What’s more fun than State Fair fare?

The 187,066 people who attended the Minnesota State Fair on Friday, Sept. 1, set a record for ninth-day attendance. They also consumed a colossal amount of food — from wacky concoctions you never dreamed could be deep-fried and served up on a stick to healthier dietician-approved options — and everything in between.

With a nod to the “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” those of us who were at work in the diocese that day enjoyed sampling goodies at our “Potluck on a Stick.” The brainchild of Bailey Ziegler, diocesan director of human resources, and Kristi Anderson, multimedia reporter at The Visitor, the event was loads of fun and we didn’t have to wait in line or battle huge crowds to relish the tasty food.

The table decorations were gigantic “blue ribbon” vegetables with fictitious notes about our co-workers “who grew them.” There was even a pie-baking contest to round out the occasion.

Kevin Powers, the new superintendent of Catholic Community Schools, snapped this photo of Bishop Donald Kettler savoring candied bacon at the Sept. 1 diocesan Potluck on a Stick.

Teriyaki chicken on a stick. Candied bacon on a stick. Mini-corn dogs on a stick. Fruit and veggies on sticks. Three flavors of DQ Dilly Bars — on sticks, of course. Grilled corn-on-the-cob, hamburgers and brats, BBQ meatballs, crazy cake, lemonade, pop — and more!

Jill Lieser, Catholic Foundation administrative assistant, shares tips for creating her enticing candied bacon on stick.

Candied Bacon on a Stick

  • Use any amount of bacon that you wish. Make sure it is a thicker cut of bacon.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Line a low flat pan with parchment paper and also spray it with cooking spray.
  • Using either a full piece or half piece of bacon, place bacon on skewer. (Envision ribbon candy.)
  • Stretch the bacon back to (sort of) lie flat on skewer and place it on the pan.
  • Sprinkle brown sugar over the bacon and pat it down just a bit. (Amount is to your liking.)
  • Drizzle with maple syrup. (Amount, once again, is to your liking.)
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bacon is completely cooked but not crispy. (The sugar and syrup should have created light caramel syrup.)
  • This treat is best served at room temperature. If you must store it in fridge, make sure the bacon pieces are in an airtight container.
Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”




Energy bites and a happy marriage

Recipe for a Happy Marriage

4 cups of love
2 cups of loyalty
2 1/2 cups of laughter
3 cups of forgiveness
1 cup of friendship
5 heaping spoons of hope
2 spoons of tenderness
3 1/2 spoons of compassion
4 quarts of faith

Blend love, loyalty and laughter. Stir in forgiveness, friendship and hope. Add tenderness and compassion. Mix thoroughly with faith. Garnish with hugs and kisses, kindness, understanding and a pinch or two of patience.

There are zero calories in this marriage medley but a generous serving provides a limitless amount of energy!

Bailey Walter’s “No-Bake Energy Bites” can boost one’s endurance, too.

Bailey and Jason

Bailey, director of Human Resources for the St. Cloud Diocese, will wed Jason Ziegler this Saturday at St. John’s Abbey and University Church in Collegeville. He works at St. John’s Abbey in the Marketing and Communications and Vocations offices.

“I make these frequently when Jason and I are traveling or doing something outdoors — they’re perfect for a day on the lake or hiking through the woods,” she said. “And, anybody can create them very quickly, which is what I like in a recipe! They’re really easy and tasty and healthy, too.”

No-Bake Energy Bites

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Thoroughly mix all ingredients together in a medium-size bowl and chill it in the refrigerator for half an hour.

Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (I usually make them about the size for two bites!)

Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Yield: About 20 “two-bite-sized” balls.

Notes from Bailey:

  • I recommend creamy peanut butter for this recipe. I usually use a natural one with no added sugar or salt.
  • When I don’t have ground flaxseed on hand, I just leave it out.
  • 1 cup shredded coconut can also be added.
  • Maple syrup or agave can be substituted for the honey.
  • Raisins can be substituted for the chocolate chips, if you wish.
  • I found this recipe at http://www.isthisreallymylife.com/2013/03/pinterest-no-bake-energy-bites/.
Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”

Cookies bring the story of Jesus to life

It’s easy for children to associate Easter treats with chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and brightly colored hard-boiled eggs. But, resurrection cookies turn a simple morsel of meringue into a powerful teaching tool by blending verses from Scripture with the five ingredients throughout the preparation phase. While these tidbits can be made at any time, the process coincides ideally with the Easter story if they are made during the evening of Holy Saturday.

Resurrection Cookies

1 cup whole pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar

Zipper baggie
Wooden spoon
Holy Bible

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Place the pecans in the zipper baggie and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break them into small pieces. (Explain that after Jesus was arrested the Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. (Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given common wine, sometimes translated as vinegar, to drink.) Read John 19:28-30.

