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German Pancakes


In our home, growing up, Pfannkuchen, were a lunch treat made by my Oma (we called her Omi) ... and the tradition continues, the only difference being that we clarify them as being the European version by calling them German pancakes. My grandchildren have simply dubbed them  sugar-roll-up pancakes. This recipe is slightly larger than the one in our original cookbook.

Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
Method:
  1. Using a whisk or hand mixer, beat eggs well with just 1 cup of the milk. 
  2. Add flour and salt. Beat until smooth before adding the rest of the milk. Let rest for a few minutes.
  3. Heat medium sized non-stick skillet to just below medium heat. Brush with a dab of butter.
  4. Lift hot skillet with left hand, slightly tilting it toward you. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the top half, allowing the batter to spread while rotating the skillet. ( A slight rotation of the wrist) 
  5. Set the skillet back on the heat, cooking until the pancake is set. (wet look has disappeared) 
  6. Using a small thin lifter or spatula, gently flip to cook second side, which will go quick.
  7. Repeat, using a dab of butter as needed, stacking pancakes on a dinner plate. Yields approximately 18
Tips and Variations:

Batter should be smooth, thin enough to coat the pan easily when tilted. If it does not run easily, add more milk. If there are a few tiny lumps, don't be concerned. 
The traditional way to have these is to sprinkle the open pancake with sugar, fold in half and roll up from the short end - making it easy for younger children to eat by hand.
However, the options are limitless, including cottage cheese with canned peaches, nutella and sliced bananas or strawberries and whipped cream. 
I use the same recipe (half size) for savory fillings, using a smaller skillet.

Portzelky with Dried Cranberries Happy New Year

Happy New Year Friends! 

The calendar page is opened to a fresh new start. Hello 2016! Whether you have stopped by for the first time or are a long time friend of ours here at MGCC we want to thank you for visiting our blog. Many of you have supported our projects this past year by purchasing our cookbooks. We are grateful for our sponsors (visit them on our sidebar) who play a vital part through their generous giving. We look forward to what God has in store for us as we journey together in 2016.

We want to start out the first weekend of this new year with food for thought followed by a traditional recipe for New Years Cookies, better known in our Mennonite circles as Portzelky.

Each year when we gather around the Christmas table my husband Scot has something to encourage and challenge us with for the coming year. In light of giving, he found a list of 5 gifts that don't cost, but may require personal sacrifice. From youngest to oldest this list spurred on some good suggestions of how we can be generous givers of these free gifts. Join us as we seek to make a difference.

Food for Thought
  1. Giving others the Benefit of the doubt. Not everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, but in love we can extend grace. (1Cor. 13:7)
  2. A Second Chance. Hurt is real. Consider forgiveness towards those who have hurt you. Freedom comes when we forgive. (Matt. 18:21-22)
  3. Encouragement. Seize the opportunity to reach out to others with words of affirmation, and acts of kindness. 1 Thess. 5:14 includes a challenge. "...encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 
  4. Give a listening ear. "Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak...." Those wise words come from James 1:19. Heeding them can provide an incredible gift.
  5. Time. 1Peter 4:10-11 encourages us to use our God given gifts, ultimately that God may be glorified. Everything we do requires time. Whether serving your family a meal, helping with homework, cleaning, repairs, caring for the sick or the elderly. Make these a positive investment of your time. They may be life changing times for others and for you. 
May we all be encouraged in this new year to look beyond ourselves, extend grace, forgive, encourage,
listen and be generous and cheerful givers. 

New Years Cookies


I'll be making a few batches of Portzelky over the weekend to serve and deliver...fresh and warm.
Typically these have raisins in them but for a change I've used dried cranberries. Before adding the cranberries I divided the dough into two bowls, added the cranberries to one and left the other plain....some like these little fritters better without the fruit. 
(yields approximately 3 dozen)

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg white, beaten together well
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (sometimes called quick rise)
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, or raisins (optional)
  • additional granulated and/or powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Place milk, water and butter in a microwave bowl and heat until very warm.
  2. Beat eggs and egg white together until frothy.
  3. Stirring continually pour very warm milk mixture over eggs until combined.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, salt, baking powder, yeast and 2 1/2 cups flour.
  5. Stir with a wooden spoon. Adding remaining 1 cup of flour. The dough will be a bit sticky, or 'shaggy'. 
  6. Stir in fruit if using.
  7. Set aside and cover with a lint free towel to rise for 45 minutes or until double in bulk.
  8. Heat oil in deep fryer or on stove top to 375ยบ. Always stay near hot oil on stove!
  9. Drop teaspoons of risen dough into hot oil. As the portselky cook they will usually flip over when cooked through on one side. You may have to turn them with a spoon. 
  10. Remove with deep fryer basket or slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined baking sheet. 
  11. If wanting to dust with sugar put choice of sugar in a large bowl and add portzelky and shake to coat. Or, place bowls of sugar on table for everyone to dust their own. 

