank both Mary and Nikki for inviting me back into the world of crepes again. I’m all geared up to experiment with “crepe creations” of my own — as soon as Nikki returns my pan.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blueberry French Toast

Phyllis Ketchmark recalls getting this Blueberry French Toast recipe from her daughter, Vickie Hollenback, five or six years ago.

“We love it,” she said. “Often when we have company, I prepare this one and a traditional egg and sausage bake, too. The original recipe calls for serving it with blueberry syrup. I like to put both maple and blueberry syrups on the table when I make it.”

Phyllis and her husband, Frank, have been members of Sacred Heart Parish in Wahkon, Minn., since 1982. This recipe is from Sacred Heart’s centennial cookbook. CJK

Blueberry French Toast
(Phyllis Ketchmark)

Photo courtesy of Nikki Rajala
1 loaf French bread
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 cup blueberries
10 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 cups milk

Coat 9 x 13-inch pan with no-stick cooking spray.

Cut French bread into 1-inch cubes and place half in the prepared pan. Cube cream cheese and place evenly on top of the bread. Sprinkle with blueberries and then layer remaining bread on top. In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs with syrup and milk. Pour evenly over ingredients in pan. Lightly grease a sheet of foil with no-stick cooking spray and cover the pan with it. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake covered (with foil) for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.  

Yield: 8 servings

A note from Phyllis: French bread is the secret to this recipe. It’s important to use it rather than another kind of bread. The original recipe called for a pound of French bread — I always use a large loaf.

A note from Carol: Preparing a “breakfast bake” makes so much sense for serving a larger number of overnight guests or friends and family who come for brunch. I like Phyllis’ idea of making both sweet and savory “bakes” for a feeding a crowd. It could help to make the hostess’ morning a lot less stressful…

Also on FFF: Kristi Anderson a shared a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast recipe February 26, 2011.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Spinach Balls

Photo courtesy of Nikki Rajala
Looking for a delicious, make-ahead recipe to add to your appetizer repertoire?

The spinach balls Kathy Martinson has been making for more than 25 years are easy to create ahead of time, freeze and then bake when your company arrives. (At times, she has prepared and baked them right away but she feels they hold their shape better if they are frozen before they go into the oven.)

Kathy and her husband, Bud, are longtime members of Sacred Heart Church in Wahkon. Her spinach balls recipe was recently published in “Sacred Heart Church Centennial Cookbook: Celebrating 100 Years of Growing in Faith.” CJK 

Spinach Balls
(Kathy Martinson)

2 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed           
2 cups Pepperidge Farms bread crumbs (dressing)
6 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 onion, chopped finely
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Drain spinach thoroughly. 
Finely crush breadcrumbs. 
Mix all ingredients. 
Shape into walnut-sized balls and freeze.

When needed for appetizer, bake frozen balls for 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F. (If you choose to bake the spinach balls without freezing them, check them after 10 minutes.) 

Yield: About 5 dozen walnut-size balls

A note from Kathy: I drain the spinach by putting it in a colander, placing a layer of paper towels over it and gently pushing the excess moisture out.

A note from Carol: Consider using a smaller-size ice cream scoop to form the balls.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mediterranean Watermelon Salad with Vinaigrette

Kathy Chlebecek, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Wahkon for the past five years, shares this unique recipe for watermelon salad in the church’s centennial cookbook featured in FFF yesterday. The juice from the watermelon is a primary ingredient in the dressing.

“People often think there are tomatoes in the salad at first glance,” Kathy said, “and are surprised when they taste it, that it’s sweet. The feta cheese, onion and pepper add a layer of sharpness.” CJK

Mediterranean Watermelon Salad with Vinaigrette
(Kathy Chlebecek)

2 tbsp. currant jelly
1/4 cup watermelon, pureed
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. garlic pepper*
1 tsp. vegetable oil

6 cups mixed salad greens, torn
3 cups watermelon, cubed and seeded
1/2 cup onion, sliced
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Freshly ground black pepper

In small saucepan, heat jelly just until melted; cool. Add remaining vinaigrette ingredients. Stir until blended. Refrigerate.

In large bowl mix all salad ingredients. Just before serving, shake vinaigrette well, toss salad mixture and drizzle with dressing. Top with freshly ground pepper to taste.

Yield: 8 servings

A note from Kathy: I consider it a great party salad — a hit whenever I’ve prepared it! I’ve made primarily it for potlucks and for bigger crowds after I found it in a magazine about 5 years ago.

A note from Carol: *Garlic pepper is a combination of ground black pepper and finely ground dried garlic. Look for it in the spice section at your grocery store.

Also on FFF: Nikki Rajala shared a Watermelon Tomato Salad recipe June 30, 2011.