Holiday favorites and soup recipes

Wednesday, December 12, 2001



This weekend was a holiday killer for our family, as I'm sure many of you, too. Most of our weekend activities involved church and school. I have to tell you about our Christmas play at church.

The children performed a really cute play, "Operation Baby King," and both of our children were in the play. Ross was chosen to be one of the three wise men bearing a beautifully wrapped shoebox and decorated with sparkly sewn-on sequins and lace appliqued pieces. Lexie was chosen to be his camel. She wore a darling brown sweatshirt that had been drawn up on the back to make a hump. As she crawled down the long center isle of our church next to her brother, I just couldn't hold back that bubbling-over mother's emotion of love and pride. All of the children were so cute, and the play was a smashing success.

Later that evening, after two hours of church league basketball practice, we went back to the live nativity in our churchyard. But the funny thing about it was the fireworks display at the new McDonald's next to our church. Where else in America could you have gone to see beautiful animals and the portrayal of the scene of the arrival of our Savior, Christ the Lord, and have fireworks, too? Life is so good. And you know what? I think the camels enjoyed the fireworks, too.

I have two recipes sent in this week from Altenburg, Mo., one for a familiar year-round favorite and the other for an interesting soup. The combination of the pork and the vegetables sound very appetizing.

Corn Casserole

1 can whole kernel corn

1 cup sour cream

3 teaspoons sugar

1 stick margarine, melted

1 can cream style corn

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix, dry

Mix together and bake in a 1 1/2 quart lightly greased casserole dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the top is golden browned.

Stir-Fried Pork Soup

2/3 pound boneless pork, cut into thin strips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cups chicken broth

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach

1 cup canned mushrooms

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons cold water

Pepper to taste

In a skillet put the oil and stir-fry pork until lightly browned. Put the broth in a large Dutch oven or stew pot, add the onion, celery, carrots and browned pork, which has been drained, and cook all until vegetables are tender. Add the spinach and mushrooms; return to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and water to make a thin paste. Stir into soup and continue stirring for about 5 minutes. Add pepper to taste and serve. Makes about 4 to 6 servings.

Joan of Cape Girardeau shares with us a lighter version of drop dumplings and chicken. Although it is lower in fat, the savory broth, big chunks of chicken and chewy drop dumplings still screams comfort-food flavor.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

3 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 cups water

4 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the dumplings:

3 egg whites

1/2 cup 1 percent cottage cheese

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, brown chicken. Add the broth, water, vegetables and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the dumplings, beat the egg whites and cottage cheese in a mixing bowl. Add water and salt. Stir in the flour; mix well. Bring soup to a boil. Drop dumplings by tablespoonfuls onto the boiling soup. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in dumplings comes out clean. Do not lift cover while simmering. Serve immediately. Yields 4 servings.

Jodi Thompson of Jackson, Mo., has shared a couple of recipes today. She starts out with this light and luscious dessert that blends the wonderful flavors of chocolate and orange.

Cassata Riviera

1 (12 ounce) carton ricotta cheese (about 1 1/3 cups)

3 tablespoons sugar

2 cups whipped cream

1/4 cup orange liqueur or frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons candied orange rinds, finely chopped

24 ladyfingers, split

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a small mixer bowl at low speed, beat ricotta cheese and sugar until smooth. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup of the whipping cream, orange liqueur or juice, and orange rind until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and candied orange peel; set aside. Line bottom and sides of a 1 1/2 -quart bowl or mold with a layer of ladyfinger halves, trimming as needed. Spread one-third of the ricotta mixture over the bottom; cover with one-third of the remaining ladyfingers. Repeat twice, trimming ladyfingers as needed. Press top gently to level surface. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. To unmold, carefully run a metal spatula around inside of bowl. Unmold onto a serving plate. In a small mixer bowl at medium speed, beat remaining 1 1/2 cups whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Frost and decorate cassata with whipped cream. Garnish with crystallized violets if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 4 hours. Cut with a sharp knife.

Jodi is really tugging at our waistline with another dessert. This one is definitely one for me to try on my husband. He loves apple pie, and the caramel filling will be just the thing to tell me "this is a keeper." I think a few pecans would be a nice addition, too.

Caramel Apple Pie

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoons lemon juice

20 caramels, cut in half

1/3 cup flour

2/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

5 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced

Milk or cream

1 pie shell, prepared and set aside

For taffy mixture, combine brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour and butter. Mix well and set aside. In large bowl, combine sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, lemon juice: add apples and toss to coat. Transfer half of apples to pie crust, top with taffy mixture and half of caramels. Repeat layers. Top with crust, cut slits in crust. Seal and flute edges. This is important -- if you don't seal the edges, caramel leaks out all over. Brush with light cream or milk, cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer. You might wish to bake this on a cookie sheet, as it is very difficult to seal the edged tight enough to keep from leaking. This is best served warm and reheats well in a microwave.

Jodi's last recipe she shares with us today is for a spicy version of dressing. You can use a combination of cornbread and biscuits or all of one or the other. All cornbread will make a firm and dense dressing.

Southwestern Cornbread Dressing

4 tablespoons butter

3 onions, chopped coarsely

1 cup celery, chopped

8 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cans chopped green chilies

2 recipes cornbread (about 6 cups) plus crumbled leftover biscuits, if any

3 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon sage

2 red bell peppers, diced

2 pounds spicy sage-flavored bulk sausage

2 eggs, beaten

Generous shake cayenne pepper

4 cups chicken broth

Break cornbread into small pieces and crumbs. Spread on cookie sheet and let dry. Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes or so if it is not dry enough. Grease a 4-quart baking dish. In a large skillet sauté butter and onion, celery, garlic, green chili, cumin and sage until lightly browned. Set aside. In same skillet, fry sausage and red bell pepper, breaking sausage up with fork. Cook until sausage is lightly browned. Drain any grease. Toss onion mixture and sausage mixture with cornbread, adding the cayenne pepper and the beaten egg. Spoon into greased baking dish, pour chicken broth over, and bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour, covered, then return to oven, uncovered, for another 10 or 15 minutes. Yields 12 to 18 servings.

Joan of Cape Girardeau shares one of her holiday traditions. On Christmas Eve she always serves Danish dumpling soup. She has Danish roots in her genealogy and keeps the family heritage going by serving this soup. She did not share her recipe, but it can be found in the Cape Senior Center cookbook. For those of you who don't have a copy, they are still available at the Senior Center.

As we draw one week closer to the celebration of Christ's birth, be reminded, as the children reminded us on Sunday, that Christ was sent into this world for all of us. He is seated at the right hand of God just waiting for us to ask him into our hearts.

Have a very blessed week and happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

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