Add the egg whites to the vinegar. (Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave his life to give us life.) Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. (Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers and the bitterness of our own sin.) Read Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 cup sugar. (Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because he loves us, he wants us to know that and he wants us to love him as well.) Read John 3:16.

Beat ingredients with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. (Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.) Read Isaiah 1:18 and 1 John 3:1-3.

Fold in the broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto a wax paper-covered cookie sheet. (Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.) Read Matthew 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven off. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. (Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed.) Read Matthew 27:65-66.

At bedtime, discuss with the children that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. (Explain that Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.) Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! (On Resurrection morning, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.) Read Matthew 28:1-9.


Rejoice. The Lord Jesus has risen! He is alive!

Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”



St. Paddy’s Corned Beef Reuben Spread

Faith and Begorrah! If you love Reuben sandwiches, you are going to thank your lucky stars for this easy recipe!

My longtime favorite Corned Beef Reuben spread came to mind when I read that Bishop Donald Kettler granted a St. Patrick’s Day dispensation from the Lenten Friday obligation to abstain from eating meat because the Irish saint’s feast day — March 17 — falls on a Friday this year.

Usually I serve this warm, appetizing concoction with slices of old-fashioned dark pumpernickel or cocktail rye but it is also a delectable dip for crackers or chips. If you are into the “wearing of the green,” top with fresh, finely chopped shamrocks. (No, just kidding.)

It is delicious when prepared grilled cheese sandwich-style between two pieces of buttered pumpernickel or seeded rye. I’ve tried the cold leftovers spread on a tortilla, rolled up and sliced for pinwheel appetizers — refrigerating them rolled up in waxed paper or plastic wrap for a few hours or overnight makes for easier cutting.

I think the mixture would be great on top of a toasted everything bagel or baked potato. It could become a pierogi or lasagna filling, stuffing for a savory puff pastry or deep-fried in an egg roll. I haven’t tried preparing a Rachel version with pastrami or deli turkey but believe either of those would be “top of the morning, afternoon or evening” tasty, as well.

Dreaming of the possibilities for enjoying it could be nearly as much fun as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or having three wishes granted by a leprechaun!

St. Paddy’s Corned Beef Reuben Spread
By Carol O’Jessen-Klixbull
(Who doesn’t love being Irish for a day?)

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweet Bavarian style sauerkraut with caraway seeds (do not drain)
3/4 pound corned beef (sliced at deli)
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing
1 (4 oz.) jar horseradish sauce

Combine the softened cream cheese with the sauerkraut. Rough chop the corn beef and add it with the Swiss cheese. Stir in the dressing and horseradish sauce.

Spoon mixture into either a slow cooker or a casserole (grease container with non-stick cooking spray.) For slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 45 minutes or until mixture is hot and cheese is melted. For casserole, bake in preheated oven at 350°F for 35 to 45 minutes or until mixture is hot and cheese is melted.

Serve with dark pumpernickel or rye bread, crackers or pretzel chips.

Yield: 6 cups

A note from Carol:

According to canon law, when feast days fall on Fridays during Lent (as is the case this year with St. Patrick’s Day), the local bishop can make the decision to grant a dispensation so that Catholics can fully participate in the celebration. As I mentioned earlier, this year Bishop Kettler granted a dispensation for the people of the Diocese of St. Cloud. 

I also want to share that Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl recipes are not only interesting to try during Lent but are a good reminder for us that many throughout the world are challenged by hunger and poverty. The program focuses on a different country for each week of Lent — providing stories, prayers and information to help us connect with some of those who are most in need, as the money saved from preparing these simple meals can be donated to this special Lenten program. The Visitor has featured Rice Bowl recipes from India, Zambia and El Salvador so far this year.

Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”


Bishop Kettler shares mother’s recipe in honor of Crêpe Day, February 2

February 2 is the Christian holiday of Candlemas, called “la Chandeleur” in France. It is also “le Jour des Crêpes” (the Day of the Crêpes) in this European country known for good food and wine.

Crêpes — both savory and sweet — will be created in home kitchens and quaint little “crêperies” all over France to celebrate this special day.

St. Cloud’s Bishop Donald Kettler

Recipes abound for these scrumptious super-thin pancakes but the one that his French mother, Marguerite, followed stirs up special memories for Bishop Donald Kettler, ordinary of the St. Cloud Diocese. The options for filling them are endless though his family especially enjoyed them served with butter and syrup or sugar (or sometimes fruit) for breakfast.



(Submitted by Bishop Donald Kettler)

4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups milk
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

In large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

Heat a medium-sized skillet or crêpe pan over medium heat. Grease the pan with a small amount of butter or oil applied with a brush or paper towel. Using a serving spoon or small ladle, spoon about 3 tablespoons crêpe batter into hot pan, tilting the pan so that the bottom surface is evenly coated. Cook over medium heat, 1 to 2 minutes on a side, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

A note at the bottom of Marguerite’s recipe advises, “You might add a couple more eggs.”