Christmas Fruit and Nut Wreath


Before Internet, we received small advertising brochures with recipes in the mail and the reason I tried this one is because the picture looked so beautiful! My husband always says “You know, this is the only thing you have to make for Christmas, don’t you?” (Too bad I love to bake!)
We also had a good laugh when our three-year-old grandson saw it on the counter and exclaimed. “That’s my best!!”

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 3 - 3 1/2 cup flour, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons quick rise yeast
  • 1 egg
Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup glace mix (finely chopped candied fruit)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Updated (alternate)  filling:
  • 2 tablespoons butter for spreading
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup cranberries
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup diced candied citrus peel 
  • rind of one orange
Icing:
  • 3/4 - 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons milk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (stir until smooth)

1. Heat milk and butter until hot to touch. Cool somewhat with ½ cup cold water.
2. In mixing bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
3. Stir hot liquids into dry mixture. Mix in the egg, then 1 1/2 - 2 cups flour, to make a soft manageable dough that does not stick to sides of bowl.
4. Cover and rise 20 minutes.

5. Roll out on floured surface into 16 x 9 inch rectangle.
6. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon filling.
7. Roll up jelly-roll fashion. Place seam down, shaping into a circle on greased or parchment paper lined pizza pan, folding ends one inside the other.
8. Cut 2/3 of the way into ring at 1 inch intervals. Turn each slice a little outward, on its side. Cover and rise about 45 min. Bake at 350° F, about 20 min. Slide off pan onto wire rack to cool.

9. Drizzle with icing.
10. Sprinkle with slivered toasted almonds.

Hot 'N Spicy Nuts 'N Bolts





A favorite holiday staple at our place is this tasty snack mix, which we call nuts 'n bolts, but which is known by many other names. Here's a somewhat zippy version. Feel free to use the cereals and munchies of your choice. We love adding Old Dutch popcorn twists but if you aren't Canadian, you won't be finding those on your grocery store shelves. I often add bugles and hickory stix as well. Suit yourself.
  • 4 cups cheerios
  • 4 cups pretzel stix
  • 4 cups crispex cereal
  • 4 cups popcorn twists
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 ½ c tsp. cayenne pepper
  1. Mix together the cereal, popcorn and nuts in a large roasting pan.
  2. Melt butter and add seasonings and Worcestershire sauce. Drizzle over cereal mixture and stir well to coat.
  3. Bake at 200° F for 2 hours, stirring every ½ hour.
  4. Store in airtight container.
*While I'm at it, I always do a double batch.

Enjoy!

Pfeffernuesse (Peppernuts)



Christmas is around the corner and it's time to be thinking of making Pfeffernuese. This is a great recipe to make with a friend.  It takes half the time and is twice the fun.



There's a bit of history to these tiny spiced cookies.
 I remember being told that Mennonite grandmothers used to keep a few peppernuts in their purses during church services. When the children would become a bit noisy or restless, they would pop one of these hard nuggets into their mouths and the necessity of sucking the hard cookie and the surprising spiciness would distract the child and silence was achieved.
There are many recipes for Peffernuesse but this is my favourite. My friend Delores gave me this recipe and over the years, I've adjusted the spices to my liking. I make them at the beginning of November so they have time to ripen.
They are always number one on the list of Christmas favourites at our house and are a bit addictive.
It's a big recipe and I have often only made half of it.  However if you make the whole recipe, you can pack the Pfeffernuesse in pretty Christmas tins to give as gifts.
    Here is the recipe I use - it is easily halved if the whole amount is intimidating.
      Be sure to read the recipe through before starting.

  • 4 cups Roger's Golden syrup (this is different than corn syrup)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups margarine or butter
  • 2 cups milk
  1. Combine the above ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Let mixture cool completely before continuing.
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp. peppermint extract (use the clear extract not the green tinted one)
  1. Beat eggs in a small bowl and add extracts. Set aside.
  • 12- 14 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground star anise (not anise seed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Place 7 cups flour in a large mixer bowl.
  2. Add spices and baking powder and stir until completely blended with flour.
  3. Add syrup mixture to the flour, stirring well until blended.
  4. Add beaten egg mixture and continue to stir until blended.
  5. Continue to add flour until dough thickens but remains sticky. You will still be able to stir it with a wooden spoon however it will take a bit of strength.The amount of flour may vary depending on your flour and the amount of humidity. Please note that the dough will harden considerably once it has been refrigerated so be careful not to add too much flour.
  6. Refrigerate dough overnight or for several days.
  7. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper. These cookies will stick to the pan however if you use parchment paper, they will just slide right off and you can reuse the paper.
  8. Using a tablespoon (from your cutlery drawer), spoon out a good handful of the dough.
  9. Sprinkle a little flour on your counter and roll the dough into a long rope about the thickness of your ring finger.
  10. Using a bench scraper or pizza cutter, cut the rope into 1/2 inch pieces and place on your prepared pans. (I get 99 cookies on each large cookie sheet)
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown. This is where having a convection oven comes in handy as you can bake 2 or 3 cookie sheets at a time.
  12. Remove from pan and cool. Store in ice cream pails in a cool place.
The Pfeffernuesse will keep for a long time - at least 6 months - but only if you hide them..

