Memories of Church Coffee Hour and Keepers from the Recipe Box

the United Church in Kellogg, Idaho
When I was a child the highlight of attending church on Sunday at the United Church in Kellogg was Coffee Hour after church. I know I should have been inspired by the Bible verse I learned from Ruth Custis in Sunday School or the moving sermon from the pulpit by Reverend Armstrong, but I always loved Coffee Hour in the Fellowship Hall.

At the United Church the cookies at coffee hour were always homemade. No store bought vanilla wafers or chocolate pinwheels at this table.  Whether it was the Handy Circle or another group in charge that week, you were always guaranteed good cookies and lots of them. Of course, as we got older the ladies had to strategically hover over the cookie table so Chuckie and Jon S. and others wouldn't take too many cookies.  I loved the taste of homemade frosted ginger creams, chocolate chip, and snickerdoodles to name a few. The strong smell of coffee brewing is another memory of those Sunday coffee hours. I was never allowed to drink coffee as a child, but the aroma of the coffee was comforting as I sat through Sunday School at a room close by.

Today I am in charge of treats at our coffee hour at church. Our Garden Valley Church doesn't have quite the amount of people to serve, but I made sure I prepared enough bar cookies last night for everyone. I didn't want to have to hover like the Handy Circle ladies back in the day.  As I was decided what to bake, I came really close to wanting to run to town this morning and get doughnuts from the bakery. Then I remembered how memorable it was to have home baked cookies at coffee hour. The Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are one of my favorite recipes after I watched Ina Garten make them on her cooking show. I wanted to try the Mincemeat Bars with some pear mincemeat I canned, so this is a first try on the second recipe.
 Years ago women stood in small circles around the room with their coffee in real cups and their cookies on saucers. They shared news of the day and asked each other for recipes.  The men were in their own clusters closer to the coffee pot. I think it actually lasted a full hour.  We don't have a fellowship hall in our church, but the men will stand outside on the porch and visit and the women cluster among the pews and hold our cookies on napkins. I will learn about the good buys on meat at the grocery store and the great deal somebody got on a beautiful dress at the thrift store.  It is a different kind of gathering around the table, but the ritual continues and I find comfort in that.

Enjoy the recipes!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Copyright 2005, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved
Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time:45 min
Serves: 24 bars
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
  • 2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares. 

Mincemeat Cookie Bars   Serving Size : 36     1 1/2  c.   flour 1  3/4  c.   rolled oats 2    tsp.     baking powder  1/4  tsp.     salt  1/2  c.      butter -- room temperature  1    c.      packed light brown sugar  1    tsp.     vanilla  1    c.      prepared mincemeat
Preheat oven to 325 °. Lightly grease a 13x9" baking pan. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in the vanilla. gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Spread half of the dough evenly in the bottom of prepared pan. spread mincemeat over the top, and spread remaining dough over the mincemeat. Press down lightly. Bake for 20-25 min., until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly, then cut into bars and transfer to wire rack to cool.  


  1. I'm nabbing that first recipe and giving to youngest.

    Several weeks ago we drove to her home and I took a big bunch of concord grapes and forced her to make Jelly with my help

    Now this will give her an idea what to do with it! heh

  2. Yes, the jelly works great. Actually people asked for both recipes today at church after coffee hour!


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