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Dash of Grace: Cookbook for a cause

Shining Star beneficiary of recipe compilation

Grace makes slow cooker beef stroganoff, one of the recipes from the "Shining Stars" cookbook. This simple dish can be served over rice or pasta.
Grace makes slow cooker beef stroganoff, one of the recipes from the "Shining Stars" cookbook. This simple dish can be served over rice or pasta.

The new “Shining Stars” cookbook is a recipe collection put together by the Shining Star Children’s Advocacy Center of Lee and Ogle counties. 

It is a 190-page cookbook with favorite recipes of advocacy center staff and volunteers and their friends and relatives.

“The group has a lot of potlucks and everybody brings a recipe,” said Sandy Strohecker, one of the project’s organizers. “One day somebody said ‘we should make our own cookbook’.”

So they formed a committee and put together their own recipe collection, “Shining Stars.” The committee was headed by Shining Star Administrator Cathy Ferguson.

Beef stroganoff in the slow cooker

Marcie Withers 

3 pounds of beef stew meat

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

½ soup can of milk

1 package onion soup mix

Extra mushrooms, if desired

Egg noodles, cooked

Put into a slow cooker, in this order: Stew meat, mushroom soup, milk, onion soup mix, and, if desired, extra mushrooms. Cook on low for 8 hours. Stir and serve over egg noodles.

Cook’s note: This dish is very easy to make. My daughter tried adding ¼ cup of sour cream to this before serving (do not boil after adding the sour cream).

This also can be served over rice.

Chocolate chip cherry bars

Sandy Strohecker 

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

¼ cup of baking cocoa

1 cup cold butter or margarine

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling

1 (12-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped almonds  

In bowl, combine flour, sugar, and cocoa. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add egg and almond extract until blended. Set aside 1 cup for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into greased 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan. Carefully top with pie filling. Combine chocolate chips, almonds, and reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle over pie filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting.

Slim Tex-Mex dip

Lisa Wiggins

1 ½ pounds ground raw turkey 

1 jalapeño chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 (1-ounce) envelope low-sodium taco seasoning mix

2 (8-ounce) packages low-fat cream cheese, softened

2 (16-ounce) cans fat-free refried beans

2 packages guacamole

½ cup fat-free sour cream

½ cup fat-free mayonnaise

Topping of your choice (chopped spinach, lettuce, green onions, or tomatoes)

8 ounces of reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Tortilla chips

Cook turkey, pepper and half an envelope of taco seasoning in skillet; set aside. 

Spread cream cheese in bottom of 9-by-13-inch pan. Spread refried beans over cream cheese. Spread guacamole over beans. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and remaining taco seasoning. Spread over guacamole. Top with cooked ground turkey mixture. Sprinkle shredded cheddar over turkey layer. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until heated through. 

Add your choice of toppings; serve with tortillas.

Turtle cake

Sharon Porter

1 box German chocolate cake mix

1 bag Kraft caramels, unwrapped

¾ cup butter

½ cup evaporated milk

1 ¼ cups of chocolate chips

1 ¼ cups chopped pecans

Mix cake per package directions. Bake half the batter in greased and floured 9-by-13-inch pan, 12 to 15 minutes, at 350 degrees. While cake is baking, melt caramels, butter and milk until smooth. Pour over baked cake. Sprinkle with chips and nuts. Cover with remaining batter and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes.

Baked potato soup

Lora Fassler and Terri Bivins

2/3 cup butter

2/3 cup flour

7 cups milk

4 large potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled

4 green onions, sliced

1 cup sour cream

1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

12 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a large pan, melt butter. Stir in flour. Heat and stir until smooth. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add sour cream, shredded cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until cheese and sour cream are melted. Pour soup into bowls and top with crumbled bacon if desired.

More and more people are doing “make it or bake it” gifts this year, as dictated by the slumping economy. These gifts make the giver feel warm and fuzzy, and the receiver feel special. 

Old-fashioned holiday traditions are so nice. One of my great-granddaughters recently sent me a card in the mail that was all hand-printed, even the address. It warmed my heart and encouraged me to send some cards of my own, including one to the great-grandchild, whose name is also Grace.

Now I am looking at a recipe someone gave me today, for a loaf of cranberry-pumpkin bread. I am long overdue to touch base with my neighbors for all the nice things they do for me. I also bought a bag of very ripe bananas this week that just cry out to be turned into banana bread. The over-ripe bananas were going for 25 cents a pound, instead of the usual 69, and they are perfect for banana bread. I use the recipe on the Bisquick box and they turn out great.

I also have been cooking meals for birthdays. 

We have so many people in our family that it is hard to decide what to buy them. Everyone in my family, especially the men, have their favorites. Many of them would rather have a pot of jambalaya than a new shirt. 

This recipe for delicious cranberry-pumpkin bread is great for holiday gift-giving.

Cranberry-pumpkin bread

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 50 minutes

Makes 2 loaves

This is great served warm with a little butter.

3 cups all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3 eggs

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup canola oil

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, oil, sugars and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients, just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and pecans.

Pour into 2 greased 8-by-4-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 degrees, or until loaves test done with a toothpick. 

Tip of the week: To keep hot oil from splattering, sprinkle a little salt or flour in the pan before frying.

To learn more about the Shining Star Children’s Advocacy Center, visit, or call 815-284-1891.

How to get a cookbook

The Shining Star recipe collection book can be purchased, gift-wrapped, for $15 at the Lee County Health Department, 309 S. Galena Avenue, Suite 100, Dixon, Ill., 815 284 3371. They also are available at the health department in Oregon, and Salamandra in Oregon.

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