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A Christmas Treat from TLC Staff

Dear Reader,

‘Tis the season to cook. And this year, because it’s a joyful thing we can still do, the staff of the Living Church thought it might be extra nice to send some of our favorite Christmastide recipes your way.

If you also make them during Advent, don’t worry, we won’t tell your bishop.

Speaking of bishops, do cast an eye on the recipe from our editor, Mark Michael, for a 19th century Smoking Bishop punch, including the story behind it.

Finally, watch for opportunities in the next few weeks to continue giving financially to TLC. (Click here to leave us a gift now.) End-of-year donations are vital for our annual budget, and are tax-deductible for you. We also welcome you to explore a variety of gifts, including direct gifts to our operating budget, Endowment pledges, and planned gifts.

God bless the remainder of your Advent, and may the Lord meet you sweetly in Christmastide.


Christopher, Mark, John, Amber, Kirk, Gene, Abbi, Sam, and Andrew*



*Not pictured; he was at the beach.


Now without further ado…


TLC Staff Recipes


Christmas Cookie Dip
Abbi Eberhard, Office Assistant

I am not much of cook, so I love this simple Christmas Cookie Dip! It is always a crowd pleaser, and it is a light and airy treat after a big Christmas meal. I personally love to pair it with an assortment of fruits.


-1/2 cup Greek vanilla yogurt

-3 oz. cream cheese, softened

-3 tbsp. butter, softened

-1 tsp. vanilla

– ¼ – ¾ cup powdered sugar

-2 tbsp. flour

-1/3 cup red and green sprinkles

-Gingerbread men cookies, vanilla wafers, fruit, etc. for dipping.


  1. In a medium bowl add the cream cheese, yogurt, and butter, and then blend together with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add in ¼ cup powdered sugar, flour, and vanilla. Blend again until well incorporated. Taste and add in more powdered sugar if you want a sweeter dip.
  2. Fold in sprinkles with a spatula. Stir very slowly and lightly so you don’t melt the sprinkles. You may get streaks of color in your dip.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.


Candied Nuts
Kirk Petersen, Associate Editor

I give you my wife’s recipe for candied nuts, which look great in a festive tin.


  • 1 lb. walnut or pecan halves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Combine sugar, salt and cinnamon; set aside.
  • In large bowl, whisk egg white and vanilla.
  • Add nuts and seasonings to large bowl, toss to coat.
  • Spread nuts on sprayed cookie sheet, bake 1 hour at 250, turning once.
  • Make a double batch – you don’t want to give them all


Smoking Bishop, A Victorian Christmas Punch
Mark Michael, Editor

This is a Victorian mulled punch (lots of port and roasted Seville oranges) that I often serve when we have people at Christmas. In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens the converted Scrooge shares a bowl of smoking bishop with his cheery nephew at the end of the story:

“A Merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i Bob Cratchit!” Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more…” 

Serves 6.


5 Seville oranges

1 grapefruit or lemon

35 whole whole cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise

750 ml red wine

750 ml ruby port

Day 1 

Preheat the oven to 350F. Stick 5 oranges with 5 whole cloves each, then slice in half. Slice the grapefruit or lemon in half as well. Place fruit on a sheet pan and roast for 35-45 minutes until the bottom is blackened and the fruit bulges open.

Using tongs, nestle the hot fruit in a glass or ceramic container. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Pour on a bottle of red wine.

Cover and set in a sunny window for 24 hours. This will give time for the fruit to release some of its essential oils.

Day 2 

Remove the fruit and juice it through a strainer set over a large pot. Discard the fruit skins and strain the wine mixture into the same pot. Add the cinnamon sticks and star anise back into the pot. Heat until “smoking” hot (just below a simmer). Add the port and return to “smoking.”

Remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise; serve hot from a punch bowl.


Grandma Margaret’s Spinach Casserole
John Schuessler, Managing Editor

(Typed as hand-written in the family recipe book)


2 pkgs. chopped spinach – Cook according to instructions & drain “well”!

½ pkg. Lipton’s dry onion soup

¾ cup sour cream

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Put in casserole & cover with more grated cheese.

Bake 30 min. at 350.


Spicy Hot Chocolate
Amber Noel, Associate Editor
& Associate Director of the Living Church Institute

Defy your inner perfectionist. Approximate. Play with proportions until it comes out the way you like. Enjoy with marshmallows or fresh whipped cream. I love it with stove-popped popcorn or ginger snaps.

Put as much milk as you like on the stove to heat. Cow’s milk is traditional, of course, but plant milks are also great — almond is my favorite here.

When it starts to steam (NOT BOIL), for about every 8 oz. of milk, whisk in about(ish) 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa.

Then, whisk in as much sweetener as you want. (If you’re using sweetened plant milk, you don’t need any additional sugar.) You can use white sugar, coconut sugar, honey — whatevs.

I add a generous pinch of salt per cup of milk. And a tiny splash of vanilla (maybe ¼ – ½ tsp?) per cup.

Now the spices. I use a generous dash of cayenne, a generous dash of cinnamon, and a pinch of black pepper per cup, myself. I am not going to tell you how to do it, however. Figure it out for yourself. Have fun. And grab a Kleenex if it’s too spicy. Merry Christmas (when it comes)!


Eggnog (with footnotes)
Gene Schlesinger, Editor for Covenant

We try our best to keep our Christmas celebrations going throughout the Christmas season. This is, in part, compensation for my being such a stickler for observing Advent as a penitential and preparatory season, but also because it’s a lot of fun to continue wishing people a Merry Christmas well into the next year. For the last eight years or so, part of this has involved hosting a Twelfth Night Party, at which we go through a couple of batches of this eggnog.


  • 8 eggs, separated[1]
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 cups milk[2]
  • 1 cup brandy[3]
  • 1 cup dark rum[4]
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar


  • Beat together egg yolks and brown sugar until you have a thick, pale brown mixture.
  • Add dairy, booze,[5] and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites till soft peaks form.
  • Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
  • Transfer the yolk, sugar, dairy, and liquor mixture into a punchbowl.
  • Fold in[6] the egg whites and sugar.
  • Top with fresh-grated nutmeg.
  • Enjoy.
  • Repeat.

[1] The need to separate the eggs properly is the reason that I alone am the eggnog maker in our family. My kids would love to help, but while their spirit is willing, eager even, the flesh (read willingness to be careful enough to avoid getting any yolk in with the whites) is weak. You can afford to get some white in with the yolks, but the least bit of yolk with the whites and it won’t work. If you’re concerned about drinking raw eggs, you could scramble them first, I suppose.*

[2] Any will do, but whole is best, and you’ve already got heavy cream in this thing, so you might as well go full-libertine in terms of indulgence.

[3] This is optional, and because the nog is so beloved in my minor-including household, we tend to omit it, adding it to the individual servings of those who are of age and so inclined.**

[4] Bourbon also works nicely and can substitute for either or both of these liquors.

[5] See note 4 above.

[6] What could be simpler?


* This is a joke; don’t do this with scrambled eggs.

**If you do this, please do not add two cups of liquor to your single serving of eggnog.

Download a PDF of all the recipes.


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