Marguerite (Raiche) Kettler passed away at the age of 100 on October 13, 2013.


Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”

The Eighth Day of Christmas

‘Strong to the finish ‘cause I eat my’ … spinach lasagna

Connie Roehl’s Spinach Lasagna recipe, featured in the Christ Our Light Parish cookbook “Favorites From Our Table,” caught my eye as perfect “Meatless Monday” fare.

She has been preparing it for 20 years or more and says it is one of her husband Bruce’s favorites. She often makes two pans of lasagna at the same time — one of the traditional varieties with red sauce and this one. The spinach creation always disappears first.

Connie says that it should be baked a lot longer than the recipe calls for. She bakes it for at least an hour or more, which browns the butter and makes the dish more flavorful. It’s easy to reheat, as well.

Popeye was right when he said, “I’m strong to the finish ‘cause I eat my spinach.” On this eighth day of Christmas, I offer you eight good reasons to eat more of it. According to Medical News Today, this nutritional powerhouse can help with diabetes management, cancer prevention, thwarting asthma, lowering and maintaining blood pressure, keeping bones strong, nurturing skin and hair, aiding in efficient use of one’s energy and promoting regularity. (By the way, the Well-Being Secrets blog touts 34 science-backed health benefits for this dark leafy green.)

Spinach Lasagna

8 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen spinach, thawed and drained
24 oz. cottage cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp. crushed, dried parsley
1/2 cup butter, softened
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
16 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine cottage cheese, eggs, parsley, butter, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Layer noodles, cottage cheese mixture, shredded cheese, spinach and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. (*See Connie’s comments above.)

A note from Carol:

I prepared Connie’s recipe and definitely enjoyed it. I did make one change — I wilted two (10 oz.) packages of fresh spinach in a pan over medium heat on the stove. There’s no need to add oil or water to your pan as the spinach leaves release liquid when they come in contact with the heat. It only takes a minute or so — stir the spinach once or twice with tongs as it is wilting.

“Favorites From Our Table” was published in 2015. There are hundreds of good recipes to be found in the book’s 174 pages. To order a copy from Christ Our Light Parish, contact Michele at 763-389-2115 or micheles@christourlightmn.org. The cookbook costs $10 and an extra $5 for shipping and handling, if mailed.

Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”

White chocolate, pistachio and cranberry fudge

In yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned Janet Brinkman’s array of scrumptious treats and shared her recipe for “Jeweled Fruitcake.” Here’s another of her recipes — a rich, creamy fudge made with white chocolate, pistachios and cranberries — Yum!

White chocolate, pistachio
and cranberry fudge

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup roasted shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil.

Melt white chocolate chips.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add in vanilla and melted white chocolate. Beat until smooth. Fold in dried cranberries and pistachios.

Refrigerate until firm — at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”

There’s still time to bake fruitcake!

Any time of the year one might spy a tasty treat on the counter in the Pastoral Center’s kitchen. Colleagues in this building are ever so generous with sharing sweets and garden produce. But, a stroll through the kitchen around Christmas is especially gratifying as samples of holiday baking appear.

Janet Brinkman, director of human resources, brought in a lovely assortment earlier this week. Her “Jeweled Fruitcake” was filled with scrumptious fruits and nuts — moving way beyond traditional fruitcake “territory.” (While many recipes suggest that fruitcakes should be baked at least one month before they will be served, Janet said this one does not need to age but the fruits and nuts need to steeped overnight in some “good spirits” and that the measurements of all the fruits in the recipe are approximate.) There’s still time to bake it before Christmas Day!

Jeweled Fruitcake

First day:
Soak the following fruits and nuts in brandy and rum overnight:

2 cups dried apricots
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
8 oz. mixed candied fruit
8 oz. red candied cherries
8 oz. green candied cherries
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups walnuts (don’t chop)
1 1/2 cups Brazil nuts (don’t chop)

1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup rum

Ingredients for second day:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 eggs
3 tsp. vanilla

On second day, heat oven to 300°F. Grease 8 or 9 mini loaf aluminum foil pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix dry ingredients, eggs and vanilla. Fold in fruit and nut mixture. Spread in pans. Bake the loaves for 55 minutes at 300°F. Remove loaves from pans and cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.

Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”

Sweet Ministry

At a recent Learning Over Lunch session for employees of the diocese, Deacon Mark Barder, director of the planning office, delighted us with his passion for creating fudge. He has spent a number of years honing his Creamy Velvet Fudge recipe and technique. As an early Christmas present, Deacon Mark generously agreed to share his distinct process with readers of the “From the Heart” blog.

