What’s Cookin’ in the Parsonage?

We celebrated our first of two Christmases that we will have this year.  Because Allison was heading out on a mission’s trip to Antigua (they left this morning), we had an early celebration with her this weekend.  Only the Lord could work out all the details of:
  •  allowing her to have the opportunity to go on a mission’s trip, which all happened last minute
  •  provide so that she could still accompany our choir’s cantata on Sunday 
  • Allow us time together as a family

We had a sweet time together enjoying all our family traditions, while rejoicing in our hearts that Christ’s birth has such an impact in our everyday lives.  It is because of Him that we do what we do.  He is the center of our home and hearts, and nothing is more fulfilling!

Saturday night I tried a new dessert – Toffee Cheesecake Bars from my Dec/Jan issue of Healthy Cooking, put out by Taste of Home.  Who doesn’t love cheesecake?  But seriously, if you want to try to eat healthy, one piece can have more calories than you should take in in a day!  These bars have 169 calories and 9 g fat!  They are super simple to put together, and they are DELICIOUS! 

Toffee Cheesecake Bars


1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups milk chocolate English toffee bits, divided


In a small bowl, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa and baking soda. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press onto the bottom of an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until set.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the milk, eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth. Stir in 3/4 cup toffee bits. Pour over crust. Bake 18-22 minutes longer or until center is almost set.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining toffee bits; cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

Sunday dinner had to be on the table quickly because Allison and her sister (who sweetly brought Allison home), had to get on the road to get Allison back to Greenville for a commissioning service early Sunday evening.  I found another new recipe in the Healthy Cooking Magazine to try for our dinner that could be made ahead of time.  I made Provolone Ziti Bake.  I assembled it all on Saturday, then popped it into my oven on Time Bake so it would be ready when we got home from church.  We all really like it.  I’m always happy to find another recipe to add to my Sunday menus! 

My Menu:
Provolone Ziti Bake
Mandarin Orange Salad
Parmesan Toasted French Bread
Toffee Cheesecake Bars
Provolone Ziti Bake – The changes I made to the recipe was to use half the noodles, but still two cans of tomatoes.  I also used the Fire-roasted variety for a little more flavor.  It made a full 8×10 dish!

Provolone Ziti Bake


1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (28 ounces each) Italian crushed tomatoes
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry red wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 package (16 ounces) ziti or small tube pasta
8 slices provolone cheese


In a Dutch oven, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomatoes, water, wine, sugar and basil. Bring to a boil; remove from the heat. Stir in ziti.

Transfer to a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour. Top with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 4-6 minutes longer or until ziti is tender and cheese is melted. Yield: 8 servings.

I love this Mandarin Orange Salad!  It’s a nice change from a standard tossed salad. 
I’ve shared this with you before, but thought I’d add the recipe again.

Mandarin Orange Salad

1/4 cup wine vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1 tbl sugar
salt and pepper to taste

3 3/4 oz. slivered almonds
2 tbl sugar

1 head lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions w/tops
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

Combine vinegar, oil, 1 tbl. sugar, salt and pepper in bowl; mix well. Combine almonds with 2 tbl sugar in skillet. Cook over low heat until sugar melts and almonds are coated and light brown, stirring constantly. Cool to room temperature. Combine lettuce, green onions, celery, mandarin oranges, and caramelized almonds in salad bowl. Add dressing at serving time, tossing gently to mix well.

I’m sure your kitchen has been as busy as mine with Christmas just around the corner.  What kind of yummy things are you baking and cooking?  I’d love to hear about it!

From my parsonage kitchen,

2 thoughts on “What’s Cookin’ in the Parsonage?

  1. Denise, thank you for this post. I was looking for something special to fix for mine and John's Christmas dinner and I've found it. John and Joan will love it. We wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s