Molasses Kissed Pumpkin Pie



There is no need to buy pumpkin pies from a bakery when they are really so simple to make.
If you don't have time to make your own pastry, purchase a package with two frozen deep dish shells and use one of the shells to cut out little leaves with the thawed pastry for garnish.
If you prefer to make your own pastry...
I've included a link to my favourite pastry which I mix up and then freeze the discs I don't need.
This pumpkin pie filling is delicious, has a smooth texture, slices beautifully and leftovers keep well in refrigerator. 

  • 1 9 inch deep dish pie shell
  • 1 3/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (about 1 -  15 ounce /398 ml can)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk  (can sizes vary between US and Canada)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Adjust oven rack to second lowest level. Line a 9 inch deep pie plate with pastry. Decorate edge with leaf cutouts or crimp with your fingers or 
  2. Whisk together the pumpkin with the remaining ingredients until smooth. If you have a blender, put all the filling ingredients in there and process until smooth.
  3. Pour carefully into the pastry crust.  To prevent the crust edges from becoming too dark, use kitchen shears to cut out the inside of an aluminum pie plate and cover the pie as shown in the photo.  
  4. Bake at 425 F. for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 F and bake an additional 35 minutes.  Test by putting a sharp knife an inch from the edge. It should be clean.
  5. Cool on rack. 


Golden Mashed Potatoes

I got a variation of this recipe for make-ahead mashed potatoes from my friend Jean some years ago and have made it many times over the years. It's nice to have the potatoes mashed ahead of time and ready for the table piping hot at dinner time.



Ingredients:
  • 10 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup herbed cream cheese (we like herb and garlic)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crumbled bacon bits and chopped green onions for topping
Method:
  1. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender. Drain.
  2. Mash potatoes...adding cream cheese, sour cream, butter, milk, chives and salt & pepper.
  3. Mash until creamy.
  4. Spoon into lightly greased casserole...and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days...discard plastic wrap before baking.
  6. Bake at 350°F for one hour or until heated through.
  7. Sprinkle with bacon bits and green onions.

    Optional topping ~ Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated cheese before baking and omit bacon bits.

Harvest Loaf - Flash Back


For this flashback I'd like to re-share a spiced pumpkin/chocolate loaf posted in 2008.  I can't believe that's nine years ago! I switched up the photo on the original one as well and clarified the sizes of pans to use, so that it is easier to decide on the size of the recipe you wish to make. You can easily cut it in half to make only one loaf. This loaf is still as good as ever! 

 Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup butter (soft/room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 cups cooked pureed pumpkin 
  • 3 cups flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Prepare two 9 x 4 inch loaf pans by greasing with shortening or cooking spray, and dusting with flour.
  2. Beat butter and sugar well. Beat in eggs until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin. 
  3. Mix dry ingredients with spices and chocolate chips. Stir into wet mixture until combined.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 F, until toothpick tests done. 
  5. Cool 10 minutes in pans and then remove to cooling rack.


Before baking, I sprinkled some chocolate chips in a row on top. You can combine nuts and chocolate chips if you like. Once cooled, a drizzle of about 1/4 - 1/2 cup icing sugar with maybe a teaspoon of water and a drop of maple flavoring is optional. Plain is great too.

Grilled Corn Salad

The flavours of summer combine to make this salad a great side dish for a BBQ.  With sweet local corn and cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden...it's simple and delicious!


  • 6 cobs of corn, grilled*
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  1. Preheat the grill to medium.  Remove the outer layers of the corn husks and then soak the whole cob in water for about 30 minutes.  Peel back remaining husks and remove hair.  Brush the kernels with olive oil; then pull husks back over the ear.   Place the cobs on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes.  
  2. Once the cobs have cooled, cut kernels off the cob.
  3. Add tomatoes, onion and basil to corn.
  4. Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper; mix well.  
  5. Stir the dressing into the corn salad and enjoy!
 *The grilled corn gives the salad a nice smoky flavour, but you can also use cobs cooked on the stove top.



Chocolate Zucchini Muffins



Chocolate Zucchini Muffins will always remind me of my mom who seemingly has baked these non-stop for her grandchildren for many years. It occurred to me recently that maybe I should get the recipe from her. These muffins freeze well and are easy to put into a lunch for a treat.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (she uses mini size)
Method:
  1. Beat butter and sugar, adding in the eggs.
  2. Stir in oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. Add combined dry ingredients. If cocoa does not incorporate nicely into flour, sift dry ingredients before adding to wet.
  4. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop into prepared muffin tins and bake at 350° F, 20 minutes for medium size. Makes about 24 medium size or 18 large size. These are also great done as mini muffins, bake less time, until toothpick test comes clean.