“The older I get, the less I need. Of the many things that I have done in my life, making candies, fudges and other sweets during the Christmas holiday is one of my favorite things to do (besides lighting my house with Christmas lights!). It has taken a long time to perfect one of these recipes — fudge.barder-deacon-mark

 I decided after all these years of making fudge to relinquish my recipe to family, friends and strangers. I am confident if you follow it, you will WOW the socks off of anyone who tastes it.

 Enjoy, share and savor this delectable recipe.

 Merry Christmas!

Deacon Mark

Creamy Velvet Fudge

Prepare two or three loaf pans by pressing a large sheet of parchment paper in each. (Paper should extend over top of pans.)

Place in large plastic bowl (combine and set aside):

1 (3-3.5 oz.) bar sweetened chocolate, broken into small pieces (Ghiradelli, Godiva, Cadbury)
2 (12 oz.) packages chocolate chips(* See tips section.)
1 cup butter, softened
7 oz. container of marshmallow cream
1-2 tbsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. of another flavoring, if desired

Place in a metal pot fitted with a candy thermometer:

5 cups sugar
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk, shaken very well

Over low heat, bring sugar and evaporated milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Do not scrape sides of pot!

The mixture will boil at 221°F. When the mixture reaches 234°F to 236°F take it off the heat and pour it into the bowl with the chocolate, butter and other ingredients. Again, do not scrape sides of pot!

With a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Pour the fudge into the prepared bread pans. (Use heat resistant spatula.)

Cool it overnight. When cool, take the fudge out of the pans by lifting the parchment paper. Wrap the blocks in plastic wrap.

Yield: Approximately five pounds.

Deacon Mark’s fudge-making tips:

  • I prefer a plastic bowl for mixing the ingredients as plastic helps to dissipate heat.
  • Any flavor of chocolate chips — milk chocolate, dark, mint, butterscotch, peanut butter, etc. — can be used. Don’t use generic chips. *
  • Generic marshmallow is cream is OK, but do use not marshmallows as they are coated with a fine sugar that does not dissolve.
  • Use a high-end vanilla.
  • Other flavorings such as mint, rum, maple, almond, etc. may also be used to modify the fudge flavor.
  • I use a metal pot with a copper bottom for cooking the fudge.
  • Use a hand mixer — do not use a stand mixer with a metal bowl for combining the ingredients. The metal bowl is too cold for this process.
  • Consider investing in a high-quality, digital candy thermometer — it’s an important tool in the candy-making process.
  • I use a bamboo utensil to stir the sugar and milk while it is heating.
  • I prefer gas heat as it is easy to control.
  • If you plan to add nuts, take the mixture off the stove at 234°F.
  • For French mint fudge, heat the mixture to 236°F.
  • If your fudge is grainy, the mixture did not reach the 234-236°F temperature.
  • The fudge will keep one to one-and-a-half months. Do not refrigerate it. Refrigeration dries it out and alters the taste. I have been told it can be frozen but I have never tried this.
Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things "food."
Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”

Caramel-Crowned Pumpkin Squares: an easy recipe to be thankful for!

Recipes in my collection often elicit a sweet memory — the event where I first tasted it, the person I received it from or someone in my life who especially likes that dish. Most foodies can probably relate.

When I asked Visitor columnist Rita Meyer about featuring her Caramel-Crowned Pumpkin Squares recipe in the Meire Grove “St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Cookbook,” she recalled getting the recipe from her friend Margaret Arnold, a parishioner of St. Anne’s in Kimball. Rita contacted Margaret who reminisced about acquiring the recipe from a friend in Edina at a dinner party around 15 years ago.

bars2They were a definite hit with The Visitor staff when I baked a pan to share at the office. I agree with Margaret that they are a scrumptious alternative to pumpkin pie at this time of year. Rita thinks it’s a delicious recipe, too. She admits to loving “anything pumpkin” and told me that the recipe for “Pumpkin Chip Cookies” on page 31 in the cookbook is also one of her favorites. (Hint: She always makes them with milk chocolate chips.)

Caramel-Crowned Pumpkin Squares

1 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, melted

2 cups canned pumpkin
1 (13 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

Whipped cream, as desired

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix ingredients (in a food processor, by hand with pastry blender or on low with electric mixer). Press crust into bottom of 13 x 9 x 2 inches pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine ingredients in large mixing bowl. Beat thoroughly. Pour over crust. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Combine ingredients. Sprinkle them over the pumpkin filling. Return to oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool and cut into 2-inch squares.

Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

bars1St. John’s Cookbook was published in 2014 and features 140 pages filled with great recipes from parishioners. It sells for $12 a copy (with an additional $6 for postage and handling). If you want to order copies by mail contact Rita Meyer at 320-987-3113 or ritameyer@meltel.net. Or, if you are passing through Meire Grove, stop at the QPC (Quality Plus Convenience) gas station to skip the shipping costs. They are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”